She poured ice water into her glass from a cut glass pitcher, took a long swallow, and appeared to gather her wits.
“I’ve been a minister’s wife for over forty years. I’ve helped at funerals, baptisms and even births. Here I thought I’d just about seen it all. But, just give me a little time to collect myself, Jim. I'll be all right. I’ve got to think of something to help you get to this child before something terrible happens to her.”Abertha cocked her head in thought. He could tell when she thought of something and the instant she decided against it. She shook her head just a bit…a poker tell if there ever was one. He smiled at her concentration and her effort, though.
“Everything I can think of that would lure a child out of hiding has a negative side to it. I have lectured children against strangers offering them candy, or asking for help to find a lost puppy. Come for a ride in my shiny new car…I won’t hurt you…they’re classic things bad people do when they want to harm kids.”
“I just want to help her.” He raised his shoulders in a helpless shrug.
Abertha’s face lit up. “I think I have an idea,” she pronounced with more than just a note of triumph. “I'll go with you.”
Jim shook his head. “I can’t get you involved, Abertha. These vampires are vicious. If they should see you or overhear you talking with Bailey, you’d be marked for sure.”
“No, I really can’t ask this of you. There has to be some other way, we just haven’t thought of it yet.”
The woman straightened in her chair. “Not alone. You’d be right there with me. You’re the man who kills vampires. I know you can protect me. You’ve been fightin’ the devil for a long time. I’ve tried in my own way, but never felt I’d done much good. The Reverend, he knows how to send Satan back where he comes from, but I’ve only just stood by and watched. I know I can get that little girl out of this terrible situation. I have a way with children.”
She added a nod of finality and caught Jim’s eyes with her own. He saw that she meant business.
So he raised his hands in surrender.