Whatever was under the towel was the size of a small, very still, raccoon. Walter didn’t see any blood, which he took as a promising sign. Carefully he pulled back the towel.
“It’s a stuffed bear. Or at least, part of one,” he said with relief. The head and half of the torso were intact, but the rest was shredded, stuffing trailing out the base like intestines. Its eyes were torn off, along with an ear, and it smelled of urine. Walter pulled a small, sharp tooth out of the bear’s head. It was a dog’s, or a wolf’s.
“Can you save him?” Gray asked.
“Save who, the bear?” Walter asked.
“Yes, can you save Bobo? He doesn’t speak to me anymore.”
“Well, if you mean someone’s ripped his squeaker out, you got that right,” Walter said. “I think you’re going to need a new-“
A woman stepped out of the shadows. Walter realized she had been there the whole time, watching him, like a predator.
She was tall and willowy, with long brown hair that hung to her waste. Despite the chill she wore a flowery summer dress with spaghetti straps. Her feet were bare.
“Evi?” Walter said. He could still see traces of the seven year old girl he met two years ago in the woman’s sharp cheek bones and full lips.
“I go by Eviline now,” she said.
“Evi!” Gray’s eye lit up. “When did you get back?”
“I’ve been here the whole time, Daddy, remember? I found Bobo.”
Gray’s lip quivered. “Bobo!” His cry turned into a howl.
“Why don’t you let Grim take you for a hunt to sooth your nerves? There’s a herd of deer at the upper end of the lake.”
“What about Bobo and Walt?”
“I’ll take care of them. You go have some fun.”
Gray nodded slowly and started walking to the door. By the time Grim opened it to let him out, Gray had transformed into a thin, white furred wolf.
“I’m sorry he involved you, Walt. He still thinks of you as the man who can fix anything.”
“Well, we go way back,” Walter replied. “What can I do to help your father?”
She shrugged. “Nothing, he’s just getting old. It’s only a matter of time before someone challenges him to be the alpha. It would be easier on him if he just went for a run and fell through the ice, or suffered some other mishap, something quick and painless.”
Walter’s eyes widened at the coldness in Eviline’s voice. He struggled to remind himself that Gray and Eviline were werewolves, not humans, and they lived by different, wilder, rules.
“Not today,” Eviline reassured him. “I still need time. But he almost blew it with his stupid bear. Squeaking it all night long, slobbering all over it, someone could have heard.”
“So, you shredded it,” Walter held up the tooth he found.
“My last baby tooth,” Eviline said with a sly smile. Walter spotted the gap where a canine should have been.
“Why did you have to piss on it?”
Eviline looked embarrassed, and then angry. “Look, he was ticking me off. I have Nash and Grim and a few others, but I still need to gather more support. He just needs to hold it together until summer.”
“And then you take over? Does he know what you’re planning?”
“Of course not, why, are you going to tell him?”
Walter remembered the savagery of Gray’s wounds. He had no desire to see the old wolf maimed and mutilated. “No, I won’t say anything. Just make sure it’s painless.”
“I promise. You’ve been a good friend to him, Walt, I’m sorry he summoned you. In a way, though, it’s for the best. A lot of us felt it was a mistake for Gray to bring an outsider into the pack. It’s something I’m going to rectify.” Her voice grey deeper, her face grew longer, and her arms and shoulders sprouted thick hair.
TO BE CONTINUED... copyright 2013 John Lance