The moon was high in the sky by the time we pulled up to Devin’s. It had been a disgustingly long day, but I had a feeling we were just getting started. Jason and Devin were both waiting by the front door as we parked, and approached the vehicle before we could all climb out.
Devin reached me first, ire flickering in his blue eyes. He blocked my way before I could walk past him. “What the hell made you think it was a good idea to visit the witches?”
I put my hands on my hips. “Well someone had to tell us who the bloody dagger in my pocket belonged to.”
Devin rolled his eyes, then spared a nod of greeting for Chase. “Did you call the Council yet? I’ll not have them coming after me for neglecting to relay the message.”
My mouth formed an ‘oh’ of surprise. I’d completely forgotten about the number burning a hole in my back pocket.
His gaze narrowed. “Call them now.”
I frowned. I really didn’t want to call them, but I now had more than one reason to do so. I turned to Chase. “Fill Jason in on what happened with the demon?”
He nodded, then joined Lucy as she headed toward the front door. Jason followed, giving me an apologetic shrug.
I smiled reassuringly. One angry werewolf was the least of my problems . . . even if said angry werewolf was still glaring daggers at me.
I pulled my cell out of my pocket, then gestured at him with it. “Do you mind?”
He crossed his arms. “I’ll wait.”
Grumbling under my breath, I withdrew the folded paper from my back pocket, then dialed the number. My heart was thundering in my chest, but I’d be damned if I let Devin know it.
The call was answered on the first ring.
“Alexondra,” a man’s voice answered.
Did this dude already have me programmed in his phone? “And you are?” I questioned, unable to fully keep my annoyance out of my tone.
“My name is Ethan,” he replied pleasantly. “I will be your primary contact with the Council. You will report to me on any new developments with the witches or vampires.”
I glared, wishing he could see it. “Why should I?”
Devin gave me a what the hell are you doing look.
I waved him off.
“If you will not act out of a desire to keep your wolf friends safe,” Ethan began, “then perhaps you will be motivated by the large sum we are willing to pay you.”
He had me there. Times were tough. “How large?”
“One thousand credits per week.”
I sighed. Of course they were going to pay me in demon currency. I mean, I’d take it, but having some cash in the mortal realm was nice too. Especially since I planned on helping my friends with the witch and vamp situation regardless.
“Fifteen hundred,” I countered. Sure, I was going to help them regardless, but I might as well get as much as I could.
“Deal. You are free to travel between the realms as much as you please, but no extra travels while you’re in the mortal realm. We will not risk discovery by the humans. Monitor the situation with the wolves, figure out what the vampires and witches are up to. Report to me weekly.”
Sensing he was about to hang up, I blurted, “Wait!”
A pause. “ . . . Yes?”
I really wasn’t sure I wanted to bring up Nix, but if I didn’t, I was out of clues. I highly doubted Rose would be willing to help me find her. “There’s a demon named Nix who’s been on the run from the Council the past five years. Do you guys have any leads on her?”
“That does not concern you.”
“Look pal,” I grumbled, “if you want me to work for you, you need to meet me halfway.”
“No,” he sighed, “we have no leads on that particular demon, nor is she a high priority case. Will that be all?”
“Yes,” I sighed, “and Ethan?”
“I totally would have taken the job for one thousand.”
“And I was authorized to pay you three.”
The line went dead.
“Demons,” I hissed, pushing the off button.
Devin raised a brow at me. “Everything settled?”
“Hardly,” I grumbled. “You better have coffee brewing.”
He smirked, then turned to lead the way inside. “I have so missed these times with you,” he teased.
I grinned at his back. He was a pain in the ass, but I just couldn’t help my mood lifting. It was good to be home.
I sipped my coffee, leaning against the countertop in the kitchen. The others were gathered around the island.
“So you know nothing of a supernatural innkeeper?” I asked suspiciously. “Aren’t you supposed to know all about any supernaturals in your district?”
Devin glared at me. “I’m only one man. I monitor as much as I can.”
“Do you think Abel might know something about her?” Lucy suggested. She was stationed near the island next to Chase. Jason was outside making phone calls, trying to find a lead on Nix.
Devin shrugged. “Perhaps, though he’s been quite busy running the Coalition in Utah. Things have been . . . hectic, since the big reveal.”
I smirked. “I bet.” Part of me was a little smug about Abel being the long-time head of the werewolf commission during the discovery of werewolves and vampires by the general public. He was an old friend of my fathers who’d roped me into werewolf business to begin with. He’d made my teenage life more than hectic.
“Speculating will do us no good,” Chase sighed. “She’s our only lead. Even if we can get enough information out of her to find Nix, she might not know anything. The dagger belonging to her could be entirely coincidental.”
My shoulders slumped. I really was the worst detective ever. Maybe I was running down the wrong path entirely, and should have been working the travel sphere angle from the start. The demon we’d chased from the inn had used one, and since the council didn’t have Nix, it stood to reason that this guy wasn’t with them. So he must have stolen the sphere from Sam’s warehouse, but how had he known they were there? Maybe he was the one who’d murdered Sam, but then, why did he want Nix?
“We should go check out the warehouse again,” I decided. “Maybe there was more to find than the knife.”
Chase nodded. “The spheres,” he agreed. “This must have something to do with them.”
Gripping my mug in both hands, I gnawed at my lip, wondering if asking my new Demon Council contact about the spheres would be a bad idea. On one hand, he might be able to give me information on anyone suspected of being involved with the theft of the spheres, on the other, they might realize I was helping Chase, and might add the theft of the spheres to his murder charge. Heck, they might add the charge against me too. After all, we hadn’t gone running to the council upon finding the spheres, and we knew about the secret warehouse containing them. We’d probably look pretty guilty.
Lucy walked around the central island and poked my arm. “Earth to Xoe. We need to make a decision here.”
I inhaled sharply, coming back to reality. “Okay,” I decided, raising my gaze to Devin. “You work on figuring out what’s going on with Rose and the vamps.” I hiked my thumb in the direction of the front door, where Jason was still presumably outside on the phone. “Jason can work on gathering info about our mysterious innkeeper.” I turned to Chase. “You and I will go back underground, get some rest, then we’ll go back to the warehouse first thing in the morning.”
“Why yes, miss alpha,” Devin said sardonically.
I rolled my eyes at him. He was the pack leader now, but old habits died hard. “Would you like to alter these plans in any way, oh great pack leader?” I batted my lashes at him.
“You’re utterly incorrigible,” he sighed, then made a shooing gesture. “Now off with you. Get some rest and call me tomorrow, and don’t forget to check in with your Council contact. I don’t want him calling me again.”
I gave him a little salute to the sound of the front door opening and shutting.
A moment later, Jason opened entered the kitchen. “No one seems to know a thing about our new friend. As far as anyone is concerned, a human runs the Pinetop Inn.”
“Seriously?” I questioned. “She didn’t even try to play human, and most supernaturals would smell or sense her from a mile away.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll keep looking.”
I nodded. “Thanks. Chase and I are going underground, but we’ll probably come back up tomorrow after we check out the warehouse one more time.”
He blinked at me. “Won’t you get in trouble?”
I grinned. “I have a free pass from the Council. I can travel back and forth as much as I please.”
“Something tells me the free pass isn’t worth your involvement with them.”
“That’s because you have good instincts,” I quipped, then held out my hand to Chase.
As he walked around the island and took my hand, everyone else in the room gave me an entirely knowing look. “Be careful,” they said in near unison.
I squeezed Chase’s hand. “Careful is my middle name.”
Seconds later, we were standing in the middle of my kitchen in the demon underground. Alexius lifted his head, previously curled up on his cushy bed in the corner. His tail thump thumped against his bed as I dropped Chase’s hand and moved to pet him.
“I suppose I’ll get going,” Chase said to my back. “We both should get some rest.”
Kneeling beside Alexius, I looked over my shoulder at him. “I don’t think so buddy. Nix has already been kidnapped. I’m not going to risk them coming after you too. You’ll be sleeping here.”
“Are you sure?”
Was I? Did I really want my ex sleeping in the house near the people he so willfully abandoned? “I’m just doing my job,” I grumbled. “If you get kidnapped, I won’t get paid.”
“So I’m paying you now?” he said with a smirk. “I thought maybe this was all a favor, for old time’s sake.”
I stood. “I only do favors for friends. Now I trust you can find your own way around the house. I’m going to bed.” I turned to leave, suddenly irritated. It was fine being around Chase when we had a buffer, but when we were alone, I realized something highly important.
I was still pissed.
He was silent as I exited the kitchen, followed by Alexius, who was also ready for bed. I’d find Dory and check in with her first, then sleep. We had another big day tomorrow, and I was sure things would only get worse. It was an ongoing theme in my life.
Sorry for the big delay. The next chapter will be posted on time next Sunday!