Kicking It Page 55


’’Welcome back.’’


Vicky\s lips pressed together and her brow crinkled as if she was trying to fight tears. She definitely wasn\ all smiles now. ’’Where am I?’’


I didn\ bother answering. ’’We need to talk about the shoes.’’


’’Shoes?’’ She shook her head and one fat tear slipped down her cheek.


This woman should have been acting, not waiting tables. I leaned over her and let all the rage I felt over Russell being attacked into my eyes. She cringed, shrinking back from me. Unbelievable.


Behind me, the metal door opened and I turned as Derrick walked into the room. I met him at the circle\s edge. The barrier spell blocked everything but sound, so we could talk, but he couldn\ enter and I couldn\ leave without an ordeal, as someone would have to dismiss and recast the circle. I hoped this wasn\ something that would call for that.


’’What\s up?’’


Derrick frowned and I knew it was bad news before he said anything.


’’I had her blood run. The other waitress was right she\s completely human.’’


That meant there was no chance she cast the spell on the shoes. There was a player in this that we were missing.


I nodded my acknowledgment and turned back to Vicky. She\d curled up on the cot and I was pretty sure she was crying. Did she even know what she was doing? Well, I was about to find out. Activating my lie detector, I walked back across the room.


’’Tell me about the red heels you were wearing at work tonight.’’


She frowned at me. ’’I don\ know what you want me to say.’’


’’They\ e spelled. Did you know that?’’


Her eyes widened and she shook her head. Which didn\ help me;my lie detector spell required her to speak.


’’Yes or no?’’


’’No, of course not. What kind of spell?’’


I glanced at my charm;it hadn\ changed, which meant she was telling the truth. She was as innocent as she acted. I leaned back and let my face soften.


’’Where did you get them?’’


’’Um, I was in the hospital for . . . Well, I was unwell, and one of my customers sent them with a note that said he hoped they\d make me feel better. And they did. When I wore them I felt pretty and happy.’’


I tapped my toe but managed to suppress any other sign of my impatience. Now that I knew the witch who\d created this mess was still out there, I was anxious to find him. ’’Who was the customer?’’


’’Eddy. He\s a regular.’’


That didn\ help me.


’’Eddy what?’’


’’Oh, um . . . Edward Mackenzie.’’


Now that was what I needed. I glanced over to see if Derrick was still in the room. He was. He nodded to indicate he\d heard the name and then he hurried out the door. Knowing my partner, he\d have the address and any information in the national witch database about this ’’Eddy’’ before the guard in charge of the circle released me.



It was two hours before dawn when I pulled my Hummer to a halt several houses away from Edward Mackenzie\s front door. I slipped out of the car soundlessly, my obfuscation charms already in place. The street was quiet as I hurried down it, and not even a dog barked in the predawn light.


Unsurprisingly, Eddy\s house looked like all the others, with the lawn well maintained and flower beds identical to his neighbors\. I crept up the drive silently, watching the shadows, but it appeared to be just another house in a quaint neighborhood. You know what they say about appearances.


My lock-picking spell made fast work of the front lock but that was the easy part. Zipping my jacket, I activated a charm that was part of the reason MCIB recruited me in the first place. The charm took power, a lot of it, and one of my rings held raw magic just to power this spell and it did so only once per charge. But it was worth it. I stepped through Eddy\s household wards as if they didn\ exist. Once I was on the other side of the threshold I shut down the charm and opened my jacket again so I\d have access to my weapons.


I ran into my first shadow creature almost immediately. I\d been looking for the creatures but I still almost missed it. Judging by the way it swung at me, they could see through my charms.


But I had a new secret weapon.


Jumping out of the creature\s reach, I released a crossbow bolt into its chest. The vial in the bolt snapped, releasing the spell. At first the shadow continued to move. Then the first pinprick of light formed in its torso. It might have started small, but in less than a heartbeat I had to shade my eyes as light poured out of the shadow.


Once the flash faded I dropped my arm and looked around.


’’Like that? I spent half the night working on it,’’ I said with a smile. Not that the shadow creature could care. He\d been vaporized.


I worked through the house room by room. The creatures made no sound as they evaporated so only the soft twinge of my crossbow accented the night.


Dawn was starting to pour through the windows as I reached the last room. I stopped at the door. A soft snoring sound drifted out of the room. Eddy, I presume. What most would-be criminals didn\ seem to understand was that the monsters were hard and dangerous. But the witches themselves? The witches went down easy.


Edward Mackenzie didn\ so much as twitch as I snuck into his room.


His capture?


As fast as a snap of a crossbow.



Vicky was cleared of charges and moved to the hospital. She\d been an unwilling accomplice, and really just another victim of the spelled stilettos. Especially once the effects started wearing off and she sank back into her depression. She\d have her own personal battles in the coming months, but this time she\d stick to traditional coping methods. I was betting she\d make it out to the other side.


While the waitress\s condition deteriorated, the other victims were making steady improvements. None had been released yet, but most were expected to be back home and enjoying a normal life again soon. Russell Lancaster had regained consciousness, and when I visited, he even cracked a smile. Edward Mackenzie, on the other hand, was looking at a very long prison stay and likely a magical neutering.


All in all, a job well done.


’’Done’’ being the key word there. Now maybe I\d finally get to my vacation.


I locked my weapons in the wall safe well, at least most of my weapons and then padded barefoot across my room and into Derrick\s. ’’Tell me I get to act like a tourist now.’’


He looked up from where he was packing his suitcase not a good sign and shook his head. ’’We caught a bad one,’’ he said, lifting a manila folder. ’’It involves a grave witch.’’


I grimaced. If a grave witch was at the center of the case, that meant I\d most likely be hunting dead things. Excessively deadly dead things. On the plus side, grave witches were rare enough that we\d likely identify our culprit easily. ’’Do we know who we\ e looking for?’’


Derrick nodded. ’’A witch named Alex Craft.’’



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