Raising Innocence(Rylee Adamson #3)(4) by Shannon Mayer
I smiled, seeing a roadblock he likely hadn’t considered. “And how would you like me to get there? Paddle boat? Swim? Click my heels together three times?”
He continued to grin, and I knew I’d finally met someone who might outmanoeuvre me. O’Shea had been persistent, had intimidated me and never backed down. But this man, this short, dumpy, ugly little man, had an answer for everything.
“We’ve outfitted a Boeing 747 with the proper displacement materials to keep your vibrations from setting off the equipment. You can fly out in three days, and be in London with plenty of time to visit Jack.”
“Vibrations?” What the f**k was he talking about?
“Our scientists have determined that it is specific vibrations that supernaturals give off that interfere with technology. I’m not going to explain it now. Suffice to say that we understand the cause and have a way to block the resulting problems.”
This was news to me. But it made sense. I swallowed hard, my mind racing with possibilities. He wanted me to go, needed me to. I’d lay money he’d already told Interpol that I was coming. Hmm. I could use this to my advantage. Let’s see how he liked the tables being turned.
“Then I want a few things besides the usual pay cut.”
He nodded as if expecting this. He hadn’t seen anything yet.
I held up one finger. “I need a care nurse here twenty-four-seven while I’m away, for Giselle. Someone who is familiar with dementia and the supernatural.”
Pursing his lips, he pulled a phone from his breast pocket and scanned through it. “Yes, that can be managed. We have someone in our AA division that is familiar with both.”
“I want to pick my back-up.”
“That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that.”
Smiling, I leaned back. “Eve is coming with us. I can make her small with a spelled anklet that Milly left for me.”
Agent Valley’s jaw clenched. “You want to bring a Harpy with you.”
“She’ll be about the size of a hawk. Fits right into the plane with no problem.” I continued to smile—this was kinda fun. Almost as much fun as I had playing with O’Shea when he’d been trying to bring me down. Almost.
The agent gave a sharp nod. “She can be controlled, I assume?”
“Of course. She’s got all her mental faculties. She’s young, but bright.” I smiled. I was going to make him pay for twisting me around. “And Alex comes with me, too.”
Alex jumped up at the sound of his name. “Coming?”
“Yup, we’re going to London,” I said as Agent Valley sputtered.
“That’s too much; you can’t bring a werewolf to London. Impossible. Bad enough that you want to bring a Harpy!”
Grinning down at the werewolf, who rolled on his back at my feet, I rubbed his belly with one foot. “Alex is a part of my search team. He helps keep me safe, amongst other things.”
Alex wiggled on his back, balancing on his spine with feet straight up in the air. “Alex going to London, Alex going to London,” he chanted, wrapping it all up with a howl of “Keeping Rylee saaaaaaafe.”
Agent Valley stood, his face red. “You can’t bring a werewolf to London!”
I laced my fingers in my lap and said quietly, “Then I’m not going.”
His jaw went tight and I knew I had him. Still, he didn’t answer right away. We had a second stare off, and again, I won, his eyes flicking away from mine to look out the window.
“I won’t promise you anything. There are other factors I have no control over,” Valley said.
“Not my problem. Alex and Eve come with me or I’m not going.”
“I heard you the first time. I will do my best.” Agent Valley narrowed his eyes. “You can keep him on a leash, and hide him with that collar of yours, correct?”
Fuck, how much did he know about me and Alex? “Of course. I’m not going to go running around London announcing I have a werewolf.” What did he think I was, an idiot?
“One more thing,” I said.
The agent was standing back up, and I wanted to be sure we understood each other before I dove into this.
“What is it, Ms. Adamson?”
Ah, getting formal now, that was a good sign. Meant he was finally taking me seriously.
“This doesn’t mean I’m working for you. Nor does it mean I’m going to do things your way. Consider this a one-time contract to find those kids.”
His eyes narrowed, anger flitting across his face before he smoothed it away. “Anything else?”
“I’ll be sending you an invoice through my manager.” Okay, Charlie wasn’t my manager per se, but close enough.
Shaking, Agent Valley gave a sharp nod, turned and headed once more for the front door.
“We’ll send a car round for you in three days; your flight leaves at noon on the seventeenth.”
“I can’t leave until I know for sure someone is here with Giselle.”
“I will have someone here before your flight.”
I felt like I’d scored a major victory as the door clicked shut behind the FBI agent. Slumping against the opposite wall, I stared at the door. I was leaving for London in three days, with Alex and Eve. Better than that, I was going to meet a Tracker.
The rush of excitement that zinged through me left me shaking with excess energy. Milly was going to freak when I . . . No, Milly wouldn’t know about this. The excitement drained and I frowned down at my shoes. Ah, f**k it. I was going to celebrate anyway.
Jogging into the kitchen, I dialed Charlie’s number on my old rotary phone, the tick of the dial clicking softly as it spun around with each number.
He answered with a “Hello, me lassie! No new salvages for yous. Good and bad, eh?”
“Right now it’s a good thing. Charlie, come on over, I need someone to clink glasses with.”
He let out a shout. “Gods be praised, yous going to start drinking!”
Laughing, I cradled the phone against my shoulder. “Don’t get excited, I’ll be drinking orange juice.”
“Bah, you don’t know what you be missing, lassie. But I’ll be there in a jiff.”
I hung up and two minutes later there was a knock on the door. That was one of the things about Brownies. They could use doorways and windows as jumping points. Pretty handy, if you asked me.
Dressed in blue jeans and a button down shirt, he sported a black bowler that truly did not match the long fur coat he wore. Open, of course, like he’d thrown it on and scrambled to get here. Then again, it could have been because he was trying to hide the fact he was missing a leg. It had happened a long time before I’d ever met him and he wouldn’t talk about it. Not even when he got drunk on ogre beer.
Charlie was about three feet tall, and I scooped him up easily into a hug.
“What the hells has happened to yous, lassie?” He grunted as I put him down. His eyes searched my face, as if he thought to see something stamped on my forehead.
“I’m excited.” I wasn’t sure I could describe it to him. My whole life I’d been alone, the only Tracker Giselle had ever known, and no one I’d met had ever met another. Maybe Doran had, from his cryptic words, but I wasn’t so sure I’d trust the daywalker Shaman to tell me the truth. Every other supernatural was a part of a group, even vampires, the few there were, had each other. But Trackers—I’d never known another one. For years I’d thought that was always how it was going to be.
In one long rambling, high-speed sentence, I spilled. “There’s another Tracker in London and I’m going to meet him in three days and I can’t even believe that this is happening and I have no one else to tell ‘cause I kicked Milly out and the FBI is going to have someone take care of Giselle while I’m gone and they’re even going to pay us!”
Charlie looked at me, his eyebrows lowered, and he lifted his hands as if to slow me down. “Easy, lass. Are yous sure yous not been fed anything strange? Ogre beer, perhaps?”
I scrubbed my face with my hands. “No, sorry, I just . . . I just thought I was alone.”
The brownie smiled up at me. “Yous never been alone, Rylee. Yous got lots who love you. Me for one. The big blue ox down south, and Ogre’s don’t give their loyalty easy like. Alex here, of course, he’ll never leave yous.”
We headed into the kitchen. “I know that. I don’t mean, it’s just . . . Charlie, if there were no other brownies, how would you know all the things you could or couldn’t do?”
He opened his mouth as if to argue, but paused. “Damn me, I guess I wouldn’t. Well, no, some things I’d figure out.”
I poured him a shot of Milly’s best whiskey and handed the glass to him, then poured a glass of orange juice for myself.
“Exactly. Once I meet this other Tracker, I’ll finally have someone to show me all the things I can do. I’ve no doubt there’s more to my abilities than what I’ve figured out on my own. Maybe there’s nothing else, but at least I’ll know.”
Charlie climbed onto the kitchen chair so we were eye level, his glimmering with tears. He’d lost everything, his wife and children. So the idea that we could help others find their kids, well, it was almost as much a drive for him as it was for me.
“And then yous can help even more of the wee ones with what you learn. Ah, I see now why you be so excited.”
Nodding, I clinked my glass to his. “Exactly.”
“Eve, I wouldn’t ask you to do this if it wasn’t important,” I said as I stared up at the juvenile Harpy pacing around my backyard. She was well over a thousand pounds, with beak, wings, and talons of a bird, but her upper body was human looking, complete with all the trappings of being female. Lower body was all bird, her massive wings set just behind the blending of skin and feathers.
She’d flown back to North Dakota as soon as I’d called down to her, Dox passing on the message for me. Most surprising was that she’d brought presents for each of us; a fossilized bone for Alex that he’d been chewing since she’d given it to him, an obsidian blade for me, and a necklace for Giselle. That last was the most disturbing because it had not come from Eve.