Adam, who had been hanging back by Giguhl until now, puffed up. “Hey! Show some respect.”
Rhea held up a hand and shook her head at her nephew. “My name is Rhea Lazarus. In addition to being that one’s aunt”— she nodded toward Adam— “I’m the High Priestess of the Elder Moon and spiritual advisor to the Hekate Council. I’m also the one who helped Adam and Sabina save your friend’s life last night. Who the hell are you?”
Mac didn’t like that little dose of her own attitude. “I’m Mac Romulus.”
“She’s Michael’s niece,” Adam added. Rhea’s eyes widened in recognition of the name of an ally.
“Now that we’ve established we’re all on the same side,” Rhea said pointedly, “I’ll let you go check on your friend as long as you understand I will not hesitate to zap your ass if you cause that fae any unnecessary stress.”
Mac didn’t need to be told twice. She ran off, brushing between the elder mage and the voodoo priestess. Georgia followed at a more sedate pace, muttering apologies for Mac’s rudeness.
The werewolf’s departure dispelled some of the heavy vapor of tension hanging over our group. Adam and Giguhl reached the ladies before I did, but we all formed a loose circle. Rhea looked at me. “Shall I assume you don’t need any healing?”
I touched the back of my hand to the wounds on my cheek. When I pulled it away, only a few small drops of blood smeared my skin. Luckily, the blood I’d chugged on my way down made fast work of the minor injuries I’d sustained from the scuffle.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Good,” Zen said, picking up the conversation. “Because we have something to show you.”
I frowned at the females. To say I didn’t like Zen’s tone would be an understatement. More like it sent warning bells off in my head. “What is it?”
Adam stood next to me, and his palm slipped through mine in a sort of preemptive comforting maneuver.
“You’re going to want to sit down,” Rhea said.
My stomach sank like an anvil in a pool. “I’ll stand, thanks.”
Zen and Rhea exchanged a worried glance, then the voodooienne grimaced at me. She reached into the pocket of her work apron. It looked like a wrinkled piece of paper at first. “I found this on the shrine in my parlor.”
She placed what turned out to be a crumpled Polaroid in my hand. My heart stuttered and a gasp escaped my lips. On automatic pilot, I lifted the picture closer with a shaky hand. Adam leaned toward me to get a better look himself. He cursed under his breath and his hand fisted around mine.
Smears of blood— Maisie’s?— marred the image. Using my thumb, I rubbed at the stain but only managed to spread it like a red varnish across Maisie’s face. The blood turned her skin and the gag obscuring her mouth pink. Her eyes were narrowed like she was trying to shoot lasers at the photographer. In front of her, she white-knuckled a newspaper bearing Thursday’s date. Under the picture, Lavinia had written in thick black marker, “The clock is ticking.”
Adam took the picture from me and showed it to Giguhl, who for once didn’t have a witty comment or joke. Smart of him.
Two emotions battled for dominance inside me. The first was relief. We finally had confirmation Maisie was alive. But it was cold comfort, given the realization we were no closer to knowing her location than we’d been back in Los Angeles.
The second emotion was more toxic. A combination of anger and guilt that made my stomach cramp and my vision go blurry red. My hands shook with it. I squeezed my eyes shut to block the truth out.
“Sabina?” Adam said quietly.
My eyes stung when I opened them. “She’s f**king toying with me.”
He nodded. “She’s trying to throw you off your game. Don’t give her the satisfaction. Focus on the fact Maisie’s alive.”
“Call me crazy, but I’m having a hard time focusing on the bright side right now.” I ripped the picture from Giguhl’s claw and shoved it toward Adam’s face. “Look at her! She’s gagged and bound with brass chains, Adam.”
He took the picture from my fingers and held it up in my face. “No, you look. Does she look like she’s in pain or scared?” I pulled my glare from him and looked again.
“No,” I admitted. “She looks pissed.”
“Exactly. That anger will help her survive.” He grabbed my shoulders and turned me to face him. “But if you let yours get the best of you, it won’t help anyone.”
Rhea placed a hand on my arm. “Adam’s right. This is upsetting for all of us. But we can’t allow Lavinia’s psychological warfare to distract us.”
I took a deep breath, both pushing down the anger and tightening my mental defenses at once. Rhea was right— I wasn’t the only one here who cared about Maisie. Rhea and Adam had known her longer than I had, yet here they were comforting me. Shame at my selfishness coated my insides.
Giguhl held up a single talon. “Guys, I hate to add fuel to this fire, but we’ve got a more immediate issue to deal with. Lavinia knows where we’re staying.”
Zen nodded resolutely and stepped forward. “Actually, that’s not the worst of it.” We all looked at her, bracing ourselves for whatever her verdict was going to be. “Until we figure out who’s been spying on us, finding a safer place to stay will be impossible.”
Adam crossed his arms over his chest and stroked his chin. “The first thing we need to do is set up a watch. Sabina and I will take turns— obviously Sabina gets the night shifts.”
“Adam, that’s crazy. How are we going to make any progress if we’re on opposite schedules and spending all our time waiting to be attacked?”
“She has a point, Adam,” Rhea said. “We can ward the entrances and exits as a precaution.”
“I still say we need someone on watch, at least at night when the attack is more likely.”
Giguhl raised a claw. “What about me?”
I shot the demon a grateful look. He really was the perfect candidate for the job. He didn’t have my pesky day/night issues and, even though I rarely admitted it, he was probably the most powerful being of our little trio. Demons are notoriously hard to kill, and Giguhl’s mischievous personality also made him pretty wily in a fight.
“That would be a big help, Giguhl. Thanks.”
His horizontal pupils flickered in surprise. “Really?”