It’s Friday – I don’t know about you but some weeks are a lot longer than others. I am so glad that tomorrow I can sleep in (unless the damn dog wakes me up early). Tommorrow is also Valentine’s Day, so if you’re planning on taking your significant other someplace special, you better get your reservations in now.
As for me, my gift to all of you is the gift of Chapter 11. As we enter the second quarter of the story, Vic is starting to put the pieces together and the rest of the players of this game will soon be revealed. Also, in case you missed the Chapter 10 post – I lowered the price of The Cactus Killer on the Kindle to 99 cents. If you can’t wait to keep reading, it now costs less than a cup of coffee.
It was well past midnight and we were driving back. I felt better about being in New Mexico, but dang, could a guy get a break somewhere. I had a feeling today would be no better with the trip up to Elephant Butte looming.
“Phil said that what you did today was unusual, even for a vampire of your vintage.”
“I thank you for your coy way of calling me old, but yes, it was quite different than anything I have experienced before.”
“To be honest, you looked rather wolfish, with the yellow eyes and the claws growing out.” Out of habit, I gave a quick look at mine and saw my hands overrun with reddish fur. Uhhh…
“Considering most werewolf blood is quite toxic to us, I am sure that was a first for the record. I do think for the time being we need to keep this under wraps. I would hate to think about other vampires wanting to use you as some sort of cow.”
That didn’t sound pleasant at all. “Can we count on Reno and Phil to keep it to themselves?”
“Those two are loyal to a fault. Some question why I keep them around. I am sure you can tell they march to the beat of their own drummer, however, they are very good at protecting me from threats.”
“No offense, but I don’t think you need a lot of help in that area.”
“Tonight was a straight forward problem that needed a solution. Most threats in the vampire world come from the shadows. If you cannot see the threat, you cannot defend against it.”
Huh, well said. Werewolves weren’t sneaky creatures, so I didn’t think about it like that. “I also wanted to talk about what happened right before we got the call. I hope no lines were crossed and if they were…”
“Would you just shut up!” I stopped midsentence and just gawked. “I like you, you like me, everything is quite alright. Better than it has been in years actually.”
“Oh, well then, I feel stupid.”
“Most men are stupid, but at least you admit it and are a good man.” I didn’t know if I was being put down or complimented. “We will enjoy the ride we are on, that is all one can do.”
Which ironically enough is what we did the rest of the way home. Once back at my place, Reno and Phil took up posts and said they would watch until sunrise. I told them they could bunk in the smaller spare room during the day, as it was on the west side of the house and the sun wouldn’t bother them. Before I could crash, I wrote a report up on the incident in El Paso with Elizabeth’s help and sent it off to Argent so in the morning he would have a good read.
“Well, I think it is time for this old dog to hit the sack. Thank you for the lovely, yet exciting evening.”
“Anytime sheriff.” Then she kissed me again. “Something to remember me by. Now go to sleep.”
I needed no more motivation and within minutes, I was good and out. Bliss only lasted a few hours and I was awoken by my alarm clock at six thirty. The aroma of breakfast filled the air again and that always took the edge off of such an early morning. Just like the day before, I had a plate full of eggs and bacon waiting with a cup of coffee.
“Keep this up and I’m going to hire you on here.”
“As lovely as that would be, I highly doubt you could afford that on your salary.”
She was right there; I certainly wasn’t in this for the money. Everything was pleasant until I got a knock on my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so when I opened the door and saw all three Alphas standing there, I felt a headache coming on.
“Victor my boy, Argent sent your email over to me and Chaz. What the hell were you doing in El Paso and, more importantly, what did you get yourself involved in?!” Chaz and Argent were standing behind dad; I figured those two bums got him riled up.
“Callum Inglewood, please allow me to explain what is happening. It was my fault that your son was dragged into this messy affair.”
Just like that all of dad’s bluster was gone. “Of course Lady Ambassador, I would be most interested to hear your take on the events.”
I just shook my head as they all sat down in my living room and soon were listening to Elizabeth. I was still hungry so I went back into the kitchen to finish my breakfast. After I had my fill, I reluctantly went back into the fire that was my living room. All three of them were hanging on to her every word like little kids being told a story.
“All four of us were no longer in fighting shape and it looked bad. Through the good relationship forged between your son and the local Reds’ Alpha, they came back to check on us and saved us all. Within minutes of their intervention, the monster was torn to shreds.”
Dad looked over at me as I walked in. “Is that true my boy? Look at you forging bonds with other packs!”
“Yeah, Chief Greenfoot is a good guy. I think you two would get along rather well, dad.”
“While I am all for good relations Callum, but the point to Miss Swansea’s story is that this Cactus Killer seems to either be expanding his territory or recruiting. By the way sheriff, Munoz from Howling Canyon is going to be up today to check out the Alvarez body.”
“I have no issue with that mayor. Have him work with Detective Jacobs on the matter; she is leading the investigation on him. I will coordinate with her once I get back from Elephant Butte this afternoon.”
“With all due respect mayor, I think we need to start reaching out to the other packs. Whoever is behind this nonsense is turning humans into monsters!” Chaz, I could tell was getting worried.
“You are right Chaz; I will make the necessary phone calls to packs outside of our area. With a dead Red in Texas, the rest of the southwest needs to know what is going on.”
“Miss Swansea, do you have a number that I can reach Josh Greenfoot? I would personally like to thank him for saving my boy and set up a meeting. It has been too long since I had the pleasure of meeting with another Red Alpha.”
She gave dad the information and with everyone having their part to play, the three Alphas left. For a few moments, I thought it was funny how things had dramatically changed within forty-eight hours. When I woke up on Saturday, I doubted you could have gotten Argent to go meet with one of the local packs, let alone start calling packs from different states. And I couldn’t remember a time in my life that dad ever left town. Granted, he was pushing two-hundred and ten years old so I am sure he knows other Reds, but he never mentions anything about it.
“So what is our plan for today? Do I need to top off my tank to be ready for another fight?”
“Not to be discussing a sensitive topic, but how often do you need to eat something?”
“Since I can tell you have not been paying a bit of attention since I moved in, I have enough bottles of blood in your refrigerator to last me another week or so.”
“You put blood in my fridge? That thing is only meant for beer and meat!”
“So I noticed, but if you want me not to go out and find it from the source, you will just have to suck it up.”
She was right of course, plus the next town over wasn’t exactly close. “You keep cooking and I will have no issues.”
I’m pretty sure she mumbled something about men being useless. “As for our plan today, I hope we don’t stir up the nest. I just want to get in and do some recon work and get out. Depending on what we see, we will take it from there.”
“Could we really have a peaceful day in Full Moon? I did not think that was possible. I am going to hold you to that, Vic.”
“I blame you; my life was pretty peaceful until this nonsense started.”
“Fair enough, but look at the time. We need to get on the move if we are going to meet up with the local officers before heading over to Holy Methodist.”
She had a good point and we both went to our rooms. I got myself dressed and took a moment to make sure Roscoe was reloaded before putting it in the holster. I also took the time to shave the fur off of my hands. It would keep growing back for a few days until the effects wore off, but I didn’t want to tip these guys off.
Before I went downstairs to meet with Elizabeth, I opened my closet. After last evening’s encounter with the monster, I knew I had to arm both of us with something a little more tangible. Popping the floor board up, I pulled out twin tantos (Japanese style short swords) my grandfather had made me as a turning gift. Forged from silver from the mines, these were near and dear to my heart. I had never used them, but God rest his soul, he would want me to.
I pulled them both out of the scabbard and they shined like the day I got them. Satisfied, I put them back in and headed downstairs. It was high time I made an acquaintance with Rev. Warren Tucker.
You can find all my works, including “The Cactus Killer,” @ www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston