My Confidant

By the time I reached my house, it was after midnight, but there was no way I was going to be able to sleep. Poe, who must have been watching from a distance, met me at the door and flew in to perch on the banister.


"He's right, you know. The caretaker is not allowed to interfere with vampire activity if the human consents."

I placed a hand on my hip. "But if vampires can compel humans, how do we know what's legitimate consent or not?"

He fluffed his wings in response and turned away from me.

"Exactly. Keep your beak shut if you don't know what you're talking about."

At that, he turned completely around, his back to me. Raven cold shoulder.

My brain flipped Rick's side of the story over in my head, searching for the seams, then mused over everything Julius and Gary had said. I needed to talk it through and not with a snarky familiar. I tried to call Michelle's cell phone, but the call went straight to voicemail. If she'd been working tonight, I'd call the hospital, but Wednesdays were her day off, and I couldn't call her home number without waking the baby. A best friend never, ever wakes another friend's baby.

I paced the floor. The whole situation made my skin crawl. If Julius was telling the truth, then I was literally in bed with the enemy. He had to be lying. Why would I believe a vampire over my caretaker? So then, why was I still thinking about this? On impulse, I grabbed my keys.

"Not a good idea," Poe said over his shoulder.

I gave him the finger and slammed the door behind me.

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Logan's apartment was on the top floor of a secured building ten minutes from Valentine's. I stormed through the front door, still worked up over my argument with Rick. A white haired man in a uniform eyed me suspiciously from behind a large, circular desk in the atrium.

"I'm here to see Logan Valentine," I said.

The old man frowned. "It's after hours. Can't call up." His liver spotted jowls flapped with his objection.

"Uh, it's kind of an emergency."

With an adjustment of his bifocals, the guard looked me up and down. He gave a low, throaty laugh. "What kind of emergency brings a girl like you to a man's house in the middle of the night?"

"Hey! I don't appreciate the conjecture." I poked the tip of one finger into the desk in front of him. "We're friends, practically family!"

"Family, eh?" The man rubbed his stubbled cheek. "What's your name?"

"Grateful Knight."

The guard started typing, the glow of a computer screen coming to life beyond the counter. I couldn't see what he was doing because the monitor was the type sunk into the desk, but the expression on the man's face told me I was one bug he'd like to squash. I pulled out my phone. "If you won't call up, I will," I said.

"Hold your horses, missy. Your booty call has been approved."

"Booty call? Wha-" The door to the foyer opened automatically with a soft buzz.

"Don't make me change my mind." The guard's bushy eyebrows descended and then he let out a deep laugh.

I scurried through and into the elevator, chin up and ego bruised. When I reached the top floor, the doors opened. Logan stood waiting for me with his phone in hand-all bed head and wrinkled t-shirt.

"Sorry," I said. "Didn't mean to wake you."

"What's happened? Are you okay?" His voice sounded frantic.

"Uh, yeah. I just need to talk...if you are do the talking thing."

He gaped at me. "When the doorman called, I thought you were engaged in some night-time battle with the undead and needed my help."

"What, you thought I was like injured or something?"

"Yeah, like maybe bleeding from an artery? I've left instructions with the front desk to let you in any time, day or night, just in case you can't make it back to your house."

"Oh, really? Just for the record, your doorman is a complete asshat." This was my first time here, and Logan had never offered his home as a safehouse to me before. Sweet gesture but that info would have saved me some face downstairs. I guess he just assumed I would know I could count on him if I needed to.

"Yeah. Sorry about that. Fred is good at what he does but he can be a little rough around the edges."

"He thought I was your booty call."

Logan raised eyebrows and whistled.

"I'm not."

He ran a hand through his hair and wiped his eyes with his fingers. "Well now that we've cleared that up, come on in. You want something to drink? Hot cocoa?"

I remembered the comfort Logan's hot cocoa had given me when I was deciding if I should accept my role as the witch. I'd spent weeks detoxing from my addiction to his hot cocoa. I couldn't go back there. "Tea would be fine."

He nodded sleepily and led the way across the hall, into the foyer of an enormous apartment. The open floor plan showcased a wall of windows overlooking Carlton City. A balcony extended behind the sliding glass doors. Logan's furniture was neutral leather, the floors mahogany, and the decor, craftsman. Clean lines, warm wood tones, and splashes of red, yellow, and purple reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs. It was masculine but comfortable, unmistakably Logan.

"You have an eye for decorating," I said.

He glanced at me over the granite countertop of the kitchen island as he filled a copper kettle with water. "Actually, I had it decorated. I didn't do it myself."

"Someone in town?"

"Not anymore. An ex-girlfriend."

"Oh." I was beginning to melt inside my arctic outerwear, so I did the cold weather striptease. I shed hat, gloves, coat, boots and snowpants, piling the outerwear on the back of his sofa, and took a seat on the barstool in front of the island. "At least something good came of the relationship." I shrugged.

"Said like a jaded lover."

"Maybe. Speaking of, I saw Gary tonight."

Logan almost dropped the canister he was holding. "Gary, as in your missing ex-boyfriend, Gary?"

"The one and only. Didn't I tell you? He's a vampire now."

Logan set down the canister and opened a cabinet across the kitchen. "You're going to need something stronger than tea." He pulled out a bottle of my favorite Shiraz and popped the cork. A moment later, I had a full glass in front of me.

"Did you have to kill him?" Logan asked softly.

"Oddly, no. He paid me back. All the money he owed me plus interest. Just showed up at my door with a big leather bag full of cash."

"What's he want?" Logan narrowed his eyes and pressed his lips into a flat line.

"He said he didn't want anything, that it was in the coven's best interest to keep me happy and Julius insisted."

With a long swig of wine, he drank that explanation in and rolled it in his mouth. "I smell bullshit."

"I know, but then he told me something else..."

"The reason you're here?"

I nodded. "Turns out Rick has been following me around my whole life. He knew about Gary and me. The night Gary was turned, Rick allowed it to happen. He was there."

"What the hell?"

"Yeah, he admitted it. Said Gary consented so the vampire wasn't breaking any rules. But he knew, Logan. He knew it would break my heart, and he allowed it to happen because he wanted me for himself."

"Are you sure it's true?"

I took a sip of liquid courage. "He admitted it."


"That's not even the worst part. Julius says that Rick manipulated me into thinking that I needed him to become the witch, when really I could've done it myself. Gary said that I bound myself to him needlessly. I would have become the witch anyway, but Rick might not have been my caretaker. The ceremony was for his sake, not mine."

Logan drained the rest of his glass and poured another. He lifted it to his mouth, but paused and gestured in my direction. "That last part has to be a lie. Prudence backed Rick up. She told both of us it had to be sex and blood. She said he was the vessel; you had to drink from the vessel."

"Yeah. Rick denies it, and I know in my heart that it's a lie, but it's under my skin. It's like, my intuition is telling me that Rick is hiding something, and it's fucking with my head."

"I wonder where Prudence got her information?" Logan asked.

I became inordinately interested in my empty glass. "Me. In my last life, I'd shared what I was and given her the power to care for my seat of magic in my absence."

He cupped my face and rubbed my cheek with his thumb. "There you have it, hon. You wouldn't lie to you. Julius is lying. As much as I hate the gravedigger, I think Rick was telling you the truth."

"But what about this feeling I have?"

The remains of the bottle of Shiraz were emptied into my glass. "We're friends, right?"


"Friends can be honest with each other."

"Of course."

"I think this feeling you have has more to do with you than with Rick."

I swung my hand through the air like the mere thought was ridiculous.

"You're afraid of commitment, Grateful. You told me as much when I was living in your attic. Rick represents the first permanent thing in your life besides your dad, and it terrifies you."

"Why are you standing up for Rick? I thought you hated-"

Logan's wine glass slipped from his hand, shattering on the counter. Shards of glass skimmed along the granite. His face turned hospital sheet white, and he stared, open mouthed over my shoulder into the living room. I followed his line of sight, thinking I'd see an ax murderer approaching from that direction, but there was nothing there.

"What's going on Logan?"

"Sh-she says you have to find it."

"She? She who?"

He pointed to a spot over my shoulder, but there was still no one there. "She says you can't see her because her soul has already crossed over to the other side. You need to find the book before they do, or the entire human race is in great danger."

"What book?" I shook my head. I could tell Logan was really shook up but maybe he was hallucinating or something.

"The Book of Flesh and Bone."

"Flesh and Bone?" I raised my eyebrows as I remembered where I'd heard that title before. Rick told me Reverend Monk had used the Book of Flesh and Bone to bind my spirit to my human body before he burned me alive-well, the first me. But the grimoire exacted a high price; Monk and all of his parishioners were struck dead. What happened to the book after that? Rick never said and who else could know?

"Who are you talking to, Logan?" I asked, softly.

He swallowed hard and turned to face me. Like a fish out of water, his mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. I placed a hand on his and shook a little. "Who?" I repeated.

"My mother. Only, she's been dead for ten years."

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