Lugh and Flynn offered to host Lee while he helped with our bait site. Between Lugh and Lee, they put together an impressive page that attracted plenty of attention. We ruled out several potential clients based on their requests. We skipped over anyone who had a specific spirit in mind. I intended to reach out to Cal with their information. He could fulfill their requests and get paid. After the DPI identified the second victim as Ashley Grant, Lee found her site and got us access. Noah Smith contacted her with the same backstory under a new screen name. So we kept our eyes open for that pitch among our queries.
“I wanted to run something by you,” Lee said.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“What if we reached out to the other witches offering seances in the city?” Lee asked. “If we really want to funnel Smith to our site, we could warn them about his M.O.”
“If they decline, he’ll have to find someone else,” I said.
“And that will push him along to our site,” he continued.
“It could work,” Lugh said.
“Or if he’s already reached out to someone else, they might help us set the trap for him,” Flynn added.
“It’s worth a shot,” I agreed. Even if the other witches didn’t agree to help, I wanted to warn them. I still felt guilty over Ashley’s death, and I didn’t want to feel responsible for anyone else.
“What if they don’t believe us?” Lugh asked. “They might think we’re trying to poach business.”
“We could tell them about Peter and Ashley,” Lee suggested.
“It’s not a guarantee, but it’s better than letting them walk into a trap,” I said.
“So, where do we start?” Flynn asked.
“Making a list,” Lee said, already pulling up a search for local seance services. The list of sites populated. “Oh, this could take a while.”
The Twin City area had fifty-seven witches specializing in seances and even more offering them a smaller item on their list of services. How many of them would Smith get to before the news got out naturally? Thankfully, we wouldn’t have to find out. Flynn got up to order us food while Lugh, Lee, and I worked out what we’d say as we contacted these witches. By the time we’d agreed on the best wording, the takeout had arrived, and Flynn made drinks for all of us.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be drinking while we do this,” I said.
“You don’t have to, but why not? We’ve got our message written already. It’ll make the copying and pasting less monotonous,” Lugh argued.
“And even if Smith contacts us tonight, he won’t be looking to meet up immediately. He’ll expect us to need time to find a space,” Flynn said. Lee didn’t bother adding a point. He just took a sip and opened the fried rice container.
“Fine,” I relented. I didn’t want to be a killjoy.
By my second drink, I was glad I hadn’t put up more of a fight. The stress and guilt I’d been carrying around faded into the background. We made good progress sending our warning and even started having fun. Lee confessed to recognizing Flynn when they first met but not wanting to come off as a fanboy. He’d actually seen Flynn and me fight once at the Lyndale Market. I wondered if he’d been there the night I’d met Flynn. I realized he’d put up with our messy first dates because he was a bigger fight fan than I initially thought.
By the time we finished contacting the initial fifty-seven witches, we needed a break. We’d made it to our fourth round of drinks. Flynn and Lugh got very affectionate when they drank. Lee definitely noticed the little touches between them and me. He didn’t seem bothered by it. That relieved me more than I expected. Lee and I had texted about being poly, but he wouldn’t be the first person I met to misappropriate the term. I wasn’t looking to drag him into something with Lugh and Flynn, but I was glad my relationship with them didn’t bother him.
“So, how did you three meet?” Lee asked.
“He kicked my ass,” Flynn said with a laugh.
“That’s a little harsh. You put up a good fight,” I teased.
“You met in the ring?” Lee asked.
“That’s not even the best part. Casper won because of a speed potion he bought from Lugh,” Flynn said.
“I thought Flynn would break up with me when he found out I was partially responsible for him losing,” Lugh admitted.
“So you two were already dating at the time?” Lee asked.
“Yeah, his pack hired me to brew a potion to prevent shifting,” Lugh answered. “It took him three months to ask me out.”
“Hey, I wasn’t there for your first visit,” Flynn corrected.
“Fine, two months,” Lugh compromised.
“You were intimidating,” Flynn said.
“You’re a werewolf. You’re supposed to be the scary one,” Lugh teased.
“I’ve got nothing on you when you’re giving instructions about your potions, babe,” Flynn said. He leaned in to kiss Lugh.
“You guys are so cute,” Lee said. He rested his hand on my knee under the table. I put my hand over his.
“Aren’t we, though?” Lugh said. We all laughed.
Eventually, we got back to sending out messages. Working into the night, we got the word out to every local witch who listed seances as one of their services. When we rechecked our site, we had one inquiry with potential. We decided not to message them until the morning. I wouldn’t risk a drunk mistake ruining our efforts. Lugh and Flynn insisted Lee stay the night. He couldn’t drive home after all the drinks. He and I ended up sharing the pullout couch.
“I like your friends,” Lee said. He’d taken my hand under the covers, and we faced each other.
“I think they like you too,” I said. Hopefully, he still wanted to touch me when we sobered up. I needed to take him on a proper date one of these days. One where we didn’t have to think about the investigation.
“What about you?” he asked.
“Oh, definitely,” I said.
“Good,” he said. He leaned closer to me. I thought he was going to kiss me. And as much as I wanted him, I didn’t want our first kiss to happen after we drank so much. He pressed his lips to my cheek and then leaned back. “I’d like to kiss you for real next time, but I want to remember every second.”
I sighed, contented by his confession. I rolled onto my side and pulled him with me to cuddle. He held me tight, and we talked until we drifted off. If things went well, I could see Lee becoming a permanent fixture in my life. The idea sent me to sleep with a smile on my face.