The crows murder, p.6
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       The Crow’s Murder, p.6
 

         Part #5 of Kit Davenport series by Tate James
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  It was a strange sensation, carrying both Tyson and Sam with me. But no more strange than feeling the bonds with my guardians when I allowed those walls down. I just hoped Sam wasn’t going to call me a moron for this entire trip.

  “If you stopped doing moronic things, like getting kidnapped or taking jewelry from strangers, I wouldn’t need to.” His snarky voice sounded inside my head, and I groaned. No wonder Caleb had been a bit less cheery lately. I could only imagine how shitty I was going to be with Sam’s sassiness in my head twenty-four seven.

  I dressed quickly, then dragged my suitcase back to the sitting area where the guys were all deep in discussion.

  “Ready,” I announced with a false smile. Wesley needed this trip, needed to get a handle on his magic and hopefully work out exactly what he was. I couldn’t let my own fears interrupt that, but I also couldn’t let him go without me. Something told me that I had to take this trip with him, and I was really trying to trust my instincts a little more.

  6

  COLE

  My mind still reeled as the fight commentator called out my name. I made my way out of the makeshift dressing room. The events of the day had my head in a spin, and I knew I needed to shake it off to focus on this fight.

  But what the fuck? Bridget had somehow convinced Vixen to put on a magical bracelet, and none of us even knew? It couldn’t have been for any good reason either, or else why cloak it and erase the memories?

  No, I had a pretty strong feeling it had something to do with Vixen’s powers being iced. Hopefully Caleb could track that slippery bitch down and work out what the fuck we did next because if I got my hands on her...

  “You ready, brother?” Vali asked quietly, clapping me on the shoulder as he walked with me through the noisy crowd to reach the octagon.

  I gave him a snarl, and he smirked back at me. He knew I was telling him not to fucking call me “brother;” we weren’t there yet. Not by a long shot.

  “Just remember,” Vali continued, brushing off my unspoken warning. “We’re here to gain their trust, not to kill them all.”

  “I remember,” I mutter under my breath. “I’m not a fucking moron. But it also needs to be believable.”

  Vali gusted out a long breath, but we’d almost reached the octagon and he had no time to give me a lecture on acceptable levels of bodily harm. Besides, he’d already gone over it about a million times on our way to this fight, so it just wasn’t necessary to hear it again.

  “Fine,” he clapped me on the shoulder. “Just keep them alive long enough to talk later, all right?”

  I gave him a short head bob of acknowledgement, then ducked through the low cage door and into the fight ring. Vali disappeared back into the crowd, but I knew he’d be watching closely while maintaining his image.

  It had been his money and connections that had gotten us an introduction to this club, and an easy matter of showing off an eye shift to gain admission into this secret circle. The fighting event was what we’d begun tracking in Mexico—an underground shifter fight club, and by the looks of the crowd... they weren’t too concerned with keeping their existence quiet anymore.

  My opponent was already in the ring, whooping and hollering to whip the crowd up into a frenzy. I didn’t get it. Who gave a shit what the crowd thought, so long as you won? Seemed like a big waste of energy as far as I was concerned.

  Whatever. I shrugged to myself. Just makes it easier for me to kick this poser’s ass.

  Prowling a little closer to the excited fool, I took a sniff of his odor to get a handle on what I was up against. Not that it mattered, seeing as I could probably beat him without my dragon strength, but he had that wet cat kind of smell about him which indicated some form of feline. It was a smell I’d grown well accustomed to, having Tyson around so much.

  My lip curled, and I let out a rumbling snarl at the kitty shifter who was to be my opponent. Dragons weren’t overly fond of cats in general, or so I’d found. Like chalk and cheese. The only reason Vali and I tolerated Tyson was because Vixen liked him so much. Otherwise... Bengal tiger shish kebabs would have been on the menu weeks ago.

  “What the fuck are you?” the bouncy feline demanded with all the arrogance I couldn’t wait to knock clean out of him. He took a sniff in my direction and only looked more confused. Guess he’d never encountered a dragon before.

  “A bunny rabbit,” I replied with a snicker. “You scared now, pussycat?”

  The guy narrowed his eyes at me in confusion, and I just shrugged. Fuck him, I won’t even need to shift for this crap, so no sense in showing my cards, right?

  The commentator started rattling off shit that I wasn’t listening to. Instead I eyed up the little punk I was brought here to fight. He was all movement, bouncing up and down on his toes to the point he was starting to look a little twitchy.

  I heard the bell chime, and that was all the encouragement I needed to begin the fight. Vali had asked me to make it at least seem like an entertaining match, so I really had to pull my first punch in order to not knock this kid’s head off with that first hit.

  Still, it sent him flying, and his back smashed into the cage wall while the crowd went mental. Bloodthirsty motherfuckers, they made me sick. Every last one of them. How anyone could enjoy watching two people beat the shit out of one another, I would never understand.

  Regardless of having fought professionally for several years, I’d never done it for love of the sport. It was simply all I had known then.

  My opponent recovered quickly and shifted forms as he pushed off the cage and flew at me with claws extended. Judging by the flash of sandy-colored fur, I’d say he was a cougar or some sort of mountain cat. Whatever he was, he took my fist across the snout all the same.

  Drool flew in an arc across the space as the big cat’s head snapped to the side, and I snarled at the little nick his tooth had opened across my knuckles. Rookie error on my part; I should have scaled my fists before hitting a shifter cat in the mouth, but I’ll blame that on the lack of a How to Dragon handbook.

  I shot a quick glance into the crowd and found Vali. He gave me a hand signal that clearly told me to keep it going for a little longer, to which I groaned. This was straight up boring. I’d had more challenging fights from humans, for fuck’s sake.

  The cat leapt back at me, and I let him connect, dropping me to the ground. Then I flipped him over and grabbed him in a choke hold. Big animals really weren’t that different from humans, so long as you kept watch for claws and teeth.

  He thrashed in my grip, but I tightened my arm across his throat. Soon his huge form sagged into dead weight on top of me as he passed out. Oops.

  I heaved him off me and stood up casually as the stunned commentator announced me the winner of the fight. The crowd was still going wild, but I barely stayed long enough to give them a quick nod before exiting the ring and making my way back to the dressing rooms where a furious looking Vali was waiting for me.

  “What?” I demanded, seeing his scowl.

  “This,” he said, repeating the hand gesture he’d given me, “means keep going. Not end it, you fucking idiot.”

  “I know,” I snapped, dragging off my tank top and pulling on a clean black T-shirt.

  Vali made an exasperated noise. “If you know, then why did you choke the cat out all of two seconds later?”

  “Because you said not to kill anyone,” I reminded him. “Besides, it was boring as shit and probably a waste of our time. We should just snatch up whoever is in charge and beat the info out of him... or her.” I wasn’t one to discriminate. Dupree had proven all too well that women could be just as evil and despicable as men.

  “And if this method doesn’t work soon, we will do that. But I’m interested to see if we can get further by infiltrating their operation first.” Vali rubbed a tired hand over his face. “At least there can’t be any doubts about you being a shifter after how easily you took a cougar down.”

  “Ah,” I nodded. “I guessed cougar.
Cats all look alike, don’t they?”

  My older brother snickered. “Don’t let Tyson hear you say that; he’s not all cuddles and playfulness.”

  I cracked a grin, agreeing. “He is Austin’s familiar after all. Moody bastard. Have to admit, though, since Austin and Vixen worked their shit out, he’s been a hell of a lot easier to be around.”

  “Wesley told me he was pretty bad when you all first met Kit?” Vali quirked an eyebrow at me. “Something about his ex?”

  “Yep,” I grunted. “Nasty piece of work that girl is. I still don’t know what the fuck she was doing at the gala—whether she was involved with Gray or if that was just a weird coincidence.”

  “The twins have enough to worry about,” Vali pondered aloud while pacing the changing room. I had changed back into black jeans and was doing up my boots. “Maybe we can look into it if this fight club shit doesn’t take too long.”

  “Agreed,” I said, standing up and buckling my heavy belt. “And if it turns out she was involved with Vixen being tortured...” I trailed off with a growl.

  “We’ll rip her fucking head off,” Vali finished for me. “Let’s get back out there and see who wants to tell us anything interesting.”

  Smiling at the thought of ripping Peyton’s head off, I found myself in a considerably better mood as I followed my brother. I liked to feel like I was helping, even if it was just going to make Austin’s life easier to know that bitch had been dealt with.

  “Nice game face, bro,” Vali snickered as he pushed the door open and waited for me to precede him. This time I let the name slide. I just wanted to get the info we came here for, which was where the next level of this insane shifter club was being held—then get the fuck out. Vixen would be landing in Ireland soon, and I was anxious to know she was okay.

  7

  KIT

  By the time our plane touched down in Dublin, I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept a single moment the whole flight, unable to shut my brain off as theories about the purpose the bracelet served and why my mother had given it to me marched through my head. It also didn’t help that Sam made crude jokes inside my head at every given opportunity.

  “Any word from the guys?” I asked Wesley, rubbing at my tired eyes while we waited for our luggage. We’d flown because the twins had never tried teleporting anyone quite so far before and didn’t want to lose us into space or something—a fair enough concern.

  “Nothing yet.” He shook his head and shifted his shoulder strap higher. His bag was loaded with his laptop, headphones, chargers, and more. It weighed an absolute ton. “I’m sure they’ll be in touch as soon as they know something, though.”

  Caleb and Austin were chasing down Bridget in the hopes of squeezing some answers out of her, while Cole, Vali, and River were focusing on both Jonathan and the underground movement to publicize supernaturals.

  As for Wes and I, we just needed to get our asses down to Glenganen. It was a five hour drive from Dublin and we were expected there in exactly five hours, so we needed to get a move on. This guy, who still hadn’t given us a name, didn’t sound like the sort of man who enjoyed being kept waiting.

  We retrieved our bags and made our way through customs to the car rental desks. We were both travelling on fake passports, just in case Omega was watching. They had been made by Vali’s contacts, and I really could not have picked them out as anything less than real, save for the different names.

  “Are you nervous?” I asked Wes while we stood in line at the Hertz counter. I snaked my hand into his free one, linking our fingers together and earning a small, tired smile from him.

  He, too, hadn’t slept on the flight, but I suspected that had more to do with him not wanting to deal with his dreamtime visitor than anything else.

  “Yeah, a bit,” he admitted with a shy smile. “Hopefully this guy can actually help us, though, and doesn’t turn out to be a massive waste of time.”

  “If he does, we will just find someone else,” I reassured him, squeezing his fingers and pressing a kiss to his shoulder. “Now, are you sure you’re okay to drive?”

  He gave me an appreciative smile. “I’ll be fine. But we can take turns if I get tired, right?”

  “You bet,” I confirmed, grinning at his response. I loved that Wesley treated me as an equal, someone totally capable of driving a car despite my vagina.

  Vali had made our reservations, so within a few minutes we were hauling our luggage out to a midnight-blue Range Rover.

  Once we were inside with the heat blasting—because it was still cold despite being springtime—I plugged the address into the inbuilt GPS system, then sat back with a heavy sigh.

  “You okay?” Wes asked me, resting his hand on the gear shift but not making any moves to start the car. “That frown has me worried, sweetheart.”

  “Yeah.” I gave him a weak smile. “Just exhausted. Worried about this.” I held up my wrist encircled by the tight gold band. “Worried about what this trip is going to tell us... Did that creeper fucking with your dreams, Gaelin, give you anything useful in your nightly meetings?”

  Wes shook his head. “Nothing. But I haven’t told him I was coming here, either. I get the feeling he’s on some sort of revenge-fueled power trip, and I’m collateral damage. Who knows what he’d do if I told him someone else might be able to help?”

  “Makes sense.” I nodded. “I’m pissed that this douche is being such a...” I trailed off with a frustrated hand wave.

  “Such a douche?” Wesley laughed. “Yeah, you and me both.” He leaned over, cupping my face gently with a cold hand and kissing me. “Let’s get on the road, and you can psychoanalyze everything he’s told me, again.”

  “You say that like I’ve already done it a million times,” I grumbled as he followed the signs to get out of the airport parking lot and onto the freeway.

  Wesley coughed a laugh. “Oh, you haven’t?”

  “Whatever.” I grinned, whacking him lightly with the back of my hand as I got comfy in my seat. “Okay so, the first time he appeared in your dream he made a comment about you being the ‘first of your kind in hundreds of years’ or something like that, right?”

  “Right.” Wes nodded, not taking his eyes off the road. He was such a safe driver.

  “And that he was assigned to teach you how to control your powers?” I was repeating information he’s already given me, but wanted to double-check.

  “Yup,” he confirmed.

  I pursed my lips while I thought about this from a different angle. Wes was right that I’d already gone over this with him a hundred times. But I was convinced there must be more clues hiding somewhere.

  “So obviously Gaelin isn’t in charge,” I murmured, and Wesley nodded.

  “He sounds pissed as hell at being given the task of teaching me and is deliberately fucking around out of stubbornness.” He glanced over at me as we waited at a traffic light. “So hopefully this guy here can teach me how to block him out or something.”

  “Or,” I pondered aloud, “teach you how to bypass Gaelin.”

  “How do you mean?” He frowned.

  “Well, if Gaelin was assigned to you, then there is someone else pulling the strings. I figure if you can get past Gaelin to whoever is actually in charge, then maybe you’ll have more luck?” I was feeling a bit proud of my theory, but the small smile fading the frown from Wesley’s face said he’d already thought of this and was humoring me. Dammit.

  “I know, sweetheart,” he chuckled. “I just haven’t figured out how.”

  “Okay, well”—I yawned heavily—“then in that case—”

  “Kit,” he interrupted me. “Take a nap. You’re exhausted, and we still have hours of driving ahead of us.”

  “Yes, but,” I protested in a sleepy voice, “we still need to come up with a plan!”

  Wesley chuckled. “You might come up with one in your sleep, you never know. Besides, I need you fresh in case we need to switch driving.”

  Thwarted by logic once a
gain. He had a point; if we were going to make it in time, then I might need to drive so Wes could sleep—which wouldn’t be easy if I was dead on my feet.

  “Fine,” I muttered, snuggling into my seat and using my coat as a pillow. “But wake me up as soon as you need to rest, okay?”

  “You got it, sweetheart,” he assured me, and I drifted off to the sound of the rumbling engine.

  When I woke again, we were pulling up outside a little rustic farmhouse in the middle of damn nowhere, judging by what I could see out the windows.

  “Where are we?” I asked Wesley, rubbing my eyes.

  “We’re here,” he replied, blinking at me sleepily. He looked like shit, his blond hair all mussed up and big, dark circles under his eyes. “I didn’t want to wake you up; you looked so peaceful for once.”

  I gave him a stern look. “Thank you, but you should have woken me up hours ago so you could sleep. But you’re right, no nightmares this time. Maybe the crisp, Irish air is clearing them out?”

  “Well in that case, I vote we all move here.” Wesley grinned, but I could tell he was only half-joking. “Come on, let’s go see if this guy is for real or not.”

  Unclipping my safety belt, I opened my door and slid down to the ground where I stretched the kinks out of my back. Wesley came around the car and took my hand in his before approaching the little cottage.

  He hesitated only a second before knocking on the wooden door, but his hand was clenched tightly around mine, betraying how nervous he was. I squeezed his hand back, trying to convey my support, but jumped when the door swung open with a bang.

  The man squinting at us on the other side of the threshold was elderly, and that was my first let down. One thing I had learned so far in dealing with supernatural creatures—they all aged very slowly, if at all. So either this guy was ancient... or he was human.

 
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