Shadow’s Blade – Snippet 14

Marisol said something to Eduardo in Spanish. He replied, his voice low, his words coming in a jumble. They spoke for several moments. I caught fragments of what they said, but couldn’t make out most of it. Amaya listened closely, and I guessed that he understood all of what they said. I wondered, if I asked him later, if he would be willing to tell me what had passed between them.

At last the Trejos turned back to me.

“The best we are hoping for,” Marisol said, “is that Engracia decided the children needed some time away from Phoenix. Leaving their father was hard on them. Perhaps she took them camping. They like to camp. Or maybe she would like to find a new place to live. She has spoken of moving to Tucson. Our other daughter is there. Rosa. We have spoken with her, and she has heard nothing from Engracia.”

Eduardo said something else, but Marisol merely glanced at him and shook her head.

Facing me again, she said, “Our worst fear is that Neil has them and is . . . is hurting her as revenge for leaving him.” Her voice broke, and a tear slipped from her eye.

“Neil is her husband.”

She nodded. “Neil Davett. Engracia took his name, as did the children.”

“And where does he live?”

Marisol gave me a street address in the North Mountain section of Phoenix.

I wrote that down, along with Neil’s full name and a few other things I wanted to remember from our conversation.

“Is Neil a weremyste, too?”

She hesitated before nodding. “I think that’s how they met.”

“Is it possible that any of this has something to do with magic?”

Marisol frowned, clearly puzzled by the question. “I don’t understand. Do you mean did someone use magic to make her disappear?”

“No, I — ” I shook my head, unsure myself of what I was trying to say. I didn’t want to alarm her or her husband by bringing up the murders by the interstate. I caught Amaya watching me. He shifted his gaze back to Missus Trejo, but I had the distinct impression that he knew exactly what was on my mind. In the past, I had been shocked, and more than a little bit appalled, by his knowledge of what went on inside the PPD. Chances were he had known about the killings at the burger place before I did.

“What I’m trying — ”

“Jay wants to know if your daughter has felt threatened by her husband’s magical abilities, or perhaps those of his friends.”

Actually, that wasn’t what I wanted to know, though it was an interesting thought. It made me wonder how much Amaya already knew about Neil Davett.

“Not that I know of,” Marisol said. “I suppose it’s possible.”

Amaya stood. “I think Jay probably has enough to start his investigation. Don’t you, Jay?”

His tone carried another warning. Standing as well, I said, “Yes, I believe so. Does your daughter have a cell phone?”

“Doesn’t everyone?” Marisol asked, the ghost of a smile on her lips. “We’ve tried the number all day, but she hasn’t answered. I believe she has it turned off.”

As I would, if I were running away and didn’t want anyone to find me. “Can I have the number anyway, it might come in handy at some point.”

She gave it to me and I added it to my notes. “Does she have a passport, and more to the point, do the children have passports?”

Marisol’s cheeks blanched. “I don’t know. I don’t believe so, but . . . I’m sorry.”

I chanced another quick look Amaya’s way. He didn’t appear pleased. “It’s all right,” I said. “Thank you both. If I have additional questions I’ll be in touch.” To Amaya I said, “I take it I can reach the Trejos through you.”

Marisol and Eduardo got to their feet, both of them frowning, perhaps at the abrupt ending of the conversation.

“Mister Amaya, you know that we don’t have enough money to pay Mister Fearsson. We can’t even — ”

Jacinto took her hand, the kind smile on his face completely at odds with the glower he’d given me moments before. “It is my expense, Señora,” he said. “Jay has worked for me in the past.” His gaze flicked in my direction. “And no doubt will again in the future.”

“But we couldn’t — ”

“Of course you can. You are in need; Engracia may be in trouble. It’s the least I can do for you.”

She smiled, though she seemed to be on the verge of tears. “Thank you, Mister Amaya. God bless you.”

He kissed her cheek, then shook hands with Eduardo and wished him a good night in Spanish. “Paco,” he called.

Paco loomed in the arched entrance to the living room. He could have been Rolon’s twin — in size as well as appearance — except for the goatee and mustache he had grown since last I saw him. He nodded once to me before turning his attention back to his boss.

“Will you see the Trejos home?”

“Of course.”

“Use one of the SUVs. Take Rolon and check the house before you leave them. Understand?”

“You got it.” He smiled at the Trejos and led them out of the house.

Even after they had left the living room, Amaya said nothing to me. Only when the thump of the front door’s close echoed through the house did he remove his suit jacket and say, “Drink?”

“A beer, please.”

He walked to the wet bar near the bank of windows, took two bottles of Bohemia Stout from the refrigerator, and opened them both. Returning to where I stood, he handed me one and clinked the top of his against the top of mine.

“Sit,” he said, lowering himself into the leather chair once more.

I sat as well.

He sipped his beer and loosened his necktie. “I would have preferred that you not frighten her quite so much.”

“There were questions I had to ask. Otherwise I can’t do the job you’ve hired me to do.”

His expression soured, but he didn’t argue the point. “So, what do you think?”

“I think you know a lot more about what happened to Engracia than you’re letting on.”

Amaya glared at me, offering no reply for several seconds. “Gracie,” he said at last.

“Excuse me?”

“Her parents still call her Engracia, but she goes by Gracie. Gracie Davett.”

“That doesn’t sound very Latina.”

“How about that?” he said without a trace of humor. “Now answer my question.”

“How much do you know about the husband?”

“Very little. I’ve met Gracie once, and that was a few years ago. Marisol teaches Spanish at the school my daughter attends. She’s one of Chofi’s favorite teachers — that’s how I know her. I saw the magic on her and was interested to know more. I learned that she uses blockers and hasn’t cast a spell in years. I don’t think Eduardo approves of magic, although he and I have never spoken of it.”

“But Gracie casts, doesn’t she?”

He drank more of his beer. “You tell me.”

“She’s wanted for murder.”

His eyes widened enough to tell me that he hadn’t known this. “Thank you for not mentioning this in front of her parents.”

“Why would dark sorcerers be after her?”

“Because she’s not one of them. That’s all the excuse they need.”

“Is her husband one of them?”

“An interesting question. One you should check into as part of your investigation.”

I took a swig of beer. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was richer than most Mexican beers, and Amaya seemed to like it a lot. It was the only beer he had ever served me.

“I was wondering when we’d get to that. I take it you want me to find Gracie Davett.”

“And her children,” Jacinto said. “You’re to bring them here.”

“That might not be possible. If she’s wanted for murder –”

“Who did she kill?”

“The police don’t know yet. He wasn’t carrying any ID.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “In your experience, is that often true of the virtuous and blameless?”

“That’s not the point, and you know it. I can’t get in the way of a murder investigation without making myself an accessory.”

“Do you really think that a mother — at least any sane mother — would commit a murder in front of her young children?”

I’d been arguing the same point with Kona only a few hours before. So why did I resist agreeing with the man? Probably because he already felt like he controlled me, and because I felt that he did, too. And I didn’t like it. Still, I couldn’t deny that he had a point. “No,” I said. “But the fact remains, she’s wanted for murder, and the Phoenix police are going to be searching for her. Anything I do to get in their way is going to land me in a lot of trouble.”

“Then I’d suggest you prove her innocent.”

I should have known he’d say something like that.

Another thought occurred to me.

“What do you know about an older weremyste?” I asked. “Silver-haired with a trim goatee?”

“He and I have never met, but I’ve heard others speak of him.”

“Do you know his name?”

Amaya glanced down at his beer. “I don’t.”

I tried to decide if I believed him, not that it mattered at the moment. I wasn’t about to call him a liar to his face. “Did these others happen to mention that he could kill simply by laying a hand on someone?”

He raised his gaze to mine. “Yes, they did. You might want to avoid letting him touch you.”