Home > All the Dead Shall Weep (Gunnie Rose #5)

All the Dead Shall Weep (Gunnie Rose #5)
Author: Charlaine Harris





Eli was working, so I met the train at Sweetwater by myself. I’d just returned from guarding a shipment of farm implements on a leg of its journey between Canada and Mexico; I’d had to travel to take the job, but it had been ten days of work, and lucrative. And it had gotten me out of the house.

All of which meant I could afford to rent the old car from the Segundo Mexia stables and drive to Sweetwater to meet the train.

The station at Sweetwater was little more than a shack clinging to a platform, but at least there were a couple of benches under a roof. I was grateful for the shade. It was June, and June in Texoma is hot and dry… unless it rains. Then it’s hot and steamy. Today was a dry day.

The stationmaster, a sprightly sixty-ish woman named Molly Lerma, came out of the shack to sit with me. I expect she was glad of the company.

“You’re Jackson and Candle’s daughter, ain’t you?” she asked, and spat into an old can positioned at her feet.

“Candle’s daughter and Jackson’s stepdaughter. Lizbeth Rose. Lizbeth Rose Savarova, now.” My outlandish married name still got a lot of stares in Texoma, which used to be Texas and Oklahoma, more or less.

Molly Lerma gave me the expected long stare. “You the one married that wizard?”

I wasn’t going to tell her that Eli was a grigori, not a wizard, especially since I wasn’t sure there was a big difference. “Eli Savarov,” I said. I didn’t tack the “Prince” on first because it just sounded silly.

“And he wanted to live in Texoma?”

I wasn’t surprised Molly sounded incredulous. Texoma was poor, remote, and the smallest of the five countries created when the United States had fallen apart.

“He did,” I said, and left it at that.

“How’s Jackson doing? I knew him from school,” the stationmaster said. She spat again.

“He’s doing well.” Jackson had worked hard and carved himself out a position of power in Segundo Mexia, our little town.

Molly smiled. She was missing some important teeth. “Jackson always was a go-getter.”

I nodded and smiled back, hoping the conversation was at an end. Not that I minded talking about my stepfather. I was real fond of Jackson Skidder. He’d taught me how to shoot and given me my Colts. Couldn’t ask for anything better than my Colt 1911s. I had to stop myself from reaching down to pat them. Jackson had been way more of a dad to me than my actual father, whom I’d only met once, the day I killed him.

After a pleasant few minutes of silence, I asked Molly if the train was on time. She said, “I reckon.” That was the end of our conversation. Which suited me. I had a lot to think about.

I was waiting at the train station to pick up my half sister Felicia, who was coming in from San Diego (capital of the Holy Russian Empire) with Eli’s brother Peter. Not only had Eli and I not had company since we’d been married, but Felicia was over fifteen, and Peter was eighteen and a bit. The last time I’d seen them, they’d been sweet on each other. Their sleeping arrangements were kind of up in the air.

Also, though my half sister (same father, different mother) had started life in a Mexican slum, she was an educated city girl now. Segundo Mexia, my hometown, was humble and small, as Eli had carefully not said during the past few months. After we’d come home married and built the addition to my cabin and Eli had begun scouting around for work, I’d seen lots of mouth-tightening and tense shoulders. He was having a hard time adjusting.

During their stay, would Peter and Felicia be content to hunt with me or practice magic with Eli? Did you have to entertain company?

I knew that moving dirt, finding water, and warding businesses was not what Eli, now Prince Savarov, had planned to do as a grigori. In his life in San Diego, Eli had been in Tsar Alexei’s service. He’d had access to the palace and a relationship with the royal family. He’d had good friends among the other grigoris, the top of the magic hierarchy. He’d had a disagreeable but powerful partner named Paulina. He’d been able to visit his mother and sisters and Peter. He’d lived in the grigori dormitory. He’d been independent and important and on the way up.

Now Eli lived in Segundo Mexia with me, doing work that was anything but exalted. The people in my little town were just getting over regarding Eli with suspicion. Grigoris were not highly regarded in Texoma, unlike in the Holy Russian Empire. Of course, Eli lived with me, his wife, and I had only a trace of magic. I was a gunnie. I made my living—our living—with my shooting. In Texoma, that had more prestige.

Eli hadn’t complained about any of this. It was the silence that worried me.

If I ran out of concerns about my husband, I could fret about how my mother would feel when she met Felicia, the other daughter of my father. I’d been conceived when Oleg Karkarov raped my mother. Later, back in Mexico, Oleg had married Felicia’s mother before Felicia had come along. My mother had been beautiful; Felicia’s mother had been the scion of Mexico’s most prominent witch family.

I could see a black dot way down the tracks. I breathed out, relieved and worried and happy.

“Thar she comes,” Molly Lerma said. “Right on time.” She sounded triumphant, as if I’d told her I doubted the train would arrive.

“Right on time,” I agreed.

Hooting and screeching, the train came to a stop at the little station. Old Mrs. Guthrie got off first. Molly Lerma helped her down the steps. Mrs. Guthrie carried an ancient carpetbag and a cage with a bird in it. You would have thought she was carrying a horse, the fuss she made.

I was on my feet and waiting impatiently for her to clear the way, because I knew my sister would be next off. Felicia propelled herself from the steps, and I caught her, and we laughed and held each other, and she cried a little before she drew back. Felicia was so grown-up! So pretty! We didn’t look alike… but we did, in some ways.

By that time, Peter had gotten off, too. He was carrying two modest suitcases. He gave me a quick hug and a peck on the cheek before looking up and down the little platform. “Where’s Eli?” he said.

“Oh, my God!” Felicia was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. There was more of her to bounce than there had been a few months ago, especially in the chest department. “We’re here! We’re out of the city!”

That made me feel a little better. “I’m really glad to see you,” I said. “Peter, Eli’s working, but he’ll be home soon. Maybe by the time we get there.”

Peter smiled. That turned him into a man you’d look at a second time.

My half sister sure looked… and smiled back.

“This all your luggage?” I pointed at the two bags Peter carried.

“Peter said I had to travel light.” Felicia was still bouncing.

I asked Peter to put the bags in the car, and after some exclaiming over the luxury of getting to ride—which was a real luxury in Texoma, they both realized—Peter tossed the bags into the trunk, and we admired the car, which had been created out of bits and pieces of vehicles that had gone before. The body had come from a Ford, but the doors had been grafted on from another car line, and so on.

“Let’s get going,” I said. I opened the driver’s door. Peter went around to the other side.

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