Adam paused and shot me a glance. “No, nothing like that,” he began slowly, as if readjusting to speaking to me again. “It wasn’t like she was an outcast or anything. I think she just considered herself fully mage and wanted to get rid of the symbol that marked her as being only half.”
I could relate to that feeling, although for me it was the opposite. Being raised among vampires, who had no qualms about treating me like an outcast, I’d prayed and prayed to the Great Mother that I’d wake up one morning with solid red hair. Knowing Maisie had struggled with similar issues made me relax a bit. Maybe I’d finally have someone who understood what it was like to never really belong.
“Well, if she’s anything like Sabina, I’m sure she’s delightful,” Giguhl said, his voice full of irony.
“Bite me, demon.”
Adam turned onto a circle and followed it around to an exit for Central Park West.
A few minutes later, he slowed near a large apartment building and put on his blinker. In the dark, it loomed like something out of a horror film. With its Germanic spires and gables, it was the kind of building you might expect to see covered in gargoyles. Before I could fully process the strange architecture, Adam turned into a port cochere on the side of the building.
Inside the covered driveway, a wrought-iron gate with a Hekate’s Wheel design in the center barred the entrance to an interior courtyard. Adam punched some codes into the keypad and waved at the cameras perched on top of the gates. In a few moments, the wrought-iron behemoths yawned open.
“Pretty wimpy security for the home of the Hekate Council,” I commented. A system like that? I’d be in before he could say ‘abracadabra.’ ”
Adam frowned at me. “Do you consider thermal scanners wimpy, too? Because there’s one checking you out right now and identifying you as a vampire. If I hadn’t cleared you, there’d already be a group of guards surrounding us.”
I laughed. “Fat lot of good that’ll do you. I could have a bomb hidden in the car. Boom, the whole building goes bye-bye.”
“The metal plate we rolled over at the entrance scans the undercarriage for bombs,” Adam explained. “You wouldn’t have gotten inside with it.”
I leaned toward him. “I could climb up the side of the building and shoot my target through a window.”
He leaned over the center console, his eyes sparking with challenge. He smiled slowly, deliberately, bringing my attention to his lips. “Bulletproof glass.”
I chuckled and leaned back, impressed and not a little turned on by the exchange. “Touché.”
Adam’s trademark grin returned for the first time in days. I enjoyed seeing it, but I needed to change the subject before I jumped him. Something about a man with tactical prowess always gets me. But something else tickled the back of my mind. Adam’s knowledge of weapons and security seemed advanced for someone who could just zap an enemy with a spell.
“What exactly is it you do for the council?”
He accelerated through the portico and into an open courtyard. On all four sides, the building’s walls rose ten stories into the inky night sky. “I’m part of a group called the Pythian Guard. We were formed back in ancient Greece to protect the mages who acted as oracles. But since the oracles don’t really serve the public anymore, our role has evolved over the years. These days, we’re more like the council’s private guards. We also do special projects as needed.”
“Special projects? You mean like retrieving the long-lost sister of the council’s leader?”
He cracked a smile. “Among other things.”
I smiled at his evasion. “Are we going to meet your family here?”
His expression became closed. “Just an aunt. My parents died when I was young.”
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.
He shrugged. “No need. It’s old news. Aunt Rhea raised me. She and Ameritat were close friends, so Maisie and I spent a lot of time together.”
“So does that mean we’re the same age?”
Adam smiled. “Nope. Maisie came along when I was six.”
My mouth fell open. Damn. He looked good for sixty. His magic must have been even stronger than I thought. Mages aren’t immortal like vampires. Their magic allows them to live extremely long lives, though. Adam had told me in California that Ameritat, my father’s mother, lived to be one thousand. Still, I’d figured Adam for midthirties at most. I guess I had a lot more to learn about mages—this one in particular—than I thought.
I opened my mouth to ask more, but Giguhl interrupted. “Hold the phone. Isn’t this where they filmed that romantic comedy?”
Adam squinted at the demon through the rearview. “No, the Hekate Council has never allowed cameras inside.”
Giguhl nudged my shoulder. “You know, the one with Mia Farrow? I saw it in L.A. one night.”
I turned to look at the demon. “Wait, are you talking about Rosemary’s Baby?”
Giguhl snapped his fingers. “That’s it! I loved that movie.”
Adam and I exchanged a look. “G, I think that was filmed down the street at the Dakota,” Adam said. “This is Prytania Place.”
Giguhl frowned. “Hmm, I could have sworn it’s the same building.”
“Common mistake.” Adam shrugged. “Anyway, we’re here. You ready to meet your sister?”
I looked around the interior of the courtyard. Even inside the car, I could feel the magic buzzing around like static electricity. But under that hum, I could feel something else, something stronger that I recognized instantly. Like the pull of a magnet in my diaphragm, Maisie’s blood called out to me. I took a deep breath. It was time.
“Giguhl, change into cat form,” I said over my shoulder. A puff of smoke signaled the demon’s transformation. Angry feline cursing echoed from the back seat. I glanced back, and my eyes widened. Back in California, my first attempt at magic had ended in Giguhl’s cat form going bald. I’d thought Adam had fixed that mistake, but I hadn’t seen Giguhl in cat form since I summoned him from Irkalla and asked him if he wanted to come with me to New York. Now his pale, naked skin glistened in the car’s dim light. Without fur, his ears resembled a bat’s, and his wrinkled skin and grumpy face made him resemble a shriveled old man.
“Nice,” he said, looking down at his skin. “Remind me to piss on your clothes later.”