In Warm Blood is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series. Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it. For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.
IN WARM BLOOD
After a few hours in the hospital, Overknight was declared stable despite the impressive amount of blood she’d left in my car. They told me she’d probably be sleeping till morning. I convinced a couple of cops to guard her until her boss could get there. I also left a message for him that I’d gone out to play in traffic and that he should do the same.
I would’ve liked to keep an eye on Overknight myself and I was sure Cross and Peace would’ve preferred I’d stayed put, too, if I’d given them any say in it. Unfortunately, my rugged manliness was distracting too many of the ladies on-staff. Plus, my staying could’ve ended up drawing more heat where it didn’t need to be. Instead, I’d decided to test my theory that shooting galleries would be less popular if the targets shot back. I was very interested in getting Ferrari’s feedback on the subject.
It was starting to rain again. I flipped my collar up and decided to seek out a bartender I knew who usually seemed to be well-informed. It was a short drive from the hospital and there was a parking garage where I could get the Charger out of sight.
Then, as I walked toward the car, I saw a figure shuffling from a shadow. My hand moved for my .44 even as my eyes tried to focus on what seemed to be a hulking form, but then I realized was…about five-six and curvy. The lightning and the meager street lights revealed “Lana?” Some trick of the dark and the rain, I thought.
“Hi, Brick,” she said in her usual velvet tone as she approached.
It was Lana du Free, one of the smarter blondes I knew. I wasn’t usually a fan of odd coincidences. “Funny, I was just thinking I should come to see you. Funnier still, for a second I thought you were seven feet tall.”
“That is weird,” she said. “I’ve never been mistaken for more than six-five. Did you need a drink or info?”
“Both, gorgeous, but what’re you doing out here, especially on a night like this?”
“Well, I was looking for you, of course,” she smiled, continuing to walk with me toward my car. “That can wait, though. What did you need to ask me about, Brick?”
“Somewhere out there, Pietro Ferrari is violating bail, offending decency and making his mother cry. I need to find out where he’s hiding.”
“Well, of course you do, Brick,” Lana said. “With a guy like that gunning for you, who could expect you to do anything different? Certainly, you can’t let him keep you from finding the Unknown Box.”
“Yeah, he…The what? The box? How do you know about the box?” She laughed and did that hair-tossy thing I had seen her do a hundred times before.
“Silly, that’s nothing to worry about right now. Let me see what I can do to get you together with Ferrari.” She reached out a comforting hand, saying, “Then, that’ll be one less thing you have to take care of.”
“Thanks, Lana, I…I…” Ow! Felt some kind of sting…or…
“What’s wrong, Brick?”
“Feel…dizzy…hot…” My head was pounding. “…weak…” What was happening? What had she done? I couldn’t even reach for my gun again. I probably couldn’t have held it if I…I felt the ground hit me in the head.
“Oh, poor tough guy,” I heard her laugh, but it sounded deep and distorted.
My blurry vision was going dark as I felt her lift me from the ground and hoist me over her shoulder. She was stronger than I’d thought. Well, if she was going to hold a grudge over a few hundred “dumb blonde” jokes, she had definitely blown her next tip.