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A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10)(5)

By:Kim Harrison

“Sure.” I handed it to him, my cold fingers fumbling. “I’m with Ivy Tamwood and the pixy?” God! What was it with me making everything a question? I’d been asked here.
The man’s confusion cleared, but he didn’t hand me my license back, looking down at it with mistrust. “Oh! You’re the, uh . . .”
My eyes narrowed at the derision that had crept into his voice. “Demon,” I finished for him, snatching my license. “Yes, that’s me.” My charmed silver felt cold as I shoved my licenese away. Sure, be mean to the demon when she’s got no magic. “They’re over there, huh?”
I turned away, teeth clenching when he called after me, “Ma’am, if you could wait a moment? You need an escort.”
Since when? I thought, my heels clumping to a stop. Behind him, at my car, Wayde made a bunny-eared kiss-kiss at me and went back to sleep. Irate, I leaned against a tree growing into the sidewalk. The trunk was still wet from last night’s rain, and I crossed my arms and gestured to the cop that I wouldn’t go anywhere.
He gave me a warning look and actually touched his wand, but when I pushed myself away from the tree, he turned and paced quickly to the van. Satisfied, I slumped back. Stupid ass. Now my mood was thoroughly ruined.
Sighing, I strained to hear the radio chatter, but it was too far for anything but background gibberish. Jenks would have been able to hear it from here. Ivy, too. My gaze went to the nearby music hall, and I shivered. The building had gorgeous architecture, but there was something wrong with it. Even the gargoyles avoided it.
A faint, familiar voice pricked at my awareness, and my face, screwed up in a squint from the sun, slowly became a frown as I turned to the park. The masculine sound rose and fell in a politically practiced wave designed to soothe, assure, and convince. It brushed against me with the warmth the November breeze lacked, and my pulse jumped. Trent? What was he doing out here?The sidewalk was still empty, and I pushed away from the tree again, concerned as I remembered his missed call an hour and a half ago. If it had been important, wouldn’t he have called Ivy or Jenks? But they were already out here. Damn it, I’d missing something, and I took a step forward when he and Nina came around a bend, their pace holding a businesslike quickness.
Jerking to a halt, I hesitated. Nina looked about the same. By all appearances she was channeling that undead vampire as she slapped Trent on the shoulder and pulled them to a stop when she noticed me waiting. They were too far away to hear what they were saying, but it was obvious that Trent wasn’t happy.
I hadn’t seen him in months, apart from visiting Ceri when her little girl, Ray, had been born. He looked good, if a bit preoccupied with hiding his anger behind a pleasant, fake smile—better than good, actually, and I fidgeted, remembering the passionate kiss that I’d promised to forget. His fair hair moving in the breeze caught the light, and I could tell the movement bothered him when he tucked it behind his ear. He was clean shaven, ready for the office as he stood in a patch of sun in his thousand-dollar shoes and a wool overcoat that came down to his knees. It hid his athletic physique, but I’d had a pretty good idea of what was under it—every wonderfully toned, tan inch of him—thanks to having burst in on him in the shower once. Oh my God, seeing him with a towel around his shower-wet hips had been worth the entire twenty-three hundred miles stuck in a Buick with a carsick pixy.
He was about my age, my height, and way out of my tax bracket, even if he had given up on his bid for mayor and was no longer even a city council member. The illegal bio-drug lord, murderer, and real-time businessman blamed it on wanting to devote time to his new family, but I knew that coming out of the closet as an elf had hurt him politically. I felt no sympathy.
The thought of his silky hair in my fingertips as my lips moved against his rose through me, and I looked away as he and Nina clasped hands. The woman shook like a man, firm and aggressive, with a men’s club air about her. Why is Trent out here? I probably should’ve used that hour and a half and called him, but I’d been afraid of what he wanted.
My eyes were squinting again when I looked up. Nina was bent over Trent’s hand, probably commenting on the missing digits. Al, the demon I was hiding from, had taken them. He’d been well on his way to killing Trent at the time until Pierce had taken the blame for my being brain dead—which I hadn’t been. My soul had just been trapped in a bottle until my aura could heal.
Cold, I tugged my coat closer as Trent jerked his hand back and said something terse. I left wreckage like a hurricane among those I knew. No wonder I didn’t have very many friends. His pace fast and angry, Trent strode across the grass and to the nearby curb, clearly avoiding me. It was unusual that he wouldn’t try to hide his anger, but what was the point if you were talking to a vampire older than the Constitution who could read your emotions on the wind? 
“Trent!” I called out, hating the snubbed feeling creeping into me.
He tilted his head to acknowledge my presence without slowing, and my next words died at the look of what might be betrayal in the slant of his lips. “Next time, answer your phone,” he said curtly from almost twenty yards away, his beautiful voice a study in contrasts. “I don’t call unless it’s important.”
“I’m not on your payroll.” Realizing how bitchy that had sounded, I took my hands out of my pockets. “I was in a meeting, sorry.”
Frowning, he looked away, his back hunched slightly and his shoulders about his ears as he went to a small black sports car and slipped behind the wheel with notable grace. The door shut with a soft thump. If taste and sophistication had a sound, that was it, and I dropped back to the tree and watched him check behind, then drive away, the engine a low, soft thrum of gathering power, hesitating as he took a turn and was gone.
Nicely handled, Rachel, I thought sourly, glancing at my own little Cooper and seeing Wayde watching the entire incident. Nina was coming to me, her pace slow and provocative. I could tell the second that the dead vamp left her. Her heels began to click, changing from a confident, sedate pace to a fast cadence, her arms beginning to swing and her hips to sway. Her eyes, too, were no longer intense with sly dominance, but sparkled with the emotion of having been recognized by someone she respected. Her entire posture shifted from lionlike satiation to one brimming with tense excitement.
I didn’t like that they had Trent out here. What had me most concerned, though, was that Trent was here on his own. Curious. Seeing my mistrust, she slowed her pace. “You got here fast,” she said by way of greeting, her smile fading as she took in my unease.
I uncrossed my arms, trying not to broadcast my wariness. The DMV office had called her to say that I was on my way? Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to know that they had Trent out here, too. Curiouser and curiouser.
“I made the lights,” I said as she eased to a halt beside me, looking me up and down with a soft grimace, as if seeing me through her own eyes for the first time. Smiling, I extended my hand and the young woman took it, her expression questioning when I said, “Hi. I don’t think we’ve really met.”
“Um, it’s not like that,” she said, her voice a little faster, a little higher, and a lot more positive than just a few hours ago in the DMV office. “It’s still me. It’s always me, and then . . . him, too.”
“Right.” I put my hands back in my pockets. She was all bouncy and excited now, but I had a feeling that something was going to go wrong with this arrangement despite her obvious enthusiasm. There was a reason the undead didn’t do this all the time, and it was probably going to leave Ms. DMV Worker in a padded cell when the undead master didn’t need her anymore. “I’m supposed to wait for an escort,” I said, and she gestured for me to accompany her.
“So, you working for the I.S. now?” I asked, trying to keep the anger out of my voice as I swung into step beside her, and she shook her head, a faint intake of breath telling me that she’d had an interesting ninety minutes while I’d been getting my temporary license.
“Not officially, no,” she said, pulling herself straight. “I’m his temporary assistant.”
Is that what they’re calling blood whores these days? I thought, then quashed it. This wasn’t her fault. She was the victim, even if she was willing. “So you won’t mind telling me why Trent Kalamack was out here?” I asked, and she laughed.“He wanted to meet him,” she said, her tone somewhere between sly and derisive.
She was having way too much fun in this arrangement with the undead, and I made sure our feet hit the sidewalk at exactly the same time, adjusting my steps to be a little shorter since she was still in heels and I had on comfy boots. Recalling the almost betrayed look Trent had given me before driving off, I said, “That’s why walkie-talkie man was out here, not why Trent was.”
Nina’s breath hissed in angrily. My pulse hammered, and I sidestepped from her before I even knew what was happening, finding my balance as she turned to me, her posture bent and aggressive. My hands were out of my pockets, but Nina was already relaxing, a sullen expression on her face as she refused to meet my eyes. “Walkie-talkie man?” she said, her tone sharp with accusation. “It’s a good thing he likes that, or I’d have to teach you otherwise.”