Relentless, p.20
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       Relentless, p.20
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         Part #1 of Relentless series by Karen Lynch

  Chapter 13

  NATE LEFT FOR his conference on Tuesday morning, and Malloy contacted me later that day to let me know his guy had come through with the Ptellon blood. The timing sucked, but I figured Nate should be safe in Boston and if anything bad came, it would come here. Not a comforting thought, but better than the alternative. I could slip the blood to him when he got back.

  My immediate problem was how to meet up with Malloy to make the exchange without one of the Mohiri tailing me and interrupting us. I didn’t think Malloy would appreciate Nikolas or Chris crashing his business, and I could only imagine what Nikolas would say about my extracurricular activities.

  The Mohiri were not my only obstacle. Since I’d confessed about trying to meet NightWatcher, Roland and Peter had been watching me more closely, too. They sat with me at lunch, followed me to the school library – the last place Roland liked to hang out – and offered to give me rides home from school. If they were still upset over my admission, they didn’t show it. I appreciated their concern, but right now they were seriously cramping my style. How the hell was I going to outsmart two werewolves and two Mohiri warriors at the same time?

  Jed’s was out of the question because I was still spooked by the unknown person asking about troll bile. I did not want to take the chance that someone would see me there with Malloy again and connect the dots. The fact that Malloy didn’t argue when I rejected that location told me I wasn’t the only one thinking about it. After much back and forth, we settled on a place, and I started planning how to sneak away to complete the deal.

  When the final bell rang on Wednesday, I stuffed my backpack into my locker. Instead of heading for the exit where I knew my friends were waiting for me again, I surreptitiously made my way to the faculty entrance near the teacher’s lounge. There was no one around to see me when I opened the door and slipped outside to the back parking lot the school shared with the church next door. Hidden from the street and conveniently located next to the cemetery, this spot was perfect for my getaway. I sprinted across the half-empty lot, past the church, and hopped over the waist-high iron fence surrounding the cemetery. Ducking down, I swiftly navigated between the headstones and exited by the small gate on the far side. It was so easy I almost laughed out loud. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it until now.

  I knew it would not take long for my watchers to figure out that I’d given them the slip, so I set out at a fast walk, trying not to run and draw attention to myself. I skirted the waterfront, and took a slightly longer route to my destination. Last night, Malloy and I had agreed to do our business on a boat belonging to an acquaintance of his. The boat, named Mary’s Hope, was docked in a slip at the Bayside Marina, and Malloy said it was highly unlikely that anyone would connect it to either of us. I had a feeling it was just one of many places where Malloy handled his business.

  As I approached the marina, I couldn’t help but feel rather pleased with myself. I’d managed to evade my growing posse of protectors, and in a short while I’d have the means to keep Nate safe if more monsters came to call. It was the least I could do for attracting them to us in the first place.

  “Going for a spin on your sailboat, are you?”

  I whirled to face Roland. “How…?”

  He jogged toward me on silent feet, his expression serious. “You didn’t really think you could give us the slip, did you?” He stopped in front of me. “I knew you were up to something as soon as I saw you this morning.”

  I looked behind him, expecting to see Peter and one of the Mohiri appear any second.

  “It’s just me. Pete and I split up; he took the front door, and I got the back. The blond fellow is probably just realizing you’re no longer at school.”

  Poor Chris. He didn’t seem like a bad sort, and he was going to develop a complex if he kept losing me.

  “You’re going to meet that guy, aren’t you?” Roland said in an accusing tone.

  For a second I thought he knew about Malloy, but then it hit me that he was talking about NightWatcher. “No. This has nothing to do with that. I swear.”

  He gave me look that said he didn’t believe me. The loss of trust sent a small stab of hurt through me, but I had only myself to blame.

  “So what is so important that you had to sneak away like this?”

  “It’s just something I have to take care of, and I’m tired of having someone watching my every move, okay?”

  “Maybe I can help you,” he pushed.

  I sighed loudly. I planned to tell him everything – just not yet. “Roland, there are some things I keep to myself, just like I don’t know what werewolves do half the time.”

  His mouth formed a stubborn line. “Werewolves can protect themselves if they go off alone. And none of us are being hunted by an obsessed vampire.” He crossed his arms. “Go ahead and do what you have to, but I’m coming with you.”

  Damn it. I had to meet with Malloy, and I was pretty certain it would be a hell of a lot harder to get away after my stunt today. Too much was riding on this to turn back now.

  “You can come with me, but you have to do what I tell you to.” His eyes narrowed, and I said, “I’ll explain if you promise to do what I say.”

  “I promise to do it if I don’t think you are in any danger.”

  I chewed the inside of my lip as I wondered how much to tell him without actually saying who I was going to see. Rule number one in this business was to never reveal your contacts, and Malloy held that rule close to his vest. He might never do business with me again if he thought he couldn’t trust my discretion. Troll bile and diamonds meant nothing to him if he got killed acquiring them.

  “I’m going to buy something to keep Nate safe in case something tries to hurt him because of me.”

  Roland’s eyes widened, and I could tell that whatever he’d been expecting, it wasn’t that. “Keep him safe? How?”

  “Have you ever heard of the Ptellon flower?” He shook his head, so I explained where it came from and how it could be used to repel vampires and other creatures. “I warded our building, but that won’t help Nate when he’s away from home. The Ptellon nectar is all I need now.”

  He looked at me like I’d sprouted a third eye. “You warded the whole building by yourself? How do you know how to do that? And how do you know all this protection stuff?”

  There was so much I wanted to tell him, but this was neither the time nor the place. “There are some things about me you don’t know, and I promise I’ll tell you soon – just not now. All I can say is that I have this friend Remy who taught me, and he knows more about this stuff than anyone I know. I have a guy who can get things, and I’m going to get the Ptellon from him.”

  “Have I met this Remy guy before?” he asked as we began walking toward the marina entrance.

  “Not likely. He doesn’t, um, hang out with werewolves.”

  “And what about the guy we’re going to meet?”

  I stopped walking. “You’re not going to meet him. When we get there, I’ll go in and you’ll wait outside.” Roland opened his mouth to argue, and I held up a hand. “This guy won’t deal with me any other way. And we’ll be on a boat tied to the dock with you right outside. I’ll be fine.”

  He made a grumbling sound. “I don’t like this.”

  “You’re going to have to trust me on this. I know what I’m doing.” I looked down at my watch. “I have to meet him in five minutes. Come on.”

  We entered the marina parking lot and passed between the office and the clubhouse to the main pier. Beyond the pier, a wooden dock extended into the water in a large L-shape, and along the dock were four narrow docks with six slips on each side. Most of the slips had a boat secured to them. Anchored at the end of the main dock was the biggest yacht I’d ever seen. Most of the boats in the marina were cabin cruisers, sailboats, and powerboats, and occasionally we got some small yachts in the summer. Nothing as big as that yacht though.

  I caught Roland gaping at the boat, and I
laughed. “Yeah, in your dreams.”

  There was a lot of activity on the pier as marina workers rushed around with ropes and tarps. I stopped one as he hurried by and asked him what was going on.

  “Storm coming,” he said as if I should already know that. He lifted a coil of heavy rope to his shoulder. “We have to secure the boats so they don’t get banged around too much.”

  I looked at the partly overcast sky and the calm water of the bay. “Really?”

  “Yep. If you guys had any plans to go out, you’ll have to cancel them. Harbormaster sent out a weather warning.”

  “Okay, thanks,” I said as he started to hurry away.

  “Hey,” Roland called after him. “Who owns the monster yacht out there?”

  The man shrugged. “Some oil guy from what I heard. They put in here because of the storm.” He hoisted his rope again. “Gotta go.”

  I grabbed Roland’s arm. “We’d better hurry up. They’ll shut this place down soon if it’s a bad storm.”

  The Mary’s Hope was a forty-foot cabin cruiser moored at slip twenty-eight, and there was no sign of activity onboard when we reached it. I hoped Malloy was already here because he might not show if he arrived and saw Roland.

  More dock hands passed us, and I saw them head for the massive yacht where a tall olive-skinned man with black hair and a hawkish appearance directed them to their tasks. I wondered if he was the same oil guy Nate’s group was trying to keep from drilling in the area. The thought made me glare at the man before I turned back to the business at hand.

  “Okay, I’m going in.” I hopped onto the deck. “I should only be a few minutes if he’s here.”

  Roland nodded, and I hurried down the two steps to the cabin that housed a small table, a tiny kitchenette, a bathroom, and a small sleeping area. Tinted windows obscured the interior from the outside.

  Malloy sat at the table waiting for me.

  “Look at you on time for once,” I quipped, making him scowl. I sat across from him even though I was in a hurry. Malloy liked to keep up the appearance of a formal sales transaction. His quirks didn’t bother me as long as he came through for me.

  “Payment first as usual,” he said, watching me closely as if I was about to pull off a David Blaine act. I reached into the front pocket of my jeans and rooted around until my finger hooked the diamond.

  “I don’t know what the big deal is with these, but whatever.” I held out my hand with the red gemstone lying on my palm, and Malloy twitched with anticipation. My other hand stretched toward him. “Your turn.”

  He didn’t take his eyes off the diamond as he produced a tiny black vial and handed it to me. As soon as I had it in my possession, I extended my open hand to him and he picked up the red diamond almost reverently. I stuffed the precious vial in my front jeans pocket as he examined the gem.

  “Perfect,” he gushed, holding the stone up to the light. “I almost didn’t believe it when you said you had one. But I figured someone who could get their hands on troll bile could get almost anything.” He stuck the diamond in his jeans pocket like I had and gave me a satisfied smile. “Listen, I know there’s no way a kid your age can get this stuff on your own. Whoever you work for is bloody brilliant to have a nice, normal-looking girl like you running their goods for them. You let them know that I’m their man for whatever they need from now on.”

  “As long as you keep coming through for them, they’ll keep doing business with you.” If he wanted to believe there was a boss man in the background, I had no problem with that. In fact, I liked the idea.

  “Good to hear. I’m sure we – ”

  Malloy jumped to his feet as a thump sounded above us followed by footsteps and a body running down the steps. Roland burst into the cabin. “We gotta get out of here! Someone’s coming, and they look like trouble.”

  “Who the hell are you?” Malloy demanded, his eyes darting around for other intruders.

  “This is my… lookout,” I replied, saying the first that that came to mind. “You didn’t think my boss would send me to these meetings alone, did you?”

  “Hey, I know you,” Roland said to Malloy, and I saw a disaster in the making.

  I got between them and faced Roland. “Forget him. Who’s coming?”

  Alarm flashed in his eyes, and he grabbed my hand, pulling me toward the steps. “I don’t know, but they look like they mean business. Probably some of his friends.”

  “Not that way!” Malloy hissed at us. I turned to see him halfway up a ladder propped against a window open to the bow of the boat. Leave it to him to have an escape route in case things went south.

  Roland lifted me and practically threw me up the ladder. Malloy had already disappeared through the window, and by the time I scrambled out onto the bow he had jumped to the next boat and vanished from sight. For a small guy he was pretty damn fast on his feet. I turned to see Roland coming through the window behind me just as footsteps pounded on the dock. Peering around the wheelhouse I saw three large, muscled men who looked like they should be guarding some foreign diplomat. The one in the lead was well over six feet with short, spiked blond hair. Behind him were two darker-complexioned men with short black hair. The looks of determination on their faces as they approached the boat scared the crap out of me. What the hell had Malloy gotten me into?

  “What are you doing?” Roland whispered hoarsely as soon as he was out. “We need to get to the other boat like he did.”

  The men were a boat-length away. “It’s too late. They’ll see us.” I looked around and quickly saw there was only one avenue of escape. Roland wasn’t going to like it.

  “Come on.” I grabbed the rail at the end of the boat and lowered myself over the side, gasping as freezing water lapped at my legs.

  Roland’s eyes widened, and he latched onto my hand before I could let go of the rail. “You’re going in the water?”

  “Yes,” I whispered urgently. “Now get your ass down here before they find us!”

  He let me go, and I sank up to my neck in the frigid seawater. The cold punched the air from my lungs, and I took in a mouthful of water before I got my balance. The tide was out, but the water was still over my head and I had to thread my feet to keep from going under.

  Roland hoisted himself over the rail. “Oh man, I knew I should have switched places with Pete,” he moaned as he joined me with a small splash. “Fuck, this is cold!”

  “Shhh,” I whispered. The men were at the Mary’s Hope, and the boat rocked as they climbed aboard. We were tucked out of sight beneath the front of the boat, but it wouldn’t take them long to figure out where we’d gone. Voices and footsteps came toward the bow. If we didn’t move in the next thirty seconds, we’d be caught.

  “Follow me,” I mouthed through chattering teeth. Roland nodded miserably, and I quickly but quietly moved toward the dock. The pilings were slimy, and I lost my grip on them several times before I managed to pull my body between them. Roland did not hesitate this time, and he was right behind me when I turned to look back for him. I put my finger to my lips and pulled us into the deeper shadows beneath the dock.

  “They couldn’t have gone far,” said a deep voice in halting English. He sounded German.

  “He will not be pleased if they get away, Gerhard.” The voice was clipped and cold with a Middle Eastern accent. “I told you to grab the little man as soon as he arrived.”

  I knew it – they were after Malloy. I gritted my teeth. If we got out of this alive, he was going to hear it from me.

  “Split up and check every boat,” ordered the Middle Eastern man. “And have Cesar watch the entrance.”

  “Why don’t we have the witch find them for us?” the German man named Gerhard asked.

  His companion’s laugh was colder than the water lapping at my chin. “He’s already doing his thing. They better pray we find them before he does.”

  Roland and I stared at each other with frightened eyes, and he mouthed, “Witch?” I shrugged. What
kind of mess was Malloy in? Whatever it was, we were not going to stick around to find out. I had enough to deal with without adding witches and a bunch of thugs to the mix.

  I waited until I heard the men move to search the surrounding boats then I pointed to the long tunnel of darkness beneath the dock that led to the cement pier. Roland nodded and followed me as I moved through the water with agonizing slowness. My hands grabbed at the cross beams under the dock to pull myself along, but my fingers were too cold to hang on. If we didn’t get out of this water soon, the men pounding on the dock above us would not be our biggest problem.

  Roland stayed so close behind me I could feel his reassuring bulk every step of the way. It seemed to take hours to travel a few yards, even though I knew it was only minutes. We did not speak, but I feared my thumping heart or chattering teeth would give us away any second. Every now and then, footsteps moved over our heads and we froze in place, expecting a shout and a muscled arm to reach underneath the dock for us. Then they moved on, and we started breathing again.

  When my feet hit bottom, I knew we finally were making progress. It was hard walking through the water but a lot easier than trying to keep afloat. Soon I felt rocks under my feet and I saw the slope of rocks that marked the end of the dock. Once we reached it, the tricky part began, because there would be no more dock to hide beneath and the only way to shore was across the pier or circling it. We might be able to keep low enough to avoid detection, especially if the men were still busy with the boats. We’d just have to deal with that when we got there.

  Roland put a hand on my shoulder as I started to climb the rocks. “Wait. Do you hear that?”

  I turned my head to listen, and my ears picked up scraping sounds ahead followed by a series of squeaks. “Rats. They live under the pier.”

  He shuddered. “Rats!”

  “You live in the country, and you’re strong enough rip a vampire apart. How can you be afraid of rats?”

  He drew himself up taller. “I didn’t say I was afraid. I just hate the little bastards.”

  I hid my smile. “Just ignore them. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”

  “I’m not afraid – ” His eyes bugged, and he looked like he was gasping for air. “Uh, Sara…”

  I followed his horrified stare to the rocks above me where a squirming mass of fur and teeth suddenly streamed from beneath the pier. Hundreds of brown and gray bodies formed a moving barrier between us and the pier, while hundreds of pairs of black button eyes watched us with eerie intelligence.

  “Jesus Christ!” Roland muttered close to my ear. “This isn’t normal, is it?”


  “Maybe they can feel the storm coming. Would that freak them out?”

  I shook my head, not taking my eyes off the pack of rats. I shifted my position slightly, and a couple of rats bared their sharp incisors at me. I’d been around plenty of rodents and had healed more than one rat over the years, and I had never seen this kind of behavior. Most animals were at ease around me, and never threatening toward me. What if they were sick? My power was strong enough to heal some of them, but not hundreds.

  I opened myself and let a trickle of power flow from me, directing it to the closest rodent. The big brown rat’s nose twitched when it sensed the warm energy permeating the cold air around its body, and then it reacted to my power in a way no animal had ever done – it recoiled. I swallowed my gasp of surprise. Animals loved my power. It calmed them and made them feel safe and unafraid. Something was very off with this rat.

  A little mental push was all it took to send a stronger stream of power at the squirming rodent. It was almost enough to put him to sleep, but I had to get past his fear and figure out what was wrong with him. I could barely believe my eyes as the brown body twisted and jerked and tried to scramble over the other rats to get away from me. What the hell?

  The pack shifted, tossing the fleeing rat around until it lost its footing and tumbled down the mass of bodies to the rocks. Its feet scrambled for purchase on the slimy rocks before it slipped and flew straight at me and Roland.

  Roland made a “Gak” sound as my hands shot out instinctively to catch the rat before it hit the water. My fingers closed around the long furry body just as I remembered that the rat had hissed at me a minute ago and would likely sink its not so small teeth into my flesh any second. I let power pour from my hands and into the animal’s body. My power was always stronger with direct contact, and if there was something wrong with this rat, I would know soon what it was.

  “What are you doing?” Roland asked in a horrified whisper, his hand clenching my shoulder in a death grip.

  I couldn’t answer. My tongue was silenced by the shock of my power colliding with another presence inside the rat’s mind. It was intelligent and strong, and it felt like I touched the outside of an angry hornet’s nest when my energy made contact. I had never encountered anything like it, and it frightened and amazed me at the same time. I felt the rat’s heart race and sensed its terror as it cowered from the thing invading its body. If this same alien presence had infected the whole pack, it was no wonder they were so hostile. What could do something like this, and why?

  Roland shook me from behind. “Are you fucking insane? Drop that thing before it gives you rabies or something.”

  “Be quiet or those men will hear us,” I warned him hoarsely, securing my hold on the rodent so it could not try to bite me. “There’s something wrong with these rats. Stay still so you don’t frighten them.”

  “Frighten them?”

  I shrugged out of his hold. “Shhh.”

  “Listen, I know you have this weird way with animals, but these are not cats or dogs, Sara. These are rats – huge, crazy rats that look like they are about to eat us. And in case you’ve forgotten, we already have enough to deal with.”

  “Just give me a minute, will you?” Roland didn’t know what I knew. As soon as I felt the sinister consciousness in the rat’s mind, I knew it was not going to let us pass. I also knew I could not leave these poor tortured animals without trying to help them.

  I let power pool in my hands as if I was going to do a healing. My energy worked on sickness and injuries, but I had no idea how to use it against another power. Except for that one time that I had pushed back on Nikolas when he entered my mind, I’d never used my power offensively, and I had no idea if I could do it again. Time to find out.

  My palms grew hot, and the rat began to squirm. “Easy there,” I crooned, caressing its back with my thumbs as I let the power flow into him. The instant I came up against the unnatural presence, it shifted and pulsed like a cold, slimy maggot, and the rat began to squeak and twist frantically. Bile rose in my throat at the feel of the foul thing burrowed in the animal’s mind, and my power flexed unconsciously, pushing at it, surrounding it like it was an infection to be burned from the body. The invader pushed back, and I turned up the heat until I felt the thing shrink away, twisting in pain. I latched on and sent a blast of white-hot energy into it, and I felt the explosion of power in my own mind like a scream. The rat stopped struggling as a healing current swept away the last traces of the sickness and replaced it with a warm sense of safety and wellbeing.

  “What the hell…? What did you do?”

  “I…” I struggled for the words to explain what I had done. I’d already decided to tell Roland and Peter about my power, but I thought I’d have more time to think of a way to show them. But this – I wasn’t sure what I’d just done. How could I explain it to him?

  “Look.” He pointed ahead, and I looked up to see rats disappearing between the narrow slats beneath the pier. I reached out to lay the rat on one of the rocks, and he scampered after his pack without a backward glance.

  I resumed my climb over the rocks. “Let’s get out of here,” I whispered. There was no guarantee that what had infected the pack would not return, and we had to make our escape while we could. I sensed that Roland was brimming with questions, but
he followed me quietly, as eager to get away from there as I was.

  We made it over the rocks without further incident and came to the end of the dock and our only cover. We listened for our pursuers, and I heard them still searching the boats. The whole encounter with the rats had only lasted a few minutes, although it had felt longer, and I’d half expected to find the men right on top of us. I allowed myself a small sigh of relief. One man still watched the entrance, but there was more than one way out of the marina if you didn’t mind getting dirty. And we were already wet and filthy.

  Roland followed me as I let myself slide back into the water, clinging to the slats and ropes along the side of the pier. My body hung flush against the pier as I moved sideways, pulling myself along as fast as I dared with my head just above the water. The sun had disappeared while we were under the dock, and a steady wind tossed the water, camouflaging the ripples caused by our progress. Guess that storm is on its way.

  My feet touched bottom again, and I trudged the last few yards to shore where I sank wearily on the narrow strip of rocky beach beneath the clubhouse’s deck. Using my power on the rats had not drained me as much as I would have expected, and I just needed a few seconds to catch my breath. At least I wasn’t freezing anymore; that was one good side effect of my power. I hoped Roland was okay. I knew werewolves could withstand extreme temperatures, but I didn’t know if that applied to their human form.

  Roland risked a peek round the building and pulled back quickly, shaking his head. He held up a finger and pointed to tell me he’d seen one man standing by the clubhouse door. The parking lot was less than twenty feet away, but there was no way to get to it without being seen.

  I saw the worry on his face and gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile as I examined our situation. The only way out from our current location was if we followed the beach for about fifty yards then cut across the parking lot of the nearby seafood restaurant. There was a good chance of being seen by the men on the docks, and I wasn’t sure if it would give us enough headway to lose them if they gave pursuit. It was getting darker by the minute because of the approaching storm, so our best option was to wait until the light faded enough to obscure us and hope the men searching the marina did not think to look down here for us.

  I whispered my plan to Roland, and he nodded grimly and settled down beside me to wait. Above the rising wind and the lapping waves, we heard the sounds of activity from the marina as the workers hurried to finish their preparation for the storm. I couldn’t hear our pursuers, but I knew they were still there. I didn’t know what beef they had with Malloy, but with his business it could be anything, and I didn’t want me or Roland dragged into it. The men had not mentioned either of us by name, so hopefully they had no idea who we were or how to find us.

  Thirty minutes later, we stood shivering while Roland checked the parking lot again. His mouth formed a thin line as he faced me again. These guys did not give up easily.

  We could not afford to wait around here any longer. It was dark enough to risk the beach escape route, so I motioned for Roland to follow me since I knew the area better. Picking our way along the rocks in the near dark was hard going, but we were too glad to be getting out of there to care. Thankfully, both of us had worn dark clothes today, and we managed to blend in well with the beach. Before long, we reached the restaurant and scurried like mice across the parking lot to the street where we set out for my place at a run.

  When the lights from the waterfront came into view, we slowed and caught our breath. The wind had really picked up, and I felt cold raindrops against my face. We were already soaked from head to toe, so rain was the least of our worries. Still, I couldn’t wait to get home, peel off my stinking wet clothes, and sink into a tub of hot water. Normally I was a shower person, but I made exceptions for special occasions, and this certainly qualified as one.

  “I’m sorry I got you involved in that – whatever it was,” I said when it felt safe enough to talk. “I swear nothing like that has ever happened before.”

  “It’s not your fault. I insisted on going, remember? And I’m glad you weren’t alone, though you handled it all better than I did.” He grew quiet for a minute. “What happened with those rats? You did something to them. Is it some Mohiri thing?” he probed. “I don’t know what you did, but I know you made those rats back off.”

  We had just spent a harrowing hour jumping off a boat, hiding under a dock in freezing salt water, and running from a group of men who wanted God only knew what, and the one thing Roland zeroed in on was something I was not ready to talk about.

  “I did do something. There are things I need to tell you about me, and I promise I will soon… just not right now. Can you wait a few days?”

  “Why can’t you tell me now?”

  “I just need a few days, and then I swear I’ll tell you and Peter everything. Besides, we’ve had enough excitement today, don’t you think?”

  “Alright,” he conceded reluctantly. “But we are going to have a serious talk very soon. You have to stop keeping stuff to yourself like you did about your dad. You know you can tell me anything.”

  “I know.”

  “And no more running off like this. It’s just too dangerous.”

  I didn’t reply at first, and his tone grew more serious. “Sara?”

  “I promise I’ll be more careful.”

  He made a sound like he didn’t believe me. Then he surprised me by chuckling. “And as for having enough excitement today, I think you forgot one thing.”

  I shot him a sideways glance. “What?”

  Roland smirked as he looked straight ahead. “Him.”


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