Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(14)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(14)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"Here," said Zee. He turned on the little security monitor and flipped a switch. The system that Adam had installed was slick and expensive. It ran on motion sensors, so we only had to watch it when there was something moving. Something first moved at 10:15; we watched a half-grown rabbit bop unhurriedly across the pavement out of sight. At midnight someone appeared at the door of the garage. It wasn't two people with spray paint, so I was pretty sure it was whoever painted a pair of crossed bones on my door.

His image was oddly shadowed, unrecognizable. The miscreant kept his face out of camera range - impressive since there was a camera placed just in front of the door to catch the face of anyone breaking in.

The only thing the camera got a clear shot of was the gloves he wore - the old-fashioned kind: white with little buttons on the wrist. There were odd glitches in the pictures, jumps where the camera turned off because there was no movement for it to follow. By the timers, it took him forty-five minutes to paint the bones on my door - of which the cameras caught about ten minutes. Part of the missing time covered how the painter got there and how he left.

I didn't think he knew the cameras were there, and he still avoided them. Some supernatural creatures just don't film well: by tradition, vampires are among them. The height was right for Wulfe, who would be my first choice in any vampire magicking. Since Wulfe was the vampire who knew for certain that I'd killed Andre, he was also my top suspect for the informer who had told Marsilia about my crimes.

The camera caught movement again.

"Stop it," Tony said.

Two figures, still indistinct, froze on the edge of the lights of my parking lot, and the little numbers on the lower right of the screen read 2:08 A.M. Time had jumped almost a half hour from when the bone painter had last been there.

"What was that all about?" he asked. "The person at your door?"

"I don't know," I told him. I almost said that his guess was as good as mine, but it wasn't. "Maybe someone was trying to break in, but didn't make it." Impossible to tell what he'd been doing from the camera shot. "It doesn't matter, though, because he obviously wasn't the one who graffitied all over."

Tony stared at me. Cops were almost as good as werewolves at sensing lies. He turned abruptly and opened the door to examine it. Like Zee, he traced the crossed bones with a light finger.

"Who have you been ticking off besides Bright Future? This looks almost like something the old Mob might do - classy, but designed to frighten the hell out of whoever received it."

I sighed, shrugged. "No one wanted me to get Zee out of the murder rap. But it's not the kind of thing a fae would do - too visible. And a werewolf who was ticked off that badly would just attack. I've got some people who'll look into it for me better than the police can."

Frowning, Tony made an irritated noise. "Is this another one of your 'It's too dangerous for you mere human cops? "

I rubbed my arms, but I wasn't cold, just chilled. I was under no illusions. Marsilia could have just killed me, but she was playing. But no matter how playful the cat is, the mouse is just as dead in the end. And the end would be whenever she decided. The only question was how many people - how many of my friends - she decided to take down with me.

Maybe I was panicking prematurely. Maybe she would settle for a punishment. Stefan was hers, there was no reason for the gut-deep feeling that he wouldn't be the last to suffer for my sins. I didn't know Marsilia well enough to make that kind of prediction.


"I don't know what the crossed bones mean." Other than bad news. "Zee tells me it is magical but probably not fae magic." Zee was out, anyone who cared to would know that he was fae, which was the reason that the garage was mine now, instead of his. There was a lot of prejudice against the fae. "He has a few contacts who'll take a look at it for me. I know a few other people I can ask, too." Adam had a witch on the pack's payroll for cleanup. She was good, but it would cost me a lot to hire her if Uncle Mike and Stefan didn't know what it was. This was shaping up into a real macaroni-and-cheese month.

"However, none of them will come within a hundred miles of a police investigation. Do you have anyone on the KPD who is an expert in magic?"

Tony held my gaze for a minute before giving up with a sigh. "Hell no, Mercy. You should have seen the brass's faces when they watched that video - " He stopped and gave me a guilty look. It was a video of me killing Tim... and all the stuff before that. He shrugged nervously and looked away. "There are a few who know something about fae or werewolves, but... if they know anything more, they keep it quiet for fear of losing their jobs."

He sighed and came back into the shop. "Go ahead," he told Zee. "Let's watch Tim's cousin paint the shop."

Once the two shadowy people moved fully onto the parking lot, Courtney was unmistakable. Instead of watching the whole process, Zee fast-forwarded it until the pair walked off with bags of empty spray-paint cans almost two hours later. He stopped the images when Courtney was close to the camera and impossible to mistake, her pretty, rounded face hard and angry. Zee flipped back and forth a little until we got a clear view of her companion's face, too.

The security system hadn't been in place long, but Zee loved gadgets. He must have spent some time playing with this one.

"It's Courtney all right... I don't remember her last name," I told Tony. "I don't recognize the man at all.

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