Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(5)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(5)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

“I’ll go with them. You stay on the door,” Milligan said.

Custer eased back to his post beside the door without an argument. You could always tell who outranked whom in the newly ex-military, because of moments like that. We’d only had one person at a time from a unit before this, never most of a group that had worked together for years and then lost their careers in the same fight. They were still very much together as a unit. In fact, Claudia, who was in charge of our guards overall but especially here at the Circus, had talked to me about whether we wanted to separate them for work. They needed to learn to work with the rest of our people and not just with each other, but so far it hadn’t been an issue that anyone had complained about.

I honestly didn’t think we needed a bodyguard here in the underground of the Circus, but I’d learned not to try to argue with some of the guards about where their duty lay. It just made me tired and didn’t gain me much. I could have played the “I’m your boss” card, but I was also one of their protectees, so it was a gray area. If I was their boss, then I could tell them to take a flying leap and they had to listen, but if something happened and I got hurt on their watch . . . Like I said, it was a gray area, so Milligan trailed us toward the computer room. Though Jean-Claude had totally embraced the new technology, he didn’t like everyone living on their phones and electronic devices instead of actually looking at and talking with the people around them, so he’d limited everything but smartphones to the one room. I happened to know that the other reason he’d done it was that some of the older vampires were a little intimidated by all the new tech. Besides, having to bring the wires and cables down this far through the rock hadn’t been easy, and keeping the computers in one place helped make it just a little bit easier.

Milligan hurried forward and opened the door to the computer room for us. Micah and I both let him. The room was dim, lit only by the banks of computer screens that were still cycling through the images on their screens. Some had finally gone black and still for the night. We moved into the room and Milligan started to come in with us, but I said, “Sorry, Milligan, but I’m going to have to look at police evidence.”

“I have to make sure the room is clear,” he said.

Again, I could have argued with him, but I let him do his job, though again, I was pretty sure the two of us could take care of anything that might be lurking in the computer room down here. It wasn’t that big a room and there was only one area that was actually out of sight of the door.

Milligan came back around the room after completing his circuit. “The room is clear, ma’am, sir.”

“Then you can leave us,” Micah said.

“You don’t have to stay right by our sides,” I said.

He hesitated, and you could almost watch the wheels turning as he weighed whom he was supposed to listen to and whom he could safely override. A lot of our new ex-military had issues with the new, less rigid chain of command.

“We’re going to be talking police business, Milligan. You cannot be in here for it,” I said.

Milligan nodded. “Okay, that makes sense.” He went for the door.

“And don’t stand just outside the door,” Micah said.

Milligan turned. “Sir, I . . .”

“I know I could hear the conversation through the door, Milligan, which means so could you.”

“Claudia will have my head if I don’t wait for you.”

“We’re both armed, and we’re standing in our own underground fortress,” I said. “If we’re not safe here, then we’re in deeper shit than just one guard can handle.”

Milligan got that arrogant look on his face, one I’d seen before from men with certain backgrounds.

“Even a former SEAL wouldn’t be enough, Milligan. Now go back to Custer and guard Jean-Claude’s door.”

He tried to argue some more, but Micah said, “That’s an order, Milligan. Anita and I both outrank Claudia.”

He frowned, sighed, and said, “Yes, sir.” He didn’t question it again, just turned on his heel and went for the door.

I made sure Milligan walked down the hallway and then came back to Micah.

He sat down in the chair in front of the computer so he could type faster, and within a few minutes I was up and running. He didn’t even have to ask for my password or username anymore, because he’d helped me too many times and had finally memorized it all. That probably wouldn’t please the other officers if they knew, since he was a civilian, but I wouldn’t tell if he didn’t.

I called Edward back. He answered on the first ring. “Anita, are you online?” His voice was less Ted and more Edward, so I thought to ask, “Can you talk freely yet?”

“No.” Edward’s one-word answer rather than the longer way around the mountain that he sometimes took as Ted.

“While we wait for the email to come through, you said something about how if you had your way I’d be seeing more than pictures, or something.”

“They don’t like the fact that you’re a necromancer.” His voice held some of Ted’s happy undertones, but there was also Edward’s cold emptiness. He was not happy that they wouldn’t let me come play.

I heard voices in the background. Edward said, “Sorry, Anita. I’ve just been corrected”—with more of Ted’s accent this time—“because it would be against their own laws to deny someone entry to their country on the basis of the type of magic they could perform.”

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