Lee texted me back around midday. Somehow, I hadn’t scared him off. He asked when he could see me again before I even got to my request. I suggested meeting up the next day. He asked if we could do breakfast. He couldn’t have his sibling fill in at the market in the evening this time. I agreed to meet him at a diner he recommended. How had our last date not turned him off from wanting to see me again? I probably shouldn’t question it, but I’d really thought that getting him involved in accidental manslaughter would be a deal breaker. I held off on telling Agent Boone that my technomancer got back to me in case Lee didn’t want to help. Before I let him agree, I’d make sure he knew how much we had to keep from the DPI.
Boone surprised me by sending me home early. By the time we got back to the office, I’d gotten “noticeably sluggish.” His comment didn’t upset me because I felt the truth of it in every step I took. The combination of not sleeping well the past few nights and spending the morning in a dead zone left me worn out. I called Flynn to pick me up from the DPI office. I didn’t have the energy to walk home, and honestly, I didn’t want to be alone.
I’d failed that witch. If I’d found Noah Smith by now, she’d still be alive. I didn’t know what more I could have done, but that didn’t alleviate my guilt. As much as I needed to get some sleep, I knew if I got in bed at my apartment, I’d just keep obsessing over things I couldn’t change. Flynn and Lugh couldn’t ease my guilt, but they could distract me.
They both sat in the truck when they arrived to pick me up. Lugh got out and held the door open for me. I scooted to the center of the seat, and Lugh got back in behind me. I didn’t mean to, but I cried when Lugh gave me a questioning look. He didn’t even say anything. I’d been holding too much in since this all started. He put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me into a hug. My tears soaked into his shirt, and we rode in silence.
I’d pulled myself together enough to stop crying between the truck and their apartment. Lugh passed me off to Flynn once we got inside and started moving around the kitchen. A few minutes later, he joined Flynn and me on the couch with a steaming mug. It smelled like hot chocolate laced with magic. I didn’t ask him what potion he’d mixed in with it. I knew Lugh wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. He regularly sold potions to help with emotional control. I sipped the beverage to test its heat, then drank a bit more. The brew added a minty taste to the drink. It soothed me.
Lugh’d given me a very light dose. I knew he could brew this potion strong enough to leave someone pleasantly numb. Instead, it eased the intensity. I still felt my grief, guilt, and anger, but they didn’t overwhelm me. I gulped the rest of the drink down and let the potion do its work. Soon I gained enough control back to tell them about everything. They didn’t interrupt or judge my choices. I told them about working with The Bentons, releasing Peter’s spirit, and fighting the demon. I guess I needed a release more than I needed a distraction.
“Can we do anything?” Flynn asked when I finished relaying my story.
“Help me set a trap for that bastard,” I said.
“How?” Lugh asked.
“He’s targeting witches with Specternet sites advertising seance services. I want to make one that looks legit enough to attract his eye,” I explained.
“You’re going to use yourself as bait?” Flynn asked.
“And lure him right to me,” I said.
“But he’s already killed two witches that we know of,” Lugh said. “What’s going to stop him from hurting you?”
“For one thing, I’ll know what to expect. He took the other witches by surprise. And for another, I won’t give him a chance. I’ll kill him before he draws the knife,” I said.
“From what you said, he’ll have other people with him. You really want to do this alone?” Flynn asked. “I’d go with you if you wanted some backup.”
“I’ve gotta get his attention first. I can figure out those details once I’ve got him on the hook,” I said. Honestly, I had no intention of endangering either of them by having them along for this confrontation.
“All right,” Flynn said, sounding hesitant.
“Will you help me make the site, then?” I asked. I needed Lugh’s skills for this part. He’d made his own website for his potion business. I had no idea where to start with any of it. If he turned me down, Lee might help, but I’d already planned to ask him for a different favor and didn’t want to press my luck.
“Promise me something,” Lugh said. He put his hand on my thigh to ensure I looked at him. “Don’t go without some help. And I don’t mean your ghost friend. I know you worry about other people getting hurt. But we’re worried about you.”
My throat tightened with emotion. I knew that Lugh and Flynn cared about me. Still, I struggled to let other people take care of me. If I let them get that close, it would hurt too much to lose them eventually. I swallowed the emotion, placed my hand on his, and told him what he wanted to hear. “I promise.”
“Good,” he said, smiling at me.
I couldn’t help myself. I leaned in and kissed him. Lugh’s other hand tangled in my hair as he kissed me back. Flynn kissed up my neck and behind my ear. I moaned into Lugh’s mouth and moved closer to him. Flynn followed me, unwilling to let me escape his lips. I broke my connection with Lugh and met Flynn’s lips. Lugh lifted my shirt and ran his tongue up my abdomen to my chest. His mouth closed around my nipple, and his teeth grazed it gently. It hardened under the attention. Flynn gripped my shirt and lifted it the rest of the way off.
Before I could reconnect with his lips, he pulled me up off the couch. We moved to the bedroom, losing clothing as we went. Lugh pulled me back to kiss him, and we tumbled into the bed. I lost track of everything but their bodies pressing against mine. When we collapsed in a pile of sweaty limbs and heaving chests, I drifted off for the first restful night’s sleep in days.