The dagger repulsed me. Every instinct in me said we needed to get as far away from it as fast as possible. I didn’t know how Flynn carried it in his mouth to bring it back to his apartment. He’d brushed his teeth several times since getting home and still made a face like he had a nasty taste in his mouth when I got there. The straight-edge blade sat on the coffee table. Someone broke a piece off the hilt before Flynn found the dagger. Other than that missing bit, nothing else stood out about the knife’s physical appearance. I imagined a crystal in the damaged area. Gemstones hold enchantments easily, and the weapon would have looked right with one.
“What should we do with it?” Lugh asked.
“Every type of investigative spell we can think of. If there’s a way this thing can lead us to Peter’s killer, I’m going to find it,” I said.
“Where were you when I got home?” Flynn asked. Lugh brought him a mug of something he’d been brewing when I arrived.
“The coroner has a necromancer friend. He told me Peter’s soul is bound somewhere. I think that’s what the ritual does, pulls a witch’s soul out and binds it in an enchanted crystal.”
“But why?” Flynn asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said.” I pretty much know just enough about spirits to fake a seance, and that’s not much.
“The necromancer couldn’t help?” Lugh asked.
“Our conversation got cut short. I’ll try to get in touch with him again tomorrow.”
“Speaking of which, it is late. You should get some sleep. We all should,” Lugh said.
“You need to rest if you’re hunting psycho witch killers. We’re not losing a friend because you’re too tired to defend yourself,” Flynn said before I could argue. He finally stopped making a face like he’d tasted something sour.
“He’s right, so come to bed,” Lugh said.
“I’m not really feeling sexy right now, you guys,” I said.
“Neither are we, but nothing is ever quite as bad when you have werewolf cuddles,” Lugh said.
“That’s the real reason he keeps me around,” Flynn said.
“All right. You win,” I said. They were right about needing to rest. I couldn’t slip up when I caught up to Peter’s killer. I set the knife in a large shoebox, careful not to touch it directly, and slid it under the couch. If I was honest with myself, I didn’t want to go home alone. I agreed about how good cuddling with Flynn was; Lugh wasn’t too bad at it, either. It felt a little strange to skip right to the warm embrace between them. I’d spent the night here plenty of times; normally, though, we had a lot more fun getting to this part of the night. A new type of intimacy washed over me. They didn’t want or expect anything but to comfort me. I knew they cared about me and the feeling was mutual. Still, I hadn’t expected them to jump in and help as much as they had. Despite my sadness at losing Peter, I drifted to sleep, thankful to have them in my life.
I woke up cocooned in the blankets so tight I wiggled like a caterpillar to free up the space to move my arms. Flynn and Lugh must have worried I’d get cold without their body heat in the bed. I followed the smell of coffee to the kitchen. An empty mug sat on top of a note between the coffee maker and a box of pastries. Lugh had to meet clients early, and Flynn drove out to meet up with the local pack. The Hennepin county pack didn’t meet in the twin cities. Most of the wolves didn’t like city life as much as Flynn did. This meeting could keep him away for most of the day.
After I finished a pastry and most of my coffee, I forced myself to look at the dagger again. It didn’t get any easier. The same revulsion from the night before rose in me as I approached the couch. I took a deep breath before reaching under it and pulling the shoebox out. I took off the lid and looked it over carefully. It looked the same as it had the night before, ordinary but for the broken piece of the hilt. Despite that mundane appearance, I still wanted to get up and run. Instead, I forced myself to try a spell.
I watched the glow of my magic soak into the blade; then, it flowed out from the broken hilt as a mist of energy. It didn’t help me find who used the knife last as the spell should have, but it confirmed the dagger’s purpose. It acted as a magic funnel. I tried a few more locator spells with the same results. I wouldn’t find the killer using magic on the blade, but I didn’t know what else to do with it, though. Unable to throw it away and risk someone using it on another witch, I didn’t have the means to destroy it either if I couldn’t use magic to do so.
With the knife enclosed in the box again and in a reusable grocery bag, I resolved to take it to a private investigator. I had no idea how I’d pay them, but I’d figure that part out after hearing if there were any non-magical means they could use to help me. Failing that, I’d find someone who could melt the damn thing down. There had to be someone in the Twin Cities or the surrounding area who operated a metal forge. I shouldn’t have bothered making either plan.
“What’s in the bag, Mr. Clark?” Agent Boone asked. He’d been leaning against the building where I couldn’t see him until I walked out the front door.
“Evidence that I was just about to bring to the DPI,” I said. I didn’t see another option. He stepped towards me, holding his hand out for the bag. I noticed his enchanted bracelet drop from his sleeve and remembered how well it protected him against magic the last time. I might get away from him anyway, but running would make me look guilty.
“And here I thought you were planning to cut me out of your investigation,” he said, looking smug as I handed him the bag.
“You don’t know me very well if you thought that, Agent Boone,” I lied. He lifted the lid without removing the box from the grocery bag.
“Is this what I think it is?” he asked.
“If you think it is the knife used to kill Peter, then yes,” I said.
“Where did you find it?” he asked.
“I didn’t. A werewolf friend of mine did,” I said.
“I need to meet this werewolf,” he said.
“Sorry I can’t introduce you—”
“That wasn’t a request. I’m taking you into custody until you change your mind.” He reached for handcuffs. “You must see how this looks. First, we find you in the victim’s apartment. Now I find you carrying the murder weapon.”
“I can’t because he left town this morning,” I said.
“Not good enough. You’re coming with me.” I considered my options for a moment. I knew I was innocent, and when Flynn got back, he could confirm my story. If I ran, there was no way the DPI would stop looking for me.
“All right. The handcuffs aren’t necessary. I’ll come willingly,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender.