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“I bet you look great in it,” Lisa smiled. “I love men in uniform.”

Kim rol ed her eyes. “I’m out, too. Let’s go, Nina.”

“Where are we going?” I asked, looking up at her.

“Yeah. Where’re you going?” Ryan said.

Kim tugged on my arm until I stood. “To class, Detective,” Kim said. “That okay?”

Ryan glanced at me, and then shrugged. “Just asking.”

Kim gestured for me to fol ow, and we walked to the parking lot. She glanced up once, but didn’t stop to explain why. Her long legs and quick strides had me struggling to keep up, and I was panting by the time we reached the Sentra.

The light sprinkles stil fal ing from the gray clouds gently disturbed a large puddle near Kim's car. She barreled through it, splashing my jeans with dirty water.

“What’s your hurry?” I asked, annoyed.

“I'm taking you to Quincy. We could talk to my father to see what he knows, and if he knows what I think he does—nothing—we present my idea to Jared.”

“But, I have class!” I protested.

“Jared doesn’t show it around you, Nigh, but he’s desperate. He knows something is coming. They’re planning something, and we’ve got nothing.

We have no idea how to protect you when we don’t know what we’re protecting you from.”

“Demons,” Ryan said. “Isn’t that al we need to know?”

“No,” Kim said. “And you’re not invited.”

“Wel , that’s too bad. Because I’m coming,” he said. He opened the car door behind the passenger side, and slammed it behind him.

Kim looked to me.

“Jared wil fol ow us,” I warned.

“So?” Kim said. “He’ll want to know what my dad has to say…if he says anything.”

I looked around; the Escalade was notably absent. “I haven’t heard from any of them al day.”

“Does being in the dark make you feel better? You should know by now why they keep things from you.”

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” I said, afraid of the answer.

“Just get in the car,” Kim said, settling in behind the wheel.

The drive to Quincy was silent, but when we slowed to a stop in front of a large gate, Ryan and I shared a col ective gasp.

“This is your house?” Ryan asked. Staring in awe at the looming mansion ahead.

“Yep,” Kim said, keying in a code.

The gate opened slowly, and then Kim accelerated slowly. The gravel drive crunched beneath the Sentra's tires.

“No way,” Ryan said, his mouth hung open.

“Yes, way,” Kim said, turning off the engine.

Ryan and I leaned against our windows, amazed at the colossal building in front of us. It wasn’t a home, it was a fortress.

“If you’re so rich, why do you drive this piece of shi—,” Ryan began.

“The Sentra serves her purpose,” Kim interrupted.

I stepped onto the gravel drive. It snaked al the way to the large, detached garage. Her house was bigger than mine, and far more equipped with security. Cameras were mounted on every corner, and the black iron fence blocking general traffic from entering the drive spanned the entire estate.

Two large dogs ran with great leaps, barking wildly until they reached us.

“Hey boys!” Kim said, giving them both loving, vigorous scratches. When the reunion was over, she turned to us. “This is Zeus, and the little one is Hera.”

“Neither of them are little,” Ryan said.

The dogs led us to the front entrance, wagging their tails with such fervor, their entire back half wiggled with the movement.

Kim opened the door, revealing a vast foyer. A smal , round table stood in the center of the room, boasting an incredible vase that held beautiful, long-stemmed flowers.

“Charlie!” Kim bel owed into the air, causing the dogs to bark. “Charlie!” she said again. Her voice echoed across the marble tile.

Two men entered the foyer, both no less than six feet, six inches tal . They were nearly equal in their massive size, and so intimidating that I realized I was unconsciously cowering behind Ryan.

The largest of the two had a ful , brown beard. When his eyes focused on Kim, he held out his arms, and a wide smile broke across his face.

“Boo Boo!” he said, his booming voice reverberating throughout the house.

Kim made her way to him quickly, and as tal as she was, the massive arms that encircled her made her seem tiny. Kim’s feet came off the ground as the man arched his back, and then returned her to earth after a few sweet moments.

“Nigh…Ryan…this is my dad, Charles Pol ock. And this is my uncle Bruce.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, watching as my hand disappeared into each of theirs when I shook them.

Ryan did the same, but he didn’t seem intimidated at al .

“How’s school, Kimmie?” Bruce asked.

“I’m not real y here to catch up. I brought Nina to meet you.”

“Oh?” Charles asked, suddenly suspicious.

Bruce reached behind him, but stopped, looking beyond me.

“Let’s al just relax, here,” Jared said from behind me. I turned to see both of his arms outstretched in front of him, his Glock securely between his hands.

Bruce glanced at Charlie, me, and then at Kim, grudgingly pul ing his sidearm slow and careful from behind him to the ground.

“It’s okay, Bruce,” Kim said.

Jared released the hold he had on his weapon, and then stood beside me, placing it on the table next to him.

Bruce pul ed another gun from his back, pointing it at Jared's face, but then his shoulders dropped. “How many of them are there?” he said.

“Three,” Claire said. I turned to see her in the same stance as Jared. “And if you pul a weapon on us again, I’ll blow your knee cap.”

“Bruce,” Kim said, shaking her head in warning.

Bruce put the second gun down, and then pul ed up his pant leg, revealing another gun. He set al three side by side on the ground, and then stood.

“You sure you don’t want to check the other leg?” Claire asked, her weapon stil drawn.

Bruce sighed, and then reached down, pul ing a rather large hunting knife from a holster. “That’s al of it.”