VOLUME INDEX



For anyone who has ever lost their pet and ran through hell, high water, and smog to find them—placking up posters and going through every listing in the lost and found on the web...





 
 
 




Two-Six-Four-Victor-Echo, come back.” It was Andrea running dispatch back at the garage.

“I’m here. What can I do for you? Over.”

I have woman on the phone who would like to speak to you. Mind if I put her through?

Who would want to speak to her now?

“Sure. Go for it.”

You can start speaking now, Mrs. Taylor,” Andrea said. “She can hear you.”

“Mrs. Taylor?” Vex said. “Is everything all right?”

I am so glad I got a hold of you!” Her voice was tinny from the patch from the phone to the radio. “Holly is missing…is she with you?

“No. I haven’t seen her all day. She ran away? Do you need help looking for her?”

I had some phone calls from people replying to our posters for Augustus. I sent her to her room, I didn’t want to get her hopes up. It was a few hours later I went to see if she wanted dinner and she wasn’t there. I’ve been calling all my neighbors, but I think she’s gone off looking for him on her own.

Vex leaned against the steering wheel and shook her head. Holly was in a lot of danger. Of course, this could also be the break Vex had been waiting for—if Holly had gone off on her own, it was probably because she had an intuition as to where Augustus had gone. Find Holly. Find the cat.

But, first things first, a little girl lost in this weather was a problem of its own.

I called the police... I think that I see them pulling up in front of the house. I should go let them in.

“If you have time, could you tell me some of the addresses that were in the last messages?”

Mrs. Taylor rattled off a series of addresses and Vex compared them against the notes she’d received from Melinda at the animal shelter. Out of seven addresses, only one of them matched the area where wildcats had been spotted.

“Go get the door,” Vex said. “I’ll call you if I find her.”

Thank you.”

After that the radio connection dropped. Vex checked the mirrors, wiped down her windows, and drove off into the thickening rain. Glancing at the sky, and the roads, she noticed that the address she suspected Holly had gone to would have taken her into the heaviest of the heavy weather.

It seemed James would just have to wait for his “date.”

* * *

Crouched in the dank of a broken house, Augustus fought the beast of his hunger back into his breast. He longed for his warm home, the hands of his keeper, the soothing beat of her heart, the rise and fall of her chest as she slept…all far away now, missing out there in the booming drear.

Hope fades. Thoughts diminish in the face of need…there is no going home.

He could feel another approach, and also his keeper—but more distant. The closer a hunter, a predator like him. Perhaps, if he could end this, everything would be better.

The hunger clutched from his belly, a gruesome, growing fiend that he knew he could not control. There, in that deep, it threatened all that he loved. And it could only be slaked with more blood.

Then, as he heard the engine of an approaching car he knew what had to be done. If only blood would quench this monster clawing its way out of him; then it must stop with his blood and never the blood of his keeper.

She, he would miss most of all.


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