Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 8 - Page 8

When he was finished, he looked at me, and asked, “Can you retrieve it?”

“I can try.” I smiled grimly. “I have a better chance of retrieving it from him than you do.”

He stood up. “I swore that I would not go from here empty-handed, and it is not in me to go back on my oath. So I will take from here your word that you will retrieve the walking stick and return it to me within one week’s time.”

“As much as I’d love to agree,” I told him, “I cannot. Coyote is beyond my ability to control. I will look for him and ask when I find him. That I will swear to.”

“One week’s time.” He met my eyes, and what I saw in his gaze made me cold to the bone as I remembered that he’d spoken of tidal waves and drowned cities. “If not, we will have another talk with a less cordial ending.”

He walked out of the kitchen the same way he’d come in; I took the shorter path, near the stairs, and watched as he left. The front door shut behind him with a gentle click.

A car started up. I couldn’t pick out the engine, though it had a low, throaty purr that sounded like something expensive. Nothing I’d worked on very much. He didn’t rev it up, just drove it like a family sedan out of the driveway and down the road.

The sound of Beauclaire’s engine was blending into the distant sounds of the night when I felt a tickling sensation, like someone had pulled mosquito netting off my skin. There was a half-second pause, then Adam, naked and enraged, was at the bottom of the stairs beside me. He looked at me. It was only a momentary look, but the intensity of it told me he saw that I was unharmed and not particularly alarmed. Then he was out the front door.

By the time I retrieved the gun from under the kitchen towels and checked the safety, Adam was back.

“Fae,” he said, sounding calmer than he looked. “No one I’ve smelled before. Who was it, and what did they want with you?”

“Gray Lord,” I told him because he needed to know that it had taken a Power to enspell him and successfully invade our home. “It was Beauclaire—you know, the guy who initiated the fae’s retreat to the reservations. He came looking for the walking stick. Have you seen Medea? He scared the holy spit out of her.”

Adam frowned. “I thought Zee knew about the walking stick. And nothing scares that cat.”

“Apparently she’s good with coyotes, vampires, witches, werewolves, and all the fae who’ve come around before, but Gray Lords are an entirely different proposition.” I started up the stairs. I had to get up in a couple of hours and go to work. Tomorrow, Christy was going to be here. It looked to be a long day, and I wanted to face it with at least the better part of a full night’s sleep. And first I needed to find the cat and make sure she was okay.

“Mercy,” Adam said patiently as he followed me. “Why didn’t Beauclaire know that you’d given the stick to Coyote?”

“As best I can put together,” I told him, “Zee didn’t pass it around widely, and Beauclaire and he are not speaking because Zee killed Beauclaire’s father Lugh in order to quench Excalibur.”

Adam’s footfalls had been steady behind me, but at that last they paused. He started up again, and said, “Dealing with the fae is always full of surprises.”

His hand came to rest on my back, then slid lower as he took advantage of being two steps below me and nipped at my hip. “So,” he said gruffly, “what did Lugh’s son say when you told him that you gave his walking stick to Coyote?”

“That I have a week to get it back.”

Adam’s hand curved around my hip and pulled me to a stop at the top of the stairs.

“Or?” His voice was a growl that slid over my skin and warmed me from the outside in.

“We have another talk,” I told him, doing my best to make it sound a lot less threatening than Beauclaire had. I didn’t want my husband out hunting Gray Lords because someone had threatened his family. “It won’t come to that. I’ll find out how to contact Coyote. I’ll call Hank in the morning.” Hank was another walker like me, though his second form was a hawk. He lived an hour and a half from the Tri-Cities and was my information source for most of what I knew about being a walker. “If he doesn’t know, he should be able to hook me up with Gordon Seeker. Gordon will know.” Gordon Seeker was Thunderbird, the way Coyote was Coyote. He liked to travel around in the guise of an old Indian with a thing for the gaudiest version of cowboy wear I’d ever seen.

Adam put his forehead against my shoulder. “No trouble you can’t handle, then.”

“I’m more worried about Christy,” I told him, and it was almost true.

He laughed without joy and pulled me tighter against him. “Me, too.” He whispered, “Don’t believe everything she says, okay? Don’t leave without talking to me.”

I turned around, and said fiercely, “Never. Not even if I talk to you first. You aren’t getting away now, buster.”

He dove for my mouth, and when he was finished ensuring that neither of us was going to get much sleep for a while, he said, “Remember that. We’re both likely to be clinging to that thought by the time this is over.”

I coaxed the bolt out with sweet words and steady, light hands.

I had already done all that I could this morning to find Coyote short of shouting his name into the open air—which I would have if I thought it would do any good. All I could do now was wait for the phone. Not that the fae was the only thing I worried about, or even the thing I was most worried about. Adam was, just about now, picking Christy up from the airport.

Mechanicking took my full concentration, letting my worries about the fae and Adam’s ex-wife fade in the face of a problem I could actually do something about.

The Beetle had been worked on by amateurs for decades, and the bolt that was turning so reluctantly was a victim of years of abuse. Her edges were more suggestions than actual corners, making getting her out of the ’59 Beetle a little tricky. So far I hadn’t had to resort to the Easy Out, and I was starting to get optimistic about my chances of success.

Someone cleared their throat tentatively and scared the bejeebers out of me—though I managed not to jump. He was standing behind me—a strange man, who was also a strange werewolf, my nose told me belatedly. Thankfully, he’d stayed back, waiting just outside the open garage-bay door.

Tad was twenty feet away in the office—and the stranger was probably only a customer who’d come around to the open garage bays instead of to the office. It happened all the time. I was perfectly safe. Reason didn’t have much effect on my spiking heartbeat and the shaft of terror that was my body’s reaction to being startled by a strange man in my garage.