“In the name of all that is holy and good, for the last time, I am not Thor’s anything, thank you very much!”
Tyler ignored me, caught in a staring match with Thor, the most absurdly confident smile spreading slowly across his face, even while Thor’s expression had blackened. Bragi, however, was muttering an I-told-you-so in some kind of iambic pentameter. Baldur cleared his throat, catching Bragi’s eye, and shook his head just once, firmly, his mouth a hard line. The Shining God’s gaze flicked to Thor, and even in my irritation, I couldn’t fail to notice that the room had suddenly grown dark, all sunlight eclipsed by the green-black clouds filling the sky outside.
“You do remember the throw down with that frost giant, don’t you?” Tyler asked. “While you were busy tearing it to pieces, Mia and I whisked Amalia out of the middle of that glitter riot.”
Thunder did not rumble, it snarled, lightning flashing so brightly even my eyes burned. “And today you and Ms. Hayson sent her to be served for lunch to an assemblage of Vampires! The debt is paid!”
“Thaths Rithiculuths!” Adler said. “We were muth more intherestheth in sthpilling your blooth than herths!”
“Ah,” Baldur said softly. “Ms – Admiral Hayson, Thorsko – that is, Amalia, if you would both please step away from the windows. We wouldn’t want any blood spilled with a vampire so near, I think, and I fear a tornado seems to be forming just outside our last unbroken pane of glass.”
Mia clapped her hands. “Zombies to me! Quick like bunnies, snap, snap!”
The zombies began the shuffle to Mia’s corner of the room. Adam dropped the collected passports on Baldur’s silver desk as he passed, urging the straggling Glitterati onward in the process.
“Amaliaz?” Mia called, when she realized I hadn’t moved.
I crossed my arms and glared at the still-bleeding Adler. This was all her fault, and so help me, but I was about to earn one of my assault charges. Tyler might have had a point about my owing him, and I was more than happy to stick my neck out for the Glitterati in exchange, but Adler clearly wasn’t going to get down off her high-vampire-horse. Zombies PLUS Vampire-girlfriend was asking an awful lot.
“And you expect us to welcome you here, when you are so determined to cause us harm?” Thor demanded. “No. Even for Amalia’s honor, I will not stand for it!”
“Enough!” I said. “Tyler, if you want to call in a favor, with Baldur the Just as my witness, I’ll recognize I owe you one, but it’s between you and me.” I transferred my glare to Thor. “You have nothing to say about any of it, my honor included. Is that understood?”
Thor’s eyes had widened, the white fire draining from them in his surprise, and I took advantage of his silence. “Baldur, am I right in assuming that if Adler will convince her people to drop the charges laid against the Asgardian Embassy and myself, the Aesir will be willing to grant her access to Tyler and friends for as long as they remain under Asgardian Embassy protection?”
Baldur blinked once, eyeing me as if I had suddenly transformed into the Midgard serpent. “I believe that would be a fair agreement, yes. Certainly as long as there are legal charges pending or unresolved, it would be unseemly and inappropriate for any congress between ourselves and the vampires involved.”
“You cannot seriously be considering –” Thor began.
“Adler?” I prompted, cutting him off. “Unless you’d prefer Tyler to be deported immediately, of course, which from what Mia’s said, the moment they leave the protection of the Embassy, your love affair is pretty much doomed.”
“Zombies cannot live in Asgard!” Thor growled. “The trouble they would cause will be without measure!”
“Mia is an accomplished Zombie handler,” I said. “And no one is sending the Zombies to Asgard right now anyway, all they’re looking for is asylum until this treaty business is sorted out, right Mia?”
She nodded once. “Absolutely! Only until it is cleared up! Though, I must say, Golden Apples seem like they might be even more fabulous for distracting Le Zombies than hot dogs –”
Lightning cracked, tongues of flame erupting out of the ground outside in answer. “You and your Zombies will not so much as look at the tree, nor will you so much as sniff at Idunn’s apples!”
“Adler!” I called out over the thunder that followed. “Now or never! Before Baldur changes his mind.”
Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channels, to find out how Adler will respond!