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A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10)(13)

By:Kim Harrison

“Still working?” the tidy man said as he noted Ivy’s papers and my spelling equipment. Rain spotted the short leather jacket that showed off his narrow waist and wide shoulders. He was a shade taller than Ivy, one ear having a diamond stud and his curly black hair in a flattop, making him look more military than usual.
“You too, I see,” I said, my smile faltering as he dropped the pizza box next to my spelling supplies and a tuft of dandelion fuzz took to the air. The pixies were on it in an instant, and with a squeal of excitement, a bright-cheeked, excited boy who looked about four darted out of the kitchen with it, six of his siblings in hot pursuit.
“Come back with that!” Jenks shouted, almost as fast as he zipped after them.
Ivy leaned in to give Glenn a quick kiss on the cheek, and in a smooth motion, she shifted the pizza box to the kitchen table as she stood. There wasn’t a mark on the man’s beautifully dark skin, and as he took his coat off and draped it over a nearby chair, I couldn’t help but wonder where Ivy had been biting him. Then I wished I hadn’t.
“I’m off the clock, but who really stops working?” Glenn said as he shifted his shoulders to make his shirt fit better. He liked to dress the part of an FIB detective, especially when he was mingling with his I.S. counterparts, and he made it look good. “There’s a lot of information to go over and only a short time to catch these maniacs.”
“Besides,” Jenks said as he brought me my dandelion fluff, “coming over here gave him an excuse to eat pizza.”
“Thanks, Jenks,” I said, wondering if the spell was ruined even before I’d lit the Sterno can. My stomach grumbled at the smell of the pizza. I hadn’t eaten yet, but mixing spell prep and food was a very bad idea. I’d eat later.
Ivy turned from the cupboards with three plates. “You brought your copy, right?” she asked. “You’re not using mine.”
Grinning to show his very white teeth, Glenn pulled a creased, copied version of the I.S.’s information, still stapled together and showing signs of having been worked with. “I know better than to write on your paper.” He smacked her on the butt with it, and Ivy turned, growling at him as she opened the pizza box. It was obvious she was enjoying the attention. I’d seen Ivy and Glenn interact before, but it still kind of freaked me out. Wiping my hands on the apron, I put myself behind the center counter where I could work, stay out of their way, and yet keep an eye on them. Jenks, too, looked uncomfortable, and together we pretended to read my recipe. 
Sighing happily, Glenn sat in Ivy’s chair before her computer, leaning forward to take a piece of pizza. He was the only human I knew who’d eat it, and he’d become quite the tomato junkie. I’d pimped ketchup to him in exchange for handcuffs until he got tired of the blackmail and admitted to his dad that he ate tomatoes. Most humans wouldn’t since a bio weapon had accidentally slipped into a genetically modified tomato and killed a quarter of the world’s human population about forty years ago.
Humanity owed its continued existence to us Inderlanders coming out of the closet to keep society intact as plague swept through their genome, killing everyone who had eaten the lethal fruit. It hadn’t affected us, and they were understandably skittish about tomatoes even now. But Glenn . . . I smiled as he groaned in pleasure, a long string of cheese running from his mouth to his piece of pizza. Glenn had risked it when cornered in an Inderland eatery and the choice had been to eat it or admit to a room full of vampires that he was chicken.
“Mmm,” he said, chewing slowly and savoring every morsel until he swallowed. “Ivy, I wanted to go over the distance between the dump sites and where the victims were held. See if we can narrow the search. The I.S. has their amulets all over the city, but if we can zero in on one borough, it will be faster.”
I lit the Sterno can from the stove’s pilot light and set the spell pot on the tripod. Competition between the I.S. and the FIB was good. I didn’t trust the I.S. amulets, which was why I was making my own. That standard magic-based tests were not working normally also didn’t sit well. They were usually as reliable and a great deal faster than the pre-Turn techniques of genetic comparisons, which were now barely legal.
“Besides,” Glenn added, his voice a dark mutter, “I don’t think they’ll tell us immediately when they find the latest base of operations.”
Ivy had sat down kitty-corner to him, angling her chair so that her back wasn’t to me. “You think the I.S. will keep information from you now that you’ve got jurisdiction?” she said, her voice mocking and high. “Glenn, we’re all in this together.” Leaning over the pizza on her lap, she patted him on the cheek a little too hard.
Jenks and I exchanged a look, and his wings hummed nervously. I set the spring water to boil, hoping I wasn’t going to have to watch them flirt all night.
“You know I won’t withhold information,” Glenn said, a smidgen of his usual business attitude showing. “I don’t like that they managed to keep three HAPA crimes quiet for almost two weeks.” Glenn’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, and his pizza dangled, forgotten, from his thick hands. “That’s almost too hard to believe.”
I tended to agree with him. Memory charms. I was starting to have a real problem with them. My motions to grind the seeds up grew rougher, and I leaned into the job, taking my anger out on the dandelion fluff, tick seed, and sticktights. “They thought I was the one doing it,” I said when I backed off to add the corn pollen.
Glenn looked first at me, then Ivy to see if I was joking. His expression was a mix of amazement and anger. “You?” he almost barked when she nodded.
Seeing that Ivy had quit tweaking the man’s libido, Jenks darted to the open pizza box. “Rache set them straight,” he said proudly as he hovered over the crust. “In loud words,” he added, using a pair of chopsticks from his back pocket to help himself to the sauce.
“I’ll bet.” Glenn set his pizza down, reaching for the paper towels we kept out and tearing one off. “I’m sorry, Rachel. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have been so nice to them.”I shrugged, then cracked an egg, shifting the yolk from eggshell to eggshell to separate it from the white. Not many earth charms used eggs, but this one did to bind the dry ingredients to the wet. “I’m getting used to it,” I said sourly, hoping we’d seen the last of Nina. “At least I got my license back and my car registered in my name.” Until they wiped my memory. Damn it, those things were illegal for a reason! I knew the demons had a curse that would block memory charms, but that was out. Maybe the elves had one. Trent could make a Pandora charm, which was basically a spell that repaired the damage from one. I simply wanted to prevent it.
Frustrated, I promised myself I’d call Trent as soon as I had ten minutes to myself. He’d sounded mad at me, but that was all the more reason to talk to him. I wasn’t going to let misunderstandings fester anymore, especially with Trent. The man was starting to scare me.
“Jenks, you want this?” I asked the pixy as I held up the yolk still in the shell half, and he shook his head. Eggs gave me migraines, so I dumped it down the sink, dusting my hands as I turned around. Almost done.
Glenn finished his first piece of pizza, and after a longing look at the rest of the pie, he moved his plate to the center counter. “ ’Scuse me,” he said as he reached across Ivy for one of her maps, intentionally brushing her. Ivy almost hit his jaw as she went for a pencil next to her keyboard, and I looked away when they put their heads together and began talking of walking speeds and the problems inherent in analyzing rapid transit.
Jenks took one look at them and flew back to me in disgust. “Jealous?” he asked me as he landed on the open spell book, and I frowned.
“No. Get off the spell book.”
He was laughing as I shooed him away, landing on Glenn’s plate instead, just about the only place I’d let him alight at this point. The water was boiling, and after checking the recipe, I carefully brushed the crushed seeds into it. It fizzed and foamed, and I blew out the flame. I’d add the egg white and fairy dust along with the focusing object after it cooled. In this case, I’d be using the man’s hair. This was sympathetic magic, meaning it worked by making a connection between the amulet and whatever it was sensitized to. Sticktights, tick seed, and egg white were for binding. Corn pollen, fairy dust, and dandelion seed were for drifting on the ether to search, and my blood would be the catalyst to make it work. The man’s blood would have made a better focusing object, but there wasn’t a clean enough sample. Hair was a good substitute.
So why did I feel so weird using it?
I glanced at Ivy and Glenn, happy with maps and colored markers, then teased a hair from the bundle Jenks had snatched for me. It was black and fine, from his head and not the curse-modified pelt he’d had from the waist down. 
Ivy laughed, low and throaty, and I looked up to see them absorbed in whatever point of contention they had deemed worthy of arguing over. Jenks snickered, and I glared at him. “Shut up,” I muttered, my shoulders shifting uncomfortably. Damn vampire. It was starting to smell good in here, what with the pizza and the pheromones. And the scent of . . . wine and salt?