started to shut. Stretching my right leg out, I pressed the âopen doorâ button with my toe. I kept it pressed there while balancing on my left foot. The dogs flinched and my heart stuttered in my chest. Holy shit! These dogs were going straight for my freaking nuts if Chang gave the command to attack!
âListen, Chang. I need your help,â I said, trying to sound calm and not half as desperate as I felt.
âGo away, Gage Powell. Youâre too much trouble.â Chang gave an irritated wave of one hand before he started to walk farther into the room and away from me.
âDamn it, Chang!â I swore as the little old man disappeared behind some shelves. I glared at the dogs, who were still growling at me while eyeballing my crotch like I was smuggling doggie treats down there. Reaching behind me, I pulled my wand out of my back pocket and waved it quickly at the dogs before they could react, inwardly praying that these were real fucking dogs and not some nasty spell. The moment the sleep spell hit them, they blinked a Âcouple times, gave jaw-Âcracking yawns, and then lay down outside the elevator.
Sighing, I dropped my foot from the button and lunged forward, catching the doors before they could close. I carefully stepped around the sleeping dogs, figuring that I had close to an hour before either one of them stirred. More than enough time to talk to Chang and get the hell out of there. I had no idea what had crawled up his ass and died, but I was getting to the bottom of this. Chang had always helped me in the past and he had to know something of use now.
Once I was past the dogs, I hurried my pace to a jog and darted around the shelves I had seen Chang cut down, but he wasnât there. Fuck, that old man could move fast! I paused, trying to guess where heâd gone when his voice drifted above the collection of objects.
âGet out of here, warlock. Youâre not welcome here.â
âCome on, Chang! Weâve worked together for years,â I shouted back, trying to get a fix on his location from the sound of his voice. My eyes danced over crystal prisms holding snippets of actual rainbows, treasure maps under glass, and what looked to be Excalibur half hidden under a stack of fast food napkins and ketchup packets. âI need a little information and then Iâm gone.â
âThe last time you were in this part of town, the Towers burned half the neighborhood.â
âThat wasnât my fault! I didnât lead them to you. Hell! They still donât know about you, old man.â
âHow do you know theyâre not following you now?â
âTheyâre not, Chang. Theyâre not interested in me anymore.â
The old man stepped out from a shelf, his muddy brown eyes narrowed on me. âYes, thatâs because youâre one of them again. You are not welcome here, Gage Powell. Get out.â
âOh for fuckâs sake, Chang!â I snarled, shoving both of my hands through my hair. âYou know Iâm not one of them. I had no choice but to go back to work for the guardians. They were going to kill me if I didnât.â
The black-Âmarket dealer didnât look convinced and I swore, briefly looking for something to kick in my frustration. That certainly wouldnât have endeared me to Chang. âIâm still trying to protect the Âpeople of Low Town from the Towers. Thatâs a lot easier to do if I know what the Towers are planning, right? Itâs better than working blind like I had been.â
âIâm not convinced.â
âDo you seriously think I would be part of a group that nearly wiped out my girlfriendâs Âpeople? Do you think I would willingly be part of a group that would hunt down my child if they found out about him?â
For the first time since Iâd met him, Chang looked surprised, but that was understandable since the man made it his business, a very lucrative