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Rusted veins, p.3
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       Rusted Veins, p.3

         Part #5. 5 of Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
 
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Page 3

 

  “So you all set for the show?” I asked.

  He shook his head. “I’m not sure it’s even going to happen. ”

  Adam and I exchanged a brief, worried glance. “Why?” I asked carefully.

  “You remember, Rocco, our bassist?”

  We both nodded. We’d met his entire band several times.

  “Well, he did some scrying last week and seems to think that I’m going to die on Samhain. ”

  This news was offered in such a casual tone that I didn’t catch the meaning at first. But when it hit me, I took a nice, long pull of my drink to fortify myself. “Oh? Did he mention any particular mode of death?”

  “This is serious, Sabina. ” The Recreant shot me an annoyed look. “Rocco’s scrying mirror is never wrong. ”

  “Please,” Adam said, “we all know scrying is an imperfect arcane art. The symbols are open to almost any interpretation. ”

  “He saw my heart stopping. ”

  “Oh. ” Adam’s mouth snapped shut and he shot me a look, inviting me to step in at any moment.

  I sighed. “Is that all?”

  He shook his head. “There were jack-o’-lanterns and a bunch of syringes lying around. ”

  I frowned. “That’s odd. ”

  “No shit,” he said. “I was really looking forward to that show. ”

  Adam tilted his head. “And probably, you know, living. ”

  He waved a hand. “A man doesn’t live as hard as I have and expect to grow old. ”

  Before we could question him further about it, Ziggy came down to join us. Fatherhood hadn’t changed his affection for his trademark Rockabilly uniform. His arms were covered in tattoos that were hard to miss as his hands rose to use sign language to greet each of us. When I’d first met Ziggy, I’d been surprised to learn a deaf person could be a drummer, but as it turned out, he was able to feel the beat and rock harder than most.

  After hugs were exchanged and more drinks were poured, we all headed to the dining room for the meal Erron had had delivered from Arnaud’s. But before we could dig in, Brooks burst through the front door. Looking at his slight frame, bald head, and thick black glasses, it was hard to imagine that Brooks spent part of his time traipsing around in high heels, audacious dresses, and wigs. He wasn’t in drag tonight, but he was definitely in full drama mode.

  “Brooks?” Giguhl said. He was back in his demon form now that we were safely inside the house. And when the Changeling burst through the door, Giguhl had unfolded his impressive seven-foot frame from the chair and immediately went to greet his friend.

  Brooks was all but panting when he spoke again. “Sorry I’m late, but there’s some trouble at the club. ”

  The Changeling owned a bar called Lagniappe in the French Quarter, which hosted drag shows a few times a week.

  We all gathered around him to hear what was the matter. He pushed his shoulders back, ready to put on a performance. “Remember the new girl I told you about?”

  Adam and I exchanged clueless looks. We’d had no idea he’d hired someone new, but Giguhl nodded eagerly, clearly more in the loop. “The new waitress? Candy?”

  Brooks nodded. “She didn’t report in for work yesterday. I called and left a message but she didn’t answer. So today, when I still hadn’t heard from her and she didn’t show up for another shift, I went to check her apartment. ” He took a deep breath. “Her roommate said she had a date two nights ago and hasn’t been home since. ”

  I frowned. Brooks had a love of drama, but he took his responsibility to his girls very seriously. “Any chance the date just went well and she’s having too much fun to come home?”

  Brooks grimaced. “Why not call her roommate so she won’t worry?”

  “He has a point,” Adam said. “Any idea who the date was with?”

  He shook his head. “Some vampire, according to the roommate. She said Candy seemed pretty excited about it. ”

  Erron leaned back against a column in the foyer, sipping his drink. “You know anything about this girl?”

  “She’s a mage. Moved to town about a month ago from Los Angeles. She mentioned she was originally from New York, though. ”

  I nodded. That made sense, since most mages were from the Empire State, as it was the seat of mage power in the United States. The fact Candy had lived in Los Angeles went a little way to explain why she might be into vampires, since the City of Angels was vampire turf.

  “By the way she talked,” Brooks continued, “sounded like she’d been bitten by the Big Apple instead of the other way around.

  “And idea what she did in L. A. ?” Erron asked.

  “She waitressed at a couple of bars. ”

  “Have you called the police?” Adam asked.

  Brooks’s head shook so hard I was worried his glasses were about to fly off. “No cops. ”

  “But—” Adam began.

  The Changeling slashed a hand through the air.

  “Why not?” I asked.

  “Look, Candy was up front about some problems in her past. ” He then continued in a whisper. “Drugs. ”

  Ziggy whistled and signed something for Erron to translate. “How do you know she hasn’t just gone off on a bender?”

  “That’s what I’m worried about. If she has and we call in the cops, she’ll go to jail. ”

  Erron crossed his arms. “Sometimes that’s what junkies need, Brooks. ” He said this gently, but it didn’t soften the truth. Especially coming from the rock star who’d had his share of trouble with both drugs and the law in the past.

  We all fell silent, waiting for Brooks’s reaction. Finally, he scrubbed a hand over his scalp. “I won’t do that to her. Not when we have enough resources in the room to find her. ” His eyes scanned the circle until they landed on me.

  I started shaking my head and backing away before the words could even come out of his mouth.

  “C’mon, Sabina. You’re the leader of all the Dark Races. Surely you can pull some strings with the local vamps to see if they might know something about the vampire she went out with. ”

  I grimaced. “That’s the thing, Brooks. The local vamps and I aren’t exactly on great terms. ”

  Giguhl cleared his throat, the censure clear in the sound. I shot him an annoyed look. I really didn’t want to get into the whys right then.

  “Can’t you call Nyx?” Brooks asked.

  “I’m sorry, but I’m not bothering the leader of the country’s vamps to see if she can find out who your friend had a date with. ”

  Brooks glared at me. “This isn’t like Candy. She’s never even been five minutes late to a shift. My gut’s telling me something’s really wrong. ”

  I softened my features and tried to look sympathetic. “I know you’re worried about her, but there has to be another solution besides bothering Nyx. ”

  “I could ask Rhea if she knows anything about this girl,” Adam said. Rhea was his aunt, and she was also the head of the mage Hekate Council.

  “That would be so great, Adam,” Brooks said. I frowned at the exaggerated gratitude in his tone because it was clearly a passive-aggressive shot at me.

  “Sure. What’s her last name?”

  “McShane,” Brooks said.

  Adam blinked and went pale. “Wait…is her real name Cadence?”

  Brooks nodded. “How did you know?”

  I tilted my head. “Wait…isn’t that…?”

  Adam swallowed and nodded. “Yeah,” he said in a tone as grave as a cemetery.

  Giguhl’s nose perked up like a bloodhound on a juicy scent. “What?”

  I crossed my arms as pressure started to build in my chest. Adam paled and backed away a step. “I, uh, used to date her. ”

  “When?” Brooks asked, looking as intrigued as Giguhl.

  “A while ago,” Adam said.

  “How long is a while?” Erron asked, joining in
with the interrogation.

  Adam backed up another step. Out of striking distance. “About three years ago. ”

  Giguhl’s mouth dropped open. “That’s right before you met Sabina!”

  Adam eyed the door. “I sort of broke up with her right before I met Sabina in L. A. ” Lucky for him, he’d already told me about his relationship with Cadence McShane or he’d already be knocked out on the floor. Still, knowing the history didn’t erase my instinctive jealousy at hearing Adam talk about a woman he loved.

  “How long before?” Brooks asked.

  The mage shot the changeling a you’re-not-helping glare. “Like a week. That’s why I volunteered for the mission to find Sabina. Cadence went a little…nuts when I broke it off. ”

  “How serious was it?” Erron asked. “Women don’t usually go nuts unless they feel screwed over. ”

  Those green eyes measured the distance to the door again.

  “Adam?” Giguhl prompted, tapping his hoof.

  He blew out a breath, as if surrendering to impending doom. “We were engaged. ”

  The room fell silent as all eyes turned to gauge my reaction. “Relax, I already knew about it. ”

  Audible sighs of relief filtered through the room, as if they’d expected me to murder the mancy any second.

  “In that case,” Brooks said, “does this mean you’ll call Nyx after all?”

  I frowned at him. “Why?”

  Giguhl made a disgusted sound. “Adam’s ex-fiancée is missing. The girl he screwed over to be with you, I might add. You have to help find her now. ”

  “He didn’t screw her over to be with me. They broke up before he even met me,” I said, my voice holding a hint of warning. “But if Adam wants to help, he’s welcome to. ” The mage in question cringed, hearing the warning in my tone—the one that said his reaction to that statement would determine whether he would spend the rest of eternity sleeping on the sofa.
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