And she was so sorry that she couldn’t help me, but there was absolutely no record, electronic or otherwise, of a MacKayla Lane born at Christ Hospital twenty-two years ago. And no, she said when I pressed, nothing twenty-four years ago for Alina Lane, either. In fact, there was no record at all of any Lane born at Christ Hospital during the past fifty years.
We couldn’t find a single Unseelie.
We walked down street after street, went into pub after pub, but found nothing.
There I was, armed with a Fae-killing spear and a seriously bad attitude, only to be denied the chance to blow off some steam by taking out one of the monsters responsible for turning my life into the mess it was.
Not that I was entirely certain I could have taken one of them out. Oh, I was pretty sure my head was in the right place. I just didn’t know if my body would perform the way it was supposed to. I was pretty sure I was feeling the same thing a guy must feel before he proves himself in his first fistfight: wondering if he has what it takes to knock out his opponent, or if he’ll humiliate himself by swinging like a girl, or worse, miss completely.
“That’s why I brought you out tonight,” Barrons said, when I told him my concerns. “I’d rather you screw up while I’m with you, so I can manage the situation, than have you attempt your first kill on your own and get yourself killed instead.”
I had no idea how prophetic his words would prove. “Just a hard night’s work, out protecting your investment, huh?” I said dryly as we exited yet another pub filled with only people, no monsters. Sarcasm aside, I was glad he was along to save me if I needed saving. I might not trust Barrons, but I’d developed a healthy respect for his ability to “manage” situations. “So, how am I supposed to do it?” I asked. “Is there some trick to this?”
“Just freeze it and stab it, Ms. Lane. But do it fast. If it sifts you somewhere else, I won’t be able to save you.”
“Is there any particular place I’m supposed to stab it? Assuming, of course, whatever we stumble across has the equivalent of human body parts.” Were they like vampires? Was a direct hit to the heart necessary? For that matter, did they even have hearts?
“The gut’s always good.”
I glanced down at my lavender shirt and short, purple, floral-patterned skirt. The outfit went fabulously with my new darker ’do. “Do they bleed?”
“Some of them. In a manner of speaking, Ms. Lane.” He gave me a quick, dark flash of a smile that wasn’t nice at all, and I knew right then and there that whatever came out of some of the Unseelie was going to seriously gross me out. “You might try wearing black next time. Then again, we could always just hose you off back at the garage.”
I scowled as we stepped into our fourteenth pub of the night. “Don’t any of them just poof?” Wasn’t that what monsters were supposed to do when you killed them? Disintegrate instantly into dust that promptly scattered on an opportune wind?
“Poof, Ms. Lane?”
The bar we’d just entered featured a live band tonight, and was jam-packed with people. I pushed into the crowd, following Barrons’ broad back. “You know, vanish. Remove all need to waste time cleaning up, or explain away inexplicable corpses littering the world,” I clarified.
He glanced back at me, one dark brow raised. “Where do you get your ideas?”
I shrugged. “Books and movies. You stake a vampire, it goes poof and disappears.”
“Really?” He snorted. “Life is rarely so convenient. The real world is considerably messier.” As he moved toward the bar in the center of the pub, he tossed over his shoulder, “And don’t trust a stake to work on a vampire, Ms. Lane. You’ll be sorely disappointed. Not to mention dead.”
“Well, then, how does a person kill a vampire?” I asked his back.
Typical Barrons answer—no answer at all. One of these days I was going to corner him with questions and not let him off the hook, one of these days when I didn’t have so many other things on my mind. I shook my head and turned my attention to the people around me, searching faces, looking for the one that would waver and run like melting candle wax, and betray the monster within.
This time, I wasn’t disappointed. Barrons saw it at the same time I did. “Over by the hearth,” he said quietly.
My eyes narrowed and my hands curled into fists. Oh yes, I’d like to kill this one. It would put an end to some of my nightmares. “I see it,” I said. “What do I do?”