Low Midnight Page 34

He was maybe thirty feet away when Nolan found the rifle, grabbed extra bullets from his pocket, loaded it, and collected himself enough to be able to aim, Cormac saw when he glanced over his shoulder. He kept walking. The shot never came.

Cormac turned, walking back a few steps as he called, “What, you too chicken to shoot?”

Nolan snarled and called back, “You ain’t worth the bullet!”

Well, that was something.

After that, Eddie and Nolan had some kind of argument, Cormac couldn’t hear about what. They stalked off—and not in the direction of the shed. They must have had a car parked somewhere. A car and a mission. He wondered if he ought to call Layne, give him a heads-up.

You are going to have to watch your back.

Sure, but no more so than usual. The fact that Eddie couldn’t touch him had freaked Nolan out—the guy didn’t know what else Cormac could do and wasn’t going to take a chance on provoking him. If he tried to retaliate by, say, slashing the Jeep’s tires, Cormac might come back and magically blow up the whole site. Never mind whether or not he actually could.

Why do people make things so difficult?

The thing was, you just had to make sure you had a way to carve a path right through other people’s difficulties.

So glad we’re having success with that lately.

Ghosts—or disembodied spirits—shouldn’t be allowed to use sarcasm.

Chapter 14

WALKING AWAY, Cormac’s cheek started to hurt. Probably meant that Nolan’s hand hurt worse, so that was all right.

Kitty’s wolf barely left a trail when she wasn’t racing. The creature stepped lightly, displacing only a paw-print’s worth of dirt every now and then. But he had a good idea what direction she’d gone, and she seemed to keep a straight path. He searched for an hour, which was fine because that gave her enough time to find a place to bed down and fall asleep in order to make the shift back to human.

He found her, a lean stretch of pale skin in contrast to the surrounding brown underbrush. She was curled up in fetal position, knees pulled to her chest and arms bent close to her body, head tucked in. He could see the shape of the wolf that had fallen asleep like that, limbs pulled in tight, tail tucked across nose. Now, she was human, naked, her blond hair a tangle blending into the strewn leaves around her. She was tense, her brow furrowed, as if she was caught in a bad dream.

He’d intended to sit back and wait for her to wake up in her own time. Picking a spot a little ways off, he sat on the ground against a tree trunk. That only lasted a minute. It was voyeuristic, kinky almost, him watching her sleep. Obviously, she’d had enough time to shift back, whether or not she was fully rested. They ought to get a move on.

“Hey. Kitty.”

She jerked, coming to awareness and instantly propping herself up to look around with wide, startled eyes.

“Whoa.” Sheslumped over, shook her head, stretched. He looked away. “Fucking skinwalker, who’d have thunk? Who was that guy?”

He sidled over, holding out the blanket as he continued to look off in the distance, though he could see her in the corner of his vision. He tried not to.

“Backwoods yahoo. Hired muscle. He won’t bother us again.” She seemed totally unselfconscious. Why should she be, she was a werewolf.

“Thanks,” she murmured, taking the blanket and wrapping it around herself. “Sorry about that. I probably shouldn’t have run off, but it was the only way we were going to track him.”

“Let’s just get the hell out of here.”

“But he’s dangerous—what if he comes after us?”

“We had a talk. He’s one of Nolan’s guys. Their whole operation up here is high school shit, not worth messing with.” Maybe he did kill Roy’s brother in some scuffle, or maybe that was all just a story. One way or the other, Cormac wasn’t about to get wrapped up in this mess.

“If you say so. Thanks for the blanket.” She climbed to her feet and rearranged the blanket for the trip through the woods, revealing glimpses of skin. Not that Cormac was looking.

She peered at him. “You know you have the start of a really pretty black eye?” She started to reach out to touch it, but winced and pulled away.

“It’s just a bruise. Zigged when I should have zagged.”

“Should we be grateful you weren’t shot?”

“Probably.” He walked on, and she followed.

“This may all be high school shit to you, but they’ve got guns and bad intentions and you’re getting involved.” She waited; he didn’t say anything, because what was there to say? “Just promise me you’re not getting sucked into anything that’s going to get you in trouble. I never want to have to make that drive to Cañon City again.”

He glanced at her and had to smile because she looked ridiculous, her hair hanging in tangles around her face, the gray blanket slipping off her shoulders as she clung to it. He had that wrenching feeling again, a flashback to when he’d intended to kill her, when she was just another job. And then—that endearing look that she was turning to him right now. The optimism. She trusted him, and that seemed the weirdest part of all. Any other ache he felt was superfluous. Old news.

“I promise,” he said.


*   *   *

WHEN THEY got back to the shed, Nolan and Eddie were both gone, which was good. It saved Cormac from having to do any more posturing. Who knew how much kerosene he’d already poured on the whole mess just by coming down here and mentioning Layne to Nolan. The war between them might have all been in Layne’s head—was it still?

Prev Next