"We told you to stay off this land, Mr. Bouvier," Stirling said.
Bouvier looked at him, turning his head slowly as if concentrating on anything besides the feel of power was hard.
"We've tried being nice about this," Stirling said. "We are not going to be nice any longer. Beau."
The pump action on a shotgun is a very distinctive sound. I turned towards the sound, gun in hand. I don't remember thinking about it. I was just looking down the barrel of a gun at Beau. He was cradling a shotgun in his arms, not aimed at anything. That saved him. I know if it had been pointed near us, I'd have shot him.
I was still seeing double. I could see the graveyard behind my eyes where there is no optic nerve. The cemetery was mine. I knew the bodies. I knew the ghosts. I knew where all the pieces lay. I stared down the gun, seeing Beau and the shotgun, but inside my head the dead still reached out for their scattered parts.
The ghosts were still real. The power had agitated them. They'd dance and sway on their own for a while. But they'd fade back into the ground. There was more than one way to raise the dead, but not permanently.
I couldn't look away from the shotgun to see what Bouvier was doing. "Anita, please don't raise the dead." His surprisingly deep voice held a note of pleading.
I fought an urge to glance at him. "Why not, Magnus?"
"Get off my land," Stirling said.
"This is not your land."
"Get off my land or you will be shot for trespassing."
Beau glanced my way. "Mr. Stirling?" He was being very careful that the shotgun stayed loose, and harmless, in his hands.
"Beau, show him we mean business."
"Mr. Stirling," he said again, with a little more urgency in his voice.
"Do what I pay you for," Stirling said.
He started to raise the shotgun to his shoulder, but slowly, watching me.
"Don't do it," I said. I let my breath out all the way until my body was still and quiet. There was nothing but the gun and what I was aiming at.
Beau lowered the shotgun.
I took a breath and said, "Put it on the ground, now."
"Ms. Blake, this is none of your business," Stirling said.
"You are not going to shoot someone for trespassing on a piece of land while I watch."
Larry had his gun out too, now. It wasn't pointed at anybody in particular, which I was grateful for. Pointed guns have a tendency to go off if you don't know what you're doing.
"On the ground, Beau, now. I won't ask a third time."
He laid the shotgun on the ground.
"I pay your salary."
"You don't pay me enough to get killed."
Stirling made an exasperated sound and moved forward as if he would pick up the gun himself.
"Don't touch it, Raymond. You'll bleed just as easy as anybody else."
He turned to me. "I cannot believe that you would hold me at gunpoint on my own property."
I lowered my gun arm just a touch; it gets shaky if you hold a shooting pose too long. "I cannot believe that you had Beau come up here armed. You knew my little show would attract Bouvier. You knew it and planned for it. You cold-blooded son of a bitch."
"Mr. Kirkland, are you going to let her talk to me like that? I am a client."
Larry shook his head. "I'm with her on this one, Mr. Stirling. You were going to ambush that man. Murder him. Why?"
"Good question," I said. "Why are you so afraid of the Bouvier family? Or is it just him that you're afraid of?"
"I am afraid of no one. Come along; we will leave you to your new friend." He marched away, and the others followed. Beau sort of hesitated.
"I'll bring the shotgun down for you," I said.
He nodded. "Figured that."
"And you better not be waiting down there with another gun."
He looked at me for a long minute. At both of us. He shook his head. "I'm going home to my wife."
"You do that, Beau," I said.
He walked away, black slicker flapping against his legs. He hesitated, then said, "I'm out of it from now on. Money doesn't spend if you're dead."
I knew a few vampires that would argue with him, but I said, "Glad to hear it."
"I just don't want to get shot," he said. He walked away down the slope, out of sight.