Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 4 - Page 44


I shrugged helplessly, blinking back tears that I would not let fall. "I'm sorry. It was stupid. I'm stupid. I can't move without making everything worse." I turned my face away.

"No," he said. The bed sagged as he sat down next to me. "It's all right." He bumped my shoulder deliberately with his. "You aren't stupid. You're right. I'd have made you come home if I'd had to collect you myself with ropes and a gag. And your boy Chad would have died."

I leaned a little against his shoulder, and he leaned a little back.

"You never used to get into trouble like this"  -  amusement threaded through his voice - "except for a few memorable occasions. Maybe it's like that fae woman, the one at Uncle Mike's, said." He didn't say Baba Yaga's name. I didn't blame him. "Maybe you've absorbed a little of Coyote, and chaos follows you." He touched my neck lightly. "That vampire is going to be sorry for this."

"Stefan?"

He laughed, and this time he meant it. "Him, too, probably. But I won't have to do anything about that. No. I was speaking of Blackwood."

Adam stuck around until I'd showered, and he ate the pancakes I made afterward. Samuel came in while we were eating. He looked tired and smelled like antiseptic and blood. Without a word, he poured the last of the batter in the pan.

When Samuel looked like that, it meant he'd had a bad day. Someone had died or been crippled, and he hadn't been able to fix it.

He took his cooked pancakes and sat down at the table beside Adam. After dousing his meal in maple syrup, he stopped moving. Just looked at the pool of liquid sugar as if it held the secrets of the universe.

He shook his head. "I guess my eyes were bigger than my appetite." He dumped the food in the garbage disposal and ran it like he'd enjoy stuffing a person down it.

"So what is it this time?" I asked. "'Johnny fell down and broke his arm' or 'my wife ran into a door'?"

"Baby Ally got bitten by their pit bull," he growled, flipping the switch so the disposal quieted. In an artifically high-pitched voice, he said, "'But Iggy's so good. Sure he's bitten me a couple of times. But he's always adored Ally. He watches her while I shower. " He walked off a little steam, then said, in his own voice, "You know, it's not the pit bulls. It's the people who own them. The kind of people who want a pit bull are the very last people who should have a dog. Or a child. Who leaves a two-year-old alone with a dog that's already killed a puppy? So now the dog dies, the girl gets reconstructive surgery and will probably still have scars - and her idiot mother, who caused it all, goes unpunished."

"Her mom will probably feel bad for the rest of her life," I ventured. "It's not jail time, but she'll be punished."

Samuel gave me a look under his brows. "She's too busy making sure everyone knows it wasn't her fault. By the time she's through, people will be sympathizing with her."

"Same thing happened with German shepherds a couple of decades ago," said Adam. "Then Dobermans and Rottweilers. And the ones who suffer are the kids and the dogs. You aren't going to change human nature, Samuel. Someone who's seen as much of it as you have should know when to quit fighting."

Samuel turned to say something, got a good look at my neck, and froze.

"I know," I said. "Only I could go to Spokane and get the only vampire in the whole city to bite me on the first day I was there."

He didn't laugh. "Two bites means he owns you, Mercy."

I shook my head. "No. Two blood exchanges means he owns me. So I had Stefan bite me again, and now Stefan owns me instead of the Boogeyman of Spokane."

He leaned a hip against the counter, folded his arms over his chest, and looked at Adam. "You approved this?" He sounded incredulous.

"Since when did Mercy ask my approval... or anyone's approval before she did something? But I'd have told her to go ahead if she asked me. Stefan is a step above Blackwood."

Samuel frowned at him. "She's now second in your pack. That gives Stefan your pack as well as Mercy."

"No," I told him. "Stefan says not. Says it's been tried before and didn't work."

"A vampire's sheep does as it is told." Samuel's voice grew deep and rough with worry, so I didn't take offense at being called a sheep. Though I would have under other circumstances, even if it were true.

"When he tells you to call the wolves, you'll have no choice. And if the vampire, whose slave you are, tells a different story - I know which one I'd doubt. 'Old vampires lie better than they tell the truth. "

The last was a werewolf aphorism. And it was true that a lying vampire could be difficult to detect. They had no pulse, and they didn't sweat. But lies still have a feel to them.

I shrugged, trying to look as if Samuel wasn't worrying me. "You can ask Stefan how it works tonight if you want."

"If she calls the pack, she has to use my power to do it," Adam said. "She can't do that if I don't let her."

I tried not to show the relief I felt. "Good. Don't let me call the pack for a while, all right?"

"A while?" said Samuel. "Did Stefan tell you he could let you go after a little while? Maybe when Blackwood loses interest? A vampire never loses its sheep except to death."

He was scared for me. I could see that. It didn't stop me from snapping at him anyway. "Look. I was out of options." I didn't tell them that Wulfe could sever the bond between Stefan and me. It had been told to me in confidence, and I really did try not to blurt out everything anyone told me in secret. Except, maybe, to Adam.

He closed his eyes and looked sick. "Yes. I know." "A vampire can't take an Alpha wolf as a sheep," said Adam. "Maybe we can work from that to free Mercy when it seems useful. What we don't want to do is go off half-cocked and get rid of Stefan so the"  -  he gave me an ironic lift of his eyebrow - "Boogeyman of Spokane takes over again. I'm with Mercy. If you have to listen to a vampire, Stefan's not the worst choice."

"Why can't a vampire take over an Alpha?" I asked.

It was Samuel who answered me. "I'd almost forgotten that. It's the way the pack works, Mercy. If a vampire isn't strong enough to take every wolf in the pack, all at once, he can't take the Alpha. It doesn't mean it can't happen - there are a couple of vampires in the Old Country... no, most of them are gone, I think. Anyway there are none here who could do it."

"What about Blackwood?" I asked.

Samuel shrugged unhappily. "I've never met Blackwood, and I'm not sure Da has either. I'll ask."