Frozen Desires (Asylums for Magical Threats 2) - Page 38

Marco raised his eyebrows in question, so she leaned over and let him listen in to her conversation.

Richard said, “I have ways around that. You’re not as invincible as you think you are, Mel.”

“Get to the point, Richard.”

“No bullshit—one of the things I loved about you. I have a job for you, and if you do what I ask, then your friends will live. Otherwise, you know I can make their pain last for days before I kill them.”

“I’m not going to do anything until I hear from Zalika or Jacek. Actually, I’m a little insulted you think I would just march to your orders without proof of life.”

Richard snorted through the line. “I’d heard you’d gone soft and complacent. Good to know the rumor isn’t true.”

Soft indeed. “Cut the bullshit back and forth. Either prove you have my friends, or fuck off.”

Marco patted her hip to cheer her on, and she gave a ‘cut it out’ motion with her hand.

There was some noise on the other end of the phone line before she heard Richard’s voice again. This time it was as if he was holding the phone away from his head. “If I press much deeper, he’ll start to bleed out. Let Cam know you’re here.”

Silence. She knew her friends were loyal, but even when someone held a knife to Jacek, the pair kept silent.

Cam needed to help them.

She said, “Put me on speaker phone, Richard.”

“Okay, you’re on speaker phone. Now tell them to be good little soldiers and do as I say.”

What had happened to him? While there was no love lost between them, the man on the other line barely resembled the Richard she’d dated years ago. “Just tell me you’re there so I don’t have to waste any more time talking to my asshole ex-boyfriend.”

A few beats of silence and then Zalika said, “Sorry, Cam. He sent a team to bring us to this boat, and with my injured ankle—”

Zalika was cut off with some scuffling and the sound of a slap. Jacek yelled in the background before Richard came back on the line. “I’ve given you something, and now I want something in return.”

Since reacting to her friend’s pain would be counterproductive, she focused on Zalika’s clue of a boat. That limited their range, unless Richard had already taken them out to sea. She’d investigate that later. “What do you want, Richard?”

“Meet me tomorrow at 10 a.m., just inside the entrance to the Lucas de Galvez Market, at the intersection of Calle 56 and Calle 67. Wait for me next to the first general wares vendor you find inside. And come alone. You don’t want to know what I have in store for you if you disobey me. All that matters is my end goal, and I’ll do whatever it takes to reach it.”

Richard sounded like some poorly written villain, and Cam wondered what had triggered the change from the sharp, cunning man she’d once known. He’d been skilled when they’d been together, but never cruel—at least until she’d tried to flee. “I’m guessing this grand scheme requires my help. I want you to promise to come alone as well, because even if you kill my friends, you’ll still be without my skills if I don’t show.”

“Bargaining with your friends’ lives, are you, Camilla? You never would’ve done so in the past.”

“Yeah, well, we’ve both changed.”

“More than you know. See you tomorrow at 10 a.m.”

The line went dead and Cam powered off her phone.

Goddamn Richard Ekstrom. He’d promised nothing but then again, neither had she. Her best bet was to see if she could convince him to open up to her and find out what had snapped him. While she didn’t look forward to it, she might have to play on his memories of them together to get what she wanted.

At least Zalika had given her something to work with.

She looked at Marco. He squeezed her hip and said, “What do you need me to do?”

Cam blinked. Not only had he offered to help, no questions asked, but he hadn’t tried to take charge—at least not yet. “Well, Zalika mentioned something about a boat. Can you tap your web of contacts and find out if anyone’s seen a tall blond foreigner with accented Spanish boarding a boat in the last ten hours? The boat will probably be as nondescript as possible, ruling out any fancy yachts or expensive sailboats.”

“Of course, but what are you planning to do? Are you going to meet with Ekstrom or not?”

She wanted to tell him her plan, but she couldn’t risk him getting involved. Cam needed to keep a clear head when she faced Richard, and she wasn’t sure she could do that if she had to worry about whether Richard would use Marco against her or not.

Over the last week, Marco had shifted from a playboy nuisance to an intriguing Elemental Water Master. She wasn’t quite sure what her feelings were yet, but Marco was at least a friend, and she wouldn’t put anyone else in danger because of the follies of her youth.

Tags: Jessie Donovan Asylums for Magical Threats Paranormal
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