Hot Electrons! Get them while they’re still smoking!
Supernatural Streets is finally out!
It had been a rough case. Loaned out, three death scenes, kidnapped, seconded to the FBI whether I wanted to or not. And now? I was on my way home to Oregon while part of me was still in Kentucky. Life wasn’t fair. Life has a way of kicking you when you are down, and then letting you get up before it kicks you again. I was happy, right up until I saw my captain. I locked eyes with Sean, smiling, and then I saw who was standing with him. The smile slid off my face and I felt it shatter into ice crystals as my heart froze.
She was smiling. No. She was smirking, just like she had last time I’d seen her, standing next to my late Aunt Delia. Delia’s priestess, or whatever title she’d claimed. She’d come to get my help with something and my dear aunt had backed her request. I’d gone, and I had come back from that with my world ripped in half. Now, my world was looking a lot like healing, up until this second when I faced Krystal Nerborn again. Ridiculous name, cloaking serious, even deadly, power.
“Sean…” I greeted my boss. Not my boss, I reminded myself. A decade of habit was not going to be easy to break. Maybe never my boss again. I didn’t greet her. She was nameless to me. I could see her, though. On both planes. Mauve and mustard billows of color tangled around her, dark streaks like anti-lightning tying them to her.
“Amaya. I have bad news…” He started to speak, and I caught my breath and put my cop mask back on. “There’s been a case come up. I know you’re due back in Kentucky in a week…”
“This won’t take long.” She chirped. I could see on her smug face that she was enjoying the situation hugely. I ignored her and angled my body so I was only looking at him, talking to him.
“I will be returning to Kentucky on time.” I told him. “I have a lot to take care of…”
She interrupted again. “Nothing the coven can’t do for you.”
I felt the rage rise up in me like a wave of red, and heat. It was a cliche for a reason, as the blood rushes into your eyes when your heart pounds as you face your enemy and prepare for mortal combat, it colors your vision. I saw red for a moment, then felt Sean’s hand on my elbow and he started to lead me away from where we were standing. “No, thank you ma’am.” He addressed her far more politely than I was capable of, looking back at her over my shoulder. “We can take care of Detective Lombard.”
“Agent.” I spoke, my voice faint but more even than I’d feared it would be. I would not give her the satisfaction of seeing how deeply she had affected me. “Special Agent Lombard now.”
“Right.” He grinned and put on the surfer dude persona he like to affect. “Like, totally rad, dude!”
I found a smile for him. He didn’t need to know the history. I’d do one last case for him. He’d been a great boss and I was going to miss him. Her… putting a continent between us wasn’t going to be enough. I wasn’t alone, though. Mark had my back. If I wasn’t on that plane in a week, he’d come for me. I squared my shoulders, and found a real smile backed by that assurance.
Sean briefed me on the way to the station. Krystal, in her billowy gauze with pink crystals, had drifted into the station the day before. She wanted to report a theft, she told the desk sergeant, who gazed at her over his readers and then shrugged before sliding a report through the slit in the bulletproof glass for her to fill out. One of the patrolmen who happened to be in the office had regaled everyone with the story later. She had, it seemed, pulled open a voluminous bag, and emerged after a brief rummage with a quill and a bottle of pink ink.
Hearing this, in the car, I laughed in spite of myself. It wasn’t that she was anything to underestimate, although her entire persona was designed to that end. It was imagining the look on the old cop’s face when she plunked the bottle down on the counter and started to dip her pen in it. He’d evidently turned nearly purple with emotion before managing to tell her it needed to be black or blue ink only. She’d pouted, and come up with a perfectly normal ball point pen.
It was what happened next that got me involved. The officers who had shown up to investigate were completely taken aback to discover that although an illusion of the stolen item remained, it was only that – a magical illusion. It was, I was told fervently by one of my colleagues, the freakiest experience he’d ever had, even topping that time with the hooker and the python (I didn’t ask), when he had reached out and her bidding and his hand just passed right through the place where the chalice ought to have been. It was there. He could see it. But when he tried to touch it? Or photograph it? Not there.
Sean had reluctantly agreed to ask me if I would be willing to provide my talents to her. He had, however, pointed out that I no longer, strictly speaking, worked for him. But that I might be willing to do a spot of private investigation. For a fee. I appreciated what he had tried to do. To put me in control of the situation. To give me a way out. In the end, though, I had no choices at all. When she showed up back at the station I faced her fully.
It wasn’t, after all, that she could hurt me. I’d given my left hand to be free of her. I’d been a detective for a decade, decorated, and recognized as a peer by the mundane officers I worked alongside. I was newly minted as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was, I realized in a flash of insight as I opened my mouth to reply, that she could hurt people I cared about. My partner, standing just behind me. My boss, sitting in his office with the phone to his ear and his feet up on the desk. My colleagues who couldn’t do what I could.
“I will come with you,” I heard myself saying, coolly and calmly. “On one condition.”
Read the rest of the case in Supernatural Streets, then leave a review!
Oh – and it’s that cover nice? It’s one of mine!