Picking up from the previous snippet. Enjoy!
“Now, why did I need to drag my tired ass out of bed before my alarm went off? I assume this warm greeting is your way of saying a job’s come across your desk and it’s not something you want one of the others to deal with.”
He nodded and reached for one of the files. Then he stopped and dropped that hand back into the desktop. Surprised, I waited, wondering what was going on.
“Something’s going on, Ripley. I don’t know what or I’d tell you.” He lifted a hand when I opened my mouth to say something. “Gemma called me a couple of hours ago. She’s worried.” Another pause and this time he frowned. “She wouldn’t admit it, but she’s scared. I could hear it in her voice. She said she Saw something. It’s bad, and it’s coming this way. She asked—asked, Ripley—if I’d send you out to see her.”
My mouth fell open and I did a credible imitation of a fish out of water. At the same time, my blood ran cold. As far as most people were concerned, Gemma Blackrock is a Native American witch with a touch of foresight. I knew better, as did Red. Gemma was a Seer, one of the most reliable I’d ever known. If she said trouble was coming, I believed her. What worried me is that she didn’t say more.
At least I assumed she hadn’t since Red kept quiet.
“She asked for me specifically?”
It probably said a lot that the request scared the shit out of me. Hell, who was I kidding? Gemma might look like someone’s sweet old grandma, but I knew better. Behind that innocent-looking exterior lay one of the most powerful witches and Seers around. The only other time she asked Red to have me deal with something, I’d come damned close to losing my life.
“She did. Said for you to come ASAP.”
He didn’t look any happier about it than I felt. This was so not good.
“I want double my usual rates and hazard pay as well as use of the armory and anything else I might need. And, Red, that’s just to go out to see her.” We’d argue about additional contract terms later, after I found out why she wanted to see me and decided just how involved I wanted to be.
“Agreed.” He levered his bulk out of his chair and moved around the desk. “Sign and add your thumbprint.”
I probably should have thought twice when he handed me the tablet. Not only because he didn’t argue with my terms but because he already had a contract with them included prepared. Frowning, I took the tablet from him and scanned the contract. I trusted him, but I also knew he was a shrewd businessman. That meant making sure I knew what I was signing. This time, at least, I saw nothing I needed to clarify. The terms were simple. He’d pay what I asked, and, in return, I would meet with Gemma as she requested. I was not obligated to do anything else, and he would contact her once I signed to let her know when to expect me and to make sure she knew I was not obligated to do anything more than hear her out and then return to him to report in.
Simple enough. So why did I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that it would come back to bite me—hard—on the ass?
With my luck, it would not only bite me there but take out a big chunk and I really liked my ass, especially the way my jeans hugged it this morning.
I signed and added my thumbprint before handing the tablet back to him. He took it with a single nod.
“I have a bad feeling about this, Ripley. Gear up, including weapons and coms, before you head out. Take one of the trucks instead of your car. Remember to keep your head on a swivel. If Gemma’s worried, you know it’s not good.”
“Understood.” I stood and thought for a moment. “I’m going to stop by Razor’s first. If I’m heading out to Gemma’s and if it’s as bad as we both suspect, I want all the mundane and arcane protections I can get.”
“Go. Once you get there, tag me and tell me how long you’ll be. I’ll let Gemma know your ETA then.”
“Thanks.” Seeing the worry lurking in his dark eyes, I smiled in reassurance. “Don’t worry, Red. I won’t take any unnecessary chances.”
With that, I turned on my heel and left his office. If I stayed any longer, I’d start second-guessing my decision to go see Gemma. Tempting as it was to suddenly come down with a case of the “I don’ wannas”, I couldn’t do that. Not to Red, and not to Gemma.
Hell, I couldn’t do it to the rest of us.
After all, I was a Council Marshal. That meant it was my job to deal with problems like the one it seemed might be about to land in my lap.
Welcome to my world and when can I get off?