Home > Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)(9)

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)(9)
Author: Patricia Briggs

She worked part-time at a travel agency that allowed her to travel more than she would otherwise have been able to. She put together tours and business meetings, and from what Jesse had told me, she was good at her job.

“I had some extra vacation I could take, but I didn’t want to use it all. When I told him that I had to go home … he was weird about it. Weird enough that I pretended to agree with him—and while he was in the shower, I left my suitcase, grabbed my purse, and ran. Took a taxi to the airport, where I rented a car and drove home to Eugene.”

“Did he just show up at your condo after that?” asked Adam.

“No,” she said. “He started calling me. I answered the first one—I didn’t know it was him. I said too much. But that was the only one of his calls I took until he changed his number. After that time, I only answered calls from people I knew.”

“I’ll need the phone numbers he used,” Warren said.

She nodded. “I have them on my phone. He sent e-mails, too. I read up on stalkers and all the advice I found said that I shouldn’t respond in any way at all. So I didn’t.” She took a deep breath. “Then the presents started to arrive. I order a lot of things online. The first one I thought was a misorder—a red silk scarf. I called the place that had sent it and found out that someone had purchased it in person and had it sent to me. They wouldn’t give me the name.”

“They’ll give it to me,” said Warren. “Do you still have the address?”

She nodded. “On my laptop. I’ll go get it.” She pushed away from the table and made an escape. Up the stairs.

I looked at the stairway thoughtfully, then looked at Adam. “I thought she’d be using the guest suite.”

“She was afraid to be on the ground floor,” he said, and I could tell by the way he said it that I wasn’t going to be happy about which upstairs room she’d taken. Warren gave him a guy look, the one that said, I wouldn’t be you in a million years, but good luck.

“She likes the peach room,” I said. It was the bedroom next to ours.

“Blue makes her sad,” he told me. The blue guest room was across the hall and next to Jesse’s room.

There was nothing to say that needed saying. I stood up, collecting as many dirty plates and silverware as I could. Adam touched my arm.

“Mary Jo,” he said. “If you’ll help Mercy clear the table, I’ll grab the tablecloth and toss it in the laundry.”

Mary Jo waited until we were in the kitchen loading the dishwasher to say anything to me. “It’s not her fault,” she said finally.

“What’s not her fault?” I asked. “That Christy attracted a stalker?”

Her face flushed. “That there’s tension between her and Adam. They were a couple for a long time. She called to see if I’d come and defuse the situation, so that you’d be more comfortable. She’s trying.”

I shut the dishwasher and started it. “Yes,” I said. “She is trying.” I didn’t say what Christy was trying. I was pretty sure it wasn’t what Mary Jo thought it was.

Her eyes narrowed at me, so I guess my tone wasn’t as neutral as I’d hoped.

“It’s okay to like her,” I told her gently. “To worry and feel sorry for her. That’s all just fine. I want her safe, too.”

I wiped my hands off on the back of my jeans and let my voice drop into a threat. “Just be careful, Mary Jo. Be very careful. You’ve made mistakes before. Everyone makes mistakes. One you should not make is to imagine that Christy will ever be Adam’s mate. He is mine, and unlike her, I don’t throw away people who are mine.”

Mary Jo met my gaze, and I held hers. Held it until she looked at the floor and tipped her chin, exposing her neck.

Jesse had told me about her mother and Adam, back when she’d been too young to know that people shouldn’t share other people’s pain, and I had been too … too involved to stop her. Her mother had told Adam he scared her, that the werewolves scared her, and that he smothered her. But I’d always thought that the real trouble between them had a lot to do with Adam’s looking younger than she did. Which made her attraction to a younger man … something to keep in mind.

I returned to the dining room and the interested faces of Adam and Warren. Both of them had heard the conversation between Mary Jo and me, but before they could say anything, Christy was back with her laptop.

She sat next to Warren, and the two of them paged through her e-mail. Adam’s phone rang, and he glanced at the number.

“I hired a man to watch over Christy’s condo,” he told us. “This is he.” He put the phone to his ear, and answered, “Hauptman.”

“It’s Gaven,” said a stranger’s voice; in the background, I could hear sirens. “There is a situation here.”

Adam stiffened. “He’s there?”

“Uh, no. That is, maybe, but I haven’t seen him. I’ve been watching your wife’s … sorry, ex-wife’s apartment building since about two this afternoon. I haven’t seen anyone who matches his description, but her building is on fire—you might be hearing some sirens. The fire definitely started on her floor, and I’m pretty sure it was set in her condo. I happened to be looking up and saw a flash of color—flames in one of the windows of her place. I called it in myself—though downtown Eugene isn’t exactly deserted this time of day, so I won’t have been the only one. The fire department is fighting it, but it’s going up fast. It’s been—” There was a pause and a muffled swearword. “Sorry. Pieces of it are falling, and I was a little too close. It’s only been ten minutes, and the whole place is in flames.”

I glanced at Christy, who was watching Adam with a little frown that made me realize that she was the only one in the room who couldn’t hear the other side of Adam’s conversation.

“You’ve told what you saw to the police?” Adam asked.

“Gave my card to the fireman who’s giving orders. Told him I’d seen something. He’ll relay. I’m planning on cooperating fully with the authorities.”

“Of course.” Adam glanced at Christy, who had come to attention at the word “police.” “They already know that there is a problem. Make sure they make the connections, all right? They have my number, but it might not hurt to give it to them again.”

“They’ll want to talk to her, too,” the investigator said.

“What’s wrong?” Christy asked.

Adam held up a finger. “Of course. She’s not answering her phone directly. They’ll have to leave a message for her to call them back.”

“Right.”

Adam ended the call and looked at Christy. “I think your stalker just burned down your condo, building and all.”

She paled. “Did they get everyone out?”

Adam shook his head. “It’s a big building. There is no way that they could know that this early. They’re still fighting it. They’ll know more in a few hours, but it could be days before everyone is accounted for.”

The war committee continued to discuss Christy’s stalker with periodic interruptions from people calling with updates on Christy’s home.

Adam’s investigator told us the whole building was a loss and then gave Adam a few numbers of people involved in the investigation. Once he figured out that Adam was the famous Alpha werewolf, the arson guy got almost chatty. He told Adam that they’d have to wait until the building cooled before anyone could be certain, officially, that the fire had been set. But unofficially, his gut instinct was that the fire was arson. The first police officer called shortly thereafter to ask pointed questions about insurance policies—which seemed to imply that the arson investigator had not only shared his unofficial gut instincts with the police, too, but also told them that Adam was interested in the outcome.

Courteously, Adam told the policeman that Christy had filed a report about a stalker who had assaulted her. And when Adam had recently contacted the Eugene police on the matter, he’d been told that Christy’s stalker might also be involved in the death of a man she’d been dating. Adam gave him the phone number of the officer in charge of the Eugene police investigation without looking it up. The information seemed to mollify that police officer. But not the second one who called.

None of the calls I’d made concerning Coyote had been returned, but Zack called around ten and apologized for not showing up. He’d found a place to stay and also work, but the job had required him to start immediately. He’d come by as soon as he could.

“I understand,” Adam said. “But I’d prefer to bring you into the pack as soon as possible for your safety. My wolves won’t bother you, but there are other things running around town that might if you don’t have pack protection.”

“I’m on call this week,” Zack told Adam. “I can’t afford to turn down hours, nohow. I don’t know when I can come out.”

“Let’s dispense with the formal ceremony, then, and do something quicker,” Adam said. “Where are you staying?”

Almost reluctantly, Zack gave the name of a rent-by-the-week motel.

“Okay,” Adam said. “My mate and I will be there in about half an hour. I’ll call my second. The three of us will make it official. Meeting the pack can wait until you know your schedule.”

“This could all wait,” Zack said.

“No,” Adam told him. “I have no intention of letting you run around my city unprotected.” He hung up before Zack could argue further.

“I’ll keep an eye on everything here, boss,” said Warren. “You go welcome the new wolf to the fold.”

“Mary Jo, go home,” Adam told her. “You’ve helped a lot tonight, but you need to get some sleep before you go to work.”

She gave Christy a worried look.

   
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