His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 28
Strange sounds reached him from where Bear had been. Groans, a sharp intake of breath, and a scream of agony much like Jeff’s own. Jeff’s head lolled to that side, his eyes opening once more. Bear was on the ground on all fours, looking like he might be ill. His back arched, his head snapping upward to reveal a bearded face locked in a feral grimace.
Before I could see more, Jeff’s eyes closed again. Seconds later, Bear’s screams faded. I saw nothing else in the stone, heard no more from Jeff or his killers.
Taking a long breath, I slipped the scrying stone back into my pocket and brushed the dirt from my hand. Catching Kona’s eye, I gave a single nod.
She, Kevin, and the other detective spoke for a few moments more before she said, loud enough for me to hear, “Let’s see what we’ve got.”
They walked to where I was standing, the third detective eyeing me once more.
“She says you’re some kind of expert in serial killers,” he said, jerking a thumb in Kona’s direction. “That right?”
“I have some experience with them.”
“Like the Blind Angel.”
“Like that,” I said.
“So what do you see here?”
I didn’t like the guy’s attitude, and I didn’t feel like proving to him that I had the chops to work his case.
“There were two guys here,” I said, talking to Kona and Kevin, and all but ignoring their jerk friend. “One was about my size, the other bigger, heavier. They . . . took some of the victim’s blood, though obviously not all of it.”
“What do you mean took?” the detective asked. “And how do you know how big they were?”
“I told you,” Kona said, “he sees stuff the rest of us miss.” To me, she said, “Do you know what they used the blood for?”
My gaze flicked in the detective’s direction. “Not yet. But I think I know where to start looking.”
“Good. You’ll call when you have more for me?”
I grinned. “Don’t I always?”
She nodded. Kevin winked at me. I headed back to the Z-ster, knowing that our exchange would leave the other detective scratching his head, and not caring one bit.
I drove back to Mesa, the seeing spell replaying in my head like a Sportscenter highlight reel. I’d have no trouble remembering the color of Dimples’s magic, but what had he done to Bear? And what was that scream at the end? It had all the qualities of a magical attack, and yet Dimples had asked if Bear was ready and the big man had signalled that he was. It didn’t make sense.
With midday traffic building throughout the city, I barely made it on time to my rescheduled lunch date with Billie. She was already in the restaurant at our usual table. I kissed her and took the seat opposite hers. Her smile faded as she read my expression.
It took me a minute to remember my trip out to Wofford; that’s how preoccupied I was with what I’d seen in my scrying stone.
“Yeah, it was a rough night with my Dad. And today . . .” I shook my head.
“You said something about Kona needing you, which I’m figuring out never means anything good.”
“It’s not her fault,” I said, hearing the weariness in my voice. “She needed help with a crime scene.”
Billie frowned. “Another one?”
“Yeah. You order yet?”
She studied me for another few seconds before shaking her head.
“Right. I guess it’s my turn to pay, isn’t it?”
Concern lingered in her green eyes.
“I’m all right,” I said, taking her hand. “There’s a lot going on right now, and I’m trying to figure out how much of it is related, and how much is just random crap coming down on me at once.” I fixed a smile on my lips, hoping it would be at least somewhat convincing. “How are you?”
“I’m good,” she said. “Thanks to a tip I got from a certain private eye, I’m the toast of the internet.”
“Well, good. Then order to your heart’s content.”
Her eyes danced. “You sure? I’m thinking about the seafood fajitas.”
I considered the check Amaya had given me the previous night, and the other one I was supposed to retrieve from Nathan Felder. “A fine choice,” I said. “I’m feeling flush right now.”
“Good! Then I’m getting a margarita, too.”
“Don’t you have work to do, Miss Castle?”
She canted her head to the side, her smile turning coy. “I’ve already finished for the day. I was hoping you might have the afternoon free.”
Before I could respond, a waitress came by to take our orders — my usual with a Coke, Billie’s fajitas and margarita.
“So?” she asked when the waitress had gone. “Do you have some time today?”
I exhaled and her face fell.
“You don’t, do you?”
“I can knock off a little early, but with all I have going on right now, I can’t afford to do more than that.”
I couldn’t confide in her as much as I would have liked. I didn’t think she would be any happier about me working for Amaya than Kona would have been. “Well,” I said, “to be honest, I have some questions for you. Off the record.”
“Questions for me?” She grinned, appearing genuinely pleased. “I get to help you with an investigation?”
“I hope so. What do you know about Regina Witcombe?”
She blinked. “Witcombe? I know quite a bit about her. I thought everyone did.”
“Did you know she was on the plane yesterday? In first class, no doubt.”
Billie frowned and shook her head. “She has her own jet, Fearsson. A Gulfstream; and she has a stable of pilots, one of whom is always on call. I think you’ve got your information wrong.”
“She’s listed on the passenger manifest.”
“Maybe it’s a different Regina Witcombe.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“You asked me for information about her; I’m telling you what I know. She has a private jet. She might even have more than one.”
Add one more oddity to an already odd investigation.
“On the other hand,” Billie went on after a brief pause, the creases in her forehead deepening. “I did read somewhere that she was in Washington today.”
“I think she was appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, to testify against the banking bill.”
“Maybe her plane wasn’t working,” I said. As soon as I spoke the words, they echoed back at me. Could another magically induced mechanical problem have put her on flight 595?
“Why did Kona ask you to join her at the airport?” Billie asked in a whisper, her hands resting on the table as she leaned toward me.
I stared back at her.
“That’s what I thought. Was the dead guy a weremyste?”
“No,” I said, my voice low. “He was killed with a spell. Kona’s learned to recognize the signs of murder by magic.”
My hesitation didn’t last long. “Another person killed with magic. Tell me more about Regina Witcombe.”
She shrugged, her cheeks going pale at the mention of the second murder. “She’s president and CEO of a major financial corporation, she has more money than God, she’s smart and combative and ruthless. She also opposes just about every important piece of consumer protection legislation relating to the banking industry that comes before Congress or the state legislature. I’m torn, because it’s kind of nice to see a woman leading a huge multinational finance company: breaking the glass ceiling and all of that. But I really hate everything she stands for.”
“Have you ever heard any whispers about her being odd around the full moon?”
Her mouth fell open. “You think she’s a weremyste?” she asked, leaning in over the table.
“I have a source who says she is.”
I saw a gleam in her eyes that I knew all too well. “We’re still off the record, remember?”
“Damn it! How can you tell me something like that off the record? That’s not fair.”
A quip leaped to mind, something that would make her laugh — I loved the way she laughed. I opened my mouth to speak.
A tingle of magic crawled over my skin, locking the words in my throat, making the hairs on my arms and neck stand on end. I saw no color, but I felt it building. Again I was reminded of the way desert air turned electric in the instant before lightning struck.