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She took in a stuttered breath and ran to the parking lot to meet Chase.
*   *   *
When Chase pulled up, Della could tell from his expression that Burnett had called him. Her throat tightened again, but she swore not to cry. Crying wouldn’t help. She recalled a saying that her father had once translated from Chinese. Crying does nothing but water the pain and allow it to grow.
She didn’t have room for this pain to grow.
Chase leapt out of his car and didn’t open the door. He moved to her. “Did Burnett tell you?” she asked.
He nodded and pulled her to his chest.
She didn’t fight him. Not even when some parents walked past to get to their cars. She held on. She’d never needed to feel someone’s arms around her as much as she did his right now.
“Come on,” he finally whispered in her ear. “Let’s go to Uck’s.”
They both jumped into his car. She bit down on her lip and looked at him. “Are we wasting our time?”
“We don’t stop looking until they have a positive ID.”
She nodded. “I agree.”
They drove off and the wind in her hair and just sitting next to Chase made some of that pain lessen.
When they arrived, they were the only two supernaturals in the place.
They sipped Cokes and chatted about the visions, trying to find anything that might help them.
“The place they’re at—it doesn’t look like a junkyard, does it?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“What kind of place could this be?” Della finally asked. “It looks like it’s underground. It had block walls.” She let the thought run through her head. “There’re some underground tunnels in Houston. I know Kylie had a confrontation there a while back. Maybe this is something like that?”
He frowned. “I’ve been in those and it’s not like that. This is like … a tomb or something.”
She let go of a deep sigh and looked at the phone sitting on the table. Anytime now, Burnett could call and tell them it was over. That hurt like hell thinking about it.
Della went to refill her diet soda and got that first hint of … were.
She swung around and looked at Chase. He’d obviously smelled it, too, because he was already on his feet.
“Is that it?” he asked.
She inhaled again, waiting for her sensory bank to start pulling up old files. And then, bing. It hit. “That’s it!” she whispered, and had to lower her upper lip to hide her extending canines. Not from danger, but from her determination not to lose the dog this time.
She started looking around. A group of three guys sat in one corner, all of them with hats on.
She moved closer to the three, checking if they were were. A noise suddenly clattered in the front of the restaurant.
“Where are you going?” someone called.
“What the hell did he run for?” someone else asked.
Della turned around and the closer she got to the chaos, the stronger the scent got. She arrived at the counter, and not willing to lose this creep, she leapt over it and shot between the fryers and grills, dodging several confused-looking employees.
She felt and heard Chase right behind her.
“You can’t be back here,” someone said, a manager-looking guy. A human manager guy.
She ignored him and followed her nose to the back. She went through a hall and then a prep room. She’d no more stepped foot in the prep room when a solid steel door leading outside slammed shut.
“Stop them!” yelled the manager dude.
Della surged forward, but about five Uck’s Burgers guys surrounded her and looked eager to do as their boss ordered. Chase was suddenly at her back. “Too many humans to let our power show,” he whispered in her ear.
Indecision boiled inside her. She wanted to barrel though them, yank that door from the wall, and see who’d just gone through it, but she knew Chase was right. Burnett had preached this lesson from the very beginning. Public displays of power were the biggest no-no.
She felt her eyes brighten and inhaled, thinking calming thoughts.
“Who just left here?” she asked.
“Who wants to know?” asked the manager dude. “I’ll need to tell the cops when I call them.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll call them for you.” Chase grabbed his phone.
She thought he was calling someone from the Vampire Council. But then she heard Burnett’s voice on the line. “What’s wrong?”
“We need some assistance at Uck’s. Someone just ran out the back to escape us and the manager and his employees aren’t cooperating.”
“I’ll be there in five.”
*   *   *
It only took three minutes. Burnett walked in, his badge prominently hooked on his belt. He didn’t ask permission to go behind the counter. He didn’t jump over it, but his demeanor wasn’t any less intimidating. He came to stand right beside her and Chase and gave them a quick once-over.
“Who are you with?” the manager asked, gawking at the badge.
“FRU, an agency that works with the FBI for local cases.”
“What the hell is the FBI doing here?” He kept on rattling about how they’d lost a few customers due to the commotion. Then he started in about past robberies.
Burnett ignored him and turned to Della and Chase. “What happened?”
“We had a runner,” Chase said. “I think he might have recognized Della and escaped out the back, and these guys didn’t want us to go after him.”