“Did Kellin get to check the wards this morning, before they went off on this wild goose chase after Leah?”
Thom hadn’t quite expected the reaction he got from both J.T. and Rory, who blinked at him, staring like he’d suddenly grown a second head.
“What?” He demanded, grimacing. Okay, so maybe I believe a little that they do something. Hell, maybe I just give a damn that her little morning ritual hasn’t been disrupted. Either way, it’s not an invalid question.
Rory looked at J.T., who shook his head. “Don’t look at me,” the bigger man grumbled as he shepherded them toward the tent and the fire within. “I was asleep until Matt came and poked me to tell me what everyone else was doing.”
“I didn’t actually see her do it,” Rory said. “She might have forgotten in all of the hubbub over Leah’s little disappearing act. Why do you care, anyway?”
Swallowing bile, Thom shook his head slightly. “I think I’m starting to be one of the ones that likes the idea of them so I can sleep better at night.” And function in daylight.
A strange expression crossed J.T.’s face and Thom suppressed a wince and waved a hand. “Never mind. Do you know how to fix them?”
Rory snorted and shook his head. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Wouldn’t know where to start with what?” Carolyn asked, dusting her hands off on the seat of her jeans as J.T. herded Thom and Rory into the light of the now-roaring fire. Angie still sat there, huddled under Matt’s arm, and looked up at the three men with big eyes.
Thom swallowed hard as he met her gaze. She’s just a kid and we should be able to protect her. Instead we’re about as useful as corn on the cob to a toothless geezer.
“Kel’s wards,” J.T. rumbled, lumbering over to put the tea kettle on over the fire. He glanced toward Carolyn as he got it settled. “Watch, that, will you?”
She caught his arm as he came around the fire, headed deeper into the tent. “Where are you going?”
“To find something sharp,” he said, then walked away. Carolyn stood in his wake, blinking in confusion.
“What was that supposed to mean?” She asked, glancing toward Rory and Thom, since J.T. wasn’t going to answer.
Guns won’t hurt what’s coming.
Thom shuddered violently at the thought and hobble-marched to his usual spot by the fire, sitting down heavily and drawing one knee up to his chest. He brooded there silently for a moment, keenly aware that Carolyn was looking at him strangely and that Angie’s eyes were on him, too.
Where the hell did that come from? How did I know that?
He knew the answer, though. It came from something he couldn’t remember—something he didn’t want to remember. Intuitions that he’d been refusing to believe for fear of what they might mean. They weren’t going away just because he didn’t want to believe them, but apparently he was getting much, much better at forgetting them.
He wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but a little part of him was relieved that most of their number were across the ruins of M-45 today, though he couldn’t quite articulate why.
The moment passed and Carolyn huffed softly, then looked Rory over. “What happened to you?”
Thom glanced up at Rory and frowned at the expression on the other man’s face. There was a tense set to his shoulders and a pinched look to his features, almost furtive.
“He doesn’t want to talk about it,” Thom said, then immediately turned his attention to the fire as Carolyn looked at him again.
Rory shrugged. “He’s right, I don’t.”
“Too bad, because you’re going to tell me. Sit.” Carolyn took Rory by the arm and manhandled him to a spot next to Thom by the fire.
If he hadn’t been trying to fight down the strengthening feeling that something was going to go terribly, horribly wrong, Thom would have laughed at the absurdity of it all.
Goosebumps started crawling along his arms again.
“It’s a boring story,” Rory said.
“Then you shouldn’t mind telling it,” Carolyn countered. “Spill.”
“Fine,” Rory grumbled, glaring at her, at the fire, at everything within his line of sight. “But you’re not going to like what this old soul has to say.”
Carolyn crossed her arms. “Try me.”
Rory opened his mouth to speak.
That’s when they heard the scream.
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