Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 3 - Page 49


"How about seven thirty," he was saying. "I know it's late, but I have a class until six and I'd like to have dinner ready when you come."

He stood up and shut my door, giving it a pat before he strolled back to his house.

Had I just accepted a date with him?

Dazed, I started the Rabbit and headed for the highway home. I thought of all the things I should have said. I'd call him as soon as I got home and could look up his number. I'd tell him thanks but no thanks.

My refusal would hurt his feelings - but going might hurt him more: Adam would not like me having dinner with Tim. Not at all.

I'd just passed the exit for the Columbia Center Mall when I realized that Aiden Fideal was behind me. He'd pulled out of Tim's house at the same time as I - and about three other people. I'd only noticed him because he was driving the Porsche, a 911 wide-body like the ones I'd always lusted after - though I preferred black or red (cliched as that was) to bright yellow. Someone around town drove a purple one that was just mouthwatering.

A Buick passed me and my headlights caught his bumper sticker: Some people are like Slinkies. They aren't really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

It made me laugh and broke the odd worry that seeing the Porsche just behind me had caused. Fideal probably lived in Kennewick and was just driving home.

But it wasn't long before the nagging feeling that I was being hunted came back to settle on the nerves in the back of my neck. He was still behind me.

Fideal was a fae - but Dr. Altman was the fae's hit man and she knew they couldn't attack me without retaliation. There was no reason for me to be nervous.

Calling Adam for help would be overkill. If Zee hadn't been in jail and if we'd been on speaking terms, I'd have called him, though. He wouldn't overreact like Adam might.

I could call Uncle Mike - assuming he didn't share Zee's reaction and that he would take my phone call.

Uncle Mike might know if I was being stupid to let Fideal panic me unnecessarily. I took out my phone and flipped it open, but there was no welcoming light. The screen on the phone was blank. I must have forgotten to charge it.

I risked a speeding ticket and took the Rabbit up a notch. The speed limit was fifty-five here, and the police patrolled this stretch of highway often, so most of the traffic was actually traveling only sixty or thereabouts. I did a little weaving and breathed a sigh of relief when Fideal's distinctive headlights slipped out of sight behind a minivan.

The highway dropped me off on Canal Street, and I slowed to city speeds. This must be my night to be stupid, I thought.

First, I'd accepted an invitation to eat with Tim - or at least I hadn't refused - and then I'd panicked when I saw Fideal's car. Dumb.

I knew better than to accept an offer to dinner from Tim. No matter how good the conversation might be, it wasn't worth dealing with Adam about it. I should just have said no right then. Now it was going to be harder.

Oddly enough, it wasn't the thought of Adam's temper that dismayed me - knowing he was going to be angry if I did something usually just encouraged me to do it. I provoked him on a regular basis if I could. There was something about that man when he was all angry and dangerous that got my blood up. Sometimes my survival instincts are not what they should be.

If I went to Tim's house for a dinner for two - and whatever Tim had said, dinner alone with a man was a date - Adam would be hurt. Angry was fine, but I didn't want Adam hurt, ever.

The Washington Street light was red. I stopped next to a semi. His big diesel shook the Rabbit as we waited for a flood of nonexistent traffic. I passed him as we started up again and glanced in my rearview mirror to make sure he was far enough behind me before I pulled into the right-hand lane in preparation for my turn onto Chemical Drive. He was far enough back - and right next to him was the Porsche, which gleamed like a buttercup in the streetlights.

Sudden, unreasoning fear clenched my stomach until I regretted the Diet Coke. That I had no real reason for the fear didn't lessen its impact. The coyote had decided I was ignoring her and insisted that he was a threat.

I breathed through my teeth as the reaction settled down to an alert readiness.

I'd been willing to believe that we might have the same path home. That little stretch of highway was the fastest way to the eastern half of Kennewick - and you could get to Pasco and Burbank that way, too, though the interstate on the other side of the river was faster.

But as I turned onto Chemical Drive, which led only to Finley, he followed me - and I'd have noticed if there were a 911 yellow wide-body in Finley. He was following me.

Instinctively I reached for the cell phone again - and when I grabbed it out of the passenger seat, it dripped water all over my hand. I realized then that the smell of brine had been getting stronger and stronger for a while. I dropped the useless phone and brought my hand to my mouth. It tasted of swamp and salt, like a salt marsh rather than seawater.

Although Adam's house and my house share a back fence, his street turns off a quarter mile before mine does. I couldn't remember if Samuel was at work tonight or not - but even if Adam wasn't at his house, there was bound to be someone there. Someone who was a werewolf.

Of course, Jesse was likely to be there, too, and Jesse could protect herself even less than I could.

I took the turn onto Finley Road to give myself a chance to think. It was the long way around and I'd have to get back onto Chemical before I went home, but I'd made so many stupid moves tonight, I had to take time to make sure bringing this fae, whatever his intentions were, to Adam's house was a smart idea.

I shouldn't have worried. Just as I was passing Two Rivers Park, where the road was nice and deserted and the houses far away, the Rabbit coughed, sputtered, and choked before it died.

There was no shoulder to the road, so I guided the car off the blacktop and hoped for the best. If I left it on the road, some poor person, coming home late, could hit it and kill himself. The Rabbit bounced over some rocks, which didn't do my undercarriage any good, and came to rest in a relatively flat spot.

The car felt like a trap, so I got out as soon as the wheels quit turning. The Porsche had stopped on the highway and sat growling its throaty song.

Full dark had fallen while I was driving back, and the lights were hard on my sensitive eyes, one of the downsides of good night vision. I turned my head away from the headlights so when Fideal got out of his car, I heard it rather than saw it.

"Odd seeing a fae drive a Porsche," I told him coolly. "They might have an aluminum block, but the body is steel."

The car made a hollow sound, as if it had been patted. "Porsche puts many coats of good paint on their cars. I have an additional four coats of wax and I find that it doesn't trouble me at all," he said.