Minerva knew she was being followed. She figured it was coincidence when she saw him sitting in Notre Dame’s garden, and figured it was plausible that he decided to take the same tour on the Seine, but when she spotted him in Montmartre, she knew that he was definitely pursuing her. He was tall, wearing dark, simple clothes. His weathered skin made him look older than he was, and his receding hairline didn’t make him look any younger. She decided that she would take the initiative.
“What do you want, Mr. Kane?” she asked, spitting out his name like an obscenity.
“I was just wondering where you hid your furry friend,” replied Kane with a stolid expression on his face. “I wouldn’t expect a wife to travel abroad without her husband, even less so with another man.” A renowned werewolf hunter, Mr. Kane was in Paris for the convention, just as Minerva was. However, she would never condone the torturous methods that Kane espoused. Glaring at the necklace of canine teeth that was the only jewelry that Kane wore, Minerva resisted the urge to pummel the self-righteous hunter.
“Unfortunately my husband wasn’t invited to attend, and found himself confined to the States because of someone’s inaccurate implications,” said Minerva, keeping aware of her surroundings, keeping certain that there were plenty of people in view. “Besides, August is my partner. There’s nothing between us but friendship.”
“Indeed,” responded Kane, sliding his hands into his pockets. “You are aware that you are being investigated, yes?” Kane’s eyes tracked skyward and Minerva followed his cue. A shadow lurked on the ledge of a crumbling brick building, but there was no body casting it. “There are those that say you are too powerful to let roam free. Just you remember that. Keeping company with a were won’t do much to instill confidence in you as a supporter of the human race.”
“You’re telling me this why?”
“Because I’ve been on the outside, and it isn’t pretty. When the IGPS pulls your membership, it is the start of a terrible road. Just you remember who told you that,” said Kane as he walked away slowly, stalking like a tiger. He disappeared in a crowd of tourists, leaving Minerva alone with the shadow. She wondered who could have sent their shadow to watch her, and what she should do next.
She found herself wandering away from Sacre-Coeur, letting the downward slope guide her to a small patisserie. She looked inside, seeing a variety of pastries and other goodies. She walked in under the pretense of buying something for later in the day, but the sweet scent of sugar and cream sent her stomach rumbling hungrily.
“Allo!” said the smiling proprietor. She was lithe and vibrant, her aura scintillating with all the colors of the flavored meringues that sat in the case before her.
“Bonjour,” responded Minerva, preparing to order.
“Don’t worry. I know some English.” said the youthful baker.
“Oh,” said Minerva, despondent that she was denied an opportunity to use the French she knew. Pointing at a chocolate filled éclair, she asked for two. In moments, she found herself thinking less about the shadow that crawled under the door. She felt that she had nothing to hide. “Let them watch,” said Minerva quietly under her breath.
August felt Minerva’s hand on his shoulder, and he drowsily looked up at her. His neck ached from the strange angle it was forced into.
“Asleep in the hall? You couldn’t make it into the room?” Minerva offered him a hand, and August graciously accepted.
“It has been terrible Minnie. No sooner I got out there, I fell for a grift. I should have seen it coming. So, I came back here and I realized you never gave me a copy of the key card. I tried to go back out there, but no sooner my foot hit pavement, a beggar was on me. He was persistent too.” August sighed as Minerva opened the door. “How did your day go?”
“It went well,” said Minerva, presenting August with a paper bag filled with an éclair inside. “I all ready ate way too much today,” she said, smiling. “Aside from this, I also managed to get us a cot for the room. They offered to move us again, but I was insistent. August sat down and reached into the bag and found that all of the chocolate inside of the éclair was now outside of it and all over his hand. He smiled grimly as he showed his hand to Minerva.
“I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. It seems like everything is fouled up, and most of it seems to be because of me.” said August, feeling pitiful. He had such high hopes for his time in Paris, and they were falling apart faster than Crispix in milk.
“Tomorrow will be another day. Just take a bath, unwind a bit, get some sleep, and you’ll have a new perspective in the morning,” offered Minerva sagely. August pondered Minerva’s advice and agreed with a nod.
“Like the song says, ’let my troubles go swirling down the drain’ right?” said August as he stepped into the bathroom, where he found a plush robe waiting for him, as well as a compliment of tiny soaps. He stripped off his clothes as the deep tub filled with steamy water. He let himself sink low into the cradling warmth of the water, and felt the tension leave his body.
“This isn’t so bad,” he said, his voice echoing in the cavernous room. “I really could get used to this.” After about an hour, once his hands were pruned and he was feeling bored, he pulled himself from the tub. That was when he caught a glance of his reflection in the mirror and saw a tiny red imp sitting on his shoulder, its tail wrapped around his neck. August let out a brief cry as the imp pulled him backwards, nearly causing August to brain himself on the side of the tub.
“August! Are you okay!?” called Minerva as August felt an intense throbbing in his brain, followed by waves of nausea. His arms and legs lashed out, seeking the side of the tub. On his chest, the imp sat invisibly, laughing as August’s head plunged under water.