White Witch, Black Curse
White Witch, Black Curse
Жанр: Эзотерика / оккультизм
Год издания: 2018
“There,” Ivy murmured, and I followed her gaze to the dark shadow coming out from the garage’s side door to meet us.
“Hey, hi!” I called out, pitching my voice high to give the impression we were harmless. Yeah, right. “Edden asked us to come out. We’re from Vampiric Charms.” Asked us? It was more like forced into it, but why bring that up.
The young FIB officer flicked on the outside lights, washing the crusty drive in an artificial glare. “Can I see some ID?” he asked, then did a double take. “Oh!” he said, tucking his clipboard back under an arm. “You’re the witch and the vamp.”
From my hat came a disgusted “And a really cold pixy. Can you hurry it up, Rache? I think my ‘nads fell off.”
I stifled a grimace, pasting on a fake smile. I’d rather be known by our company name than “the witch and the vamp,” but at least Edden had told them we were coming. Maybe he wasn’t going to be such a pain in the butt about us helping. I watched the officer’s body language, but couldn’t tell if his impatience was from the FIB’s new distrust or simply the cold.
“Yes, Vampiric Charms. We’re here to help with the possible Inderland connection,” I said before Ivy could get all vampy. Her pulling an aura and scaring the crap out of him wouldn’t help—as entertaining as it might be.
“Can we go in?” Ivy asked with a faint promise of threat, and Jenks snickered.
“Sure.” The officer’s head was down as he wrote something. “Put on a pair of booties, okay?”
Ivy was halfway to the door off the garage, her motions stiff at his assumption that she didn’t know her way around a crime scene. I glanced back at the street, hesitating. The news crew had set up, and the huge light they had was gathering people like a bonfire. “Hey, uh, Ivy…,” I murmured, and she hesitated, a long, gloved hand resting on the open door.
She smiled with half her mouth. “You want to go talk to them?” I nodded, and she added, “You’ll be okay, Jenks?”
“Oh crap,” I swore under my breath. I’d forgotten about him.
“I’m fine!” he barked, and I felt a soft tug as he settled himself. “Nothing’s going to change inside, but I want to hear what the neighbors say. Gossip, Ivy. That’s where the truth is. It’s all about the gossip.”
I didn’t know about gossip, but if he said he’d be okay, I’d rather get first impressions than stale, regurgitated comments after everyone had had a chance to think.
Ivy frowned, clearly of the opinion that crimes were solved by carefully gathered evidence, not nebulous feelings and hunches. But with a shrug, she went inside and I headed out into the night.
Pace fast, I found a spot at the back of the growing crowd, trying to stay out of the camera’s line of sight. Jenks was probably hearing twice what I could, and I went on tiptoe to glimpse the man with red cheeks in the felt coat the newscaster was interviewing. I didn’t think it was live, seeing that it wasn’t six yet, and I eased closer, jostling for position.
“They were the nicest people,” the man was saying, his eyes bright with excitement. “Nice people. I never would have expected anything like this from them. They kept to themselves and were real quiet.”
My eyebrows rose, and Jenks snorted. Sounded like Inderlanders to me.
But then the kid next to me made a rude sound, and Jenks tugged my hair when the boy said snidely to his friend, “Like he knew him. The guy is a creep, and the woman is whacked.”
“Got it, Jenks,” I whispered so he would stop yanking on my hair. Slow and steady investigation was nice, but I wanted to find them before the sun went nova.
Smiling, I turned to find a young man in a black knit hat with the Howlers’ emblem, and encouraged by the show of Inderland acceptance, I felt an unusual surge of kinship. He wasn’t wearing a coat, and his hands were jammed into his jeans pockets. “Whacked?” I said, giving his friend a quick smile to include him in the conversation. “You think?”
“I know,” he shot back, then fidgeted. I was guessing he was in high school, and I turned the Mrs. Robinson charm on full.
“Yeah?” I said, almost bumping into him as the crowd grew noisy when the newscaster looked for fresh meat. “Don’t you love how they always say one thing in front of the camera, but at the bar, the truth comes out?”
He grinned, clearly thinking I thought he was older than he was. From under my hat came Jenks’s impressed “Nice. Reel him in, Rache.”
“So you know them?” I said, linking my arm in his and easing him from the news crew. I kept us close so as not to leave the highly charged atmosphere the news van was creating, angling so that if a camera should point our way, all they’d get would be my back. His friend had stayed behind, and was currently jumping to try to get in the background of the shot. He didn’t have a coat either, and I thought it unfair that they were warm and I was freezing my butt off out here. Witches had a lower cold tolerance than just about everyone else, excluding pixies.
“You’re not a reporter,” he said, and I smiled, glad he was smarter than I’d thought.
“I’m from Vampiric Charms,” I said, digging in my bag until I found a bent card and handed it to him. “I’m Rachel. Rachel Morgan.”
“Righteous!” he said, his face becoming animated. “My name is Matt. I live over there. Hey, I’ve heard of you,” he said, tapping the card against his hand. “Is that really you in that shot, being dragged down the street—”
“On my ass,” I finished for him, adjusting my hat to send a whiff of cold air under it to get Jenks to stop laughing. “Yeah, that’s me. But I don’t really summon demons.” Much.
“That’s cool. That’s cool,” he said, seeming to grow three inches taller. “You’re trying to find the Tilsons?”
A jolt of adrenaline made me shiver. Edden hadn’t told me their names. “More than just about anything. Do you know where they went?”
He shook his head, trying to look older than he was as he gave his friend a superior look. “No, but they are weird. The entire family. I mowed their lawn this summer. The guy is a janitor at my school. He says he’s allergic to grass.” Matt smirked. “He’s allergic to work if you ask me. But if you make him mad, stuff happens to you.”
My eyes widened. “Magic?” Were they Inderlanders, like Ivy thought?
Matt shook his head and looked ill. “No, stuff like your dog dying. But his wife is even weirder. I don’t see her much. She stays inside a lot with their kid. She talked with my mom once, and she wouldn’t let my mom touch her baby.”
“No kidding,” I said, hoping he’d say more.
“And that baby of theirs is just as freaky as they are,” he said, glancing at his friend. “Got these weird blue eyes that follow you around. She’s quiet, like she’s deaf or something. Her mom never puts her down. Mrs. Tilson wears the pants in the family, that’s for hell sure.”
“Is that so…,” I prompted, and Matt bobbed his head.
“Last year, someone put a firecracker in the can in the back toilet. Blew shit all over the place. Tilson was screaming about killing someone, so they sent him home. I mowed their lawn the next day. I was scared, man, but my dad made me. Tilson is nuts. He thought I knew who blew up the john and he pinned me against the fence. God, I thought I was going to die. But then she came out and he went all soft and stuff. He even apologized. Freakiest shit I’ve ever seen. She’s smaller than you, and all she did was say his name and he went all meek and shit.”
I blinked, my mind racing as I tried to figure it out. Mr. Tilson was a homicidal maniac with a chip on his shoulder. Mrs. Tilson was in charge. And the kid was weird. Living vampires, maybe?
“How old is the baby?” I asked, trying to keep him talking. This was pure gold.
Matt made a face. “I don’t know. A year? My mom says she’s going to be a spoiled brat and Mrs. Tilson shouldn’t wait five years before having another one, like she says she wants. Some kind of medical reason. She wants five or six kids, my mom says.”
“Five or six?” I said, truly surprised. Maybe the Tilsons were Weres and the woman was from a highly dominant pack. But why space them out over five years? “That’s a lot.”
“Yeah,” the kid said, scoffing. “I’m not having any kids. But if I do, I’m going to have them all right away. Get it over with. I don’t want to be sixty and changing diapers.”
I shrugged. There was eight years between me and Robbie, and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. He’d raised me as much as my parents, and I had no complaints. But my mom was a witch, so changing diapers at sixty was about the norm. Glenn’s attack was sounding more and more like an Inderland incident. “Thanks,” I said, suddenly wanting to get inside. Jenks was probably freezing. “I should get in there. But thank you. You really helped.”
The boy’s expression became disappointed, and I smiled. “Hey, I could use someone this spring to mow my graveyard.” I hesitated. “If you don’t think that’s too weird. My number is on the card.”
He beamed, fingering it. “Yeah, that would be great,” he said, then glanced at the house. “I don’t think my dad will let me mow their lawn anymore.”
“Call me, about April?” I said, and he nodded. “Thanks, Matt. You were a big help.”
“No problem,” he said, and I gave him a final smile and walked away. When I looked over my shoulder, he had his head bent to his friend’s, and they were ogling my phone number. “You okay, Jenks?” I said, hoofing it away from the lights and back to the garage. Damn, wait until Ivy heard what I’d found out.
“Yeah,” he said, gripping my hair harder. “But will you slow down? Unless you want pixy barf in your hair.”
Immediately I checked my pace, tripping when I took the curb without looking so I wouldn’t have to tilt my head. Jenks swore when I stumbled, but my pulse jackhammered when my head swung up. It wasn’t the almost-fall that shook me, but who was standing by my car, staring at it. Tom Bansen—it had to be—the same man who had tried to kill me by way of Al.
“Holy crap, it’s Tom,” I said, then shouted, “Get away from my car!” as I started to jog.