Authors: Gayla Drummond
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Mystery, #werewolves, #urban fantasy, #Shifters, #Vampires, #Magic, #Paranormal, #psychic
"Well, it's the second one you've found."
"No clue, huh?"
Kate shook her head. Danielle decided to sit down, choosing a chair across from the couch. Leglin laid his chin on my knee. I petted his head, thinking. "Is it easy for them to open these portals? Are they the same as entrances to the Barrows or sidhes?"
Mr. Whitehaven ended his call. "It takes a fair amount of power to open portals. The longer they exist, the stronger they become."
"Okay, we don't want any staying open then, because they could become permanent. Right?"
"Correct. The best defense is to close them as soon as they're discovered."
I frowned. "It wasn't there the first time, and I know we walked over that spot earlier today. Why was it open now?"
"Why didn't it smell like demons down there to me?" Danielle asked, wrinkling her nose. "They have a distinctive odor."
"Neither Logan nor Nick could smell demons when they were wearing human bodies." I felt my frown becoming a scowl. "So if you didn't smell demon stink, that could mean they're trapping humans to possess them, or only possessed humans come and go through that portal."
Kate sighed. "I'll talk to Damian, see if there's any missing persons reports that involve that area."
"Thanks." Now what? We had no new leads on our case. I wasn't going to go wandering around the demon realm until we had an idea of what they were up to. "Hm."
Danielle was watching me. "What?"
"I'm trying to figure out whether demons have anything to do with our case."
"You don't know?"
I shook my head. "I mean, I think it's our case, because the first time I got a trail, it was after touching the dust cloth the missing mirror was covered with. But that could be coincidence, because my abilities don't exactly behave logically most of the time. But we have footage of the mirror's theft, and the thief wasn't human."
After I closed my mouth, I blinked. "Wait a minute. Demons can manipulate shadows."
"Demon lords can," Mr. Whitehaven corrected me. "The average demon cannot."
"Great. I guess the demons are case-related then." I wasn't looking forward to tangling with them again. The first time had been scary enough. "If they have the mirror, it could be anywhere."
Danielle suddenly laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"I understand why our Queen is insistent that we guard you. You're a magnet for trouble."
She shook her head. "That wasn't intended as an insult. I was thinking about what you said earlier."
"Oh." She meant the pawn thing. "Yeah, I get it."
The boss broke in. "If the mirror's in the demon realm, it may not be recoverable."
I looked at him. "Is that you're way of telling me not to go poking around down there?"
"Strangely, I don't feel the need to argue, unless my abilities throw something out."
He nodded. "Of course, but don't go alone. Dane may keep the sword for now, and I'll fetch the dagger for you."
"Thanks, boss." When he left the reception area again, I patted Leglin's head before looking at Danielle. "Guess when he gets back, I'll teleport you home, and go home myself."
She agreed, and that's what I did, once the boss handed over the dagger.
was outside with the dogs when Dane brought my car home. Once he exited and returned my keys, I asked, “How’d it go?”
“No trouble at all. Didn’t see anything or catch a whiff of demon.” My partner covered a yawn. “Pretty boring, until Jo and Trixie arrived. Closing a portal makes a lot of glowing special effects. That part was cool.”
“David didn’t do it?”
Dane shook his head. “Jo said he’s cranky today. Some shipment didn’t arrive when it was supposed to.”
“Oh.” David could be fussy about lateness. “Want something to drink?”
“Go on in.” The dogs were heading toward the house, finished with their business. “I’ll be in with the dogs in a minute.”
“Okay.” Dane went inside, and I followed once the dogs had all reached the porch.
“Juice, tea, or coffee?” I walked to the kitchen. My partner was seated at the breakfast bar.
“Juice is fine. This case isn’t moving fast.”
“Some don’t. One of my first cases took nearly four months to solve.” I collected a couple of glasses. “Ice?”
“Please. I hope this one doesn’t take that long. I doubt our client’s the patient type.”
Selecting orange juice from the options in the fridge, I filled the glasses three-quarters full before dropping ice cubes into each. “Yeah, probably not. But it’s kind of hard to figure out supernatural crimes when it comes to shadow magic.”
Actually, most magic. It was why I’d preferred vampire cases. They were predators, driven by hunger and power. Pretty simple stuff, or so I’d thought for quite a while.
Then I’d met Derrick and his dhampyr son, Stone. I’d gotten a glimpse into vampire family life from the murders of Lady Esme and her family.
“Right, and elves never have clear reasons for anything.”
“Tell me about it.” I turned away to put the juice back in the fridge, and turned back—straight into a vision. “Ooh, maybe we have a clue happening.”
“Vision.” I held out my hand and heard Dane leave his stool. “It’s a tunnel, rock.”
“What color of rock?”
“It’s really freaky when you have visions. Your face goes blank.” Dane had reached me, and took my hand. “And your eyes... whoa.”
“Whoa, wha... holy crap, dude.” I stared at him in the tunnel’s dim light. “How the hell did you get in here?”
My partner blinked, his nostrils flaring and eyes opening wide. “I don’t know. Wow, this feels real. Smells real, too. Are all your visions like this?”
“No, just the retrocogs. Oh, and the precogs, I guess.”
He looked both ways down the tunnel. “Not gonna lie, this is kind of cool. What do we do?”
“I usually wait for something to happen, but this looks like the same kind of tunnel we found earlier.” Which meant demons, and I’d had the terrifying experience of having a demon see me in a vision before.
Dane apparently felt my shiver at that memory, because his grip tightened. “How about we not do the usual?”
“Sounds good. Which way?” Should I call Leglin over? The hound had entered a vision before. Yet, realistic as my visions could be, Leglin couldn’t transport me out of one.
“Left? The tunnel slopes down that direction.”
It did? “Why down?”
Dane grinned. “If this is the demon realm, the deeper we go, the more chance we have of seeing them. If we see them...”
“We’ll catch some clues. Okay.” I didn’t really want to go deeper into the demon realm, but not being stuck in a vision alone was nice. “Don’t let go.”
“I won’t. Ready?”
We began walking. Nervousness opened my mouth. “Where is the light coming from?”
“It’s some kind of fungus, mixed in the rock.”
“Doesn’t it need sunlight to recharge?”
So much for that outlet. “Demons are
on my Bad Guy List.”
Dane glanced my way. “Who’s Number One?”
“Our lists match,” he said. “There’s a three-way intersection ahead. I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“Why can’t you transform stuff?”
“You kind of do, I mean. You do that thing with air, making it thicker. That’s transformational.”
Grateful for a distracting subject, I shrugged. “I don’t think that’s the same thing as what you guys can do.”
“Maybe not exactly, but isn’t teleportation a transformation? You move from one place to another, and you’re not exactly anywhere for a second or two. Right?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know that it’s an actual transformation. Right or left?” We’d reached the intersection. I couldn’t tell if either part of the new tunnel sloped up or down.
“It slopes down?”
“No, but there’s some doors set in the walls. I think we should check them out.”
“You transform air to fire or ice.”
I nodded. “Yeah, but that’s about friction. Make air move faster, or rather its molecules, and it gets hot. Slow the molecules down, and the water vapor solidifies.”
“That only makes me wonder more, since you can change air at the molecular level.” Dane peered through a barred opening in the first door we’d reached. “Empty.”
I looked too. “It’s a cell.”
“Yep. Let’s keep going.”
We backed away and walked to the next door. My partner continued the conversation. “I mean, if you can make air molecules do what you want, why shouldn’t you be able to make other molecules do what you want?”
The next cell was also empty. “Give me a for instance.”
“Well, what about changing your shape?”
I pulled him to a halt. “What?”
“Why couldn’t you learn how to do that?” Dane shrugged. “You’ve been in a different shape before.”
“Because of a cursing potion.”
“Well, yeah, but seriously. You can do stuff.”
I cocked my head, studying his expression. “Do you know something I don’t about my abilities?”
“Maybe? I started poking around, after we returned from the Unseelie realm. The Unseelie and Kethyrdryll said you were a natural mage. We should probably keep moving.”
“Yeah.” I let him pull me along. “Why would their label make you poke around?”
“This one’s empty, too. Because Kethyrdryll said you were descended from all the great families, and that they started because the gods were having affairs with humans.”
“Empty,” I said, checking the fourth cell. “And?”
“Gods can transform themselves and others into anything, Cordi.”
“But I’m not a god.”
“No, but legends say their half-human children—natural mages—could transform themselves or others, too. Empty. We have one door left before a turn to the right.”
“So you think I should be able to change shape.”
We paused to look into the last cell. “Holy crap. It’s the mirror.”
The mirror’s darkened surface glowed green and a misshapen face appeared. “Who’s there?”
“Uh-oh.” We ducked, looking at each other. I whispered, “Now what?”
“You’re the vision expert.”
“I can hear you,” the mirror said. “And one of you is a woman. Hopefully naked. I requested a TV with the X-rated channels, but the real thing’s far better.”
“Ugh.” Tanisha was correct: The mirror was a pervert. I straightened to look into the cell. “Hello. You can see us?”
“You’re right outside my door. Of course I can see you.” A leer transformed the mirror’s pale green face. “Love to see more. Why don’t you come in and...” his leer disappeared. “Oh. I see. You’re not really here. Tease.”
“Shame. Dark-haired beauties are my favorites.”
I frowned. “How do you know we’re not really here?”
“I see, hear, and know all,” the mirror intoned, his voice deeper than before. “You’re a natural mage, peeking into the past. Naughty girl. I like naughty girls.”
Rolling my eyes, I said, “We’re private investigators, hired to recover you.”
“Celadine.” Dane tried the door with his free hand. “Wait, we can’t actually do anything in a vision, right?”
“Leglin carried a pebble out of one for me.”
“Okay, then maybe if we can open the door, I can carry the mirror out?”
“Ooh, escape from this dreary cell? I like it.” The mirror brightened.
“Let me try to pick the lock.”
Dane looked away. “Uh, I hear someone coming. If he can see us...”
“They might be able to, too, if they’re demons.” Crap. So close, even considering our plan might not work.
“So we’d better, hey.” Dane scowled as our surroundings changed. We were in my kitchen. “Damn it.”
I heaved a sigh, releasing his hand. “It’s okay. Now we know exactly where the mirror is.”
"What are we going to do?"
"Duh. We're going to steal it back."
his will totally work. Leglin can take us in and out. All we have to do is grab hold of the mirror. Easy peasy."