IN IMMINENT DANGER from Niall and the coven, Fergie and I didn’t return to Edinburgh after our trip to the Isle of Lewis where I’d met Colm Finnegan, my long-lost enchanter father. I called him Finn.
Siobhan, the goblin member of our witch detectives, had stayed behind at my father’s estate with her newborn daughter and the baby’s father, Luc, the goblin king.
Rebecca had stayed behind as well, too, to spend just one more day with my father, her longtime lover.
So, Fergie and I, just the two of us for now, had headed straightaway for London.
Now in London, the gray sky was pissing down rain and making the wet auto exhaust burn my nose and throat. We were cold, wet and eager to get started on our urgent case investigation here. Our meeting was set for tomorrow, which gave us a bit of time to get ready.
Fergie and I had just exited Selfridge’s, where we’d just purchased new business attire for our client meeting. And warmer outerwear, too.
We stood under an awning waiting for the rain to let up, the driving rain sheeting down all around us and almost drowning out the traffic noise.
I looked at Fergie. “We should have used the valet for the car. Now, we’ll have to run for it.”
“I’ll go,” he offered. “No need for us both to get even more wet than we are.”
I shook my head. “Let’s wait a minute and see if this deluge lets up. I don’t really want to be separated from you, in case someone’s hunting me. And caught up.”
He nodded, concern in his amber eyes.
“Every time I come here, even in summer, London always seems colder than Scotland,” I said as a passing car splashed us from the gutter.
He scratched his werewolf’s shadow of a beard. “Maybe it just feels like that because we’re far from home and we can’t just have a cuppa anytime we want and put our feet up on the hearth.”
“A cup of hot tea sounds so lovely right now. Your legs are probably freezing in your kilt.”
“My body temperature does run hotter than yours, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to wearing my new wool trousers for the duration of our stay here.”
“Same here. I’m abandoning all gesture of wearing a skirt suit in this weather, even to the client meeting.”
“Practicality over style?” he teased.
“I don’t care about style when I’m cold. And I’m not a clothes-horse like Rebecca, who dresses to the nines even to stay home and watch the telly.”
Fergie chuckled. “It likely takes her hours to look like that. Whereas, you can roll out of bed and splash your face and run out the door with the face Gaia and your parents gave you.”
I laughed. “I think you’re starting to know my morning habits too well.”
“Well, it would be a shame to cover up your freckles with all that goop Rebecca uses.”
I stuck up for Rebecca. “She’s very pretty!”
“Of course she is, but she doesn’t have your confidence about her appearance.”
“It’s not as much confidence as much as it is not wanting to bother in front of a mirror. It takes too long to mute out my freckles with makeup. I gave up long ago.”
“I hope you never feel like you have to do it.”
“What you see is what you get.”
“Good to know.” He eyed the running water in the street. “I’m going to jump the gutter and it’s kind of a long leap. You won’t make it without getting water down the tops of your fancy leather boots. Hand me those packages and wait here.”
“Are you sure?” I said gratefully.
“I’ll bring the car around. No use both of us getting soaked to the knees. I’ll only be gone for two or three minutes at most.
At my worried look, he said, “What kind of coven hunter do you imagine is lurking outside Selfridge’s waiting for you?”
“All right. Go on then. Please hurry.”
He made the leap gracefully when I would have splashed right down in it and been knocked down by the current that was dragging every piece of garbage toward London’s storm sewers. I watched him run down the wet pavement almost in a blur toward the parkopedia where we’d left the car we’d hired.
I took a deep breath and was sorry I had because I ended up coughing. I already missed the fresh air of the Isle of Lewis and Harris. London smelled more like auto exhaust and sodden garbage. And Edinburgh never smelled like this.
I felt a cold prickle of warning down my neck. Or maybe it was rain leaking inside the back of my collar. I looked around me anxiously. I felt paranoid without Fergie beside me, knowing there was a coven hunter after me. A witch hunter employed by witches.