Rachel Caine: Heat Stroke

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Rachel Caine Heat Stroke
  • Название:
    Heat Stroke
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    ROC
  • Жанр:
    sf_fantasy_city / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2004
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    0-451-45984-9
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Heat Stroke: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In Rachel Caine’s tempestuous follow-up to —forecast as “a fun read” by bestselling author Jim Butcher—the Wardens Association still protects the human race from extermination by climatic extremes, when they’re not turning on their own…. Accused of murder, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin was chased across the country—and killed—by a team charged with hunting down rogue Wardens. Five days later, Joanne had a lovely funeral and was posthumously cleared of all charges. Her human life was over, but she had been reborn into Djinnhood. Now, until she masters her enhanced powers, Joanne must try to avoid being “claimed” by a human. But when a hazard that only a Djinn could sense infiltrates Earth’s atmosphere, Joanne must somehow convince someone to do something about it—or the forecast will be deadly. So who said being all-powerful was going to be easy?

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“Act like a Djinn?”

He looked relieved. “Exactly.”

“What if I just act like a normal person?”

“Not a good idea.”

“Because?”

He got up and walked over to the windows. As he eased aside the curtain, a shaft of sunlight speared in and glittered on his skin; he pulled in a deep breath that I heard all the way from the bed and stood there, staring out, for a long time.

My turn to give him a worried prompt. “David?”

He half turned and gave me a sweet, sad smile. “In case you haven’t noticed, you’re not a normal person. And if you get yourself into trouble, you could give away what you are. Once that happens, you’re no longer safe.”

“Because I could get claimed.”

The smile died and went somewhere bad. “Exactly.”

David had been claimed twice that I knew about. Neither had been pleasant experiences. His last owner and operator had been… well, a former friend of mine—and before that he’d been at the mercy of a sweetheart of a guy named Bad Bob Biringanine. I knew from personal experience that David had done things in Bad Bob’s name that would turn anyone’s stomach. He’d had no choice in that. No choice in anything.

It was the horror he was trying to warn me about.

“I’ll be careful,” I said softly. “Come on, if you had the chance to see your own funeral, wouldn’t you take it?”

“No,” he said, and turned back to whatever view there was outside of that window—being New York City, probably not a hell of a lot other than buildings. The sunlight loved him. It glided over planes and curves, over smooth skin, and glittered like gold dust on soft curls of hair. He reached out and leaned a hand against the window, reaching up toward the warmth. “Your human life’s over, Jo. Let it go. Focus on what’s next.”

There were so many people I’d left behind. My sister. Cousins. Family-by-choice from the Wardens, like Paul Giancarlo, my mentor. Like my friend Lewis Levander Orwell, the greatest Warden of all, whose life I’d saved at the cost of my own. We had a long and tangled history, me and Lewis—not so much love as longing. One of the great precepts of magic, that like calls to like. We’d gravitated together like opposite magnetic charges. Or possibly matter and antimatter. If not for David…

I realized, with a jolt of surprise, that I wanted to see Lewis again. Some part of me would always long for him. It wasn’t a part I ever wanted David to know about.

“What’s next is that I let go of that life,” I said aloud. “Which I can’t do without some kind of… good-bye. It’s as much a memorial for me as of me, right? So I should go.”

“You just want to eavesdrop on what people are saying about you.”

Duh, who wouldn’t? I tried bribery. “They’ll probably have cookies. And punch. Maybe a nice champagne fountain.”

It was tough to bribe a Djinn. He wasn’t impressed. He kept looking out, face turned up toward the sun, eyes closed. After a few moments he said, “You’re going with or without me, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’d rather go with you. Because, like you pointed out, it might not be safe.”

He shook his head and turned away from the window. I could almost see the glow radiating off of him, as if he’d stored it up from the touch of sunlight. The fierce glow of it warmed me across a small ocean of Berber carpet, through a white cotton duvet of goosedown.

I felt the surrender, but he didn’t say it in so many words. “You can’t go out like that,” he said, and walked over.

“Oh.” I blinked down at myself and realized I hadn’t the vaguest idea of how to put my own clothes on—magically speaking. “A little help…?”

David put his hands on my shoulders, and I felt fabric settling down over my skin. Clothes. Black peachskin pants, a tailored peachskin jacket, a discreet white satin shirt. Low-heeled pumps on my feet. He bent and placed a warm, slow kiss on my lips, and I nearly—literally—melted.

When I drew back, he was dressed, too. Black suit, blue shirt, dark tie. Very natty. The round glasses he wore for public consumption were in place to conceal the power of his eyes, even though he’d dialed the color down to something more human.

David was very, very good at playing mortal.

Me… well, there was a reason I hadn’t tried to dress myself. I wasn’t even good at playing Djinn yet.

He produced a pair of sunglasses and handed them over. I put them on. “How do I look?”

“Dangerous,” he said soberly. “Okay. Rules. You don’t talk to anyone, you don’t go off on your own. You do exactly what I tell you, when I tell you to do it. And most of all…”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t use any magic. Nothing. Understand?”

“Sure.”

He offered his hand. I took it and unfolded myself from the bed, setting the empty coffee cup aside on the mahogany nightstand.

“This is such a bad idea,” he said, and sighed, and then…

… then we were somewhere else.

Somewhere dark. It smelled of cleaning products.

“Um—” I began.

“Shhh.” Hot lips brushed mine, delicate as sunlight. “I’m keeping us out of their awareness, but you need to stay out of the way. People won’t see you. Make sure you don’t run into them.”

“Oh. Right.”

“And don’t talk. They can still hear you.”

“Right.”

“And don’t touch anything.”

I didn’t bother to acknowledge that one. He must have taken it as a given, because the next second there was a crack of warm lemon yellow light, and a door opened, and we stepped out of a janitor’s closet onto a mezzanine. Big, sweeping staircase to the right heading down to an echoing marble lobby—a vast expanse of patterned carpeting that cost more than the gross national product of most South American countries. Lots of rooms, discreetly nameplated in brass. Uniformed staff, both men and women, stood at attention. They had the brushed, polished, pressed gleam of being well paid in the service of the rich.

David walked me across a no-man’s-land of floral burgundy. Past the Rockefeller Plaza Room and the Wall Street Board Room and the Broadway Room. At the end of the lobby, a narrow hallway spilled into a larger anteroom. Burgundy-uniformed security guards to either side. The babble of voices rising up like smoke into lightly clove-scented air.

Suddenly, I had a desire to stop and reconsider this plan. Suddenly it was all very… real.

“Oh man,” I murmured. David’s hand on my arm tightened. “I know. No talking.”

“Shh,” he agreed, lips next to my ear. I swallowed, nodded, and put my chin up.

We strolled right in between the two guards, who stayed focused somewhere off into the distance. David had explained to me once how much easier it was to just redirect attention than to actually become invisible; he’d demonstrated it pretty vividly once, in a hot tub in Oklahoma City. I wished I knew how he did it. Just one of the thousands of things I still needed to learn about being a Djinn.

The anteroom was large enough to hold about a hundred people comfortably, and it was at capacity. At first glance it looked like an office party, only people wore more black and the noise level was two decibels lower than normal. Big floral display at the polished mahogany doors at the end of the room, chrysanthemums and lilies and roses. A guest book next to them. Lots of people standing in line to sign.

David steered me expertly out of the path of a tall, thin woman in black I barely recognized—Earth Warden, Maria something, from the West Coast. She was talking to Ravi Subranavan, the Fire Warden who controlled the territory around Chicago.

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