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.”
The sun baked her back as Chelsea studied the town. The butte rose high above the pretty mountain municipality, giving her a great view. She squinted, peering past the houses and shops to the green postage stamps of parks that grew along the lake. “This is all really settled. Where can we fight this thing?”
The impossible blue of the Columbia River called Chelsea, despite the reddening sky. While she knew the cold of night was coming, right that moment, it was still hot as hell.
Chelsea leaned against the wall of the haunt, Bentley at her feet, ears pricked and legs rigid; both stood ready to bolt.
It was hard to feel claustrophobic in Seattle, with its wide-open spaces and the saltwater wind in the air. Being trapped in a hunt by a hedge doctor managed to make this clean city with its artwork and parks feel tiny and airless.
Chelsea reached greedily for the proffered coffee cup with her uninjured arm. Hot, and somehow both bitter and smooth, she savored the drink. One of the hedge doctors had bought her one from the coffee shop downstairs when she limped in this morning. She was on her third. “I swear this almost doesn’t need sugar.”
Trees and cloud cover made a velvet darkness that hemmed in her flashlight. She couldn’t see much beyond her toes. But that didn’t matter in this well-kept wilderness with it distinctly defined paths.