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Home > Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(11)

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(11)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"You told him that you were after her killer," I said.

He gave an unhappy laugh. "Like I could find him."

He could. It was all a matter of learning to use his new senses, but I wasn't going to tell him that, not yet. If Mac did find his attacker, chances were Mac would die. A new werewolf just doesn't stand a chance against the older ones.

I patted his knee. "Don't worry. As soon as we get word to the right people-and Adam is the right people-Leo's a walking dead man. The Marrok won't allow an Alpha who is creating progeny and selling them for money."

"The Marrok?"

"Sorry," I said. "Like I told you, except for the occasional rogue, werewolves are organized into packs under an Alpha wolf."

It used to be that was as organized as werewolves got. But the only thing it takes to be Alpha is power, not intelligence or even common sense. In the Middle Ages, after the Black Plague, the werewolf population was almost wiped out along with real wolves because some of the Alphas were indiscreet. It was decided then that there would be a leader over all the werewolves.

"In the US, all the packs follow the Marrok, a title taken from the name of one of King Arthur's knights who was a werewolf. The Marrok and his pack have oversight of all the werewolves in North America."

"There are more of us?" he asked.

I nodded. "Maybe as many as two thousand in the US, five or six hundred in Canada, and about four hundred in Mexico."

"How do you know so much about werewolves?"

"I was raised by them." I waited for him to ask me why, but his attention had drifted toward the body. He inhaled deeply and gave an eager shudder.

"Do you know what they wanted with you?" I asked hurriedly.

"They told me they were looking for a cure. Kept putting things in my food-I could smell them, but I was hungry so I ate anyway. Sometimes they'd give me shots-and once when I wouldn't cooperate they used a dart gun."

"Outside, when you were talking to them, you said they had others like you?"

He nodded. "They kept me in a cage in a semitrailer. There were four cages in it. At first there were three of us, a girl around my age and a man. The girl was pretty much out of it-she just stared and rocked back and forth. The man couldn't speak any English. It sounded like Polish to me-but it could have been Russian or something. One of the times I was taking a trip on something they pumped in me, I woke up and I was alone."

"Drugs don't work on werewolves," I told him. "Your metabolism is too high."

"These did," he said.

I nodded. "I believe you. But they shouldn't have. You escaped?"

"I managed to change while they were trying to give me something else. I don't remember much about it other than running."

"Was the trailer here in the Tri-Cities?" I asked.

He nodded. "I couldn't find it again, though. I don't remember everything that happens when..." His voice trailed off.

"When you're the wolf." Memory came with experience and control, or so I'd been told.

A strange car approached the garage with the quiet purr common to expensive engines.

"What's wrong?" he asked, when I stood up.

"Don't you hear the car?"

He started to shake his head, but then paused. "I-yes. Yes, I do."

"There are advantages to being a werewolf," I said. "One of them is being able to hear and smell better than the average Joe." I stood up. "It's turning into the parking lot. I'm going to look out and see who it is."

"Maybe it's the guy you called. The Alpha."

I shook my head. "It's not his car."

Chapter 3

I slipped through the office and opened the outside door cautiously, but the smell of perfume and herbs hanging in the night air told me we were still all right.

A dark Cadillac was stretched across the pavement just beyond Stefan's bus. I pushed the door all the way open as the uniformed chauffeur tipped his hat to me, then opened the car's back door, revealing an elderly woman.

I stuck my head back in the office, and called, "It's all right, Mac. Just the cleanup crew."

Keeping the humans ignorant of the magic that lives among them is a specialized and lucrative business, and Adam's pack kept the best witch in the Pacific Northwest on retainer. Rumors of Elizaveta Arkadyevna Vyshnevetskaya's origins and how she came to be in the Tri-Cities changed on a weekly basis. I think she and her brood of grandchildren and great-grandchildren encouraged the more outrageous versions. All that I knew for certain was that she had been born in Moscow, Russia, and had lived in the Tri-Cities for at least twenty years.

Elizaveta rose from the depths of the big car with all the drama of a prima ballerina taking her bow. The picture she made was worth all the drama.

She was almost six feet tall and little more than skin and bones, with a long, elegant nose and gray, penetrating eyes. Her style of dress was somewhere between babushka and Baba Yaga. Layers of rich fabrics and textures came down to her calves, all covered with a long wool cape and a worn scarf that wrapped around her head and neck. Her outfit wasn't authentic, at least not to any period or place that I've heard of, but I've never seen anyone brave enough to tell her so.

"Elizaveta Arkadyevna, welcome," I said, walking past the bus to stand by her car.

She scowled at me. "My Adamya calls and tells me you have one of his wolves dead." Her voice had the crispness of a British aristocrat, so I knew she was angry-her usual accent was thick enough I had to make a real effort to understand her. When she was really angry, she didn't speak English at all.

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