Grave Visions (Alex Craft, #4)(10)

I could almost hear his frown. And I had to agree with his initial assessment that something was off about this case. I set down my coffee mug. Damn, I was brooding over the circumstances of the case. This wasn’t my case. While I couldn’t deny that the strange circumstances piqued my interest, my part was over. I’d raised and questioned the shades. That was all I’d been hired to do.

“Well, I should—” I cut off as a commotion broke out in the front of the café. Loud exclamations of what sounded more like amazement than fear rose from several voices all at once, followed by scooting chairs and pounding feet as people rushed toward the windows.

I cursed my eyes as I twisted in my seat, but I didn’t stand.

“What’s happening?” I asked, straining to hear what people were saying. There were too many voices and I was catching only snatches that didn’t make much sense.

“Not sure.” Jenson’s chair screeched as it scooted back, so I guessed he stood, but with all the other noise, I couldn’t tell if he went to check it out or not.

Cursing under my breath, I cracked my shields and opened my psyche. The café snapped into distorted focus and I looked around. Jenson had, in fact, moved to the front of the café where all the patrons were gathered at the large windows. I stood slowly, still trembling from the combo of overused magic and grave chill, and then I made my way toward the crowd.

I stopped before I reached the window, gawking.

Jenson turned toward me. “You seeing a unicorn? Because I am.”

I nodded, dumbfounded. Outside the window. In the middle of main street, a man in dirty clothes that had seen better days sat on the back of a large white horse with a spiraled horn sticking out of the middle of its head. But while I could clearly see the unicorn, I could also see through it.

“It does look like one.” Superficially, at least.

“Then it can’t be a unicorn because you sure as hell aren’t a virgin.”

I raised an eyebrow but didn’t peel my gaze off the spectacle in the street. Jenson had made more than one disparaging comment about my sex life in the past. This time though, it was applicable.

“Yeah, and you aren’t exactly a maiden,” I shot back, and received an amused grunt in response. For that matter, the guy riding the mythical beast was far from a virginal maiden either, and if folklore was to be believed, only young ladies pure of body and heart should be able to see a unicorn, let alone touch or ride one.

Jenson stepped back from the crowd and dropped his voice. “You think it’s real or glamour?” The last word was a whisper.

As I could see through the mythical beast, I was fairly certain it was glamour. But why? And who had created it? The man riding on its back was clearly human, his soul, while a little dim was the yellow I associated with humans. He might have been a witch—that didn’t change the color of the soul—but he certainly wasn’t fae. So he couldn’t have created the unicorn. Then what is he doing on its back?

Jenson was staring at me. I’d never answered his question. With a forced smile, I gave him a noncommittal shrug. After all, the unicorn wasn’t doing any harm. Just making a spectacle in the street. Now if it turned carnivorous and started eating the man, that would be a problem, but as it was, what was the harm?

As I watched the unlikely pair trot out of view and vanish around a corner, I wished I could truly believe that it really was just an innocent spectacle, but in my experience, nothing good ever came from glamour.

? ? ?

By the time I left work, the unicorn was already an Internet sensation and speculation about the man riding it was running rampant. Dozens of cell phone videos had captured the beast trotting down the street, but the pair had vanished before reporters arrived on the scene, so most of the footage was shaky or shot from a far angle. I’d followed some of the coverage, but nothing provided any clue as to where the glamoured beast had come from, or why, so I’d eventually gone back to the less than thrilling task of cataloguing the not-so-magic coins I’d been hired to analyze.

Rianna had made me promise I wouldn’t sleep at the office again, so after putting it off as long as possible, I finally packed up the coins, gathered my dog, and headed to the house I shared with two housemates and one uninvited house-crasher.

The lights in my one-room efficiency over the garage were all blaring bright and cheery behind the blinds when I arrived home. Falin was in. I stared at the lights as I parked. Then, picking up PC, I bypassed the steps on the side of the house that led to my private entrance and headed toward the door to the main house. Back when I’d first moved in, Caleb had given me a key to the main house in case of emergency. I dug in my purse for that key now. It had been getting quite a workout in the last few weeks.

As I searched for the key, the sound of a movie playing drifted through the door, and I hesitated. Both Caleb’s and Holly’s cars were in the drive, which meant they were likely watching something together. A few weeks ago, I might have plopped down on the couch beside them and asked someone to pass the popcorn. But a lot had changed recently. For one, Holly and Caleb were likely not just watching a movie, but cuddling while doing so—and hopefully nothing more than cuddling. You’d think they were a pair of love-struck teenagers the way they were suddenly all about each other. Dreamily gazing into someone else’s eyes while wearing a smile you just can’t contain might feel great during new love, but it was damn awkward for the third wheel living with the couple.

Kalayna Price's Books