Rogue Page 95

Vic frowned. “Are you sure? I don’t remember him being that tall.”

“Well, I could go sniff him,” I suggested, smiling when he turned to glare at me. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure. He looks exactly the same.”

“From the back?” Vic raised one brow at me to drive home his point.

“We have to be sure.”

I grumbled but knew he was right. So we waited.

The woman left the deli with her package under one arm, and the men behind her stepped forward. The customer in the suit leaned over the counter to point out something in the case, and while he was waiting, the tall man in khakis turned to look around the store, running one hand through familiar light brown hair, kissed with natural streaks of sun-bleached blond. Then he glanced out the window, and we got a clear look at his face before he turned around.

My pulse spiked, and my mouth went dry. My hand clenched Jace’s arm. It was Andrew. Without a doubt. The guys had gone stiff on either side of me; they recognized him, too.

“Jace, call Marc,” Vic ordered softly. “Tel him where we are, and that we’ve found Andrew. Faythe and I will go back for the car. You follow him—subtly, please—and we’ll pick you up. Call us if you lose him.”

Jace nodded, his phone already in hand.

Vic took off down the sidewalk, practically dragging me with him, because I couldn’t take my eyes from Andrew as he perused the meat case. It was eerie, how little he’d changed. How could he possibly look so unthreatening, so very human, yet be one of us?

Finally, Vic gave my arm one last, hard tug, and got my attention. We raced to the car, running—at human speed —once we were out of sight of the deli.

At the parking lot, Vic slammed the Jeep into Reverse, and I drained the now-warm bottle of water Jace had left in the front seat. By the time we turned right onto East Main, almost eight minutes had passed, and Pink was singing from my front pocket again. Jace was calling.

Marc and Parker had picked him up, and they were tailing Andrew down Main Street in his silver BMW Z4—the car his parents bought him when he graduated. Both vehicles were heading west. Right toward us.

Vic spotted the Z4 as I hung up the phone. “Duck!” he ordered, but before I could, he put one hand behind my neck and shoved me forward so that I sat folded in half in the passenger seat.

Seconds later, he let me go and the Jeep swerved into a half-empty parking lot. He cut a tight, too-fast circle, then turned back onto Main.

Marc was two cars ahead of us, and as far as I could tel , Andrew was three cars ahead of him. A quarter of a mile later, Marc turned on his right blinker. We followed him onto a side street, where the van slowed considerably. There was no one between him and Andrew now, and it wouldn’t be hard for even a rookie stray to realize he was being followed by a van full of men he may or may not recognize from his college campus.

After another quarter mile, Andrew turned right. Marc followed him, but told us over Vic’s phone—now on walkie-talkie mode—to stay put.

“Give me a minute to see where he’s going, and we’l —” Marc stopped in mid sentence, and a second later, Parker picked up where he’d left off.

“There. He’s turning into that rail yard.”

Jace’s static-fuzzy voice came over the line, along with the squeal of seat springs. “I don’t think it’s operational.”

I squinted out the window on my right, trying to see past a stand of trees in back of some sort of utility building. The foliage was too thick in the summer; I couldn’t see anything but leaves.

“Are they holed up in the rail yard?” Vic asked, aiming his question at the phone I held up for him.

“Looks like it.” Marc paused, and paper crackled over the connection, probably a map unfolding. “There’s a park about a block away. We can meet there and decide how to proceed. I’m gonna cal Greg.”

“See you in a few.” Vic shifted the Jeep into gear, and I hung up the phone. In front of us, the van rolled forward, and we followed it. I watched Marc through the pair of square rear windows.

He’d hung up by the time we turned the corner, and seconds later we rolled over an old, bumpy set of train tracks. On my right was the rail yard, and I saw immediately what Jace had meant by “not operational.” It was abandoned. It had to be.

The tracks leading in were heavily rusted. The buildings—some sort of office or station, and an engine depot— were old and run-down, with peeling paint, broken windows, and cracked, crooked steps. Old box cars were scattered across the lot, both on and off several sets of tracks, and the ground was littered with other debris, including a huge gantry crane once used to lift freight.

The rail yard itself had an oddly deserted look to it. It was like looking at a creepy, half-collapsed haunted house surrounded by a picture-perfect, white-picket neighborhood. And something told me that strange noises from the rail yard went unnoticed—or at least uninvestigated—al the time. Lucky us.

Twisting in my seat, I stared at the rail yard after we crossed the tracks, until Vic turned into the park.

In the white-lined lot on the far side of the swings, we parked both cars side by side and got out. Everyone looked to Marc in anticipation of our new orders. “Okay, here’s the plan,” he said, leaning against the hood of the van. “I’m going to cut across the park and scout things out.

When I get back, we’ll discuss a specific course of action.”

“Let me go in,” I insisted, struck by the sudden impulse to prove that my job performance was unaffected by our splintered relationship. That I was stil a valuable member of the team, even without Marc attached to my hip. “I’m the fastest.”

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