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|Thirteen(Women of the Otherworld #13) by Kelley Armstrong|
Precautions had been taken to ensure Jaz wouldn’t go off-plan. De Rais had already made it clear that he’d love Jaz as an ally. So what was to stop Jaz from walking into that compound, revealing himself, and saying “Here I am. Protect me from the Cabals, give me Hope and I’m all yours.”
A little device taped to his side—that’s what would stop him. It was a modified insulin pump, intended for diabetics. It even contained insulin. So if Jaz was searched, it would seem legit—Scott wasn’t the kind of guy who’d have gone around telling people he was diabetic. But this pump was controlled by a remote, which could dump insulin into Jaz, putting him into a coma.
It was a wickedly clever, diabolical idea. Naturally I presumed it was Benicio’s. Turned out it came from Lucas. Proof that as morally upright as he may be, Lucas does have Cortez blood running through his veins.
When everything was ready, we got into an old Mercedes the team had bought at the nearest used-car lot. Jaz drove. Adam and I squeezed into the trunk.
Any other time, I’m sure being curled up together in a trunk would have been deliciously tempting. But we were both too stressed to even joke about it. We spent the short trip testing our communication equipment, which fed to each other, to Jaz, and back to Lucas.
It was only about a mile to the compound gates, but it seemed to take an hour, rumbling along the dirt road. Finally, through the mike we heard Jaz power down his window.
“Hello there, boys,” he said. “I bet you didn’t think you’d be seeing my handsome face again, did you?”
“Mr. Scott,” a young man’s voice replied. “We didn’t know you were coming.”
“No one does, and I trust you’ll keep my little secret a few minutes longer? I want to see the old boy’s face when I show up.”
“Yes, sir. Absolutely, sir. He’ll be very pleased.”
“I’m sure he will,” Jaz said in Scott’s smug voice. “Now, if you’ll open the garage and let me park this beauty …”
They did. Through his open window, we heard the outside guards radio the inside ones to say that Gordon Scott had arrived and it was a surprise for Giles. Then Jaz rolled the Mercedes inside.
“Hello, boys,” Jaz said, when we were in.
“Hello, sir. You can park right by the van over there.”
We knew from my parents’ surveillance that one van was parked in the garage, with an open space on the far side. The plan was for Jaz to back the Mercedes into that space so we could hop out, hidden by the van.
“Well, now, boys,” Jaz said. “I was hoping I could leave her right here, where you two can keep an eye on her.”
I stiffened. Adam clamped a hand over my mouth before I could say anything.
“Um, I’m not sure, sir …” One guard said.
“Oh, I’m just joshing you, boy. I’ll park her over there by the van.”
We waited as he backed it in. Then we cracked open the trunk and confirmed that he’d parked in the right spot.
“Bastard,” I whispered.
“Get used to it,” Adam said. “He’s going to have some fun with us.”
As if on cue, we heard Jaz call to the guards. “Hey, boys, do you think you could grab my suitcase out of the trunk?” He waited a beat, then said, “Oh, no, wait. It’s here in the backseat.”
“Now that he’s got us in, we can kill him, right?” I whispered.
“I wish. Just remember, he’s hooked up to a death machine. We go down, he goes down.”
Which would be a lot more reassuring if we were dealing with a sane man. Knowing Hope was finally within his grasp might be the only thing that kept Jaz from deciding to commit suicide by Cabal and take us along for kicks.
I peeked out of the trunk. Jaz stood there, watching me. I waved for him to look around and give the all clear. He pretended not to understand.
I considered a sensing spell. After all, I was supposed to have my full powers back. Yet I paused before casting, and when I did, I caught the murmur of the guards’ voices at a distance. I waved Adam out.
I cast a cover spell on Adam first, to be sure it worked. Aratron said the antimagic ward had only been cast around the perimeter, and Mom’s tests supported that, but we needed to be sure. When Adam did disappear, I cast a cover spell on myself.
Then Jaz called, “Actually, I do need help with something in the trunk. Can one of you give me a hand?”
When the guard came, Jaz stuck to the script, leading him to the trunk. “Can you get that for me?”
The guard leaned into the trunk, squinting to see in the dim light. I cast a binding spell. I was so accustomed to having them fail that I’d already begun a second before I realized the first had worked. Adam injected the guard with a sedative while I held the spell. Then we got him into the trunk. The guy weighed well over two hundred, most of it fat. This was where werewolf strength would have come in handy. Jaz sure as hell wasn’t about to help. As we loaded the guard into the trunk, his boot clunked against the side.
“You need help?” the second guard called.
Jaz could have said, no, we were fine. But he just stood there. I zapped the second guard with a binding spell as he came around the car. We sedated him, too. Then we stripped both of their uniforms, bound and gagged them, and left them in the trunk, out cold.
Adam walked over to Jaz. He was a few inches taller and about thirty pounds heavier, but Jaz didn’t flinch, just stood there, smirking.
“You think it’s funny to mess with us?” Adam said.
“Do you know what my power is?”
“Do I care?”
Adam took the car keys from Jaz. He gripped them in his hand. When he opened it, metal dust spilled onto the ground.
“It works with people, too,” he said. “Especially useful for body parts. Amputates, cauterizes, and destroys the evidence all in one shot. If you screw with us again, Jasper, I’m starting with your fingers.” He paused. “Or maybe a small body part that you won’t be needing anytime soon.”
I made a show of turning off my mike and motioning for Adam to do the same. Then I lowered my voice. “Look. We aren’t here to fight you, Jaz. If you do this and you get away, that’s not my concern. I’m here because I need a cure for my brother. You had a brother, right?”
For the first time since he’d stepped off the jet, genuine emotion flashed across his face. Grief, rage, and pain, quickly reined in.
“Karl killed him, I know,” I said. “Believe me, I have no love for that jerk. But I do love my brother. He’s all that matters to me here.”
Jaz glanced at Adam.
Adam put his arm around my waist. “I want what she wants.”
“So cool the games, okay?” I said. “That pump on your side means you’re stuck following the script. You might as well make the best of it. Don’t blow your chance to get out of here with Hope.”
He should have been smart enough to know I was bull-shitting about Hope. But she was his blind spot. Or maybe he just found it easy to believe we’d let an acquaintance be taken against her will if it benefited us. He certainly would.
Adam and I put on the guards’ uniforms. They were army surplus, with name tags. Then I cast glamour spells on us.
“I don’t think that worked,” Jaz said when we were done. “You still look the same to me.”
“Because you expect to see us,” I said. “The others will expect to see the guards.”
He rolled his eyes, smirking slightly at such substandard camouflage powers. I pushed him toward the door to the bunker.
Despite what I’d said to Jaz, I wasn’t completely convinced that the glamour spell had worked. The test came quickly. The stairs led down to a secured entrance guarded by two more young men. Jaz pulled Scott’s cheerful-condescending routine. They barely looked at us, but they did look, which proved that we passed.
We expected them to say something about us leaving our posts. But Clay had said that these were just kids. More like hall monitors than trained guards. He was right. They let us through without comment.
We did, however, hit a snag of another kind—the “hall monitor” just inside the secured doors.
“I’m going to have to call Giles,” she said. “No one’s allowed past without a card.” She glowered at us. “You guys know the rules.”
“It’s a surprise, gorgeous,” Jaz said. He gave her his lazy, sexy Jaz smile, which I’m sure would have worked a lot better if he didn’t look like Gordon Scott, late fifties, pot belly and jowls.
Adam tried charm, too, but his “guy” was about nineteen, chubby, with acne. My “guy” was much cuter, so I tried a sexy smile, but probably looked like I had indigestion.
Damn it. We’d been so close. Now we needed to take all three out before anyone called for help.
I glanced at Adam. He nodded. We could do this. He motioned for me to focus on the girl while he took the guards behind him. I started whispering a binding—
“Hey, Nina,” someone said as the door behind the girl opened. “Do you know—?”
Two guys walked in, a young woman behind them. They stopped when they saw Scott.
“Mr. Scott,” one of the guys said. “Damn, Giles is going to be happy to see you. Does he know you’re coming?”
“No, it’s supposed to be a surprise,” Jaz said. “But this young lady seems intent on spoiling it.”
“I just passed Giles back there.” He turned to the hall monitor. “Want me to take them?”
“I …” She sighed and adjusted her name tag. “I guess so.” There was no way we could take down six people before someone raised the alarm. So on to plan B it was. At least we were inside.
As we started to follow the newcomers, one of them turned to Adam and me.
“We can take it from here, guys,” he said.
Jaz hesitated, then sighed softly, as if we’d spoiled his fun. “Actually, kids, I kind of like having bodyguards. Got lots of enemies, you know. Some folks might not be too happy to see me back.”
They shrugged a “suit yourself.” We took one step and an alarm blipped. The hall monitor jumped in front of us.
“You know the rules,” she said. “No guns inside.” We surrendered our weapons. Then we went inside.
The smell told me this was definitely the same compound where they’d held me captive. When I’d gone down this hall before, though, I’d been blindfolded. Now I took my first good look.
My parents had reported that the place wasn’t that big. Just a large central meeting room and a half dozen small side rooms. Yet I’d remembered a very long walk from my cell to that meeting room. As I looked around, I realized it really was just a meeting room ringed by a corridor. In other words, they’d led me around that perimeter a few times so I’d get the impression I was in a much bigger place.
Giles stepped from a doorway. I froze. But his gaze passed right over me and settled on Jaz. Emotions flickered over his face. Negative, mostly. He might have needed Scott, but Giles didn’t like needing anyone, especially not a conceited mortal necromancer who responded to his summons if and when he pleased. The anger lasted only a second, though, before Giles found an appropriate expression of delight.
“Gordon, my friend,” he said. “You’ve come at last.”
“You didn’t really think I’d miss the big show, did you? Not when I’m going to play such a critical role.” Jaz rubbed his hands together. “Summoning Lucifer himself. I cannot wait.”
A flash in Giles’s eyes suggested he couldn’t wait either—for Lucifer to flay Scott for his impertinence. It made his smile turn real as he walked over and clapped Scott on the back.
“We’re all eager,” Giles said. “And we really do need to get this show on the road.”
“Can I see the girl?” Jaz said.
That was not part of the plan, but I knew he’d ask. Giles took us down the hall and unlocked a door. When we got inside, I was surprised to see Hope just lying on a bed, eyes open, no sign of restraints. When Jaz walked over and stroked her hair, she stiffened almost imperceptibly and closed her eyes.
“Yes, she’s a beautiful young woman,” Giles said. “And I know you like pretty girls, Gordon. But this one is off your list.”
Jaz chuckled. “Pregnant women don’t really do it for me. Particularly when their daddy could turn me inside out.”
Giles paused, as if relishing the image. Jaz continued stroking Hope’s hair, his gaze fixed on her.
“Is she sedated?” Jaz asked.
“No, it wore off hours ago, but she just lies there. Her husband was killed when we picked her up. She seems to be taking it badly. One would think the daughter of Lucifer would have a little more fight in her but …” Giles shrugged. “I’m not complaining.”
“I’d like a few moments alone with her,” Jaz said.
“I’m sure you would.”
Jaz gave Giles a look. “As I believe I pointed out, she’s the daughter of a very powerful lord demon. I’m hardly going to violate her. To contact Lucifer, I need to establish a link with the girl. I can accomplish that better if we have time alone together.”
“We can stay,” I said.
“I said alone.”
There wasn’t much I could say to that. I hoped Giles would insist on one of us remaining in the room, but he’d had a hard enough time getting Scott here—he wasn’t risking a fight now. Besides, Jaz was wired for sound, so we’d hear what he said to Hope, and Adam could incinerate the door if necessary. I also knew Jaz wouldn’t hurt her. Not while he still hoped she could be his.