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.It was alien to him, to stand by and watch other people go out to do the fighting.He had never been so frustrated, or felt so powerless.He wanted to step forward, be the big man, and tell the women he’d take care of it, only he had no idea what to do.Shit.No wonder the OCU hasn’t ever found real psychic activity.The Sibyls always get there first.Riana herded her triad toward the door, then paused and looked back over her shoulder.Wonder Woman, Creed thought.Wonder Woman in tight leather instead of an American flag and a push-up bra.“I know this isn’t pleasant for you,” Riana said, and Creed thought she was speaking mostly to him.He imagined her bright green eyes shining through the eye slits in her face mask.“But please, this time, stay out of it and let us do our job.”Andy kicked at the floor, but she nodded.“No worries.I’m not making the same mistake twice.”Cynda opened the door, and Merilee followed her out.Riana remained still and seemed to be waiting for something.When Creed didn’t give it to her, she said, “You’re a man of your word.Tell me you’ll stay here and keep Andy safe.Use the cell if you have to.”Creed ground his teeth.Maybe Corey James is a better man than me.I don’t know if I’m strong enough to let her walk out the door.But he kept looking at her, at her daggers, at the lean line of her fit body and the way she almost leaned toward the door, as if she longed to play her assigned part in the world.Finally, he sucked in his doubts and pride and said, “Yeah.Okay.Go do what you do.”The door slammed behind her before the last word left his lips.For a long time, Creed just stood there, staring at the spot where Riana had been only moments before.“Not bad,” Andy murmured, the sound of her voice reattaching him to the real world, at least a little bit.“I didn’t think you could do it.”“Do what?” Creed asked, more than a little irritable.Andy patted his arm.“Let her be who she is.I’m impressed.If you can tame that beast inside you, you just might have a chance with Riana after all, partner.”19Riana let Cynda drive the Jeep.She was too distracted by her emotions to pay close attention to the road.Creed had wanted to come with her.She sensed his frustration so powerfully she imagined it was following them down Broadway.Yet he put his feelings aside and gave his word not to interfere.This time, she knew he would keep it.Her heart fluttered.She didn’t think she had ever known a man strong enough to let her be strong, too.Is this what Alisa felt with Corey? Is that why she petitioned to marry? Other Sibyls had married before, of course.A lot, in fact.Riana never understood that, never believed a man could give her the freedom she needed.She hadn’t had much luck with boyfriends.In fact, she’d never felt relaxed enough to explain who or what she was to any of the men she had dated.Plenty of Sibyls had active social lives outside the sisterhood, but Riana had never been too comfortable with that.Too much risk, too little benefit, and too little time.Until now.Cynda and Merilee chatted nonstop, discussing strategies for preserving Herbert’s balls once they caught him and took them for trophies.She had to agree that if Herbert didn’t stop soon, or if he figured out how to tap into his abilities any better, they would need to put him in irons and send him to the Mothers.Probably Motherhouse Ireland.Herbert liked to play with fire.Merilee circled around the Financial District and parked the Jeep out of the flow of traffic on Wall Street—or rather, on a Wall Street sidewalk, far enough from the church to keep the vehicle safe if something exploded or stones fell from the walls.Unfortunately, that was a likelihood with Herbert sometimes.When Riana got out, she took a deep breath of crisp fall air, catching a hint of cloves, cinnamon, and pepper from the restaurants of nearby Chinatown.There was something else in the air, too—a bitter, unnatural tang, and not just exhaust from the cars, cabs, and buses streaming past between her and the churchyard.“Fire,” Cynda muttered.“I smell accelerant, but earth, too.Somebody’s put it out, I think.”The South Manhattan triad, led by Dani Petrov who graduated Motherhouse Russia a few years after Riana, met them across the road, on the sidewalk in front of the preternaturally darkened church.Riana could sense the massive stone building with its peaceful, heavy energy of rock and mortar, looming ahead of her.City lights not affected by Herbert’s asinine shenanigans blazed from all directions, outlining Trinity in eerie blues and grays.The neo-Gothic spire, which reached a height of almost three hundred feet, probably wasn’t visible to anyone without the keen vision of a Sibyl.“I can’t find the cockroach.” Dani gripped the hilt of her scimitar, and Riana imagined her dark-haired friend glaring into the pitch-black windows of the church.“I sent Maura and Shell to scout, but no luck.The lights have been off and on about ten times, and we’ve put out two fires in the churchyard.He lit one on Alexander Hamilton’s marble pyramid—with fire paste, the little shit.I’m surprised cops aren’t crawling all over the place.”Riana settled her mind and reached into the nearby earth, letting her awareness run along the natural veins of the ground.Even beneath asphalt, even torn and split by subways and utilities, she could feel patterns in the dirt, find lines, and follow them along until she sensed life energies.All earth Sibyls had some terrasentience, or the ability to sense what was in or on nearby earth, but Riana’s senses were sharper than most.She quickly found one human entity, then two, but recognized the unmistakable energy signatures of a fire Sibyl and an earth Sibyl.Dani’s triad sisters were returning to her empty-handed.They were moving through the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery now.Riana carefully circled around the cemetery in their wake, not wishing to disturb any graves or spirits that might be lingering.She tasted the aberrant sourness of accelerant on her tongue as she passed the Hamilton monument, then she moved on to other vaults and finally back outside the fence again.Nothing.No dead chickens, even.No feathers, no blood, no shoddily constructed vévé made as if to summon a Loa—one of the god-figures from the astral plane who responded to true practitioners of Vodoun.The absence of Herbert’s usual trademarks made Riana’s muscles tight.She didn’t like it when patterns changed.Assholes like Herbert changing their patterns—that was rarely a good sign.Yet…wait.There, somewhere near the Livingston vault, where engineer Robert Fulton was laid to rest…a disturbance.She couldn’t quite get a fix on it, but there was an energy that didn’t seem to belong.And another patch of bitter-tasting ground, this one not burned, right around the cenotaph bearing Robert Fulton’s name.“Herbert’s hiding in the graveyard somehow.” She closed her eyes and shook her head, drawing her awareness out of the earth as Maura and Shell joined them outside the fence.“He might actually be underground, but for some reason I’m not getting a clear reading.Something’s interfering with his energy signature.”Maura sheathed her intimidating African shotel, but not before Riana caught the gleam of fire running along its wicked sicklelike curve.Her leathers gave off smoke at both shoulders.A classmate of Cynda’s, Maura shared much with her in the way of personality.“We’ve been through that churchyard a dozen times now,” she said.“What the hell is going on?”“He must have learned to use more of his abilities.” Shell, the air Sibyl in Dani’s triad, palmed the two tiny throwing knives—darts, in proper terminology, with orange-gold tassels that made them look like deadly goldfish—she had been keeping at the ready [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]