Tracking the Tempest (Jane True #2) - Page 32


When he was finished, he scrubbed his hands through his hair and slumped backward in his seat. Everyone else was waiting on us, and soon enough, there was a knock on the window.


It was Anyan, in full commander mode. He was very intimidating. As soon as Ryu had the window down, he was barking orders.


“I'm not having Jane around Graeme unless she's at full strength. You take her swimming. Now.”


“Anyan, this is my investigation,” Ryu snapped, but the barghest wasn't having any.


“Fine. Then I'll take her. Get out. We'll reconvene at the Wethersby house, two hours.”


Ryu glared, clearly torn. Eventually, he replied by rolling up his window and starting the car.


I put my hand on his sleeve. I did really need a swim, but I hated feeling like I was a burden.


“Ryu, we don't have to—”


He shook his head angrily. “No,” he interrupted. “Anyan's right.”


I dropped my hand into my lap, knowing there was nothing I could say.


“He's always fucking right,” Ryu added, and I wondered, once again, what had happened to make him resent the barghest so much.


Since we were already in Southie, Ryu took me to Carson Beach. After a brief but fierce swim, I was whizz-banging with power once again. I was also very salty, but I had no time to go home for a shower before we left to catch up with the others.


Our impatience on the drive over to Felicia Wethersby's apartment was palpable. This was our first real lead in a while, the first new connection. It would also, hopefully, link what was going on in Chicago and the murders that had taken place here in Boston. After all, if her boss, Dr. Donovan, had straddled both worlds, Felicia might have, too.


Felicia lived in Davis Square, on the other side of the Charles River, in a little walk-up apartment eerily similar to Tally Bender's. I fervently hoped there was no launching of partially cremated cadavers involved in tonight's activities.


“Stay close, Jane,” Ryu admonished, as he popped the locks of the BMW. For obvious reasons, there was no longer any talk of me staying with the car.


Ryu and I walked up the steps to Felicia's apartment building. Power swirled about us—all sorts of magical probes and shields were whirling around my lover while I held our fortifications steady. I could feel our combined power along my skin, raising the hairs on my arms as it blew in a cool gust around us.


He passed his hands over the door's dead bolts and they clicked open. I shook my head, reminded once again that what humans called “security,” the supernatural beings around me called “just give me a second.” Our big doors and big locks barely slowed them down.


As we entered the building, Caleb pulled up down the street with the SUV. Obviously, with my swim break, they should totally have been able to beat us to Felicia's. Being considerate of his out-of-town guests, however, the satyr must have taken them on the scenic tour. He was a clever goat-man, and now Ryu and I would be the first people in the apartment, in the unlikely case that Felicia was at home.


“Stick close,” Ryu murmured, as we went up the stairs.


Felicia's apartment was on the third floor. The

door was painted a crisp, clean white and it was firmly locked. When no one came to the door, Ryu went right ahead and jimmied it with his magic. It swung open only a tiny bit, though, before it got stuck on something behind it and stopped moving.


Ryu and I gave each other a dark look as I put the strongest shield I could around us. For his part, the vampire cupped a swirling ball of light-blue power in his hand as we stepped toward the door. Then he nudged it open with his foot.


The good news was that the door didn't catch on a body, as I'd expected. The bad news was that the apartment was trashed. Not just searched, but systematically destroyed. Everything that could be broken had been, including some of the walls.


I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, right off the front door. The dishes and glasses were smashed on the kitchen floor. Felicia's sofa and chair were shredded in the little living room to my left. I could see an overturned bookcase and broken plant pots. Her bedroom revealed a similar level of destruction. The mattress was ripped apart. Bedding and clothes were strewn everywhere. The floor-length mirror had been smashed.


And seven years bad luck to you, dude, I mentally cursed whoever had done this.


Ryu and I picked our way back through the mess to the main rooms as Caleb, Daoud, Graeme, and Fugwat entered. Anyan brought up the rear, filling the doorway with leather and denim. I was keeping an eye on them as they entered, and what I saw surprised me. Graeme blinked, innocently, at the chaos of the room. But I would have sworn Fugwat smirked, until he caught Graeme staring at him. With a visible effort, he wiped the smug expression from his face.


He'd be the type to get off on mindless destruction, I told myself. But there was another part of my brain that wasn't accepting such excuses.


Whatever, that was a look of pride. Like he did all this himself. But that was ridiculous. Fugwat hadn't even known where we were going tonight till Caleb drove up.


I shivered, watching Fugwat's mean, stupid face, and then I turned around to look at the wall behind me that had once housed Felicia's pictures and diplomas. Unlike the spriggan, she was a bright cookie, with a bachelor's degree from Duke and a master's degree from Harvard, both in English literature. I didn't even think to make any snide jokes about what an English degree bought you in today's job market. Considering the circumstances, my heart wasn't in it.


I felt a pang; I really hoped Felicia was still alive, but I already knew to expect the worst. So finding out all these things that made her more real to me just made the danger she was in more difficult to bear.


We stood there, silently surveying the chaos. Caleb bent down to a pile of smashed crockery, but before he could start sifting through it, Daoud stopped him. The djinn pulled a bunch of workmen's gloves out of his waistband and passed them around to the others. I accepted mine gingerly, still uncomfortable with wearing things that had started life in another person's pants.


“No evidence of the girl,” said Ryu. “But obviously this place has been visited before.”


“Only recently, though,” I said. Ryu and the rest turned to me. Graeme leered at my tits until Anyan caught him doing it and thwapped him on the back of the head with an open palm.


“The

smashed plants are alive,” I explained, pointing at the healthy green leaves springing out from their graveyard of splintered crockery.


Ryu smiled at me and I blushed.


“Okay, everyone. Let's try to put together a picture of Felicia's life. Julian, what do we know?”


The younger baobhan sith looked up from where he'd plunked himself. His face was still attached to his laptop, as I imagine it had been since he'd left the squat a few hours previously.


“I've got quite a bit. Her parents died when she was eight; she's an only child. She was raised by a grandmother until she went to college.” Julian talked about her education, all of which I already knew from looking at her diplomas. So, instead, I bent down to try to find a good picture of Felicia. There were two or three of a plump, pretty biracial woman with various friends. Then there was what must have been a family photo of Felicia, as a child, with a mixed-race couple. The man and woman had their arms around each other, squeezing their little girl between them. They looked so happy and in love. If they were Felicia's parents, as I figured it was safe to assume, the photo must have been taken just a few years before they died. Finally, there were a bunch of framed photos of Felicia with an older woman who had wild, untamed dreadlocks. They were shown together in fancy dress in front of a theater; in tourist clothes in front of that famous Roman fountain from La Dolce Vita; and in front of Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London.


“… did stints in Italy and London during college and grad school. She wrote a Facebook message to a friend about trying to find a job at a junior college, but they wanted her only as an adjunct, so she went back to work as an administrative assistant. She was really excited about her new job working for a doctor. Said the pay was great, her boss was a really nice lady, and she got to travel between Boston and Chicago all the time.”


Julian looked up, and I could see the pain in his eyes. The others were listening for clues, but I knew that Julian, like me, was building a picture of a person.


“Shit,” I heard Anyan swear. “Let's find her. Safe.” I blinked at him, surprised at the raw fury in his voice. He obviously cared about finding the girl as well.


“Yes, let's,” replied Graeme in his beautiful, smooth, evil tenor, rather spoiling the moment and causing the base of my spine to shiver in horror. Graeme scared me even more than Jimmu had, something I would never have thought possible. The naga had been a killer, but the incubus would want to keep his victim alive. And screaming.


Wondering if my own, sadly underutilized English major skills could come in handy, I picked my way to the overturned bookcase to look at what Felicia read. There were quite a few anthologies, a lot of the classics, and a lot of canonical stuff, all in the kinds of cheap paperbacks used in college classrooms. There wasn't really anything lowbrow or popular, and not much from after the 1900s. Except for a bunch of expensive hardcover books by Edie Thompson, a contemporary African-American writer who was very well respected in academic circles as both a critic and a novelist but who hadn't yet made a big splash in the popular market.