I nod. He makes it sound so easy. But for someone who doesn’t do spells and spent the last night being tossed like a rubber ball, it’s going to be damn near impossible.
“I’ve got a friend in London doing the specifics. I’ll have the spell in a few days. I might need a few more supplies, depending.”
Morfran shrugs. “Best time to do a binding spell is during the waning moon anyway,” he says. “That gives you a week and a half. Plenty of time.” He squints at me and looks a whole lot like his grandson. “She’s getting the better of you, isn’t she?”
“Not for long.”
* * *
The public library isn’t all that impressive to look at, though I suppose I’ve been spoiled growing up with my dad and his friends’ collections of dusty tomes. It does, however, have a pretty decent local history collection, which is what’s really important. Since I’ve got to find Carmel and settle this whole bio assignment business, I put Thomas on the computer, searching through the online database for any record of Anna and her murder.
I find Carmel waiting at a table back behind the stacks.
“What’s Thomas doing here?” she asks as I sit down.
“Researching a paper.” I shrug. “So what’s the bio assignment about?”
She smirks at me. “Taxonomic classification.”
“Gross. And boring.”
“We have to make a chart that goes from phylum to species. We got hermit crabs and octopus.” She furrows her brow. “What’s the plural for octopus? Is it ‘octopuses’?”
“I think it’s octopi,” I say, spinning the open textbook toward me. We might as well get started, even though it’s the last thing I want to be doing. I want to be getting newsprint on my fingers with Thomas, searching out our murdered girl. I can see him at the computer from where I’m sitting, hunched over toward the screen, clicking away feverishly with the mouse. Then he writes something on a scrap of paper and gets up.
“Cas,” I hear Carmel say, and from the tone of her voice she’s been talking for a while. I put on my very best charming smile.
“I said, do you want to do the octopus, or the hermit crab?”
“Octopus,” I say. “They’re good with a little olive oil and lemon. Lightly fried.”
Carmel makes a face. “That’s disgusting.”
“No, it isn’t. I used to eat it with my dad all the time in Greece.”
“You’ve been to Greece?”
“Yeah,” I say, talking absently while I flip through pages of invertebrates. “We lived there for a few months when I was about four. I don’t remember very much.”
“Does your dad travel a lot? For work or something?”
“Yeah. Or at least he did.”
“He doesn’t anymore?”
“My dad’s dead,” I say. I hate telling people this. I never know exactly how my voice is going to sound saying it, and I hate the stricken looks they get on their faces when they don’t know what to say back. I don’t look at Carmel. I just keep reading about different genuses. She says she’s sorry, and asks how it happened. I tell her he was murdered, and she gasps.
These are the right responses. I should be touched by her attempt to be sympathetic. It isn’t her fault that I’m not. It’s just that I’ve seen these faces and heard these gasps for too long. There’s nothing about my father’s murder that doesn’t make me angry anymore.
It strikes me suddenly that Anna is my last training job. She’s incredibly strong. She’s the most difficult thing I can imagine facing. If I beat her, I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready to avenge my father.
The idea makes me pause. The idea of going back to Baton Rouge, back to that house, has always been mostly abstract. Just an idea, a long-range plan. I suppose that for all of my voodoo research, part of me has been procrastinating. I haven’t been particularly effective, after all. I still don’t know who it was that killed my dad. I don’t know if I would be able to raise them, and I’d be all on my own. Bringing Mom is out of the question. Not after years of hiding books and discreetly clicking out of websites when she walked into the room. She’d ground me for life if she even knew I was thinking of it.
A tap on my shoulder brings me out of my daze. Thomas sets a newspaper down in front of me—a brittle, yellowed old thing that I’m surprised they let out of the glass.
“This is what I could find,” he says, and there she is, on the front page, beneath the headline that reads “Girl Found Slain.”