Page 59


Della eased out of the booth on her own. Lifting her butt up, she saw three guys sitting in the corner. Vamps. Young but rough looking. Possibly gang members. Chase put a hand on her waist as they walked to the door. She stepped out of his reach, and right then caught another scent. A were. One hung close by.
His scent filtered up her nose and tugged on her memory bank. She wished she could turn around and find him. The trace didn’t bring an out-and-out negative vibe, but with the exception of the Shadow Falls wolves, were memories were seldom good.
They got out the door and a good distance away before Shawn spoke again, and this time in a whisper. “I’m assuming they’ll follow us.”
“They aren’t yet,” Chase said.
“Did you see the were?” Della asked Shawn, who was to her right, while Chase walked at her left. “His trace is familiar.”
“I never saw a were,” Shawn said. “But about six guys in there were wearing hats and there were a couple of guys working in the back. It could have been one of them.”
“I smelled him, too.” Chase glanced at Della. “Do you know where you would have run into him before?”
“No, and it wasn’t completely a bad trace. Just made me leery.”
“From Shadow Falls?” Chase asked.
“No. I’m not leery of any of the weres at Shadow Falls.”
They continued down the sidewalk. Shawn’s light blue eyes cut to Chase. “I’m Shawn Hanson, by the way. It’s good to meet you.”
Chase nodded. “Same here.”
Shawn looked at Della and something about his expression changed. “You doing okay?”
She knew he meant about Chan’s death. “Yeah,” she said and almost felt guilty how little she’d let the grief consume her. “Thanks again for … fixing the gravesite.”
“It was nothing.”
Della felt Chase’s shoulder brush against hers and she looked at him. “Shawn was one of the agents who helped bury Chan.”
“I see.” Chase tilted his head slightly to the side. “They’re following now.”
Della focused and could hear the slightest sound of footsteps, but they were still some distance back. No doubt, they thought they were out of hearing range. But along with the additional strength, a Reborn also had extra-sensitive hearing.
“Should we turn around and face them?” she asked.
“No,” Shawn said, lowering his voice. “Let’s get to the park. There’s a spot in the back where hardly anyone hangs out. We’ll have more privacy to ask them some questions.”
They continued down the sidewalk, their footsteps echoing in the night. Shawn made it sound so simple—find a quiet spot and ask the guys a few questions.
Call her a pessimist, but she didn’t see it being that easy. Some feeling, a premonition of sorts, told Della this night wasn’t going to end without trouble.
That was okay, she told herself. She could handle three vampires. It was matters of the heart that were her downfall, and her thoughts went back to Chan.
*   *   *
They arrived at the park and continued down a path that led behind one of the ponds. Only the stars and the moon gave them light. Della listened to the distant footsteps blending with the night sounds, and even caught the shuffling sound of some unhappy wildlife going for cover.
After a few minutes, the footsteps following them changed course. Della got the feeling the three vamps thought they knew where they were going and wanted to take a different path to try to ambush them.
She cut her eyes to Chase, and he nodded at her as if he was aware of it as well. Della reached out and touched Shawn on his arm and sent a warning look. He nodded as if he understood exactly what she meant.
They arrived at the pond, the moon and stars reflected off the too-still water. They kept walking around to an area toward the back.
A few steps later, she caught the strong smell of skunk. Both Chase and Shawn groaned from the stench. Not that she minded. She was one of those weird people who actually liked the smell. She took a deep noseful. Mixed in the musky scent, she picked up another odor. Oh, hell, she smelled a rat. Three of them. No, a lot more than three.
She cut her gaze, already brightening from the sense of a threat, to Chase. He had a hand covering his nose, and didn’t seem to notice. Which was exactly what the rogue vamps had hoped. They’d obviously gotten skunked on purpose in hopes of going undetected. Not even a bad idea. “We’ve got company.”
She barely got the sentence out when eight vamps landed in a circle around them.
With the threat now visible, her fangs lowered.
“You don’t want to do this,” Shawn said.
“Looks like they do,” Chase seethed, his eyes now glowing and his own fangs clearly extended.
“Hey … that guy’s pretty smart,” said one smartass vamp pointing to Chase.
“Slow and easy,” Della whispered, warning Chase, hoping he understood that he should let Shawn, the agent Burnett put in charge, do his thing before attacking.
“But I like fast and hard,” said one of the dirty vamps, grinding his h*ps in a vulgar motion.
Chase growled.
“Calm down,” Della whispered.
“Hand over the backpack, Witchboy,” said the dark-haired vamp to Della’s right.
“I think we can work this out. I’ve got a plan,” Shawn said, sounding cool and collected. Della admired his calm approach. Not that she thought it was going to work, but she had to give him credit for trying.