The Savage Grace Page 32

And yours will be nowhere in sight, said the wolf.

But that doesn’t matter, I told the voice in my head. Because I know how much Daniel cares about me. even you can’t convince me otherwise.

“Hey, Grace,” Katie called. I looked back at her. She gave me an apologetic smile.

“My parents are out of town, and some of my friends from my old neighborhood in the city are coming to visit. They want to go to some party they heard about tomorrow night. You should come with us. Might be good for you to blow off some steam.”

Katie might be my competition in every sense of the word, but she made it all too hard to dislike her. “Um, thanks. But I think I’ll pass.” My life was far too complicated for parties. “Good luck,” I said, pointing at her box.

“Yeah, you, too…” she started to say, but a loud chorus of honking car horns drowned out her words.

I raised my eyebrows.

“Must be the hunters,” Katie shouted over the noise that came from the street in front of the shop. “They announced a call for wolf hunters at school.”

“Wolf hunters?” My stomach felt like the bottom of it was about to drop out. I left Katie behind and jogged around to the front of the building to find a cluster of pickup trucks, filled with men and teenage boys, practically blocking off all of Main Street. Almost every truck sported a loaded gun rack, and several people held rifles.

“What’s going on?” I asked Justin Fletcher, who sat in the back of his dad’s pickup.

“Going hunting.” He grinned. “Didn’t you hear, the mayor put a twenty-five-hundred-dollar bounty on the head of that wolf who’s been howling in the woods, and the Bradshaw family has offered to double the amount for whoever brings back the body. Five thousand dollars for shooting a wolf—you can’t beat that.”

“Holy crap,” is what I said, but what I really wanted to do was let out a long line of curse words so colorful every hunter in this parking lot would blush. “But what about the storm?” The gray clouds that had been gathering before I went into the Print & Ship looked positively black now.

“I imagine a few people are going to wait it out.” The truck roared to life, and Justin grabbed onto the inside of the truck bed. “The radio says it’s probably going to blow over, though, and most everyone in town is hoping to get a head start tonight. With a bounty like that, every hunter in the county will be in the woods pretty soon. The deputy was even handing out free amo to everyone.” He lifted up a small box that I recognized. My heart crawled up into my throat. They were the silver bullets from Day’s Market.

As the truck pulled away, I made a mad dash to the parish, grateful my ankle had finally healed. I went straight to the little caretaker’s apartment behind the building and pounded on the door, hoping Gabriel would answer. I needed his help. Maybe he could use his pastoral influence to get those men to call off the hunt? not likely—but he could at least tell me what to do. Help me find Daniel. He was the last one to see him, after all.

After my knocking went unanswered for a few seconds, I remembered my conversation with Gabriel from the night before. He had said he would be leaving in the morning. I turned the knob slowly and peaked inside the apartment. Everything was gone except for the bed and the little desk in the corner of the room, against which I had once thrown Gabriel. Every trace of him was gone except for a slip of paper on the edge of the otherwise bare mattress. I picked it up and found a sketch that I would have said was of myself—except for the expression of confidence on the girl’s face. She looked so sure of herself, ready to take on any challenge, that it couldn’t be me.

I flipped the drawing over and found the words The Divine one scribbled on the back with another note that said, We’ll meet again. gabriel.

He was gone.

Gabriel was gone, and I was truly on my own now.

I left the little room and found my way back to my car. I drove home, taking a different route than the caravan of hunters headed toward the woods. I needed better clothes—running shoes and a jacket—before I could head out on my own hunting expedition.

I’d prayed for guidance in the hospital chapel, and I knew I needed to follow my gut.

It was up to me.

The time to save Daniel was now.

Chapter Sixteen



Darkness had completely overtaken the skies by the time I’d changed into running pants, a T-shirt, and a jacket, and headed out into our backyard to get to the woods. Those storm clouds, black as night, blotted out any early-evening stars.

I could smell the downpour brewing in the air. Hopefully, it wouldn’t blow over.

“Please, dear God, let it storm,” I whispered. Maybe torrential rain would deter most of those hunters. Turn them back from the incentive of a five-thousand-dollar reward. Or at least slow them down.

I climbed over the fence into the woods just as a flash of lightning splattered across the sky, as if someone had thrown white paint against a blackened canvas. Thunder rolled just behind it. The storm is coming. A fat raindrop splashed on my arm as if to punctuate my thought. A few more heavy drops fell as I ran into the forest. The rain was sparse for now, but I knew it was only a matter of minutes before I’d be engulfed in the downpour.

Another thunderous crack echoed in my ears—but there’d been no lightning.

A gunshot?!

“No!” I shrieked. Power surged through my muscles like I’d received an injection of pure adrenaline to my heart. I rocketed between trees and over boulders. I couldn’t tell where the echoing gunshot had come from, but I followed my instincts—or whatever it was that pulled me in the direction of the ravine, the last place where I’d encountered the white wolf in these woods.

If someone got to Daniel before I did…

The rain fell heavier now, pounding down almost as hard and as fast as my racing feet. I was almost to the ravine when a second shot was fired. I veered slightly to the right, able to pinpoint the origin of the blast this time. I moved with quick but deliberate steps, careful not to make a sound as I slinked behind an upcropping of bushes.

“You missed again,” I heard a low voice grumble. “You never miss.”

“It’s these damn silver bullets,” a second voice answered, sounding even more annoyed. “They don’t fly right. Start cheating to the left, or you won’t hit a thing.”

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