“Sorry. I didn’t mean to just barge in.” Snow clung to Leif’s hair, and he brushed it out.
“You didn’t barge in. You know it’s never a problem when you visit,” I smiled at him.
“Nope, no problem at all,” Jack said. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he came into the dining room, and Peter followed more slowly behind.
“Peter.” Leif’s brown eyes widened at him. “I didn’t know you were back.”
“It’s only temporary.” Peter rubbed at his arm, but his eyes had hardened at the sight of Leif.
He’d spent some time with Leif when they’d both been part of the lycan pack, and as far as I know, they’d gotten along. Neither of them ever really talked about what happened there, but like Jack, I don’t think Peter trusted Leif or his intentions here.
I moved closer to Leif. It’d been bad enough when just Jack had been around glaring at Leif, but with him and Peter both doing it, I felt like I had to move to defend Leif somehow.
“Really? Why is that?” Leif asked.
“We have to lay low. I don’t want to trouble the family here,” Peter said, giving away as little as possible.
“You’re in trouble again?” Leif raised an eyebrow.
“Well, Peter isn’t this time.” I cut in with a nervous laugh, attempting to lighten the mood. “He’s just helping out people who are in trouble.”
“Alice, I don’t think he needs to know our problems,” Peter said.
“No, I don’t,” Leif agreed. “But if you need a place to hide out, I might know somewhere.”
“Really?” Peter crossed his arms over his chest. “You know a place here?”
“Yes,” Leif nodded. “I’ve had to hide out myself.”
“What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into, Leif?” Jack asked, his tone only pretending to be light.
With Jack and Peter standing there, glowering at Leif, I decided that I didn’t like them getting along. I’d never really seen them agree on something before, but they’d apparently both decided to hate Leif, and it was really annoying.
“Hey, guys, Leif is offering to help out.” I stepped closer to Leif, almost standing in front of him now to block Jack and Peter’s unflinching stares. “And we need help. I think we should hear him out.”
“Where is this ‘hide out?’” Peter asked, doing air quotes with his fingers, and I rolled my eyes.
“Underground,” Leif said.
“You mean like ‘underground railroad’ underground? Or like six feet under underground?” Jack asked.
“Actually under the ground.” Leif pointed to the floor. “In tunnels.”
“You want us to stay in tunnels?” Peter asked skeptically.
“No. I want you to stay wherever you want to stay,” Leif corrected him. “I’m merely offering a place you can hideout. I’m not sure how much trouble you’re in or how deeply you need to hide, but I know that this will work for whatever your troubles might be.”
Peter didn’t say anything for a minute and exchanged a look with Jack. Peter sighed and nodded.
“Let’s check it out,” Peter said. “We don’t have anything to lose at this point.”
Without bothering to tell anyone where we were going, we all left in the Jetta after a small argument. Jack wanted to take the Delorean, but that would mean taking two cars since it only sat two people. Peter told him to shut up and get in the Jetta, and to my surprise, he did.
I sat in the back with Jack while Leif gave Peter confusing directions to the entrance of the tunnel. Leif didn’t drive, so he knew where things were by foot – cut through lawns and back alleys. Eventually, Peter figured out that Leif was directing him to an area underneath a bridge.
We parked next to the river and had to scale the icy slope to get below the bridge. Leif led us to a narrow hole in the cement wall of the underpass. He went in first, sliding through with ease, but Peter and Jack stood outside, staring at the hole.
“Do you think it’s a trap?” Jack asked, his words barely audible over the sound of the river rushing past us and the cars rushing on the bridge above us.
“I don’t know. It’s a weird trap, if it is,” Peter said, staring thoughtfully at the hole.
“Oh you guys are idiots,” I scoffed. I pushed past them and crawled in through the hole. A chunk of concrete scraped against my back, but I just kept going.
“Alice!” Jack called after me, surprised I’d just gone in, but I didn’t stop.
The tunnel had no light, other than the bit that came in from the hole. I could see, but not as well as I’d like. The walls were brick lined with several rows of thick, black wires. The floor was dirty concrete, and when I stepped inside, I saw vermin scatter, but I couldn’t be sure if it was insects or rats.
“Well, this is sexy,” Jack said once he’d climbed inside. “I can totally see Peter living it up here.”
“This is just the entryway. I’ve got much more to show you.” Leif turned and walked forward.
Peter had barely made it inside, but I followed Leif. Jack stayed right behind me, muttering things about rats and the smell, as we let Leif lead us through the twists and turns of the tunnel.
The brick walls eventually gave way to sandstone halls with arched ceilings. I ran my fingers along the walls, surprised to find that they’d been carved right from the earth. We climbed up a makeshift set of stairs carved into the stone, and we made it to an area that seemed much more habitable.
The floors were smooth concrete, with a small stream running down the center. From the smell of it, I’d guess it was a sewage line. The ceilings were rounded brick, but the halls were much wider than the narrow ones we’d walked through to get here. Dim yellow lights were spaced out along the ceiling, the only lights we’d encountered since we got here.
“I feel like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” I said, stepping over the sewage stream to follow Leif down the tunnel.
“Cowabunga,” Jack said, and I smiled at him. He stepped after me and took my hand in his.
“And here we are.” Leif gestured to an entrance off the side of the tunnel.
Jack squeezed my hand as we walked through the entrance. I think part of him still expected this to be some kind of trap, although I’m not sure why. Leif had been nothing but kind to us, and just because he couldn’t explain it, it didn’t mean Leif was bad.