(Sorry I forgot last week. Thank you for being patient with me!)
The next morning I awoke with the distinct urge to not get out of bed all day. I felt ever so slightly guilty for being mean to Chase. He’d just lost his brother, after all, and here I was holding on to a year-long grudge.
Feeling defeated, I squirmed out of my bedding and got up. I opened the messy closet in my otherwise spartan room, then quickly settled on jeans and a white tee-shirt, clothes I wouldn’t mind getting destroyed if I got tossed around by the bad guys.
It happened more often than you’d think.
Clothes in hand, I left my room and made a beeline for the bathroom, then nearly jumped out of my skin when the door opened just as I reached it.
Chase stood framed in a burst of steam. His black hair was somehow even blacker when it was wet, dripping onto the shoulders of yesterday’s shirt. “Sorry, I hope you don’t mind. It’s been a while since I had the chance for a shower.”
I pursed my lips in distaste. I hated showering in an already soggy bathroom. “No worries.” I stepped around him into the bathroom. “I’ll be quick.”
I shut the door as soon as he was out of the way, cutting off any further conversation. Once I was alone, I leaned against the door with a heavy sigh, clutching my clothes to my chest. I was so not about to start dwelling on what could have been. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
Setting my clothes onto the long marble countertop, I grabbed my towel from its hook, turned on the shower, then made quick work of getting myself clean. I really did want to get back to the warehouse as soon as possible, though I had low hopes about what we’d find. If the hoodie guy we’d chased was the same one we’d seen at the warehouse, he knew we knew what was there. He’d probably gone and cleared everything out as soon as we’d run off. That meant the spheres, and whatever possible leads we had left, were gone.
My thoughts sprang again to Ethan, but I quickly dismissed the idea. I needed the Demon Council further involved in this mystery like I needed a hole in the head.
Finished showering, I shut off the water, dried off, and got dressed, leaving my wet blonde locks to dry on their own. My hair was pin straight no matter what I did to it, so I usually didn’t bother doing anything at all.
I took a final look in the steamy mirror above the sink, then left the bathroom, prepared to face the day . . . but first, coffee. Fortunately I could smell some already being made. Dory was a good roommate.
I entered the kitchen to find her sitting with Chase at the dining table. “Hey Poptart,” she said around a bite of glazed donut. “I hear you’re working for the Demon Council now. Does this mean we can afford a new TV?”
I walked past them to the fridge/freezer and pulled out a box of plain frozen waffles. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up,” I muttered. I gestured with the box toward Chase, who nodded. Out of the three of us, Dory was the one with the sweet tooth.
I stuck the waffles in the toaster, then took a seat at the table, wishing our old coffee pot could brew a little faster. “Do you want to go with us to the warehouse?” I asked, my gaze on Dory.
She shook her head. “I’m going to work, Pumpkin. We can’t just leave the office abandoned for days on end. What if a potential client shows up?”
I doubted any clients would be banging down the door, but she had a point. I turned to Chase, feeling like I should say something about how we’d left things the previous night, but before I could, he stood and walked toward the coffee pot.
I turned in my seat and watched as he withdrew three mugs from the cabinet. He filled each with a splash of the heavy cream already sitting on the counter, then added three scoops of sugar to one cup before filling them all with coffee. Holding two mugs in one hand and one in the other like a seasoned pro, he brought them to the table, setting the sugar laden cup in front of Dory.
It didn’t bother me that he remembered how we both took our coffee. Not. At. All.
I glared down at my cup.
“I’m sorry about last night,” he said as he sat. “I shouldn’t have joked around about paying you.”
I sighed. I could be such a jerk sometimes. “Don’t worry about it.” I took a sip of my coffee, then offered him a smile.
“Well kiddos,” Dory said as she stood. “I’m going to go get dressed.”
I took in the red blouse and charcoal slacks covering her white glittery skin as she walked off with her mug in hand.
“Is it just me,” Chase began, “or is she already dressed?”
I scowled, knowing Dory had always hoped Chase would come back into our lives. I’d have to withdraw my earlier thought about her being a good roommate. “You know Dory,” I muttered. “She rarely makes any sense.” I glanced back at our waffles, which had popped up a little while ago. “Let’s eat on the way out.”
Chase fetched the waffles while I poured our coffees into travel mugs, then we headed out. I opted to leave Alexius behind this time, because I really didn’t think we’d find anything. We’d probably just need to head back to the mortal realm to check in with Jason and Devin. Hopefully they’d found a lead for us to follow. I really was the worst detective ever.
As we left the house Chase handed me a napkin-wrapped waffle, and I handed him a travel mug. I didn’t bother locking the door since Dory would allegedly be heading out soon . . . not that locks did much good against demons. If it wasn’t against demon law I would have tried to bring a witch down to ward the house. As a half-demon, the wards didn’t bother me as much as they would a full demon. Of course, getting a witch to agree to visit the underground would be another story entirely.
Chase was quiet as we walked past the other houses on the street, some like normal human houses, and others with curves and accents that looked like something out of a Dali painting.
Having seen the houses countless times before, I turned my attention to Chase. “You worried?”
He nodded, his waffle and coffee both seemingly forgotten in my hands.
I took a bite of my own waffle, then pressed, “You know I’ll help you go on the run if it comes to it. I won’t leave you stranded down here.”
He shook his head. “That’s not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about dragging you down with me.”
I waved him off with my travel mug. “Nah, the Council loves me. You need to worry about yourself.”
He glanced at me, then turned his gaze back to the street ahead. We were reaching the more busy part of town, but it was early enough there weren’t too many demons out. “The Council has had an eye on you since you were a teenager, Xoe. They would have loved to recruit your father, but I think they want you even more.”
I sighed. “Yeah, portal-making demons are rare, but I don’t think we’re really that coveted with the travel spheres around.”
He gave me a look that said I was being stupid. “Your portals can take you to the dream realm. It’s a place few can go.”
I took another bite of my waffle. What he said wasn’t entirely true. I knew the Council employed a certain type of demon called a Dreamer. Those demons could visit the dream realms in their sleep all they wanted. The only difference was that I could go physically, and I could take others with me.
“Okay,” I sighed, “so maybe the Council has very good reasons for wanting me, but they can’t force me to do anything.” I sidestepped around a female demon with glistening green skin and perfectly round blue eyes, giving her a wide berth. I’d run into her kind before, and their skin was just as slimy as it looked.
Chase watched the demon move past, then continued, “They already are forcing you to do something. They’re forcing you to involve yourself in the matter with the witches and vampires.”
I took a sip of my coffee, stuffed the rest of my waffle in my mouth, then shrugged as I chewed. “Yeah, but I would have done that anyway. As much as Rose might hate me now, I would never just let her deal with the vamps on her own, and if anyone threatens the wolves, I’ll be there to back them up.”
“And the council knows that.”
“Hmph,” I replied, not wanting to discuss it further. So what if the Council knew I would help my friends? How could that possibly be held against me?
Don’t answer that.
I sipped my coffee as we neared the street leading down to the docks. If we didn’t find anything there, we’d be heading straight back to Devin’s.
I glanced at Chase’s rumpled clothes. Maybe we’d head back to his place, then to Devin’s.
Chase suddenly halted in his tracks. “What did you do with the knife?”
“What kind of amateur do you take me for?” I scoffed. “The knife is safely hidden in a place no one will ever find it.” Okay, it was hidden in my messy closet, but still.
I was ready to continue being offended by his assumptions, but his gaze had narrowed at something in the distance. The scent of smoke hit my nostrils.
I sighed. “How much you want to bet the warehouse will be a pile of ash by the time we get there?”
“I can’t bet you,” he sighed. “Dory made it quite clear you’re broke.”
I scowled at him, but didn’t argue as he started forward again. We hurried the rest of the way down the street an onto the docks. It didn’t take us long to reach the fire.
I stared at the burning building, wondering where the crate of spheres might be now.
“There goes any more clues,” Chase sighed.
I nodded. “We really need to find Nix. I have a feeling if we find Nix, we find the demons who did this.” I gestured with my mug toward the burning building.
A few demons had started to gather around, drawn by the fire. They muttered amongst themselves, not paying us any mind. I half expected to see black hoodie guy around, but it was probably just wishful thinking.
“You mind if we stop by my house before we head up?” Chase asked, drawing me out of my thoughts.
“Sure,” I said distantly. What could have been in the warehouse that they didn’t want us to find? Whoever they were, they had to know we’d already seen the spheres, so why not just take them? Why burn it down?
I felt a hand alight on my shoulder. I turned to look up at Chase.
“I’m fine,” I sighed, turning back toward the burning building. Things weren’t quite adding up, and there was one other little thing bothering me.
I was the one who was supposed to light things on fire.