Home > Boundary Born (Boundary Magic #3)(7)

Boundary Born (Boundary Magic #3)(7)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

“The older two have been paralyzed for several weeks now,” Maven said, her words clipped. “Ford hadn’t been checking in with them, so he wasn’t aware of the problem until a third, Louis, died from the poison. Louis had listed him as a reference on an apartment application, and the landlord called when he found the body.” Her eyes looked like they might start shooting sparks at any second. “Louis was young. He couldn’t fight it.”

I winced, but not from the news. As a boundary witch, I have a special attraction to vampires and vice versa. Most of the time this meant that Maven, who was ancient and powerful, sort of pulled at my attention. Today, though, she was so angry that looking at her was like tumbling into a very deep hole. I couldn’t tell if she was upset because Ford had neglected his vampires, or because of the belladonna. Or both.

“The other two, will they survive?” Quinn asked her.

She nodded, the rage subsiding a little. “If they haven’t died by now, they should wake eventually. But it could be weeks, months, even longer, depending on the potency of the strain they received. Meanwhile, they have to be cared for, hidden, and fed.”

Vampires didn’t eat or drink anything other than blood, as far as I could tell. Which raised another question. “How did they ingest the poison in the first place?” I asked.

Quinn answered for me. “There were no injection marks on their bodies, and it’s really difficult to get a vampire to hold still for a shot anyway,” he explained. “Someone must have watched them, learned their favorite donors, and slipped it into the donors’ food. That’s one of the reasons why we’re discouraged from using the same humans over and over,” he said, with a sidelong glance at Maven. I got the impression that this was a Colorado-specific rule.

“Okay, so there’s a person who has it in for the Denver vampires, and they gave a rare, ancient strain of belladonna to the humans that are, um, repeat donors. Obviously it’s someone with Old World knowledge, but is there any way to tell what species?”

Maven’s eyes narrowed. “Historically speaking,” she said, her voice suddenly cold, “belladonna and the other herbs are witch tools.”

Oh, shit. Tensions between witches and vampires were already high, thanks to Morgan Pellar’s attempted coup. Now Maven wanted me wedged right between them again. I glanced at Quinn, but he was keeping his eyes fixed on Maven, like a hound awaiting a command.

“I want you both in Denver tonight,” she declared. “We know about three of the humans who were likely poisoned. Quinn, you’ll talk to them. Press them, find out if they were willing participants or victims. Lex, I want you to speak to Nellie.”

I suppressed a groan. This night just kept getting better. Nellie was a boundary witch like me, only she was dead. The ghosts of boundary witches are, apparently, quite sentient, and Nellie haunted the Denver brothel where she’d died. The last time I was there she’d given me information on ley lines in exchange for a working television, but I hadn’t had time to visit her during the past six months.

Okay, to be honest, I hadn’t wanted to visit her. Boundary magic was intimidating under the best circumstances, and Nellie claimed I was the most powerful boundary witch she’d ever seen. That scared the crap out of me. I was already struggling to adjust to seeing ghosts everywhere I went. The last thing I wanted was to add more to my plate.

“Of course, but, um . . . why?”

“We need perspective from a witch who cannot be involved in the poisonings, and since you’re the only person in Colorado who can see her, I think Nellie’s a safe bet,” Maven said curtly. “I also happen to know she’s had experience with belladonna. I want you to ask her if there’s a way to wake up my vampires.”

“She’ll want something in exchange.” Nellie was nothing if not enterprising.

Maven just waved a hand. “As long as it’s just money, give her anything. Quinn has a company credit card.”

I almost chortled. Here we were, talking witch spells and vampire poisoning, and Quinn had a company credit card. I managed to swallow the laughter. “Yes, ma’am,” I said instead.

“In the meantime, I’ll get the word out. No vampire in Colorado drinks from a human they’ve used before.” She cut her eyes at Quinn, and then looked back at me. Oh, yeah, she knew we were dating.

Quinn just nodded. I bit my lip. There were going to be a lot of vampires out hunting that night.

Chapter 4

Nellie’s former brothel had once been a lovely Victorian house in downtown Denver, on the edge of what became the red-light district in the nineteenth century. But after Nellie died and the brothel shut down, every attempt to open a new business there or renovate the building back into a home had failed. There were too many strange noises, creepy sightings, and cold spots, all of which had earned it a prominent spot on all the “Haunted Denver” lists.

Decades had passed since the last failed attempt to transform the building, but the city had developed around the ancient eyesore, and it was now only a couple of blocks away from Coors Field, sandwiched stubbornly between a trendy club and a sports bar.

All of my previous visits had been during the day, when the area was deserted, but this time I had to slip down the alley between the club and the brothel, avoiding stumbling twenty-somethings with high heels and blowout hair. I made an effort not to wrinkle my nose as I squeezed past two girls vomiting against the club building. When I was twenty-four, I was driving Humvees through the desert at night, not puking in stilettos.

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