Spell Blind – Snippet 25

As I expected, Shari didn’t stay there much longer. I’d scared her too much. She came out a short time later wheeling a large, battered suitcase that must have held her goods. Her folded tent was tied to it with bungee cords. She walked hurriedly to a small hatchback, heaved the suitcase into the back, and pulled out of the lot. I kept low as she drove by me and then followed at a safe distance.

She drove straight back to Tempe, sticking to back roads, and eventually pulled into a driveway beside a small house near the sports complex south of the University. I parked nearby and waited until she was back in her house before walking up the path to her door and knocking.

Shari was slow to answer, and I began to wonder if I’d scared her too much. But then the door opened a crack and she peered out at me over the chain.

“Yes? What–” Her mouth fell open. “You,” she whispered. “How did you–?”

“I followed you.”

“You had no right!”

I showed her my license. “My name is Jay Fearsson, Ms. Bettancourt. I’m a private investigator. I’m doing some work on the Blind Angel killings. I need to ask you some questions.”

She shook her head. Opening the door a bit more, she looked past me into the street, her eyes wide and fearful. “You have to leave. Now, before he sees you.”

“You mean the man who gave you that necklace? The one who used his magic on it?”

Her eyes snapped to me and she opened her mouth, then closed it again. “You have to leave,” she said again, and started to close the door.

“I’ll tell the police to speak with you,” I said, blurting it out.

She’d nearly gotten the door shut, but now she opened it again, appearing even more frightened than she had before. “You can’t!”

“I will. I have to. We have to stop him.”

The woman laughed, sounding half nuts, as if her phasing had already begun.

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with,” she said. “You can’t stop him anymore than you can stop the moon from rising.”

“He’s a powerful weremyste, I know. But . . .”

I broke off. She was laughing again, though there were tears in her eyes.

“You’re an idiot. Get out of here before you get me killed. Please!”

“Who is he? What’s his name? You have to tell me something! Anything!”

She shook her head, scanning the street again.

“He’ll kill again, Shari. You know he will. But we can stop him.”

“No, you can’t!” she said, her tone fierce. “No one can! He’s much, much more than you think he is.”

“What do you mean? Tell me about the magic he used on your necklace.”

Her hand strayed to her chest, where the pendant lay beneath her dress. Then she gripped the door again. “You have to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” I said. “You know what this man’s done. You know how many people he’s killed. You have to help me stop him.”

She hesitated, and I wondered if maybe I had gotten through to her.

“I will,” she said. “Really. But not now, not here. You have to go. Please.” This last she whispered. There were tears on her face.

I didn’t want to. Kona and I had been after the Blind Angel killer for three years, and here at least was someone who knew him, who could describe him, tell me his name. She might even have known where he lived. He’d done more than give her a pendant. I was sure of it. That stone still glowed with his magic, which meant that he had done something to it recently. Red’s magic faded too fast for that glow to be from an old spell. Was he communicating with her in some way? Was she helping him? If I could convince her to let me into the house for a moment, I was confident that I could get something of value out of her.

“Just a few questions,” I said, pleading with her. “Tell me his name. His address if you know it.”

“I can’t.” She started to push the door closed. Then she stopped, her face contorting.

“Oh, my God! He’s here! You fool! You let him follow you!”

I started to tell her that I hadn’t been followed, but in that instant I felt him, too. The air around us seemed to come alive with magic; it felt charged, the way it does in a desert lightning storm.

She backed away from the door without closing it.

“No!” she said.

I felt his power, but it wasn’t directed at me, as it had been outside Robo’s or Robby’s house or Antoine’s.

“Let me in!” I shouted. “I can protect you if you let me in!”

“No!” she said again, but it wasn’t directed at me. She said a name — it sounded like Cower, but that wasn’t quite it. “Please, no!”

A moment later she screamed, clutching at the pendant or at her chest. She dropped to the floor, her body convulsing, her head jerking from side to side.

“Ms. Bettancourt! Shari! Let me in!”

She screamed again, the sound strangled this time. I considered kicking the door in, but thought better of it. I didn’t think I could get to her fast enough to ward her from whatever magic he was using. Instead, I pulled my weapon and whirled, searching the street. I was frantic; he had to be close.

And this time I saw him.

He stood at the corner on the far side of the street and he bore little resemblance to the bald man I’d seen in my scrying stone the day before while standing on the spot where Claudia Deegan died. He had long white-blond hair and a thick beard, and he was dressed in tattered jeans, a t-shirt, and an old army coat. But as soon as I spotted him, I knew it was the same guy. He shimmered and wavered like a mirage on a desert highway.

He must have seen the recognition in my eyes, because an instant later I felt his magic turn itself on me. I tried a warding spell, but knew that it would fail. Desperate, acting more on instinct than on rational thought, I raised my Glock and fired.

My aim was true. I’m sure of it. In all my years as a cop, and even in my academy days, I’d been great with a pistol. But somehow I missed this time. Instead of hitting him square in the chest, the bullet struck the street sign above him and to the left. A deflection spell, probably. If he’d used reflection magic instead, I’d have killed myself.

He glared at me, pale eyes blazing like stars in a night sky. Then he turned and ran. I spared only an instant for Shari, who I could see through the narrow gap in her doorway. She lay crumpled on the floor, as still as death, her hands folded over her chest.

There was nothing more I could do for her. I whirled and ran after her killer.