Home > The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)(9)

The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)(9)
Author: Lisa Shearin

I nodded. “And we have cookies.”

“The locked door and no sign of entrance or exit would have thrown them for a loop. We know that brimstone could very well be from the leftovers of a gate. Demons aren’t exactly known for walking in through the front door. With a gate, they’re in, rip out a heart, they’re out. Nice and neat.”

I wasn’t seeing anything nice or neat.

“Why would a class-five demon kill a drug lord?” I asked. “Would one of his business rivals hire demons for a professional hit?”

“Never heard of demons hiring out their services.” Ian paused. “Unless the guy doing the hiring was interested in offering his soul for the low, low price of one murder.”

I raised one brow.

“Demons don’t accept cash,” Ian explained.

“Not even credit cards? With the interest rates some of those things have, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Satan himself in the big office.” Then I remembered about the heat the other tenants had complained about. It felt fine in here to me. “So was the heat coming from the body or the demon?”

Ian shook his head. “Neither. It would have been from the portal the demon used to get in.”

“That makes sense. That Jesin Nadisu guy seems to be on the ball. I couldn’t see him missing a pair of demons strolling through his lobby.”

“The area near the wall around the corner felt warmer,” Ian told me. “Since there aren’t any vents nearby, that’d be the most likely portal location.”

I went to take a look.

Unless a portal was standing open it couldn’t be seen. If Ian hadn’t seen the portal, that meant it was closed. Closed equaled safe. A portal could only be used by the being that created it, or someone the creator had keyed to that specific portal. It was security at its finest.

I stepped into a short hallway. . .

And simply stared.

The wall was glowing. Orange. Not the entire wall, just a section, a seam running from the floor to a few feet from the ceiling. The seam was closed, but that didn’t keep the glow from spilling onto the hardwood floor at my feet.

The light didn’t come from the wall itself. It came from what lay beyond, and I didn’t mean in the next room.

It was the portal, complete with sulfuric heat coming from it in waves.

A shadow from the other side eclipsed the light.

I took a step back, eyes locked on the opening.

There was something just on the other side.

Watching me.

It knew I could see it and the portal.

Terror put my gun in my hand, even though I knew that whatever was on the other side would laugh at my puny mortal weapon. I slowly backed away, my gun held low in a two-handed grip, trying to stop my hands from shaking.

My terror made it past my lips with one word.

“Ian.” I could barely hear myself.

No response from the front room.

I swallowed hard and tried again.

“Ian.”

An instant later, Ian was beside me, gun drawn.

The shadow retreated.

Ian looked where I was looking, body tense and ready for anything.

He saw nothing.

“Mac, we’re looking at a wall.”

“And it’s not all there.”

My partner looked like he was thinking the same thing about me.

“There’s a big glowing gash down the middle,” I said.

“Describe it.” His voice immediately went tight with apprehension.

Now we were getting somewhere.

“It’s a gash in the middle of the wall,” I told him, trying to be the analytical professional I was supposed to be. “It starts at the floor and goes up about six feet. The gash is closed, so it’s more like a seam, and where it comes together is . . .” I made a face. “Squishy. Like glowing orange Jell-O.”

“Orange?”

“Jell-O.”

“And you can see it.”

“I could also see the shadow of a thing on the other side.”

“The other side?” Ian adjusted the hold on his gun.

I suddenly needed a place to sit down, but I’d only be doing that after I ran all the way down to the lobby, probably to the accompaniment of my own screams.

“Uh-huh. But I can’t see portals.”

“That appears to no longer be the case.”

I took another step back. “How?”

“Don’t know.”

We both looked at the wall: me at the portal, Ian at where I’d told him the portal was.

“I take it the color means something?” I asked.

“Oh, yes.”

Ian had his phone out again, eyes still on the wall as if he expected something to jump out of it at any second. That made both of us.

I waited for someone at headquarters to pick up. I had no doubt Ian was calling headquarters again, just as I had no doubt that orange wasn’t a good color for a portal.

Sulfur stink plus hoofprint brand equaled a portal that in all likelihood went to a place I had no desire to go.

And something in that undesirable place had seen me see it.

Oh crap.

5

SPI’S lab team arrived, and so far demons hadn’t poured out of the wall.

Both were good things.

The seam had also stopped glowing and the wall appeared more solid.

Good things number three and four. We were on a roll.

Ian had left a voicemail for Vivienne Sagadraco telling her about me and the portal.

He’d told me not to tell anyone what I’d seen until the boss gave the okay. I had absolutely no problem with that. I didn’t want to think about it, let alone get chatty with anyone.

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