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Blue Moon (Chapter 33)

"What happened?" Elise cried. "Has he been killed?"

"Of course not. Why would you think that?"

"This is my private line. Only Jdger-Suchers have this number."

"Mandenauer gave it to me. I need information."

"I need to talk to him."

"He's sleeping."

The line went dead. I cursed and hit redial. When she didn't answer, I hit redial over and over again until Dr. Hanover picked up. "What?"

"I need information," I repeated.

"Without Edward's okay, you get nothing."

"Listen." Quickly I told her what had happened that day and what I wanted. "I'm not waking him. You can forget about it."

Silence met my declaration. For an instant, I thought she'd hung up while I ranted. I waited for a dial tone. Instead I heard a soft sigh.

"Fine. But I want to talk to him as soon as he's able."

"And my information?"

"You'll have it. What harm can it do?" she mumbled. "Fax number?"

"Hold on." I got the number from the nurses'station and gave it to her.

"You'll stay with him?" she asked. "He shouldn't be alone when he can't protect himself."

"You think the wolves will come after him here?"

"With Edward, there are more than wolves to worry about."

"Peachy."

Moments later a nurse brought me the faxed information from Dr. Hanover.

"Interesting reading, Jessie," she said.

I glanced at the top sheet. "Ways to Cure a Werewolf." Well that was succinct and to the point. Not very secretive, either. But then again, who'd believe this shit was real –  unless they'd seen what I had?

I gave the nurse a sheepish smile and pointed to Man-denauer. "It's for him."

"Uh-huh," she said, and left.

I spent the next hour reading Elise's fascinating material. Not only were there several methods for curing a werewolf; there was a lot of historical information included.

From the Romans through the Greeks, to the Middle Ages, then on to the present time, there were tales of strange goings-on, explicable and inexplicable behavior. Funny, but most of the documented cases of lycanthropy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries had never come to light in the newspapers or on television. Imagine that?

Up until a few weeks ago I'd have said this made them untrue. Now I knew better. There were ways to make the truth disappear along with the evidence. Obviously Jdger-Suchers were involved with more than just the elimination of the monsters themselves; they also had a hand in the elimination of any evidence of the werewolves'existence.

"Pentagram," I read. "Protection against a werewolf."

I could imagine wearing a symbol of witchcraft in this neck of the woods. I might find myself the victim of a little Jessie bonfire. Twenty-first century or not, folks in the north woods didn't take kindly to pentagram-wearing women.

"Skip that," I murmured, even before I saw Elise's notation in the margin.

"No good."

I kept reading. Next to many of the cures Elise had written the results. Most of them didn't work, as Man-denauer had said. But there were several next to which she'd jotted encouraging words like:

"Sometimes."

"maybe" and "what the hell?"

I was beginning to like Elise.

" ' Call the animal by its human name while in wolf form.'Well, that works if we know who in hell it is in the first place."

That could work with Cadotte. Wouldn't hurt to try.

" ' Remove ten drops of blood from the beast. Hold a piece of steel over its head.'" I scowled at the paper. "Those could hurt. Me. I'll pass."

"' Cut off a limb. The werewolf will change back, sans limb.'"

"I don't think so."

There were quite a few ideas that hadn't been tried. Most of them were violent and involved hacking the beast in some way. Not only was I not willing to get that close to a werewolf, but I didn't want to injure Cadotte in the process.

If I had to kill him, so be it. But I wasn't going to torture him on the off chance he might be cured. That smacked a little too close to the Nazi way of doing things, which was what had gotten us into this mess in the first place.

In the end I had two methods I could try. The name game and one other. "Profess your love to the man within the beast. If your love is true, he will become human again and stay that way forever."

I didn't know if I loved Cadotte, but I'd give it a shot. I'd be a lot less embarrassed to profess true love to a wolf than a human anyway. If my love was true, I guess we'd both win.

I used my cell phone to contact Brad. He was an idiot, but he was my idiot. Brad was as loyal as a Labrador retriever and only half as stupid. If I told him to watch Mandenauer like a hawk, he would. If I told him to protect the old man with his life, he'd do that, too.

Ten minutes later, Brad arrived. I explained the basics: Mandenauer had been shot; I wasn't sure by who, so I wanted him protected.

"I'm going to check out a few leads," I said, and left the two of them together.

I headed for the emergency room exit at the back of the clinic. I planned to find Will and test Dr.

Hanover's theories.

Since it was after midnight in a small northern town, the parking lot was deserted. A few cars, most likely belonging to employees, butted up against the bank of trees that made a half-circle at the back of the clinic.

Beneath the bright and shiny moon, the hood of my car sparked silver shreds of light into my eyes. Which was my only excuse for not seeing the huge black wolf until he growled at me.

My hand went to my gun. The wolf was between me and my car, where I'd left my rifle. And I'd called Brad stupid. Although at this range I shouldn't need anything stronger than my pistol.

I stared at the wolf. God, he was huge. I'd never seen one bigger. I recalled reading somewhere that black wolves were the largest. The zoologists couldn't figure out why.

I tightened my fingers around my gun. The wolf snarled.

"Smarter than you look, aren't you?" I murmured.

The wolf cocked his head like a dog. The eyes nearly blended into the fur –  black pupils, dark brown irises, a little bit of white at the edges. This was the same wolf I'd seen that first night with Mandenauer.

"William Cadotte," I said.

The animal's lip curled and a low, vicious rumble came from his chest. The hair on the back of my neck tingled.

"That went well."

Either the wolf wasn't Cadotte or the name thing didn't work. I'd have to tell Elise. If I lived.

I'd gone this far. I took a deep breath. "I love you, Will."

The wolf stopped snarling and tilted his head in the other direction. Sadly, he remained a wolf.

Either the animal wasn't Cadotte or my love wasn't true. I was back to square one.

Now what?

We could stand here staring at each other all night. I could shoot him, just for fun. I could let him bite or kill me. None of those options was very appealing.

My radio crackled and the wolf jumped straight up in the air. "Nervous?" I asked.

He lifted his lip in a silent snarl, or maybe a sneer, then sat down again.

"Three Adam One, where the hell are you?"

The way Zee was behaving lately, you'd think I was MIA every minute of my shift.

I reached for my radio with my left hand. It was times like these when I wished Miniwa had the tax base to afford shoulder mikes.

"I'm outside the clinic. I've got a little situation here."

"What kind of situation?"

"Big black nasty wolf doesn't want to let me leave."

Silence met my declaration. The doors swished open behind me and voices swept out ahead of the young couple.

"Stay back!" I shouted.

They did, and so did the wolf. But the woman shrieked –  an ear-piercing sound that made me blink on a wince. In that split second, the wolf disappeared. I was left standing in the parking lot, gun drawn and trained on thin air.

I turned to the couple but kept my eyes peeled and my gun ready. "He's gone. You can stop screaming now."

As if I'd pressed a button, she shut off.

"Who's gone?" the man asked.

"The wolf."

"What wolf?"

"You didn't see him?" I glanced at the trees, saw nothing, and reluctantly holstered my weapon. "Then what was she yammering about?"

The woman's bottom lip puffed out. She sniffed and turned away.

"I think the gun might have upset her, ma'am."

"Oh. Uh, well, carry on."

They hadn't seen the wolf. How could they have missed him? I knew he had been there. I wasn't delusional. I watched them get in their car and drive away.

Crackle. Pop. Zee was back.

"I'm here."

"Did you get rid of the wolf?"

"He ran off."

"Good. Clyde wants to know if you ever found that missing evidence."

I crossed the parking lot, watching every corner, twitching at every shadow. After climbing into my car, I locked all the doors. The wolf might lack the opposable thumbs necessary to open the doors, and then again he might not.

"Let me talk to him."

"Have you looked at your watch? Right now he's probably glued to TBS. It's all Clint, all night."

"Must have missed that."

I sat in my car and thought awhile before I answered Zee's question in regard to the evidence. "Trust no one," Mandenauer had said. And though I hated to continue lying to my best friend and my colleagues, in this instance I'd just have to do it anyway.

"Jessie?" Zee prompted.

"No," I said as 1 rolled the totem between my ringers. "I never found anything."

She cursed, low and quite viciously, even for her.

"Sheesh, lighten up. It's not your ass."

"I know. I'm just sick of hearing him bitch. Get over it already."

I had to agree. I spent the rest of the night trolling the town, the highway, the woods. I even went back to Cadotte's, but he wasn't there. That made me more nervous than anything. Where in hell had he gone in the middle of the night?

When morning came, I returned to the clinic and drove Mandenauer home. He was still tired, but he'd be all right.

"Get some rest, Jessie." He collapsed onto the ancient stained couch in the cottage. "We win or we lose tonight."

"But how can they perform the ceremony without the totem? Haven't we already won?"

"I do not know. Perhaps they will find another totem."

"How?"

"If I knew, then I could prevent them from doing so. But how they got the first one is a mystery."

"Swell," I muttered.

"Since blue moons are few and far between, for the most part, I doubt whoever is behind this will let something so small as a missing item keep them from becoming."

I pulled the totem from beneath my shirt. "Maybe we should destroy this?"

He lifted a brow. "Maybe we should."

"Got a hammer?"

"In the kitchen."

I found the tool and came back. After placing the icon on the floor, I lifted the hammer and hit the thing as hard as I could. The blow reverberated up my arms. I peered at the stone.

There wasn't a mark on it.

"That's impossible," I muttered.

Mandenauer sighed. "More impossible than humans becoming wolves?"

He had me there. "What next?"

"Fire won't melt rocks –  or at least any fire we can produce."

"I could throw it into the lake."

"You could. But I've seen mystical items float right back to the surface. What if the one who wants the totem the most finds it?"

"I could bury the thing."

"It could pop out of the ground like a zombie."

"Zombie? Are you serious?"

"You'd be amazed at the things I have seen." He shook his head. "Perhaps Elise will discover some way to use the icon against them. Then we will need it, yes?"

I shrugged and dropped the stone back down the front of my shirt. Being unable to destroy the thing had creeped me out more than I wanted to admit.

What was the totem made of? Moon rock? Had it been forged in hellfire? I didn't want to know.

The icon shifted between my breasts and I shuddered, then slapped my hand over it. "Stop that," I muttered.

Mandenauer coughed. I blushed. I'd come a long way from believing in nothing I couldn't see, hear, or touch to talking to stones and telling wolves that I loved them.

"Do you need help getting into bed?" I asked.

"Not since I was two." He rose, swayed, then glared when I would have grabbed his elbow.

I lifted my hands in a gesture of surrender. "Fall on your face. See if I care."

"Ah, Jessie, you are so good to me."

I left him in bed with a high-powered rifle and a laser scope, which was the most action he got at his age.

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