Shadow of the Moon (Chapter Two)

"I understand why this is a concern," I said, "but why is it our concern?"

Mandenauer's influence was far-flung. Having the U.S. government behind him, albeit secretly, meant he not only had access to a lot of resources but also to a lot of funding. His spidery webs reached all over the place. Every odd report was tagged and sent to Jager-Sucher headquarters in Montana, where Edward's right hand woman, Elise, would dispatch agents to check out what was happening and, if necessary, eliminate it.

"I can't find anything on the internet about this," Will murmured.

"Do you think I would let it become common knowledge?"

Not only was Edward sent any odd report, but he possessed the resources to squash the information. All we needed was for a town to be taken over by werewolves and have the media show up. This would not only generate a panic but some very nasty news reporters.

Come to think of it, maybe Edward had slipped up a time or two already.

"What is it about Riverview that rated a notice being sent to headquarters?" I asked.

Edward gave a nod of approval at my question that would have had me preening, if I was the type to preen.

"Though the insane gibber madly, there is one word that makes sense." Edward glanced from me to Will and back again before continuing. "Boxenwolf."

He said the word with a German twist. I still knew what it meant. "Werewolf."


Considering a great portion of the population in Wisconsin was of German extraction, I didn't find it surprising that the term boxenwolf might be bandied about. But by those who'd lost their minds, and all in the same town . . . That begged a few more questions.

"Has anyone gotten up and walked out of the morgue after a horrific and bloody death? Torn out a few throats, drank some blood, started baying at the full moon through their brand new snout?"

"Not yet."

"You said this has been going on for months."

Mandenauer dipped his chin. "Several full moons have come and gone, but none of the afflicted have become a demon werewolf."

Though a lot of werewolf lore was B.S., that stuff about shifting beneath the full moon was not.

"Perhaps the gibbering people only saw a werewolf, they weren't turned into one," Will suggested.

I'd seen plenty of werewolves; sure they were scary, especially when they gazed at you with the eyes of someone you knew, someone you loved. But just seeing them shouldn't turn a normal human being into an insane inmate of a little white room.

"The two of you must go to Riverview and discover what is happening," Edward said.

"And when we do?"

His faded blue eyes met mine; not a spec of emotion shone through. "Need you ask?"

Not really. The rules of Edward's world, and now my own, were simple.

Monsters are shot with silver. Human beings are not.

Determine which is which before shooting.

* * *

Riverview was a three-hour drive northeast from Miniwa, which put us very close to Upper Michigan.

What Edward had referred to as a village was, in reality, a town the size of Miniwa, maybe a little larger, which made it a decent-sized town. To sport a psychiatric facility with enough rooms to accommodate over half the residents it would have to be.

We'd been told to go straight to the clinic, and it wasn't hard to find. On a ridge at the center, Riverview Psychiatric dominated the town.

"I guess we don't have to worry about the homicidally crazy wandering into the maternity ward," I murmured.

A load off my mind. I hated it when the beasties got too close to small, helpless things. Nothing ever went very well after that.

But while I was glad the facility was psych only, I also found it odd such a hospital existed way out in the wilderness. Before the sudden outbreak of the crazies, who had inhabited all those beds?

The building was surrounded by thickset evergreens, not unusual in this part of the country. Smaller towns were often the remnants of lumber camps, which had sprung up in the middle of mammoth forests.

Such forests were where the wolves lived, and because of that isolation oftentimes no one noticed the beasts were becoming more numerous, more aggressive and a helluva lot smarter until it was too late.

The parking lot was full of cars, but there was no one at the reception desk to greet us. Weird. Places like this always had a receptionist, if not a security guard or two.

"Hello?" Will called.

No one answered.

"Hey!" I shouted. "A little help here?"

Still nothing.

We frowned at each other, and I jerked my chin to the right, indicating Will should go one way. I went the other.

Only empty offices lay down my corridor. I guess that made sense. The patients wouldn't be easily accessible to anyone walking in off the street. Like me. They also shouldn't be able to walk out the front entrance, just by walking a few feet down the hall, although I was starting to wonder if they had.

I glanced at Will. He'd reached the end of his corridor. He lifted his hands then lowered them. Nothing on his side either. We met again at the receptionist desk.

"What do you think?" I peered at the glass door straight ahead.

The entrance held a huge lock that appeared to need both a key card and a code to open. The glass was tinted. We couldn't see anything in there. I wondered if they could see us out here. If they were even in there at all.

"Doesn't hurt to try." Will skirted the reception desk and bent over, squinting at the security box. Apparently he'd left his glasses in the car. "I can probably figure this out." He straightened. "I'll need my computer."

"How about I just break the glass."

He tapped his knuckle against it. "Appears a little bulletproof."

"Why on earth would they have tinted, bulletproof glass for a clinic in Tiny Town, USA?"

"I have a feeling they don't want what's on the other side to get out."

"Or maybe they don't want any of us to get in." My fingers itched. "That just makes me want to."

Will grinned. "One of the things I love about you," he said, then ran a hand over my short, non-descript hair–neither blond nor brown but something in between

"Uh, yeah." I still wasn't used to his easy and numerous declarations of love. Maybe someday I would be, but I'd never been loved before, and I knew instinctively I never would be again in the way that Will loved me.

Utterly. Completely. No matter what. For always.

"Why don't you get your computer? I'll wait here."