For all the things Welkin knew, the fact that May's parents were the ones who stole the wishing star was not one of them. After May filled the others in on what her mother had confessed – that her parents were the last people known to have possessed the fallen star before being captured by the Loyals – Welkin slumped back in their seat, wide-eyed and aghast.
"If we can figure out what happened to the wishing star, we might be able to put a stop to all this Loyal bullshit once and for all." May finished with a flourish. She turned to Welkin for confirmation. "Right?"
The Star blinked, snapped out of their reverie. "The Council wants nothing more than to have that wishing star back in their possession."
"Okay, but how do you know giving it back is going to stop the Loyals from being assholes?" Trina asked. "I get that they wouldn't have to keep searching for it any more but it sounds like their mission statement is broader than that.
The question gave May pause. Again, she looked to Welkin. "The Stars could demand they stop, couldn't they? After all, the Loyals are loyal to the Council. They would do whatever they told them to."
Dom tapped his lips, thinking the plan through. "But will the Council tell them to stop? Or will they just take back what belongs to them? It's not like there's a bounty on this thing."
"Maybe there should have been," Trina said.
"This can all be negotiated," Welkin assured them. "The star has been thought lost for so long I'm sure they would be amiable to just about anything to have it back. But this entire plan rests on being able to locate your parents."
May nodded. She looked to Sean and found him staring back, anticipating his role in this plan.
"I had a feeling you were going to turn to me." His deep voice was like thunder in the distance. "But I'm not sure how much I can help."
During her first stay in Tenna, May had spent a lot of time getting to know Dom and his teammates, asking endless questions and listening attentively to their answers. She had been particularly interested in what had lead them to this little town in the mountains, and to the dangerous jobs they all worked there.
In his life before Tenna, Sean had been a peace officer in a big city. He had gone by a different name then, and despite not living as his truest self, he took his job very seriously. He didn't begin his transition until falling in love with the woman he would one day marry. But when the subject of children arose, his wife put her foot down: she refused to start a family until Sean found a safer line of work. Apparently becoming a search and rescue technician in a remote mountain town had struck them both as an ideal compromise.
"I didn't work in corrections," Sean said.
"But you must have known people who did," May insisted. "Or at least know how we could find out who we should talk to."
Sean drummed his thick fingers atop his knee and thought. May waited.
"I suppose I could call in a few favors," he agreed at last. "I don't know how many folks are still in the unit, but it won't hurt to call."
"Yes!" May danced over to give him a high five.
"Who are we looking for?"
"Gardener." It was the first time May had spoken her birth family's name out loud. For such a common name, it felt foreign on her tongue; forbidden. "Dawn and Oliver Gardener."
Sean let out a whistle. "Shit, girl. Are you for real?"
"Yes? Those are the names my mom gave me. Why?"
"Your parents were notorious back in their heyday," Sean explained. "It was before my time, but officers were still telling stories about them by the time I got out of the academy. Slippery motherfuckers, good at what they did." He looked May over as if seeing her in a new light. "Just wild."
May shifted uncomfortably. It was strange to her, to suddenly be cast into the shadow of parents she had never even met. One moment they were nothing more than anonymous spectres, and now she was the daughter of two of the most notorious thieves of the last decade. It wasn't a legacy she was keen to be associated with.
Trina, who sat on the step of the shop's hibernating snow plow peered at May with curiosity. "I wonder what you'd be like if they had raised you."
"I don't want to think about it," May replied with a shudder.
"Let me make a few calls," Sean said, rising to his feet. "Someone's gotta know something." He lumbered toward the office muttering "this should be interesting" to himself as he went.
"Any chance the Gardener's have already turned over the wishing star by this point?" Dom asked, looking to Welkin.
"If they've said anything, I'm sure we'd know about it." Of this, Welkin was certain. "And even if they have, I can assure you it hasn't made its way back to the Council."
Dom nodded thoughtfully, turning his attention to May. "What do you think they did with it?"
She squirmed. "It's not like I know what makes them tick – I didn't even know their names until a couple weeks ago. But I guess if they haven't given it to the Loyals by now, there are only two options: they hid it, or they sold it."
"But didn't your mom say they were having trouble finding a buyer?" Matti countered.
May frowned. "Maybe they sent it to someone for safe keeping? I need to find out if they had a network or something like that." She thought of Grant Parker and his murder – an organized group of career criminals. "Maybe there was someone out there they trusted."
If it wasn't for the fact that there was so much on the line, May might have found investigating her parents' criminal past exciting. Instead, the sheer amount of ground to cover made her anxious. She watched through the windows of the office where Sean paced, the phone pressed to his ear, and made a mental plea that something would come from his calls.
He was at it for several minutes, dialing a new number as soon as the previous call ended and scribbling notes along the way. As she glanced around the garage, May saw a family of friends – friends who had dropped everything to help without so much as a second thought. To say she was grateful didn't seem to scratch the surface of how she felt.
Dom tapped her arm with the back of his fingers. "Look alive, he's coming back."
The group hurried over to meet Sean as he returned from the office, scrap paper in hand. "Alright, I've called in those favors. A request for inmate information has been put in for both Dawn and Oliver. It could take up to a week before we have an answer though."
"Thank you Sean." May wrapped him in a hug, her arms barely reaching halfway around his strong tree trunk of a torso.
"Don't thank me just yet," Sean said, returning the gesture. "There's no guarantee anything will come of this. If it was the Loyals who took them in, they might not even be in the system."
Dom hummed thoughtfully. "He makes a good point. What's your back-up plan, Mabes?"
May smiled. "If we can't go straight to the source, we'll have to dive into their criminal network. See if there are any of their old connections who might be able to point us in the right direction."
Sean raised his hands in surrender. "I definitely won't be able to help you there, kiddo. I've been out of the game too long to have any safe sources left in the underground."
"That's alright," May said, flashing a knowing grin. "I know a guy."
* * * * * * * * * *
YOU ARE READING
The Fire and the Sky (Book 3 of the Starborn Series)Fantasy
Separated from her Starborn girlfriend, Em, and the rogue group of Wishes known as WIND, May Alana knows she can't go back to life she once knew. Now, armed with a family secret that could help put an end to the chaotic power of the ruthless Loyals...