“Tomorrow,” said Barrons, “you’ll go to The National Museum.”
I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath, hoping for an answer that might assuage some of the guilt I’d been stewing in, until it came out in a derisive snort. Typical Barrons. Ask for an answer—get an order. “What happened to ‘You will remain here until I return, Ms. Lane?’” I mocked. “What about Mallucé and his men? Have you forgotten about that little problem?” O’Bannion might be gone, and I might have a way of protecting myself from the Fae, but there was still one very pissed-off vampire on the loose out there.
“Mallucé was summoned away last night by someone whose orders he apparently could not, or would not, refuse. His followers expect him to be gone for several days, perhaps as long as a week,” said Barrons.
My battered spirits lifted a little. That meant, for a few days at least, I could venture out into the city and move about almost like a normal person again, with only the Fae to worry about. I wanted to go back to Alina’s apartment and decide just how much damage I was willing to inflict on it to further my search for her journal, I wanted to buy more snacks for my room in case I got stuck up there again, and I’d been itching to pick up a cheap SoundDock for my iPod. Earbuds were fast becoming a thing of my past; I was turning into too paranoid a person to stand not being able to hear the approach of whatever might jeopardize my life next. But at least I could listen to music in my room if I had a SoundDock, and since I was saving money by not paying for a room anymore, I’d neatly justified the purchase. “Why am I going to the museum?”
“I want you to scour it for OOPs, as you call them. I’ve long wondered if there are Fae artifacts being hidden in plain view, catalogued as something else. Now that I have you, I can test that theory.”
“Don’t you know what all the OOPs are, and what they look like?” I asked.
He shook his head. “If only it were that simple. But not even the Fae themselves recall all their own relics.” He gave a short, dark laugh. “I suspect it comes from living too long. Why bother to remember or keep track of things? Why care? You live today. You’ll live tomorrow. Humans die. The world changes. You don’t. Details, Ms. Lane,” he said, “go the way of emotions in time.”
I blinked. “Huh?”
“The Fae, Ms. Lane,” he said. “They aren’t like humans. Extraordinary longevity has made them something else. You must never forget that.”
“Believe me,” I said, “I wasn’t about to mistake them for human. I know they’re monsters. Even the pretty ones.”
His eyes narrowed. “The pretty ones, Ms. Lane? I thought all the ones you’d seen so far were ugly. Is there something you’re not telling me?”
I’d almost slipped about V’lane, a topic I had no desire to discuss with Barrons. Until I knew who I could trust—if anyone—and how far, I would keep my own counsel about some things. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” I countered coolly. How dare he poke at me for keeping secrets when he was chock-full of them? I didn’t bother trying to hide that I was trying to hide something. I just used one of his methods on him—evasion by counterquestion.
We had another of those wordless communiqués, this time about truths and deceptions and bluffs and calling people on them, and I was getting better at reading him because I saw the very moment Barrons decided pushing me wasn’t worth giving up anything himself.
“Try to wrap the museum up as quickly as possible,” he said. “After you’ve finished there, we’ve a list of places longer than your arm in and about Ireland to search for the remaining stones and the Sinsar Dubh.”
“Oh God, this is my life now, isn’t it?” I exclaimed. “You expect me to just trudge around from place to place as you select them, with my nose pressed to the ground, sniffing out OOPs for you, don’t you?”
“Have you changed your mind about trying to find the Sinsar Dubh, Ms. Lane?”
“Of course not.”
“Do you know where to look yourself?”
I scowled. We both knew I didn’t.
“Don’t you think the surest way to find both the Dark Book and your sister’s killer is to immerse yourself in the very world that killed her?”
Of course I did. I’d thought of that all by myself last week. “So long as that world doesn’t kill me first,” I said. “And it certainly seems to be trying its darnedest.”