Blue Moon (Chapter 29)
College algebra, biology, and intro to Indian studies. Before I even opened her notebook and peeked at the course list, I knew.
Tina had been in Cadotte's class. How was that for a coincidence?
I spent the rest of my shift driving around, handling the usual. Speeding, reckless driving, bloody bar fight – all in a night's work. I could deal with them in my sleep, which was lucky, since I was pretty damn distracted.
Memories swirled though my mind, little things and big, followed by questions. By the time I got off and went home, I was a mess. Had I been screwing a werewolf? Thank goodness we'd used protection. I certainly didn't want any puppies – or would that be cubs?
On my way up the stairs to my apartment I started to giggle; then I couldn't stop. I passed my landlord, Mr. Murphy. Still snickering, I nodded in lieu of hello.
"What's so funny?" He smiled along with me.
"Puppies," I managed between desperate attempts to catch my breath.
His smile disappeared immediately. "You know there are no dogs allowed in this building."
I couldn't help it; I erupted with laughter. Waving good-bye, I escaped into my apartment. This was all just too ridiculous.
Once inside, however, I sobered. As much as I hated the concept of woo-woo, I couldn't deny that something weird was going on in Miniwa.
Only fools ignored the evidence, and I liked to think of myself as one step above a fool, at the very least.
I sat down and listed all that I knew to be true.
Karen Larson bitten by a wolf. Loses her mind and rips out the throat of her principal. Despite her having her brains blown out, both she and the principal disappear.
The evidence gathered from the scene of the Larson accident vanishes from the evidence room of the Miniwa police station.
Someone breaks into Cadotte's office and ransacks the place, taking nothing.
Mel Gerard bitten. Rabies vaccine administered. Dies of as yet undetermined causes, with strange changes in the body.
Tina Wilson turns up missing. But the key to her apartment is found next to a wolf bonfire in the woods.
I watch the shadow of a man become the shadow of a wolf on the wall of a cave.
Sitting back, I chewed my lip and examined the evidence, none of which made much sense. However, when I combined facts and fantasy a clearer picture emerged.
Obviously Clyde had not used silver on Karen Larson. Hence her ability and that of her principal to get up and walk out of the morgue. Or perhaps her change had merely been delayed as Mandenauer had predicted and she'd run out of the place on all fours.
The disappearance of the evidence from the police station indicated the involvement of the department.
The ransacking of Cadotte's office led me to believe someone had been searching for the totem. But why had they been searching there? Again, police involvement was indicated – unless someone was following me. Also a possibility.
If I believed Mandenauer's claim that the rabies vaccine had killed Mel, then there could be something to his theory of lycanthropy. If Mel had had rabies, he should have been cured, not killed.
If I believed Mandenauer that far, why not go the entire way and buy into a Nazi werewolf army? I wouldn't put it past them.
So who was a werewolf and who wasn't? It was impossible to tell, unless I shot everyone with silver. I wasn't willing to do that. Yet.
Sunlight filled the room. I should be in bed, but 1 wasn't the least bit tired. I got out of my uniform and into my swimming suit. Then I tossed what passed as a purse for me – a small plastic makeup case sans makeup, with just enough room for a few personal necessities, my keys and my ID – into a gym bag along with a towel, some water, my gun of course, the totem – I wasn't letting the thing out of my sight – and headed for my pond.
I needed the exercise. I needed the release. I needed the peace of my own special place just to think.
Theoretically I should be safe – it was broad daylight.
Half an hour later as I swam back and forth, back and forth, across the pond I pondered some more.
Who could I trust? Mandenauer said no one, but he could be nuts for all I knew. I certainly didn't trust him. No more than I trusted Cadotte.
Closing my eyes, I remembered the big, sleek black wolf I'd encountered the first night I'd hunted with Man-denauer. The way the animal had moved reminded me of Cadotte. Or maybe it was the other way around.
I swam until my head stopped spinning, pushing myself until all I could think about was the next stroke, the next kick. The sun was warm first on my back, then on my face. Peace settled into my soul. This was what I had come here for.
When I couldn't drag myself any farther, I crawled out of the water and sat on the bank, trailing my toes along the surface.
The sounds of nature surrounded me – bees buzzing, birds twittering. A frog splashed into the pond on the far side. A fish flipped its tail in the center. I rooted around in my bag for my water, tilted my head, drank.
And the forest went silent.
I swallowed what was left in my mouth, but my tongue was still dry. I lowered my head, and my eyes scanned the tree line just as he stepped out of the woods.
He was as naked as he'd been the first time I'd seen him. As he walked across the meadow separating us, the birds started to sing again. A crow swooped nearly down to his head, then up to the treetops. He didn't notice. His gaze was focused on me.
I watched him walk and was reminded again of the wolf. Loose hips, long strides.
I frowned with a sudden memory. His hip. The night I'd met him he'd had a nasty bruise there.
Again I experienced the mythical click in my head of a puzzle piece. I'd forgotten about the bruise, since it bore no relationship to anything. Unless you considered a wolf could become a man. And what if that wolf had just been tapped by the bumper of a great big SUV? Would the man then bear the bruise?
Keeping my eyes on Cadotte, I let my hand slide over to my gun. He stopped several feet away.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Don't you want to see me?"
"I'm seeing quite a bit of you. Where're your clothes?"
He glanced down, blinked as if he was as surprised to see all of him as I was. "I was working out."
"You work out in the buff?"
I swept my free hand down my body to indicate my perfectly modest one-piece swimming suit.
He shrugged. "I was practicing my tai chi."
The ripple of lean muscle beneath his skin, the shine of the sun across his belly, his shoulders, his hair, was making me forget I should probably shoot him.
"Was that what you were doing the night we met?"
How convenient. Too bad I wasn't buying it.
"You were practicing at four in the morning?"
"I couldn't sleep."
Because he'd been chasing – something – through the woods and been hit by a car.
"How did you know where I was?"
"I didn't. I called." He looked away as if embarrassed. "All your numbers. When you didn't answer I thought you might be here. So I walked over."
I glanced at the trees, gauged the direction and distance.
"You walked five miles naked?"
"For you I'd walk a hundred."
He was acting strange – too nervous and shy for Ca-dotte. What was the matter with him? Was I right in my assumption? And if so, what was I going to do about it?
He didn't give me a chance to think. Suddenly he was moving toward me and my gun was pointed at his chest. He froze, lifted his eyes from the barrel to my face.
"Are you a werewolf, Cadotte?"
His eyes widened. He was either very good at feigning surprise or truly surprised. "Yesterday you called me insane for suggesting there were such things in the world. Today you accuse me of being one. Tough day at the office, dear?"
Now that was more like him. I smiled. "You have no idea."
"Want to tell me about it?"
"Want to answer my question?"
"Why in hell would I tell you about them if I were one of them?"
"That's not an answer. That's another question."
Cadotte and Mandenauer had more in common than I would have thought.
He sighed, "I am not a werewolf."
"Like you'd tell me if you were."
"Good point." He flicked a finger at the gun. "Now what?"
"I could shoot you and see if you die."
"I'll take Door Number Two."
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to put down the gun and make love in the sun. I wanted to believe that the only man who'd ever made me scream and writhe and want him over and over and over again wasn't a werewolf – so I did.
He must have seen surrender in my face, because he began to walk toward me again. I lowered the gun.
He threw back his head, howled like a wolf, and charged.
I was so shocked I just sat there, expecting to die. He did a cannonball into the pond and drenched me.
I waited for his head to surface. Instead, something wound around my ankle and yanked. My shriek became a gurgle as I sucked pond water.
He could have drowned me. He could have done anything and I couldn't have stopped him. My gun was on the bank. I was at his mercy. I didn't mind.
Before we even surfaced his mouth was on mine, the heat a contrast to the coolness of the water. His tongue tickled my lips.
We broke past the surface and into the sun. I tore my mouth free and breathed deeply. He took the opportunity to run his lips down my neck and lick the water from the tops of my breasts.
Near the middle he could stand; I could not. But he held my head above water with his hands at my waist.
"What's with the howl?" I demanded.
"Wolf clan." He shrugged. "I do it sometimes for fun."
His idea of fun and mine were worlds apart.
"Do you ever swim in the nude?" he asked.
He didn't give me a chance to answer, just slipped the straps off my shoulders and yanked. The suit stuck at my hips.
"Not as easy as it looks, huh?"
He shrugged and gave another mighty tug. Suddenly my swimming suit was gone. Really gone.
"Hey! Give that back!"
"Sorry, lost it."
I blinked. "You mean – "
"Yep. Bottom of the pond. Good riddance."
"That's my favorite suit."
"No offense, but it's butt ugly."
"That's because my butt's ugly. The suit covered it nicely."
His hands slid from my hips to my ass. "Your butt isn't ugly. There isn't anything ugly about you. I'm going to buy you a new suit. One that suits you." He smiled.
"I'm glad you amuse yourself."
He lifted, then plunged into me in one smooth thrust. I squeaked in surprise and clutched his shoulders.
"Wait, wait." But he was rocking against me, not pulling out, just rocking. Slow, deep, pushing against a part of me so rarely touched before. There was something I had to do, but I couldn't think.
"That's it," he murmured against my breasts. Soft kisses, gentle licks, and a tiny, soft nibble on the nipple. "That's it."
"Puppies," I muttered, and shoved him away with all my strength.
I had no delusions that he couldn't keep me right where he wanted me. He was stronger than I was. But he let me go.
"Puppies? Is that some new form of curse word?"
"Uh. Yeah. I'm trying to cut down."
He reached for me again and I slid out of his reach. "What's the matter, Jessie? You can't actually think I'm a werewolf. You don't believe in them, remember?"
He was right. I didn't believe in woo-woo. There was another explanation for all that had happened, everything I'd seen. If I kept on searching, I'd find it. The world was black-and-white. Had to be. I didn't know how to deal with it any other way.
While I'd been thinking, he'd gotten close again. Damn, he was fast – by land and by sea. His hand slid around my waist and he pulled me to him. "Talk to me." He nuzzled my neck, took a bit of my skin into his mouth, and sucked.
His erection pressed against me. My legs widened, wrapped around his hips. Damn, I was doing it again.
"Protection," I managed. "I don't have anything with me and I can bet you don't, either."
He cursed and the word wasn't puppies. Our foreheads touched as he sighed.
"Sorry. I've never been irresponsible. Not once. But you make me crazy, Jessie. I see you and all I can think about is being inside of you."
As if to prove the point, his penis shifted and pulsed against me. I groaned. His hands clenched at my hips, and I tensed, prepared to get physical if he tried anything again without a condom. He'd never had sex without one, and neither had I, which took care of one worry. Puppies aside. Luckily all he did was lift me out of the water and onto the bank.
The slight breeze played along my wet, naked skin and I shivered. I groped for my towel, but his hand wrapped around my wrist.
"Not yet." His fingers tightened. He wasn't hurting me, but I let the towel go.
I sat on the bank. He stood in the water. His mouth was level with my hips, which gave me an interesting idea.
"Lie back," he murmured.
Huh, great minds do think alike.