Brennan slams it into reverse and floors it back up the hill. There are stone walls on either side of the road—no chance we can turn. I check behind.
We’re too late.
“There’s two of them—we can’t get past!” I say.
Well, I guess there’s only one choice left.
“Stop the car.”
I turn back to face him and growl impatiently, “Stop the fucking car!”
He glares at me and hits the brakes. We screech to a halt. They roll up behind us and stop about five yards out, one beside the other, completely blocking the road. There’s two men in each car.
“Keely, stay put.”
“Don’t you dare argue with me! You’re the one they want. We are not making it easy for them!”
I haul myself out and step forward.
Our favourite drunk, Declan, climbs out of the passenger side of the leftmost car, a bit unsteady, and glaring to curdle milk. His driver is more of a threat, but at least he’s further away. He’s sixteen stone, easy—and sober from the looks of him. There’s something in his right hand, but he slips it behind his leg as he gets out. A pipe, maybe. Too narrow to be a cricket bat. The second driver is a bit slimmer, and unarmed, but his nose looks like it’s been broken a few times. Huge hands. Probably a brawler. His passenger is tall, and top-heavy. Probably used to dominating with his fists, but won’t have a clue what to do with his legs.
Still, all in, we’re nearly fucked. This can’t come to a fight.
I step forward, into the gap, and fake my best smile. I sense Brennan moving to follow me, but I wave him back, as subtly as I can. “Gentlemen! We seem to have taken a wrong turn. Would one of you mind pulling over so we can back out past you?”
Declan stumbles forward and snarls, “Give ush the girl, and you two can be on yer way.”
“The girl?” I ask, feigning confusion.
“You heard me.”
“And what, exactly, do you want with the girl?” I ask, trying to stall while I figure out a plan.
He steps forward another step—his motion is just off, just a little bit slow. He, at least, shouldn’t be a problem, if it comes to it.
“That’sh none of your conshern! Give her over, and be on yer way!”
“Hmmm,” I say, nodding as if considering his point. “I think her father might disagree with you on that point. I’m fairly certain, in fact, that he would consider this very much my concern.”
“That girl is a evil!” Pipe-man growls. Brawler and Top-heavy sound their agreement. “She’s in league with the Devil!”
I raise an eyebrow. “Well,” I say, “I can’t speak to that, but I’ve found her to be quite pleasant company, so far today.”
“She’s a werewolf!” Declan spits. “I’ve sheen her change with me own eyes!”
I stare at him for a moment, then burst out laughing.
“A werewolf? Fuck, Declan—the publican was right—you have had a few too many, today!”
“Gentlemen,” I continue, to the group, “clearly your friend here has been having his fun with you. I mean, werewolves? Seriously?”
Declan snarls, “It’sh none of your conshern! We will have her, and you”—he jabs his finger towards me—”won’t shtop us.”
Pipe-man backs up Declan’s threat by shifting his pipe out into full view beside him—it’s three feet long, and lead, from the looks of it. His grip tightens on it as he glares at me. I hear Brennan shift his weight forward.
I laugh again, and return my gaze to Declan. My smile slips from my eyes as anger—and fear—jabs upward, but I hold it in as best I can. Declan’s the lynchpin in all of this—if I can dissuade him, the others will follow.
“Okay, okay. Let’s say for a second I do as you ask, and give you the”—I snort—”werewolf. What next? Silver bullets? Wolf’s bane? Beheading? What exactly do you plan on doing next? Hell, do you even have a muzzle for her? I mean, you wouldn’t want her biting one of you, now, would you? You know, turning you into a creature of the night.”—I sneer.—”Fuck, you really haven’t thought this shit through at all, have you?”
I see doubt cross three faces, but not the one I need it to. He steps forward, clenching his fists, and snarls, “That’s not your problem. Give ush the girl. Now!”
I’ve lost. Pipe-man moves over to his side, and Brawler steps forward, too. Top-heavy hangs back, but that won’t last. I feel Brennan loom up near me, to my right, and, this time, I don’t try to stop him.
I glance at Pipe-man—I can take him, I think. If I keep moving. Brennan will be better against Brawler, anyway.
Yeah, and Top-heavy’s just going to wait.
A last desperate thought bubbles up, and I let it out. “Fine, Declan—fine! You want the truth? She is a werewolf. Has the strength of three men, easy. In league with the Devil, all of that.
“But you know what? You’ve got a bigger problem.
“Did you seriously think her father sent her on a roadtrip with a couple of humans?”