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"More or less," she agreed.

"Mab," I said, in the same tone I reserved for curse words.


"That's why the lockdown," I said. Then clarified. "Mab closed the border with Faerie until dawn."

Molly was no dummy. I could see the wheels turning as she figured it out. "She's giving you time to deal with it unmolested."

"Relatively unmolested," I corrected her. "I'm starting to think that Mab mainly helps those who help themselves. Okay. Once Maeve gets to start moving pieces in and out of Faerie in the morning, things are going to get busy, fast. Also, I don't want to be working with the magical equivalent of a reactor core the next time Hook and his band of minipsychos catch up with me. So."

Molly nodded. "So we go to the island first?"

"We go to the island now."

* * *

Molly had the apartment building's security call us a cab on the theory that it would be slightly less noticeable than the monster car now in the parking lot. They took her orders as if she were some kind of visiting dignitary. Whatever she'd done for the svartalves, they had taken it very, very seriously. I left Toot sleeping off the fight, with some junk food left out where he would find it when he woke up. Bob was in a cloth messenger bag I had slung over one shoulder, still buttoned up tight. Molly glanced at the bag, then at me, but she didn't ask any questions.

I felt like wincing. Molly hadn't ever exactly been shy about pushing the boundaries of my authority in our relationship as teacher and apprentice. Her time with my faerie godmother, the Leanansidhe, Mab's girl Friday, was starting to show. Lea had firm and unyielding opinions about boundaries. People who pushed them got turned into dogs-or something dogs ate.

The marina was one of several in the city. Lake Michigan provided an ideal venue for all kinds of boating, sailing, and shipping, and there was a nautical community firmly established all around the shores of the Great Lake. I'm not really part of it. I say "wall" instead of "bulkhead," and I'm not quite sure if port is left, or if it's something best left until after dinner. I get the terms wrong a lot. I don't care.

Marinas are parking lots for boats. Lots of walkways were built on piers or were floating pontoon bridge-style in long, straight rows. Boats were parked in individual lots much like in any automobile parking lot. Most of the boats showed signs of being prepared for winter-November can be a dangerous time for pleasure boating on Lake Michigan, and most people pack it in right around Halloween. Windows and hatches were covered, doors closed, and there were very few lights on in the marina.

Which was good, because I was breaking and entering again.

I'd had a key to the marina's locks at one time, but I'd lost track of it when I got shot, drowned, died, got revived into a coma, haunted my friends for a while, and then woke up in Mab's bed.

(My life. Hell's bells.)

Anyway, I didn't have a key or any time to spare, so when I got to the locked gate to the marina, I abused my cool new superstrength and forced the chain-link gate open in a low squeal of bending metal. It took me about three seconds.

"Cool," Molly murmured from behind me. "Wait. Did you do the car, too?"

I grunted, a little out of breath from the effort.

"Holy cow," Molly said. "You're like Spider-Man strong."

"Nah," I panted. "Spider-Man can press ten tons. I can do sets with four hundred kilos."

"Kilos," Molly said.

"I inherited the last guy's weight set," I said. "It's this fancy European thing. Not sure exactly how heavy that is in English."

"In England they use kilos," Molly said wryly. "But it would also be around sixty or sixty-five stone."

I stopped and looked at her.

She smiled sweetly at me.

I sighed and kept on walking out to the boat.

It's called the Water Beetle. It could be the stunt double for the boat of the crusty old fisherman in Jaws, except that it had been freshly painted and refinished and it looked a little too nice. I stopped on the dock in front of it.

There. I'd been standing right there, looking out toward the parking lot when it happened. My chest didn't actually feel a pang of agony, but the memory of it was so sharp and clear that I might as well have reexperienced it-it hadn't hurt at the time, not until I'd been in the water for a while, but it had been pure fire once Mab and Demonreach had succeeded in keeping my soul and body knit together.

And to think, I'd had to call in a solid to get the guy to come shoot me. It seemed like kind of a waste, at this point. I'd been sure that if I had managed to win the day, thanks to my deal with Mab, that I would be a monster in need of a good putting down. I'd scheduled my own assassin, and Molly had used her unique talents to help me forget that it was coming. Once the day had been safely saved, the plan had been to circumvent the evolution of monster-Harry by way of high-powered rifle.

Except I'd survived. Next, I guess, came the monster-Harry part.

I had it on good authority that it didn't have to end with me going all nutty and villainous-assuming an archangel was trustworthy, which I didn't. I also had it on good authority that it would end like that anyway. So at the end of the day, I really didn't know what was going to happen to me in the future.

Heh. Why should I be any different?

The Water Beetle was definitely not battened down for winter, not yet. She was a sturdy, tough little craft-not fast, but not afraid of much of anything nature would throw at her, either. Her gangplank was down, and "batten" and "gangplank" are about the only boat words I'm comfortable with. I moved up it without hesitation, even in the shadowy dimness of late night on the marina. I was familiar with the boat. I'd visited the island on it on multiple occasions.

I went aboard and up onto the roof of the wheelhouse, where the driver's position was. I flicked on a couple of tired old bulbs and checked the gauges. Fuel, oil, good. She had more than enough for the trip out to the island and back. The key wasn't in the ignition-it would be in the small safe down in the boat's cabin, but I knew the combination.

"We're good," I called softly. "Come on."

Molly came up the gangplank while I went down into the cabin.

I got no warning whatsoever, no sound, no visible motion, nothing. One second I was going down the stairs, and the next my face and chest were being crushed against the wall and something extremely sharp was pressing against my neck, just beneath my right ear. Cool, iron-strong fingers were spread over my whole head, pressing it to the wall. The message was clear-if I struggled or made any sound, something pointy would go into my brain.

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