Home > The Hunt (Devil's Isle #3)(8)

The Hunt (Devil's Isle #3)(8)
Author: Chloe Neill

   “I’d prefer there not be any bad news,” I said, adjusting my pack. “Is that an option?”

   “No,” Gavin said. “I talked to Gunnar this morning. He doesn’t think Liam’s guilty, but the theory’s got legs within Containment. There are folks who think Liam had too much leeway dealing with Paras and got special treatment because of his family.”

   Eleanor was an Arsenault, an old and wealthy Creole family connected to very powerful people outside the Zone—the people we’d been contacting in our efforts to bring to light the truth about magic.

   “They sound like allies of Broussard,” I said.

   “Yeah. They have no trouble believing this is Liam’s doing. And they’ve increased the amount of the bounty.”

   “It’s only been a day,” I said, concern for Liam tightening my gut. “They never increase that quickly.” I’d done a little bounty hunting with Liam; it had been good cover for keeping an eye on Containment. Increases in bounties were rare, and happened only when time had passed without a lead on the particular prey.

   “And what’s the good news?” Malachi asked.

   “It’s not raining. Yet.”

   We just looked at him.

   Shameless, Gavin lifted a shoulder. “As leader of this particular mission, I figured you needed the stick and the carrot. Except I didn’t have any carrots. So I went with the weather.”

   Moses shook his head, lips pursed. “You this good on all your missions?”

   “There’s a reason I usually work alone,” Gavin said, shouldering the pack.

   “Where, exactly, are we going?” I asked. There was no one else around, but I dropped my voice anyway. This wasn’t the time to attract attention.

   “Houma,” Malachi said. “Vicinity of Erida’s last location.”

   Houma was about an hour’s drive from New Orleans.

   “There,” he continued, “we’ll meet some friends, see if we can get a sense of where she went.”

   “Friends?” I asked.

   “Paranormals with passes.”

   I lifted my eyebrows. “I was actually beginning to think that was a myth. Since Moses didn’t get one, I mean. Or you.”

   “I won’t request freedom I already own,” Malachi said. “And Containment isn’t in a position to give us passes from Devil’s Isle, since we’re already out.”

   I couldn’t really argue with that.

   Gavin gestured to the beat-up jeep at the curb. “The wheels will take us to Houma. Then we’ll leave the vehicle, travel on foot.”

   “If we get to the Gulf, we’ve gone too far?” I asked.

   “Something like that.” Gavin looked me over, took in the pants, shirt, shoes, and gave a nod of approval. “What’s in the bag?”

   “Water, poncho, knife, atomic bug spray.” I might not have been out of New Orleans in a while, but I’d been in it long enough. I had a pretty good idea how to survive in the wet and the heat.

   “Good,” Gavin said with a smile.

   “I’ll meet you at Houma,” Malachi said.

   “Wait,” I said, sliding him a narrowed glance. “What do you mean you’ll ‘meet’ us? You aren’t going with us?”

   He smiled. “I mean I don’t need a ride.” He unfolded his wings, and twelve feet of ivory stretched out behind him, feathers gleaming in the sun.

   “You’re going to fly the whole way?”

   “Boy, will his arms be tired!” Moses said, waving a fake cigar.

   Gavin’s eyes narrowed at me. “I hear you let him have a joke book.”

   “He found it in an abandoned house, which made it fair game. I couldn’t exactly stop him from taking it.”

   He shook his head. “Let’s hit the road. Every mile toward Houma is another mile away from jokes that start with ‘Two Paranormals walked into a bar.’”

   “I need a minute,” Moses said to me, then moved a few feet away.

   “I believe you’re being beckoned,” Malachi said.

   “Evidently,” I said, and joined Moses. “You rang?”

   “I want you to remember something,” he said, pointing a stubby finger up at me. “You’ve worked hard for the last few weeks, done some good around here. Whatever happens, no one can take that away from you.”

   I lifted my brows, surprised at the emotion in his eyes. “You under the impression I’m gonna have a breakdown in the bayou?”

   “I’m just saying, whatever he says or does”—he paused, seemed to look for the right words—“there’s more to the world than dames.”

   I looked at him for a minute, appreciating the thought but confused by the message. And then I figured it out. “You didn’t just take the joke books. You took the detective novels, too, didn’t you?”

   “They’re good,” he said with an embarrassed shrug that I found almost absurdly endearing. “I like this Sam Spade character. Straight shooter. Anyway.” He cleared his throat. “You be careful out there.”

   “I’ll be fine,” I told him. “But I don’t like leaving you here alone.”

   “You think I can’t take care of myself?” He pointed a thumb at his chest, which was puffed out a little. “I’m the one who’s been taking care of you—not the other way around.” But there was something soft and sweet in his eyes.

   “You’re right. You’ll tell Lizzie why I’m gone?”

   “That you’re taking a relaxing spa weekend? Sure thing.”

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