Home > Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(13)

Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(13)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Before I could do more than wiggle into a comfortable position, my phone began to chirp where I’d left it on the bedside table. I groaned and rolled over to check the caller ID, figuring it was Old-World related. Who else would call me before six in the morning?

But to my surprise, the caller was my cousin Elise, a patrol officer for the Boulder Police Department. I knew she was working watch three this week, the night shift, but that still didn’t explain why she’d call me before six in the morning. For some reason my thoughts leaped to Charlie, and my heart skipped a beat before I answered.

“Lex?” Her voice was breathless with excitement. “Hey, sorry to call so early, but random question: Are you still in touch with that biologist from CU?”

I blanched, thrown off by the whole idea of a connection between my personal life and the Old World, but after a moment I remembered: a few weeks earlier Elise had invited me to coffee on a day I had a magic lesson with Simon. I try to lie to my family as little as possible, so I’d said I was meeting up with a CU professor, the brother of a friend, to talk about auditing one of his classes. “Uh, yeah, we’re still in touch. Why, what’s up?”

“We got a call from an early-morning hiker who found a sort of bundle of something slimy on one of the Chautauqua trails,” she explained, the words tumbling out of her mouth so fast that the meaning seemed to appear in my brain a full second later. “My commander thinks it’s just garbage, but it looks animal to me. I thought it might be worth having a scientist look at it before our criminologist takes it apart.”

“A bundle of something slimy,” I repeated, trying not to sound as skeptical as I felt. The Old World was facing a serious threat from the same monsters who had killed Sam, and Elise was worried about some gooey clump of trash?

“Yeah, I know it sounds crazy. But I’m trying to go the extra mile here, Lex,” she wheedled. Elise wanted to be a detective someday. “I can go through the university, of course, but they won’t be open for a couple of hours, and the watch commander is humoring me by waiting this long. You said your friend’s brother was a biologist, right?”

“Uh, evolutionary biologist, yeah.”

“What’s the difference?”

Hmm, good question. “I honestly have no idea.”

“Well, can he come take a look?” she pleaded. “Please? As a favor to me?”

I rubbed my eyes with the heel of one hand, trying to think. Elise was pushing awfully hard, and she was family, so I couldn’t say no. At the same time, I wasn’t sure Simon would be up for this kind of adventure—the last time I’d seen him he’d needed crutches to walk—but I couldn’t actually tell Elise that Simon was too hurt, since I had no idea what story he’d told the university.

“Let me call him,” I said finally. “I’m not sure he’s the guy, but he should know who is.” Elise thanked me profusely, and I promised to call her right back.

I was half expecting Simon’s phone to go to voicemail, since it was So. Very. Early. But Simon was sort of like Quinn’s counterpart in the witch clan: He was a general problem solver, a fixer for the lady in charge—in his case, his mother, Hazel. And fixers have to answer their phones, even if they sound very groggy and possibly on painkillers.

“Lex?” he mumbled. “What’s up?”

“Sorry to wake you,” I began, because that’s just good manners. I told him about Elise’s call, ending with, “Everyone else at the station thinks it’s nothing, but maybe you could get Elise a phone number for the right person at CU?”

“Actually, I’m the right person,” he replied. “One of them, anyway. The biology department gets requests to identify specimens all the time, from hunters or new property owners or whatever, and we all take turns. I think this is the first time it’s come from the actual police department, though.”

“Okay . . . but you’re probably not at full strength, right? So maybe you could call one of your colleagues?”

There was a long, very loaded pause. “I’m perfectly capable of doing my job,” he retorted, and I winced at the sharp edge in his voice.

“I wasn’t trying to—”

“Besides,” Simon interrupted, “one of my duties within the clan is to keep an eye out for weird shit that might be traced back to the Old World. If the cops are calling, it’s probably pretty weird. So I’m going, Lex.”

“Okay,” I said, as mildly as I could.

There was a pause, and Simon cleared his throat. With great dignity, he added, “But, um . . . I’m not cleared to drive yet. Can you give me a ride?”

I grinned, glad he couldn’t see it. “Pick you up in twenty.”

Chapter 8

I called Elise to say we were on the way, and threw on the nearest outfit at hand, jeans and a T-shirt with the name of a local radio station. Boulder is really expensive, and I don’t make much money, so roughly half of my tops began life as free swag somewhere. The other half were birthday and Christmas gifts, usually from Sam or my mom.

Simon and his girlfriend were renting a bland townhouse in Lafayette, about fifteen minutes away if I didn’t hit any traffic. I’d stopped by the townhouse a few times right after Simon got out of the hospital, but Tracy had never exactly warmed up to me. It was possible that she was just a shy or introverted person, but there was also a good chance that she disliked me because of the boundary magic thing. Or, you know, because I’d gotten her long-term boyfriend critically injured. Either way, I couldn’t really blame her. It made my visits to Simon awkward, though.

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