Dark eyes stared from the forming figure, piercing Justin’s soul.
Gray fur, smooth and silky, unfurled along the creature’s flank, bending up at the end in a tail.
A muzzle grew beneath the eyes. The creature, fully formed, took a step forward to the edge of the precipice.
Without its mouth opening, Justin knew what it was saying.
Justin’s head hit the floor.
His eyes darkening, he cried out, he tried to scrabble away. But in his mind he knew the creature was too strong. Too fast. And not there.
Justin opened his eyes. “What the…”
He was on the floor. His computer was on, the screen still showing the conspiracy site. The phone was where it had been, silent and still. The window was unbroken. Only his chair was out of place, fallen over on its side.
Justin stood shakily, running his hands, his uninjured hands, over himself, making sure it was all there. He was fine. He had simply dreamed when he had blacked out.
The phone rang.
Hesitantly, slowly, Justin picked it up. “Hello?”
His head suddenly began to ache as a female voice, low and melodious, came through the phone’s speakers.
“Yes, this is United Bank. Who is speaking?”
The woman in the tan overcoat suddenly groaned, leaning over as her head suddenly filled with agony. She felt it. Felt it. Her fellow riders on the bus to the airport looked at her curiously as she stumbled from the bus in the middle of nowhere. A few offered to call 911, but she managed to wave them off.
The bus moved on, but the woman sat on the curb, not caring that the wetness would dirty her flawless clothing. He was here.
She stood, resisting the urge to pull the aspirin from her handbag. She needed to be fully aware, to feel the pain, if she was to follow its call.
The Prophet was returning.
Hiram Retland was angry. He had lost the woman. She had moved so fast, so unexpectedly. Sitting at the back of the bus reading a magazine, he had barely realized what she intended before she had disappeared. He had gotten off, but she was miles away. She could be anywhere.
He pulled out his phone. Hitting the speed dial, he waited for it to connect. “I lost her. She may be going for him—she acted like she had sensed something.”
“I’ll update the team. You stay on her. Try to run her to ground. If she’s really sensed something, we’re out of time. If she gets to him…who knows what she’ll do.”
Hiram closed the connection and hailed a taxi. He needed to move. Fast.
Justin ran down across his neighbor’s backyard, scrambling over their fence. He had told the caller to wait “just for a second” while he woke up his mom. Who was gone. To a conference.
One of Sun Tzu’s five requirements for victory: He will win who knows when to fight—and when not to fight. Now was the time to run.
He made it across the next yard. When he was four houses down, he risked moving around the side of the house, looking back to his own. On the sidewalk, a black minivan was parked, a woman holding a phone beside it. Even from a distance, she looked angry.
She suddenly closed the phone and nodded to someone outside his sightline. Justin heard glass breaking.
Then he pulled back around the house and ran across the backyard, trying to put as much difference between himself and his house.
He would go to Wayne’s house. He was only person who didn’t mind…Justin. In the mean time, he pulled out his phone and called 911.
The tan-coated woman sat in her car, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. Men and women in blue uniforms were all over the place, looking at the broken glass, the prints in the dirt of the garden, and the unlocked back door.
From what she had overheard, both the person who had called 911 and the thief were gone.
She slipped her phone, the chunky model, from her pocket and made a call.
Hiram Retland should have known. She had watching him so closely. Then she had tried to throw him off the scent by heading for the airport. But now the game was up. Both Seekers had been drawn to the same spot, the same person. It was as good as confirmed.
It was beginning.