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Dark Moon (Chapter Thirty-Two)

"You're dead," I said, echoing the protests of my dream, which, in retrospect, appeared to have been a vision.

"Not quite."

"I ripped out your throat."

"Not completely."

"You healed."

"I'm very old." Billy smiled, and the expression was more frightening than a scowl. "I can heal just about anything. Except silver. Which is something we have in common. I always wondered what it was about you that bothered me."

He'd found some clothes – Lord knows where since there weren't any outlets for the big and tall in this neck of the woods. The jeans and sweatshirt almost made him appear normal.

Almost. A single glance into his eyes and no one would mistake Billy Bailey for anything other than an escaped lunatic.

"Thor, the Thunder God," Nic murmured.

Double damn. Had the old woman seen Billy? If I'd known that, I could have exited Fairhaven screaming a long time ago.

"Toss your weapon into the trees," Billy ordered.

Nic complied, and Billy shoved Edward forward so he could keep the gun trained on all three of us. I didn't care for his expression when he glanced at Nic.

"You're screwing my girl," Billy murmured. "I don't like it."

I froze as all of the horrible things Billy planned to do to me when he got out of his cell flooded my mind.

I needed to kill him, really kill him, and quick.

"Mandenauer."

Edward, who'd been inching toward the rifle propped against the rear bumper of the Cadillac, stopped. I managed to sidle in front of Nic while Billy's attention was on my boss.

Billy didn't want me dead. Not yet. But I had a feeling he wouldn't feel the same way about the others.

Though why he hadn't just shot them first and done his talking later, I wasn't sure, and I didn't plan to ask.

"If you don't want a taste of what you've served up so freely," Billy continued, "you'll move far away from that gun."

Edward scowled but did as he was told. Unfortunately, he arrived at my side talking. "You didn't make sure he was dead, then burn the body? Have you learned nothing?"

"Guess not," Billy murmured.

I still couldn't find my voice through the fear.

"You're the werewolf in human form," Nic said. "You killed all those people."

"Actually, that was her." Billy jerked a thumb in Lydia's direction. "Except for Basil. That was me."

"Why?"

"He tried to shoot Dr. Hanover." Billy's eyes narrowed on Lydia.

If that gaze had been fixed in my direction, I certainly wouldn't have tossed my head and shrugged. Why wasn't Lydia afraid of him?

"You promised I could have her when you were through," he said. "That was our deal."

"True." Lydia examined her fingernails. " But I never promised she'd be alive."

Billy growled and the hair on my arms lifted.

"He's really very good." Lydia glanced at me. "If you like your sex extremely rough."

Something wasn't adding up, but I was still too frightened to do the math.

"Don't look so scared. You'll be dead by then." Lydia returned her attention to Billy. "I didn't think you'd mind."

"We've discussed this." He gave a long-suffering sigh. "I fuck her until she dies, and then I do it some more. A deal is a deal."

"That just isn't going to work for me. Sorry."

Billy swung the gun in her direction, and Lydia disappeared.

Nic and I stood gaping at the place where she'd been an instant before.

"I hate it when she does that," Billy muttered.

Edward had been creeping forward while Billy's attention was elsewhere. Almost as an afterthought, Billy's elbow shot out and clipped the old man in the mouth. Edward's head snapped back and he fell to the ground, but he didn't pass out. Sometimes I wondered if Edward was human himself.

Billy shifted his icy stare to mine. "Soon, Doctor. Remember everything I ever told you."

Black spots danced in front of my eyes. When they went away, so had Billy.

Nic was at my side. I couldn't help it, I turned my face into his neck and hid. Even with ancient Ojibwe women buried in shallow graves, murder, mayhem, and a ghost wolf army on the rise, the world had still been a much cheerier place without Billy in it.

"I'm okay."

I'd found my voice. Hallelujah. So why wasn't I screaming mindlessly until someone locked me in a nice, safe, impenetrable white room?

Because having Nic here helped more than I would have imagined. He was steady and sane – which put him two steps ahead of Billy. Sadly, Billy was about two hundred steps ahead when it came to strength and power. We just couldn't win.

I took a deep whiff of Nic's scent, trying to clear any remnant of Billy's. Then I brushed my lips against his chin and lifted my head. Nic gazed at me with concern.

"So that was Billy Bailey," he said. "Creepy son of a bitch."

"Let's kill him." Edward struggled to his feet.

"You neglected to mention that Gypsies have superpowers, too." I looked at Nic. "That I did not know."

"It explains how she found out about you."

"How?" My mind wasn't keeping up very well – too full of Billy.

"If she can disappear and appear at will, she could know anything."

I saw Nic's point. Lydia didn't need to tap our phones or pay our enemies for information. All she had to do was become invisible and walk inside the compound.

"Why didn't she kill me before now?"

"She needed you here for…" Nic shrugged. "Something?"

'Terrific." I glanced at Edward. "So explain why Gypsies have superpowers."

"Most do not."

"Did she, or did she not, just go poof?"

"She did." He sighed. "Lydia is not only a Gypsy but a witch."

"Witch?" Nic asked. "Since when are there witches?" He turned to me. "Did you know there were witches?"

"Yeah."

"And you didn't tell me?"

"You want a rundown on every supernatural creature we've encountered?"

He thought a minute, then said, "Yes."

"If we're still alive next week, remind me to make you a list." I turned my ire on Edward. "Why didn't you tell us she could disappear?"

"Even if I had known, what good would it have done to tell you? Could you have prevented the disappearance?"

I rubbed my forehead. "What do you know about her?"

If I focused on Lydia, maybe I'd quit seeing Billy's eyes fixed on me. I doubted it, but anything was worth a try.

"Her grandmother was removed from one of the death camps and sent to Mengele."

"Her grandfather?"

"Was also at the laboratory in the Black Forest."

"And then?"

"They were released, along with the werewolf army."

"That's all?"

He shrugged. "Witches are hard to identify. They do not sprout tails. They do not suck blood. They do not rise from their graves. They are just magic."

Just?

"Does anyone find it odd that the usual familiar helps a witch, but a werewolf familiar is a witch?" Nic pointed out.

"Not all Gypsies are witches," Edward said. "Only the pure have magic –  witches for want of a better term. Mengele used that blood to concoct his werewolves."

"Magic Gypsy witch blood to make werewolves," I muttered.

I did remember something about that in my notes, but since I'd doubted it would help me find a cure, I'd pushed the information to the back of my mind.

"Where did you meet Lydia?"

"I was acquainted with her grandmother." Something flickered in Edward's eyes, and he looked away.

How well had he known the woman?

I considered the suspicion. Edward could no more have an affair with a werewolf familiar than he could
… what? Employ a werewolf?

"You didn't think it was a good idea to keep track of these people?" I asked.

"Of course. But as they are magic, they have a habit of slipping out of our reach."

"And the name Lydia didn't set off any alarm bells?"

"It is a common enough name."

"If you're lost in the forties," Nic muttered.

"I will admit, I made an error not keeping better track of the witches." Edward steepled his fingers. "But let us discuss your error, Elise."

"Mine?"

"Billy isn't dead."

Oh, that error.

"Get over it," Nic interjected.

"Excuse me?" Edward lifted a brow.

"He isn't dead, but he will be as soon as I find him." Nic reached for his weapon, frowned. "And my gun."

He started off in the direction of his pistol, then stopped and turned back. "I'm confused. To make the witchie wolves, dead people need to be bitten by a werewolf in human form?"

"That's the theory."

"As near as we can tell, the bites were all from the same mouth."

I nodded, though he knew this as well as I did.

"A mouth we'll assume to be Billy's since there isn't a pack of werewolves in Fairhaven – unless you count the ghost wolves."

"There is a point soon, correct?" Edward murmured.

"People were disappearing before we got here, and we have a lot more ghost wolves than two, so how could Billy have bitten anyone if he was locked in a compound in Montana?"

From the silence that settled over the clearing, no one had a definite answer for that, but Edward usually had an educated guess. Today was no different.

"Perhaps another werewolf came first. Once Billy arrived, he killed him."

"That would be a Billy thing to do," I agreed. "Except Damien said there was no werewolf here but him until I arrived."

"Damien could have been wrong," Edward pointed out.

Could have been, but I doubted it. Damien had been a werewolf for nearly sixty years; he knew how to identify another like himself.

"Let us find Billy, ask him, then kill him," Edward suggested. "Or just kill him."

"You know what my vote is," I said.

"Why did they let us go?" Nic asked. "Billy could have killed any, or all, of us. Lydia wants you dead, Elise, yet she took off. Why?"

"They must realize we will come after them," Edward continued. "The full moon is tonight. Billy will have to change."

"And I'll be waiting for him," Nic murmured.

"Wait." Edward held up a long bony hand. "If they want us to hunt under the full moon, we will not."

"Wrong," I said, at the same time Nic snapped, "Like hell."

Edward and I turned to Nic as he lifted, then lowered, one shoulder. "I don't like how Billy spoke to you, Elise."

"You should have heard him in the compound," I muttered, then shivered again at the memory.

"I did not say we would not hunt." Edward sounded exasperated. "Nor that we would not kill him and anything else that gets in our way."

"What did you say?" Nic asked.

"Silver works on werewolves in the daytime as well as the night. In human form as well as the form of a wolf."

Understanding spread across Nic's face, followed closely by excitement. "We'll shoot him in the daylight.

He won't even know what hit him."

"Only this one time," Edward ordered. "Billy is a special case."

Edward frowned on us shooting people with silver in broad daylight, no matter how certain we might be of their true nature. In his defense, flaming humans were a lot harder to explain than flaming wolves.

"Fine. One-time deal only. Now where's my gun?"

"You will need a rifle, as well," Edward said. "I have an arsenal in the trunk."

He always did.

Nic practically skipped off to shop at the firearm bonanza, as I stalked toward Edward. I did not want Nic going after Billy. Billy was insane.

"Nic isn't a J��ger-Sucher" I whispered. "Since when does he get to pick a rifle and join the party?"

"Since we are shorthanded, and you are nothing short of horrific with a gun."

My chin went up. "I have other talents."

"Not in the daytime. Besides." Edward nodded toward the Cadillac. "I doubt you will be able to stop him."

Nic was going through the rifles with an ease born of practice. His face held a determination I recognized.

He wouldn't be dissuaded from hunting Billy.

"Fine." I threw up my hands. "But he goes with you."

"Not you?"

"You're the best. Except for Leigh."

Edward scowled but didn't argue since I was right, then he stomped over to the trunk, yanked out his favorite rifle, and began to bark orders. "Franklin, you are with me."

"But – " Nic glanced in my direction, and I shrugged as if I had nothing to say about anything. Though I didn't want Nic out of my sight ever again, he'd be safer with Edward. Especially since Billy seemed to have a hard-on for me.

"We will meet at the cabin before dusk. If one of us has accomplished the task, fire three rounds into the air, then return to town."

I glanced at the Cadillac. "What about the car?"

Edward's long-suffering sigh made me want to melt into the earth with shame, same as it had when I was three.

"Drive the vehicle back to town. Walk out from there, Agent Franklin and I walk in from here. We will flush him from his hiding place."

Was I supposed to know this trick without ever having been told? Apparently.

Edward moved toward the trees. Nic stepped after him, then glanced in my direction and paused.

Though it was the height of unprofessionalism, I went into his arms. Edward didn't even bother to snicker, snort, or be snide. He must think we were all going to die.

"Be careful," I couldn't help but murmur.

Sure, he was an FBI agent, but this was a Billy and Lord knows what else.

"You won't be safe until he's dead." Nic released me with a final squeeze.

I tried one more time. "Maybe you should go – "

"Where? I think I'm better off with Mandenauer and enough guns and ammo to outfit a small country than I am at the cabin alone or on my way to the airport in a flimsy steel car."

He was probably right. Nevertheless, I didn't like this at all.

"Meet you in Fairhaven before dusk, if not sooner."

I nodded, then glanced at my boss as Nic joined him. The old man acknowledged my query with a single sharp nod.

Billy would not get to Nic. Not while Edward was alive.

Of course, Edward being dead was just another one of my mountain of worries.

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