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Authors: Karina Halle

Tags: #David_James

Red Fox (26 page)

BOOK: Red Fox
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That’s a risk we are
willing to take,” Dex said straightening up, looking as determined
as ever.


Oh come on Dex,” Maximus
said. “Seriously, if it’s going to be like this, it’s not worth
it.”

Dex ignored him and fished
Nicorette out of his pocket.

Maximus looked at me and
squeezed my arm tighter. It stung. “Perry. I know Dex isn’t all
there, but you’re a smart lady. I would do as Rudy suggests. In
fact, I may do as he suggests.”


Right,” Dex laughed to
himself. “Then where would you get your fifteen seconds of fame
from?”


Excuse me?” Maximus got up,
his hulking height towering over Dex. Dex grinned and took a step
backwards.

Really? A fight? Was this
happening now out of all things?


You heard me,” Dex chewed,
taunting him. “That’s the only reason you suggested us to
Will.”

Now it was Maximus’s turn
to laugh. “Right. Like it would help me out to be on your shitty
show…on the
internet
!”


Whoa!” I yelled and found
myself getting up. I put myself between them and pushed them both
away from each other. Or, at least I tried to. They were like
trees, trading barbs above my head.


Don’t insult my shitty
internet show,” I said to Maximus. I looked at Dex. “And you need
to shut the hell up. We’ve got real fucking problems to deal with
here. Not some stupid ass bullshit that you should have dealt with
in college. I don’t even care what it is, but you need to put that
behind you. Right now! For me, if anything.”

I was suddenly aware we
were having a weird threesome confrontation in front of Bird and
Rudy. Luckily, Bird had his diplomatic skills and walked over to
us, placing each hand on the guys’ shoulders.


She’s right,” he said.
“You’re both good guys, you have a friendship here deep down. We
need all of you to concentrate on what’s at hand. If you’re not
going to leave, then you must be prepared to do what it takes to
stay. Maximus, if you wish to leave, you can leave. But they are
free to make their own decisions.”

Maximus took his eyes off
of Dex’s snarl and placed them on Bird’s kind face. A wash of
acceptance flowed across them. He turned around, sat back down on
the couch and sighed, sinking deeper.

Bird shook Dex slightly to
get his attention off of Maximus. Dex’s hands were clenched, as if
he was actually considering fighting the burly ginger. He cocked
his head at Bird with some reluctance and gave him a lazy
stare.

Bird told him, “You need to
watch yourself. You’re not well and that’s just going to make you
an easy target.”

I stiffened. I thought Dex
would get all crazy defensive over that but he didn’t even
blink.

Bird looked down at me.
“You need to watch yourself too. You can’t be too careful. Be
vigilant. You both must look out for each other because that’s all
you’re going to have while you’re here. Till death do you part. We
don’t want to rush that.”

Dex and I both smiled at
the same time. We probably shouldn’t have, given the subject
matter, but I knew we both realized how bad we were at this whole
fake marriage thing.


OK,” Dex said, wiping his
grin away with his hand. “Any other advice for us? You know, so we
don’t die.”


Yes,” Rudy said. “Tomorrow
morning I want you to come out to my place. I have a sweat hut in
the back. I can do a sweat ceremony on both of you. Maximus, you
too, if you wish. It’ll cleanse your soul so that the spirits can’t
find you.”


And that will keep the
skinwalkers away?” I asked.


No. Skinwalkers are still
people. But it will keep evil spirits away, and that will help. We
can’t be too careful with the Lancasters. If they are powerful
enough, spirits could be involved, easily.”

I swallowed hard. It just
kept getting more and more unbelievable.


What
do
we
do about the
skinwalkers then?” I whispered.


We will ride that horse
when we come to it,” he said simply and walked around his desk to
sit down.


What if that horse comes
tonight?” Dex asked.


Just don’t let it
inside.”


What?” Like it was that
simple?


Bird will bring you here
tomorrow,” Rudy said, taking out a file from his desk and looking
ready to busy himself. “Now, I suggest you go out there and cool
off. Drinks are on the house, Melinda, the bartender, knows. Forget
about things for now. Bird will take care of you.”


But we need to know more,”
Dex pointed out. “We deserve to know more!”

Rudy peered at him through
his glasses. “And you will know more. But there could be spies
about and the longer you are in here with me, the more that people
could suspect that you’re on to something. Right now, all we have
is their ignorance. You’re going to want to hold on to that as long
as you can.”

Which meant playing up the
dumb white folk card. I could do that.

We thanked Rudy and Bird
led us out of the office and back into the bar. Amazingly, it had
got even busier.


Is the entire town here?” I
asked Bird.


Yes.” He smiled. He
pointed past the pool tables to where some booths and tables
flanked the dance floor. “We’ve got the booth with the reserved
sign on it. I’ll get the beers from Melinda.”

I followed Dex and Maximus
through the crowd. I couldn’t help but stare at every single person
we passed. I didn’t even notice the oogley eyes anymore, I was just
looking for signs of malice. Who here was the skinwalker? Who here
wanted to prove a so point so badly that it may just end in
murder?

So far, it didn’t look like
anyone here wanted us dead, at least not me. The more I stared at
the various dudes, the more I was met with happy drunken smiles.
Even the woman, as few as they were, were friendly. It was like a
surreal, redneck version of
Cheers
and I was Norm.

We made our way to a booth
that had a torn piece of paper, with the words “Reserved” scribbled
on it, placed under an empty beer. Don’t know what I was expecting,
velvet rope?

Being as it was the only
booth free, it must have been for us, so we sat down and were
immediately engulfed by the awkward silence of too many uneasy
thoughts in too many heads. I sat beside Dex, with Maximus on the
other side. The crazy “filmmakers” versus the “ghost-talking”
firecrotch.

It was a prime location for
people watching, though. With a pair of wasted cougars on our left
and three rugged mountain men on our right, we were smack in the
middle of mating town. In front of us, and a step down, lay the
dance floor, the perfect place to showcase the mating rituals,
which alternated between sloppy line dancing and sloppy grope
fests. The schizophrenic jukebox didn’t help either.

As Bird seemed to be taking
a while, I finally had to say something to ease the
tension.


So we may die this weekend.
That’s cool.”

Both of their eyes flitted
to me in unison, both totally unamused. I’m not saying the concept
was amusing myself, it’s just I had to say what we all were
thinking. I thought it was better than saying, “So you guys really
don’t like each other, do you? Let’s discuss.”

I shrugged and waited for
one of them to say something. They didn’t. They just ignored each
other (and me) until Bird came over with a tray of booze. He
plunked down a beer in front of each of us and a shot of something
dark and strong.


What’s this?” I sniffed
it. It stung my nostrils, a straight hit to the head.


Bourbon,” Dex said,
smiling, and slammed his back without hesitation.


Oh,” I raised up my shot to
cheers Maximus but he was already done his as well. I looked at
Bird who sat down next to him. “Cheers to us then?”

Bird picked up his shot
glass and we clinked across the table.

Down the hatch it went,
burning wonderfully. I felt like one wasn’t enough but I got
started on my beer. Maybe getting drunk was the answer for right
now. Rudy was right. We need to forget about things…at least, just
for a little bit. Bird would be our eyes.

I relaxed a little and sat
back against the crusty velvet cushions. Within a minute one of the
waitresses came over and put more beers and more shots down on our
table. It was like she had divine telepathy.


Now let’s do this
properly,” I said before anyone could drink. “Let’s just put
everything aside and have some fun tonight. Here’s to…New
Mexico.”

Surprisingly, Dex and
Maximus both smiled at that and we all clinked. Even the cougars
beside us chimed in, “To New Mexico!”

This shot tasted a lot
better than the first and my insides were already tingly warm. The
glasses of wine I had at dinner had done nothing to prepare me for
this. Despite a slow metabolism and a well-padded body, I was
always a lightweight when it came to drinking. That’s not to say I
couldn’t hold my own (I was a champion drinker in high school...not
that I’m proud of it), but it definitely didn’t take much for me to
get to the tipsy zone.

I turned my fizzy head and
looked at Dex sitting beside me. He was peeling the label off of
his beer again, as Maximus and Bird talked to each other about the
history of the bar.


Sexually frustrated?” I
asked. Yup. Drinking around Dex was not going to be a good idea, I
could see this already.

He raised one brow at me in
surprise. “Yes,” he smiled, matter-of-factly.


Because your girlfriend is
not here?” I teased.


Sure.” He had a long gulp
of his beer and set it down neatly between his hands. They
twitched. He was a very twitchy guy.

The song people were
dancing to (some new country piece of crap) just ended and the
opening strains of Dire Straits “Walk of Life” came on over the
speakers. The song always reminded me of my dad and spending
summers fishing on the Columbia River when I was a
child.

I couldn’t help but cry
out, “I fucking love this song!”

Maximus must have loved it
too because he suddenly put down his beer, got up, and held his
hand out in front of me.


Care to dance?” he
grinned. Now, normally I don’t dance, at all, but dancing to this
song with the studly redhead was sure to be a lot more fun than
drinking with Twitchy McGee.


Okay,” I smiled uneasily
and took his hand. He took me out to the dance floor and held my
hands and started spinning me around, back and forth, in time to
the happy beat. We certainly weren’t as good as the other dancers.
Even though everyone was wasted, the people of Red Fox still knew
how to move, even if it was sloppy. But Maximus held his own, even
though he was a foot taller than I and stepped on my foot more than
once (thankfully not my wonky one). I just tried to keep up. It was
fun though, the most fun I think I had this entire trip. Not that
that was saying much considering the circumstances. Nothing says
you’re having a great time like a crow trying to peck your eyes
out.

He did look awfully
handsome. I know gingers get a bad rap but there was something so
very masculine and manly about him. I think the booze prompted me
to say the next thing.


Red Fox,” I mused. “Did
they name the town after you?”

He grinned unabashedly and
spun me around.

When the song was over, I
was prepared to go sit down again, especially as U2’s “Still
Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” came on. But Maximus held me
there, prisoner of the dance floor and Bono-rific rock.


It’s U2,” I explained
while trying to move. Slow dancing was one thing and doing it to U2
was overkill.


It’s classic U2,” he said
defensively, bringing me closer to him.


My opinion of you just went
down a notch.”

I was tempted to be a goof
and dance like an idiot to the song but Maximus looked serious. He
slipped his arm around my waist until I was pressed up against him.
I raised my head to see his intentions.

He smiled, sweetly, and
brought his face closer to mine, close enough to count the freckles
across his broad nose. I tensed up thinking he was going to make a
move on me or something, but we moved through the crowd slowly,
swaying back and forth, slow dancing.


Are you really thinking
about leaving?” I whispered, aware of the other couples milling
around us and the potential for eavesdropping.


Yeah,” he said slowly in
that rich drawl. “I was hoping I might convince you to come with
me.”

I was startled. “What? Why
would I do that?”

He studied me for a second
before saying, “Because you’re crazy if you stay. As nutty as
everything sounds, I believe Rudy when he says there’s danger here.
If Bird hadn’t been there today, you…wouldn’t be here. You’d be
long gone. If this is only going to get worse…”

BOOK: Red Fox
6.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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