Not a minute later there was a brisk knock on the bedroom door. I'd barely had time to look around the room to see if I'd forgotten anything I wanted with me. That knock was definitely from Riley's fist -- I knew that without opening the door.
"Emma, open up." His demand was in keeping with the rapid knocking, and I barely had the knob turned when he burst into my room.
Riley rushed into the room past me without hesitation or regard for me physically moving out of his way. Thankfully he didn't catch my shoulder or I would have been slammed at least a foot or more back. He was using his werewolf speed rather than that of a normal big human male. It didn't matter, he was sizable and I had no need to be bowled over by his ass. Gordon had just left and I had been under the impression we'd be stuck in the house for another hour at least. Riley glanced around the room and saw my backpack and one of the spare battery powered lanterns on the floor.
"Good, you're ready. Let's hit it before the blizzard picks up anymore steam."
"I thought Gordon was waiting for someone else?" I followed grabbing up my winter coat that I'd taken off earlier.
"Turns out that person is missing or dead. It's not clear, but we aren't going to stick around here any longer if you truly are set on making this stupid trip." He spun on his heel and I nearly ran right into him.
"So you are set on going down into the mines still?" His voice was pitched lower and his eyes punctured through me. He was nearly a feral as Gordon. Something was off with both of the werewolves ever since Star wandered her glamorized little ass inside. The fey woman had the two men in between both their natures. The werewolf was fighting to break free and probably pounce on Star. Sadly, not in the manner I wanted to see -- they wanted her while I, on the other hand, wanted her dead. And from what I had observed, murder was not likely to happen by either of the two werewolves in my living room.
Thinking of something in the salt mine vicious enough to scare the werewolves opened the possibility of something coming out and snacking on Star, which made me smile and say, "More than ever."
Riley growled and nearly flew to the living room where we found Gordon and Star a mere inch or two from each other. From Gordon's flushed face, either Star had just kissed him ... or sucked some energy off of him. Either way she looked like a cat who'd just lapped down a bowl of rich cream. I shuddered. I wasn't sure what Star really looked like without her glamor. She appeared to be a tall, lean strawberry blonde with jade green eyes. The lashes were impossibly long and her face was tapered and sharp. Her eyes were very shiny and a trace of cranberry lipstick was beneath the glossed lips that framed her overly-white teeth. Naturally they were perfect, and no sign of any imperfection marred the 'pretty slash gorgeous girl' effect that she held up to be her. I could sense something beneath the magic that was sinewy and entwined with a dark soul. There was nothing attractive about Star as far as I could see.
Again she winked at me, as if we had some secret just between us, while she stroked Gordon's forearm saying, "Thank you, my dear one. You are a treat."
From the light growl coming out of Riley's throat, he had a damn good idea what she'd just sucked from Gordon. Gordon's face suddenly paled a shade lighter, and he didn't seem to have the same amount of energy he'd had earlier. If I hadn't been told she was Fey, I would have sworn Star was a vampire, or something in the incubus/succubus families. But then for all I knew, her brand of Fey sucked souls down completely, like vamps sucked down pints of blood and the good and bad emotions that rolled off their victims. It didn't seem to matter to Gordon or Riley. Gordon was smiling and seemed pleased by her words, while Riley was very jealous of Star's attention to Gordon. I momentarily reconsidered my journey, but then brushed aside my fears. I wasn't going to have to pop down underground, from what they'd implied, but there was a back door that didn't involve a cage hurling down the thousand feet to the mines.
Smiling over at Riley, Star said, "Don't pout. I'll get to you."
I cringed inside but kept my poker face plastered on my face, while Riley nearly wagged his ass thinking he'd sprung a tail in the last few minutes. That wasn't anything I wanted to see. Riley all bouncy and happy was disturbing on more than one level. Brooding and angry was his default setting, I'd long discovered. This happy side of him was weird at best and mostly just creepy.
"Esmeralda, I must formally ask you if you are sure of your intentions to go to the mines." She looked at me with an odd intensity. It was really a question, but intoned like part of a ritual. That gave me pause. I knew better than agreeing or asking anything of the Fey. An agreement could come back to bite my head off when I least expected it.
Struggling with the proper way to reply without agreeing to anything or giving offense was hard. I went for it with, "I am going into the salt mines."
I didn't give any promise or ask anything, so I figured she couldn't twist it into trouble for me down the line. From the frown on her face I must have said it correctly because she looked put out by the phrasing. Yay for me actually reading some of Uncle Harry's books over the years and understanding the formalities at times.
"Fine, then," she positively snarled, snatching up her thick gray winter coat that went nearly to the ground, her stupid yellow knitted scarf, and let's not forget that black and green striped woolen cap with its bright red pom-pom on top that made me want to giggle. Since she'd worn glamor for so long, I wondered, was the outfit was part of her disguise? If not, she just had bad taste.
"I'm driving," she stated without question. I guess she thought that I had bad taste in cars. I shrugged and got my backpack from Riley's unresisting hand. He said, "I call shotgun!"
I rolled my eyes at the juvenile statement while waiting for her to lead us to her car. We headed outside. I locked up the house and put the backpack over my shoulder.
Even with the winter wear on my body the snowstorm cut through me with an icy-knife sharpness. We trudged down the walkway that was fairly well covered with snow, and I hit a patch of ice and skated a foot or so while trying to stay upright. Both Riley and Gordon were nearly up Star's ass with their noses and missed my slipping. For once I was glad they were ignoring me. I got my footing back and sighed softly. Star stopped and spun around, "You okay back there, Esmeralda?"
I'd gloated too early. Damn bitch had eyes in the back of her head. Maybe literally.
"Just fine. Where'd you find parking?" I called back feeling the near zero air hit my teeth. I shut my mouth quickly. The icy air was punishing me inside and out.
Looking through the snow blowing sideways, I couldn't recognize anything that remotely appeared drivable on the street. She'd just arrived in the last half hour, so the cars that I could see were all buried in at least a foot or more of snow. They'd been there for hours, obviously. We reached the corner of the street and she turned left then she walked onto a freshly plowed driveway. I heard a chirp of sound and then the mechanics of grinding movement of a garage door. The tan and white house we were at appeared empty but the garage door continued to roll up. Once it was nearly to the top, I could see inside a large SUV. The car was black and the engine was running. I wasn't sure if there was a driver or if she'd used a remote to start the car -- pretty common in the snow belt and highly useful.
Since Riley had called shotgun, I decided to sit directly behind Star. I didn't want to see her damn wink in the rearview mirror. Still preening from whatever Gordon had so freely given to her, she hadn't removed her outer wear, so that hat was distracting me from her driving at first when she pulled onto the road. From the soft hiss out of Gordon's mouth, and how he gripped the handle on the passenger side door next to him, it seemed that Star couldn't drive in snow for shit. I refocused to the nearly white scenery in front of us, and even without the werewolves' enhanced vision, I could see she was nearly hitting every car we spun past. I guessed werewolves didn't like car accidents. I wasn't as worried, because there was no way I'd stay in place for another accident. My childhood one had been enough for a lifetime. I'd pop out of the back seat and to California in less than a blink of an eye -- much less one of Star's cheesy winks.
Gordon caught something of my thoughts. He reached over with his left hand and gripped my right knee. "Not even an option." Was all he said.
Uhuh, like that would stop me? I'd risk Uncle Harry's wrath rather than another near-death experience, and with the way we were bobbing down the street and spinning through stop signs, I didn't care if my popping out would result in Gordon getting to tag along. I hadn't tried it yet with another person but I knew very well I could take large objects with me when I popped to and fro the world. My slightly devilish grin caused him to snatch his hand back like I was on fire. I guess he reached the same conclusion about my abilities. Uncle Harry always told me to learn more of my talents whenever possible.
As we continued quickly down the icy road, Riley risked asking Star, "Where the hell are you going?" I wasn't so sure I would have ever spoken to her since her driving was so horrible; distracting her seemed like a really bad idea. Naturally she turned her head towards Riley to answer and the car jerked along the same direction and we thumped up and over a curb. Gordon moaned softly.
"Just up ahead a bit." With that she careened the car back somewhat in the ruts that made up the barely passible road. With Blizzard Jimmy well on top of the city, I'd yet to see another living soul. Hell, if I did I wouldn't be shocked in the least if Star ran them over. She was not cackling madly, but I think that was just because she was still trying to hit every parked and buried obstacle on the street.
Despite my attempt to stay off her radar, Star called back brightly, "You comfy back there, Esmeralda? Do you need me to turn the heat up a bit?"
Like I was some delicate breakable human? Or upon thinking about it, maybe she wanted me warmer so she could take a bite out of me should the chance arise. I still didn't trust her.
"Oh, I am fine. Thanks for asking." No, I didn't sound in the least sincere but I was still in the car -- for now.