The Crime Scene Unit department was on the scene when Jared and Jensen parked in front of Mackenzie’s apartment. They were stopped at the main door by a patrolman, and Jensen wished he still had his detective badge. Luckily, all they had to do was mention that Detective Williams was expecting them and they were ushered upstairs.
Mackenzie’s apartment looked alien to Jensen with all the police combing over it. It took all of Jensen’s will to keep from yelling at them to stop handling Mackenzie’s things so impersonally, but he knew they weren’t doing it intentionally. Suddenly he felt a squeeze on his arm and turned to see Jared looking compassionately at him.
“It’s okay,” Jared said softly to him. “You know they have to do this.”
“Yeah. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“Ackles.” Detective Williams called to him from across the room. “Is that Padalecki?”
“Yes, sir. Jared Padalecki.” Jared walked over and shook the detective’s hand. “My receptionist told me you were looking for me. What do you need for me to do?”
“Can you come over here and give your statement to the lieutenant?” Williams pointed to a smartly dressed young lady. “She’ll want your fingerprints too.”
“Fingerprints?” Jared looked concerned. “I mean, okay, but I did touch some stuff while I helped Mac into the apartment.”
“And that’s what we need to rule out,” Jensen told him. He wanted to reassure Jared that everything was okay, but he knew that he needed to be officially cleared before the local police would take Jensen’s word for it.
Williams steered Jensen away from where the lieutenant sat with Jared, taking his statement. “Nice looking young man,” he remarked, side-eyeing Jensen.
“Mm hmm.” Jensen refused to rise to the bait. He crossed his arms and locked gazes with Williams.
They stared at each other for a moment, then Williams broke out in a grin. “Okay, okay. So what did he tell you?”
“That a group of them went out to a bar, and Mac got too tipsy to get home by herself. Jared got her home and put her to bed on the couch and then left. He didn’t know she was missing until I met him in Jeff Morgan’s office yesterday.”
“We’ll see if what he’s saying today matches up with what he told you.” Williams scratched the back of his neck. “As of right now we’re not finding anything that indicates foul play. Everything looks in order just like you told me when you came in to file the missing person’s report.”
“Fuck.” Jensen swore. “There’s nothing?”
“Sorry, not yet. We’re checking to see if there’s anything on traffic cams that might be able to help us.”
“Okay, thanks.” Jensen sighed and looked around the apartment, hoping to find something--anything--that looked out of place, that he might have missed the first time. Jared joined him when he was finished giving his statement. “How’d it go?” Jensen asked him with a grin.
Jared shuddered. “I never want to have to do that again. I know I’m not guilty, but I swear they made me doubt myself and what happened.”
Jensen chuckled. “It’s our superpower. They teach you that at the police academy.”
“Yeah, no thank you.” Jared was quiet for a moment. “So can you tell me what’s going on?”
Jensen motioned for Jared to follow him into Mackenzie’s bedroom, which was currently devoid of police. “They’re looking for something that would give them a lead as to what might have happened. Unfortunately they haven’t found anything.”
"Any kind of thing in particular?" Jared asked while looking around the room. Jensen watched as he seemed to zero in on a section of Mackenzie's floor.
“What are you looking at, Jared?” Jensen’s senses clicked into overdrive. Jared had picked up a clue.
“Not looking, smelling.” Jared sniffed, and walked closer to the wide area between Mackenzie’s bed and her desk. He bent down and sniffed the throw rug. “Here, help me move this.”
Jensen grabbed one end and they quickly moved the rug. Underneath it, they found a circle with various symbols around it etched into the floor. Parts of the circle looked smudged, like ashes had been rubbed into the wooden boards.
“How the hell did you know this was here?” A frisson of unease slipped down Jensen’s spine. Maybe Jared wasn’t as innocent as he seemed.
“I didn’t,” Jared replied shortly. “I’ve never been in Mac’s bedroom before.”
“Then how –“
“I smelled it.” Jared ran his fingers over the smudge. “Here, smell.”
Jensen sniffed cautiously at Jared’s fingers. The scent of cinnamon, maybe mint, and something musty hit his nose and almost made him sneeze. “What is it?”
“Sak chans. ‘Lucky Bag’,” Jared stated. “It’s a mixture of calendula, cinnamon and clove. It’s commonly used in the voodoo rituals for calling up Madame Tia.” He stood and poked his head out of the room. “Detective Williams? Can you come here?”
Williams came to the door and cursed when Jared showed him the Lucky Bag. “We wouldn’t have found that right away, but Jared is right. Practitioners use that herb mix. Was Mackenzie a believer?”
“Not that I know of.” Jensen shook his head. “If she was, she never told me.” He was shocked by this discovery and its possible implications. Had Mac gotten sucked into this voodoo business during her time in New Orleans? God, he hoped not. It was all creepy and dark and, frankly, kinda messy. All he could think of was the chanting in his dream from last night and it made him shudder. Then another thought occurred to him.
“Wait, how did you know about the Lucky Bag?” Jensen asked Jared. “Do you teach that stuff in class? Did Mac get this stuff from you? Huh?” Jensen pushed Jared heavily against the wall. “Did you warp her mind?”
“Back down, Ackles!” Detective Williams pulled Jensen off of Jared. “Beating the shit out of him isn’t going to help.”
Jared rubbed the back of his head where it had hit the wall. “I didn’t get Mackenzie involved in voodoo or any other form of spirituality or magic. But that doesn’t mean someone else in the department didn’t. Jeff encourages his students to study rituals, and his TAs outdo themselves to be number one in his books. She could have started practicing just to get a leg up on the other students.”
Jensen whirled around to face Williams. “Is this connected with Jeff’s disappearance? What do you know!”
Williams sighed. “Nothing major there either, but this might open up a few leads. Jared, can you give us a list of all of Jeff’s teaching assistants? It’s possible that Mackenzie’s and Jeff’s disappearances could be a matter of professional competition and jealousy. We’ll start checking that out immediately.”
“Yes, sir.” Jared and the detective left, giving Jensen a chance to calm down. He stared at the floor, studying the circle etched into the wood. On a hunch, he knelt down and felt around the circle’s outline. One of the wood slats dipped slightly as he touched it. Glancing out past the doorway to make sure no one was watching, he pulled out the pocket knife he always carried, flipped it open and pried up the floorboard.
In the small space now uncovered, Jensen found a small metal cigar box. Inside the box were several items wrapped in a deep purple cloth. He heard Jared and Detective Williams coming back so he quickly slipped the cloth into his jacket pocket, put the box back and replaced the floorboard. He stood up just as they returned to the bedroom.
“Okay, Jared’s given us the names of the teaching assistants and their contact information,” said Williams. “He said he’s going to be with you if we need him.” The amused tone of Williams’ voice left no doubt what he thought about that development. Jensen ignored him again.
Jared just chuckled. “We’ll stay out of trouble, Detective .”
“Uh huh.” Williams replied dryly. “I’ll hold you to that.”
“Well, Detective.” Jensen shook Williams’ hand. “Looks like you don’t need us messing up the rest of the crime scene so we’ll head out.”
“I’ll call you when we find out anything new,” Williams said.
“Thanks.” Jensen wove his way through the police that were still processing the apartment and headed down the stairs to the sidewalk. Jared followed without comment.
Once they were outside, Jared leaned in and spoke softly into Jensen’s ear. “Want to tell me why we beat it out of there like the place was on fire?”
“Let’s get on the bike and go around the corner. I don’t want any officers nearby,” Jensen murmured under his breath as he put on his helmet.
Jared nodded and climbed on the bike, holding it steady for Jensen to get on behind him. They pulled out into traffic, drove a few blocks, turned the corner and stopped in front of an outdoor café. “Is this good?”
“Yeah.” Jensen climbed off and took the nearest empty table while Jared parked the bike. He ordered a water for each of them and waited for Jared to come sit down.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Jared stretched out his long legs.
“First off, I owe you an apology for accusing you about teaching Mac about voodoo. It was wrong and I’m sorry.” Jensen rubbed his face. “Truth is, I’m really out of my depth here. I'm afraid for her, and I don't know anything about this stuff, and so I just lashed out.”
“Apology accepted and I understand,” Jared replied, smiling softly. “So what’s going on.”
Jensen took a deep breath. Pulling the cloth out from his jacket, he said, “I found this under the floorboards of Mac’s apartment.”
Jared took the bundle and carefully placed it on the table. He unfolded the cloth to reveal a small bag, along with some bones, stones, and charms. He took the straw that the server had left with the waters, unwrapping it and using it as a little poker to separate the items, turning the charms over with the edge of the straw. “Hmm.” Jared then untied the string around the small bag and poured out the contents. It was mostly herbs and had a similar scent to the ashes that were on the floor of Mackenzie’s bedroom. Amongst the herbs were more small bones; they looked like bird bones to Jensen.
“What is it?” Jensen was almost afraid to ask. He didn’t want to find out that it was something evil or dark.
“It’s a charm bag. When used with the right incantation, this one would be used for success.”
Jensen blew out a breath of relief. “So it’s not like putting a hex on someone.”
Jared laughed. “No, not this one, thankfully.”
“So can you tell where she got it?” Jensen took a sip of his water.
“You know on television when the FBI say they can identify a bomb maker by his signature?” Jensen nodded. “Some voodoo practitioners ‘sign’ their work. See here?” Jared pointed to a small mark on one of the bones. “This is the maker’s mark. I know exactly who made this.”
“Shit, really?” Jensen began to get excited. A lead. Finally.
“Yup, and her shop is open right now.”
“Let’s go then.”
The traffic was light as they made their way into the French Quarter. Jared made a phone call while they were stopped at a traffic light, but Jensen couldn’t hear the conversation over the roar of the motorcycle. He hung on tight to Jared as they passed a taxi on Bourbon and hoped to hell that whoever they were seeing could help them find Mackenzie.
Loretta Devine’s Voodoo Shop was a small storefront on St. Anne Street. Jared was able to find a parking space nearby, so they pulled off the road and locked up the bike.
The store was busy, which gave Jensen a chance to look around. He was amazed at the amount and variety of merchandise crammed into the tiny shop. Gaily colored pictures of revelers mixed with dark paintings and posters of skulls, cemeteries, and the Loa reached high to the tin covered ceiling. Walls were covered with beads and African masks, shelves were jammed with boxes of cigars, jars of what looked like peppers in alcohol, mugs and skulls, baskets of polished stones and charms, voodoo dolls, crosses and bags and hanging herbs. It was difficult to walk around in the narrow aisles.
Jensen got a face full of feathers as he tried to sneak around an elderly man fishing through a bowl of silver charms. He looked around for Jared and found him talking to an older woman with beautiful coffee black skin. Jensen managed to make his way over to them without knocking over any of the numerous statues and baskets that were strewn about the shop.
Jared smiled at him. “Jensen, this is Loretta Devine. She owns the shop.”
“Hello, child.” Loretta’s eyes locked on his as she greeted him. Jensen felt like she was staring into his soul, gauging him. “Oh. He is a pretty one,” she said as an aside to Jared. “Erzulie Dantor likes him, too. Does he know?”
Jensen saw Jared flush and wondered what they were talking about. “Nice to meet you, ma’am.” He held out his hand for her to shake. She took it with a crystal-like laugh.
“Polite, too.” Loretta held his hand for a moment. “Oh, his nanm is strong. That’s good. He’ll need it.”
“Nanm?” Jensen asked.
“It means soul,” Jared told him. “Show Loretta a picture of Mackenzie.”
Jensen took out his phone, but Loretta shook her head.
“Do you have a real picture of her? Then I can get a much clearer sense of her.” Jensen did, a small thumbnail picture from Mackenzie’s college graduation, and he handed it to Loretta.
“Oh yes, I remember her.” Loretta tapped the picture. “Such a sweet child. Polite, like you. We had a lovely talk about ritual.” She smiled at Jensen. “She was gathering items to perform a ritual for her brother. For you, I gather.”
“Wait, for me?” Jensen didn’t quite know what to think about Mackenzie performing a ritual for him, or really about Mackenzie performing a ritual at all.
“It was a ritual for personal success. She told me that you were starting a new business and she wanted to give you a boost.” Loretta laughed again. “She was nervous that she would do it improperly. I reassured her that it was the intention that counted. Is she alright?”
“We’re not sure.” Jensen was about to ask Loretta more about Mackenzie’s visit when she excused herself to deal with a customer.
“So what did that part about having a strong soul mean?” Jensen asked.
“It helps to have a strong soul when you summon a Loa,” Jared replied. “Especially if it’s one of the major ones. They can be headstrong and difficult to handle.”
“Wait, what? What do you mean, ‘summon a Loa’?” Jensen was confused.
“Loretta is a very skilled practitioner. I told her what’s happened so far, and she said we need to hold a summoning to get some answers about Mackenzie.”
“Are you serious?” Jensen couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “My sister is missing and you want to play around with witchcraft?”
Jared looked annoyed. “First of all, it’s not witchcraft. Second, sometimes the other side has answers that can’t be found anywhere else.” Jared blew out a breath in frustration. “Why do you think I brought you here, Jensen?”
“To ask questions! Not to…to cast spells and talk to spirits!” Jensen shook his head. This was ridiculous. He needed to be out looking for Mackenzie, not playing around in a voodoo shop that looked like someone’s Pirates of the Caribbean dress-up chest had vomited all over the store. He started towards the door, but Jared's hand on his arm stopped him.
“Please.” Jared’s voice was soft, almost mesmerizing. Jensen couldn’t help but lean in to the tone. “I know you’re skeptical, but at least give it a chance. It can’t hurt.”
“Okay.” Jensen found himself agreeing. He didn’t think it would work, but for some reason he had an overwhelming need to please Jared. “So what do we need to do?”
“Follow me.” Jared headed towards a door in the back of the shop. Opening it, he motioned for Jensen to enter ahead of him.
They walked down a small hallway and came to another door. The room they entered was beyond anything that Jensen had ever seen.
The windowless room was painted in a deep gold with a burnished sheen. A parquet wood floor had a circle pattern with sigils similar to the ones he’d seen in Mackenzie’s apartment. An altar was set up against one wall, a deep purple cloth draping it. Religious glass candles, a brass bowl, dolls, and beads covered the altar. A wooden chair that looked like a throne was in the middle of the circle.
“This is Loretta’s workroom,” Jared explained. “She’ll be here shortly, but in the meantime I need your help setting up. First off, send me a picture of Mackenzie.”
“Okay.” Jensen wasn’t sure how he could help. He shook his head in disbelief. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever thought he would be helping set up for a voodoo ritual. He quickly texted Jared the picture he’d shown to Loretta.
“In that closet on the top shelf is a top hat, a frock coat, and a pair of sunglasses. I’m going to need them.” Jared stepped over to the altar and reached under it, bringing out a jar of peppers similar to the ones Jensen had seen in the shop.
Jensen opened the closet door and found the items Jared had asked about. The top hat was covered in black silk that looked worn with age. The hatband was purple with a black feather. Jensen turned it over to see that the interior was lined in red silk. It looked familiar, but he couldn’t place where he’d seen it before.
The sunglasses were gold wire rims with the left lens dark and the right lens missing. Jensen wondered what had happened to the missing lens.
The black jacket was cut in an old-time formal style with tails, with a blood red rose nestled in the lapel. Jensen could smell the scent of the rose and was amazed at how realistic it looked. He brushed his finger over the petals and realized it was
real. He turned to ask Jared about it, but lost his train of thought as he watched Jared move.
He’d already thought that Jared moved beautifully, but seeing him prepare the altar was like watching water flow. Jared bent and straightened, his muscles flexing as he poured the liquid from the pepper jar out into rocks glasses and set up cigars. Jensen couldn’t help but focus on Jared’s elegant hands, deftly mixing herbs, his long fingers dancing over the glass herb jars. Jensen flashed back to his dream and for a split second imagined those fingers playing over his nipples and grasping his cock. He shuddered and forced himself to think of anything else but Jared and sex. This was so not the time.
“Here you go.” His voice was hoarse when he offered Jared the hat, glasses, and coat.
“Just put them on the chair”, Jared said. “We’ll need them in a bit.”
“Uh, is it okay if I walk inside the circle?” Jensen had heard somewhere that you didn’t want to break magic circles or some such thing.
“It’s fine. We haven’t started the ritual yet so you’re safe.” Jared chuckled.
“Oh, okay.” Jensen placed the items on the seat of the chair. “Anything else I can do to help?”
“No, we just need to wait for Loretta.”
“And I’m here.” Loretta bustled in, startling Jensen. She had changed her clothes; now she was dressed in a long white dress with strands of white and purple beads decorating her neck. “Had to shoo folks out of the shop. Wouldn’t do for the tourists wandering around while we do this.” She smiled reassuringly at Jensen. “Don’t worry, honey. It’ll be fine.”
Jensen wasn’t so sure. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“Loretta, we’ve set up, but would you check?” Jared motioned to the altar. “Make sure it’s to your satisfaction.”
Loretta walked over to the altar and studied it. Jensen saw her furrow her brow. “You want to call up the Baron? Are you sure?”
“It’s the best, considering what we are asking for.” Jared sounded defensive.
“All right, but you better let him know what to expect.” She cocked her head towards Jensen. “The Baron can be…a bit much to deal with.”
“Who’s the Baron?” Jensen was beginning to think that Loretta’s reassurance might be a bit premature.
“Baron Samedi,” Jared said. “I told you about him at the house, remember?”
“Yeah. The Master of the Dead, right?” Jensen paled. “You think Mackenzie is dead.”
“No no no.” Jared replied quickly. “Yes, the Baron is Master of the Dead, but he also is the king of the other side. He knows things and has channels of information that may help us.”
Jensen searched Jared’s face and felt that he was sincere, but Jensen couldn’t help feeling uncertain. “Jared, I’m not sure…” He was interrupted by Loretta taking his hands in hers.
“Jensen.” She squeezed his hands. “This will get you the information you need. Something that the police have been unable to find. If you don’t trust me, do you trust Jared? Search yourself for the answer.”
Jensen gazed into her eyes, warm brown and certain. He looked at Jared then closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he thought about what Loretta asked. Did he trust Jared?
Opening his eyes he said, “Yes.”
“Good.” Loretta squeezed his hands again and let them go. “There’s a few things you need to know and prepare for before we call the Baron.” She walked over to the chair and, picking up the coat, handed it to Jared. “During a summoning, a selected person agrees to be the ‘horse’ for the Loa to ride. Jared has agreed to be the horse for us today.”
“Wait. Does that mean you’re going to be possessed?” Jensen was horrified. Images of Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist’ flashed through his panicking mind. “No. That’s not gonna happen.”
“Jensen,” Jared said gently. “It’s not like the stuff you see on television. It’s not evil. It’s like being a medium--giving the Baron a voice for us to ask our questions. I’ll be fine.” Jared smiled slightly. “I’ve done it before so I know what to expect.”
Jensen didn’t know what to say. He was so far out of his depth he didn’t know what was up and what was down. He took a deep breath. “Okay. But if something seems wrong….”
“I’ll make sure he’s okay.” Loretta promised. “I would never risk Jared.” She patted Jensen on the chest. “Now, Jared, go ahead and get ready.”
Jensen watched as Jared put on the coat, shrugging the shoulders into place. He sat down, slipped on the glasses and put the top hat on.
“Okay. Jensen, what’s going to happen next is Loretta is going to chant to call the Baron among us. Don’t freak out because it’s gonna be a bit weird. The Baron is…” Jared smirked and looked at Loretta. “Let’s just say that the Baron is a hedonist. He likes alcohol and cigars, which is why we have those on the altar.”
“He likes sex too,” Loretta chuckled. “And he’s gonna like you. A lot.”
“What?” Jensen exclaimed. “He’s gonna want to have sex with me?” His head whirled--if this whole mess wasn't bizarre enough, there was going to be sex with voodoo Loas?
“Jared will keep him under control, but that doesn’t mean he won’t come on to you. He likes beautiful people,” Loretta explained. “And child, you are right up his alley.”
“Great,” Jensen grumbled. “The voodoo spirit has the hots for me.”
Jared chuckled. “It’s not that bad.”
“Says you.” Jensen groused, trying to come to terms with what was about to happen. “So what do I have to do during this ritual.”
“You’re going to need to be in the circle with Jared. It will keep him contained. The Baron is going to be angry that he’s being held, and he won’t talk to you unless you give him the cigar and liquor.” Loretta handed him the cigar and the drink. She put a small stool at Jensen’s feet, laying a box of wooden matches and the picture of Mackenzie on it. “The Baron is not a fan of electronics,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ll call him up. Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” Jensen squared his shoulders and stepped into the circle. He watched as Loretta lit the candles and placed them around the circle. She began murmuring something under her breath as she took the different herbs and put them in the brass bowl. Mashing them with a wooden pestle, she added water from a teapot that Jensen hadn’t noticed before. While she stirred it, she began singing.
Here we call the magic, the magic
Down from heaven up from hell, the magic
Spirits high and spirits low, the magic
We call the magic, the magic.
Jared joined her, repeating the words over and over as she dipped an aspergillum in the mixture and sprinkled them. The melody was hypnotic and Jensen found himself humming along.
Loretta started swaying back and forth as she sprinkled more water on the mixture. She whirled around and placed the bowl back on the altar. Picking up a small knife, Jensen saw her slit her thumb and let the blood drops fall into a crystal bowl. She mixed that with a grey powder that looked like ash. Jensen shuddered to think what it really was.
She turned back to the circle and motioned to Jared. He came right to the edge of the circle and held his hands out. Jensen cringed as she rubbed the paste onto his hands, then his forehead and cheeks.
Her song changed, growing darker as the melody changed to a minor key.
Nighttime comes and covers the day
Bones, blood, ash and death – his realm.
I call you forth to ride your horse.
Baron oh Baron, come now to your supplicant.
Baron, come forth.
Rum and cigars, our offering to you
We ask for your aid
Baron, come forth.
Jensen startled as Jared let out a moan, jerked, and fell back into the chair. His body shook, his muscles spasming, his chest heaving as though he couldn’t breathe. Strange sounds spewed out of his mouth, shouts and words and groans. His hands clenched the arms of the chair so tightly that Jenasen was afraid he would break his fingers.
Baron, we beg
Your assistance from the dark realm
Help us, we implore
Baron come forth!
Jared’s body froze in rigor; his mouth wide in a silent scream. Suddenly he fell limp, his arms loose against his sides, his head tilted down just enough to hide his face.
Loretta stopped singing. The silence hung heavy in the room, the only sounds were their breathing.
“Is he okay?” Jensen whispered.
“Yes. The Baron is here. They’re negotiating. Hold out the rum.” Loretta instructed him. “He’ll take it from you if he decides to help us.”
Jensen extended the rum. For a moment, Jared didn’t move. Slowly his hand reached up for the crystal tumbler. Bringing it to his lips, Jensen watched as Jared closed his eyes and tossed it back, his neck working as the liquor slid down his throat. Jared drained the glass and threw it into the corner where it shattered into dozens of shards.
Jared turned his head and stared at Jensen, a wicked smile appearing on his face. Jensen sucked in a breath as he saw Jared’s face.
It was Jared, but it wasn’t. His eyes were hollow and burning, his cheeks sunken. A hint of a skull overlaid his face. The brim of his hat shadowed his forehead. He kept his eyes locked with Jensen’s as he leaned back insolently against the chair, hips pushed out and legs spread out almost obscenely.
“Hello, Chere.” The voice coming from Jared’s mouth had a distinct Creole accent and sounded nothing like his normal one. It was dark and gravely, and sounded like ashes. “You ‘ave sometin’ for me?” He held his hand out languidly.
Jensen carefully handed him the cigar and watched as Jared--the Baron--examined it. The Baron sniffed it and made a pleased sound. “Ver’ nice. Now get me a light.” He motioned to the candles. “I don’ carry fire wit’ me.”
Before Jensen could even begin to pick one up, Loretta snapped. “No! Don’t touch the candles.” She tsked. “Baron, you know better.”
“Hush, woman,” the Baron hissed. “You want me help, yes? Then I need fire.”
“We have fire for you, not to worry.” Loretta replied shortly. “Jensen, use the matches.”
Jensen had forgotten she’d given him the box of wooden matches. Shaking one out, he struck it against the flint and watched as the flame sprang forth. He held it out to the Baron to light the cigar.
The Baron leaned forward and slid the end of the cigar into the flame. He took a deep breath and puffed out smoke as the cigar tip glowed. Before Jensen had a chance to shake the match, the Baron grabbed his wrist. He tugged Jensen closer and blew out the flame, his breath ghosting over Jensen’s wrist. It made Jensen shudder.
Jensen tried to pull his hand away from the lecherous Baron, but he tightened his grip. “Ah no, Chere, come closer.” Jensen caught Loretta’s glance. She tilted her head, silently telling him to choose. He took a step forward, letting the Baron guide him between his legs. “Much better. Now tell me, why you call the Baron?”
“My sister, Mackenzie, is missing.” Jensen held out her photo. “We are trying to find her.”
The Baron tilted his head as he regarded the photo. “She’s a pretty chile.” He leered at Jensen. “Not as pretty as you tho’.” He took another puff of the cigar and blew rings in the air.
“Um, thank you?” Jensen was uncomfortable and wanted to end this as soon as possible. He needed answers, though. “Do you have any information you can share?”
The Baron scoffed. “I don’ want to talk about her. She does not interest me.” He leaned in towards Jensen and drawled, “Now you
This wasn’t going anywhere, Jensen thought. He needed to up the stakes, somehow get the Baron to reveal something useful. “I’ll make you a deal. If you tell me what I need to know, then we can talk about me.”
The Baron’s eyes brightened greedily. “Ohh, Chere. You I like.” He took a last puff on the cigar and ground it out on the floor. “I accep’ the deal. I will tell you what you want to know.”
The Baron closed his eyes and let go of Jensen’s wrist. He was quiet for a moment, but Jensen could see his eyes rolling around underneath his shadowed lids. “Your sister is not among my people and no grave has been dug.” He cocked his head as though he was listening, and Jensen shivered as he felt a breeze flutter the candles. “Der is unrest, tho’. Da man wit’ evil in his heart is walkin’: he prowlin’ around, looking for power. He is greedy. I don’ like him at all.” The Baron scowled fiercely.
“The man--do you know his name? What he looks like?” Jensen asked excitedly. He’d take the word of a spirit if it gave him information on Mackenzie.
“No, I don’ know his name, but I know his mark.”
“His mark?” Jensen asked, not understanding.
“His mark!” The Baron snapped. “Mark, you know, da mark on his skin.” He gestured to Loretta. ”Mark.”
“Tattoo?” Loretta supplied.
“Yes, tattoo.” The Baron grinned at Jensen. “I know his.”
“Can you draw it?” Jensen quickly lit another one of the the sturdy wooden matches. He blew it out and handed it to the Baron, stepping away quickly.
“Of course,” Jared scoffed. He knelt and sketched a design on the wooden floor. It looked like a gridwork of diamonds with lines and hand drawn stars. Over one side of the lines there was a jagged streak that didn’t look like it was part of the tattoo. “Dis is his mark. It is broken.”
It was a pattern that Jensen had never seen before. “What does it mean?”
“It’s a power symbol,” Loretta said. “Jared will know what the jagged part is. We’ll ask him when he wakes up.”
“Now, Chere, it’s my turn.” Jared whispered in Jensen’s ear, startling him. He’d slipped behind Jensen without him noticing. His breath on Jensen’s neck sent chills down his spine. “Dis one likes you,” Jared said, pressing his body against Jensen’s. “He put his spell on you. He wanna fuck you bad.” The Baron grabbed Jensen’s hand and pulled it back to rub his cock. “See?”
Jensen tried not to groan when he felt the Baron’s erection against his palm. He tried to move his hand, but the Baron was unnaturally strong. Chuckling, the Baron licked the side of Jensen’s neck. “I wanna fuck you, too. Maybe we both fuck you, eh?” Jared undulated his hips, pressing them against Jensen’s ass, keeping his hand trapped between their bodies. “You be ours, yes?”
Jared began whispering something Jensen couldn’t understand. The words were sibilant, repetitive and hypnotic. Jensen felt his eyes flutter as the sounds wrapped around him. He thought he heard Loretta call his name but he was too enthralled to reply. His head lolled back against Jared’s shoulder and he felt his knees begin to buckle.
Loretta’s voice echoed throughout the room, snapping Jensen back to awareness. He felt Jared stumble and quickly turned around in time to catch him before he collapsed. Easing him back onto the chair, Jensen saw that Jared was unconscious.
“Here, take these.” Loretta gave him a wet cloth and a small bottle. She took the top hat and the glasses and put them on the altar. “Hold that under his nose.”
Jensen unstoppered the bottle and did as she instructed. Jared’s nose wrinkled and he weakly raised his hand to knock away the bottle. “Get that crap away from me.” Jensen was relieved to hear that Jared's voice was back to normal, with no trace of drawl or accent.
“It’s only crap when it doesn’t work,” she replied tartly. “Drink this.” She handed Jared a bottle of Gatorade with the cap off. He chugged it and handed her back the empty bottle.
“Here.” Jensen held out the wet cloth to Jared. He took it and wiped off his face and hands.
Jared took a deep breath and looked up at Jensen. “So…the Baron. Interesting guy, huh?”
Jensen snorted. “You could say that.”
“He came on to you, didn’t he?” Jared groaned and let his head fall back against the chair. “Was it bad?”
“Nothing I couldn’t handle.” Jensen chuckled
“Did we at least get anything useful?” Jared opened one eye and looked at Jensen.
“Yeah. He said a man with evil in his heart was walking, looking for power. He had this as a tattoo.” Jensen pointed at the drawing on the floor. “Loretta said you might recognize it.”
“Fuck.” Jared’s face paled and he started to struggle out of the coat.
“You know who it is?” Jensen quickly helped him divest himself of the antique jacket.
“I…I think so.” Jared dug his keys out of his pocket. ‘And if I’m right, we don’t have much time.”
“Time for what?” Jensen asked, dread spreading throughout his body.
“Before it’s too late.”
On to Chapter 5