Slade’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. I smiled, enjoying the rare sight of Slade being caught off guard.
“What the hell is going on here?” he demanded, looking at me.
“Slade, this is my sister, the honorable Maisie Graecus.”
He blinked and stared at Maisie. “Maisie Graecus, as in the leader of the Hekate Council? You’re Sabina’s sister?”
“Twin sister,” she corrected, smiling.
“Excuse me, but if you’re done with the introductions, we have a situation here,” Giguhl said.
Slade schooled his features. “I apologize if anything I’ve said tonight has offended you,” he said to Maisie. “I had no idea who you were.”
She waved away his apology while I rolled my eyes at his ass kissing. “That was the point. I’d hoped to avoid revealing my identity, but since this situation involves both my sister and one of my constituents…” She trailed off, looking toward Lenny.
“Of course,” Slade said. “If there anything I can do, just let me know.”
She nodded dismissively, obviously lost in thought as she puzzled how to proceed.
I crossed my arms, trying to tamp down my impatience. If it was up to me, Lenny would already be dead. But Maisie was right. We needed to get to the bottom of this mess.
“Do you have any brass handy?” Maisie asked finally.
“Of course,” Slade said. He walked over to Giguhl and pulled a set of keys out of his pocket. Giguhl glared at him while he unlocked the collar.
“Take off hers, too,” Giguhl demanded.
Slade glanced at Maisie. She nodded. “By all means.”
He clicked off Valva’s collar next and brought both to Maisie. She shook her head. “Please place it on Lenny.”
Slade smiled his apology at his lack of thought. Brass dampens magic. That’s why all the demons in fight club had to wear brass collars. It prevented them from cheating and blasting their opponents with demon magic. They also worked on mages, which was why Maisie refused to touch them.
Slade clamped a collar around Lenny’s neck. “Okay,” he said.
Maisie’s movements were economical as she switched into business mode. “I’m going to release the spell in a moment. Let’s make this clear from the beginning: I’ll be asking the questions. If any of you are unable to hold your tongue during this process, you will be asked to leave. Is that clear?”
The four of us nodded. Maisie took a step closer to Lenny and whispered something under her breath. The air popped as the spell released. Lenny stumbled forward, his previous momentum cut short. “What the hell?” he yelled. His hands moved to his neck. When he realized what was around his neck, he paused. His eyes closed. “Oh, f**k. I’m a dead man.”
“Now, now, no one’s going to kill you,” Maisie said. “We just have a few questions.”
Lenny shook his head. “You’re wrong. When she finds out the demon’s still alive, she’s going to kill me.”
“Who is?” Maisie said in a soothing voice.
Lenny was so distraught he didn’t even realize Maisie had changed appearance. “I don’t know!”
I clenched my fists against the urge to jump in and throttle the mage. Maisie moved closer, all soothing voice and calming movements. “What do you mean you don’t know? How did you know someone wanted Giguhl out of the way?”
Lenny ran a hand through his greasy hair. “I got a phone call. Some chick told me that if I had Valva challenge the new demon fighting at Vein, she’d make sure all my debts were paid.”
“She asked for Valva specifically?” When he nodded, she continued. “Why?”
“She said he’d beaten the other demons too easily. Maybe a hot piece of demon ass like Valva would distract him long enough so she could kill him.”
I glanced over at Valva. She shot Giguhl a pained look, as if apologizing. He patted her arm to let her know he didn’t blame her for Lenny’s plan.
Maisie frowned. “But I thought you and The Shade had an agreement that if Valva threw the fight, your debt would be forgiven. Why agree to this mage’s plan?”
“He offered me that deal after I’d accepted the chick’s offer. She sent a wad of cash as a down payment. The note she sent with the money said failure would be really bad for my health.”
“If she sent you money for the debt, why accept Slade’s offer?” I said, unable to help myself.
“It was the only way I could guarantee Valva would get in the ring with the Mischief. Shit! Now everything’s ruined.”
“Damned straight,” Slade said. “Your debt just tripled to cover the money I lost tonight.”
“Oh, gods!” Lenny’s shoulders drooped.
“Lenny, I need you to calm down and focus. When did this female contact you?”
He gasped back a sob. “Two days ago.”
“Did she give you a name? A number? Anything?”
He shook his head. “Nothing. The number showed up as unlisted. No name, either. I think she was a mage, though.”
Maisie’s eyes shot to mine. I nodded, acknowledging I caught the implication. Now we knew whoever sent Eurynome was female. Now the suspect list included only fifty percent of the mage population.
“Why do you think she was a mage?” Maisie asked.
“She said something about that one there”—he pointed at me—“being a threat to magekind.”
The hair on the back of my neck prickled. I gritted my teeth against the questions that revelation brought up. Maisie was on top of it, though.
“If Sabina’s the threat, why did she want Giguhl dead?” Maisie asked.
“She said she needed the demon out of the way so she could personally take out the mixed-blood.”
A growl ripped through the room, echoing off the concrete walls. Lenny cringed, not so brave now that he couldn’t hide behind his magic. I could practically smell Giguhl’s anger. I couldn’t blame him, since I was feeling pretty hot myself. Maisie shot the demon a warning look. Valva petted his arm until he stilled.
“I’ve heard enough,” Maisie declared. “Lenny, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of a mage’s familiar.” She looked at Slade as Lenny’s head drooped. “I need a phone.”
Slade pulled his cell from an inner pocket of his suit coat. While Maisie called in backup, I went over to Giguhl.
“I’m not in trouble, am I?” Valva said.