“Are you guys going to be able to go in with me?” I asked.
Rick made a shrug. “Probably not,” he said. “Some places don't allow anyone back there but the donor.” He looked down at his iPhone and then up, and something caught his eye. “Kiel,” he said almost under his breath.
I looked across the room and saw a woman in a green smock enter the room and then immediately turn away and dart back through the doorway.
“Kiel? Hey, Kiel!” Rick shouted. “Aw, crap.” I watched his face as it went through a couple of quick emotions, the first one was surprise, the next one was something like suspicion, and the third looked like worry.
“What is it?” I asked. “Who was that woman?”
“That was Kiel,” Rick said and blew out through his nose like a bull about to charge. He turned back to his iPhone and tapped some message on it rather vigorously. “This is fucked!”
“What? Why?” I said, exchanging glances with Cho.
“Kiel is a witch,” he said as he tapped something out onto his iPhone. “She's also my ex, but that probably has nothing to do with it.” He stopped and looked up. “At least I hope not.” He resumed his tapping. “Christ!”
“Should I go after her?” Cho offered.
Rick looked up. “Knock yourself out.”
Cho jumped up and sprinted through the room and disappeared through the doorway, almost barreling into someone else coming out. I watched a woman shuffled through looking back at where Cho had gone as if trying to understand what was going on. Shaking her head, she went up to the desk.
“Come in. I'm alone,” I said.
They came in and shut the door.
I held out the earring to Rick. “Look familiar?” I saw Cho eyeing it and lifted for him to look at.
“She was wearing earrings like that,” Cho said.
“Yeah,” Rick said, plucking the earring from my fingers. “Those are like what she'd wear.” He looked up. “Where did you find it?”
“Actually Ariel found it on the floor, in here.” I lifted my eyes to Cho. “What happened to you? Did you loose her?”
“I did,” he said. “Once I left the room, it was as though she had vanished.”
“She can travel the ley lines. There's a pretty good one here,” Rick said.
“I must have been too nervous to notice,” I said, shivering. “Now I'm just cold.”
“The blood leaving you does that,” Rick said. “You're lucky that Ariel came to do this. She's pretty good.”
“Rick. You said we were screwed. Why? Because of Kiel being here?” I asked.
He hedged. “Maybe. Like I said. I don't know why she was here.”
“Let's find out,” I suggested.
Cho and Rick exchanged glances.
“How?” Rick asked.
“Here.” I handed him the earring. He took it. I then held my hand toward Cho. “Take the glove off my hand.” He did as I asked. “Now, Rick, place the earring in my hand. I may go into a swoon, but I'm sitting and have nothing better to do.”
“We'll stand guard,” Rick said and carefully settled the piece of jewelry in my hand. My skin tingled, and then heat radiated from the object. I pulled in a surprised breath. After a moment, the tingling dissipated.
“You okay, Brie?” Rick asked, his hand hovering over my hand.
I swallowed, looking into his brown eyes. I waited. “I'm getting nothing.”
“It might be charmed,” Rick said.
“Okay. Just take it away.”
Rick took the earring out of my hand.
We were quiet for a few heartbeats. Then I had to ask.
“Okay, what do you know about this witch?”
“Kiel Saint Thomas is no saint by any means,” Rick said. “I knew her about five years ago. We dated.” His eyes slid back to Cho, then on me. “I thought things were going great. And then I realized she was using me to learn... things.”
“Learn things?” I said. “Like what?”
“Well, ley line travel, for one.”
“You knew she was a witch?”
“I knew it the moment we met.”
“Where did you meet?” Cho asked.
“In a club on the north side.”
“Really?” I said.
“And we sort of hit it off.” He beamed and slid his eyes again to Cho. “The sex was fabulous.”
Cho and I wisely kept silent.
“She'd have me help her in spells,” he said slowly, looking down. “I didn't like what those spells were for.”
“Why? What were they for?”
“She was trying to raise the dead.”
“Oh, come on!” I said.
“No. It's been done by famous witches like John Dee. But then she asked if I knew any vampires. You know, personally?”
“And you probably did,” I supplied.
“I did. But I was getting some bad vibes off of her and where she wanted to go with her witchcraft. I thought it was turning into more black. She wanted to go after certain people who had wronged her, that sort of thing.”
“Yes. Definitely black magic,” I said.
“So, I hesitated in introducing her to any vampires. But it doesn't take much to find one, especially if you're a witch.” He shrugged. “Anyway, I broke it off. I had to have another witch put a protection spell on me so that she couldn't hex me.”
I nodded. “So, Kiel probably has found a couple of vampires by now.”
“Rick, I'm not sure what level Kiel is at, but if she's in with the wrong vampires...”
“You mean the likes of Ilona and Nicolas?” he suggested.
I slid him a look. “The very same ones. She may have been in cahoots with them to find me and do something to prevent me from giving blood.”
“Most likely,” Cho piped in, “she was here to take your donation and not get it to Tremayne so that he would die.”
“Ahhh,” Rick said. “That would be just her style, too.”
“No doubt Cho is right.” I sat for a moment thinking, shivering again. My coat had slipped off me some. Cho moved it up and arranged it around my shoulders. “Thanks.” I held the coat in place with my free hand. “I'm wondering if I were to take that to another witch what she might learn from it, if anything?”
“I don't know,” Rick said, holding the piece of jewelry between his thumb and first finger to let it dangle. Overhead lighting shown through the amber beads. “Worth a try, I guess.”