“Visitors!” a deep voice called out.
Dixon, Marshall, and Jerrett, with Bane following, joined the mix. Each of the men held his blade. Collectively, they surrounded four young women, one of whom stepped to the fore.
“You can’t hold us,” she said.
Mara neared her. “No, of course not.” She motioned for the men to step back.
Bane drew closer, sniffed at the girls’ heels, and then, with his hackles raised, growled.
When they jumped at the sound, Mara caught Jerrett’s eye. “Call him off, will you?” she asked him before turning back. “All right now, what are your names?”
“I’m Birdie,” the first of them said, “and this is Sugar,” she pointed to one of her friends, “and Echo, and Trixie,” she identified her remaining companions with a nod toward each of them.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Mara’s brow rose, even as she choked back a laugh. “Seriously? Those are your real names?”
Birdie made a face at her. “What do you want with us?”
“I want to know what you’re doing out here.”
She sneered. “It’s none of your concern.”
“What are you? All of . . . fourteen years old?” Mara asked. “Fifteen, maybe? What are you doing out here by yourselves? Where are your parents?”
“Like I said, that’s ‘none of your concern.’”
Mara looked Dixon’s way. “What happened?”
He stepped to her side. “I saw them in the distance,” he whispered in her ear, “with my attendant magic. Bane, approaching them at the time, informed Jerrett who was with me, via his magic link to him, of their presence. The girls were headed this way—and we didn’t know what to expect. So we got Marshall, and then the three of us brought them in so that we could question them. Honestly, we had no idea they were so young.”
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