Spell Blind – Snippet 11
But when I pulled the door open, I found myself face to face with Billie Castle. Looking past her, I saw that the street and sidewalk were wet. It had rained while I was working with Namid. Seems my dad was right about that wind after all. The sky had cleared and the gibbous moon shone through the Acacia tree growing in my front yard. Even from the doorway, I could feel the moon’s pull, more insistent than last night, hinting at the power to come. Friday night. That’s when the phasing would begin.
Billie opened her mouth to say something, but then stopped herself, seeming to take in my appearance. Only now did I realize that I had sweated through my shirt and that my face was damp. Working spells for hours on end was hard work.
“Good God, Fearsson, what have you been doing?”
“Um . . . Working out.”
“Are you going to invite me in?”
“Sure.” I opened the screen door and she stepped past me into the house. I glanced at the moon one last time, then closed the door. Billie turned a full circle, surveying the living room, and stared right through Namid, who couldn’t be seen by those not descended from the Runeclave.
“Thank you. You want anything? Water? Coffee? Beer? Wine?”
“No, thanks.” She faced me. “You certainly took off in a hurry this afternoon.”
I shrugged, scrutinizing my coffee table as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. “I didn’t want to get in the way.”
“Boy, I expected you to be tougher than that.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well,” she said, and now it was her turn to avoid my gaze. “I had the feeling that maybe you were, I don’t know, interested in me. You certainly were flirting and, well, you started to ask me out to dinner, and . . .” She shrugged, her eyes meeting mine again. “And then Joel shows up, and you run away like a frightened little boy.”
She began to walk a slow circle around the room. “Joel Benfield. He’s one of my contributing writers. He teaches history at the University and writes about environmental issues and Western politics.”
“I’m sure he’s very nice. And I wasn’t frightened, I was just–”
“You assumed that he and I were already involved.”
“Well, aren’t you?”
She stopped right in front of me. I hadn’t noticed before that she smelled faintly of lavender, or that her eyes were actually two shades of green — forest green nearer the center, brightening to emerald around the edges.
“Boy, Fearsson,” she said. “I sure hope you’re better at detective work than you are at figuring me out.”
I grinned. “Fearsson. Is that what you’ve decided to call me?”
“I’m thinking about it. You mind?”
“No,” I said with a small shake of my head. “I like it.”
“So are you going to take me out to dinner tomorrow night?”
I laughed. “I don’t know. Are we still off the record?”
“Until we say otherwise.”
“Then I guess I am.”
“Good. Come by my house at six.”
“Where’s your house?”
“In Tempe,” she said. “Near Cyprus Park.” She crossed to my telephone table, found a pad and pen, and wrote down her address. “Here,” she said handing me the paper. “Do I need to pin this to your shirt?”
“No, I think I’ll manage to hold onto to it for twenty-four hours.”
“Good.” She crossed to the door and pulled it open.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “I found your house, for God’s sake. Do I have to figure out everything?”
“Fine. Six o’clock.”
“Don’t be late,” she said, stepping outside.
“I wouldn’t dare.”
I watched her walk back to her car, waved once as she started up and pulled away from the curb, and closed the door. Turning, I saw that Namid was watching me.
“What?” I said.
“You should be concentrating. You might well be in danger. The woman is a distraction.”
“Distractions can be a good thing now and then.”
The runemyste frowned.
Before he could say anything more, the phone rang. I recognized the number on the caller ID. Kona, at Six-Twenty.
I switched on the phone. “You’re working late,” I said, not bothering with a hello.
“Don’t give me any crap, Justis. I’m not in the mood.”
“Sorry. What’s up?”
“Mike Gann has formally been charged with Claudia Deegan’s murder.”
“Damnit, Kona! He didn’t do it! There’s no way he’s the Blind Angel killer!”
“I believe you,” she said, lowering her voice. “But it’s not like I can tell Hibbard that my friend the weremyste, the person he hates more than anyone else in the world, told me Gann’s not our guy, so we should let him go.”
I exhaled. “I know that.”
“What did you find out from Orestes?”
I winced, feeling guilty for the time I’d spent with Billie. “I haven’t seen him yet. I went to Robo’s and talked with a guy who’d worked with Gann. This guy knew that Gann was a weremyste, but what he told me confirmed what I saw in the interview room today: Gann’s not powerful or skilled enough to be a threat to anyone. I can’t talk to the manager until Thursday, but I’m not convinced that anything he’ll tell me will change my mind.”
“So you talked to one guy at Robo’s?” Kona said. “What have you been doing with yourself all afternoon?”
I felt my cheeks burning and was glad she wasn’t here to see me.
“I had a . . . well, sort of a . . . a date.”
I grinned. “No, shit.”
“Well, give me some details. You know Margarite’s going to ask me, and I have to have something to tell her.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Let’s start with her name.”
“Her name’s Billie. Billie Castle.”
“Huh. You mean like that blogger-lady?”
“Just like her.”
“Are you dating a celebrity?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I am.”
“What’s she like?”
“She’s . . . I don’t know. She’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s pushy and opinionated and stubborn. You’d like her.”
“Well, damn. Ain’t that something? You had a date.”
“It’s not that big a deal.”
“No? When was your last date?”
“All right. Point taken.”
We both laughed and then fell silent.
“Randolph Deegan has got some serious pull, Justis,” she said. “I’ll do what I can to slow things down, try to keep Hibbard from executing the dude himself. But you need to give me something to go on. Anything.”
“I’ll find out what I can, partner. I’ll see Q tomorrow. Promise. And maybe I’ll go out to South Mountain, and see if I can find anything there. Is there still tape up where Claudia was found?”
“Yeah. It was that same ravine where we found the Santana kid. Slightly north.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll be in touch.”
We hung up and I turned to Namid. “The police think the guy they have in custody is the one who killed all those kids with magic.”
He didn’t respond.
“They’re wrong, aren’t they?”
“Do you think they are?”
“I’m sure of it.”
“Then why do you ask me?”
I laughed. “I don’t know. I’m pretty wiped. And I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.”
“Until next time, then. Watch yourself, Ohanko,” he said, as he began to fade. “You trained well tonight, but the danger remains.”
I nodded, watching him vanish. That much I’d figured out for myself.