Home > Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(8)

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(8)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"They were, kid. You just need to give them a chance. I promise you we can undo your curse."

Undo his curse? There was no drug in the world that would undo the Change, and darn few werewolves who considered their state a curse after the first few months. Eventually most of them felt that becoming short-tempered and occasionally furry was a small price to pay for extraordinary strength, speed, and senses-not to mention the fringe benefit of a body immune to disease and old age.

Even if the werewolf belonged to Adam, I doubted he knew that one of his pack was telling wild stories. At least I hoped he didn't know.

Mac seemed to know these two, though, and I was beginning to feel that his story was more complicated than I had thought.

"You talk like you have a choice," the third man was saying. "But the only choice you have is how you get there."

These weren't Adam's men, I decided. The mention of curses, cages, and drugs made them the enemy. If Mac didn't want to go with them, I wouldn't let them take him.

I took a quick glance around, but the streets were empty. After six the warehouse district is pretty dead. I stripped out of my clothes as quietly as I could and shifted into coyote form.

As a human I didn't stand a chance against a werewolf. The coyote was still not a match-but I was fast, much faster than a real coyote and just a hair quicker than a werewolf.

I jumped onto the railing and vaulted from there to the top of Stefan's bus for the advantage of the higher position, though I was giving up surprise. No matter how quietly I moved, a werewolf would hear the click of my nails on the metal roof.

I readied myself for launch, but paused. From atop the bus I could see Mac and the two men. None of them seemed to be aware of me. Mac had his back to me, but all the others would have had to do was look up. They didn't. Something wasn't right.

Behind the two strangers was a big black SUV, the kind of car you'd expect bad guys to drive.

"I don't believe there is any way to undo what you did to me," Mac was saying. "You can't give me back my life or give Meg back hers. All you can do is leave me alone."

The human's hair was in a crew cut, but it was the big black gun I could see peeking out of his shoulder holster that first made me think military. Both of the strangers stood like military men-Adam had the posture, too. Their shoulders were just a little stiff, their backs a little too straight. Maybe they did belong to Adam. The thought made me hesitate. If I hurt one of Adam's wolves, there would be hell to pay.

"The moon's coming," said the longer-haired man, the werewolf. "Can't you feel it?"

"How're you planning on surviving the winter, kid?" It was Short-hair again. His voice was kindly. Fatherly. Patronizing even. "It gets cold 'round December, even in this desert."

I stifled a growl as I tried to determine the best way to help Mac.

"I'm working here," Mac said, with a gesture at the garage. "If it gets colder, I think she'll let me sleep in the garage until I find somewhere to live if I ask her."

"Ask her?" Short-hair looked sympathetic. "She kept you here for us. She's one of us, kid. How else do you think we found you?"

Mac smelled of shock first, then defeat. Emotions have a smell, but only in my coyote form is my nose good enough to distinguish more than the strongest feelings. My lips curled back over my teeth-I don't like liars, especially when they are lying about me.

The werewolf's voice was dreamy. "When the moon comes, you can't stop the change." He swayed back and forth. "Then you can run and drink the fear of your prey before they die beneath your fangs."

Moonstruck, I thought, shocked out of my anger. If this wolf was so new that he was moonstruck, he certainly wasn't Adam's, and whoever had sent him out was an idiot.

"I'm not coming," said Mac, taking a step away from them. He took another step back-putting his back against the bus. He stiffened, drew in a deep breath, and looked around. "Mercy?"

But neither of the men paid attention when Mac caught my scent. The werewolf was still held in his moon dreams, and the human was drawing his gun.

"We tried to do this the easy way," he said, and I could smell his pleasure. He might have tried the easy way first, but he liked the hard way better. His gun was the kind you find in military catalogues for wanna-be mercenaries, where what it looks like is at least as important as how well it performs. "Get in the car, kid. I'm packing silver bullets. If I shoot you, you'll be dead." He sounded like a thug from a fifties gangster movie; I wondered if it was deliberate.

"If I get in the car, I'll be dead anyway, won't I?" Mac said slowly. "Did you kill the other two who were in the cages by me? Is that why they disappeared?"

None of them had noticed that the werewolf was starting to change, not even the werewolf himself. I could see his eyes gleaming brightly in the darkness and smell the musk of wolf and magic. He growled.

"Quiet," snapped the human, then he looked. He paused, swallowed, and turned his gun, ever so slightly, toward his erstwhile partner.

As a human, the werewolf probably weighed in at about two hundred pounds. Werewolves, fully changed, weigh upward of two hundred and fifty pounds. No, I don't know where the extra weight comes from. It's magic, not science. I'm a little large for the average coyote-but that meant that the werewolf was still five times my weight.

I'd been trying to figure out a way to turn my speed to advantage, but when the werewolf, his elongating jaws stretching around sharp, white fangs, focused on Mac and growled again, I knew I'd just run out of time.

I threw myself off the top of the car and onto the werewolf, who was still slowed by his ongoing change. I snapped at him to get his attention and caught his throat, still barren of the thick ruff designed to protect him from such an attack.

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