But I didn’t let it dampen my mood for long, especially as my insurance payment came through. I was able to get some decent furniture in my new place.
Kanesha was able to move in full time. Nobody in the building paid much attention to us except for one old lady, who insisted on disapproving looks that may have been based off of gender, race, or most likely of all both.
We ignored her. She wasn’t worth it. And Surtur was busy, none of his rivals showed up to bug me.
It was summer.
Everything was far too perfect to last, and I knew it. But I enjoyed it while I had it. I’d learned to claim normality when I could.
Not that everyone thought I was normal. But I pretended…for about a week. A very pleasant week.
Then, of course, I heard from Derek again. Not a frantic call, this time, not an emergency – but very definitely a request for my or for our help.
He asked to meet at a coffee shop. Me and Kanesha went there. Of course, I still had my doubts about him, but he was there as planned.
I know what happened next wasn’t his fault. I know he didn’t do it.
I sensed the explosion in enough time to get Kanesha and myself under the table. I couldn’t pull Derek down, but I hoped he had the sense to hit the deck. He wasn’t completely untrained, after all.
“I don’t think that was aimed at us,” Kanesha murmured.
“I don’t care.” I got up…feeling bruised and cut up, but I didn’t seem to be seriously injured. Whatever had exploded had been behind the counter. The barrista was on the floor, unconscious or dead. There were more injuries. “Kanesha, mind calling an ambulance?”
I didn’t have to go over to the barrista to check on her. She was alive and likely to stay that way. So, I went past her, behind the bar, to see if I could work out what blew up.
Whether it was an accident or a bomb.
If it was a bomb, who was it aimed at? I didn’t know. I didn’t think it was me. Kanesha was right.
None of my enemies would do something like this.
But what about Derek’s? Blowing him up was kind of pathetic, but he had a lot of enemies. And I sensed something vaguely demonic. Then I knew I wasn’t going to find a device.
The police would be mystified. I hopped back over the counter. “No bomb. Looks like some kind of malfunction of the coffee machine.”
“Ambulance and police are on the way. Is she…?”
“She’s alive,” I assured Kanesha. “Derek?”
“That’s…that’s what I called you about. Everywhere I go…something bad is happening. I think I’ve been cursed.”
I shook my head. “I’ll have Clara check, but no, I think you’re being stalked.”
He sighed. “Help?”
“I will,” I promised. It was a small problem in the scheme of things. A small problem, but it would, I thought, rather keep me busy. Once we were out of there, I made a note to call Father Will.
We might need that book again.