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A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10)(94)

By:Kim Harrison

“Justice,” Trent said, and the big man standing at the end of the table turned.
“Better you don’t know,” I said as the captain’s eyes squinted. He had his arms over his chest, his biceps bulging from under his polo shirt. “I thought we were doing this together?” I complained. “Nice of you to come back, but if all you’re going to do is abuse us, you can just go away and we’ll take Cordova and Eloy in ourselves.”
“Relax, Rachel. I’m sure this will even itself out,” Trent said as he scooted a bit farther from me and relaxed his shoulders. In an eyeblink, the businessman was back, but I could see through it. I think the captain could, too. 
“Truer words have never been spoken,” the man said, his voice the same one from my earbud. His eyes never leaving mine, he shifted a lapel mic closer to his mouth. “Cleaners.”
My gut tightened as the captain’s satisfaction that they had HAPA was tempered by my feeling of a new uncertainty. We’d given them their take, but I didn’t like how they were treating us. Mark hiccupped and slid to the back of the booth when the captain eased his well-muscled bulk onto the bench across from me. Past our little corner of quiet, a dozen people silently worked washing Eloy’s blood and Dr. Cordova’s spit from the floor, spackling, painting, replacing pictures of babies dressed up as flowers. From the ceiling, the whine of a battery-powered drill intruded, and I blinked as they replaced the broken fixture with an identical one.
“Thanks for the help,” he said, and I brought my gaze back to the captain, startled to see him sitting quietly with his hands laced on the table.
“Really? You’re appreciative?” I said tartly. “You could have fooled me. Here I am trying to get to know you, and you get nasty.”
The captain inclined his head. “I wanted to evaluate your performance in a controlled setting. You did good. He did better. Interesting.”
Trent? I thought, following the captain’s attention to him, and Trent frowned, clearly angry with himself. He had thought this might happen. I’d known it was a possibility, but I had so badly wanted a working relationship with someone who had guns that I’d ignored it. My heart pounded, remembering both the ley-line sink and his comment about taking down dead vampires. And now they were interested in Trent? Great.
Trent cleared his throat, the sound attention-getting, confident. “We just saved you—”
“Nothing,” the man interrupted as he leaned back, sourly eyeing us all. “You got in the way. Made a mess of things. Jeopardized six weeks of work—not just this acquirement, but the entire week. The last ten minutes proved to me that you’re a menace, Morgan, not only to yourself, but to everyone around you.”
I’d been told that before, and it still didn’t bother me. “We can work together, you know. It works with Glenn pretty good. Inderlanders and humans.” I wasn’t going to give this up. I wanted someone on my side.
The captain’s focus sharpened, his mind clearly on something else. “Tell me about Mathew Glenn.”
Beside me, Trent stiffened. “Don’t.”
“He’s one of the most honest, upright people I know,” I said hotly. “You think he’s HAPA? You think he’s working with that nutcase you just carted out of here? He’s dating my roommate and he eats pizza. There’s no one except maybe Jenks and Ivy I would trust more with my life.”
Trent’s foot touched mine. “You’re making a mistake.”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling them!” I said, then frowned as a man in a lab coat came in, a little tackle box in his hand.
“No,” Trent said patiently. “You’re making a mistake.”
I shut my mouth. I didn’t like men in lab coats. The big man across from me sighed, his arms back over his chest as he flicked a glance at the doctor, then back to me. “I think so, too. Just wanted your opinion.”
My chest hurt as he stood up and gestured for the man in the lab coat. “You leave him alone. You hear me?” I all but hissed. “If you touch him, I swear I’ll . . . I’ll . . .”
The man in the lab coat stopped at the table beside ours, opening up his little box and bringing out a glass vial and three syringes. The glass vial hit the table with a clear and certain clunk, and I stared at it, my pulse hammering. Seeing what was happening, Trent sighed. Mark’s eyes were huge, but he didn’t move, trusting us—trusting me.“Roll up your sleeves, please,” the doc said, and I stared up at him, scared out of my mind. Beside me, Trent was undoing his cuff button, his motions having a quick sharpness that told of his anger.
“I’m sorry. Do what he says, Rachel,” Trent said, and I shook my head, shrinking back and holding my arms to myself.
“No. You can’t do—hey!” I shouted as someone grabbed me from behind and another yanked my arm out, pinning it to the table. I tried to rise, the line singing in me. The captain pinned my wrist to the table, and the line washed out of me. I tried to stand, but someone behind me had grabbed my feet from under the bench.
“Rachel!” Trent shouted, and I caught my panic. The captain was watching me sharply. Mark was frightened, his arm out as the doctor finished injecting him with something. Trent offered his arm next, and I felt a moment of helplessness. I couldn’t fight them all alone.
“It’s a memory blocker,” Trent said, his eye twitching as the doctor tied his arm off. “I recognize the label. I’m sorry. I should have . . . done something.”
Memory blockers? I hesitated in my panic, and then a new fear slid into place behind it. I would be fine, but Trent. Damn it, I didn’t want him forgetting the last three days! I’d had fun!
“You lied to me!” I said, and the captain smiled.
“Not at all. I haven’t shot you—yet,” he said, and I struggled until the man holding my arm hurt me. Wanting to fight back, I looked around the coffeehouse. Everything was back where it belonged, right down to a cup of coffee steaming at the pickup window. Most of the-men-who-don’t-belong were gone. It was just us—and whatever they had injected into Trent.
Trent grimaced as he bent his arm up to prevent any blood leaking out. His motions jerky, he pulled his sleeve back down and buttoned it.
“You’re all going to pay for this,” I said and the doctor gingerly tied a rubber hose around my arm. “You’re all bullies,” I said, wincing as the needle slipped in. “Bullies and weenies. You know what happens to weenies?” The needle pulled out without a pinch, and the doctor turned to put his stuff away. Someone let go of my feet, and I kicked at them. “They get roasted!” I shouted as the man behind me let go of my shoulders. Panting, I sat there as they all left and the door shut behind them. Damn it to the Turn and back. As soon as it took hold, Trent was going to forget—the curses he gave me, helping me with Eloy under the streets, our conversation in my kitchen.
And then it was just us three, the doctor, and the captain.
Trent’s car keys hit the table, dusty from the vacuum and apparently lost in the fight. Or maybe they had lifted them to search his car. I was betting it was the latter as Trent dragged them off the table and into his hand with a sour expression. This sucked. This sucked royally. 
Mark was pale, and he pulled himself away from the wall. “Are we going to die now?” he said, his voice quavering.
The captain put his hands on the table and looked down at us. They were huge and covered with scars. “No. You’re going to forget the last two hours happened.”
I looked up from rubbing my arm as the doctor snapped his bag shut and glanced at his watch. I wasn’t. I was going to remember. I wasn’t going to let this go. Ever.
“You will not notice anything out of the ordinary when we are gone,” the captain continued, “and you, Mark, will change your entrance code at the back door to 0101 like I told you the last time. Got it?”
Mark bobbed his head. “Yes, sir.”
I could feel the demon curse hazing through me, spilling along my muscles like slow tequila as it neutralized the toxins. “And maybe repaint the floor with some metallic circles so I can catch people easier,” I added, making the captain of the-men-who-don’t-belong frown.
“Yes, ma’am,” Mark said obediently, and the captain turned to Trent and me.
“You’re not going to get away with this,” I said, frustrated anger filling me. “I hate memory charms! They don’t last. We will remember.” I’d make sure of that. It might take me a week in Al’s library, but I’d find a way to return Trent’s memory. I didn’t want to be the only one to remember this—the way he looked, what he did to see the run through. How dare they take that away, a moment when he was exactly who he wanted to be? It was only two hours, but it was the stuff that made us who we were.
I jerked back as the captain reached for me, finding his hand behind my neck as his other hand pulled my lower eyelid down to see how my pupils were dilated. “Which is precisely why we don’t use them, Ms. Morgan,” he said softly as he gauged my state. “I prefer old-fashioned drugs.”
“Get off,” I snarled, and he jerked his hand back as I tried to hit him.