Home > Raising Innocence

Raising Innocence(Rylee Adamson #3)(3) by Shannon Mayer

The agent watched them, shaking his head ever so slightly. “I don’t know how you can live with a werewolf.”

My eyes narrowed, anger surging. What would he think if he knew O’Shea was a werewolf now? “Easier than living with some a**hole with an overbite.”

His face flushed from his head down to his collar, his lips tight, and a vein bobbing in the side of his face. For a brief second, I wondered if all FBI agents were required to have a vein in their face or neck that reacted when pissed off; like a mood thermometer.

Fuck, I really knew how to make people hate me. Was it just me or were all Trackers like that?

Maybe I should mellow out a little. At least, I could try. “What’s the connection between all these kids?” I brushed my finger along the edge of their names, wishing I had a picture of one of them so I could Track them right now.

“They’re terminal.”

My brain froze, and I slowly lifted my head. Agent Valley was sombre, his eyes full of grief.

“You mean like as in cancer?”

“Amongst other things.”

I quickly scanned the papers and picked up the first one, Sophia. I held it out to him. “How long did she have?”

The agent took the paper and glanced at the name, not even consulting with another sheet before he answered. “Three months. Even if whoever took her had all the medical supplies they needed, she’d be dead by now.”

Rocking on my heels, I looked at the papers with a new angle. “So you’re telling me that not one of these kids is living? That they’re all dead?”

“That’s what I’m telling you.”

I stood up and backed away from the agent and his piles of papers. There were times I went after a child and they were already dead, or they were killed before I could find them. Just one downside of being a Tracker. But going after these kids, this many dead? Shit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, to put myself through seeing that many parents grieving, to feel the depth of sorrow that only a child’s death brought on. Besides, it wasn’t like they didn’t know the fate of their children. They knew they were dead, long past. Harsh, but true. A shiver ran through me and I could almost see the group of parents clinging to one another, crying, begging for mercy on their babies. No, this was not something I wanted to do.

“I think I’ll pass. You know their fate. You don’t need me.”

Agent Valley leaned down and scooped the papers up one by one, slipping them back into his file folder. “I thought you might say that.”

Moving back, I crossed my arms again, feeling like a f**king heel. But, there were times that even I wasn’t strong enough. Weakness, hadn’t I just bitched at myself over being weak? But this was different. The body I could conquer, the mind . . . all I could see in my mind were the parents, their sorrow, and then perhaps their condemnation. In my mind, they looked like my own parents as I was accused of murdering Berget, my little sister. They’d believed the worst of me and that had etched itself in my soul.

Agent Valley stood, but paused mid-step. “Have you heard anything from O’Shea?”

“No, he hasn’t contacted me.” That, at least, was the truth.

“But you could Track him, couldn’t you?”

“I don’t Track adults.” Well, that was fudging it a little, but I owed Valley nothing.

He nodded. “I don’t suppose I can ask you another question?”

Agent Valley was about to drop something on me. What, I could only guess; most likely something he thought would push me into a corner. Right then, I should have just said no, escorted him out and locked the door. But no, I had to nod and say, “Yeah, sure.”

“We brought in a young hacker last week. He was the source of a major leak in our department, and was caught selling information on our confidential Arcane Arts division. Of course, we stopped him before it was able to get out to the world via the black market.”

My muscles tightened and my brain was screaming at Kyle. The little prick, after I paid him so f**king well? Now at least I knew where the print out I’d had disappeared to, the little bastard! I’d never even had a chance to go over the papers on the AA division before they’d gone missing while I was on a salvage. Kyle must have snuck out to my place, knowing that I’d be indisposed. But why wouldn’t he have just hacked in and re-printed the information?

The next time I saw him I would have to ask; then, I would kick his ass into next year for crossing me.

“Hmm. I don’t see what this has to do with me.” I stilled my nerves, forced myself to stand relaxed and at ease. Jail was not somewhere I wanted to end up; I’d been on the wrong end of the law once in my life. Once was enough, thank you very much.

“Well, I just thought you’d like to know.”

“That’s not a question,” I said, my voice even and calm.

“Isn’t it?”

We were in a stare off, him waiting for me to break. It would be a freaking happy day in hell when I didn’t win a staring competition. I shrugged. “You are one strange little man.”

He glanced away. Point for Rylee. I had to give him credit. He was pretty good at trying to get what he wanted without full on asking for it. But it wouldn’t work with me.

“Can you at least tell me if he’s alive?”

Back to O’Shea again.

“Now that’s a question.” I leaned one hip against the wall. “Yes. He’s alive.”

Agent Valley nodded. “Is he coming back?”

That was an even better question, one I’d like the answer to as well.

I took in a long slow breath, let it out as I formed words I hated to say. “I don’t know.”

The agent nodded and then headed for the front door; he made it all the way there before turning around, a smile on his lips. He was way too happy after I’d just turned him down. I felt the first niggling of fear along the back of my neck; he’d been holding back.

“It’s a shame you aren’t interested in the case.”

I nodded and gave him a tight-lipped smile, but said nothing else.

Tapping his folder against his leg, his eyes seemed to twinkle, his hand on the open door.

Shit, here it comes.

“The team’s main source of help is in the hospital, too sick to move anymore.”

My eyebrows lifted, confusion flitting through me. “And this would be important to me why exactly?”

Agent Valley smiled and I felt the hook set in mouth as he said, “Because he’s a Tracker.”

3

I couldn’t stop my jaw from dropping. Agent Valley said nothing, stepped out onto the porch, and shut the door firmly behind him.

There had never been another Tracker that I’d known about, no one to learn from, no one to tell me how not to do things, or even what other things I might be able to do. I couldn’t let this pass by me, even if he was bluffing. Shit, shit, shit.

Grabbing at the door I flung it open to see the agent smiling up at me. “Shall we start again?”

Flustered and irritated that he’d played me like a freaking harp, I stepped back to let him come back inside. Once again seated in my living room, he held out his hands.

“I thought you might turn me down, this isn’t the kind of case you typically go after. You like to find them alive, not long past their expiry date.”

Snorting, I sat on the edge of the coffee table, the wood corner pressing into my thigh. “After finding your first half-rotten child corpse, you wouldn’t be so eager to go after them, either.”

He blanched.

That had been one of my earliest salvages, and it had left me with nightmares and flashbacks for weeks. Even now, I could still smell the putrid mix of decaying meat and baby powder to cover it up. No, that was not something I willingly went after. If a kid was missing, and I took on the salvage and they died before I could get to them, I did my best to bring them home. But taking on a salvage willingly, knowing that the kid was gone? Nope, not as fun as it sounds.

Agent Valley eyed me up and down. “You are not what I expected, from what O’Shea reported, I thought you’d be more of a hard ass.”

“Yeah, he would say that,” I muttered. “Listen, what about this Tracker, why can’t he go after them?”

“Like I said, he’s in the hospital. Dying. Lung cancer, I believe.” He handed me a piece of paper with a name on it I didn’t recognize, stats, but again no picture.

Jack Feen. Age forty nine, single, red hair, blue eyes. Tracker. Seeing the Tracker’s stats on paper made it more real to me for some reason.

“Where is he?”

“That’s where things get tricky.”

I lifted my eyes to the agent, expecting him to squirm under my glare. I didn’t like this game he was playing with me. “What do you mean, tricky?”

“You see, it isn’t just the FBI on this case.”

Brilliant.

He cleared his throat, seeming to almost choke on the words. “Interpol has asked for our help. Their Tracker is down and they want to borrow ours. You.”

I shot up, my voice rising sharply. “What the hell? You’ve been telling your buddies that I’m on payroll? You think you can pawn off my services like I’m some sort of high-priced bird dog?”

Alex gave a soft woof. I’d almost forgotten he was there, he’d been so quiet. A look over at him and Giselle, seeing their eyes look to me for reassurance, calmed me down. No good would come of getting riled up; I didn’t have to do what Agent Valley asked of me. But I knew I’d never find the other Tracker if I didn’t help him.

Son of a bitch, he was a sneaky bastard.

“Where?”

Agent Valley continued to smile. “London. All the children were snatched from hospitals in London, and it’s where Jack Feen is dying. You won’t have much time. The doctors are saying he’s got weeks at best.”

London. How the hell was I supposed to get there in a giant piece of technology that could flick off at the drop of the hat simply because I was too close to it?