Misguided Angel Page 20

"I didn't know you played," she said.

"You don't know a lot of things about me," Oliver grumbled. "What do you want, Force?

Got another lamp to break?"

Mimi crossed her arms in front of her chest and frowned. "Why didn't you come to my office yesterday afternoon like my secretary asked you to?"

He shrugged and picked up his book bag. "I figured you wanted the same thing, and the answer's still no."

His disrespect annoyed her, and although she knew it wouldn't help to antagonize him any further, she couldn't resist. "Why do you still keep a picture of her in your locker? It's pathetic, you know. It's not like she cares about you. Not anymore. If she ever did."

Oliver sighed noisily. He rolled his eyes to the heavens. "Please stop talking."

"Like I said yesterday, you should know better than to think a vampire would ever truly care for their familiar. I mean, of course her mother's actions appear to suggest otherwise, but never in the history of the Coven has that ever happened before, and believe me--"

"Shut up, Force. You have no idea what you're talking about. And anyway, is that why you're here? To needle me about Schuyler? Don't you have anything better to do, like save the world from lunatic Silver-Blooded vampires?" He shut his locker and started to walk down the hallway, and Mimi had to run to keep up with him. The two of them garnered a few curious looks from the other students. Everyone knew they couldn't stand each other.

Mimi blocked his way and whispered in order to dissuade any potential eavesdroppers.

"Look, you must have heard that the Conspiracy met yesterday."

"Yeah. I saw the trailer on the Internet. Looks like Josephine Mara's up to her tricks again. Some new movie, sure to 'suck,'" he said, using air quotes to make his point.

"That's what we want everyone else to think. The video's real."

Oliver stopped and stared at her. "Wait a minute. What do you mean it's real? As in . . ."

"As in the Coven has had its first real security breach in a hundred years. That's Victoria Taylor in the video. It was taped at Jamie Kip's apartment; he had a little get-together to celebrate his eighteenth. She's been missing since the night of the party. We have five days to find her before they burn her alive."

"But what do you need me for?" Oliver asked. "Don't the Venators have this in the bag?"

"Whoever did this knows how we operate. So we have to do something else. We need you to talk to the other Conduits--find out who might have squealed, who was at the party, who holds a grudge against us."

Oliver shook his head and raised an eyebrow. "But why should I help you?"

"You're a Repository scribe. You work for me."

"Not quite true," he said, maneuvering around Mimi. It was November in New York, and the air was chilly. Oliver huddled in his thin wool jacket. "I work for the Repository, which is under Renfield's jurisdiction.

You're going to need to get a transfer from him to let me work for the Regent's office. I guarantee you it's going to take three months to get one. Renfield is very strict about policy and procedure. He doesn't like you vampires pushing him around."

Mimi gritted her teeth. Oliver was right. That old human coot wouldn't just assign her Oliver--he would make a lot of bureaucratic red tape.

"Okay, then! You should help me because there's someone in trouble and I know you're a good guy, and you're not about to let a vampire die."

"Vampires don't die," Oliver pointed out. "They get recycled to suck for another day. Pun definitely intended. Or don't you know your own history?"

"Whoever this is has the Black Fire; it will burn the blood," Mimi stressed. "Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"Why should I care?" Oliver snapped. "It's not my problem. I'm sorry, but the answer is no. Send the transfer request to Renfield. I'll see you in three months."

Mimi was a little taken aback. Clearly the Repository had overestimated the depth of his loyalty to the Coven. She couldn't understand why he was being so antagonistic. Was it simply annoyance, a personal dislike for her, or lingering resentment over being left behind by Schuyler? Whatever it was, Mimi realized she did not care. He was being needlessly stubborn.

This wasn't about the two of them, or whatever personal animosity they shared. An immortal life was on the line.

"Good God, Perry! Do you even know what you're saying?" Mimi cried. Her outburst caused several people in the courtyard to turn in their direction. Mimi glared at them. She wanted to stamp her feet, but she held her emotions in check. She was strong enough to lead an army of angels into battle, but she couldn't get one foolish Red Blood to see things her way? She decided to try something completely alien to her. "Look, I know what's going on, I know . . . that just like me, you're hurting." There. She'd admitted it.

Oliver continued to sulk, but Mimi pressed on. "I just think that--well, that maybe working on this will stop the pain for a bit. Give you something else to think about." She ran her hands through her hair in exasperation. "It's helping me, so maybe it'll help you. Even just a little."

Oliver fingered his jacket and sighed. "Well, it would help if you would ask once in a while. Instead of just demanding like you usually do."

"What do you mean?" Mimi asked, her eyes narrowed.

"I mean, you could ask nicely. You know, instead of threatening and throwing your weight around like some kind of Third World dictator. All you need is the little red cap and the epaulets and the aviators," he said, waving his hand over her. "You come across like a blond Idi Amin."

"Who's he? Never mind. You mean, like, 'Please, Oliver, will you help me find the traitor?'"

"Exactly."

Now it was Mimi's turn to roll her eyes. "Very well. Please, Oliver, will you help me find the traitor?" She felt like a three-year-old scolded by her parents for her lack of manners.

Oliver smiled. "Was it that hard, Mimi? Don't answer. I know it was. But of course I'd be glad to help, since you asked. What else do I have to do?"

EIGHTEEN

The Usual Suspects

As a rule, Mimi did not enjoy the company of Red Blood boys unless they were tasty.

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