Iced - Page 98/120

“Not necessarily. I think if there was more than one, we’d be hearing reports of it all over the world and we’re not. So far, it’s confined to this region.”

“I need samples from Faery and the first place it iced in Chester’s.”


“Dancer and me went through all the evidence. There’s iron in every bag and—”


“You didn’t let me finish.”

“I don’t have to. Iron has nothing to do with it.”

“How can you know that?”

“Because there’s not a single drop of iron anywhere in or near Chester’s.”

“Well, what the feck is this place built from?”

“Irrelevant. Besides,” he says, “if it was after iron, it would have taken the cages at Dublin Castle and it didn’t. It iced the place and vanished. We’ve been studying the map and scenes for weeks. There’s no pattern, no commonality. I put my best man on it, a linchpin pro. He can’t find a tipping point, sees no order in this chaos.”

“Who’s your linchpin pro?” I want to talk to him. I’m fascinated by linchpin theory. If you know where to make the dominoes start toppling, you own the dominoes! Of course, Ryodan doesn’t answer that question either so I tell him Dancer’s theory about salt water and whales and that maybe it’s drawn by something because it’s looking for something else.

“Possible. But not iron.”

“You dudes been hosting fairies for, like, millennia, haven’t you? That’s the only reason for a place like this having no iron!”

“There are other things that don’t like iron. Not just Fae. A smart person might find a lot of things missing in Chester’s.” A faint smile plays at his lips, and I almost get the idea he’s challenging me to figure something out.

“Dude, if I’m stuck here long enough, I will.” I gesture at the map. “Show me Dublin again.” When he resets the map, I say, “I need the remote.”

He punches numbers in on it, no doubt locking systems off from me, then hands it over.

“Let me stare at the map a while.”

When he leaves, he locks me in.

I’m still staring hours later, no closer to an epiphany, when I start smelling the most fecking awesome smell in the world. I try to concentrate on the map but I can’t. I shove a candy bar in my mouth. It tastes like Styrofoam. I haven’t smelled fresh-cooked beef in longer than I can remember. I never got it at the abbey! Somewhere in Chester’s, some spoiled person is feasting. My mouth fills with saliva. I slide down in my chair, drop my head back and inhale real deep and slow, making lip-smacking noises, pretending I’m the lucky recipient. I smell all kinds of spices! I think whatever the meat is, it’s accompanied by mashed potatoes and some kind of greens. I smell garlic, salt and pepper, butter! I smell onion and oregano and rosemary! It’s almost enough to make me cry, thinking about that kind of food. I’m beyond sick of candy bars and protein bars and canned stuff. I’m so home-cooked-meal starved that not even my chocolate Pop-Tarts hit the spot like they used to.

When the door slides open and Lor comes in, pushing a cart like you see in hotels for room service, I just sit there and stare, thinking: Is this a new way to torture me? I don’t move a muscle. I’m not going to make an idiot of myself. Ryodan’s probably on his way to eat in front of me just to make me suffer.

Lor rolls the cart to a stop a few inches from the toes of my shoes. I have to grip the arms of my chair so I don’t jump out of it and attack whatever’s in those covered dishes.

“Boss says eat.”

He takes the lid off the biggest plate and sure enough there’s meat sizzling like it just came off a grill with a side of mashed potatoes, plus a mixed veggie medley! There’s a bowl with bread, hot from the oven. And butter! I almost expire from the sheer excitement of it. Like, the real stuff and a whole carafe of milk! It’s the most beautiful sight I think I’ve ever seen. I stare, holding my breath.

“You’re scrawny,” he adds.

“That’s for me?” I say wonderingly. I still don’t move. It’s got to be a trick. The meat is a rib-eye steak, perfectly marbled. It’s thick and has grill marks on it and looks like it’s cooked to perfection. I’ve only ever had it twice in my life. Once when Mom got engaged—it didn’t work, the dude ditched her, they all did eventually—and another time when she got a new job that she thought would get us out of Ireland for good if she saved everything she made for three years. She got fired after a month and cried herself to sleep every night for weeks. I think she thought if she could just get us out of Ireland, everything would be easier. I know other sidhe-seer families ran. Mac’s did.

Lor nods.

I’m out of the chair and on the cart in fast-mo.

“Kid, slow down. You might want to taste it.”

My hands shake when I pick up the fork. I go straight for the steak, slicing a big chunk off. The first bite explodes in my mouth, full of meaty juices and sheer succulent beefy perfection. I slump back into my chair and close my eyes, chewing slowly, delicately milking it for every single taste. I fork up a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes and they’re fecking heaven! The bread is tender and warm inside, crusty outside, and kissed with rosemary just like Mom’s. I wonder who cooks around here. I wonder where their kitchen is. I’m going to rob them blind if I find it. I slather butter on the bread then lick it off and slather more. I pour a long cool drink of milk down my gullet. I force myself to count to five between each drink and bite. It occurs to me I’ve never seen Ryodan eat. He probably pigs out in private. Probably eats steak and milk every day!

“The snow’s piling up and the temperature’s dropping,” Lor says. “People are lined up for five blocks, trying to get inside. Generators and gas have gotten scarce. People are freezing to death. It’s June in Dublin. Who’d fucking believe it?”

I chew reverently, listening to him and staring at nothing. “Maybe it’s not after an element like iron or something. Maybe it’s after a feeling. Maybe someone was having sex at every scene, or … eating at every scene, or fighting or praying or … something.”

“Doesn’t hold water. There was no life at the steeple.”