Home > Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2)(6)

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2)(6)
Author: Ilona Andrews

“Kate, hello.” Derek said mildly. “Myong? What are you doing here?”

Myong jumped off her chair and cringed. Her shoulders hunched, as though she were expecting a punch, her head drooped, and her knees bent. She looked down on the floor. Had she been in her animal form, I’m pretty sure she would have peed herself.

Alrighty then, I guess we knew who stood higher in the Pack’s chain of command.

“You don’t have to answer him,” I said. “Information disclosed to a representative of the Order is confidential unless subpoenaed by a court of law.”

She just stood there, watching the floor. It was too much for me.

“You may go,” I said.

She fled the office. A second later the door leading to the landing clicked closed behind her. I bet she was running down the stairs to the outside. Hopefully, she wouldn’t break her legs in those stilettos. Her bones might take a whole two weeks to heal.

“May I come in?” Derek asked.

I pointed to one of the two client chairs. “Why is Myong scared of you?”

He sat and shrugged. “I can only guess.”

“Do.”

“I work for Curran directly now. She’s probably afraid I’ll snitch, because I think I know why she was here.”

“Will you?”

He shrugged again. “It’s her own affair. Unless she starts plotting some harm to the Pack, I’m not interested. Coming here wasn’t her idea anyway. She’s very passive.”

“Oh?”

He nodded. “That asshole made her do it. I always said he was a slimebag.”

“Your opinion is duly noted.” Thank you, boy wonder, for the editorial on my “almost could have been” boyfriend. What would I do without the moral compass of a teenage werewolf?

“Why didn’t he come himself? Shouldn’t he be here saying, ‘Hey, I know it didn’t work out between us, but I need your help?’ His ego’s so big, he sent his fiancée to beg his former girlfriend to arrange his wedding. How weak is that?”

Pretty weak. “Not another word.”

Derek sat up a little straighter. Yellow rolled across his eyes and vanished. That wasn’t normal.

I pulled Slayer from its sheath and ran my finger along its length. The opaque, almost white metal of the saber nipped at me with faint magic teeth. Definitely a flare. Shapeshifters had trouble controlling their emotions during the flare. Great, just great. Perhaps Curran could be emotionally detached about this wedding problem? Ha! Who was I kidding?

“You look good,” I told Derek.

“Thanks.”

“You never come to visit me, though. Are you in trouble?”

“No. Is the room secure?”

“You’re in a Chapter house of the Order. You can’t get more secure.”

He reached behind him and pushed the door closed. “I’ve come to extend a petition from the Pack.”

I don’t want to work with Curran, I don’t want to work with Curran, I don’t want to work with Curran. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that right. I thought you said the Pack wanted my help?”

“Yes.” Little tiny sparks danced in his eyes. “We were screwed and he didn’t even kiss us first.”

“How tacky of him. And this ‘he’ would be?”

“We aren’t sure,” Derek said carefully. “But you have his bolt on your desk.”

I leaned forward. “Do tell.”

“Let’s just say that this morning one of our teams was jumped by a man using this specific type of bolt. He has stolen Pack property and we want it back.”

“Aha. Why me?” The last time I checked, the Pack preferred to take care of their own problems. Hell, they didn’t even admit to having problems most of the time.

“Because you have contacts we don’t.” Derek permitted himself a small smile. “And because if we start turning the city inside out looking for this person, certain parties will wonder why and the rather embarrassing facts of the theft might come to light. We don’t want to air our dirty laundry in public. The Order always helped us without undue publicity.”

Great. The battle was lost. Greg was the only person within the Order who had earned the Pack’s trust. Now since he was dead and I had earned Friend of the Pack status, that trust naturally extended to me. The Order wanted to keep an eye on the Pack, I knew that much. Something told me the knights would view this petition as a wonderful opportunity to do just that.

“What did the crossbowman take?”

Derek hesitated.

“Derek, I’m not going to hunt I don’t know whom to retrieve I don’t know what. What did he take?”

“He jumped a survey team and took the maps.”

I almost whistled, except that my Russian father would have risen from his grave and smacked me for whistling indoors. The Pack maps, legendary in quality, precise, up-to-date, with all the new neighborhoods and power zones clearly marked, every alley explored, every place of interest indicated. I knew at least a half a dozen people who’d give their left nut for a chance to photocopy the bloody things.

“He must have balls,” I said.

“He did look male.”

“Description?”

“Very fast.”

“That’s it? That’s all you got?”

“Very good shot.”

I sighed. “Who did he shoot?”

“Jim.”

Oh shit. “Is he okay?”

“He was shot four times in less than two seconds. He isn’t very happy about it. A bit tender in places. But generally he’ll be okay.”

My brain put the pieces together. “After our mark went down, Jim got a call from the survey team. The crossbowman tailed Jim, jumped him, incapacitated the survey team, and stole the maps.”

Derek’s face radiated all the joy of a man biting into a lime.

One hell of a trick, tailing my former partner. “Just out of curiosity, how many people are in a survey team?”

“Four.”

Five with Jim. “And you let him get away?”

“He just disappeared.”

“I guess the shapeshifters’ sense of smell isn’t what it used to be.”

“No, Kate, you don’t understand. He vanished. He was there one moment and then he was gone.”

I couldn’t resist. “Like a ninja. In a puff of smoke.”

“Yes.”

“So you want me to track down a supernaturally fast sniper who can disappear into thin air, retrieve your maps, and do it so nobody finds out what I’m doing or why?”

“Exactly.”

I sighed. “I’ll get the paperwork.”

 

 

* * *

 

 

CHAPTER 3

WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT, GO back to the beginning. I had no name, no description, and no place to start looking for the mysterious sniper, so I figured the garage where Jeremy almost toasted us was my best bet. Since the magic was determined to fluctuate and I didn’t fancy being stranded, I decided to take a horse from the Order’s stables, located a block away.

 

Turned out I wasn’t the only person who had noticed the magic craziness. The stables were nearly empty, and all my regular choices were out. I entered on foot and left atop a red molly. Her name was Ninny, she was fifteen hands tall, and as she braved the downtown traffic with nary a twitch, I began to see the wisdom of mule breeding.

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