Page 35 of The District

Libby chuckled. “Nigel’s an old hippie who lives on the fringes of the occult world—definitely not a witch.”

“What’s this?” Eric reached up and yanked a piece of paper from the bulletin board. He slapped it down on the counter in front of Libby.


She smoothed the paper with her wrinkled hands. “It looks like a gathering of witches, doesn’t it? Right in the Lower Haight at the old union   hall. Some say that’s sacred ground for witches and brujos, a place of great power.”

Christina grabbed the notice by the corner and tugged it across the counter. “What coven is this?”

“It’s all covens, Christina. The individual covens are too small and spread apart to have exclusive meetings. This is a geographic coven for northern California.”

“The meeting is tonight.” Eric tapped the paper. “And we’re going.”

Libby stepped back. “You can’t. They’re not going to allow just anyone to waltz into their meeting.”

“But I’m not just anyone.” Christina spread her arms wide. “You said it yourself. People don’t choose covens—they’re born into them. I belong at that meeting and I’m going.”

“We’re going.” Eric swept the notice from the counter, folded it and shoved it into his front pocket.

Libby’s mouth hung open, her faded blue eyes wide. “You can’t just barge in there asking questions like the FBI.”

“We’re not going to barge into the meeting.” Christina clapped her hands, her heart racing. “I know the symbol of my coven, and I’m going to wear it proudly.”

“Now I know you’re crazy.” Libby gripped the edge of the counter and leaned forward. “You’ll be putting yourself in danger.”

“I’ll be putting myself in a position to get some information. Besides, I’ll have my weapon on me.”

“A gathering of witches and Wiccan is not going to let you walk in there with a gun.”

“Then I’ll have something better than my weapon.” She jerked her thumb toward Eric. “I’ll have him.”

“I don’t know, Christina. I’m with Libby on this one. You’re going to be putting yourself in the direct line of fire. Let me handle this.”

“They’re not going to let you into the meeting by yourself, Eric. Besides, what do you think I’m on this job for? We’re a team.”

“I know that.” He rubbed his hand across his mouth. “How are you going to get a necklace like the one Liz had? SFPD is not going to allow you to take that out of the evidence lockup.”

“Who needs a necklace? I’m going to get a tattoo.”

“That’s a little extreme, even for you.”

Libby shook her head. “I don’t like this.”

Christina rolled her eyes. “A temporary tattoo. With that baby, I’ll have carte blanche into any witches’ meeting in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Tattoo parlor?”

And just like that, Eric was on board. She knew she could count on him. He definitely had that protective streak—all the Brody brothers had it—but he liked his women strong, as long as he could be there to back them up. Weak women reminded him of his drug-addled mother.

“I give up.” Libby hugged herself. “Turn right out of the alley, walk a few blocks and you’ll be in the middle of a whole street teeming with them. I’ve heard Ink Masters does good work.”

“Ink Masters, it is.” Eric rapped on the counter with his knuckles. “Thanks, Libby.”

As they walked out the door, she called after them. “Be careful.”

But the tinkling of the bells and the drumming of Christina’s heart drowned out her words of warning.

Eric took her hand and laced his fingers through hers. “Are you sure you’re up for this?”

“It’s not a real tattoo, silly.”

He squeezed her hand. “You know damn well that’s not what I meant.”

“It’s just a witches’ meeting. What could possibly go wrong? It’s not like they’re going to be practicing any human sacrifice.”

“And you know this, how?”

Laughing, she dug her nails into his skin. “I think this is going to give us some good leads.”

“I think you’re a little too excited about being with your own kind.”

She snorted and tugged on his arm. “Look. We just entered the tattoo mecca.”

They strolled past a few shops until they reached the end of the block, where Ink Masters reigned supreme in the bottom floor of a pink Victorian.

“Are you sure you don’t want to do this with me, for real? You know, his and hers.” She tapped his denim-clad backside and it felt as good as ever.

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