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Rusted veins, p.6
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       Rusted Veins, p.6

         Part #5. 5 of Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
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Page 6


  Brooks shrugged and pushed his thick black frames higher on his nose. “Worried. ”

  “Is that Cadence’s diary?” I asked, ready to get down to business.

  “Yeah. I hate to invade her privacy, but it’s all we have to go on. ”

  “Did you find anything?” Giguhl prompted.

  Brooks nodded. “She had several diaries in her apartment, going back years. This one covers the last four years. ”

  Adam tensed beside me. A quick look in his direction and I realized he was staring at the book in question as if it were a snake. That’s when it hit me that the same diary that could help us find her might also contain secrets about her and Adam that he might not want me to know.

  Part of me, the side ruled by the demon of bad choices, wanted to grab it and flip back to the time when she and Adam were together. But my more practical angelic side reminded me that picking that particular scab would only lead to unnecessary pain. The old me would have told the angel to take a hike and tackle the Changeling for the diary, but the new me, the one who enjoyed happiness and peace in my life, grabbed her man’s hand and squeezed. This was awkward for me, but it had to be hellish for Adam.

  He squeezed back and forced a smile before releasing my hand. “So what did you find out?”

  Brooks didn’t quite meet Adam’s gaze. A sure sign he’d read the pages my bad-choices-side wanted to read so much. “For the last couple of weeks, her entries have mentioned the same name repeatedly. ”

  “Well?” Giguhl asked.

  “Damascus White. ”

  Oh shit, I thought. “Damascus White, as in the leader of the New Orleans vampire coven?”

  Brooks nodded and held up the book. “The weird thing is that even though she’s pretty detailed with her entries, whenever she mentions Damascus, she’s very sketchy. ” He opened the diary and read from it. “This entry is dated a week ago. ‘Damascus called again. He won’t take no for an answer. ’”

  Adam and I exchanged a look. “Why would the leader of the vampire coven be asking out a mage?” I asked.

  “You’re assuming a lot,” Zen said. “He could have been asking her anything. ”

  I nodded. “True. But still, with his resources, it seems odd he’d resort to asking a mage for help. ”

  “Have you met him?” Brooks asked.

  I grimaced and shook my head. “Not formally. ”

  “Wait,” Giguhl said. “Does that have something to do with what you said last night about not being on good terms with NOLA’s vamps?”

  I hesitated before nodding.

  Several pairs of judgey glances shot my direction. “What did you do?” Giguhl asked on a sigh.

  “It’s all because of that time we came here to look for Maisie. ” My grandmother, Lavinia, had kidnapped my twin sister, Maisie, and brought her to New Orleans a couple of years earlier. Adam, Giguhl, and I had spent a few weeks in the Big Easy looking for Granny Dearest and ended up having a huge battle in a cemetery that ended in her demise. Good riddance. “I guess Damascus took over as the leader after a lot of New Orleans’s vampires got recruited by Lavinia and her goons. Apparently we killed several of his friends, though. ”

  Several groans filtered through the room.

  “And then when we moved to town permanently, I was so busy trying to get the Dark Races Council up and running that I neglected to set up a meeting with White and he took it as a deliberate snub. ”

  Adam frowned at me. “How do you know all this if you’ve never met him?”

  I shrugged. “Nyx told me. Apparently White went to her to lodge a complaint. She called to tell me about it, but I guess the harm had already been done because when I offered to meet with him, he refused. ”

  “Yep, that sounds like Damascus,” Zen said, nodding.

  “Wait, you know him?” I asked.

  “Of course. Not that it’s anything to brag about. He’s a real jackass. ”

  One of my favorite things about Zen was she didn’t mince words. Plus she was an excellent judge of character. I blew out a resigned breath. “Well, if we want to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to have to talk to him. Do you think you could arrange a meeting?” I asked her.

  She laughed. “Please. He would never accept an invitation from a human. ”

  “Well,” Brooks said, “we definitely need to talk to him. The last entry in Cadence’s diary mentions that she finally agreed to meet with him. ” He looked up. “That was the night before she went missing. ”

  Everyone looked at me expectantly. “Crap. All right. I’ll talk to Nyx. ”

  Brooks’s face cleared. “Thank you so much, Sabina. ”

  * * *


  Nyx agreed to meet me the next night at Muriel’s, one of my favorite restaurants in the Quarter. Luckily, she’d decided to stick around town after the council meeting to enjoy the Halloween festivities.

  The room the maître d’ put us in held a single table and two walls covered in racks of wine. A third wall held a large window that looked down on Jackson Square and the inky expanse of the Mississippi at night. Down on the street below, revelers were dancing through the streets in costumes with plastic cups of Abita or hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s clasped in their hands.

  Nyx looked up as I approached. “How do you think they’d react if they knew monsters like us actually exist?”

  I frowned at her pensive tone. “They’re all too drunk to care. ”

  I took my seat next to her and ordered a drink from the hovering fae waiter who’d shown me to the table. He was of slight build and had long hair pulled back into a neat queue; most humans wouldn’t know he wasn’t one of their kind. I only knew he was fae because of the telltale lavender scent rising off his pale skin. I was glad he wasn’t a vamp who might report the details of our chat back to Damascus White.

  “So,” Nyx began, “how was the trip to Europe? I didn’t get to ask during that clusterfuck of a council meeting. ”

  I rolled my eyes at the memory of the drama between Queen Maeve and Mike Romulus. “Everything was fine. Just glad to be home for a while. How are things in L. A. ?”

  She sighed. “I’ve got some old-school vamps protesting the laws we just passed allowing our race to interbreed with the others. ”

  “Nothing too violent, I hope. ”

  She made a dismissive noise. “Nothing I can’t handle. Slade is meeting with some of them this week to try and make them see sense. ”

  I laughed. “If anyone can set them right…” I let that comment drift off. As close as Nyx and I were, the fact she had been with my father and was now sleeping with my ex was still a bit of an awkward topic. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she and Slade were perfect for each other, but it was still kind of odd.

  The waiter delivered our drinks and proceeded to share that night’s specials. We both ordered—two steaks, bloody. Once he was gone, Nyx leaned forward across the table.

  “You going to tell me the real reason you asked for this dinner?” she asked. “Not that I don’t enjoy your company, but you don’t normally go for the girls’ night. ”

  I took a sip of my Sazerac. “I need a favor. ”

  “Of course,” she said immediately. “Anything. ”

  “I need to set up a meeting with the head of the NOLA coven. ”

  “Damascus White? Why?”

  “One of Brooks’s friends is missing and we have reason to believe she’s been in contact with White recently. ”

  She paused before answering. “You believe he’s involved in her disappearance?”

  This is where I had to be careful. Even though Nyx and I were good friends, outright accusing one of her own with foul play was not a smart move. “We have no reason to believe he’s directly responsible. Just want to see if we can piece together a picture of her activities before she disappeared. Her diary indicated she had a meeting with him
. We’re hoping he might be able to shed light on what she was into. ”

  “Okay,” she said. “I can arrange it for whenever you prefer. ”

  “Sooner the better,” I said. “Thanks, Nyx. ”

  She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Just be prepared for him to refuse. ”

  A thin vein of embarrassment wove its way into my voice. “I was kind of hoping you could do some gentle arm twisting if that turned out to be the case. ”

  She laughed. “I see. Well, I can try, but I’m afraid it’s not like the old days when your grandmother ran the race. ”

  My grandmother, Lavinia, had been the Alpha female in the triumvirate of vampires who had controlled the race for centuries. She’d led through a combination of violence, cunning, and more violence. Now, the structure of the vampire government was much more democratic, which was a good thing, even if it was damned inconvenient sometimes.

  “Just do what you can. I promise to tread lightly with him. ”

  Nyx made a strangled noise that one might mistake for a chuckle. “Just be prepared. You may have to do some groveling. ”

  “We’ll see. ” I pushed down the annoyance that rose at the humor in her tone. Adam’s ex had better really be in trouble and not just off on a lark or I was going to kick her ass when we found her.

  “Regardless, I wish you luck. If you run into problems, let me know. ”

  Nyx was no slouch when it came to leadership, but the idea I couldn’t handle a vampire was a little insulting. I was the granddaughter of the former Alpha Domina of the entire race. Granted, I’d killed her, but still. I’d learned a lot of tricks about bending people to my will from Lavinia Kane. And if that didn’t work, I’d just use the charm I’d picked up from the mage side of the family.

  I polished off my drink. The sooner we found Cadence, the sooner Adam and I could get her back out of our lives. I wasn’t about to let Damascus White throw a wrench in that plan. “Oh, I’m pretty sure he’ll be the one with the problems if he refuses to help me. ”
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