My eyes swing toward Grey who is looking at him as well.
Riley’s brows knit together as his face drains of color. He stares at the woman behind the counter.
“Rye?” Grey calls with concern.
Riley’s eyes track the perimeter of the space while muscles on his face twitch before his eyes come back to the blonde, then his nostrils flare.
She stares back with a look that has me on edge. Whatever he’s feeling right now that’s causing this reaction, she seems unsurprised about it.
“Hey?” I say as they stare one another down. I then watch Riley’s pupils blow, turning his eyes from green to coal black.
“What. The. Fuck?” he snarls in a guttural tone.
Both Grey and I have gone wired.
I’m pulling scents in, as well as sights; examining the space, trying to determine what’s setting him off. But nothing sticks out to me. Not a thing.
She flips the countertop over to grant us access.
“You know who I am, don’t you?” Riley demands.
“You’re Riley. You had a meeting with my sister, Jess. You get me instead.”
The three of us remain statue-still.
“What’s goin’ on, brother?” Greyson asks.
Riley’s dark eyes scan the place and I note his body is trembling. That’s not fear, that’s fury. A low rumble rolls through the space, coming from Rye’s gut.
“I’m Dani. Come through.” The blonde gestures to the open side of the split counter.
Nobody moves a muscle.
“Rye?” Grey reaches for Riley’s shoulder. Riley’s gaze snaps to Grey and the look in his eyes makes Grey stop inches away.
I speak up. “Do we leave? Or-”
“We’re goin’ through,” he clips, mouth contorting into a snarl, eyes still coal black as he stalks behind the blonde, who isn’t looking remotely concerned or even surprised at Riley’s demeanor.
“What the fuck?” I cuss under my breath.
“I suspect we’re about to find out,” Grey mutters as we follow Riley back through the a-typical dry-cleaning space, past racks of clothes covered in paper, until we’re moving through a back-office space where an old desk with an ancient computer sits in front of a bookshelf that’s pulled out from the wall just enough to get behind it. She rounds it and we follow, going through a half-opened doorway that’s framed with a multicolored beaded curtain. The wooden beads rattle as Dani Young goes through, then Riley follows. I head in behind Riley, Grey behind me.
A white-haired woman, likely in her upper seventies sits in the corner, knitting from her rocking chair.
“That’s my Aunt Mimi,” Dani says. “Jess had to cut out early for something happening nearby, but I can help you.”
Mimi’s piercing near-silver gaze lifts from her knitting and lands first on Greyson. Her brows lift in question and then she stares at Dani.
Grey rears back and I immediately know why. Her eyes are nearly the same shade as Grey’s. Grey’s eyes are dark grey, but they change to that piercing silver when he’s wolf. She turns her gaze to Rye.
“He’s going to be a problem,” Mimi says of Riley before her eyes flit to me, sharpening. “And maybe him, too.”
“Not you, though,” she says to Grey. “You’ve got your head on straight.”
“Do I know you?” Grey asks.
“Not technically. But you should. Though, that’s a conversation for another time.”
“I’ve got this, Auntie,” Dani declares.
“Just to say, wolves,” Mimi goes on, “if any attempt at harm comes at either of us, I’ve got enough power in my pinky finger alone to obliterate all three of you.” She wiggles that finger and then resumes her knitting.
“We’re not here to start trouble today,” Greyson says, “We’re here for information.”
“Information disclosure that could lead to trouble,” Mimi mutters as she hauls the yarn off her lap before shifting her weight to get more comfortable, wincing as if she’s got an ache.
My eyes bounce around the irregularly shaped space we’re in. I can spot bad angles from a mile off, and what’s going on in this room is enough to give me a headache. Low ceiling, seven angled walls with none of them leveled. The space is windowless, and it’d be impossible to miss the white painted pentagram that dominates the black epoxy-coated floor. The two longest walls are lined with shelving, one of them: books; the other, dust-coated jars and vials. Another six-foot section of wall is painted with chalkboard paint and covered in chalked symbols. Some of them I don’t recognize, others are common. Triangles. Circles. Some with angled lines through them. Outlines of eyeballs. An infinity symbol. Slightly less than an eighth of a moon. Ying yang symbol. And one wall is the backdrop for a massive wooden tree sculpture with branches that twist off in multiple directions, the branches decorated with ornaments.
There’s a couch and a couple chairs as well as floor cushions that look like they came straight out of Haight / Ashbury in the Woodstock era. Another battered, old desk just like the one in the office we just walked through is against the wall beside Mimi’s rocking chair. On top sits an old, off-white rotary phone and a stack of weathered leather books. Despite the abundance of seating options, all but Mimi remain standing.