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Priceless(Rylee Adamson #1)(6) by Shannon Mayer

He nodded and turned around, completely silent. I felt like an absolute bully, but that didn’t mean I’d apologize. I would make up for it another time. Maybe bring him a new video game.

It took Kyle close to ten minutes and some serious typing to get into the FBI files, but he cracked the codes. “You’re only going to have a few minutes to find what you’re looking for before I get traced.” His voice was all business now.

He gave me his seat. And I started searching, hoping my proximity to the computer wouldn’t crash it. Today was my lucky day. There was a file under India’s name, and one under Berget’s. A large file under my own that I scanned quickly, but there was no mention of supernatural abilities.

“You’ve got two minutes left,” Kyle said from behind me.

“Okay, I’m almost there,” I said

I did a search for ‘supernatural,’ and then ‘unexplained,’ with no results. “What’s another word for unexplainable or magic?” I muttered to myself.

“Arcane.” Kyle grumbled at me. He was still pouting from being told to butt out.

I typed in the word and the computer screen flashed before taking me to a section I hoped I would never see. The Arcane division of the FBI.

7

“You have got to be freaking kidding me!” Kyle exclaimed over my shoulder.

“Damn it, kid, don’t you ever listen?” I snapped. “Forget it, just print this off, or save it for me, or do whatever you can in the last bit of time you have.”

Kyle sat and the printer started up. “I’ve printed the entire section for you, but it’s over three hundred pages long so it’s going to take a while.”

“How long’s ‘a while’ and are you going to have enough paper?” I sat back in the recliner.

A while turned out to be over two hours thanks to his prehistoric printer. You’d think with all the upgraded equipment he had, he would’ve put out for a faster printer. The possibility of not having enough paper was bad, but worse was his non-stop questions, of which I answered zero. If he’d been just a few years older, I would have had a lot less difficulty with him. I would have just thumped him on the head and left him tied up in the bathroom. Being a kid gave him an immunity to my anger and my blades that he didn’t even realize he had.

I ended up drinking the rest of the root beer and felt a sugar headache coming on fast. At least it would keep me awake.

Kyle bundled up all the papers for me and wrapped them with two elastic bands. “Here. I think that’s all of them.”

I took the bundle and tucked it under one arm.

“So, what do you think the files are really for?”

I looked up, surprised at first. Of course, he couldn’t believe the files were about the supernatural. That was an impossibility in his world of technology.

“Just a code name for missing kids. The ones they can’t explain.” He followed me out to the door, neither one of us noticing the slight beeping on his security system until we were at the door. Or the pair of suits walking up on the camera monitors toward his back door. Not good; sloppy on both our parts. I blamed my inattention to the memories that this case was stirring up.

The doorknob was cool under my hand and the slightest shuffle on the other side of the door caught my ear at the last second. I froze and looked over at Kyle.

His face was pale and his eyes wide. He shook his head ever so slightly and I backed off the door. Together, we sidled back into the kitchen. Running back to his workroom, he checked his security monitors and let out a groan, hands clenched in his hair. There in black and white were two very dark grey suits, standing at his back door, discussing something. Probably us. Kyle grabbed my arm, his body trembling. “I didn’t know they would actually show up at my door,” he whispered, his voice cracking under the sudden stress.

“Neither did I.” I thought for a minute. There was a way out of this, but there was a possibility Kyle would get a glimpse at some of the things I could do. “Go back into your computer room, get all the online games going that you can, quick now.” I gave him a shove in the direction of his work room.

“How’s that going to help?”

“Just do what I say!” I took a breath and explained quickly. “If they come in, you can claim you didn’t see what I was doing, that you were playing your games while I used the printer.” A thread of adrenaline started to pump through me. If I got thrown in jail, it would mean the end of India’s chances. I couldn’t let that happen.

Kyle stumbled over his own feet as he tried to make his body obey his commands despite his obvious fear, glancing back at me for reassurance. I nodded and shooed at him with my free hand before turning my back on him.

With Kyle busy, I turned my attention to the bundle of papers. I couldn’t make it disappear; that was way beyond what I could do. But I could make it look like something else. Something close to what it truly was. Giselle had shown me how to do this, but using my abilities to do something they weren’t designed to do would make my sugar headache a fond memory.

Concentrating, I focused on the heading, slowing my breathing to match the pulse of my energy. FBI Arcane Division became Francine Bouvier’s Interesting Facts on Divisions of the Arcane. A bead of sweat rolled down my face. This kind of glamour always left me drained. It just wasn’t one of my strong abilities, though at the moment I was glad I at least had this little amount. I slipped off the elastic bands and flipped through the pages; changed the major headings of which there were ten. The pages began to flow under my hands as the glamour took hold and spread through the entire stack of paper. I let out a breath and wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. Crap I was tired now, even with the sugar rush; I was not at my best for facing down an FBI agent. Even worse, since it was O’Shea.

A hard knock at the door snapped my head up. A glance at Kyle’s white face and wide eyes didn’t give me much comfort.

“Stay there,” I said, gesturing at Kyle as he stood. “I’ll go to the door and deal with them. You just stay there.” He nodded and sank back into his chair, his hands going to the keyboard, listless with his fear. If O’Shea saw Kyle, he’d know there was more to this than what I was going to tell him. I took a deep breath and strode across to the door, Ms. Francine Bouvier’s Interesting facts clutched in my arms. One last deep breath and I opened the door, smiling up into O’Shea’s glowering face. “Well hello, Agent O’Shea, fancy meeting you here.”

I leaned against the doorframe, paper bundle held loosely in my arms, as if it were not important at all. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were following me.” I looked up at him from under my eyelashes. “In fact, I’m beginning to think you want a repeat of this morning.” I ran my tongue over my bottom lip.

His face coloured under his olive complexion. Oh yeah, he hadn’t forgotten. If only I’d tried this trick of Milly’s years ago. He regained his composure quickly, though I did detect a smirk on his partner’s face. No doubt Mini-Me had been razzing O’Shea relentlessly about kissing a person of interest.

“What are you doing here, Adamson?” O’Shea growled at me.

I blinked up at him. “Me? I’m visiting a friend. He has a printer.” I shifted the bundle of papers to get his attention. “I don’t have any high tech stuff like computers. Prefer to have things on hard copy. I don’t think that’s against the law now, is it?”

Mini-Me piped up. “Of course not, miss. We’re just doing our duty, following up on leads.” His voice trailed off as O’Shea turned his glare on his partner.

I continued to smile as O’Shea’s glare returned to me, letting the laughter fill my eyes. His dark eyes narrowed. I started to chuckle. Couldn’t help it. I fanned my face and took some deep, gulping, over-exaggerated breaths. “Oh man, you two are way too much fun! Do you hire out, or do you only do your act for friends and persons of interest?”

They were both frowning at me now, and O’Shea reached out and snagged the bundle of papers. I heard a squeak from inside the house and silently prayed for Kyle to hold it together for a few more minutes.

O’Shea glanced over the heading of the bundle of paper and flipped through a few pages. “You catching up on some light reading?”

I shrugged. “I’ll read anything. Especially when I have nothing better to do.” I gave him my best innocent eyes, keeping them wide and batting my lashes. An exaggeration for sure, but we both knew I was lying; he just couldn’t prove it.

He snorted and handed the papers back to me. We also both knew he didn’t have a warrant for anything, so unless they traced the hacker here already, which I didn’t think they had, there wasn’t any reason for him to continue harassing me.

“Are we about done?” I asked.

“Not by a long shot, Adamson. Not by a very long shot.” He turned on his heel and strode away, Mini-Me following in his wake.

Kyle shuffled up behind me. “You know those guys?”

“The big guy has been following me around for nearly ten years. You get kinda used to it.”

“But they’re FBI. Why would they follow you around?” Kyle’s voice trailed off and I looked over my shoulder at him. He was just a kid—brilliant, dorky, and so naive it almost hurt to look at him. I told him the truth though; he deserved that much from me.

“They think I did a very bad thing, that I killed my sister. And some days, I think they’re right. I could have stopped those who took her, if I’d been trained then.”

I stepped into the bright sunlight, the cold cut of the wind going right through me.

8

I drove for an hour, heading west before I pulled off the interstate and into a gas station, just as the autumn sun began to set. I was too far from home to make it before I’d just have to get up and leave again in the morning. It was better to get a good night’s sleep and start fresh in the morning—that’s what Giselle always said.