Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(7)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(7)
Author: Lisa Shearin

A kraken and a couple dozen swamp creatures had done the trick.

“Sounds like they went a bit overboard,” Ian noted. “No pun intended.”

“None taken,” I said. “Even though quite a few of us did go for a swim.”

My partner definitely hadn’t made a pun, intentional or otherwise. He would have had to have been in a joking mood for that, and Ian Byrne most definitely was not in a joking mood. By now my hair had more or less dried, and so had my dress, but dry didn’t get rid of the eau du river aroma I was presently wafting in all directions.

“This is getting to be a habit,” Ian noted, glancing over to where Rake was “answering a few final questions” from the police, that were neither few nor probably final.

“Hey, ninety-five percent of our dates haven’t had the police involved,” I reminded him, “and none of them were Rake’s fault.”

“He just happens to be places where all hell breaks loose.”

I gave my partner an arch look. “May I remind you that two of those three times, you were there as well?”

The first time was my and Rake’s first date. By what was an authentic coincidence, Ian and Kylie O’Hara, SPI’s director of media and public relations, were at the same restaurant, having their first date as well. Needless to say, that arrangement was awkward. Then the occasion took a hop, skip, and a jump from awkward to downright bizarre as a man there for a business lunch had a drug-induced freak-out and was suddenly able to see every supernatural being in the restaurant. The situation went to Hades in a handbasket from there, ending with the restaurant burning to the ground.

The second time involved a gang of drunk teenage werewolves who decided that their wolf cousins at the Bronx Zoo needed to be set free. Their attempted jailbreak had unfortunately coincided with the zoo’s largest annual fundraising event. I’d been there with Rake. Ian had been there with Kylie. Chaos happened.

“Best of all, we didn’t have to lie,” I told Ian. “We just left out the little details the police wouldn’t believe anyway. That kind of honesty will get you sedated and sent to the hospital for psych evaluation. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, ‘They can’t handle the truth.’”

A few of the police on the scene had recognized Ian from his time on the force. He’d honestly answered their questions about how he had been and where he was working—he was doing great, and was working for a private security firm. All were true, while not being the whole truth.

A few minutes later, Rake made his way over to us, looking neither left nor right, not rushing but not dragging his feet, either. The press had spotted him and were shouting to get his attention. My date was a center of near-Zen calm as he pretended that none of them existed, especially Baxter Clayton. All I can say is that it was a good thing there was a police-guarded barricade or Rake would have been mobbed, and that would not have ended well. Goblins were rather like cats: neat, fastidious, mostly aloof, with an intense dislike of being dunked in water. If you did anything to them that they considered to be degrading or annoying, you’d better prepare to be shredded.

Rake Danescu was wet, his tuxedo was likely ruined, and though his expression was carefully blank, I knew that inside he made Grumpy Cat look like a cheerleader. But when he got close enough to us, he did at least acknowledge Ian.

The goblin inclined his head. “Ian.”

“Rake.”

There was no handshake, and definitely no bro hug, but no one ended up injured and requiring hospitalization. Considering how Ian and Rake felt about each other, the use of a first-name greeting rather than fists meant they were starting to get downright friendly.

Rake repeated the gesture to Moreau. “Alain.”

“Lord Danescu.”

The use of Rake’s goblin court title didn’t indicate dislike, at least not necessarily, but instead was due to Alain Moreau being many centuries old and French. Moreau’s body was undead, but not his sense of etiquette. Those same exquisite manners helped smooth over the next awkwardness.

“May we drive you home?” Moreau asked Rake.

The goblin glanced to his Land Rover and the swarm of media types that were smack-dab in between. A growl vibrated low in Rake’s chest. “Yes, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”

“None at all, I assure you.”

It would also give Moreau the benefit of time to get the answers to his questions. Rake knew it, he didn’t like it, but like I said: lesser of two evils.

Yasha was driving, Moreau was in the front passenger seat, Rake and me were in the middle seats, with Ian right behind us on the third row. I had no doubt Ian arranged it that way to make Rake uncomfortable. If it did bother Rake, he gave no sign.

Rake and I told them everything that happened—and what the police had been told.

“At least that’s the story everyone seemed to be going with,” I ended.

“Your professional opinion?” Moreau asked.

“As a seer, everything was exactly what it looked like, even though I didn’t know what they were.”

“The Creatures from the Black Lagoon?” Yasha asked.

“Those were the ones.”

My Russian werewolf friend loved classic horror movies—and classic musicals. I caught a flash of a grin in the rearview mirror with a nod that said “cool” loud and clear.

“I’ll have the archivists pull everything we have that is bipedal and aquatic,” Moreau said.

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