Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)(7)


by Patricia Briggs

I sighed and picked an imaginary string off my pant leg. “Not that way. My husband is a werewolf, you know. So really not, if you know what I mean.”

She blinked avidly. “No. What do you mean?”

“Well,” I said, looking away from her as if I were embarrassed, and I half mumbled, “You know what they say about werewolves.”

She leaned closer. “No,” she whispered. “Tell me.”

I had heard the meeting-room door open, so I knew that the werewolves could hear every word we whispered.

I let out a huff of air and turned back to her. “You know, every night is just fine. I’m good with every morning, too. Three, four times a night? Well . . .” I let fall a husky laugh. “You’ve seen my husband, right?” Adam was gorgeous. “But some nights . . . I’m not on the right side of thirty anymore, you know? Sometimes I’m tired. I just get to sleep, and he’s nudging me again.” I gave her what I hoped would come out as a shy, hopeful smile. “Do you have anything that might help with that?”

I don’t know what I expected her to do. But it wasn’t what happened.

She nodded decisively and pulled out an oversized vial with “Rest Well” written on the label. “My manager’s father, God rest his soul, discovered the ‘little blue pill’ last year. Her mother just about divorced him after forty years of marriage before she tried this.”

“God rest his soul” meant dead, right? I took the vial warily. Like the others, it didn’t feel magical. I opened it and sniffed. Lavender again, but it was more complex than that. Orange, I thought, and something else. “What’s in it?” I asked.

“St. John’s wort, lavender, orange,” she said briskly. “This isn’t quite chemical castration, but it will bring your life into balance,” she said, and she was off on her sales pitch as if the phrase “chemical castration” was a common concept—and something one might consider doing to one’s husband.

And she looked like such a nice, normal person.

I sniffed the vial again. St. John’s wort I knew mostly from a book I’d once borrowed about the fae. The herb could be used to protect yourself and your home against some kinds of fae when placed around windows, doors, and chimneys. If it protected against the fae, maybe I should see if we could get it somewhere and stockpile. Maybe we could grow it. Lucia had our flower beds looking better than they had in years, and she was talking about putting in an herb garden somewhere. St. John’s wort was an herb.

Eventually, Izzy’s mother finished her sales presentation and began the hard sell.

I have a strong will. I didn’t join up to sell Intrasity products to all my friends. She could say it “wasn’t a pyramid scheme” all she wanted, but that’s what it was. When she offered a 10 percent discount for names and phone numbers of friends, I thought about giving her Elizaveta’s name. But I wasn’t all that keen on sending a perfectly nice woman to the scary witch. I also wasn’t sure that the witch really counted as a friend.

I would let Elizaveta know that Tracy LaBella was styling herself a witch to sell her products and let the old Russian deal with it herself.

So I paid full price for one normal-sized and one oversized bottle of Rest Well, which was Izzy’s mother’s entire stock. I mostly bought it because it was funny, but also because I intended to see what kind of an effect the St. John’s wort would have on a fae.

With Zee and Tad stuck on the reservation, I might need something to use against the fae.

I also bought a small vial of Good Vibrations. I hadn’t intended to, but Izzy’s mother gave me 5 percent off because she’d used it as a demo. I could give it to Elizaveta to make sure it wasn’t really magical. It wouldn’t hurt anything if I tried a little of it myself first.