She moved away and took his hand, heading back to the car. She didn't say anything as they got there, or drove to the restaurant. It was one of her favorite places. A small Italian restaurant with dim lights and rich, Italian Renaissance decorations. They got a nice quiet table in a corner, the glow of the small candle casting shadows.
"Do you like the place?" she finally said. Will nodded, taking in the lovely surroundings.
"I hope the prices aren't as extravagant as the setting looks," he told her with a small laugh. "But I can smell the delicious foods from the kitchen, and I can't wait."
He turned towards Evey, placing his hands on the table.
"Now, what's going on? What is it you wanted to tell me?"
Evey nodded, letting her fingers entwine with his. How to even start this? She'd start from the beginning but...
"What do you know about Jesse Taylor?"
"Jesse?" he repeated. "Well, he's the oldest cruentus in the city, owns a lot of real estate (including the Black Box), and runs a bar. Why?"
She searched his face.
"You don't know anything about his family, where he comes from originally, anything else?"
He released one of his hands to scratch the back of his head.
"He had a brother I never met," he added. "And as far as I know he's originally from Greece. We've made a few business transactions in the past, but frankly, he's a little unnerving to be around."
"His brother, Lucius, Jesse calls him Luke, died recently via Rosa Nigra," she said softly. "Both of them have the same mater, a woman named Carmilla. Have you ever heard of her?" she asked cautiously. Will thought about the name carefully as their waiter brought the appetizers. When he left, he shook his head.
"I've heard of a vampire by that name in fiction, but never in reference to a real cruenta. Evey, tell me what this is about. Why are you asking about them?"
Evey took a piece of bread.
"Well, I came across the information about Jesse when looking into the death of his filius. So I looked into the other clue I had about the deaths last night: Mr. Drecks's book. See what it was that was so special about it. As far as Cei was concerned it was amusing gibberish, but there had to be something more. The inside corner of one of the covers lifted, and there was a paper inside it. In Latin, scribbled in nice handwriting, was 'To my darling mother, Lucius.'"
Evey lifted her gaze to Will's.
"It was a charcoal drawing. I assume of Carmilla."
Evey reached into her bag and pulled out the small folded paper and handed it to him. Will took the drawing and looked over it carefully, running his fingers carefully around the edges.
"She must have been a very beautiful woman," he eventually commented. "And Lucius was an exquisite artist."
Evey, while he looked at it, had taken out the photograph of her parents and herself as a child. She pushed it toward him and then nibbled on her bread. She watched his face, her heart clenching. Will moved to the photograph, and for a long time said nothing as he examined it.
"The resemblance is uncanny... Is that your...?"
"My mother," Evey said. Her hands trembled so she clasped them together. The waiter showed up them.
"Evey," he said with a smile. "Is this a boyfriend?" he asked in Italian.
She lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. The waiter laughed.
"Will, this is Rodrigo. Rodrigo, Will. I'm a regular, so they all know me here. It's the only place I can practice my Italian."
"We are diligent in keeping her accent pure," Rodrigo said, with an accent himself. Evey thanked him and ordered their meals in Italian. When he was gone, she felt a little more composed, but not by much. Her gaze met Will's.
"You going to be alright?" he asked. "I'm not sure what you want me to do with this information. All I can offer is arranging a meeting with Jesse, but he'll want something in return."
Evey felt the tension ease out of her. He wasn't going to judge her. Her body relaxed, and she smiled at him.
"You're amazing, you know that?"
She took the paper and the picture back and replaced them in her bag.
"I don't know if Jesse would want to know that his mater had a daughter with a human. I don't even know how that's possible. If she's his mater, at the very least she's as old as he is, probably older. So how could she be my mother? What is she? And what..."
She shook her head.
"What is the connection to all this? What did Jesse's filius know? Who wanted this book with its contents back so bad that they'd kill Drecks? There's just so many questions, and I'm barely scratching the surface."
She searched his face.
"Do you have any idea what would happen if any cruenti found out that I was the daughter of Jesse's mater?"
Will frowned, shaking his head.
"I have a few ideas, but none of them are good."
"But for now, there isn't much we can do. I'll see if I can get Cei to arrange a meeting with Jesse; she gets along with him better. In the meantime, we just have to wait and let things happen as they will..."
Will paused, coming to a sudden realization.
"You know, I have absolutely no idea what you ordered for me."
Evey laughed. That's what he was worried about? Forget the fact that the mater of the oldest and post powerful vampire was her mother, he wanted to know what she ordered for him! She laughed until tears came to her eyes, enjoying every moment of the release of tension. When she finally calmed down, she grinned at him.
"I ordered you steak raviolis with tortellini. And a bottle of red wine."
Will raised his eyebrows, chuckling because he'd made her laugh.
"Good thing I got my paycheck then. Sounds fancy."
"It's actually not that expensive here. One of the reasons the place is so popular. But I'm a regular so I get special treatment."
She motioned to the door where there was a crowd gathered.
"I get seated right away, and I don't have to wait."
She didn't mention that they probably got their table all the faster because the host had seen her with Will and rushed to tell Rodrigo and Vicente that she had a date. She'd never brought a date before.
"My order was simple. I just wanted to impress you."
She smiled at him.
"I see," he said, smiling from ear to ear. "So who's taking who on a date then?"
Will's grin faltered.
"Let's try to enjoy the rest of the evening, okay? Tomorrow's another day."
Evey smiled at him and let her fingers intertwine with his.
"Thank you, Will."
She gave him a lopsided grin. She had thought for sure that would scare him away if anything did. Apparently not. Her heart did a little flipflop.
Rodrigo arrived with the wine, complimented Evey's appearance as he served and then said to Will, "You are a very lucky man. Our Evey has never come here with a man before tonight. So," he poured Will's glass. "The wine is complimentary today."
"Wow, how nice," Will said, surprised. "Thanks. I'd like to hope I'm lucky to be with her. She's the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time."
He turned back to Evey, giving her a wink. Evey blushed bright red. That was an unexpected compliment. Rodrigo chuckled and left the bottle.
He gave them a wink.
"The wine is compliments of Vicente, the owner. He'll be out shortly to see you."
He left with a chuckle. Evey, still flushed, said, "Thank you, Will."
"None needed. Your smile is thanks enough."
He lifted his glass to her.
Evey, still smiling, lifted her glass.
"A toast to what?"
He thought for a moment.
"How about the beginning of a fine relationship?"
Evey's heart pounded. She tipped her glass toward his, her smile bright. God, how had she gotten so lucky?
"To the beginning of a fine relationship," she said softly. They each took a sip of their wine, filled with the happiness that they were officially together. Will set his glass down, looking at Evey intently from across the table.
"So, what shall we talk about now that we've gotten the painful stuff out of the way?"
Evey chuckled and took another sip before putting down her glass.
"I don't know. Maybe we should try to get to know each other better. Talk about ourselves, likes and dislikes and all that?"
"Hm, well, alright," Will agreed. "Want to go first? I don't know where to begin..."
"Actually, neither do I. Maybe we should ask each other questions?"
"Sounds like a plan. So... what's your favorite holiday?"
"Fourth of July. I love a good BBQ."
"I think my favorite would have to be New Year's Eve," he decided. "The end of one story, but the beginning of another. Now it's your turn to ask a question."
Evey pursed her lips, then she smiled.
"Do you dance?"
Will looked a little confused, raising one eyebrow as he was thinking over the question.
"Do you mean like ballroom dancing, or some other kind you have to take lessons to learn, or just kind of jumping out onto the dance floor and moving around?"
"Any of the above. Do you dance anything specific or do just get on the dance floor and move around? Do you even like to?"
Rodrigo came then, beaming, and put down both plates. He gave Evey a wink before he left, making her flush. She didn't expect to be blushing this much. Will took a moment to try his meal before answering.
"Wow, this is great! Oh, and as far as the dancing goes, the most I've ever done was on a DDR machine, if that counts. Although my parents made Jon and me take an acro-dance class when we were kids."
He gestured towards Evey with his fork.
Evey lifted a shoulder as she tried her spicy alfredo.
"I can dance salsa, and a few other Spanish types, but I've always wanted to learn ballroom dancing. Just... kind of hard to find time for that. It's just something I never have time to do, but I wish I did."
She stabbed a piece of chicken.
"I'm glad you like your food."
"Give me a minute."
He ate some more of his meal, trying to come up with a decent question.
"When's your birthday?"
Evey blinked. Wow. Somehow they'd missed that one, hadn't they? She smiled.
"December 11th. Yours?"
Will bit the corner of his lip.
"You have got to be kidding! That must've been a surprise! How did you guys do birthdays? How old are you now?"
He blushed, poking at a tortellini while he gave a soft laugh.
"Technically, I've lived for twenty seven years, but I've only had six birthdays. We would usually just celebrate on the 28th, except for on leap years, of course."
Will finally forked the pasta and popped it in his mouth.
"So, despite the taboo of asking, how old are you?"
"Twenty five. Cross the quarter of a century line. It sounds like not so much, but it certainly feels like a lot. Does it feel that way to you sometimes? Especially with what you do for a living?"
She wrapped some more fettuccini around her fork and ate it neatly as she watched his face.
"Nah," Will said, shaking his head. "I always feel younger when I'm working, especially when they older ones talk down to me. It's annoying, but I'm not about to argue. Working at the diner, however, is another story entirely, especially when some of the teenagers come in."
"I guess that can be thought of as lucky or not so lucky. I just... Sometimes with everything I can sense and everything that goes on in my life, I just feel so much older sometimes."
She looked down at her food, and shoved a little pasta around before wrapping some more around her fork.
"I've been seeing and sensing things since I was a child. To be honest, I think my childhood ended when I was six."
Will nodded slowly, and he put down the forkful of food he was about to eat.
"I know how that is... I was twelve when my parents died."
Evey felt the empathy and sympathy surge through her. Her fingers tentatively touched his as she put her own fork down.
"My mother left when I was six. For years I thought it was my fault she left us. My dad was a wreck. That same year was when I began to be aware of the... things around me. Sensing their auras and such. I was terrified for a good long while. The only thing that made me feel safe was practicing my TK. It made me feel like I was in some kind of control, like I could protect myself from them, despite how scared I was. Knowing what I know now about my mother... well, to be honest I'm surprised my father wasn't... addicted to my mother. I think he just loved her. I don't think he ever knew what she was. I kept my abilities a secret too. Now that I think about it, Mama was the only one who knew about them. She actually taught me how to use them when I was five and told me to keep my powers hidden. After that she left."
She shook her head.
"It's not the same as losing parents. I'm so sorry for your loss, Will," she whispered. He nodded silently, setting his fork down to get a drink.
"It was long ago," he sighed. "I've learned to cope with it by now."
Will tapped his finger on the edge of the glass.
"So... who's turn is it to ask a question now? Yours or mine?"
Despite his attempt to go back to a different subject, he sounded much less cheerful than before. Evey bit her lip, wondering how to get the conversation lighter again. She took a sip of her wine and then smiled.
"What's your funniest drunk story?"
She grinned at him. He smiled a little, looking up at her.
"You mean when I was drunk or when someone else was? Or does it matter?"
"Either. Both," she shrugged. "If you've got a good one, I want to hear it. And if you've got a good one of someone else, I want to hear that too."
She grinned at him and took another sip. This elicited a wider smile, and even a soft laugh from him, and he took another sip of his drink.
"Well, apparently I'm not a very interesting drunk; I usually just fall asleep. Jon, however, is hilarious when he's smashed. One time, some of his friends managed to convince him to reenact various scenes from Phantom of the Opera in the middle of the bar, complete with musical accompaniment."
"Really? Which was your favorite of his musical performance?"
"Point of No Return. He was serenading the bartender, much to her chagrin."
Will returned to his meal, finishing off what was left of it.
"What about you?" he asked. "Anything entertaining happen to you when alcohol was involved?"
Evey grinned. Point of No Return. She wondered if she could convince Will to serenade that to her one of these days. Maybe eventually.
"Well, TK comes so naturally to me that I do it even when I'm drunk. Which means, I'm not really the funny one when I'm drunk, I'm the one making fun of everyone else."
Evey rolled her eyes.
"I was totally blasted back in college and I managed to convince the entire fraternity party I was crashing it with a couple of classmates that their frat house was haunted with a poltergeist."
It was hard for Will not to snort his wine out of his nose when he heard this.
"That's hilarious... that's just as good as playing the let-me-hold-your-wallet game with drunken roommates. Jon made a good haul with that one."
He looked down at his empty plate.
"So, are we getting dessert?"
"Sure! Besides, Vicente hasn't come by yet to embarrass me."
She gave him a sheepish grin and waved for Rodrigo.
"Dessert menu, please, Rodrigo," she said in Italian. He grinned.
"Dessert, really? He must be making you feel good."
He gave Will a wink and went to get the menus. Evey was a bright shade of red.
Will smirked, watching the waiter leave the table.
"He's doing that just to embarrass you, isn't he?" he asked. "Because I've grown so use to this sort of treatment from Cei..."
"Yeah, but he does mean it too."
She gave him a rueful smile.
"I think. You are the first person I've ever brought here."
Rodrigo returned with the menu.
"Would you like a minute to peruse the menu?"
"Yes, Rodrigo, thank you."
"All right, I'll come right back."
Evey smiled at Will.
"I know what I want already. I'm getting myself the chocolate gelato. Take a good luck and choose wisely. Everything here is good, it just depends on what you like."
"Oohh... You said 'gelato.' I haven't had that since Jon and I were out in Vegas at the Venetian. Do they have pistachio here?"
Will reached to take the menu so he could get a good look at everything that was available. Evey nodded.
"Of course they have pistachio. They've also got some delicious tiramisu. Marron glace too. So nice. Take your pick."
She grinned and finished off the last of her wine. She would pour herself more after dessert. He folded the menu shut, smiling as he slid it to the edge of the table.
"I'll go ahead and get the gelato. The last time I had it, it was delicious; I can only imagine how it tastes here."
As if psychic, Rodrigo appeared and took their order. He asked if they wanted an espresso or cappuccino with their gelato. Evey ordered the former. She smiled at Will.
"Do you want any?"
"Sure," he said. "Haven't had a good one of those in a long time either."
"Cappuccino or espresso?" she asked with a smile.
"Either: pick for me."
Evey rolled her eyes and ordered him the cappuccino. When Rodrigo left, she poured herself another glass of wine and looked at Will over the rim.
"I have a confession to make," she said softly. Will stopped pouring wine into his own glass to look at her, eyebrows raised in curiosity.
"Oh? Shall I be your priest, then?"
Evey smiled, but it faded again.
"I, uh, went to look for the Russian by myself. I got his address from Cei, I was feeling antsy after lunch so... I didn't wait."
She took a sip.
He took a deep breath, setting the bottle back down on the table.
"So long as you're alright, and your friend Graham doesn't find out I wasn't there. I have a feeling he would be a tad bit upset that I already 'broke' my promise, so to speak."
"I'm sorry. I figured it was broad daylight and it would be safe. I took extra precautions." She gave him a helpless look and lifted her hands. "I'm used to being on my own, fighting my own battles. To be honest, despite what Graham had said, I doubted this was about me. Maybe about Cei, but not about me. I was just doing the investigations."
She lifted her glass again and took another sip.
"After I checked on Cheslavich, I reported to Jared. He's sending me the money for finding him. Cheslavich mentioned a cruentus named Julian Kent. The Russian is part of his 'herd'."
Evey wrinkled her nose.
"Apparently, Mr. Kent works for every elder. I was going to ask you and Cei about him. I also thought, since you knew Jesse, we could ask him about Mr. Kent. I asked Jared about him when I reported my findings, but he didn't know anything. I mentioned Jesse Taylor, and he's the one who told me about Luke."
She shook her head.
"I found Luke's drawing of my mother..."
Her hands clenched together.
"...In Mr. Drecks's book, like I told you."
"Yes, I remember that. I've never heard of a cruentus named Julian Kent before, although Cei has mentioned a friend of hers many times that she calls Ju. That could be him."
"Wouldn't surprise me. We can talk to her about him, see what information she can give. I don't know if you're up for some digging tonight after dinner. Going to Jesse's bar and talking to him?"
She chewed on her bottom lip. Will didn't look particularly keen on the idea and frowned.
"I suppose so. He'll be in a better mood at his bar, at least, though I'm not exactly popular there. I'm tolerated only because most of the cruenti there think I'm thrall to Cei."
Evey arched an eyebrow, but shook her head.
"We don't have to go. It was just a thought."
"I can't help but be curious about him now. Find out what I can about... Mother."
She shook her head again, brushing off the subject.
"Better not to talk about it."
Will shifted in his seat.
"Let's just enjoy the rest of the night. You should probably meet with this Julian Kent first. He might be able to give you information that'll be useful to, and if he's the same person Cei talks about, he'll give you less trouble than Jesse."
Evey nodded and the dessert came. Vicente brought it out and paused for a little while to chat to Evey and ask her a fast twenty questions in Italian about Will. When he was gone, she relayed the information to him as they ate their gelato, laughing about Vicente's questions and how pleased he'd been with her answers.
After they finished their dessert, they finished the wine, and paid the tab. Evey drove Will back to her place, served them both some coffee, and then grabbed him by the hem of his pants, dragging him to her bedroom.
For the first time in a long while, Evey didn't think about work, and slept most of the night in dreamless sleep. Both of them woke a few times in the night to enjoy each other some more. In the morning, Evey jumped him again, they showered (having way too much fun with the soap and each other), and she cooked for him.
She was sorry when they had to leave to get to work. Evey gave him a long, hard kiss before he rode off, and then went to work herself. After checking in, Jezz commenting on her blissful state and Evey being happily vague about the reasons why, she left to Cei's. It was still early, Cei might not be asleep yet. She wanted to talk to her about Julian Kent.
Within an hour after leaving Will, Evey was at Cei's door, ringing the bell. She could've picked the lock again, but it was broad daylight, and she doubted Cei would appreciate it. She smiled.
The door cracked thinly open, and Cei hid behind it to avoid contact with the sunlight.
"Evey..." she said with a yawn. "The front of my apartment faces unfortunately East. I was just about to crawl into bed..."
"Sorry, Cei," she said quickly and slid in, opening the door as little as possible. She locked it back up before facing Cei. "I needed to talk to you... about a couple of things."
The cruenta nodded wearily, gesturing for Evey to follow her.
"In my room, if you don't mind. There are no windows there and I can finish preparing for bed. Try to make it brief, if you would. I was up early yesterday too."
"I know," Evey winced, and hurried up after Cei. She decided to forgo telling Cei a great deal about what she'd discovered. It would have to be later.
"After you sleep, could you meet me after work? I need you to come with me to Jesse Taylor's bar. Don't ask why, I'll explain later. That situation isn't brief."
Once in the room, she updated Cei on the address she'd given her, and what Kostenka had said.
"Is Julian Kent the one who told you where Cheslavich was?"
Cei listened quietly to everything, nodding every now and then to let Evey know she was listening. When she asked about Julian, the vampire yawned again.
"Yes, he told me you could use the information..."
Her head dropped briefly before she jolted up, trying to stay awake.
"Need his address?"
"Cheslavich gave it to me. As long as you think he's safe, I don't mind paying him a visit and asking him a couple of questions. I'll just say you sent me, if that's all right. Can you come with me later tonight? To the bar?"
"Sure, sure," Cei said as she rested her head on her pillow. "Ju will know you're there when you get there. Call me a couple hours after sundown and we'll go to the Ally Kat..."
She was already drifting to sleep.
"I need to deliver another shipment to Jesse anyway..."
Evey didn't ask, but she figured she would find out. She shrugged and left, going out the back way. Just to make sure, since Cei was already out, she locked the door from outside.
She'd learned to keep things inside as well as outside. Especially in a pinch. Evey got back in her car and headed toward the address KC had given her. She just hoped Julian Kent wasn't napping now as well. If he was then she was going to find herself at a dead end very soon.
She was going to have to change her hours. Working during the day while cruenti slept wasn't going to do her much good when she needed to question them.
She arrived at the address, which turned out to be a burnt out warehouse within walking distance of Kostenka's basement hideaway. A single street-side door was the only easy entrance; there were no alleys on either side of the building.
Evey parked in a location where her car wouldn't be noticeable from the street. It was a block down, but it was safe. She made sure to stick to the early morning shadows, and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible as she walked to the door.
She knocked and hoped what Cei had said was right.
"The door is unlocked, Miss Grant," drawled a mellow voice with a thick Londoner's accent. "Please, close it behind you and don't touch anything. I am at my desk. You'll see it from the doorway."
It was a little worrisome, but Evey was kind of used to this. However, she preferred to be the one freaking out cruenti with her knowledge of them. But he didn't know anything about her, nor would he. She put the barriers up in her mind, protecting them from any invasion.
She opened the door, and closed it behind her. She saw the desk and the man sitting at it. She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her overcoat and walked toward him. He told her not to touch anything, but that didn't mean she couldn't look. She analyzed every corner of the room, committing it to memory.
Dominating most of the warehouse floor space were rows upon rows of bookshelves, all filled with books of various sizes and widths. What (if anything) was beyond those shelves was too distant to see from the doorway, but there was a living space off to the left that looked comfortable enough. The sofa was lined with three throw pillows, each neatly placed in the center of each seat; adjacent to either side were armchairs with similar pillows. A glass coffee table, clear of any debris, was centered between the furniture. Just beyond this area was the desk, one wide enough to support several monitors, towers, and keyboards, along with a few printers, a scanner, and what looked from this angle like a digital camera docking port. In front of the flickering light of the many screens sat a young man, typing furiously away. He didn't even look up at Evey.
"You have questions for me, Miss Grant," he said, continuing to type. "About Kostenka, for one. I can only assume that you have more than just that."
He swiveled in his chair to face her. He certainly fit the description the Russian had given Evey: bone straight brown hair (though it stuck out at a few odd angles here and there) and round glasses. She could see now that he had been mistaken only on one point; Julian's eyes were deep violet, not blue.
"Yes. I wanted to know what you knew about his situation. His psychologist believes he may not be too far off in the idea that death is specifically after him."
Short and sweet. Cei may trust this man, but she had no reason to yet. Julian's expression never changed, his lips together in a barely noticeable frown.
"He's right: Cheron is after Kostenka, as he has been avoiding his own death. Not to mention, the angel has made an effort to make sure those under its domain to kill are acquainted with your demon friend, so that it may find Zuriel."
He drew a breath, looking back at his screens, not even waiting for her response.
"Who is Zuriel?"
The rest she got: KC was avoiding his death, all of those that Cheron wants to kill from what she gathered he makes sure they meet with Jared. Julian turned back to her.
"That's right; I forgot that he hadn't told you his real name... or at least the one mortals knew him by. Zuriel is Jared's real name."
This time, he didn't turn away.
"What other questions do you have?"
"Why is Cheron hunting Zuriel?"
Evey wasn't fazed. She actually preferred this. Direct, no hiding, blunt and to the point. She didn't question how he knew so much information. She could deduce that on her own. The cruentus's eyes moved to one side, as if searching for something in his mind, but he soon looked back at Evey and shook his head.
"I do not know. That much Cheron keeps to itself. It gets letters and possibly commands from a source other than its Higher Power, but it never reads these secret messages aloud."
Now that... was weird.
"Well, I can take a gander. Does Zuriel know that Cheron is after him?"
Because if he didn't, he was going to find out real quick.
"Yes," he confirmed. "But as to Cheron's motives... he only believes it is because they are rivals of one another, not that there could be another reason."
Julian rose from his seat.
"You drink coffee; dark with a lot of sugar. Shall I make us some?"
Evey arched an eyebrow. There was no way he could read that in her mind. Not only was she completely blocked, but she hadn't felt a twinge of pressure.
"Sure..." she looked at him warily. Business first, curiosity later.
"But there is another reason, isn't there? What could possibly be giving Cheron orders?"
"I do not know," Julian repeated, motioning for Evey to follow him towards the back where he had a kitchen set up. He walked briskly over to his coffee maker and began preparing the coffee, swiftly, but very precisely. She followed.
"What do you know about Jesse Taylor's brother?"
Julian seemed to be ignoring her as he lined up the can of coffee grinds and the filters about an inch away from the edge of the counter and nearly three inches away from each other. He got out a spoon and leveled the grinds exactly as he scooped them into the filter on top.
"He was an artist."
Evey watched, somewhat amused at how he made his coffee.
"Do you know anything about his death other than what is generally already known?"
"I know a great deal."
Julian placed the spoon perpendicular to the can of coffee grinds, running lengthwise along the edge of the counter. Pulling the filter from its stack, he placed into the machine, making certain that one of the ridges lined up exactly with the power light on the front. He moved to get water for the machine. Evey arched an eyebrow.
"What do you know about his death?"
He stopped working on the coffee to turn and stare at her.
"Tell me," she said, approaching him. The more she had to barter with Jesse Taylor the better. Julian turned away from her and went back to setting up the coffee. He did not answer Evey at all until the machine had started brewing their drinks.
Why had she expected that? She knew it couldn't have been so easy.
"Self-preservation," he told her, getting down two mugs from the cabinet and placing them next to each other, a hand's width apart, the handles facing towards the right. He pulled the sugar bowl towards Evey, placing it just beside one of the mugs.
Good enough, she thought. She nodded, and began to scoop out the sugar with the spoon and into her mug. Was there a connection between Jesse, Luke, her mother, Cheron, Mr. Drecks, Jesse's filius, KC and Jared? Yes. What was the connection? He probably couldn't tell her, but she could guess. The only one that didn't fit...
"What does Roderick Vendel have to do with this?"
"Mr. Vendel was the newly born filius of Jesse Taylor. The unusual circumstances of his murder were meant to frighten Jesse: a warning that he is not as powerful as he thinks."
Julian folded his arms, lifting his chin to look more carefully at Evey through his glasses.
"Your investigation is getting awfully complicated, isn't it? What is it you plan on saying to Mr. Taylor tonight anyway?"
Evey shook her head.
"I'm not sure. I guess I want to establish what he knows, how he feels... see if he's my ally or my enemy."
She leveled her gaze at Julian.
"How do you know so much? I can take some guesses, but I'd rather just know. You're not reading my mind. I'd know it."
Julian bowed his head, lowering his eyes and, for the first time, looking more sad than emotionless.
"I'm not gifted with telepathy, but simple sight. Imagine, for a moment, that every second of every life is being recorded and streamed in real time onto the internet. Now imagine watching all of these events simultaneously, as well as following the events that unfold in your own life before you. I may have precognition up to a few seconds, but for the most part, I see everything as it happens in the present."
"So you don't know what I'm going to do until I do it."
Evey's eyebrows arched.
"I suppose that's technically the best surveillance system one can have. No wonder you're the adviser to every elder here. Has Cei tried to ask you about her pater?"
He nodded, reaching to pour them each some of the freshly brewed coffee, lifting the pot with his left hand.
"She has, and despite our relationship, I dare not tell her what I know."
Evey sighed and stirred the coffee as it poured. Great. Well, he had to play each side safely, she guessed. If not he would've been dead a long time ago. A sudden realization soared through her. Oh, god, he probably knew everything about her too. Just because he'd seen it already. She took a sip and then set the mug down.
"Don't tell anyone what you know about me."
"Or about Graham."
"It would do more harm than good; I won't tell."
He looked down at his coffee.
"I am not yet old enough to fend off the more powerful cruenti in the city, among other disadvantages. My mater still protects me."
Evey arched an eyebrow.
"Who's your mater?"
Julian lifted his coffee mug, taking a sip before he shook his head.
"To name her would put her in danger. No one knows who my mater is except she and myself; to let that information move further than that would risk both her safety and my integrity as an adviser."
"Good enough," Evey said. She really wasn't getting that much information out of him. In fact, all she'd really gotten was Jared's real name, the fact that Cheron was working for someone and that he and was trying to find Jared. Other than that? Julian had a wealth of information she wasn't privy to. She took another sip and put down the mug.
"Well, I guess that's all. I don't think you can tell me much else without breaching someone else's contract, and I won't tell you what I know, because a) you probably already do, or b) if you don't know, then the better chance I have of no one else finding out."
Evey cracked her neck.
"Thanks for your help, I guess. At the very least, I can break the ice with Jesse better."
She paused and looked at Julian.
"Does anyone else see what you see?"
He looked to the side again, trying to find the answer.
"As far as I know, my gift is unique, but it may be possible for those of my vampiric bloodline to tap into my knowledge, if old enough. It's never happened, so I don't know."
Julian pushed his glasses up, looking back up at Evey.
"If it isn't too much trouble for you, I need someone to go with me on some errands. It is safest for me to go in the daytime, but recent events have me worried."
Evey could imagine.
"All right. I do have a couple more questions for you. So I don't mind driving you around so you can get things done."
"Thank you," Julian said politely, giving her a thin smile. "I will answer as many questions as I can for you. My mater would be grateful."
Evey didn't quite know how to take that.
"Well, here's question one. Is there anything going on right now that you think I should know without endangering yourself?"
Again, Julian paused to think about her question carefully, then nodded.
"Because of your association with Cei, you will be one of her pater's targets. He is trying to get her back under his control, and everyone acquainted with her is at risk. Even the Keattings."
"Peachy. I'm not surprised really. I expected that much."
And she doubted there was anyone who could protect them. She had a sinking feeling that Jesse wasn't as old, and her mother was working with him.
Not good, any of it.
Julian finished cleaning up the counter, carefully placing everything back to where it had originally been. He then turned to Evey, as if waiting for her to tell him what to do next.
"Where do you need to go?" Evey asked, turning around and heading to the door. This was awkward. She racked her brain with how to phrase the next question. She didn't want to reveal too much about herself, and there wasn't much he could reveal about anyone was there?
How to go about this?
"A bookstore," he told her, his expression abruptly brightening into a smile. "And a tailor's shop. I need new clothes... I should probably visit the grocer as well. I may not need to consume food, but I do enjoy it."
Evey gave him a small smile, arching an eyebrow.
"Sure. I don't have a problem with that. Just... keep me posted if anything vile that I can't sense happens to be around."
Like an angel disguising its presence. Julian bowed his head in a gentle nod.
"I will do my best."
Evey shook her head and left, letting him follow and lock up. She took him to her car and once on the road, she asked.
"So where to first?"
"I don't know."
His expression slowly shifted back towards his original demeanor.
"I... don't often leave my home. I don't know where anything is."
"Bookstore it is."
Evey drove him across town to a little antique and used bookstore that she enjoyed that had a coffeeshop. It was a mom and pop place, nice, cozy and full of the books you really can't find anywhere else.
It's like they collect them.
She came here first when she was looking for Drecks's book. After all, this was where he bought it. The really rare books were in the back.
Evey showed Julian in to Menina Books and Cafe.
"Feel free to look around."
She waved at Miguel and Jasmine behind the counter. She headed straight for the coffeeshop and Jasmine's wide grin. Julian stood in place for a few minutes, looking around the store with his eyes widened in the slightest awe. Then, as if he knew where he was, he walked straight towards one section of the store and immediately began pulling out books.
"Who's your friend?" Jasmine asked plopping down beside Evey with her usual coffee.
"To be honest, just a friend of a friend who needed to run some errands. He doesn't have a car and is a bit on the jittery side, so I offered."
"That's a bit of an odd favor while you're on the clock."
"Shhhh... I'm also investigating."
She winked playfully.
"Don't tell Davidson."
Evey drank her coffee quietly after Jasmine left, running through her head all the things she could ask him that could help her. Almost everything she thought up, he would probably not be able to tell her, and most of it she could take logical assumptions. His confirmation would be all that she'd need. But he wouldn't give her that either, she bet.
Julian quietly brought the books he wanted over to the register, carrying nine of them in his arms. He set them down on the counter, stacked in size order.
Miguel blinked in surprise and grinned as Evey approached beside Julian.
"Bring more of your friends, Evita. They're good customers."
He charged Julian for the books and gave him a 15% discount.
"Happy?" Evey asked, smiling. Julian nodded, pulling a crisp hundred dollar bill out of his wallet to pay for the books.
"Thank you," he said softly, not looking at Miguel as he handed him the cash.
"No problem," Miguel said, and returned the change. Evey gave Miguel a shrug and helping Julian with the books, gave the pair a wave and went back to her car. Once inside, she put the car into gear and had to figure out where the hell was a... tailor. She didn't think he wanted a clothing store. If he had, he would've said so, she assumed.
"So uh, where is this tailor of yours?"
She wanted to ask about the books, but figured she could later. Julian shifted in his seat.
"I'm sorry, but truly I don't know. Cei occasionally brings me more modern clothing, but I'm not sure of the name. I think it was French... someone named... Walmarte, I believe?"
"Okay, not a tailor."
"It's a store that sells clothes. I'll take you over there now."
She made a left at the light and headed toward the Wal-mart.
"What books did you get? You definitely stock piled there."
He looked at the stack of books he had gathered together.
"A couple of history texts, some foreign language dictionaries, a cookbook, and several tomes on cruenti that I need to translate into a more legible dialect. It keeps my mind focused when I have things to work on."
She pulled into the Wal-mart a few minutes later.
"Stay close, okay? There's a lot of people here. We can get you clothes and food here."
She grabbed a cart and motioned for him to follow. He held onto the side of the cart like it was the only way he would lose her and kept his eyes to the floor. Far from being curious, Julian seemed frightened by the enormous indoor market. It was no wonder Cei had to bring him clothing.
Evey made it quick. She grabbed some clothes that were his size, she measured him up pretty well, a couple of shoes, and then took him to the food section. It took her a bit to get everything out of him, he was so intimidated by everyone, but within an hour (the shortest amount of time she'd ever taken at a Wal-mart), she was in the line with him, waiting to pay.
Julian quickly shook his head.
"There are a lot of people here..."
"Yes, well, it's a store that sells pretty much everything and is open 24 hours. It's very popular and the prices are good. Next time, just stick to the Mom and Pop places. I only took you here, because this is where Cei bought you clothes. Sorry, I should've thought about it more."
She gave him a sheepish, half-hearted smile of apology.
"I didn't know it was like this," he admitted. "I will try to find another place to go when I must find clothes again."
He fished out his wallet to give Evey the cash to pay for the goods, not making eye contact with the cashier. The cashier eyed him strangely and Evey shrugged as she paid.
The girl looked at her blankly, shrugged and took the money. Evey quickly took Julian back to the car, got him situated, put all their merchandise in her trunk and started the trek back to his place.
"Anywhere else you want to go?"
"No, thank you. I greatly appreciate your help. Are there any other questions you have? I will do my best to answer them."
He fidgeted with his glasses.
"Cei says I need to learn to get out of my warehouse more. I won't always have allies who can help me get the things I need."
Evey was quiet for a moment.
"Any advice on how to break the ice with Jesse Taylor?" she asked. Jullian thought about her question as she drove them back towards his home.
"Don't mention your acquaintance with the Keattings right away, and certainly not your relationship with William. Talk about the theater; he loves Jekyll and Hyde."
Evey arched her eyebrows.
So much for asking William to come with her. Not good. Well, she didn't want to upset him again, so this time she won't tell him about her rendezvous alone like she did yesterday.
"I like Jekyll and Hyde myself, so that shouldn't be a problem."
She wondered how much she should tell him about herself. He was... kind of her brother. She shook her head.
"Cei's premonition... her pater and my mother are working together, aren't they?"
Julian nodded, turning to face her.
"At least he thinks so. From what I have seen, he believes it a boon to be working with her, whereas she sees it as an unfortunately necessary step towards reaching her goals. She's very clever, however, and never speaks about the specifics."
She wished she knew why the mother she remembered would work with such an evil man. Her goals must not be good if he can help her... It hurt Evey, more than anyone knew.
Suddenly she had another thought.
"Were Jesse and Lucius twins?"
They pulled up to the warehouse. Julian sighed as he began to exit the car.
"I heard Cei's prophecy too," he told her. "And I know why you ask. They were twins, yes. Identical except for personality, and Luke wore his hair short. Jesse won't admit it, but he's terrified that whoever killed his twin will come after him. It shows in his behavior."
Evey's eyes widened. Suddenly the rest of Cei's prophecy made sense. The brothers, her mother... Gods, were they after her and Cei? Would they try to do to Jesse what they did to Lucius and if he refused end up the same way?
"Jesse has good reason, doesn't he?"
"Exceptionally good reason."
Julian gathered his things and started towards his door, stopping suddenly to turn towards Evey again.
"Is there any way I can contact you if I find more information I can give you?"
Evey took out her business card and gave it to him.
"It has my cell on it. Call me there and not the office. My boss knows better than to pry into my investigations as I bring him more money than he does."
She grinned. But then, she had stranger and more problematic connections.
"Thanks for everything, Julian."
"Please," he corrected, taking the card in his fingers while he juggled all of his purchases. "Call me Ju."
"Okay. Do you need help taking all of those in?"
Having become more open toward her, he smiled bashfully.
"If it isn't too much trouble for you."
Evey shook her head. She took the car around, parked in the same area about two blocks down, and helped Julian carry his purchases back to his warehouse. Once she finished helping him situate everything, she smiled at him, sticking her hands in her pockets.
"Well, that's a wrap. You okay for now?"
Julian's smile widened immensely, giving him a near child-like look.
"Yes, thank you very much. Remember, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to visit again."
"If I have any questions you can answer without getting yourself in trouble. Sure. Right now I have a million, but they're all stuff you probably couldn't share anyway."
She gave him a wave as she headed to the door.
"Thanks, Ju. Take care. I'll call you if I need anything, oh, and take good care of KC. Jared will be happy to know that he's in good hands."
Ju bowed his head, giving her a polite farewell before she left. The day was still early, and there was plenty of time before Evey would need to meet with Jesse. With his age, he had to be a noctis and would likely be even grumpier than Cei if he was disturbed during the day.
Evey headed back to the office, and decided to go to the diner for lunch. This time, she did bring Jezz who was practically bouncing with eagerness to meet Will.
When she saw him, she felt her face heat. Memories of the previous night warmed her. She was going to be busy tonight, but she hoped he got a chance to stay over her place again soon.
"Why, hello again," Will greeted with an enthusiastic smile. "New guest today, huh?"
"Jezz, this is Will. Will, Jezz. She works with me at the agency. A detective in training."
Jezz blushed and shrugged.
"I'm more like a secretary really. Evey just likes to say she's training me to be a detective."
"You've got good skills. I'm sure you can do it."
Jezz flushed again. Evey turned back to Will and smiled.
"I'll have the same thing as yesterday, please," she said softly.
"Could I have a menu?" Jezz asked. She looked from Will to Evey.
"You two are a really cute couple!"
Will rubbed the back of his head, biting his lip a little as he went to get Jezz a menu. When he returned, he rolled his eyes.
"Sorry if I can't be really sociable today. The manager is a bit agitated, especially about my long break last time. He says I'm in trouble if I 'get distracted' again."
"Sorry! I didn't mean to get you in trouble. I promise, I'll try not to distract you much."
Jezz watched them with a smile and then looked at her menu.
"I'll have the Cajun Burger. Extra spicy. And a Sprite."
Will jotted this down, giving Evey an understanding smile.
"It's not your fault he's in a bad mood. Things have been rough for the boss lately; his wife is in the hospital and hasn't been doing well."
"Oh, that's awful. I'm sorry. Tell him that I hope she gets better."
Evey gave Will a smile.
"Don't dawdle for us, okay? I'll hound you a bit more later."
Jezz giggled. Will nodded with a small laugh as he headed back towards the kitchen. He'd only begin gone a couple of minutes when Evey's cell phone rang. Evey blinked and then took it out of her bag and flipped it open.
"Hello?" she said, giving Jezz a motion of excuse.
"Cheron's human guise is male."
It was Ju.
"It goes by the name Lemuel Malone."
In an instant, Evey had a pen and pad out and scribbled the name quickly down.
"Thanks, Ju. Did something happen?"
"Yes, but fortunately the angel does not have the same sight as Cei. There was a fire at your office."
Evey coughed on her own intake of breath.
"Oh, my god!"
She stood up and rushed out of the diner, going outside, looking in the direction of the office. Jezz was startled and in a moment of indecision, followed her.
"Christ, Ju, was he after me, Jezz, Davidson or did he just want to destroy my files?"
It was a good thing she had everything backed up on a thumb drive and the most important materials she carried with her. Like the book, the paper, and Jesse's file.
"I don't know what its motive was," the cruenti explained. "But your boss was taken to the hospital to recuperate from inhaling too much smoke."
She looked over to the shocked Jezz, seeing the smoke rising. She looked at Evey.
"That's our office, isn't it?"
"Oh my god. Someone wants us dead."
She shook her head.
"No, Jezz. Someone wants me dead."
Jezz looked at her horrified. Evey returned her attention to the phone.
"Thanks for the heads up, Ju. I figure I'm going to get a visit from Graham soon."
She had plenty to tell him. The arsonist wasn't someone he could arrest or kill, even if she did have his name.
"He's on his way to your office now. You may want to go back and tell William why you're leaving the diner before you disappear."
"Dammit. I'll call you back, Ju."
Evey clicked the phone shut.
"Stay here, Jezz, we have to go back to the office."
She hurried back inside, and didn't bother to wait for Will to appear. She headed toward the back, ignoring the startled look of others and went straight to Will.
"They just burned down my office. Davidson is on his way to the hospital. I have to go. Maybe I can find out what they wanted, if it was something other than trying to kill me. I'll try to be back."
She leaned up and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
"Whoa, wait, what?" he asked when she pulled away. "Who just burned down your office? When?"
"You know the other night during that car accident? Remember what Jared said about the cause of the accident? Yeah, well, apparently he tried to cause more deaths today. Specifically mine, I'm sure."
She pointed outside and toward her office.
"Just now apparently. There's smoke in the air. I'm going to head over there so Graham doesn't have a heart attack."
Will stared speechless, shocked by this sudden news. After a moment, he simply nodded.
"Just be careful and update me on what you find."
Warmth spread through Evey. She smiled and gave him another quick kiss.
"Don't worry. I won't let anything kill me without a fight."
"If all else fails I'll pull my trump card."
She gave him a wink and then hurried out. She met Jezz outside.
"Sorry about lunch."
"No worries, Evey. I want to make sure Davidson's okay."
They hurried back to the office, and saw the ambulance as it passed by. Evey pulled in, looking around at the swarming cops. Graham turned he smelled her the moment she exited the car and headed toward her.
"Evey, thank god you weren't in there."
She shook her head.
"I was having lunch."
She looked up to Graham. Jezz hadn't gotten out of the car. Probably better that way.
"They were after me."
Graham's lips thinned.
"After what we discussed last time. Probably."
"I have an idea who did it. Same person who caused the accident the other day."
He took her elbow and pulled her aside, away from prying ears and eyes.
"There's no way it's your time to die."
"He's on someone's payroll, Graham. And I have a good idea who."
She gave him a sharp glance.
"Okay," he said and rolled his eyes. "The moment we get some privacy. Once this hallavaloo clears out. Do you have any new information?"
"Yeah, the everyday name of our arsonist," she said.
He just stared at her. He shook his head.
"Why the HELL haven't you become a cop yet, V?"
He looked about ready to throttle her.
"Look, we'll discuss this all later. Now... well, truth be told I'm not feeling really safe."
She looked into the car at the trembling Jezz.
"I have a place where I can stick Jezz that could probably keep her safe, but that means threatening a little exposure."
"No, not the obvious places. A not so obvious one. But me? I don't know where to stick me. I'm in danger no matter where I am, and I'm probably a danger to everyone else."
She looked at the smoking building.
"I was to Davidson. He was a lech, but he gave me a job."
"You're planning on going somewhere, aren't you?"
"I have a meeting tonight to meet someone with a friend."
It was so vague he wanted to strangle her, but he knew that she was keeping it roundabout in case anyone was listening to them. Unlikely with all the noise, but one never knew with what they were dealing with.
"I'm coming with you."
She shook her head.
"I wouldn't recommend that, but I can meet up with you first and then meet up with you after. But you can't come with, Graham. You have enough on your plate."
"Hey, we're in this together, partner."
Evey turned a smile on him.
"Thanks, Graham. I'll call you later and give you all the new details. Till then stay out of trouble and don't trust anyone!"
He rolled his eyes.
"That's my line."
She grinned and got back into the car. He waved her off. When another officer came to ask him questions about Evey, he gave him a growl.
"I'm working that angle that just drove away. Let me handle it."
Evey drove Jezz over to Julian's. She really didn't have anywhere else to take her. It was the safest place she could think of.
"Where are we going?" Jezz asked as Evey parked a couple blocks down in a shadowy area.
"A safehouse. The office is down, you need a place to stay, and it's too dangerous. Whomever is out to get me will probably try hunting you too, Jezz. I need you with the best surveillance man on the planet."