The crows murder, p.1
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       The Crow’s Murder, p.1
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         Part #5 of Kit Davenport series by Tate James
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The Crow’s Murder


  The Crow’s Murder

  Kit Davenport Book 5

  Tate James

  Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Keep In Touch?

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  About the Author

  Also by Tate James

  Co-Authored by Tate James and C.M. Stunich

  TRIALS OF DECEPTION

  Trials Of Deception

  Title: The Crow’s Murder

  Series: Kit Davenport Book 5

  Copyright © 2018 Katrina Fischer

  Cover design © 2017 Covers by Combs

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. If you have obtained this book via piracy, or suspect it has been duplicated illegally, please do the right thing. Advise the author and purchase your own copy. No one likes a pirate, unless he’s Jack Sparrow.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Created with Vellum

  Acknowledgments

  Thank you Baby No Name for forcing me to take this one slowly, for forcing me to fall asleep on my keyboard and for wringing some feelz out of my cold, granite heart.

  Thanks to Heather and Siobhan for holding my hand through the plotting of this!

  As always, my awesome alpha and beta readers… you guys are great! xx

  For Sara.

  You pushed me into trying harder and now it’s all your fault.

  Keep In Touch?

  If you enjoy Kit’s stories and want to keep up to date on all things Tate James, please join my epic awesome newsletter! They don’t come out often, but when they do… they do.

  Sign up here! www.tatejamesauthor.com

  1

  Our captors escorted Wesley and me down via the service elevators and through the curiously empty basement of the hotel before they shoved us up a narrow staircase and then out into the loading dock behind the tower.

  Waiting was a white van with blacked out windows and a town car.

  “Much as I’d love to rattle around in the back of this with you, Foxy,” Simon sneered at me, “I have a much more comfortable ride waiting for me.” The door of the town car opened then, seemingly of its own accord, but I didn’t miss the twitch in Simon’s dead lips. Someone was waiting for him in that car. Someone he feared.

  I narrowed my eyes at my recently dead, former best friend, Simon. I’d never have guessed he’d be the one to betray me over and over. He’d been like a brother to me and my actual best friend, Lucy. We’d grown up together in the same abusive, illegal foster home. We’d suffered the same treatment and nursed each other back to health afterwards.

  Now, though, Simon’s red hair seemed more brown as it lay limp and dirty. His skin, once fair and freckled, was an inhuman blueish-gray. His cheeks were sunken, and he smelled faintly of decay. The rank condition fit, I guessed. He had been killed in an avalanche... How he’d managed to come back to life was another puzzle on top of the Rubik’s cube that was my life.

  I spared no words for my foster brother, and with Wesley still gagged, we were silent as Simon walked stiffly to the town car and got inside. As he slammed the door shut, the guards holding me began roughly manhandling me into the back of the panel van.

  My magic was gone, thanks to the strange cuffs they’d forced on me. As was my strength, which I guessed made sense. It, too, was a form of magic, and the cuffs seemed to be blocking all of it from use. If we were getting out of this, it’d have to be with good old-fashioned skill.

  Wesley met my gaze as one of his guards unlocked the doors and held them open. His eyes widened a fraction, then darted down to the waist of the guard with his back to us. Immediately, I followed his line of sight and saw what he was indicating to. A gun. More specifically, a gun that hadn’t been correctly secured in its holster. Meaning it could easily just slip out.

  I gave Wes a small nod, indicating I’d seen what he had. It was just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity... but standing in a loading dock surrounded by six armed guards with Simon and his mystery friend in a car just a dozen feet away wasn’t the right moment.

  They pushed Wes into the van first, and the stupid guard leaned over to secure his cuffs to the bench seat with a normal looking chain. As he leaned, his unsecured gun was right there, begging to be taken.

  Not fighting my own guards as they hauled me up and into the van, I let them get me within range, then faked a stumble, fell against dumbass’s back, and slipped the gun free with my cuffed hands in a move I’d used a thousand times before. Admittedly, it had been wallets I’d taken before and I’d never done it with my hands cuffed before... but the principle was the same.

  “Sorry,” I muttered, letting my guards roughly shove me down into my seat so that I was now sitting on my stolen weapon. It sounds implausible that I’d been able to take a gun and hide it under my black sweatpants, all while cuffed and guarded. But I was no amateur. Pick-pocketing had been the only thing that’d kept Lucy, Simon, and I fed for a number of years under Mother Suzette’s roof. I was as pro as they came with sleight of hand, so a trick like this was nothing.

  Meekly I allowed the guards to secure my own cuffs to the standard-issue metal chain and then take their seats on either side of me, as Wesley’s had done. The remaining two took the front seats of the van after slamming the doors shut with a heavy thunk.

  I had no real plan. It was just a wing-it sort of situation, and I’d make a move whenever it either seemed right... or necessary. Without windows, it was hard to tell where we were. Hard but not impossible, as I could lean around the goon beside me to see out the front windshield.

  We were in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. So, did we want to make a break for it in the middle of the city? On the one hand, the location gave us the advantage of camouflage. With so many people, cars, and buildings, it’d be easy to disappear. But on the other hand, there was bound to be collateral damage.

  The idea of innocent people being caught in the crossfire when we made our escape sent a sick feeling to my stomach, and I decided to wait until we were clear of the city. It was a guess, but I didn’t think Simon was transporting us to somewhere within LA, which meant we could wait until we were on less populated roads before using my stolen gun.

  However we did it, this van was going to crash. So I’d try and wait until it was less likely to crash into people. Of course, with no magic I had no healing so if I could avoid killing myself in the process, that’d be a bonus.

  “So,” I started, looking around at the black-clad guards. Not a single inch of flesh showed, from their blacked-out helmet visors to their leather-gloved fingers. “You guys do this kind of thing often? Kidnap people from their hotel rooms?”

  No response came, but I hadn’t exactly expected one. I was just killing t
ime, working through nerves, and deflecting attention. When I was talking, their concentration would split, hopefully away from the weapon half under my ass, and half under my leg.

  “You know Simon is dead, right?” I continued. Maybe I could shock them? “Like, I mean he’s some sort of crazy zombie-type creature now. So what does that make all of you? Are you zombies too? Does whoever ordered this kidnapping have an army of zombies?” I leaned over and gave a dramatic sniff to the guard beside me. To my amusement, he shifted a little away from me on instinct. “Nope, you don’t smell dead.”

  Wesley met my eyes and rolled his. He clearly didn’t understand what I was doing, other than being snarky. That was okay though; I knew he had the necessary skills to help without instruction when the time came.

  “Is it a money thing? ’Cause if it is, I can totally pay you guys to let us go,” I offered, looking carefully from one guard to the next and then flicking my gaze out the front window. It was worth a try, right? Lord knows if Jonathan had cut off my bank accounts, Vali and River had enough cash to fund a small army or more.

  Again, no response. Fuckers.

  “You know we aren’t going to make this easy on you all, right?” I shrugged, sitting back and crossing my legs. “I’d just hate to see you all killed if it was only a money thing. I can happily double whatever Simon—or Simon’s boss—is paying you.”

  Nothing. That was a shame. It was a little concerning how desensitized I was becoming to casual murder. Not that I considered any deaths that might occur here to be murder. This was them or me, and I was in no way soft-hearted enough to choose them over me.

  But still. It wasn’t that long ago I’d killed my first person and gone into shock over it. That had been back at Blood Moon labs... the very first mission I’d done with my dianoch. Which reminded me, that was another loose thread that needed investigating. How had Blood Moon captured Bridget in the first place? It was a question for another day.

  Leaning forward to scratch my leg, I peered out the front window to see where we were at. Not being all too familiar with Los Angeles, I really had no idea where we were, but we’d just turned onto a freeway of some sort. LA was made up of a lot of freeways. Hopefully it wouldn’t be long until we were away from the city.

  I must have looked for too long because the guard beside me shot out a gloved hand and slammed me back into my seat. Gritting my teeth, I held back a bitchy remark. They needed to think I was docile. Non-threatening. Clearly they’d considered Wesley the bigger threat between us—hence why he was gagged but I wasn’t. Unless they just weren’t taking any chances with his magic seeing as literally no one seemed to know what he was.

  Wes gave me a small headshake and flicked his eyes to the window to indicate he could see from where he sat. Hopefully we were in tune enough that he knew why I was waiting.

  Keeping my attention on my bound guardian, I shifted my weight to move the gun closer to my hands.

  “Are you sure no one can be tempted by money?” I asked casually, once again taking the guards’ concentration away from what my tiny movements were doing. “It would be such a shame to have to kill you all if it’s just a matter of commerce. I mean, I get it. Everyone has to pay the bills somehow, right? All I’m saying”—by now I’d wiggled the gun under my crotch, and it was just being hidden by my black sweatpants and the fact that my thighs were tight together—“is that I can make you all rich men—er, people”—because how the hell did I know if they were men, women, or... other? My life had had a whole hell of a lot of other recently—“if you just let us out on the side of the road.”

  Without warning, one of the guards beside me snapped out a gloved fist and punched me clean across the face. My head snapped to the side, and I had to fight to keep my balance and not expose the stolen gun underneath me.

  “You talk too much,” the man—definitely a man, this one—snarled from behind his anonymous helmet. That did it. Fuck them; no more Miss Nice Guy. Girl. Whatever.

  Rolling my jaw, I met Wesley’s wide eyes, and he gave me a small nod. Combined with a flick of his gaze to the front window, I had to trust that we’d reached a location that would be suitable to make our escape. Or... try to anyway.

  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  Blocking out the pain in my face, I shifted in my seat once more, this time bringing my hands up and grabbing the gun from between my legs. In rapid succession, I fired one shot at the chain holding my cuffs within a foot or so of the floor, one at Wesley’s chain, then fired off another shot at the still-armed guard beside Wesley before he could reach for his gun. With the two guards opposite me disabled, I then turned the gun on Captain Punchy and placed the barrel against his helmet visor.

  Wesley had my back, throwing a vicious elbow into the face of the man I’d taken my gun from, then launching himself across the van at my other guard.

  “What the fuck?” One of the guards from the front bellowed, turning in his seat. The driver didn’t stop or even slow down, though, which was a shame. It was going to hurt when this van crashed.

  Wesley had looped his cuffs over the guard’s neck and was choking him while my friend, Happy Fists, considered how serious I was. He clearly made the wrong decision, though, as he ignored the gun to his head and reached for his own weapon.

  The sound of my fourth gunshot cracked through the small space like a car backfiring, and blood splattered all over the white walls as the now lifeless guard crumpled to the floor.

  “Stop the van,” I ordered the driver, training my gun on the back of his head.

  Again, this one made a bad choice and ignored me. Instead, his buddy in the passenger seat fired back at me, missing by inches and hitting the side of the van instead.

  “Shoot him,” Wesley panted, having yanked his gag off and procured his own gun from the unconscious guard at his feet. He was right, but I hesitated just a second.

  That second was just long enough for the unarmed guard, the one Wesley had elbowed in the face, to launch himself at me and tackle me to the floor of the van on top of two bleeding bodies.

  Another series of shots rang out, this time between Wesley and the guard in the front, but I couldn’t check to see if my guardian was okay—not while I was being smothered by two hundred pounds of anonymous guard who was trying to wrest control of my gun.

  The van seemed to speed up before hitting something with a massively jarring impact and hurtling down a slope.

  None of us were belted in, and we found ourselves bounced around like salad in the back of the van as it hit bump after bump for what felt like days before it finally came to jerking stop.

  Somehow, miraculously, I didn’t seem to have broken anything in the crash. Perhaps it had been all the cushioning of dead guards that saved me? Whatever the reason, I wasn’t sticking around to question it.

  “Wes,” I called out. “You okay?”

  For a heart-stopping second, there was no reply. Then came the low moan from somewhere under a tangle of black-clad limbs.

  Not one to be caught unawares, I scrambled to find a gun and had just grabbed one when Wesley popped out of the mess. A deep sigh of relief sagged my shoulders when I saw it was him and not one of these other assholes.

  “Are you okay?” I asked again, scrambling closer to him to help move the dead weight that had pinned him down.

  “I’m alive,” he groaned. “That’s good enough.”

  “Quick,” I encouraged. “Let’s get out of here in case one of those two made it.” I nodded at the two guards in the front of the crumpled van.

  “They wouldn’t have,” Wesley informed me, crawling free and joining me at the doors. “I think I shot them both. But we should go before anyone comes to help.”

  Nodding, I tried the door and was pleased to find it opened easily. I guessed they didn’t really expect their prisoners to get this far. It got stuck about six inches open, so I kicked it a couple of times before it swung fully open.

  “Fuck, that explains all the r
olling,” I muttered, looking up the rocky incline to where our van had crashed through the guard rail. “We probably should have waited for a flatter area.” Giving Wes a small smile so he’d know I was teasing, I clambered out of the wreckage and got out of the way.

  “Yeah, well,” he huffed, climbing out himself but favoring his left leg. “I couldn’t see this side. The other side looked like a nice place to crash, though.”

  I snorted a laugh, and he grabbed me by the cuffed hand.

  “That was scary as shit, sweetheart,” he murmured, then kissed me fast and hard. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

  Together, we helped one another climb the rocky incline back to the road, praying we wouldn’t find Simon waiting for us at the top. That’d be some seriously shitty luck. Their car had left before our van though, so I’d banked on the fact that they wouldn’t notice we were gone until it was too late.

  “Now we just need to work out how the hell to get these cuffs off,” I called back to Wes as I dragged myself up and over the lip of the last huge boulder, “I seriously doubt my lock-picking skills are going to come in handy this time.”

  “Agreed,” he puffed, joining me and collapsing on the ground to catch his breath. After the impressive display he’d put on in the van, I’d almost forgot he wasn’t really used to active duty.

  Thankfully, the road was clear. No one had seen us crash and stuck around to help, but most importantly, no Simon. Yet.

 
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