There were exactly eleven steps between the door and the window in her hotel room. Chelsea walked them endlessly. Bentley watched her from the bed, bright blue eyes locked on her and tail wagging.
She stopped to tick off points on her fingers. “Amber took a job to kill a kipsy. Job turned out to be a trap. Murderous McAsshole swears she never showed up.”
Her scalp ached from tugging on her hair as she ran her fingers through it, but she did so once again. “And there is no kipsy, and certainly not more than one. It’s a hoax or a host of natural causes, but no reputable word of a sea serpent in the Hudson.” She started pacing once more. “Which might be why Amber bailed. And why I was the first hunter to get trapped.” She stopped again. “I might have to do a little more research on jobs, Bentley.”
He yipped, and his tongue rolled out of his mouth.
“But Julie the surprisingly helpful cop who knows about monsters is making sure Amber is not dead.” She swallowed a thick throat. “And I’m stuck, Bent. Bob seemed so normal. I don’t like people and he didn’t strike me as odd or bad until we were on the boat.” She sighed. “Fucking hell, I do like people.”
Her walking started again. She’d been walking and walking. “I liked Bob. And what was he trying to do? Why was he tossing me in the water?” She stopped once more. “I think we’re gonna investigate Bob.”
Bentley cocked his head to the side.
“I know, I know. I haven’t done a whole ton of actual investigating. Just a lot of killing.”
The dog wagged his tail.
“I may need a big, creepy murder wall.” She stared at the big white wall of her hotel room. “Or instead of destroying this room, I need to find a more permanent place and buy a corkboard.”
The problem was that this was not a big monster hunting community. New York City, less than an hour away, was a big community, with all the info and supplies a hunter could want. And plenty of people willing to rent a room. But the resources were slim on this side of Yonkers. And she wasn’t about to deal with traffic getting in and out of the city every day.
Her first instinct was to find a campground, but she needed stability not found in a tent. She flounced over to the bed and flopped beside the dog. “I’m ordering some food. I’m hungry.” The hotel book of local services gave her a pizza place to call. Food taken care of, she snuggled into Bentley’s soft fur. The big dog’s breathing calmed her. Since it seemed she be in town for a while, she leafed through the rest of the hotel book. Bars and restaurants took up most of the space, but on the last page was list of parks and outdoor activities. Several campgrounds boasting cabins were listed.
A bubble of excitement rose in her stomach. She opened her phone and began searching online. Two of the three sites had internet and monthly prices as well as stoves and indoor plumbing. “We can hang our corkboard and go for long walks in the woods.”
Bentley scrambled under her until he could lick her ear.
She pushed him away. “I can even buy groceries. It’ll be cheaper and better for us than take out.” Despite the incoming food, she drifted towards sleep as she contemplated the immediate future of investigating out in the woods.
Her ringing phone woke her completely. “Hey Jack.”
“It’s been a few days since your client tried to kill you, my little nun. Thought I’d call while I’m on stake out. How are you?”
“I’m fine. A little shook up and confused. Bob, the client, he just… he didn’t strike me as bad or evil, but he totally tried to throw me into the water. I think I’m going to stick around for a bit, figure out what he was really up to.”
And make sure he didn’t kill Amber.
“Why?” There was no mistaking the anger in his voice.
She hesitated. “Because it feels like the right thing to do.”
He took a deep breath. “Don’t take this personally, but you’re taking this personally.”
“Jack…” A shiver ran down her back. “I–”
“I’m worried about you, okay? You almost got killed, and you seem worried more about why the guy did it.”
She settled on the bed next to Bentley. “Something about this feels weird. And I want to know what. There might still be a monster here.”
Jack sighed. “Okay. Stay in touch though.” He continued in a cheery voice, that somehow sounded completely sincere. “Have you scouted out a place to stay yet?”
“Thinking about renting a cabin for the summer.”
“Seriously?” He laughed. “You really do hunt in style. I’m crashing at a beach house and hoping like hell the family doesn’t come back.”
“How can you relax like that?”
“Well, that’s where the beer comes in handy.”
Chelsea settled her head in the curve of Bentley’s hip. “I think I might be missing out on the true monster-hunting experience.”
“And you are better off for it.” Jack’s laugh warmed her through the phone. “I got stuck out here doing someone a favor, but there are better places to hunt. I mean some cities are great for hunters. Look at like Pittsburgh.”
“Oh, Pittsburgh was the best. And I heard Rapid City is great too, but I didn’t hang out there. I liked the Blind Bronco better.”
“Oh, yeah?” Admiration laced Jack’s voice. “You ever meet Beau Chang?”
Sadness washed over Chelsea. “I got to go on his last hunt.”
For a moment, Chelsea swore she could hear the wild wind of the prairie, but the breeze that blew through the window was warm and smelled of rain. A storm was brewing. “I got a job that looked a little too big for just me and Keegan, so we headed for the Blind Bronco, since it was the closest haunt.”
She settled into the story, and, snuggled with Bentley and safe for the moment, Chelsea let herself smile.