"That will do."
From where I stood, I could see the path leading down the slope and under the bridge to the troll's bunker. "How did it go?"
"He's sleeping like a baby." Luther shut the van's door and leaned against the vehicle. "Ate two hours out of yours truly's already-busy schedule, too."
"The least you can do since your wards failed."
Luther pushed from the car. "My wards don't fail. They're gone." He made a fist and snapped his fingers open. "Poof! No residue, no trace, nothing. Never seen anything like it. It's as if ..."
"They had never been there," I finished. D?j? vu.
Luther focused on me like a pointer on a pheasant. "You know something."
When in trouble, stall. "Me?"
"You. Tell me."
"Can't." First, the wards around Adam's workshop. Then here. Crossing the bridge was the fastest way out of Sibley.
"Kate, stop screwing around. If someone is going around the city yanking wards out of the ground, I need to know about it."
"I can't, Luther. Client confidentiality."
"You want me to haul you in for questioning?" Luther said. "Because I'll do it. I'll do it right now. Watch me. I know people who will gently persuade you to be forthcoming."
I looked at him. "You really need to work on your threats. I can't tell if you're threatening me or inviting me for tea."
"The two aren't mutually exclusive. One cup of the tea at the station and you will tell me everything you know out of sheer self-preservation." He held his hand out and bent his fingers back and forth in the universal "bring it on" gesture. "Out with it. Or else."
Andrea stepped out of the Jeep and leaned against the bumper. Apparently she felt I needed backup. If we were lucky, Grendel wouldn't tear through plastic and devour de Harven's corpse in Hector's back. "Luther, to haul someone in, you have to have probable cause, which you don't."
A faint scrape of a foot against dirt came from behind the van. I leaned to glance around Luther and saw a man walking up the path from the water. He wore black pants, black boots, a gray shirt, and a black tactical vest over it. Black aviator shades hid his eyes. Add dark blond hair cropped short and a clean-shaven jaw, and you had yourself a genuine Agent of Law Enforcement. Shane Andersen, knight of the Order.
"You think he's got `government badass' tattooed on his chest?" I murmured.
A faint grimace skewed Luther's mouth. "And `I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you' on his ass."
Luther wasn't hard to irritate, but there was some genuine hate there. "What did he do?"
Luther glanced at me. "He called me `support.' I'm not support; I'm the damn primary on this case. Without me, they'd still be trying to mince the troll into a meat pie."
Shane hero-swaggered his way to the top of the path and stopped before us. "Hello, Kate."
He glanced at Luther. "Is she bothering you?"
"Mm-hm." Shane lowered his glasses on his nose and gave me his version of a severe stare.
I leaned a little toward Luther. "Is this the part where I faint in fear?"
Luther bit his lip. "He might also accept falling to your knees and holding your hands in humble supplication. Makes it easier for him to slap the cuffs on."
"Your presence here is a distraction," Shane said, obviously savoring every word. "You're keeping a PAD officer from his duties. Move along, Kate. There is nothing to see here."
Asshole. Let's see, two MSDU vehicles, cops down by the river. Too many witnesses. My brain served up a headline: BEAST LORD'S MATE PUNCHES KNIGHT OF THE ORDER IN MOUTH, KNOCKS OUT FOUR TEETH. Yeah, not today.
"Sorry, Luther, I've been told to move along." I shrugged. "Got to go. I'll call you if anything. Oh, and, Andersen, if you're still having trouble with that bug up your ass, let me know. I know a guy--he'll pull it right out."
I turned to the Jeep. Just in time, too--Andrea started walking toward me, focused on Shane like a bird of prey. Time to get the hell out of here. "It's a shame about your being kicked out of the Order, Daniels," Shane called. "Losing your home like that, too. I always thought you were capable. I know people who could've helped. If you'd just come to me, I could've made things easier on you. Life is tough, but at least you wouldn't have to prostitute yourself to that creature."
"Dude," Luther exhaled.
Andrea picked up speed, her eyes furious. I had to get her out of here now. She was barely holding on to the edge of reason as it was. If she pulled her gun on him, she'd go to jail, and not even the Pack lawyers would get her out.
"Being in the Order doesn't make you untouchable, Shane." I kept walking.
"Women sell themselves because they're starving, because they've got kids to feed, because they are addicted," Shane said. "I don't condone it, but I understand it. You sold yourself for four walls on Jeremiah Street. Was it worth climbing into bed with an animal every night?"
I ran into Andrea. She tried to push past me and I blocked her. "No."
"Not now, not here."
"Hello, Nash," Shane called. "You want me to box your guns and send them to your apartment? Save you the shame of coming to the chapter?"
Andrea gripped my arm.
"Later," I told her. "Too many people now."
Andrea clenched her teeth.
She turned on her heel and we went back to the Jeep. I slid Hector back into the traffic.
"That bastard," Andrea squeezed out.
"He's a loudmouth who likes talking shit. There is no law against being an asshole. Let him hide behind his shield for now. That's all he can do."
Andrea squeezed her hand into a hard fist. "If I still had my ID ..."
"You would be the best of friends."
She glared at me.
"It's true," I told her. She didn't answer.
The first ten years of her life, Andrea was the punching bag of her bouda clan. She'd spent the last sixteen making sure she would not feel powerless again. She had never walked the street without the added weight of the Order's ID. She was used to being a good guy, respected and even admired for what she did and who she was. She was never pushed around by anyone with a badge, because she carried one. But every choice had consequences, and now these consequences were hitting her right in the face.
"We can't even do anything to that worm," she ground out.