“You should have seen the claws on that puppy outside. I bet when a full moon comes—”
“Anna, stay focused. This is serious. Those guys—”
“Was he a werewolf too? Like that one guy with the big penis?” she asks, devolving next to me and leaving me to think to myself.
She’s fully ranting about the werewolves and vampires again in this town, doing her lying thing at a manic level, lost to her own crazy mind.
I glance in my rearview mirror, wondering if maybe I’m not the only true gypsy in this town. Though, he never seemed to notice Anna…
So, again, what the hell is going on? Or am I just going crazier than I already am?
My hands are steepled in front of my face as Emit walks around mostly naked, nothing covering him but an open robe on as he shakes more water from his hair.
Vance makes a disgusted face as he moves away from Emit and closer to me. I sneer, and he snarls at me, before he moves back toward another window that puts him farther away from both of us.
“It’s almost a shame that she’s a Portocale,” I decide to say to break the silence.
Emit finally closes his damn robe and ties it, as Vance takes a seat and props his feet up. I keep playing out those little images she put in my head, though there’s no doubt she thinks I put them there.
“What happened when you touched her? Did you sense anything?” Vance finally asks me, even though I know he hates to ask me anything.
I relish the fact that they both want me out of here, so I take my time, drawing it all out to better torture them.
Vance’s eyes narrow on me. “Just because I’ve learned to control my urges, that doesn’t mean I’ve grown into a patient man,” he bites out.
“See? Sucks when it’s not you,” Emit says with a smirk in Vance’s direction.
Vance cuts his eyes toward Emit and snarls. The head Van Helsing is probably the wrong man to rile up in a roomful of monsters, but I do enjoy a challenge. It’s been entirely too long since I’ve had one.
But alas, I’m more intrigued by this little Portocale, who is the reason for us all even being in the same room.
“It was a visual of me fucking her, rather roughly at that, if you must know. Slightly personal, but since you’re relentlessly prying…”
I let the words trail off and grin as they both swing their incredulous gazes back to me. My hands stay steepled together as I continue to comfortably relax in my chair.
“Obviously, you made her see that,” Vance immediately accuses.
“Or he’s just lying,” the alpha wolf volleys.
“I left her sober. However, I stripped all her inhibitions, smashing any false pretenses in her path. Instead of visualizing a way to remove my head or genitals, the way all Portocales do, she was visualizing having me over and under her. It’s abundantly clear that she is truly and utterly ignorant of her current situation.”
I grin, simply because neither of them seem to believe me about what she projected in her mind. However, the wolf clears his throat and looks away, and my smile slips.
“Something you want to add, Wolf?” I ask as he smirks and glances out the window.
“I visited before the full moon, when my pheromones are at their strongest, and there was a spark,” he says with a shrug.
“Have you two seriously lost your damn minds? This is a Portocale,” Vance points out as he stands and scrubs a hand over his jaw. He moves to peer out the window. “Even you two can’t be so fucked in the head that you’d consider that.”
Emit grows serious, and I heave out a heavy breath.
“Unwind your coattails from your asshole,” I say dismissively to Vance’s rigid back, as he shoves his hands into the pockets of his slacks.
“What the hell does that even mean?” Emit asks me, looking at me like I’m an idiot. “I don’t think that’s the right saying,” he adds.
“That’s because you don’t know what coattails are, you nude barbarian,” Vance says, unable to pass up any chance to take a jab at Emit.
Emit reaches a hand down between his robe folds and grabs his bare prick, a twisted smile on his lips. “At least I know what the important parts are, unlike some mostly impotent blacksmiths I know,” he quips.
“Silversmith,” I interrupt. “He only works with silver and not irons,” I go on.
“One impotent by curse. One impotent by choice. It’s obvious you two would have an issue with the only true male in the room,” the mongrel says, causing my fists to form.
“I’m hardly impotent,” I say tightly.
“I’d say you’re close enough,” he drawls.
“This is about as productive as I’d imagined when I included the two of you,” Vance resumes as he grabs his suit jacket and pulls it back on, smoothing out the pristine fabric.
“What about Arion?” I muse. “That Portocale has no idea who he is, and he might sweet talk her out of her blood when he smells it.”
A growl rumbles out of Emit at just the mention of Arion returning. I’m surprised it’s the first growl. However, the volatile bloodsucker is the number one enemy on Emit’s list right now.
They like to build up that growing cliché.
“She does smell very powerful for a half-blood,” Vance states quietly.
“Marta’s plan clearly backfired. If Portocale blood could be forced dormant, it would have died out long ago. We know she’s not the first to attempt this,” I say in agreement, glancing around at some of the changes that have been made to this room over the past…
I’m not sure how long it’s been since I was last here, to be honest.
“I considered the same thing,” Vance says quietly, probably plotting his own plan of action.
“We still have a couple of years before Arion becomes an issue,” Emit growls.
Obviously, we’re all planning something we have no interest in telling the other. I’m not sure why we’re meeting at all.
“Maybe we can find a way to leave him underground,” I suggest to Vance’s back as he grabs his discarded weapons by the door.
Odd how we managed to put Arion down without ever once sitting in the same room to discuss the specifics, but a Portocale anomaly has us all chatting like semi-non-murderous fellows, even with no important specifics to discuss.
Vance snorts. “We were lucky to force him under to begin with,” he reminds me. “Don’t press our luck. He’s already going to be vengeful enough.”
“I guess he shouldn’t have slaughtered so many of my wolves,” Emit says on a feral growl, the words almost lost in the gravel of it. “Nor so many of Damien’s fucking things either.”
I genuinely don’t know why I’m here.
“His curse fucked his head up long ago,” I remind them all as I stand as well, not defending him in the least, but leaving them to think I am.
It’s fun fucking with their heads and giving them the fear of their worst nightmare coming true—Arion and I mending fences.
With a wave of my hand, I give the illusion I’m no longer in the room, and they both stare at the spot where I was. I take a few steps over just to ensure they can’t see me, feeling satisfied when they don’t shift their gazes to my new direction.
“I hate it when he does that,” Emit says on a snarl, glancing around as though he’s searching for me.
Personally, I don’t like giving them a visible back to stab. It’s better to slip out unseen so as not to be betrayed once more by men I once considered more important than my own brothers.
Now my skin crawls just being in the same room as them.
Still, for the first time in too long to count the years, we sat in a room without attempting to kill each other. It makes the Portocale pretending not to be a Portocale all the more intriguing.
I decide to go comb through Marta’s things and see if she had a plan of some sort for this remarkably unique daughter of hers, who collects ghosts without draining them of their life.
I can smell a storm in the air, which makes my timing all the more perfect, since the little gypsy will certainly be distracted, even if she is at home.
“You’re getting worse at this!” Anna shouts as I stay safely on the second-floor landing, far away from the toxic vapor.
Anna hacks like she has lungs, and I roll my eyes at the drama queen.
“Tell me how you died,” I call down to her, backing away from the edge.
She immediately jumps up in a karate stance and kicks out a leg. “We were in the Congo, surrounded by gorillas—the furry, chest-beating kind, not the militia guerillas with guns or no conscience—and I had to guide us to safety with no bullets left in the guns.”
I huff out a groan while shaking my head.
It’s getting even worse instead of better, and she won’t stop using her ghostly powers that only speeds up the damn process.
I’ve been distracting myself from the weird introductions I had to my wealthy clients by trying to find out where my mother’s money went, who killed her, if it’s linked to the money instead of the gypsy world, and curing Anna.
Fortunately, things have gotten boringly routine since those introductions, and everything has settled into an uneventfully normal status. Even the skittish housekeeper I met now acts like there’s nothing wrong with me popping up at the Arion residence twice a week with a box of goods.
“Three weeks, and I’m still no closer to saving you. How the hell am I going to find my mother’s killer when my mother didn’t even see them coming?” I mutter as I turn and walk down the stairs, pulling on the gas mask as I go.
She meets me when I reach the kitchen and begin moving around some of the ingredients.
“Since there’s no known cure, I’m assuming you’re not the first powerful gypsy to fail at saving the ones who’re already dead. It’s okay to give yourself a pass on this one, kid. I’m okay with dying.”
“That’s a lie,” I tell her, knowing if it was true she’d have already moved on and wouldn’t be facing the final decay at all.
“Probably,” she confesses with a firm nod. “Still doesn’t mean it’s up to you. Take that weight off your shoulders.”
Just as I grab the ingredients to try and start a new batch by altering some of my measurements to tweak the recipe, thunder rumbles overhead.
Anna and I both swing our gazes up.
“Am I lying when I say it was just sunny and bright without a cloud in the sky?” she asks dryly.
“No,” I say quickly before pulling off my rubber gloves and moving through the house, tearing off the gas mask as I dart outside.
Definitely not a natural storm. I can feel the power rolling around, confusing the hell out of me. Who or what has that kind of power? Surely this town doesn’t have enough ghosts to give off that sort of electrical charge.