Chapter 7

Copyright© 2021 by Charly Young

Before she left for work, Niamh put out some tuna for the striped skunk family that lived under her porch. She had a good working relationship with the little female. It loved tuna and in return provided a warning system if anyone thought to set an ambush.

She dressed in her leathers and steel-toed boots, packed a change of clothes in her battered rucksack and hopped on her Ducati Streetfighter and took off for Wenatchee.

When she arrived, she pulled into a 7-11 and used their restroom to change out of her bike leathers and put on her version summer vacationing college girl—a long sleeve checkered shirt with tails fashionably tied around her waist to show her tanned midriff, daisy duke shorts and sandals.

Niamh excelled at disguises. When she went to work for the council, Harlan hired a Hollywood wardrobe consultant to give her tips on blending in with mundanes. With a different outfit and a deliberate change in attitude, she morphed into a late teen-early twenties student named Trixie who was home for the summer.

The Old Navy store in Wenatchee was a crowded with summer shoppers.

“Yeah, I remember that day for sure.” A bubbly clerk, whose name badge said Rita, eagerly related the dramatic story. “A little girl went missing. Hard to believe. We kinda watch out for kids, you know, but the store is pretty crowded with displays and merchandise. Nobody remembers even seeing her. Especially since that evil old lady was throwing a fit because Sandy wouldn’t give her a refund on a blouse that was practically worn out.”

“Wow,” Niamh said sympathetically, “I bet it’s tough dealing with the public day after day. She sounds like a bitch.”

“Yeah, you have no idea. I felt the worse for her little puppy. You can imagine how mean she probably is to it.”

“Really, she had a puppy in the store?”

“Yeah, it was gray with the prettiest green eyes. The poor thing was cowering every time she looked at it. It looked so miserable I felt bad for it. Hey, are you looking for work, I bet I can talk to Gloria the manager and get you some shifts.”

“Seriously?” Niamh gushed. “Thanks, I’ll think about it and call you. This seems like an okay place to work.”

Niamh paid for a blouse she would never wear and left the store.

She called Harlan. “I am in Wenatchee. We have another missing kid—wolf-kin. Pretty sure a witch got this one—probably the Hag you mentioned. She set up a classic distraction scene, bespelled the two aunts, frightened the little girl into shifting and walked.”

“Shit,” came Harlan’s growl. “F•©king Mina’s not gonna be happy. All we need is for the Chelan Pack stirred up on top of everything else.”

“Harlan,” Niamh said softly, “you know I hate working in the dark. If you’re playing one of your games and withholding information, I am going to seriously pissed.”

“No, nothing like that. I apologize if I seemed to threaten earlier. That was not my intent. It’s just that with this guy supposedly in line to be the Keeper, everybody is on edge. If I’m being honest here, you being in the middle of this makes me nervous. Especially with the witches now involved. You are a lot more direct than diplomatic.”

“Hey, I can be diplomatic.”

He ignored her, “Why don’t you head on down to Seattle. Use the Fremont passage into Old-town and nose around. If nothing comes up there, you’re probably going to have to go up to Emory and ask Althea to loan you one of their seers to help. If you do, for Mother’s sake, try to be pleasant. Do not piss Althea off.”

“I will be the soul of discretion,” she said.

“Sure you will,” Harlan groaned. “Now, I gotta go talk to Mina and tell her I have sent the f•©king bull into the china shop.” He hung up.

Niamh walked back to the 7-11 to change back into her leathers. While she walked, she wondered as she had wondered every day lately whether it was Mina or Harlan who was selling out the Shifter-Kin to Dökkálfar the Dark Elves.

Somebody was, she was sure of it.

(Many thanks to Mr. Wolf for lending his invaluable editorial skills to make this readable).

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