Garth started eating again and Luke shook his head with a sigh. He looked up at me, his eyes brightly lit. “You’re only making what you did seem even worse. We were worried about you and you’re now telling us that some guy could have heard you there? That he could have imprinted your scent in his mind and find you? Not only that but he already knows you.” He picked up his fork and twirled it in his fingers. He looked a lot better, either Lark’s forced nap worked or he had actually gone to bed last night, which I doubted seeing as he’d seemed pretty stressed yesterday.
“As to the discovery of last night’s caller’s trace,” he continued, “we did already get onto it. But I’ll tell you what. Because you seem so desperate to do something, next time we have a situation similar to last night’s, I’ll get you the appropriate software and let you do the work. Although, I’ll have to have you supervised. We don’t want you leaving signals lying around showing that you’re tracking the guy down.”
Yeah, something had definitely shifted his mood for the better. He seemed a whole lot more mature this morning.
Garth noticed it also. “What kind of drugs are you taking and where can I find some for myself?” he asked Luke, pointing his knife.
Luke chuckled, actually cracking a smile for the first time in ages. “Let me tell you something, mate. You have got to take some lessons from Liam’s little brother. You’ve got a little seer in you, right? So he could teach you stuff, yeah? Because I feel like I’ve never known stress in my life and it’s all thanks to him.”
Garth scowled. “Never, ever let that kid do that to you again,” he snarled, his shoulders tensing forward like he was trying not to shudder. “Damn, he must be going through hell today, what with Dizelde’s nightmares and your stress. You can’t just get rid of emotions, Luke, they have to go somewhere. And James is far too good to hand off those emotions to someone else. Sure, he’s probably better at dealing with trauma than most people but, despite his insane powers, he is human.”
Ah crap. The boy had helped me yesterday. How could he have done that? I was a stranger to him!
Luke ran his hand over his face. “Damn, I didn’t know.”
Garth shook his head disgustedly. “Just never let it happen again. I don’t understand how that kid handles everything.”
Everything was still for a moment. Garth reached for his glass slowly and Luke stopped spinning his cutlery. Lark stared. But then I became aware that Garth had stopped moving, none of them seemed to be even breathing. I brought my hands together on my lap under the table, nervous. They looked the way predators did when they paused their stalking after the victim caught sight of them. Tense but vibrating with energy, ready to spring.
And then there was an explosion of movement. Larkin seemed to literally fly over the table, grabbing me with one hand and ripping me from my chair. He slapped the ground before he hit it and took the brunt of the fall on his shoulders and side before rolling so that his body crowded over mine. During this moment, Garth had twisted out of his chair onto the floor and his body had begun to shudder. Before Lark’s body had covered mine, I’d recognised that he’d been changing shape, his hands spurting fur and sharper, thicker nails and his jaw widening to accommodate larger teeth. Luke had disappeared from the room in a blink.
All of this had occurred in barely two seconds. I could feel Larkin’s heart beating fast, and he was breathing quietly, deeply in and out, by my ear. I wanted to speak, to question, seeing as I could hear nor see anything that could be dangerous, but something must have set them off.
I heard the hiss of a big cat and then the rip of clothing, most likely Garth tearing through the clothes he had been wearing as he changed. I felt too crowded, too helpless beneath Larkin so I finally moved, pushing on his chest. My wrists were quickly snapped up by his firm fingers.
“Stay still,” he whispered, so soft I almost didn’t hear it. I could hear the tap of claws on linoleum as Garth, in his cat form, paced.
Without warning, I brought my knee up, between me and his stomach and used surprise and speed to flip him off me. He still held onto my hands but I drew my legs into my chest and then lashed out, hitting his leg just above his knee and his chest. His grip loosened and I wrenched free. I was upright in less than a second and backing away, looking around the room for any hint of what was going on.
Garth was a big cat. His fur was a glossy black and the way he moved, or prowled, made it clear that he would be strong, fast, agile and very, very dangerous. His large head shifted slowly to glance at me, big blue eyes staring unblinkingly, before he turned away and continued the pacing. Larkin had scrambled up and was standing just to the side of me, obviously protecting my front, his jaw clenched. Well, he could be mad all he wanted. I was trained. I didn’t need his damn protection.
“What the hell is Luke doing,” Larkin hissed. He definitely wasn’t talking to me because I didn’t have the enhanced sensors but Garth wouldn’t be able to answer anyway.
Then Lark lifted his hand and pushed me behind him. I folded my arms and waited. It was obvious something was about to happen and when it did, if there was some sort of fight, I would just step around him and defend myself. I heard the front door open and then a murmuring of conversation.
I recognised the second voice and lifted my hand to hold onto Larkin’s forearm. I needed his support all of a sudden.
“It took me a while to get away… She couldn’t have been in better hands…”
Luke entered the kitchen. Scythe followed him.