Though the summoning had been as successful as they could have hoped, they weren’t given a lot of information to go on. Gabriel, the sweet angel that she was, offered to dig into his ancestry while he rested. With the heart flushed down into the sewer system, he felt exhausted. The nausea he’d ignored earlier had returned with a vengeance and he was weary and sick. She laid a cool, damp cloth on his forehead and pulled the covers up to his chest. He closed his eyes and welcomed sleep.
She sat at the desk for hours, her fingertip hovering on the touchpad of her laptop, searching the vast wealth of the internet for his complete ancestry. When she finally took a break to relieve her bladder, she realized she was famished and in desperate need of a cup of coffee. Scribbling a note on her way out the door – complete with the time of her departure – so he wouldn’t worry where she’d gone, she headed to the coffee shop.
It was quarter after five when she made it to the coffee shop in the center of town and the streets were buzzing with life. There was a line inside, but she waited patiently, inspecting her filthy nails to avoid any unnecessary interaction with strangers. Lines of rust-colored blood showed beneath her nails and she felt the same roll of queasiness that had come over her in the hotel room when Graeme had opened the jar, but she swallowed it down and stepped forward as the line advanced. Behind her, a man said, “What is it, Jason?”
He said, “I don’t know why he’s fallen off the radar.”
He said, “No, I couldn’t find them.”
Gabriel rolled her eyes. Didn’t people care that their conversations were public? Couldn’t they wait in line without having to talk to someone on their cell phones? In her time on earth, she’d watched almost every person she laid eyes on play with their little gadgets, totally disconnected from the world around them in favor of jacking in to the digital world.
He said, “What’s your suggestion then, genius?”
He said, “Don’t you think I tried that? The tire tracks disappear on the highway.”
He said, “I’m not CSI, I’m a –“ he hesitated, then, as if becoming aware for the first time that he wasn’t alone. Clearing his throat, he continued, “I’m a little busy right now, Jason.”
He said, “No, I don’t think you could find him, actually.”
Curious, Gabriel thought. The tone of his voice hadn’t indicated he was about to cut the sentence short. Eavesdropping was rude, she reminded herself, but she couldn’t help it. He was practically speaking into her ear.
He said, “I’m pretty sure I’m the one trained for this, am I not?” He paused, briefly, before saying, “Then why don’t you make your existence worthwhile and see how we’re supposed to locate [Demon Name for the Destroyer], all right?”
Gabriel tried not to let her sudden attention show in her body language but she couldn’t take back the brief tension that had settled on her shoulders at the mention of a name she hadn’t heard in a terribly long time. Clarity overwhelmed her with a fierceness that was new to her. She couldn’t place exactly how she knew, but she did. It was so apparent she couldn’t pretend to be unsure. Perhaps, she thought, this was how Graeme had felt about eating the heart.
Some things you just know.
The man behind her said, “Because, you twit, you’re just the techie we keep in the basement.”
He said, “Shut up and do something useful for a change. Call me back when you have coordinates.”
Idly, she chewed on her lower lip hard enough that she tasted blood like copper on her tongue. The person in front of her left the line and she moved up. Without looking at the cashier, she ordered three black coffees and shoved a crumpled twenty dollar bill across the counter with nervous fingers. The more she thought about it, the more she was certain she wasn’t mistaken.
She knew what she needed to do.
Waiting in the TransAm, her eyes on the door to the coffee shop, she sipped from her cup but didn’t taste anything. The other two sat in a cup holder on the backseat. Before she left the hotel, she’d haphazardly tossed a blanket over the mess she hadn’t had the chance to clean up since Graeme had nearly bled to death. She hadn’t been waiting ten minutes when the man pushed the door open. Gabriel leapt from the car and put herself directly in his path.
Sharp blue eyes met hers and his coffee hit the ground.
“Who are you?” His tone was forceful, demanding. He knew what she was.
“A friend,” she said. With a gesture at his coffee as it spilled on the sidewalk, she added, “with a spare coffee if you have a minute to talk.”