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. My name is ZevHunter.What s yours?He sounded friendly enough.He didn t appear particularly hungry, as if he had been searching fora meal. Skyler, she answered, suddenly remembering she couldn t provide a surname.He wouldrecognize Daratrazanoff. I d like to take a look at your ankle, but I d rather not get clobbered over the head by that wicked-looking boot.She forced herself to lower her boot to her side. I m sorry.You startled me.It never occurred tome that anyone would be out in these woods.The others are probably out looking for me right now.There are only three of us at the moment, but more will be bringing in supplies in a few days.Wecame early to set up camp. She talked fast, a woman still nervous and chatting too much. He crouched low, one hand reaching for her ankle.Around his wrist was a strip of cloth, bloodiedas if he d been seriously wounded.Relief swept through her.Dimitri told her one of the Lycans hadshown compassion and had given him blood.This had to be that same one.Dimitri had definitely putthe idea in his head to go looking for Fen and a rescue party.She couldn t help herself.She inhaled deeply, reaching for Dimitri s woodsy scent.It was faint,but she caught it, still lingering on the Lycan s wrist.She took that familiar scent into her lungs andjust held it there, suddenly desperate to see him. Your ankle is very swollen.This must hurt. I walked more than I should have on it, Skyler admitted, putting one hand on his shoulder tosteady herself.Deliberately she wobbled and clutched his arm a little lower to keep from falling.Her heart began to beat hard again.In her fist was the tiny little tracking device Josef had made.She just needed an opportunity to sweep her hand down that coat to one of the side pockets.She had afeeling this particular man would be tough to fool. The cold stream will be good for it, Zev told her. We ll give it a few minutes, and then I ll takeyou back to your camp.It isn t safe in these woods.The forest is home to many predators and you rejust about snack size for some of them.The very wolf pack you re trying to study would be happy togive you a firsthand experience.Skyler managed a small smile. I have a very vivid imagination.Believe me, I thought of thatmany times.She sank down onto the rock, allowing her hand to naturally brush down his coat as if she was stillunsteady and afraid of falling.The flap was over the pocket but she was well versed in making smallobjects obey her.The flap lifted and the transfer was smooth and complete.Josef had told her many times that he couldn t feel her energy when she used her art on objects,but still, she held her breath, afraid this very savvy Lycan would pick it up. You can t be very old; why would your parents allow you to come to such a remote area whereit s so dangerous? His concern was genuine.Skyler smiled again, this time more naturally. I just look very young.I m actually twenty-five.I ve got my degree and am working toward my master s.I volunteer at the various wildlife researchcenters as a way to travel.I mean, I m genuinely interested in the work, but I ve gotten to go to somany countries and see many amazing places, as well as meet some very cool people.Zev raised his eyebrow. In a million years I wouldn t have guessed your age.If anything, Ithought maybe fourteen or fifteen.Skyler shrugged. I get that all the time.At least I ve reached the fourteen or fifteen mark insteadof the ten or twelve.He laughed, suddenly relaxing.The tension completely eased from his body and he sank down intothe grass beside her while she bathed her swollen ankle in the icy stream. That must be annoying, having everyone tell you you look so young. In some ways.Especially when I m traveling.There are a lot of creeps in the world and havingsome man who preys on children. She trailed off, realizing genuine anger had crept into her voice.Zev was quick.She saw knowledge in his eyes and knew she d given away too much information.Cursing silently to herself, she idly picked up a pebble and tossed it downstream. The forest is oppressive at times, isn t it? she asked. I find it so beautiful, all the colors, butsometimes it s hard to breathe when you re deep in the middle of it.His eyes focused on her, all that piercing intelligence.She had to fight to stay relaxed.He lookedas if he could see right into her soul. You re very sensitive.  That s what my mother always says, Skyler said.That much was true.Francesca said it all thetime.She indicated his hand.Let him fish around for something plausible. What happened to you?Zev didn t so much as flinch.He lifted his wrist for her inspection. I was working and got a littlecareless.I tore my wrist on a nail.It s not a big deal but it was deep enough to bleed a lot.I put thiscloth around it and it stopped. There s a first-aid kit at the camp.When we get there, I could put some antibiotic cream on it sothe laceration doesn t get infected.He nodded. If we don t run out of time.We should get moving soon or night will fall.Here in theforest it tends to get dark fast.She was happy to get moving.The faster they made camp, the faster she could heal her ankle andset out to follow the Lycan back to Dimitri. Do you live close by? I m camping with some friends a few kilometers from here, Zev explained. Although I ve beencoming to these woods since I was a boy, so I m very familiar with them.She frowned at him as she pulled her throbbing foot from the stream.Her wince was very genuine.She was going to have to throttle Josef for making her injury so real. You don t hunt here, do you?The wolves are protected in this preserve. She managed her most schoolmarmish voice, the one thatalways made Josef sit up and take notice or topple over in gales of laughter. Sometimes with a camera, although when we were kids, we hunted for food.Not wolves, butother creatures, mostly wild fowl, partridge, things we could manage when we were pretty small.If wekilled it, we had to carry it.He was telling the absolute truth, which was why he was so good at intrigue.He mixed truth withimplication not outright lies.She tried to pull her boot back over her swollen ankle.It hurt like hell. I ll carry you. You will not, Skyler said. I can walk.Just give me a minute to get my boot back on [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]