“The Bull’s Blood”, a novel.

Cover for Bull's Blood

Chapter 34

It was raining the next morning. The rain pelted the roof in loud cascades of white noise. Vadas opened one eye, saw the ominous darkness of the morning and curled himself around Elizabeth.

Elizabeth woke up, yawned and stretched. “Come on, it’s morning. It’s late. Get up.”

Vadas buried his head in her hair. “No, I want to stay in bed all day. In you, too.”

“Vadas, don’t be silly. There are plenty of things to do today.”

“What? You got someone to visit? You want to go shopping?”

Elizabeth yawned. “No. I have nowhere to go, but we could do something.”

“You can scratch my back. Massage my shoulders. Maybe you trim my toenails.” He snuggled down in the covers and tightened his arm around her.

“I don’t trim your toenails, Vadas. Even if we marry, I don’t do that.”

“What? A wife does these things for the husband.”

“I’m not your wife, yet, remember?”

“So? You are in training, no?”

“Ha. Come on, Vadas. I’ll get you some coffee.”

“Good. Bring back the pot.”

Elizabeth went downstairs and poured two mugs of coffee. On the way back she looked out the window at the top of the staircase. It was pouring outside. Perhaps Vadas was right. Perhaps it was a good day to do nothing.

Vadas was sitting up in bed, scratching his chest. Elizabeth handed him his mug and sat down in a chair by the window, sipping the hot coffee gingerly.

“It’s too wet to go visit the grapes, Elizabeth,” he said mournfully.

“Okay. Why don’t we go into Eger and see what furniture your aunts have stored in that warehouse?”

“We could do that. You could pick what you wanted for the house.” Vadas yawned. “We could also stay right here in bed.” He patted the bed beside him.

“Vadas, we don’t have a lot of time before the wedding. If you are serious about making the house livable, it’s going to take a lot of time and attention. The roofers should be coming soon, right?”

“Ah, we can go up there today and see where the rain is coming in, Elizabeth. Good idea. First, take care of your man.” Vadas grinned over his mug.

“You are going to wear me out before we get married.”

“Yes, I am. Aren’t you a lucky woman? The ló fasz is lonely.”

“You’re a maniac, Vadas. Later, sweetie, maybe this evening. I want to get some things done today.”

“As long as you remember the ‘later’, Elizabeth.”

“I’m going to take a shower.”

“Good, I’ll join you.”

“Nothing doing, Vadas. You know what happens when you butt into my shower.”

Vadas smiled, finishing the last of his coffee. “Listen, Elizabeth, before you go shower, I’ve been thinking. The reception? We need a big place. We can rent a hotel, or we can open part of the house. You want to live there, right? Well, we can fix up the roof. We can have people come in and repair some of the rooms. We can have chairs and tables rented. We can make part of the house livable. What do you think?”

Elizabeth stopped where she was. “Vadas? Can you afford to do this? You know that roof will cost a lot of money. And the murals must not be touched. We need a conservator to look at them. They might be of historic value. We don’t want to rush things. Is the house even wired for electricity? What about bathrooms? You are planning on, what? Two, three hundred people?”

“Elizabeth. I would be expected to have at least that many. This whole village and people from Budapest and Eger. It will be a crowd. For three days.”

Elizabeth’s mouth fell open. “Vadas. Some people will have to be put up for that long. At least those from Budapest. Your aunties and my Aunt Irene for much longer.”

“We can put a tent on the grounds. We can have people from out of town stay here. It would be tight, but Maria and Janos will arrange. As for toilets? They can use the bushes.”

“Oh, stop it, Vadas,” said Elizabeth laughing in spite of herself. “Be practical. And the food? We need a wedding planner. We need caterers. We need someone who knows what to do.”

“Okay. Hire someone. Vadas pays.”

Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief and went to take her shower. Vadas picked up a paper and started to read.

The phone rang. It was Andor. “Miklós has been seen in Eger.”

Vadas sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “What? When was he seen?” Vadas stood up and paced while he was talking. “Okay, okay. This changes plans for today. I have to get rid of Elizabeth. No, no. She wants to come into Eger, but that can’t happen. Yes, get Marcus and some of the other men here. I want at least two men here in the house, and two parked near the house. If Miklós is around, Elizabeth is in danger. No, I will meet you in half an hour, maybe a little more. Okay. I’ll unlock the gun cabinet in the hall. You know what to do.”

Vadas put the phone down on the nightstand. So, the bastard had surfaced and he was right under his nose. Now he had to convince Elizabeth to stay here, and not ask questions. But she would be alarmed with two other men in the house. She wasn’t stupid. She would know something was up.

Maria. She would help. Vadas threw on clothes and went downstairs to find Maria. Janos and Maria were both in the kitchen drinking coffee.

“Good. I’m glad I caught both of you. Janos, Miklós was seen in Eger. I’m going there. There will be four men here, two in the house, and two parked nearby. Just in case. Maria? I need you to keep Elizabeth under your thumb. Perhaps she can help in the kitchen? I don’t want her alarmed, but these men here? She will know something’s afoot.” Vadas shrugged his shoulders.

Janos nodded. Maria wasn’t so easy.

“Vadas. Elizabeth will know. She will be scared. I’m afraid for you. Don’t do this, Vadas. You don’t know what Miklós is planning or how many men he has. Please, Vadas, don’t go after Miklós now. Let the police handle it.”

“If the police get involved, I will go down with Miklós.”

Janos spoke: “Maria. This is Vadas’ decision. You, woman, stay out of it. You just keep Elizabeth busy until the smoke clears. Vadas, what are you going to do?”

Vadas turned in the doorway and looked at Janos. “I don’t know. Maybe beat him up. Maybe cut off his dick. Maybe I kill him. I don’t know, Janos. But I won’t go easy on Miklós. That’s if I find him.”

Vadas picked up Andor and Tomas, another man who knew what Miklós had done. Andor filled Tomas in about the sighting of Miklós. They got to Eger fast, Vadas driving like a maniac. They met the man who claimed Miklós had been seen. Miklós had disappeared, though someone had followed. Vadas turned and punched the wall of a building, cursing his head off. Bad move, as he skinned his knuckles. Vadas glared at Andor. “This seggfej is screwing with me.” Vadas lunged at the man, anger contorting his face.

Andor and Timor grabbed Vadas by the shoulders and arms and held him back. “Vadas! Stop it. Don’t kill the messenger, you shithead,” hissed Andor.

The man went pale. He stepped back.

Vadas shook his head, recovering himself and held out his hand. “Sorry. I lost my head.”

The man didn’t take his hand, his eyes flashing anger. Andor stepped in front of Vadas and put his arm around the man’s shoulder. He led him away and spoke quietly to him. Andor slipped something into his hand. The man looked back at Vadas and nodded his head.

“Maybe I should stay here and tail him myself.”

“No, Vadas. Miklós probably wanted you to know he was here. He’s playing cat and mouse with you. Go home and wait. He will probably do this again. But we will get him. Just be patient.”

Vadas looked at Andor and Tomas, and sighed. “You’re probably right. Miklós always was a tok feju. I just lost my head. I can’t afford to do that again.”

~~~~

Elizabeth found the gun cabinet open and immediately knew something was happening. She saw Marcus sitting on a chair in the hall. He nodded to her. Elizabeth could see he was armed. She went back to the gun cabinet and looked for a small pistol. Vadas’ guns were too big for her but she was damned if she was going to be unarmed. Marcus walked over to her and in bad English asked what she was looking for. Elizabeth said “gun” and he rolled his eyes. She opened the bureau next to the cabinet, rummaged around and found a small .38, unloaded. She found five bullets, loaded the gun and stuck it in the back pocket of her jeans. Marcus winked and nodded at her, then went back to his seat.

Elizabeth walked into the kitchen. A mood of unease filled the room. Maria was silent and Janos was smoking in the kitchen, something Maria usually forbade him doing. They suspected Elizabeth knew something and tried to take her mind off Vadas’ absence. Elizabeth had pulled her sweater down so the gun didn’t show. Maria didn’t notice, but Janos did. He smiled to himself and puffed on his cigarette. This was no helpless, dumb American woman.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019

“The Bull’s Blood” will be published in May, 2019 on Amazon.com

Noon Rose

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