Bart squatted by the fire, greasy grey hair tucked behind his ears. “The squonk should be sleeping now, but it’ll be up in a few hours. It ain’t afraid of people or smoke, so we won’t bother it none. They eat hemlock though, and this grove is the biggest in the area.”
Chelsea pulled out a chair. “Morgan?”
“So what are we hunting?”
Morgan sighed as big brown eyes studied the table. “Melon-heads.”
Chelsea stopped and blinked. “You serious?”
Another sigh started the answer. “Yes. They come out of the woods every ten years or so and they’re back now.”
Chelsea found herself laughing. “Fair enough. Who needs some help?”
Annoyance rose her once more. “Who says I’m a newbie?”
Rita’s grin turned sharp. “You ran into the Trojan and didn’t know it. You ain’t been doing this too long.”
“I love you. I wish we worked.”
“I love you, and we both know why we don’t.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Somehow, I really doubt that.”
Keegan laughed. “I’ll miss you, princess.”
“You are such an asshole.” She wiped at the sudden tears. “I already miss you.”
Tall and thin, with wavy dark hair, the stranger didn’t exactly look like Keegan. But the way she stood, all languid long limbs and a certain sense of amusement, screamed Keegan.
Wind shook the camper. Chelsea sat up, chest heaving, panic screaming in her brain. Beside her, Jackson Hawk lay snoring. And that picture of naked relaxation did nothing to calm her.
The camper was cramped and dark, a dry cave, covered in Jackson’s clothes. The hunter hurried ahead of Chelsea, grabbing shirts and pants as he went, apologizing over his shoulder. “Have a seat. Throw shit at me if it’s in your way. I’m just getting back on my feet and I wasn’t expecting company.”
“It’s healed.” She crossed her arms, with no pain or hesitation. She liked this hedge doctor, even though she knew damned well she shouldn’t. That contradiction meant it was more than time to be on the road. “I promise not to go nuts and attack any more elemental rock monsters. I will stick to small stuff and work with teams. But I am leaving tomorrow.”
David’s calloused fingers moved her arm. “This will hurt I’m afraid, but it’ll feel better soon.
A tear slid out. “That’s what everybody says.”
Far below her outcrop, the local monster hunters were battling the mountain guardian. She couldn’t quite make out the details, though. From her height, all she saw were ant-like figures circling a much larger pile of moving rock. The scene reminded her of Bosch’s triptychs. Tiny people doing crazy things.