Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(5)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(5)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Abruptly, Shadow’s head whipped around to face the kitchen doorway, and a low growl rumbled out of her chest. “What is it—” Jesse began, but she was already racing out of the room, barking at top volume. The sound was deafening—and surprising. Had he ever even heard her bark before?

Then Jesse wondered if she was trying to warn him that Scarlett had come back for something. He swept the garbage back into the can and replaced it in the cupboard, making sure the tissues covered the pregnancy test. As he hurried toward the front door, Shadow’s barks echoing around the house, he could just make out the sound of the doorbell ringing. Not Scarlett, then.

“Shadow, hush!” Jesse said. His parents’ dog reacted the same way whenever the doorbell rang, but he hadn’t expected it from the bargest. Jesse nudged her aside with his leg and stepped up to the door, looking warily through the peephole.

A young girl stood on the doorstep, her eyes red and puffy from crying. She was maybe twelve or thirteen, and her short summer dress was torn and bloodied. “Can you help me?” she said in a wavering voice.

Jesse instantly reached for the dead bolt. Shadow snarled at him—actually snarled, with the full command of her deep voice and bright teeth—but Jesse didn’t even stop to process it. “She needs help,” he insisted.

He’d flipped the lock and had one hand on the knob when Shadow lunged forward, knocking him to the side so he sprawled on the floor. She’d stopped barking, but a desperate whine was now coming from the back of her throat. Jesse looked up at her in shock. “Shadow? What is it?”

She planted her feet between him and the entrance, teeth bared toward the door. He had never seen her like this. His cell phone was on the floor near his hand, and Jesse reached for it without thinking.

Before he could dial Scarlett’s burner phone, the doorknob above him turned. Shadow lunged at the door, but she was too late this time. A shotgun blast exploded into the sudden quiet, striking Shadow right in the face.

Chapter 4

As soon as we left LA traffic behind, I squeezed my eyes closed. Eleanor may have been pretty, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable, on any level. The car—I was refusing to refer to it as “she,” no matter what Molly said—didn’t have modern shocks or padding or whatever the hell made normal car interiors so cushy, so the ride was very bumpy. And, since Molly was driving, it was also terrifying. She wasn’t a bad driver, necessarily, but she was sure as hell a reckless one.

Which is probably why it took less than an hour for us to get pulled over. Molly practically giggled when she saw the flashing lights behind her. She pulled to the side of the road and looked at me expectantly.

“Do we really have to do this again?” I said, but my heart wasn’t in it. The sooner we got to Boulder, the better.

She held up a hand and snapped her fingers and thumb together like a lobster closing its claw. “You know the drill. Rein it in.”

I sighed and pulled my radius in as small as I could, leaning into my door to make sure Molly would be far enough away from me. Even in the dim light from the dashboard and the city, I could actually see her change back into a vampire: her cheeks grew rosy and her eyes brighter, and when she tossed her head, perfect blonde curls seemed to float back over her shoulder. She winked at me, and I wondered what the effect of all this must feel like for poor, unsuspecting humans.

The cop was a razor-thin Hispanic man in his early fifties, and he leaned down into Molly’s window with an expression devoid of personality. “License and regis . . . oh. Hello.” He blinked hard at Molly, who beamed at him.

“Hello, Officer,” she purred. “We’re traveling on important government business.”

I didn’t know of any government organizations that traveled by muscle car, but the guy was already gone by then. Molly wasn’t the most powerful vampire I’d met, but she was old enough to press a mind hard. “Yes, of course,” he said, eyes glazed over.

“You will get on the horn to all your friends and let them know our vehicle is in a hurry,” Molly went on. “Tell them not to stop us, or make any official record of our presence.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the officer said eagerly. “Is there anything else I can do for you? Anything at all?”

For a second, I was afraid she was going to mess with him. I’d once seen Molly make a state trooper tap-dance after he called her “honey.” The guy was terrible at it.

But Molly just smiled at him. “No, I think that will do,” she said. “Go now. Make those calls.”

The cop scrambled back toward his vehicle. I waited until Eleanor had roared back into traffic before I released my radius back to its normal size. “Just don’t kill us,” I warned her. “I couldn’t take the irony.”

Molly scoffed, but she did keep the car below a hundred after that. She asked me a couple of questions about whether I was hungry (no) and if her driving was making the nausea worse (not really). When it was obvious that I needed to sort through my feelings, she went quiet.

Which was good, because my thoughts were still whirling around my head fast enough to make me dizzy. I. Was. Pregnant. I almost burst into giggles, it was all so surreal. It’s gotta be the hormones, I told myself. Pregnant women in movies were always blaming things on hormones, right?

Then I caught myself. Pregnant women in movies? That was my point of reference? If I did decide to keep the baby—which I couldn’t, because that would obviously be stupid and reckless and irresponsible, not to mention cruel to the child—I would have to read that Expecting book, take vitamins, go to the doctor, take birthing classes. Plus buy all that baby gear and figure out a place for the kid to sleep and eat . . .

It was overwhelming. It would have been overwhelming for a normal human woman who didn’t have to worry about her baby being in mortal danger from her enemies.

I suddenly felt a great crash of grief for my mom. When I was a teenager and I’d pictured my future, my mom had always been there to help me with my baby. And now my parents were dead. Jameson was dead. I was on my own. Another reason why I had no business keeping it.

“So I have a question,” Molly said, breaking me out of my funk. “You know it’s going to be morning by the time we get to Boulder, right?”

“Yes.” I’d looked up the drive. LA to Boulder was about fourteen hours, though Molly’s driving would take a sizable chunk out of that.

“And sunset won’t be until seven or eight p.m.,” she continued. “Which means we won’t be able to see this Maven until nighttime. So what are we going to do all day?”

“I have no idea,” I admitted. “Hipster stuff?”

She nodded thoughtfully, as though I’d suggested we attend a reading of Proust followed by high tea. “I bet I could come up with a point system,” she mused. “Like, one point for an ironic fedora, two points for a man bun—”

“Your system is already flawed,” I said, leaning back and closing my eyes. “At this point I think all fedoras are ironic.”

Molly chattered on about Boulder, mainly just to entertain me. Eventually, the rhythm of the car and her comforting voice lulled me to sleep.

“Scarlett. Wake up!”

I sat up with a start, jerking myself out of a tangled dream that was instantly forgotten. Sunlight was streaming into the car through the windshield, warming my skin where it was exposed. “What? What happened? Cops?”

Beside me, Molly smiled. “Nope. The sun rose around six; I had to drop down to the speed limit. Besides, I wanted you to get some sleep.”

I blinked, still drowsy. “Oh. Right.”

“You told me to wake you up when we got to Idaho Springs,” Molly reminded me.

“Yes. That is a thing that I said.” Yawning, I checked my watch. It had been a little after ten when we left LA, and we’d stopped twice to get gas—and so I could stagger into gas station bathrooms to pee and/or throw up. Now it was eight thirty in the morning. Damn, Molly drove fast.

I reached down and fumbled on the floor of the car for the burner phone, which had fallen as I slept. Before we’d left, I’d had the presence of mind to program Lex’s number into it.

   
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