Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(2)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(2)
Author: Lisa Shearin

One of the few things I’d actually managed to learn about the mysterious Rake Danescu was that you never knew which way things were going to go. Goblins were like that.

The motives of mortal men were difficult enough to figure out. Goblins—whether involved in politics, business, or interpersonal relations—made Machiavelli look like an intrigue dilettante. When it came to supernatural beings, but especially goblins, very little was actually as it seemed.

Like Rake Danescu’s motives when it came to me. I didn’t know what they were. Okay, I take that back. I knew exactly what they were. Him, me, horizontal. Or vertical. I didn’t think Rake was picky about the particulars.

Rake was gorgeous, rich, brilliant, and could charm anything off of anyone regardless of sex, race, or supernatural species. I was from a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. I was human, average height, blond hair, green eyes, and I’d been told that I looked about as threatening as a declawed kitty cat. My grandma Fraser had always told me I had “little dog syndrome”—small size, big attitude, delusions of toughness. I made enough money at SPI to keep a nice East Village roof over my head, and I was pretty much immune to charm. Though that last characteristic was probably due to an excess of caution and suspicion in my nature rather than actual immunity.

Rake was a dark mage, which meant he was absurdly talented in a type of magic most sane people wouldn’t mess with. Rake wasn’t most people, or even most goblins. Though as far as I’d been able to determine in the time that we’d known each other, he was sane, at least most of the time. He was also cunning, crafty, and conniving. In short, Rake Danescu was a perfect goblin. Anyone who looked at him—and there were plenty of those right now, both women and men—would see a tall, dark, and unwholesomely handsome man.

As a seer, I saw past Rake’s human glamour to his pale gray skin, pointed ears, and—a goblin’s most distinguishing feature—his fangs. He was still breathtakingly beautiful, albeit in an exotic way. Unlike the vampires on board, Rake didn’t use his fangs for feeding, just defense, offense, and making women crazy. He’d slowly grazed the back of my neck once, so I could attest to that last point from personal experience. The tingles hadn’t stopped for days.

It hadn’t gone beyond that. Yet.

All I wanted was a nice guy. At least I used to think I did. Now I wasn’t so sure. There was a lot to be said about a brilliant, fascinating, inter-dimensional goblin spy of mystery with tingle-inducing fangs.

I was being cautious. Rake was being respectful of my caution. So, that was where we were. Also, we’d both been busy. Time together hadn’t been easy to come by. And SPI had been busier than normal since the first of the year, and we thought it had everything to do with what had happened a couple of weeks before Christmas, when an enterprising demon lord and his elf dark mage partner had come entirely too close to creating a direct flight from Hell to New York.

Some people would argue that it already existed. The demon-and-elf diabolical duo had opened a Hellpit directly under Bacchanalia, which had been the crown jewel of Rake’s business and spy empire and the city’s most exclusive sex club. Yes, I said “had been,” as in past tense. Bacchanalia didn’t exist anymore. It had collapsed into the sinkhole created when we essentially slammed the gate to Hell.

Yep, Rake had run a sex club. In fact, that was where we had met on my first night on the job—at SPI, not Bacchanalia.

Never one to lament losing one of his crown jewels, Rake had thrown himself into rebuilding the intelligence-gathering web the demon lord and elf dark mage’s activity had damaged, and was playing catch-up with a vengeance.

The yacht had been moving at a leisurely cruising speed up the Hudson—then it wasn’t.

The engines had stopped.

I glanced at a now frowning Rake. “Are we supposed to stop?”

“No.”

The yacht slowed its forward motion, but didn’t come to a complete stop. The Hudson was a tidal river, or to be more exact, an estuary. The Hudson had two high and two low tides within each twenty-four-hour time frame. The tide’s rise and fall actually changed the direction of the flow. Not that we needed to worry about that. At least I didn’t think we did.

That thought had no sooner crossed my mind when the yacht shuddered beneath our feet. It didn’t simply stop, it was jerked to a stop, and I was grateful not to be wearing high heels. I grabbed the railing. Rake grabbed the railing with one hand and tightened his grip on me with the other.

Then the lights went out, immediately followed by screams and shouts.

Rake pulled me away from the railing, but not before I saw a long, dark shape knife through the water.

I’d been out on deck long enough that my eyes were already adjusted to the dark. Those inside the salon had gone from bright light to no light. Those below decks were in total darkness until the emergency lights kicked in. Even the vampires and goblins would need time for their night vision to adjust.

It stayed dark.

Rake pulled us over against the salon windows to keep us from being trampled by panicked passengers.

I tried to further flatten myself. “Doesn’t this thing have emergency lights?”

“Yes.”

That one word told me what I didn’t want to know.

This was no accident. And when your host was near the top of the supernatural crime food chain, any non-accident could be very bad for anyone unlucky enough to be around him. I had no intention of going from party guest to collateral damage.

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