Home > Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)(8)

Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)(8)
Author: Lauren Dane

    “Fuck off, bitch.”

    Josh growled. Honest to goodness growled and the hair on the back of her neck stood up. The guy on the ground stilled and she got to her haunches.

    “That’s officer bitch to you. Now, what’s your name?”

    He didn’t answer so she patted him down and pulled out his wallet, flipping it open. “Charlie Hixton.” She pulled out her phone. She really should have checked in with Portland PD when she arrived in town, but it was too late for that now so she’d go through her own people first and then do the checking in. Easier to apologize than to ask permission.

    The dispatcher had her hold on while she ran a check on him.

    Very quietly, Josh leaned in and told her they had a contact in the police department and gave her a name.

    “You work here at the gas station, Charlie?” She hauled him to his feet and nudged him to walk back.

    “Priors. Armed robbery. Reduced sentence because you testified. A few assault raps. Did some time for that.” She kept listening as dispatch continued to fill her in. “Car theft. Check forging. You sure do like getting arrested, Charlie. Burglary. Felons aren’t supposed to be carrying weapons, and here you are with a handgun and a knife. Tsk tsk.”

    Damon and GiGi waited, as Josh had said they would, in the parking lot. She instructed dispatch to call Portland PD, giving them the name Josh had told her, and get them out to pick Charlie up. He was in violation of his parole, and if he was in jail, she’d know where he was.

    “So, while we wait, you want to answer my questions so I can say you were helpful? Probably knock some time off for you.”

    “Fine. No I don’t work here. I do odd jobs for my brother-in-law. I was visiting Bobby, the owner of this place.”

    “Why’d you run out the back door and do not waste my time telling me you were just on your way home and you like running.”

    “Just stopping by. I looked out the window and saw you get out. You got cop written all over you. I didn’t need the hassle. Bobby’s a felon too.”

    A double parole violation with the weapons too.

    “You ever see this woman?” She held out a picture of Allie. He shook his head.

    “I’d remember her. I like blondes.”

    She curled her lip, barely restraining the urge to shake him.

    “Know anyone with a blue SUV? Jeep Cherokee.”

    That he did know. She saw recognition in his features even as he tried to school it. Christ, no wonder he got arrested so many times. He was a dumbass.

    “Everyone and their brother has an SUV. Hell you drove up in one.”

    “Sure I did. But we both know you know exactly which SUV I mean.”

    “I really don’t. I know at least ten people with SUVs. Can’t say I notice the colors much.”

    “I think I need to talk to Bobby about this whole thing.” She stepped away, her hand still at his back, and he leapt at her, knocking her down, snarling as he tried to bite her.

    Her head cracked against the asphalt so hard she saw stars, and the edges of her vision grayed slightly.

    Josh hauled him off and slammed him against the car hard enough she heard the air burst from his lips. “I should gut you for that,” he growled low, the words laced with menace enough to bring a little fear even to Michelle.

    She got up, embarrassed she’d let him get the jump on her like that. “See, stuff like that just means you’re not being helpful and it makes me wonder just what you’re so afraid of you’d rather do time than reveal.”

    “Damon, watch this piece of shit.”

    The Were glowered and nodded, his gaze never leaving Charlie. “Boss, you smell that?” He said this quietly.

    Josh lifted his head, closed his eyes and breathed in. Moments later his nose wrinkled.

    “How long?”

    “You ran after this piece of shit, and we hung around, out of sight to be sure no one entered or left. When you brought him back and we got a little closer, the wind changed a bit and I got the first whiff.”

    “Mind sharing?” Michelle gave Josh a look.

    “Something smells dead.”

    She glanced down at Charlie. “Really now? You make something dead, Charlie?”

    He shook really hard, and she sighed. They weren’t going to get anything from him right then.

    Standing straighter, she tipped her chin toward the store.

    Josh tried to get ahead of her, and she grabbed the waistband of his jeans, the backs of her fingers brushing against the bare, hot skin of his lower back. It sent little shocks through her, awakening all sorts of things she had to push away.

    “Me first,” she hissed.

    “What? No.”

    “It’s not a request. I’m the cop. You’re a civilian. Get back or I won’t let you come with me at all.”

    “You can’t stop me.” The green in his eyes deepened at the challenge, the air between them nearly crackling.

    “I will shoot you. Don’t think I won’t. This is my friend and my case.”

    He sighed. “Fine. Not because I think you’d shoot me.”

    Whatever. The hair on her arms stood up and she paused again. “Think I know where the something dead is. Stay behind me. I’m going in low.”

    She pulled her piece out, thumbing off the safety.

    Still careful, moving quicker, she pushed the door open, keeping low, and saw the blood even before the smell hit her. And what a smell. Fear and death, evacuated bowels. She kept an eye on the body even as she swept through the small interior and found it empty. She tried to cling to her training, but she’d never in her life seen anything like it.

    Bobby had been torn apart. Literally. Pieces of him had been flung about. She took in what she could as she huffed shallow breaths through her mouth and fought the nausea roiling through her system.

    Josh touched her gently. “We’ll wait outside. Pam, that’s the cop who’ll come, is one of ours. She’ll get a good scent in here, but there’s no need for us to breathe this in any longer.”

    She should gather some evidence, but her kit was in the car anyway. The Portland cops would come, and for the time being she’d secured the scene so she allowed Josh to lead her out.

    What if they were going to do that to Allie? What if they had done that to Allie? Rage swept through her hot and fast as she headed toward Charlie, who paled at the sight of her. She saw no blood on him, just dirt and some pine needles from when they’d tackled him. His jeans were faded and his T-shirt was pale blue so he couldn’t have hid it. And if he’d been part of what had been done inside, there was no way he’d have come out this clean.

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