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Priceless(Rylee Adamson #1)(5) by Shannon Mayer

I blushed. This would not be a good time for her to be more lucid. When she was angry, she could give O’Shea a run for his money.

“Yes, the hospital. I think that’s where they are. Can you help me?” I hoped to just get her inside.

Giselle followed me in through the sliding front doors and up to the reception desk without a word, lowering herself slowly into one of the padded chairs set out for the infirm. I watched her a moment before turning to the clerk. “I’d like to admit my friend. She’s not competent and I think she may be quite sick. Maybe an infection of some sort. She’s been hanging around the neighbors who just got back from Mexico.” That got the clerk’s attention real fast, what with all the upheaval of the Swine flu coming up from down south. Of course, it wasn’t true, but I didn’t want them pissing around with whether or not to admit her and for how long. Just the possibility of Swine flu was an automatic admittance for someone Giselle’s age, and a minimum of a one-week observation around here.

Within moments, they had Giselle under quarantine, settled into a private room, on fluids and a heavy dose of sedatives to keep her quiet.

I stood by her side, mask over my nose and mouth, holding her bare hands with my gloved ones. “I’ll be back as quick as I can,” I whispered, knowing she couldn’t hear me anyway. The week of warmth and good food would help her more than anything else, and having her in the hospital would keep me from worrying when I should be focusing on India.

Leaning in, I gave her a kiss on the cheek through the paper mask, then started out the door.

“Milly will come back, Rylee.”

I spun back toward her. “What?” But her eyes were closed and her breathing was even, her body slumped with sleep. There was nothing more, and again I headed out the door. Maybe I was hearing things, or maybe I was just hearing things I wanted to hear.


Again, I worked my way through the subdivision, this time with a distinctive shadow behind me. A traditional FBI dark-coloured SUV trailing at a distance of no more than three car lengths followed me through all the twists and turns. For now, I ignored them, but at some point I was going to have to do something about them. Damn O’Shea, he was going to make things difficult right off the bat this time.

I pulled up to a small green-trimmed house, a two-story, with a perfectly manicured lawn out front. The only concession to living in a more rural part of the country was the Christmas lights that were still up from last year.

Leaving my Jeep, I made my way around the side of the house and through the perfect, non-rusty gate in the perfectly trimmed white fence. The basement was a separate suite and was rented out to Kyle Jacobs, an eighteen-year old computer geek fresh out of high school who also happened to be the best hacker in town. Make that the best hacker, period.

Not bothering to knock, I let myself right in. If Kyle didn’t know you or didn’t like you, the door would be locked. He had the whole place bugged with cameras and recorders and the door could be locked with a simple remote control he kept with him at his work desk. The kid was more paranoid than an alcoholic who’d “seen” someone looking at them sideways.

The hallway was bare of any personal things; a camera was up in the far corner tracking my movements. I waved at it and Kyle called to me from his workroom.

“Come on in, Rylee.” I followed his voice through the kitchen full of unwashed plates, open chip bags and empty root beer cans into the workroom, what had once been a living room. Computers, at least four that I could see, two laptops, multiple cameras, a crazy amount of wires, and other pieces of electronics I couldn’t identify were set up throughout. I touched nothing, hung back from the equipment. The thing was, the closer I got, the more the technology would act up and I needed it to work.

I made my way to the “client’s” chair and eased myself into it. It had started life as a La-Z-Boy recliner. Now, the handle was broken and the seat tried to suck you in and eat you if you sat down too hard. I’d found that out the first time I’d come for a visit.

“You want a beer?” He held out a can of root beer to me. His blond hair hung just past his pale blue eyes encased in big glasses. He was a cute kid, but looked closer to thirteen than the eighteen he was.

I shrugged, “Sure, pass one over.” I cracked it open, took a sip, and damn near choked. “No wonder you have so much energy, kid.” The sugar rush was immediate, lighting up my adrenaline. I was more than a tad bit sensitive to the stuff, but once in a while I liked to indulge. I put the can on the floor at my feet. There was no way I’d be able to finish it.

Kyle laughed and clicked a button on his mouse. The screen lit up. “The usual, going through police files?”

“Yeah, but I have a tail today so they may be trying to trace your work.”

He spun back to me. “What kind of tail?”


His eyes widened, and he half choked on a mouthful of pop. “What?” He squeaked out.

I nodded, confirming what I’d already said.

“And you came here? Man, I could get so busted for the hacking I do!” He was close to shouting, his eyes even wider behind the glasses.

I shushed him with a wave of my hand. “Have you ever been caught?” I already knew the answer.

“No, but it’s because I’m careful.” Frowning, he stared down at the keyboard. “This could mean jail time, easy. I don’t think I can do this. Not today.”

From past experience, I knew getting angry was a last resort with him. He could be intimidated, but that would make it harder to work with him later on. “Listen, the little girl I’m looking for, she was stolen from the same park as another child.” I paused, debating how much to tell him. Licking my lips, I held my breath, then slowly let it out. “She’s gone missing from the same park as my little sister, same date, same situation. I need this info, Kyle. Please.” I lifted my eyes to his, hoping he could see how important this was. “I have to find her, I can’t lose her after not being able to find . . . .” I swallowed hard, the sudden lump in my throat making it difficult to breathe. Reaching for the can of root beer, I took a swig, wishing it was alcohol and not pop.

His chair squeaked. “So that’s why you do this, huh? I’ve always wondered.”

“My past is not a required discussion for my contacts. You told me cash was all I had to give you.” Putting the can of pop back down at my feet, I spread my hands in front of me. “Are you going to help me?”

Fingers flew across the keyboard. He pulled up surveillance cameras even I didn’t know he had of the whole street and the next one over. Sure enough, at the end of his street sat the SUV, two dark suits inside. I felt like waving to them, knowing it was more than likely O’Shea was one of said dark suits.

Kyle turned back to me. “I thought maybe you were joking. Okay, I guess I was hoping you were messing with me.” His eyes suddenly looked far older than they had just a moment before.

I shook my head. “No, I wasn’t. What will it be? Helping me find this kid, or sending me out on my own?”

He snorted and ran a hand through his straw-coloured hair. “Okay, I can get you in, but as always, we don’t know each other if you get picked up.”

I smiled, relief coursing through me. I put two fingers in the air. “Scouts’ honour.”

I gave him India’s information and within a few minutes he had it pulled up. There in black ‘and white and colour was what I was worried about.

There was always a small chance something got left behind by the kidnappers, even supernaturals f**ked up from time to time. But in this case, there was literally no evidence there had even been a kidnapping other than the fact there was a child missing. No footprints, cloth samples, or eye witnesses to be found, despite the fact she went missing at sunset, just before dark, under her own mother’s care at a busy park. It was exactly like Berget.

Like being transported back in time, I could see my sister on the swing, laughing and squealing, the fading sun turning her hair into a golden nimbus around her head. I was lying on my back, reading my book, glancing up from time to time. Between one pump of her little legs and the next, she was snatched. I closed my eyes against the guilt and pain swelling through me. I wouldn’t let India face the same fate as Berget.

Pushing the memories aside, I thought about the case I was working now. I was definitely going to need some outside help on this one. With Milly out, the closest shaman with any actual ability was in New Mexico. A bit of a drive, but I really had no other choice in the matter.

“You think you can find this kid, even though it’s the same as your sister’s case?”

Kyle’s question caught me off guard. “Yes, I can find her.” I had to believe it. Giselle told me there was time. Scanning the screen, I read through her case. Not a single hint as to what had taken her. Nothing. Yet, if it was truly the same as Berget, I had an idea of what it might be, though not who. Why would the FBI be brought in? Just because there was money involved? Was there a slew of kidnappings going on? A chill ran down my spine. Or maybe there was another reason entirely; maybe they were starting to wonder about the crimes that couldn’t be solved, the ones that were impossible unless supernatural reasons were taken into account. Not that they thought like that.

I pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills and laid five on the table, Kyle’s usual fee. I laid another ten on top, almost half of my deposit from India’s parents. “Can you get me into the FBI’s files?”

Kyle stared at the money, and looked up at me. “Maybe, yeah, I could. But what do they have to do with this? I can’t go hacking the FBI just because you want me to.”

I leaned forward, my hands going to either side of him and effectively pinning him up against his desk. Kyle’s eyes widened and not in a good way.

“I always have a good reason, kid. That doesn’t mean I can always tell you. You don’t get to know everything just because you’re my hacker.” I was always good at the bitch eyes—you know, the drop-dead and leave me alone eyes that every girl acquires at some point or another—and today was no exception. The air crackled between us and I shifted my body so he got a glimpse of one of the blades on my hip.