Stay (Page 40)

“Fuck.” This time it was Owen using my new favorite word.

I followed his gaze. All I saw was the burnt remains of a house. “Owen, stay here with Vera.”

“No, I’m coming.” Vera’s protest sounded far away as I ran the rest of the way across the beach to what used to be a cottage. There was only one house on the island. Levi had seen to that himself.

I dug through the charred remains of the building. There was another explanation. There is no way Levi and Allie could have possibly been there when it burned. Levi would have saved Allie no matter what. His senses were strong. He would have seen the enemy coming. Unless he didn’t. Unless he was so wrapped up in his new wife that he couldn’t.

“They got out first.” Owen spoke so nonchalantly. “There’s no way Levi didn’t.”

“You’re right.” I agreed, I couldn’t even voice my doubts out loud. To do so would be admitting a lack of faith in Levi’s strength. He was king. He was stronger than anyone.

“Give me two minutes.” Vera called out. I turned around in time to watch her toss her clothes and transform into a bear. There was something graceful about the way she transformed. I’d never viewed shifting that way before, especially not the shifting of a bear.

I hung back and gave her room. She hadn’t spelled out what she was doing, but it became obvious as she moved through the splintered wood, burned fabric, and broken pieces. She was searching for evidence that Pterons had been there.

“Maybe she’ll find a clue to who did this.” Owen seemed determined to keep his rosy glasses on. I was going to knock them off.

“The only one who can distract Levi is Allie. What if he wasn’t concentrating on anything else?”

Owen looked up at the sky. “Not a chance. He’d stay alert enough for her. He’d make sure they were safe.”

“Then where are they? Where did they go?”

“It’s Levi. They could be anywhere.”

What Owen was suggesting made sense, and it was a lot easier to swallow than the thought that something had happened to them.

The hair on my neck stood up, and my wings tensed. Someone or something was around. Owen glanced at me. He’d noticed the same thing. One of us had to stay close. We needed to make sure Vera was safe. She may have been in her bear form, but that didn’t mean she was invincible.

I signaled for him to wait while I began to circle the area. I didn’t get far.

Loud laughter had me stuck in place. “Isn’t this amusing?”

I glared at the man in front of me. Murphy. Second only to Tiffany, he was one of my least favorite people in the world.

Vera growled and came to stand next to us.

“Oh now it’s even better. The little bear bitch protecting the Pteron.” He sneered.

“What do you want, Murphy?” I tried to play it cool. He wanted to rile me up, and I couldn’t let him. I also continued to survey the area. I highly doubted he was alone.

“What do I want? I already have half of it done.”

“And what half is that?’ Owen glowered at him. Owen didn’t look quite as intimidating as some Pterons, but make him mad and you had another thing coming.

“Your pathetic excuse for a leader and his little bitch are dead.” Murphy grinned.

I didn’t even think, I lunged for him. I punched him in the face in a fit of rage, and I knocked him down on the ground before he had time to shift. At that point even if he’d wanted to he couldn’t have. I’d done enough damage to make that impossible. Normally this was the point where Owen would be pulling me off him, making sure I didn’t take things too far, but he didn’t. I guess he agreed with the amount of force this time.

Vera however growled loudly enough to get my attention. She nudged me, and I stepped out of the way. Murphy was unconscious. If I didn’t stop he’d be dead. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but that wasn’t me. I didn’t kill for revenge. There were worse punishments than death in our world.

I didn’t know what Vera was going to do, but I didn’t expect her to take her paw and slash him across the face.

Owen and I just looked at each other. I’d messed the guy up, but somehow the cuts created by Vera looked even worse. Then I remembered. These two had been involved. I was never getting on her bad side.

She stalked off, and we just stood there staring at Murphy. I’m sure Owen was feeling just as messed up as I was.

“They’re not dead, and there are no other Ursus here.” Vera’s voice had us both turning around. She was just buttoning her shorts. “If you hadn’t knocked Murphy out we may have had a better idea of where they are, but honestly, I doubt he knew. He was probably hoping to rile you up enough to get answers, and he totally deserved what you did.” She pointed to where his bloody body lay in the sand. “And why he thought he could take on all of us is beyond me. His ego must be even more inflated than I thought.”

“I didn’t see bodies, but how are you so sure?” I tried to stay calm as I discussed the possibility of Levi’s death, but I couldn’t.

“Allie and Levi were here, but there’s no trace of remains. Trust me on this. Obviously someone might have taken them, but there’s just as good a chance they got away.”

“Then where are they? Do you think they’ll just go back to New Orleans?” Owen voiced the same questions I had.

“Unless he took them into hiding. You keep saying how he’d do anything to protect Allie. Wouldn’t that include hiding out and letting people think they’re dead?” Vera said everything so simply, and she was making good points, but it wasn’t as easy for me to accept. She was further removed. She didn’t know Levi. But that just made it more important to listen to her. She was probably the most reasonable of all of us.

“What do you suggest we do?” I turned to Vera. If she was the most reasonable, then she was the most likely to come up with a sound plan.

“Me? You’re willing to listen to me?”

“Yes.” At least this once.

Owen nodded his agreement as well. He hadn’t said anything since the Murphy confrontation, and if I didn’t already have too much to worry about I probably would have been concerned with that.

“Let’s assume I’m right. Let’s assume he took Allie into hiding.”

I nodded, waiting for her to continue.

“You guys know Levi really well, right?”