Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 5 - Page 13

"Pack existed before ceremonies," Sam said, sounding amused. "Magic binds more obviously, more extensively, but not more deeply."

"Did you mess with my head on my date with Adam?" I couldn't keep the accusation out of my voice.

"No." He tilted his head, then snarled, "Someone hurt you?"

"No," I said. "It's nothing."

"Lies," he said.

"Right," I agreed. "But if it wasn't you who did it, the incident is something for Adam and me to handle."

He was still a moment. "For now," he said.

I held the door open for him, then walked beside him through the emergency room.

As we moved through the walkway and out the door, Sam kept his eyes on me, and his regard had a weight to it. I didn't protest. He did it so that no one would see the change in his iris color - but also because when a werewolf as dominant as Samuel meets someone's gaze with his wolf in the fore, even humans bow their knees. That would be pretty awkward and hard to explain. At this point, we were operating with the hope that it would matter to Samuel that he could come back and practice medicine here again.

I helped him into the backseat of the Rabbit - and noticed that the towel-wrapped book was still there. I wished that getting it back to its owner was the extent of my troubles. I grabbed it and put it in the far back, out of harm's reach. Hopping in the front, I drove out from under the parking-lot lights as soon as I could. It was still the wee small hours, but Samuel was a big man, and it would be hard to miss him stripping in the back of my little car.

It didn't take him long to dispose of the clothes and begin his change. I didn't look, but I could tell when he started because the noises turned from shredding fabric to pained whines. What the wolves go through when they change is one of the many reasons I am very grateful to be what I am instead of a werewolf. For me, the change from coyote to human or back is virtually instantaneous. The side effects are nothing more annoying than tingles. For a werewolf, change is painful and slow. From the grunts he was making, he hadn't yet fully finished his shift by the time I drove into my driveway.

Home wasn't the safest place to bring him. No werewolf who saw him would miss what had happened, and Adam's house - visited often by members of his pack - was just behind my back fence. But I couldn't think of anyplace better.

Eventually, we'd have to tell Bran - I knew it, and I suspected that Samuel . . . Sam knew it, too. But I'd give him what time I could - assuming he didn't go on a rampage and start eating people.

That meant keeping him out of sight of Adam and his pack.

My pack. My mate and my pack.

It felt wrong to hide things from him. But I knew Adam, and one thing he was very good at was honor and duty. It was one of the reasons I'd grown to love him - he was a man who could make the hard choice. Duty and honor would force him to call Bran. Duty and honor would force Bran to execute Samuel. Samuel would be dead, and two good men would suffer as well.

Luckily for all of them, my sense of duty and honor was more flexible.

I got out of the car and turned in a slow circle. I caught Ben's scent, fading. Otherwise, we were alone with the more mundane creatures of the night: bats, mice, and mosquitoes. The light was on in Adam's bedroom, but it went dark as I was watching. Tomorrow, I'd need to come up with a better place for Sam.

Or a good reason to avoid the pack.

I opened the back door of the Rabbit, keeping it between Sam and me in case he came out of the change in a bad mood. The pain of the change does not make for a happy wolf - and Sam was already hurt when he started. But he seemed okay. When he hopped out, he waited politely for me to close up the car, then followed me to the door.

He slept on the foot of my bed. When I suggested he might be more comfortable in his room, he regarded me steadily with ice-colored eyes.

Where does a werewolf sleep? Anywhere he wants to.

I thought it would bother me, thought it would scare me. It ought to have bothered me. But somehow I couldn't work up the energy to be too worried about the big wolf curled up on my feet. It was Sam, after all.

* * *


I woke up to the sound of Sam's stomach growling. Keeping him fed had attained a new priority level, so I bounced up and cooked him breakfast.

And then, because cooking is something I do when I'm upset or nervous - and because it sometimes helps me think, especially if the cooking involves sugar - I indulged myself with a spate of cookie baking. I made a double batch of peanut butter cookies, and while they were in the oven, I made chocolate chip, for good measure.

Sam sat under the table, where he was out of my way, and watched me. I fed him a couple of spoonfuls of dough even though he'd eaten several pounds of bacon and a dozen eggs. He had shared the eggs with my cat, Medea. Maybe that was why he was still hungry. I fed him some of the baked cookies.

I was in the middle of putting cookies into baggies when Adam called.

"Mercy," he said. His voice was fuzzy with fatigue, his tone flat. "I saw the light was on. Ben told me what you said. I can help you with that."

Usually, I follow Adam's conversations just fine, but I'd had less than three hours of sleep. And I was preoccupied with Samuel, which he could not know anything about. I rubbed my nose. Ben. Oh. Adam was talking about how the pack had screwed up our date. Right.

I had to keep Adam away. Just until I figured out some brilliant plan to keep Samuel alive . . . And here before me was the perfect excuse.

"Thank you," I said. "But I think I need a break for a few days - no pack, no . . ." I let my voice drift off. I couldn't tell him I needed space from him when it wasn't true. Even over the phone he might pick up the lie. I wished he was here. He had a way of making things black-and-white. Of course, that meant that Samuel should be killed for the good of the wolves. Sometimes gray is the color I'm stuck with.

"You need some distance from the pack - and me," Adam said. "I can understand that." There was a small pause. "I won't leave you without protection."

I looked down. "Samuel's off for a couple of days." I needed to call before heading to work and get him time off, but that didn't change the fact that he wasn't going to be at work for the next couple of days. The wreck made a convenient excuse. "I'll keep him with me."

"All right." There was an awkward pause, and Adam said, "I'm sorry, Mercy. I should have noticed there was something wrong." He swallowed. "When my ex-wife decided I'd done something she didn't like, she'd give me the silent treatment. When you did it . . . it threw me."