Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(8)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(8)
Author: Lisa Shearin

“That kraken was aquatic,” I told him, “but it certainly wasn’t bipedal.”

“Are you sure it was a kraken?” Ian asked.

“Uh, a tentacle the size of a power pole?”

“It was a kraken,” Rake said from beside me. “In my world we have a similar creature. However, that creature would not have stopped once it began attacking a ship. It would drag it under, crushing it, then consume anything edible that tried to escape from the wreckage, or any bodies that floated away. The one we encountered tonight not only ceased its attack, but seemed to stop on command.”

“Did you sense a mage in the area?” Moreau asked.

Rake shook his head. “Other than those who were guests on the Persephone using their magic to defend themselves, no.”

“So we’ve got kidnappers out of a bad horror movie—” Ian began.

“Creature from the Black Lagoon is classic,” Yasha objected.

“Excuse me, kidnappers out of a campy, cult horror classic, who grabbed the nephew of the head of the most powerful vampire family on the East Coast, using a kraken that was trained like an attack dog.”

I nodded. “That pretty much covers it. Though that seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to for a kidnapping. Wouldn’t there be an easier way to get Bela Báthory?”

“His uncle, Ambrus, is notoriously private,” Moreau said, “and seldom leaves his family compound on Long Island. When he does leave, he’s surrounded by enough security to make it impossible to even get close to him, let alone abduct him.”

“Unless you have a trained kraken at your disposal, who plays fetch with a hundred-and-fifty-foot yacht,” I noted. “Whoever has him, they went to a lot of trouble. The next question is why.”

Alain Moreau almost snorted, but it sounded elegant coming from him. “That list is as long as Ambrus Báthory’s life, Agent Fraser. One of his family’s many enemies is very happy tonight.”

5

WE dropped Rake off at one of the buildings he owned in Lower Manhattan where he conveniently kept a car in its parking deck. I guess free parking was one of the perks of owning real estate in New York. Then Yasha drove to my apartment in the East Village, and Ian insisted on walking me up the stairs to the fifth floor.

I didn’t say a word to try to change his mind. Ian hadn’t been there to protect me tonight and it was bothering him. I think it bothered him even more than Rake being there instead of him. My partner and I had had the talk more than once about me being a big girl who could take care of herself against the Big Bad Wolf that was Rake Danescu. I think deep down, Ian believed me when I said that, but he also believed that when it came to keeping me safe against who or whatever had been responsible for the deaths of three of SPI’s seers, he could do a better job than even a goblin dark mage.

When we’d slammed that Hellgate and unfortunately turned Bacchanalia into a crumbled crater cookie, Ian and Rake had made a great team.

I thought it prudent to keep that opinion to myself. One of these days (or years) they’d either come to the same conclusion or kill each other, but I’d let them figure it out on their own.

I unlocked my door, then stepped aside so Ian could do his thing, which was to thoroughly check my apartment to ensure that no one or nothing was there, had been there, or would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being there.

While Ian conducted his security ritual, I stood beside the now closed and locked door and waited for him to finish.

The same elf dark mage who’d opened the Hellgate had planted demon eggs in my apartment’s ductwork that had subsequently hatched and would have attacked and eaten me in my sleep. Ian and I had eradicated the infestation using an assortment of weapons including guns, a machete, a baseball bat, and a can of Raid.

Yeah, there’d been quite a mess to clean up.

After that I’d given serious consideration to finding another place to live. Rake had offered me a rent-free apartment in his building on Central Park West, with no strings or obligations of any kind attached. I’d thought about it, but ultimately had turned him down. Call me old-fashioned, but I simply couldn’t do it. Besides, this was my home, and I wasn’t going to let an elf dark mage’s baby demon minions run me out of it, even if it had meant sleeping with a small armory around my bed for the first few months.

And it had.

“All clear?” I asked Ian when he finished his patrol. It hadn’t taken long; it wasn’t like there was a lot of area to check out.

“All clear.”

Neither of us had really expected any different. In addition to paying for the repairs, Vivienne Sagadraco had two of the agency’s mages put down a serious layering of wards and spells that would not only keep anyone or anything out, they’d also let me know if anyone had tried. So far, so good.

But Ian hadn’t been on the Persephone tonight to do his guard thing, so I let him do it now by checking my apartment.

“They weren’t after me,” I said quietly.

“That’s not the point. You could’ve just as easily been collateral damage.”

“I, or anyone else in this city, could be collateral damage by a cab jumping the curb.”

“You aren’t anyone else.”

Rake had told me the same thing once, when he was trying to convince me that he wanted me for me, not some ulterior motive involving me being a talented seer. I had believed it from Rake then, and I believed it from Ian now. I also knew what was coming next.

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