Monday, February 24, 2014
Dante’s enemies—and the guardian of Talbot’s Peak had quite a few—often wondered if the seemingly-omniscient wolf ever slept. For instance, he was still awake and dressed at three in the morning when the van pulled up to the bar. Ewan, naked as a jaybird and just as chatty, got out, with a human she in tow. He pounded on the bar’s locked door and demanded to see Dante. “Hate to bust in like this,” he said when finally ushered into Dante’s presence, “but we got a hunter out at the Rocky Top looking to blast all comers. Oh, this is Maureen. One of us kidnapped the other one. We’re still working out who’s who.”
“Are you the Doctor?” the woman asked.
For a long time Dante just stood there, his narrow glare bouncing back and forth between the shifter male and human female. Finally he took Maureen by the hand. “My office,” he ordered Ewan.
Ewan shrugged and left Maureen to Dante. He wouldn’t hurt her, even though she was human and a hunter of sorts. She was probably safer with Dante than she was with her erstwhile partners.
Once in Dante’s office he shifted and curled up on the floor for a wolfnap. This had been one nonstop Saturday night, and only looked to get more interesting as the hours wore on. Best to grab rest when he could.
Sure enough, way too soon Dante woke him with a nudge of his foot. Ewan got up and switched back to human, and accepted the Levis and shirt Dante handed him. “How’s Maureen?” he asked while he pulled on the pants.
“Fine, for the time being. You?”
“Just a might ticked. I mean, getting a bag thrown over your head and dragged into a van can be fun, but only if you plan for it.” He buttoned up the shirt. “Same for being tied to a bed. It’s just not the same when hunters do it. Oh, and that dingo dog just happened to show up at the Rocky Top. Funny how that worked out.”
“Hoover warned me about that bunch as soon as they checked in. I was fishing for information. I needed bait. Dugger rode along in case matters got out of hand. I have confidence in your ability to preserve your own hide.”
“A little warning would have been nice.” So would an apology, but Ewan knew better. As an alpha, Dante had to be ruthless sometimes. Ewan shrugged it off with a coyote’s what-the-hell attitude. He’d chucked a human into Dante’s lap, so he figured they were even. “The Loony Toon Brigade is after those mutts of your dad’s. They think we’re building werewolves out of innocent humans. Cochrane wants Vernon McMahon and Lance Lincoln’s heads on a skewer. Any other shifter dies along the way, he’ll be happy.”
“Why did you bring that woman here?”
“It wasn’t exactly my idea. Anyway, they already know you’re involved, or at least the bar is. They came here hunting a werewolf victim, didn’t they? This bunch has done their homework. Cochrane’s a pro, and the rest of them are just stupid enough to be dangerous.”
“Especially now that they know about the Doctor. That was foolish.”
“What? I dropped a little chum in the water to see if the sharks would bite. It’s not like … scat.” Ewan breathed out a growl. “Don’t tell me there really is a Doctor.”
“My sire’s been secretly working with select humans for longer than he wants anybody to know. I thought the ‘Doctor,’ whatever his real name is, was only a rumor too. Then the mutants appeared. We had a chance to examine them when Marissa’s spell turned that one band into horses. Their wolf and human DNA had been knit together with Hancock shifter. My sire is using his pack to make monsters. He has to be stopped.”
But not killed. Ewan slid away from that topic with practiced finesse. “The Monster Squad will hit here first. They found one wolf here, they’ll figure they might find more.”
“Not for some time. My sources tell me most of them are currently incarcerated. I’ll see what I can do to keep them there. Cochrane’s on the loose. He worries me more. I’m guessing he’ll head for town. He can do the most damage there.”
“Yeah. He wants to kill shifters, all he has to do is stand in the square and start shooting.” Ewan sighed. “I’m up at bat again, aren’t I?”
“You’re on standby. We have others in town watching out for Cochrane. You … ” Dante grinned viciously. “You have a prisoner to guard.”
# # #
Dante had put Maureen in one of his special rooms. This one had been tricked out to look like a harem room, minus all the semi-naked girls. She was awake and curled up on a pile of cushions. She stared at Ewan warily when he came in. Ewan just plain stared.
Wellnow. Hell-oooo, Daphne.
Somebody had got her out of her baggy duds and into a little wraparound thingie that showed off a lot of scrawny arm and leg. He still couldn’t see any boobage, but he had a better idea now of where it might be. That same somebody had applied cosmetics with a master’s hand. Her eyes now dominated her face instead of those clunky glasses, and her lips appeared larger and infinitely kissable. The blush, he figured, was probably natural.
He shut the door and plopped down on a nearby cushion. Not too nearby, because she still looked a might skittish. However, she appeared happy to see him, which he took as encouragement. “They treating you okay?”
“Pretty much,” she said. “Who was that other guy? The mastermind?”
“Nah, just the bar owner. He’s a little ticked you guys picked his business as ground zero for an invasion. Things like that cut into profits. I see he helped you clean up, though.”
“That wasn’t him.” Yep, that blush was the real deal. “This—this chorus girl saw me, and shrieked, and dragged me into the ladies’ room and said I needed a makeover. She did my face and gave me this dress and then she left me here.” She plucked at the hem of the dress. “It doesn’t really fit me. I figured I could use it for a nightie.”
“Chorus girl? A redhead?”
“No, she had pink hair. Tall, with a deep voice.” Suspicion leaped into her mascara’d eyes. “Y’know, I think she might have been a guy.”
“Ah. That’s Lamar. He’s harmless. Just don’t let him hug you. He hates to let go.”
“They’ll come straight here, you know,” she said, switching tracks. “We’ve been studying this place. We ID’d over a dozen werecreatures, not just wolves.”
“We?” Ewan said. “Or you?”
She scooted a little bit away from him. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I think you do.” Finally he got his finger on why her scent hit him as so homey. “You’re pretty good at spotting wolves, aren’t you? I figure that comes natural to you. Just how much wolf you got in you?”