His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 33
I swept out of the ICU, and took the stairs down to the ground floor, unwilling to wait for an elevator. Billie’s questions had set my thoughts churning again. I still had questions of my own, of course, but I wasn’t thinking about them now. I was unhurt because someone had decided to protect me. Billie was lying in a hospital bed looking like she had been run over by a truck because that same someone wanted to send me a message. My Dad was suffering in ways he never had before, and though I couldn’t prove it yet, and didn’t understand what was being done to him, I no longer had any doubt that he was a victim in all of this, too.
Some goddamned sorcerer was screwing with me and the people I loved. I was scared and pissed off, and I’d had enough.
Nothing else could explain the decision I made in that moment. Because it was pretty stupid.
I drove back into North Scottsdale, to Ocotillo Winds Estates. When the guy at the guardhouse asked me who I was and who I was there to see, I told him. He called ahead to the mansion and after a brief delay raised the barrier that blocked the gate and waved me through. I hadn’t been paying as much attention as I should have to the route we followed the previous night, but after taking a few wrong turns, I made it to Amaya’s place.
The guys with the MP5s were waiting for me, their expressions far less welcoming than they had been when I showed up with Luis, Paco, and Rolon. They surrounded the Z-ster, weapons held ready, faces like stone.
“Get out,” one of them said. “And keep your hands where we can see them.”
I unlatched the door, pushed it open with my foot, and climbed out, my hands raised.
“I have a Glock in the shoulder holster under my left arm,” I said.
The man gestured in my direction with his head. “Revísenle.” Search him.
One of his friends strode toward me, grabbed me by the arm, spun me around, and shoved me against my car. Pressing the muzzle of his submachine gun against the back of my neck, he pulled the Glock from my holster, and frisked me. He was thorough and none too gentle; it was probably a good thing I hadn’t lied about having a second weapon. When he was finished, he gave me one last shove and backed away.
“Turn around,” the other man said.
When I faced him again, he pointed toward the front door of the mansion. Two more guards waited for me there, both of them also holding MP5s. I almost asked if they’d bought the family pack, but decided I’d be better off keeping my mouth shut.
“Go on. Jacinto is waiting for you.”
I walked to the door, my hands lowered but plainly visible. The guards let me pass, saying not a word, but eyeing me in a way that made the back of my head itch. I could almost feel the sight beams tickling my scalp.
Amaya was in the living room, sitting in one of those plush chairs, one arm resting casually over the back of it, the other hand holding a tumbler filled with ice and what might have been tequila.
I glanced around the room. It was empty except for Amaya and me. It really did seem that he had been expecting me, even before the call from the guardhouse.
“I saw you on television today. Tough words. I guess you’re going into battle with me after all, eh?”
“What happened today? What was that?”
His eyebrows went up, an expression of innocence I wasn’t sure I trusted. “You were there, not me. Why don’t you tell me what you think it was?”
“It was magic.”
“The media is calling it a bombing, though they don’t seem to know what kind of bomb could do that kind of damage without burning the place to the ground.”
“It was a spell, and it came with a warning.”
He sat forward, interested now. “Someone spoke to you.”
“Yeah. A woman. She said not to push too hard, whatever that means.”
“Fascinating. I suppose it means you’re already making progress.”
“Maybe. But a friend of mine is in the hospital, and I want to know what the hell is going on.”
“I told you last night–”
“You told me shit last night! You gave me Regina Witcombe, but I’ve since learned that I could have gotten her name from any number of people.”
“And yet you didn’t,” Amaya said, ice in his tone. “You knew nothing about her except that she was rich. So don’t tell me that I gave you nothing.”
“How do I know it’s not you?” I said. Probably not the smartest road to go down, but I wasn’t thinking all that clearly. “You send me out to find dark sorcerers, talking like you’re trying to make the world safe for the rest of us. But how do I know this isn’t anything more than a turf war, an attempt by one dark myste to get the jump on another?”
He glared back at me, his eyes as black and hard as obsidian. “Did you see the magic?”
“On the restaurant. Did you see it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It was–”
A blow to the gut doubled me over, stole my breath. I almost retched. Amaya hadn’t moved.
Before I could straighten up, something hit me again. The jaw this time. It felt like a cross between a fist and a cinder block. I was catapulted backward, my feet might even have left the floor. I landed hard on my back, the breath pounded out of my lungs.
Amaya sipped his drink, still comfortably ensconced in his chair.
“There’s magic on your shirt where I hit you,” he said. “Also on your face. What color is it?”
I raised a hand to the side of my face, dabbed at the corner of my mouth. My hand came away bloody. The residue of his spell shone on my stomach. It was dark purple, the color of desert mountains at dusk, and it was as opaque and glossy as wet paint.
“What color?” Amaya asked again, his voice like a hammer.
“Purple,” I said.
“And what color did you see at the restaurant?”
“Green. I owe you an apology.”
“You certainly do.”
I climbed to my feet, crossed to the bar and filled a glass with ice and water. Then I walked to the chair next to his, and dropped myself into it. “The magic on the restaurant was transparent as well; it was like looking through the glass of a wine bottle. Does that mean anything to you?”
“No,” Amaya said. “You’re sure it wasn’t a trick of the light?”
“Pretty sure. I saw the same thing at the airport, on James Howell and on the cockpit panels.”
He glared. “So, you lied to me yesterday.”
I said nothing, but stared back at him.
He flashed a grin, though it faded as quickly as it appeared. “The same myste who struck at the airport issued this warning to you.”
“Very interesting indeed.”
“I need more information, Mister Amaya. You said last night that the dark mystes were capable of doing some terrible things. I’d like to know what you meant.”
Amaya regarded me for another moment before getting up and walking to the bar. He unstoppered a glass decanter and poured himself more tequila. “Some things are not mine to tell,” he said. “But I can give you another name.” He smiled back at me over this shoulder. “Someone a bit more accessible than Regina Witcombe.”
I pulled out my pad and pen, drawing another grin.
“You know, they have devices now, things that you can use for taking notes, taking pictures, even making phone calls.”
“Well, maybe after you’ve paid me for this job, I’ll be able to afford one.”