“Me?” Daisy asked, the confidence draining away from her posture. I frowned, pausing. It wasn’t like her to react like this when someone wanted to train her.
“Yes,” Zorn said. “Come on.”
“But…” Daisy’s large blue eyes widened. With her pale, porcelain face and dainty features, she looked more like a fragile doll in that moment than the little gremlin Bria had accused her of being. “Why me? I’m just along for the ride in all of this.”
“Not anymore. Let’s go.” Zorn’s tone was rough, his words clipped.
“But…” Daisy gave me a solemn-eyed stare.
“Since when are you wary about training?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“It’s Zorn,” she said, as though that was supposed to mean something.
“He’s not going to hurt you. Not any more than any of the others would. Kieran knows better.” I shooed her away. “Off ye git. Go learn something and quit annoying me.”
She turned toward her bedroom, presumably to get dressed rather than to hide under her covers.
“No,” Zorn barked, making her jump. “You’ll train in what you’re wearing.”
Her mouth dropped open, and red infused her cheeks. The spell had just broken. She was clearly intimidated by him, but with Daisy, that only lasted until something jogged her out of it.
“You’re out of your mind,” she said, her voice as hard as his. I smirked. That’s my girl. “I don’t have a bra on. Do you know how much it hurts to run with boobs?”
“Do you?” I asked her, and earned a glare.
“You need to be ready at all times,” Zorn said. I slipped into the bathroom and pulled out the blow dryer but didn’t plug it in. I wanted to hear this. Zorn had refused to train the kids up until now. I wanted to see what had changed, and if it was a problem that I’d have to deal with. “You’ll never know when you have to move. When your cover might be blown. Get used to running with no bra. Get used to wearing enough to bed that you can comfortably slip out of a window in the dead of night. Most importantly, get used to being comfortable in your skin, so that when the situation demands it, you won’t worry about little girl pajamas and the comfort of your family. You’ll only worry about the task at hand. Right now, that task is a hard lesson. Let’s go. Your real training starts now.”
I bit my lip, readying for Daisy to blow up, or maybe just call him a lunatic and stalk back to her room. She hadn’t signed up for anything. She didn’t owe him squat.
Instead, I heard her footsteps moving forward.
“Wait…” I abandoned the hair dryer and peeked my head into the hall, catching a glimpse of Daisy’s straight back and head held high as she reached the front door. “What?”
Zorn stepped out of the doorway. I got one glimpse of Bria crossing the grass toward the house before Daisy obstructed my view, leaving the house.
“Is that a good idea?” I asked, stepping into the hallway. “What even is this training? Who set it up?”
Zorn eyed me as Daisy walked by him. “Kieran approves.” He reached in, grabbed the handle of the door, and pulled it shut.
Anger simmered inside of me. Kieran approved? What the hell did he have to do with it?
“Really? You didn’t see me?” Bria pushed the door open, her head turned toward a departing Zorn. “You didn’t notice me coming up the walkway before you shut the door in my face? Oh yeah, keep walking. See how that works out for you tonight. Those handcuffs aren’t going to unlock themselves.”
Shaking her head, she stepped into the house, then bit her lip. “I really want to slam this door, but I’m afraid the whole house will come down on top of me.”
“Likely.” I pointed out the door where Daisy was now entering Zorn’s car. “What the hell just happened?”
“Why didn’t they take me?” Mordecai asked from his bedroom door. He was shirtless and his shoes had been left untied. He’d rushed to get ready, thinking he’d be going, too.
Bria waved the comment away. “Zorn thinks Daisy would make a great spy or assassin. Which is a really big compliment, because Zorn thinks most people are absolutely useless.”
Mordecai’s face fell and my heart squished for him.
Thankfully, Bria noticed it before I could do damage control. “You have a different calling, kid,” she told him. “There’ll be plenty of time for you two to train together. But you’re about to start shifting and fighting like your kind. Daisy wouldn’t be able to keep up. You each need to hone what you’re naturally good at, get it? She needs Zorn for that.”
Fear and excitement crossed his face. His lips pressed together.
Once again, Bria easily picked up his mood, and this time she met it with sarcasm. “Yeah. You’ll be shifting soon. Happiness reigns.” She zeroed in on me. “What the fuck is with that top?”
I looked down. “It’s a blouse.”
She ran her hand across her face. “What a strange circus I’ve found myself trapped in.” She leaned against the wall and sighed. “Right. Fine. Wear Bobo’s painting frock if it makes you happy, but let’s go. Our window is small.”
I plucked at my shirt. “It’s the nicest thing I have besides that suit.”
“Which is a real damn shame, but it’s not my problem at the moment. Come on.”
I went back to the bathroom and grabbed the hair dryer. She followed me in. “I want to look presentable.”
“Why? He won’t be there. It’s a quick get in, look around, and get out situation. Hopefully we won’t see a soul. Or…you know, a human. You might see a soul. But they can’t tell on us, so who cares.”
I paused with the plug of the blow dryer an inch from the socket. “But I was going to head to the government building.”
“That’s not on the list. We can head there and talk to the girl if we run out of leads. We’re headed to Valens’s house. Three of the rooms made Kieran’s mother’s list. We’re going to check them out while he’s in a meeting. Don’t worry about Jack.” She motioned to the front door. “I stopped by to say hi, then jabbed him with a needle filled with a liquid roofie. He’ll be sleeping for a while. Zorn didn’t even notice. That’s why you play head games with boys. It helps your misdeeds go unnoticed. I don’t advise that with a Demigod, though. That would just make him more unpredictable. Nothing worse than an unpredictable Demigod.” She paused in her babbling. “Well? Let’s go!”
I batted away all the crazy information she’d slapped at me and latched on to the most salient bit. “You want to go to Valens’s house?” I paused, wrapping my head around this. “You want to go to the house of the Demigod of San Francisco—uninvited—and have a look around? Bria, he kills trespassers. And then traps them on Earth so he can torment them forever.”
“Yeah. He’s a real piece of work, isn’t he? Fucking nuts.” She motioned me forward. “Come on, let’s go. We’re wasting our window.”
“I feel like you’re ignoring me. Bria, he kills trespassers.”
“Don’t worry about that.” She waved the thought away. “We won’t get caught.”
“Nah.” She shook her head. “We won’t. We’re good. Come on. It’ll be a quick little peek, and out we go. He’s not even there. Neither is Kieran. I checked, and they’re both in a budget meeting. Those things go forever. We’re good.”
Nervous tremors raced through my body. Adrenaline pumped into my blood stream. I’d guessed I might have to enter the den of the beast, maybe even a likelihood, but I’d half hoped I’d crack the case before the need arose. I’d more than hoped Kieran would be with me.
Valens was ruthless. No, beyond ruthless, he was possibly unhinged. If he found us, even without figuring out what we were doing, or what I was, no one would be able to save us.
“You’re out of your mind,” I said, sticking the plug into the wall. “We should wait for Kieran. He’ll flip if we go without him.”
“Kieran is watched whenever he’s in the magical area. Valens doesn’t trust him, and for good reason. Having him along would bring even more heat down on us.” She shook her head. “No. That’s a terrible idea. Trust me, I’m a master at breaking and entering. I’ve even got a cadaver in my trunk for distraction. Worst case, I load up that cadaver with the soul of a madman, set him loose, and we run like hell. Crazy souls in an unfamiliar body wreak havoc. They really steal the show. This’ll be a piece of cake.”
I put my hands out to the sides. “Breaking into a Demigod’s house is suicide, Bria—”
“Only if you get caught.”
“—and don’t even get me started on carrying dead people around in your trunk.”
“He’s dead. He doesn’t care. That body is just bone and tissue at this point. It’s fine.”
I could only stare at her with my mouth hanging open. How could she possibly be this blasé about something like this.
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