Perceptions (Book 4)

Perceptions (Book 4)

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Mom followed me until I signaled a halt. We stepped out of sight into an alcove. “He’s watching the deli from across the street. White Eagle will be nearby. Our guy is young and inexperienced. I’ll go snap his picture and send it to you both. Are you ready, Mom?”
“Do I have a choice?” she asked in a resigned voice. “You know I’ll be fine once the action starts. I don’t do well with anticipation.”
“Yeah, I know, but you’ll be fine,” I answered, giving her a hug. I quickly unbuttoned and pulled off my dress shirt, tossed it to Mom and put on my shades. I ruffled up my hair and hunched my shoulders. I made use of my environment as urban camouflage and made my way over to our target using a circuitous route. I did a quick check and it felt like his attention was still on the deli, waiting for us to exit.
I turned my gift back off so our uninvited guest wouldn’t feel me coming and edged toward him. I scanned the area and eliminated all three women and an older man. Then I caught movement near a tree. A young guy with a backpack was holding a skateboard. He was slender, creating the illusion of more height than he actually had. His over-large feet were jammed into skate shoes giving him the look of a growing puppy. His dark hair was cut close to his scalp. Heavy brows loomed over his dark, deep-set eyes. His ears were gauged so far out that I couldn’t believe the flesh could withstand the strain. He pulled off his ball cap and wiped sweat from his forehead using the edge of his raggedy rock band t-shirt. The hair on the top of his head was so long, it covered his eyes. The jeans he wore had a split at the knee and were shredded at the bottoms where the hems had once been. He wore them low on his hips, showing me a flash of white skin and a tattoo as he swiped at the sweat. The mark was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I snapped several shots and tried to get what I could of his ink. I sent the images to the gang, including Marlo asking him to start the identification process as soon as possible.
I waited and watched from my hiding place behind a planter. The kid was nervous. His body vibrated with barely contained energy as his fingers beat a rhythm against his thigh. As I continued to observe him I realized he really wasn’t a kid. He was older than me, maybe nineteen to about twenty-two but he was green. I’d been doing this for three years and I knew that no experienced watcher would act like this. We learn to hide and blend or we die.
Mom and White Eagle texted me back almost simultaneously. I edged a little closer to our guy and sensed the area again to see if he had any dark company. I saw him flinch and look around. I knew he felt my gift wash over him – it probably made his skin prickle and the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He caught sight of me but it was too late. I was on him. He twisted away from me and made to run but he saw Mom coming at him with a determined look. He spun away from her and faced White Eagle. He threw down his board and tried to make a break for it past Mom, but she was ready for him, turning sideways just in time so he couldn’t knock her down and delivering a blow between his shoulder blades, sending him sprawling onto the ground. Nice!
He started to scrabble to his feet but I was quicker and tackled him before he even had a chance to fully rise. He struggled until I gave him a jab to the kidney. He cursed and squirmed. I jumped up so that Mom and White Eagle could haul him to his feet, with his arms wrenched behind him. I grabbed his board and we quick-marched him around the nearest corner before we drew any more attention. Mom stepped back as White Eagle thrust him up against the wall for me to pat him down. I tossed his cell to Mom and pulled off his backpack. He tried to fight but White Eagle’s forearm pressed against his throat slowed him down. He tried to kick me but I was too fast for him and kicked his feet out from under him so that he was momentarily suspended by White Eagle. Not a place I’d ever want to be.
“Don’t make this harder than it has to be,” I snarled at him.
“Screw you,” was his intelligent reply. I just shook my head.
“Text them, please,” I said to Mom. She got busy with her smart phone and then snapped a couple of close-ups for Marlo.
I turned and growled to the newbie watcher, “Who are you? And why are you spying on us?”
He gave us a defiant look, twisted and tried to drain White Eagle, who caught his wrist before his hand connected and snapped it back. “Answer him.” His voice was filled with menace. White Eagle can be an imposing guy when he wants to be.
The young dark watcher raised one side of his upper lip in a snarl making the scar by his mouth pucker.
“Who sent you?” I queried, giving him my best scowl.
“You don’t scare me. I’m not telling you anything!” he sneered.
I squinted at him, deep in thought. Did I have the stomach for this? Did I have it in me to be cruel? Could I torture him for information and still live with myself? If I did, I would be no better than they were. Where was the line and should I cross it?
A slow smile spread over his unshaven face where a scraggly beard showed in uneven patches. “You won’t do it. You don’t have what it takes. You won’t do what has to be done to get what you need. You’re… moral,” he said with disgust like I’d personally offended him. “You’re weak. The good guys usually are. They follow the rules. They can’t do what needs to be done!”
“Shows what you know!” Lucie came out of nowhere to deliver a perfectly executed upper cut to his jaw. Skater dude sagged in White Eagle’s grip, semiconscious as we all turned to stare at Lucie.
“What?” Lucie asked defensively. “We didn’t have all day. Somebody go get the van and let’s take him somewhere we can really question him.”
Mom snapped out of it first, reached into White Eagle’s pocket for the keys and sprinted off.
“Lucie dear, if you’re feeling upset from the proceedings maybe we should talk and not… um, take out our aggressions on others,” Sarah said with quiet dignity.
Lucie smiled at her, a rather sick smile that came nowhere near her eyes. “And I don’t think we should assume he isn’t dangerous. Until we know who he is and what he wants… I consider him a threat.” She shook out her hand as she spoke.
“Did you hurt yourself?” I asked with a huge grin.
A real smile broke across Lucie’s face. “I failed to make ‘good fist’. Sorry, White Eagle.”

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