I didn't like where this was going. "What do you want me to do?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary, I promise. Just talk to him like you normally would. Like you were following up on your last conversation. Allude to nephilim if you can, and see what happens. He likes you."

"What will you do?"

"I'll be there, just invisible."

"We're going to be cutting it close to drive back here in time for the dance lesson."

"Not true. I'll teleport you."

"Ugh." I had had higher immortals do that for me a handful of times over the years. It was not pleasant.

"Come on," he urged, sensing my reluctance. "Don't you want to put this nephilim business to an end?"

"All right, all right, let me change clothes. I'm still not convinced we won't be cramming at the end."

He made some Jerome-like comments about my desire to adorn myself the old-fashioned way, but I ignored him. When I was ready, we both turned invisible, and he gripped my wrists. There was a feeling, only a millisecond long, like wind rushing over me, and then we stood inside a corner of Erik's store. A faint wave of nausea, similar to what I'd had while drinking heavily, rolled up in me and quickly faded.

Seeing no one around, not even Erik, I turned visible. "Hello?"

A few moments later, the old shopkeeper stuck his head out from the back room. "Miss Kincaid, my goodness. I didn't hear you come in. It's a pleasure to see you again."

"Likewise." I gave him a prizewinning succubus smile.

"You're dressed up tonight," he told me, taking in my dress. "Special occasion?"

"I'm going dancing after this. In fact, I can't stay long."

"Yes, of course. Do you have time for tea then?"

I hesitated a moment, and Carter spoke in my head: Yes.


Erik went to put on water, and I cleared off our table, both of us falling into usual roles. When he returned with the tea, I learned it was yet another of his themed herbals, this time called Clarity.

I complimented him on it, smiling the whole time, doing my best to play up the charming part. I even made a bit of small talk before finally plunging ahead with my mission objective.

"I wanted to thank you for your help last time with the scripture reference," I explained. "It helped me understand the whole fallen angel bit, but I confess... it sort of sent me off in a weird direction."

"Oh?" His bushy gray eyebrows rose as he brought the cup to his lips.

I nodded. "In mentioning angels falling... it also mentioned those who married and had offspring. Who had nephilim."

Boy, you don't waste time, Carter noted dryly.

The old man nodded along with me, as though I had made a perfectly ordinary observation. "Yes, yes. Fascinating topic, the nephilim. Quite a controversial subject among biblical scholars."

"How so?"

"Well, some adherents don't like to acknowledge that angels, the holiest of the holy, would engage in such base activities, fallen or no. That their half-divine bastards might be walking the world is more startling still. It makes a lot of faithful very angry."

"But is it true then? That there are nephilim out there?"

Erik gave me one of his canny smiles. "Once again, you ask me questions I'm surprised you don't know the answer to."

See? This is what he does to me too. Evades the question.

You and Jerome do it to us all the time, I shot back to the angel.

To Erik I replied, "Well, like I've said before, my scope is rather limited." He only chuckled, and I pushed the issue. "So? Are they, or aren't they out there?"

"You sound like someone chasing extraterrestrials, Miss Kincaid. Ironic, since some conspiracy theorists claim alien sightings are actually nephilim sightings and vice versa. But to reassure you - or not, perhaps - yes, they are indeed out there."

"Aliens or nephilim ?" I joked, trying to keep the conversation light, though I knew he had meant nephilim. I already knew they existed, but I was glad to hear him reaffirm it so readily. Surely if he wanted to hide being a nephilim's ally, he would have been more evasive.

"Both, actually, if you spent extensive time around my previous place of employment."

I laughed out loud, recalling how Krystal Starz did indeed stock books on how to commune with beings from outer space. "I'd forgotten about that. You know, I've actually had a few run-ins with your former boss recently."

Erik's eyes sharpened. "Have you? What happened?"

"No big deal. Just professional differences, I guess. I poached a few of your old coworkers -  Tammiand Janice? -  from her. Helena wasn't very happy."

"No. I imagine she wouldn't be. Did she do anything?"

"Came to my work and made a lot of noise, gave me some doom and gloom predictions. No big deal."

"She's an interesting woman," he observed.

"That's an understatement." I realized we'd gotten sidetracked and half expected Carter to chastise me for it. He didn't. "So, do you know of any way to spot a nephilim ? Anticipate where it'll be next?"

Erik gave me a strange look, not responding right away. I felt my stomach lurch a little. Maybe he did know more about our nephilim. I hoped not.

"Not really," he finally said. "Identifying immortals isn't so easy."

"But it can be done."

"Yes, of course, but some are better at hiding than others. Nephilim especially have reason to stay hidden since they're continually pursued."

"Even when not being nuisances?" I asked, surprised. Neither Carter nor Jerome had mentioned that.

"Even then."

"That's kind of sad."

I remembered the blurb from Harrington's book, recalling how both heaven and hell had rejected the nephilim. Maybe I'd be really pissed off in that case too, wanting to cause trouble and let both sides know I didn't approve of their policies.

Erik had little more to offer on nephilim, and our conversation digressed further and further. An hour went by to my surprise, as I would have expected Carter to stop me by now. Making my own excuses, I apologized to Erik, telling him I needed to get going. I bought some of the tea as usual, and he urged me to come back anytime, also as usual.

When I got to the door, he called hesitantly, "Miss Kincaid? About nephilim..."

I felt gooseflesh rise on me. He did indeed know something about all of this. Damn it.

"Remember, they're immortal. They've been around for a long time, but unlike other immortals, they have no agendas or divine plots to carry out. Many try to simply live meaningful and even ordinary lives."

I pondered this weird piece of information as I walked outside, imagining a nephilim commuting to a day job. Hard to juxtapose that with the horrific images I had otherwise been fostering.

Evening had long since fallen, and the parking lot was empty. Turning invisible, I waited for Carter to take us out. And waited. And waited.

"Well? What's the holdup?" I murmured.

No answer.


No answer.

Then it hit me: Carter had left on another nephilim hunt. I was alone. Great. What was I supposed to do? I had no car, and regardless of what the angel had said about me being safe when he did this sort of thing, I felt uneasy standing out here alone in the dark. I stepped back inside the store, visible. Erik looked up at me with surprise.

"Do you mind if I wait here for a ride?"

"Not at all."

Of course, now I had to get a ride. Pulling out my new cell phone, I debated who to call. Cody would be the ideal choice, but he lived far south of the bookstore and I was north. He would already be on his way to the dance lesson, and coming up here would only ensure we were both late. I needed someone who lived close by, but I didn't know anybody except... well, Seth lived in the University District. That wasn't too far away from Lake City. The tricky part was whether he was actually at his home or still in Queen Anne.

Taking the plunge, I called his cell.


"It's Georgina. Where are you at?"

"Urn, home..."

"Great. Would you mind giving me a ride?"

Fifteen minutes later, Seth arrived at Erik's. I'd half expected Carter to show back up in that time, but there'd been no sign of him. Thanking Seth, I slid into his car. "I really appreciate you doing this. My ride kind of flaked out on me."

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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