Villains, Annoying Assistants, and Monsters…Oh My!
My best friend had nothing to do with bouncing or monsters until something went terribly wrong in my new job. Suddenly she’s missing, and the rumor is that a nest of monsters might have her. Those monsters are about to meet their match. I’m going to go medieval on their furry butts. If only I can figure out how to control my bouncing magic for five solid minutes.
Something tells me this is going to go badly.
Justice looked at me. “You get him home. Elvo and I will handle this.”
I surged upright. “No. I’m going with you.”
“She’s right,” Rog said, earning brownie points from me. “She can help find Mols. Don’t leave her here with me. Don’t make me the cause of Molly maybe being lost because you didn’t have the help you needed.”
His plea was desperate but reasonable enough to make Justice hesitate. He glanced my way and I nodded. “I’m coming.”
“It’s not safe for Rog to be out there alone.”
“That’s okay,” Molly’s stubborn assistant said. “Because I won’t be alone. I’m coming with you.”
No amount of arguing changed Rog’s mind. Finally, realizing we were losing precious time, I gave in, forcing Justice to follow suit. “You stay close and do exactly what we say when we say it, understood?” I told Rog.
The man’s lips flattened and fire lit his gaze, but he nodded. “Understood.”
He was totally going to do whatever he wanted.
Sighing, I moved to the locked metal cabinet at the back of the room. I picked up the candy bowl on the top and reached inside, finding the fake wood bottom and prying it up with my fingernail.
“This is no time for a snack,” Rog said, his tone snotty and impatient. In other words, normal.
Ignoring him, I extracted the key hidden beneath the wood and unlocked the cabinet, pocketing the key. Since Rob knew about my hiding spot, I’d have to find a different one after we got Molly back.
The thought comforted me. We would get her back.
Opening the top drawer, I tugged a pile of clean clothing aside and grabbed my gun and two knives. I handed Justice the knives and grabbed an extra magazine for the Glock.
When I turned around, Rog was staring at me gape-mouthed. He looked kind of gray.
“You had weapons!”
I thought he was horrified by their very existence in his sphere, but his next words changed my understanding.
“Why didn’t you tell me those were there? I could have saved Molly.”
Aside from the idea of Rog with a gun in his hand, which was enough to liquify my bowels, I was shocked he’d even consider using the gun. He was a self-declared peacenik and liked to call me a barbarian for believing in the equalizing quality of a good gun or blade. “I…ah…”
Justice nodded toward the door, saving me from having to respond. “I’ll go first, you stay close to my heels,” he told Rog. “Rae will take up the rear. Under no circumstances will you abandon that position.”
Rog nodded without the attitude he’d given me.
We exited the store and walked out into a warm, dark night. I looked up at the security lights and gasped. Even in the darkness, I could see the bent and twisted lamps atop the poles. “Justice,” I said softly.
His gaze followed mine and he stilled. No normal bear had done that. He didn’t respond, but he glanced at Rog. “Stay close,” he whispered.
Rog seemed to pick up on our worry. He was strangely quiet, a state I didn’t think I’d ever seen him in, and did as he was told without argument.
The only voice I heard was Justice’s as he swore at Rog to stop stepping on his heels.
The night air felt heavy and moist as if rain were trapped there, unable to fall. The sky was a mix of lead and charcoal, so dark I could barely see Justice fifteen feet away.
In front of me, Rog suddenly dodged sideways and my hand tightened on my gun, still jammed in the small of my back. Without warning, a tall form appeared in front of me and I sucked in a surprised gasp, the gun found my hand before I identified my foe. Then I laughed, realizing I’d just drawn on a sapling.
“What did that tree ever do to you?” a snide voice said from beside me.
Only decades of experience on the streets as a cop kept me from plugging Rog between his bulgy eyes.
My pulse pounding in my ears and my skin tingling with awareness, I eased a breath out between my lips and forced myself to relax. “You’re going to get shot. You’re supposed to stay close to Justice. Where is he?”
The whites of Rog’s eyes were visible through the dark. They looked enormous. “I lost him. I figured he was with you.”
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