“What is that smell?” Yala sniffed the air, tilting his head from side to side. “It smells like that twix creature.”
“Twix creature?” Phil glanced at Natalya.
“Long story…” She glanced at Phil before turning toward Yalathanil. “That’s called fudge.”
“Two at eight o-clock.” Greg shielded his eyes before indicating a store front. “They are offering samples.”
“Don’t look.” Phil caught her hand as she started to turn. “If you look they’ll know we’ve made them.” He smiled at her, his face calm despite the concern in his eyes. He grinned at her as though they were on holiday. “I’ve got another at five. You were military?”
“Navy.” Greg nodded. “You?”
“Air force.” Phil exhaled. “Navy probably prepared you a little better for this.”
“No.” Greg shook his head. “No, it did not.”
When Phil tried to release her hand, she tightened her grip. One of the men whose reflection she caught in the glass was the man who’d constantly stared at her ass. “They are Xue’s people. At least one of them.” She swallowed.
“And they are trying to get between us and the water.” Adele was paler than usual, though she tried to keep a friendly smile on her face as she and Yala helped themselves to fudge samples. She also accepted a bit of fish for the kitten, who nibbled at it eagerly.
“I’ve got my badge.” Phil exhaled. “If they cause a problem, that should be enough to handle things.” He shrugged. “Unless, you know, anybody runs the badge and learns I’m a hostage.”
“I do not think I like mint.” Yala frowned at the fudge in his hand.
“Oh, I’ll take it.” Greg immediately held out his own hand, and Yala handed him the slice of fudge. “Phil, they are cutting off the road but we could go through the alley, circle around.”
“If I were them, that’s what I’d want you to do. We’d be isolated, outside of public view.” Phil kept moving forward.
“Not sure I trust the short-fringe…” Yala nodded. “But he is right. Stay in the group, the predators go after loners.”
“Swim in a school.” Greg sighed. “And now I feel like a bait-fish.”
“Am I the short-fringe?” Phil glanced at her.
“You’re the first friendly person with short hair he’s encountered.” Natalya nodded. “Don’t take it personally.”
“We’ve just been telling everyone he’s Dutch. From Amsterdam.” Adele patted Yala’s arm, then shifted her grip on the kitten.
“Might not work here. Holland settled quite a few places in this area.” Phil waved a hand. “See how many places have windmill decorations?”
“What is Holland?” Yala raised an eyebrow at Phil.
“The country the Dutch are from.” Phil blinked.
“Dutch are from Amsterdam.” Yala glared at him.
“Amsterdam is a city.” Phil shook his head. “Holland is the country.”
“What is the country?” Yala glanced at Greg.
“Wait…” Greg tilted his head. “I thought the Dutch were from Deutschland.”
“From…” Phil stopped walking forward. “Germans are from Deutschland.”
“That does not make any sense at all.” Yala kept moving.
“You know…” Adele followed, Greg a pace behind her. “He does kind of have a point there.”
“Somewhere a geography teacher is crying herself to sleep and has no idea why.” Natalya squeezed Phil’s hand as they started walking again.
Continue reading Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 12