Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(75) by Ilona Andrews
The hostess opened her mouth and snapped it shut.
He led us to the back of the restaurant to a table by a window. The table was designed to seat six. My father sat by himself, wrapped in a plain brown cloak. The cloak had seen better days and the deep hood that hid his face was frayed. He was trying his best to be inconspicuous, his magic folded and wrapped around him. His “god in beggar clothing” act was impressive, but I saw through it anyway.
As we approached, he pushed the hood back and my father’s face greeted me. Hugh once described it as “if the sun had risen.” Saying Roland was handsome would be a gross understatement, like calling a hurricane a gentle breeze. My father was beautiful, his face perfectly proportioned, with bronze skin, a square jaw traced by a short graying beard, a full mouth, a powerful nose, high cheekbones, and large dark eyes under dense eyebrows. The moment you saw those eyes, you forgot everything else.
There was a passage in the Bible in the book of Job that said it wasn’t age that guaranteed wisdom, but it was the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gave sage men understanding. When you looked into my father’s eyes, his spirit looked back at you. They shone with power, as if the magic itself filled him, ageless but very much alive. He was a man who walked the Earth before the Bible had ever been written, and his wisdom was as towering and timeless as the Sarawat Mountains. It didn’t keep him from making very human blunders or being immune to small petty things like revenge, punishment, or murdering my mother because he thought I was too dangerous to be born.
Yep, that last one did it.
Behind me Julie stumbled but caught herself. Curran appeared completely unconcerned. Former Beast Lord—not impressed.
Curran approached the table and pulled out two chairs. I sat in one, and Julie sat in the other, on the side. If things went sour, I could shove her into the booth next to us with my left hand in half a second.
Curran sat next to me. His face was relaxed, his expression unreadable.
The manager hovered next to us, a look of complete devotion on his face.
“Iced tea,” I said.
“Coke,” Julie said.
“Iced tea,” Curran said.
“Iced tea for me as well. That will be all,” my father said.
The manager took off.
“Is there any way you could refrain from magicking our waiter?” I asked.
“I abhor poor service,” he said and smiled. “I took the liberty of ordering potato skins and onion rings. I’m so glad we could do this.”
It was time to play my part. “The tower, Father. I want it gone.”
“It’s not a tower. Merely a tall building.”
I pulled the Polaroid from the inside of my jacket and put it on the table. “This is a model of a tower.”
“We consider it a threat,” Curran said. “If you want a war, you will get one.”
“I’m building a residence,” Roland said.
“So I can be closer to you, of course. I’ve come to dislike hotels over the years and I want to have a comfortable place to stay while I visit you.”
“I don’t want you to visit me.”
“Parents don’t always do what their children want them to do,” Roland said. “Sometimes they show up unannounced and nag you about your eating habits. And I am about to do just that. Have the two of you set a date for your wedding?”
“Don’t change the subject,” I growled.
“Blossom, I purchased the land. You can’t really prevent me from building anything I want on it. But if it causes you distress, I will be willing to stipulate it won’t be more than two floors in height.”
Yes, and each floor would be a hundred feet in height. “No more than fifty-five feet in height for the entire building.”
Roland smiled. “Very well.”
A waiter arrived, a stocky dark-haired man in his late twenties, bearing a wide platter with drinks, potato skins, crunchy fried onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and pretzels with beer sauce, and he began setting them on the table. Apparently my father had ordered the entire starter menu.
“Now that I’ve conceded that point, the wedding. When are you going to stop living in sin?”
“This is rich, coming from you. I’m sorry, how many wives did you have?”
“Recently, only one.”
“Yes, and you murdered her.”
The waiter valiantly clutched onto his stack of small appetizer plates.
Roland sighed. “Let’s not talk about that again.”
“She was my mother.”
The waiter nearly dropped the onions.
“Yes, and I loved her deeply.”
The waiter set the last plate on the table and paused. “May I take your order?”
“French fries with cheese,” Julie said.
“I don’t care,” I said.
“Bring me some meat,” Curran said.
My father turned to the waiter. “The child’s order stands, with the addition of a Shirley Temple. My daughter prefers Baja tacos, shrimp sautéed not fried, hold the onion and bring her a blackberry iced tea with extra lemon. My future son-in-law enjoys lamb, medium rare, no pepper, baked potato with butter and salt, no sour cream, and a Newcastle Werewolf, although he will settle for a Brown Ale or a Blue Moon. I’ll take a bourbon steak and a glass of red.”
The waiter almost saluted before taking off.
My father had us watched. Not just followed, but observed thoroughly enough to know I picked cooked onions out of my food.
“Now if we could all stop pretending to be lesser versions of ourselves, I believe this conversation will flow much easier.” Roland dipped his pretzel into beer sauce.
“Okay. How many spies do you have in our territory?”
“Enough.” Roland smiled. “I can’t help it. It’s the lot of a parent. Even when our children don’t want us in their lives, we can’t help but watch from afar and stand ready to protect and render aid.”
Watch from afar . . . Interesting.
“You didn’t answer my question about your wedding.”
I leaned back. “Why does it matter to you?”
“Consider me old-fashioned,” he said. “People talk. People ask when or if there will be a formal union.”
“Who are these people?”
“D’Ambray,” Curran said.
“How is the Preceptor?” I asked.
“I haven’t seen him.” My father shrugged. “He is taking a sort of a sabbatical. A journey to find himself.”
“Was that his idea or yours?” Curran asked.
“A bit of both.”
The waiter appeared with our drinks, cleared the empty plates, and vanished.
Hugh had been exiled as a punishment for his failure. “And while he’s on this sabbatical, you have complete deniability. You can’t be held responsible for whatever crazy crap he pulls off while he’s in exile. How convenient.”
“It is rather convenient, isn’t it?” Roland smiled.
“Your continuous insistence on keeping your options open is causing a stir,” Roland said. “Don’t get me wrong, the elaborate plotting is highly amusing, but this Judeo-Christian age does come with some stricter conventions. It’s evident in the language. ‘Living in sin,’ ‘make an honest woman,’ ‘shacking up’—the implication of that last one, of course, being that you are too poor to get married and so must live in a shack. It isn’t a matter of money, by the way, is it?”
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