Iced - Page 29/120

“You never have highlights. And you don’t wear makeup.”

“Sometimes I do.”

“Like, not once in the whole time I’ve known you. And I ain’t never seen you with sparkly stuff on your boobs.”

She starts to say something then shakes her head.

“You dressing up for these creeps?”

“Bitch, I said where’s my drink?”

I look at the Unseelie. It’s looking Jo up and down, licking thin, nasty lips like she’s its next meal. Way too personal-like.

An Unseelie just called Jo a bitch. Pressure builds behind my sternum. My hand goes to the hilt of my sword. Before I can close a finger around it, I’m hemmed in by a mountain range of men with attitudes as big as avalanches. Being in the middle of four of Ryodan’s dudes is sort of like standing on a glacier while being gently electrocuted. Never felt anything like it, except from the dude himself, and Barrons.

“That Unseelie called Jo a bitch,” I say. Clearly, the Unseelie deserves to die.

“Boss says if you kill a Fae in his protected area, the waitress dies in front of you, real slow,” Lor says. “Then we kill you. We’ll never remind you of this again. We’ll never intervene again. It’s on your head, kid. Control your temper or you’ll kill her. You. We’re merely the weapon by which she’ll die. And we’re inventive as fuck when it comes to slow killing.”

Jo’s eyes are huge. She sees their faces. Knows how moody I am.

I sigh and let go of my sword. “Wow, dude, I’ve never heard you string so many complete sentences all together in, like, ever. You’re downright loquacious tonight.” Brute force is Lor’s usual way of dealing with things. His idea of seduction is capture-and-abduct. You don’t want to catch this dude’s eye. You end up in his bed whether you want to or not. I give him a baleful glare. He’s telling me to control myself, and the only way I see to do that inside Chester’s is maybe beat myself over the head with a riot baton a few times and knock myself out.

“Bitch, I said where the fuck is my drink?”

Temper nearly pops my skull. My brain empties. My sword hand swells, full of blood and eagerness.

Jo gives me a look and turns away.

Then she goes to play fetch and deliver to an Unseelie. Who isn’t respecting her. I’m never going to survive this.

But she has to. So I have to.

I turn away, shoulder through the dudes, making sure to pop Lor a good one with an elbow as I go.

He snarls.

I bat my lashes at him.

He says, “Kid, you need to grow your ass up in a hurry.”

“Funny. I think everybody else needs to grow their ass down.”

“Like a horse, honey, somebody’s going to break you.”

“Never. Going. To. Happen.”

I’m bored off my gourd, sitting in Ryodan’s office. I thought we were going to go out investigating, hunt for clues about what’s icing these places. So far the only commonality I see is Ryodan. Both places that got iced were his, like someone’s targeting him and the dregs of the society I protect: Fae and Fae-loving humans. It occurs to me if enough of his places get iced, and word gets around, folks will start avoiding Chester’s. The club could die from lack of patrons. “One can always hope,” I say pissily. Ryodan doesn’t even acknowledge that I’ve spoken. I shift in my chair and glare at the top of his head.

He’s doing paperwork.

He’s been doing paperwork for over an hour. What kind of paperwork can possibly need to be done in this kind of fecked-up world?

He didn’t say anything when I walked in, so I didn’t say anything.

We’ve been sitting here in total silence for one hour, seven minutes, and thirty-two seconds.

I tap a pen on the edge of his desk.

I’m not about to say the first word.

“So, why the feck am I here again?” I say.

“Because I told you to be,” he says, without raising his head from whatever stupid thing he’s working on.

“Are you going to make me do your filing next? Am I Robin to your Batman, or some stupid temp assistant here to help you sharpen pencils? Don’t we have better things to do, like solve a mystery? Do you want more of your places to get iced? We just hanging around waiting for it to happen?”

“Robin and a stupid temp assistant would have been on time.”

I sit up straight from my bored slump, tapping faster. “That’s what this is all about? You’re punishing me because I was late?”

“Bright girl. Stop tapping that pen. You’re driving me bugfuck.”

I tap faster. He’s driving me bugfuck, too. “So, like if I’m on time next time, I won’t have to sit here and watch you do stupid stuff I can’t believe you even do?”

Half the pen—the part not in my fist—is suddenly plastic powder. I blink at it.

I didn’t see him move, he crushed the pen so fast. Now I see little crumbles of blue plastic on the blade of his hand, ink smeared on the paper he’s working on. I sit up even straighter. I have a lot to compete with if I’m ever going to be as fast as him.

“I do what I do, Dani, because the mundane makes the world go around. Whoever controls the daily grind controls everyone else’s reality.”

“That’s why you’re stealing all the food?”

“Ah, that’s why you had your crate-smashing fit. No. I hoard weapons. Someone else is stockpiling food. That’s too mundane even for me. I arm the swarm, feed the greed. Someone else is getting ready to starve them.”

I give him an admiring look in spite of myself. “You know it’s been going on.” He’s known for longer than I have.

“Someone started clearing the stores a while back. Where’ve you been?”

“Like, chained in somebody’s dungeon. Dude, can we please go do something before I die of boredom? We got a mystery to solve!”

He looks at me. How did I ever think his face was impassive? It says whole sentences.

I roll my eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

He inclines his head, waiting.

“You’re actually going to make me say it?”

He folds his arms over his chest.

I nearly choke on my tongue trying to get it out. But I’ll do anything to not have to sit in this office all night. Watching the Unseelie between my high-tops is getting old. I’ve taken mental notes out the wazoo. My young body needs to see some action. There’s a live wire inside me, sizzling beneath my skin. If I don’t discharge, I’ll die. Bring on the night! There’s stuff happening out there and I’m stuck in here!