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White Witch, Black Curse
White Witch, Black Curse

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White Witch, Black Curse

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018
Добавлена: 27.12.2018
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“It’s from Ivy,” I said.


I sighed as I settled in to wait. I’d found the new bottle of citrusy scent on the kitchen table this morning. I’d known what it meant and had immediately dabbed on a splash. Apparently, after yesterday, Ivy thought it prudent to reinstate our practice of trying to muddle the mixing of our natural scents. We hadn’t had to resort to chemical warfare on her instincts for a while, but we’d been trapped in the church with the windows closed for months.

The Santa broke from the officers and bolted for the door. I jerked upright, then relaxed as the two officers fell on him. All three slid into the doors with a thump. The guy was cuffed. How far was he going to get? “Damn,” I swore softly, wincing. “That’s going to leave a mark.”

A presence of old coffee tickled my nose, and I wasn’t surprised when Edden appeared at my elbow. “The one on the bottom is Chad. He’s new. I think he’s trying to impress you.”

My irritation at having to wait returned, and I looked up at the squat FIB captain. He was in his usual khakis and dress shirt. No tie, but his brown dress shoes were polished and he held himself with his familiar uprightness. His eyes, too, looked more determined. Tired, but the fear was gone. Glenn must be doing better.

“I’m impressed,” I said, catching the drama out of the corner of my eye as Chad dragged Santa into the back. “Can’t you bring the loonies in the rear door?”

Edden shrugged. “It’s too icy, and we’d get sued.”

From my scarf, Jenks said, “And crashing into the door like that is so-o-o-o much safer.”

“Resisting arrest with lots of witnesses,” he said. “I’d say that’s safer.” Then he tilted his head and peered at my scarf. “Hi, Jenks. I didn’t see you. Kind of cold, isn’t it?”

“Enough to freeze my balls together, yeah,” Jenks said, peeking out at the sound of Edden’s louder voice. “You got anyplace warmer? Between the cold and Rachel’s perfume, I’d be more comfortable at a fairy’s bris.”

The short man smiled, and he extended a hand to take the banshee essay that I’d written for him in my copious spare time. “Come on back. Sorry to make you wait here. New rules.”

New rules, I thought sourly as I stood. New rules or new mistrust? Old mistrust, maybe given new life. At least Chad liked me. “No problem,” I said sourly, not wanting to let him know how much it bothered me. He knew it was there, I knew it was there. Why rub my nose in it? “How’s Glenn doing? Has he regained consciousness yet?”

Edden had a hand on the small of my back, and where I’d usually take offense, he could get away with it. Edden was cool. “No,” he said, his eyes down with a thought. “But he’s doing better. More brain activity.”

Once away from the cold draft, Jenks left my scarf, and I nodded, thinking I should go out and see Glenn tonight after dinner. I’d be ready for some silent company by then. Maybe tickle his feet until he woke up or peed his sheets or something. I smiled at the thought, almost missing it when Edden made an unexpected left away from the interrogation rooms.

“Aren’t we going to the interrogation rooms?” I said, and Edden led me to his office.

“No. We can’t find Mia Harbor.”

My pace didn’t slow, but me cooling my heels in the lobby was making a lot more sense. So much for the truth amulet stuffed in my bag.

Jenks was starting to slip a thin trail of dust, telling me he was warm and in good form. “She went AWOL?” the small pixy said, flying backward to create a small commotion among the watching officers.

Edden wasn’t impressed with Jenks’s aerial display, and he held the door to his office open and gestured for me to enter. “Yup,” he said, but he didn’t follow me in. “She moved without filing her new address. We’ve a warrant out for her arrest, so if you want her, she’s all yours, Rachel.”

“A banshee?” I said, laughing. “Me? How much money you got, Edden? I don’t do suicide runs.”

Edden tossed my essay on his desk, hesitating as if trying to decide whether I was kidding. “You want some coffee?” he finally said. “How about you, Jenks? I think I saw a honey packet from someone’s biscuits in the fridge.”

“Hell yes!” he exclaimed before I could protest, and Edden nodded, leaving the door open as he went in search of it.

I gave Jenks a wry look as he buzzed over Edden’s office to check out the new bowling trophy. Spinning the chair around, I plunked into it and set my bag at my feet. “I was really hoping you’d be sober for this,” I said, and Jenks landed on Edden’s cluttered desk with his hands on his hips.

“Why?” he said, unusually belligerent. “You don’t need me if the banshee isn’t here. Give me a break. Like I’ve been honey drunk any longer than five minutes.”

I looked away in disapproval, and he buzzed a harsh flight to Edden’s pencil cup to sulk. Crossing my knees, I bobbed my foot. I was waiting again, but it was warmer, quieter, and I had the promise of coffee.

Edden’s office was a pleasant mix of organized clutter that I could identify with and was part of the reason I had taken to him so quickly last year. The man was ex-military, but you’d never know it by the dust and stacks of files. Still, I bet he could put his finger on anything he wanted in three seconds flat. The pictures on the walls were few, but in one of them he was shaking hands with Denon, my old boss at the I.S. It would worry me if I hadn’t once heard the pleasure Edden had taken in jerking a case out from under him. The smell of old coffee seemed embedded in the gray tiles and institutional-yellow walls. A new laptop sat open on his desk instead of a monitor, and the clock that had once been behind him was now behind me. Otherwise, it was the same as the last time I had sat here, waiting for Edden to bring me coffee.

I heard Edden’s footsteps before his bulky silhouette showed through the blinds between his office and the rest of the other offices, all open. The man came in with two china mugs instead of the expected foam ones. New rules again? One was clearly his by the brown-stained rim. I got the clean one with rainbows. How sweet…

Jenks rose up in a column of blue sparkles as Edden sat behind his desk, the pixy taking the packet almost as large as he was and retreating to a corner, out of my reach. “Thanks, Edden,” he said, wrestling with the plastic to tear it open.

I leaned to shut the door with my foot, and Edden eyed me. “You have something to say in private, Rachel?” he asked, and I shook my head. Taking the packet from Jenks, I tore it open and handed it back.

“Trust me,” I said, thinking that having the harried FIB officers deal with a drunk pixy was too much to ask for. My reputation was bad enough as it was.

“So,” I said to draw Edden’s attention from Jenks, who was humming happily and starting to list already, one wing not fanning as fast as the other. “Isn’t a felony charge a little harsh for failure to register a new address?”

Edden’s gaze darted from me to Jenks, and then back. “It’s not for failure to register. It’s because she’s a suspect.”

“‘S good honey, Eddie,” Jenks interrupted, and I set my coffee mug down loud enough to make his wings hum.

“The banshee is a suspect?” I questioned. “Why? All she did was leave a tear.”

Edden leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee. “Alex took her photo out to the neighbors to see if she had been near the scene recently. Babysitter, cosmetics lady, whatever. Every single person asked ID’d Ms. Harbor as Mrs. Tilson.”

“What?” I yelped, sitting up fast.

“Holy crap,” Jenks swore, almost crashing into the stack of files on Edden’s desk as he took flight with his honey packet. “The banshee took a human’s name? What the hell for?”

My first wash of surprise ebbed into an uneasy answer, and by looking at Edden’s severe face, I knew he had the same idea. Mia had killed them and was trying to cover it up. Good God. Tom is trying to tag a banshee? By himself? Go for it, coffin bait. “That might explain why Tom Bansen was under our kitchen floor yesterday,” I said, and Edden started.

“Under your—”

“Kitchen floor,” I finished. “All dressed up like a military guy on urban-assault detail. Bis and one of my friends caught him trying to bug the church.”

“Why didn’t you call me?” Edden said, and I made a face while Jenks slurred something about the gargoyle.

“Because Tom’s been, ah, shunned,” I said, flushing. “No Inderlander will hire him, the I.S. included. He has no choice but to go independent. Bringing in a banshee will probably earn him enough money to get himself set up somewhere he can live his life out in the wilds. He warned me off the case. Now that I think about it, he told me specifically to stay away from Mia. He probably knows at least as much as we do.”

“Then why bug you?” he asked, and I shrugged.

“Because if he’s been shunned, he lacks the resources of both the FIB and the I.S. I guess he figured he’d listen in to what we found and act on it before we did. Tom probably knows exactly where she’s gone. Maybe I should try to bug him.”

Edden looked grim, rubbing his mustache, when I finally looked back. “Want a car at your house?”

Immediately I shook my head. “No, but one at my mom’s might be nice.”

“Within the hour,” he promised, the pen almost lost in his grip as he made a note.

Jenks had started climbing Edden’s desk files like a drunken mountaineer, and I blushed when I found out what happened on the tenth day of pixy Christmas. Shaking off the visual, I turned to Edden. “If Mia is Mrs. Tilson, we need to find her fast. The man with her is in danger.”

Edden made an ugly sound and just about threw the pen in the cup. “I don’t care.”
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