LBAWP | Chapter 12

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"We don't have time for this." Father snatches the sneaker out of my hand and inhales deeply. "It's definitely Saffron's... but it mainly smells like Jess. The girl's been missing three days, and Saffron goes and steals her shoes?"

"Of course not." Mother huffs. "Saffron didn't have any shoes, so Jessica was kind enough to lend her a few pairs."

"What do you mean she didn't have any shoes?" Father barks. "I would have noticed if the girl was barefoot."

"Her shoes had holes in them." Mother rolls her eyes. "So did her clothes. Sometimes I don't know where you're looking, James."

"Her clothes looked just fine to me." Father scowls at Mother. She glares back, eyes blazing, and I cringe. My parents fights always start out all innocent. First, they get mad, then it turns into a shouting match, and next thing you know, they're in each other's arms. I've been traumatized by it enough times that I'm probably scarred for life. No guy should have to see his parents' wild—and very public—make-out sessions. Ever.

"Guys," I shout to distract them, "I would have noticed if Saffron's clothes had holes."

My words have the desired effect. Since I've agreed with Father, this momentarily distracts Mother, who turns her attention on me. Her expression softens, whatever trance she was in with Father forgotten.

"Really, Logan." She sighs in exasperation.

"What?" I think back to the first day I met Saf, and those hot, baggy clothes she was wearing. I was way more focused on her body than the clothes covering it, but I would have noticed holes. I definitely would have noticed holes, especially if I could see through them to what lay beneath. "Her clothes looked fine. Everyone at school would have noticed if they didn't."

"Zara lent her a few things to wear to school." Mother shakes her head. "I told Saffron I'd take her shopping this weekend so we can pick up a few more things. The girl should have her own things."

"That won't be necessary," Father turns the sneaker over in his hand. "She ran away and she's probably never coming back."

"She didn't run away," I shout.

"Then what do you call this?" Father points at the evidence.

"She just shifted and went for a run."

"I'd have to agree with Logan," Mother adds. "Although the way you've been treating that girl..."

"Not this again." Father growls. He starts to bend down, and I cringe as I realize he's about to smell Saf's panties. To my relief, he bends lower and searches under the bush instead. "Speaking of clothes, there aren't any here."

"The lilac dress I bought her..." Mother whispers.

My heart hammers in my chest as I remember the silky, purple dress Saf was wearing. Father's right. It's not here, and I don't dare wonder why.

"I'm right. You'll see." Father tosses the sneaker to Beta. "Sam, can you track her from here?"

Beta inhales deeply and jumps to his feet. He turns in a circle, sniffing the ground around us, and then takes off into the forest. This way!

"Shift," Father orders, and we all lose our clothes and follow. Beta has to sniff the ground every few feet, which slows him down considerably, allowing us to catch up. He leads the way further into the forest, Father close on his heels, and Mother and I bringing up the rear.

Kaitlyn? She calls suddenly, and I look around. I can't even remember when I last saw her. Was she in the clearing the whole time? Did she shift when we did? Or did she just go home? I wouldn't put it past her. One time, she walked out in the middle of her shift at Joe's Pizza because she somehow forgot she was working.

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