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“Bluberry Hill?” Duvan asked, “You want to cut through the woods?”

“Yes,” Gabrielle said decisively. “I need to get home to Adriel. He was asleep when I left so I didn’t tell him I was leaving. He’s probably worried sick.”

“Where do you live? Do we have to go through the woods?”

“Mistic View Court, over by the ball fields. I don’t want the cops to stop us. If they do it could take forever to get back home. They can fricking wait until after I take care of Adriel!”

“Ah! I know where the ball fields are. I play football- er, soccer- there with my friends, but I cannot see in the dark. I don’t think I can make it through the woods in the night without a light and I don’t have one.”

“Plus the cops would see us if you did. Crap! Then what? I need to get home; now!”

“No doubt the police will start from where I called in the 911 call; down by Redland and Baederwood? If we cut through some yards we can skirt the woods and then make our way through the back yards of the fancy houses. If there are no fences to get in the way.”

“Or dogs,” Gabrielle added.

“Yes,” Duvan agreed, taking her elbow and leading them north and away from the crime scene, “or dogs. You can be a lot of trouble, you know that MS Gabrielle?” he added with a chuckle.

“So I’ve been told. How’s your head?”

“Bleeding, thank you. Here, we’re going to turn left on this court and then we can stay in shadow of the woods.”

“I’m sorry, Duvan. I thought you were one of the attackers.”

“Don’t worry about it! You just surprised me. You are very powerful. Here,” he said, grasping her arm more forcefully, “we are leaving the pavement. We need to be very careful.”

“And very quiet,” she answered.

Leaving the sidewalk they crept quietly past a large house and made their way between it and another stately home. The house to their right was huge and had an outbuilding that lay in the path they needed to travel. Walking slowly in the unlit darkness Duvan let out an unexpected yelp.

“What is it?” Gabrielle whispered furiously.

“A light came on. Probably just a motion detector. We’re well off the road now.”

“Good. No dogs, that’s good.”

“That’s very good,” he agreed.

The spotlights from the outbuilding pointed southward and blinded Duvan just a bit as they made their way northward. He held up his hand to shield his eyes from the glare and once they were past the light he whispered, “Uh-oh. Looks like a fence,” as he stopped them in their tracks. “Hang on.” After a moment he said, “Definitely a fence. If we go left maybe we can skirt it and not go too deep into the woods. If we go right we’ll be visible from the street.”

“Sounds like we go left then. Hey, I don’t think I’ve thanked you yet, have I?”

“No, maybe not. It’s okay. That is what friends are for. I am just very glad that I came along and could help, even if you are a pain in the ass,” he added, nudging her gently with his elbow.

“Yeah, thanks. Let’s just get me home and then see what we can do to get this whole mess cleared up.”