Tyler wandered into the kitchen, wearing a pair of sweatpants and a sleeveless shirt. From the faint creases on his cheek, he'd just rolled out of bed. Since staying with us the past few weeks, Tyler's schedule of when he was awake and when he slept had drastically altered.
"M'n," he mumbled, though it was after two o'clock in the afternoon. "Want some coffee?"
I drank it with him to be sociable, but I'd never liked the stuff even before Bones's blood became my beverage of choice.
"Not this time. We haven't been to bed since yesterday morning, so we're about to catch a few hours' sleep. Oh, and we have a new guest."
A wide grin slid across his face. "You found another of the women already?"
Tyler had fallen asleep before we got Lisa's information, and instead of waking him when we left, we'd just had my mother come to watch over him and Francine. I grinned back, feeling more lighthearted than I had in a while.
"Her name is Lisa, and she's upstairs with Francine."
Tyler stuck his fist out, and I touched it with mine. "Nice work, kitty cat."
"I didn't do it alone," I protested, but I was pleased by the compliment.
At last, we were making headway. Elisabeth and Fabian were still trying to track Kramer to determine who the final target was, but in the meantime, we didn't have to sit on our hands and watch the days ominously count down on the calendar. Police reports weren't the only way we could search for the last woman. We could check recent burials in pet cemeteries, veterinary offices, animal cremation companies, hell, even county records of rabies vaccinations to help narrow down our list. Somewhere in that mix had to be a trail leading to her.
Upstairs, Dexter let out a half whine, half bark. From somewhere else in the town house, Helsing meowed. Tyler and I both tensed. I yanked some sage from my pants pockets and had it lit before Bones came bursting back into the town house.
"Where is he?" he demanded, holding a handful of burning sage aloft.
"I don't know," I whispered, charging up the stairs to Francine and Lisa's room. God, what if Kramer was in there now, hurting those women after I'd just told them they were finally safe!
"Cat!" a male voice called from outside the town house.
I froze in the act of flinging open their bedroom door. I knew that voice, and while it belonged to a ghost, it wasn't any of the ones I'd expected.
A door's banging open only punctuated the effect of Spade's words. "Cat, your uncle's in the yard."
I muttered an apology to Francine and Lisa for barging into their room and ran back down the stairs almost as fast as I'd climbed up them.
"Charles, wait inside with the women," Bones muttered, brushing by Spade to go outside. I did the same, dropping my sage into the nearest candle on the way out.
Don floated above a set of bushes, rubbing his arms like he was trying to erase something from them. "Can you get that stuff away from me?" he said to Bones, who still held two fistfuls of sage. "It burns. Couldn't even go inside the house because of it."
"How did you get here?" I asked, incredulous. We'd arranged for a vampire to house-sit at our Blue Ridge home in case Don stopped by looking for us, but that was only so he could call us and relay any messages Don had. To my knowledge, the vampire hadn't known we were in Iowa, let alone staying in Sioux City.
"How do you think I got here? By mailing myself?" Don said grumpily. "Now's not the time for your trademark witticisms, Cat-"
"Answer the bloody question," Bones interrupted, still not dropping the sage but not coming any closer to Don, either.
Don huffed out what sounded like an aggravated sigh. "By focusing before I jumped on one of those crazy energy roadways Fabian talked about. It wasn't nearly as easy as he said it would be, by the way. You wouldn't believe the places I ended up before I found you-"
"When did Fabian say this?" Bones demanded. I just stared at my uncle, feeling like my body was filling up with ice.
Don shot Bones an annoyed look. "Would you stop interrupting me? And you know when Fabian said this. You were there."
"You found me without anyone telling you where I was?"
But my borrowed powers from Marie were gone! That had been proven when I failed to raise Remnants, and no other ghosts had randomly found their way to me, not to mention my inability to control a ghost's actions anymore.
"Yes, Cat," Don replied, an edge to his tone. "You told me I could do that after I first died, remember? Now you're shocked that it worked?"
Yeah, I was. Shocked speechless, in fact. Bones turned around and went inside without another word. Once there, I heard him mutter something low to Spade but couldn't make out the exact sentences. Spade left to go back to his town house right after.
My uncle didn't care about what the other vampires were doing. He stared at me, tugging on a nonexistent eyebrow.
"Madigan's fake repentance period is over, and he's implemented a slew of new security measures against guess what? Ghosts. He's duplicated everything you did at the cave, and your old house, smothering the compound in marijuana, garlic, and lit sage, not to mention infrared cameras and recorders. It's prevented me from following him, let alone from speaking to Tate-"
"Can you feel anything special about me right now?" I cut him off, still reeling over the implications of his finding me on his own.
"Is it too much to finish a sentence without someone interrupting me?" Don snapped.
I marched over to him, my shock giving way to dread. "This is important, so answer the question!"
My uncle let out another of those exasperated noises but then ran his hand briefly through my arm.
"You . . . vibrate. I don't know what else to call it. Other people don't do that, whether they're human, vampire, or ghoul." Then Don frowned, running his hand through me again. "But it's softer now. It was much stronger the last time I saw you."
"Sparks but no fire," I whispered, understanding at last.
He frowned. "Come again?"
"Just like before, when my hands sparked, but I'd lost enough of the pyrokinetic power from Vlad's blood to turn those sparks into big streams of flame." I whirled around and began to stride to the door, stopped when I realized Don couldn't follow me, and swung back again. "The other places you ended up when you were trying to find me, was one of them New Orleans?"
His frown deepened. "Yes. I went straight to this large, antebellum-looking house, but I couldn't go inside because it had a barrier around it like this place does."