Night Shift Page 40

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Though Teacher was almost asleep, he roused enough to say, “She didn’t call the cops. She didn’t go running to her neighbors and ask them to come question me about it. She solved her problem herself.”

And with that, Madonna made a sound of disgust, turned off the light, and left him to sleep. She was not content with Teacher’s verdict, but for now she’d go along.

Madonna was not one to forgive and forget. She was more of the “get even” school.

She stopped herself from making plans for vengeance by reminding herself that Fiji was not the object of her paycheck these past two years. Madonna had to keep her eyes on the prize.

And it was a rich prize, indeed.

 

 

18

 

 

Lemuel said, “Bobo, the shop has to be closed tonight.”

Bobo was standing in the doorway of his apartment above the pawnshop. Lemuel had come silently up the stairs while Bobo had been waiting for a pizza to come out of the oven.

Bobo thought of asking why, but if Lemuel had wanted to explain, he would have done so. “Okay,” he said. “The weather’s so bad I don’t think you’ll disappoint a lot of clientele.”

“Thank you,” the vampire said stiffly. He almost spoke again, but he seemed to think the better of it, and went down as silently as he’d come up.

A few minutes later, Bobo saw Lemuel and Olivia climb into Olivia’s anonymous gray Honda Civic and drive off. He shrugged, and sliced the pizza. He was reading a book by Tana French, and he propped it up on another book while he ate his dinner.

He would have been very surprised to know that Lemuel and Olivia were on their way to kidnap a vampire.

“Her name’s Christine?” Lemuel asked Olivia.

“Yep. That’s what the Vampire Directory said. And this is the latest edition. The purchase had to go on your credit card. You have to be a vampire listed in it to buy it.”

“I didn’t know such a thing existed,” Lemuel marveled. “And you say I’m in it?”

“You did ask me to search the Internet.”

“I did wonder if you might be able to find the descendants of Arria Auclina and Dr. Quigley,” he said. Lemuel was quite proud that he’d even imagined Olivia could discover such a thing, and he was even more delighted that once Olivia had understood what he wanted, she’d purchased the software and found his answer while he slept. Lemuel had not been this pleased since Bobo had given him the hidden books.

“Do you want to look at your entry?” Olivia asked.

“I’m interested in hers,” he said. “Mine need only read, ‘Stay away from him.’ ”

Olivia laughed. “One person in a million would say that, Lem.

Okay, Christine’s entry says that she’s the linear descendant of Arria Auclina. Christine was turned by Dr. Quigley thirty years ago to provide a gift for his sire. She is fluent in Etruscan.”

“Where is she?”

“This is the best part. She’s in Dallas right now, living in Joseph’s nest.”

“Then let’s go.” Lemuel was up and walking by the time Olivia’s astonished look vanished, replaced by concern.

“What are we going to do?” she asked. “Lem, you can’t just steal her.” But she was smiling as she said it.

“Of course I can,” he said. “And I may yet do so. But I plan to bargain.” Lemuel was running up the stairs and into the shop. By the time Olivia caught up with him, he was looking in the old ledger, one of the earliest recording the pawnshop transactions. Whatever its original color, the book was now a mottled yellowish color with a dark brown spine.

Olivia didn’t ask what Lemuel was doing. She knew that very soon he’d tell her. Lemuel turned to the earliest section of the ledger (which was about the size of a 9-by-13 baking pan), and within a minute he’d found what he wanted.

“It’s still here,” Lemuel said. “That’s the beauty of keeping records.”

Laying the ledger on the counter, he went to the corner of the pawnshop where the magical objects were kept. Olivia studied the locked cabinets some nights while Lemuel was on duty, and she would have sworn she knew the appearance of each item, though not its use—for Bobo and Lemuel did not know the properties of all of them. But Lemuel unlocked the cabinet with a tiny key from his key ring and withdrew a ball the color of aged ivory. It was about the size of a softball, and it was decorated with tiny blue paintings of butterflies. “Tell me a lie,” Lemuel said.

“I’m a virgin,” Olivia said promptly.

And the ball glowed from inside.

It was startlingly lovely lit this way, but Lemuel was not at all interested in the aesthetics of the ball. “It still works,” he said with some satisfaction. “This will be a good thing to trade for Christine.” Olivia opened her mouth to protest that a woman should not be traded for an object, even if she was a vampire, but she closed it again.

There were arguments you could win with Lemuel, and there were arguments you couldn’t. This was one of those.

Lemuel slapped his pockets until he found his phone, which Olivia had given him the previous Christmas. She had also instructed him in its use, and now, with a glance to make sure she noticed, he checked his list of contacts and pressed one of the icons. He held the phone to his ear, and Olivia could hear it ring.

“Yes,” said a cold voice.

“This is Lemuel Bridger.”

After a pause, the voice said, “A great surprise to hear from you.”

“Please tell Joseph that I need to talk to him this night and that I am on my way from Midnight.”

“I will see if he has time to talk to you, Mr. Bridger.”

“I am coming, anyway,” Lemuel said, and hung up.

“If we’re going to Dallas, we better get on the road now,” Olivia said. “Are we taking the Vette?” Lemuel had a red Corvette, and Olivia loved to ride in it.

“I wish we could, but we have to bring back another person, so we’d better take yours,” he said. “And you’re right, let’s start.” He ran up the stairs to Bobo’s door, told Bobo he was leaving, and in the next five minutes they were on their way to Dallas.

Joseph’s large house was in a neighborhood of similar homes. His predecessor, Stan, had refused to move after the famous massacre several years ago. Joseph, too, had insisted the nest remain where it had been. The house had been carefully repaired. There was no sign that blood and death had ever filled the night in this upscale neighborhood.

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