Alex was awake; she’d heard the phone ring and the chaos of voices. She was lying still in the dark, in the fetal position, her arms wrapped around her pillow, and she’d spent the last hour trying to come to terms with the fact that Nick might not come back. What would she do? Would she leave here? Would she go back to
Ladona’s scent reached Alex before her footsteps. Summer. Ladona always reminded her of summer. But even though she knew Ladona was coming, Alex didn’t turn on the light. She wanted to stay cocooned in the dark for a little longer.
“Alex?” Ladona was tentative.
“Mm?” Alex said in response, feeling nauseous. Now Ladona was here to tell her what had gotten the others all excited. It might be good news. It might. But she didn’t quite believe it.
“Hon, we’ve got some information, I don’t know what it means, but it’s something,” Ladona said carefully. “They’ve found some of the missing people in the park. They’re okay, they’re alive and unharmed, but – but Nick’s not with them. He’s the only one still missing.”
Found? Alive? Unharmed? Alex sat up slowly. Something welled inside her. Anger.
“I’ll be downstairs in a minute,” Alex said. “Don’t go before then.”
Ladona slipped out of the room to where Christian was waiting, looking worried, and Sam behind him.
“How’d she take it?” Sam asked.
“Stoically,” Ladona said, perplexed. “I don’t know what she’s going to do but she told us not to leave yet.”
Seven minutes later, the bedroom door opened, and the woman who came out was not the woman who went in.
(music – Workin’ Them Angels by Rush)
Alex was dressed in dark jeans, black boots and a sleek black leather jacket over a fitted shirt. Her hair was pulled back at the nape of her neck, she was carrying a handgun, slamming in a fresh clip, and her knife was hooked at her belt. Her pale gray-blue eyes were steely and determined.
“Okay,” she said. “Now we can go.”
“What do you think-“ Christian interjected, just as John exploded, “No way, no how, missy. Get your ass back into bed. You still look like shit.”
Anna bit back a smile and shared a look with Ladona. Oh, that so wasn’t going to go over well. Obviously John had never had daughters.
“’Missy’ me again and I’ll shove the muzzle of this baby right up your ass,” Alex said without changing expression. “This is my show now, and I’m going. I’d like anybody here to try to stop me.”
“Did she just cuss at Dad?” Dean whispered to Sam in disbelief.
“Your show?” John sputtered, furious at her attitude. He hardly knew her, and here she was, threatening him? And now she wouldn’t even take direction? “You slept through the planning. What gives you the right to call the shots? You’ve been practically catatonic since I’ve been here. I’ll just end up dragging your ass out of there, wounded or worse.”
“My show,” Alex repeated. “Nick is missing. I’m sleeping with him. If you think anybody here has a better right to lead the charge to find him, I welcome your criteria.”
“Honey, I’ve been doing this a hell of a lot longer than you,” John said with a snort.
“I never said you hadn’t,” Alex said, her face still stony. “But I’m not only going but you’re going to take everything I say under serious consideration. We’re not putting him at any additional risk. The goal is to get him back alive.”
“I’m your goddamn tracker,” John roared. He knew what the goal was. “I’ve got years of experience, and without me, you’re not going to find him. So watch your mouth, young lady! You are NOT going to take over now, not after I’ve done the hard work.”
“Young lady?” Alex erupted. Where did he get off talking to her like a kid? Sure, he hadn’t seen her at her best, but she didn’t need him talking like she wasn’t capable.
Anna put two fingers in her mouth and blew a piercing whistle that stopped the entire room. Alex actually put a hand to her ear and winced. John glowered at her.
“Okay,” she said, stepping between them. “Put aside the testosterone, John, and the righteous indignation, Alex. We don’t have time for your personal issues – we have business to attend to.” She looked at them both, waiting for steam to pour from their nostrils. “Can we do that?”
“I get what you’re saying,” Sam said, trying to be soothing. “Dad, let her come, she can’t sit here and wait for news. You couldn’t do that if it were Anna, or me, or Dean. Alex, we’re going to find him, but Dad’s right – he did the planning, you’ve got to follow his lead. He really is the best person we have.”
Alex glared at him mulishly but didn’t speak. Well, hell, he was right. John considered speaking up, but Anna was watching him with one eyebrow raised.
“Aw, fuck it, I’M leading,” Dean said with a growl, and shoved them all out the front door.