Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 1 - Page 10


Mac stared at me, his brown eyes looking yellowish in the fluorescent lighting of my office. Truth to tell, I was surprised he was still in human form because watching one wolf change tends to encourage others. I met his gaze calmly, then dropped my eyes until I was looking at his shoulder instead.

"All right," he said, slowly removing his hand. "You saved me tonight-and that thing could have torn you apart. I've seen them kill."

I didn't ask when or whom. It was important to take action in the right order to avoid worse trouble. Call Adam. Remove body from the middle of the street where anyone could see it. Then talk. I punched Adam's number from memory.

"Hauptman," he answered, with just a touch of impatience, on the fourth ring.

"I killed a werewolf at my garage," I said, then hung up. To Mac's raised eyebrows I said, "That will get a faster reaction than spending twenty minutes explaining. Come on, you and I need to get the body off the street before someone spots it." When the phone rang, my answering machine picked it up.

I took Stefan's bus because loading something large into a bus is just easier than loading it into my little Rabbit. The bus smelled of Mac, and I realized he'd not lied to me when he said he had a place to spend the night. He'd been sleeping in it for a couple of nights at least.

The bus was without brakes until we fixed it, but I managed to get it to drift to a stop next to the body. Mac helped me get it in the bus, then dashed back to the garage while I drove. When I arrived, he had the garage open for me.

We set the dead man on the cement floor next to the lift, then I parked the bus back where it had been and pulled down the garage bay door, leaving us inside with the body.

I walked to the corner farthest from the dead werewolf and sat down on the floor next to one of my big tool chests. Mac sat down next to me, and we both stared across the garage at the corpse.

Half-changed, the body looked even more grotesque under the harsh lighting of the second bay than it had under the streetlight, like something out of a black-and-white Lon Chaney movie. From where I sat I could see the slice in his neck that had killed him.

"He was used to healing fast," I said, to break the silence. "So he didn't pay attention to his wound. But some wounds take longer to heal than others. He didn't know any more than you do. How long have you been a werewolf?"

"Two months," Mac said, leaning his head back against the tool chest and looking at the ceiling. "It killed my girlfriend, but I survived. Sort of."

He was lucky, I thought, remembering the suppositions I'd had while overhearing his phone call earlier. He hadn't killed his girlfriend after all. He probably wasn't feeling lucky though, and I wasn't going to tell him that it could be worse.

"Tell me about your life afterward. Where did those men come from? Are you from the Tri-Cities?" I hadn't heard of any suspicious deaths or disappearances in the last six months.

He shook his head. "I'm from Naperville." At my blank look, he clarified. "Illinois. Near Chicago." He glanced at the body, closed his eyes, and swallowed. "I want to eat him," he whispered.

"Perfectly natural," I told him, though I have to admit I wanted to move away from him. Heaven save me, stuck with a new werewolf in a garage with fresh meat was not anyone's idea of safe. But we had to wait here until Adam came. It could have been worse: it could have been nearer the full moon, or he could have been as hungry as he'd been that first day.

"Deer not only tastes better, it's easier to live with afterward," I said, then reflected that it might be better to talk about something other than food. "What happened to you after that first attack? Did someone take you to a hospital?"

He looked at me a moment, but I couldn't tell what he was thinking. He said, "After... after the attack, I woke up in a cage in someone's basement. There was someone in the room and when I opened my eyes, he said, 'Good, you'll live. Leo will be happy to see it. "

"Wait," I said. "Leo. Leo. Chicago." Then it came to me. "Leo James? Looks as though he ought to be a Nordic skiing champion? Tall, long, and blond."

Leo was one of the Chicago Alphas-there were two of them. Leo held territory in the western suburbs. I'd met him once or twice. Neither of us had been impressed, but then, as I said, most werewolves don't take kindly to other predators.

Mac nodded. "That sounds right. He came down the stairs with the first guy and another man. None of them would talk to me or answer any of my questions." He swallowed and gave me an anxious glance. "This shit just sounds so weird, you know? Unbelievable."

"You're talking to someone who can turn into a coyote," I told him gently. "Just tell me what you think happened."

"All right." He nodded slowly. "All right. I was still weak and confused, but it sounded like Leo was arguing money with the third guy. It sounded to me like he sold me for twelve thousand dollars."

"Leo sold you for twelve thousand dollars," I said, as much to myself as to Mac. My voice might have been matter-of-fact, but only because Mac was right: it was unbelievable. Not that I thought he was lying. "He had one of his wolves attack you and your girlfriend and when you survived, he sold you to someone else as a newly turned werewolf."

"I think so," said Mac.

"You called your family this afternoon?" I asked. I smiled at his wary look. "I have pretty good hearing."

"My brother. His cell phone." He swallowed. "It's broken. No caller ID. I had to let them know I was alive. I guess the police think I killed Meg."