Siren Song

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Copyright: 2010-09-28
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr

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Nothing if not resilient, Celia Graves is slowly adjusting to being a half-human, half-vampire Abomination. But her troubles are far from over. Her best friend's murder is still unsolved, the cops are convinced she should be in jail, and her old lover, the magician Bruno DeLuca, has resurfaced in her life, saying he has something important to tell her. The vampire attack that transformed Celia kicked her latent Siren abilities into high gear, and now she's been summoned to the Sirens' island to justify her existenceand possibly fight for her lifein front of the Siren Queen. Celia isn't sure she'll survive to make the trip. The demon she defeated in Blood Song hasn't exactly gone quietlyhe's left Celia suffering from a powerful curse.


Siren Song

“Celia, everything’s going to be fine. You’ll see.” Dr. Scott gazed at me earnestly in the back of the sleek black limo, willing me with every fiber of his being to believe the words.

Unfortunately, no matter how sincere the assurance of the handsome, dark-skinned psychiatrist with slightly silvered hair and a calming demeanor, we both knew he was lying. Nothing was ever going to befineagain. A week ago I was an ordinary human bodyguard, living a normal life in beautiful California. Now I was part vampire, part siren, and struggling to maintain not only my sense of self but also my sense of humor. He wasn’t helping either one with that line.

I raised my brows at him as I gave him the snort his words deserved. My first meeting with him had resulted in my stalking his secretary like a deer—complete with fangs bared and red eyes glowing. I’d even chased the good doctor out of the room in a panic. I hadn’t been safe to talk to until after he locked me inside his office with a full pitcher of barely cooked beef juices, which in my sunset-induced predator mode I’d happily sucked down like a strawberry milk shake.

I was still trying not to think about what I might have done without that pitcher of bloody juice. It had only been a few days ago and dawn was still hours away.

His expression changed as though he knew what I was thinking. I was aware that Dr. Scott was telepathic, but ethics and the law should prevent him from “peeking” outside of official therapy sessions. Still, he couldn’t miss my physical reaction to his statement, and after a staring match where he blinked first, he finally had the decency to look chagrined.

The sound of the driver’s door of the limo slamming shut shifted my attention away from Dr. Scott, giving him the opportunity to fiddle with the buttons on the side panel. Probably looking for another stiff drink to bolster him for the start of this adventure. We were on the way to Birchwoods, an ultra-private psychiatric facility for the very rich and famous, where I was to beevaluatedbefore I had to appear to defend myself against charges of mind manipulation.

While I’m neither rich nor famous, I’m not poor, either, and it wassoworth the money to stay in a place that might someday release me. St. Mary’s Detention Center was the only other choice outside of the state facility. But it’s only licensed for short-term care, and with the looming legal problems caused by my newfound physical and psychic abilities I could be looking at a very long-term, even permanent, commitment.

My brow furrowed suddenly, because I felt . . . something. It was similar to the odd, pins-and-needles tingling sensation that I was beginning to associate with magical barriers. I’d never been able to get even a hint of the magical before the vampire bite. Now I’m aware of far too much. It was actually getting painful to walk around Los Angeles, since the city is the hotbed of magic you’d expect. The more power magic wielders use to guard mansions, protect movie stars, and banish evil forces from public buildings, the more intense it feels to me. This onehurt.

I sat bolt upright in my seat, actually flinching when I heard the automatic locks click with what felt like an ominous finality.

“What’s wrong?” As a trained observer of human behavior, Dr. Scott didn’t like the vibe I was giving off. He was suddenly very alert and looked completely businesslike.

“Maybe nothing,” I answered. My voice stayed steady but sounded uneasy. It didn’t feel like nothing. I could sense pressure building, making me want to wiggle my jaw like you do in an airplane to get your ears to pop. There are protective spells that can be used to keep moving objects, including vehicles, from damage. But they’re hideously expensive, difficult to do, and create enough friction when a car is in motion to make any model a gas hog. A limo like this one was built like a tank. It shouldn’t need that kind of a spell. But if it wasn’t a protection spell, then what was it?

Maybe it was the liquor I’d just imbibed at the wake for my recently deceased best friend, Vicki, that had me feeling slow, but I couldn’t think of a single reason for the powerful spell I’d sensed. Yes, I’d gone to college to get a preternatural degree. But at the time, I hadn’t been able tofeelmagic. It’s one thing to know that forces like gravity exist and relate the properties on a test paper. It’s another entirely to feel the weight of it on your skin and know something’s not right. Which made me suspicious. Well, more suspicious. I’ve been a bodyguard so long that I’m always a little bit paranoid. “Can you sense the driver?”

The car moved smoothly away from the curb, fitting nicely in between the pair of police cruisers I could see through the window . . . barely. Mostly I just saw my reflection on the inside of the glass. The woman I saw was attractive but cold, hard. It was my “business face.” I use it a lot. So often that sometimes even I forget the softer me exists.

“That would be illegal.” Dr. Scott didn’t bother to hide the disapproval in his voice. It was combined with the stern look of an instructor.

I shook my head. “No, Doctor. Reading his mind is illegal. Just sensing to see if he’s ‘there’ isn’t.” It was a fine distinction, but I was learning a lot about those as my attorney and I prepared for my upcoming trial. I had one of the best defense attorneys in the business. If he was successful, I would be a free, if considerably less wealthy, woman. I could live with that. If I stayed out of jail or a psychiatric facility, I could always earn more money.

I pretended not to notice Dr. Scott staring at me, concentrating instead on the scene outside the glass. We’d turned left. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except for one little detail. We were supposed to be heading for Birchwoods, on Ocean View. The nearest exit to Ocean View was three blocks down and on the right.

Dr. Scott’s eyes locked with mine in the glass. If he was checking my thoughts, I couldn’t tell. At the moment I wouldn’t even mind. Best for him to find out for himself that I wasn’t joking. I was beginning to suspect we were in very real trouble. I watched his reflection as he pursed his lips thoughtfully. As he seemed to reach a decision, his face went distant and blank for a few seconds.

“That’s odd. I can’t sense him at all.” He sounded puzzled and not altogether happy.

I turned to face him. “Null?” I made it a question. Psychic nulls were rare but not unheard of. I’d very briefly been assigned to a shrink who was a null. She was completely immune to magic and to psychic manipulation. Which would’ve made her the perfect doctor for someone like me if she hadn’t also been one of the bad guys. As it was, her drugging me and setting me up for murder had started the chain of events leading up to my current legal woes—and did absolutely nothing for my trust issues with psychiatrists.

“No. It feels more as if I’m being blocked.”

I wouldn’t have thought I could tense any further, but I did as adrenaline pumped through my system. We’d just taken another left turn. While I couldn’t be sure, yet, it appeared we were en route to the desert, where there was miles and miles of nothing . . . right up until you got to the state-run facility for “rogue” monsters and psychics.

“Doctor, are you lying to me?” There was a growling, hissing tone to my voice and my skin had started to glow, giving off a pale, gray-green light that filled the darkened passenger compartment like water in a pool. It was decidedly spooky. In just a few days I’ve grown to hate it, but right now it might prove useful in scaring the doctor. If he was scared maybe, just maybe, he’d be honest with me. Of course, getting angry was liable to push the limits of my control over the monster in me. But I needed the truth and I didn’t have a lot of options as to how I was going to get it.

He shrugged but was more interested in concentrating on whatever was pushing him away. “Why would I lie?”

I waved my hand in front of his face to grab his attention and then pointed. “Look out the window.”

He tried, even going so far as to press his nose to the glass. “I can barely see through the tinting. What am I looking for?”

No surprise there. I had the advantage of vampire-style vision. “Try looking out through the sunroof.” I toned back on the spookometer. I wasn’t scaring the doctor so much as pissing him off. I couldn’t be positive, but I was beginning to think he didn’t know any more about what was going on than I did, that maybe his choosing to ride in the limo with me had been an unexpected complication for whoever was running this little show.

He stood up, flattening his hand against the seat to steady himself from the vehicle’s movement and the drinks he’d had earlier, at the wake. He’d been Vicki’s doctor, too. He had to push into the invisible barrier surrounding the car and I felt an odd lurch in my stomach as it stretched to accommodate his movement. He noticed it, too, and pushed against it, smoothing his hands along to test the barrier like a mime on a street corner.

“We’re going the wrong way. We’re headed toward the desert.” He sounded honestly shocked, afraid, and more than a little sick.

“Yes.” My voice could’ve frosted the glass as I watched the lights of the city become swallowed up by the darkness.

I had to give the man credit. He had brains. “You think I set you up?” There was a hint of caution in his voice. Not fear. He was too tough for that. But he was bright enough to not want to be locked alone in the back of a limo with an angry monster. Taking me to the state facility would most assuredly piss me off.

“The thought did occur to me,” I admitted.

I watched as he waved his arm slowly.

“What are you doing?”

“We’ve got a police escort. I’m trying to get their attention. But they don’t seem to see me.”

I doubted that. More likely they thought he was being cute and drunk. Or they were just ignoring him. Whichever.

He lowered himself carefully onto the seat. Leaning back, he closed his eyes. “And I can assure you that if I’d intended to turn you over to the state, I would not be stupid enough to ride in the car with you. And as I told you before, I wouldn’t consign a rabid dog to the state facilities.”

I gave him a humorless smile. “I remember that.”

“Oh good.” His voice practically dripped sarcasm. “So now what?”

“Let me try your cell phone.”

He blinked at me but reached inside his suit jacket to retrieve it. He was slower on the uptake than normal. The result of the liquor, no doubt, but not particularly helpful. My own inebriation was long gone. There are a few benefits to my partially undead body.

“If I’m just being paranoid, it should work just fine,” I explained as he passed the top-of-the-line tech toy to me.

“And if it doesn’t?”

I punched the number for Alex’s cell phone. Vicki’s former lover had been at the wake, so she should still be close by. She was also a cop. She could find out if this was legit. If it wasn’t, she could get us help. Assuming I could get a call through.

He watched expectantly as I waited for the telltale ringing and instead heard only crackling static.Damn.I hit the “end” button and flipped the phone closed. The adrenaline that began to flow through my muscles was both invigorating and annoying. It wasn’t just danger that was making my body tense. The abrupt rush of fear from Dr. Scott had me alert and watching his every movement. Yes, I’d had my requisite nutrition shakes and no, I wasn’t hungry. But hunting is about more than justfeedingand I was getting twitchy.

When I didn’t answer, he repeated his question: “And if it doesn’t?”

It wasn’t anifanymore—just a statement of fact. “We’re screwed.”



Copyright © 2010 by C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp

All rights reserved.

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

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