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And that ass was really firm, too. Della gave that thought a good goal-winning kick from her mind. Leaving an empty spot in her brain. And wouldn’t you know what slipped in to fill it?
A certain shape-shifter, whose butt was equally cute. Whose butt had left her. Whose butt was now in Paris, probably flirting with all the French beauties. And in a culture where the television and books made it appear sex was as common a practice as brushing one’s teeth. There had been a time when that culture might have intrigued her, but not when the guy she cared about, a hot guy, was visiting said culture.
Damn! Damn! Damn!
Trying to move from that thought, she landed back on the phone call Natasha’s mom had received. As much as Della hated the idea, if they didn’t find another lead soon, she was going to have to go see her aunt.
And her aunt would probably tell her dad. And then her dad would probably pull her from Shadow Falls. Yeah, she remembered overhearing her dad telling her mom about taking Della over to see her aunt: We don’t hang out our dirty laundry.
Dirty laundry.
Della’s dad considered her to be his dirty laundry.
Her breath shuddered in her chest. Sorry, Dad!
The thought of her dad led her back to the vision, to seeing either him or her uncle standing over her aunt’s body with a bloody knife. Correction, seeing her uncle. She’d already mentally established that her dad wouldn’t do that. He couldn’t. She knew him better than that. She did!
“We going to get out, or just sit here?” Chase’s voice brought her out of her little pity party.
Looking up, she realized he’d parked and they were sitting at the fast-food restaurant where they were supposed to meet the other agent—a backup, in case they ran into trouble.
“Nah, I think I’ll just stay here,” she smarted off and got out of the car.
He met her as she rounded the back of the car and started walking into the restaurant. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Just the question, or maybe his caring tone, brought a knot to her throat. She swallowed the damn thing down whole, too. She wasn’t about to start unraveling right now.
“Let’s just do our job,” she said, trying not to be so snappy. She looked up at the neon sign hanging over the small building. Buck’s Burgers, but the B was out, so it read: UCK’S BURGERS. Not a very appetizing name.
She opened the door to the restaurant and took a noseful of air to catch the scent of any supernatural. The smell of old ground beef and outdated French fry grease filled the air so thick, she couldn’t be sure.
Uck’s Burgers suddenly seemed like an appropriate name. At one time, she used to love the smell of cheap greasy food, but since she’d been turned, not so much.
A chorus of voices echoed around the space, along with the sound of meat sizzling on open grills. The place wasn’t what she would call first class. The floors looked like they needed a good mopping, and the booth tops looked sticky. This was for sure a hangout for the rough and tough.
Della took in another breath, trying to catch the scent of company. She could swear she picked out a vampire, but wasn’t 100 percent sure. Chase stopped beside her and spoke in a whisper. “Didn’t you say you knew this guy?”
“I met him once.” Della shifted her gaze from booth to booth.
“Where?” Chase asked.
“There he is.” Della walked toward Shawn Hanson, the warlock who’d been so kind as to fix Chan’s gravesite, and the one who had a thing for Miranda.
Chase had insisted to Burnett that they needed someone who looked young. Burnett had come through. Shawn couldn’t be more than twenty, maybe even nineteen, but he looked sixteen, wearing a hoody and a pair of worn jeans. Add the earring, and he not only looked young, but kind of tough, and even cute.
His blond hair, curls and all, looked a little messy—not like those guys who got their hair styled. She had a feeling this was the Shawn who Miranda had crushed over, too. In a way, his non-fussy look, kind demeanor, and basic blue-eyed-boy good looks reminded Della of Perry.
“Hey,” she said.
“What took you guys so long? I’ve been waiting for almost half an hour.” His eyes tightened as if in warning.
Not that she needed it. Shawn’s immediate slip into undercover told Della something was up. She fought the need to stick her nose up and take another deep sniff.
“Sorry,” Chase said, slipping into the role as well. “Della’s dad had to show me his gun again. I guess I shouldn’t have kissed her in front of him.” He nudged her into the empty side of a booth and then climbed in beside her.
“He’s gonna use it on your ass if you don’t start respecting him,” Della said.
Shawn laughed. “Y’all wanna get something to drink, or go to the park and hang and sip on what I got?” He leaned in closer.
At first, Della thought he meant to tell them something real. “I got what you asked for.” Obviously, this was still part of the cover.
He picked up the backpack that sat beside him. “Two pints of O. And it’s fresh.”
That told Della that whoever Shawn was putting on this show for was probably vampire. Her next intake of air, she caught their scents. There were two, no, three.
Then Della got a whiff of something tangy and sweet. Damn, Shawn had actually brought blood, and it even smelled like O. Her mouth watered … it had been a while since she’d had any of the good stuff.
“Hell, I’m ready.” Chase stood up and offered her a hand.