Spell Blind – Snippet 28

“And the pistol in the mouth thing?”

I shook my head again. “Don’t ask.” Taking a long breath, I said, “He killed her, Kona. I saw him do it, although I can’t tell you how it happened. She said his name — Cower, I think it was. She knew he was there. She felt him. And then she was dead.”

“She was a weremyste, too?”

I nodded. “I saw her at the Moon Market this morning. She had on a necklace that was glowing with his magic. That’s how I knew to follow her.” I followed a passing car with my gaze, my mouth twitching. “I guess I got her killed.”

“We’re going to need a statement,” she said. “You know that.”

“You’ll have to take it. This guy’s magic is unlike anything we’ve gone up against before. No one else will believe me.”

“Who says I do?” She smiled to soften it.

“You’re going to get a description from the neighbor,” I told her, as we started to walk back toward the house. “It’ll be nothing at all like what I told you yesterday.”

“He was disguised?”

“I think he’s a chameleon. He can look like anything and anyone he wants.”

“I’m starting not to like this guy, Justis.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Tell me about it.”

Between waiting for Kona to finish her work at the Bettancourt house, and going back to Six-Twenty to give her my statement, most of my afternoon was gone. The only thing that could have made my day worse would have been running into Cole Hibbard before I managed to get out of the building.

So, of course, that was exactly what happened.

When old Cole found out I’d been at the scene of a murder, he practically wet himself. When Kona told him that I’d only been a witness, he started trying to find ways to charge me with the killing anyway. I left as soon as I could, and was seething the whole way home, not only for myself, but also for my father.

Hibbard and my dad had been close. In fact, for a while Hibbard and his wife had been my parents’ closest friends. I still remembered them coming over to the house and staying up late playing Spades, smoking cigarettes, and drinking daiquiris. I was supposed to be sleeping, of course, but I’d spy on them from the stairway, mostly because I thought Hibbard’s wife, whose name I’ve forgotten, was the prettiest woman I’d ever seen.

Eventually the phasings started taking their toll on my father, and though Hibbard was his friend, I gather that Dad wasn’t able to confide in him about the magic, and Namid, and all the rest. Or maybe that’s an excuse that both he and I have used too often. I did confide in Kona, and in the end it changed nothing.

After a while, Hibbard turned on him. I suppose he had cause. My mother turned on him, too, in her own way. Hell, so did I. To Hibbard, it must have seemed that his friend had lost it, had burned out right before his eyes. When my mother and her lover died, Hibbard was one of those who believed my father had killed them both. And when my father went all the way over the edge, leaving me without a family or a home, Hibbard and his wife were among the few couples who refused to help me out. I guess that’s understandable, too. The Hibbards had lost their two closest friends in a tragic, ugly sequence of events. The last thing they would have wanted was a living reminder of both Dara and Leander Fearsson haunting their home.

But try telling that to a fifteen year-old kid who’d lost his parents. That’s when I started hating Cole Hibbard. One of the reasons I so wanted to be a cop, and not just a cop, but a homicide detective, was to show Hibbard and all the others who had turned their backs on my father and me that we deserved better. I had a lot to prove, and I’m sure that I came into the force with an attitude to match. It’s not surprising that Hibbard had it in for me from the start; I had it in for him, too.

In the end, the only thing he had done to me that I couldn’t forgive was to refuse to accept that maybe I could be a decent cop and wouldn’t necessarily become my father.

Of course, I understood all this in my calmer moments, when I could reflect on all that happened back then. At other times, though, I couldn’t get past the fact that Hibbard was such a jerk.

By the time I reached my office, I’d worked myself into quite a state. I’d watched a woman die, nearly been killed myself, and had been shown, in no uncertain terms, that whatever magic I wielded was nothing next to the power of the Blind Angel killer.

The Republic was still running stories about Claudia’s death above the fold. It had a picture of Gann on the front page, too, beneath a caption that read, “Is This the Blind Angel Murderer?” I wondered if Torres and Marra believed what I’d told them about Shari’s killer being the one who’d killed Claudia Deegan. Maybe that was the one good thing that would come out of this day.

I dropped the paper in the trash and rubbed my eyes. After a moment I stood again and started to pace.

Where was Namid when I needed him? I was eager to train, to work some magic and get the day out of my system. The runemyste would have told me that this wasn’t a proper use of magic, that the purpose of clearing prior to conjuring was to keep emotions and frustrations from intruding on the spells. Whatever. I wanted to break something. Failing that, I wanted to use my magic against someone, even if it was Namid and I couldn’t hope to do any real damage. In fact, better that it be him, for that reason.

“Namid!” I called.

After a few moments, he materialized, as smooth and clear as a mountain lake in early morning.

“I am not your servant, Ohanko. I am not to be summoned like one.”

“I know that,” I said. “But I need to train, and I . . . I thought maybe we could work on some more wardings.” I winced at what I heard in my voice. I sounded like some willful spoiled kid ordering around a playmate. “If you’d be willing to help me, I mean,” I added, knowing it was too little too late.

He considered me, his face as placid as a mountain lake. Then he shook his head. “No. You are clouded.”

“I can clear myself.”