I sat down on the curb, emotionally drained, and buried my face in my hands. It wasn’t fair. We had been so close. So freaking close! I could practically hear the universe laughing at me, not even bothering to do it behind my back. And why should it? My whole life was obviously a joke.
A minute later, Dex sat down next to me. “So, uh, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but emotional meltdown via bus stop is a new one.”
“Oh, shut up, you idiot!” I said without looking up. “It’s over!”
“What makes you say that?”
I looked at him in disbelief. “It’s a freaking bus station, Dex! Whoever stole the glove is long gone. We’ll never catch her now!”
That was it, I realized with a sinking feeling in my stomach. The glove was gone and Hendricks thought I was dead. There was nothing I could do except sit here and wait for Majestic to catch up with me.
Dex chuckled. I looked at him again, and was surprised to see him grinning.
“Oh, ye of little faith,” he said, shaking his head and standing up. “Tell you what, you want to see a magic trick?”
Slowly, curious despite myself, I followed him into the building. As we walked through the doors, something happened. Dex changed. He stood up straight, eliminating his slouch, and squared his shoulders. He ran his hand through his hair, straightening his wild mane into something that actually looked respectable. But what changed the most was his face. In an instant, all the lightheartedness in his eyes vanished, and his expression became one of hard lines. I blinked, almost thinking that someone had somehow stopped time and switched Dexters on me.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he made his way to the front desk, where he whipped a folding badge out of his pocket.
“FBI Agent Sculder,” he said with a startling amount of authority in his voice. “I need to speak to whoever’s in charge here.”
The receptionist looked at the badge, went pale, and then hopped up to fetch her manager.
“What are you doing?” I hissed.
“Making my own happy ending.”
Before I could say anything else, a heavyset man in a tie came out.
“Hi, I’m Harry Mason,” he said with a nervous nod. “I’m the manager here. I was told you were…”
“FBI,” Dex answered, showing him the fake badge again. “I’m here investigating a robbery that happened earlier today. A very valuably artifact was stolen from the Benton Vista Museum last night, and I have reason to believe that the culprit made their way here.”
Harry cleared his throat. “I assure you, agent, that nobody here had anything to do with—”
“I’m not saying you did,” Dex interrupted him. He kept his expression professional, but I could almost hear him rolling his eyes. “I believe the culprit boarded a bus and skipped town sometime this morning.”
“Oh!” Harry breathed a sigh of relief. “I- I see. Well, how can we help?”
“I’ll need access to your video surveillance from earlier today.”
“Oh, um, well we don’t usually…” Harry swallowed hard. “Do you have a warrant for this?”
Dex’s mouth curved ever so slightly into a frown. “Mr. Mason, are you trying to impede my investigation?”
Harry immediately went rigid. “No! No, uh, not at all! Right this way, please.”
He waved for Dex to come with him behind the counter. I tried to follow, but Harry held up a hesitant hand to stop me.
“She’s with me,” Dex snapped. “She witnessed the thief leaving the museum, and I need her to help identify them.”
Harry deflated, the last remnant of his authority squashed.
“That,” I whispered as we were led deeper into the building, “was terrifying.”
Dex smirked. “You learn how to get around when you work for Majestic.”
A minute later, Harry left us inside the security office, empty except for a single overweight guard. He didn’t put up nearly as much of a fight as his manager. All Dex had to do was flash his badge once, and he rolled his chair quietly out of the way to give us access to the computer. Dex wasted no time in bringing up the security footage.
“So, knowing what time the robbery must have taken place,” Dex said with a wink, “and certain other factors, we can probably expect our thief to be here sometime between…seven and eight o’clock.”
I knew he wouldn’t go into any more detail than that with the guard sitting right behind us, but I didn’t need him to. Last night was the full moon. If we were right and the thief was a werewolf like me, she wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere until the moon had gone down. I held my breath as Dex cued the footage to the correct time and started the playback.
My heart immediately sank as soon as the video started. The minute Harry opened the doors, people began to pour in. I was shocked, honestly. It wasn’t like we were in New York or something. Where did all these people come from, and why were they so eager to get out of town?
“We’ll never spot her in that crowd,” I whispered.
Dex sped up the footage without saying anything. For more than twenty minutes, we just sat there staring at the screen. I tried to look at every face as it came in through the door, but they were moving too fast. In seconds the lobby was full, customers forming neat and not-so-neat lines to get tickets. But to me it was all visual gibberish. What was I supposed to be watching for when we didn’t even know who the thief was? It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, except instead of a needle we were supposed to find another piece of hay that was exactly the same as all the—
My blood ran cold.
“Stop!” I exclaimed.
Dex immediately hit the pause button. “What? What’d you see?”
I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Could it really have been…no, that was impossible. But it was still the closest thing I’d had to a lead all this time, so I motioned for him to rewind the footage a little. Looking at me from the corner of his eye, Dex wound the video back five seconds…ten…fifteen…
“There,” I said, pointing. I leaned forward to get a closer look at the grainy black and white figure, and suddenly it felt like a rug had been yanked out from beneath me. I stood there, staring in disbelief. That shouldn’t have been possible, but I couldn’t deny what was right in front of my eyes.
“Amber, what is it?”
“Kaylie,” I whispered.
My old packmate from when I’d been in the Swag Pag. I recognized her immediately, even though I hadn’t seen her in more than three years. Not since the night I had killed her alpha, D.K.
Right after D.K. had killed her brother.
“If anything happens to Tyler because of you,” I could still hear her saying, “I’ll kill you.”
Suddenly, it felt like the temperature in the room had dropped fifty degrees. I don’t know how, but she’d managed to find me despite Hendricks’ protection. Somehow, she’d known about the glove. She’d known I’d left it behind. She’d known what Hendricks would do to me if I didn’t get it back to him.
Kaylie had kept her promise.
She had a bundle in her arms, something vaguely hand-sized and wrapped up in old newspaper. As Dex let the video start playing again, I could see how nervously she looked from side to side, like she was expecting someone to jump out and kill her at any second. She bought her ticket, then went outside to wait. Dex sped the footage up as she sat on the bench outside, then slowed it again when she jumped up to get on her bus.
“There!” he said, pausing it just as she climbed in. With a few button presses, he zoomed in on the image. “Bus 442. Hey, do you know where that was going?”
The security guard scrambled to grab the bus schedule off his desk. “Uh…Chicago. It’ll drive through the night and arrive by noon tomorrow.”
I barely heard him. My head was still spinning. Billions and billions of people lived on this planet, and Hendricks’ stupid glove had to be stolen by her?
“When’s the next bus for Chicago leave?”
The guard flipped a couple pages, then said, “Eight thirty tomorrow morning.”
Dex nodded and looked at me. “Let’s find a hotel to stay the night in. We have a bus to catch tomorrow.”