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Black Magic Sanction: Page 100
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His hand fell from mine. "You're welcome. You're a sight in the morning sun, Rachel."
I put a hand to my hair, knowing it was matted and that I stank of river and dirt. "I must look awful."
"You're grand," he affirmed, blue eyes delighted. "The sun is in your hair, and it's all over in a most comely fashion."
"Yeah," Jenks said, interrupting. "Rachel looks good after she gets boinked. It's the only time she relaxes."
Ignoring him, I shivered as the leaves shifted in a gust. It looked about nine. We didn't have much time, and I was almost naked in the woods, miles from Cincinnati and no transportation back. "Jenks, do you know if Trent filed a police report?" I asked, anxious to find out what had happened while I'd been... preoccupied.
Jenks's grin eased my worry. "Nope. He doesn't want anyone to know he lost it, which puts you in twice the danger since Trent is going to take care of you himself There's a message on the church phone to call him, which I think is funny. He's increased his security by the looks of it. You'll never get close enough to him without a disguise."
A disguise that I didn't have time to make and couldn't buy because I was shunned. "Good," I said, very relieved. Maybe the hoof pick had been enough to get him to trust me to give it back. If Trent had filed a report, then there was no chance this was going to work.
His wings dusting an odd shiny purple, Jenks hovered before me. Angular features creased, he said, "I don't know. How are we going to do this? Ivy's out of the picture and you're in the middle of the woods in a blanket. Bis is asleep, and I can carry only so much."
Smiling, I looked at Pierce - who was grinning. "Pierce can jump the lines."
Jenks's wings stopped for a second, and he quickly caught himself. "Not without Bis," he shot back, "and he's asleep."
Pierce took my fingers carefully, as if he wasn't sure where we stood. Something in me jumped, and I squeezed his fingers. I wasn't embarrassed about last night, but I wasn't an idiot to think that this was going to be easy. Eventually he was going back to Al - unless I remained just stupid enough to require a babysitter. Maybe we could do this...
"He can't jump without Bis," Jenks insisted.
"Thank you for not leaving me last night," I said, my thoughts returning to my terror.
"Never, Rachel," he said, a new, soft expression on his face. "Besides, Al would have skinned me like a cat."
Jenks darted up between us, his hand on his sword hilt and his wings clattering. "What the fairy farts is going on? You'd better start talking, or I'm going to pix someone!"
I dropped back, putting space between us. "Pierce can jump lines without Bis," I told Jenks. "He needed Bis only when he didn't know what line the coven summoned me through."
The pitch of Jenks's wings shifted. "Oooo," he said. "You can jump to the church."
Pierce was nodding, running his hand over his hair, stiff and untidy from the river. "What do you want me to bring back?"
"Ivy's tub," I said dryly, feeling gross. "A bucket of water? Soap? Paper towels? New jeans, a shirt, shoes and socks."
"Underwear," Jenks interrupted. "I'll show you where she hides her sexy ones. How about a contraception charm. You got any of those in your cupboard, Rache?"
My expression blanked. Shit. Yve got to get to a convenience store. My gaze went to Pierce, who was three shades lighter. Good. The feeling was mutual.
"Uh, no," I stammered, trying to remember how long I had before I was going to ovulate. Twenty-four hours? Crap, I didn't have time for this. "I'll stop at an apothecary," Pierce said, clearly worried. "A gas station would have it," Jenks offered.
I stiffened. "I'm not going to trust a gas station charm!" I protested, and Jenks hovered backward, laughing. "Pierce, I know they have them at the grocery store three streets down."
His blue eyes were relieved when they met mine. "The one where you get your emergency ice cream?"
My lips parted that he knew, but then he would if he'd been lurking at the church for a year as a ghost. "Yes," I said slowly, wondering what he thought about Marshal. God, I must look like a whore. First Nick, then Kisten, followed by Marshal, and now him, all in the span of two years.
"I'll pick one up," he said firmly, not a hint of recrimination in his body language.
"Okay," Jenks said snarkily, hands on his hips. "Now that we got the baby thing taken care of, how are you going to get close enough to give Trent his statue back without him or the coven taking a potshot at you? Rynn Cormel isn't going to help. That's why I flew all the way out here. Trent knows something is up. He's got more security going into place than when the last presidential hopeful came through trying for the vamp vote."
I turned to the unseen river, assessing what we had. "Is David back yet?" I asked, looking for a tree. There had been a deep hole in the ground in the hidey-hole that neither of us had used, and a tree would be a big improvement.
Jenks's wings hummed. "No, but he is on the way."
My head was bobbing. I had to get Trent and the coven together at the same time or this wouldn't work. The FIB was going to be my neutral ground. "We can work with this," I said as I spun around to them and pulled my blanket back where it belonged before it could slip any farther. Ivy was out, Glenn was in, David was on the way... and Pierce was here to help. I was sure his protective instincts had been ratcheted up because of last night, and I hoped it wasn't going to cause more problems than he might solve. But as I listened to the wind in the trees and felt the warmth of the sun on my feet, all of the fatigue and terror of last night shifted to the background of my existence. If I worked this right, the next few hours might bring a return of my honor, vindication in my beliefs... and freedom.
"Jenks," I said, feeling the wind find its way under the blanket. "Did Ceri leave that charm to go small that she made for Ivy?"
I glanced at Pierce as Jenks darted up and down in the sun like a yoyo. "No way!" he shrilled. "Rache, you going small again?"
Tugging the blanket tighter, I nodded. "Yup. Just to get close, and then I'll untwist it. It's a demon curse, so it won't trigger any charm detectors. Pierce can carry us in looking like Tom Bansen. The guy was in the I.S. Jenks, you can fly me up the rest of the way to Trent, and then pow! I give Trent his statue."
"Pow, you'll be naked!" Jenks exclaimed, sifting a bright gold dust. "On camera, in front of a couple thousand people."
It wasn't the thousands of people I was worried about - it was Trent, and I winced at Pierce's aghast expression. "It will be all over the news across the country," I said, feeling uncomfortable under his stare. "I'll probably make the late show. And because of it, the coven won't be able to kill me and hide me in a hole." I looked down at my dirty, cold feet, showing from under the blanket. "At least not for a week and they find something else to sensationalize," I finished softly.
God, my mother would be mortified, but then maybe not. She had grown up in the sixties. She'd probably call her friends.
Pierce still hadn't said anything, and I felt a quiver of worry. I had too many exes, and now I was going to go naked in front of local TV, sure to be syndicated around the country. But if I was naked, they probably wouldn't shoot me. "You okay with this?" I asked Pierce, hating that my voice went up.
The rims of Pierce's ears were red, and he flicked his gaze to me and away. "Remind me to tell you about my aunt Sara someday," he said, the words deep in his throat.
My eyebrows went up, and Pierce exhaled, seeming to settle himself. "It sounds like an almighty good scheme. And when you are naked in front of all creation, how will you give Kalamack the statue?"
"I thought you could throw it to me?" I said hesitantly, and Pierce laughed.
I didn't like being small. And I was just small, I wasn't a pixy. Unlike Jenks, I didn't have a quick escape if Pierce stumbled other than to grab a silky fold of his vest and hope he didn't squish me when he fell down. If being small in the garden was bad, being small in the streets of Cincy was terrifying. Everything was loud, big, and heavy. I honestly didn't know how Jenks survived. About the only pleasant thing to have come out of this so far was that I was clean - really clean - again. I didn't even care that I was hairy once more.
Jenks had stayed with me while Pierce jumped back to the church for the size-down curse and something small for me to wear to go with it, and I glanced down at the exquisite light green silk that fluttered about my bare feet in the draft of our motion.
I was guessing it belonged to one of Jenks's daughters, and I held a hand to the low neckline as I began to feel seasick at Pierce's quick pace. I didn't have a scrap of red on, and it worried me.
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