Claws curled on the backseat of my SUV and plopped his head on his paws. Even my familiar was subdued after the visit. When Raven slid onto the passenger seat, he said, “Let’s shake things up a little and visit Hissup’s family next. It might be interesting to see what the mean girl and her family thought of the coven and why her parents didn’t join Blood.”
I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them, but he had a point. They hadn’t joined Blood’s mob. Still, I expected them to treat us with hostility. They’d never been fans of me or my coven. I wondered if they treated Raven any better.
“Have you met them?” I asked.
He grimaced. “At functions. They never warmed up to me. I don’t think they enjoy anyone who has more power or clout than they do.”
I could deal with that, especially since they’d have to answer Raven’s questions, whether they liked us or not. They couldn’t slam the door in our faces and ignore us.
Hissup didn’t live that far from the Cauldryns in a small pocket of Fae who’d settled on Amulet Avenue. I passed the house Sugi rented with two other girls. One of them was Fae—a beautiful, ethereal girl who was probably older than I am and stronger than she looked. I wondered how long Sugi would live there before moving in with Noira.
A minute later, I pulled into Hissup’s driveway. At eighteen, the girl had just recently graduated from witch’s school. I’d met her parents a few times, and their house made a statement. It was an over-the-top, ostentatious lavender two-story with dark purple trim and boxwood bushes shaped like dollar signs. Golden lions flanked the huge double doors in front. There was nothing subtle about it.
Raven shook his head. “You can’t miss this place.” I laughed, but he wrinkled his nose in distaste. “My home and office are definitely too understated.”
That was putting it mildly. There was one plaque under the porch light that stated Muddy River Enforcer, Raven Black. Other than that, the three-story brick building could be just another business downtown.
Raven came around the SUV to open my door for me. “You might need sunglasses to protect your eyes against the glare off the lions.”
Claws followed us to the front door and sat politely to wait for someone to invite us inside. When Hissup’s father opened the door, he glared.
“You’re not welcome here.”
Raven’s black brows rose in that way he had of looking superior. “Why is that? You think you can investigate your daughter’s murder better than I can?”
The man stepped back from the doorway to let us pass.
Raven stepped over the threshold and waited for me and Claws to enter. A good thing. I was afraid Mr. Moon might slam the door on us, leaving us on the front stoop while he led Raven inside.
Moon led us into a formal living room, filled with stiff-backed, satin-covered chairs and a Victorian-style, velvet sofa. Not one piece of furniture looked comfortable. I perched on one of the chairs and Raven sat on its match. He’s a tall man with broad shoulders. He dwarfed the graceful, dainty piece. Moon called for his wife, and they faced us on the sofa. Steps hurried down the staircase, and Hissup’s two older brothers (twenty and twenty-two) came to see who came to visit. They’d rented a house on the south side of town together a few years ago, so they must be home visiting their parents.
I’d taught both of them. Neither were studious, but they were witty and funny. Not every student cared about good grades, and these boys had the wit and energy to do well anyway. I smiled at Henry and Jasper.
“Hey, Miss Wand,” Henry said. “Did you come to protect the enforcer?”
I grinned. “I think Raven can take care of himself.”
“Yeah, we watched him torch Blood’s brother. Talk about a death wish. Who’d jump on a fire demon?”
“Jasper!” his mother snapped. “That’s enough.”
The boys looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
Turning to us, in a supercilious tone, she announced, “I’d offer you refreshments, but I trust your visit will be brief.”
Raven threw back his head and laughed. I was nearly as shocked as Hissup’s parents. Mrs. Moon looked completely unnerved. He stretched his long legs in front of him, looking more relaxed. “And here I thought you’d have some manners. I deal with people like you all the time. Good, the pressure’s off. No need to handle you carefully.”
Mrs. Moon pressed a hand to her throat, not sure how to respond.
Mr. Moon’s expression darkened. “We don’t have to tolerate your insults.”
“And I don’t have to tolerate yours.” Raven leaned back in his chair, which stopped below his shoulder blades. He shook his head and leaned forward. “Darned uncomfortable furniture. I take it you don’t like company? We came for information about your daughter and her coven. We’re trying to solve their murders. You can answer my questions here, in the comfort of your home, or you can meet me at my office. I’ll serve you coffee and snacks.”
His heavy sarcasm was impossible to miss. The couple looked shocked. Henry and Jasper chuckled.
“What do you want to know?” Jasper asked. “We’ll answer questions for you.”
Mrs. Moon shot them dirty looks, but they pretended not to notice.
Raven turned from the parents to concentrate on the boys. “To start with, why didn’t your family join with the others who followed Blood?”
Henry shrugged. “That’s easy. Dad hates the vampire. Blood always tries to take charge of things when everyone knows Dad would be better at it.”
So that was it. Mr. Moon wouldn’t follow Blood. He thought Blood and the others should follow him.
Raven glanced at Mr. Moon. “But Blood is a full-blooded vampire, and your father’s only half warlock, isn’t he?”
Jasper waved that away. “Like any of that makes a difference. Does it matter to you?”
“Not in the least,” Raven said.
With a nod, Jasper went on. “Blood’s the only person who cares about that sort of crap. What it boils down to is who can get things done.”
Raven cocked his head. “I’ve heard that your sister cared a lot about things like that.”
“Hissup? She was full of herself, the baby of the family, and Mom spoiled her rotten. She was fun at home because if she flounced around like a primadonna, Henry and I pranked her. All that crap she spouted came from Belladonna and her family. We told her she wasn’t doing herself any favors putting on airs.”
“Was there anyone who’d actively want to hurt her?”
Jasper grimaced. “Probably any boy who ever took her on a date. Why any of them even bothered with her, I don’t know.”
Henry snorted. “Get real. They knew what she was like, but let’s face it. She was pretty, and she put out.”
Mrs. Moon pushed off the couch, her hands on her hips. “That’s enough!”
Her husband stood to wrap his arm around her. “Boys!”
“Sorry, Mom,” Jasper said, “But you know what Hissy was like. My money would have been on Chicory. Hissy treated her like crap, but she died with the rest of them. All of the girls in the coven died, even the ones who weren’t too bad. So, I’m guessing the main target was Belladonna.”
I’d have to agree with him. Raven did, too, because he stood to shake each boy’s hand. “Thank you for answering my questions. And I’m sorry for your loss.”
The parents nodded stiffly, and we saw ourselves out. It was close to seven, and once we settled in my SUV, Raven said, “Are you still in the mood to make supper?”
“Cooking relaxes me.”
He grinned. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
I turned toward Banks Road and home.