“Lidia…” Magda tried to calm the woman, only for Lidia to jerk her arm out of Magda’s grip.
“They can’t do this, right?” Lidia stared at Ahit. “She’s still under Ryuu’s…” Lidia swallowed. “Except I helped with this.” She put her hands over her mouth, then turned toward where Khait was sitting. “Take me to my daughter.” She looked at Bridget. “Make him take me to my daughter.”
“Mrs. Wu, Khait’s exhausted.” Bridget kept her voice gentle. “He can’t…”
“He’s…” Lidia shook her head, then glared at Khait. “Which of these guys do I have to fuck to get you back on your feet?”
“Well, uh…” Khait blinked. “Any of them would…”
“Lidia.” Magda caught her arm and pulled her around. “You can’t help your daughter like this. You need to calm down.”
“I…” Lidia took a deep breath, then another one. “She’s only sixteen.”
“Sean still works for Ryuu, and Coraline is still under Ryuu’s protection, Lidia.” Ahit’s voice was gentle. “Merlin risks much by going after her.”
“Are we sure the message came from Adam?” Stephan sounded as though the words were being dragged out of him. “I mean, this could be a distraction. A trap.”
“Merlin does like traps.” Erilon’s form flickered in the mirror of Laura’s compact.
“Think that’s why Gabriel hasn’t, uh…” Michaels stared down at his feet, his arms folded.
“Merlin couldn’t trap Gabriel without using a lot of power to do so. Which means we are on a time limit. If he’s trapped Gabriel, he’s going to need a few days to recover.” Khait took a deep breath.
“Yeah, I’d feel better if the same wasn’t true of our heavies.” Daniel glanced at Matthias. “We’re going to need a few hours before we can do anything.”
“You’ve, uh…” Adele gestured at Lykos. “Got a little…” He dusted off his collar, and she shook her head. “No, it’s…” She winced a little, the picked the piece of ear off his shoulder and hurriedly flicked it away. “Ew.”
“That was the greatest thing ever.” Coraline was gesturing wildly. “I loved the part where you just bent the barrel of his gun, so it was pointing at his face instead of at you.” She laughed. “I think he actually wet himself.”
Adele turned at where Jim was examining one of the bodies. “That didn’t seem like a random thing, but who’d be dumb enough to attack you?” She looked at the corpses. “With guns.”
“A case of mistaken identity, perhaps.” Jim stood. Then he shrugged. “This building used to belong to an arms dealer. Maybe someone missed a memo?”
“What happened to the arms dealer?” Adele raised an eyebrow.
“Tobias, mostly. The guy was selling to a group that used child soldiers and he takes that kind of thing rather poorly.” Jim frowned, then glanced at Lykos. “Would you mind terribly leaving one alive for questioning next time?”
“Maintenance wants to know if you want full disposal?” Christophe looked up from where he was holding a cell phone to his ear.
“Probably best.” Jim shrugged. “Rather not draw the addition of the law.”
“You stabbed a guy…” Coraline’s voice sounded gleeful as she nudged a body with her toe. “With somebody’s spine.” She gazed up at Lykos adoringly, and Adele didn’t miss that the man had a little difficulty hiding a smile.
“I’m starting to be concerned about her choice of role models.” Christophe sighed as he hung up the phone.
“She grows on me.” Lykos shrugged. “Like mold.”
“Thanks.” Coraline snickered. “I think.”
Ted looked at the small stack of drives, then at the young werewolf on the other side of the table. Ignacio was staring at them, a small grin on his face. Then he looked up to meet Ted’s eyes. “Jefe is one badass hombre.”
He couldn’t help but be a little worried about his own ‘badass hombre’. When Gabriel got back, he was definitely going over Ted’s knee. Gabriel was alright. He had to be. Ted exhaled and focused on the task at hand. “Your people have some hiding places?”
“Can coyote a few copies. Figure spread them apart is better.” Iggy nodded. “If this pendejo has to go into multiple territories to get the copies, he’s going to make somebody mad.”
“Good thinking.” Ted exhaled, then begin putting copies into his own lockbox. “I’m going to bury a set as well, just to be safe.”
“The Padre, he’s going to take a set too?” Iggy raised an eyebrow.
“He is.” Ted smiled. “Get them smuggled, then get back here as fast as you can. We might need you.” And the werewolves were starting to grow on him a bit. They weren’t much older than some of the kids at his center.
“Maybe we stick around a little, after.” Iggy nodded. “Javier, he’s trying to get the high score on all your machines, and I think Pedro has eyes for the girl who teaches piano.”
“You and your pack are always welcome here, Iggy.” Ted closed the box, then locked it. If Magda and Erilon were right, the wards carved into the metal should prevent any magical means of locating it. “Get moving.”
Ignacio grabbed his copies, then strode down the hall, yelling in Spanish for the rest of his pack. Ted winced a bit at some of the young man’s language choices. If he wasn’t careful, Sister Doris was going to carry out her threat of washing his mouth out with soap.
Adam sat in the chair, watching Wren. She was crying as she paced the room. “I can’t believe you would…” She shook her head, then wiped at her eyes. “How could you do this to me? Everything has been going so well.”
It was all he could do not to laugh. Had there really been a time he’d been considering asking this woman to marry him? He leaned his head back staring up at the ceiling as she continued ranting. If he could have, he’d have shifted himself into something that didn’t have ears.
“You realize how this makes me look?” Wren waved a hand. “Merlin just accepted me as his apprentice, and you pull this? How could you?” She shook her head. “You can’t really be upset about that traitor. I can’t believe you would just turn on me like this.”
He closed his eyes, letting his mind drift back to another time in this room. Patrick had sat with him on the balcony, several glasses of different meads on the table as he’d explained the subtle differences in the styles. Melomel had fruit, with cyser being apples and pyment being grapes. And metheglin had herbs, with rhodemel using rose hips. Patrick had a soft spot for the cyser.
“And how am I going to explain this?” He felt Wren’s magic take hold of him, forcing him to sit up and look at her. “Tell, me, how? What am I going to tell them?”
“Wren…” Adam shrugged. “I really don’t give a shit.”
“You…” She glared at him before going off on another rant.
His head went back again, and he focused on trying to remember if it was bochet or braggot that used caramelized honey. That one had been been good.
She woke up and was immediately furious. Someone must have drugged her or… Lidia frowned. Come to think of it, the last thing she remembered was Daniel patting her arm. She rose and stalked out of the tent.
“It has been four hours.” Professor Kravitz’s voice came from behind her. He took a step back when she whirled on him and made a sound like a frightened mouse. “They said you’d want to know how much time had passed the moment you woke up.”
“Where is Khait?” She glared at the professor, and he swallowed before pointing at another of the tents. Ahit fell into step with her before she was halfway there.
Khait stood the moment she walked in. “Do you know her precise location?”
Lidia blinked, then glanced at where Bridget, Matthias, Michaels, and Daniel were waiting. Daniel flinched when her gaze fell on him, and she narrowed her eyes. Then she turned her attention back to Khait. “She’s in Holland.”
“I, uh…” Khait shifted a little under her gaze. “Need you to be more specific.” When she glared. “I have no link to her.”
“I’m her mother.” Lidia took a step toward him.
“That helps, but…” Khait exhaled. Then he turned toward Bridget. “Take her hand and make a wish.”
Bridget nodded, and extended her hand. Lidia took it, clinging tightly. She felt tears spilling out of her eyes. Bridget swallowed, her face sympathetic. “I wish for you to take us to Lidia’s daughter, Coraline Wu.”
Adele laughed as Coraline took a huge bite of the confection. Christophe and Lykos had headed off to take care of some business. Jim had decided to take her and Coraline out to play tourist for a while. Coraline had been fascinated by the waterways and had only complained a little when Adele had expressed an interest in touring a market. She’d become somewhat more enthused upon realizing Jim was willing to buy her pretty much anything she wanted.
They got back to the apartment, and she set her purse on the side table. Coraline was waxing rhapsodic about the waterways again, and Adele chuckled. She really did need to be there when Coraline encountered Yala. She started to turn toward Jim, and then leaped backward in shock.
Six figures stood in the room. Three men and three women. Jim stood, lowering his head as he narrowed his eyes. Before anyone could do anything, Coraline let out a yelp. “Mom?”
“Oh, thank god.” One of the women rushed across the room and grabbed Coraline into a hug. “Are you alright? Has anyone…”
“What is going on here?” Jim looked at the newcomers.
“Who are you?” One of the men, a truly massive individual that looked like he could break a motorcycle in half, glared at Jim.
“I am the person who owns room in which you are currently standing.” Jim folded his arms. Adele took a step back, making sure she was behind him.
“Coraline, who are these people?” The woman hugging Lidia gave Jim a fearful look.
“Oh, these are Jim and Adele. We just got back from the market.” Coraline held up her new purse. “See what…” She blinked. “What are you doing…” She frowned. “How did you get in here?”
“It’s not important.” The woman started pulling Coraline back toward the others. “You need to come with us now.”
Jim stepped into her path. “I’m responsible for that young lady, and she’s not going anywhere until I know what’s going on.”
“Buddy…” The big man took a step toward Jim. “If you know what is good for you, you’re going to step back.”
“Are you…” Jim raised an eyebrow. “Threatening me?”
“Yeah.” The big man nodded. “I am.” His eyes started to turn from brown to gold, and it seemed he increased in size as he took another step toward Jim. Oh, that was probably going to be a little messy.
“Woah, woah, everybody, chill…” Coraline held up her hands. She gestured at the woman. “This is my mom, Lidia Wu.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Wu.” Adele took a step forward, keeping her voice calm. “Ma’am, please understand. We’re just trying to look out for your daughter.”
Lidia took a deep breath, then gave a small nod at the big man. He took a small step back, and his eyes turned brown again. Jim looked vaguely amused, which she was pretty sure might not be the best of all signs. Then Lidia turned toward another of the men, the smaller man who looked vaguely middle-eastern. “Just take them too.”
“Right then.” The man nodded. “Your wish is my command.”
Her eyes went wide as the hotel room around them suddenly vanished, replaced by what appeared to be a tent. “Uh…” Adele blinked. “What?”