Grave Visions (Alex Craft, #4)(9)

“Not sure,” I said, answering both.

My brain felt thick, like my head had been stuffed with cotton. I struggled to a sitting position, releasing an embarrassing grunt with the effort, and the room spun around me. Pulling my knees to my chest, I groaned, and pressed a hand to my forehead. What had happened?

I groped blindly for the gurney so I could steady myself and stand, but then I froze, palm inches from where I guessed the parked gurney sat. The skin across my hand tingled painfully, like electricity was jumping from the metal.

“Hey, Jenson, what is the iron content of stainless steel?”

The detective’s answer came slow, like he wasn’t fully following why I asked. “Pretty high, but it’s an alloy.”

Which, by his tone, I took to mean it shouldn’t have the same effect on fae as pure cold iron. It was universally known that iron was the most effective weapon to use against the fae. What most humans didn’t know was why. I’d recently discovered that iron interrupted the magic between a fae and Faerie. Short-term result was usually sickness. But a long-term severing? Death.

I flexed my hand without closing it on the gurney. Pain shot along my skin, and I pulled back. The steel might be an alloy, but it was definitely affecting me.

The two women I’d heard in the hallway were in the room now. I didn’t recognize their voices, and I wasn’t about to push the topic of iron when I was trying my best to pass for human. Scooting farther away, I staggered to my feet, the effort leaving me dizzy and breathless.

“You gonna make it?” Jenson asked. He stepped closer until I could feel him hovering, but he didn’t offer me a hand.

I nodded, sucking down air like the oxygen content wasn’t quite enough to sustain life. What is happening to me? I didn’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d bet it had something to do with Faerie.

The two women were talking softly, too quiet for me to make out what was being said, but I could guess my untimely swoon was the topic. I hated being blind, and the added confusion of having passed out in the middle of the morgue didn’t help. Frustrated, I cracked my shields. My physical eyes were currently useless, but with my shields cracked, my psyche looked across the planes. It created a confusing jumble of realities splashed with colors and pitted with decay, but I could see enough to navigate.

It also made my eyes glow with an unearthly light. Strangely, no one gasped or stumbled back, which was the typical reaction to this particular trick. That was a refreshing surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. Then I remembered the necklace I wore. It was a fae-wrought chameleon charm, bound to me with blood magic. Unlike a witch-made perception charm that would allow me to control exactly what people saw—but would have to be targeted and would burn magic quick—this charm simply made people see what they expected to see. I needed it on a daily basis to prevent people from noticing that my skin shimmered—it was a fae thing and as I hadn’t figured out glamour yet, one I couldn’t control. It apparently also masked my glowing eyes. No one expected to see it, so they didn’t. Definitely an added benefit.

It took me several blinks to work out the mess of information my psyche had turned into a type of sight, but I was getting rather used to seeing across planes, so after only a moment, I scooped my purse from the floor and turned to Jenson.

“We were going somewhere?” Because I still needed him to sign paperwork, and I wasn’t letting him slip away until he did.

Jenson shot a glance from me to the two morgue techs who were both watching us. Then he nodded. “Let me put Mr. Watts away and we can grab a coffee.”

That sounded like a plan to me.

? ? ?

There was a café down the street from the precinct, so we walked. Which was a relief, as I didn’t feel like explaining why I couldn’t drive. I might be able to see well enough to walk around, but I definitely wasn’t trusting myself behind the wheel.

Once Jenson had signed my client agreement, and thus I’d covered my ass legally for any fallout from my ritual, I closed my shields and let the darkness surround me. I hated being blind in public—it made me feel vulnerable. But I was just sitting in a booth nursing a coffee, and Jenson seemed to be in no hurry himself. If I needed, I could always open my psyche again, but giving my eyes some time to heal would be best.

So, we sat in silence. Me with both hands wrapped around the hot coffee as I tried to encourage some of its warmth into my body, and Jenson on the other side of the booth, most likely still staring into his mug, which was pretty much all he’d done since we arrived. It was almost companionable. Almost.

“Will you turn over the case?” I asked once the waitress refilled my mug for the second time.

“I should. No good explanation outside of magic for a horde of serpents showing up like that and then vanishing just as mysteriously. The hammer, especially, is damning, isn’t it?”

Admittedly, glamour had been my first thought. But that didn’t explain what had happened to the boy’s shade. Both Emma and Jeremy had been killed by the snakes, but only his shade had been damaged. He’d also been the first attacked. That seemed significant.

“How about that drug, Glitter. Have the police run across many cases with it before? I’ve never heard of it.”

The table thrummed as Jenson drummed his fingers over it, but he didn’t answer immediately. I wished I could see his expression, or if he’d nodded or shook his head, because it didn’t seem like I was going to get a verbal answer. Then he grunted and said, “I can talk to narcotics, but new street names for the same old designer drugs pop up on occasion, so it might be nothing. But you’d think the blood panel would have caught that.”

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