Home > Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(6)

Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(6)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

“Right . . .”

“Every full moon, when the werewolf magic forces them to change, I dispatch vampires to the state border to hunt for signs of pack behavior. The last full moon was four nights ago, on the twenty-seventh,” she explained. “My representative at the northeast border was supposed to return to Boulder on the twenty-eighth, but I didn’t hear from her. One of my representatives at the western edge of the state did not report back either.”

“You think werewolves got them,” I said, fury building in my chest. In Los Angeles, I’d learned that my sister had been killed by a mad werewolf. The idea of getting to hunt and kill some was disturbingly appealing.

But for the first time that night, Maven hesitated. “It’s possible,” she said at last. “But after what happened with Itachi . . .” She trailed off, leaving me to fill in the blanks. Itachi had been the leader of all things supernatural in Colorado up until a few weeks ago. Maven had assisted him as a sort of advisor, a lieutenant. But Itachi hadn’t liked having a lieutenant who was so much more powerful than himself, so he had tried to have my niece kidnapped in order to increase his long-term power base. Quinn and I had helped Maven bring him down for good.

“You think they might have fled the state because they were loyal to Itachi,” I surmised.

Maven nodded. “There has been some . . . unrest over the last few weeks.” There was a sudden hardness in her tone that I recognized. Someone else in her organization had recently deserted, or threatened to mutiny, something like that. Which explained why she’d taken the time to come talk to me herself, instead of sending a minion. She needed to keep the whole thing quiet until we knew for sure there was a problem. The power structure of the Old World, I’d discovered, depended heavily on perception. The more it seemed like Maven didn’t have control of her territory, the less control she’d have over her territory.

But she knew Quinn and I could be trusted—well, at least as much as she could trust anyone. After all, Quinn had been publicly outed as Maven’s mole in Itachi’s old organization, and Maven had made sure every vampire within a thousand miles both hated and feared me. If she ever lost control of Colorado, we were both toast—and Charlie would be fair game.

You chose this, I reminded myself. You made a deal; now honor it. “I’m supposed to work tomorrow morning; should I get someone to cover my shift?” I was still technically employed as a register monkey at the Flatiron Depot, a 24-hour convenience store, though I had cut my hours to part-time and switched to day shifts. Maven gave me a stipend, but she didn’t use me often enough to fill my time, and I needed to have a job I could explain to my family.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Maven answered. “One way or the other, we should know before sunrise.”

Well, that sounded ominous.

Chapter 4

Magic Beans was located on Pine Street, in between a cutesy store that sold overpriced jewelry and a restaurant that made its own cheese. It was near the Boulderado, a popular tourist hotel, and only a few blocks away from my parents’ mini mansion in Mapleton. I cut across Iris Ave and down Highway 7, hoping to avoid the majority of drunk college students who were likely still roaming Pearl Street, bouncing between bars like balls on a pool table. Despite my efforts, the closer we got to Magic Beans, the more crowded the sidewalks became, and the costumed college kids seemed to have some kind of jaywalking death wish. I came very close to running down three young women dressed as a sexy nurse, sexy doctor, and sexy dolphin (!), respectively, after they decided to run diagonally through an intersection in a drunken, zigzag fashion.

When the sexy dolphin’s tail flared up to reveal shapely thighs, Maven looked over at me, cocking a questioning eyebrow. I just shrugged. “Don’t look at me. When I was twenty-two my costume was desert camo.”

Finally I pulled into the tiny parking lot behind Magic Beans. I spotted Quinn coming out the back door, headed toward a new-looking Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. He was dressed for fieldwork in dark-washed jeans and an all-weather jacket, and he carried a duffel bag.

He paused as he saw my car, squinting against the glare of headlights, and my heart did a happy little leap, which annoyed me. I’m in my thirties. I should not get butterflies.

As we climbed out of the car, Quinn nodded respectfully at Maven, then shot me a quick, private smile that burned through my resolve. I couldn’t help but grin back. “You have everything you need?” Maven said brightly. The perkiness surprised me, but then I realized that she’d dropped into her spacey barista persona, the one she used when she worked the front counter.

“I think so,” Quinn replied. “I’ll call if we’re not going to be back before sunrise. Hey, Lex.”

“Hi,” I said. “Where are we going?”

“Julesburg,” he said, naming a town in the northeast corner of the state. “That’s the closest disappearance.” He tossed the duffel bag into the back of the Jeep and opened the passenger-side door. “Shall we?”

I looked back and forth between him and the massive vehicle. When the two of us went looking for Charlie’s kidnappers, we’d taken his car or my old Subaru. But I just shrugged and climbed in.

As Quinn took his turn navigating through the drunken coeds, I looked around the interior of the fancy car, half afraid to touch anything. The Jeep’s dashboard and floor mats were spotless, and when I peeked over my shoulder I saw that the back had been tricked out to include some kind of concealed compartment in the floor that took up the whole width of the Jeep. “What’s with the wheels?” I asked Quinn.

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