Monday, December 2, 2013
Evie watched the two boys giggle and whisper and nudge each other at the library computer long enough to determine they weren’t trying to access porn before she sauntered over. Today was a slow day for both her and the library—sunny, warm for December but still brisk enough to get the blood pumping. If she hadn’t been on duty she’d be outside herself. Whatever had two shifter boys of squirrel-chasing age huddled in front of a computer screen instead of out running through the woods must be pretty darn interesting. She put on her adult face and went to take a look.
Both pups jumped when she cleared her throat to announce herself. “Were we too loud?” the taller one said. He started out in a normal voice; halfway through he remembered where he was and adjusted. The word “loud” came out as a whisper.
“Volume’s not a problem today,” Evie said with a grin, her own voice soft but not whisper levels. “It’s supposed to be only one person to a computer. Homework assignment?”
“We’re pirates,” the smaller boy said. He had a kerchief tied over his hair and a homemade eyepatch, currently flipped up for better Internet viewing. Evie noticed then the other one wore a cutlass, clearly a plastic fake, stuck in his belt.
Both boys were wolf shifters—her nose told her that—and from similarities in facial features and scent she deduced they were brothers. But … “Pirates?” she echoed.
“We’re looking for booty,” the tall one said solemnly. He indicated the screen, which currently held a map of Talbot’s Peak and the surrounding wilderness. Evie judged its vintage to be around 1900.
“I don’t think pirates had access to the Internet,” Evie said.
“Booty could be anywhere,” the smaller one said. “Before we start digging, we want to narrow it down.”
“Montana’s quite a ways from the ocean, you know.”
“Exactly! Nobody would think to look for pirate treasure way out here. We figured the pirates came in by the underground river. We already tried digging around the fountain, but the cops chased us off. That’s too obvious anyway. I’m Loki,” he finished, as manners finally surfaced. “This is my brother Thor.”
Evie shook hands with the buccaneers-in-training. “Are you the pirates, or are you just looking for booty?”
“A little of both. If we had a boat, we’d go sailing on the pond. Hey! Maybe the pirates buried their booty there.” He zoomed in on that section of the map. “In a cave or something.”
“I’m not crawling around in a cave again.” Thor made a face. “We were in this cave and got mud and dirt and bat crap all over us,” he told Evie. “Mom pitched a fit.”
“Wait’ll we bring her doubloons,” Loki said. “Or a treasure chest.”
“Did someone say treasure?”
Grayson Chase, Evie’s ardent pursuer and would-be mate, entered the library and came up behind her. Because pups were present, he didn’t slip his arms around her waist and nuzzle her neck as he normally did. He did, however, growl softly in her ear, “Or maybe I heard ‘chest’.”
“Careful, bucko. There be pirates afoot.” She nodded to indicate the boys and their tender age. Chase growled again in understanding. “We be hunting for hidden treasure. Arrrh.”
“Why do pirates say that, anyway?” Thor asked. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
“I think it means their peg leg’s hurting,” Chase said. He murmured in Evie’s ear, “I see the Pirates of the Caribbean marathon on cable last weekend has netted a couple of victims.”
“So that’s what happened. I don’t watch much TV.” She had her magazines and special toys for entertainment. Chase’s rumble told her his thoughts ran along the same naughty path. But how to get the pups outside?
“You know,” she said suddenly, “I think we may have an old pirate map in the archives. Let me check.” She hurried toward the office.
“You ever been a pirate?” Loki asked Chase.
“I get seasick watching shark movies,” Chase said. “I stay on dry land and patch up the pirates if their raids don’t go well. I haven’t had to dig a musket ball out of anyone recently, though.”
“Here we go.” Evie spread a printout on the table. The boys abandoned their computer and eagerly poured over the map. “I know where this is!” Loki said. “There’s the park, and—hey! An X!”
“Dozens of rogues and rapscallions have called Talbot’s Peak home over the years,” Evie said. “One had this in his journal. The perks of being town librarian. I never checked it out, so whatever he left at the X may still be there. And what a lovely day it is to treasure hunt.”
The hint proved unnecessary; she’d had the boys at the map. They accepted it happily, thanked her, and dashed outside with cries of “Yo ho!” and “Avast, ye lubbers!” “I suppose it could have been worse,” Evie said, logging off their computer. “Every time they run a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie, we get a pack of kids out in the woods waving sticks around and bothering the bears. Luckily no one ever gets hurt.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Chase said, “but wasn’t that the map you used for our, um, scavenger hunt back in August? I hope you didn’t send them to that bench where we—”
“I made a few adjustments. If they follow the directions, they’ll end up behind City Hall. Something’s bound to be buried back there. You know what a scalawag Mayor Link was.”
“I hope they don’t get too enthusiastic. You know wolf pups and digging. Maybe Gil will stop them before they excavate the place.”
“Then he’ll be able to plant more trees.” With the library now to themselves, Evie swayed into Chase’s arms. “And now, me hearty, allow me to shiver yer timbers. You brought your blade, I hope?”
“No, but I’ve loaded my photon torpedos. I watched a different marathon this weekend.”
“Even better. I think pointy ears are sexy.” She slid her tongue along his jaw. “Ahead warp factor six.”