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Dark Moon (Chapter Twenty Eight)

"That was a bust," I muttered.

We'd gone to Lydia's without calling first – no reason to give her a heads-up – but she hadn't been there.

So we'd driven to the crime scene.

Mountain Man's description had been correct. Ancient Native American woman with a throat wound.

Lots of paw prints. But not from a dog. There were also old bones mixed in with the earth, which led us to believe the grave had not been Cora's originally.

Had she even been there when the sheriff was killed? Had he been killed because he found her? Hard to say.

Nic spent a lot of time on his cell phone asking hypothetical questions of FBI contacts. He'd even managed to get a hold of Basil once.

The new sheriff promised to find another ME, somewhere, and send him to the crime scene. He also promised to send someone to deal with the doctor's body.

Then as soon as Nic got to the interesting questions –  bam – Basil's cell phone went out. When Nic tried to call him again, all he got was a busy signal.

We drove into Fairhaven as night threatened. A car was parked in front of the cabin. I caught sight of Lydia walking around the far side of the building.

"Looks like she got your message," I said, as we followed.

"Miss Kopway," I greeted, just as she knocked on the back door. "Nice to see you again."

"Oh! I went to the front, but no one answered, so – " She shrugged.

Nic and I climbed the porch and I offered my hand. Her gaze lowered and she smiled, then gave me hers. 1 braced myself for the pain. Nic slowly reached for his gun. Our skin touched and –

Nothing.

I frowned and glanced at Nic.

"Is something the matter?" Lydia asked.

"No." I tucked my hand into my pocket. "Everything's great. So how did your grandmother die?"

Nic choked, then turned the sound into a cough. Lydia stared at me as if I'd just belched in church.

You'd think I was Jessie the way I blurted things out.

"My grandmother was murdered in her own home by an unknown assailant." Lydia took a deep breath that shook in the middle. "She never hurt anyone. Why would someone hurt her?"

Nic gave me a quelling glare, then set his hand on Lydia's shoulder. "I'm sorry. How was she killed?"

Lydia, who had been staring at the ground, slowly lifted her gaze to mine. "Her throat was slit."

Bingo, I thought. But I kept my mouth shut.

"I had her buried behind the cottage," Lydia continued. "That was what she wanted. But then someone took the body. I heard the same thing's been happening in Fairhaven."

"Mmm," I said noncommittally.

Cora hadn't truly disappeared as the others had. But did Lydia, or anyone else, know that?

"Does the FBI have any new information on my grandmother's killer?"

"Not really," Nic answered. "But we're trying to cover every angle."

"You'll let me know if you discover anything?"

"Of course."

I surmised we were keeping the recovery of Gramma's body to ourselves. Probably not a bad idea considering we didn't know what was going on, who was lying and who was not.

Lydia handed Nic the book she'd brought. "What's your interest in witchie wolves? They aren't a common legend."

"No?" I asked.

She glanced at me. "They exist on the shores of Lake Huron, protecting the graves of the warriors buried there."

We already knew that, so I didn't comment.

"Obscure mythology is one of my hobbies," Nic said.

"Like the professor?"

"Sure."

"I just found it odd that you would ask about witchies when I had another request for the same information not so long ago."

Both Nic and I stilled.

"Who?" I demanded.

"The deputy. Well, I guess he's the sheriff now."

"Basil?"

"Yes, that's the one," she said, as if she didn't know him.

"You two are friends?" I asked.

"Not really. He had questions; I had Grandmother's library. I just found it strange that the deputy would be interested in an obscure Ojibwe legend when I hear he's been extremely uninterested in Ojibwes for most of his life."

He hadn't appeared too uninterested from my point of view, but I didn't want to bring that up. The book incident at least explained how the two of them had met. More than that, I probably didn't want to hear.

"I'd better get back," Lydia said. "Nice seeing you two again. Keep the book as long as you like."

We made the appropriate bye-bye noises, waiting until her car pulled away before we spoke.

"She's lying," Nic murmured.

"You think?"

His eyes narrowed at my sarcasm, but he chose not to comment. On that at least. "Although, I have to say, if my grandmother was murdered in such an ugly way, I wouldn't want to discuss it, either. Dead is dead."

"Not really."

He blinked. "No?"

I was having a hard time remembering what Nic knew and what he didn't about my world. Edward had given him the basics, but what, to Edward, was basic?

"If a werewolf bites but doesn't eat, new werewolf within twenty-four hours."

"What if the victim dies?"

"Then things get ugly. The dead rise, people start screaming, the tabloids show up. Messy. That's why it's our policy to shoot the bitten with silver, even if the body isn't breathing."

"Thanks for the tip."

"Anytime."

"What about Basil?" Nic murmured. "Why did Lydia pretend she didn't know him?"

"Maybe she's embarrassed."

"Or he is."

The wind stirred my hair, and a slight sound made me glance toward the woods. I caught the glint of the moon on metal.

"Get down!" I shouted a millisecond before the crack of a gunshot.

A bullet passed through the air where my head had been, then thunked into the side of the cabin. I was getting really sick of being shot at.

I waited for more gunfire; instead I heard the thudding retreat of footsteps. Nic started to rise, gun in hand, and I yanked him back down. "I'll go."

Before he could argue, I moved to the edge of the porch, thought of the moon, and shifted. The scent of werewolf invaded my nose, and I leaped from the steps, then raced into the woods.

The aroma tickled the edge of my brain. I wasn't certain if it was just the smell of werewolf that was familiar or this particular werewolf. Even so, I couldn't get a fix on the identity.

I didn't get very far before the scent of death overpowered that of wolf. I nearly stumbled over Basil's body. His eyes stared sightlessly at the sky. Most of his throat was missing.

I growled low – a sound of both warning and unease. Who had done this? Lifting my nose to the night, I howled, waiting for an answer, getting none.

The smell of werewolf was all around Basil. A trail led into the forest, growing fainter and fainter, then disappearing altogether. When I heard Nic calling me, I hurried back. I didn't want him unprotected beneath the moon while an unknown werewolf roamed.

I burst through the foliage on one side just as Nic did on the other. His gaze went from the mutilated body to me, and he lifted his brow. I shook my head and pawed the earth.

"That's what they all say." Nic tossed a blanket behind a bush. "Thought you might need that."

I took advantage of the gift and the foliage, changing with the swiftness that now seemed to be mine for good, then I wrapped myself in the sarong and returned to the clearing.

"What happened?" Nic was already examining the body.

"There was another werewolf."

He lifted his gaze. "No human bite mark. Maybe he didn't have time to shift back and finish the job."

"Maybe," I murmured.

"First rule of a murder investigation," Nic recited. "Extreme violence, injury to the face or the throat equals personal."

"Which brings us back to Lydia. Boffing Basil. Mighty personal."

"Lydia isn't a werewolf."

"Maybe she was sleeping with one."

"Two-timing Basil with a lycanthrope?"

"She might not know that," I said.

"We'll have to talk with her again." Nic sighed. "And now we've got another body. I don't know who to call anymore."

"How about the mayor?" I suggested.

"What the hell?" Nic threw up his hands.

We headed back to the cabin and Nic opened the door. I hung back, frowning at the bullet hole that had plowed into a log.

"Why would Basil shoot at you?" Nic asked.

"A better question" – I reached out, yanking my fingers away when they burned – "is why would he shoot at me with silver?"

Nic blinked. "He did?"

I nodded, thinking. Could Basil be –

"The traitor."

"What traitor?" Nic asked.

Quickly I filled him in on what had been, a few days ago, my biggest problem next to Billy.

"Someone's been selling information?"

"Yeah. Although I don't know how they could have found out about me. No one knows but Edward, and there certainly aren't any personal records with the box 'werewolf checked."

"More people than Edward know."

"You." I frowned. "You wouldn't."

"You're very trusting, Elise."

I tilted my head.

"But you're right. I wouldn't, even if I knew who to sell you to. But what about the others?"

"Others?"

"Jessie, Will, Leigh, Damien."

"They'd never – "

"You're sure?"

I didn't even have to think about it. "Yes."

They might not understand me. They might not even like me. But J��ger-Suchers stuck together. We had no one else.

" Someone sold you out."

"Not necessarily," I said. "Maybe Basil just knew there were werewolves, so he loaded his gun with silver bullets. They work on anything."

"But why shoot at you? What did you ever do to him?"

"There is no telling," a voice murmured.

I didn't jump, or gasp, or spin around. I knew that voice as well as I knew my own.

Edward was back.

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