Home > Boundary Broken (Boundary Magic #4)(14)

Boundary Broken (Boundary Magic #4)(14)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

I sighed. “I suppose you’re right. But that leaves us pretty much where we started.” I needed another way to come at this problem, but aside from figuring out who’d known about the trip and who might have held a grudge against Dunn, I had no idea where to start. Quinn was the former detective. I was just hired muscle who could talk to ghosts.

At that moment, I heard Mary’s stomach growl audibly. She glanced down at herself with a look of exasperation. “We need to eat a lot,” she told me, rolling her eyes. “Can we order a pizza or something?”

I was just kind of spinning my wheels, and it would be more than an hour before Quinn got back and we could talk through the turn of events. “Sure.”

I used my phone to order online—wisely getting an entire meat lover’s just for Mary and a small cheese pizza for myself. While we waited for the food, Mary took a shower, and I went and took care of the herd, making sure the dogs got to go outside and everyone had food and water. The big dogs—my lab mixes, Chip and Cody, and Stitch, the new foster—didn’t seem as manic as I had feared, and I guessed that Jake had taken them for a hike. I sent him a text to say thank you and let him know I was home.

Inside, I set out paper plates and napkins, my thoughts on the werewolf pack. Despite what Mary had said, I was itching to go through the files Maven had given me, to see if anything about the remaining pack members stood out as suspicious. I couldn’t do it in front of Mary, but I couldn’t exactly send her away either, not when Maven had told us to keep her safe.

The shower was still running, so I went out to the car and retrieved the files, spreading the stack on the kitchen table. There were ten folders, but I left Ryan’s, Matt’s, and Cammie’s files alone for the moment, focusing on the seven surviving werewolves. I smiled when I saw one of the names: Tobias Leine. I’d met Tobias years ago, back when he was voluntarily living as a wolf at a preserve in Wyoming. Trask had tortured him psychologically for years, and when I’d forced Tobias to become human and talk to me, he was barely coherent.

There shouldn’t have been much anyone could do for Tobias, but because the ley lines near Boulder had experienced a brief surge in power, my friend Sashi had been able to heal some of his psychological damage. I took a quick glance at the file and saw he was now a regular, healthy member of the wolf pack. So at least one good thing had come out of that disaster.

The doorbell rang, so I stacked the files and shoved them into a kitchen drawer. I pulled some cash out of my wallet and trudged toward the front door. Damn, my body was tired. From the back hallway I could hear the guest shower turn off. A few seconds later, the hair dryer started. I wondered if Mary would bother putting on a shirt before she came out.

I was absently considering tactful ways to ask someone to put on clothes as I swung open the front door—and an angry blur tackled me to the floor.

Chapter 13

He wasn’t big, but he was bigger than me, with onion breath and a snarl on his ruddy face. And he was heavy—not fat, but the kind of beefy Midwestern muscle that somehow seems denser than it should. His momentum drove me backward so fast I landed flat on my back. The force of the attack—especially from a standing position—was breathtaking. I’d encountered this kind of strength in only two kinds of people, and I would have known if he were a vampire. I would have been able to press him.

Werewolf.

At least this time I didn’t get the wind knocked out of me. Instead, my spine pressed painfully against the revolver in the small of my back.

“Who the hell—” I gasped, struggling to sit up. He got a palm on each of my shoulders and pushed down hard enough to make me clunk my head on the floor. He straddled my chest and kept the pressure on my shoulders, pinning me down.

“Where is she?” he hissed, his face two inches from my own.

I fought to roll sideways, just enough to get my hand to the gun, but he had moved his weight to the sides of my body, pinning me easily to the floor. Using all my strength, I barely even rocked him. “Where?” he demanded.

“Where is who?”

His lips twisted with renewed anger. Whoops. Wrong question. “Where is Mary Hollis?” He shouted it in my face this time, his hot breath stinking of burgers, onions, and rot. This was not a flosser.

Fear bubbled up inside me. I couldn’t beat a werewolf, not with physical strength, and I couldn’t press him. This must be the killer, and now he was here for the person I was trying to protect.

I needed to buy time, and to get him off me so I could get to the revolver still digging into my back.

Shit. This was going to hurt.

I fluttered my eyelids a little, like I was on the verge of passing out. “She . . .” I whispered something unintelligible.

“What?” Without thinking, the werewolf leaned closer to my face to hear better.

With as much speed and strength as I could possibly muster, I drove my forehead into his nose.

Head-butts might be popular in movies, but in real life, they’re a last resort. Even under the best possible circumstances, they hurt like hell, and if you don’t do it just right, you can cause yourself as much pain as the person you’re hitting.

I did it just right, but my forehead still felt like I’d been clobbered with a Louisville Slugger. The floor seemed to tilt for a moment and my vision blurred—but at least I was ready for it. The werewolf, on the other hand, immediately leaped backward, his hands cupped to his broken nose, and began to wail with pain.

Ignoring the intense ache in my forehead, I rolled sideways and got my revolver. By the time my attacker lowered his bloody hands enough to look at me, I was sitting up and had the barrel pointed right at his chest, safety off.

“What the fuck is going on out here?” Mary’s irritated voice came from the doorway to the living room. I didn’t want to take my eyes off my assailant, but I risked a quick glance. She was standing there with her hands on her hips, wearing my favorite green T-shirt and a pair of Quinn’s boxer shorts, rolled at the waist. She didn’t look the least bit afraid. “Keith! What are you doing?”

“Mary!” The other werewolf began to run toward her.

“Don’t!” I ordered, sliding my finger over the trigger.

He stopped, but didn’t take his eyes off Mary. “I thought she was holding you against your will!”

My forehead throbbed. I wanted to rub it, but I wasn’t ready to put my gun away yet. “Why would I do that?”

“Why do you have silver bullets?” he countered, finally looking over to glare at me.

That argument wasn’t going to go anywhere, so I spoke to Mary. “I take it you know this guy? And does every werewolf in the country know where I live?”

“He’s in my pack. His name is Keith Zimmerman,” Mary said, sounding tired. I noticed she didn’t address my second question. “You don’t need the gun. Keith is harmless. You’ve met him before.”

He hadn’t seemed very harmless to me—or to my throbbing forehead—but now that I could look without fearing for my life, I realized I had seen him before. Keith was one of the werewolves Dunn had brought to help hunt the sandworm three years earlier. We’d split up into teams, and Keith had gone with Quinn, while I had gone to the hot springs with Dunn, Mary, and Jamie. I’d never actually gotten his name.

Warily, I stood up, put the safety on the revolver, and went to the freezer, pulling out a massive, high-quality ice pack. I don’t spend much money on clothes or shoes, but my ice packs are top-of-the-line.

After a moment’s hesitation, I offered one to Keith, who had walked over to Mary.

“No thanks,” he said distractedly. “It’s almost healed.”

I could feel the goose egg forming on my forehead and had to swallow my resentment. I leaned against the counter with the cold pack pressed to my head and watched Keith look over Mary like a mother examining her child’s muddy clothes.

“You’re really okay? We all saw the news. I thought you’d call.”

Mary tilted her head at me. “Her idea. She was afraid someone going after werewolves would come after me, too.”

I expected Keith to object to that, but he just nodded, helping himself to a seat at my counter. Mary sat down too, but left an empty seat between the two of them.

“That’s exactly why we decided to disappear,” he told her. “So they couldn’t come after us.”

“Or so the werewolf responsible for the murders wouldn’t have to face Maven,” I interrupted.

Both of them looked at me with shock. Keith’s expression quickly morphed into hurt, while Mary’s turned to anger.

“We’ve been through all that,” she snapped.

I sighed. We hadn’t actually settled anything, but going around in the same circles wasn’t going to get us anywhere. “Never mind,” I mumbled, checking my watch. Quinn should be getting back soon. I hoped he had some ideas, because I was at an impasse. “It’s almost one o’clock,” I said to the werewolves. “You guys should stick around for tonight. We can make a plan in the morning.” After I’d had a chance to talk through this with Quinn.

Mary chewed on her lower lip for a moment, then said, “If we stay here, your dogs are going to lose their minds. It’s not fair to them.”

That surprised me, but she wasn’t wrong. “Let me call Simon,” I told her. She seemed to at least sort of trust him. “His apartment has an extra bedroom. We’ve used it as a safe house before.”

The two werewolves exchanged a glance that I couldn’t interpret, and then Mary nodded. “Call him.”

I picked up my phone and started for the hallway to my bedroom. “You guys can watch TV or something,” I offered. “Pizza’s on its way, and you can eat whatever’s in the fridge.”

Keith reached for the remote control.

I closed my bedroom door behind me, not wanting to be overheard. Simon’s phone rang and rang, which surprised me. I’d seen him only an hour or two earlier, and he’d obviously been on his way to his mom’s place. Maybe he’d decided to go home and go to bed instead.

Down the hall, the werewolves had turned the television up loud, though I didn’t know if they were giving me privacy or trying to cover their own conversation. I hated to wake Simon, but I dialed the phone again anyway, and this time he answered after four rings.

As soon as the connection opened up, I heard a multitude of arguing voices, then Simon’s raised voice came through above the others. “This is my teaching assistant Emily; I have to give her instructions.” I could hear the tension in his voice, like he was right on the edge of losing his temper. Had I ever even seen Simon lose his temper?

Into the phone, he said, “Hang on a second, Emily, let me get somewhere quiet.”

I didn’t speak, not wanting to give anything away. The quality of the background noise became muted, as though he’d put his thumb over the microphone, but I could still make out the sound of a door closing firmly, and the noise finally cut off. In a low voice, Simon said, “I can’t talk, Lex, unless this is life or death.”

   
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