Home > The Immortal Tailor(6)

The Immortal Tailor(6)
Author: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

They pulled up to the hospital entrance. “All right, if you think of anything else, Miss Morales, let me know. Here is my card.” He pulled one from his billfold and handed it to her.

“Thanks…” Her lovely brown eyes scanned the card. “Damien Greystone, classic tailor.”

“You never said what happened to your nephew. Will he be all right?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. Some kid punched him and busted his nose. My sister’s going to be heartbroken.” Her eyes dropped to her lap. The guilt on her face was obvious.

“Does this have something to do with you going public about the creature?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she admitted remorsefully. “The kid keeps standing up for his crazy aunt.”

“Sounds like a nice young man.”

Sky smiled, and a flicker of warmth sparked deep inside. He quickly pushed it away, stomped on it, and locked it inside a box.

“Which is why he’d be better off without me. I make a mess of everything.” She slid from the car. “Thanks for the ride, Mr. Greystone.”

“Damien,” he corrected. “And good luck.” He watched her disappear inside.

Apart from being “homely,” she was a kind person. It was a shame her life had been railroaded by a rogue sex fairy, though he still did not understand why Sky’d gone public. Wouldn’t it have been better to keep the encounter to herself rather than to lose all credibility?

Then again, he could tell from the topics she chose to report on that she wasn’t afraid of the truth—or telling it.

Suddenly, a wave of dread washed over him as her last words replayed in his mind. Her nephew would “be better off” without her.

She could not possibly mean… No. I am sure that is not it. He put the SUV in drive but couldn’t seem to hit the gas. “Just drive away, Damien. You know how this ends.” A mess.

He needed to get over to the sporting goods store before they closed and review their security tapes. It had been weeks since the incident, so if he was lucky, a copy of the tape would still be there.

He pulled away, hitting the street, feeling proud of himself. For once he’d walked away. A pretty woman in distress was his Achilles’ heel.

Who the fuck am I kidding? Pretty women, ugly women, children, abandoned demons—didn’t really matter. He had a weak spot for creatures in need. Not that he cared about any of them. It was a matter of principle. “If you don’t protect those in need of help,” his father used to say, “then who will?”

He pulled across traffic, making a sharp U-turn.

 

Damien parked his SUV and marched inside the hospital. He couldn’t leave without knowing the woman would be all right. Her words, combined with the sad state of her home, gave the appearance of someone who’d given up on life.

He needed to know for sure.

It took a bit of charming, but the nurse gave him the room number where Sky had gone. One hurdle down. Next, he had to figure out a way to ascertain her mental state without insulting her. Or terrifying the poor woman. He was a stranger who less than an hour ago had broken into her house, claiming he believed in supernatural creatures.

Of course, he did not believe. He knew firsthand. The point was, him showing up in her nephew’s hospital room required a very solid explanation.

I got nothing. He would have to wing it. That’s it. I’ll ask about the creature’s wings. What color were they? A complete red herring, but Sky wouldn’t know that.

Damien straightened his tie and knocked on the frame of the open door. “Hello? Miss Morales? Are you in here?”

“Yes?” Her head popped around the corner.

“I am very sorry to bother you, but I had one more question about something you said.” He stepped forward and gasped. Sky’s nephew lay there in the bed, his face bloody, swollen, and bruised. This was more than a broken nose. This was a brutal beating.

“Who did this?” he growled.

She shook her head, eyes red and puffy with fresh tears. “You should go, Mr. Greystone.”

“Damien,” he corrected sternly. “Who did this?”

She exhaled. “I did it. This is all my fault.”

“You cannot blame yourself for the,” he lowered his voice, “the creature incident. It was unprovoked and—”

“This was retaliation for publishing my article about the sex trafficking. They don’t want me to put out the next one.”

Damien’s mind shifted gears. They were not other children, were they? They were thugs. “I see.”

“You should go, Damien. You don’t want to get mixed up in this.”

She’s right. Walk away, Damien. Do not ask more questions.

He looked at the groaning boy with black hair, swollen eyes, and stitches in his brow. Then his gaze settled on Sky. He saw the devastation in her eyes.

“Tell me who did this,” he said. “Tell me everything you know.”

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

 

Damien knew he was heading down a path that might lead back to a dark place. A place where there was no use for his gentlemanly façade. But he could not turn his back on this woman.

Actually, that wasn’t quite true.

He could and should turn his back on her—a beautiful woman who might eventually wear him down. So much as one twinge of genuine feelings for her on his part would be disastrous. His curse didn’t care how little or how great his desires or feelings were for others. It killed without bias. She’d be better off on her own.

The problem was that he couldn’t turn his back on her and the boy. It was not in his DNA. Especially when he suspected there was more going on.

What were the odds that a sex fairy would attack Sky in a mall and a thug would attack her nephew at school? Yes, that was what she’d said. Miguel had been found in the parking lot after basketball practice. Miguel claimed it had been two men in masks driving a black pickup.

The incident didn’t appear to be related to the sex fairy, but he’d learned long ago that multiple random events occurring to the same people were usually not so random. That was why he had Sky walk him through the details of her sex-trafficking investigation.

Two months ago, Sky had received an anonymous tip about foreign women being trafficked in Ohio. Her initial investigation led her near downtown Cleveland to a food distribution warehouse.

That was when she decided to stake out the place. Over the course of several days, she observed twenty to thirty local trucks making pickups or deliveries during normal business hours. Not so unusual for that sort of business.

After closing, however, a refrigerated truck from an exotic salsa company showed up each night around two. The driver loaded up a large crate and left.

It was possibly nothing, but on the other hand, why would a company in San Diego, which used ingredients such as prickly pears, cactus paddles, ant eggs, and agave worms, procure them from Ohio? It didn’t fit. Not when they touted using ingredients from Mexico, including the tomatoes. Said so right on their website: “authentic pre-Hispanic salsas made with ingredients straight from Oaxaca.”

So what was in those crates?

Who knew? Because according to Sky, she’d found no evidence of enslaved women in that warehouse after she may have broken inside and may have looked around.

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