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A Fistful of Charms
A Fistful of Charms

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A Fistful of Charms

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2019
Добавлена: 29.06.2019
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But then I met Kisten’s eyes, and the only idea that came to me was…ah, not the least bit constructive at all. His eyes were not calm. There was the faintest rising of black in them, the faintest thinning of blue. Gaze riveted to mine, he reached for one of my feet, bringing it onto his lap and starting to rub it. The intent behind his action strengthened when he sensed my pulse quickening, and his massage took on a rhythm that spoke of…possibilities.

My breath came and went. There was no blood lust in his eyes, only a desire that made my gut tighten and a tingle start at my demon scar.

“I need to…do my laundry?” I said, arching my eyebrows.

“Laundry.” He never looked from me as his hands left my foot and started creeping upward. Moving, pressing, hinting. “That sounds like it involves water and soap. Mmmm. Could be slippery. And messy. I think I have a bar of soap somewhere. Want some help?”

Uh-huh, I thought, my mind pinging over the possible ways he could “help” me, and how I could get Ivy out of the church for a few hours.

Seeing my—well…willingness might be too weak a word—enthusiasm in my inviting smile, Kisten reached out and pulled my chair bumping and scraping around the corner of the table, snuggling it up to his with a living vampire’s strength. My legs opened to put my knees to either side of him, and he leaned forward, the blue of his eyes vanishing to a thin ribbon.

Tension rising, I put my lips beside his torn ear. The scent of leather and silk crashed over me, and I closed my eyes in anticipation. “You have your caps?” I whispered.

I felt him nod, but I was more interested in where his lips were going. He cupped a hand along my jaw and tilted my face to his. “Always,” he said. “Always and forever with you.”

Oh God, I thought, just about melting. Kisten wore caps on his sharp canines to keep from breaking my skin in a moment of passion. They were generally worn by adolescent living vampires still lacking control, and Kisten risked a severe ribbing should anyone find out he wore them when we slept together. His decision was born from his respect for my desire to withhold my blood from him, and Ivy’s threat to stake him twice if he took my blood. Kisten claimed it was possible to be bound and not become a vampire’s shadow, but everything I had seen said otherwise. My fear remained. And so did his caps.

I inhaled, bringing the vamp pheromones deep into me, willing them to relax me, wanting the tingling promise that was humming in my demon scar to race through my body. But then Kisten stiffened and drew away.

“Ivy?” I whispered, feeling my eyes go worried as his gaze went distant.

“Pixy wings,” he said, pushing my chair out.

“Matalina,” I answered, sending my gaze to the open archway to the hall.

There was a distant thump. “Jenks?” came Ivy’s muffled call from her room.

My lips parted in surprise. She had heard Matalina’s wings through a closed door? Great. Just freaking great. Then she’d heard our conversation, too.

“It’s Matalina!” I shouted, not wanting her to burst out thinking it was Jenks.

But it was too late, and I stood awkwardly when her door thumped open. Matalina zipped into the kitchen a heartbeat before Ivy staggered in, halting in an undignified slump with one hand supporting herself against the open archway.

She was still in her skimpy nightgown, her black silk robe doing next to nothing to hide her tall lanky build, trim and smooth-limbed from her martial arts practice. Her straight black hair, mussed from sleeping, framed her oval face in an untidy fashion. She’d had it cut not too long ago, and it still surprised me to see it bumping about just under her ears. It made her long neck look longer, the single scar on it a smooth line, now faint from cosmetic surgery. Wide-eyed from being jerked from her bed, her brown, somewhat almond-shaped eyes looked larger than usual, and her thin lips were open to show small teeth.

Head cocked, Kisten spun in his chair. Taking in her lack of clothes, his grin widened.

Grimacing at her less than suave entrance, Ivy pulled herself straight, trying to find her usual iron hold on her emotions. Her pale cheeks were flushed, and she wouldn’t meet my eyes as she closed her robe with an abrupt motion. “Matalina,” she said, her voice still rough from sleep. “Is Jenks okay? Will he talk to us?”

“God, I hope so,” Kisten said dryly, turning his chair so he didn’t have his back to Ivy.

The agitated pixy flitted to perch on the center island counter. A glittering trail of silver sparkles sifted from her, slowly falling to make a temporary sunbeam, clear evidence of her flustered state. I already knew her answer, but I couldn’t help but slump when she shook her head, her wings stilling. Her pretty eyes went wide and she twisted the fabric of her silk dress. “Please,” she said, her voice carrying a frightening amount of worry. “Jenks won’t come to you. I’m so scared, Rachel. He can’t go alone. He won’t come back if he goes alone!”

Suddenly I was a whole lot more concerned. “Go where?” I said, crowding closer. Ivy moved in too, and we clustered before her, almost helpless as the tiny woman who could stand down six fairies started to cry. Forever the gentleman, Kisten carefully tore a tissue and handed her a piece the size of his thumbnail. She could have used it for a washcloth.

“It’s Jax,” Matalina said, holding her breath between sobs. Jax was her oldest son.

My fear quickened. “He’s at Nick’s apartment,” I said. “I’ll drive you over.”

Matalina shook her head. “He’s not there. He left with Nick on the winter solstice.”

I jerked upright, feeling as if I’d been kicked in the stomach. “Nick was here?” I stammered. “At the solstice? He never even called!” I looked at Ivy, shocked. The freaking human bastard! He had come, cleared out his apartment, and left; just like Jenks said he would. And I thought he cared for me. I had been hurt and half dead from hypothermia, and he just left? As I fumed, the betrayal and confusion I thought long gone swelled to make my head hurt.

“We got a call this morning,” Matalina was saying, oblivious to my state, though Kisten and Ivy exchanged knowing glances. “We think he’s in Michigan.”

“Michigan!” I blurted. “What the Turn is he doing in Michigan?”

Ivy nudged closer, almost coming between Matalina and me. “You said you think. You don’t know for certain?”

The pixy turned her tear-streaked face to Ivy, looking as tragic and strong as a mourning angel. “Nick told Jax they were in Michigan, but they moved him. Jax doesn’t know for sure.”

They moved him?

“Who moved him?” I said, bending close. “Are they in trouble?”

The tiny woman’s eyes were frightened. “I’ve never seen Jenks so angry. Nick took Jax to help him with his work, but something went wrong. Now Nick is hurt and Jax can’t get home. It’s cold up there, and I’m so worried.”

I glanced at Ivy, her eyes dark with widening pupils, her lips pressed into a thin angry line. Work? Nick cleaned museum artifacts and restored old books. What kind of work would he need a pixy for? In Michigan? In the springtime when most pixies were still shaking off hibernation at that latitude?

My thoughts went to Nick’s confidant casualness, his aversion to anything with a badge, his wickedly quick mind, and his uncanny tendency to be able to get ahold of just about anything, given time. I’d met him in Cincy’s rat fights, where he had been turned into a rat after “borrowing” a tome from a vampire.

He had come back to Cincinnati and left with Jax, without telling me he was here. Why would he take Jax with him?

My face went hot and I felt my knees go quivery. Pixies had other skills than gardening. Shit. Nick was a thief.

Leaning hard against the counter, I looked from Kisten to Ivy, her expression telling me that she had known, but realized I’d only get mad at her until I figured it out for myself. God, I was so stupid! It had been there all the time, and I hadn’t let myself see it.

I opened my mouth, jumping when Kisten jabbed me in the ribs. His eyes went to Matalina. The poor woman didn’t know. I shut my mouth, feeling cold.

“Matalina,” I said softly. “Is there any way to find out where they are? Maybe Jax could find a newspaper or something.”

“Jax can’t read,” she whispered, dropping her head into her hands, her wings drooping. “None of us can,” she said, crying, “except Jenks. He learned so he could work for the I.S.”

I felt so helpless, unable to do anything. How do you give someone four inches high a hug? How do you tell her that her eldest son had been misled by a thief? A thief I had trusted?

“I’m so scared,” the tiny pixy said, her voice muffled. “Jenks is going after him. He’s going all the way up north. He won’t come back. It’s too far. He won’t be able to find enough to eat, and it’s too cold unless he has somewhere safe to stay at night.” Her hands fell away, the misery and heartache on her tiny features striking fear in me.

“Where is he?” I asked, my growing anger pushing out the fear.

“I don’t know.” Matalina sniffed as she looked at the torn tissue in her grip. “Jax said it was cold and everyone was making candy. There’s a big green bridge and lots of water.”

I shook my head impatiently. “Not Jax. Jenks.”

Matalina’s hopeful expression made her look more beautiful than all of God’s angels. “You’ll talk to him?” she quavered.

Taking a slow breath, I glanced at Ivy. “He’s sulked enough,” I said. “I’m going to talk to the little twit, and he’s going to listen. And then we’ll both go.”

Ivy straightened, her arms held tight at her sides as she took two steps back. Her eyes were wide and her face carefully blank.
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