Belinda stepped off the porch, heading for her Prius, but her brother caught her arm.
“Just leave her here,” Brock ordered. “We’re going to be late. We’ll take the Pearl.”
Fury filled her and she yanked her arm free. “Don’t order me around!”
He smirked. “Touchy, touchy.”
He grabbed her arm too fast for her to avoid and all but dragged her across the patio to the side away from where the others gathered. She saw Jon’s face as he watched them, his eyes narrowed and a frown between his brows. At least he noticed Brock was being a jackass!
“Let go of me!” she snarled, yanking free once they were out of sight. She poked his chest. “You don’t order me around!”
“Calm down, Bee,” he said in a condescending tone. “This is bigger than your case!”
“What’s going on?” Eddie’s boots thumped the slats of the porch as she came around the corner, her face blank.
“Nothing!” Belinda snapped at the same time Brock drawled, “She’s being difficult.”
Eddie glared at Brock but then transferred her gaze to Belinda’s. “We need to hurry. The bank will close before you two work out whatever’s going on.”
“Brock is demanding we take the Pearl!” Belinda protested.
Eddie shrugged, not budging. “We need to go, Belinda. You two can wrangle later. Either take your Prius or don’t, but the dagger’s going in Pearl.” She turned away to walk back to the stairs and snapped over her shoulder, “Now!”
Belinda’s lips thinned and she stalked after her adoptive aunt, not deigning to speak to Brock about his victory. She wasn’t about to let that dagger out of her sight, but she sure as Hades wasn’t going to follow him in the Prius like some hanger-on. She’d make him take her straight back to the homestead to pick it up, instead.
He said nothing, just walked up to Jon and held out his keys.
Belinda felt her eyes widen, shock chasing away her anger at her brother. “You’re letting him drive?”
“We can’t, and Eddie won’t,” Brock responded. “Take them.” He shook the keys at Jon.
Jon’s eyebrow cocked and he held Brock’s gaze without moving. Brock’s face turned a little pink but he didn’t back down. Jon finally held out his own hand, but made her brother drop the keys into it rather than take them from Brock.
That made Belinda feel a little better, at least…
She climbed into the back seat behind Jon, and Brock mirrored her on the other side. Eddie got into the passenger seat. Jon got in, making Pearl bounce a little with his weight, but he didn’t have to re-adjust the seat or the mirrors. If he felt surprise at that, he gave no sign; just started the motor and pulled out of the driveway.
“You just wanted to take Pearl to have leg room,” Belinda fumed half under her breath.
Eddie looked back over her shoulder. “Actually, it was my call. You haven’t kept up the shields on the Prius. Not like the Pearl.”
Jon looked at Brock using the mirror. “You named it?”
“No. The guys did and it just stuck.”
Belinda snorted. She ignored her brother and, instead, stared out the window at the leaves. Their autumnal splendor gleamed in the fading afternoon light. Monica would love to bake as it got colder, making their house smell like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and sugar. Her stomach tightened and she shoved the memory away, glaring at the trees that swooshed past.
“We may have a lead for you,” Brock said into the silence.
Belinda didn’t answer and after a moment, Jon grunted. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Brock paused, clearly wanting Belinda to look at him, so she stared out the window. He sighed. “There’s a new witch in town.”
Belinda swiveled her head around. “Why didn’t Gran tell me?”
“Gran doesn’t report to you, Belinda,” Eddie growled.
Swallowing any sarcastic reply that might have shot out of her mouth at her aunt, she glared at Brock instead. “So, who is she?”
“Jade McKenzie. She’s a guest curator at the museum. Came with another dagger.”
Belinda felt a chill. “I see. You met with her?”
Brock nodded. “The coven did. She’s…” He trailed off.
In spite of herself, Belinda felt curiosity bloom. “She’s what?”
“She’s hiding something,” he murmured, though in a slow and thoughtful tone. “I just don’t know what. It may be nothing, but…”
“Who did the interview with you?”
“When was this?” Jon interjected. “When she first came or after this became a police matter?”
Brock’s silence was answer enough and Bee caught Jon’s glare in the rear view mirror. Now it was her brother’s turn to stare out the window. Unfortunately he also stopped volunteering information.
“And what?” Brock’s mismatched eyes glared into her own. “Just check it out, will you?”
“Because you told me to?”
“What the fuck is up with you? Why are you so pissy with me?”
She snarled and turned away, angry all over again. “Just forget it!”
Eddie chuckled. “You two remind me of Tilly and Matt.”
Belinda managed to keep the ‘shut up’ between her teeth, but only just. Something made her glance at her brother and the look in his eye told her he agreed with her. In spite of herself, she grinned and he echoed it.
“What are these daggers?” Jon asked then.
Brock turned his attention to her partner and Belinda gazed out the window again, wishing she were in bed.
“They’re part of a set,” Brock explained. “All sorts of legends about them.”
Jon grunted. “But why are people killing for them?”
“And dangerous.” Jon glanced at Brock in the mirror, his eyes unreadable, at least to Belinda. “Don’t pretend they’re not.”
Brock opened both hands on his lap, his face surprised. “Jon, I’m not pretending! Why do you think I got the one out of my family’s house?”
“But you’re not handing it over to the police,” Jon pointed out.
“No.” Eddie’s voice sounded sure and firm. “No, we’re not handing it over to the police.”
Jon glanced at her but focused on the road. Belinda could see the muscles in his arms ripple as he flexed his hands on the wheel.
A change in the energy of the dagger caught her attention, though, and she turned back to it at the same moment Brock did.
“What is that?” Brock whispered.
“It’s talking,” Belinda answered, her voice in the same hushed tone. “I think it’s talking.”
“Talking,” Jon scoffed. “What ab –”
“Hush!” Eddie cut in. “Let them work!”
Great. Let them work, except Belinda had no clue what to do next. The presence of the dagger in her mind seemed to grow, though, along with a sort of ringing – as though something struck a piece of metal. The bell tone increased and Brock rubbed his ear.
“That won’t help,” she muttered.
She smirked, pleased at annoying him. About time, since he’d been doing it to her for the last… well, ever. “Do you think it’s trying to talk to us? Or tell us something?”
“I have no fucking clue, Bee. It’s not like I’ve done this before!”
“Do we take it out of the wrapping?”
“No,” Eddie said before he could respond. “Matt wrapped it. Leave it be.”
“She’s right, Bee.”
Belinda sighed. “Yeah.” She studied the cloth-wrapped bundle on the seat next to them. A square of white silk lay in neat folds around it, hiding it from view. The silk should have blocked any magic coming at the dagger. But, obviously, not anything coming out of it… “Do we need a stronger shield?”
Before Brock could make up his mind, it stopped. Everything: the bell tone, the sense of the dagger’s presence, all of it. Then Jon stopped the Pearl and Belinda’s head came up to stare out the windshield.
“We’re here,” Eddie said unnecessarily. “Get it and come on.”
Belinda met Brock’s gaze, unsettled. “Do you think it knew?”
He shrugged, but a frown creased his brows. “I have no idea.”
“Come on, you two, it’s nearly closing time!” Eddie called, a ‘tone’ in her voice.
Brock rolled his eyes and scooped up the dagger. “Come on.”
Belinda scrambled out of the Pearl, annoyed that he grabbed it without letting her discuss it. His long strides carried him up the steps before she even got out of the Pearl and she trotted after, seething.