Home > The Isis Collar (Blood Singer #4)

The Isis Collar (Blood Singer #4)
Author: Cat Adams

1

“You have to evacuate the school.” There was a hard insistence in my voice, because it was the third time I’d said that in the thirty minutes I’d been here. “We’re running out of time.”

Principal Sanchez stared back at me with annoying calm. “As I’ve already explained twice, Ms. Graves, you haven’t provided any evidence any of the children are in danger. I will not traumatize these kids or panic a hundred families just on the word of a clairvoyant who refuses to be named. I’ve already called the superintendent’s office and sounded like an idiot. I even called the police station … as you requested. Nobody has heard any hint that anything is going to happen here today, and their clairvoyants would be the first to know.”

No. They wouldn’t. “Real life isn’t like the movies, Principal Sanchez. The only way the authorities know before an event is if the attacker has a huge ego and calls to taunt, does something noticeable or suspicious, or if someone close to the attacker gets scared and turns the person in.” The police agencies have some of the best mages, witches, and clairvoyants in the world, but someone determined to do harm can keep their intentions hidden. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any attacks … anywhere. There was no reason to mention the police weren’t the sole answer, since yet another terrorist attack had been front-page news today.

The dapper Latina let out a frustrated sound and stood, laying her palms flat on the polished wood surface of her desk. “I’m asking politely, Ms. Graves. Please leave. Class is about to let out and I don’t want the children traumatized by your presence here.”

My eyes narrowed and I likewise stood. The kids had nothing to do with it. If she just didn’t want anyone to see me, why not stay right here in the principal’s office, where grade-schoolers only venture when forced? No, she was afraid of me, and aggressively so. I knew I should be calm and pretend I was her friend, but I was stressed and it was making it hard to keep my anger in check. My fangs probably showed when I spoke, but to hell with it. “There’s no reason to be insulting just because you don’t believe me. Traumatized? Please. They’d never even know. I would remind you that you weren’t aware I’m part vampire until I told you.” I’ve spent a good deal of time in front of the mirror just to make sure the elongated canines don’t show very often. I was dressed nicely and not a soul had screamed or even flinched when I’d first arrived at the school and asked to meet with the principal.

At least she had the good grace to blush. “I didn’t mean it that way. I meant your weapons. I’m sure you’re armed because you believed you were going to face some unknown threat the clairvoyant warned you of. However, there are very young children in this school who could be frightened by seeing you.” She glanced at the clock high on the wall behind me. “Thank you for your interest, but I need to get back to work.”

Right. Pfft. Jeez! She made it sound like I was interviewing for a job at the elementary school, not trying to save everyone from unknown disaster. Like she could even see my weapons. Maybe I should go get Isaac, my tailor, and have her say that to him. My clothes are tailored specifically so nobody knows I’m carrying. Even cops haven’t noticed in the past. Admittedly, she was right about the source of the information. Dottie Simmons was a very powerful but unknown clairvoyant. She was probably a level eight but had kept that a very careful secret her whole life—tricky to do in today’s hyperregulatory atmosphere. Her age is probably the reason she’s gotten away with it. The State of California didn’t start testing grade-school kids until the fifties—long after she was in school.

But the fact Dottie isn’t registered as a certified clairvoyant doesn’t mean she isn’t fully capable of predicting events. Without another word, I turned and walked out of the principal’s office. I had to tense my muscles to keep from slamming the door behind me. The length of frosted glass might withstand the slam an annoyed child could give it, but the supernatural strength of a half-vampire Abomination would shatter it.

My cell phone was out of my pocket before I’d gotten ten feet down the hallway lined with lockers that only reached my neck. A quick speed dial put me through to the one person with the local police I thought might actually listen to me. Maybe. I hoped. I fidgeted nervously as I waited for Alex to pick up the line.

Heather Alexander had been my best friend Vicki’s lover. We were friendly, but not close. I’d hoped we might get closer after Vicki’s death. After all, we both loved her, both missed her. But if anything, our busy schedules and the pain of our loss had pushed us even further apart. Still, I knew Alex would take this seriously, and she’d help if she could.

A harried but pleasant alto came onto the line: “Alexander. Go ahead.”

“It’s Celia, Alex. I’ve got a problem.”

The silence on the line told me I had her attention. Since in the recent past our mutual experiences have included greater demons, magical assassins, and international drug lords she knew to take me seriously. “What’s the problem?”

I lowered my voice and squeezed into an alcove that held a pair of knee-high water fountains. I was glad I’d left my purse locked in my car. It and I both wouldn’t have fit in the space. “I got an anonymous tip this morning from a clairvoyant I know. Something bad is going to happen at an elementary school today. But nobody will listen to me—which is ticking me off. I know a kid here, Alex. A little girl with siren blood. Her sister will be the first Atlantic siren since the Magna Carta was signed.”

“The sister of the one who helped you seal the rift last Christmas?”

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me. “Yeah. I owe her. Hell, the whole world owes her.” Saving the world from the same demonic threat that had destroyed Atlantis had been a horrible thing to put on the shoulders of a twelve-year-old. “I want her eight-year-old sister not to have to go through anything else.” It was the truth, but that wasn’t the only reason. My own sister had died when I was twelve … and she was eight. There was something about the Murphy family that had gotten under my skin. They’d purchased my gran’s house, and somehow I’d made it my mission to ensure that Julie Murphy made it to ten. It was a magical number in my head, for no reason I could think of.

“So what do you need from me?” Alex sounded willing to help, which was exactly what I needed.

“I need to clear out this place. Call the principal and tell her to evacuate the school.”

A second long silence followed and then she burst out laughing. “No … really. What do you need?”

Laughing was just what I didn’t want her to do. “That’s what I need. My source is a level-eight clairvoyant. The same person your former coworker Karl used to get my memories back. When I got here, the magic shield was completely down and nobody realized it. Something’s going down. I don’t know what exactly yet, but … just get these kids out of here before bad things happen. I’m serious.” I looked out the window at the empty swings and wanted to be sure they didn’t stay that way. My gaze moved down to the brightly patterned floor tiles as my frustration grew.

“I’m serious, too, Celia. Do you have any idea how many laws I would break by trying to evacuate a school with no orders from higher up? It would be my badge, at least. And possibly time in a Federal pen.”

Crap. I let out a deep sigh and shook my head.

“Miss Graves!” The angry hiss of words came from my left and made me look up suddenly. Principal Sanchez and the heavyset security guard with a name badge that read: R. Jamisyn were standing in front of me, arms crossed over equally broad chests. “I thought I’d made myself completely clear.”

I held my hand over the cell phone’s speaker and looked her in the eye. “You said you needed evidence. I’m trying to get it.”

Her eyes narrowed. “No. I said it was time for you to leave.” She backed up a pace and waved her hand, motioning me out of my cubbyhole. Her eyes were pointed at the door and I had no doubt she wanted me on the other side of it. “Officer Jamisyn and I are going to escort you off school grounds. Then I’ll be speaking to the police about keeping you away in the future. I’m sorry it’s come to that, but the bell is going to ring any moment.”

Crap, crap, crap! Now what? But the security guard had his hand on the Taser on his belt and if I drew on him, anywhere close to school grounds, I’d not only be going straight to jail, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, but probably would lose my concealed-carry permit. Or worse. I put the cell back up to my ear. “Do what you can, Alex. The nice officer is going to escort me away before I scare the kiddies.”

She sighed in my ear as Sanchez glared at me and pointed to the door. “Sorry, Celia. I’ll see if I can get a squad car to drive by, but I don’t think there’s anything else I can do. I hope you’re wrong.”

“Oh, yeah. Me, too. You have no idea.” I ended the call with a sigh as I trudged down the hallway ahead of Sanchez and Jamisyn. But as far as I stretched my vampire senses, I couldn’t feel any threat. So … maybe Dottie was wrong. Clairvoyants weren’t infallible. Even my former best friend, Vicki, who had been a level nine, couldn’t always read the exact when and where. If she could have, her murderer couldn’t have snuck up on her.

As I reached the door, Jamisyn reached past me and opened it. I had no illusions he was being polite. He had his eyes on my every movement and I made sure not to give him reason to become aggressive.

The trees around the school were full of seagulls, perched in the branches like some weird interpretation of Hitchcock’s movie. Yeah, I said gulls. They hang around me like lovesick puppies, ever since my siren blood woke up. At least they don’t poop on my car anymore. “Go on, shoo. Go eat some fish at the dock.” The birds obediently lifted their wings at my wave and flew away.

The bell rang as I stepped over the threshold, and I expected to hear doors opening and kids swarming the halls between classes. But it was absolutely silent when the bell stopped … eerily so.

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