Low Midnight Page 32

“Layne sent you?”

“I’m out here on my own, but yeah, I’ve talked to him, and I want to know what the hell’s got the two of you so worked up.”

“Layne’s crazy,” Nolan said. “Paranoid. I’m trying to stay out of his way, but he keeps thinking I’m moving in on him, but I’m not, I swear. I mean, I might have hassled him a little, but that’s it. You go tell him I’m not moving in.”

“He thinks you have a werewolf working for you.”

“No, that’s just Eddie.”

Eddie the skinwalker. Shit. “So, you still keeping a stash out here? Is that it? What are you planning on doing with it?”

Flustered now, Nolan looked like he was thinking of denying it. But then he shook his head. His hands might have been shaking. “You’re right, I’m keeping the stash up, and Eddie’s helping me keep an eye on the place. I got a right to it. You can’t have it back.”

“I don’t want it back. You keep it. Shit, have fun with it.”

“Trust me, when the Feds come around to take everyone’s guns, I’ll have the fallback. I’ll sell the whole thing off on the black market and make an absolute shit-ton of money.”

“Yeah, you and the thousand other guys in the state who are thinking the same thing.” Cormac was just pushing the guy’s buttons now. Hard to resist—he kept getting redder.

“Why aren’t you carrying?” Nolan shot back. “You gone soft?”

“Naw, I just got tired of people mistaking me for someone like you.”

Nolan raised the rifle again with rigid arms, stiff hands, and a furious glare. Even as close as he was, the guy was angry enough to miss Cormac if he actually fired. But Cormac put up his arms again and tried not to smirk too hard.

“Take it easy,” Cormac said. “I’m not here for you or your stash, I just came to see if anyone was still out here. I’ll be glad to leave just as soon as I track down my friend. You want to maybe help me out, maybe try to find your guy before he gets torn up?”

“There’s no way anything can hurt Eddie, not when he’s all wolfed out like that.”

“You ever actually meet a real-live werewolf? Or just Eddie’s version of one?” He didn’t answer, which meant no. “Let’s go save your friend’s ass.”

Turning his back on Nolan and his rifle, he found a bare spot of dirt to set the flares on until they burned out, then gathered up Kitty’s clothes, torn and probably useless as they were, to set them on the Jeep’s passenger seat for when she came back. Pulled the blanket out of his emergency kit, along with a canteen of water, and started walking. Footsteps crunching on gravel indicated Nolan was following.

Truth was, he didn’t think Kitty would actually kill the guy. She was certainly capable of it, but right now, she was angry, not homicidal.

“Bennett, what are you doing hanging out with a werewolf?” Nolan, still trailing, demanded. Cormac didn’t feel the need to answer. “I know your rep, your dad’s rep. You kill werewolves.”

Cormac ignored him.

The two wolves left a clear trail, tearing through underbrush and kicking up soil. Nolan was muttering the whole time and Cormac almost told him to shut up so he could listen for the wolves up ahead. Then he figured, why bother? Kitty wasn’t going to stop and wait. Eventually, she’d have to bed down, and that was when he’d be likely to find her. His goal was to keep the skinwalker away from her when she did. He’d need Nolan for that.

“You never told me how you got mixed up with a skinwalker,” Cormac prompted, looking over his shoulder at the lagging Nolan.

“Nothing to tell. We’re just a couple guys with a business.”

“He’s Navajo?”

“Half Navajo—how’d you know that, you haven’t even seen him. I mean, not really seen him, as a human.”

“Just knew it.” Really, half of the trick to seeming omniscient was paying attention.

“So are you back in the business? You disappeared for a while there—a couple of the guys thought you were dead, you know? But if somebody really was having a werewolf problem—”

“No,” he said. “I’m not back in the business.”

He heard something up ahead and held out his arm to get Nolan to stop and be quiet. It was snarling, the tearing of underbrush in a scuffle. He crept forward as if he were hunting, watching for that flash of movement.

With her supernatural strength and animal instincts, Kitty had overtaken the skinwalker, forcing him to engage her in a crowded stand of pines. The two animals circled, taking swipes at each other and dodging. Kitty was easy to spot—pure wolf, her muzzle wrinkled back to show a snout full of teeth, ears flat to her head, hackles making her appear twice as large. The other one—he snarled, snapped, growled, showed teeth, and sprang out of reach of Kitty’s claws easy enough. But he wasn’t a wolf. His tail was loose, its position undetermined, his ears were up like radar dishes, and he bounced like a dog. His red eyes were visible as glowing points.

The skinwalker had managed to keep out of her way this long, but unless he got lucky, she’d eventually pin him. Cormac had no idea if the guy’s magic would protect him from the bite of a werewolf, but he was pretty sure Kitty wouldn’t want to find out. She’d feel responsible for the guy if she infected him. Cormac would just as soon she killed the bastard.

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