Home > Fated (Relentless #6)(13)

Fated (Relentless #6)(13)
Author: Karen Lynch

Sara’s brows drew together. “Who would target Catholic girls?”

“The most likely answer is a vampire,” Nikolas said. “Some of them have been known to have such fetishes. No bodies have turned up yet, so if it is the work of a vampire, they’re being careful to hide their tracks.”

I nodded. “It could also be the work of slave traffickers. Healthy young women would fetch a high price on the black market. Their religion might be a coincidence.”

Sara’s mouth formed a thin, angry line. “I’ll work with Kelvan to reach out to the demon community and find out if we have another gulak setting up shop here. They like to run slaves, and as soon as we shut down one operation, another pops up.”

Sara’s friend Kelvan was a vrell demon who also happened to be an elite computer hacker skilled enough to outmaneuver our own security guys. Thanks to their friendship, we had access to Kelvan’s unique talents and an inside connection to the vast demon network across the country.

“Do we know where the girls disappeared?” Raoul asked.

I looked at the tablet again. “Alice Carney – the novice – was the first to go missing. She went to mass at St. Vincent’s a week and a half ago, and her family said she never came home. We don’t know if she even made it to the church.”

Raoul nodded. “I’ll start there.”

“What about the other girls?” Jordan asked me.

“Jessica Ryan left Our Lady of Mercy Academy alone last Saturday to go to a movie in Pasadena. She never returned to the school.

“Tracy Levine went to St. Teresa’s Preparatory School. She left school on Monday afternoon, and that was the last anyone’s seen of her. Her car was found in the student parking lot, and there were no signs of a struggle.”

“A vampire wouldn’t take her from a school parking lot in the middle of the afternoon,” Beth said almost to herself. “Do they have outside security cameras?”

“Yes, but they only cover the exits, not the parking lot.”

“Beth and I will check out the high schools,” Jordan said.

Beth gave her a look of surprise. “We will?”

“Yeah. Who better to talk to a bunch of girls than us. We can fit in there, and no one will know the difference.”

I let out a short burst of laughter, earning a glare from Jordan.

“What?” she demanded.

It was Sara who answered her. “Sorry, Jordan, but the idea of you posing as a Catholic school girl is hilarious.”

Jordan glowered at us. “Are you guys saying I can’t blend in?”

Sara grinned. “You’d blend into a high school about as well as I would at a Paris fashion show.”

That got a snort from Jordan, who looked slightly appeased.

“I’ll go with Beth to the schools,” Sara offered. “I’m the only one here who’s actually been to high school, so I’m the best one to go.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” Jordan drawled.

“Good.” Nikolas stood. “We’ll send word to our local informants and see if anyone’s heard something about the missing girls.”

Jordan jumped up from her seat. “I guess that’s a wrap. Come on, ladies.”

Sara groaned. “Do I have to?”

“Yes, you have to. We made plans.” Jordan reached for Sara’s hand and pulled her to her feet. “It’ll be fun. I promise.”

Sara gave Nikolas a helpless look before Jordan tugged her toward the bedrooms on the other side of the house. Beth followed them, laughing at their antics. Seeing her smile brought one to my own lips. I hoped someday she’d be like that with me again.

“Where are they off to?” I asked Nikolas.

“Jordan planned a girls’ night. Dinner and then dancing at Lure.”

I shot him a disbelieving look as we walked back to the control room. There’d been a time when Nikolas wouldn’t let Sara out of his sight in this city, and now she was going to a nightclub without him after we’d just had a meeting about missing girls.

We entered the control room, and he smiled as if he’d read my mind.

“Sara lets me know where they’re going, and she carries a tracker whenever she leaves the house.”

“How did you get her to agree to that?” I laughed, remembering how much Sara had detested our tracking devices when we met her.

“It was her idea. She thought it would give me peace of mind.”

“Does it?”

“No, but she won’t have a good time if she thinks I’m worrying.”

He led the way to the room we were sharing as an office, and we sat on either side of the desk. Leaning back in his chair, he ran his hands through his hair in agitation.

I rested my elbows on my knees. “Nikolas, you do remember Sara can sense a vampire a block away, and she has enough Fae power in her pinky to take down an army of demons. I’d be more worried about what damage she and Jordan could cause together.”

“You’re right, I know.” He rubbed his jaw. “My parents told me it’ll be like this for the first few years.”

“Years?” I grimaced.

The thought of always worrying about another person’s wellbeing sounded exhausting. Beth’s face immediately filled my mind, and I dismissed it. Being protective of someone you cared about was nothing like what a bonded male felt for his mate.

Nikolas opened his laptop. “Keeping busy helps. It’s that or follow her, and we both know how well that would go over if she found out.”

I didn’t try to hold back my laughter. “By all means then, let’s get to work.”

We spent the next three hours reaching out to every informant and contact we had in southern California. There were no leads on the missing girls, but we put out enough feelers that we were bound to get a hit if a vampire or demon was involved.

Raoul filled the doorway as we were finishing up.

“Spoke to some of the parishioners at St. Vincent’s, and two of them remember seeing Alice Carney at mass the night she disappeared. They didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, though.”

I leaned back in my chair. “That means she was taken on the way back to her parents’ house.”

Raoul nodded. “Looks that way. I’ll pick it up there tomorrow. Right now, I’m heading out for a steak. Either of you want to join me?”

“Yeah.” I stood and gave Nikolas a questioning look.

He closed the laptop. “Sounds good.”

We went through the door to the garage, and Nikolas grabbed a set of keys for one of the SUVs. He was backing us out of the garage when the door to the kitchen opened and Jordan emerged in a short red dress and heels. She was followed by Sara, who was dressed more demurely in pants and an off the shoulder top.

Nikolas put the SUV in park, and Raoul and I rolled down our windows to make catcalls at the girls. Jordan gave us a sexy pose. Sara rolled her eyes and walked over to Nikolas, who had gotten out of the vehicle.

I was about to ask if Beth was going with them when movement in the corner of my eye brought my gaze around to the front of the SUV. Through the windshield, I saw Beth exit the guesthouse. My jaw literally dropped at the sight of her in a tiny pale-blue dress and strappy high heels that showed off her feminine curves and long, toned legs. It was such a change from the jeans and boots she normally wore that I forgot for a moment who I was staring at.

A sharp whistle from Raoul brought me to my senses, and I fought the urge to scowl at him as I opened my door and got out. I wasn’t sure if I was more annoyed at him for looking at Beth with such open appreciation, or at myself for having done the same thing.

“Whatcha think, Blondie?” Jordan called over her shoulder as she walked out to meet Beth.

“Gorgeous.”

My gaze went to Beth, who looked away with pink tingeing her cheeks. She was stunning and sexy as hell in that dress – and I had the sudden urge to strip off my shirt and cover her up.

“Smooth.” Jordan grinned and hooked her arm around Beth’s. “But you’re right. We do look hot.”

Raoul came up and slapped me on the shoulder. “I’m thinking we should skip the steak and go with the ladies instead.”

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