The BLOODED WORLD Continues…
“I don’t sense anything.” Rourke turned from his place in the front seat. All eight of us gazed out at the apartment building, situated on a quiet street in Baltimore, trying to figure out if we were walking into a trap. The only thing wrong with this undercover operation was our current ride. We’d been forced to do our recon in a bright orange van with the charming words Everglades Tours. See Dem Gators Up Close emblazoned across the side in bright green letters. It was less than ideal if we wanted to keep a low profile, but it couldn’t be helped.
We’d just driven up from Florida, with a brief pit stop in Georgia, where Juanita had instructed me to head to Baltimore. There hadn’t been time to swap the van out for a new, less conspicuous model.
“I don’t sense either,” I said.
“Anyone else picking up on anything?” Rourke asked.
“My window’s cracked and nothing seems amiss,” James commented from the driver’s seat.
“I got nothing,” Marcy quipped from the backseat. “Enid’s magic is as stealthy as a ghost and leaves no residue. Dang, I wish I had a pair of magical cojones like hers. If I did, I’d be spelling the crap out of everything. Those stuck-up witches would never know what hit ’em.”
“Does everything look normal to you?” I asked Kayla, the necromancer we were currently trying to help. Her younger brother was in trouble, possibly taken hostage by the Hag who was trying to kill me. The location of this apartment building was the only information we’d managed to glean from her on the ride today from Georgia to Maryland. “Can you see or detect anything out of the ordinary?”
“Everything seems fine,” Kayla answered in a flat tone. “My brother should be at school, but we won’t know until we get inside.” She made a move to open the door.
“Wait,” Rourke ordered, his voice firm enough to still her hand. “We’re taking this slow. Enid has left us alone thus far, but that’s only because she knows where we’re heading. We have no idea what’s waiting for us inside.”
I’d recently learned that Enid was Juanita’s sister, and she was after me for killing the host who would’ve given birth to her long-lost sister, Bianca. It was a tangled web, which I was trying to untangle. I’d taken away the potential for her sister to be reborn, via an incredibly evil host in the Underworld by the name of Ardat Lili, without knowing it.
Now Enid was out to get me.
“I don’t care if it’s a trap,” Kayla huffed. “I need to know if my brother is safe. I’ve waited long enough.”
“You’re not going to help anyone if you die,” Marcy pointed out, leaning over the seat. “Listen, we all have family. We know what you’re going through. My aunt, and possibly my baby cousin-niece, are missing right now. It’s driving me batty. But we have to be smart about this. If we’re stupid, Enid wins, which is what she wants. We have to outsmart the smarty. That means you can’t go in there with both guns blazing. We have to go in stealthlike. Think puma under the cover of darkness. Not elephant in broad daylight.”
I peered at my friend. “Pumas and elephants?” My voice cracked.
Marcy sighed. “Pumas are stealthy predators, elephants just stomp around and make annoying noises.” I made a face. “Never mind, it makes total sense in my mind, and that’s all that matters.” Marcy swished her hand, dismissing me. “We go in like predators, not elephants.”
I refrained from pointing out to her that most of us were predators.
“Pumas are wusses,” Rourke muttered from the front seat.
“Fine,” Marcy huffed. “We go in like big cats and wolves. Better?”
“Much,” I agreed. “And vampires and witches.”
“Way to get technical on my awesome analogy,” Marcy said.
Kayla shot us both searing gazes. “You don’t understand. We have to get to him right now, before it’s too late.”
There was no doubt Kayla was hiding important details. “Too late for what?” I prodded. “You’re going to have to be more specific, Kayla. What’s going on?” None of us wanted to go into the apartment cold if we had a better option.
Her amber irises danced, color shooting every which way, but she refused to answer. Her skin had gone from pale to light bronze since we’d plucked her out of the cemetery, where she’d been using her necromancer skills to raise the dead against us, on Enid’s orders, to protect her brother. She’d been close to death before I infused her with a jump-start of power. Now she was as good as new.
“Ray,” Rourke ordered. “Go check it out from above. See what’s on the roof. We’ll meet you on the ground.”
“Got it.” The van was so beat-up that when Ray opened the door, it sounded like metal crunching on metal.
“What floor do you live on?” I asked Kayla. “Surely you can tell us that much.”
“Fourth,” she answered.
“Can you see your windows from here?”
“No, our place faces the alley.”
“Once we exit, we fan out in groups, just like at the cabin,” Rourke instructed, coming up with a plan. “Irish, Marcy, and Nick, take the street in front. Jessica, Tyler, Kayla and I will take the back. Everyone is on high alert. Move slowly.”
We nodded as we piled out, the doors creaking to various degrees. It was hard to be “stealthlike” in a van that screamed, Look at me! I didn’t think anything could be worse than a canary yellow Hummer. It appeared I was wrong.