CHAPTER 9

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Please, don't be dead.

My heart nearly cracked through my chest as I turned the corner, and the yogurt shop came into view. I pumped my arms, fighting through the burn threatening to seize my legs. Tears stung.

Please, don't be dead.

Shifters didn't usually leave their victims alive, though, so I knew the odds were slim. I scanned the empty tables outside the store, then busted around the corner to the back.

Nothing.

I bolted toward the front and ran smack into Tom. I planted my hands on his chest and shoved. "Damn it, Tom."

"Sorry, I was following you."

"That's twice I've run into you."

"You didn't find him."

"No." I stormed past him. "I'm going to check inside."

"I don't sense him, either. You should code this in to Smith."

"Later." I zoomed into the store.

The chimes from the door opening echoed in my brain as the bright lights assaulted my eyes. The sweet smell of frozen yogurt and waffle cones didn't comfort me like they had earlier when Sean was by my side.

"Sean?" I yelled.

"What's up?" the teenager behind the counter asked.

"You remember me? I was in here a little bit ago. And the guy I was with? How 'bout him? You remember him?"

The pimple-faced kid shook his head and shrugged.

"I do. I remember your great hair," a girl's voice from beside me said. "You guys looked so cute together, too."

I faced the young worker, who had hair equally as red as mine and nearly as long. "Oh good. Did you see him? I mean, have you seen him?" Tom stepped beside me, staring at the girl.

"Whoa, what happened to your neck?" Her gaze shifted from my eyes downward.

"Nothing. Tell me. Have you seen him? Has he come back in here?"

"Nope. Just when he came in and used the restroom, then left."

I pushed off Tom's massive frame and bolted to the back of the store. I kicked open the men's door.

"Hey," a guy standing on front of the urinal yelled. "What the hell?"

"Sean." My shrill voice bounced off the tiled walls. "Sean, you in here?"

Something thunked to my right. Three stalls. Doors closed. The guy I'd burst in on had left so I turned my focus to the stalls.

I kicked the first one open.

Nothing.

I kicked the second open.

Still nothing.

And the third.

"Shit." It was empty.

I strode to the doorway but noticed a supply cabinet to the left of the sinks. I grabbed the handle, but it didn't budge.

"Sean."

Tom stepped in. "He's in there. I can feel him." He nodded toward the closet. "He's drugged or something. Thoughts are clouded, but he's alive."

"It's locked." I moved to the doorway. "Hey, you got a key for this closet in here?"

The redhead scurried toward me holding one key on a ring of many. Her wide, green eyes stared at me as she approached. "What's going on?"

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