Message in a bottle

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Raven watched Lucah fidget by the bay door as he squatted beside the body. Wren Lance glared at the floor and one Sheriff Peabone, otherwise known as Marsden Felins, adjusted the leather belt over his rotund facade.

They hadn't made it to breakfast. Marsden called Raven when they were headed out of the house. He'd told him where he was and Raven decided to walk. Lucah grumbled about briars and Raven ended up counting spaces to shut the man up.

"Rave, is that who I think it is?" Marsden asked as he rocked back and forth from toe to heel.

"Yeah." Raven lifted the head up by the brown- and blond-streaked hair, discovering the fist-sized hole where the heart should have been. Raven's fist. Raven's scent covered the Vessel and a trace of Az's scent hovered over the sunken flap of skin that had once caressed an eyeball. The lashes poked out, and the skin puckered as if something that didn't belong rested there.

Another scent did not blend and Raven would have to ask Syra about the particular flavor of blackberries and brandy. Lucah began to fret, pacing and talking to himself again as he tugged at the end of his braid.

"Where's the heart?" Wren asked, and Raven examined the head again, finding it stuck to the underside of the tongue. Someone had shoved the organ into a hole and it didn't fit.

Wren blanched, backing away, making it to the pool table before the contents of his stomach found the outside of him again.

"The Assassin was here," Mars whispered, bending down. "Wren interrupted."

"Ah." Raven nodded, set the head down again, and backed up. "Ashes to ashes." Az had not been so callous or calculating in the kill. Wren said blade but there wasn't one.

The body of one Jaxon D'Aubigne burst into blue flame and the scent of rotting flesh caused Wren to vomit again.

"Just how dead was he?" Wren gasped.

"You done?" Raven asked as the man stood on shaky legs.

Jaxon had been dead since the final battle. Raven took his head and his heart then. Someone brought it to The Veil, and to this bar.

"Yeah. I think so."

Raven walked around and burned Wren's mess, too, while he looked around the space. "This is Moon's?"

"You didn't see the sign when you pulled in?" Wren asked.

"Don't test me. I didn't drive." Raven arched a brow. "When did the body get here?"

"Well, he wore it in." Wren shrugged. "I don't know when he lost it if that's what you're asking."

"Do you have security cameras?" Raven asked.

"In here?" Wren laughed. "I'd never have any business if I recorded them. What you see is what there is."

The garage held three bays with the bar in the one furthest away. With the bay doors up, every nook and cranny had been bathed in sunlight. "You're telling me that people come here to feed?" Raven asked.

"They do. Why? What's wrong with it?" Wren frowned.

"It's too public. I wouldn't want anyone seein' that." Raven shook his head.

"I wouldn't either if I was mated to that," Wren muttered, pointing to Lucah. Lucah flinched and Raven cocked his head to the side before he channeled his majick and flung Wren into the space between the second and third bay door.

"Apologize," Raven murmured.

A shadow fell across the concrete as Scot stepped into the garage. "My Raven, do you need a jar?"

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