Anne sipped at her tea as she tried to process everything that Lady Maritza had just told her. It had been a week since the fight in the forest, and this was the first time that Anne had been allowed out of her bed. Officially, it had been to recover from injuries from the fighting with the Servitors. In truth, though, Anne, with Samantha’s help, had spent most of the week dealing with the memories that had flooded her mind when Arem removed her block. Damn it, she’d been just an infant. Why did she have to have the memories of Arem and Meliandre (Anne was guessing it was Meliandre) murdering her twin sister for some ritual. Samantha’s best guess was that unless Anne locked away all of her power, the memories would remain. Much to her own surprise, Anne realized she wanted her powers – even at the cost of the memories. She just wished she could figure out a way of looking at her parents without feeling guilty.

“I can’t believe Veronica’s gone,” Anne said as she set down the china cup on the coffee table. “I thought it would be easier after Dale died, but it’s just as hard.” Dale Melon had been her partner in homicide and had been killed during a fight with werewolves and Arem. It was hard to believe that was less than a year ago.

“It never gets easier, when those closest to us are killed,” Samantha said from where she was ensconced in an overstuffed armchair. “Especially the way people in our profession tend to go.” There was an odd fatalism in Samantha’s voice that Anne had never heard before.

“Jaegar was kind enough to offer to visit her family,” Lady Maritza said, clearly annoyed with having to admit it.

“He was the team leader. It was his duty,” Samantha said. “I just wish I was going with him. Those visits are harder for him because of his powers.” Anne flinched as she thought of what it must be like being an empath surrounded by grieving families. Maybe that was part of why Erik always seemed so cold.

“Yes, well, he’s proven to be quite capable of dealing with death,” Lady Maritza said and Samantha’s eyes narrowed.

“With Erik banished back to Avalon and Veronica’s death, who’s going to be filling out my security detail?” Anne asked. “Arem kept his word about not trying to get me back during the fight with the Servitors, but I know he’s going to try again.”

“Your security is no longer the responsibility of the Avalonian government,” Lady Maritza said, “Of so I’ve been told by the Americans. Their task force has decided to set up a permanent base here. Jason is not the head of your detail, and will keep his cover as your partner in homicide. Others will move into the apartments to take over as your detail.”

“What about Samantha and Kurt?” Anne asked.

“The Americans have asked us to stay on as ‘advisors’ on dealing with whatever the Dark Towers could send their way,” Samantha answered.

“Officially, they will both work for my husband’s security firm,” Lady Maritza said. “Which will make it easier on your relationship with Kurt, since the pair of you won’t have to go hiding about anymore.” Anne looked down at her cup and blushed. She thought they were doing a good job of keeping that from being discovered by Lady Maritza. Much to Anne’s surprise, Lady Maritza let out a peal of genuine laughter.

“Oh my, Anne, you are precious,” Lady Maritza said, “I’m not blind. I can see how the two of you look at each other.” The older woman’s eyes had a wistful look. “The pair of you remind me of how my husband and I used to act when we were your age. Younger, actually, now that I think about it. Someday, I will have to tell you that story.”

“Joseph’s also going to be joining us as soon as he completes his recovery,” Samantha said, barely containing her own happiness.

“As much tragedy as this incident has caused us, there have been a few bright spots,” Lady Maritza commented. The women fell silent in contemplation.

“So, what now?” Anne asked, after a few minutes.

“In another week, you’ll go back to work,” Lady Maritza, “Although, you’ll be taken off of active cases for at least the next two months or so.”

“What? Why?” Anne asked, almost sputtering into her cup. Strangely, Lady Maritza looked over apprehensively at Samantha. The psychic’s jaw dropped, and then her face scrunched in intense anger.

“What the hell is she doing coming here?” Samantha snarled.

“Escorting her husband, as is proper and expected,” Lady Maritza answered cooly.

“Lady Maritza, would you kindly explain to me what’s going on?” Anne asked.

“Of course, Anne dear. I apologize for inadvertently excluding you,” Lady Maritza said, “The Avalonian government is sending the Crown Prince Rupert here to discuss with the American government recent events and negotiate a better course of action. His wife Anya will be accompanying him, and has asked that you be detailed to serve as one of her personal guards and liaison.” Anne frowned as she thought about having to do diplomatic security. High level muckety-mucks tended to bring their own security, and the Secret Service and State Department tended to send even more. These details usually ended with her being sent for coffee because she happened to know what were the best places in the city. Then Anne’s mind caught the woman’s name.

“Wait, wasn’t Erik’s ex-girlfriend’s name Anya?” Anne asked. “The Avalonian prince is married to Erik’s ex-girlfriend?”

“From what I understand, it was probably closer to ex-fiancee,” Lady Maritza said after it was clear that Samantha wouldn’t say anything. Lady Maritza’s head snapped to Samantha.

“Yes, you will work with ‘that woman,'” Lady Maritza said, answering a telepathically sent question, “For some reason, Princess Anya considers you to be a friend, and has specifically asked for you and Anne to be assigned as part of her aides.” Anne didn’t think she’d ever seen Samantha so furious in all the time she’d known the Avalonian. Lady Maritza continued as if she didn’t notice Samantha’s expression. “The Crown Prince will be here in six weeks and is expected to stay for a fortnight. Perhaps longer if necessary. From now until then, we’ll be working with the Americans to make sure everything is prepared for their arrival.”