Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #8)(16)


by Laurell K. Hamilton

We went.

6

The drive to Myerton took longer than it had to because I was driving an unfamiliar van on very narrow roads. It made me nervous. Jason finally said, "Can I drive, please? We'll get there before dark."

"Shut up," I said.

He shut up, smiling.

We did finally drive into Myerton. The town consisted of a main street that was paved and looked suspiciously like a two-lane highway with buildings hugging the edges. There was a stoplight with a second, much smaller gravel road spilling red clay dust across the blacktop. The town's only stoplight made you notice the two fast-food restaurants and a mom-and-pop diner that actually had a bigger crowd than the Dairy Queen. Either the food was good, or the Dairy Queen wasn't.

Jamil had given me directions to the police station. He said to drive down the main street, turn right. You can't miss it. Whenever someone says that, it means one of two things. Either they're right and it's obvious, or it's hidden and you'll never find it without a detailed map where X marks the spot.

I turned right at the stoplight. The van hit a pothole and rolled like a great beast treading water. I wished I had my Jeep. The gravel road was the true main street of the town. Buildings with a raised wooden sidewalk in front of them lined one side of the street. I spotted a grocery store and a woodworker's shop selling handmade furniture. They had a rocking chair out in front that still had rough grey bark on parts of the wooden frame. Very rustic. Very nifty. Another shop sold herbs and homemade jellies, though this wasn't the time of year for it. Houses lined the other side of the street. They weren't the newer Midwestern look that has taken over large parts of the South. The houses were mostly one story on cinder blocks or red rock bases. They were covered with side shingles running strongly to off-white and grey. One yard had a herd of ceramic deer and a crop of lawn gnomes so thick, it looked like they should be selling them.

There were mountains at the end of the street and trees like a thick, green curtain. We were about to drive back into the forest, and I hadn't seen anything that looked like a police station. Great.

"It has to be right here," Jason said.

I checked my rearview mirror, no traffic, and stopped. "What do you see that I don't?" I asked.

"Shang-Da," he said.

I looked at him. "Excuse me?"

"On the porch at the end of the street."

I looked where he was looking. A tall man sat slumped in a lawn chair. He was wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, no shoes, and a billed cap pulled low. His tan stood out strongly against the whiteness of the shirt. Large hands held a can of soda or maybe beer. Just an early-morning pick-me-up.

"That's Shang-Da. He's our pack's second enforcer. He's Hati to Jamil's Skoll."

Ah. The light dawned. "He's guarding Richard, so the police station has to be nearby."

Jason nodded.

I looked at the slumped figure. He didn't look particularly alert at first glance. He almost blended into the scene until you realized the T-shirt was spotless and new. The jeans had creases as if they'd been ironed and you realized though he was tanned, the skin coloring wasn't just from the sun. But it wasn't until he moved his head very slowly and looked straight at us that I realized just how good the act was. Even from a distance there was an intensity in his gaze that was almost unnerving. I knew we suddenly had his full attention and all he'd done was move his head.

"Shit," I said.

"Yeah," Jason said. "Shang-Da's new. He transferred in from San Francisco Bay pack. No one fought him when he came in as Hati. No one wanted the job that badly."

Jason pointed across the street. "Is that it?"

It was a low, one-story building made of white-painted cinder blocks. There was a small, gravel parking lot out front but no cars. The van took up most of the parking lot. I parked as close to the side as I could, hearing the soft swish of tree branches along the top of the van. There was probably a police car out there someplace that would be parking beside me. I think they had room.

There was a small wooden sign, elegantly carved, hanging beside the door. It read, Police Station. That was it, the only hint. Couldn't miss it -- Jamil had a sense of humor. Or maybe he was still pissed that I'd cut him. Childish.

We got out. I felt Shang-Da's gaze on me. He was yards away, but the power of his attention crept down my skin, raising the hair on my arms. I glanced his way, and for a second, our eyes met. The hair at the back of my neck stood to attention.

Jason came to stand beside me. "Let's go inside."

I nodded, and we walked to the door. "If I didn't know better, I'd say Shang-Da doesn't like me."

"He's loyal to Richard, and you've hurt him -- badly."

I glanced at him. "You don't seem mad at me. Aren't you loyal to Richard?"

"I was there the night Richard fought Marcus. Shang-Da wasn't."

"Are you saying I was right to leave Richard?"

"No. I'm saying I understand why you couldn't handle it."

"Thanks, Jason."

He smiled. "Besides, maybe I have designs on your body."

"Jean-Claude would kill you."

He shrugged. "What's life without a little danger?"

I shook my head.

Jason got to the door first but didn't try to open it for me. He knew me better than that.

I opened the mostly glass doors. I guess the doors were also a clue. Everything else on the street had doors like you'd see on a house. The glass doors were modern business doors. The interior was painted white, including the long barlike desk across from the door. There were some wanted posters tacked to a bulletin board to the left of the door and a radio system behind the desk, but other than that, it could have been the reception room for a dentist.

The guy sitting behind the desk was big. Even sitting down, you had a sense of size. His shoulders were almost as broad as I was tall. His hair was very short and still curled in tight ringlets. He'd have had to shave his head to get rid of the curls.

My executioner's license is in a nice fake-leather carrying case. It had my picture on it and looked damned official, but it wasn't a badge. It wasn't even a license good in this state. But it was all I had to flash, so I flashed it. I went in, holding the license out in front, because I was bringing a gun into a police station. Cops tended not to like that.