Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(9)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(9)
Author: Lisa Shearin

“Rake shouldn’t have taken you there. It wasn’t safe.”

“Because of a kraken. It’s not like anyone could’ve predicted that.”

“You know what I mean.”

I did. We’d also discussed it before. Though “discussed” made it seem like we’d reached some sort of an agreement. We hadn’t.

“It was on Bela Báthory’s yacht,” Ian said.

Now we were getting to the real reason.

“Báthory has security out the wazoo,” I reminded him, even though Ian knew that only too well.

“That’s not the point,” Ian said.

“He invited some of the most influential people in the city to his little soiree,” I said. “It wouldn’t be in his best interests to let anything happen to any of them.”

“Getting that many wealthy people together in one place creates a target.”

Time to cut to the chase. “And as long as I’m seeing a wealthy man, I’ll be a target.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to.”

Silence.

Yasha and Alain Moreau were waiting downstairs. Ian couldn’t stay much longer and he knew it. I didn’t want to leave this unresolved. It was Friday night. I wouldn’t see Ian again until Monday morning. I didn’t want this to fester. Whether you’re married or just work partners: never go to bed angry.

“Ian, I took good care of myself tonight. I nailed two of those fish guys right through their beady yellow eyes. Unfortunately, it didn’t kill them, but that doesn’t change the fact that I made killing shots, under pressure, while keeping my balance on a deck being tilted by a kraken.” I gave my partner a little smile. “Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. And it was you who taught me all of that.” I broadened the smile. “Good job, partner.”

Ian’s breath went out of him in a rush and he nodded tightly. He still didn’t like the circumstances behind what had happened tonight, but what I’d just said had made him feel better.

It wasn’t a resolution, but it was one more step in the right direction.

6

IT started out as a typical Monday morning in the office. It’s amazing how quickly things can go to crap.

In the U.S., it’s not in the least bit unusual to flip to any of the cable news channels at any time of the day or night and be able to watch a crime or disaster live as it’s happening. Unfortunately, that was becoming the new normal, a normal that didn’t make anyone look twice or think much about what they were seeing, let alone surprise or shock them.

This morning’s crime du jour was different. Oh boy, was it different.

A gang of ghouls had robbed a bank last night. We knew about it because the security footage was being played live on CNN.

The anchor was amazed at how realistic the robbers’ makeup looked.

I wasn’t.

With that, I knew the Báthory kidnapping had just been booted from the top spot on our caseload. The bank that’d been hit wasn’t just any bank. Their customers were the cream on top of the one percent, and a lot of that cream was supernatural.

The ghouls had been caught on the bank’s surveillance cameras; though saying they had been caught would imply that they’d tried to hide. They hadn’t.

I, for one, really wished they would’ve made the effort.

I recognized the gang’s leader as the same creature who had nearly killed Ian on two occasions. The first time had been five years ago when Ian and his then NYPD partner had responded to a robbery. The leader had killed and eaten Ian’s partner, and had put Ian in the hospital for a month. The most recent attempt had been two years ago in a subway tunnel below Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

We had hoped we’d seen the last of him.

It sucked when hope got squashed flat.

I’d come in early this morning. Ian wasn’t here yet. I hurried toward the elevator. If I was lucky, I could catch him before he got here and caught sight of what was playing on every monitor in the bull pen. That is, if he hadn’t already seen—

The elevator doors opened.

It was Ian and two other agents. The agents barely waited for the doors to open all the way before they scrambled out.

I didn’t blame them.

One look at Ian told me he’d already seen the news.

Well, crap.

Barely controlled rage was rolling off my partner in waves. He had it under control because the creature he wanted to unleash it on was on every TV, not standing where Ian could get his hands on him. Most of SPI’s agents were psychically sensitive. In a contained environment such as an elevator, strong emotions would be magnified tenfold. If I hadn’t known what had set Ian off, I’d have wanted to get out of his way, too.

I caught my partner’s eye and jerked my head toward a nearby conference room. It was too early for meetings, so we’d have it all to ourselves. Very few people at SPI knew Ian’s history with that ghoul, and that was the way Ian wanted to keep it.

Ian went in first. I followed, and shut the door.

Ian spat his favorite four-letter word and looked around for something he could punch and not break. Finding nothing that met that requirement, he started pacing. The room was small, so all pacing did was add to his frustration.

“You wanna go down to the gym and work out on the big bag?” I asked. “We can find Yasha to hold for you, cause I’m sure not gonna do it. I like my ribs where they are.”

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