Home > How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #9)(12)

How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #9)(12)
Author: Hailey Edwards

“I’m a sentinel. He’s Elite.” He spread his hands in a helpless gesture that conveyed layers of meaning. “What he does, and who he does it for, is above my paygrade.”

“Did you learn anything from Boaz?”

“He believed you would be the target. I got the sense he was the one who requested me brought in.”

Confirmation Mother had taken Boaz’s advice without so much as hinting to Linus she might be in danger honed his anger into a blade, and his voice cut when he asked, “Why didn’t you come to us when you noticed Mother had gone missing?”

“I didn’t grasp the situation until I went to check in, shortly before Grier called. The Grande Dame wasn’t there. I waited around to see if she got detained at the Lyceum, but she never showed. I tried Boaz, but he didn’t answer his phone. I checked the barracks, but the captain says Boaz is in Pennsylvania.”

And he couldn’t ask the staff without revealing both her absence and his presence.

“Boaz must be with her,” Grier said quietly, and he felt, for his benefit.

“They would have made contact by now if they had been able.” It was a hard truth, but one he couldn’t avoid. “We can’t assume she’s safe, wherever she is. Or that he’s with her, however grateful I would be for it.”

Grier leaned her warm cheek against the top of his hand. “We’re going to find her.”

Bending down, he kissed the top of her head. “Where do we go from here?”

“I’m going to ask Neely to stay over. Cruz too, if he’s interested. They can monitor the landline during the day in case we receive ransom demands or other conditions for her safe release.”

The old house had her own phone line so that they could call direct and communicate with her, but only family and friends knew that. To the rest of the world, it was an affectation, a way of shunting callers to the house without granting the immediate access of cellphones.

As much as Woolly enjoyed taking simple messages, she relished hanging up on telemarketers that much more.

“Our top priority is now locating Boaz,” Grier decided. “Do you think Addie can reach him?”

“They should have contact protocols in place,” Linus allowed. “It’s worth asking, but how will you explain the sudden and immediate need to speak to him without tipping her off that something’s wrong?”

Adelaide was practical, and she understood Grier occupied a special place in Boaz’s heart and in his past. She wouldn’t worry he was relapsing if Grier asked her to activate the couple’s emergency protocols, but she would fear he was in danger if standard channels hadn’t worked to contact him.

“There’s not much time left until dawn.” Linus gazed out the window. “I can make the call if you prefer.”

“I’ll handle it.” She waved off his offer of taking the easy way out. “Addie is a friend, and I don’t want her to think I’m doing an end run around her.”

“Involving another person is a mistake,” Corbin said. “Let me try one thing before you take that step?”

“All right.” Grier yawned wide and then growled to herself. “I am not sleepy.”

She was about to slide off her chair onto the floor. The shower, Mother’s abduction, and the magic Grier had expended in the search at Lawson Manor as well as the physical toll had sapped her energy. The gift, and her pregnancy, hadn’t helped matters. She was pushing herself too hard, but he didn’t know how to ask her to slow down.

“You need to prop up your ankles,” he reminded her. “We need to get the swelling down.”

“I know what you’re doing.” She stabbed him with a frown. “You’re tucking the cranky pregnant woman into bed so you can get down to the real work.”

“That’s not—”

“It’s the right thing to do.” She braced her palms on the desktop and leveraged out of the chair. “I’ll hold down the fort.”

“I don’t want to—”

“You should be out there, getting your hands dirty. Not in here, holding mine.” She started toward the stairs. “There’s plenty for me to do on the admin side while you handle the fieldwork.”

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m stepping on your toes.”

“I can’t even see my toes.” She took his arm and leaned on his strength. “You’re fine.”

Once they managed the stairs and he got her propped up in bed, he hovered. “Are you sure…?”

“Go find your mom.” She flicked her wrist at him. “LJ deserves to have a living grandparent.”

“Thank you.” Linus bent to kiss her softly. “I love you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She shoved him back with a smile. “Nothing says I love you like churros. Just sayin’.”

“Your wish—” he bowed with a flourish, “—my command.”

“On your way out, can you ask Lethe to bring Keet in here?”

“Of course.” He ought to be going, but still he lingered. “Any particular reason why?”

“I have concerns that our baby’s first word will be pfft.” She reached into her bedside snack drawer. “I’m going to introduce Keet to the wonders of educational television and pray the alphabet song sticks.”

Laughing softly, he exited the room to prepare for what must be done.

Seven

At the bottom of the stairs, Linus found Corbin waiting on him and quirked a brow in question.

Eyes downcast, almost guilty, the vampire slung a backpack over one shoulder. “Give me a ride?”

Palming the keys for Moby, Linus nodded thanks to Woolly when she opened the front door for them. “Where are we going?”

While social cues often stumped Linus, he felt the casual question had been posed as an invitation.

“There’s a bunker under the city.” Corbin scratched his jaw. “Your mother commissioned it after the fire.”

The void, never far from his thoughts, began to yawn wider. “I wasn’t aware.”

“Not many people are,” he said, apology clear in his voice. “For good reason.”

“Mother built a safe haven should there be another vampire uprising,” he realized, and he hated how it didn’t surprise him. “I should have anticipated she would do something like this to insulate herself.”

“Ah, no.” Corbin rubbed the back of his neck. “She built it for three: you, baby you, and Grier if your mom couldn’t get there in time.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose, he couldn’t picture that phrase coming out of his mother’s mouth, but the intent behind it… Yes. She would think in terms of protecting her son, and her grandchild, with merely an afterthought for his wife’s safety. As much as he wanted to believe it was a testament to her belief Grier could protect herself, he knew his mother too well for that. Her attention was laser focused. On him. And soon, on LJ. “Why didn’t you mention this earlier?”

“I love Grier, I do, but we both know if I told her there was a secret hidey-hole under her city that she would be the first in line to go explore it.” Genuine concern pinched his features. “I hated skirting the truth with her, but it’s a long way down, and it’s hard walking.”

“You’ve been there?”

“Twice.” He rolled a shoulder. “It makes for a good rendezvous point.”

Corbin was meeting his mother at her estate, which meant he was meeting someone else there. “Boaz?”

Hand to his nape, he rubbed the base of his neck. “No.”

Waiting for details, he gave Corbin a full minute before grasping he had shared all he intended.

“Grier will want to know about this.” He cast his gaze up the stairs. “I promised her no more secrets.”

Besides, the situation with Corbin made it good common sense to let her know where he was going and with whom in the event he was wrong about the reason behind Corbin’s twitchiness.

“The strain could induce labor,” Corbin said gravely. “It’s my understanding that baby isn’t coming out the way God intended. Do you really want to risk it?”

Safety concerns aside, Linus had almost lost her to his lies once before. “I have to tell her.”

“Tell her, or ask permission?”

“This is her city.” Linus ignored the dig to his masculinity. “They’re one and the same.”

“Linus—”

“You heard the man,” Lethe growled at Corbin. “Grier isn’t just your mommy, she’s the Potentate of Savannah. Give her some credit. She’s pregnant, not a moron.”

Hands held up in surrender, Corbin backed away from the angry gwyllgi.

“That said…” Lethe fixed her stare on Linus, “…I would call her from the car.”

The nuances between an outright lie and omission often blurred for him. His upbringing was mostly at fault for his willingness to erase lines in the sand when it suited him, or when it protected others, but Grier was his wife.

All other titles aside, he valued husband most, and he owed her his absolute loyalty. She had stuck by him, in no small part because of his vow to share everything with her going forward and to do his best to explain the things from the past he had no choice but to keep from her.

“I’ll be right back.” He took the stairs at a clip and entered their bedroom without knocking. “Grier…”

“I heard.” She was snacking on chips, watching the TV they had bought for their room for when she required bedrest to recover from the day’s exertions. “You guys should really work on your inside voices.”

The wraith at her side, passing her a candy bar, didn’t meet his gaze.

“You sent Cletus to spy on me,” he realized. “Why?”

“I might have been worried about you.” She set her snacks aside. “You hold a lot in when you get worried. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice. It’s reflexive. I get that, but I wanted to know if you were taking this harder than you let me see.”

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