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

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

“Okay, but how do we find out?”

“That, I don’t know. Ordinarily I’d ask the nearest cardinal vampire, but that’s Dashiell. Even if you were ready to tell him, I think he’s too young to know.”

Most vampires get power with age, but every once in a while, a vampire is reborn with way more than his or her fair share. Dashiell was one of those anomalies, which meant he was powerful enough to hold a city, but not even two hundred years old.

“Yeah, if he’s ever heard of a pregnant null, he would have at least hinted at it by now,” I reasoned. It would be just like Dashiell to dangle null secrets in front of me and make me bargain for them. If he hadn’t mentioned null reproduction, he didn’t know about it. “Same goes for Kirsten.” The witch leader of Los Angeles had a toddler, and I trusted her a lot more than Dashiell. If she’d known of a way I could have kids, she would have said something.

We could ask Kirsten to do some research, but she’d have to talk to people, if for no other reason than to explain why she needed to access the witches’ library of magical knowledge. And I couldn’t afford to let any more people know about this than absolutely necessary. Besides, Kirsten, Dashiell, and Will were all my partners in the city’s leadership, at least in theory. Asking Kirsten was the same as asking Dashiell, and I was back to square one.

Talking to a vampire wasn’t a bad idea in itself, though. I could claim I was in a relationship where the guy wanted kids, and I was curious if it was possible. But Molly was right—it would need to be someone a hell of a lot older than Dashiell, and I mostly just knew the vampires in LA, who were a fairly young group. There weren’t a lot of vampires willing to swear loyalty to someone who was younger than they were.

“Who’s the oldest vampire you know?” I asked Molly.

“Uh . . .” She held out her hands, palms up. “Most of my sisters were turned when I was.”

“Shit.” I thought about the vampires I’d met in Las Vegas, but other than Wyatt, who was only about two hundred, they all either hated me or had been killed. “Wait.” A memory nagged at me. Not a vampire, but I’d had a conversation with Sashi, a healing witch in Vegas. We’d been talking about Sashi’s friend Lex . . .

I stood up. “I know what to do,” I said simply. “Get your overnight bag. We’re leaving in five.”

Molly rose, too. “Where are we going?”

“Boulder, Colorado,” I told her. “To see maybe the oldest vampire on the planet.”

Chapter 2

I threw clothes and toiletries into a small duffel bag, more or less on autopilot. My thoughts were still flying around faster than I could grasp them, but at least I sort of had a plan, however flimsy.

“Can I drive?” Molly yelled from the other room.

I started to say no, but paused to consider. Molly drove like a maniac. Or like a person who can heal from almost anything and has already faced down death once. But if she drove, we would get there a hell of a lot faster. Besides, I was already sick to my stomach.

“Sure,” I called back, making a mental note to grab some of my heavy-duty ziplock bags. I was pretty much guaranteed to puke before we got there, but just in case, I went to the bedside-table drawer and popped a Dramamine.

Molly leaned into my doorway, looking hopeful. “Can we take Eleanor?”

I rolled my eyes. Eleanor was what Molly called her 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, a muscle car she kept in a storage unit a few miles away. Molly rarely drove it, and I’d only been in it once. I didn’t know anything about cars, but it was very pretty. And very conspicuous.

But Eleanor was fast, and it didn’t have GPS or LoJack, which meant Dashiell wouldn’t be able to track it. Besides, it wouldn’t matter if we had a flashy car between LA and Boulder. Everyone I was worried about was within the city limits. “Yeah, okay.”

Her face lit up. “Yesssss!” She turned and disappeared back down the hall, closing my door behind her.

“Let’s take a cab to the storage center, so it looks like we’re both still home,” I yelled after her. Then I stopped, my hands frozen in the act of zipping my bag. I hadn’t thought about how to cover my job. Or about Shadow, who was currently pressed against my right leg, doing her best to mirror my every movement. She was looking up at my face with obvious anxiety. Not about being left, I knew. Shadow didn’t get afraid of things like that. She was afraid I’d be hurt while I was away from her.

“I’m sorry, but you know you can’t come,” I told her, starting toward the bedroom door. I’d left my cell phone out in the living room. I pulled the door open. “We’ll call Jesse—”

At that moment, a familiar figure stepped into the hallway. “Somebody say my name?” Jesse leaned in my doorway, looking gleeful. Before I could answer, he added, “Oh my God, that was amazing. I’ve always wanted to have sitcom timing when I walked into a room. Now I can check it off my—oh. Hey.”

I had thrown my arms around him, tears pricking my eyes. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. “Hey,” Jesse said again, awkwardly patting my back. “What’s wrong?”

“You’re here,” I mumbled into his neck. He smelled the way he always did, of Armani cologne and oranges. It was immensely comforting.

“Yeah, my dad is working late, so we had to postpone family dinner until Sunday. Molly let me in . . . what’s wrong?”

Ignoring the question, I forced myself to pull back. I straightened my shirt, embarrassed, and glanced down at Shadow. “You didn’t feel the need to warn me about a visitor?” I asked her.

She looked at me and gave a huge, deliberate yawn, showing off a row of enormous, glittering white teeth. The message was obvious: Jesse didn’t count. He spent too much time here, and she loved him nearly as much as she loved me.

“Scarlett?” Jesse had taken in the bag behind me, and the look on my face. “What’s going on?”

“I need your help. Again,” I said, sniffling a little. Jesse had made a ton of money from writing a book about his time as a cop. He didn’t need to work for the time being, which made him conveniently available. This wouldn’t be the first time I’d taken advantage of that. “Can you stay here and take care of Shadow and the Batphone for a couple of days?” My cell phone number was the one the Old World leaders used when there was an emergency for me to clean up. It was also an easy way to track me.

“Of course, but why? Where are you going?”

I opened my mouth to tell him—after all, Lex was really his friend—but snapped it shut again. That was thinking like a null. But Jesse was just a human.

“I can’t say,” I said, my voice pleading. “If you don’t know, they can’t make you tell.”

He took a step closer. “Who can’t make me tell?”

“Dashiell.”

“Scarlett . . .” His painfully handsome face clouded over. “Is this about curing Hayne? Did it . . . do something to you?”

“No, it’s not that.”

“Then what kind of trouble are you in?”

I almost laughed at his phrasing. In trouble. I was definitely in at least three kinds of trouble. “It’s going to be okay. I think. I’m not, like, staging a coup or anything. But I need to go ask someone for help, and it means leaving the county, which is against the rules for Shadow. I should be back . . . day after tomorrow? I hope?” Okay, I was starting to sound loopy as hell, even to me.

Looking worried, Jesse pulled me close again so he could plant a kiss on my forehead. “Okay. What do I do if someone calls the Batphone?”

“Tell them . . . tell them I still have the flu,” I answered, brightening. Sometimes I went nearly a week without getting called in to clean up some kind of supernatural mess. “I’ll text Dashiell and tell him you’re helping me because I’m sick again.” With luck, I might actually get away with this.

But I needed to do it either way.

Jesse looked in my eyes, and whatever he saw made him nod and step back. “Molly!” I yelled. “Do you still have extra burner phones?”

   
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