Adam and Zen’s heads were bent over a book when I walked up. The mage glanced up. “Hey. Your blood’s over there.” He tilted his head to indicate the far corner of the desk.
“Thanks.” I tamped down the hangover of self-consciousness from earlier. Like Giguhl said, until an opportunity presented itself, I needed to keep my head in the game. Allowing this Adam thing to distract me like I was some angsty teenager with a crush would be a colossal mistake.
While I broke open the container of blood, I tried to look over Adam’s shoulder at the book. “What’s that?”
Adam looked up and wrinkled his nose at the pot of blood that was about four inches from his face. I pulled it away immediately with a mumbled apology.
As I took my first sip he said, “We were just going over the ritual for tonight to make sure we didn’t forget anything.”
I nodded and looked around for Giguhl but didn’t find him. “Where’s Mr. Giggles?”
Adam jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “He’s helping Brooks with his costume for tonight.”
Zen closed the book and made a final note on the list she’d been making. “Adam said you guys had some trouble with Mac last night.”
I quickly swallowed the mouthful of blood. “She was pretty pissed.”
She clucked her tongue. “I wouldn’t bet on her forgiving you anytime soon, either. Werewolves love to hold grudges.”
I looked at Adam. “It’s unfortunate, but we have bigger issues to deal with. Like the fact we’re still no closer to finding Maisie, or who Lavinia’s informant is, or what she’s planning.” Frustration made my chest feel full and heavy. I set the blood on the counter. “It seems like we’ve been feeling our way through this, reacting to everything Lavinia’s thrown at us instead of being proactive.”
“The ritual should help,” Zen said. “The spirits will tell us where to find your twin.”
I wished I shared her optimism. But honestly? I didn’t put much stock in voodoo as a problem solver. Sure, mage magic was powerful and effective for a variety of problems. Mages were created by the goddess Hekate— their very birthright was the ability to harness magic. But humans? I knew a lot of mortals dabbled in arcane arts, but to me that seemed more superstition and elaborate ceremony than real magic. And of course there were also those like the palm readers in Jackson Square who preyed on the superstitions of naive mortals to make money. The fact that Zen was part mage didn’t mean much to me, either. Generations of genetic dilution had to have stunted her ability to tap into the same sources of power as a full mage.
However, Adam had read the ritual and seemed to believe it would help, so I was willing to go along with it. What other options did I have at that point, anyway? “What could it hurt?” I said with a shrug.
Zen gathered her book and notes. “With that resounding endorsement, I’m off to ready the last few supplies. Be ready to head out in an hour.”
Zen disappeared into the back office. Adam continued going over the spell while I polished off the blood. A knock at the front door had me setting down my mug and reaching for my gun.
Adam and I exchanged alert, cautious glances. He got my back while I made my way toward the front. I stayed to the side of the door just in case someone decided to take a cheap shot through the shaded window. But when I pulled back the shade, Georgia smiled and waved back.
Releasing the breath I’d been holding, I flipped the deadbolts and threw open the door. Georgia strolled right in wearing a pair of skinny black jeans, a green chiffon tank covered with a black cardigan, and ballet flats. For a woman who presumably spent the better part of the night embroiled in a lovers’ spat, her demeanor seemed downright cheery.
I glanced behind her, fully expecting the sullen face of a certain werewolf to follow her in. Georgia saw the look and said, “Don’t worry. I’m alone.”
I closed and locked the door before turning back to her. Adam joined us, nodding a greeting to the vamp. “What’s up?”
“I’ve come to offer my help,” she said, raising her hands in a magnanimous gesture.
I squinted at her. “Help with what, exactly?”
“Defeating your grandmother, obviously.”
“But I thought Mac didn’t want you to—” Adam began.
Georgia slashed a hand through the air, cutting him off. “That’s between Mac and me. All I’ll say on that matter is it would mean a lot to me if you’d keep our relationship under your hats. What with mating between the races being forbidden and all. Especially when one of the lovers involved is the niece of the Alpha of New York.”
“I’d imagine Michael Romulus wouldn’t be so keen on the lesbian thing, either,” Adam said. “He’d want an advantageous male match for Mac to strengthen the pack.”
Georgia nodded solemnly. “That, too.”
I sighed and crossed my arms. “Look, Georgia, I’m the last person to be scandalized by your relationship. I’m a mixed-blood myself, remember?”
“That exactly what I told Mac,” Georgia sighed. “But she can be a tad ….. unreasonable when it comes to protecting our privacy.”
I shrugged. “Like I said, if Michael Romulus finds out about you two, it won’t be from Adam or me.”
Adam nodded his agreement. “Is that what really brought you here?”
Georgia shook her head. “No I came here to offer you the assistance of eight able-bodied vamps.”
“How exactly do you think you can help us?” Adam asked.
Georgia strolled over to a shelf containing a collection of candles. She lifted a black one with a skull painted on the glass. “You guys want to find Sabina’s grandmother, right?”
I crossed my arms and bobbed my head. “Technically, we’re trying to find my sister, but they’ll be in the same place.”
“Well who better to help you find someone in New Orleans than a group of local vampires? We know every nook and cranny and feeding ground in the city.”
Adam and I traded a look. Hmm .
Georgia rushed ahead. “We form search teams and canvass different areas for signs of your grandmother, sister, or any Caste members.” She set down the candle and pulled a piece of paper from her back pocket. Spreading it out on the counter, she motioned Adam and me to join her.
Curious, we approached to find the sheet was a map of New Orleans. “What I propose is we divide up into two teams, each responsible for canvassing a specific zone. Since all known confrontations have occurred in the Garden District and the French Quarter, we’ll start there.”