Fierce Obsessions


Page 39




"Cynthia wouldn't hurt Lucy."
He seemed to genuinely believe that, Makenna thought. She, on the other hand, didn't. Blood didn't always mean anything to people. "Then what's the harm in telling us why she might have held a grudge against all the others?"
"It wasn't that she held a grudge." He rubbed at his eyes. "Look, someone hurt her, okay? Hurt her bad."
Makenna's stomach turned, because it was clear by the torment in his eyes just what he meant by "hurt." She didn't like Cynthia, but she could still feel sympathy for her. "Who did it?" But Duncan didn't answer; he just stared over her shoulder. "Answer me this, at least: were they at the party that night?"
"I don't know."
"Duncan."
"I don't know. Cynthia doesn't know who hurt her. She woke up near the waterfall. She was soaking wet, like she'd been dunked in it. Her clothes were torn, her mind was fuzzy like she'd been drugged, and she was . . . she was sore enough to know she'd been raped. But she had no idea who'd done it, no memory of anything happening."
Well, fuck. "When did this happen?" He hesitated to answer, so she gently pushed. "When?"
"Six months before the shootings."
"Did she tell her parents?"
"No. She was ashamed. Control is important to Cynthia. Whoever attacked her took that away from her that night. The only reason I know is that she showed up at my house after she woke up near the waterfall. She had no scents on her-the water had washed them away. I helped her shower, dressed her in some of my mom's clothes . . . and then she just left. She hasn't spoken about it since. She refuses to admit it even happened."
Working at the shelter for lone shifters, Makenna had met many people who'd been assaulted, and many who denied it because it was really the only way they could cope.
"Now you're thinking that gives her reason to want all those people dead, that maybe she thought the best way to know she'd hurt the person who'd hurt her was if she took out every one of them." Duncan shook his head. "There's no saying for sure that it wasn't one of the adults in the flock who did it. Besides, she's blocked it out. She won't face it, let alone stew enough on it to seek vengeance."
He did have a point, she thought. "Do you have any idea who might have done it?"
"If I did, they'd be dead." A mocking glint entered his eyes. "Now you're thinking I have motive too, right? Who says I didn't have them killed in the hope that I might have avenged her?"
"Did you?" asked Ryan.
"No," said Duncan. "But if I'd known who did it, I would have avenged her. She can be a bitch and she gets off on hurting people, which has earned her plenty of enemies, but she didn't deserve that."
Makenna would have to agree with that. "I appreciate you answering our questions. I won't mention anything about Cynthia's attack to the flock."
Once she and Ryan were out of Duncan's hearing, Ryan said to her, "Don't feel bad for her. She's an A-class bitch who's done her best to make Riley miserable."
Makenna sighed. "I know. I've learned that some people are just hateful and negative. You'd think that anyone who woke up to a view like this would be a happy person. I mean, look at all those cacti and rocks and mountains. Bet you see some cool wildlife around here." She abruptly halted and threw out her arm, barring Ryan from taking a single step forward. "Look, there's a penny on the floor by your foot . Didn't I tell you you'd be getting money soon?" She bent to pick it up but then snatched back her hand. "It's tails side up. Don't touch it."
Grunting, Ryan shook his head and walked away.
Makenna gaped at his back. "There's no need for language like that, White Fang."
When the Phoenix wolves returned to Riley and Tao's temporary cabin later, they all settled in the den, where they discussed how the interrogations had gone.
Afterward Tao said, "So, in short, each of them has a reason to have-at the very least-been pissed with the kids who died that night."
Dante slid his fist down Jaime's long sable ponytail. "I meant to ask you, Riley, did anyone try pressuring you to not go to the party?"
"They didn't need to," said Riley. "I had no intention of going."
Makenna's brow creased. "Why did you?"
"Lucy wanted to go, but she didn't want to go alone." Riley held up a hand before anyone tried to imply Lucy had had anything to do with what happened. "It can't be Lucy-she was shot."
"She could have an accomplice, though that's stretching things a bit," said Ryan.
Tao curled an arm around Riley. "You said you wouldn't have gone at all if Lucy hadn't asked you."
"Yeah, so?"
"So it's possible that people didn't expect you to be there. Wade might have been surprised to see you."
Riley swallowed, remembering Wade's vacant stare. "I don't think he was feeling much of anything that night, least of all surprise."
Dante turned to Tao. "What does your gut tell you? I trust your gut."
"I can't trust my gut," said Tao. "I'm too pissed at these people about other things to be unbiased about this."
Riley had the exact same problem. Although she had no idea what to think, she found herself smiling at each of the wolves. "I'm really glad you guys came."
Jaime returned the smile. "Of course we came. You're pack."
CHAPTER TWELVE
I was thinking we could go home tomorrow."
Riley literally dropped the game controller. Did he have to go ruin the afternoon? They'd had a perfectly good day so far playing on the Xbox she'd borrowed from Max, and it had been pretty fun beating Tao's ass at Killer Instinct. Now he was blurting out crap. "Look-"
Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Tao turned to fully face her. "It's been four days, Riley. Four. Nothing else has happened. Not a single thing. I think we were wrong about the shooter wanting to finish off from where Wade started. I think they just wanted to hurt you through Ethan and Lucy. You were there when we ran the theory by Sage and Ruby yesterday; they agree."
"You're probably right, but I still want to see someone punished."
Tao pulled her onto his lap so she straddled him. "Do you? Do you really want to stick around here when you could be at home, where you belong?" He tucked her hair behind her ear. "I don't think you do. And I don't think your raven does either."
He was right about that. The raven didn't think of Exodus territory as home anymore. She found a certain level of comfort in it and enjoyed being there, but she missed Phoenix Pack territory, craved it. And yeah, okay, so did Riley.
Smoothing his hand up and down her back, he asked, "Don't you want to get back home to the kids?"
Riley's chest tightened. "Of course I do." She missed them like crazy, and it hurt every time she had to explain to them on the phone that she'd be gone a little longer.





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