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Blue Moon (Chapter 25)

By the time my shift was over and the sun had risen on another day, I'd decided to name the game "pandemonium."

We'd had four arrests, three accidental shootings, two dead dogs –

"And a partridge in a pear tree," I muttered as I filled out my reports.

I'd never had a chance to meet with Mandenauer. Hunting would have been pointless anyway, since the woods were overrun with morons.

Amazingly, not a wolf had been shot. I had to wonder if they'd all turned tail and run to the next county.

It wouldn't break my heart any.

I was also unable to meet Cadotte. I'd called his house, but he wasn't there, so I left a short, apologetic message. I suspected he was at my place, and I felt kind of bad that I'd left him sitting on my doorstep.

But I couldn't leave just yet. He knew where to find me.

As I was looking through my notes, I discovered that while I might thrive on third shift, my memory did not. I'd forgotten about Tina Wilson.

I decided to stop by her apartment later today, if not tonight. My days of working in the dark and sleeping in the light appeared to be over –  for the duration of our wolf problem.

"Ha!"

The door slammed. Everyone in the room –  me, First Shift, Brad, several of the Clearwater cops –

jumped. Clyde held a legal-sized sheet of paper in his fist.

"Got it," he told the room at large.

We glanced at one another, then back at him.

"Got what?" I asked.

"A proclamation from the DNR."

"What's it say?"

"Any private citizen caught in the woods with a gun will lose their license for a year."

"Ouch," I murmured. Clyde just smiled.

While folks in and around Miniwa wouldn't blink at a few days in jail for illegal firearms transportation, threatening to take away their hunting and fishing privileges –  which was the DNR's specialty –  would make people sit up and take notice.

"Post this at the Coffee Pot." He handed the paper to Brad. "Then put out the word."

Which meant get some coffee, gas up your squad car, have a doughnut, and while you were at it, let everyone know that the DNR was behind us. The woods were going to be more deserted than a ski hill on the Fourth of July.

"This time tomorrow everything should be back to normal." Clyde went into his office and shut the door.

Great. Now he was delusional, too. Had he forgotten the wolf problem?

As everyone dispersed to spread the news, I knocked on Clyde's door.

"Come!"

I went in.

"What's up, Jessie?" Clyde's grin didn't mask the cir-cles under his eyes, the pallor beneath his tan, the sag of his shoulders. He hadn't forgotten the wolf problem. In fact, he probably remembered it better than I did. Especially when I was in Cadotte's arms, where I forgot everything.

I straightened and got down to business. "I wasn't able to go out with Mandenauer last night."

"Of course not. That would have been suicide. Edward and I had dinner."

"Edward?"

He ignored me. "We also had quite a conversation." From the narrowing of Clyde's eyes, I knew what was coming. "Didn't I tell you Cadotte was trouble?"

"Yes, sir."

"Yet you're sleeping with him?"

"How the hell did you know that?"

He raised one dark eyebrow. "I didn't."

Damn Clyde. He was the best interrogator on the force –  and he'd just played me like a green kid with her first felony.

"Jessie." He shook his head and sat on the edge of his desk. "I thought better of you."

I lifted my chin. "I haven't done anything wrong. I'm an adult. So is he."

"You find that totem yet?"

I blinked at the sudden change of subject. As if the stone had heard us, it swayed between my breasts. I jumped, then had to clench my ringers into fists to keep from reaching for the thing and rousing Clyde's suspicions.

"No. Why?"

"Ever ask Cadotte about it?"

"Why should I?"

"I don't know, Jessie; maybe because he's an expert on totems. You find one, show it to him, then poof, the next thing we know, the stone is gone."

"You think he took the totem?"

Since I knew he hadn't, Clyde's attempt to make me suspicious of Will only convinced me to keep the thing under my shirt –  so to speak.

"I'm not sure what to think."

Which only made two of us. Everyone was acting weird lately. Except Cadotte. But he'd been strange to begin with.

My cell phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. Speak of the Devil. 1 hooked the thing back onto my belt.

Raising my eyes, I met Clyde's. From the expression in his, he knew who'd been on the phone.

He heaved a sigh. "Be careful. I don't want you to get hurt."

Zee had said the same thing. Was I such a social reject that everyone took one look at Cadotte and labeled me "soon to be hurt"?

That was a rhetorical question.

A knock on Clyde's door had us both lifting our heads. Mandenauer walked in.

"Just the guy I wanted to see," I began.

He raised a slightly yellowed brow and shut the door behind him. "I am at your service."

He bowed, just his head and shoulders in what I was beginning to think of as the German fashion. I half-expected him to click his heels, but he didn't.

"The doctor at the hospital didn't know anything about the super-rabies."

"Of course not."

"Why not? Don't you think that's something the doctors ought to know?"

Mandenauer shrugged. "Rabies is rabies to them. The vaccine works on both."

"Not so much. Didn't you hear that Mel died? Have you seen the body?"

"Yes to both questions. Sometimes that happens."

"Well, don't get too broken up about it," I mumbled.

"Jessie," Clyde warned.

"Yeah, yeah."

I rubbed my forehead. I was getting tired, dopey, crankier than usual. I had another question for Manden-auer –  it was on the tip of my brain.

"Oh!" I smacked my forehead. "Ouch." I forced myself to lower my hand so I could see Mandenauer. "I called the CDC."

He didn't react.

"The Centers for Disease Control?"

He spread his bony hands wide.

"Something is funny there."

"I have never known the CDC to be very funny."

"Exactly. The first time I called, they had heard about the virus. When I called back and asked to talk to the doctor, they'd never heard of her."

Mandenauer and Clyde exchanged glances.

"Sounds like someone was yanking your chain, Jessie."

"At the CDC?"

"How long since you slept?"

"I forget."

"Sleep." Mandenauer turned me toward the door. "Forget about anything but ridding your forest of the wolves. Tonight we hunt at dusk."

"Dusk?"

"When the sun just sets."

"I know when the hell dusk is. But why then?"

"It is the time when the wolves come to life. I will be at your house an hour before that."

"Fine. Whatever."

I was starting to wonder about that first phone call to the CDC. Had someone been screwing with me?

How could that be?

A tap on the phone? Interception of my calls?

Put me and Oliver Stone in the same padded room, thank you.

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