Page 27 of Wolf's Mate

Font Size:  

“There is no path that leads by our house or even near it,” I tell him, my voice not allowing a single ounce of politeness.

I want him gone, but I also want to know what the Hell he’s doing here in the first place, because it sure isn’t bird watching.

“That’s why I’m so confused,” the guy continues, sounding lost and helpless.

I know that Anderson would run downstairs, talk to him like they were best friends, show him everything on the map, and maybe even walk him to his car. But, somehow, he doesn’t move. I appreciate him going against his first instinct here.

“You got a map?” I ask him again, and he immediately slides the backpack to one side.

My muscles tighten even more, and my hand presses on the bulge in my pants where my gun is. The guy could really be taking out his map only, but he could just as well be taking out a Glock. It’s fifty-fifty at this point. But, I’m not revealing anything. My eyes are focused on his backpack, and I know that I’ll be able to take him out the moment I see that metallic gleam.

His hand extracts a folded map, one of those really old ones, with scratched and folded edges, and he opens it.

“Now, see this is where I parked,” he points at a place on the map, expecting us to know where it is, even though we are not close enough to see it, and neither of us has any intention of getting closer.

“See, that little dirt road down there will take you to another road, and if you just keep going patiently, you’ll reach a small exit. That exit will eventually get you to the highway.”

“Hmmm,” the man seems confused. “That’s not the road I came by.”

“Well, this is the outback here,” I reply quickly. “There are many roads which aren’t on the map. It wouldn’t surprise me if you took one of those and now you can’t find them on the map.”

“Is this where we are?” he turns the map to us, and points at something again. “Actually, do you mind if I come up?”

I have to make up my mind quickly. Maddie might make some noise inside. She doesn’t know there’s someone here. And, if the guy’s on the porch, there’s no way he wouldn’t hear noise from the inside.

“I’ll come down, hang on,” I quickly make up my mind, invisibly gesturing at Anderson to stay put. “My buddy here and I are watching the house for a friend, and he’s a very reclusive kind of guy. No offense.”

“Non-taken,” the guy replies, as I walk over to him. “I’m Pete, by the way.”

“Rod,” I tell him. “This here’s Hunter.”

“Nice to meet you, guys,” he says honestly, and it’s difficult to believe that he is anything but a lost hiker.

“Same,” Anderson nods from the porch.

“Let’s see now,” I look at the map sprawled open in Pete’s hands, and I try to pinpoint our location.

It’s hard, because it’s mostly greenery on the map where we are. So, I pick a spot at random.

“Here,” I tell him, nodding knowingly. “This is exactly where you are.”

“How can you tell?” he wonders.

“Our friend’s parents bought this house when he was just a kid, and we’ve all been coming here almost every year since. I know those woods like the back of my hand.”

I’m not sure if the guy is buying it, but I’m selling it like our lives depend on it. For all we know, they do.

“Alright then,” he nods. “And, I should just go down that road?”

His gaze lifts up at the road that goes around the house and extends somewhere into the darkened distance.

“The road’s not on the map,” I tell him. “But, trust me. Just go down that road, and you’re bound to see a paved road. Take the right turn, and soon enough, you’re bound to stumble onto other cars.”

“Well,” he sighs, “I guess I’ll have to take your word for it.”

“No other way, buddy,” I pat him on the shoulder, a gesture I overtook from Anderson, one I wouldn’t be doing of my own accord, but this time, it hit the bull’s eye.