Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 2 - Page 87


I wagged my tail at him again.

He raised an eyebrow. "Mercy, you've been avoiding talking to me for long enough. Time to quit running and talk. Please."

Reluctantly, I hopped to the backseat. He was right. If I hadn't been ready to talk, I wouldn't have been running around the Tri-Cities in a collar with his phone number on it. Of course escaping from the Animal Control Shelter might have had something to do with it as well.

He'd brought sweats that smelled like him. They were big, but I could tighten the cord on the pants so they didn't slide off. I rolled up the sleeves and then crawled back over the seat.

He waited until I was buckled in before he spoke. I expected to be grilled about my recent habit of wandering around the city in coyote guise.

"I scare you," he told me, instead.

"Do not." I huffed indignantly.

He glanced at me and then at the road. I noticed he was taking the long way home, the narrow highway that followed the Yakima River and would eventually drop us off in the north side of Richland.

There was a smile on his face.

"Okay. What if I said that your reactions to me scare you?"

My heartbeat picked up. That just wasn't fair, women were supposed to be a mystery to men.

"You're a control freak," I said hotly. "You'll have to excuse me if I don't like being controlled."

"I don't control you," he said in that rich-as-night voice he could use when he wanted to. The rat bastard. Upset as I was it still had an effect on me. "You chose to submit."

"I don't submit to anyone," I snapped, looking out the side window to show him I wanted this conversation over.

"But you want to."

I had no answer for that.

"It's taken me this long to figure out an answer to our problem," he said. "What if I let you take charge?"

I gave him a suspicious look. "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean just what I said. When we go out, you pick where we're going. If we kiss-or anything else-it'll be because you started it. That way, even if you want to submit to me, you can't because I'm not asking anything."

I crossed my arms over my chest and stared hard at the river. "Let me think about it."

"Fair enough. So, do you want to tell me what you were doing in Benton City?"

"Hunting."

He sucked in a deep breath. "You won't find him that way."

"Find whom?" I asked innocently.

"The vampire. Andre. You won't find him that way. They have ways of confusing their scent and magic to hide their daytime resting places even from other vampires. That's why Warren and Ben couldn't track Littleton down when they went looking."

"Their magics don't work so well on me," I told him.

"And you can talk to ghosts that the rest of us can't see," he snapped impatiently. " Which is why Marsilia sent you after Littleton. " He was still mad at me for doing that, even if, maybe especially because, it had worked. "How long have you been looking for Andre? Since Marsilia let him go?"

I didn't give him an answer. Didn't want to give him an answer. It occurred to me that this was the first time I'd felt myself in his presence since we'd gone on our first date. Maybe it was the vampire blood.

"What did I do to deserve that look?" he asked.

"Why don't I feel like obeying you now?" I asked.

He smiled at me and turned onto the bypass highway that ran along the outskirts of Richland. It was four thirty and the road was clogged with traffic.

"Being the Alpha is different from just being dominant," he said.

I snorted. "I know that. Remember where I grew up."

"If I'm away from the pack, I can make the Alpha go dormant. Bran can do it whenever he feels like it, but for the rest of us, it takes real effort."

I don't know how he expected me to react to that, but it didn't make me happy. "So it was deliberate, the way you made me feel?"

He shook his head, and I let out the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. I don't like being manipulated at all, and being manipulated by paranormal means is worse.

"No. I told you it takes an effort-and the... effect you have on me makes it difficult." He wasn't looking at me now. He was a product of his times. He might look like he was in his late twenties, but he'd been born just after WWII, and a man raised in the 1950's didn't talk about his feelings. It was interesting watching him squirm. I was suddenly feeling much more cheerful.

"I can't help how I'm wired," he said after a moment. "I don't even know how much is being an Alpha werewolf and how much is just me-but being around you brings out the predator in me."

"And so you had to make me want to please you?" I made sure he heard how I felt about that.

"No!" He sucked in a big breath and then said, "Please don't antagonize me right now. You want an explanation. You want me to stop influencing you. I'm trying to do both-but it isn't easy. Please."

It was the "please" that got to me. I leaned my back against the door so I was as far from him as I could get. "Tell me, then."

"Bran can control his Alpha effect until he can fool werewolves who don't know who and what he is. I'm not so talented, but I can stuff it down so it doesn't interfere with my everyday life. When I negotiate contracts, I don't like to exert undue influence on the people I'm dealing with. Even in the pack, I don't use it much. Cooperation is always better than coercion-especially when that coercion only lasts until they're out of my presence. I only bring out the big guns when there's trouble in the pack that can't be solved by talking." He glanced at me and almost hit the car in front of him when traffic stopped unexpectedly.