Many Bloody Returns Part 15

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"Bah," Thomas said. "Never happen. You're careful."

I snorted. "I hope you won't mind if I just give you your present and run."

"Wow," Thomas said. "Gracious much?"

"Up yours," I said, as Molly grabbed the present and hurried in through the cold, s.h.i.+vering all the way. "And Happy Birthday."

He turned to me and gave me a small, genuinely pleased smile. "Thank you."



There was a click of high heels in the hall behind us, and a young woman appeared. She was pretty enough, I suspected, but in the

tight black dress, black hose, and with her hair slicked back like that, it was sort of threatening. She gave me a slow, cold look and said, "So. I see that you're keeping low company after all, Ravenius."

Ever suave, I replied, "Uh. What?"

"'Ah-ree," Thomas said.

I glanced at him.

He put his hand flat on the top of his head and said, "Do this."

I peered at him.

He gave me a look.

I sighed and put my hand on the top of my head.

The girl in the black dress promptly did the same thing and gave me a smile. "Oh, right, sorry. I didn't realize."

"I will be back in one moment," Thomas said, his accent back. "Personal business."

"Right," she said, "sorry. I figured Ennui had stumbled onto a subplot." She smiled again, then took her hand off the top of her

head, rea.s.sumed that cold, haughty expression, and stalked clickety-clack back to the bistro.

I watched her go, turned to my brother while we both stood there with our hands flat on top of our heads, elbows sticking out like chicken wings, and said, "What does this mean?"

"We're out of character," Thomas said.

"Oh," I said. "And not a subplot."

"If we had our hands crossed over our chests," Thomas said, "we'd be invisible."

"I missed dinner," I said. I put my other hand on my stomach. Then, just to prove that I could, I patted my head and rubbed my

stomach. "Now I'm out of character-and hungry."

"You're always hungry. How is that out of character?"

"True," I said. I frowned, and looked back. "What's taking Molly-"

My apprentice stood with her back pressed to the gla.s.s doors, faced away from me. She stood rigid, one hand pressed to her

mouth. Thomas's birthday present, in its pink and red Valentine's Day wrapping paper, lay on its side among grains of snowmelt on the sidewalk. Molly trembled violently.

Thomas was a beat slow to catch on to what was happening. "Isn't that skirt a little light for the weather? Look, she's freezing."

Before he got to "skirt," I was out the door. I seized Molly and dragged her inside, eyes on the parking lot. I noticed two things.

First, that Raymond's ladder was tipped over and lay on its side in the parking lot. Flakes of snow were already gathering upon it.

In fact, the snow was coming down more and more heavily, despite the weather forecast that had called for clearing skies.

Second, there were droplets of blood on my car and the cars immediately around it, the ones closest to Raymond's ladder. They

were rapidly freezing and glittered under the parking lot's lamps like tiny, brilliant rubies.

"What?" Thomas asked, as I brought Molly back in. "What is-" He stared out the windows for a second and answered the question for himself. "c.r.a.p."

"Yeah," I said. "Molly?"

She gave me a wild-eyed glance, shook her head once, and then bowed it and closed her eyes, speaking in a low, repet.i.tive whisper.

"What the h.e.l.l?" Thomas said.

"She's in psychic shock," I said quietly.

"Never seen you in psychic shock," my brother said.

"Different talents. I blow things up. Molly's a sensitive, and getting more so," I told him. "She'll snap herself out of it, but she

needs a minute."

"Uh-huh," Thomas said quietly. He stared intently at the shuddering young woman, his eyes s.h.i.+fting colors slightly, from deep gray to something paler.

"Hey," I said to him. "Focus."

He gave his head a little shake, his eyes gradually darkening again. "Right. Come on. Let's get her a chair and some coffee and

stop standing around in front of big gla.s.s windows making targets of ourselves."

We did, dragging her into the bistro and to the table nearest the door, where Thomas could stand watching the darkness while I grabbed the girl some coffee from a dispenser, holding my hand on top of my silly head the whole while.

Molly got her act together within a couple of minutes after I sat down. It surprised me: despite my casual words to Thomas, I hadn't seen her that badly shaken up before. She grabbed at the coffee, shaking, and slurped some.

"Okay, gra.s.shopper," I said. "What happened?"

"I was on the way in," she replied, her voice distant and oddly flat. "The security man. S-something killed him." A hint of something desperate crept into her voice. "I f-felt him die. It was horrible."

"What?" I asked her. "Give me some details to work with."

Molly shook her head rapidly. "D-didn't see. It was too fast. I sensed something moving behind me-m-maybe a footstep. Then there was a quiet sound and h-he died...." Her breaths started coming rapidly again.

"Easy," I told her, keeping my voice in the steady cadence I'd used when teaching her how to maintain self-control under stress.

"Breathe. Focus. Remember who you are."

"Okay," she said, several breaths later. "Okay."

"This sound. What was it?"

She stared down at the steam coming up off her coffee. "I...a thump, maybe. Lighter."

"A snap?" I asked.

She grimaced but nodded. "And I turned around, fast as I could. But he was gone. I didn't see anything there, Harry."

Thomas, ten feet away, could hear our quiet conversation as clearly as if he'd been sitting with us. "Something grabbed

Raymond," he said. "Something moving fast enough to cross her whole field of vision in a second or two. It didn't stop moving when it took him. She probably heard his neck breaking from the whiplash."

Not much to say to that. The whole concept was disturbing as h.e.l.l.

Thomas glanced back at me and said, "It's a great way to do a grab and s.n.a.t.c.h if you're fast enough. My father showed me how it was done once." His head whipped around toward the parking lot.

I felt myself tense. "What?"

"The streetlights just went out."

I sat back in my chair, thinking furiously. "Only one reason to do that."

"To blind us," Thomas said. "Prevent anyone from reaching the vehicles."

"Also keeps anyone outside from seeing what is happening here," I said. "How are you guys using this place after hours?"

"Sarah's uncle owns it," Thomas said.

"Get her," I said, rising to take up watching the door. "Hurry."

Thomas brought her over to me a moment later. By the time he did, the larpers had become aware that something was wrong, and their awkwardly sinister role-playing dwindled into an uncertain silence as Sarah hurried over. Before, I had watched her and her scarlet bikini top in appraisal. Now I couldn't help but think how slender and vulnerable it made her neck look.

"What is it?" Sarah asked me.

"Trouble," I said. "We may be in danger, and I need you to answer a few questions for me, right now."

She opened her mouth and started to ask me something.

"First," I said, interrupting her, "do you know how many security men are present at night?"

She blinked at me for a second. Then she said, "Uh, four before closing, two after. But the two who leave are usually here until

midnight, doing maintenance and some of the cleaning."

Many Bloody Returns Part 15

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Many Bloody Returns Part 15 summary

You're reading Many Bloody Returns Part 15. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner already has 173 views.

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