Home > Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)(17)

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)(17)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"Thank you," I said.

She nodded her head briskly and set off down the road, her cart squeaking. It was too hot for flannel and wool, but then it had been a cool spring evening when she'd died a few months ago.

Most ghosts fade after a while, so probably in a few months we wouldn't be able to converse anymore. I don't know why she came by to talk to me, maybe she was still worried about my unmarried state.

I was still smiling when I walked into the office.

Gabriel, my part-time tool rustler/receptionist was working full time in the summer. He looked up when I walked in and took a startled double take.

"Karate," I lied, inspired by Mrs. Hanna's assumption, and saw him relax.

He was a good kid and as human as it got. He knew that Zee was fae, of course, because Zee had been forced to come out a few years ago by the Gray Lords who rule the fae (like the werewolves, the fae had come out a little at a time to avoid alarming the public).

Gabriel knew about Adam because that was also a matter of public record. I had no intention of opening his eyes further, though-it was too dangerous. So no stories of vampires or sorcerers for him if I could manage it-especially since there were a few customers around.

" Geez," he said. "I hope the other guy looks worse."

I shook my head. "Stupid white belt."

There were a couple of men sitting on the battered-but-comfortable chairs in the corner of the office. At my words, one of them leaned forward and said, "I'd rather fight a dozen black belts at the same time than one white belt."

He was so well-groomed that he was handsome, despite a nose that was a little too broad and deep set eyes.

I brightened my smile like any good businesswomen, and said, "Me, too," with feeling.

"I'm guessing you'd be Mercedes Thompson?" he asked, coming to his feet and walking up to the counter with his hand outstretched.

"That's right," I took his hand, and he shook mine with a firm grip that would have done credit to a politician.

"Tom Black." He smiled, showing pearly white teeth. "I've heard a lot about you. Mercedes the Volkswagen mechanic."

Like I hadn't heard that one before. Still, he didn't sound obnoxious, just mildly flirtatious.

"Nice to meet you." I wasn't interested in flirtation so I turned my attention back to Gabriel. "Any problems this morning?"

He smiled. "With Zee here? Listen, Mercy, my mother asked me to ask if you want the girls here this weekend to clean again."

Gabriel had a generous handful of siblings, all girls-the youngest in preschool and the oldest just entering high school-and all supported by their widowed mother who worked as a dispatcher for the Kennewick Police Department, not a high paying career. The two oldest girls had been coming in on a semi-regular basis and cleaning the office.

They did a good job, too. I hadn't realized that the film on my front window had been grease-I thought Zee had had some sort of treatment done to it to block out the sun.

"Sounds fine to me," I told him. "If I'm not here, they can use your key."

"I'll tell her."

"Good. I'm going to head into the garage and stay out of sight today-don't want to scare away customers."

I gave Tom Black a brisk nod, that was friendly but aloof. Then stopped to say a few words to the other man who was waiting. He was an old customer who liked to chat. Then I slipped into the garage before someone new could come in.

I found Zee lying on his back under a car, so all I could see of him was from the belly down.

Siebold Adelbertsmiter, my former boss, is an old fae, a metalworker, which is unusual for the fae who mostly can't handle cold iron. He calls himself a gremlin, though he is a lot older than the name, coined by flyboys in WWI. I have a degree in history, so I know useless things like that.

He looked like a fiftyish, thinish (with a little potbelly), grumpy man. Only the grumpy part was true. Thanks to glamour, a fae can look like anyone they want to. Glamour is the thing that makes something a fae  -  as opposed to, say, a witch or werewolf.

"Hey, Zee," I said when he showed no sign of noticing my presence. "Thanks for coming out this morning."

He rolled himself out from under the car and frowned deeply at me. "You need to stay away from the vampires, Mercedes Athena Thompson." Like my mother, he only used my full name when he was angry with me. I'd never tell him, but I've always kind of liked the way it sounds when pronounced with a German accent.

He took in my face in a single glance and continued. "You should be home sleeping. What is the use of having a man in the house, if he cannot take care of you for a while?"

" Mmm," I said. "I give up. What's the use of having a man in the house?"

He didn't smile, but I was used to that.

"Anyway," I continued briskly, though I kept my voice down so the people in the office couldn't hear anything. "There are two werewolves and a dead vampire in my house and I thought it was full enough to do without me for a while."

"You killed a vampire?" He gave me a look of respect-which was pretty impressive since he was still lying on his back on the creeper.

"Nope. The sun did. But Stefan should recover in time to face Marsilia tonight."

At least I was assuming it would be tonight. I didn't know much about the vampires, but the werewolves' trials tend to convene on the spot rather than six months after a crime. They are also over in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes, rather than months. Can't convince your pack Alpha you are less trouble to him alive than dead? Too bad. Pack law, necessarily brutal, was one of those nasty things that Bran was keeping under wraps for a while.

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