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She chose a night when Fenwick was going to visit his parents. Talking to some people who are going to help her find the children, she told him, which was true but not the complete truth.
Nguyen walked down the short hall to the dining room table where Kit had convened the squad meeting. He wore a brown duster which he removed and draped over the back of a chair. Nguyen had been turned in his mid-thirties, but he was almost old enough to sit on the council. Nguyen had a long, placid face which surveyed the room without expression.
Eastwick followed him closely, hands in his pockets. Eastwick had been turned in his mid-twenties, and was currently the youngest vampire in the Guild. He did have his fangs in, despite Chong’s snarky comment, but he certainly lacked experience. Sure, he was brilliant at all the first-person shooters that he and Fenwick played until the wee hours of the morning, but would that transfer to a real firefight? Kit didn’t know, but she didn’t have much of a choice.
Nguyen glanced at Chong’s open laptop on the table, then nodded a greeting at the other vampire.
“Guess we’re all here,” Chong said.
Nguyen raised an eyebrow. “I was told Waterson would be here.”
“She’s busy on Guild business,” Kit said.
Nguyen made a grunt of acknowledgment (or was it disapproval?) and raised an eyebrow as if asking if he might take a seat. Kit gestured to the ladderback chairs and Nguyen sat in one, upright as if he were on a throne. Eastwick sat more casually, and Chong flipped one around backward, resting his arms on the back.
“First order of business,” Kit said. “We need to narrow down the location.”
Chong shot her a disgusted look.
Kit raised a hand. “Chong narrowed it down to six possible houses, seven if we include one not in the state of Kansas. I have new information, recently acquired from a young woman who was kidnapped with them.”
“What, did she call you?”
“I spoke with her.” Kit passed out photocopies of the information she’d gathered on the seven properties, including aerial photos, age, blueprints, and last known occupancy. “She was able to describe the terrain.”
“Lemme guess,” Chong said. “Flat?”
Kit nodded. “With some hills and ravines.”
“That describes most of the state,” Nguyen said, in a soft voice that cut more than Chong’s sarcasm.
“There’s an L shaped line of trees along the property, and a ditch next to it.”
“Many windbreaks were planted during the dust bowl,” Nguyen said.
“We know it’s not the condo.” Eastwick looked at the photographs. “And this one doesn’t have a windbreak, so it’s probably not this one.”
“So that’s four,” Chong said. “Or five, if we count the one in Missouri.”
“She didn’t mention a river.”
“No,” Kit said. “She specifically said they were away from a large town. No city lights. And she heard owls.”
“You can have owls near a city,” Chong said. “Melbourne, we can’t go get these kids if we don’t know where they are.”
“She said that half of the basement was finished, or semi-finished, and the other half had an earthen floor and stone walls.” Kit strained to remember everything Tessali had told her. Kitchenette, basement with wooden stairs, casement window, shell lamp.
“From the early part of the twentieth century,” Nguyen said. He turned to Eastwick. “How many does that eliminate?”
Eastwick shuffled through the printouts. “Three of these with windbreaks are old houses, and the fourth one doesn’t say.”
What else? Beans and canned peaches. Weeds in the yard, small copses of trees, dried grass, dirt roads and a gravel drive.
“Even if it’s a new house, it might have an old basement,” Chong said. “Melbourne, did this contact of yours give you a house number? Or a phone number? Could we call her?”
“No.” Kit frowned.
“What did she tell you?” Eastwick asked. “Can you think of anything else?”
“I asked her for a house number, she didn’t see one. They’re out in the middle of nowhere. She saw farmhouse lights in the distance, but she thought they were miles away.”
“What about the brands of the beans and peaches? Did she say what brands they were? Grocery stores are regional.”
“No but, Oh!” Kit put her hands over her mouth. “Dinosaur pizza. She said the kidnappers ate pizza with dinosaurs on it.”
Chong brightened, and went back to tapping in his laptop. “Call 78-JURASSIC and ask for the Brontosauceous special.”
Kit walked to the laptop to peer over Chong’s shoulder. Eastwick got out of his chair to follow. Nguyen stood there as well, but Kit hadn’t heard him rise. They waited as the web page slowly refreshed, revealing a flashing website with pink writing on a black background. She winced as a neon green T-Rex tied a bib around its neck again and again in a gif that took up most of the page.
Chong somehow found the address of the restaurant within the mess of a website. He pasted it into another browser and searched.
“Now what? We stake out the pizza place and look for people who seem like kidnappers?” Eastwick asked.
“What does a kidnapper look like?” Nguyen asked him.
Like a werewolf, Kit thought, but before she said anything, Chong began to chuckle.
“Okay, guys, guess how many of our target houses are within a five mile radius of the restaurant,” Chong asked. When no one answered, he closed the screen. “Come on, guess.”
“Four?” Kit asked, and crossed her fingers behind her back.
“One.” Chong opened the screen again. He tapped the house address and zoomed in. “Old nearly abandoned farmhouse, L shaped line of trees, and a ten minute drive to Brontosauceous pizzas. Think this is our place.”
Kit uncrossed her fingers and let out her breath. Nguyen gave her a look and raised his eyebrow. “You guys busy on Thursday?”
“I got nothing better going on,” Eastwick said. “Let’s go rescue a couple of kids.”
“Three,” Kit said. “We’re rescuing two kids and a young woman.”
Like the book, but short on cash? New chapter next week!