I was listening to Myah’s conversations the entire time so I was aware of the plan, but a small part of me was skeptical that Kaveh and Ensi would be returned to me. Yet there they were, pawing gently at the sides of the box that kept them contained inside the ring.
Myah waved a rainbow handkerchief over her hand and when she ripped it away a microphone appeared in her grip. “Would my two lovely assistants kindly release these big kitties from the ring? I think they’d like to spend some time with their mommy.”
There was a collective aww from the audience while Camille and I rushed in to roll the lions off of the stage. Myah winked at us and launched into a stunning trick involving live doves—I’d have to remember to ask her how she did it. We ran to the feline holding room, pushing the box between us, trying to get them clear before Wiseacre or any of his goons caught up to us.
Once at the holding room I unlocked the box and was immediately engulfed by two large and overexcited balls of fur. “Good gracious! Yes, I missed you too, my loves,” I laughed, hugging them each tightly in response to having sticky lion breath blown in my face.
“I’ll be right back, Nix, I’ve got to get this box out of here,” I heard Camille say.
Ensi’s body was quivering and they were both whimpering like frightened cubs. “What did that mean man do to you?” I whispered, checking their eyes and teeth, then their bodies for any broken bones.
After making sure they were in one piece at least, I fed them and ushered them into their room so they could get a good night’s sleep. Seeing them so scared was really starting to make me angry though. I had half a mind to go grab my gun and end everything right here and now. My feet actually started to lead me to my dressing room, but my path was blocked by a very angry Admiral.
“It’s good to see your lions looking so…perky,” he said icily, flipping his cane in his hand.
“They’ll recover, no thanks to you,” I said, clenching my hands into fists that were ready to fly at any moment.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re implying.” Wiseacre’s lips curled into a smile, but his eyes were daring me to try something so he could strike me down.
I rolled my eyes and went to walk past him. “Oh, I’m sure.”
He hit my chest with the tip of his cane to stop me from walking any further. “Not so fast, Nixela. That was some trick the magician performed out there. I’d love to know the secret behind it, and believe me I’ll find out. You’ll have a good night won’t you?”
I slapped the cane away and took a daring step closer to Wiseacre. “You can wipe that fake smile off your face because I know that inside you’re fuming that I got one over on you. You’re outplayed, old man.”
Wiseacre smiled even wider at my words, sending unwelcome shivers down my spine. “On the contrary, little girl, you played right into my hands. You proved me right in every way.”
I jerked away from him, disgusted that I couldn’t seem to get ahead in whatever sick game he was playing. He laughed his ugly cackle and whistled an eerie tune as he walked back to wherever it was he would lurk for the rest of the night.
Camille ran up to me and put a comforting hand on my shoulder. “I heard everything, what do you think he meant by that?”
I shook my head in frustration. “I don’t know, but I can tell you one thing—he’s not wearing his ring. If we ever do find out exactly what he’s up to, we’re going to have one hell of a time finding evidence to prove it.”
“Do you want me to walk with you back to your dressing room?”
“No that’s okay,” I said, smiling warmly in thanks. “I’ve had a little bit of separation anxiety since Kaveh and Ensi were gone, I’d like to sleep close by them.”
Camille squeezed my shoulder and headed back towards the tent. With a sigh I headed back into the lion’s holding room and curled up on the floor in between them. Whatever happened with the Admiral after tonight, at least I had Kaveh and Ensi back.