Monday, January 28, 2013
Besides, Nick’s birthday was coming up. Maybe she’d find something unique to give him. Choke chain collars and leashes had started to wear thin.
The hand-carved sign over the door showed a red deer, as expected. However, the scent that greeted Ziva’s nose was unmistakably canine. The petite redheaded girl with the splash of freckles and the friendly smile didn’t smell like a herbivore either. “Top o’ the morning to you,” she greeted Ziva, with a passable Irish accent. “And what can I be doing for you today, ma’am?”
“For starters, you can drop the ‘ma’am.’ And the accent, unless you’re really Irish.”
“Thanks.” Almost instantly Boston replaced Dublin in her voice. “We haven’t been Irish for a couple generations. I was born in Massachusetts.”
“I’m guessing you’re not the hart on the sign, either.”
“That’s quite the nose you’ve got, ma—miss. The Roebuck family owns the franchise. I’m just the manager. I’m Siobhan.”
“From the Guts and Butts Gazette. I figured somebody would be by at some point to check me out.”
Ziva raised her brows. “So you’re—”
“Psychic?” The girl grinned. “Annoying? Yes to both. I’ll save your nose the trouble. I’m an Irish setter.” She tossed her red hair playfully. “Not a wolfhound, so you can quit worrying. You are a wolf, correct? You’ve got the walk.”
“Guilty as charged. The name’s Ziva.” She glanced around the shop. “If you’ve got a couple of minutes, I’d like to—”
“Find a gift for your boss’s birthday?”
“You’re really good at the annoying thing.”
“I know. But it’s my psychic gift you need right now. This way.”
The girl led Ziva over to a set of shelves loaded with carved wooden figurines, from exquisite little bears and beavers no bigger than the length of her finger to life-sized duck decoys so realistic Ziva expected them to quack. Siobhan handed Ziva a business card. “I suspect you won’t find what you want on the shelves. You’ll want to contact the artist personally.”
“My boyfriend’s not that into knickknacks.”
“But he is into wood, isn’t he? I’m getting those vibes. Chester does commission work. You pick the object, you pick the wood, he does the rest. I’m seeing … a ruler, oak or maybe mahogany, with hand-painted inch markings and a fine polish. Maybe even a coat of lacquer to toughen it up. He likes to play rough with his toys?”
“It’s the faerie blood. All Irish have a drop of the fae in them.” She winked at Ziva. “Either that or the whiskey. We’ve got more than a drop of that in us, too. Both will make you see things.”
“I’ll bet.” Ziva slipped the business card into her purse. “Would you like to give an interview to the paper? It would mean—"
“Free publicity for the store. Of course. I never turn that down.” Ziva growled softly. “I’m being more annoying than psychic, aren’t I? Sorry. I promise to tone it down for your reporter.”
“You don’t mind if they ask you about the psychic thing?”
“They can ask all they want. I can’t guarantee answers. A girl has to keep some secrets.” She winked again.
“Uh-huh,” Ziva murmured. Normally she got along all right with dogs, but this overeager bitch made her nervous. For the sake of the story she kept her fangs hidden. Which reporter did she like the least? Ralph? He was always making crude remarks around the paper’s females. She might just “suggest” to Nick that Ralph get this assignment.
“Tuesday,” Siobhan said.
“Tuesday afternoon would work out fine. For the interview.”
“Right.” Ziva accepted another business card, this one with the store’s number on it. She wondered if she ought to buy something. Siobhan must have picked up on it, because she steered Ziva past a counter holding an assortment of salt and pepper shakers. The matching penguins seemed to waddle to the forefront. Mistress P would love those, Ziva thought. Siobhan kept her mouth shut, but she grinned and winked yet again.
Ziva made a hasty exit. After purchasing the penguins, however.
# # #
Poor girl, Siobhan thought with genuine sympathy at Ziva’s retreating back. A brush up against the supernatural could prove unnerving even for shapeshifters. But the wolf had provided a bit of a laugh, and would spread the word about Hart’s Desire and its annoying but harmless manager. Just the type of camouflage Siobhan was aiming for. Best of all, the wolf had provided her, all unknowing, with the information she needed.
He was here. The wolf had seen him. Not to talk to, not to interact with, but he’d passed through her awareness more than once. There were places he went to slake his many thirsts, and the wolf had known their names. Dante’s came with images that made her wrinkle her little freckled nose. She’d save that one for later.
The other was right here in town. The Bighorn Diner.
Run all you like, she thought with a smile nowhere near as friendly as the one she’d shown to Ziva. Not even a pooka could outrun the reach of the Roebucks. They’d sent her here to Talbot’s Peak for that very purpose. She would flush him out and point him out, and stay on point until the Roebucks’ hunter arrived to finish the job.
Tomorrow she’d be having breakfast at the Bighorn Diner. See what there was to be seen and smelled, in the real world and in others’ minds. If she had to visit the bar, so be it. She knew a pooka’s taste for Irish whiskey.
A slight breeze stirred behind her butt, the wag of an imaginary tail. Siobhan quickly stilled it. She didn’t mind leaking rumors of psychic powers, but she wanted to keep her telekinesis under wraps for now. Best if the prey didn’t know all her tricks. She set about dusting the shelves.