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Greta Bishop watched the watchers, and smiled. Weston Nielson Chandler being in Chicago hadn’t come as a surprise; she had known for months how to find him. She hadn’t told Gabriel Seymour because he wouldn’t have understood why she hadn’t informed him in the first place. Gabriel made creatures that functioned similarly to her, that didn’t register psychically, but even those creatures couldn’t do what a Wraith could do. They couldn’t send the command to look away, to not see, with confidence in the fact that it would be obeyed without question, without even thought. She could learn nothing from his creations. They had only half her powers.
But another Wraith…
She couldn’t see into the restaurant. Robert Ainsley had already picked the best spot for that, forcing her to set up on the rooftop across from him instead. She wished she had known their plans in advance, so she could have planted a camera or a microphone--something so she could at least get a hint of what was going on in there. As it was, she could only watch Chandler’s watchdog stare through a scope and frown in concentration, as though listening. She almost wished he knew that she was peering through the scope of her own rifle, staring at him.
“We are going to kill his son in front of him,” Gabriel had said.
The announcement had sent a jolt of unhappiness through her. Killing people didn’t bother her--it never had--but she had learned so much by watching a trained Wraith. Her mother had been killed when her training was just getting started and she knew it was by sheer luck that Gabriel was able to fill in the gaps after that. Chandler had received his training from one of the most powerful known Wraiths among all the Hunters. Braedon Chandler was legendary. Even Gabriel’s other pet Wraith, Carrick, couldn’t compare to the General of New York’s heir apparent.
Now Gabriel was going to kill him. She couldn’t justify going against his orders. When her parents died, Gabriel was there to provide for her and her sister. Working for him was her way to settle things between them, but it galled her because this was her future. Wes Chandler was exactly the sort of Hunter she ought to be and stalking him had been the best training program of her life. Now she was losing it because Gabriel got cocky and set up shop in Chandler territory again.
She wondered if she could somehow worm her way into Braedon Chandler’s good graces. It would be easy enough to show up at his door and say she would like a place among his Hunters, but how to explain what she was? All the Wraith bloodlines were known and kept the secrets of their training close. Perhaps she could let the secret of her bloodline, a secret even Gabriel didn’t know, come out slowly. Perhaps she could be the general someday…
Dreams. All dreams. Every little girl wanted to be a princess, and every Hunter little girl wanted to be a general. Greta smiled and adjusted her sights to get a closer look.
Her phone buzzed, interrupting her voyeurism. She glanced at the caller ID and sighed before answering. “I’ve found him,” she said.
“Did you find somewhere to set a trap?” Gabriel asked, his voice suddenly a little higher than normal with his excitement.
She could picture him now, his dark eyes bright with manic glee, his white hair on end from all the times he would have been running a hand back through it, his suit rumpled because he probably hadn’t changed it since yesterday morning. He would lean forward in his chair, as though she were a physical presence in the room and he wanted to lean closer in his excitement.
“No,” she said, bursting his bubble. “I’ll have to follow him back to his home base for that.” She almost felt bad lying to him. She could hardly have stalked Chandler for months without knowing where he was.
Gabriel’s voice was higher now with his confusion. “How did you find him? Didn’t McRae’s enforcer tell you where--”
She interrupted him. “He didn’t have to. I spotted Chandler in my neck of the woods and I followed him. He’s having lunch. You know, I could just kill him and you could send pieces to his dad or something.”
“No,” Gabriel snapped. “I had to watch what he did. Now he’s going to have to watch, helpless, while I do the same.”
Behaving like a Bond villain, she thought, but she humored him. “That does have a certain symmetry.” Gabriel was wildly sensitive on the subject of Braedon Chandler. “I’ll just keep following him, okay?”
“Do that,” Gabriel said briskly. “Report back with details.”
“Yes, sir,” she said just as briskly and hung up before he could ask more questions. She half-expected him to call back and thanked all her lucky stars that he didn’t. The three hours she sat in his office in the wee hours of the morning was more than enough of that.
The magic of spying was a little lost with the interruption, but she decided it didn’t bother her too much. She knew where Chandler would go. Greta started packing up her gear. Peppermint ice cream, she thought. I could go for some peppermint ice cream.
As she strolled back out into the sunshine down on the street, she ran into a smallish, dark-haired woman. The woman was carrying a takeout box from the diner and before Greta could stop it, it spilled out of the woman’s arms onto the sidewalk. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” the woman said as Greta dropped her case and went chasing after the box before it broke open or got stepped on.
“No, it was my fault,” Greta said, snatching the takeout box up. As she looked up at the woman, she had to fight to keep her expression even. One of Wes’ companion’s. Grey-blue eyes stared back at her from a pretty face, and Greta saw sudden, dawning comprehension, knew the woman--Lena, Greta remembered--felt how Greta didn’t register psychically though Lena could see her, had touched her, how she didn’t seem to exist at all but for that sight and touch.
But Greta’s expression must have been convincing. She held the box out, smiling apologetically, and the woman took it mechanically.
Lena’s smile was a touch strained but not suspicious. She said, “Thank you. It didn’t open up. No harm, no foul.”
Greta grabbed her case and started to move off. “Thanks!” she said, hoping she managed to sound the right amount of awkward and sincere.
“Wait!” Lena called.
Greta paused, glancing over her shoulder. She caught sight of an alleyway as she turned. She knew where it led. She could run that way if she wanted and probably lose her. “Yeah?” she asked casually.
She did it so casually, in such an unstudied way that Greta knew she had done it a thousand times. Suddenly the way she held her box displayed a tattoo on her wrist, moving partway down the back of her hand, of thorned vines wrapped around a sword.
Greta knew the symbol of the Court of Thorns. Every Hunter knew the symbol of the watchdogs for the Court of Twelve. But somehow, she still kept her expression neutral, waiting.
Lena studied her face carefully. Then she shook her head, frowning. “Nevermind. I thought I recognized you, is all.”
Greta shrugged. “I’ve got one of those faces.” Then she turned and left before Lena could say another word.
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