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Home > Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(13)

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(13)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"How did you find out so much about werewolves?"

I opened my mouth to give him the short version, but decided the whole story might better serve to distract him from the dead body.

"My mother was a rodeo groupie," I began, sitting down beside him. "She liked cowboys, any cowboy. She liked a Blackfoot bull-rider named Joe Old Coyote from Browning, Montana, enough to get pregnant with me. She told me that he claimed to come from a long line of medicine men, but at the time she thought he was just trying to impress her. He died in a car accident three days after she met him."

"She was seventeen, and her parents tried to talk her into an abortion, but she would have none of it. Then they tried to get her to put me up for adoption, but she was determined to raise me herself-until I was three months old, and she found a coyote pup in my crib."

"What did she do?"

"She tried to find my father's family," I told him. "She went to Browning and found several families there with that last name, but they claimed they'd never heard of Joe. He was certainly Native American." I made a gesture to encompass my appearance. I don't look pureblood; my features are too Anglo. But my skin looks tanned even in November, and my straight hair is as dark as my eyes. "But otherwise I don't know much about him."

"Old Coyote," said Mac speculatively.

I smiled at him. "Makes you think this shifting thing must have run in the family, doesn't it?"

"So how was it that you were raised by werewolves?"

"My great-grandfather's uncle was a werewolf," I said. "It was supposed to be a family secret, but it's hard to keep secrets from my mother. She just smiles at people, and they tell her their life stories. Anyway, she found his phone number and called him."

"Wow," said Mac. "I never met any of my great-grandparents."

"Me either," I said, then smiled. "Just an uncle of theirs who was a werewolf. One of the benefits of being a werewolf is a long life." If you can control the wolf-but Adam could explain that part better than me.

His gaze was drawn back to our dead friend.

"Yes, well." I sighed. "Stupidity will still get you killed. My great-grandfather's uncle was smart enough to outlive his generation, but all those years didn't keep him from getting gutted by a moose he was out hunting one night."

"Anyway," I continued, "he came to visit and knew as soon as he saw me what I was. That was before the fae came out and people were still trying to pretend that science had ruled out the possibility of magic. He convinced my mother that I'd be safer out in the hinterlands of Montana being raised by the Marrok's pack-they have their own town in the mountains where strangers seldom bother them. I was fostered with a family there who didn't have any children."

"Your mother just gave you up?"

"My mother came out every summer, and they didn't make it easy on her either. Not overfond of humans, the Marrok, excepting their own spouses and children."

"I thought the Marrok was the wolf who rules North America," said Mac.

"Packs sometimes take their public name from their leader," I told him. "So the Marrok's pack call themselves the Marrok. More often they find some geographical feature in their territory. Adam's wolves are the Columbia Basin Pack. The only other pack in Washington is the Emerald Pack in Seattle."

Mac had another question, but I held up my hand for him to be quiet. I'd heard Adam's car pull up.

"Remember what I said about the Alpha," I told Mac and stood up. "He's a good man and you need him. Just sit there, keep your eyes down, let me talk, and everything will be all right."

The heavy garage door of bay one groaned, then rang like a giant cymbal as it was forced all the way open faster than it usually moved.

Adam Hauptman stood in the open doorway, stillness cloaking his body and for an instant, I saw him with just my eyes, as a human might. He was worth looking at.

For all his German last name, his face and coloring were Slavic: dusky skin, dark hair-though not as dark as mine-wide cheekbones, and a narrow but sensual mouth. He wasn't tall or bulky, and a human might wonder why all eyes turned to him when he walked into a room. Then they'd see his face and assume, wrongly, that it was the attraction. Adam was an Alpha, and if he'd been ugly he would have held the attention of anyone who happened to be nearby, wolf or human-but the masculine beauty he carried so unself-consciously didn't hurt.

Under more usual circumstances his eyes were a rich chocolate brown, but they had lightened with his anger until they were almost yellow. I heard Mac gasp when the full effect of Adam's anger hit him, so I was prepared and let the wave of power wash off me like seawater on glass.

Maybe I should have explained matters better when I had him on the phone, but where's the fun in that?

"What happened?" he asked, his voice softer than the first snowfall in winter.

"It's complicated," I said, holding his gaze for two full seconds before I turned my head and gestured toward the body. "The dead one is there. If he belongs to you, he is new-and you haven't been doing your job. He was as deaf and blind as a human. I was able to take him by surprise, then he was too ignorant to realize that the wound wouldn't close as fast as usual if it was given by a preternatural creature. He let himself bleed out because he was too caught up in the chase to-"

"Enough, Mercedes," he growled as he strode over to the dead wolfman and knelt beside him. He moved the body and one of the corpse's arms flopped down limply on the ground.

Mac whined eagerly, then bowed his head and pressed it against my thigh so that he couldn't see.

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