Valiant Page 45

’’They are avoiding me.’’ Valiant walked to the cart to remove the lids on the plates.

Tammy frowned. ’’Why would they do that?’’

’’I frighten them. I\m not,’’ he shrugged, ’’social.’’

’’You mean because you roared at them last night when they stared at me?’’

’’Yes. Exactly.’’ He nodded. ’’Let\s eat.’’

Tammy and Valiant moved the food to the coffee table. Someone had sent a few different drinks. Tammy lunged for the chocolate milk. Valiant made an unpleasant face.

’’What\s that look for?’’

’’That stuff is disgusting.’’

’’Chocolate milk?’’

He nodded. ’’It makes me sick.’’

She hesitated. ’’Oh. I see.’’

’’What do you see?’’

’’Well, I had a dog once. He ate a candy bar and threw up. It\s probably that animal DNA of yours. I love chocolate.’’

’’I\m not a dog.’’

She managed not to laugh at his horrified expression at the mere thought of being accused of something he obviously thought was insulting. She found it cute. ’’You\ e a lion. I bet chocolate makes lions sick too. It probably doesn\ agree with your stomach.’’

He set the plate of meat in front of him. Tammy noticed for the first time what had been brought to him for breakfast. She couldn\ help but stare. Four thick, partially cooked steaks dominated the plate, nothing else, and they were really rare. Blood pooled under them as though it were gravy.

’’That\s what you eat? Is that even cooked inside?’’ She managed not to shiver with dread.

He took a bite. Tammy verified the meat was almost raw after he bit into it. She forced her eyes away. Valiant ate barely seared meat. She studied her food, grateful she\d ended up with a typical breakfast of bacon, hash browns, scrambled eggs and toast. She wouldn\ have touched them if they\d brought her mostly raw steaks.

’’Do you want some? It\s good.’’

She shook her head. ’’It\s all yours. I only eat my steaks cooked all the way through and with some steak sauce. A nice baked potato to go with it too.’’ She hesitated and glanced at his plate. ’’How many pounds of meat do you eat in one sitting?’’

He shrugged. ’’A few.’’

’’Is that all you eat?’’

’’No. I eat deer too. Cows are good. I enjoy chicken and pork but I want them cooked more. Fish raw is excellent. I catch them with my hands from the river. I will catch you some when we move to my house. You probably want them cooked though.’’

She just nodded. Man, I\m so totally not going to watch him eat. She forced her attention to her plate and kept it there while she finished her meal. She tried not to glance at Valiant.

The doorbell chimed again about fifteen minutes later. Valiant opened the door. Tammy set her empty plate on the tray and smiled as Sheriff Greg Cooper walked inside the suite. Two New Species officers flanked him, obviously escorts. The sheriff smiled back at Tammy.

’’You\ e looking much better, Tam.’’ He peered around the suite with a whistle. ’’And they are sure taking good care of you. Nice place. Fancy.’’

’’Thank you. Would you like to sit down?’’ Tammy smiled at the security officers. ’’All of you?’’

The two New Species shook their heads and remained standing by the door they had closed. Sheriff Cooper walked to one of the chairs to drop into it. Tammy sat on the couch. Valiant took a seat next to her.

’’You need me to make a statement, right?’’

Sheriff Cooper reached into his pocket. ’’Actually, that was kind of taken care of already. They,’’ he glanced at Valiant, ’’are very efficient. I just need you to read it and sign this if it\s accurate.’’

’’Oh.’’ Tammy accepted the papers and unfolded them. She started to read. Someone had typed out an account of what had happened, most of it anyway, minus the stuff about the doctor who ordered the men to take her or any mention of an informant. Some of it wasn\ quite precise but it was all damning for the four men.

Valiant stood and walked away. He returned quickly and handed Tammy a pen. ’’Here. Sign it with that.’’ His features were grim.

Tammy nodded and signed the last page. She handed the statement back to the sheriff. ’’Here you go.’’

’’It\s all correct? I take it they interviewed you already?’’

She nodded. New Species had written it up and she trusted them. ’’Yes. It\s perfect.’’

’’How are you feeling today? You look good. The bruising on your face isn\ as bad as I thought it would be.’’

’’I\m feeling a hundred percent better. One of their doctors came by last night to give me pain medication and examined me.’’

Valiant rose to his feet. ’’I\ll get you the pills. You ate.’’ He walked out of the room.

Sheriff Cooper leaned forward and whispered, ’’Are you good here? You can leave with me if you want to.’’

’’I\m great.’’ Tammy smiled at him. ’’I have to call Ted though to tell him I won\ be to work for a few days.’’

Sheriff Cooper leaned back with a grimace. ’’What happened is all over town. You know how it is. Ted called me first thing this morning wanting to know if the rumors were true. I told him what happened and where you were. I wasn\ sure how long you\d be out here.’’ He paused. ’’Your friends would appreciate it if you would call them. Tim was especially worried about you. He tried to call you here but they told him you weren\ accepting phone calls.’’

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