Spell Blind – Snippet 18

He stared past me. “Never heard of them.”

“No? Maybe you heard that Claudia Deegan was killed.”

“Never heard of her, neither.”

Well, now I had to reconsider, because ‘Toine was about the worst liar I’d ever met. What the hell had happened to his door?

“You know what? I think you’re full of shit. I think you ran away from me because you’re into something that you can’t handle and you’re scared out of your mind.”

“Whatever, man.”

“Claudia Deegan was killed with magic.”

“Bad luck.”

“Every Blind Angel victim was killed with magic.”

His eyes narrowed. “How do you know that?”

“I used to be a cop. And I’m a weremyste, too. Remember? I saw the magic on them.”

“Then you know it’s not mine, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. I know that it belongs to someone with real power.”

“Fuck you, man!”

“The magic that killed those kids was red. Deep red, almost the color of blood. And the magic on Claudia Deegan had faded nearly to nothing in the span of about two days. There can’t be more than five people in the entire country with power like that.”

He refused again to meet my gaze. But he was clenching his jaw, and I had the sense that he was considering another assailing spell.

“Like I said, man, if you cast, then you know what my stuff is like. It ain’t red, and it don’t disappear after no two days. So you know it wasn’t me.”

“Maybe, but I think you know who this sorcerer is.”

“You think wrong, then, cop.”

I squatted down and got right in his face, forcing him to look me in the eye. “Like I said, little man, I’m not a cop anymore. But I’ve still got friends on the force. And who do you think they turn to when they’re working cases that involve magic?” I tapped my chest. “Me. All I have to do is give the word and they’ll be all over you. You’ll spend the rest of your life rotting in jail, wishing you were a good enough conjurer to get yourself out, and wondering why you were so stupid as to piss me off.”

He was working up to another attack. I could see it in his eyes; I could hear it in the rasp of his breathing. I pushed hard enough, and I got exactly what I expected. For all his talent and potential, ‘Toine was still just a kid, playing with toys he didn’t quite understand.

The spell he threw at me was similar to the one Robby Sommer had used against me — a basic fire spell. Rudimentary stuff. But he was angry enough that this time he might have been trying to kill me, and so I went with deflection rather than reflection. I didn’t want to hurt him. But he needed to know that he didn’t want to be screwing around with me. I aimed the bounce at the wall directly behind him, so that ‘Toine’s own fire flew past the side of his head, missing him by maybe an inch and blackening the wall with the sound of sizzling fat.

“Shit!” he spat, ducking away.

“Next time, I won’t miss,” I told him. “Tell me who this guy is, or I’ll bring the cops down on you. I’m a PI; I just want to get paid. And all the cops care about is clearing the case. None of us gives a crap if you go down for it. Hell, if I tell them that it’s your color on Claudia Deegan, they’re not going to know any different.” I shrugged. “Now, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got nothing against you. I’d rather see this other guy off the streets. And I bet you wouldn’t mind using a bit less mojo around the house.”

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, man,” he said. “I don’t know any red magic sorcerer.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Who sent you here, anyway? Somebody got it in for me?”

“Who is he, Antoine? Why is everybody so afraid of this guy?”

For a second I thought he’d spill it all. He was scared, terrified even. I glimpsed it in his eyes — I’d seen that fear before, in little kids who were being abused by their parents. Terror, helplessness, the memory of pain, the desperate desire to end the abuse, but all of it overmastered by the belief that no one could end the cycle and the certainty that if he tried, if he dared tell a soul, he’d be punished even more severely than before. ‘Toine felt trapped, and he had no faith that I could set him free.

At last he fixed his eyes on the street. It was almost like he expected to see the sorcerer strolling past. “I don’t know nothin’,” he muttered again. “Whoever told you I did was bullshittin’ you.”

He was lying. But again, as with Robby, I couldn’t do anything about it.

I stood. “Fine.” I fished out my business card, and tossed one down to him. It was a waste of time and paper, but what the hell. “If you reconsider, give me a call.”

He laughed. “Yeah, right, man. I’ll be callin’ you.”

I started to walk away.

“We can chat, man,” he called after me. “Like we’re old friends, you know?” He laughed again.

I made my way to the Z-ster, Antoine’s laughter still ringing in my ears. I had been preparing myself all day, planning what I’d do if I felt the Blind Angel killer’s power again. But like an idiot, I allowed the kid to throw me off balance.

And so, when the red sorcerer suddenly had me in his sights again, I was utterly unprepared. I tried to ward myself, knowing as I did that anything I came up with he could defeat, knowing as well what he was trying to do with these teasing encounters. But I made the effort anyway.

The feeling was much more vivid this time. I knew he was close. Too close. I turned a quick circle, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to find him. I felt the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end. I felt my skin grow cold, as if I was in shadow and the rest of the city was in brilliant sunlight. If he had wanted to kill me in that moment, he could have, though I would have put up a fight.

But he was toying with me. For a split second, I thought I could hear laughter. Not ‘Toine’s, though I heard that, too. This was deeper, more menacing, more elusive. I turned again, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. But it was everywhere. Around me, above me, below me. It was in my freaking head.

You’re mine now, I thought I heard someone say.

And then it was gone. The laughter ceased, the sun shone on my face and arms, a warm wind touched my skin.

Three times. Once outside of Robby Sommer’s place, once outside of Robo’s in Tempe, and now here, in front of Antoine Mirdoux’s house. Was there a connection there, something linking the three of them to one another and to this sorcerer with the blood-red magic? Or was it mere chance, the random choices of this bastard who was hunting me?

I should have been concentrating on those questions, trying to figure out what Robby, Robo’s, and Antoine had in common with the Blind Angel victims.

But all I could think was that he’d done this to me three times now. He’d touched my mind with his magic; he’d tested my defenses and seen how I would respond to an attack, how I would ward myself.

Three times.

There’s power in numbers. He knew me now. I was his. And the next time, if he chose to attack, there would be precious little I could do about it.