White Witch, Black Curse
White Witch, Black Curse
Жанр: Эзотерика / оккультизм
Год издания: 2018
“This is about the Tilsons, isn’t it,” I said, and I knew I was right when his eyes went to the soup, scumming over. “You want to tell me now? Save me the trouble of having Ivy beat it out of you?”
“Stay away from her,” Tom said vehemently. “I’ve been watching that woman for five months, and she’s mine! Got it?”
I leaned back, nodding as he confirmed my thoughts. Tom knew they weren’t the Tilsons and was probably working on the murders already. He seemed to think the woman had done it. “I’m just doing my job, Tom,” I said, starting to feel better. Sure he had bugged me, but my car was probably not wired to explode; dead people don’t talk—usually. “Tell you what. You stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of yours, and the best witch will win. Okay?”
“Sure,” the man said, confidence suddenly flowing from him. “Good luck with that. You’re going to come begging to talk to me before this is all over. I guarantee it.”
Jenks’s wings made a cool draft on my neck. “Get the cookie out of here,” he said sharply, and Marshal came forward to manhandle him out. Ivy beat him to it, gripping Tom’s wrist and twisting his arm into a painful angle to propel him into the hall.
“Don’t forget his amulet,” I called after her, and Bis darted down to take it from Marshal and fly after them. I heard a muttered comment from Ivy, and then the back door shut. Bis didn’t come back. I assumed he’d gone with her.
“She can handle him okay?” Marshal asked, and I nodded, my knees suddenly shaky.
“Oh yeah. She’ll be fine. It’s Tom I’m worried about.” My stomach hurt. Damn it, it had been ages since anyone had dared to violate the security of my home, and now that it was over, I didn’t like it. Grimacing, I stirred the soup, nervous energy making me slop it over. Jenks was flitting like a mad thing, and while wiping up my spill, I muttered, “Park it, Jenks.”
The kitchen grew quiet apart from the rasp of Marshal taking off his coat, but it was the gurgle of him pouring two cups of coffee that brought my attention back. I managed a thin smile when he brought me one. Jenks was on his shoulder, which was unusual, but the man had saved us a lot of trouble, and Jenks had to appreciate that since he couldn’t go outside and Bis was just one gargoyle—and a young, inexperienced one at that.
“Thanks,” I said, turning from the soup and taking a sip of coffee as I leaned against the counter. “For Tom as well as the coffee,” I added.
Looking satisfied and smug, Marshal pulled a chair around and sat with his back to the wall and his legs in the middle of the room. “Not a problem, Rachel. I’m glad I was here.”
Trailing a thin green dust, Jenks flew to land beside me, pretending to feed his brine shrimp on the sill. I knew Marshal thought my estimation of the danger I could attract was overrated, but even I’d admit that his catching a shunned ley line witch was impressive.
I breathed deep as I listened to the pixy play-by-play, filtering in from the sanctuary, of what Ivy was doing to Tom. The subtly masculine-flavored scent of redwood eased about me, a witch’s characteristic smell. It was nice smelling it in my kitchen, mixing with vampire and the light garden scent I was starting to recognize as pixy. Marshal was eyeing the ceiling in an expectant way, and chuckling, I went to sit with him.
“All right,” I said as I touched his hand encircling his coffee. “I admit it. You saved me. You saved me from whatever Tom had planned. You’re my great big freaking hero, okay?”
He laughed at that, and it felt good. “You want that box from my car?” he said, starting to gather himself to stand.
I thought about what was in it, and froze. “No. Will you throw it out for me?” I’m not throwing Kisten away, I thought guiltily. But to keep his last gift in my bottom drawer was pathetic. “Uh, thanks again for going with me out to the boat.”
Marshal shifted his chair, angling it to face me. “No problem. Is your FIB friend okay?”
I nodded, my thoughts drifting to Glenn. “Ford says he’ll be awake in a few days.”
Jenks had gotten himself a pixy-size mug of coffee from the still-dripping machine, and he settled between us on the box of crackers. He was unusually quiet, but he was probably keeping an ear on his kids. There was a sound of rising awe from the sanctuary when Ivy did something, and I winced.
My eyes went to the corner of the envelope, and in a sudden surge of irritation, I picked it out. “Hey, will you do something for me?” I asked as I handed it to Marshal. “I’m trying to pay for some classes, and I need to get this to the registrar’s office, like yesterday.”
“I thought registration ended,” Jenks piped up, and Marshal’s eyebrows went high as he took it.
“It did,” he said, and I shrugged.
“They sent my check back,” I complained. “Can you see if they will take it? Use your connections to get it in the system? I don’t want to have to pay the late fee.”
Nodding, he folded the envelope over and slid it into a back pocket to look at later. Brow furrowed, he leaned back in his chair, thinking. “You want some soup?” I asked, and Marshal smiled.
“No, thanks,” he said, then his eyes brightened. “Hey, I’ve got tomorrow off. It’s a teacher workday at the university, but it’s not like I’ve got any papers to grade. You want to go do something? Blow off some steam? After I get your check in, that is? I hear they opened up a new skate park on Vine.”
Whereas two months ago the offer would have tripped all my warning flags, now my lips curled up in a smile. Marshal wasn’t my boyfriend, but we did stuff together all the time. “I don’t think I can,” I said, annoyed that I couldn’t say yes and go. “I’ve got this murder I’m working on…and my sign to clean…”
Jenks’s wings clattered. “I said I’d help you with that, Rache,” he said brightly, and I smiled and curved my hand around him.
“It’s too cold, Jenks,” I protested, then turned back to Marshal. “Then I’ve got to pick up my brother at the airport at three, talk to Ford at six, and then go back to my mom’s and do the good-daughter thing by having dinner with her and Robbie. Saturday I’m in the ever-after with Al…” My words trailed off. “Next week, maybe?”
Marshal nodded in understanding, and suddenly seeing a golden opportunity to avoid being badgered at my mom’s, I blurted out, “Uh, unless you want to come with me to my mom’s for dinner? She’s making lasagna.”
The man laughed. “You want me to play boyfriend so your life doesn’t look pathetic, right?”
“Marshal!” I gave his shoulder a smack, but I was red-faced. God, he knew me too well.
“Well, am I right?” he needled, his eyes glinting under his hat-flattened hair.
I made a face, then said, “You going to help me here or not?”
“You bet,” he said brightly. “I like your mom. Is she making pi-i-i-ie?”
He stressed the word as if it meant the world to him, and I grinned, feeling better about tomorrow already. “If she knows you’re coming, she’ll make two.”
Marshal chuckled, and as I sipped my coffee and smiled back, content and happy, Jenks flew out of the kitchen on quiet wings, a green trail of dust spilling from him to slowly fade to nothing.
The FIB’s lobby was noisy and cold. Gray street slush had been tracked in, making a soggy mess of the rug and creating a slowly diminishing black path to the front desk, set back from the twin glass doors. The FIB emblem in the middle of the room was dingy from a hundred footprints. It reminded me of the emblem on the floor of the demons’ law offices. A joke, Al had said, but I had my doubts. I shifted nervously in the nasty orange chairs they had out here. Saturday, and my teaching date with Algaliarept, always seemed to come up too fast. Trying to explain to Robbie and my mom why I was going to be incommunicado all day would be tricky.
I had cheerfully strode into the FIB about ten minutes before—my mood excellent since Alex had brought my car home—my snappy boots leaving prints on their emblem as I went to the front desk to announce who I was—only to be asked to take a seat, like I was some weirdo off the street. Sighing, I hunched over with my elbows on my knees and tried to find a comfortable position. I wasn’t happy about being asked to wait. If Ivy had been here, they would’ve fallen all over themselves, but not for me—a memorychallenged witch they didn’t trust anymore.
Ivy was currently out on the street trying to pick up the sixth-month-old trail of Kisten’s killer. Guilt for not having done anything sooner had gotten her up long before me. Jenks had come with me today in the hopes that we’d stop at a charm shop on the way home. He wasn’t interested in a charm, but the stuff that went into making them—things that a garden-loving pixy cheating hibernation can’t get in December. Matalina wasn’t doing well, and I knew he was upset, ready and willing to spend some of the rent money he got from Ivy and me on his wife. Sitting here in the FIB’s lobby was a poor use for both our days. Not to mention that it was cold.
I straightened to swing my bag between my knees to try to burn off some irritation, and snuggled into my scarf, Jenks wiggled to life. “What’s up, Rache?” he asked, landing on my hands to get me to stop swinging my bag.
“Nothing,” I said shortly.
His brow rose, and he gave me a look. “Then why did your pulse quicken and your temperature rise?” He made a face. “Your perfume stinks. God, what did you do, bathe in it?”
I stared at the receptionist, avoiding Jenks’s question. I couldn’t tell him I was worried about his wife not making it through the winter. He buzzed his wings for my attention, and I tapped the banshee report on my knee. I had written it for Edden this morning—which only made me madder. I was here to help, and they left me waiting with distraught parents and thugs cuffed to the walls? Nice.
“Lookie here, Rache,” Jenks said, not a speck of dust falling from him as he flew heavily two seats down and landed on a discarded paper. “You made some print.”
“What?” Expecting the worst, I leaned over and snatched it up. Jenks laboriously flew back and settled on my hand as I held the paper up, scanning the picture. This was all I needed, but my worry eased when I found it was just a shot of the Tilsons’ house with a crowd and a news van out front. The caption said YEAR-END BRIMSTONE BUST GONE WRONG, and you couldn’t even tell it was me unless you knew it.
“Gonna save it for your scrapbook?” Jenks asked as I quickly read the article.
“No.” I tossed the paper back where it had been, then stretched to turn the picture side down. Drug bust, eh? Good for them. Keep it that way.
Hands on his hips, Jenks flew into my line of sight, but I was saved from whatever smart-ass remark he was going to gift me with when the doors cycled open and two uniformed FIB guys roughly escorted in a thin Santa. The man was shrieking about his reindeer. The cold draft hit us, and Jenks dove for my scarf.
“Tink’s titties, you think you could put a little more perfume on, Rache?” he complained, and I shivered as his wings brushed my bare skin.