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Chapter Seventy Three

Stark undid the latch, and my cage door swung open.  Simplest thing in the world, unless you don't have thumbs.
“I've got some clothes for you in the car," he said, and turned and ran back outside.
I knew I should go out after him, but right then I was in shock.  Stark was here?  Like, at the same place I was?  Had Majestic let him get away again already?  His appearance had caught me so off guard that I'd even forgotten to wonder about that two-legged wolfman he'd turned into.  A moment later, he came back into the house, carrying a set of clothes for me to put on, and found me still standing in the cage where he'd left me.
“Come on," he urged me, setting the clothes on the floor. “We don't have much time."
At his command I came out of the cage, but almost tripped when my bad leg caught on the edge.  Stark reached out and caught me, though, keeping me from falling with only one hand.
“Here, let's get this off of you," he grunted, and reached for my neck.  I flinched instinctively, but he ignored me and grabbed the collar.  He snapped it easily, and let it fall to the ground.  I immediately sensed the collar's magic go away, and it was so freeing that it felt like I'd been pulled out of solid concrete.  I didn't waste any time, and began to shift back.  Stark turned around and respectfully looked the other way as I hurried to get dressed.
“I'm sure you have a lot of questions," he said with his back still turned.
I struggled to get my arm through the sleeve, since it was still buzzing from the silver in it. “Yeah.  Why are you here?  How are you here?"
He turned around and gave me a sly grin. “The answer's real simple if you stop to think about it."
I did stop, and I did think about it.  To my surprise, the answer came almost right away.
“You're not the Silverblood they caught," I said, quietly.
Stark nodded.
I felt my face start to turn red. “Oh.  Well, I guess I owe you an apology then, huh?"
His smile faded, and he jerked his thumb toward the door. “It can wait till we're in the car.  We've got a long ways to go."
With that, he turned and left the house.  I followed him, tiptoeing carefully across the living room to keep from stepping on any little chunks of Fisher.  The scent of blood was thick in the air, even to my human nose, but for once my wolf didn't take that as an invitation to have a snack.  I got the feeling that it was tired after being used for three days straight, and just wanted to stay deep inside of me and rest for a while.
Outside, I saw Stark climbing into a beat up old car and start it up.  He waved me for to join him, and I did.  I gave Fisher's house one last glance as he put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.  With the front door broken down, it wouldn't be long before someone found Fisher's body.  Had anyone seen Stark coming out?  Or me?  Could they trace this all the way back to me?  Would they think I was a murderer?
I turned to Stark, who was fiddling with the radio as he drove. “How'd you find me?" I asked.
“It wasn't easy," he said. “Demon magic can be hard to trace when they want it to be.  Had to call in a couple favors."
I nodded, and looked at the glove box in front of me.  “Where are we?"
“Almost half the country away," he said. “That's why it took me so long to get here.  We're gonna have to drive fast to get you home before the full moon."
“How's Kimberly?" I asked, and then immediately realized he wouldn't know anything if she'd been inside the house all that time.  Sure enough, he shrugged.
“No idea.  Why?  Is something going on with her?"
“Tyler and I tried to get her used to being around wolves," I explained. “She started trying to change, and Tyler had to knock her out.  I was supposed to be giving her pain killers and keeping ice on it."
“I wouldn't worry about it," Stark said. “Even if it's a bad bump, it'll go away after her first moon."
“Right," I said, my stomach doing a flip. “There's that too."
“Don't worry about her.  I'll be able to help her get through this."
I looked at him and tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice. “There were a couple other things we could have used your help during."
He nodded. “I'm sure there were."
“So, if you're that interested in helping us, where were you?"
“You hadn't accepted my offer," he pointed out.
My cheeks burned again. “That didn't stop you from breaking me out of Fisher's house."
Stark raised his eyebrows. “Are you saying you would have rather I left you in there?"
“I'm just saying, maybe you could have…" I stopped talking, my brain finally catching up to my mouth.  For a few seconds, I just sat there, then I said, “I'm sorry.  I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  I'm just kinda stressed right now."
“I understand," he replied.  “Thing is, I didn't know if you wanted my help.  After everything you've been through, it can't be easy for you to trust people.  But I know Kimberly's wellbeing means more to you than anything else, so I figured you wouldn't mind me busting you out and bringing you home."
I sighed, ashamed of myself. “Thanks.  I appreciate it."
“So, do you want me to help you with Kimberly or not?"
I nodded without hesitation. “Yes.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  I want to make sure she's okay during this."
“Okay, then," he replied, nodding back.  And that was all there was to it.
We sat in silence for over an hour, just listening to the radio.  I tried to make myself stop worrying about Kimberly, all alone in the Swag Pag's house, by watching the scenery pass as we drove by.  Stark didn't speed like Fisher had, but he was an aggressive driver.  If somebody was going even one mile under the speed limit, he would floor the pedal until he'd left them far behind and then slow down again.
My nose started to itch, so I raised my hand to scratch it.  The numbness hadn't gone away after I shifted, though, and I ended up pressing my whole hand against my face.  Growling in frustration, I scratched with my other hand, letting my bad arm flop uselessly onto my lap.
“You all right?" Stark asked, noticing this.
“Fisher made me fight a dog with silver in its teeth," I answered. “I've been numb ever since."
For a split second, Stark looked so angry that I was almost tempted to jump out of the car.  But then it was gone.
“When we stop for the night, go stand outside for a few minutes," he advised me, his voice completely neutral.  “The moonlight will help it get better."
“We're stopping for the night?" I asked. “I thought we had to hurry."
“We do," he concurred. “But I'm too tired to drive all the way back home without getting some rest.  That trick I pulled earlier takes a lot out of you."
I sat up straight when he said this, and turned in my seat to face him. “What was that, anyway?  Are you, like, a different kind of werewolf or something?"
“Yep," he answered. “I'm a Silverblood."
I jumped a little. “Wait, does that mean…" I stopped when I saw he was laughing, and scowled at him.
“It's called a midshift," he finally explained.  “Any werewolf can do it, but it's hard, and it'll wear you out really fast.  I only did it for a minute or so, and I'm almost ready to pass out."
Warily, I looked out the windshield just as he went flying past another slow moving car.
“Don't worry, I'm fine," he said, seeing my expression.  “We're driving until nine o'clock, and then we're finding a motel to stay in."
“And we'll still be able to get home in time for the full moon?" I asked.
He nodded. “We will.  I promise."
NEXT TIME: Amber's on her way home! Can she and Stark make it there on time?  And what'll be waiting for them when they get there?


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