Devil Cares: Chapter Fifteen

June 2, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Devil Cares) ()

You can tell I’m on vacation because once again I didn’t spend as much time editing as I should have. Oh, well. I’m off to hang with friends.

Gray eyes going wide with surprise, Kimber sputtered, “What? What are you talking about?”
She snorted. “Oh, everyone knew a little magic back in those days. I was just the only one with any bones about it.”
Kimber nodded impatiently, “Yes, yes, we’ve talked about that before. What’s this about devils and Elaine? Elaine Shores?”
“She was a Conroy, back then,” Prissy said.
“Elaine Shores trafficked with…” Kimber trailed off stupidly.
“I wouldn’t say trafficked,” Prissy said, “but she did come to me and ask me if there was a way to use magic to get her a man. That girl had her eyes set on quiet little Paulie Shores and he wouldn’t have nothing to do with nobody. I told her lovecraft was dangerous business, and she wasn’t getting the know-how from me.”
“So you taught her infernal summoning instead?” Kimber’s voice was edged.
Prissy shook her head. “Of course not. I told her to let her hair down and hike her skirts up if she wanted a man, like everyone else.”
With a quiet chuckle, Priscella went on, “Five years she was after that boy. Down right courted him, if you ask me. No, she didn’t come to me for devil working ‘til they’d been married and had their Jacob. Jacob had leukemia, you see. We didn’t know what it was, back then. Maybe I made a mistake telling her where to go to get what she needed for devil working, but if she came to you like she came to me you would have made it too.”
“I’ve never heard any of this,” Kimber said, “Jake Shores had leukemia? He’s one of the most robust men I’ve ever met, and it’s been years since I laid eyes on him.”
“Then I can only tell you that Elaine did her working properly.” Prissy shrugged. “I don’t know. All I know is that a few days after she came to me, this rain storm stirred up like you wouldn’t believe. It didn’t last this long, but it was about this time of year and it was raining.”
Kimber’s gray eyes bored into Priscella’s face. “Elaine Shores killed herself, did you know that?”
“I did,” came the steady reply.
“And you didn’t make the connection?”
“Of course I did, I’m no fool.” Priscella’s voice was sharp. “But if there’s a devil loose in Jericho, it’s all on Elaine. I never told her the rituals, she went to down to Billings to get her magics.”
“I’m not laying blame here,” Kimber said, “but you should have told somebody about this, called us.”
“I couldn’t call you,” Prissy pointed out, “I had no number. And I’m telling somebody now.”
“God, Prissy,” Kimber ran a hand through his hair. “Two other deaths have happened, my parents included. This could be related.”
“Devils are not opportunistic killers, Kimber,” Prissy said. “They are bound by their contracts, and if no one else summoned them they must depart. If these deaths are related to Elaine’s then they made their own deals and that’s their own fault.”
“My parents did not deal with devils!” Kimber shot off hotly.
“Exactly.” Priscella was utterly calm. “Which is why their death is a tragic accident, and nothing more. I heard you went up the Byrnes’ way and took care of some things. That wasn’t devils either, was it?”
“No,” Kimber grumbled. “But it could be caused by the disturbance of infernal travel.”
“You’re reaching, Kimber.” Not unkindly, Priscella went on, “I know it’s hard to accept that professionals like your parents died from something as simple as a car crash, but it’s hard to accept a parent’s death no matter what. No one can beat life, not even Colt and Cheyenne Mossberg. Sometimes things just happen.”
“I don’t accept that,” Kimber said defiantly. “There is something else going on here, and I’m going to find it.”
He glanced down at his watch. “I have to go, I have an appointment with the bank at one.”
Priscella nodded regally. “All right, I’ll see you around. Just think about something. If a distraught young mother had come to you with her dying child in her arms, and you had known a way to help her, even a horrible way, what would you have done?”
With that thought ringing in his mind, Kimber left the nursing home.
Kimber did not go to the bank after he left Priscella Jones, he headed straight back to the ranch. He couldn’t get Prissy’s story out of his head. Elaine Shores had summoned a demon? And after she had the weather had acted like it was acting now? Despite what Priscella had told him, it seemed clearer than ever to Kimber that there was a larger game afoot.
He skidded to a stop in the drive, hopped out of his car, and practically dashed into the house.
“You’ll never guess what I learned today,” Kimber burst out.
Barrett was sitting on the couch talking on the phone. He gave Kimber a weird look and made a shushing motion with his hand. Impatiently, Kimber all but bounced on his toes as he waited for his brother to finish.
“Two thirty, then? Yeah, that’s just fine. Thanks, man.” He hung up the phone.
“Elaine Shores conjured a demon!”
Blinking, Barrett said, “What?”
Practically throwing himself down on the couch next to his brother, Kimber went on, “When she was younger, way younger, Elaine Shores made a deal with a demon to save her son’s life.”
Looking anything but convinced, Barrett said slowly, “Okay. And where did you hear this?”
“Priscella Jones,” Kimber answered.
“How would Old Bones Jones even know that in the first place?”
“Because Prissy was the one Elaine asked where to find the ritual for infernal conjuration.”
“You don’t believe me,” Kimber said flatly.
“It’s not that,” Barrett protested, “I just don’t think someone her age is the best source of information.”
Kimber scoffed. “Priscella Jones is more aware now than most of us are at not even half her age. She’s not some senile old biddy, Barrett, she’s perfectly lucid and knows what she’s talking about.”
Wesson wandered down the stairs at this point.
“Oh, hey,” Kimber said, “there’s some Benitos in the car if you want to go get it.”
Wes’s face lit up. “Sweet.” He padded out to the car.
“Anyway,” Kimber continued once their brother was gone, “I think we need to look into this. It could be connected to the other deaths.”
“What do you want us to look into, exactly?” Barrett asked. “We’ve gone over the scenes, there’s nothing there.”
Running a hand through his hair, Kimber said, “I don’t know. Talk to her family, see if they know anything about this. Wes, it’s rude to lurk about.”
Ruefully, Wesson shuffled in off the front porch where he’d been listening to the conversation, the pizza box in his hand.
Very obviously still listening, Wes headed to the bar with the pizza, his brothers still in plain site.
Barrett sighed. “Even if we go talk to them, drudge up painful memories they don’t want to deal with right now, they might not know anything. On the off chance they do know something about Elaine’s supposed deal, that still doesn’t help us any. Mackayla was killed by a residual essence, Mom and Dad were killed by shear unlucky circumstance. There is no connection.”
Nostrils flaring, Kimber rose to his feet. He stared down his nose imperiously at his brother. “Outrageous out-of-season weather, three deaths in just over a week, at least two of them involving supernatural forces, and you still think there’s no connection? That defies all logic, Barrett. A demon could easily have manipulated a car crash, and even stroked up the negative emotions necessary for a residual essence to form.”
“Yeah,” Barrett nodded, “I agree. A demon easily could but we’ve found no evidence that one has.”
He leaned forward, entreaty in his face. “Kimber, why would one even want to? Demons are chaotic tricksters, they don’t plan things like this. Deaths of people not bound in deals to them wouldn’t help them any. Sure, they could do it for the fun of it, I guess, but there is no infernal residue at any of these scenes.”
“You said it yourself, Barrett,” Kimber replied, “demons are tricksters. That means they’re tricky. If we haven’t found any presence of demons on the scene it’s because we’ve missed something, not because it isn’t there.”
“God, Kimber—” Barrett began, but his brother cut him off.
“Elaine Shores made a demon deal in her youth, and the week after her apparent suicide three other people died.” Kimber stood straight and tall and gave Barrett the full force of his gray eyes. “That is not coincidence, Barrett. There’s no way.”
He snatched up his attaché and then headed for the door.
Wearily, Barrett called out, “Where are you going?”
“To talk to Paul Shores,” Kimber answered. “Wes, go do your homework.”
With a slam of the door, the middle Mossberg was gone.
Barrett collapsed back against the couch with a sigh. “I’d forgotten what he could be like when he got his jaws around something.”
Wes opened up the pizza box with a shrug. “He is right, though. That many deaths is pretty suspicious.”
“It is suspicious, but we haven’t found anything.” Barrett massaged his temples.
“Was there a service or anything for Elaine?” Wes asked, placing a piece of Benitos on a plate. “That was right before Mom and Dad so I don’t remember hearing anything.”
“She was cremated, I think,” was the answer.
Pizza in the microwave, Wes turned back to his brother. “You have a point though, too. If she killed herself because of a demon deal there would be residue at the scene, and there wasn’t.”
“You don’t think a little thing like that’s going to stop Kimber, do you?” Barrett asked sardonically.



  1. Zappaz said,

    Excellent! The mystery just keeps getting deeper! ^_^

  2. jekloneo said,

    I don’t know about American English, but:
    Outrageous OUT OF SEASON weather
    Is that supposed to be “out-of-season”?

    Anyway, good going!

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