Read Silent Doll Online

Authors: Sonnet O'Dell

Tags: #England, #Magic, #Paranormal, #Supernatural, #Vampire, #Urban Fantasy, #dark, #Eternal Press, #Sonnet ODell, #shapeshifter, #Cassandra Farbanks, #Worcester

Silent Doll (23 page)

BOOK: Silent Doll
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Trinket’s shoulders sagged, her fingers going limp in my hand, the emotion on her face the clearest one I’d seen yet.

Relief.

Chapter Twenty-Three

I couldn’t believe I had been so dense. It had been right there in front of me the whole time. It was one of those moments when you’re too busy looking at what’s going on outside to notice the glass doors are shut. You just don’t see the obvious until you smack your face against it.

First things first: I got dressed in ragged jeans and superwoman T-shirt. Then I paced, mumbling about the aforementioned glass doors. Trinket stood apologizing while Incarra looked between us, stunned and confused. I’d practically worn a groove into the floor when Incarra finally stopped me to get me to explain.

I explained my revelation and stupidity with great zeal. Neither one spoke up in my defense. Trinket looked a tiny bit smug as I berated myself. I guess I deserved that for treating her like a spoilt child for the most part. I banned Incarra from leaving my apartment if she planned to stay past sundown. I think my exact words were along the lines of ‘you’ve got two choices’—Incarra chose to stay, see how things played out. However, Incarra made no secret of her unhappiness that she thought she was going to get stuck babysitting Trinket.

She was even less enthused when I said Trinket was coming with me to see the police. I made Trinket don her cloak, and when she refused to mount my motorcycle, ever again, we walked to Castle Street. I had the chocolate box and notes from my mysterious stalker under one arm. I was going to stop in to see Ro on the way to Hamilton in homicide.

Ro seemed to be in a slightly better mood. When I pushed open the door into her lab, she was staring at her computer screen, a coffee cup hanging precariously from the fingers of her free hand. Her legs were crossed, and she tapped the air with her foot. I dropped the box of chocolates on her desk. Ro raised her gaze from the glow of the monitor to look at the box, then at me, then back at the box.

“Cassandra, you shouldn’t have.”

“I didn’t. I need you to tell me what’s in them.” She pulled the box closer and tipped the lid open with one finger, peering inside.

“Smells like caramels and soft centers. Easiest way would be a taste test. Can I have one?”

“No.” Ro stared at me, waiting to see if I was joking. “I’m serious. These were left for me by someone I believe might be,” I took a deep breath, “stalking me. I want to know if there is anything in them that shouldn’t be. Can you do it?”

She looked back at the box again as if it was the most offensive thing she had ever seen. “Sure, no problem. Give me an hour.”

“Thanks. Got to go talk to Hamilton.”

Ro rolled her eyes. “I hope you’ve got something for him, because the man’s getting on my last nerve—I’ve been looking through wig makers trying to match a hair that is as fucking common as a bee in a beehive.”

“Don’t worry,” I said, patting her shoulder. “I have a direct line to the Queen Bee.” She looked at me, puzzled. “I’m about to blow this shit wide open.”

She shrugged me off, and I left her staring at the box of chocolates, shaking her head.

Trinket stood against the wall in the corridor where I’d left her, looking around as if expecting someone to jump out any minute and shout
boo
.

“Come on,” I said, motioning to the stairs we’d just come down. Trinket followed, shuffling her feet.

“Are you mad at me?” she asked.

“No,” I barked and then taking a deep breath, more calmly. “No.”

I wasn’t mad at Trinket. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t talk about what her sisters had been doing—at their mother’s instruction, it seemed. What was bothering me was that the spell we’d decided on as the most likely was a spell to bring youth to a coven—a standard coven being between three and seven. The dolls didn’t age, so what did they need a youth potion for? It didn’t make any sense. My mind was running on blonde recently, and it was frustrating me.

“You sound mad,” said Trinket from behind me in a small voice. I stopped on the stairs to look back at her.

“I am mad, but not at you. You’ve been doing you best to tell someone about this, and I’m sorry it took me so long to get on the right track. I should have got you playing the yes and no game right away.”

We’d sat in my spare room for a long while, and using just yes and no questions, got the general idea of what was going on. We couldn’t ask too direct a question, and she wasn’t able to elaborate or give details. For instance I could ask her if she thought the red horse hair was from her sister’s wig and she could say ‘yes’, but if I asked her directly, “Did your sister murder someone?” She was unable to speak. I hated that spell vehemently.

“I’m sorry that I treated you like a kid. I should have known better.”

“Who did you say we are going to see again?” she asked in a slightly stronger voice. Bless her, she was going to let me apologize and not make a big deal out of it, although we both knew she had every right to.

“His name is Hamilton. He’s a homicide detective. You remember, you met him at the last crime scene, he was the one telling you off.”

Trinket’s nose wrinkled. I turned and started back up the stairs.

“I don’t like him. He’s mean.”

“He’s a policeman, he’s tough, they have to be. I guess that can come off as mean sometimes.”

“You’re not mean.”

I laughed. I could be, if you got on the wrong side of me, but generally I thought myself a fair person. “I’m not a policeman,” I said. “I can go for whole months without this kind of drama.”

All my drama seemed to come from my personal life lately. A vampire I cared deeply for, a werewolf who was a bit like the randy dog at the park who just won’t leave your leg alone; add into that a magically inclined stalker—it wasn’t a fun mix. If Aram hadn’t liked Magnus—a half elf-standing in his way, God only knew what he’d think of a werewolf opponent.

I stopped with my hand on the exit door of the stairwell. “Keep your eyes straight ahead and stay close to my back.”

Her small fingers gripped mine before we entered the room. Heads turned as we went through the squad room I ignored them, got Trinket through the gauntlet of stares, and knocked on the door to Hamilton’s office.

“Come in.”

I opened the door and was struck immediately by how stressed Hamilton looked. He had paperwork clenched tightly in one hand, the other fisted in his hair as he stared at the papers. I pulled Trinket through the door behind me and shut it. Hamilton looked up at me with the scariest look I’d ever seen on a man. Like he was drowning and I was a life belt.

“Cassandra,” he said his voice filling with relief. “Please tell me that you’re the bearer of good news.”

I pulled Trinket out from behind me. Hamilton gave her that look that people get when they are trying to place a face.

“Hamilton, I want you to officially meet someone. This is Trinket.”

“She was at the crime scene,” he said, finally placing her. “Didn’t you say she was a client?”

“Yes. As it turns out, her problem and ours sort of cross paths. You might want to call Rourke if we’re intending to keep her in the loop.”

I directed Trinket into one of Hamilton’s guest chairs while he slowly dialed in Rourke’s direct line, giving me a questioning stare the whole time. Rourke made us wait for her; when she arrived, she didn’t look at all pleased to see Trinket. She got her glare on.

“What’s this about, Farbanks?” She leaned against Hamilton’s desk, her sharp angular bob accentuating the hard set of her mouth. I put my hands down on Trinket’s shoulders.

“Listen very carefully, I shall explain this only once,” I said, attempting a bad French accent. Rourke glared, missing the
Allo Allo
reference, but I thought I saw Hamilton’s mouth quirk at the corner. I explained slowly and carefully.

“Let me get this straight,” Rourke said, pointing a finger at Trinket. “She’s our key witness, but she can’t give testimony.”

“Not exactly. The spell compels her to keep her family’s secret. We’ve managed to work out that she can answer a series of simple yes and no questions.”

“All right, I’m game,” Rourke said, surprising me. “Let’s try this out.” She pushed off from her seat and walked to stand in front of Trinket, who looked back at me. I nodded and kept my hand on her shoulder for support.

“I’ll do my best,” Trinket replied meekly.

“How many sisters do you have?” Rourke asked.

“Six.”

“Well, that matches up, as so far there have been five bodies. Which of your sisters is yet to murder someone?”

Trinket clammed up, unable to speak, as she did whenever anyone used the word
murder
around her.

“Try calling it something else,” I suggested, rubbing Trinket’s shoulder—ineffectually, as I knew she couldn’t feel it.

“Which one of your siblings has not completed her task?”

“Summer.” The name squeezed out of her, as though like the question was just different enough to allow her to speak.

“Was it your mother who ordered this?” Trinket didn’t speak. Rourke rubbed her temples. I could tell the exercise was wearing on her. “Is your mother the head of your family?”

“Yes.”

“If an order to do something is given does it usually come from her?”

“Yes.”

“Is there anything that goes on in your family that your mother is not aware of?”

“No.”

“Your mother is fully human?”

“Yes.”

“And a witch?”

“Yes.”

Rourke shook her head a little. “Well, at least that’s a person we can prosecute, although we have no evidence to suggest that she had any direct hand in the murders. This would be so much easier without this spell. Can’t you just break it?”

“No,” Trinket and I said in unison. Trinket looked up at me, apparently realizing that the question hadn’t been directed at her.

“You’re telling me you’ve found a spell that the all-powerful Farbanks can’t break?” Rourke said, voice loaded with haughty derision .I glared at her. “I’m not saying I couldn’t break the spell. I’m saying I won’t. It would take Trinket’s life, and be detrimental as far as her testimony is concerned.”

“It’s not like she’s a real person.”

Trinket shrank back into her chair at Rourke’s pronouncement. I felt her entire body go still under my fingers.

I said, “She may not be a human, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a sentient life form that deserves respect and has the right to exist.”

Rourke scoffed, snorting out air imperiously, and crossed her arms over her chest. “If they are sentient, as you say, then they should know the difference between right and wrong.” She looked at Trinket. “Do you know the difference between right and wrong?”

“Of course I do.” Trinket’s voice was small but perturbed, and she was huddling in on herself.

“You know it’s wrong to kill someone?”

“Yes.”

“So, why would they do something like this?”

“It’s mother, she needs…”

Her words cut off. Rourke watched as what Trinket was trying to say died in her throat. I think she understood then how tightly Trinket was bound. Trinket waited a beat before trying to speak again. “We—drain—her.” Her mouth was tight, each word forced out as if pushed through cotton.

Rourke’s gaze shot up to me. “What is that supposed to mean?”

I took a step back from Trinket. “Give me a minute,” I pleaded, “I need to think.” I started pacing from one side of the room to the other, thinking hard. I had been trying to think of a reason Trinket’s mother would want to use black magic—a spell designed to bring the flushes of youth to a coven—when her children didn’t age. They were always going to look the same. They didn’t need a youth potion.

But an aging woman might.

She might look at her daughters’ beautiful, unlined faces and be jealous. Maybe jealous enough to use them as tools to commit murder. I walked around Trinket’s chair and squatted down in front of her. “Trinket, I need you to think very hard and try your best to answer me.” She nodded her head ever so slightly. “Did your mother tell you why she needed you to do this?”

“Yes.”

“Did she tell you it was because of weakness?”

“I don’t understand.”

I tried to phrase it differently. “Did your mother say that your bond drains her?”

“Yes. She’s very fond of saying so.”

I was beginning to get a nasty suspicion. “Did she say what she needed was for you to do this to make her strong enough to support you? You and your sisters’ lives?”

“Yes.”

I leaned back and looked at Rourke. “They feel guilty.”

Guilt and love were very powerful emotions and great motivators. Especially to a child for a parent. If they felt it was their fault that their mother was weakening they’d do whatever she asked—even something they knew to be wrong. It made me curious as to why and how Trinket had been able to tell her mother no. She had to have an extremely moral character.

BOOK: Silent Doll
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