The guard that I trapped called for backup when he couldn’t break loose. Summer Benton showed up with two more security guards before the healers finished their work. When I explained what we were doing there, she told her back up to stand down and called her husband to join us. She also asked the healers to cast a sleeping spell on our potential killer until Kenneth could arrive. I apologized to Lee and told him he could go if he wanted. I suspected declaring my intention to kill this man ended any potential for a second date. He surprised me by sticking around.
Cal sent Cormac and his other ghosts away when Summer showed up. Cormac must have told him about their last encounter. I doubted that she’d spare the spirits much attention. We had more significant issues, but I imagined Cormac wouldn’t be comfortable around her. Kenneth walked into the tent, looking calm and put together, as usual. A guard followed a few feet behind him, vigilant of every move we all made.
“Mr. Gunnarsson, what are you doing here?” Kenneth asked, looking at Lee.
“It’s a long story,” Lee answered. I didn’t know if he didn’t want to admit to our disastrous date or if he didn’t want the Bentons in his personal life. I couldn’t blame him either way.
“Milton Davis,” Summer said. She’d lifted the unconscious man’s wallet and held his I.D. up for Kenneth to look over.
“Right. Shall we move this somewhere private? I’d rather this news didn’t spread,” Kenneth suggested. We all agreed, and Summer’s guards carried the unconscious man to their office. The fight held the audience’s attention, and no one noticed our procession.
Summer paused when we got to the office door. “You vouch for the necromancer? I don’t want to remodel this room again so soon.”
“I trust him,” I said. Of all the new people in my life, I trusted Cal the most. As much as Sal and Boone had grown on me, I knew they’d do what DPI and the law dictated at the end of this case.
“It’s not like I’m an untrained dog or something. You could talk to me, you know,” Cal said.
She considered him with a dispassionate gaze. “Very well, no playing with dead things past this point, got it?”
“Sure thing,” Cal answered with his hands up in surrender.
“Summer, would you restrain him, my love?” Kenneth requested, drawing her attention away from us.
We followed her in, and a security guard closed the door behind us. A burst of heat flowed through the room as Summer cast a spell to bind the unconscious man to the chair they put him in. Even if he still had Peter’s magic to help him, I doubt he’d escape her confines. They turned him to face Summer’s wall of weapons. To a mundane, that would be the more intimidating visual. Kenneth’s shelves held much more dangerous tools, but people often underestimated books. Kenneth snapped his fingers to break the sleeping spell and sent a chill down my spine in the process.
The man’s head whipped around as he took in the room. “What the hell? Where am I? Why can’t I move?”
“We’ll be asking the questions, Milt,” Summer said, playing with a butterfly knife.
“Who are you?”
“He’s not a very good listener,” she said. She walked behind him and put the blade of her knife against the back of his ear. “If you’re not going to listen, what’s the point of having ears?”
“No! Please, I’m sorry. I’m listening, I swear. You have questions,” Milton said. I thought she’d played it a little over the top, but it seemed he didn’t have the stomach for dealing with Summer.
“That’s better,” she said. When she stepped back, I noticed blood trickling down his neck. “So, Milt, how many witches have you killed?”
“What? None! I’ve never killed anyone,” he pleaded.
“Then where’d you get the magic?”
“Uh, I, I, what do you mean?”
“Not ten minutes ago, you were flinging magic carelessly before getting your ass handed to you. I know you’re stupid, but don’t play dumb,” Summer said. She stepped closer and pressed the knife under his chin.
“I bought it,” Milton said, trying his best not to move as he spoke.
“That’s better,” she said and removed the knife. “Who did you buy it from?”
“I can’t say,” he told her. She swiped the knife across his cheek. Blood trickled from the shallow cut.
“Come on now, Milt. I don’t mind hurting you, but you’re making it way too easy.”
“I can’t! Really! It was part of the contract,” he said. “If I break the contract, I’ll die.”
“You’re looking at the same end result either way. Would you rather I torture you till you talk or make the noble sacrifice to avenge a man’s life?”
“What?” Milton asked. He looked at each of us, panic-stricken and desperate for intervention.
“There’s an easier way, my love,” Kenneth said.
“Easier, but not as fun,” Summer pouted.
“Not as messy either,” he told her.
“Fine,” she said, stepping back and boosting herself up to sit on her desk.
Kenneth pulled a chair around so he could sit directly in front of Milton. They made eye contact, and pins and needles rolled over my skin. Milton’s eyes grew wider, but he couldn’t look away. Kenneth’s breathing slowed as he focused on digging through the other man’s mind. I had an additional reason to fear Kenneth Benton. Mind magic requires a vast amount of power, practice, and control. Given the lack of fortitude Milton showed so far, he didn’t stand a chance at keeping Kenneth out.
As the minutes ticked by, I wondered if I underestimated Milton. Kenneth grimaced. Sweat soaked into Milton’s shirt, but neither of them moved an inch. Either Milton had hidden depths, or he’d signed one hell of a contract. Considering the demon’s involvement with the situation, I couldn’t rule that out. If he really bought the stone holding Peter’s spirit, he might not have known who he’d entangled himself with.
Tremors broke Milton’s stillness. Kenneth stood abruptly, knocking over his chair. Summer rushed to his side, and I went to Milton. He went slack before I made it to him. I checked his pulse and felt nothing. I cast a healing spell, but it slid off the body. The same thing happened when I poured more power into the spell.
“Did you get a name, Kenneth?” I asked.
I moved the body to the floor and started chest compressions. If a healing spell didn’t work, I didn’t have much hope that mundane medicine would. But I needed to know who he bought the stone from. Kenneth looked dazed and didn’t answer me. I administered CPR until I was confident I couldn’t get him back. Lee helped me to stand up again. I’d expected to feel some satisfaction over Milton’s death. I wanted revenge. The entire time Summer toyed with him, I’d wanted her to take it a step further. This wasn’t vengeance, though. I didn’t feel a sense of justice and vindication. Instead, I felt numb.