Rogue Page 94

“Here.” Jace handed me one of the plastic bags. Inside, I found an assortment of twenty-ounce sodas and five bottles of water. I handed a soda and a bottle of water to each of the guys, while Jace passed out the corn dogs.

“Okay.” Marc opened the driver’s-side door of the van. “Turn right on East Main Street and park at one of the businesses there. Then start walking. Keep your phones on and your eyes open. And try not to do anything stupid.”

He didn’t name names, but he was looking right at me for that last part. I knew why he was mad, and I understood. But he didn’t have to be such an ass about it. Was he trying to piss me off?

Of course he was.

I’d finished my first corn dog by the time Vic found Main Street, and I was halfway through my bottle of Pepsi before he realized he was on South Main, rather than East Main. “Why the hell does any town need four Main Streets, anyway?” he mumbled around a mouthful of food.

“There’s only two,” Jace said, twisting open his water in the front seat. “The directions change where the streets intersect.”

Vic drank from his Dr Pepper and turned right into the parking lot of a local grocery store. “Same thing. You guys ready?”

For the next hour, we walked the mile-and-a-half section of East Main Street, until we stopped to cal Marc and Parker. They’d called us half an hour earlier, with no news, and there was none to report from either side during the second call, either.

“Turn around and walk back to your car, then head to North Marshal,”

Marc said, over the rumble of a passing car’s engine. “We’ll take Van Buren, then we’ll all meet up for something more to eat if we don’t find anything this time.”

That sounded good to me. A couple of corn dogs hadn’t been enough to fuel any of us for a two-mile walk.

Less than half a mile into our return trip, we paused at a crosswalk on Oak Street. When the light read Walk, the smal group of pedestrians started forward. But I froze, shocked motionless by the brief whiff of a scent I’d caught.

“Faythe?” Jace frowned, on instant alert when he saw my face.

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s here.” My gaze flitted frantically over the sidewalk, searching for long, tanned legs and a familiar head of light brown hair. I was trying to be inconspicuous, but based on Jace’s expression, it wasn’t working.

“You smell him?” Vic whispered, glancing casually around the crowd of humans.

I nodded. I did smell Andrew—but not like I’d ever smelled him before. His scent was…different. It was stil his own, but it was part mine now, too. It was the scent of a werecat. Andrew was a stray.

I’d known the truth in my head. I’d even heard it in his voice over the phone. But I don’t think I’d really understood—truly believed it—until I smel ed his stray-scent for myself.

“Where?” Jace scanned the sidewalk with us now, his nostrils flaring as he sniffed the air.

“I don’t know.” Cats don’t hunt by scent, like dogs do. The equipment is all there, but the instinct isn’t. We hunt by sound, and by sight, so anything more complicated than identifying the scent we smelled was very difficult. And unless Andrew had stopped to pee on every light post he passed, we wouldn’t be able to track him. So we spread out on the corner, looking through store windows and strolling slowly down the sidewalk, trying to be subtle as we searched for the scent I’d barely smelled in the first place.

Finally, just when I was starting to feel weird about loitering on a corner in broad daylight, Jace whispered my name. I turned to find him leaning against the post on the corner, apparently waiting for the light to change. But he was actually waiting for me and Vic.

We strol ed toward him, and it was an effort not to run. “Where?” I asked, inhaling deeply as I came to his side.

“The button. I think he pushed the button.”

Following Jace’s eyes, I found the crosswalk button on the pole. If Andrew had pressed it, his scent would linger. At least until the scents of those who’d touched it after him overwhelmed the smell of stray.

Thinking fast, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a handful of change, most of which I “accidentally” dropped on the sidewalk. “Damn,”

I muttered, bending to retrieve my money.

Jace snickered, but Vic knelt to “help.”

I got a good whiff of the button on my way down, and on my way up.

Jace was right. Andrew had pressed the button. Which meant…“He crossed the street.”

Shoving the last of the change into my pocket, I studied the storefronts across the road. Fortunately, the corner was now deserted, most of the smal lunch-break crowd having already returned to their various offices, so there was no one around to comment on how odd we were acting.

When I couldn’t find Andrew through the window of the hardware store, I scanned a quaint local deli. At the counter, an obese woman was paying for what appeared to be a huge loaf of unsliced bologna. Behind her stood a black man in a suit and tie. And in line behind them both was…Andrew. I couldn’t see his face, but I was almost certain.

“Guys!” I hissed, my hands finding and tugging one of each of theirs.

“That’s him, in the deli.” I pulled them to a shadowy nook that would hide us.

Jace squinted into the afternoon sun. “Where?”

“Behind the man in the suit. Wearing a white linen button-down and knee-length khakis.” It was typical Andrew-wear. If he’d had brown leather sandals and a worn backpack thrown over one shoulder, he could have been a student traveling around Europe—with his mother’s credit card in his pocket, of course.

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