Matthias lowered the map to find Anna staring at him. “What?” He raised an eyebrow.
“There are so such things as angels.” She shook her head at him. “We need to find one.”
He folded the map, then set it down. “I need to know what the ‘things’ were that you saw.”
“Trent didn’t rape me.” Anna shook her head. “He used a thingy like when they give you shots, cause I needed to be a virgin. I didn’t get a look at the things. It was like I couldn’t make my eyes see them all the way.” She frowned. “I think most people couldn’t see them at all.”
“Demons can ordinarily only be seen in mirrors.” Matthias leaned back. “Unless they found a witch they can ride.”
“They can make witches stronger.” Anna shivered. “That’s what’ll happen to Danny if they catch him.” Anna shook her head. “Cause he’d agree to save us.”
“He wants to protect you.” Matthias nodded to her.
“They can’t hurt me until they have her.” Anna touched her belly. “So don’t let them catch you.” She frowned. “Did you know her name?”
“Who’s name?” Matthias started to reach for the map again.
“The one you see sometimes when you look at me, before the blood and fire wash her away again.”
The map fell off the table. “Stay out of my head.” He glared at her.
“I don’t go looking.” She glared back. “It comes to me. Blood and fire. Birds. The broken angel.” She shivered. “She’ll be safe if we find the broken angel.”
Anna pointed at her belly. “We can’t let them get her. They’ll make her bad.”
“I…” He stared at her. “What are you…?”
Daniel opened the trailer door and stepped in. He set a small bag on the counter. “Options were pretty limited. I hope everyone’s okay with hot dogs.” He sighed at the bag. “And Lucky Charms.” He shrugged. “What kind of town doesn’t even have a grocery store?”
There was something strangely thrilling about being bent over the hood of a truck parked off the highway. It was dark, off the road, and quiet, but they were still out in the open. Anyone who happened to drive by could see him being roughly taken. Daniel bit back a moan as Matthias’s hand caressed his shaft. He came a moment before Matthias did.
He winced as he pulled his pants back up. The waistband brushed against the bruises. “Oh.” He winced again.
“Daniel?” Matthias glanced at him.
“Sitting as we drive on bumpy roads tomorrow is uh…” He chuckled. “Going to be an interesting souvenir.”
“I, uh…” Matthias shrugged. “Didn’t think about that. Sorry.”
“Not complaining.” Daniel smiled. “So not complaining. Besides, you’re the boss. I should just be grateful you’re not into the really sick stuff.” His eyes widened. “You’re not, right?”
“If I was?” Matthias folded his arms.
“I’ll keep my end. Whatever you want, as long as she’s safe.” Daniel shrugged. “Really can’t argue. You’ve more than held up your end. So, yeah, not saying I’d like it or —”
Matthias caught his hair and used it to pull Daniel’s mouth to his. “I might make you beg and scream, but I’m not into making you puke or cry.”
“I can handle that.” Daniel smiled. “Well, maybe not screaming too loud, cause…” He chuckled.
Matthias looked down at the young man in his arms. “You’re not asleep.” He kept his voice quiet.
“Neither are you.” Daniel’s voice was barely more than a whisper. “How is it they can track us?”
“Cell phones, car registration, fingerprints…” Matthias took a deep breath. “But my guess is your mother.”
“Mom?” Daniel shook his head. “We haven’t contacted her at all. Or anyone since my granddad, and that was months ago.”
“She’s your blood. That’s a link, one they can use to track you. Not easily, mind. Staying on the move will help. So will keeping running water between us and them.”
“Then why are we headed into the desert?”
“Cause if it’s blood they are using to track you, there’s a way to break that link. A ward. I’m taking you to someone who can do that trick.”
“Thank you.” Daniel leaned up and kissed his chin. Then he smiled mischievously before sliding down on the mattress.
He bit back a gasp as Daniel’s mouth encircled his shaft. Damn, but that kid really did have a clever tongue. Daniel moved his head slowly up and down, working that clever tongue over him. Matthias shuddered when he came. “Damn, kid…”
“You earned a bonus.” Daniel smiled before crawling back up the bed.
Matthias chuckled, then put his arm around Daniel. Daniel snuggled back into him. Matthias looked down at him. A warm, trusting body in his arms. Odd how quickly he’d grown accustomed to sharing a bed. Hell, half the time the kid practically slept on top of him. He brushed a bit of hair back from Daniel’s face, then closed his own eyes.
He snapped them open again a moment later, then looked down at the kid again. The only nightmare he’d had since taking them in had been when Daniel had left the bed in the middle of the night. And Daniel… the kid ate more breakfast than Matthias and Anna put together. Daniel must have sensed his expression, because he looked up at him. “Is something wrong?”
“Kid, out of curiosity, how often did your friends get sick?”
“I don’t know.” Daniel frowned. “Not often. One of the boys I was friends with had leukemia though, but it…” He trailed off.
“Went into remission shortly after you two became friends?”
“Yeah.” Daniel’s voice was quiet. He shivered just a little, then his eyes widened. “It’s not going to come back, is it?”
“I have no idea.” Matthias moved the covers up over Daniel’s shoulders. If he was right, if the kid could do that and heal wounds seven decades old without training or even being consciously aware of what he was doing… He could only hope the cabal was so focused on Anna it had no idea about Daniel.
Matthias took several deep breaths. “No one is home.” He said the words through clenched teeth.
“And the house burned down.” Daniel rubbed his forehead.
“Ugh.” Anna folded her arms and jutted out her bottom lip.
Daniel sighed. “Now she’s sulking.”
“Is she doing it quietly?” Matthias raised an eyebrow.
“Blessedly.” Daniel nodded. “Let me see if I can find a radio station.” After two days on the road they were starting to drive each other nuts. The fact that they hadn’t been able to get radio or reliable internet on their phones for the past two hours hadn’t helped matters. He mentally thanked whoever answered prayers when the radio crackled to life.
“Hey, I like this song.” Anna grinned. “Beiber.” She settled back and started singing along, loudly and more than slightly off key.
“Drive off the next cliff?” Matthias stared straight ahead at the road.
“And please hurry.” Daniel nodded.
Daniel and Anna watched Matthias knock on the back door of the bar. It opened a moment later. “Rosa, I…” Matthias trailed off as he stared down at the shotgun pointed at his chest. The woman on the other side of the door looked around fifty, with the features of a woman who’d been stunning in her youth and could still turn heads. “Hello.” Yep. She remembered him.
“It’s loaded with silver.” She narrowed her eyes. “The right kind of silver. You’ve got thirty seconds.”
“I’ve got a couple of kids that need your help.” He gestured toward where they were standing.
Rosa glanced at them, then narrowed her eyes. “Two more reasons to shoot you.” She shook her head. “You’ve got some nerve showing up here.”
“It’s a complicated…” Matthias sighed. “Mind taking your finger off the trigger?”
“Yes.” Rosa glared at him.
“Please don’t shoot Matthias.” Daniel shook his head. “He’s protecting us. Without him, we…”
“Protecting?” Rosa raised an eyebrow.
“Things have…” Matthias shook his head. “I don’t run with them anymore, Rosa.” He took a deep breath.
“And?” She narrowed her eyes.
“You’re really going to make —” He sighed when she raised the shotgun slightly. “You were right. I was wrong.”
“Nuh-uh.” She shook her head. “Do it right.”
“Rosa!” He glared.
“You knocked on my door. You do it right. Or I’m going to start counting down.”
“For fuck’s —”
“You’re really going to —”
“Fine.” Matthias dropped to his knees. “You were right. I was wrong. I’m sorry.” He gritted his teeth. “Please forgive me.”
She stared at him, then took her finger off the trigger and set the shotgun on her shoulder. “Alright, get your ass in here.”
“Old girlfriend?” Daniel raised an eyebrow at Matthias. Matthias just glared at him. “Sorry. So she’s a witch?”
“With a capital B.” Matthias folded his arms.
“I’m sensing some tension here.” Daniel turned toward where Rosa was fussing over Anna. She set a large slice of pie down in front of his sister, then added ice cream. Anna set to with some gusto.
“Really?” Matthias shook his head.
“Alright.” Daniel shrugged. “You don’t want to talk about it, obviously. But she is a witch, right?”
“Yes.” Matthias frowned. “Similar to your sister.”
“A seer?” Daniel nodded. He looked around the bar again. It looked cozy, with a vaguely Italian feel to it. “And she can help us?”
“Guess we’re going to find out.” Matthias shrugged.
“A cabal.” Rosa leaned on the bar. “When you get yourself in trouble, you don’t do it by half measures.”
“Can you perform the ritual or not?” Matthias folded his arms.
“After everything, you have the nerve to ask me for a favor.” She glared. “I should have shot you.’ She turned toward Daniel. “Do you know what he is?”
“Yes.” Daniel nodded.
“Werewolf. Soldier. Mercenary.” Rosa shook her head. “Murderer. Terrorist.”
“I don’t run with them anymore, Rosa.” Matthias shook his head.
“Finally found a line you won’t cross?” Rosa slammed a shot glass down on the bar. “It’s a goddamn miracle.” She filled the glass, then knocked it back.
“Can you do it or not?” Matthias glared at her.
“You know I can. That’s not up for question.” Rosa refilled the glass. “You wouldn’t have come here if you didn’t know I could. The question is will I?”
“You will.” Anna spoke up from where she was examining the jukebox.
“Oh?” Rosa turned toward her.
“You promised.” Anna looked over her shoulder at Rosa. “Never again, no matter what. You hate him for the ones that didn’t have to die, but you hate him more for the one that did. It was right, but he did it for the wrong reasons. Snow doesn’t wash away blood like rain does.”
Rosa stared at Anna for a moment. “Answer.”
“Seventeen.” Anna nodded. “Thirty eight. Twenty one. Gym locker combination.” She nodded again. “Yes, I am.”
“You can go fuck yourself, Matthias.” Rosa nodded. She downed the glass. “Anna, Daniel, sit. I’ll help you.”
“He didn’t tell you our names.” Daniel frowned.
“He didn’t have to.” Anna smiled. “She knew we were coming. She read it in her cards.”