Chelsea grinned from the bed as Amber dressed for work. The server’s dress, a tightish black sheathe with cap sleeves and a stupidly huge lace collar, clung to the large woman.
Amber smirked at her. “I get great tips.”
“I bet.” Chelsea rolled on to her side and continued to drink in the sights. “Andy called while you were in the shower. Big job tonight.”
Dark eyes narrowed slightly. “And I have work.”
“I wasn’t asking for help. I was letting you know that Bent and I will be out late.”
At the mention of his name, the mutt lumbered into the bedroom. He butted Amber’s legs before hopping on the bed.
She frowned. “Sorry bud, I have to say no. I don’t mind you on the couch, but no dog hair in my bed.”
Bentley snorted and rolled his eyes before getting off the bed and laying on the floor.
Amber stared at him for a long moment. “Does he really understand?”
Worry filled Amber’s eyes before she pulled Chelsea to her. The kiss was long and hard, full of desperation and things unsaid. When they finally broke apart, neither could quite catch their breath.
Amber leaned her head against Chelsea’s. “Stay alive.”
“Will do.” She kissed the tip of Amber’s nose. “C’mon Bent.”
She tried to reign in her grin as she marched into Andy’s, but given his raised eyebrows as she sat down, she had failed.
He reached for Bentley. “So, you getting your groove back, huh?”
“Who says I ever lost it?”
Andy snickered. “She’s not here helping us.”
Chelsea raised a middle finger. “Give her some more time. She’s still looking for the demon lord that killed her family. She focused, not giving up hunting.”
“So you did some talking around the grooving?”
She smirked at him. “Some.”
Andy chuckled. “Good for you. Now, on to tonight’s agenda. We have a banshee to take out.”
“A banshee? We just need some ear plugs, right?”
“Oh, so now you know about banshees?”
Heat filled her face. “Not really?”
“Then hold back your snark and listen. Most banshees are pretty harmless since they don’t actually kill with screams. This one, however, has been credibly seen at several suspicious deaths.”
“How do we kill it?”
“My, aren’t we blood thirsty?”
She grinned at him, showing more teeth than was friendly.
Andy chuckled again. “This is right up your alley. It’ll be a straight up brawl.”
“Then why are sitting here?” She pulled her ax, thankful once more that Rick insisted she learn from a sitting position. “I’m ready to go.”
Andy rolled his eyes as he stood and stretched. “I’m glad Jack isn’t here. You two together would be too much for me.”
Mention of Jackson killed her warm mood. She had to call him, to talk about Amber and sort out everything.
“Oh, did I rain on your parade?” His knowing look ate at her.
“I’ll call him tonight.”
Andy shrugged. “I didn’t mean it like that. You and Amber are still sorting stuff out. I get it.”
Chelsea swallowed. “I love him too. I do.”
“I know.” His voice came out soft and gentle as he studied her. “I hope it all works out, for everyone.”
“Thanks.” She shook her head and stood, resheathing her ax. “Let’s go fuck up a banshee.”
He directed her to a nicer neighborhood, though she had no idea what borough they were in when they got there. The hospital dominated the space behind it’s black iron fence.
They parked her car at the nearest garage and threw am unneeded collar and leash on Bentley. Andy lead them down the street to modestly tall apartment complexes, where they settled into the shadows between buildings, waiting.
Andy pulled out his phone. “This is the banshee.”
The picture was of an older woman, grey streaks in dark hair. The face was ordinary as was the jeans and blouse. Chelsea wasn’t sure she could pick the person out of a crowd.
Dusk faded into night as they waited. People came and went, but none where the banshee. It was well after midnight when she finally left the building.
Andy waved them forward, a slow amble that kept the banshee only a few feet in front of them. He rambed as they walked, talking about some bar that Chelsea wasn’t sure was real.
The banshee seemed unaware of them as she headed for the hospital. Andy continued his chatter but slightly sped up their pace.
They drew closer, step by step, Bentley’s nails clicking on the sidewalk, as they walked past the main entrance of the hospital and continued around the block. The back fence had an unlocked opening. The banshee headed for the gate.
Andy tugged at the fringe on Chelsea’s duster before streaking across the darkness. He snagged the banshee’s arm and slammed her into the wall.
Before Chelsea could do more than pull her ax, another body bowled into Andy and the banshee. Clad in dark colors, it blended into the night and made it hard to see exactly where the person was.
A tug on her wrist was all the warning she had before Bentley leapt into the fray. He landed on Andy’s assailant, tail wagging and tongue tugging at the person’s mask.
Andy scrambled to his feet and caught the banshee by the arms in a tight hold. “Who the fuck are you?”
A strangely familiar woman’s voice laughed, “Bentley?”
Andy shot Chelsea a look, but she only shrugged. The woman on the ground pushed the happy dog off her. “That you, Chelsea?” She pulled off her dark mask, revealing white-blonde hair and skin pale enough to match it.
Chelsea heart sank. “Yvonne?”
The tiny woman beamed. “You remembered.”
“You and your buddies almost got me killed. You tend to remember shit like that.”
Andy tightened his hold on the banshee. “Wanna fill me in?”
Chelsea glared at the little woman. “I worked with her and some of her friends out west. They don’t share information well.” She turned back to the the tiny blonde. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Yvonne giggled. “You were, and are, assaulting our informant.”
Chelsea shared another look with Andy before she shrugged. She didn’t like Yvonne or her friends, but they did hunt monsters. He reluctantly let the banshee go free.
Yvonne beamed at both of them. “Thanks. I hate hurting people.” The confidence her voice belied the fact that she stood inches shorter than Chelsea and maybe weighed as much as Bentley. She turned to the banshee. “It’s cool, Sioban. The old man is waiting for you inside.”
The banshee shot fearful looks at Chelsea and Andy before inching away. Within a few steps she was running into the building.
Chelsea folded her arms over her churning stomach. “Mind telling me what’s going on this time?”
Yvonne had the audacity to laugh. “Not gonna happen, but thanks for letting her go. And don’t worry about any rumors concerning this hospital, we’re on it.”
Chelsea rolled her eyes. “That’s not as reassuring as you think. And what if we hear something you don’t?”
Another giggle escaped the tiny woman before she pulled her dark hood over her bright hair. “If you really think you know something, hang out here at dusk. Someone will come and talk to you.” With that she darted off into the dark and disappeared.
Chelsea glared at her dog. “You are supposed to be a better judge of character than that. Those people are assholes we can’t trust.”
Bentley huffed a sigh before heading to the alley to take a piss.
“Seems he disagrees.” Andy sounded amused as he studied the hospital. “Any real idea who these people are?”
“Nope. Hedge doctors asked me to help them and it was a mess from beginning to end.”
Andy sighed. “Fucking hedge doctors. Well, anyway, we’re out a bounty tonight. Mind giving me a lift?”
She dropped Andy at his place and headed back to Amber’s with a fresh pizza. It had cooled by the time she got off her shift.
Amber laughed as she settled on the couch with a slice. “I thought you had a late tonight.”
Chelsea snuggled up to her. “I did but it fell through.”
Amber put an arm around her. “Lucky me.”
A odd sense of foreboding wiggled through Chelsea even as she relaxed into Amber. This would not end as easily as the hunt tonight had.