“Daddy, please!” begged Dani, her amethyst eyes taking on that pleading look she had mastered through years of begging me for things.
“Be careful. Jemal’s in charge. Call me if there’s any trouble.” I replied, staring them all down.
“You sure about this!?” asked Jemal nervously.
“What? You seemed fine with the idea until you were in charge.” I told him with a smile. “I’m sure you can handle a little shopping with the girls. Have fun!”
“We will!” insisted Maple
My wife and I we’re heading to the Palace of Versailles today. Cosette, Raine, Dejon, Brandon, Deyanira, Brenna, Emma, Aurora, Iris, and the twins were coming with us. Portentia and Maxine made a deal where Portentia would be accompanying Maxine to see another of her friends if Maxine went on patrol tonight. Aaliyah and Mila were off negotiating a deal on behalf of my company to procure some real estate.
Our private tour started in the gardens, much to Emma’s delight. Then we went on to explore the Hameau de la Reine. Despite the sun, Cosette smiled from under her umbrella. She’d drunk her fill this morning, and we had more blood stored for her in a cooler. I had worked a little magic to help redirect sunlight as well, and then created illusions to hide the unnatural shadows. Still, I felt for her, needing such extreme measures to tour her father’s old home.
After arriving in the billiard room, Cosette said, “I wonder what my father would think of this place now. Would he recognize it? The descriptions in his journals are similar, but would he complain about the differences?”
Knowing that Aaliyah would likely allow me to ask the man directly, I was somewhat tempted, but I knew I would feel guilty speaking with Cosette if I did. Being able to talk with the parents she missed so much just wouldn’t be fair.
“I’m sure he would be happy you could see it, whether or not it is quite the same.” replied Alma as she hugged Cosette’s shoulders.
Cosette seemed to tense under her touch for a moment. Though for my wife killing Louis happened decades ago, less than a year had passed for Cosette. I was thankful when she relaxed and leaned against Alma.
We spent a little more time in the village before heading off to the palace. Thanks to Adelmar’s notions of respect, a number of the people attending us in France knew who Cosette was and treated her like royalty here. I doubted any of them spoke with Adelmar regularly, so they were probably frightened of earning his ire should Cosette be displeased.
For her part, Cosette seemed to ignore the gestures, but I was certain she knew with how she started conversations as we approached any of the staff, avoiding any acknowledgement of their bows. She didn’t partake in the refreshments we were brought or respond to any of the meaningful comments of our guide. Some of the staff obviously noticed that she was wearing some of the “missing” crown jewels.
When we reached the second floor of the palace, my phone buzzed. Video footage from a security camera instantly played across the screen as I looked at it. Three people were attempting to capture my daughter, quite unsuccessfully.
“Raine, would you mind tying these three up?” I asked, showing her what was happening.
She was on the screen before I looked up from it.
“Please excuse me. I must inform someone of my sentiments toward kidnapping my family.” I announced. Then I ran out. The moment I was out of sight, Aaliyah transported me across the world.
“Hyun-woo.” I stated, making the man jump and rapidly spin around. “My secretary just informed me that you were behind the attempted kidnapping of my daughter. I’ve decided not to intervene on your behalf, since your family can be exceptionally slow learners. After Adelmar is informed of the situation, Aaliyah will be visiting to discuss the details of your demise. You have under five minutes to make any last arrangements you would like. Goodbye.”
He started casting several spells, but I sidestepped and returned to France, thanking Aaliyah for being so accommodating. Unfortunately, there would be many more moves against me in years to come. I had a very organized list thanks to my secretary. Still, I really didn’t like these matters.
“Sorry I took a bit to catch up.” I announced, stepping up from behind my friends and daughter. “I assure you this won’t happen again today. Please return to shopping while I have a chat with our new friends.”
“F-Friends!? You’re joking, right?” questioned Jemal.
At the same time, Dani said, “Thank you, daddy! Did you see the fight!?”
“Yes, you really need to work on pulling your punches.” I replied with a smirk. She had certainly cracked some ribs.
“Sorry, daddy.” she told me, faking an apologetic expression.
“Raine, they’re still touring Versailles if you want to see the rest.” I told her.
She looked hesitant for a moment, and then disappeared.
“Is this type of thing normal?” inquired Maple, looking worried.
“No, but I’ve got much to discuss with these three.” I told her.
“Come on! Daddy will be fine. Let’s go!” insisted Dani.
“Come on, Jemal.” agreed Kayla as she took his hand.
They’d be fine. After they were a ways off, I walked over to the three attackers and smiled. “Achille, Babette, and Heloise Marceau, correct?”
They looked frightened and surprised.
“I’ll be opening a French branch of my company soon. I need to give you some tests and obviously train you, but I have plans for you to be working for me. Hyun-woo is being dealt with, and your boss will soon be begging me to take you off his hands. I’ve already read through your files, and I think you all have marvelous potential. I’ve texted you where to go, so please be prompt. Tardiness is not a sign of an admirable best friend for hire.”
After I released their bonds with a spell, the trio stood, looking baffled. They’d fit in soon enough.