Wild in the City
Werewulf Journals, Book 1
Ebook ISBN: 1-59632-014-1
[ Werewolf Romance, MF ]
Hunter is both wulf and man. Melody is genetically programmed to lust after him. He must have her. She can’t resist him. But is their attraction more than just biology?
I Confront an Old Friend
On the way home from a weeklong surveillance job, I detoured to have my monthly meeting with the city’s police commissioner. This month’s meeting was to acquaint me with a vicious crook. A drug lord who preyed on teenaged girls, sold poison-laced drugs to minors, and engaged in illegal gunrunning on the side. The Department had done what they could, compiled all the information undercover agents had gathered and delivered it to Kevin, who would pass it on to me.
I already had several folders at home containing the dossiers of San Francisco’s most unwanted. Untouchable by the law, judged to possess no redeeming spark of humanity, they now belonged to me. Tonight, at my sole discretion, Gerald Spenser, drug lord and boil–or another candidate–would cease to be a blemish on the fair ass of my city.
For services rendered, I received a generous monthly stipend from the city referenced as payment for Licensed Certified Security Consultations. That’s just a big title meaning I do mop up work. Also, I dabbled in some private investigative work for the police department. Part of my job was securing the information needed to put scum in jail where they belonged. When I couldn’t get the dirt on them, I handled the problem in other, more permanent ways.
Tired from a week trailing an illusive philandering spouse, I found myself yawning as the meeting dragged on into the late afternoon. I slumped further down on my chair, wondering how much longer the interminable discourse would drag on.
As the meeting wrapped up, I jerked upright, coming alert as I sniffed emotional distress leaking from the commissioner. Strong and acrid, the scent scored my sensitive nostrils. Glancing up, I found his eyes riveted to my face, his expression one of intense loathing. When the meeting finished I made sure to linger behind until everyone else left and we were alone. I approached him, no longer willing to let his unspoken challenge go unanswered.
“So, Kevin, what’s biting your ass?”
“Nothing,” he mumbled, eyes lowered. He had been picking up the scattered papers, stuffing them haphazardly back into his briefcase, obviously trying to cut short our private chat before it began. His terse answer, blatantly untrue, pissed me off.
“Come off it, Commissioner Morrison. I happen to know better. I can smell your agitation a block away. What the fuck is eating you?”
Before the words cleared my mouth, his head snapped up. Slamming his hands down on the table, he snarled, “Back off, McCallum. Just do your gruesome little job and leave me the shit alone.”
“Whoa! That was extreme. Where the hell’d it come from, anyway?” My eyes narrowed in a warning frown. “I don’t like my tail twisted when I’ve done nothing to warrant it.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, for your information, lots of things happen that we don’t want to–like finding out your best buddy and partner is a fucking alien monster.”
That hurt. Again. Still… Shit.
Lips tight, I turned away and snatched up my leather biking jacket. Thrusting my arms into the sleeves with subdued violence, I gathered the rest of my stuff and made for the door. Halfway there, I changed my mind and turned back, realizing I had a few choice words for my former friend, words that had been seething inside me for years. I marched over and planted myself in front of him, eyes narrowed in years’ old anger.
“You know, Kevin, back when we were partners on the police force, you and I used to get along fine. Then I made the mistake of saving your sorry ass–you’re welcome, by the way–and suddenly I was a rabid dog you couldn’t trust around your family.”
I swallowed past a lump of remembered pain, wrestling to keep my cool. Meeting Kevin’s stony gaze, I took a deep breath and continued.
“I broke Pack Law when I allowed you to find out about me. Being Wulf-in-Waiting to the Alpha of the Western America Pack wouldn’t have saved me if certain pack members learned what I’d done, so I was grateful when you promised to keep my information secret. I thought we were cool, that everything was copasetic between us. Instead, I ended up paying a higher price for your life than you did.”
“How did you expect me to feel, to act? You’re not human, Hunter. You’re a…I don’t know what the hell you are, but I couldn’t take the chance you might one day turn on my family–”
“Well, you’re right, there, bucko,” I drawled, resting a hip on the edge of the table. I looked him up and down, letting him see what I thought about his groundless fears. Like I’d ever hurt him or his.
“I’m not human. Unlike you dirt monkeys, I’m Wulf, and we are loyal. If the tables had been turned, I never would have betrayed our friendship, left you alone to die–”
He managed to look shamefaced. “I didn’t mean to do that, Hunter. I was in shock. I’d just seen a man I thought of as a brother turn into a giant wolf and rip the throat out of three men faster than I could have said, ‘Jack be nimble.’ Still, what scared the shit out of me was that you didn’t spit the flesh out–you ate it.” A harsh laugh grated in his throat. “All I could see was this mental picture of you looming over my kids, teeth bared, hungry…” He shook his head.
I’d known what he thought all those years ago, but hearing it from his own mouth made my eyes burn. “I was the same person that held your newborn children and vowed to protect them with my life. We’d been through so much together. How could you just drive off and leave me to face those three perps?”
A strangled sound from Kevin made me lower my gaze.
“Maybe I should have hung about and talked my fears over with you. Maybe I overreacted when I got in the squad car and got the hell outta Dodge. Still, no matter what, you have to know I had no idea three more men were hiding in that alley. I never would have abandoned you to face that, alone.”
Was he lying to himself? I sensed he believed what he was saying. So much water had flowed under that bridge that I decided to let it go.
“I’ll give you that,” I conceded, grudgingly. “But what about later, when you transferred to another department without telling me? All of a sudden, invitations to the “just family” dinners and the late night pizza parties with Alison and my current–you used to call them my sex snack–dried up.”
“I was too afraid to let you anywhere near my wife and kids.”
“Damn you, Kevin! I was your kids’ godparent. I never would have harmed them. I would have let you shoot me before I did anything to hurt them.”
“Fat lot of good that would have done,” Kevin muttered, half under his breath. The bitterness in his voice and the disgruntled look on his face had me blinking, wondering if my friend had been jealous of me, of my abilities.
Well, I’ll be damned! Everything clicked into place and I wanted to howl aloud over the years’ worth of hurt and frustration. He hadn’t feared me as much as he’d envied me. Not willing to face the truth, he’d cut me off from his family, leaving them to wonder at my abrupt absence from their lives. I had missed the visits and the dinners, but mostly, I had missed my time with his two children. I still did.
“You sorry son of a monkey, you disgust me. Danielle and Kevin, Jr. have always been precious to me. Right now, they’re the only reason I’m not kicking your damned prejudiced ass into kingdom come.”
“Well, hell, Hunter, what did you expect after you told me you wished you had let my–let me see, how did you put it?–’my punk ass’ die?”
For the first time in years, I felt angry enough to let Kevin see the beginnings of my change. Fur flowed across my skin, rippling into existence under my clothing. A hair’s breadth away from giving in to rage, I swallowed down my fury and held back the metamorphosis. Speaking through a mouthful of fangs, I told him about himself.
“Oh, for godssake, you fool, that was hurt and anger speaking! I might have said something asinine along those lines. After all, misery loves company, and I was mighty miserable back then. You’d just refused to let me see the kids. I took my responsibilities toward them seriously. When you stopped our visits, I was so angry I wanted to rip your heart out.”
Kevin’s eyes glinted. His lips firmed and his chin angled up aggressively. For a moment, I thought he would say something. Instead, his chest rose in a massive sigh before he went back to stuffing papers into his briefcase.
“Well, your comments didn’t do much to solidify our failing friendship.” He paused, glanced up at me and huffed. “Hunter, I don’t want to talk about this now. I have other things on my mind.”
“You started it,” I mumbled. I hadn’t meant to bring up old hurts and insults, but he’d tweaked my tail, first.
“My disturbance isn’t with you, today, McCallum.”
“Yeah…right,” I drawled, crossing my arms as I sneered at him. “You’ve been nothing but disturbed since I got outted saving your bacon. In fact, I never have been able to understand why you called me in on that rogue wulf killing and eating rampage in the Heights a couple years back. Color me surprised when, answering an urgent call from the Police Commissioner of San Francisco, I found my old buddy and partner Kevin Morrison requesting my help.”
The Commissioner turned a little green. “The deaths were gruesome and extremely messy, but I’d seen those kinds of wounds before. I’d seen how fast you moved and fought. If the killer proved to be the same as you, no human stood a chance in a fight with that monster. I figured the only way we could apprehend what I suspected to be the killer, was to get help. Your help.”
I nodded sagely. “Takes a monster to catch a monster, huh?” I waved away Kevin’s half-hearted protest. “It’s okay, I was glad to help. At the time, I was just grateful you hadn’t targeted me as the one responsible for those seven grisly deaths.”
The guilty look on his face had me shaking my head, a disbelieving laugh rumbling in my chest. “I’ll be damned. You did think it was me.”
“I had to make sure. The best thing to do was have you under our surveillance to rule out that possibility. When the killer struck again, that put you in the clear.”
“You never let on. All this time, I thought you had begun to trust me again, to realize I would never hurt you or your family. Instead, you were just using me. You’re using me now, but it galls you, doesn’t it?”
Morrison cocked his head and stared at me, his steady gaze meeting my eyes without flinching. “I’ve told you I don’t have time for this, but you’re going to insist we hash this out now. Okay, you helped the city with that first case and some of the shakers and movers decided we should use your special training to help deal with the criminals who constantly manage to evade justice.
“Everybody knows these crooks are guilty, yet somehow they keep slipping through our hands. Nothing can be pinned on them. They circumvent the legal system, laughing in the faces of the city’s prosecutors. Some patsy always shows up at the last minute to accept the blame, sign the confession and allow the guilty one to walk away from prison terms, or more, the death penalty.”
Kevin glared at me, his smile a parody of friendliness. “I can’t stand letting a criminal walk away more than I can’t stand working with you. So I am prepared to work with you and keep your secret. Everyone here believes you to be retired Navy Seal as well as a retired police officer–”
He looked startled. I guess he was surprised about me having been Navy Seal. “As for trusting you…” He shook his head. “You’re a predator, Hunter. Humans are your natural prey. Isn’t it normal for distrust and hatred to exist between our two races?”
“Kevin, no matter how often I come up against your prejudice, I still find it disconcerting.”
“Don’t act so shocked. Species prejudice is as bad as the racial kind. I know firsthand how Blacks and Native Americans feel, labeled as being ‘not good enough,’ too different for true camaraderie or friendship.
“Frankly, I find your attitude laughable. How can you humans actually believe yourselves superior to any truly sentient being? Look at you–self-styled demigods, mired in your own filthy social excrement, possessed of vomitous morals. You kill each other with unnatural impunity, preying upon the weak and helpless…not from necessity, but for gain. Name one other species that maims and destroys to gain glittering trinkets that will not fill one’s belly.”
“Listen to yourself!” Kevin ordered, jaw tight, his rising anger a sharp smell seeping through his pores. “It doesn’t sound like you even like us. How soon would it have been before you turned on me and mine?”
I sneered and let him see my fangs. “Don’t flatter yourself. I wouldn’t bite into you with dentures. You’d probably taste rancid because hatred sours your blood as well as your life. As for my species being predators, that’s true of both our people. Don’t kid yourself, Kevin. The cow doesn’t want you visiting her house anymore than you want me in yours.”
“We kill to eat. We don’t go about slaughtering indiscriminately.”
“You are fucking amazing!” I looked at him in disbelief, laughing harshly. “For beings so vicious and cruel to others, you dirt monkeys have such fragile egos. ‘We kill to eat.’“ I mocked him, my voice going high and singsong. “Tell that to the vegetarians among you, the ones who thrive without ever touching meat. Better yet, tell it to the cattlemen who slaughter thousands of cows just to drive up market prices. Oh, wait.” My voice dropped and chilled. “Why don’t you tell that to the parents of that insane fuck who killed their daughter, who slit her open so he could play with her–”
Kevin gasped and went pale. He held up his hands. “Hunter, stop. Please!”
“Why not just admit that we’re both animals, both predators? Your problem is you found out your species wasn’t the only one sitting at the top of the food chain and you couldn’t handle it. Well, here’s a reality check: Your race was never King of the Hill and Werewulves aren’t the only otherworldly creatures among you. There are things out there that send us scurrying to huddle in our dens. But, hey, stay ignorant as long as you can.”
Kevin let out a shaky breath. Fear rolled off his skin in dense oily clouds of musk. His mouth opened and shut, opened again. I held up a hand, stalling whatever he planned to say.
“You don’t have the time, remember? That brings us back to our starting point. What the hell is eating you?”
“I think we’ve found one of those ‘otherworldly’ creatures you just mentioned.”