Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(56) by Ilona Andrews
Good call. “Bring me a name. Then I’ll give remembering a shot.”
He took off and I went to collect Julie. We needed to find Luther and ask him some questions.
THE BIOHAZARD DIVISION occupied a large solid building made with big blocks of the local gray granite. A large black sign in front announced its official name: The Center for Magical Containment and Disease Prevention. I parked in the front in a visitor spot. It was just me and Julie. I had asked Derek to go to the suspect stalker’s address and watch his house, doing whatever he had to do not to be seen, and Curran was still at the Guild.
The day had burned down to a cold evening, the sky an icy purple in the west as the sun rolled toward the horizon. The magic was strong tonight.
Curran had offered to come with me, but I insisted. He needed to stay and get his hands dirty, because the mercs would respect that, and I needed to see a man about a ghoul. He offered again and I told him no, and not just because Mitchell wouldn’t crawl out of his burrow if he smelled Curran coming.
Curran was impossible to ignore. He wasn’t quite hovering around me, but he was very forcibly there in case I was about to collapse. Right now he was the equivalent of having a squad of trained killers at your beck and call, ready to defend you at the slightest provocation. My stroke had put him on edge. I could feel him surfing that narrow line between maintaining his composure and losing all semblance of rational thought. He had lost his parents and his siblings to loups, and he had never recovered. The fear that something would happen to me constantly gnawed at him, and sitting on his hands for two days waiting to see if I’d die while the kids were freaking out had driven him nuts. He was wound so tight, the energy rolled off him. If someone accidentally bumped into me, he’d rip them to pieces. What he wanted most was to stuff me into an armored room lined with padded pillows and stand guard over it until all the insanity that drove him boiled down to the simple realization that we were both going to be alright. He would never say it and he would definitely never try it, but the urge was there. I saw it in his eyes.
Maybe it was because he was extra wound up, or maybe it was the way we always were, but I felt completely secure when he was near. I felt safe. He was like a one-man army.
Right now I didn’t want to have the luxury of feeling safe. I needed to feel fear, the good electrifying kind of fear that kept me sharp when my life was on the line. I needed to know I could function, that I was still fast and could still kill, and that I could handle Atlanta on my own. That I was still me.
“I know you’re worried. I need to do this. Either I go or I might as well pack it up and retire,” I had told him. “I’ll be careful.”
“You should wait,” he had said.
The answer had been clear in his eyes: forever. I had to go, because I wouldn’t always have the luxury of having him with me and we both needed to deal with that.
“Promise me that if you run across another giant, you won’t go after it until I get there,” Curran had said.
“I promise.” A giant was an anomaly. Running across another one was highly unlikely.
“I mean it, Kate. You can’t take another stroke.”
And neither could he. “I give you my word.”
Now we were in front of the Biohazard Division. I hoped my arms and legs would work as well as they did before all this mess happened.
“How do they get ‘Biohazard’ out of CMCDP?” Julie asked.
“The Center started as a division of the Atlanta Police Department. Before the Shift, whenever there was a murder or some violent altercation, people would call crime scene cleanup crews. They cleaned up blood, body decomp, animal feces, that sort of thing. Biohazard.” I got out of the car and started toward the building. Julie caught up with me.
“At that time, magic was new, but it quickly became clear that its little presents had to be studied and contained. Nobody quite knew how to do that, and the APD ended up creating its own Biohazard Division. They gave it a familiar name, probably because it made them feel better and everybody knew what it stood for. Over the years, Biohazard expanded, until finally the governor separated it and brought it under state authority by an executive order.” I stopped by the wall and pointed at a dark shiny spot in the granite. “Do you know what this is?”
Julie squinted at it. “No.”
“Dark tourmaline. This building is made with Stone Mountain granite, which has natural tourmaline inclusions. Why?”
Julie wrinkled her forehead. “Tourmaline is frequently used in purifying. It can generate a weak electrical current when rubbed or heated by the sun, and it is a good magic conductor, which makes their wards stronger.”
She looked at me. “Uhh . . .”
“Scrying,” I told her. “It’s used as a scrying stone. It helps them with their research. Come on.”
We walked to the big doors. A ward squeezed me, cutting off my breath for a moment, and then the pressure vanished. We were through.
I nodded at the guard at the fortified reception desk. “Kate Daniels. I am here to see Luther.”
“Go in,” the woman told me. “Second floor, big door on the right.”
We went up the stone stairs. People walked past us, talking in quiet voices, sometimes relaxed, sometimes intense. We made it to the second floor and turned right. A deserted hallway stretched in front of us, lit by the blue glow of feylanterns.
“Kate,” Julie asked, her voice small.
“You do remember me, don’t you? You don’t have amnesia?”
Oh, Julie. I turned on my foot and hugged her. She leaned against me, limp.
“Do you remember when I took you to Pelican Point? You ate shrimp and cried.”
“And when we bought the owl?” I said. “The woman wanted thirty bucks for it, and then, when we got home, I had to fight with you to wash it?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Even if I had amnesia, I would still remember that I love you.”
She hugged me once, squeezing me tight, and let go. We walked down the hall as if nothing had happened, right up to the big metal door blocking our way. I knocked and swung it open.
Luther stood by the laboratory table, holding a clear plastic container filled with dried herbs. He wore pale scrubs that had been bleached too many times and his face was sour. On the table, splayed out and butterflied like a chicken for the grilling, sprawled the corpse of a scaled lizardlike beast. Luther bent over it and sprinkled the herbs onto the exposed tissue. Ugh.
“Really, Luther, if I knew you were that hungry, I would’ve picked up some takeout.”
At the sound of my voice, he turned. “You!”
“What is this?” He looked at Julie. “Mini-you?”
“Julie—Luther. Be careful with him, he’s sharp. Luther—Julie. She’s my adopted daughter.”
“Showing her the ropes?” Luther squinted at Julie. “What is that magic you’ve got there? A sensate? You’ve been sitting on a sensate all this time and you didn’t share? Not cool, Daniels. Not cool at all.”
“I’ll share if you do.”
Luther spread his arms. “All things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine.”
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