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Dark Moon (Chapter Twenty Seven)

"You can't tell whose saliva that is?" Nic flicked a finger toward the microscope.

"Only if I'd seen it before and I had my notes. But really, what are the odds that one of those I've examined has turned up here?"

"Pretty damn slim," he agreed.

Sure, the werewolves in the basement could be free, but they'd also been locked up when the disappearances began.

"Did the doctor have a bite mark?" I asked.

"No. Which leads me to believe the making of a witchie wolf involves the bite of a werewolf in human form," Nic said. "How about you?"

I contemplated the body, which was still quite visible. "I'm thinking that, too."

"We still don't know why."

"No."

"Maybe Lydia will find a book, and it will explain everything."

"Including how to get rid of them."

"Wouldn't that be nice?"

"Mmm," I murmured, still staring at the doctor. "Do you think he was killed because he was on to something?"

"If the bad guy meant to keep his identity a secret, why leave the evidence behind?"

"We interrupted him." I reached out and plucked the slide from the stage and the notebook from the table. "Just in case."

"Maybe I should send that stuff to the crime lab. Free service for all U.S. law enforcement agencies."

"I don't think so."

"But – "

"Can you imagine what would happen if a government scientist got a gander at the saliva of a werewolf in human form?"

"I doubt he'd know what it was."

"Exactly. So what good would showing him do?"

"None." Nic sighed. "And then we'd have FBI all over the place, asking questions."

"Getting eaten by werewolves they didn't know about."

"Chaos. I see your point."

"We should just handle this on our own as we've been doing."

"Right." Nic glanced at the doctor. "We'll need to get someone to take care of the body. Leaving it here isn't practical."

"Damn," I muttered.

"What's the matter?"

I waved a hand at Dr. Watchry. "I'm not used to this."

"Death?"

No, that I was used to.

"People I've just met, and liked, getting killed the minute I turn my back."

"Oh." Understanding spread across his face. "Happens."

"How do you stand it?"

"By pushing aside useless emotion and focusing on what's important."

"Important?" My voice rose several levels in pitch and volume. "What could be more important than someone's murder?"

"Finding the one who killed them and making them pay."

All the righteous indignation went out of me like the air out of a popped balloon.

"Okay."

Nic smiled. "We'll handle this."

Unspoken was the word together, but I heard it nevertheless.

"Let's find Basil," I said. "Tell him about the doctor's death."

"And ask him about stray Ojibwe warrior graves. I could also use a list of the missing. Any connection between them could give us a clue."

Thoughts like those were why I kept him around.

My gaze wandered over the biceps that stretched the seams of his T-shirt. Among other things.

We locked the clinic behind us – didn't need any citizens stumbling over the body – then headed for the sheriff's office.

The place was still empty. Nic strode over to the desk and started rooting through the paperwork.

"Hey, can you do that?"

"I'm a Fed. I can do anything."

"Thinking like that is usually what gets you guys in trouble."

He ignored me. I had to say I found his take-charge attitude attractive. What didn't I find attractive about him lately?

"Ah-ha!" He held up a sheet of paper. "List of missing persons."

A quick glance around the room, and he located a Xerox machine, made a copy, and slipped the original back into the file. "He'll never know I was here."

I opened my mouth to ask why all the secrecy, and the door burst open. Both Nic and I turned in that direction with welcoming smiles, which froze on our faces when we didn't recognize the man who ran inside.

I'd seen a few survivalists in Montana. This guy must have been one of their friends. Beard, long hair, jeans, boots, and a flannel shirt. He was young, perhaps twenty-five, no more than thirty. Might even have been handsome without all the hair and the dirt.

"I need the sheriff," he announced.

"The dead one or the new one?" Nic asked.

"Basil"

"Not here."

"Who are you?"

"FBI."

An expression of relief filled his eyes. "I found a body."

Hell. Another one?

Nic grabbed a pencil and a sheet of paper. "Where?"

"Out on the old highway. Anderson homestead."

Nic and I exchanged glances. "Where Sheriff Stephenson's body was found?"

"Yeah. Exactly where his body was found."

"A second body? Left in the same place."

"Not left. The grave was dug up."

"Grave desecration," I muttered, and smacked myself in the forehead.

My only excuse for not seeing the connection earlier was that I'd been focused on finding an Ojibwe warrior's grave, not that I would have known what one looked like even if I'd seen it.

"What?" Nic asked.

"The reason the sheriff was at the old Anderson place was that there'd been a report of a grave desecration." I turned toward the mountain man. "But we didn't see anything disturbed."

"There is now. From the paw prints in the dirt, I'd say dogs."

Maybe. But doubtful.

"They probably couldn't help themselves," he continued. "The body was pretty fresh."

The room went silent.

"You mean skeleton," Nic said.

"No. Definitely a body. Newly dead. I'd say no more than a week or two."

"Could you guess at a cause of death?" Nic asked.

"I'm thinking the large, gaping knife wound at the throat had something to do with it."

"You're sure?"

"I've seen a few."

Nic and I exchanged glances again. I really didn't want to know where this guy had seen death by knife wound to the throat.

"We need to get another ME from… anywhere," Nic muttered. "We have to find out who was in the grave."

"A woman," Mountain Man stated in a dry, clinical tone. "Native American. Pretty old."

"Hell!" Nic muttered at the same time I kicked the desk. Mountain Man stared at us as if we'd lost our minds.

"Uh, yeah. Thanks for coming by." Nic ushered him to the door. "We'll send someone out as soon as – "

"We find someone," I said.

Nic closed the door and turned to me. "I guess an Ojibwe warrior isn't necessarily a man."

"No. I'm betting it's Cora."

"Lydia said she passed away."

There'd been no mention of throat cutting – an item that would have topped my list in any conversation about a dead grandmother.

"Lydia said a lot of things," I pointed out. "We'd better talk to her."

"Yeah. Gramma passing away is a whole lot different than Gramma getting her throat slit and being buried in the woods."

"Why would Dr. Watchry insist there'd never been a murder in Fairhaven?"

"Perhaps Cora didn't die in Fairhaven."

"Who knows anymore?"

"Did you get a read on Lydia?" Nic asked.

"She seemed nice enough."

"I meant, did you bump against her when you passed or at least shake her hand?"

"You think she's a – "

"Someone is."

I went over the meeting with Lydia in my mind. "I never touched her. Never thought to."

Nic's face hardened. "Let's go touch her now."

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