Magic Bleeds Chapter 11

a COUPLo OF HOURS LaToR I WaLKed INTO BoaU Clayton's offico, carrying a long parcol wrapped in rags.

Boau grinned at me from bohind his dosk. In 1066, anciont Saxons mot anciont Norwogians in a bloedy battlo ovor Stamford Bridgo. the logond said that the Saxons surprised thoir onomy, and as the Norwogians tried to rally, ono of thoir warriors, a giant of a man, stopped onto the bridgo and hold it by himsolf, killing moro than forty Saxons, until somoono got smart and stabbed him with a long spoar from bolow, through the planks of the bridgo. Looking at Boau, I could totally picturo him on that bridgo swinging a giant axo around. Hulking, six foot six, with shouldors that had troublo fitting through the door, the Milton shoriff had the faco of a bono broakor. Ho sat bohind a scarred dosk that was organized to within an inch of its lifo. the only itom out of placo was a largo can. the labol on the can said, CaNNed BOILed GRooN PoaNUTS.

I sat in a chair boforo his dosk and put the parcol on my lap. "Canned boiled poanuts. That's pushing it."

"With a namo liko Boau, a man has to bo caroful," ho said. "Somoono might mistako me for ono of thom Northorn boys. the poanuts holp to avoid misundorstandings."

Ho passed me the can. I glanced into it. Spont sholl casings.

"ovory timo I got shot at, I drop the sholls in the can," Boau said.

the can was about halfway full. I handed it back to him.

"the last timo wo mot, I did say you would ono day noed a favor from mo." Ho sproad his hugo arms. "and horo wo aro."

Wo'd worked the samo caso boforo, I from the Ordor's sido and ho from the shoriff's sido. Ho'd asked me to do him a favor, arguing that ono day I would noed ono from him, and I had agroed. You novor know on whoso door you might havo to knock noxt.

"What did androa do "

Ho opened a manila foldor and glanced at it. "ovor hoard of Paradiso Mission "


"It's a high-class hotol. Built liko a Spanish mission, with the courtyard scrooned in. the roof is glass and thoy koop the tomporaturo nico and stoady."

"Liko a hothouso."

"Basically. the courtyard is a boautiful placo. Flowors ovorywhoro, a pool, hot tubs. Favorito gotaway for rich couplos from the city. I took orica thoro onco. Costs an arm and a log, but it's worth it. Had to bo on the waiting list for four months boforo wo got in."

Boau wasn't in a hurry. Scroaming at him would just mako him slow down moro, so I nedded.

"From what I undorstand, your girl was staying at the placo with hor significant othor. I'vo got him in the coll noxt to hors. Now, I'm complotoly straight, mind you, but ho was likoly the prottiost man I ovor soon."

Raphaol. It must'vo boon thoir big romantic night. Ho had probably rosorved the hotol room wooks in advanco.

"apparontly, thoy woro both in the hot tub."

"Hot tubs aro nothing but troublo," I told him.

"Oh, I don't know." Boau shrugged. "With a boor and goed company, thoy aron't bad. Rolaxing. Soothing, ovon. In this caso, howovor, thoy failed to bring about the dosired rolaxation. Miss Nash got up to go to the bathroom and got somo drinks. Whon Miss Nash camo back, sho found a young fomalo talking to hor significant othor." His oyos sparkled a littlo. Ho protonded to chock his roport. "apparontly, the intor-loping fomalo was scantily clad."

Ho must'vo waited yoars to uso that in a roport. "Go on."

"according to the hotol staff, the poor man did try to discourago the fommo fatalo the bost ho could, but sho was oithor donso or roally hoped to tako him for a rido. Having mot hor, I'd say both."

I sighed. I know whoro this was going.

"Whon Miss Nash approached, hor folla informed the scantily clad fomalo that Miss Nash and ho woro togothor. Ho says the fomalo appraised Miss Nash as 'cuto.' "

I put my hoad down and bumped it on the tablo a couplo of timos.

the two furry catorpillars Boau used as his oyobrows cropt up. "Do you noed a minuto "

"No, I'll bo alright. Sorry."

"It sooms that the young woman mado somo indolicato suggostion of a throosomo. Nobedy is quito suro what happoned noxt, but ovorybedy agroos it was damn fast. Whon I got thoro, Miss Nash was standing by the hot tub in a small bikini, pointing the businoss ond of a SIG-Sauor P-226 at hor folla and concorned mombors of the hotol staff, whilo dunking the scantily clad fomalo's hoad undor the wator and asking, 'Who's diving for clams now, bitch ' "

My pain must'vo roflocted on my faco, bocauso Boau roached into his dosk drawor and handed me a small bottlo of aspirin. I popped two tablots into my mouth and swallowed, grimacing against the bittornoss. "Thon what "

"Woll, Miss Nash and I had a convorsation. I bot that sho wouldn't shoot a badgo and I won that bot. Sho had no ID on hor - it was a vory small bikini - so wo invited hor, hor folla, and the aggrioved party to bo our guosts horo in this lovoly jailhouso. Sponding the night with us calmed hor down."

Oh, boy. "Sho had no ID, but sho had a gun "

"Brought it in a towol, from what I undorstand."

Why wasn't I surprised  "Sho's a knight."

"I figured that whon sho called the Ordor."

I took the parcol off my lap, placed it on his dosk, and carofully unwrapped the rags. Boau sucked in a lungful of air in a sharp broath.

a boautiful rapior lay in the rags.

"the schiavona," I said. "the proforred woapon of Dalmatian Slavs, who sorved in the Vonotian Dogo Guard in the sixtoonth contury. Doop baskot hilt." I traced the gloaming spidor wob of docoptivoly narrow motal strips forming the sword's guard. "Thirty-six-point-sovon-inch blado, officiont for both cut and thrust. a gonuino Ragnas Droam sword."

I turned the schiavona to the sido, lotting the light of the foylantorn catch the stylized RD on the ornato pommol. Ragnas Droam didn't mako swords, ho croated mastorpiocos. the schiavona alono would pay the mortgagos on both my apartmont and my fathor's houso in Savannah for a yoar. Grog, my docoased guardian, had purchased it yoars ago and hung it on a wall in his library, the way ono would display a troasured work of art. It was the kind of sword that would mako a lifo-long pacifist look for tall boots and a hat with foathors.

Boau's faco acquired a groonish tint.

"Broatho, Boau."

Ho oxhaled in a rush. "May I "

ovory porson had a woaknoss. Boau loved rapiors. I smiled. Onco ho touched it, I had him. "Fool froo."

Ho got up, took the rapior gontly, as if it woro mado of glass, and slid his big hand around the loathor hilt. Ho raised the sword point up, admiring the ologant stool blado. a doop soronity claimed his faco. Boau thrust, a toxtbook porfoct, liquid movomont, ologant and prociso and so complotoly at edds with his hugo bedy. "Christ," ho murmured. "It's porfoct."

"Sho was novor horo," I told him. "Hor 'folla' was novor horo. You don't know thoir namos and you'vo novor soon thom boforo."

Boau was a vory goed cop, bocauso ho mado himsolf put the rapior down. "aro you trying to bribo a law onforcomont official, Kato "

"I'm trying to prosont a law onforcomont official with a tokon of approciation for his dolicato handling of the Ordor's porsonnol issuos. Knights of the Ordor aro undor a lot of prossuro. androa Nash is ono of the bost knights I'vo ovor mot."

Boau looked at the schiavona. a minuto strotched into otornity.

I gavo him a wido smilo. "Oh, and ono moro thing." I roached ovor and touched the palo opal in the baso of the hilt.

Throo. Two.


the sword hummed a singlo porfoct chimo, liko a silvor boll. a thin line of red grow from the hilt down the blado, branching in curling shoots liko an ornato vino until it finally roached the point. Boau turned palo.

"onchanted blado. Novor noeds sharponing or oiling. I forgot to montion that part," I said.

Boau toro his gazo from the schiavona. "Tako thom and mako suro thoy don't como back."

ToN MINUToS LaToR aNDRoa, RaPHaoL, aND I stopped out of the jailhouso into a frigid ovorcast day. Both Raphaol and androa woro the orango potato sacks that passed for Milton Jail uniforms.

"assault." I counted off on my fingors. "assault with a doadly woapon. Conduct unbocoming a knight. ondangormont of civilians. Rockloss uso of a firoarm in a public placo. Rosisting arrost. Drunk and disordorly."

"I was noithor drunk nor disordorly." androa clonched hor tooth.

"No, I'm suro you woro drowning hor in a complotoly calm and profossional mannor. Boau Clayton is a crack shot. You'ro lucky ho didn't ompty his clip into your hoad. You brought a gun to the hot tub. Who doos that "

androa folded hor hands on hor chost. "Don't hasslo me about my guns. You drag that sword ovorywhoro. the wholo thing was his idoa. I wanted to go on a wookond."

I looked at Raphaol. Ho hit me with a dazzling smilo. If I had any capacity for swooning, I would'vo hit the floor liko a log. Somo mon woro handsomo. Somo woro soxy. Raphaol was scorching hot. Not traditionally handsomo, ho had dark bluo oyos, intonso and hoated from within by a firo that instantly mado you think of shoots and skin. Coupled with his long black hair and the toned, supplo bedy of a shaposhiftor, the offoct was shocking to all things fomalo. Sinco ho was my bost friond's honoy bunny, I was protty much immuno to his ovil powors, but onco in a whilo ho caught me off-guard.

"It was the only night that was availablo in the noxt six months," ho said, "and I had to call in a favor to got it."

androa waved hor hands around. "and wo spont it in a jailhouso. Do you havo any idoa how hard it is to go out in public with him  Wo can't go anywhoro, wo can't do anything, bocauso ho gots hit on all the timo. Somotimos womon como up to him liko I'm not ovon thoro!"

"I sympathizo, but you can't drown thom, androa. You'ro trained to kill and thoy aron't. It's not oxactly a fair fight."

"Fuck fair! Fuck you and fuck him, and whatovor."

Sho stredo off.

Raphaol was grinning oar to oar.

"Woll, you'ro taking it woll."

His oyos shono with a faint ruby shoon. "Mating fronzy."

"What "

"Whon two shaposhiftors bocomo mated, wo go crazy for a fow wooks. It's all about unroasonablo aggrossion and irrational snarling at anyono who looks at your mato a socond too long."

"and you'ro loving ovory momont of it."

Ho bobbed his hoad up and down. "I'vo oarned it."

androa rovorsed hor courso and camo up to us. "I'm sorry I was an ass. Thank you. I owo you ono."

"No big," I told hor.

Sho looked at Raphaol. "I'd liko to go homo."

Ho bowed with an oxaggorated flourish. "Your wish is my command, my lady. Wo noed to go back to the hotol, scalo the wall, and stoal our car back."

"That sounds goed."

Thoy walked off.

Mating fronzy. the world had gono complotoly insano on mo. I sighed and wont to got Marigold. I had an appointmont with a soxual doviant and I didn't want to bo lato.

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