The crows murder, p.9
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       The Crow’s Murder, p.9
 

         Part #5 of Kit Davenport series by Tate James
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  “No,” I snapped. “Can you tell me if you found Wesley?”

  “And Wesley is...” He poised his pencil over the pad and raised a brow at me.

  “My friend,” I whispered, then corrected myself. “My boyfriend. Did you find him?”

  The two policemen exchanged a look, then the first one, O’Neil, sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “Look, miss... there was another body found in the wreckage, aside from Mr. Connolley, but the damage was too extensive to be able to identify who it was. Not without dental records. And here’s the thing, it would appear both you and your boyfriend were travelling under false IDs. Can you tell us anything about that?”

  I didn’t reply. I couldn’t reply. He continued speaking, but his words were drowned out in a high-pitched buzzing in my ears. All I could focus on was what he’d just said. They’d found a body. Not a victim or a survivor. A body.

  I’d faced a lot of shit in my life. Gray never broke me. Jonathon’s betrayal hadn’t. My bitch of a mother—just another day in my life. But Wesley?

  No.

  I wouldn’t accept it.

  Body.

  Another body was found in the wreckage.

  Wesley... was dead.

  I broke.

  10

  VALI

  Austin had given us the go-ahead to track that bitch Peyton down and see what involvement she’d had in Gray’s abduction and torture of Kit in Toronto. He’d said it was something he was meaning to do, but Mage business had to come first—which he was absolutely right about. I sure as shit didn’t envy the responsibility that had been dumped on the twins’ shoulders.

  “There she is,” my brother muttered, nodding through the windshield of our car to the petite, redheaded woman leaving the house we’d been watching. “Alone, too.”

  “Good,” I murmured. “Let’s tail her until we get to a quieter area.”

  “On it,” Cole agreed, smoothly pulling out into traffic and tailing Peyton’s car with the professionalism of a trained espionage agent. Sometimes I envied him that he’d gotten out from our father’s toxic presence and made the best use of his killer side.

  He’d made a good life for himself with Omega and then with Kit and the other guys. Every damn day I was thankful that some incredible twist of fate, a bullet to the back, had tied my fortunes to theirs.

  “You’re pretty good at this shit,” I commented as he kept a safe, three-car distance between us and Peyton’s Volvo but never lost sight of her.

  “No shit,” he snorted, giving me a glance out of the corner of his eye. “Hey, I was thinking...”

  “Uh-oh,” I joked, and he whacked me on the arm. Like we were kids. That small moment made my gut clench and my mouth tighten. It was just another reminder of everything we’d lost out on because of that psychopath that sired us both.

  “I was thinking,” Cole repeated with a growl, “that there might be other dragons still in Romania.”

  This wasn’t what I’d expected him to say, and I was momentarily stunned. I mean, sure, I’d wondered the same thing... but never really thought about it past that.

  “Maybe,” I offered. “Would you want to find them?”

  Cole shrugged. “Wouldn’t you?”

  I pondered on whether I would. As much as I had considered the idea that there may be more dragons, I sort of liked the idea that it was just us. Was that a bit fucked up of me? That I liked being the only other one who understood what my brother was going through? That understood him?

  “I guess,” I murmured because what the fuck else was I meant to say?

  Cole gave me a small, half smile. “I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking though, and I’m sure as shit not asking the old man.”

  I coughed a laugh. “Ah, yeah. No. Maybe when all this shit is over we could take a trip to the home country. Show Kit where our family comes from.”

  Cole gave me another glance, this time looking surprised. “Yeah,” he said softly. “I’d like that. It’s a fuckload better plan than going through the old fucker anyway.”

  I snickered with him, but it reminded me that I had yet to tell him what I’d been up to on my many disappearances from the group lately. Yes, I’d spent a lot of that time getting Lucy and Elena set up legally as the owners of my corporation. But I’d also worked on a little personal project. As of last week, dear old Dad had been committed to a maximum security psychological hospital. For life. I’d given myself and Cole power of attorney to discharge, but I didn’t see that happening any time soon.

  It sounded vindictive, but it was just practical. He was still a fucking dangerous man, and I straight up couldn’t risk him ever harming Kit. Because he would.

  If he ever found out both Cole and I were involved with the same girl, our father would have her murdered—or worse—just to punish us. Because he was fucked up like that.

  No, he was much better off under lock and key. I could have just killed him, like I had so many of his loyal men, so really I was becoming a nicer person for having met Kit.

  “Perfect,” Cole commented, his gaze locked on Peyton’s car. She’d turned off the main street and was heading toward an industrial area with considerably fewer bystanders to freak out and think we were assaulting some innocent woman.

  I mean, we would be assaulting her. But she was no innocent woman, that much we’d already ascertained.

  We waited until we were the only two cars around, then I hit the button on my little remote to blow out her tires thanks to the little explosive devices we had already planted. The two back ones exploded with a bang, sending her skidding to a halt halfway up the sidewalk while Cole and I cruised casually to a stop behind her.

  It was dark, which worked to our advantage. Fewer people out and likely to see us, and more for Peyton to fear.

  “Let’s do it,” Cole muttered, unbuckling his seat belt and pushing his door open. I followed him out of our car and approached Peyton’s disabled Volvo.

  I strode to her driver’s side, and my brother stood behind me, both watching my back and looking intimidating as fuck. Using my gloved knuckles, I rapped on her window and suppressed a smile when she jumped and screamed. She looked up at me with panic in her eyes, so I smiled as friendly as I could manage and indicated for her to roll down her window.

  She hesitated a moment, then wound the window down about an inch or two. Maybe she wasn’t as stupid as she looked.

  “Looks like you’re having some car trouble there, miss,” I commented and heard Cole scoff quietly behind me. “Perhaps my brother and I can offer you a lift home?”

  The pretty redhead glanced nervously at Cole, then gave me a tight, polite smile. “No, thank you. I’ll just call a tow.” She held up her phone, and I raised my brows at it. Of course, I knew full well that she wouldn’t have any signal thanks to the cell jammer on the dash of our car.

  “All right,” I replied, smiling. “Well, we might just wait until they arrive. It’s a dangerous area for a woman to find herself stranded, you know?”

  She gave me another tight nod and tapped at her phone to look up a tow truck contact number. Through the window I saw the recognizable “error” page showing her the lack of signal, and I bit my lip to stop the laugh threatening. This was way too easy; it almost made me miss the badasses of the mob scene.

  “Problem?” I inquired, and she held up her phone with a grimace.

  “No signal,” she admitted.

  “Yikes.” I pretended to sympathize, then pulled out my own phone. “Yeah, me too. Are you sure we can’t give you a ride somewhere? It’s not really a great idea for you to walk at this time of night.”

  She hesitated again, but really what other options did she have? Sit in her car all night? We already knew she was running late for an important meeting and would be eager to get there. Eager enough to risk a ride with two strangers? We were playing on the typical horror scenario of every B-grade slasher flick, but that was part of the point here. To scare the bitch.

&
nbsp; “I’m not a murderer or anything, I promise,” I assured her, lying through my teeth.

  That seemed to convince her, though, as she laughed nervously and grabbed her bag from the passenger seat, clicking open her door and stepping out from the protection of her vehicle.

  The second she was out, I let my friendly mask fall and pushed her car door shut behind her. I saw the moment she regretted her decision, fear flickering across her face as she glanced between Cole and myself nervously.

  “Silly girl,” I scolded her, wrapping my gloved hand around her upper arm tight enough to bruise. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you not to accept lifts from strangers, Peyton?”

  She sucked in a sharp breath and tried to jerk out of my grip. “How do you know my name?” she asked in what was really a bit of a cliched line. “What do you want from me?”

  “Does it really matter?” I squinted at her. “I think you’re smart enough to work out that you’re in big trouble right now, Peyton.”

  Stupid woman that she was, she tried to jerk out of my grip again, this time throwing her weight into it and getting... nowhere. Obviously. A human woman was no match against a dragon shifter.

  Rapidly changing tactics, she turned back to me with huge eyes and a tremble to her lip. “Please, don’t hurt me. I have a daughter; she can’t grow up without her mother!”

  This infuriated me more than I had been prepared for, and Cole must have seconded my opinion as a low dragon growl echoed through the darkness.

  “Funny you should say that,” I sneered, “considering you gave your precious daughter up for adoption the second your inheritance was threatened. Believe me, dear, that little girl will grow up just fine with her new mother. Giving her up was possibly the only good thing you’ve ever done with your evil existence.”

  This information hadn’t been hard for us to find. Turned out her lover—Bella’s real father—had caught her cheating and left her high and dry. After that, Peyton’s well-to-do parents had told her they would cut her out of their will unless she gave Bella up for adoption. Unsurprising, given everything we’d learned of Austin’s ex, she chose money over her own daughter.

  Thankfully, Bella had gone to an incredible family and was being raised the way she deserved. With love.

  “Truthfully, you did us a favor,” I continued, using my tight grip on her arm to march her over to our car. “It would have been much harder working out what to do with you if you were a good mom.”

  “So what are you going to do with me?” she demanded, dropping the damsel-in-distress act and glaring daggers at me. “I’m late for a meeting with some very dangerous men. They’ll be looking for me soon.”

  “Oh, we know you are. That’s part of what sealed your fate.” I gave her another smile, letting my teeth sharpen ever so slightly. Just enough to scare her.

  “You’ve been messing with things that are none of your business, Peyton,” Cole added, his voice soft and dark, carrying the promise of pain. “Working with a vigilante group to expose freaks to the world?” He tsk-tsked, clicking his tongue. “Bet you didn’t realize that those men you’re colluding with are the freaks?”

  “W-what?” Her eyes widened, and she darted a panicked look between Cole and myself. “That’s not possible. They said—”

  “We’re not really here to chitchat, Peyton dear,” I cut off her protests, rolling my eyes. “We’re here because of the part you played at the Toronto Gala. You remember the one? When you conveniently distracted your ex-lover and let a woman be abducted?” There was a flash of understanding in her fearful eyes, followed by dread. “Ah, I see you do remember. Excellent.”

  “What are you going to do to me?” she asked again, sounding considerably less sure of herself this time. Still, I had to admire her for not sobbing and carrying on.

  “In the interest of becoming more upstanding citizens, we aren’t going to kill you. We aren’t even going to torture you. We are going to stuff you in the trunk of our car and drive you down to the local police department where you will confess to planting the bomb at the Full Moon club last week.” I gave her a smile that said this was the most generous offer I was prepared to make.

  The look she gave me suggested she wasn’t pleased. “You must be joking,” she spat. “I’m not doing that. They’ll give me life in prison.”

  “That’s the point,” I informed her in a dry tone. The bomb at Full Moon had been intended to elicit a response from the shifters, there was no doubt about it. Luckily, they seemed to have found out about it in advance and mostly all evacuated the building. Only two were killed, rather than the two hundred that could have been.

  The little redhead glared daggers at me, her chin set stubbornly and my Romani senses warned me this wasn’t going to end well. For her, anyway.

  “Like hell,” she snarled, dropping an elbow hard into my gut. If I’d been human, it would have been enough to make me drop my grip on her arm, but as it was, I just tightened my grip and winced.

  She wasn’t trying to get free though; it was a distraction. I saw just a second too late that her other hand had dipped into her handbag and pulled out a pistol, pointing it at my chest.

  In almost comical slow motion, her finger began squeezing the trigger. .

  Before her gun could fire, both she and her weapon went up in a flare of blue fire, then disintegrated to the pavement in a pile of smoking ash.

  For a moment, I just stared down at the remains of Austin’s ex-girlfriend at my feet, then arched an eyebrow at my little brother. He looked back at me with an impassive expression on his face, like he hadn’t just incinerated a woman in the middle of the street.

  “Really?” I sighed, and he just shrugged.

  “She was going to shoot you,” he explained, and I rolled my eyes.

  “I’m a dragon shifter. It wouldn’t have killed me, idiot.”

  “Better safe than sorry,” Cole deadpanned, scuffing his shoe through what remained of Peyton. “At least now she’s been taken care of.”

  “True,” I muttered, heading back to our car. “Not like she didn’t deserve it for being mixed up with Gray anyway.”

  Cole snickered a dark sound as he slid back into the driver’s seat. “This is probably not what Vixen’s had in mind when she told us to spend bonding time together.”

  I grinned across at him. “I bet she wouldn’t object though.”

  “Too true,” he murmured, driving out of the warehouse area and leaving Peyton’s car with its blown-out tires. “Our girl is one vicious chick.”

  My heart constricted, and I said nothing. Words couldn’t do justice to how it felt hearing Cole say “our girl.” Instead I just leaned forward and turned on the radio. Appropriately, it was playing “Highway to Hell,” so I cranked it up loud. If there was ever a life anthem for two estranged brothers who could shift into dragons, were dating the same girl, and considered killing people to be bonding time… it had to be that.

  11

  RIVER

  Caleb and I landed in the middle of the street in Harrow, Alaska, without bothering to hide our arrival. It was a town full of werewolves, so not exactly somewhere we needed to hide magic… not that I had any. Yet.

  “You again?” a teenage boy commented as he stepped out of the grocery store wearing an apron and wiping his hands.

  “Have we met?” I asked him, narrowing my eyes and trying to place his face.

  The kid shook his head. “Not really. You guys saved my little sister, though, when those dickheads tried to take all the pups. What are you doing back here?”

  “We came to see Vic. Is he around?” I glanced down the street farther to where Vic’s house was located.

  The kid shrugged and shook his head again. “Nope, not that I know of. Haven’t seen him for a while anyway. Granny will want to know you’re here, though…”

  He looked almost regretful as he pulled his phone from the apron pocket and unlocked it to call Granny Winter, presumably.

  “All good, kid,”
Caleb replied with a smile. “Save yourself the call; we will head straight over and see her. She’s Vic’s mom anyway, isn’t she?”

  “Uh,” the boy stuttered, “she’s, uh…”

  “Don’t worry about it.” Caleb brushed his panic off. “We’ll go see her.”

  Turning back to me, Caleb gave a little nod toward the house where we’d been held captive last time we were in town. When Granny Winter—who was clearly the one in charge around here—had tried to kill Kit in a death match with a psychotic she-wolf.

  After knocking on the old wolf’s door, we were greeted by a mean-faced little punk who also seemed like he recognized us and wasn’t too fond of the memory. We weren’t in Harrow to start fights, though. We wanted information.

  “I thought we made it clear you lot weren’t welcome back here,” the old female Alpha snapped as she limped into the sitting room using her cane heavily.

  “You did,” I replied in a terse tone. Our last encounter had not endeared this old bitch to me in the least, but I would attempt to play nice for the sake of information. “We came to speak with Vic but understand he is no longer in town.”

  “No, thanks to you lot,” she spat, then propped her cane against a chair before lowering herself into it with an elderly groan. “So what do you want with my boy, hmm? Maybe I can answer your questions and save him the pain of dealing with you.”

  “Hopefully,” Caleb muttered, and I tapped his knee to shut him up.

  Turning back to Granny Winter, I have her a tight smile. “We came to ask him more about his past with Bridget. Nothing specific, as such, just anything he knows about her that might be useful.”

  “Why the sudden interest in that whore?” the old woman sneered. “Don’t tell me her little look-alike wants to get to know Mommy better?”

  “Hardly,” I replied, before taking a deep breath to keep from throttling the old woman. “We just need to know a little more about her. Maybe you can tell us why you dislike her so much. Something big must have happened. After all, wasn’t your son in love with her at some point?”

 
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