Thinning the Herd

Thinning the Herd by Adrian Phoenix Read Free Book Online

Book: Thinning the Herd by Adrian Phoenix Read Free Book Online
Authors: Adrian Phoenix
wheel.”
    â€œBlah, blah, blah,” Galahad said, rolling his eyes. But he rested his hand over Nick’s. Patted it. “What happened, Hal?”
    In a quiet voice, Hal told them of last night’s events—the chase, the moment of perfect action, the crash, and the fire. He still smelled the gasoline, still heard the snap of the power line, the horrible crushing sound of metal impacting against an immovable object; still felt that moment—clear as fresh ice, sharp as razor blades—the slow beat of his heart, the indrawn breath, the sudden uncoiling of muscles, the heart-stopping speed of action.
    Hal lapsed into silence. Della delivered Nick’s plate heaped with eggs, bacon, and pancakes, along with Galahad’s dish of scrambled eggs. She poured coffee all around, splashing just a dollop into Gally’s cream. Nick’s eyes brightened. He dug in.
    â€œFork,” Galahad murmured. “Fork, Nick.”
    â€œOh, yeah.” Licking egg and maple syrup from his long fingers, Nick picked up his fork and dug in once again.
    â€œThey meant to kill you,” Galahad said, scooping eggs onto his fork with a graceful, delicate movement. His eyes met Hal’s. “So don’t feel bad. They wouldn’t have felt bad if they’d succeeded in killing you.”
    Hal rubbed his chin. “Damned good point.”
    â€œOf course,” the tabby said, lapping the eggs off his fork with his tongue.
    Hal relaxed as Nick wolfed down his food, barely taking time to chew it. Pleasure lit his face with each mouthful. He waited until the detective finished eating before saying, “The phone number? What’d you find out?”
    Nick wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist.
    â€œNapkin,” Galahad whispered.
    Dabbing at his face with the folded napkin, Nick said, “Turns out it was the number of a place called No Longer Jailbait. One of those twenty-four hour places for . . . uh . . . adults.”
    â€œA sex shop?”
    Galahad looked up. “Sex?” His eyes brightened.
    â€œYeah, but for people, Gally. I don’t think they have any feline-related material.” Hal rubbed his chin, considering. He could actually be wrong about that. There was porn for just about anything a man or cat could imagine.
    â€œOur lycan couldn’t have worked there,” Hal said. “Because—”
    â€œHe wouldn’t carry his work number on a torn piece of paper,” Nick interjected.
    â€œAnd wrapped around a tarot card, no less,” Galahad finished.
    â€œExactly,” Hal said. “So he must’ve had a contact there. Probably an employee.”
    â€œWhere to first?” Nick asked. “Do we have time for more food?”
    â€œNo,” Hal said. He slid out of the booth and flipped a five onto the table as a tip. “And we’re going to the Country Fair.”
    â€œYou boys are welcome anytime,” Della said. She gripped Galahad’s chin and wiggled it back and forth. “Especially you, Mr. Galahad Jones.”
    Galahad purred. Della laughed. “Go on, you scamp!”
    Hal yanked open the door, ringing the overhead bell. He stood in the sunshine, breathing in the wet pulp and paper smell from the lumber mill on Twenty-Eighth Street. Ah, Springfield!
    Galahad slipped on shades as he stepped outside. Hal looked him up and down. The y ō kai wore black leather pants and a black button-down shirt. Hal narrowed his eyes. Tapped Gally’s chest with the catch pole. “Is that silk?”
    Galahad smoothed a hand down his shirt and purred.
    Hal stared at him for a long moment, wondering where the feline came by his wardrobe and how he paid for it. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to know. That was Galahad’s business, after all. Did he quiz Nick on his suits? No, he did not.
    Catch pole in hand, Hal strode across the complex parking lot. “To the bus stop, gentleman,” he

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