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The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:34

The call camethrough only minutes after they’d checked into the Irin-friendly hotel near the city center. It was a boarding house, set over a handsome kaffeehaus lined with wood panels and buzzing with activity from young patrons. There was a message from Rhys telling them that Gabriel would meet them at a different coffee house near the archives. Leo and Malachi quickly stowed their weapons and made their way across town.

Leo spotted Gabriel the moment he walked in, and Malachi followed his gaze. Nothing about the Spanish scribe was familiar to him. He had average looks, and his dark suit gave the impression of an ordinary businessman out for a late lunch. Only those who looked closely might notice the edges of tattoo work that peeked above his collar, which was hardly unusual anymore for a man who appeared to be in his late twenties.

But Gabriel was far older. And the wary dark eyes that finally met Malachi’s over the French newspaper made that clear.

Leo and Malachi sat down at Gabriel’s table, which was in a corner, isolated from the busier tables in the room. Still, Malachi looked around cautiously.

“The owners are Irin,” Gabriel said quietly, putting down the newspaper and leaning back. His English was softly accented but precise. He did not offer any greeting. “You are some of Damien’s scribes.”

“We are,” Leo said. “I am Leo. This is Malachi.”

“The Istanbul house burned,” Gabriel said. “It was noted with some interest here in the city, even though the cause was determined to be accidental.”

Malachi spoke. “It wasn’t.”

“We didn’t really think it was,” Gabriel said.

Malachi wondered who the “we” referred to. Gabriel and his employer, the Elder named Konrad? The council as a whole?

Leo said, “Our house was targeted by a group of Grigori that belonged to Volund.”

A reaction, finally. One eyebrow lifted. Leo might have been the one speaking, but Gabriel was looking at Malachi when he said, “Istanbul is Jaron’s territory. It has been since he spread from Persepolis.”

Malachi answered the unspoken question. “Not anymore.”

“Where is my brother-in-law?”

Leo and Malachi exchanged glances.

Finally, Malachi said, “We don’t know.”

“The watcher of a scribe house lets his house burn, set on by Grigori outside their known territory, and he does not report it.” Gabriel’s voice almost sounded amused, but Malachi could sense the man’s tightly leashed tension. “In fact, he doesn’t report in at all. He disappears with the previously unknown mate of a fallen brother, and no one knows where they are.”

Malachi’s heart raced. Apparently, Max was right. The Irin council really did have eyes and ears everywhere.

“Needless to say,” Gabriel continued, “I am surprised to see you looking so very much alive, Malachi of Sakarya.”