Monday, March 12, 2012
Evie knew the second she went from hunter to hunted. She lost the trace of his scent on the breeze and the sound of his boots on the pavement. She’d been as careful as a coyote could be, a skill that made ninjas look clumsy, and still he’d sensed her stalking him and turned the tables on her.
She tried to look casual while she cast about for some sign of him. It was tough to remain inconspicuous while strutting around the town square in shrinkwrap leather pants and stiletto boots, but somehow Evie pulled it off. Even in a provocative costume, she knew how to blend in.
Besides, in a town where nude purple fairies ran loose in the street, a chick in black leather barely rated a glance.
The glare of the streetlights and gloom of the shadows would only deceive her eyes, so Evie focused her nose on the breeze and her ears on the nighttime noises. Times like these she wished she could sprout coyote ears on her human head, the better to swivel for sound. All the while she continued her hip-rolling amble up the street. If she couldn’t spot him, the best she could do was be ready for him.
He granted her barely a whisper of warning before he pounced. Evie had just started to turn when he rushed up behind her and bore her to the ground. His foot slipped in a puddle of mushy spring snow. Their landing was harder and more awkward than intended.
Evie giggled at his swearing, but nipped his neck when he started to apologize. “Stay on script,” she hissed. She made a lot of thrashing motions that did nothing at all to dislodge him while still giving the appearance that she was putting up one hell of a fight. “Help, help,” she murmured. “Somebody save me from the big bad wolf.”
Chase’s mismatched eyes gleamed at her. “Nobody’s going to help you, you little bitch in heat—”
“Hey. You need help, lady?”
They looked up into the concerned and belligerent faces of a trio of young bull elk. Normally herbies wouldn’t interfere with a wolf on the hunt, but these three had been tailing Evie at a respectful distance for the last twenty minutes, drawn by the come-hither wave of her ass. Chase probably hadn’t even noticed them. Males developed tunnel vision when it came to a female, regardless of her species or diet.
“I’m fine,” she purred up at them. “I slipped in the snow. This gentleman is helping me up.”
“It looked more like he—” The young elk broke off to stare at Chase. “Lieutenant? That you, sir?”
“Son of a mutt,” Chase grumbled. He stood, drawing Evie upright with him. “Yes, Willis, it’s me. Is there some kind of emergency at the station?”
“Um, nossir, we were just out walking.”
“Following the lady, you mean.”
“Nossir! We all just happened to be walking in the same direction.”
“Uh-huh.” Through all this Evie pretended to totter on her five-inch heels, clutching at Chase and rubbing up against him. The elk could barely keep the smirks off their faces. “Are you all right now, ma’am?”
“I feel dizzy,” Evie breathed. “Would you hold me a moment?”
Chase muttered under his breath. “We don’t need the whole team,” he told the elk. “I’ve got the situation under control.”
“Of course you do, sir.” Willis snapped off a brisk salute. “You have a good night, sir. Ma’am.”
Chase waited until the elk had sauntered out of earshot before he rounded on Evie. “I told you this wasn’t a good idea.”
“I disagree. This was a wonderful idea. The bad idea was sending them away. Another five minutes and we could have had a ménage a—what’s French for five?”
“I thought wolves did everything in a pack.”
“Not that we don’t. And we don’t share with elk.” Chase shook his head. “From now on, no more role-play in public. I don’t know how I let you talk me into this.”
“I do.” Evie rubbed up against him until he started to growl. “We could try again. The night’s still young. But if you want to go inside … ”
“No. Not in the ambulance. I mean it. What if we get a call?”
Evie fluttered her lashes. “Then the patient won’t need the defibrulator.”
Chase huffed a sigh. “Sometimes I wonder … ”
“If a wolf can keep up with a coyote?”
“Why I bother.”
“It’s because no wolf can resist a good hunt. And no coyote can resist a good trick.” She moved unexpectedly and shoved Chase into the snow, then leaped on top of him. She nuzzled his neck playfully. “We just switched roles. Feel free to yell for help.”
“That you, Chase? You okay down there?”
Evie stared around. Officer Jim Gordon grinned down at them. “Evening, folks. Slippery, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Evie growled. She shoved herself to her feet, leaving Chase to fend for himself. “How fortunate so many people are out and about to lend us a hand.”
“We’re here to serve,” Officer Gordon agreed cheerfully. “You might want to head in out of the cold. The movie theater will be letting out in about five minutes.”
“I thought Montana had a sparse population,” Evie complained once Officer Gordon had left. “This is worse than Los Angeles.”
“Maybe we should go in,” Chase said. “There’s coffee back at the station … and Hannibal brought his pickup truck.”
Evie perked up at once. “He still keeps blankets in the back?”
“And a tarp.” He winked. “In case it snows.”
“That's what I like about you EMTs. You're always prepared." She took Chase’s hand. They set off at a trot across the square.