True to his word, Ulric saw to their return to Madelyn’s house. Though, it was more along the lines of Madelyn was returned to her house, and Connor was brought along with her. Madelyn noted that Ulric never shifted to their human form. It puzzled her since everyone else did.
Then there was her attorney, Brian Hemming. She was a bit upset he’d kept this from her after all these years. Was she right in thinking his presence in their lives tied into her parents’ profession? Did it have anything to do with why they moved here, of all places, right next to a pack of Werewolves?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sound outside her bedroom door. She stiffened and held her breath as she listened. The doorknob turned slowly before the door swung on quiet hinges, opening to reveal Connor.
“Hello, Madelyn,” he said after moving to sit on the side of the bed. She visibly relaxed as he took her hand in his. “How is your ankle feeling?” he asked her after a moment of silence.
“Oh, um, it’s feeling a bit better, thank you,” she replied to the unexpected question. “Connor?”
“What’s going on?” she asked quietly. “The other one, Rolf, he...” she paused, looking down at her hands in her lap which were fidgeting nervously. She was uncertain she really even wanted to know the answer to her question, but went forward with asking it anyway. “You mentioned he wanted to…to...mate...with me...that I would be his mate.”
Her voice trailed off as her face blazed pink in embarrassment.
Connor sighed. He knew she would ask. That idiot Rolf had just made his task harder, in many ways.
“Yes, he wanted to take you for his mate,” Connor told her plainly, before saying, “I want the same.”
She looked up at him, unsure what to say or think.
“No, love,” Connor said as he saw the struggle in her face to find something to say. “Don’t worry on it just now. You have an ankle that needs mending. I have brought our healer to take a look at it.”
“But...what about your thigh?” Madelyn asked.
He stood, showing her that his thigh had already mostly mended.
“How...” she started, but he interrupted her.
“I’m Garou...or, in mainstream terms, I am a Werewolf,” he told her and she nodded her understanding, having witnessed the men shifting earlier. “We heal much faster than humans do.” He smiled softly to her and continued, “and that is why I brought the pack Healer here to look at your ankle. You’re human and not only do you heal slower, but healing for you is more complicated and needs more attention than Garou healing needs.”
Just then, there was a soft knock at the door, and they both turned their attention to the entrance to the room to find a lovely brunette standing there. She was tall, with shoulder-length hair, olive complexion, and the most beautiful hazel eyes Madelyn had ever seen.
“Aha, and speak of the wolf,” Connor said as he rose and walked over to the newcomer to invite her into the room. “This is Vela. She is the pack Healer.” He motioned Vela to enter the room and invited her to sit on the bed beside Madelyn.
“Hello Vela,” Madelyn greeted the...woman?...Madelyn was at a loss as to what to consider the female sitting beside her.
“Hello Madelyn,” Vela smiled pleasantly. Her voice was pleasant and slightly exotic. She smelled divine, her perfume a mixture of cinnamon and spices. Connor could see Madelyn relax even more than before and quietly excused himself from the room to prepare something to eat for Madelyn and himself while the two females conversed.
“So, I understand you had a bit of a shock this morning,” Vela said as she reached for Madelyn’s ankle. Madelyn just smiled wryly and nodded. “I understand, dear. I really do,” she told the young woman as she felt around the ankle. Madelyn winced when Vela’s fingers found a sore spot.
“I can remember my Mother’s stories about when she first came to the pack. Father met her far from here. She wasn’t Werewolf, though she had her own mystical abilities but that didn’t prepare her for becoming mated to a Garou.” Vela said as she continued examining the injury.
“Where was your mother from? If you don’t mind my asking,” Madelyn said softly.
“She’s from the Caribbean,” Vela replied. “Father traveled extensively in his youth and during a trip to the Caribbean, he met my Mother. He always said she was the most beautiful woman on the face of the planet.”
“You’re rather lovely, yourself, Vela,” Madelyn told Vela as she continued examining the injury.
“Why, thank you, dear,” Vela responded. “Well, I think your ankle isn’t sprained and there aren’t any broken bones. Just a twist, dear, and I have just the salve to put on it. This stuff may make you a little sleepy, but by the time you wake up, you’ll be as good as new.”
Reaching into her satchel, Vela brought out a mason jar and opened it. A sweet scent filled the air. The smell was soothing and all at once it invoked a memory from Madelyn’s past...
...She was 6 years old. She dropped a toy she’d been carrying with her then stepped on it and tripped down the two steps leading to the lowered den they’d had in their old house in California. Her ankle twisted and she was left crying while Daddy came and scooped her up to soothe her.
Mother came with a mason jar of salve. When she opened it, the child’s cries slowed, and then stopped altogether. Mother rubbed the salve into her ankle gently and Daddy laid her in her bed. She slept the rest of the afternoon and night and awoke the next morning feeling as if her ankle had never hurt
Vela paused as she rubbed the salve into Madelyn’s ankle. She thought she’d heard a sob. Looking up, she saw tears streaming down the young woman’s cheeks as she stared at her ankle. As concern crossed her face, she heard a noise behind her and turned to see Connor standing there with a tray of food, his gaze moving between Vela and Madelyn and back again.
Setting the tray aside, he entered the room and pulled Vela from the bed, looking into her face as he spoke in a low voice. “What happened?” he hissed. “I left her in your care and now she’s crying.” He waited for Vela’s answer.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “We were chatting pleasantly, then I pulled out the salve and began rubbing it into her ankle. She never said anything, she didn’t act as though I’d harmed her. She was just fine one moment, then I looked up and she was in tears the next.” They both glanced over to Madelyn again and noted she’d fallen asleep.
“Come,” Connor said, taking up the tray and leaving the room. Vela gathered up her satchel and followed, closing the door quietly behind her.
Once downstairs, he set the two plates of food he’d prepared on the table and motioned Vela to one of them. Setting the tray aside, he sat with her and they ate in silence. He mulled over the scene he’d come across. Why was Madelyn crying? If it wasn’t pain, then what was it? Or was it pain, but of another kind? He had to find out more about this girl and her past. He knew some about her family, but not much.
“What happened back there?” he asked Vela.
“I honestly do not know, Connor,” she replied as she finished her last bite. “As I said, one moment I was putting the salve on her ankle, and then I thought I heard a sob, so I looked up and she had tears streaming down her face.” She paused, thinking back on the scene.
“She didn’t give me any indications that what I was doing was causing her any physical pain, or even discomfort, save for one small wince when I pressed on a specific place on her ankle. That is when I brought out the jar of salve and opened it, then rubbed some onto her ankle.” Her face took a thoughtful look. “Connor, do you suppose she’s had that salve applied to an injury before?” she asked suddenly.
“I don’t know, but we can find out.” With that, he rose from the table, leaving her watching him curiously as he began his search.
Not one cabinet escaped his search. He rummaged through them all, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets. Finally, he returned with two small mason jars and handed them to Vela.
“I think this might explain her reaction, Vela,” Connor said and Vela opened one of the jars. As she smelled the contents, she looked at Connor in surprise.
“They knew?” she asked him. He shook his head. She looked at him curiously. “They knew someone?”
“I think so,” he replied. “But, I don’t know if they knew their friend was Garou. He either didn’t want them to know, or he hadn’t yet found an opportunity to tell them before they died.”
“Wow,” Vela breathed disbelievingly. “I would never have guessed it. Who do you suppose their friend was?” she asked Connor, who was starting to explore the ground floor of the house.
It wasn’t long before he returned to the kitchen table, looking through a photo album he’d brought back from the living room.
“Oh, I think I have an idea,” he said as he paused and turned the album around to show Vela his discovery.
“No way,” Vela said as she looked at the photos of Madelyn sitting on a man’s knee. It was Vela’s father, Brian Hemming. “This is where he’d go when he’d disappear? And Madelyn? Is she his?” Tears welled up in her eyes as she considered the thought.
“I don’t think so, Vela,” Connor said soothingly. “He was never one to do anything with another without your mother’s knowledge and approval. Had he sired this girl, you and your mother would have known.” He paused, thinking. “Also, she’d have undergone the change at puberty. She’d know of us if she were his daughter.” He looked back at the photos.
“No, Vela, she’s not Garou, not even half. Her parents were human. She’s human.” He looked back up at Vela. “But not for long,” he said with a knowing smile. She smiled back at him, shaking her head softly while murmuring something about unmated males and their mad inner drive to mate when they’ve found a female they want.
Connor made a face at Vela before leaving the room to continue his explorations of the house. The office was his first stop. He flipped through photo albums, smiling when he’d come across pictures of Madelyn as a child and young teen. He read reports Madelyn’s parents made when they’d return from their adventures.
The computer in the study wasn’t set up with a password, so he did some digging there. One file was named “Werewolves” so he opened it. Among the many folders was one dedicated to Northern California. There was a Word document in that folder. Reading it, he began to understand why her parents moved here.
“Brian’s recommendation that we move to this house was a good one. We have already found there is a large pack of wolves nearby, and they seem to be quite docile. We’ve been approached by four or five, but not closer than a dozen feet or so from us.
“Madelyn has seen a few, though she has not mentioned it to us. We have watched her include them in her drawings. One even came as near as the opposite side of the meadow she loves to hide in. She thinks we don’t know of that place, but we follow her whenever she takes off alone.
“He [we believe the one that continues to approach Maddy is male, though haven’t made the attempt to verify up close] has come as close to Madelyn as about 3 feet, but she was unaware of his presence. He held himself perfectly still and more than quiet as he came near her. Marie was nervous when she witnessed this, but kept her distance downwind of the two, so as not to alert him of her presence.
“She watched as the wolf inspected our little daughter as she played with her dolls in the grass of ‘her’ meadow. Marie reported back to me that an odd feeling came over her as she watched this wolf. He seemed to desire our daughter, she said. I have not yet explored what exactly Marie meant by this, but I can only guess that it did not mean for dinner. Perhaps this is our first evidence that Werewolves really do exist?
“More research needed. We will continue to monitor the situation and record our findings here.
“Richard E. Randell “August 1, 1999”
Connor mulled over this for a bit. 1999. That would have put Madelyn at about age 10. She’d been 5 years old when they moved here. He’d already watched her for 5 years, and they knew he’d watched her. How? How could they watch him without him knowing of it? Yes, they were adventurers, but he was Garou. He was wolf. Surely he was cleverer than they. This troubled him. He had to speak with Elder Brian about this.