Gravel crunched under the tires of the car as Leonidas pulled into the auto repair shop that also served as Ellijay's taxi garage. Two of the company's three cars were parked inside the garage, so there was a good chance one of the drivers would remember Alexis. It didn't take much to come to the conclusion she had taken a taxi somewhere. She did not own a car and, as far as Leo knew, she'd left her family's property on foot. There weren't many places to go in Ellijay with its one main street. If Alexis had not left town in a taxi, she would have to be hiding out somewhere in the vast forest of the Rich Mountain Wilderness. If she was in the forest, he would have no problem finding her. No, she would not go to a place where they could both run free in their shifted form. She would choose the city where the overload of sights, sounds and smells would make it difficult to track her.
"Hello?" Leonidas yelled into the empty garage, his voice echoing back to him from the cinder block walls.
A door opened, Leo assumed it was the dispatcher's office, and someone leaned back on a swivel chair through the small opening.
"In here," the man wheeled a squeaky chair into the door frame, and then back out of view.
Two drivers and the dispatcher were sitting at a round table playing cards. The three men sat there, looking at him like he'd interrupted the final seconds of the Super bowl.
"Slow today," one of the men said, not bothering to look up from his cards.
Leo smiled to himself and thought this was just one more good thing about living in such a small town—only one cab company with few employees. They would probably remember every fare.
"Any of you pick up a young woman yesterday, early twenties, short dark hair, brown eyes?"
The three of them looked at each other, then back to Leo. Finally, one of them spoke up.
"You mean, Alexis? Alexis Califan? Naw, we didn't take the fare." The driver turned back to face the other two men sitting at the table, as if the conversation had ended.
"You mind telling me, then, how you know her name if you didn't see her?" The man's insolence, Leo thought, was about to be his death. He thought about how easy it would be to reach over and squeeze the man's neck until his head popped like a scum bubble. For a moment, Leo considered this poor mortal's ignorance and felt a smile stretching across his face. But the feeling was lost when he realized that he was the one hiding his true identity amongst this world of weaklings. He had always wondered how his entire pack managed to live amongst these fully human townsfolk for so long without killing them off or turning them.
"We didn't take her, but John McGowan did. He's out on a call right now, but that's all he talked about this morning."
"Any chance you know where he took her?" Leonidas asked.
"Oh yeah, of course," the man answered without looking up from his card game. "He picked her up at the stand on main street yesterday, early afternoon. I think he drove her all the way to Dalton. Greyhound station, I think. I know he was pretty excited, she gave him an eighty dollar tip on a hundred and twenty dollar fare."
"Thanks," Leonidas was, genuinely pleased he managed to spare their lives. "And tell John I said hey. We knew each other in high school."The three men had already turned in their seats, continuing their card game. He got into his car and pointed it west down main street. Next stop, Dalton, Georgia. With luck, he'd be at the Greyhound station within an hour, and then he would know where Alexis thought she could run to. Chances were good that she was on her way to her college stomping grounds in Atlanta. Wherever she had gone, he would track her down and bring her back. Whether she came back in his car, or a plastic bag, he had not yet decided. After making sure she headed to Atlanta on the Greyhound, he would go home, gather a few things, and leave before first light the next day. Alexis would be back in Ellijay for lunch.