Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(7)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(7)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Sure enough, a few seconds later, Shadow’s eyes drifted closed. Through the net, her stiff body pressed against Jesse, as if for comfort, and then finally began to relax. She slumped onto the floor.

Jesse’s heart sank. He had seen the bargest rip the throats out of vampires. It was horrible, seeing her get taken down by one asshole. And all to save him.

The Frenchman turned to Jesse. “Now, where is Scarlett Bernard? Why did she and the vampire leave without taking their vehicles?”

Jesse blinked. If these guys were here to steal Shadow back, why would they care about Scarlett? “I don’t know.”

The man scoffed. “You are her best friend. You are watching the bargest for her.”

“And I’m human, which makes me vulnerable to spells and vampires,” Jesse shot back. “She kept it from me on purpose.”

From behind Jesse, the woman finally spoke, in French. “Shall I shoot him now?” She came around to stand next to the man, but kept the gun pointed at Jesse. His knees were beginning to ache. “Perhaps in the shoulder or leg, to make him talk?”

The Frenchman studied Jesse’s face. Finally, he shook his head and replied in French. “No, my love. He might be lying, or he may know something else we can use. You must put him in—” And then a phrase Jesse had never heard before: le sommeil tordu. He had to work through it for a moment to get the meaning.

The twisted slumber.

The woman pouted. “Killian! You know how it tires me!”

“I know.” The man—Killian—checked his watch and answered her in the same language. “But we have time. You can afford the distraction. Besides, retrieving Belle is only half our task. Do you want to tell Grandfather that the null slipped through our fingers?”

Jesse couldn’t see the woman’s expression, but when she spoke, she sounded subdued. “No. I will do it.”

Jesse desperately wished for those witch bags. He was still trying to think of something to convince them to go away when Sabine’s pinched face clouded over with a vacant look that creeped him out. She held out her hands toward Jesse and began to chant.

“You don’t need to do this . . .” Jesse began, but he couldn’t finish the sentence. Something was wrong. His chest felt . . .

He crumpled to the floor.

Chapter 6

Foolish Craig’s Cafe was situated right on Pearl Street, which was apparently the main drag of commerce in Boulder. We found street parking a few blocks away, and had to wander through an outdoor mall area packed with various kinds of restaurants, bars, shops, and public art. It reminded me of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica: one of the few parts of town that was equally friendly to tourists and locals. Molly stuck close to me, to stay in my radius.

On the inside, Foolish Craig’s was a pretty good miniature reflection of Pearl Street, with exposed brick and funky colors. There was also an overall feeling of coordination to it, like the effect had been carefully planned by shrewd developers.

The smell in the restaurant was overpowering. I could tell, intellectually, that it was probably a really nice, breakfasty smell, but it was all I could do not to hurl again. I tried to breathe through my mouth. “You need to get some food in your stomach,” Molly advised. “Some crackers or something. It’ll help the nausea.”

I stared at her. “How do you know?”

She held up her new burner cell phone. “While you were sleeping, I was listening to What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” she declared, looking smug. “The audiobook.”

“Oh,” was all I managed to say.

The waitress was walking past, so Molly reached out and touched her wrist. “Excuse me, do you have any crackers?”

The young woman gave us an apologetic look. She was about twenty, with green streaks in her hair and one of those cartilage nose piercings that unfortunately reminded me of cows. “I’m sorry! We usually carry organic, gluten-free crackers baked by a local artisan shop, but we’re out at the moment.”

“Dry toast?” I said weakly.

“Of course!” she chirped. “Wheat, rye, baguette, gluten-free, challah, or twelve-grain?”

I blanched. I hadn’t known there were even twelve different grains out there. “Um . . . bread toast?”

When she’d gone back to procure my toast—probably by, I don’t know, harvesting the wheat from a field behind the restaurant and crushing it with a mortar and pestle she’d hand-carved out of marble—I looked around the crowded restaurant, deciding it was a minor miracle that we’d managed to hit the right lull to get a table. I’d never been to Boulder before, but everyone looked so . . . healthy. They were chatting and laughing in variations of hiking boots and shorts, practically glowing with wholesome good humor. Nearly every patron had a reusable water bottle in front of them or peeking out of a purse. They were also almost exclusively white.

“Man, I don’t get this place,” Molly declared. She was studying the people around us with obvious curiosity. “I mean, LA has plenty of rich hippies, but it’s like we’re stuck inside a commercial for the world’s happiest and most expensive summer camp.”

“I think it has something to do with the fact that their tans are real,” I suggested.

Lex walked in a few minutes later, moving through the restaurant with confidence and purpose, like the soldier she used to be. She was about my height, with reddish-brown hair and blue eyes. Her face was surprisingly youthful, and I realized that she didn’t look a day older than when I’d first met her, three years earlier. This probably had to do with her witchblood: boundary witches age very slowly. Something about their cells not wanting to die.

She wore jeans and a gray tank top under an unbuttoned flannel shirt, and I could see the cords of muscle on her forearms and shoulders. As she entered my radius, I was amazed, once again, by how powerful she was. Kirsten was easily the most powerful witch in LA, but Lex left even her in the dust.

I half-rose from my chair and waved. She nodded and came over, looking a little irritated. As she got closer and took in my appearance, though, her face blanched. “What happened to you?” she asked me, taking a seat. “You look terrible.”

“Hello to you too,” I said dryly. “I just got over the flu.” The lie came out of my mouth fast and easy . . . but then, covering shit up is what I do for a living.

Lex shrugged, her eyes cutting over to Molly. They’d met a few months earlier, during the Vampire Trials in LA. “I didn’t know you were coming along,” she said, her voice neutral. “Isn’t that . . . kind of dangerous?”

“Because of the sunlight?” Molly said, cheerful as ever. “Nah, Scarlett’s got my back. She expands her bubble to make sure I stay human. She’s really good at it.”

“Huh.” Lex looked sort of wistful, and I remembered that last I heard, she still had a vampire boyfriend. I wanted to ask if the two of them spent time around Lex’s niece, who was also a null, but I had the feeling that bringing Charlie into the conversation wouldn’t go well for me. And besides, it wasn’t really any of my business.

The waitress dropped off my toast and wrote down orders: coffee for Lex and a giant stack of pancakes for Molly. When she’d disappeared back to the kitchen, Lex turned to me. “So? What’s going on?”

Right. Lex wasn’t exactly known for small talk. I pushed out a breath. “I need a favor. I’d like you to get me an audience with Maven. Tonight.”

She arched an eyebrow. After a moment, she said in a low voice, “Couldn’t your cardinal vampire have set that up?”

“Yeah, well, that’s the other part of the favor. I don’t want Dashiell to find out we came here.”

Lex leaned back in her chair, regarding me. “You know I have to ask you what this is about,” she said eventually.

“It really isn’t complicated. I have a question about nulls. Maven is very old; therefore, I’m hoping she’ll know the answer.”

Lex stared me down. “You sneak into Maven’s territory to quiz her without your boss knowing, and you think I’m going to buy that this isn’t complicated?”

   
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