Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(11)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(11)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

The Luthers all had that fresh-faced look I had learned to associate with Boulder, and even if I hadn’t known that many of them were related, I probably could have guessed by their similar features: honey-blonde hair, brown eyes, high cheekbones. It was like walking into a commercial for multivitamins. It made me want to drink a gallon of diet soda and eat a whole gas station pizza.

A couple of them looked up as we came in, waved, and went back to talking. An older woman with silver hair and a stout figure came bustling over to hug Lex. “Hi, honey. Oh, Quinn, you made it. That’s wonderful.” She smiled up at him, and then her eyes turned to Molly and me. “And you must be Sashi’s friends. I’m Lex’s mom, Christy.”

Molly nudged me, and I stepped forward to shake hands and introduce myself.

Lex got pulled into a conversation with a short-haired woman, but before I could even feel uncertain of myself, Christy Luther reached out and snagged the arm of a passing girl holding a loaded appetizer plate. She was college age, with olive skin, thick dark hair, and Sashi’s features. I felt a jolt of recognition. She might have looked like her mother, but the confident stance and capable broad shoulders—those were purely from her father.

From Will.

Not many people knew that Will Carling, the alpha werewolf of Los Angeles, had a daughter. In fact, I was pretty sure Will himself didn’t know. I’d only stumbled onto the secret by mistake, and now I felt myself gaping at her.

“Oh, have you already met Grace?” Christy said. “She goes to CU, and she’s an honorary Luther.”

The girl turned toward us, her expression friendly and open, but held up a finger as she finished chewing something. “Sorry,” she said after swallowing, laughing at herself a little. “Hi, I’m Grace.”

The laugh was eerily familiar. I wasn’t imagining that: out of the corner of my eye, I saw Molly’s eyes narrow slightly, her head tilting a little. She looked like she was trying to remember the name of a song stuck in her head. “Hi!” I said, way too loudly. I cleared my throat and shook the girl’s hand. “I mean, it’s nice to meet you.”

“This is Scarlett and Molly,” Christy went on. “Scarlett is friends with your mom.” Her voice was gentle, but Grace’s face instantly froze over, and she took her hand back without shaking Molly’s.

“Oh,” she said coolly. “How do you know Sashi?”

Whoa. Calling her mother by her first name? “Through mutual friends,” I said noncommittally. “I was just at your house a few weeks ago, in Las Vegas. She has pictures of you everywhere.”

“Yeah. Well.” The girl looked down at her plate, which still had a pile of chips and salsa. “Excuse me, I think I need more salsa.”

After she’d departed, Christy sighed. “I’m sorry about that. I was hoping drawing her into a conversation about her mom might help.”

“They’re . . . estranged?” I asked. I didn’t want to blow my “friends with Sashi” cover, but I couldn’t help myself. “Sashi didn’t mention anything.”

“No, she wouldn’t,” Christy said wryly. “Sashi and my former son-in-law, John, dated for a few years, but it didn’t work out. Grace took the breakup hard.”

“Oh,” I said stupidly, as pieces of information fell into place. When I was in Vegas, Sashi had told me she’d tried—and failed—to move on from Will. Grace Brighton wasn’t a witch, which meant Sashi had also kept that part of her life away from her daughter.

Jesus. I knew more about these people than they did.

The conversation moved on. Christy introduced us to several other people, but even as I shook hands, I knew I had no hope of remembering all their names. I did take note of John, Lex’s brother-in-law and Charlie’s dad. He was . . . noteworthy. Very handsome, with bronze Native American coloring and an easy, likable demeanor that made me inwardly cringe with guilt. He was friendly enough, asking questions about the places we’d visited in Boulder, but I had trouble concentrating on the conversation. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop seeing his wife’s dead body as it went into the furnace.

Suddenly this wasn’t so fun.

Molly, who’d been quietly working her way through a plate of food, saw the look on my face after John excused himself. She knew what I’d done to Samantha Wheaton’s corpse, and reached out to squeeze my hand. I shot her a smile, but I was a little rattled at the emotional overload. Goddamned baby hormones.

After introductions, Christy encouraged us to go get food, and I was grateful for the excuse to get away. As we approached the buffet table, however, the smell of cooked meat hit me wrong. Molly saw the look on my face and winced. “Bathroom?” she asked in a low voice. I nodded, struggling to keep down the contents of my stomach. “Go. I’ll cover for you.”

Panicked, I wove my way through the crowd toward the nearest hallway. There were several closed doors, but one of them was standing open, and I could see a tiled floor and a toilet. I beelined toward it, not even pausing to flick on the light. I practically dove for the toilet.

I don’t know how much time passed while I was throwing up, but after a while the light snapped on, and I blearily lifted my head, expecting to see Molly. Instead, a Native American woman with a long gray braid was scowling at me with her hands on her hips, as though I’d burst in on her in the bathroom and not the other way around. “You could at least close the door if you’re gonna do that,” she snapped. “Or do you get off on people walking in on you puking?”

I fell back on my butt. The vomiting was done, I thought, but I didn’t have the strength to get up yet. The older woman closed the bathroom door and practically stomped over to the toilet. She “hmphed” and hit the flush lever, then unceremoniously lifted her dress and plopped down to urinate. I scooted away, embarrassed.

She snorted. “Oh, sure, you’re happy to let the whole world see you puke, but one old woman peeing is an outrage.” She was probably only in her late fifties, and moved like she was ready to play college football, so the “old woman” thing was just perturbing. “How far along are you?” she demanded.

I looked back, surprised. “What?”

“How far along?” she repeated. “Six, eight weeks?”

“I don’t know.”

She stood up, flushed the toilet, and went to the sink. “You don’t even know how far along you are?” she said scornfully.

Okay, she was starting to piss me off. And it was only then, when I stopped thinking about the nausea and really focused on her, that I realized the woman was registering in my radius. She was a witch, but there was something weird about her magic. It was extremely faint. In fact, I’d have guessed it was just dormant witchblood, except I can’t feel that at all.

“You girls these days,” she groused to herself, scrubbing her hands with expensive-looking lavender soap. “Half of you act like no one in the world has ever had a baby before you, and the other half tries to pretend like nothing is happening.”

That was enough. Using the tub for support, I climbed to my feet, glaring at her. “Listen up, old woman. I’m sorry I startled you, but you’re obviously not in a position to lecture me about etiquette, and I don’t owe you any personal details about my life. Back the fuck off.”

For the first time, a tiny smile appeared on the woman’s creased face. She wiped her hands on a towel and thrust the right one at me. “I’m Blossom,” she said. “John’s mother.”

“Scarlett.” I shook her hand.

“You want me to get your partner for you?” she asked, nodding at the door.

I was confused for a second, then got it. “Molly? Oh, uh, no. She’s just my friend.”

“Is your baby daddy here?” She looked pointedly at my stomach.

“He’s dead,” I said flatly.

“Oh.” She leaned back against the counter, looking . . . well, not contrite, exactly, but thoughtful.

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” I said sarcastically. “Perhaps you’d like to discuss my history with yeast infections, or the times I’ve been groped on public transportation. My parents were murdered; wanna talk about that?”

   
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