Babet & Prosper—A NICE, QUIET TOWN—chapter 8
Babet watched Cole flip flapjacks, plate them, and pass them across the kitchen island to Fang and Red. The island was long with enough chairs to seat half a dozen people, besides a large farmhouse table near the side windows. The stove had six burners. Two dishwashers fit under the granite counters. Cole and his wife knew how to accommodate a pack of werewolves.
He’d already made stacks for her, Prosper, Hatchet, and Dimitri while Morgana slithered outside to the barn to look for breakfast. He was making a plate for himself when his cell buzzed. He glanced at the I.D. and picked it up. He looked dazed when he switched off the phone.
“That was the sheriff. The dragon made a straight line from the bayou to town last night. She ate seven people along the way. Maw rammed through the French doors of the Pedersens’ place and snapped up both parents and their daughter. The oldest boy ran to the butler’s pantry. When she opened her mouth to scorch him, he blasted her with a fire extinguisher, and she left.”
“Smart boy.” Prosper nodded approval.
Hatchet’s face turned pale. “She didn’t have to eat. She’d already fed last night. She’s decided just to enjoy herself.”
“Even after you made her retreat?” Cole pushed his pancakes away, his expression bleak.
Dimitri pushed off his bar stool and stalked to the windows to look out over Cole’s property. “We’ve made it worse. Instead of lying underground to pick off someone walking overhead, she’s come up into the open to hunt. She even broke into someone’s house.”
“She didn’t do that the last time I met her,” Hatchet said. “She ran to find easier pickings.”
“Then why now?” Prosper asked. “Together, the four of us have to be stronger than you and your fellow Druids. Why not run from us?”
“Because she thinks we’ll follow, and she’s right.” Babet watched Morgana crossing the yard from the barn back to the house. “She’s building up enough energy to battle us.”
Dimitri saw the snake, too, and went to open the door for her. “How could we follow Maw? She goes straight down. She could dig to any town and keep going.”
“We’d follow the body count,” Prosper said. “Even if she didn’t eat for two weeks, she couldn’t go that far. We’d find her.”
Hatchet’s lips pressed into a flat, tight line. “She’s decided to fight us now and be done with it. She won’t look for us tonight. She’ll wait until her body processes her recent victims, but then she’ll feel strong enough to take us on.”
“Can we find her now, while she’s gearing up?” Fang asked.
“If she doesn’t move, we can’t sense her.” Hatchet looked at Morgana. “If you’d promise to get out of the way when the battle starts, you could help us track her. You feel vibrations better than any of us.”
Morgana bobbed her head up and down.
Hatchet pointed a finger at her. “That’s a promise? You’d help us find her and then go someplace safe?”
The snake bobbed again.
“Good, when she moves, we’ll know.” His tattoos moved across his skin and dark clouds gathered.
“Calm down. You’re calling a storm, and no one needs that.” Dimitri scowled at the French doors that led from the kitchen to the back patio. “Now we know she can slam through those. Can she climb steps? Would people be safe if they ran to the second floor of their house?”
Morgana slithered to the staircase in the entry and started up it.
Dimitri sighed. “Okay, cross off steps as a safety measure.”
Babet glanced around the house. “Is there anywhere people would be safe if she comes above ground to hunt for them?”
“A basement if it has a narrow doorway?” Prosper asked.
“Not many people have those in River City. You hit ground water too soon.” Hatchet looked at Cole. “Do people have basements around here?”
“A few do.”
Not very promising. The more they talked, the more Babet thought the only way to save people was to speed to them before Maw reached them. “Maybe the sheriff should ask people to call us the minute they hear dogs barking. Morgana can’t feel vibrations from far away. And if a neighbor has a basement, and is willing, people could hide down there together. And tell them to stay away from the stairs in case Maw blows fire down at them.”
Cole paced to the window again. “How long do you think she’ll wait before she strikes again?”
Hatchet squared his strong shoulders. “I’d guess we’ll be safe tonight, but she might be ready to move again tomorrow. I don’t think she’ll wait any longer than she has to.”
That was fine with Babet. She hated waiting around. If they were going to battle, she’d rather do it. The sooner, the better.