Home > Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(17)

Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(17)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

I was too disoriented to process his question properly, so I grunted something along the lines of, “Huh?”

“You’re in the police station; I can only assume you’re under arrest for something.” Keller made a show of looking around. “What happened? You get a rookie who had to go back for his cuffs?”

I stood up and stretched to my full height, forcing Keller to take a step backward. I was mostly using the movement to wake up, but his eyes narrowed as though I had physically threatened him. “My friend is consulting with your criminologist,” I said calmly, tilting my head back so I could meet his eyes. Keller was average height, a few inches taller than my five feet five inches, but he acted like a short guy who was overcompensating. Maybe he’d been a late bloomer. “I gave him a ride.”

“Uh-huh,” Keller said. “You sure it’s not the other way around? Your friend’s bailing you out after you got arrested for—what would it be this time? More bar fighting? Maybe some light prostitution?”

I gritted my teeth so the words watch your mouth didn’t spill through them. Keller was just trying to get a rise out of me, and this time he was being particularly clumsy about it. I could handle this. “Nope, just waiting on my friend. But hey, maybe next time.”

His mouth twisted into a smirk, and he lowered his voice so only I would hear. “I get it, I get it—you think you’re on the straight and narrow, don’t you? That you’re all rehabilitated? But you and I both know you came back broken. You’ve gotten a taste for hurting people.”

My stomach turned to acid, and I wanted to punch him and laugh it off and burst into tears, all at once. Keller saw that he’d gotten to me, and shot me another triumphant little smile.

Then I was back to just wanting to punch him.

“Lex?” Elise’s voice was worried, and I turned to see her coming toward us. I hadn’t even heard the security door open. “Is there a problem?”

“No problem at all,” drawled Keller, taking a leisurely sip from his cup. He outranked Elise by quite a bit, and now that she’d jumped to my defense he was going to draw out her discomfort. “I was just catching up with your cousin here.”

Elise looked at me worriedly, but I just gave a little headshake, the tension broken. “How’s it going in there?” I asked, turning my back on Keller. If I couldn’t get rid of him, at least I could completely ignore him.

“Dr. Pellar is almost done,” she promised.

Disappointed with the general lack of fear or rancor, Keller grunted and turned to go. “Remember what I said, Luther,” he called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the secure area.

“He’s a dick,” Elise grumbled as he disappeared through the door. She was wearing her jacket, carrying her bag. Done for the day. “You gonna tell me what he said?”

“Nah, it was nothing.” I wanted to dismiss Keller’s words, but in truth they had shaken me to the core. What if he was right? What if I was a time bomb, just not in the way he thought? I glanced down at my forearms, where the new tattoos were covered by my jacket sleeves. What if I couldn’t control the boundary magic? A few months earlier, I might not have given a damn what happened to me, but now Charlie needed me to keep the Old World away from her, at least long enough for her to grow up. If something happened to me, my nineteen-month-old niece would be fair game. I shuddered and forced myself to return my attention to my cousin, changing the subject. “So was the commander impressed with your quick thinking?”

Elise flushed with pride, then glanced over to make sure the receptionist was out of earshot. “Well . . . yeah. Kinda.”

I bumped her with my hip. “And was it just me, or was there a little something-something happening between you and the good Dr. Lafferty?”

She looked scandalized, but at exactly that moment the security door opened again and Simon hobbled out. Elise shot me a smug look because it meant she didn’t have to answer me.

There were a few minutes of handshaking and polite good-byes, and at last I was accompanying Simon back to the car. I managed to wait until both of our doors were shut before I said conversationally, “So. What the fuck was that thing?”

“Drive, Lex,” he told me. “There are cameras.”

Reluctantly, I started the car and began backing away. “I think your cousin was right,” Simon began. “I believe it was a gastric pellet. The smell, the contents, the way it was shaped . . . yeah. Elise was smart to recognize it.”

I shot him a wary glance. Simon’s eyes were bright, his cheeks flushed. He was thrilled. “I thought it was too big,” I remarked.

“That’s the thing—it’s way too big,” he blurted. “And there have been no other signs of an animal like that, so I looked at it in the magical spectrum, and the thing was buzzing.” Damn. I wished I’d thought to look at it in the magical spectrum, although unless the thing was actually alive, I probably wouldn’t have seen anything. Simon pointed toward the next turnoff. “Can you drop me off on campus? I need to look through some of the collections, maybe check out the journals . . .”

I eyed him. I didn’t want to burst his bubble, especially since this was the most positive I’d seen him since his fall. But under the bright expression, he still looked exhausted. I hadn’t seen dark circles that big since Charlie was a newborn, keeping Sam up all night. “Just to be clear,” I said, “your hypothesis is that there is a giant lizard monster running amok in Boulder, and it ate a human being and spat out the parts it didn’t like?”

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