Tracking the Tempest (Jane True #2) - Page 31


The barghest reached into his leather jacket and pulled out a thick sheaf of battered, well-thumbed pages.


“I haven't read these. They were by the bed.”


I hesitated before taking them. “Are they sticky?”


Anyan rumbled his growly laugh. “No. Just… well-read.”


They were all my e-mails to Ryu, printed off and bundled together. Daoud wandered over, and although he was trying to act nonchalant, I could see he was trying to get a gander at what they said. I realized that everyone in the room, except for Ryu and me, probably figured they were sexy, that Ryu and I had been talking dirty over e-mail, and that explained Con's interest.


Ryu rolled his eyes at his deputy and set everyone to searching the apartment again, Daoud included. I settled down in a corner to flip through my e-mails. I knew what they contained, obviously, but I was hoping there was a way I could tell what it was about me that Conleth saw. What it was about me he liked, or felt an affinity toward. Because maybe we could exploit his weaknesses.


The e-mails were arranged chronologically, which was a bummer, as I'd hoped Con would have picked out his favorites and left them on top. Maybe labeled them. But nothing's ever that easy, is it?


That said, some did seem more well-read than others. Sadly, the most battered appeared to be the ones in which I talked about my home life and my dad's health. Those e-mails were testaments to my love for my family, and Con's interest in those particular e-mails suggested, at least to me, how shattered he was by his lack of such love.


I kept shuffling, trying to find more clues, occasionally looking up as one or another of Ryu's deputies found something they thought might be interesting and called out. I was so distracted by Daoud's—and of course it was Daoud—having found Con's porn stash that I almost missed the note card stuck in among the much larger sheets of my e-mails.


It was a handwritten note that read simply:


Felicia Wethersby


She Knew


The script was large, loopy, and old-fashioned. It certainly wasn't Con's cramped, all-caps print that I'd gotten so familiar with from his case files.


“Ryu! Anyan!” I called, snapping out of my reverie as I realized that, unlike Daoud's find of Hometown Hotties, I might really have found something.


I held out the note, which Anyan took as Ryu helped me to my feet. The two men shared it between them.


“It's not his handwriting,” Ryu said. I shook my head in agreement.


“Definitely not his handwriting.”


“Who is Felicia Wethersby?” Anyan asked.


“No idea. Julian!” Ryu barked, and a second later, Julian's lean, bespectacled frame was peering at the note.


“On it, sir,” he said, as he walked to where his backpack, containing his laptop, sat on top of the grungy lawn chair.


“Who the hell wrote this note?” I asked.


“No idea,” replied Ryu. “Add that to the list of things we need to figure out.” I shook my head, giving the note a baleful stare. How could something so helpful be so entirely confusing?


A few minutes later, Julian had our answer. “I think

I've got her. There's a Felicia Wethersby on LinkedIn. She lists herself as an administrative assistant. For a private practice, run by a Dr. B. L. Donovan. And we have an address.”


Ryu gave me a joyous high five, then pulled me to him for a kiss.


“Told you I was useful,” I murmured in his ear, quite pleased with myself over my find.


“And I should never have doubted you,” he replied.


Damn straight, vampire, I thought as I turned to find Anyan frowning at us. I blushed and ducked my head, going over to where Julian was still scanning his computer screen.


But too bad you did.


CHAPTER FIFTEEN


Phaedra's gang was waiting for us on the street. I tucked the file folder with its secret note into my jacket so that the Alfar wouldn't see. I didn't want her reading my e-mails to Ryu, first of all, and I also didn't want her knowing about that note. It seemed like too much of a coincidence already that Jarl would be showing so much interest in a matter that didn't directly involve him. That we'd found some mystery note clueing Conleth in to a potential victim seemed even sketchier.


Standing in front of a giant Escalade, the little Alfar polished a knife as casually as if she were filing her nails. Her leather-clad body absorbed the street's light, and—for the first time—I noticed that her eyes were red. Not red as in bloodshot—but genuinely red. Her pupils were the color of drying blood.


Her little intimidation act ceased, however, when she caught sight of our newest compatriot. I'd never seen an Alfar furious until I saw how Phaedra stared at Anyan. Of course, as she was Alfar, it wasn't normal anger. It didn't rage and seethe. But standing there, even this far away, I felt like that little Dutch boy with his thumb in the dyke. The power thundering behind the walls of her otherwise-placid face screamed for total annihilation. Nothing less would suffice. And all that ire was centered on the barghest.


Anyan merely yawned, stretching his big limbs nonchalantly.


I couldn't see the harpies. I looked up, imagining them hovering above me, claws extended. At least the spriggan and the rapist incubus were accounted for. The former was standing in front of the Escalade, dwarfing the enormous vehicle with his knobbly gray bulk. As for the latter, Graeme was also staring at Anyan. But he wasn't radiating anything but shock and more than a little nervousness.


“Anyan Barghest. Tell me what you are doing here,” Phaedra commanded. Anyan ignored her, reaching into his leather jacket's inner pocket. The Alfar tensed, but the big man only pulled out a piece of gum. He unwrapped it slowly before popping it in his mouth. Phaedra hissed.


“What are you doing here, Phaedra?” Ryu interrupted, advancing a few paces as Daoud and Caleb moved in to flank me.


The Alfar pulled herself up with a visible effort. “We're working together, no?” she asked, her childlike voice toeing that sandy line between rhetorical and insolent.


“I can handle this investigation, Alfar,” Ryu hissed. Phaedra sheathed her knife, striding forward to confront him. Once again, I was struck by how tiny she was. Unlike me, however, hers was a terrifying form of tiny: the tiny of poisonous spiders, plastic explosives, or the Olsen twins.


“Can you, baobhan sith? You've not even been able to elude us. We've been following your ‘investigation' despite your attempts to hide. And we have borne witness to your further failures. The body count mounting up on your watch is alarming, really.” Phaedra's eerily large eyes stared at Ryu, her bald pate gleaming in the soft light of the surrounding streetlamps.


I saw movement on top of the SUV, and with a start I realized that the two harpies were huddled together on top of Phaedra's Escalade. About their legs were folded their dun wings, from which their faces emerged like eerie white globes.


“All precautions taken have been routine,” Ryu replied to the Alfar's insinuations. “I wasn't trying to avoid your lot.” Phaedra didn't look like she believed him, a suspicion I also, admittedly, held.


“Well,” the Alfar said, an unpleasant smile splitting her little face. “We are all here now, so let us commence with this evening's plans. Where are you going, Investigator? Off to collect the body of another human you could not protect?”


Ryu's jaw clenched and I reached out a hand to rest it on the small of his back. We were here, with him, and we believed in him.


Phaedra chuckled, an unpleasant, sneering sound. “Whatever it is, you will take Graeme and Fugwat with you. They will assist you tonight and report back to me on your progress.”


Ryu looked like he was about to protest, but Phaedra silenced him with a dazzling little display of fireworks. Sparks of power erupted from her hand, bathing her evil little face in a sickly blue glow.


“I outrank you, baobhan sith. Do not question my authority or I will charge you with insubordination and forcibly remove you from this case. And then it will be mine, by rights,” Phaedra purred, challenging all of us to protest. When we kept silent, she sighed.


“Graeme, Fugwat, you know what to do.”


Phaedra walked back to her Escalade, and we watched as she opened the door to scramble up into the high seat. She had to back up a few steps and then hop in with the aid of the armrest. She looked gloriously undignified and I smiled. She deserved undignified for driving that awful wank machine. And for being an evil, evil bitch.


As she started the massive car, the harpies stood, spreading their long wings. I felt a burst of elemental power swirl around me as they launched themselves up into the air. I had a funny feeling they'd also be going our way, rather than with their mistress.


Ryu walked back to me and took my hand, leading me toward his own car. Once I was safely in Ryu's possession, Caleb and Daoud strode forward to collect the spriggan and Graeme. The latter looked positively relieved to get away from Anyan, who was staring down at the incubus like he was fresh meat. Or, in Anyan's case, perhaps a White Castle slider might be more accurate.


When we got into Ryu's car, he started swearing. My vampire was a master swearer, and I listened in awe as he took his art to a whole new level of formal experimentation. I had no idea that anyone could invent such varied and stimulating usages for cocktail forks, a trampoline, “tiny fucking Alfars,” and gasoline.