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Bloodlines

by P L Nunn

 

Chapter 4

 

There was a crack of thunder so violent that it shook the church to its foundations. The girl started, shuddering, clutching her threadbare robe with a hand she'd wrapped with a strip of the same paisley cloth ripped from the hem to staunch the bleeding.

A week ago - - a day ago - - an hour ago - - she would have huddled, terrified at the angry rumblings, hiding in her safe haven afraid of the world. But as the echoes faded it occurred to her that the sound was no terrible prelude to disaster but the simple expansion of super heated, compressed air exploding outwards from the channel of a lightning strike, forming a shock wave and scattering compressed particles in every direction.

For a moment, she wondered over that inspirational knowledge, a furrow of puzzlement between her brows. There were other things behind that awareness of the basic earth sciences, things hovering on the other side of a door that had quite unexpectedly opened inside her. A curious door through which all manner of things began to flood in.

She rose from her corner, padding through the dust and debris blown in from the broken windows and hanging door, and stood on the front stoop of the church staring out into the night. The wind was picking up, a storm gathering in the west, fast moving cumulonimbus clouds blocking out all semblance of stars or moon. Her hair whipped around her shoulders, strands of it snaking across her face. She lifted a broken nailed hand and wiped it away, pausing as she did, staring down at locks that would in the light of day be reddish.

Red haired and freckled and she'd always been a little ashamed of the stigma - -just a little, deep down buried behind the determination to prove herself capable and brilliant.

Just like her - - her parents. And she knew. Like a slap in the face, she knew.

Hannah slumped against the door, sliding down to her knees, knowing herself. All the little pieces and parts of her that had been absent flowing back like her soul was a magnet and the shreds of her mentality - - her very self were a thousand tiny filaments of iron, drawn towards that magnetic field. Like the essence of her had been bottled up, trapped inside opaque glass and someone somewhere had popped the cork, freeing her. Something somewhere had happened. Something tremendous that had changed the very fabric of her world.

She sat in the doorway and cried.

 


Jenny Kolinsky had commitment issues. She couldn't help it. There had not been a tremendous amount of stability in her home life with a dad who was an investigative reporter that had been on the road doing research on one story or another since she was old enough to remember and a mom that had been more interested in carrying on affairs in his absence than in her daughter. Jenny had learned to fend for herself at a young age. Had learned to despise her mom's indiscretions and worship her father's rare moments of attention. Even if, in retrospect, those moments of affection had been more of a task for him than a pleasure, taking precious time from the real passion of his work, which for the last decade or more of his life had been the pursuit of the elusive Book of Pure Evil.

So it wasn't surprising that Jenny tended to seek out the attentions of the sort of guys who took her for granted, who treated her like an accessory to spike their cool points, who wanted to get into her pants and once there, lost interest. She didn't have the curse of low self-esteem, she was smart and not afraid to voice her opinions - - she just couldn't seem to dig herself out of the pit of seeking out those doomed relationships.

Maybe that's why Todd scared her. Yeah, he was an idiot most of the time, a stoner and a metal head that would be lucky to graduate high school, much less land a fortune 500 job. He was irresponsible, and impulsive and his sense of humor and hers tended to be polar opposites- - and that wasn't even delving into the whole Pure Evil One issues he had going on. He shouldn't have been anything other than a 'friend' blip on her radar - - but he'd snuck up on her.

Somehow, in between all the blood and the horror, and the breath stealing excitement of dealing with the Book, he'd gotten under her skin. Even when she'd rebuffed him time and again, sharpening her claws at his expense - - he'd never given up on her.

And maybe something in her sensed that unshakable loyalty and it scared her. She wouldn't know what to do with loyalty if it bit her on the ass and before junior year she'd never really maintained more than the rare casual friendship. And then she'd had three there for a while. And there were friends and then there were friends who fought battles beside you. Combat forged something a lot stronger than an evening spent painting nails and listening to the trendiest new Goth band.

So, yeah, she'd been avoiding Todd's calls, because she twinged a little in what might just have been the faintest, tiniest trace of longing, when she heard his stupid voice. And even though in the heat of the moment during the semi-formal she'd been on the verge of doing something monumentally stupid - - she'd had time to talk herself out of him.

It had been the dress, she'd rationalized. Herself all done up like some gothic princess, and him in a rented tux with that stupid sword strapped to his back and looking - - just really, really good. She'd lost her hold on common sense for a little bit and all she'd been thinking about was how earnest he'd looked, trying to talk her into dancing with some other guy - - and how his mouth would taste if she kissed him.

She wasn't sure if Atticus had done her a favor or not, shattering that moment, because even now when she'd come back to her senses, she still wondered how his lips would feel.

When she got around to checking her voice mail, she was sitting on the bed in her mom's rented apartment in the city. She listened to it once and sat there, Depeche Mode crooning in the background over her ipod dock speakers, thinking, is this a joke?

She listened to it again, heard the real panic in his voice, and the real sounds of violence in the background and sat there staring wide eyed at her reflection in the mirror on the wall for a minute. Then she called Curtis and got his voice mail. She didn't have his home phone number. She didn't have Todd's. She sat there a moment more, silently mouthing fuck, before scrambling off the bed, grabbing her purse and the keys to her mother's car and heading out of the apartment.

It was an hour's drive from the city to the community of Crowley Heights. She made it in about forty, breaking every speed limit between the city and there and screeched to a stop in front of Curtis Weaver's house.

She'd been making calls during the drive. The Crowley sheriff's department didn't take kindly to prank calls, thank you miss. And if she had a real missing person to report, she needed to wait twenty-four hours before filing a report and not to waste their time before that. She'd tried Curtis a few more times, as well as Todd's cell, but both went straight to voice mail. Neither returned her texts.

That bad feeling in her gut that had started to churn the moment she'd listened to Todd's desperate message was starting to outright bubble now.

The front right tire was halfway up on the curb, but she didn't care. Nor did she feel any shred of guilt pounding on the Weaver's front door at almost midnight. Eventually a broad woman in a worn pink house robe answered, giving Jenny a, cross look.

"Is Curtis home?" Jenny asked before the woman could complain of the time. One overly plucked eyebrow lifted. Two or three of her chins jiggled as she considered, giving Jenny a dubious once over.

"You're here to see Curtis?" As if the idea of a girl showing up asking for her son was absolutely baffling. Jenny had to wonder if Curtis had ever invited Hannah to his house.

"I am," Jenny confirmed and despite all odds, managed to squeeze past the woman and into the house. "His room down here?"

The woman sort of gestured then bellowed. "Curtis, there's a girl here to see you."

Jenny figured out which door was his by the 'trespassers will be prosecuted' sign tacked to it. She swung the door open and caught him in the process of reaching for it on the other side. He gaped at her in surprise, paint smudging his face and t-shirt, a few spatters of it on his metal arm. His room was a cluster fuck of a mess, but there was a cleared space around the wall at the foot of the bed where a life-sized mural was in the process of being painted. It was the sort of thing he or Todd might wear on a T-shirt, a half finished Viking on a red-eyed horse in the background and a scantily clad, angel-winged Valkyrie hovering in the foreground. A Valkyrie who looked like Hannah. If Hannah had had gravity defying boobs and a body more reminiscent of a Frazetta album cover than anything the real girl had boasted.

The likeness wasn't bad, and it was sort of bitter sweet that he'd immortalized her on his bedroom wall - - Jenny gave the boobs one more skeptical glance before pouncing on Curtis, who still hadn't managed to close his mouth.

"What the hell, Curtis? Why don't you answer your damn phone?"

"Jenny." He finally got out, wiping paint smeared fingers on his boxers. Curtis in his boxers was the last thing she needed to see, but she really wasn't in the mood for modesty. "What are you doing here?"

"Has Todd called you?"

He kept blinking at her, lagging behind. "Uhh, I lost my phone this morning."

She let out and exasperated little hiss and dug her cell out of her purse, keyed up Todd's voice mail and thrust it at Curtis. He stood there, listening, eyes growing saucer round before he dropped his hand and looked at her with dawning comprehension.

"Fucking - - balls - -" he whispered.

"Yeah. He left that about an hour and half ago."

Curtis hit replay and listened to the message again, eyes narrowing towards the end. "I know that voice - - the guy at the end - - I know who that is."

"Do you know where he was talking about?"

Curtis nodded, thrusting the cell back at her and making a grab for the nearest pair of pants on the nearest pile of dirty clothes. "Yeah. I know. We used to play there when we were kids. The woods behind the bottling plant off Dunbarton Road."

"All right then. Let's go." She turned on her heel and stalked out, afraid that every second she wasted would be one second too much.

"Wait a sec," Curtis veered off towards a closet in the hallway and Jenny stopped, blowing out a breath in impatience.

"We don't have time - -" Then she stopped, arching a brow when Curtis pulled out a shotgun from a tangle of brooms and mops and other various household clutter all stuffed into a tiny broom closet.

"My dad only keeps it loaded with shells filled with birdseed," Curtis said. "But it still hurts like hell."

Jenny didn't have the slightest argument with that. In fact, she gave him a grim nod of approval and headed out. Curtis' mom's voice wafted to them as they were slamming out the front door for him not to wake them up if he was going to come back late.

They were barely down the front porch when the sky lit up like somebody had flicked the switch to a massive floodlight, and then the world shook, a deafening crash of thunder that made the ground tremble and shook the windows in the house.

"Holy crap - -" Curtis' curse was a high-pitched yelp behind her. Jenny had to remind herself to breathe, her heart lodged somewhere up around the area of her throat.

They both stared warily up at the sky, wind blowing up from a relatively calm night that made the trees in Curtis' front yard rustle and sway. The clouds were moving fast, dark shapes against the faintest illumination of moonlight.

"Crap - -" Curtis reiterated and moved around her, which got her moving again. "You got a car?"

"It's my mom's," she slid into the drivers seat and leaned to look through the passenger window at him when he lingered, checking out the crappy LeBaron like it was something to be proud of. "Come on, Curtis."

He slid in, settling the butt of the shotgun on the floor between his sneakers. "Your mom loaned you her car?"

"No," Jenny sniffed.

Curtis' eyes got wider. "You stole your mom's car?"

"It was my dad's car. But she took it when she left us," Jenny corrected, gunning the engine and burning rubber as she peeled away from the curb. "So tell me where we're going."

 


 

Jenny had just gone up a notch in Curtis' ranking of awesomeness. He'd never known a car thief. He and Todd had stolen a bike once, from a neighborhood bully when they'd been eleven, but they'd given it back, after spray painting it pink and slapping every one of Curtis' four year old cousin's Disney princess stickers they could find all over it. That was his experience with vehicular theft.

Jenny had stolen an actual car and driven like a bat out of hell from the city to get here - - for Todd. Curtis glanced at her determined profile, thinking wistfully, Hannah would have done that for me then flinching a little and tightening his grip on the barrel of the gun. So would Todd. Absolutely and without fail and why had Todd been asking her to check on him in that frantic voice mail? Were the Satanists on the warpath and had Todd thought they might come after him, too?

"Satanists?" he said aloud. "I'm thinking Todd could sort of deal with those old geezers - -"

"Believe you me, when twenty or thirty geriatric psychos come at you - - it's a lot harder to fight them off than you'd think."

He nodded absently.

"I don't know if it is them - - you said you recognized the other guy? He didn't sound old to me. And other than that idiot Elliot, I thought all the other kids lost interest - -"

Curtis frowned, having forgotten that pertinent detail in his amazement over Jenny's car thievery. "Randy Savage. He just moved into town. I thought - - I thought he was a friend." He gave her a desperate look. "I don't understand."

"A new friend?" She cast him a scathing look. "So you made a new friend, who's done something to your old best friend - -but you couldn't be bothered to notice, because you've been too busy holding a grudge for something that's wasn't his fault, you asshole."

He clamped his mouth tight. The last couple of times she'd railed at him over this, he'd shut her out, too wrapped up in his own misery to listen. This time, this time he felt sort of sick. He was an asshole, snubbing his nose at Todd's attempts to make things right. And Todd had tried really hard, before he'd backed off, as hurt as Curtis was. As lost maybe and that had been a good thing at the time, because it meant Curtis wasn't suffering alone. And now Todd was in trouble and if anything happened to him - - without Curtis telling him that he was sorry - - that he missed him so much it hurt - - Curtis didn't want to think about it.

Curtis leaned his forehead against the cold metal of the gun barrel.

"Where's the turn off?" Jenny broke him out of it, and he looked up to see woods coming up on the right.

"Slow down," he peered through the darkness, trying to spot an unmarked dirt tract. They found it and she pulled in, car bouncing along over all the ruts in the road. The taillights of another car got reflected in the headlights of theirs, and she pulled to a stop behind it. She pulled out a can of pepper spray from her purse and a penlight from the glove compartment and warily got out.

"Pepper spray and a stolen car? You're badass."

"Shut up." Then she relented. "With all the shit I've been through, pepper spray is the least of the weaponry I should be carrying."

They called Todd's name a few times, but nobody answered. The wind was getting pretty rough, blowing leaves and bits of pieces of forest debris into their faces. Jenny's hair was all over the place, until she dug a hair band out of her pocket and haphazardly pulled it up into a tail at the back of her neck. She shined the light into the car, but it was abandoned, no sign of anybody near by either. They exchanged looks at the front end, then Jenny swung the beam of her penlight into the trees and they moved into the woods.

 


 

Todd had no idea where he was going. The darkness and the wind whipping through the black shapes of trees ate up all his sense of direction. Maybe more than the night and the storm. He felt a little bit disjointed, a little bit dazed, like he'd smoked some bad weed and gotten one fucked up high. He couldn't stop his hands from shaking. He leaned against a tree, trying to catch his breath, trying to get his head to stop spinning, not believing for a second they'd let him go just like that. He traced fingers over the unmarred skin of his chest again, amazed every time he touched it that it wasn't mutilated and bleeding. The remnants of his shirt were sticky with drying goat's blood against his back, so he shrugged it off, cringing at the tacky feel of it.

There was another rumble of thunder, not the earth shattering one that had heralded the return of the Book, but just the regular sort that came hand in hand with summer thunderstorms. He wished the sky would stop playing hard to get and just cut loose with the rain so it would wash the blood away.

The hair on the back of his neck prickled, and he squinted into the darkness, some sixth sense warning that he wasn't alone anymore. He pushed off the tree carefully, straining his ears to pick up the sound of pursuit. It was hard to hear anything over the whistle of wind and rustling leaves.

Another flash of lightning, closer by and with a crack a limb crashed down somewhere to his left. In the fading light of the strike, he saw the silvery shape of a wolf. A really big wolf. An unprecedented sight to be sure, in Crowley Heights. It looked right back at him, eyes gleaming long after the light had faded. It lowered it head, hackles rising and growled.

"Fuck - -" he breathed, all that bullshit about not turning your back on wild animals and showing fear going right out the window. He turned and hauled ass, managing avoid smashing into trees by blind luck and quick reflexes. But he could hear it behind him, the padded thump of its paws as it bounded after him, faster with its four legs than he was with his two.

He splashed through a shallow little stream and his mind started working, recognizing that he had to be near the ruins now, and not much further the bigger stream that this little stream split off from. If he could make that and the field beyond it, there was the road. He turned to look back and the wolf was gone. He stumbled to a stop, scanning the darkness, looking for the glimmer of its eyes, the paler shadows of its fur.

He turned back around and it was right in front of him, maybe ten yards away. It padded forward and between one step and the next, faster than any transformation he'd ever seen in any werewolf flick, it went from wolf to human.

It went from wolf to Nikki, who never broke her stride, strolling towards him, hips rolling in that way she had that made anything with a dick get a little hard. Maybe he would have too, if she hadn't just changed from a wolf to a girl, and he didn't know she also had three dudes hiding somewhere in there, too.

"You didn't think it would be that painless, did you?" she purred.

"You bitch," It wasn't the best insult he'd ever hurled, but it fit, considering she'd just morphed from a furry, four legged canine.

She lifted a brow. "You didn't look close enough, lover. Wolf's got a package you wouldn't believe."

He stared at her a moment, before the gist of that got across. "Ewww - - just get the fuck away from me."

"Hmm. I don't think so."

He backed away slowly. "You said you were gonna let me go."

She shrugged. "I say a lot of things. And I don't want you dead - - yet. Doesn't mean we don't like having a little fun."

He opened his mouth, not liking the 'we' in that sentence. He was tired and he hurt - - a lot. He wanted nothing more than go somewhere safe and quiet and get high enough that maybe, just maybe when he passed out, he wouldn't have nightmares.

She sighed, circling him. "It's your own fault you know. We could have had so much fun. You could have ruled this sorry world and I'd have been right there, doing dirty, dirty things with you. But you fucked it all up."

"Dream on. Like I'd have you."

She lifted a dark brow, amused. "Oh, baby, you're so naïve. It's almost sweet."

She was just there right in front of him and he'd missed her closing the distance. It was scary as shit and he'd seen some scary shit. And he'd fucked her." If and when I want you again, you'll be begging me for it."

He took a step backwards and came up against a tree. She moved in, sliding a hand down and palming him. Squeezing hard enough to hurt. He shut his eyes, exhaustion and shock making his legs weak.

"You got what you wanted - - please - - just - - just leave me alone."

"We could." She ducked her head, clever little tongue flicking out to lick the indention between his clavicles where blood had pooled. He shut his eyes, shuddering. "But that would assume we understood the concept of mercy - - and little dude, its been a long damn time since we practiced any of that."

Todd snapped his eyes open in surprise at the octave or two drop at the end of that sentence. He had to look up instead of down, and found himself staring into Brody's weathered blue eyes, the other two Metal Dudes blocking him in on either side. The hand was still on his package and he hissed, knocking it away. Brody didn't move though, just shifted the hand to press it against the tree trunk on one side of Todd's head.

"Didn't think the little bitch was ever gonna give up the reins."

"Give a bitch a yard and she thinks she's running the whole show," Rob sneered.

Eddie just leered at him, grinning like a psychopath in a cheesy horror flick about to go to work cutting up his latest victim.

"What do you want?"

"Like she said - - we're just lookin' for a little fun," Rob said.

"But you fucked that up, loser." Eddie.

"You fucked the prophesy, little dude, and you fucked it good. I gotta give you props for that. Now it's anybodies call what might happen. You might go over the edge and use the Book to bring hell down on earth after all - - with the right prompting. Then again, you might turn around and screw us royal like, given the chance."

"It's a dice roll." Rob.

"And we don't mind a little gambling, loser."

"Long as the dice are loaded." Brody finished up.

"What the fuck are you three dickholes talking about?"

Brody smacked him lightly upside the head. "You'll find out, little dude, if you get your hands back on the book again. Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise."

Jesus. More half assed hints and innuendo. It was all he seemed to get from people when he was honestly trying to understand Book craziness.

"You guys either need to kick my ass, or back the fuck off and let me go, because I am so over this night."

Brody canted his head, considering.

"You remember that night when Nikki rocked your world?"

The other two laughed and Todd looked between them suspiciously.

"So do we, loser." Eddie leaned in close, grinning and Todd began to get a little nauseous, everything below the waist clenching and contracting.

"You didn't impress us very much - - but you know, virgin and all." Rob.

God. Utter embarrassment.

"Nikki, she's sort of a bitch, you know. Not much on second chances - - but the Beast - - the Beast ain't so picky."

"Wolf likes to play," Eddie sneered suggestively. "If you know what we mean?"

It took him a moment to get it, then that curl of nausea started traveling up his esophagus and turning to bile at the back of his throat.

"You - - sick - - fucks." He snapped, shoving hard at Brody's chest. They were too close and he was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Brody took a step backwards and Todd shouldered past him out into open space, able to breathe again.

"We'll give you a count of ten, before we let the dog back out."

"Woof." Rob mimicked, Eddie snickering beside him.

Shit. Deep, quicksand like shit. He had a flash of memory of Atticus' crazy ass metal musical and the batshit crazy material that had spewed out of Atticus' twisted imagination. At the time, he'd been a little too focused on making out with Jenny on stage than really taking in the not so subtle theme of the play. A teenage boy getting sacrificed to a sexually depraved wolf in the woods because of a bargain his devil-worshipping father had made with a demon? Coincidence? Really?

He spun and ran, suddenly feeling a lot more sympathy for Atticus Murphy than he'd managed to work up before.

Whether or not they counted to their promised ten, he had no idea, but it didn't seem that long, before he heard the howl of a wolf. He ran harder, sneakers flying over the dark ground, dark shapes of trees flashing past, low branches snapping at him as he swept past. Don't look back. It wouldn't change anything knowing if the thing was on his heels and only make him more likely to loose his footing or run into a tree. He felt it though, snarling on his heels. Imagined the heat of its breath on his back, and he couldn't help himself, flashing a look over his shoulder. It wasn't as close as he'd imagined, but it was there, bounding after him almost leisurely - - playing with him.

His foot caught on a root and he staggered, skidding forward in the loose mulch of leaves and pine tags. He twisted, not wanting his back to it. If he was going down he was damned and determined to fight to his last breath.

There was an echoing crack that he thought was another lightning hit, but there was no light and the wolf yelped, knocked off its trajectory towards him. Another booming crack and the wolf spun, sprawling into the bramble.

Todd stared, shocked into momentary incomprehension, until his name was screeched from out in the woods and he swung his gaze around, half thinking it was Jenny's voice. And had those been shots?

They came out of the shadows, Jenny - - it was Jenny - - with twigs in her hair and a tiny flashlight in her hand, Curtis behind her, a little slower, splitting open a shotgun and pulling out two used shells. Todd had to wonder if somehow or another, the Metal Dudes or Nikki had done something to him and he was in the midst of tripping. Not a bad trip by any means, because Jenny had skidded to her knees next to him and was wrapping her arms around him, and Curtis was looking really worried and really bad assed aiming the shotgun into the night.

"God, are you okay? Are you okay?" she was demanding and her hair smelled really good and she was warm and soft and he just leaned into her, everything else swaying a little around him.

"Is that your blood, dude?" Curtis had come over, dropping to one knee and pushing Todd back a little with his metal hand, staring at the dark stains on his chest. Jenny juggled the penlight and looked herself.

"Oh crap - - are you bleeding?"

He shook his head numbly. "Not anymore."

"What happened?" She asked the question he didn't know exactly how to answer, with everything sort of trying to fold in upon him now that running for his life wasn't a priority.

"Todd - -?" she pressed.

"We ought to get out of here." Curtis held out his metal hand and Todd stared at it a second dazedly before it occurred to him to grasp it and let Curtis pull him up. He staggered, and Curtis got a shoulder under one arm, Jenny sliding up under the other.

"Man, you totally shot that wolf." That came out a little slurred.

"Where is the damned thing?" Jenny asked, craning her neck and looking into the patch of bramble it had been knocked into. It was gone.

"Damn," Curtis muttered, and swung the muzzle of the gun down with his free hand.

He thought about mentioning that the wolf was Nikki and the Metal Dudes, but then he'd have to explain other things. Things that he wasn't up to explaining - - that he wasn't sure he wanted to admit, especially to Jenny. It was easier just to shut up and move as fast through the woods as they could in the dark, with his strength coming and going in waves that made his knees watery and his mind blank out here and there. Shock. Maybe he was going into shock.

They reached the chain blocking the service road, and there was a second car there, pulled up behind the one Randy had brought him here in. A dark blue Chrysler. Jenny abandoned him, a sad departure of her warmth and the press of her boob against his side, and hurried around to the driver's side.

"Whoa, who's car?"

Curtis hefted the shotgun and reached for the passenger door. "She stole it."

Todd blinked, standing there absorbing that a second, before Curtis nudged him to get into the car.

"I borrowed it," Jenny said shortly. "And it was my dad's, so I have more right to it than that bitch."

Todd settled into the passenger seat and cast a look over his shoulder at Curtis, feeling really, really out of the loop.

"How'd you find me?" It occurred to him that was a pertinent fact as Jenny backed down the road, spitting up dirt and debris from spinning tires. He put a hand on the dash as she swung the tail end around, almost into a tree, then gunned it forward, bouncing down the dirt road.

"I got your voice mail," she finally said, then softer. "What happened, Todd? You said Satanists."

"Yeah." He slouched into the seat, wrapping his arms about himself. Still feeling the ghost pain of the knife slashing into his chest. He shut his eyes and grimaced.

"Damnit, Todd, what happened back there?" Her voice rose a little, annoyed at him.

"Give him a second," Curtis said from the back seat. Quiet like. Curtis hadn't said a whole lot since they'd found him. Curtis hadn't said a whole lot to him in a long time, but that was okay, because he'd come after him with Jenny - - who'd been in the city with her mom.

"Did you steal your mom's car and drive all the way from the city to find me?"

"What?" she gave him a narrow, defensive look. "It was no big deal. I was thinking of visiting anyway - -and you know, getting a call saying you'd been kidnapped by satanists was just sort of the deciding factor."

"You stole a car for me." He was stuck on that.

She rolled her eyes and gave an exasperated sigh.

"Was - - was Randy involved?" Curtis asked from the backseat.

Todd narrowed his eyes at the name. "That asshole. Yeah."

"He's involved with the satanists?"

"He is one. Not the old geezers from here. A bunch of new guys."

"I'm sorry," Curtis said, really softly.

Todd twisted his head to look back at Curtis. "Its not your fault, dude."

Curtis stared at him, wide eyed and sort of spooked, before he turned away, looking out the window.

"What did they want with you?" Jenny popped the million-dollar question and he blew out a breath, hating to even voice the words. But they needed to know. He leaned his head back against the headrest and broke the news hard and fast.

"The Book's back."

 

 

 

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