Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(17)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(17)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

As soon as we had the plan in place, I called Dashiell and ran him through an abbreviated version of the last twenty-four hours: I was still sick, but I’d gone to Boulder to speak to Lex about an urgent personal matter. I’d left Jesse in charge of Shadow, and they’d been attacked.

There was really no way to sugarcoat it, so I didn’t bother trying. As I had expected, his response was so curt it was practically a snarl. “I will connect with Kirsten and do what I can for Mr. Cruz. You and I will discuss this the moment the crisis has passed.” And he hung up.

I stared at the phone, half-afraid it would bite me. “Was he pissed?” Molly asked from the back seat.

“You could say that,” I said dully. Dashiell had sounded like he genuinely wanted to kill me, but at this point it was hard to care.

Jesse. My knuckles ached, and when I looked down, I realized that my hands were clenched into fists.

We arrived at the airport, but before I could even open the door, Molly said suddenly, “Wait.”

Lex and I both turned to look in the back seat, but Molly’s focus was on Lex. “Press me,” she said hurriedly. “Press me to forget she’s pregnant.”

“Molls, no!” I said, at the same time Lex said, “It won’t work.”

“Why not?” Molly asked her, ignoring me.

“You’ve known about it for too long,” Lex explained. “It’s too deep in your mind now. I can’t take away the knowledge without taking away the last two days, and that’s too much. Your brain would work too hard to fill in the gaps.”

“Just like when vampires press humans,” I said, understanding.

“Then press me to think it was a false alarm,” Molly insisted. “We came here and got answers, but Scarlett got her period while we were here.”

Lex looked at me, questioning. As soon as I started to shake my head, Molly said, “Scar, it’ll protect us both. It’ll buy you time to figure out what to tell Dashiell and the others.”

I felt myself wavering. “I don’t like the idea of rewiring your brain for me.”

She just gave me a look. “I do it to other people all the time. Consider it karma.”

I chewed on my lip for a second. The pregnancy had seemed so terrifying and all-encompassing only an hour ago, but Kirsten’s phone call had put things in perspective. I had months to figure out what to do about the baby. Jesse had hours. “Okay,” I said. I looked at Lex. “Do it. Please.”

“You’ll have to get out of the car,” she reminded me.

Oh, right. Null.

Relieved, and ashamed of it, I opened the car door and climbed out. Lex called after me, and I turned and looked through the door at her.

“About Jesse,” she said, and for the first time I realized she was afraid for him, too. Duh, Scarlett. He and Lex were friends. “Will you call me and let me know?” She hesitated for a second, and added in a hard tone, “Either way.” She gave me a long, meaningful look, and I actually understood. If Jesse died before I could save him, Lex would help me get revenge.

“I will.”

Chapter 15

I’ve been in some horrible situations, where lives were at risk, but I can honestly say those two hours of flight time were the longest in my life. Molly tried to talk to me a few times, I think, but I barely heard her, and probably only grunted in response.

Jesse.

This was all my fault. I had dragged Jesse into the Old World to begin with, and I’d put him in personal danger any number of times—but usually I was at least with him, to level the playing field. He could handle danger as a human up against humans, and I’d taken for granted that he could handle my job for a couple of days, like he’d done before. I’d taken him for granted. And then I’d abandoned him, leaving him vulnerable to magical attack.

Now someone had hexed him with some kind of lethal spell, and Shadow was . . .

I frowned. Wait. Where was Shadow? When Kirsten first said the bargest was missing, I’d assumed Shadow had gone for help, but maybe she was trying to track Jesse’s attacker? Or maybe she was trying to find me. Shadow was as smart as some humans, but she wouldn’t try to run to Colorado, would she?

I had a sudden, terrible thought. Saying a prayer of thanks for the private plane, I pulled out my phone and called Kirsten. First, of course, I asked about Jesse.

“We still can’t get him to swallow water, and Matthias couldn’t get an IV in,” she reported. “His veins just won’t take it, like he’s in stasis or something. But we’ve had another idea.”

“Which is?”

“Hayne and I filled your bathtub with ice,” she said. She had calmed down a lot now that there was a doctor on hand. “His fever is down to a hundred and four. He’s still dying, but I think we can keep him alive until you get here. And Will is here, just in case.”

“Okay. Okay.” Molly was looking at me inquisitively. I gave her a weak smile to show that things were looking better.

“Scarlett . . .” Kirsten continued.

“What?”

“I want to prepare you,” she said in a hushed voice. “There could be brain damage. From the fever.”

“Could be?” I echoed. “So not for sure, right?” Now I sounded hysterical, and Molly’s eyes widened. I looked away from her, out the dark window.

“It’s a magic-induced fever, so we don’t know if it’ll have the same effects as if it was from an infection.”

Brain damage? For a second I was too choked up to speak, but I forced myself to remember my reason for calling. I cleared my throat. “Listen, when you got to my place, was the door unlocked?”

A pause. “Yes. It was standing open.”

Okay, that worked with the theory that Shadow was pursing the attackers. But I had to be sure. “Look around,” I said. “Do you see a purple leather collar anywhere?”

A brief pause, then: “Hang on.”

I waited. Considering her size and how she looked, it was hard for Shadow to blend in. Having a girlie purple collar helped, at least a little. Shadow didn’t like wearing it, but she accepted that it was a necessary part of disguising her as an actual dog.

Kirsten came back on the line. “I found it,” she reported. “It was outside in the driveway.”

My stomach dropped. “Is it damaged, like she clawed it off?”

“No. It was just unbuckled. Why does this matter?”

Molly was looking at me again. “There used to be a tracking device in her collar,” I explained. “Shadow kept scratching at it and shorting it out.” Which was possibly accidental, but I wouldn’t put it past the bargest to decide she didn’t feel like having an electronic tag. Her claws were as sharp as my throwing knives. “Abby’s been working on a new scratchproof design, so the purple collar has no tracker—I just sliced off a tiny bit of it, so I could get a witch to find it.” As a supernatural creature, Shadow couldn’t be found with a tracking spell—magic usually couldn’t work against itself, for some reason. But any decent witch could track a fragment from a larger piece, like the collar. “But if someone took her . . .”

“They took the collar off,” Kirsten finished for me, “knowing you could get us to track it.”

“Is the house trashed?” I asked. “Like there was a fight?”

“No.”

Molly, who had heard most of the conversation, put in, “Couldn’t Jesse have taken the collar off?”

“Maybe,” I admitted. “But why would he have left it in the driveway?”

None of us had a good answer for that. If the collar had been some kind of message, I wasn’t getting it. Meanwhile, we had to proceed as though whoever had attacked Jesse had also taken Shadow. “Just . . . focus on getting here,” Kirsten said finally.

So I did.

He may have been mad at me, but Dashiell still sent a car to get us from the airport. As we pulled up to the house, I was already extending my radius as far as I could. I felt the bzzt sensation of a spell fizzing out . . . but this wasn’t like the spells I was used to dealing with. It was powerful, for one thing, and there was almost a taste to it, something thick and green and toxic. It made me want to shower and throw up at the same time. I pushed away the thought and hurried out of the car toward the cottage, Molly rushing along at my heels.

   
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