After thinking about that for a minute and following it to the logical conclusion, I’d said, Does that mean an Unseelie is hunting for the Sinsar Dubh, too?
It looks that way, Barrons replied. And a very powerful one, at that. I keep catching wind of someone the Unseelie call the “Lord Master,” but so far I’ve had no luck discovering who or what this Lord Master is. I told you, Ms. Lane, that you had no idea what you were getting into.
The Unseelie were terrifying enough. I had no desire to encounter whatever they addressed as their ruler. Well, maybe now’s a real good time for me to get right back out of it, I’d said.
Try, the look he’d given me had said. Even if I managed to close my heart and turn my back on my sister’s murder, Jericho Barrons wasn’t about to let me go.
Sad fact was we needed each other. I could sense the Sinsar Dubh and he had all the pertinent information about it, including a few ideas about where it might be and who else was looking for it. Left to my own devices, I would never be able to find out about parties like the one at Casa Blanc and get myself invited there. Left to his own devices, Barrons would never know if the book was nearby, perhaps even in the same room with him. He could be standing right next to it, for all he knew.
I’d gotten a good idea just how important I was to him last night. If the book was metal, I was Jericho Barrons’ own private state-of-the-art metal detector. After Ob and Yrg had returned to McCabe, Barrons had escorted me through floor after floor of the starkly decorated house. When I’d felt nothing, he’d marched me all over the manicured estate, including the outbuildings. He’d insisted we cover the grounds so thoroughly that I hadn’t gotten back to my borrowed bedroom to sleep until just before dawn. Reluctant though I was to feel something so awful again, I’d been almost disappointed when my newly discovered Spidey-sense hadn’t picked up the faintest tingle anywhere.
Still, to me, the bottom line wasn’t about the Dark Book at all. It was about uncovering the details of my sister’s secret life. I didn’t want the creepy thing. I just wanted to know who or what had killed Alina, and I wanted him or it dead. Then I wanted to go home to my pleasantly provincial po-dunk little town in steamy southern Georgia and forget about everything that had happened to me while I was in Dublin. The Fae didn’t visit Ashford? Good. I’d marry a local boy with a jacked-up Chevy pickup truck, Toby Keith singing “Who’s Your Daddy?” on the radio, and eight proud generations of honest, hardworking Ashford ancestors decorating his family tree. Short of essential shopping trips to Atlanta, I’d never leave home again.
But for now, working with Barrons was my only option. The people I met during our search could be people Alina had met too. And if I could somehow find and retrace the path she’d taken through this bizarre film-noir world, it should lead me straight to her killer.
I would be seriously rethinking the wisdom of that before long.
I picked up my pen. It was Sunday afternoon and Barrons Books and Baubles was closed for the day. I’d woken up disoriented and badly missing Mom, but when I’d called, Dad had said she was in bed and he didn’t want to wake her. She hadn’t been sleeping well, he said, even though she’d been taking something that was supposed to help her. I’d carried on an achingly one-sided conversation with him for a few minutes, but his efforts had been so painfully halfhearted that I’d given up. At a loss for what to do, I’d finally grabbed my journal and gone downstairs to the bookstore.
Now I was sprawled on my stomach on the comfy sofa in the rear conversation area of the bookstore, notebook propped on a pillow in front of me.
Sifting: a method of Fae locomotion, I wrote.
I nibbled the tip of my fine-point, felt-tipped fuchsia pen and tried to figure out how to write this one down. When Barrons had explained it to me, I’d been horrified.
You mean they can just think themselves somewhere and that’s how instantly it happens? They just want to be someplace—and then there they are?
You mean I could be walking down the street and one could just pop in alongside me and grab me?
Ah, but there you have a tremendous advantage, Ms. Lane. Grab it back and you’ll freeze it like you did the one in the alley. But do it fast, before it sifts you to someplace you really don’t want to be.
And then what am I supposed to do? Start toting weapons around with me so I can kill them while they’re frozen? No matter how horrific the Unseelie were, the thought of carving something up while it couldn’t even move was abhorrent to me.
I doubt you could, Barrons said. Both Seelie and Unseelie are virtually indestructible. The higher the caste, the harder they are to kill.