Home > Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10)(11)

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10)(11)
Author: Patricia Briggs

A wolf howled from the twenty-acre field on the other side of a wall of desiccated arborvitae.

“Sent them out looking for where the chopper was waiting,” Darryl said.

Ben ran up, breathless and in his human form. There were maybe four or five of Adam’s pack who hadn’t shifted to wolf.

“Looks like it had taken up a f—” Ben glanced behind Adam to Jesse and Aiden, who were huddled quietly where they weren’t in the way but could still hear everything, and cleaned up his language. “—a freaking home base. There’s a low spot behind a rise that would have kept anyone from seeing it. That chopper has been parked there often enough to leave a bare spot. More than a day or two. They’ve been waiting for a chance at Mercy for a while.”

“Might have used magic to keep people away,” Darryl suggested.

“A look-away would have done it,” said Stefan. “Most of us can cast something like that.”

“We can follow up on the semi,” said Darryl. “And I have a friend who flies out of the Richland airport. He might know something about a strange helicopter.”

It would take hours if not days to run down Mercy’s kidnappers that way. The wolf was very unhappy with hours—and Adam wasn’t cheery about it, either.

“She went to the store,” Adam said abruptly. He hopped back on his SUV and stepped through the broken windshield to pull the receipt off the seat.

He saw Mercy’s lamb first. The leather seat under the little gold lamb was scorched as if the charm had been hot when it landed there. Her necklace, broken, was on the floorboard, his dog tag from his time in ’Nam still on the chain. He found Mercy’s wedding ring eventually, hidden under the open carton of broken eggs.

He climbed out of the cab with the receipt in one hand and Mercy’s necklace components in the other.

Warren stood in front of the SUV, one hand on the hood. The old cowboy’s eyes were yellow—he saw what Adam’s other hand held. If not for his eyes, someone who didn’t know him would have thought he was relaxed.

“Stands to reason they wouldn’t let her keep that,” he said, his voice thick with wolf and Texas. “Mercy’s right deadly to vampires with that little lamb of hers. Better’n most people with crosses. If you give me the receipt, I’ll go see what it tells us.”

Adam decided that he himself should not be dealing with fragile humans who might hold some clue to who had taken Mercy just now. He frowned at Warren because he wasn’t sure Warren should be doing it, either.

“I know the owner of the store,” Warren said. “I promise I won’t kill nobody who don’t need killing, boss.” Warren only lost his grammar when he was really, really upset.

Adam handed the paper scrap over without a word. Warren glanced at the printing and held it to his nose. He nodded at Ben. Together, Ben and Warren jogged to one of the cars—Ben’s. Warren slid into the passenger seat, leaving Ben to drive.

“Is it my fault?” asked a small voice.

Adam, still on the hood of the SUV, looked down at the newest member of his family. Aiden appeared as though he should be in elementary school, but he was centuries older than Adam himself. Jesse, who treated Aiden like a little brother, had her hand on his shoulder. One of the cars parked nearby was Jesse’s.

“No,” said Adam’s daughter in a firm voice despite the stark fear in her eyes. “Even if they came looking for you, it’s not your fault. And Mercy will be okay. You remember ‘The Ransom of Red Chief’ we read a few months ago? Anyone who kidnaps Mercy will regret it thoroughly before she’s done with them.” She sighed theatrically, acting nonchalant for Aiden, when Adam could feel her distress. “I suppose that Dad is too straightforward to demand payment to take her back, though I bet we could get enough money to pay for my college that way.”

She was worried, but he could hear the confidence in her voice. She was still young enough to believe her father could fix anything.

Adam didn’t tell Jesse what the pack knew. His daughter was human and couldn’t smell the blood. He knew that Mercy would tell him that he wasn’t accomplishing anything by trying to protect Jesse from the full truth. But Mercy would be wrong, because, like Aiden, he needed Jesse’s optimism. Even if it was a false optimism.

“Mercy will make them pay,” he told them, his throat tight. He looked at Aiden. “It wasn’t your fault, Aiden. We claimed this city . . . these cities, and put them under the pack’s protection because they are our home. You were the catalyst. You and Mercy were the catalyst that pushed us where we should already have been. If that was what inspired—” And he’d given that last word teeth, hadn’t he? He took a breath and tried again. “If that was what inspired someone to take Mercy, it still is not your fault.”

“I will burn them,” Aiden said, and the wolf in Adam loosened its jaws in approval and recognition of another predator, one possibly more dangerous than he.

“If there is anything left after Mercy gets done with them,” Jesse said coolly, “I might help you with that, Sprout.” She looked at Adam. “Is there anything I can do?”

He started to shake his head, then stopped. There was no hiding the accident. It was very late, but in a half hour or so, the people who had to head to work in the wee small hours would start driving past.

“Call Tony and tell him about this.” Adam was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to keep his temper long enough to stay coherent. But Tony knew Jesse well enough to listen to her. “Tell him I’ll give him the whole story as I discover it—but that it is supernatural and probably treading into too-dangerous-for-humans-to-know territory.”

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