“We are what you must have suspected we are, Cal. We’re descendants of the ancient ones. Dragon-kin. All the evidence points in one direction for a reason.”
He looked shocked for a moment. It was as off-guard as I’d ever seen him. “But how? You two have lived among humans for so many years. It doesn’t make any sense. And what about Christian-”
I shrugged. “He doesn’t know. We got to him early on. We figured our best bet was to keep him close to us. We mean him no harm, and we don’t have him enthralled. Hell, neither of us ever learned how. And he’s a friend now, so we wouldn’t, even if we could. He sees a lot of the same clues you have. I guess that sometimes, if something seems so impossible, your mind just doesn’t believe it. Obviously, it’s for the best if he never finds out.”
“Obviously.” He was silent for a long time. I closed my eyes, feeling weary to the bone. Finally he spoke, “I want in on it. Whatever shit is about to go down with you two, I want a piece.”
I wasn’t completely surprised. Caleb had seen it all, and he lived for action. I gave him a level stare. “I’ll be sure to call if any shit does.”
“Not good enough. I’m shadowing one or the other of you until I get action. Things have been too f**king calm lately. I’m ready for a storm.”
I smiled at him. “You think I’m gonna argue? Great, awesome, hang around all you want. We could use the backup. Happy?”
He nodded, his face back to it’s usual mask. “Yes. You might not see me, but I’ll be around.”
“Cool beans. Now get these f**king chains off of me before I decide to take exception to the fact that, the second you saw me weakened, you turned on me.”
He actually bent to unchain me. It was only then that I breathed a sigh of relief. I had been waiting for the other shoe to drop, as I usually was. Apparently, information gathering had really been the extent of his plan.
“So, how much damage did I do to Christian’s car?” I asked, rubbing my freed wrists.
Now he smiled. “You jacked it up good. He’s going to have a conniption. How are you gonna explain his charred Porsche and your charred outfit?”
I looked down. Sure enough, my T-shirt and jeans were blackened around the edges. “Hell if I know. He thinks I’m a fire sorcerer. Maybe I’ll tell him I had to fry a spider or something.”
“You up for moving to the mountain retreat yet?” he asked.
I shook my head slowly. “No. You go ahead without me.”
He gave me a questioning look. “What are you planning?”
I stood up, showing him my wrist. Of course he recognized the geas. “Nothing you want in on. Trust me.
He raised his brows at me. “Try me.”
I just shook my head at him. “No fighting. No carnage. I need to go try something particularly unpleasant to get this thing off without actually obeying it’s command, but it’s nothing you could help with. Nothing to shoot, sorry. And if that fails,” I sighed, dread curling in my belly, “then I have to go to The Grove, and I know you won’t want anything to do with the druid casino.”
He inclined his head. “You got me there. I want nothing to do with that f**king place. You wouldn’t, either, if you had a clue what they keep in there.”
I blinked at him. Caleb kept his hand in many games. It was a fact that he lived his life knee-deep in danger, and he liked it that way. Generally, I didn’t know what all of his motives or schemes were. I could trust him to do exactly what he said but never to tell me more than he thought I absolutely needed to know, and that was all. I knew that was for the best. But him having insider information on the druids was a real shock to me. Had he always been spying on the druids, or was this something new? I didn’t ask him. He wouldn’t be telling me something like that. But his wording more than intrigued me. “What they keep in there? Wanna elaborate?”
His face went from that eery stillness to downright dead between one breath and the next. It was unnerving to watch, to say the least. It was almost like getting a glimpse of him changing forms. “No. Drop it. Just trust me when I tell you that some things are dangerous to even speak about out loud. Just be careful in that f**king nightmare of a casino. You and Lynn in particular. Your blood is just too tempting.”
I was no less intrigued, on the contrary, I was dying of curiousity after that little spiel, but I dropped it. Caleb wasn’t one to waste words that didn’t need to be said, so if he said it was dangerous to speak about, I just believed him. He was a walking, talking land-mine of information, but I had learned, over the years, how to navigate his strange depths. So it was a no brainer to drop it when he said drop it, no matter how damned frustrating it was.
Caleb let me take Christian’s porsche. I didn’t want to know why he was being so helpful, so I just thanked him, nodded stiffly at Luke, and got the hell out of there.
I was a little startled to realize, as I got settled into Christian’s car, that Caleb’s strange little dungeon of a house was right on the edge of downtown Las Vegas. I shot a disgusted look at the Fremont Street Experience as I dug my phone out of the back of the car. The location was surprising, considering that the house held cages that Caleb must have wanted to keep secret, and the damn place was smack in the middle of a tourist attraction. Surprising, but good, since the nasty little errand I needed to run was less than ten minutes away.
Witch-hags were generally something I tried to stay far away from. Best-case scenario, I kept tabs on where they liked to be, and stayed the hell away from those places. They were, by far, the most unpleasant kind of witch, and they tended to all go rogue eventually, if they lived long enough, which drove the law-loving druids bonkers, since they couldn’t kill them before that happened. A rogue witch-hag wasn’t always that easy to tell apart from a law-abiding one, though the stories always told it differently. They could disguise the blood-red of their eyes when they weren’t actively using their powers, and their fingertips weren’t dipped in blood unless they just happened to be in the middle of sacrificing someone or something. But rogue or not, it was all just semantics, in my jaded mind, when it came to witch-hags. If they knew what I was, it would change even the most law-abiding hag in a heartbeat.
I was broke half of the time, though I usually worked a lot, whatever that work happened to be. Most of my money went swiftly towards my deep devotion to paranoia, and my need to stay constantly on the run. Yes, I was broke, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t worth anything. If harvested for parts, I was priceless. I was many lifetime’s worth of fortunes, if used properly. And to the hags in particular, I was limitless power. Even a good hag, if there was such a thing, wouldn’t be able to resist such an opportunity. So avoiding hags was usually a gimme.