Curran nodded. "Okay, we'll take a Jeep."
"They don't permit any technology past fourteenth century AD in their territory. You'll have to ride a horse."
Curran's face snapped into a flat Beast Lord expression. "I don't think so."
"You can jog if you want, but I'm getting a horse."
A low rumble began in Curran's throat. "I said we'll take the Jeep."
"And I said they will put an axe into your carburetor."
"Do you even know what a carburetor is?" Curran asked.
I knew it was a car part. "That's irrelevant."
Doolittle cleared his throat. "My lord, my lady."
We looked at him.
"Take it outside my hospital before you break anything." It didn't sound like a request.
A careful knock echoed through the door. A young woman stuck her head in. "Consort?"
What now? "Yes?"
"There is a vampire downstairs to see you."
The vampire sat on his haunches in the waiting room, a thin emaciated monstrosity. Vampires were midnight predators. Daylight burned their skin, but the People had recently gotten around it by applying their own patented brand of sunblock. It dried thick and came in assorted colors. This particular vampire sported a coat of bright lime-green. The sunblock covered the undead completely, every wrinkle, every crevice, every inch. The ffect was vomit-inducing.
The undead turned its head as I walked in, its eyes focusing on me with intelligence of a navigator sitting in an armored room miles away. The nightmarish jaws opened.
"Kate," Ghastek's dry voice said. "Curran. Good morning."
"What are you doing here?" Curran asked.
The vampire folded itself, perching in the chair like some mummified cat. "I have a direct interest in discovering the nature of that necklace. We have suffered great loses, we must account for them. Have you found a way to remove it?"
"No," I said.
"So the boy's life is still in jeopardy," Ghastek said.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
"It's being handled," Curran said.
"I would like to be involved in that handling."
"I'm sure you would," Curran said. "It's hard to believe, but I go whole days without worrying about your likes and dislikes."
The vampire opened its mouth, imitating a sigh. It was an eerie sight: his jaws unhinged, his chest moved up and down, but no air came out.
"I believe in civil discourse, so please forgive me if I sound blunt: you took a child away from his parents against their will. In other words, you abducted him by force. Last time I checked that constituted a kidnapping. I have a very capable staff, which, should I give the word, would present a very compelling case to the PAD."
"The PAD can bite me," Curran said. "I also have a very capable staff. I'll drown you in paper. How would you like to be sued?"
"On what grounds?" The vamp looked outraged.
"Reckless endangerment." Curran leaned forward. "Your journeymen dropped two vampires in the middle of a crowded restaurant."
"There were extenuating circumstances and you were unharmed."
Curran's eyes acquired a dangerous glint. "I'm sure the public will take that into account, especially after my people steamroll the sordid horror story of the Arirang Massacre over every newspaper they can find."
The vamp bared its fangs.
Curran's upper lip trembled in a beginning of a snarl.
I stabbed a throwing knife into the table between them.
The man and the undead fell silent.
"There is a child being slowly choked to death upstairs," I said. "If the two of you could stop baring your teeth for a second, you might even remember that."
"I simply wish to help," Ghastek said.
Curran's face looked set in stone. "We don't need you."
"Yes, you do," Ghastek said. "You have the necklace, but I have Lawrence. He dated Amanda for over a year. I think you will be interested to know that Colin Sunny, Amanda's father, has a sister. She is married to Orencio Forney."
"Orencio Forney, the DA?"
"Precisely," Ghastek said. "After yesterday's affair, the Sunnys are staying in Forney's house. I trust you understand the implications."
I understood them, alright. The Sunnys had just became untouchable. If the Pack attempted to pick a fight with the DA, the tide of negative publicity would drown us, not to mention that every cop in the city would make it their personal mission to complicate shapeshifters' lives whenever possible.
Curran's face hardened into that blank, unreadable expression. He saw the writing on the wall as well, and he didn't like it. "Have you asked for an interview?"
"In the politest terms possible. We were extremely persuasive, but they are unavailable for comment."
"They aren't asking for Roderick?" What the hell?
"No, they are not," Ghastek said. "I found it extremely odd as well. The DA has circled the wagons. If you want any background on the boy and his mother, our Lawrence is your best bet. Give me access and I will share."
I looked at Curran. We needed that background.
His face was unreadable.
Come on, baby.
"Fine," he said.
*** *** ***
A wise man once told me that a man's house said a lot about his soul. Over the years I had come to the conclusion that it was complete bullshit. The Keep, with its foreboding, grim towers and massive fortifications, might have indicated something about Curran's need to protect his people, but it said nothing about how much responsibility he dragged around. It said nothing about the fact that he was fair and generous. And it sure as hell gave no hint that underneath all that Beast Lord's roaring, he was hilarious.