Chapter Nineteen: There chapter wherein Hero is reminded of just how dangerous Preters can be.
It wasn’t long before I heard someone stumbling through the side yard. If the backyard was dark, the side yard would be black. Dee had never bothered to put any real lights in the yard. After all, she didn’t use it for much other than her al fresco dinner parties, and those had ceased years ago. I started to tense, but HP continued to drowse at my feet, so I relaxed a little. Sleepy or not, his job was to protect me. So, if he was continuing to enjoy his doggy dreams, then whoever was coming into the yard had to be ok.
A silhouette came around the house, and I whispered, “Kyle?”
“Hero, what are you doing outside?” He hissed back. He took a step closer to the house and froze. “Why didn’t you warn me?” he snapped and raised his hands to cover his ears.
I frowned. Outside I couldn’t hear whatever it was that Jenny was doing, but from his reaction, I guessed that he could. I got up from the steps and walked over to him, and he took a few steps back before uncovering his ears.
“What’s going on?” he asked, after slowly taking his hands off his ears.
I would have laughed at the silliness of it if Kyle hadn’t looked so serious. Serious and scared, “Ok, first I’m fine. And HP is fine too.”
“Why wouldn’t you be?” He growled at me.
I fought to not roll my eyes at him. This over-protective side of him was beginning to wear thin. I told him about the bounty hunter and HP’s phenomenal work as a bodyguard. Of course, looking over at him now, back in cute puppy form sound asleep didn’t sound very convincing. “So, Jenny’s working her mojo, or whatever, and she told me to go outside.” I finished.
Even in the bad light, I watched Kyle grower paler. I was guessing he understood a lot better than I did, what exactly Jenny was doing to the bounty hunter.
“What’d this guy look like?” Kyle asked.
I described what I had seen of the man – scruffy, dangerous, big. “Do you know him?”
Kyle considered the description I’d given. “Sounds like Vic. Vic Grayson was the name he was using last time he was in town.” He didn’t sound as worried anymore.
“So, you know this guy?”
He shrugged. “I’ve had a few run-ins with him. He’s a bounty hunter, but generally not a lethal one. He does his jobs pretty quietly and never raises a lot of attention.” Kyle stepped back from the house again, “You really can’t hear that?”
I glanced at the house and shook my head. “Maybe it’s a guy thing?”
Kyle shook his head, “He’s usually in the right, tracking thieves and sometimes killers.” Kyle paused, “I’m surprised he’d take a job to come after you.”
“He said the Circe who’d hired him said I was a thief. That’d I stolen something from them.”
I’m sure we were both thinking about the Gate again, and Sosostris. If they were back and wanted the Gate’s location, then maybe they did think I’d stolen from them at least by proxy. I shivered a little, and not from the cold.
Kyle put his arm around me. “Well if it was a circe who hired him, he won’t be able to tell us much, even when Jenny’s done with him.” He looked at me, “Why’d you let her do this?”
I glanced up at him, “We didn’t have a choice. HP had him pinned to the floor, but he got away and Jenny said it was the only option.” I looked at the ground, “It’s bad isn’t it, what she’s doing?”
Kyle tilted my head up to look me in the eye. “Yes, it’s bad. Bad for him and probably bad for her.”
I bit my lip, worried about Jenny, not so much the Vic the bounty hunter, and felt my heart start to pound. I was way to0 close to Kyle. I could feel the warmth radiating off of him. I swallowed, “Tell me what she’s doing?” my words seemed to break the feeling between us. At least, I felt like I could breathe again.
Kyle seemed to be considering how to explain it, “She’s going to take away some of his free-will.” He paused and bit his lip, “It’s like he’ll be tied to her, maybe forever. Sometimes a person can’t physically leave the area a siren is in. Every choice he makes…” he paused again, “He’ll be forced to think first of her, and if he can convince himself that it will benefit her, that it will make her happy, well then he can do it.”
I stared at Kyle, “That can’t be what she’s doing.”
He cocked his head, “I’m sure she doesn’t want to do this, but it’s the song she’d singing.”
“Kyle, does it make a difference that he’s a preter, a circe.”
Kyle frowned at me, “Vic’s no circe, why would you think that he was?”
“The flash of light.” Seeing his confused expression, I started again. “The night someone broke into the house, and you found me knocked out. The last thing I remembered was a flash of light, and then the floor.” I saw that he was still following my explanation. “I saw that light again tonight. He tried to use his magic, or whatever, on HP in the hallway. Either he missed, or HP is immune or something.” I paused, “I guess I just assumed it was a circe thing.”
“It is,” Kyle said tightly. “Most circe can make a knockout spell into a charm.”
“Um, hold up, dictionary please?”
He gave me a tight smile, “The light, the unconsciousness that’s all from a knockout spell. Remember when Kate was twisting her fingers around?”
I nodded quickly. I’d assumed that Kate was just fidgeted or had been nervous – but then I recalled HP getting upset when she was twisting her fingers.
“Well, that’s how hecate perform spells, silently with just hand motions. If they’re really good, they can think the motions and not even move. With circe, they need words, but if they are strong enough, or if enough of them work together, they can put the spell into an object. Like a necklace or ring or something.” He broke into a real smile, “They’re always really into using jewelry for some reason. Maybe it has to be metal…” he trailed off, lost in his thoughts.
“So…” I prompted him back our conversation.
“Sorry, it means that someone gave him something to use to knock you out. Which means we either have a coven, that no one knows about, or someone powerful enough is out there.”
I shivered again and noticed that the yard suddenly seemed darker. Whoever was out there, whoever killed Dee and was after me, just got a whole lot scarier. “And…and you don’t know of anyone who could do this?” I whispered.
Kyle pulled me closer and hugged me. “There’s no one in the city who could do this, at least no one I know of. If it’s not Sosostris, I’m working blind.” He stroked my hair, “But, I’m going to keep you safe Hero, and I’ll find who did this.” He whispered.
I let him hold onto me. I admit it wasn’t all fear. It felt good to be in his arms, to be warm, and even for a minute to feel safe. I didn’t doubt that he’d do everything he could to find Dee’s killer and that he’d do everything he could to keep me safe. But I was starting to realize how much that put him at risk too.
We both moved apart when we heard the backdoor open. Jenny stuck her head, “You can come in now,” She called.
I glanced at Kyle and he took my hand. We both walked into the house to see what was left of Vic Grayson.