The Grimrose Path (Trickster, #2)(10)

“Huh,” he commented before moving on to more important things. “Griffin, your nose is busted. If the demon did that, it’s a good thing he’s dead. So who ate the pizza?”

One thing about Zeke, he never let the little things in life get to him, and other than Griffin and food, they were all little things. At times it was annoying as hell, and at other times it was almost inspirational. To live in the now . . . no worries about the future or monsters that could turn demons’ brains to oatmeal.

Right now it was vexing enough I nearly smacked him with the piece of garlic bread he was considering eating. Sighing, I tried Griffin instead. “You took a hit too when the demon went nuts. I saw it.” I handed him a napkin from the table. “And your face felt it.” He grimaced and held the napkin to the small drop of blood from his nose. “What did you pick up from it?”

“Terror.” He wiped the blood away. “More than I’ve ever felt from anyone, even from people torn apart by demons before we could stop them. More terror than I thought a demon could feel. More than I thought even existed.”

More terror than could possibly exist, and something so horrifying that Zeke’s brain had shut down to prevent him from seeing it.

Well, wasn’t that just peachy?

Chapter 2

I’d given the guys the update on demons dying right and left, a powerful creature running about—mission unknown and headed up to my apartment. By the time I took my shower, changed, and came back downstairs, the place was empty. No Griffin, no Zeke, no cheesy bread. There still was a large black puddle of demon goo on my floor though. Although I’d shot it, the guys had brought it, so technically it was their mess. But . . . I sighed as I went for the mop. Zeke had been knocked flat, had been unconscious, and Griffin was concerned about him. He’d seemed himself—and it was very easy to see when Zeke was not himself—but better safe than sorry.

Griffin probably had him at their house, feet up, TV on, and watching like a hawk for anything unexpected such as twitches, seizures, or the desire to not swap old porn magazines to the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Watchtower. After all, Griffin was making him get rid of them and in Zeke’s mind this was a valid recycling program. Zeke might be an ex-angel, but he’d never had any sexual hang-ups, which rather made you wonder why people did.

Either way, they were gone. Leo wasn’t back from wherever he’d disappeared to. I knew Leo. What was between us was something only the two of us could understand, but that didn’t mean I could begin to guess where he went when he wandered off. I’d been born to hit the ground running, whelped to wander as all tricksters were, but Leo could make me look like a very mossy, very nonrolling stone. And when he was dating one of his bimbos . . . and they were all bimbos . . . I’d have to take him to the vet and get him chipped if I wanted a clue as to where he was roaming.

After mopping the floor, I flipped the sign to OPEN and settled down to business. I had three kinds of business in my life: serving alcohol, selling information, and tricking those who deserved it. Killing demons wasn’t business. It was Griffin and Zeke’s business, but for me . . . it was just my favorite hobby. My way of giving back to the community, by keeping a few more members of that community alive and undamned.

My first client didn’t come for the first kind of business, but I gave her one anyway. I looked her up and down and gave her a whiskey on the rocks. She was more of a wine cooler girl. Fruity drinks, light beer, not a serious drinker, but she needed a real drink now.

She sat down at the table across from me after introducing herself and touched a finger to the glass. She gave me her name, a nervous half smile, and said, “Normally I don’t . . . I mean, I’m more of a sangria, Fuzzy Navel person. Silly girl drinks, you know.” Her smile faded. “For a silly girl.”

But she wasn’t a girl. She was a woman, just barely . . . twenty-two, twenty-three. Almost a girl, but unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, “almost” didn’t count in this case. She took a swallow of the whiskey, made a face, but took a second swallow. “Better?” I asked sympathetically.

She nodded and pushed the glass aside. “Thank you.” She opened the purse in her lap—more of a bag really. It was big enough to carry around a sketch pad, pencils, a computer, any number of things. She had that artsy look. Homemade jewelry of silver wire with lots of polished stones and silver rings to match. Probably a vegan. She looked sweet and earnest and generally concerned for every living being. Probably had a bumper sticker for every endangered species on the planet. She certainly wasn’t my usual clientele. She wasn’t the kind looking for trouble or the kind looking to get herself out of trouble . . . unless she was caught breaking animals out of a testing lab. If that were the case, I’d give her my help for free. Turn the bunnies loose and stick a few death row inmates in those cages. Cute and fluffy versus killers with misspelled tattoos. It seemed like a fair trade to me.

It turned out I was wrong though. She was looking to get herself out of trouble—the very worst kind of trouble.

She took some photos out of the bag and was turning them over in her hands. “Somebody told me about you. What you do. That you know things that people shouldn’t be able to know. And that you believe in”—she flushed—“things people say don’t exist. That maybe you’re psychic.”

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