His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 18
All three of the men in my living room were Latino. They were very well dressed; two of them — the ones standing — were NFL huge, dark-haired, dark-eyed. I probably should have checked more closely for distinguishing marks — scars, tattoos, that sort of thing. But my eyes were drawn to the black Sig Sauer P220s they both had aimed at my chest.
The third man sat on the couch, his legs crossed, his arms draped casually over the back cushions. Him I recognized.
Luis Paredes was a weremyste who I had known for years. He was short, barrel-chested, with a beard and mustache that he had trimmed since the last time I saw him, and black eyes that always made me think of the flat, disk-like eyes of a shark. Once, when I was still a cop working in narcotics, I had busted Luis for possession of pot with intent to sell. Later, after I lost my badge and became a PI, I helped him out with an employee who had been stealing from his bar. I never would have called us friends, but neither would I have expected him to show up in my house with a couple of armed goons.
He was an accomplished weremyste, powerful enough that his features were blurred. All weremystes appeared that way when I first met them — smeared, so that it seemed someone had rubbed an eraser across their faces. The effect lessened with time, or maybe the more time I spent with a runecrafter, the easier it was for me to compensate. But that initial impression was unmistakable; whenever I met another runemyste, particularly a powerful one, I knew it right away. Looking more closely, I realized that his friends were sorcerers, too, though the blurring effect wasn’t as strong with them. In a battle of spells Luis would be the most dangerous of the three. Of course the other two guys could simply shoot me.
One of them stepped around my coffee table, his .45 still levelled at my heart. He didn’t say anything, but he reached into my bomber, pulled my Glock from the shoulder holster, and handed it back to the other goon. I heard the metallic ring of the round being unchambered and then the slide and click of the magazine clearing the grip. I didn’t figure I’d be getting that mag back. The guy in front of me grabbed my shoulder, spun me around, pushed me against the wall, and frisked me. When he was done, he turned me back the way I’d been, flashed a smile that could have frozen the tap water in my pipes, and crossed back to where he’d been standing.
“Why don’t you have a seat, Jay?” Luis said, his tone too smug by half for my taste.
“Why don’t you get the hell out of my house, Luis? And you can take your attack dogs with you.”
He frowned. I’m not sure his goons even blinked. They were well-trained.
“I think maybe we should try that again. Why don’t you sit down, Jay?” His eyes had the flat, sharky quality again, and his tone was more pointed this time. “Be smart, mi amigo. We’re three weremystes, you’re one.” He gave a little shrug. “We’ve got three guns now, you’ve got none. And Rolon and Paco here have biceps that are about as big around as your thigh. So how do you intend to make us leave?”
It was a fair question. I walked to the arm chair that sat across from the sofa and dropped myself into it, my eyes never leaving Luis’s face.
He opened his hands and grinned. “There, isn’t that better?”
“What are you doing here, Luis? Why would you break into my place?”
“A friend wants to talk to you,” he said, leaning forward. “You know that I run the Moon, but I have another job. Something I do on the side.”
The New Moon was a bar in Gilbert that catered to weremystes and myste-wannabes — people who had no magical abilities but, for whatever reason, liked to act as though they did. I often went there when I needed information about Phoenix’s weremystes; in fact, that was one of the places I’d been planning to go to ask about the murder at the airport. I’ll admit as well, that sometimes I went to the Moon for no reason other than to be with other mystes, to know that I could talk about the next phasing, or the one I’d just been through, with people who understood and put up with the same crap I did month to month. Sure, it was a dive, but it was a comfortable dive.
Luis had been running the place for as long as I could remember, and I always assumed that he owned it. But if he was working a second job I might been wrong, which left me wondering who the owner might be.
“Is this second job legal?” I asked.
“You a cop again?” There was no hint of humor in the question.
I laughed, high and harsh. “What do you want from me? You break into my house with a couple of guys who look like they’re itching to shoot me, or kick the crap out of me, or set my hair on fire, and you start telling me your employment history. Why the hell are you here? Who’s this friend of yours?”
“I’ll tell you on the way.”
I started to object but he continued, talking over me. “And before you start another fucking speech, keep in mind that I could have grabbed you, let my boys knock you around a bit, and thrown you in the back of my car.” He paused, rubbed a hand over his face. “But the fact is, you were right about the Blind Angel Killer being a myste, and I was wrong. I feel I owe you one.”
“Thanks,” I said, and meant it. Killing Cahors was pretty much the beginning, middle, and end of my resume these days, but it was a big deal, and no one understood that better than another weremyste.
Luis stood. “Come on.”
“Can I change? I’ve been . . . working out.”
I didn’t have it mind to run, or to call the police; I really did want to change. But Luis wasn’t ready to trust me that much.
“I’m not taking you out on a date. Now, get up.”
I stood, and let the three men escort me out of the house. Luis paused to let me lock the door, and then led me over to the lowrider.
“Yours?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I drive an Audi. This is Paco’s.”
The behemoth who had taken my pistol grinned again.
I sat in back with Rolon, who still had his weapon in hand. I had no idea where we were going, of course, but I had assumed that we would be headed into Gilbert. Instead we got on the 101 northbound. We sped through Tempe and crossed over the Salt River.
“You going to tell me where we’re going?” I said, breaking a lengthy silence.
“To see my friend,” Luis answered.
We exited the freeway in North Scottsdale, and followed the side streets into one of the wealthier neighborhoods of a town known for its wealth. Before long, Paco steered us into a gated subdivision called Ocotillo Winds Estates. The uniformed old man in the guard house waved the car through on sight, although he didn’t appear to be too happy about it. Beyond the guard house was a round lawn that probably demanded more water in a week than the entire state got in rainfall each year. And to make the display that much more ostentatious, a huge fountain danced in the middle of the expanse, its waters misting in the wind.
“You’re moving up in the world, Luis.”
“You ever heard of Jacinto Amaya?”
I opened my mouth to answer, then closed it again. I’d been on edge from the moment Luis said my name and made me drop the mail. But for the first time this evening, I felt truly afraid.
“Jason Amaya? Are you screwing with me?”
“Jason is a name he uses to make Anglos feel at ease. If you want to get on his good side you’ll refer to him as Jacinto. And you’ll call him Mister Amaya.”
“That’s who we’re going to see? That’s the guy you’re working for?”
Luis stared back at me, his silence all the confirmation I needed.
“I thought we were friends.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Everything! I worked in narcotics for eighteen months, and then I was in Homicide for over five years. And I spent a significant part of that time trying to nail Amaya for one crime or another. This man hates me; I’m pretty sure he wants me dead!”
Luis rolled his eyes. “Do I need to remind you again that you’re not a cop?”