Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 2 - Page 19

Tom Black smelled intense-as if the answers to his questions really mattered to him.

Outside, a small-block Chevy 350 pulled into my lot and I recognized its purr. With the last of my trepidation gone, I realized there was only one reason for the questions he'd asked.

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Hell," I said in disgust. "You're a reporter."

Some of the werewolves coming out deliberately attracted attention on the Marrok's orders: heroes from the military or police and fire departments and a couple of movie stars. Adam was not one of them. I could see why someone would send a reporter out sniffing around him, though. Not only was he an Alpha, but he was a pretty Alpha. I couldn't wait to hear what Adam would say when he found out someone was poking into his love life.

"I can make you rich," Black told me, encouraged, I think, by my smile. "When I'm through with you, you'll be as much of a celebrity as he is. You can sell your story to the networks."

I snorted. "Go away."

"Problems, Mercy?" The deep, Texas drawl caused the reporter to spin on his heel. I guess he hadn't heard Warren and his companion walk into the garage.

"No problems," I told Warren. "Mr. Black was just leaving."

Warren looked like an ad for "Real Western Cowboys," complete with worn boots and battered straw hat. He was entitled: he'd been a real cowboy in the old West when he'd been Changed. He was my favorite of Adam's wolves and beside him was Ben, a recent import from Great Britain  -  and the leading candidate for my least favorite werewolf. Neither of them had been among the "outed" wolves, not yet. In Ben's case, probably never. He'd narrowly escaped arrest in his native land and had been quietly shipped off to America to disappear.

The reporter took out his wallet and held out his card. I took it because my mother taught me to be polite.

"I'll be around," he said. "Call me if you change your mind."

"I'll do that," I told him.

Both werewolves turned to watch him leave. Only after his car was well away did they turn their attention back to me.

"I like what you've done to your face," Ben said, tapping his eye.

He may have saved my life once and taken a bullet for Adam, but that didn't mean I had to like him. It wasn't just that he'd been sent to Adam's pack to keep him from being questioned in connection with a series of violent rapes in London. I believe in innocent until proven guilty. Rather it was the qualities that had caused the London police to look in his direction in the first place: he was a petty, nasty, and violent man. Everything he said came out like a sneer or a threat, all in this nifty British accent. If he were just a hair nicer, I might have talked to him just to hear his voice, like him or not.

"I wasn't the one who decorated my face, but thanks anyway." I went back to the van to button it up for the night. I'd lost the momentum that was keeping me working, and all I wanted to do was find someplace to sleep. Someplace without a vampire dead in the closet. Damn it. Where was I going to sleep?

"What are you two doing here?" I asked Warren as I closed the back hatch of the van.

"Adam said we're to stay with you until you hear from the vampires-he thinks it will be sometime soon after dark. He doesn't want you to face them alone."

"Don't you have to work tonight?" Warren worked graveyard at an all night gas station/convenience store not too far from my home-he had gotten Samuel a job there when he moved in with me.

"Nah, quit last week. They had another manager changeover and this one wanted to clean house. So I thought I'd quit before I was fired." He paused then said, "I've been doing some work for Kyle. It pays better part-time than the convenience store did full-time."

"With Kyle?" I asked hopefully.

I've known Warren for a long time and had met maybe a dozen of his boyfriends. Most of them hadn't been worth knowing-but I liked Kyle. He was a hotshot lawyer, a terrific dresser, and a lot of fun. They'd been living together for a while when Kyle finally found out Warren was a werewolf. Kyle moved out. I knew they'd dated a few times since, but nothing more serious.

Warren dropped his eyes. "Mostly just some surveillance and, once, guard duty for a woman who was afraid of her soon-to-be ex-husband."

"Kyle's afraid of us," said Ben, showing his teeth in a sharp grin.

Warren looked at him and Ben quit smiling.

"You've obviously never met Kyle," I told Ben. "Anyone who's been a divorce lawyer as long as Kyle isn't afraid of much."

"I lied to him," Warren told me. "Thing like that will stick in a man's craw."

It was time to change the subject. Ben might be subdued for the moment, but it wouldn't last.

"I'm going to wash up and change," I said. "I'll be right back out."

"Samuel said you didn't get any sleep last night," Warren said. "You have a few hours before the vampires can call on you. Should we stop and pick up some dinner, then head out to your house so you can get a little sleep?"

I shook my head. "Can't sleep with a dead man in my closet."

"You killed someone?" asked Ben with interest.

Warren grinned, the expression leaving little crinkles next to his eyes. "Nope, not this time. Samuel said Stefan had to spend the day in Mercy's closet. I'd forgotten about that. Do you want to catch a little shut-eye at my place? No dead people there." He glanced at Ben. "At least not yet."

I was tired, my face hurt, and I was coming down off the adrenaline rush the reporter had caused. "I can't think of a thing that sounds better. Thanks, Warren."