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Home > Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(15)

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(15)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"All right, Asil." Bran's voice sounded flat and tired. "But not today. Not tomorrow. You can hold out a little longer."

Asil turned to look at the congregation, who had been a silent witness to it all, and spoke in a clear, ringing voice. "A gift you have, someone who knows what needs to be done and will do it. You have a place to come home to, a safe place, because of him. I had to leave my Alpha to come here because he'd have let me rot in madness out of love." He turned his head and symbolically spat over his left shoulder. "A weak love that betrays. If you knew what I feel, what Carter Wallace felt, you'd know what a blessing you have in Bran Cornick, who will kill those who need killing."

And that's when Anna realized that what the wolf had been asking Bran for was death.

Impulsively, Anna stepped away from Charles. She put a knee on the bench she'd been sitting on and reached over the back to close her hand on Asil's wrist, which was lying across the back of the pew.

He hissed in shock but didn't pull away. As she held him, the scent of wildness, of sickness, faded. He stared at her, the whites of his eyes showing brightly while his irises narrowed to small bands around his black pupil.

"Omega," he whispered, his breath coming harshly.

Behind her, Charles stepped closer, but he didn't touch her as the cool flesh under her fingertips warmed. They all stood frozen in place. Anna knew that all she had to do to end this was to remove her hand, but she was strangely reluctant to do so.

The shock on Asil's face faded, and skin around his eyes and mouth softened into sorrow that grew and deepened before tucking itself away, where all private thoughts hid from too-keen observers. He reached out and touched her face lightly, ignoring Charles's warning growl.

"More gifts here than I'd believed." He smiled tightly at Anna, eyes and mouth in concert. "It's too late for me, mì querida. You waste your gifts on my old self. But for the respite, I thank you." He looked at Bran. "Today and tomorrow, and maybe the next day, too. To see Charles, the original lone wolf, caught with a foot in the trap of amor- this will amuse me for a while longer, I think."

He freed himself with a twist of his wrist, captured her hand in his and, with a sly look at Charles, kissed her palm. Then he let her go and slipped out of the church. Not hurrying, but not dawdling, either.

"Be careful around that one," Charles cautioned her, but he didn't sound displeased.

Someone cleared his throat, and Anna looked around to meet the eyes of the minister. He smiled at her, then looked at the church. The interruption of his service didn't seem to bother him in the slightest. Maybe he was used to werewolves interrupting things. Anna felt a blush rise up her face and sank back down on the bench...wishing she could sink even farther. She'd just interrupted the funeral of a man she didn't even know.

"It is time to bring this to a close," the minister said. "Our mourning is done here, and when we leave, we must remember a life well lived and a heart open to all. If you would all bow your heads for a final prayer."

Chapter FOUR

Northwestern Montana,

Cabinet Wilderness

Walter didn't know why he'd survived the beast's attack, any more than he understood how he'd survived three tours of ' Nam when so many of his friends, his comrades, had not. Maybe his survival both times was just luck-or maybe fate had other things in store for him.

Like another thirty years wandering alone in the woods.

If his survival after the beast's attack had been unlikely, the rest of it was just plain weird. The first thing he'd noticed was that the aching arthritis that had haunted his shoulders and knees, the throb of an old wound in his hip, had all disappeared. The cold no longer bothered him.

It took him a lot longer to realize that his hair and beard had regained the color of his youth-he didn't carry around a mirror.

That's when he began paying attention to the oddities. He was faster and stronger than he'd ever been. The only wounds that hadn't healed with the same remarkable speed as his belly were the ones on his battered soul.

He didn't really understand what had happened until the morning after the first full moon when he woke up with blood in his mouth, under his nails, and on his naked body: the memory of what he'd done, what he'd become, clear as diamonds. Only then did he know he had become the enemy, and he wept at the loss of the last of his humanity.

* * * *

Aspen Creek, Montana

With Charles's arm around her shoulder, Anna followed everyone to the frigid parking lot of the church. They stopped on the sidewalk and watched as the lot slowly emptied. A few of the people leaving the church glanced at Anna, but no one stopped.

When they stood mostly alone, Anna found herself under gray-eyed scrutiny that was wary, despite the friendly smile Samuel gave her.

"So you're the stray pup my brother decided to bring home? You're shorter than I expected."

Impossible to take offense when clearly none was meant; at least he didn't call her a bitch.

"Yes," she said, careful to resist the urge to squirm under his gaze or to babble endlessly as she sometimes did when she was nervous.

"Samuel, this is Anna. Anna, my brother, Samuel," Charles said in introduction.

Apparently deciding Charles's brief introduction wasn't good enough, his brother reintroduced himself. "Dr. Samuel Cornick, elder brother and tormentor. Very nice to meet you, Anna-"

"Latham," she told him, wishing she could come up with something clever.

He gave her a charming smile that, she noticed, did nothing to warm his eyes. "Welcome to the family." He patted her on the head, mostly, she thought, to irritate Charles.

Who said merely, "Quit flirting with my mate."

"Behave," said Bran. "Samuel, would you take Charles back to the clinic and look at his wounds? I have a job for him, but if he isn't going to recover soon, I'll have to find someone else to send. I don't think he's healing as well as he should be."

Samuel shrugged. "Sure. No problem." He looked at Anna. "It might take a while, though."

She wasn't stupid. He wanted to talk to Charles without her there-or maybe it had been Bran, and Samuel was just helping out.

Charles picked up on it, too, because he said smoothly, "Why don't you take the truck back to the house. Samuel or Da will give me a lift back."

"Sure," she told him with a quick smile-she had no reason to feel hurt, she told herself sternly. She turned and walked rapidly to the truck.

She could do with some time to herself. She had things she wanted to consider without Charles around to cloud her thinking.

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