“That’s what brought us to the Crow and Hammer,” Olivia murmured. “To you.”

“We’ve asked every other guild in the city that does bounty work. We even”—Odette gulped—“asked Odin’s Eye to take the job. They refused, though in their case, it’s because the bounty isn’t high enough to interest them.”

“Odin’s Eye,” I mumbled. That guild had been mentioned around the Crow and Hammer a few times, but never in a complimentary way.

“The only guild we haven’t approached is the Grand Grimoire, but I’m sure you understand why we would avoid them.”

I nodded, even though I had not the slightest clue.

“The Crow and Hammer is our last, desperate hope.” Tears filmed Odette’s eyes. “If you won’t help us, we’ll have no choice but to forsake the missing fae and disband our coven, since we’re obviously unfit to—”

“Whoa, let’s not be hasty.” I rubbed my hands over my face to clear the alcohol haze. “Do you have any leads? Any idea what’s happening to the fae in the park?”

Brightening at this sign of cooperation, Olivia leaned forward. “We don’t have any solid theories, but our best guess is black witches.”

“Black witches …” A bad witch, I was assuming. “Humor me. What makes a witch a black witch?”

“Any witch who treats with darkfae,” Odette answered promptly. “Or witches who lie to, trick, or betray the fae they treat with.”

“Or witches who commit crimes on behalf of fae to win greater rewards,” Olivia added.

I tugged on my ponytail. “Okay … so what would a black witch want with the fae in Stanley Park?”

“Normally, I would say nothing,” Olivia replied slowly. “The smallfae are too weak and inconsequential to interest a black witch. However, we’ve found signs of a familiar hunt.”

“A familiar hunt? Familiar how?”

“A hunt for a familiar,” she clarified, her mouth creased with distaste. “Black witches often find it cumbersome to arrange an exchange of equal value with a fae, so instead they’ll hunt down a fae they think is powerful or impressive and forcefully bind it to them as their familiar.”

“But as Olivia said,” Odette continued, “the smallfae in the park are too weak to be worth hunting and binding. We’re not sure what’s going on.”

“Something is happening there. Something dreadful.”

“The black witches must be stopped.”

“The lost fae must be found, even if it’s too late to save them.”

“We need your help. We need your guild.”

“We have no one else to—”

“Stop!” I pressed a hand to my forehead, my brain sloshing from their rapid back and forth. “Just stop. I need to think.”

Folding their hands, they waited.

I massaged my temples. All that energy I’d had while singing and cleaning had evaporated, and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. Maybe throw up first, then go to bed.

“I can’t promise anything,” I finally said. “But I’ll pass it on to my guild. They’ll decide what they want to do and all that.”

Beaming, the witches swooped down on me and shook my limp hands.

“Thank you, Tori. Thank you so much!”

“We’ll eagerly await your guild’s reply.”

“The coven will be so relieved to hear the good news.”

“You can contact us at any time through the coven. Don’t hesitate to call with any questions.”

“We’ll help in any way we can. Just let us know when your guild is ready to begin the investigation!”

My head was spinning again. “Hold up. I never said we’d—”

“We won’t trespass on your hospitality any longer,” Odette gushed, still shaking my hand.

“Bless your heart, Tori. I’m so happy we came to speak with you. You are truly a woman of integrity and compassion.”

“No, I’m not—” I stammered. “I didn’t—”

Releasing me, the two witches swept toward the stairs. I scrambled off my stool and rushed after them, but by the time I got to the bottom of the steps, they were at the top, waving farewell.

“We’ll speak again soon, Tori! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”

And with that, they vanished through the door. Grabbing the railing for balance, I careened up the stairs and onto the stoop, but the yard was dark and empty. The sisters were gone.

Well, shit. Face scrunching, I mentally reviewed our conversation, searching for the moment when I’d promised the Crow and Hammer would take the job. Hadn’t I clearly said I couldn’t promise anything? I had said that, right?

Or had I accidentally committed my guild to investigating a case of missing fae that every guild in the city had turned down?

Oh man. Kai was going to yell at me. Aaron would laugh, but Kai … yeah, he was going to yell.

Chapter Five

I woke with the mother of all headaches—a mother headache nursing baby headaches inside my temples, and the throbbing family threatened to split my skull across my eye sockets. Groaning, I dragged my pathetic ass out of bed and swallowed back the foul taste in my mouth. Whiskey was the devil’s drink.

I made a mental note to ask the guys if demons drank whiskey. I knew nothing about the Demonica class, except, well, demons.

Too bad the guys were busy pretending I didn’t exist until MagiPol went away. And by then, I’d be out of a job, if not our friendships. That was assuming they didn’t friend-dump me for the whole witch fiasco last night.

I tried to run my hands through my curls, but my fingers got stuck in the rat’s nest. What the hell had I been thinking? I never should’ve answered the door, let alone invited the witches in, let alone encouraged them to dump all their problems in my lap. And how had they arrived at the conclusion that I’d promised my guild’s help? I really didn’t remember saying that.

Ideally, I would call the witches up, explain the misunderstanding, and brush the whole incident under the rug. Perfect solution—if I had access to the mythic database of guilds and their contact info. Which I didn’t.

Locating my cell under my pillow, I pondered the screen. Aaron was one call away … but Ezra had warned me that MagiPol liked to snoop through their phones. What if Agent Harris had Aaron’s phone right now? What if calling him led the MPD right to my doorstep?

Nope, not safe. I had only one option if I wanted to speak with the guys.

As a grin spread across my face, I checked the time—quarter to eleven. Aaron, Kai, and Ezra rarely showed up at the guild before two, usually closer to four. Lazy bums slept in later than I did, but that worked in my favor today. With a little luck, I could catch them at home.

I took a bouncing step toward my bedroom door but stopped when my head gave an extra violent throb. Trying again at a more sedate pace, I swung my door open.

A stool from the kitchen was positioned directly in front of my room. And standing on the stool was Twiggy, his solid green eyes intense. Huh?

While I stared in confusion, he drew himself up. “Slap bet!”

And then he smacked me across the face.

I reeled into the doorframe. Hand pressed to my cheek, I shrieked, “What the hell is wrong with you, you piece of green shit!”

“Slap bet!” he repeated shrilly, a delighted grin stretching his cheeks. “It’s funny, right? Humans like funny things like—”

I lunged for him. He leaped off the stool and I collided with it.

“Slap beeeeet!” he wailed, fleeing across the living room. “It’s funny!”

“No, it’s not!” I bellowed, chasing after him. “I’m going to wring your skinny neck!”

Yanking open the crawlspace door, he dove into the darkness beyond. I skidded to a stop and kicked the door shut.

“Stay in there!” I yelled. “And no more sitcoms!”

“But they’re funny!” he shouted from the crawlspace.

“You wouldn’t know funny if it hit you in the goddamn face!” Snarling and rubbing my cheek, I stalked into the bathroom and slammed the door. Curse past-Tori for her genius idea to let a faery who couldn’t grasp the most basic of normal human interactions watch sitcoms.

After a shower that was too short to put a dent in my headache, I examined my cheek and decided Twiggy hadn’t hit me hard. The hangover had merely made it feel like he’d cracked my face open. Stupid faery.

Vibrating with the need to yell at someone, I grabbed my phone and pulled up a conversation. My fingers flew over the digital keyboard as I typed a furious message.

Fae are stupid and you’re stupid and if you were a decent human being you would tell me how to get out of having a faery roommate.

I sent it and waited for a count of ten. As usual, he didn’t respond. Not that I could blame him since all I ever did was insult him. I couldn’t help it. It was cathartic, and even if he hadn’t done anything to deserve this round of abuse, karmically speaking, he still deserved it. He had a backlog of assholery to answer for.

Ten minutes and three glasses of water later—hangovers sucked, ugh—I was heading up the stairs as I adjusted the final piece of my disguise. Okay, it wasn’t really a disguise, but I didn’t want to walk around flashing my red hair at anyone who might be watching Aaron’s house.