"No," I warned. "Do not even think about it." I could still see faint streaks that hadn't entirely washed out from Cody's blond mane. "Just dress like you are now. I'll meet you at the club."

I started to turn, and then a thought came to me. "Carter, can I talk to you?"

His lips twitched slightly. If that was his sign of surprise, I couldn't say. "Anything for you, Daughter of Lilith."

He followed me outside the bar, where we stood amid all the Pioneer Square partygoers. Once clear of the building's non-smoking interior, he promptly lit a cigarette.

"If you're jealous of my relationship with Simone," he said, "I can assure you, we're just friends."

"Oh, be quiet. You know that's not what this is about. Look, she was lying, right? About Seth being a coincidence?"

Carter took a long drag before answering. Angels could tell when others were lying. "Yep. But she seemed pretty sincere in the last comment about going after him regardless."

I grimaced. "Why? Why would she target Seth? Is it some kind of way to assert dominance over the local succubus?"

"Not sure. The ways of succubi - and all women - are a mystery to me."

"Jerome originally thought she'd come to spy. He had Roman follow her, but nothing came of it. She never reported in or anything. He pulled Roman from her - " I paused, suddenly turning over the events and analyzing them in a way I hadn't considered before. "But it wasn't until I told him Simone was hitting on Seth. It seemed like that was the moment Jerome pulled Roman. He seemed pretty adamant about leaving her alone."

"Did he now?" Carter inhaled on the cigarette again, but I could see thoughts churning behind his eyes.

"What?" I asked.

"Just a musing," he said. A half-truth, typical of angels. "Did Jerome do anything else after that?"

"Yeah, he put Roman on me."

This elicited surprise. "Why?"

Apparently, Jerome and Carter hadn't been hanging out recently. I gave Carter the rundown on my latest bizarre situation.

"That is weird," he admitted.

"Do you know what it could be?"

"Any number of things." He spoke flippantly, but I knew I'd piqued his curiosity - maybe even his concern.

I sighed. "I wish people would stop saying that. No one's really helping."

"I'll help you," he said, dropping the cigarette and stamping it out. "I'll follow Simone."

That was not at all what I had expected. "Why would you do that? Are you going to stop her from making the moves on Seth?"

This earned his amusement. "You know I can't interfere with that kind of thing. But I am curious about Simone's activities."

An uneasy feeling bubbled within me, one that had troubled me since I'd first met Seth, and Carter had begun taking an active role in my life. "Why? Why do you care so much about Seth? You've always been curious about what he does - and how we interact."

"I'm interested in the creative process of a great artist. It's fun to watch."

"Another half-truth." Like always, he answered the question without really answering it. I was astonished at the desperation in my voice when I spoke next. "I'm serious. Why, Carter? How does Seth - and me being with Seth - concern you?"

He chucked me on the chin. "You've got better things to do than worry about the goings-on of a curious angel. Besides, wouldn't you feel better if someone was reporting back to you on Simone?"

"Well, yeah," I admitted. "But - "

"Then it's settled. You're welcome."

He turned quickly away and disappeared into a crowd of partiers. I knew better than to go after him because he'd probably literally disappear once no one was paying attention. I sighed yet again.

Fucking angels.

Chapter 8

Knowing Carter was on the job with Simone made me feel mildly better, but there was something about him that always unnerved me when it came to Seth - and, well, my love life in general. He was too interested. I'd gotten used to an angel hanging out with my friends, but sometimes I wondered if I was being lulled into some kind of trick. Heaven had its own agenda, just as we did, and their motives were often harder to figure out.

I had a morning shift the next day. It passed by easily until Doug delivered some bad news to me about ten minutes before I was going to leave.

"Can't go with you tonight, Kincaid."

I looked up from my spreadsheet in disbelief. "What?"

He shrugged, hovering near the door to my office. He'd had the same shift as me today, and I had a feeling he was telling me at the end to save himself from hours of anger. Kind of like how people who get fired are told at the end of the day on Friday.

"There's this girl I met...and I can't really turn down the chance to go out with her. Oh, man. She's smokin'. She's got this body that - "

"I don't need the details," I interrupted. "Can't you just take her instead of me? Cody was starting to get into this idea...he'll be really down if it gets canceled."

"No need to cancel. Just go without me. I couldn't bring her instead of you - Cody needs you."

I groaned. "Yeah, but the safety of a group is gone, and I become the third wheel."

"Find someone else to go, then."

It was then that Maddie appeared beside her brother. She was relieving him for the next shift. "Go where?"

My next words made me cringe, but I did not want to go alone with Cody and Gabrielle. "Do you want to go to a, um, metal concert tonight?" At least having another woman along would kill the double date insinuations.

This clearly wasn't an invite that she'd been expecting. "Well...I would, except I've got to close, and then I'm supposed to meet a friend." I had serious doubts about the "I would" part and this so-called friend. Metal was not Maddie's scene. She suddenly brightened. "You know what? You should bring Seth."

"I...what?" I asked.

"Mortensen?" asked Doug, sounding as baffled as me.

"I don't think that's his thing," I said uneasily. I knew for a fact it wasn't.

"Yeah," agreed Doug. "Probably not a good idea."

I hid a frown at Doug's words. With as much as he wanted to get out of this and see his smokin' woman, I figured he'd be willing to push anyone off on me.

Maddie was oblivious. "No, really. He's been cooped up for weeks with the book, and I think it'd be good for him to go out. I think the wedding stuff is stressing him out."

Yeah, that made two of us. "Oh, I don't want to, um, push him outside of his comfort zone," I said lamely.

She laughed. "Like I said, it'd be good for him. I'll go ask him now."

She was gone before either Doug or I could protest. Several moments of silence hung between us. "Well," he said at last. "She can talk him into almost anything. I guess you're set."

"I guess so." He walked off, and I found it intriguing that neither of us was excited about this prospect. It drove home the double date thing even more and also made me feel guilty about Maddie's blind trust. On the bright side - kind of - I supposed it would take some balls for Simone to crash the concert and continue her "seduction" of Seth.

As Doug had predicted, Maddie did indeed convince Seth to go. It was a late show, and the four of us had agreed to meet outside the club around 10:30 so that I could distribute our tickets. Once we were all there, I glanced at the three faces before me, trying to decide whether it was all comical or pathetic. Seth was doing the averting-his-eyes thing, clearly uncomfortable that Maddie had pushed him into this. Cody was paler than usual for a vampire and looked ready to bolt at any moment. In fact, I wouldn't have been surprised if both men teamed up to formulate an escape plan. Gabrielle was the only one who looked excited to be there, her eyes alight and eager.

She was also the only one really dressed for the scene, all in black, with her hair spiked up and makeup done to dramatic levels. Cody and Seth wore their usual street clothes, and I'd dressed somewhere in the middle: black jeans and a black bustier top, adorned with heavy silver jewelry. It was clearly too designer for this place, however.

"Thanks so much for letting me come along with you guys," she said. "I didn't know any of you liked Blue Satin Bra."

"What's not to like?" asked Seth, face innocent.

I kept my eyes away from him because I had a feeling I'd start grinning. I handed out the tickets, and we headed inside, surrounded by a crowd that I decided I'd want on my side if I was ever in a street brawl.

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