Jack walked the streets by the side of the werewolf lord. Joshua was pretty chill for a lupine, all things considered, particularly considering it was a full moon. He didn’t even call anyone a leech. A proper gentleman, Jack decided, insofar as a were could be a gentleman.
He wore a new suit and haircut himself, and the stubble on his chin itched from the shave he had given it. After his ghoul had vanished into the bowels of the casino, there had been no word from him, and he had decided to infiltrate the place himself. But that required a new identity. A new, richer identity.
“And that’s Afterlife. Chick by the name of Stacey owns it,” said Jack, gesturing to the nightclub. It seemed wildly popular, a queue of patrons snaking down the side. And it teemed with kindred, too. “She’s got some kinda history with Olivia’s gang, I don’t know what. She took the bar off the last guy. Anyway, that’s about it for, ah, spots popular with the nightlife.”
Joshua wrinkled his nose. “Well, it’s certainly that,” he agreed. “Anywhere else?”
Jack paused to think. Taking Joshua to see any of the Elysium sites would be a gross breach of etiquette, and taking him to the Prince’s haven could have no good outcome. “There’s the place I’m going to be staying,” he said, gesturing to his new suit with a grin. “Deep undercover.”
“Any other kindred there?” asked Joshua.
“Jed was staying there. But he’s staying in the chantry for now. So Olivia said I could have the place,” said Jack.
They walked to the house in companionable silence. It was a typical house on a typical suburban street. One of Olivia’s old safe-houses, as far as Jack could tell. He pulled the keys from his pocket as he walked up the front steps, and opened the door. Joshua slipped past him and into the hallway, where he crouched down on all fours and transformed into a huge black wolf.
Jack blinked, pulling the door shut behind him as he stepped inside. The wolf was already in the sitting room, its nose to the floor.
“Er, bark if you need any help I guess,” Jack called, looking up at the spiderwebs around the coat hooks. A couple of small, grey spiders looked back at him from a niche in the wall. He could have sworn the place was better-kept than this when he had left it last.
It was a few moments before Joshua returned, his clothes melding back onto his body as he became a man again. There was concern on his face.
“You shouldn’t stay here, Jack.”
Jack scratched his head. “Why not?”
“It’s full of… spiders,” said Joshua.
“Well, I could have told you that,” said Jack.
Joshua sighed. “It’s more than that. It’s a supernatural menace. Something is watching this house.”
“Oh,” Jack thought a moment. “I should call Olivia.” He dug in the pocket of his new suit for his phone, and tapped her number in. “Olivia?”
“Speaking.” Olivia’s voice was crisp and clear on the other end of the line. “Hey Jack, what’s up?”
“It’s the house,” said Jack. “Joshua says it’s not safe. Because of spiders?”
There was a pause from Olivia’s end, and a sigh. “Can you pass me over to him?”
“Sure,” Jack handed the phone to Joshua.
Olivia’s voice was still audible, even held to Joshua’s ear. “Something about spiders?”
Joshua breathed out through his nose, looking uneasy. “Do you know of any werespiders in the city?”
“Werespiders?” Olivia repeated.
Werespiders? Jack thought.
Joshua grunted an affirmative. “They are dangerous, long-lived, have a fascination with blood, and unusually high sexual appetites,” he said, without a trace of irony.
“I think I may know someone of that description,” said Olivia, after a pause. “From Thornwood. A contact of Dante’s.” Jack frowned, wondering who she was talking about.
“They also like to make their homes in places of high technology and order,” said Joshua. “Your tower might be especially vulnerable. And they tend to… turn up unannounced.” Jack looked again at the cobweb in the corner of the hall. There were more spiders in there now, he was sure of it.
“I’ve been warned of as much,” said Olivia. “But thank you. No-one should stay in the house?”
“It would be inadvisable,” said Joshua. “No-one should even enter here, if possible.”
“Just wait a minute,” said Jack. “Where am I meant to stay, then?”
“Tell Jack he can have a suite in the penthouse,” said Olivia, her tone dry. Damn, her hearing was good. Or the phone was good. But a room in the tower would be a definite step up from sleeping in a house infested with werespiders. Maybe Olivia would even let her little oracle out to play. Jack felt cheered at the thought.