She opened the front door and threw herself into his arms. “Ryan.”
He hugged her tightly, the feel of him easing her fears. She wasn’t alone, and that knowledge filled her with the strength to pull away from him.
Worry was clearly etched on his face. “What happened?”
Worry turned to fury. “Let me see.” He nudged her into the apartment and shut the door, still holding her tightly against him. Together, they walked to where she’d gathered the gifts together.
“There.” She showed him the note and the dead rose, but he didn’t touch them.
Brown seeped into the midnight blue of his eyes. “Let’s go see Gabe.”
She wasn’t fooled by his calm tone. Ryan was pissed. He still hadn’t let go of her, and if she was honest with herself, having him so close made her feel much safer. “Good idea.”
Ryan picked up the box and, his arm still around her, led her out to his motorcycle. She carefully placed the box in the motorcycle’s tail box and pulled on the helmet Ryan handed her. He’d bought it especially for her. The custom black helmet was decorated with a yin-yang symbol done in dark and powder blue, the exact color of Ryan and Glory’s eyes. Ryan’s helmet was plain black, but both helmets had built-in communicators that allowed them to speak to one another even while roaring down the highway.
Ryan didn’t waste any time in getting them to the police station. Glory’s legs were shaking by the time he parked, her nerves over the gifts and Ryan’s admittedly justified anger making her want to puke. She gathered the box out of the tail box with trembling hands.
Before she could start toward the station Ryan’s arm was around her waist, steadying her. “It’s all right,” he cooed in her ear. “I’m here.”
She blew out a deep breath, trying to control her jitters. She had nothing to fear here, not while Ryan watched over her. Especially not with Gabe right in the building. “Okay.”
Ryan guided her into the building, careful not to touch the box she cradled close to her chest. He led her over to the front desk, calmly asked for Sheriff Anderson, and the two of them were led right back to Gabe’s office.
Gabe greeted them both with a smile and some coffee. He closed his office door and gestured toward two seats in front of his utilitarian metal desk. “Those the gifts Ryan told me about?”
Glory nodded and placed the box on Gabe’s desk. “I got another one this morning.” She held up the dead rose and the note.
“Shit.” Gabe leaned close, closing his eyes and sniffing deeply. “I can smell…something, but it’s so faint I can’t tell what it is. It’s not you or Ryan.” He picked through the rest of the box, sniffing each note, each gift. “That scent is on all of them.”
“So you have it.” Ryan’s hands were clenched. “You can hunt that scent.”
“If I smell it, I’ll know it’s our stalker.” Gabe held up the note with the word Whore on it. “And this alone tells me that’s what we’re dealing with.”
“Any idea whether or not it really is a shifter?”
Gabe took another deep whiff. “I think so, but it’s so faint that I can’t tell what kind.” His gaze was somber. “I don’t want to scare you, but something about this is making my Spidey senses tingle. I want Ryan to stay with you until this is over.”
The satisfaction that radiated off of Ryan was off the charts. “I can live with that.”
Glory wasn’t so sure, but she understood the safety concerns. “Ryan still has to work.”
“And so do you. Talk to Cyn. Tell her you need to work when Ryan is, and that you need to be off when he is, at least until we catch this guy. I’m pretty sure she’ll understand.”
Of course Cyn would understand, but the scared rabbit that lived in Glory’s heart didn’t. If she lived with Ryan, she was that much closer to getting that bunny ripped out and eaten. “Any news on Hope?”
Gabe pushed a file folder across his desk. “I’ve talked to the officer who took your father’s statement. While he filed a missing person’s report, because Hope was sixteen he’d felt she’d left voluntarily. He did examine the route your sister tended to take and found no signs of a struggle, no witnesses who said she was kidnapped. So for better or worse, he marked her as a runaway.”
“My sister hated our life but she wouldn’t have left us behind.” They’d had plans, damn it. “We were going to go to college together, maybe try and get Faith out from under my dad’s thumb before he hurt her too badly.”
“Did anyone else know of your plans?”
“Only Temp. If we didn’t get out, he was going to take Faith and run. But with Hope’s disappearance our father clamped down on us. We couldn’t breathe without him knowing.” Still, she prayed once they left that Temp had found the means to get Faith away from their father. Faith deserved so much more than Hope and Glory had found. She’d been sweet and innocent the last time Glory saw her, and she prayed that hadn’t changed.
“Any scents would be long gone. We have no witnesses, no physical evidence, just a missing girl and, years later, a stalker.” Gabe’s eyes widened. “Were you and Hope identical twins?”
“Yes, why?” Glory jerked. “You think he’s after me because of Hope. But that makes no sense. Hope disappeared years ago.”
“It’s possible he stalked her first.”
“Hope never said anything about feeling uneasy or someone following her.” The shakes were back, hardcore. Some sick asshole who might have hurt her sister might now be after her.
Ryan took hold of her hand. “If it was a shifter stalking her she never would have noticed him.”
“Or her. God knows we’ve had our share of crazy females in this town.” Gabe tapped his pen against the file folder, his expression pensive. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that if it’s the person who took Hope, he’s only targeted you now because he’s lost her somehow.”
Chills ran down Glory’s spine. “You’re saying she may have been alive and held by a maniac all this time?”
The look on Gabe’s face said it all. “And if he’s come after you…”