“I’m going on another stakeout,” I told her.
“Cool. Where we going?”
“Oh, come on? I didn’t mess anything up on the last one.”
“No, you didn’t, but this one isn’t like the last one.”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “This one’s dangerous, isn’t it?”
“It’s not a frat party, that’s for sure. But the cops will be coming to back me up, and Nikki will be with me.”
“You have to do it?”
“I have to do it.”
“Why?” She looked me hard in the eyes.
This wasn’t puppy-dog Cassie. This was a defiant Cassie, challenging me to get the answer right. But this was the eternal question, the one that I had encouraged a two-year old Cassie to pester her parents incessantly with. It had no easy answer other than ‘because,’ and that wasn’t enough.
“I—no, here it is. People are being hurt. And this is what I do. In fact, I’m the only one who can do something about this. I would rather not have to do it. I would like it if the cops could handle it. But they can’t, yet. They need me.”
“I need you, too.” Now she didn’t meet my eyes, looking at the couch between us.
“Me, too,” Jen said, from behind me. I hadn’t heard her come into the office. She pulled one of the chairs next to my desk over, and took Cassie’s hands. “But he’s right. He’s the only one who can do some of this. There’s literally no one else in the city that does what your uncle does. Without him, I would have probably had to move back to South Dakota. And Jessie would still be out on the street, maybe dead. Your uncle has helped a lot of people by doing what he does. But I’ll tell you this, he doesn’t take unnecessary risks. He’s always got a plan. And he’ll have the best backup ever with Nikki. There’s no way she would ever let anything happen to him.”
“You’ll be careful?” she said to me at last.
I drew an ex over my heart, then held out my hand, pinky extended. She grabbed it with her own, then slammed into me in a big hug. “Be safe, Uncle Matt.”
“Sure thing, short stuff.”
“Hey, Cassie, Jessie wanted to show you something on her computer,” Jen said.
“This is just a transparent attempt to get me out of the room so you can tell him to be careful, too.”
Jen’s eyes went wide, but Cassie nodded, then left the room, closing the door behind her.
“Damn she’s smart. Maybe you should give her my job?”
“She’s underage. Okay, so your turn.”
Jen shook her head. “What do you need, Boss?”
We went down a list, which might have been overkill, but underpreparation was not an option when it came to the faerie. We had all the standard stuff including some that I had come up with for dealing with the succubus. I wasn’t quite loaded for bear, but I walked out of the office with a backpack in addition to my messenger bag, which was already full.
“We can’t have a girls’ night at your place without pizza,” she rolled her eyes and shook her head at me.
“And ice cream,” Jessie added.
The three of them grinned conspiratorially.
“Expense it as research. The only reason I’m going out is because Collins can’t get the warrant, yet.”
“This is why he’s the boss,” Jessie said, bumping Cassie.