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I turned onto Cottage Place and slowed a bit as we passed the empty storefront that had once been Old World Teas. Last month we'd busted the mage who ran the shop and given him a non-choice about getting the hell out of town. Brutus was a freelance magic worker who did spells and enchanted crystals, and he'd taken work from Wyatt on occasion. He'd also taken work from Walter Thackery and the Fey, and we were sympathetic enough to his sense of capitalism and the need to make a living that we didn't just kill him outright.
The shop had been empty ever since.
A few blocks down, I spotted the familiar shape of my old residence. The building housed a couple of businesses, including a kitschy jewelry store, as well as the walk-up apartments on the second and third floors. I'd lived in one for four years with my old Triad partners Jesse and Ash. We'd abandoned it for good several months ago, but I couldn't stop a pang of guilt as I thought of my dead partners. And grief, too.
"Ash's birthday is next week," Wyatt said suddenly.
"Is it?" I was never good at remembering things like that, and our random birthday celebrations usually involved cheap cake and cheaper liquor, followed by maudlin comments about being happy to have made it to another birthday.
"Yeah. She'd have been twenty-eight."
It was a good age, since few Triad Hunters ever lived past twenty-two—kind of ironic, since that's how old I was when I died my first death. My new body was twenty-seven, and I had no idea when her (my?) birthday was.
"What's that face for?" Wyatt asked.
"Huh?" Had I been pulling a face?
"You looked confused for a second."
"Just wondering which birthday is technically mine now. When Evy Stone was born, or when Chalice Frost was born."
"What about May twentieth? The day you came back to me?"
I gave him a smile. "I can go with that."
His face went blank. "Stop."
"Stop the car."
I was in the middle of traffic and not very good at parallel parking, so I went up to the next block and found a small lot. He was already out the door before I shut off the engine, so I had to scramble to catch up. Back down the block. He was practically jogging. The foot traffic was pretty thin for a Sunday afternoon, but I still had to dodge a few bodies and angry glares.
"What is it?" I asked when I finally caught up with him.
He'd stopped across the street from our old building. His nostril twitched and his eyes were dilated. "I smell them. It's faint, but it's here."
"Over there." He pointed at my old building.
I wasn't even going to ask if he was kidding, because I knew he wasn't.
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