White Witch, Black Curse
White Witch, Black Curse
Жанр: Эзотерика / оккультизм
Год издания: 2018
“Jumoke gets the seed,” Jenks said flatly, cutting off the rising protests with a sharp wing chirp. “I said you wouldn’t like it!” he exclaimed. “Get out. Jumoke, ask your mother where she hides her seeds. It will be safe there until spring.”
It also would ensure that she wouldn’t die without someone else knowing where she hid their valuable seed stash. Pixy life spans sucked.
“Thanks, Papa!” the exuberant pixy shouted, then fled, trailing the rest of them in a calliope of sound and color.
Relieved, I came around the counter to sit at my spot. Ford looked better already, and he shifted to a more comfortable position when Rex followed the pixies out. Jenks dropped down before him in his best Peter Pan pose, hands on his hips. “Sorry,” he said. “They won’t come back.”
Ford glanced at the coffeemaker again. “One of them is still in here.”
I shoved the demon texts next to the mundane university textbooks to make some space. “Cheeky bugger,” I muttered, standing up to get Ford a coffee.
Jenks’s brow furrowed, and he made a harsh whistle. Smirking, I waited to see who the eavesdropping pixy was, but no one showed. Maybe I could fritter all our time away, and that would be that. Talk about Jenks, maybe.
“Thanks, Rachel,” Ford said with an exhale. “I could use some caffeine. It’s real, yes?”
Pouring a cup, I slid it into the microwave and hit “fast cook.” “Decaf is cruel and unusual punishment.”
Jenks was buzzing around the kitchen like a firefly from hell, shedding sparkles to make artificial sunbeams. “I can’t find anyone,” he grumbled. “I must be getting old. Are you sure?”
Ford cocked his head and seemed to be listening. “Yup. It’s a person.”
A smile came over Jenks as the sensitive man included pixies as people. Not everyone did. “I’ll go do a nose count. Be right back.”
He zipped out, and I opened the nuker. Ford’s cup was steaming, and leaning close as I set it by him, I whispered, “Can we go out and talk about Jenks instead of me?”
“Why?” Ford asked, as if knowing I was stalling, then took a sip. “His emotions are stable. It’s yours that are jumping like bunnies in a fryer.”
I frowned at the connotation, then sat in my own chair, pulling my cold coffee close. “It’s Matalina,” I said softly, hoping the eavesdropper couldn’t hear, much less Jenks.
Ford set his mug down, but his fingers didn’t leave it, seeking the warmth. “Rachel,” he said even more softly, “I don’t mean to sound trite, but death comes to everyone, and he will find a way to deal with it. Everyone does.”
My head went back and forth, and I felt a sliver of fear. “That’s just it,” I said. “He’s not human, or witch, or vampire. He’s a pixy. When she dies, he might go with her. Will himself to death.” It was a wildly romantic notion, but I had a feeling it was standard pixy fare.
“He has too much to live for.” Ford’s knobby fingers tightened on the porcelain, then released. “You, the firm, his children.” Then his eyes lost their focus. “Maybe you can ask one of his kids if that’s common.”
“I’m afraid to,” I admitted.
There was the buzz of Jenks’s wings darting past the arch as he went into the living room, and Ford’s expression became neutral. “What’s this Edden was saying about Marshal catching someone under your church?”
I rolled my eyes. “Tom Bansen, formerly of the I.S. Arcane Division, was bugging the church. Marshal was returning the box I forgot in his car and he caught him.” I managed a smile despite the pang of hurt from what I’d asked Marshal to throw away. “Marshal is coming to dinner tonight with my mom and brother.”
It was long and drawn out, and I brought my gaze up to see the usually stoic FIB psychologist wearing a wan smile. “What’s that supposed to mean? Mmmm?” I said tartly.
Ford sipped from his mug, his dark brown eyes twinkling deviously. “You’re taking someone to meet the family. It’s good to see you moving forward. I’m proud of you.”
I stared at him, then laughed. He thought Marshal and I… “Marshal and me?” I said with a guffaw. “No way. He’s coming over as a buffer so I don’t walk out of there tonight facing a blind date with my mom’s paperboy.” Marshal was great, yeah, but it was also nice knowing I could leave things alone if I tried.
His voice dripped disbelief, and I set my mug down. “Marshal is not my boyfriend. We just do stuff together so no one hits on either of us. It’s nice and comfortable, and I’m not going to let you turn it into anything more with your psychobabble bull.”
Ford placidly arched his eyebrows at me, and I stiffened when Jenks zipped in and said, “You musta hit pretty close to the mark there, sheriff, to get her riled up like that.”
“He’s just a friend!” I protested.
Relenting, Ford dropped his eyes and shook his head. “That’s how good relationships start, Rachel,” he said fondly. “Look at you and Ivy.”
I felt the muscles in my face go slack and I blinked. “Excuse me?”
“You’ve got a great relationship there,” he said, busying himself with his coffee again. “Better than a lot of married couples I see. Sex ruins it for some people. I’m glad you’re learning that you can love someone without having to prove it with sex.”
“Uh, yeah,” I said uneasily. “Hey, let me top your coffee off there.”
I could hear him shift as I turned my back on him and went to get the carafe. And he wanted to put me under hypnosis? No freaking way. He knew too much about me already.
“Ford,” Jenks said gruffly, “your spider sense is whacked. All my kids are accounted for. Maybe it’s Bis.” He looked at the corners. “Bis, you in here?”
I smiled as I poured half a cup into Ford’s mug. “Not while the sun is up, he’s not. I saw him on the front eave when I went out for the paper this afternoon.”
Taking a sip of coffee, Ford smiled. “There are three emotion sets in this room other than mine. Someone’s nose got counted twice. Look, it’s okay,” he added when Jenks started dripping green sparkles. “Forget about it.”
The soft strains of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” drifted into existence, muffled but annoying. It was Ford’s phone, and I eyed him with interest, thinking it an odd sort of tune for the straitlaced guy, but then my lips parted when I realized it was coming from my bag. My phone? But I knew I’d had it on “vibrate.” At the very least, it wouldn’t be playing that song. “Cripes, Jenks,” I said, scrambling for my bag. “Will you leave my phone alone!”
“I haven’t touched your phone,” he said belligerently. “And don’t be blaming it on my kids either. I bent their wings back last time, and they all said it wasn’t them.”
I frowned, wanting to believe him. Unless it was general nuisance, Jenks’s kids usually didn’t make the same mischief twice. Dropping my bag on my lap, I pulled out my phone, finding the call to be from an unlisted number. “Then why does it keep going off ‘vibrate’? I almost died of embarrassment the night I tagged Trent.” Flipping it open, I managed a courteous, “Hello?”
Jenks landed on Ford’s shoulder, smiling. “It started playing ‘White Wedding.’”
Ford laughed, and I pulled the phone from my ear. There was no one there. Clicking through the menu, I put it on “vibrate.” “Leave it alone,” I growled, and it went off again.
“Jenks!” I exclaimed, and the pixy flew up to the ceiling, grinning from ear to ear.
“It’s not me!” he chimed out, but he was having too much fun for me to believe him.
It wasn’t worth trying to catch him, so I dropped the phone in my bag and let it ring. Ford was very still, and a wave of apprehension swept me at the look in his eyes. Scared, almost.
“Someone else is in this room,” he said softly, and Jenks’s laughter cut off. I watched as Ford pulled out his amulet. It was a swirl of emotions, confusing and chaotic. No wonder he liked to work one on one. “Both of you, go back by the fridge,” he said, and it was as if the warmth left my body. Shit, what in hell is going on?
“Go,” he said, waving, and I stood up, totally creeped out. Maybe it’s a demon, I thought. Not really here, but here on the other side of the ever-after, looking at us with his second sight. The sun wasn’t down yet, but it was close.
Jenks silently landed on my shoulder, and we backed up until the amulet shifted to a frustrated black.
“And he or she is extremely frustrated,” Ford said mildly. “He, I think.”
I didn’t believe this. How could he be so calm? “You sure it isn’t a pixy?” I almost whined, and when Ford shook his head, I asked, “Is it a demon?”