Shadow of the Moon (Chapter Five)

I narrowed my eyes. "Yours, as in you built it, own it, run it?"

His lips curved. "Yes."

"You look kind of young to fund a place like this."

"My ancestors put away quite a bit of money."

"Lucky you."

I didn't like him, and I wasn't sure why. But as I'd learned to trust my instincts, I didn't lower my gun. Will didn't either.

"Name?" I snapped.

My annoyance only seemed to amuse him, which annoyed me more. "Dr. Jeremy Zachau. And you are?"

I glanced at Will; he shrugged. We always have a cover story prepared before we go on a job – a cover Edward makes certain will hold up to any scrutiny.

"We're with the Department of Natural Resources. There've been reports of rabid wolves in the area."

He lifted one sandy brow. "And why would the wolves be inside my clinic?"

"Yeah, why would they?"

"Because they're boxenwolves."

I blinked, and my gun dipped. I'd never had anyone actually admit to what they were doing without a little "encouragement."

"Who are you?" I asked. "And I don't mean your name. What are you up to here and why? How do you know about boxenwolves?"

"I created them."

Inventing a new kind of creature was never good.

"I'll be happy to tell you everything, Jessie."

I frowned. "How did you know–?"

"Did you really think your feeble DNR lie would fool me?"

It had fooled everyone else.

Zachau's hair fell in a charming tousle over his unlined forehead. I suddenly wanted to shoot him with silver just to see if he caught fire.

"You're Jessie McQuade, one of Herr Mandenauer's best hunters."

"You know Edward?"

"My grandfather did."

"And who was your grandfather?"

"His name is unimportant. His work is what matters. He spent his final days in a laboratory in the Black Forest."

"Mengele," I muttered.

"Oh, I'm not related to that great man. I only wish that I was."

"You say great man, I say psychopath." I shrugged. "Tomato. To-ma-toe."

Anger flashed in Zachau's eyes. "Mengele was brilliant. A visionary."

"He was an insane, elitist pig who killed people because they were different."

Zachau shrugged. "In the advancement of science, sacrifices must be made."

My trigger-finger began to itch.

"Jessie," Will warned.

"Yeah, yeah." I tried to relax, but it wasn't easy. "Mengele wasn't advancing science," I continued, "he was building a werewolf army."

"He did build one."

Which was how Edward had become . . . well, Edward. Back in WW2 he had been a double agent, assigned to discover just what in hell the "great man" was up to in the Black Forest. Unfortunately, Edward hadn't found out quickly enough. By the time he reached Mengele's lab, the doctor had panicked at the incoming allied invasion and released everything he'd created into the world. Edward had been chasing them ever since.

"I've perfected his formula," Zachau said.

I went cold, even though the temperature in the clinic had been set to steam bath.

"Perfected how?" Will asked. He was always the voice of reason. Thank God. Someone had to be.

"My wolves look like wolves, without the human eyes to alert the hunters. And silver doesn't hurt them."

"What does?" I asked. Zachau merely laughed.

"Your formula isn't all that perfect," Will pointed out. "It makes people insane. Or were they insane to begin with?"

Zachau stopped laughing. "I'm still tweaking."

"You didn't answer the question."

"My subjects were not insane to start with, and they won't be insane once I'm finished with them."

Werewolves that couldn't be killed with silver or recognized as werewolves by their human eyes was bad. Once Zachau set them loose on the world, rather than keeping them in little white rooms, there'd be no stopping them.

Usually, I shot whatever confused me. But shooting Zachau would be murder and shooting the boxenwolves with silver wouldn't do a damn bit of good.

Now what?

"Once the formula is tweaked to your satisfaction," Will said, "what then?" Will always had just the right question.

"I'll become a boxenwolf myself, of course."

"Of course," I repeated. "Who wouldn't want to run around on all fours, wag their tail, drool a bit?"

Zachau scowled. "Who wouldn't want to be immortal?"

"You got big plans for eternity?" I asked.

"More than you could imagine."

I could imagine quite a bit.

"Put down the guns," Zachau ordered.

Let's see . . . We had them; he didn't. "No."