“Why’d he have to do it?” Simon said, still turned away. “Why couldn’t he just . . .”
“Help his bosses screw over other supernaturals so his kids could lead normal lives?”
“No, course not. I don’t mean—” He bit the words off, then turned back to me, chin lifted. “Yes. You know what? That’s exactly what I mean. He helped other supernaturals. Big whoop. You don’t see them helping us now, do you? They’ve all gone back to their normal lives and we’re the ones on the run. Don’t give me that shit about principles, either. I don’t give a damn about principles. All I care about is . . .”
He didn’t say anything, just stood there, then tore his gaze away, stomped into our room and slammed the door.
I wandered through the house for a while. I’d like to say I was searching for clues, but I wasn’t. I was just moving, trying to trick my mind into thinking I was taking action. It wasn’t fooled.
I ended up at our bedroom door. I leaned against it.
“I’m not leaving. Not until I’m sure he’s gone.”
“We’ll have our phones. If Dad comes back, he’ll call. We really need to get out of here before—”
“Before what?” He yanked open the door so fast I stumbled. “Why would we be in danger if they took Dad?”
“Don’t you?” He lifted his gaze to mine, eyes hard. “Are you sure?”
“It means I get the feeling Dad told you something he didn’t tell me.”
He studied me a moment before backing down. “Fine, but unless you’ve got some reason to think we’re in danger, I’m not leaving until morning, when I’m sure he’s gone.”
He closed the door. I lowered myself to the floor and settled in for a long night.
It was almost ten at night when the phone rang. Inside our room, I heard Simon jump up, then grunt and drop back onto the bed. I walked into the kitchen and checked caller ID. The local police station. I answered, in case it was about Dad. It was Detective Fulbright, the officer who’d questioned me.
“Can I speak to your father?” he asked.
“He’s not here,” I said. “He had to run back to work for a file. You can try his cell.”
“No, that’s fine. Have him call me in the morning.”
Before he could hang up, I blurted, “Is he okay?”
“I should speak to your father about that.”
“There’s . . . some injury to the spine.”
I waited for more details. When he didn’t give them, I said, “Is it serious?”
“I really should speak to your father, son.”
I gripped the phone so hard my hand ached and I wanted to say, “I’m sorry,” but instead I mumbled, “I’ll have him call when he gets in,” and hung up.
I stood there, still holding the receiver, and stared out the window. A full moon lit the yard. Dad says werewolves aren’t affected by the moon cycles, but tonight I felt the overwhelming urge to run, let the full moon light my way as I got as far from here as I could, before I did any more damage.
I should have gone last night. Slipped away as soon as I realized I’d hurt that kid, before everything went to hell, before Dad disappeared. But the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, and even if it had, I don’t think I’d have acted on it. I didn’t wantto run away. I wanted to stay with Dad and Simon.
I couldn’t think like that anymore. I was a werewolf, and if the day came when being a werewolf put them in danger, then I should leave. They’d already spent ten years on the run because of me. Deep down I’d always known that. I just hadn’t let myself believe it.
When I was little, I didn’t have werewolf hearing but, like my sense of smell, it must have been better than average because I’d heard the arguments Dad had on the phone before we left. Later, when we were old enough to understand, he said his company wanted him to blackmail ex-employees. Instead he’d warned his former colleagues, taken us and run. But his company wouldn’t let him get away that easily. He knew too much. So they hunted him.
It was a good story. There was only one problem. During those fights, I’d caught one word used over and over. A word my ears were particularly attuned to: my name.
Later, when he’d explained about the blackmail, I’d told myself that they’d discussed me because I was part of the argument—“Hey, don’t forget we gave you Derek, so you’d better do as we say or we’ll take him back.” Only I never quite believed that. We’d run because those people had wanted me back. They’d decided I was too dangerous to be out in the world.
Now I’d put a kid in a coma, maybe broken his back.
I started from my thoughts to feel cold metal under my fingers. I was at the side door, hand on the knob.
“I asked what you’re doing.” Simon strode over, getting between the door and me.
“Shoes?” I glanced down. I was wearing my sneakers.
“You need your wallet?” He waved at my back pocket. “Cell phone?”
I didn’t remember grabbing my wallet and phone. Or putting on my shoes. Or coming to the side door. It was like my subconscious had taken over. I was thinking about running away and, without realizing it, I’d started doing exactly that.
“You’d better not. Dad disappears and now you think you’ll do the same?”
He cut me off with a wave, still blocking the door, like I might make a run for it. I pulled off my sneakers and set them on the mat. Simon looked at them, and I knew he was thinking of the last time.
We’d been in first grade. Simon had cut in front of me in line at school. I’d given him a shove. Just goofing around, both of us. I’d been the second biggest kid in class; Simon was the smallest guy. So when I pushed, he’d fallen against the fountain and gotten a bloody nose.
Simon hadn’t cared about his nose. He’d just felt bad for getting me in trouble. I’d freaked out, though, certain this was proof that I was dangerous and Dad would send me back before I really hurt Simon. So I’d tried to run away.
Simon had caught me and taken away my shoes. The next day, he’d refused to tell Dad where he put them, so I had to wear rubber boots to school. Realizing his plan wasn’t foolproof, Simon had returned my sneakers that night and made me promise to never run away again.
I picked up my shoes from the mat. “You can take them if you want. They smell a whole lot worse now, though.”
I was trying to make him smile, but he only scowled, like this wasn’t something he wanted to joke about.
“It’s not your fault Dad’s gone,” he said. “If you want someone to blame, look at the guy who didn’t have the brains to walk away from three redneck seniors.”
“Yeah, I did. I couldn’t let it go. I had to be a smart-ass. How many times has Dad warned that my mouth was going to get us in trouble? Well, it did. So how about we make a deal. You stop brooding—”
“Oh, yes, you are. You stop brooding and blaming yourself. I’ll stop sulking and blaming myself, and we’ll actually try to do something about the situation. Deal?”
I only dimly caught the last bit, my attention fixed on the front window as a police car slowly cruised down the street.
“Derek. Hello? I’m—” He followed my gaze and saw the car. “Oh.”
He moved toward the window. I grabbed for his arm, but he shot me a look, telling me he wasn’t going to do anything stupid, and sidestepped into the shadow of the curtain. Then he leaned around for a better look as the cop car rolled by.
When it kept going, I said, “You’re right. We need to do something. What about that spell Dad taught you?”
“What did you think I was doing in our room? I’ve been casting that spell, trying to get a fix on him. I couldn’t.”
Simon had only begun spell-casting practice a couple of years ago. The locator spell was tough even for Dad. A friend of his had found it in an old grimoire. Most lost spells, though, are lost for a reason. Some just aren’t very useful anymore, like ones to light candles. Others are so hard that they’re practically useless. The locator spell was one of those.
Simon stared out the window. “You still want to go, don’t you?”
We emptied our school backpacks. I made a basic overnight bag. Simon packed that plus his diabetic gear. While he gathered his stuff, a police car rolled past again, going the other way. When Simon found me, I was at the window, as close as I dared to get, watching the tail-lights disappear around the corner.
“Should we still go?” He lifted a hand before I could say anything. “I’m not looking for an excuse to stay. I’m just not sure taking off at night is the best idea. In this town, if the cops see us, they’ll stop. Hell, if anyonesees us, they’ll call 9-1-1 before we go on a wild rampage soaping windows.”
“You’re right.” I pulled back from the window. “We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”