Epilogue: A Sold Soul
Several hours earlier (right after the cocktail party); outside of Carmichael Tower
“Well that went well,” Appius deadpanned.
Andre chuckled as he settled next to Appius in the limo. The privacy panel was up, and no one else was in the vehicle yet, so Appius let the stress of the evening show on his face.
“You okay, baby?” Andre whispered as he brought Appius’s hand up to his lips for a gentle kiss. Appius leaned into his lover’s touch, an action that he usually wouldn’t have indulged in outside of his bedroom or private office suite at NP; however, Pam, Nora, and Sophie-Anne were chatting in front of the entrance of Carmichael Tower as they looked at Gracie’s pictures, and the limo’s windows were heavily tinted.
“I despise him,” Appius said, sinking further into Andre’s warm embrace.
“I know,” Andre comforted as he stroked Appius’s hair. “But the dreaded party is now over. And because of you, the Chinese company chose us, despite any misgivings they likely had about Eric.”
“Don’t say his name,” Appius sighed as he brought his lips to Andre’s and forgot his worries for a few moments.
“How about if I scream your name later?” Andre asked as he nipped Appius’s chin playfully.
“Sounds good,” Appius smiled. He moved a little away from Andre as he saw Sophie-Anne and Nora turn to come to the limo. He was a big believer in keeping his private life private—even though his wife and daughters knew of his romantic connection to Andre.
Appius noticed that the progress of the women was delayed when Isabel joined them on the sidewalk.
“You would think that she’d just stay the night with him,” Appius mused as he looked at Isabel through narrowed eyes.
Andre shrugged. “Perhaps Eric still has his rendezvous only at the apartment in Northman Tower.”
“No,” Appius said thoughtfully. “My people tell me he hasn’t used the apartment there for the better part of a year—since last December, in fact. I assumed it was because he was bringing Isabel here.”
“Perhaps he does. Perhaps she has to be somewhere early tomorrow,” Andre suggested. “Or,” he chuckled, “maybe they’ve had a lover’s spat.”
Appius frowned. He’d seen no evidence of fighting between Isabel and Eric. Perhaps Isabel leaving was insignificant—as Andre seemed to think; however, it seemed odd to Appius that Isabel wouldn’t stay over at her “almost” fiancé’s home on a weekend night. He knocked on the limo’s divider.
Immediately, Wybert lowered it. “Can I be of assistance, sir?” he asked.
“Yes—where’s your brother?” Appius asked.
“Parked about two blocks away in the Lexus—just as you asked,” Wybert responded. Should I call him? Will Miss Nora need the car as you thought she might?”
“Yes,” Appius said. “Call him, but not for Nora. I want Sigebert to stay here and keep an eye on Eric. You two can rotate off and on, but—starting tonight—I want to know his every move for the next week.”
“Of course,” Wybert said. “Will there be anything else?”
Appius shook his head and gestured for his body guard/chauffeur to raise the privacy screen again. The hair on the back of his neck was standing up as he looked back as Isabel.
“Something has been off about him—about Eric,” Appius said to himself as much as to Andre. “He’s been different for several months now.”
“What do you mean?” Andre asked. “I haven’t noticed anything amiss with him.”
“It’s something,” Appius pondered. “Something. I just can’t put my finger on it.”
Appius glanced at his Rolex. He couldn’t wait to get home so that he could begin to monitor the listening device Nora had planted in Eric’s office. If he was lucky, he’d find out something that very night. He’d wanted to put another bug in Eric’s bedroom, but he knew that Nora would have never gone for that. He just hoped that he’d be able to get something incriminating on the boy by monitoring his office communications.
In addition, he was trying to get someone onto the security staff of Carmichael Tower—so that he could bug every square inch of Eric’s home. Inconveniently, the individual who headed security was not one to be easily manipulated, so all the people Appius had sent to apply for work in the tower had been denied. However, Appius had done his research on the rest of Henry Giles’s team. They were all ex-military or ex-police. And they all had a personal connection either to Giles himself or to another member of the team. Sadly, none of them seemed bribable.
However, he’d found someone who both fit Giles’s hiring pattern and was easily buyable. And he was confident that she would soon be in place.
Meanwhile, he would have Sigebert and Wybert keep an eye on Eric. And if the boy was hiding something, he would find it out.
Appius leaned back into the seat of the limo and relaxed a little. He smiled. Secrets were ammunition. And more ammunition meant that he could make sure that Eric continued to suffer.
Yes, Appius thought. He would do everything in his power to make sure that Eric suffered as he had suffered—even if he had to sell his soul to do it!
The End of Comfortably Numb
Touch the Flame, the sequel to this story is complete. You can link to it below.
A/N: Well, folks, that’s it for this story! I hope that you liked it. Many of you speculated that the first story would end right where it began. Sorry—but NOPE! The scene that begins Comfortably Numb is still looming on the horizon.
In the sequel, you can look forward to more angst. And a lot more love.
Michelle will rear her ugly head and try to compete with Appius for worst parent ever! The sequel will show us an Eric and Sookie who will both be fighting for the other and for what they have. They may lose some battles in this fight (see Chapter 1 of CN), but the outcome of the war will be determined by who is ultimately stronger: Eric or Appius? I know who I’m betting on.
New enemies will come into play as Appius—in his growing insanity—gathers together more ways to punish Eric. However, new friends will come onto the scene too. Who will win? Well—you’ll have to read the sequel to find that out.
Again, thanks for everyone who followed this story. And a special thanks to all reviewers! I love all readers—even the lurkers. 😉 But hearing from you is very special to me.
I also want to say thanks to the lovely Sephrenia one more time. She did the character banners for this story. If you want to check them all out, take a look here. And, of course, she made the wonderful story banner!