A tiny groan escaped Nikki as Kathryn turned the truck down the long street that dead-ended behind the Storm Shelter. She sank down a little in her seat, bit her lip and looked out the side window. Kathryn could see Nikki's reflection in the window as they drove past a dark brick building. Her expression shifted several times in those few seconds Kathryn could spare from driving. Biting her lips, her eyes flicking in all directions, a flush that waned to paleness in a matter of heartbeats, muscles clenching in her jaw. What did she feel? Something between embarrassment, laughter, anger and that terror that kept glinting in her eyes at the oddest times.
Kathryn kept her silence until they pulled up at the Storm Shelter's back entrance. The big steel double doors hung wide open, as they always did from dawn's first light to the last rays of sunset in warm weather. Bea whimpered, sat up in the back compartment and stuck her head between the seats to look toward the door.
"Okay, Bea. Go find Margie," Kathryn said as she put the truck into park, killed the engine and opened the door. She barely got out of the driver's seat before the big Akita yipped and leaped over the seat, out the door, and hit the pavement running.
"Guess she likes it here, huh?" Nikki muttered, still looking out the side window.
"You don't, though. Why?" She put one booted foot up on the doorframe and rested both hands on the seat.
"I just left this place this morning," the girl admitted after a long pause that throbbed through the mid-afternoon quiet.
"Uh huh." Kathryn shivered as pieces fell together in her mind.Margie had been delighted when she called to say she was stopping by on her way home. The Storm Shelter's director said she had a special case she wanted Kathryn to consider. She knew the woman well enough to know that Margie would have told her she had found Nikki -- so the silence was a good indication Margie didn't remember the girl from meeting her in February. So why, if Nikki had tried to get help at the Storm Shelter before, asking for Joan and Margie by name, didn’t she use that connection when she returned?