Darkfever / Page 48

Page 48



I’d had no luck finding any of them. And I’d done a thorough search.

I’d even stopped at a hardware store on the way over and bought a hammer, so I could tear apart the baseboard in her bedroom closet. I’d ended up using the claw handle to pry at all the moldings and casings in the place, looking for loose trim. I’d tapped at the wood nooks and crannies of the fireplace facade. I’d hammered at floor planks, listening for hollow spots. I’d examined every piece of furniture in the place, tops, sides, and bottoms, and even checked inside, as well as beneath, the toilet tank.

I’d found nothing.

If her journal was hidden somewhere in the apartment, she’d outdone me this time. The only thing left for me to try was complete demolition of the place: smashing out the walls, ripping off the cabinets, and tearing up the floors, at which point I’d have to buy the darned building just to pay for all the damages, and I didn’t have that kind of money.

I caught my breath. But Barrons did. And I could offer him an incentive to want to find her notebook. I wanted Alina’s journal for the clues it might hold to the identity of her killer, but there was a good possibility it also contained information about the location of the Sinsar Dubh. After all, the last thing my sister had said in her message was, I know what it is now, and I know where—, before her words had abruptly terminated. The odds were high she’d written something about it in her diary.

The question was, could I trust Jericho Barrons, and if so, how far?

I stared into space, wondering what I really knew about him. It wasn’t much. The darkly exotic half Basque, half Pict was a self-contained mystery I was willing to bet he never let anyone get close enough to unravel. Fiona might know a thing or two about him, but she was a mystery herself.

I knew this much: He was going to be royally pissed at me by the time he saw me again, because the last thing he’d said to me, in his typical high-handed manner, before I’d stumbled exhaustedly off to bed early this morning was, “I have things to do tomorrow, Ms. Lane. You will remain in the bookstore until I return. Fiona will procure anything you might need.”

I’d ignored his orders and, shortly after I’d awakened at half past two in the afternoon, slipped out the back way, down the alley behind the store. No, I wasn’t being stupid and I didn’t have a death wish. What I had was a mission, and I couldn’t afford to let fear shut me down, or I might as well reserve the first seat available on the next flight back to Georgia, tuck tail and run home to the safety of Mom and Dad.

Yes, I knew the Many-Mouthed-Thing was out there looking for the blonder, fluffier version of me. Yes, I had no doubt that while Mallucé slumbered his daylight hours away, tucked in a garish Romantic-Goth coffin somewhere, dripping blood-encrusted lace, his men were already scouring Dublin for the thieving Ms. Rainbow.

But nobody would be looking for this me. I was incognito.

I’d scraped my dark hair tightly back into a short ponytail and tucked it up beneath a ball cap, pulled down low. I was wearing my favorite faded jeans, a sloppy oversized, nearly threadbare T-shirt I’d swiped from Dad before I left, which had once been black a few hundred washings ago, and scuffed-up tennis shoes. I didn’t have on a single accessory and I’d used a brown paper bag as a purse. I’d applied no makeup; zip, zilch, nada, not even lipstick, even though my mouth felt really weird without it. I’m pretty addicted to moisturizers. I think it comes from living in the heat of the South. Even the best skin needs a little extra care down there. But the crowning triumph of my disguise was a truly hideous pair of magnifying spectacles I’d purchased at a drugstore on the way over that I currently had hooked on the neck of my dingy tee.

You might not think it sounds like much of a disguise, but I know a thing or two about people. The world notices pretty, well-dressed young women. And it tries real hard not to see the unattractive, sloppy ones. If you’re bad enough, you get the thousand-yard stare that slides right off you. There was no doubt that I looked worse than I’d ever looked in my life. I wasn’t proud of it, yet at the same time I was. I might never manage ugly, but at least I bordered on invisible.

I glanced at my watch and pushed to my feet. I’d been searching Alina’s place for hours; it was nearly seven. Barrons seemed to have a habit of showing up at the bookstore shortly after eight, and I wanted to be back before he arrived tonight. I knew Fiona would rat me out anyway, but I figured he wouldn’t be half as irritated if his personal OOP-detector had already returned safe and sound by the time he showed up, as he would be if I left him to stew over the potential loss of it for a while.


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