Home > The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)(13)

The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)(13)
Author: Lisa Shearin

Fred ran out into the hall to get help for Bert.

Bert’s breathing was still shallow, but it wasn’t as labored. I didn’t know if he was unconscious, but his eyes remained closed. I didn’t blame him one bit. If I’d damned near gotten sucked into the great beyond through a corpse’s eyes—or whatever had happened to him—I’d have kept my eyes closed, too.

Bert might need to hear that, or at least some reassurance.

“Bert,” I said quietly, taking one of his big hands in both of mine. It was way too cold. “It’s over. You’re safe now. You’re safe.”

Ian relaxed his grip so that it qualified more as a hug than a wrestling hold. I’d been on the receiving end of an Ian hug more than once. It’d sure made me feel better.

A medical team arrived and Ian and I relinquished our holds on Bert.

I looked up on the table at Sar Gedeon. Whatever had reanimated—or possessed—his body was gone now, but it’d left a calling card.

Sar Gedeon’s dead lips were curled in a smile.

* * *

After our medical folks had taken charge of Bert, Ian and I were alone in the hall outside of the morgue.

Sar Gedeon’s body was back in its refrigerated steel drawer where it couldn’t channel demons at anyone else, securely under lock and key. The smile was gone. I was the only one who’d seen it. The tech explained it as a postmortem spasm.

Right.

Ian slipped an arm around my shoulders, and I wearily leaned into it.

“It was smiling,” I said.

“I believe you.” Ian gave my shoulders a squeeze. “Good work in there.”

I knew he wasn’t talking about seeing a corpse grin.

“I just did what I’d want if I’d gotten myself locked in a stare-off with a corpse—someone to hold my hand and tell me it was going to be okay.” I felt myself start to tear up. What the hell?

Ian gave me another squeeze.

I smiled a little and sniffed twice. Yep, Ian’s hugs always did the trick.

“You did the right thing.” He went quiet for a moment. “Need something to eat?”

I would’ve thought that with all I’d seen and smelled, food would be the last thing I’d want to be in the same room with, let alone actually eat it. Surprisingly, I was starving.

“Come on, let’s get you fed.”

7

FOR SPI agents on duty—or who wanted to be nearby when a coworker regained consciousness after being psychically attacked by a demon-possessed corpse—our new onsite cafeteria was the place to get a quick bite. Though calling it a cafeteria didn’t come close to describing the gastronomic delights available to hungry and stressed agents.

It’s said that you can accomplish pretty much anything if you throw enough money at it. And our agency founder and director, Vivienne Sagadraco, certainly had enough wealth to throw around to ensure that her agents were well fed and happy around the clock. There were plenty of hotshot supernaturals and clued-in human chefs available in a city known for its world-class restaurants. The boss simply waved some more money in front of them, got them to sign one hell of a non-disclosure agreement, and we had a kitchen staff that rivaled anything New York City had to offer. Our head of HSR (Human and Supernatural Resources) was a voodoo high priestess. SPI’s non-disclosure agreements for new employees were signed in her office and in their blood. It didn’t matter who or what you did or didn’t worship, nobody messed with voodoo. No one had ever even thought about blabbing about the agency to the press or anyone else. Once signed, our secret was safe.

As to food in our cafeteria, you could get anything you wanted at any time. Human, goblin, elf, troll, gnome, vampire, werewolf, were-anything—if you had a craving, the boys and girls in the kitchens would whip it up—or procure it—for you. It was nothing short of culinary heaven.

Best of all, they kept me in iced tea sweet enough to stand a spoon in. Ask any Southerner; you couldn’t get decent sweet tea above the Mason-Dixon Line. That is, if you could even find sweet tea at all. Thanks to the generosity of Vivienne Sagadraco, there was no beverage homesickness for me. I’d even managed to score numerous converts.

In case Bert came around quickly, I just went with a turkey and provolone sandwich. It sounded simple, but all bread was made on-site. I’d had enough contact with red meat for one day. On second thought, make that for the next week.

I could tell Ian wanted to ask me something, but he kept it to himself until I’d finished eating. He was having an open-faced roast beef, piled high with meat and drowning in gravy. I tried not to look at it. It didn’t matter what my partner had just seen, smelled, or even touched, he could eat anything, anywhere, anytime. Even though his and Kylie’s lunch reservation at Café Mina had been half an hour before mine and Rake’s, and he’d had time to eat, he was hungry again. Ian was about six two and solid. It took a lot of fuel to run that.

“It’s not Café Mina,” Ian noted, when I polished off the last bite of my sandwich.

I sat back with a contented sigh. “You can read minds now?”

“Nope. It was obvious that you were hungry.”

I nodded toward his empty plate. Even the gravy had been mopped up. “Likewise.”

Ian shrugged. “Mina’s was good, but it’s kind of . . .”

“Froufrou?”

“Yeah.”

“I know. You’re a bar, beer, and burger kind of guy. Does Kylie know that?”

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