Michaels and Gabriel both ducked reflexively before looking at Ted. Ted chuckled. “I think she found the —”
“I’m perfect!” Laura came flying through the door waving a sheet of paper. She shoved the paper into Micheals’ chest. “Perfect perfect perfect perfect perfect.” She spun around in a ballet twirl before throwing herself into Gabriel’s arms in a swoon. He caught her, rolling his eyes as he did so. “I’m perfect!” She grinned up at him.
“Holy shit.” Michaels looked down at the paper. “She’s uh…” He chuckled. “Not kidding.”
“I could use a little context.” Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
“SATs.” Laura straightened. “Perfect score. 1600, bitches.”
Which means our little girl is going to college, Erilon’s voice echoed around them.
“Wait.” Laura blinked. “What?”
“Pretty much any college she wants.” Michaels nodded.
“But uh…” Laura shifted her weight. “College costs um…”
“You let me worry about the costs.” Ted immediately shook his head.
Pfft. Give me five minutes and it won’t cost you anything.
“We want to keep things legal, Erilon.” Ted sighed.
It’ll be legal. Ish.
“No. Totally legal.” Michaels folded his arms. “I don’t want any problems cropping up during her presidential campaign.”
Oooh, running one of those sounds like fun.
“Let’s start small.” Laura grinned. “I’m gonna be mayor of this place first.”
“I’m…” Gabriel exhaled. “A little scared.”
Adam headed into the warehouse. If their information was correct, there was a smuggling operation using the place as a base. He chose the form of a fly, zipping in to take a look around. It took him less than a second to verify the information was correct. He landed on one of the crates, then shifted into the form of a rat and ran along atop to look at the shipping labels. Naturally, the box he wanted was in the center of the room, with guards around. Not really going to be a subtle way to get it open.
Damn it. He hated when he had to do things the hard way. At least these guys weren’t anything resembling innocents. This particular ring also liked dabbling in some occasional human trafficking. Not that it mattered. He had his orders. Wren wanted the artifact. He shifted back into the fly, then went up behind a guard not immediately visible to the others.
A quick shift back to human and a neck snap took care of the guard. At least now he didn’t have to worry about being naked. After trying to work it out on his own and failing, he’d taken a different tactic. He’d simply asked Wren to transform him into a werewolf. It had been almost as slow and agonizing as the first time the hag had transformed him. Bringing his gear with him when he shifted still added an extra level of pain. It was worth it.
Another few shifts, and he’d taken out the perimeter guards. That left the group of seven in the center. Three were on watch, alert. The other four were playing cards, but had their weapons at hand. He flew in on insect wings, then transformed behind one of the men. The man was dead before the others realized Adam was there. Rather than use his own weapons, he used the dead man’s gun. He got three before the others got their weapons up, then he shifted again, dropping what he held in his hand as he did so.
As they looked around in confusion, he changed position. Then he became human again, drawing his own gun in a practiced movement. Two more shots into the back of their heads, roll, come up to fire again, and then there was one left. He shifted as the man fired, and the bullet missed him. Then he shifted midair, using his momentum to bring the man down before snapping his neck.
He retrieved his gun from where he’d dropped it. Clothing and the like he could shift with him. Things held in his hands he couldn’t. It still made no sense, but that was the way it worked for werewolves as well. Magic didn’t seem to have much respect for logic. He put the gun back into its holster, then went to the crate.
Rather than look for a crowbar, he simply shifted into something stronger and broke the crate open before going human again. The artifact Wren wanted was fortunately light and small. He set it on the ground before shifting into an eagle. Then he simply picked it up and flew away, leaving the corpses of a dozen men behind him.
There had been a time killing bothered him. Seemed a lifetime ago, now.
“I’m not a little girl.” Laura narrowed her eyes at Michaels. While normally she appreciated how protective her boys were toward her, right now it was just annoying.
“You kinda are.” He shook his head. “It’s six hours away.” He sighed. “I could ask Sister Doris to —”
“I’m not touring my potential alma mater with a nun.” She folded her arms. Granted, Sister Doris was pretty awesome. Especially since Daniel had cured her bone cancer and she could actually do things again. “Look, you guys are only six hours away, and Magda’s crew is down in California right now doing their thing so if like an apocalypse hits or something they’ll only be like four hours away.” She sighed. “And it’s not like you’re going to be walking me to class every day anyway if I do decide this is the place.”
That will be my job. Michaels, you know I’ll be keeping an eye.
“And I’ve got the most overprotective intangible ass-kicking demonic big sister riding shotgun, so…” She shrugged.
“Oh, you think I’m worried about you?” He raised an eyebrow. “You. Erilon. Six-hour drive.” He glared. “My. Car.”
“Well, Ted needs his for the center and Gabriel bought a motorcycle after —”
“After you drove his car into the ocean!” He waved a hand.
“There was a psychotic fairy thing chasing you. Was I supposed to not run it over?” She rolled her eyes. “It’s not like I had any other source of iron since I can’t get a concealed carry permit until I’m eighteen.”
“I explained this to you. The thing to the left of the gas pedal is called the brake pedal.” Michaels sighed.
It’s a good school.
“It’s six hours away.” Michaels shook his head. “And across state lines.”
“I’ll miss you to.” She smiled before hugging him.
“That’s illegal in this state.” Harry narrowed his eyes.
Adam looked down at the joint in his hand, then put it back to his lips and inhaled. “Arrest me.”
The police captain glared at him, but didn’t make a move. He knew better. Giroux had asked Wren to deal with a couple problems in this particular cabal cell, and Wren had taken an unholy delight in showing off Adam’s abilities. The fact that a monster like him obeyed her had increased her own standing. And made everyone in the cell terrified of him. Harry was one of the few that would even approach him. He could have dealt with the fact that man was an asshole. The problem was the man was also a pedophile, and thanks to Wren’s orders there wasn’t much he could do about it at this point except continue antagonizing him and hope he’d make the first move.
Some cells were better. Good people who thought they were doing the right thing by joining up with the group doing something about vampires and werewolves. If they’d all been like that, things might have been different. Maybe it had been, once. It just needed a good pruning. He finished the joint, and went back to his book. After a few minutes, the captain gave up glaring at him and walked away.
Fortunately, he wasn’t actually here to interact with the local cell. Someone had acquired information Giroux wanted, and since those werewolves hadn’t gotten around to killing that bastard yet, he’d been tasked with recovering it. All he had to go on was the data was in San Francisco. He had some time to kill while the Cabal did their thing and got him a location. Adam shrugged, and decided to go play tourist for a while.
“Oh my god, I can see the bridge.”
“Eyes on the road or let me drive.”
Laura grinned. “Would you mind? The stop and go thing is wrecking my nerves.” She felt the familiar sensation of Erilon taking over her hands. “Ted sprang for me a whole week here. What do you want to see first? I mean, my meeting at the school isn’t until tomorrow and we made good time until you know, actually getting to the city.”
“A visit to Alcatraz might amuse you.”
“Yes. Let’s do that.” She let Erilon drive to the hotel, then paid for the parking with the credit card Ted had given her. It even had her actual name on it. Or the name that she used and had ID in, anyway. Rather than make people think she was nuts by talking out loud to her not-so-imaginary friend, she switched to her internal monologue. Doesn’t San Francisco have some art places and shit? Museums or galleries? Yes. Yes. Let’s do those tonight, and save Alcatraz for after the school visit. Wise, I think we are already too late for the tour anyway.
The first gallery they visited was extremely pretentious. Laura had to leave before giving into her perverse desire to let out a loud fart. Rather than head immediately to the next, she stopped at a cafe for dinner. Despite having lived on her own since running away, at least before she’d hooked up with her boys, this felt different. A grown-up version of being on her own, maybe. If I pull out one of my fake IDs are you — I will out you so fast your head will spin. A strange city by yourself is not a place to indulge in alcohol. You’re a demon, stop being so responsible. Ha.
She was almost done with her meal when the hair on the back of her neck started to stand up a little. Erilon? The two men at the corner table. I suggest you go to the front of the restaurant and hail a cab instead of continuing on foot. Are they…? Just your garden variety asshats. Maybe we should do something about them. Crimson Crusader their asses. As much as your bravery is laudable, my dear, I am rather far from any of my sources of power at the moment, and your power is not exactly combat oriented.
After finishing, she paid cash, and decided to take Erilon’s advice. Unfortunately, the street picked exactly that moment to be free of cabs. A hand came down on her shoulder. “Hey sweetie. Need a lift?” One of the men Erilon had picked out as trouble smiled at her.
“Nope. I’m good.” They were still near enough the restaurant that she could see people. Then she heard Erilon curse in her head just as something sharp touched her ribs.
“Come on, sweetheart.” The other man’s smile stopped being friendly. “My car is just over this way.” He pulled her into the shadowed alleyway. “Just through here.”
Erilon? You know, I’d hoped to get through this month without having to castrate anyone. Let’s — “I don’t believe you gentlemen are acquainted with the lady.” Another voice came from the shadows, and a young man stepped out. He looked oriental, not much older than she was and not particularly large. Great. Now there was a witness and she’d have to stop him from getting hurt as well.
He’d just stepped into the restaurant when he saw blue braids move past him. Adam turned to take a second look, then his eyes widened a little as he recognized the girl. He took a quick look around, but saw none of the others. Granted, only Stephan and Ash had seen him, but there was always the possibility the others had his scent. And they still didn’t know exactly what Gabriel was. No familiar faces. A couple large men did follow Laura out though. He stepped back out, shifting as soon as he was out of view, and followed.
The men proved they were up to no good. The girl could probably take care of herself, but the thought of simply walking away grated at him. He sighed, returned to human form, and stepped out of the shadows. “I don’t believe you gentlemen are acquainted with the lady.”
“This ain’t your business, kid.” The taller of the two narrowed his eyes. “Scram.”
Adam shrugged. “No.”
The two men exchanged a surprised look. One turned toward him, holding a knife. “You’re asking to get hurt.”
“Tempting to just stand here and let Laura take you apart…” He tilted his head, and saw Laura’s eyes widen when he used her name. “But I’m kind of in a foul mood.” He smiled at Laura. “Which one do you want?”
“I’ll take Tiny.” She jerked her head to the left, and then her eyes started to glow.
“Stumpy is all mine then.” Adam nodded.