Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 2 - Page 49


He clenched his fists and turned away, but not before I saw something else on his face, something hungry. "No. You underestimate its power, Mercedes. Most of us have no more resistance to vampiric powers than any human-nor are there many souls pure enough to resist the demon. You don't want it controlling one of us." He swung back to me, and he looked just as he always had, that instant of something more was gone as if it had never been.

I took a step back anyway because my instincts were telling me that I wasn't the biggest predator here.

His voice was mellow and easy as he told me, "But just in case someone was overly tempted to take this sorcerer on, the Gray Lords have declared this vampire business, and we are to stay out of it. The Gray Lords do consider humans to be effluvia, Mercy. Very dangerous effluvia. They are not inclined to worry overmuch about a few human deaths."

Looking into his eyes, I knew three things. The first was that Uncle Mike was one of the few who would have gone after the sorcerer. The second was that he both hated and feared the Gray Lords. The third was that he didn't consider humans to be effluvia at all.

I wasn't certain which one surprised me the most.

"So," I said, "does this mean you'll let me come in and find Marsilia myself?"

He nodded his head slowly. "I'll not stand in the way of it." He held out his arm in an old-fashioned gesture. I put my fingers lightly on it and let him lead me back toward the bar.

Just before we reached the entrance, though, he paused. "Don't take the wolves with you when you go after the sorcerer."

"Why not?"

"That Fergus, he has served me for thrice times a score of years. In that time he ne'er once raised a violent hand to a customer of mine. That demon the sorcerer bears carries violence like a stream carries little fishies. His very presence takes away all self-control and encourages ragin and fightin . The effect of a demon on a werewolf is like vodka on a fire."

It sounded like Tony's recitation of the growing unrest the police were fighting. Bran had mentioned something like that, too, but he hadn't made it sound as dire. Come to think of it, though Adam's outburst tonight might easily be explained by a combination of hot temper and worry, Samuel had been more volatile than usual lately.

"Why didn't you tell Adam that Warren and Ben were in danger?" I asked.

"I didn't know until that poor lad of his was laid on my doorstep today that Adam had sent his boyos out a hunting-though I should have."

Had Bran known the danger when Adam sent Warren and Ben with Stefan? I thought about it. Probably. But Bran had never been one to tell his people what their limits were. Likely he'd been right, too. Worry and fear from knowing

I wouldn't tell them either, I decided. Which meant that I couldn't tell them that I was going hunting-and, whatever Marsilia had in mind, I was done with sitting around. Coyotes were good at skulking and could take down much bigger prey than most people would expect. If Marsilia could offer help, fine. If not I'd go after him on my own.

I entered the bar with Uncle Mike. There was a heavy metal band playing tonight and the thrum of the drums and the distorted guitar made my head throb in time with the beat and sent my ears into overdrive. I know some wolves who love places like this, where their sensitive senses turn off for a while. They find it restful. Not me. It makes me jumpy because I can't hear what's coming up behind me.

Uncle Mike escorted me past the woman at the cover charge desk, and she gave him a surprised look which he ignored. He bent down until his lips were near my ear and said, "I have to go man the bar, but I'll keep an eye out for you while you're here."

I opened my mouth to thank him, but he touched his fingers to my mouth before I said anything.

"None of that, girl. I know Zee has taught you better. Never thank a fae or you'll be washing his socks and paying his rent before you can say effluvia ten times."

He was right. I knew better, and possibly I'd have remembered before I said anything. But I appreciated his courtesy just the same.

I raised my eyebrows and said with mock innocence, "But you wouldn't do that."

He grinned appreciatively and waved me away. "Go find your vampires, girl. I've money to make."

No one gave me any trouble, but I felt the weight of fae eyes on my back as I carefully moved through the crowd. It was hard not to bump people in a building as packed as this one was, but I kept Uncle Mike's warning in mind and kept my body parts to myself. The mood of the crowd was pretty ugly. My ears weren't doing me much good, but the emotions my nose picked up weren't happy ones.

I found the vampires on the far side of the dance floor. Marsilia was in a fifties-style white dress that brought up images of Marilyn Monroe, though the vampire had none of her soft curves. Even in the dim light, her skin was too pale against the white of her dress.

Someone should tell Marsilia that the style didn't flatter her. Maybe she'd tick me off enough to do it myself.

My temper seemed to be on edge, too.

Startled at that thought, I stopped where I was and turned in a slow circle, but I didn't see Littleton anywhere. Or smell him either. I started toward the vampires again.

Marsilia had brought only one escort, and I wasn't surprised to see it was Andre, Stefan's friend and rival. Weaving through the crowd gave me a little time to think on how to play my part. Marsilia knew she had me on her hook already, all that was left was to decide who was in charge. Since it was almost certainly going to be my skin at risk, I had an interest in making sure I had control of the hunt. I pulled the necklace I always wore out from under my T-shirt so they could get a good look at the stylized silver sheep as I approached.