I don’t normally print whole chapters, but this is one of my favorites. Goldiva is a 300-year-old Dimidium who loves to goad people. Her favorite to pick on is her great-grandson Trevor. He can give it back as much as she gives. Goldiva had barely escaped an attack from vampires. Hope you enjoy this.
That Feeble Old Hag
Trevor and Janna were in Worthless, Nevada working with Barkley and Thomas when word of the attack on Goldiva reached them. They were interviewing newly converted Halblings, who had been cleared to assume life in Halbling and human communities. The four assessors were matching locations with job opportunities. They had been there one week already when Trevor and Thomas received calls about Goldiva.
“Stop the interviews,” said Trevor. “We’ll get back to them in a minute.” When the room was emptied and the door shut, Trevor explained, “Randolf’s house was attacked. About twenty Silent Ones broke in. Luckily they were untrained and inexperienced. Ulla and Randolf weren’t home.”
“Goldiva?” asked Janna.
“Johanna’s been sitting with her and Ulla.” said Thomas. “She had a heart attack.”
“Don’t worry about her,” said Trevor. “She’s too stubborn to die. Everyone else is fine and made it to their Safe Rooms, but she isn’t coherent right now.”
Tears formed in Janna’s eyes. “We have to go to her.”
“She’s recovering,” said Trevor. “Stefan says she’s receiving too many relatives already. He said that she’s unresponsive, so it’s best if we finish our work here.”
“That could take weeks,” argued Janna.
“There’s nothing we can do for her,” said Trevor. “We have a job to do. We’ll visit her afterwards. It’ll be better in a couple more weeks when the visitors trickle down to just a few and she’s had more time to rest. The atmosphere is pretty depressing there and she’s bedridden.”
“I bet she’s hating that and all those sympathizers,” said Janna.
Trevor grinned. “I’m counting on her being irritated. More fun for me. Don’t worry about it. In a couple of weeks the casino is hosting a 1930s party with a band. I was going to take you dancing that night.”
Janna nodded. “I’m sure you’re right. And that one night will do us good.” She sucked on her lip.
“Johanna said the doctor thinks she’s refusing to talk,” said Thomas. “Trevor’s right. You’d only be more visitors that can’t do anything for her.”
“Barkley,” said Trevor, “Stefan suggests heightened security to Vanquisher and Tracker families.”
“Already on it.”
“So? Back to work?” said Trevor.
Many of the vampires-now-Halblings had shown an aptitude for guard or Tracker positions. They were easily placed since those professions were in high demand. Other new Halblings required more testing and evaluating, and so it was two weeks later before the evaluations were completed. Trevor and Janna finished just hours before the 1930s night. They rushed back to their suite where Janna found a gift box on the table.
“For you,” said Trevor, “for tonight.”
Janna opened the box to find a silver sequined and fringed Flappers’ outfit complete with the headband.
“We’ve worked hard,” said Trevor, “and then this thing with Goldiva came up. I know you’re upset, but we had to get all these Halblings processed, so I want to make tonight special for you.”
Janna smiled at him. “Every hour I’m with you is special.” She kissed him and he responded yearningly, but then sighed. “Fun first, sex later. I want this to be a perfect night.”
When they arrived at the event, the band was playing jazz and Trevor kissed her hand and led her to the dance floor. They danced through several fun numbers and then the slow music began. Trevor took her into his arms, and like he did so often, as he swayed her to the music, he hummed in her ear.
When the music stopped, the band leader stepped to the mike. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve received a request from Trevor Dittmar, one of our guests. Trevor, come on up here.”
Trevor took a surprised Janna’s hand and they walked onto the stage.
“This is a special night for you, isn’t it?” asked the band leader.
“On this day, five years ago, I found the love of my life right here in Worthless.” Trevor kissed Janna lightly on the lips and she blushed.
“And you have something to give her?”
“With all my love,” replied Trevor.
The band leader motioned to the microphone then prepared his band.
“Janna, you changed my life,” said Trevor. “You accepted me with all my faults and you gave me a beautiful family. Never could I ever have imagined a love that consumes me, but my love for you does and will eternally. This is one of my favorite love songs, words and music by Ray Noble. Published in 1934, it’s perfect for this evening.” Trevor smiled at her. As the music began, Trevor sang, his eyes solely on his wife, “The Very Thought of You”.
Tears welled in Janna’s eyes. Trevor put his arm around her, placing her head on his shoulder and swayed with her as he continued to sing. The room went silent and dark, with only the lights from the many twirling disco balls on the ceiling.
A myriad of smiling faces were on Trevor and Janna. When the song ended, he lifted her chin to him and kissed her gently. Janna placed her hands against her mouth and a soft cry escaped her lips as her eyes focused on Trevor. Trevor kissed her again. The audience clapped and whistled, and Trevor took her back to the dance floor.
“Whew,” said the band leader. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing that song with as much love as you did. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”
Trevor bowed his head to the band leader, and the guests clapped again. The band began another song and Trevor twirled with Janna to the music, but Janna paused.
“I’m in awful pain,” she hinted.
And Trevor snorted. “Funny thing. So am I.” They walked arm in arm to the elevators. Once they entered and he pushed the button to their floor, he grabbed her into an embrace and kissed her fervently. He didn’t stop kissing her until the elevator stopped at their floor.
In their suite, Janna held his hand and walked backwards into their bedroom, kicking off her shoes. Trevor smiled mischievously at her and she whirled around. The room was filled with roses and the bed held several stuffed animals, each wearing a piece of jewelry.
“Like the first time you took me to Vegas,” she whispered. She turned back to Trevor, tearful again. “I love how romantically thoughtful you are. You remember every year and I wondered if that’s why you wanted to take me dancing, but this year with you singing to me…. That was the first song we ever danced to.”
“I wasn’t sure you’d remember that. I could never forget how I met you. You were standing behind me in line at the old grocery store wearing that yellow top with ties, those rich red lips calling to me. I wanted you right there, right then.”
Trevor took her in his arms and unzipped her dress. It fell to the floor. He stepped back and eyed her carefully from her head down. And Janna felt a thrill as she always did.
She unhooked the buttons on his shirt and slid it off him. She sighed contentedly at the sight of his bare chest. She ran her hands along it and then kissed it. She undid his pants and pushed them down and Trevor kicked them off. He picked her up and laid her on the bed, pushing aside the stuffed animals. He removed the rest of their clothing.
He picked up the remote and turned on the TV. He’d already set the station for the band music coming from below. He kissed her from her forehead to her lips, relishing every kiss. He nibbled behind her ear and fluttered kisses down her arm and back up, across her breasts, and to her shoulder where he sucked lightly and rubbed his fangs against her.
Janna inhaled sharply. “Now,” she said breathlessly. “I can’t wait anymore. The pain is getting worse.”
But Trevor only smiled at her and kissed her nose. “Not yet. I’m making this the perfect evening, remember? I want to take my time making love to you. I want you to know how I feel about you with every caress and kiss that I give you.”
As Trevor continued his loving, she squirmed and moaned until she could take it no longer. She sunk her fangs into the curve of his neck. Trevor responded with a deep growl. He bit down on her shoulder and she purred longingly, writhing. She wrapped her legs around him and Trevor groaned with desire, pushing down on her.
A hungry growl escaped his lips and his lovemaking intensified. He gave her everything he could throughout the night and they finished as dawn drew in the first rays of morning light. Trevor pulled Janna close to him and she sighed with satisfaction.
“Who knew?” asked Trevor.
“Who knew what?”
“That I would love you more right now, at this moment, than I did when I first realized that I loved you? That my love for you and my yearning for you continues to grow.”
Janna traced her finger around his chest. “I love you more too. It hurts sometimes.”
“And I still love your chest.” She kissed it.
“I already decided that if something ever happened to you, I’d kill myself. I could never go on without you. I can’t see my future without you.”
“I worry about you too and if something ever happened to you, I wouldn’t want to live. Of course, I’d probably miss your chest more than you,” she teased, “so don’t ever scar it.”
“It has many scars already. What if someday my chest is disfigured?”
“I’d still love it and you.”
They checked out of their room later that day and were about to leave when Nat approached Trevor.
“You have one smart son, Trevor,” said Nat, now buoyant and full of energy. “I never forgot his words to me in the cell; ‘You’re going to like your new job and someday not too far in the future you’re going to have your own family’. I’ve been hired full-time right here at a great salary and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for what you did for me. And hey, I already met a girl and she’s real pretty, like your son told me. She said she’s your relative. She didn’t seem interested in me, but I’ve set my sights on her, so give me some pointers.”
“Were you always this cheery?” asked Trevor. “It’s irritating. I think I liked you better when you were a vampire. What’s her name?”
Nat laughed. “Yeah, I’ve been told I have way too much energy. I already have tons of friends here. I could make her really happy. Her name’s Jen and a real hottie. She came out for a weekend from the HB&B in Los Angeles to see her father. I took her out to dinner and even told her I was interested in her, but she said she didn’t want to get serious with anyone. I think about her a lot, if you know what I mean.”
Trevor snorted. “A real charmer, aren’t you? You see that Halbling talking to Barkley? The tall one? He knows Jen better than me. Go ask him how you can get in her pants.”
“Thomas? He evaluated me and suggested me for the job. Great. I’ll ask him. And thanks again. Wish me luck with her.”
Nat went to talk to Thomas. “Shame, Trevor,” said Janna. “You know how protective Thomas and Johanna are with Jen. Johanna has a list of possible husbands, but so far Jen isn’t interested.”
Trevor chuckled. “I know. I wish we had time to watch the show.”
“Sometimes your humor is downright cruel.”
“I wouldn’t go so far as cruel. Maybe just tainted. Let’s get going. We have an old hag to visit.”
“Don’t you dare call her that when we see her. You behave at her house.”
“Stefan said she isn’t making much progress and still won’t talk. Everyone’s acting formal around her waiting for her to die. What she needs is a good argument.”
“She still can’t talk?”
“Can’t or won’t.” said Trevor. “My money’s on won’t. I’ll get her to talk.”
“Be nice to her. She’s on her deathbed.”
Trevor grinned. “I’ll be as nice as she expects me to be.”
Once their flight landed in Braunschweig, Stefan was waiting and drove them straight to Randolf’s house.
“How’s she doing?” asked Janna.
“The same,” said Stefan. “Karla’s doctor said she’s going to need care around the clock from now on.”
“I bet she hates that,” said Janna.
“She isn’t responsive, daughter. I’m not sure she knows what’s going on.”
“Isn’t or refuses to be responsive?” asked Trevor.
“She hasn’t spoken a word,” replied Stefan.
At Randolf’s house, Janna dashed to Goldiva’s room. A scattering of relatives sat morosely around, whispering to each other.
“Grand-daughter,” greeted Ulla. “Let me introduce you to some of our relatives. I don’t think you’ve ever met them before.”
Trevor leaned against the doorway and observed the room, his wife, and Goldiva’s unresponsiveness. Goldiva was lying without moving. Her eyes were closed, a shawl was wrapped around her, and a knitted sleeping cap covered her head. “Where’s her cane?”
“Ulla put it in our room,” said Randolf. “She kept hitting us with it. We worried that as weak as she is, she’d try to get out of bed too soon, but as you can see, we don’t think she’ll live much longer.”
Janna glanced towards Goldiva as Ulla dragged her to the relatives.
“This is my grand-daughter Janna, married to Trevor, Stefan’s son. Janna, these are my two sisters from America, Lillian and Winnie. This is Randolf’s cousin Drake and his wife Grace. Drake is Pete’s son, one of Goldiva’s boys.” Ulla went on to introduce Drake’s many children.
Janna shook hands with everyone courteously.
“You said she’s married to Trevor?” asked Lillian.
“That’s right,” said Ulla.
“Isn’t that him slouching over there?” whispered Winnie. Ulla’s sisters glanced towards him.
“We’ve heard that you’re a sweet Halbling,” said Lillian. “It must be a difficult marriage for you.”
Trevor rolled his eyes, but he caught Goldiva fighting a smile.
“I have a wonderful marriage,” said Janna. “Trevor is thoughtful and loving.”
“Trevor Dittmar?” asked Grace a little too loudly.
The old hag’s fighting not to smile. Trevor watched as her lips quivered.
“Such a sweetheart,” said Winnie, “but you don’t have to pretend. The entire family knows how rude that one is.” She nodded her head towards the door. And Trevor caught Goldiva’s lips trembling again.
“I assure you,” said Janna haughtily, “Trevor is the kind of husband every woman wants.”
“I didn’t want him,” said Winnie. She and Grace laughed.
“You were a human when he married you, weren’t you?” asked Grace. “Then he even dared to impregnate you. Dangerous for human women. You gave birth to a Halbling boy? Weren’t you in labor for three days?”
Janna put her hands on her hips. “Turns out I wasn’t human. I’m a descendant of Master Ivarr of Sverige. Trevor rescued me before I died. He married me because he loved me, and I’d go through those three days of labor again if Trevor wanted me to. He won my heart.”
“Trevor?” asked Winnie. “Lillian, remember that time we came to visit Ulla, and Goldiva threw him out of the house because he bit her? Wasn’t he barely 3-years-old? I think she made him walk home by himself. Such a precocious child. Too stubborn to be taught good manners.”
“What do you expect when the High Council Member spoiled him?” asked Lillian.
Trevor watched to see if Goldiva would react and sure enough, she was fighting another smile.
“Excuse me,” said Janna curtly, “but I did come to see Goldiva, not discuss my husband’s childhood.”
“Of course, dear,” said Lillian sympathetically. “You best do that. She hasn’t got long now, you know.” The women shook their heads and grimaced.
Janna hurried to Goldiva and sat on the bed, grasping Goldiva’s hand. She squeezed it lightly and Goldiva turned towards her, but only blinked. Janna’s eyes filled with tears and she leaned down and kissed the old Halbling’s cheek. “Don’t die,” whispered Janna. “So many love you. I love you. You saved my marriage. You saved me. You mean everything to me.”
All eyes were on Janna, listening to her sad words. No-one had noticed that Trevor had disappeared.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Everyone turned towards the sound, including Goldiva.
“My deepest wish is almost fulfilled.” Trevor placed his hand over his heart and inhaled deeply. “The old hag is finally on the verge of death. I had given up hoping.” He smiled wistfully. “When it happens, I’ll burn this.” He twirled Goldiva’s cane easily and thumped it several times on the floor. “Maybe I should help her over the edge. Then my wish will be answered today.” He twirled it again and thumped it on the floor.
“Trevor,” cautioned Stefan. “This isn’t the time for teasing.”
“Teasing? No, I’m speaking from my heart.” Trevor walked towards Goldiva using her cane with each step and pretending to hobble. “Who am I?” No-one answered. “I’m Goldiva. See? I’m hobbling like the old hag does.”
“Grandson,” said Ulla with a sniff. “Stop this behavior. Be respectful. Can’t you see she’s on her deathbed?”
“Why should I? We all want the old hag dead. It’s what we’ve been waiting for.” Trevor did a tap dance with her cane. “All of you are just afraid to give her that push she needs. Who’s in charge of the celebratory party?” He poked Goldiva several times with her cane. She remained expressionless.
“Trevor,” snapped Janna. “Behave or go home.”
The relatives were offended and whispered among themselves, shocked by his behavior. “So like him,” said Winnie.
“Anyone gone through her things yet?” Trevor called out. “No? Good. I call dibs.” He poked her again and Janna stood angrily.
“What’s the matter with you?” asked Janna. “Have some respect.”
Instead, Trevor poked Janna with the cane.
“Ow. Trevor, stop.”
But he poked her again when suddenly, Goldiva sat straight up.
“Give me my cane, you disrespectful troublemaker.” Goldiva reached for the cane, but Trevor pulled it back.
Surprised utterings echoed around the room.
“She’s out of her stupor,” Trevor announced, feigning surprise. He held the cane towards Goldiva. “It’s a miracle. Want it?” But whenever she reached for it, he pulled it away. Finally, she stood up and grabbed it from him then whacked him hard on the shoulder. “Faker.” Trevor grinned.
“I wasn’t faking. All this gloom in here was bringing me down. I didn’t feel like participating. What a bunch of boring Halblings.”
“Mother,” said Ulla, stunned.
“And you’re the worst of them,” said Goldiva, “hovering over me, sleeping on the floor at night, afraid I’d roll out of bed or die. Who could sleep while you’re sniffling and fussing over me? You should have left me alone. You know how much I hate molly coddling. Bring me a glass of brandy.”
“I have something better.” Ivarr had just entered. “This will aid in your recovery.” He handed her a small tube.
Goldiva opened it and sniffed. “Whose blood is it? It better not be from the Queen Bee’s collection.”
“It’s my private stock,” replied Ivarr.
Goldiva poured Eutychus’ blood on the floor. The women gasped.
“Mother,” chastised Randolf. “That blood is rare.”
“I don’t want blood from him. He killed my father and I saw him do it.”
“Goldiva,” warned Ivarr.
“How could he, mother?” asked Ulla. “Eutychus was long dead by then, and how could you have seen it? You were just a young girl.”
Ivarr shot Goldiva a quick warning then smiled patiently. “I thought maybe not, so I made you a health tonic instead.” He held out a vial and Goldiva drank it down.
Trevor snorted. “Still off a bit, aren’t you?”
“What do you mean?” asked Goldiva.
Trevor pointed at the floor. “That’s not pure blood. Look at it.”
Goldiva looked down. The red liquid had pooled, but the consistency was wrong.
“My guess is, the one on the floor is food coloring with drops of animal blood and you just drank Eutychus’ blood mixed with some tincture,” said Trevor.
Goldiva looked piercingly at Ivarr, but Ivarr remained nonchalant.
“Tricked me, did you? Ptui.”
“Too late,” said Ivarr. “You swallowed it already.”
This was followed by several more ptui’s from Goldiva.
“Really, mother,” said Ulla.
“Out! All of you out. I only want to visit with the hussy and the troublemaker.” No-one moved. “Get going or I start smacking.”
Once the room emptied, Goldiva turned to Ivarr. “How could you do that to me after what he did?”
“It’s not your time to die yet,” said Ivarr. “If anything, we need you more now than any time in the past.” From his robe, he took out a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps. “A gift.”
“Stubborn old Halbling,” said Goldiva. “I suppose it’s full of his blood too.”
Ivarr only smiled. “You’d have to drink it to know.” At that he took his leave.
Now, Goldiva turned on Trevor and Janna. “What took you so long to get here? I kept waiting for you every day. And you,” she pointed her cane at Trevor, “how’d you know I was faking?”
Trevor snorted. “You’re too tough for any vampire, and besides, you don’t want me to get my wish.”
“Goldiva―” but Goldiva cut Janna off.
“Don’t namby-pamby me, as if I’m some feeble old woman.”
“Then you’re alright?” asked Janna.
“I am not, hussy.” Goldiva sat on her bed. “”I’ll need assistance, maybe for the rest of my life. Even I know that. Damn vampires. Ulla’s been researching caregivers.” She looked up at Trevor. “If I get worse than this, I count on you ending my life.”
“You can count on me,” said Trevor. “It’ll be my pleasure. I’ll plan an interesting method. I might even do it before you ask. It’ll be the best gift anyone will ever give me.”
“And there isn’t any dibs on my personal things.”
“You won’t be here to stop me.”
Goldiva watched him for a moment then she broke out laughing. “Go on, the two of you. I have a life to live. I can’t spend all my time catering to you two.” Janna hugged her. “Still too much emotion,” Goldiva said. “It’s your mother’s fault. Well, get out and let an old Halbling finally have some peace and quiet. Ulla! Ulla!” she shouted.
Ulla rushed in. “What is it, mother?”
“Next time, come quicker. Help me back into bed and bring me that brandy. Call an exterminator to get rid of those family leeches waiting for me to die. They left a stinky gloom hanging over this room.”
Goldiva did continue to live, although she needed constant care. Ulla stayed faithfully by her side. Caregivers were hired, but they couldn’t handle Goldiva’s difficult personality and left within days of being hired. And so the years passed with little improvement in her health. That is, until sixteen years later when Jeffrey’s daughter Chloe graduated ahead of time and top in her class. Just as obstinate and determined as Goldiva, she took care of Goldiva for four years, nurturing her and getting her back on her feet, giving her back the quality of life that Goldiva held so dearly.
Love Honor and Respect to all