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Where I Live (Part 12)
In the morning, Kole, his parents, Ethan and I spent hours looking over the website I had stumbled across. Ethan stood behind me – since I had the laptop – and silently counted up how many Birds of Prey and Wolves were there. The numbers didn’t add up. From what Kole’s parents knew, there were exactly fifteen Birds missing and about as many Wolves. But on the website, there were only pictures of five different Birds, four different Wolves and Ty Lan. So far, there weren’t any more cats.
“Can’t we find an I.P. address for this guy?” Kole asked angrily.
“Okay, first, we don’t know if it’s all the same guy or if there’s more than one.” I said, “I mean, he could just be the recruiter. And second . . . I don’t know how to do that.”
“Do we know anyone who can?” The question was directed at everyone in the room and I felt oddly good to be included in the “we.”
We all fell silent, thinking for a moment, until I hesitantly spoke up. “I know someone.” I said quietly. “But I don’t know if I can get to her.”
“Who is she?” Ethan asked.
“She’s a girl I work with, Chrissie, but . . .”
“But what? We need help!” Kole exclaimed.
Everyone fell silent. Chrissie was human. By asking for her help, we could unknowingly endanger her. Endangering humans was against the rules and morals of every clan.
“We have no choice.” Ethan said finally. “I know I may not know much about your rules or codes or whatever they are, but we don’t have to tell her what’s going on. We just get her to find an address for us and high-tail it out of there. . . So where do we find her?”
“That’s another problem.” I said, “She works where I do and that’s a little closer to home than I want to be right now. . . Or for years to come.”
“We’ll be in an out.”
“You going may not be the best idea.”
“Just think about it. By now my entire clan knows about you. And Kole is smaller. Less people, less attention attracted. Otherwise, I would be glad to have another pair of wings with us. I have no doubt you’re good in a fight, I’ve already seen it. But,” I closed the laptop and set it on the coffee table as I stood up, “It’s better if you stay right here. We should go now. Sooner is better than later.”
Ethan nodded reluctantly. Kole’s mom gave me a hat, then Kole put the laptop into a backpack, put it on and followed me outside. As we got on my bike, I didn’t want to tell him that I didn’t want to be left alone with Ethan. I still needed time to sort things out in my head and I honestly thought that it would be easier to get in and out with Kole. Especially the out part since he was smaller and possibly faster than Ethan. As we rode, I tried to think about what to tell Chrissie. Hopefully, she won’t ask for an explanation.
It felt weird, driving with a Bird of Prey behind me, but I concentrated on driving like I had done when Ethan was with me and made it to the café without getting us killed. When we got there, Kole jumped off as fast as possible and rubbed his arms, looking afraid.
“What?” I couldn’t help but smile. “The ride not smooth enough for you?”
He shuddered. “I prefer the skies.”
“Yeah, well we’re going for inconspicuous. . .” I looked at my bike. “Although . . . riding a hot rod red motorcycle isn’t very low key. . . Oh well, let’s go inside.”
He glared until we got inside and then plastered a surprisingly realistic, curious expression on his face. Thankfully, Chrissie was working. I was glad I had remembered the schedule. She smiled when she saw me, but she was bringing someone their food and we had to wait. I led Kole back into the employee lounge.
When Chrissie got there, she was still smiling. “Hey, Kryn! I thought you were taking a few days off because of a family emergency.”
“Yeah, my brother was in the hospital.” I hadn’t even thought this part through and lied as best I could. “But it turns out he was just really allergic to shellfish.” I shrugged. “Go figure. . . Although, I didn’t come in today for work. I wanted to ask for your help.”
“Yeah? With what?”
“A learning experience.” Kole held out the backpack to me without being asked and I pulled out the laptop, grateful we had internet access in the lounge. “My Dad wants me to be able to find an I.P. address and then show its corresponding point on a map.”
“Oh boy, computer stuff!” She clapped her hands happily. “Glad to help! Just set it here.” She gestured towards the table.
I set it in front of her as she sat down and opened it. When the screen came back on, I pulled up the internet page that was still sitting there. “This site’ll work. Kole was looking at it earlier.” I looked at him, acting just the tiniest bit angry. “I told you to shut all the pages down before we left.”
He gave a sheepish smile. “S-Sorry.”
“Who’s this?” Chrissie asked.
“Kole. I got stuck babysitting for one of my mom’s friends so I thought I’d take him for a ride.”
“Hi!” She gave him a big smile and he waited until she wasn’t looking to roll his eyes.
It took nearly twenty minutes but Chrissie took us step by step through the process. I tried to pay attention in case she quizzed me later or I had to find the address again.
When she pulled it up, she looked at Kole. “All right, we’re set. Can you get me the map that’s in there?”
He nodded and opened the cabinet she pointed to, opening the map as he walked. He spread it out on the table.
“This got updated at several places but the most often and the latest is right here.” She pointed to a spot on the map. “It’s a library on the very outskirts of this town here. . . Hey, what kind of a website is this, anyway?”
“Someone’s been posting actual pictures of Birds of Prey, Wolves and even a Jungle Cat.”
“Whoa . . . really?”
I nodded, stalling for time as I caught Kole writing down the address. “Here, let me write down the website for you.” I took a sticky note, wrote down the URL and stuck it to the table. “There, now you can see ‘em too. . . I don’t know how much longer it’ll be running though. . . I’m not entirely sure if it’s legal.”
She shrugged. “Why not? It’s just like regular people posting pictures of themselves except that . . . they’re . . . not regular people. . . Yeah, I just confused myself. Anyway, you better get out of here before Ryan catches you.”
“All right, all right, I’m going. I do want to keep my job.” I grabbed the laptop. “Come on, Kole.”
“Bye!” He waved cheerily at Chrissie as we left.
When we got outside, he sighed as he slipped the backpack onto his shoulders.
“What was that for?” I asked, trying to hold back a smile.
“People that are that cheery are annoying.”
I couldn’t help myself and started laughing as we got back onto my bike. As we drove, I hoped that what we’d done didn’t somehow lead to Chrissie getting in danger. I had to keep reaching up to make sure my hat didn’t fly off, though we weren’t going too fast and I had tightened it as much as I could without giving myself a headache. My thoughts were interrupted when I saw something in my right mirror. I watched for a while, just to be sure, then changed our course.
“What are you doing?” Kole asked from behind me. “That was a wrong turn.”
“I know.” I said solemnly. “We’re being followed.”
“Guy on a black motorcycle.”
I felt him shifting so he could look without being obvious. “I see him.”
“Good. I’m gonna lose him.”
He paused. “If you’re about to crash I’m bailing.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
He tensed a little and I kept driving. I took us to the lake where we’d first met. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to wreck my bike, but this guy knew something about us that was interesting enough to follow. If he knew that I was a Cat and Kole was a Bird . . . well, I couldn’t take any chances. I let out a growl of pure rage and reached back, grabbing Kole by the front of his shirt, amazing myself by keeping us steady.
“What are you doing!?” He shouted.
“You’re bailing out! Now!” I threw him off the bike.