“The Reverend, I presume,” said Giguhl from my shoulder.
“That or someone’s dressed up for a Halloween party,” Brooks said.
“Which is it, mister?” I tilted my head. “That a shitty costume or are you really the Reverend?”
If hearing a cat talk shocked the human, he didn’t show it. He tossed his long hair and sneered. “Who the f**k’s askin’?”
“Who we are is less important than why we’re here,” I said.
Behind me, I felt magic rising on the air as Adam prepared for a showdown. I hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but I was also prepared to cut through those junkies like a needle through a vein.
“Well?” the Rev asked.
“We’ve come to get our friend.”
The Reverend’s eyes narrowed. “By whose authority?”
I pulled my gun out and pointed it at him. “Smith and Wesson’s.”
He laughed and removed a gun from the hollowed-out Bible in his hands. “They’re gonna have to take it up with my old friend Mr. Glock.”
I sighed. “Look, ass**le, you’ve got a lot of junkies there, but I’ve got two mages, a Changeling, and a demon with me.”
“And what are you?” he said, sounding unimpressed to be facing down a bunch of dark race badasses. “Some kind of mixed-blood?” He spat the term out with enough venom to tell me he was acquainted with dark race politics. Mixed-bloods were the lowest of the low up until the leaders revoked the law forbidding interracial mating. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as well versed as he thought if he didn’t realize who I was.
I smiled. “My name is Sabina Kane—maybe you’ve heard of me?” He didn’t look impressed, but I wasn’t done. “And all you need to know about me is I have an itchy trigger finger.”
“And if I were you, I’d be worried about the call I made to Damascus White just after I was alerted to your intrusion.”
The sounds of screeching brakes sounded from out front.
I frowned at him. “You work for Damascus White?”
The Rev shook his head. “We’re business partners.”
“Ah,” I said, “he gives you protection in exchange for a cut of the blood money you get for pimping addicts to vamps?”
The Reverend smiled in a way that reminded me more of the Devil than a man of the cloth. “Yes, ma’am.”
If Damascus White really was behind the Reverend’s operation, he’d likely arrive with a lot of goons, like those he’d had with him the other night. Which meant things were about to get really fangy and unpleasant.
“Why would Damascus White tell Sabina about this place if he’s the one behind the operation?” Adam said.
“Probably assumed the girl would be dead and dumped before you got here.”
“Why would he assume that?” Adam demanded, his voice edged with acid.
The Rev shrugged. “Because he called me right after your meeting and asked me to kill her before you came snooping around.” He frowned at me. “Which would have worked if you hadn’t moved so fast.”
Anger boiled in my midsection. I’d known Damascus White was dirty, but he’d managed to fool me into believing he wasn’t involved. “Sorry to f**k up your plan, but we’re taking her with us.”
“Sabina, we should go,” Brooks said, his voice high with panic. The Changeling was more a lover than a fighter.
“Not just yet,” I said. “I’d like a few words with Mr. White first.”
I started to step toward the door, but Adam’s voice rang out like a shot. “Stand down, Red. We’re leaving. You can deal with Damascus later.”
“Bullshit.” I rounded on him. “They can’t just—”
Adam’s gaze was hot as he stared me down. “We can’t risk it. She needs help now!” He glanced down at Cadence, who was passed out in his arms. A rivulet of blood dripped down her throat.
Before I could answer, several things happened at once. Giguhl shouted something, and at the same time, a loud bang split the air. Searing heat exploded in my shoulder. I looked down to see blood blooming under my white tank top.
“Ouch! Godsdammit!” I shouted. “This is my favorite shirt.”
The Reverend’s expression morphed from satisfied to terrified. “But…but why aren’t you dead? That was an apple cider bullet.”
I smiled wide enough to flaunt my fangs. “I’m a demigoddess, dumbass.” I marched forward and grabbed the gun from his hand. “Fuck!”
The good news was I was fine, except for the searing pain to both my shoulder and my pride. The bad news was, the gunshot spurred Damascus and his goons to speed up their entry. The front door crashed open, quickly followed by the sounds of boots on stairs. “We’ve got to go, Red!” Adam yelled.
I realized then that if we tried to fight our way out of the drug den, we’d all be leaving with more holes than we entered with. No, walking out wasn’t an option. That left—
“Circle up!” I coldcocked the Reverend in the face with the butt of his own gun. His eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed in a heap. Behind him, the junkies slunk away like rats deserting a sinking ship.
I adjusted Giguhl on my shoulder and moved in at the same time Damascus appeared in the doorway. His gaze hit mine like a punch. My hand itched to challenge the son of a bitch. But my instinct to fight was overridden by the stronger desire to ensure the safety of the beings I cared about. “Hold on, everyone!”
Just as Damascus ran toward our small group, the vortex rose and we disappeared. His voice followed us into the void. “This isn’t over!”
He was right about that much, but his comeuppance would have to wait until Cadence was stable. Dammit.
* * *
When we got back to Zen’s shop, we materialized in her sitting room. The voodooienne was elsewhere, so I sent Giguhl off to find her. Meanwhile, Adam carried Cadence’s weight to the sofa. She was in and out of consciousness. I preferred her passed out because consciousness brought with it angry sobs that wracked her whole body.
While Brooks knelt next to Cadence and covered her with a blanket, I pulled Adam aside.
He blew out a long breath. “Gods, she’s in bad shape.”
“No shit,” I said. “Let’s hope Zen’s got the patience to get her through the detox.”
He frowned at me. “She’s a mage. It shouldn’t take as long to get the junk out of her system.”