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Frost Burned

Frost Burned

Titel: Frost Burned
Autoren: Patricia Briggs
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with excess nervous energy—or maybe just to keep warm. It was, at best, thirty degrees, and the wind was cutting.
    I was still trying to figure out what had happened—though one thing I was sure of was that it hadn’t been Jesse’s fault. I leaned my head against the cement at the base of one of the big light poles and put the ice pack back on my left cheekbone and my nose—which had finally quit bleeding. “Captain’s in charge of the ship. My fault.”
    Panic attack,
I thought. Jesse’s question had taken me by surprise—but I hadn’t thought the idea of a baby scared me that much.
    I kind of liked the thought of a baby, actually. So why the panic attack? I could feel the remnants of it clogging my thoughts and lingering like the edges of an ice-cream headache—or maybe that was the effect of my face colliding with the steering column.
    The Rabbit was an old car, and that meant no air bags. However, it was a good German car, so it collapsed around the passenger compartment, leaving Jesse and me with bruises and bumps and a bloody nose and black eye. I was pretty tired of black eyes. With my coloring, bruises didn’t stand out like they did on Jesse. Given a week or two, no one would ever know we’d been in a car wreck.
    Even with the bag of ice between me and the rest of the world, I could tell that the passenger in the SUV I’d hit was still talking to the police because her voice was raised. The energy she was expending made me pretty sure she wasn’t hurt much, either. The driver hadn’t said anything, but he seemed okay to me. He stood a few steps back from his car and stared at it.
    The younger policeman said something to the woman, and it hit her like a cattle prod. The man who’d driven the car glanced over at Jesse and me, while the woman went off like a teakettle.
    “She
hit
us,” the woman shrieked. That was the gist of it anyway. There were a lot of unladylike words that began with “F,” with various “C” words thrown in for leavening. She had an alcohol slur that did nothing to moderate the shivery high pitch that she reached. I winced as her voice cut right through my aching skull and increased the pressure against my throbbing cheekbone.
    I understood the sentiment. Even if the accident isn’t your fault, there is hell to follow when talking to insurance companies, taking the car to a body shop, and dealing with the time the car is in the shop. Worse, if it’s totaled, you have to argue with the other guy’s insurance about how much it was worth. I was feeling pretty guilty, but Jesse’s flinch made me set that aside and pay attention to her.
    “Ben’s better,” I murmured. “He’s more creative when he swears.”
    “He does it in that English accent, which is too cool.” Jesse relaxed a little and started listening with more interest and less worry.
    The woman began batting at the younger policeman and swearing. I didn’t bother to listen to the details, but apparently she was mad at him now, and not us.
    “
And
Ben is too smart to swear at cops,” Jesse said with a sincere but misguided belief in Ben’s wisdom. She had turned to look at me and got a good view over my shoulder of the only real fatality of the incident. “Jeez, Mercy. Look at the Rabbit.”
    I’d been avoiding it, but I had to look sometime.
    The little rust-colored car was connected to the SUV in front of it and somehow had managed to ride up on something so that the front wheels, the nearest one no longer round, were about six inches up in the air. Its nose was also about two feet closer to the windshield than it had been.
    “It’s dead,” I told her.
    Maybe if Zee were still around to help, he could have done something with the Rabbit. Zee had taught me most of what I know about fixing cars, but there were some things that couldn’t be fixed without an iron-kissed fae to put them to rights. And Zee was holed up in the fae reservation in Walla Walla and had been since one of the Gray Lords killed a US senator’s son and declared the fae to be a separate and sovereign nation.
    Within minutes of the declaration, all of the fae had disappeared—and so had all of the reservations. The ten-mile loop of road that used to lead to the local reservation near Walla Walla was now eight miles long, and from nowhere along that route could you even see the reservation. I’d heard that one of the reservations had grown a thicket of blackberry bushes and disappeared inside.
    There was a rumor that

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