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04 December 2017 @ 07:33 am
_Stone_ part 26  

"You are soaking wet! And shivering." Glower. "Stay right there."

Her warm dry living room beckoned.

I stayed.

She returned with a threadbare towel.

What a wonderful woman. She dried me off as I oozed slowly inside, holding up paws for her to dry, then flopping on her rug.

She leaned and took a look at my dog tags. "Stone." She straightened and frowned at me.

And brought me half a bowl of soup.

"Sorry, that's all I have on hand for dinner, and I need to eat too."

I looked at her, worried. I'd known she was short on money, but I hadn't realized it was so bad she was short on actual food.

I scratched and got my collar off and nudged it over to her.

"What?" She leaned and picked it up, frowned as she felt the cards in the pocket of the rolled up running shorts. She pulled them out and sorted through them. Shooting me an occasional glance.

"Well, Leo, I knew you were a bit odd. But I hadn't realized you were this odd. This is very clever. The bare necessities for someone who might have to run away at a moments notice."

I got up stiffly and walked to the table. Reared up carefully to look over the stash.

Kris Kovac had given me a prepaid credit card, and Mr. Wright the same. I nudged Mr. Wright's over to her. And managed to raise a single toe.

Then the cash. Two toes.

"Ah. You want me to go shopping. The card first, and the cash if I need it?"

"Woof!" I wagged my tail. Then sketched out a "W" on the table.

"Hmm, now is that for Walmart—for clothes, I daresay—or Wally to drive me?"

I gave her a big doggy grin and wagged my tail a whole bunch. And looked at the fridge.

She laughed and hugged me. "Right. You want me to get Wally to drive me to Walmart and buy food and clothes. That sounds like an excellent idea."

She put everything else back in the baggie, in the shorts, rolled them up and slipped them around my neck. Clipped on the tags.

"So, lets get you properly bedded down, Dog, and I'll see if Wally's available."

She pointed at the couch, what a nice lady! And walked off, returning with a crocheted thing that she tossed on me.

Then she got her purse and headed out the door.

I snoozed, relaxing with a tiny bit of hope. And warmth. And so tired that if the next person through the door was Wright, I'd probably just lay here and let him shoot me.

I woke as the door opened.

"No, no, just set them right there and I'll put them away."

"Hey, it no problem to carry them just a few steps further."

Oh crap. That's Mike!

I tried to make a run for the bedroom and got as far as sliding off the couch before Mike was in and spotted me.

"Leo!" He dropped everything and stumbled over to drop to his knees and hug me. "You're all right!"

"Uh, Mike? That a dog." Wally set two bags on the counter and walked over to stare at me.

Mike sat back and, swear to god, wiped his eyes. "Oh right, of course. Silly coincidence, the dog having the same name . . . "

Wally eyed him, me. Mrs. Armstrong. And back to me.

I grinned and wagged my tail.

Wally crossed his arms and frowned. "You said something about rescuing two women from . . . what was it? Demon worshiping werewolves? Did you leave out the part about being a werewolf yourself?"

"Woof!"

He walked over to Mrs. Armstrong's chair and sat down, staring into space.

Mrs. Armstrong poked Mike. "Go close the door then come back to tell us about it, since you seem to be the only one who knows what's going on and," she looked at me, "can talk about it."

Mike closed and locked the door, then walked back and sat on the couch. "I'm not supposed to talk about it."

Wally looked from him to me. "Tell us anyway. Start with Demon Worshiping Werewolves."

"Well, do you remember the news story about a grave in the desert with the remains of three women murdered something like twenty years ago? Yeah, well, we've found thirty-five sites like that. All over the country. Some of them a lot more recent. We were sure they were by the same gang on account of things that didn't get in the newspapers . . . " He broke off at their glares and squirmed. "The victims were all cooked and eaten."

"Oh my . . . " Mrs. Armstrong sat in the other chair.

"And then with DNA testing of old samples . . . there were some oddities, so we knew they were all tied together, with four interrelated family groups."

He shot a look my direction. "The big break came with what we first thought was a falling out among the family—a fight that left two known members dead, plus the bodies of two big dogs whose genetics turned out to be human, with the same oddities. Outside of Albuquerque. And some blood stains from a previously unknown family member, who had killed them all."

He squirmed. "Whom we later discovered was an orphan who'd been raised by nice people. He helped an FBI agent break up one of their demon-worshipping ceremonies in Phoenix. The FBI's Senior Special Agent suggested that the, umm, friendly werewolf could be a great help in finding the rest of the gang. My Boss—I work for the National Security Agency."

"No Such Agency." Wally muttered.

Mike glared. "And got him to come here to help us. I was assigned to watch him. Leo . . . two nights ago, he saved these four women, and the bad werewolves--the whole LA area gang—have been captured or killed, their base has been raided . . ."

He took an angry swipe at his cheek. "It's just . . . Mr. Wright shot him! He brought us all this information, saved, fought . . . and Wright just shot him!"

Wally looked around at me. "Silver bullets?"

I just grinned and wagged my tail.

Mrs. Armstrong looked worried. "But Leo? What are you going to do now?"

I reached out a paw and started tracing out letters.

"Find NW Hunters?" Mike looked at me like I was crazy. "You . . . after this you're going to go find the Pacific Northwest Forty Eighters? Why?"

B A D

"Well, yeah, but we're no sweethearts either." Mike hunched his shoulders.

"Dude, Heroic werewolf. Awesome." Wally shook his head. "I was a werewolf's teenage minion. Well, twenty-five, but who's counting?"

With Mike's assurance that the NSA hadn't booby trapped my apartment, the three of them packed it all, got it all in my car and drove it away.

"We'll take you to it, when you're, err, recovered."

I held up two toes.

Wally eyed me. "Two days? I want to see this, you know."

I grinned. S K E P T

"I'm not a skeptic, Dude. I'm an actor. You are research gold."

So two days later, I totally squicked the Dude out by letting him watch. Then I got dressed and hugged Mrs. Armstrong.

So she cooked a huge Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner with the works. Three days early, but . . . The next day Wally drove me to Bakersfield to retrieve my car from his sister's garage. We talked all the way, especially about genetics. Of course he knew more about the subject than I did, and I didn't know nearly enough about myself to satisfy him. By the end of the drive he was talking about going back to college for post grad work in genetics . . .

"I mean, frankly I was beginning to wonder about being a doctor. I mean whiney sick little kids, every day?"

"So instead you could be a Mad Scientist in a lab. Sounds good to me."

He turned into the driveway of an ordinary home and . . . his sister, her husband, and three kids all piled out to take a good look at this guy Wally was helping escape from the Space Aliens who ruled Los Angeles.

I looked at Wally.

"What? Was I supposed to say you were dodging a violent ex-girlfriend?"

"That would have at least been believable." I turned to the family. "It was actually cyborgs from another dimension."

Wally laughed. "Dude. It's been awesome. You be careful."

"Yeah. Wish I didn't have to go. Keep an eye on Mrs. Armstrong. I think she runs out of money for food at end of every month." I backed the car out of the garage and headed north.

***

Mike opened cupboards and drawers, looking for the accidentally left behind notes that would explain everything. Or whatever. He heard knuckles rapping at the open door and popped up to look.

"Excuse me?" Mrs. Armstrong was frowning through the door at the men tromping around Leo's apartment. "Would one of you gentlemen be Mr. Wright?"

"Yes?" Mike's boss stalked over and frowned down at her. "Who are you?"

"I'm Mrs. Armstrong, Leo's next door neighbor. He left a message for you."

"Oh?"

It was classic. Thumbs in ears, fingers wiggling. "Pppptttttt!"
 

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on December 4th, 2017 06:06 pm (UTC)
OK, that's a reasonable ending for a one-off, if you're trying to restrict it to just werewolves. If you're trying to include the romantic elements of Urban Fantasy, then either you need at least three more novels, or you need to throw a bone towards re-connecting with Rachel at the end.

matapampamuphoff on December 4th, 2017 07:12 pm (UTC)
Not done yet--I had to get my 50K words in for NaNoWriMo.
matapampamuphoff on December 4th, 2017 07:38 pm (UTC)
And yes, my paranormal romance will need more romance and more eerie stuff. At least I've got the framing story written.
(Anonymous) on December 5th, 2017 02:32 pm (UTC)
I need to see Leo put the running shorts/collar on, either as everyday wear at some point, or specifically before heading out with Mike that day.

I've read a fair bit of paranormal romance-the first book is free! kind on Amazon. And this is not Romance. This is not a romantic relationship in a paranormal setting. This is urban fantasy with a romantic subplot. This isn't a bad thing: I like Harry Dresden much more than Her Billionaire Werebear. (I think I've read about four with that title.)

Paranormal Romance generally doesn't have real world problems-clothes shift magically with the shifter, the man is wealthy, etc, so the problems are relationship based. The romance is not the plot in this.

Did you read Sarah's piece about Romance at MGC a few weeks ago? Where she wrote about the plot structure of Romance?


Holly
matapampamuphoff on December 5th, 2017 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was what I was aiming for, to step outside my usual and stretch my writing skills. Haven't got there yet.
mbarkermbarker on December 6th, 2017 01:06 am (UTC)
I kind of like the slow buildup of buddies, though! I mean, he's got Rachel and company, now Mike and company... pretty soon, Leo is going to have a little group of followers. Now if they could get a VW bus and paint it crazy colors to run off in support of him... Scooby-Doo, we love you? Nah, that would be ridiculous. Although Wally doing a hit TV show (or movie?) about the werewolf next door... Hey, all kinds of potential here, with Leo and company taking on the Mr. Wright's of the world AND the 48 gangs... Might even be a secret cabal inside the 48s that helped the orphan get turned loose, way back when, and has secretly been working to bring down the demon worshipers?