Home > Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic #2)(8)

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic #2)(8)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

But Juliet . . .

“Scarlett,” Beatrice said softly, “if Juliet was allowed to know about the Old World, and you told her that this bachelorette weekend could be dangerous, but it could help keep you safe, do you think she’d still want to go?”

My shoulders slumped. “Of course.”

“Then why are we still talking about this?” she said in a reasonable tone. “I have planned a wonderful weekend for all of you. You’ll see a show, you’ll have fun, and you’ll come back on Monday with a full report about the Holmwoods. What is the problem?”

Wait, what? There was a gleam in Beatrice’s eyes that I definitely didn’t like. It was the same look Molly got when she wanted to dress me up in fancy clothes just for fun.

“Beatrice,” I said suspiciously, “when you say you’ve planned a great weekend, what exactly do you mean?”

Her eyes brightened, like she’d been dying for me to ask. Well, so to speak. “I spoke at length to Juliet’s matron of honor, and we chose activities that were both personalized for Juliet and in line with common bachelorette activities in Las Vegas.”

Beatrice and Bethany, teaming up? That was ominous. I had the sudden feeling that I was on a train careening downhill with no brakes. There was no way to jump off without causing an equal amount of death.

Dropping the subject for the moment, I turned to Dashiell, squaring my shoulders. “The deal that we made,” I said in a low voice, “was for me to be an equal partner in this city, on the same level as Kirsten and Will. Are you backing out of it?”

He gave me an insulted look. “Of course not. We have been most satisfied with your work, especially the way you handled the unfortunate incident with”—he waved a hand—“the deaths at USC.”

I suppressed a snort. The deaths at USC. An insane, misogynistic vampire had framed Molly for the apparent murder of twelve college students, and tried to depose Dashiell himself, but the only way Dashiell could describe it was by the possible political ramifications.

I reminded myself to stay on topic. “And would you pull this kind of shit on Will or Kirsten?” I demanded, crossing my arms over my chest. “Would you put Kirsten’s daughter in danger just to get some answers you wanted?”

Dashiell’s dark eyes glittered at me. Before he could speak, Beatrice laid a hand on his forearm. “Scarlett,” she said softly, “it’s true that we resolve issues in a different way with the others, but that doesn’t mean we’re putting your family in danger. Hayne assures me that he’s sending his best man. And for more reasons than one, you’re the only person who can do this.”

That brought me up short for a second. I studied Beatrice. Like all the vampires I’d met, she was an expert at keeping her thoughts off her face . . . as a vampire. Keeping your guard up is much harder when you’ve been suddenly thrust back into humanity. There was an edge of something in her eyes. Something desperate.

“What do you suspect?” I said, dropping back onto the edge of the chair. My eyes slid over to Dashiell, but he spent more time around me than Beatrice did, and his poker face didn’t waver.

“We’re not sure,” he said stiffly. “Rumors have followed the Holmwoods for decades. There’s something . . . off . . . about them. No one is willing to look into it, though, because they are always moving from one territory to another.”

I sighed. Sometimes I forgot that Dashiell was sort of a maverick in supernatural society. Most vampires acquired power slowly as they aged, but every once in a while one of them was reborn with a great big chunk of it, and that was Dashiell. Hell, on paper, he was still too young to control any city, let alone one as big and diverse as LA had become.

Because he was younger than most of the vampires in his position, Dashiell had a lot of funny ideas about things like sharing power and giving people second chances—and investigating Old World situations even if they didn’t directly affect him yet. It was amusing—and kind of scary—to remember that my authoritarian, rigid boss was a James Dean–level rebel among his peers. And I hadn’t forgotten about Carlos. Maybe Dashiell felt some personal responsibility for the current situation in Las Vegas, whatever it was.

But he was right about one thing: if there was a problem in Las Vegas, no one else would interfere, even if the Holmwoods were killing humans.

It was a blow to my pride, but I spat out the words anyway. “Fine. We’ll do it your way, including the stipend you promised. But if, God forbid, something happens to Juliet, you will personally be buying both those kids a first-class college education. Anywhere they want.” It sounded cold even as I said it, but Beatrice was right. Juliet would have agreed to the trip if she knew about the danger. At least this way I was securing the kids’ future. “I’m talking Ivy League, PhDs, whatever.”

“Fine,” Dashiell said, his face unreadable.

“And,” I went on, “I want your word that you will never again involve Jack or his family in your affairs without speaking to me first. Outside the purview of Jack’s mundane human job, of course.”

Beatrice looked at her husband expectantly, but he just stared at me with the same opaque expression. I didn’t look away. I was the only sort-of human who could meet his eyes without fear, and I wasn’t above reminding him of that. The staring contest continued for what was probably one minute but felt like much longer. Finally, Beatrice laid a hand on Dashiell’s shoulder. “Consider it a gesture of trust,” she said softly.

Dashiell paused for one more moment, then gave me a curt nod. “I give you my word.”

Chapter 6

Which was how, a few days later, I found myself arranging a ride to Vegas with a stranger named Cliff.

Juliet and two of her other bridesmaids were going to fly, but I wanted to bring my throwing knives, and the bodyguard/driver that Dashiell was sending needed to bring God knew how many guns. A trip through airport security wasn’t really a viable option for us.

Cliff was picking me up at seven in the morning—we were hoping to avoid the worst of the rush-hour traffic out of town—but Jesse came by at six thirty to say goodbye. He was also picking up my van, the White Whale, which was tricked out for handling Old World emergencies. Because he knows how I feel about mornings, he arrived with an enormous cup of coffee in hand.

“Mmm,” I said by way of thank you, taking a big sniff of the coffee and opening the door wide. “Okay, you can come in.”

Jesse stepped inside and immediately crouched down to pet Shadow, who was frantically waving her oddly clubbed-off tail. She liked Jesse nearly as much as she liked me. “Is Corry already here?” he asked, looking up at me. “I forgot to get her a coffee.”

“Yeah, I got in last night,” came Corry’s voice from the direction of Molly’s room. My vampire roommate had gone up to San Francisco for a few days, although she would be back Saturday evening, at which point Corry would move over to my room. Corry wandered into the little entryway, yawning. She was pretty and wholesome-looking, and with her dark blonde hair mussed and a knee-length pajama shirt, she looked more like a fourteen-year-old than a college freshman. “Hey, Jesse.”

“Hi, kid,” he said affectionately. He raised his arm and gave her a casual but affectionate side hug. Corry had been molested by a teacher four years earlier, and I’d noticed Jesse was always conscientious about how he touched her. He was good like that.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay here by yourself?” I asked her, trying to keep the concern off my face. “I mean, Molly will be back tomorrow night, but it might be late. You know, like, vampire-late.”

“I’ll be fine.” Corry waved a hand. “We’ll have fun, right Shadow?” She looked down at the bargest, who seemed less than enthusiastic. Shadow was no idiot. I had never been away from her for more than twelve hours since we’d first met, but she was supernaturally intelligent. She knew what the suitcase on my bed meant.

“Hmm, maybe I’ll take her to the dog beach,” Corry added playfully, and Shadow’s tail began wagging frantically. I winked at Corry, who, like me, suspected that Shadow’s big dream in life was to take down a shark. Corry smiled back and sniffed, eyeing my coffee.

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