Home > Midnight Labyrinth (Elemental Legacy #4)(2)

Midnight Labyrinth (Elemental Legacy #4)(2)
Author: Elizabeth Hunter

Damn nosy kids. “Yeah.”

Zoots frowned. “You jumping roofs at the museum or something?”

Ben couldn’t stop the smile. “I work for private clients.”

“Huh.” She nodded. “So… you’re into some serious Indiana Jones kinda shit, huh?”

Ben rose and raked a hand through his hair. “Don’t be ridiculous. You think I’d look good in a hat?”

He caught the quick flush on her cheeks before he jumped off the play structure and walked toward the gate. “See you next week, Zoots.”

“Later, Indiana.”

 

Ben caught the train to Spring Street station, then walked toward Broadway and his favorite café. He sat at the picnic tables outside Café Lilo and watched the growing rush of pedestrians filling the sidewalk. He read a newspaper someone had left behind while he drank coffee and devoured a bagel.

There was no typical crowd at Café Lilo, which was one of the reasons Ben liked it. Stockbrokers, dog walkers, young parents, and college kids all frequented the family-owned café. A few tourists came in, but it wasn’t a flashy place. Morning delivery and sanitation trucks competed in the narrow streets while a growing crowd of taxis and hired cars dodged between them, heading toward Lower Manhattan.

He flipped to the Arts section of the paper and made a few notes about gallery openings. An auction announcement. A charity gala sponsored by some outfit called Historic New York. A new surrealist exhibit opening at the Museum of Modern Art.

His sunlight quota met, he headed back to the building on Mercer he was still renovating. He’d called the massive, unfinished penthouse home for two years. Both stories had finished floors and the semblance of rooms. The roof garden was a work in progress.

He nodded at the silent doorman, who was known for discretion more than amiability, and took the elevator to the top floor. He had two full floors of the building. He pushed the button for the living area on the top floor, bypassing his office on the floor below.

The loft was home. It was his office.

Finely honed reflexes were the only thing that saved him from the three-inch-thick book that dropped from the loft overhead.

The loft could also be a death trap.

He glared up. “What are you doing?” There were books—his books—scattered on the floor under her loft. “Tenzin, what the hell?”

Another book fell flat on the floor to his left.

“Stop throwing my books!”

A dark head poked out, cloaked in carefully placed shadows that protected her from sunlight. “Did you move my swords?” She held out another book, narrowed her eyes, and dropped it.

“Cut it out!” Ben shouted. “And no, I did not move your swords. I swear, Tenzin—”

“Are you sure?” A small figure floated out of the loft like the proverbial angel of book death, arms stretched out with two of his massive art books in her hands. “Are you sure you didn’t move my swords?”

Damn pain-in-the-ass, stubborn wind vampire.

Ben glared at her. “I did not…”

Oh shit. He had.

“I told you,” she said.

“One sword, Tenzin! One. Sword.” He held his hands out, ready to rescue his books. “Do not drop those books.”

Tenzin hovered over him, a pissed-off, flying demon with a pretty round face and a sheet of black hair falling around her. She looked young, but she wasn’t. She was one of the most ancient elemental vampires on the planet, born on the northern steppes of Asia thousands of years before. She was also Ben’s partner.

And a book abuser.

She wouldn’t have tried it when she’d been working with his uncle, Giovanni Vecchio. Of course, Giovanni was a rare-book collector and a fire vampire who would have seriously wounded her if she tried.

Tenzin narrowed her eyes. “It’s not nice when someone messes with your stuff, is it?”

“I didn’t damage your damn rapier! The way you had it placed, it almost took out my eye every time I left the downstairs bathroom. So I moved it. I didn’t drop it on its hilt from a height of twelve feet!”

“It wouldn’t have taken out your eye if you weren’t looking at your phone all the time. You should watch where you’re going.”

“You’re making me mental.” His hardbacks were still suspended in the air. “Please put my books down. I’ll tell Giovanni you’re abusing them if you don’t.”

Tenzin had been friends with his uncle hundreds of years before Ben had been born, and they’d worked as assassins for a time. Tenzin wasn’t afraid of his uncle, but she found Giovanni’s disapproval annoying.

She floated to the ground, still staying in the shadows, and handed him the books. “There. Don’t move my stuff again.”

“Then don’t put it where I could do myself permanent bodily injury, Tiny. Not all of us can regrow body parts if we lose them.”

She cocked her head and looked at him. “That is a very slow and painful process, even for vampires.”

“And since I’m human, not an option for me. Please don’t put your swords in places that will gouge out my eyes.”

“Fine.” She bent down and picked up a single book. “Here.”

He took the book and ignored the dozen on the ground. “Thanks.”

Tenzin smiled, all ire forgotten. “You’re welcome.”

Then Tenzin flew back up to her loft and disappeared.

Ben looked at all the books on the floor. “Do you have any more up there?”

“Yes. Do you want me to—”

“Don’t toss them down.” He took a deep breath. “Hand them down please. After I put these away.” He picked up two more books. “Any calls or emails while I was out?”

“No calls.”

“But did you check your email?”

“No.” She sighed. “I wish you’d never made me an email account. It’s not the same as letters.”

“I know that, Tenzin, but it’s how the modern world communicates. And if you don’t check it every day, your inbox will take over the world.”

“Is that why you take your phone to the toilet?”

“Yes,” he said. “Now check your messages.”

Tenzin flew down and picked up a magazine from the coffee table. “Cara, check my email.”

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