We followed Ant outside and into the back of the building. My stomach churned at the knowledge of how Ant intended us to get to where we were going. He offered me his hand which I took without question. He grabbed Walker by the elbow and he literally stepped into the shadows of the buildings and we stepped out some place else.
I bent over clutching at my stomach thankful I had eaten nothing, but the wine returned from whence it came and wasn’t as good coming back up as it had when it had gone down. I wiped my mouth, and I saw Walker was a pale shade of green retching his own stomach contents onto the alleyway pavement.
“I hate when you do that.” I said to Ant.
“Sorry. It’s faster.”
I sighed, “We could have taken the train.”
Ant nodded, “We could have and we could miss Truth.” We followed Ant to a black door several feet from where we entered the alleyway shadows. Ant pushed the door in and it gave way to a long hallway with filtered music coming from the other end of it. The doors on the side as we moved down the hallway were all locked. I hadn’t tried them all but I knew they would be.
The room beyond the hall was filled with computer screens and black light posters everywhere. The music was a softer version of what would be in a club, same music just not as loud. I could hear myself think. There was a counter with coffee and pastries and it looked like a help yourself type place, but there was a girl sitting on the other side. Ant approached her with a bright smile made purple with the black light.
“We are looking for Truth. You know where we can find him?”
The girl nodded. “I’ll get him.” But she didn’t move, she tapped away at her laptop and then looked up. “He’ll be along when he’s free a moment. You aren’t cops are you?”
Ant shook his head. “No, Chevalier said I could borrow his help while he’s out of town.”
Her eyes went wide, “You know Chevalier, like personally?”
Ant nodded. “He’s family.”
“Why are you looking for Truth if Chevalier is family?” She asked.
“He’s not here and I need help now. He’s off the grid.” Ant added to clarify why we couldn’t use Jack. I thought it was funny Jack used the term for human servant for a vampire as his code name. Ironic really.
Walker walked around the room we were in taking in the posters and glancing at screens. No one was hiding anything as he passed. I wondered how much he understood about what was on their screens. It looked like gibberish to me.
I leaned against the counter of goodies and watched the room. Ant drifted into the crowded room to the stuffed couch in the back corner. The girl behind the counter was tapping away at the keyboard when I caught someone to my left. “Someone wanted me?”
My head snapped to the left, and I saw a beautiful face staring back at me. I grinned at him. The girl nodded in my direction. “Him and his friends.” She tapped me on the shoulder, “This is Truth.”
I offered him my hand, and he blinked at me. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
I smiled. “Looking for you apparently.”
Sage took my hand and smiled. “Where did you hear the name Truth from?”
I pointed to Ant sitting on the couch. “He knows Chevalier. I know him too, but Ant says Chevalier told him how to get you to cooperate – either through common ground or through blackmail. I told him I didn’t think blackmail would be necessary, and that was before I found out you were The Wicked Truth.”
“Where did you hear that name from?” Sage asked.
“Same place. Chevalier is a friend. He’s in Italy with Il Cane – no internet so he can’t help me. And I need some help with my case.”
Sage grinned at me, “So this is what you will be doing late into the night? Bugging hackers?”
I laughed. “Yeah. I have a VOIP call that’s being bounced around. I need an origin location. Presumably it’s here in New York, but if they are a hacker, I suppose they can be anywhere to do whatever it The Dragon wants.”
Sage asked nodding towards Ant, “Is he your partner?”
I shook my head. “That is Anthony Giovanni, Il Cane’s son.” I looked around and found Walker staring at the computer screen of some girl who was laughing. Walker didn’t seem to understand as he watched, but she kept laughing to herself. I pointed to the blond who was my partner. “That’s Walker. He’s my partner.”
I turned to face Sage completely and smiled at him. “You think you could help me? Or do I need Ant’s information?”
Sage grinned. “Why should I help you?”
I smiled back at him. “I’ll cook you dinner? Whatever you want. No expense too big.”
“If I want lobster?” Sage asked with a soft smile on his face.
“I might need to borrow your kitchen for that. Mine doesn’t have a stove top that will handle it well.”
Sage laughed, “How do you know mine does?”
“I assume you have a full size kitchen not a studio apartment.” I smiled at him. “Am I wrong?”
Sage shook his head. “You aren’t wrong. When can I expect payment?”
“Whenever you want.”
Sage offered me his hand. “I help you, and you cook me lobster. We have a deal.”
I gave him my hand, and we shook with wide smiles. Sage at the end drew my fingers to his lips and kissed the back of my hand. A shiver ran up my spine and I felt my smile grow wider. “We have a deal.”
Sage smiled. “Let me get my things. I need to get back home. When do you want me to start?”
“Tomorrow is fine. It’s late now. I’m sure Walker would be happy to take an early night.”
Sage grinned. “I’ll meet you outside?”
I nodded. “All right.”
I watched Sage as he left to go back where he’d come from. I nodded to Ant, and he grabbed Walker and headed for the door. Ant was laughing at me. “Did you charm him into helping you?”
I shook my head. “Not really.”
Walker laughed. “That’s what it looked like.”
I was grinning madly waiting for Sage to join us. When he stepped out, I offered him my hand, and he took it with a smile on his face. “Sage. I’d like you to officially meet Ant and Walker. Guys this is Sage or as you can guess he goes by Truth on the web.”
Ant laughed. “Fucking small world. Wait if you knew a hacker already why the fuck did you come to Jack?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve known Sage for all of four days. I wasn’t going to ask him for help like this after four days. I wouldn’t have now if it weren’t for the fact that Jack trusts him. If Jack trusts him to do jobs for Cari then I’ll take him over anyone else in that joint.”
Sage wrapped his arm around my waist and tugged me close. “I would have helped either way, Nox. Just ask me next time. There is no need for blackmail.”
“Hey, I never blackmailed you. I bribed you. Get that straight.” I grinned at him.
Ant asked, “What did he bribe you with?”
Sage grinned. “He’s cooking me dinner.”
Ant laughed, “You know you could have done so much better than that right?”
Sage laughed. “Let me correct myself, he’s making lobster.”
Walker sighed. “I’m so jealous.” He punched me in the arm, “Do you even know how to cook lobster?”
I shook my head. “Nope, but I intend to learn.”
Sage tugged me in one direction. “Walk me home. I assume I’ll see you two tomorrow morning, too?”
Walker looked at me. “He’ll look into the number we can’t track tomorrow morning. Say 8?” I looked at Sage.
“Sounds good.” Sage smiled at Ant. “Tell Chevalier that his friends are my friends if they are as cute as Nox.”
Ant laughed, “Jack will agree with you on that.”
I rolled my eyes. “Jack doesn’t think I’m cute. He thinks I’m mean.”
“He does think you are mean. Meaner than Ryan, Tony or I, but he still thinks you are cute for a guy.” Ant smiled.
“He’s never told me that.”
Sage tugged on me again. “Walk me home.”
I smiled at him and kissed his check, “Right. I gotta go. I’ll see ya in the morning. 7 am I’ll make you breakfast.”
Ant frowned, “I don’t … fine. I’ll be there.”
Walker waved. “Have fun you two.”
I smiled at him. “Always.” Walker headed the opposite direction of us and Ant followed catching up to him and leaning in closer and Walker shook his head. I can only imagine Ant was offering him a ride home. Sage tugged on me again, this time I dutifully followed. “I’m coming.”
Sage grinned at me before leaning in to whisper, “Not yet you aren’t.”
A small moan escaped my lips before I could stop it and Sage was chuckling to himself. “I love that.”
I smiled. “Me to,.”