Haley frowned. “I wish I’d heard a real conversation with him. Then I might have better sense of what he’s like. You can learn a lot about who someone is by what they’re nervous to talk about.”
“What I’m wondering is if you could tell who’s in control? Andronicus or The Thing That Eats? That would make this a lot easier.”
She tilted her head, obviously thinking. “If I had some time to observe him, maybe. It’s a good idea. It seems like the kind of thing I ought to be able to do.”
I crossed the room and sat down on my bed. Haley looked over at me. “You’re not hoping to make out, are you?”
“No. I just wanted to sit down. Also, I was going to call Amy, and I thought that you might want to sit next to me when I did.”
She put her phone in her pocket. “You smell a little like you want to make out.”
I shrugged. “I wasn’t trying to. It passed through my mind, but seriously, Jeremy could walk through the door any second, and we could end up in combat any minute now the way things are going.”
Haley raised an eyebrow. “We’ll see how that goes.”
She sat down next to me and her arm brushed mine, making me suddenly aware of the warmth of her body. She looked up at me. “You’re sure you were going to phone Amy?”
“Yes.” I turned my phone sideways, put it into speaker mode, and wished that The Thing That Eats were in a completely different universe.
Moments after I dialed, Amy picked up. Initially, I only saw her face on the screen. She hadn’t transformed, so the major impression I got was bobbed red hair hanging around a pale face. But then everyone crowded in—Cassie grinning, Rod and his blond beard, and Samita looking serious (which is to say, normal).
I couldn’t quite tell where they were, but when Amy picked up the phone, I saw two double beds on one side the room facing a television that sat on cabinets that ran the length of the other side.
Between that and the beige carpet, it was obvious. They were in a hotel room.
I peered in, trying to see more than their faces. “Where are you?”
Cassie spoke first. “The Motel 6 about half an hour out from Grand Lake. You’d know it, if you saw it.”
“The one next to the Cracker Barrel?” I asked.
Cassie nodded. “That’s it.”
Haley leaned toward the phone. “What are you doing there?”
Cassie shook her head. “We’re supposed to be sleeping, but we spent last night fighting vampires.”
I sighed. Haley asked, “Are there a lot of them?”
Amy gave a small smile. “There used to be five in the motel. They’re dead now.”
Samita shook her head. “But there were seven more in an old barn near the motel that we didn’t even know about—until two of them caught Cassie in the parking lot.”
“No kidding,” I said as Haley and I looked at each other. “What happened?”
Cassie laughed. “They’re dead, obviously.”
Samita’s face tightened, “But not just because of you.”
“No,” Cassie said. “You know how Daniel had ideas he thought might help against magic? They work, mostly. I got it together enough to pull out the Gun, and he fired on his own—burned them both to ashes. You know how the Gun has a HUD? I’ve found that if I use his senses the vampires’ hypnotism, or mind magic, or whatever it is… Well, that doesn’t work.”
Haley examined the faces on the screen. “How are the rest of you doing?”
Grinning, Amy said, “I’ve got too many minds in my head for that to work.”
Rod shrugged. “When I’m human, I’ve got a luck ring just like Samita. It disappears when I’m a troll, but it’s hard to enchant trolls.”
Meeting Rod’s eye, Samita said, “Too few minds for it to work.”
Rod rolled his eyes. “Anyway, I’ve been smashing the vampires, and I don’t know if you play Dungeons and Dragons, but Samita made a real Wand of Fireballs.”
“What?” Haley looked over at me.
I grinned. “A wand that shoots out blasts of fire that explode and burn everything around them.”
She shook her head. “So, basically, exactly what it sounds like it should do.”
Amy broke in. “As much as I’d love to tell you more, why did you call?”
“It’s a little bit of a story,” I began, and between the two of us, Haley and I told them about the fight.
“Do you have any idea why I drew blood?”
Amy glanced over at Samita. “I don’t know for sure, but I’ve got an idea. We’ve all spent enough time with Lee that I’ve had to adjust the wards for them to work—”
Samita added, “It isn’t unusual to be affected when you spend time with powerful, supernatural beings like angels, demons, or gods.”
Amy frowned as Samita interrupted her, but added, “Nick’s spent more time with him than anyone. While I was adjusting, I might have tapped into whatever the source of Lee’s power is, or maybe directly into him.”
“Huh,” I said.
Amy’s mouth hinted at a grin. “If you want to know, you should ask him if that’s possible. He’s immortal. This can’t be the first time it’s come up. Any other questions?”
“Sure,” I said. “Do you think we ought to trust Andronicus?”
Before Amy could reply, Haley asked, “And do you think The Thing could be going after people with powers?”