Warrior (Relentless #4)(13)

by Karen Lynch

What in God’s name is she doing out here alone? We were on the outskirts of the small town, and I hadn’t seen any houses or buildings for the last few miles. After what had happened Friday night, I was shocked to find her out alone, even in daylight. Most people in her situation would still be terrified from an experience like that.

I passed her and started to ease off the gas, but the fear I saw cross her face changed my mind. This wasn’t the best place to talk to her anyway. I figured she was heading home, so I decided to go on and wait for her.

It wasn’t difficult to find the three-story brick building she lived in. I parked the Ducati in front of the coffee shop next door and leaned against the front of the shop to wait for Sara. Ten minutes later, she appeared at the end of the waterfront and pedaled toward me. When she was a few hundred yards away, I felt her presence and my Mori pressed forward happily.

Sara obviously didn’t share the sentiment, and she wore a scowl when she stopped in front of me.

“How did you find me?” she asked curtly.

I couldn’t help but admire her spirit. “What, no hello after everything we’ve been through together?”

Something like annoyance flashed across her face. “Hello. How did you find me?”

Sensing that the direct approach was the only way to go, I said, “I tracked your friend’s license plate.”

Her eyes widened. “Why?”

When I’d decided to come here, I thought I’d known exactly what to say to her. But facing her now and seeing her confusion and alarm, I knew this was not going to be as easy as I’d planned. I stepped away from the building. “We need to talk.”

“Talk about what?” There was a slight quiver in her voice, and her shoulders tensed as if she was going to run.

“You look ready to flee. I don’t bite, you know.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought about the other fellow.”

Her wry humor took me by surprise and pulled a laugh from me. She was smaller than the average Mohiri female, and she didn’t have any physical strength or fighting ability based on what I’d seen the other night. But she had fire, and there was nothing cowardly or weak about her.

“You sound like you’re well recovered at least.” I’d worried she might be traumatized once the reality of what had happened set in, and I was relieved to see her looking whole and well. She was wary of my reasons for being here, and I couldn’t say I blamed her.

“I’m not here to harm you, and we really do need to talk.”

“What could we have to talk about?” Her brows drew together. “I don’t even know your last name.”

I smiled. “It’s Danshov, and your last name is Grey. Now that we’re acquainted, can we talk?”

She chewed her lower lip, and for a moment I thought she was going to say no.

“Okay.”

“Is there somewhere we can talk privately?” The conversation we were about to have was not one I wanted other people to overhear.

She looked around. “We can go down to the wharves. They’re usually pretty empty this time of day.”

“That will work.”

I waited for her to put her bike up. She was quiet when she came back and started walking with me toward the wharves. I wondered what she was thinking, and how long it would take her to ask me the point of my visit. She didn’t strike me as a person who would wait long for answers.

For my part, I was curious about how a Mohiri orphan ended up in a small town in the middle of Maine. I’d done a little digging this morning and found out that the Alpha of the Maine pack lived in New Hastings. One of her friends was the Alpha’s son and the other was his nephew. Sara was in with the most powerful werewolf pack in the country.

“How long have you been friends with the werewolves?” I asked as we strolled along a long, empty wharf.

There was a brief pause before she answered. “A long time.”

“And your parents don’t mind?” I already knew she lived with her uncle, who was her legal guardian, but I wanted to get her talking about her parents.

She tensed up beside me. “It’s just me and my uncle, and he likes my friends, but he doesn’t know what they are. He doesn’t know about any of this.”

“Do you mind if I ask about your parents? How did you come to live with your uncle?”

“My parents are gone. My mother left when I was two, so I don’t remember her.” Her voice held an edge of anger, but I sensed deep pain in her too. “My dad died when I was eight. Uncle Nate is his brother.”

Her answer confused me. Orphans were always the offspring of a male warrior and a human female, but according to her, her father was human. It was conceivable for a female warrior to be away from a stronghold long enough to have a child, but our mothers were very protective of their young. I couldn’t see one of them leaving her child unprotected with a human, even if he was the father.

“Do you know your mother’s maiden name?”

She stopped walking and stared at me suspiciously. “Why do you want to know about my parents? What do they have to do with anything?”

“Answer my question, and I will answer yours.”

She walked away, and there was no mistaking the bitterness in her voice this time. “Her name was Madeline. I think her maiden name was Cross or something like that. She abandoned us. I don’t really care who she was.”

I stared after Sara as the meaning of her words hit me full-on like a freight train. It can’t be. Madeline had always been selfish, but even she would not abandon her own daughter.

Sara stopped walking and faced me. “What’s wrong?”

It hit me then why Sara had looked familiar to Chris and me. She bore a resemblance, not to her mother, but to her grandmother, Josephine.

Khristu! She’s Tristan’s granddaughter.

I struggled to keep my expression and voice neutral even though I was reeling inside. “Madeline Croix? That was her name?”

“It could be. I’m not sure.” She frowned nervously. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

I glanced away from her, trying to think of how to proceed. I’d known I was going to have to explain certain things to her, but the bombshell she’d dropped on me had thrown me for a loop. Madeline was alive and she’d had a daughter.

“I just haven’t heard that name in a while,” I said. “If she is the Madeline I knew, it explains a lot to me.”