University of Louisiana, Lafayette, home of the ragin’ Cajuns
The sun was setting just behind the treetops at the library giving a red hue to the sky. Jack-o’-lanterns, witches, and enormous candy corns littered the sidewalks harkening in the fall season. She arrived at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, home of the ragin’ Cajuns. Amy graduated from this school and as such garnered special privileges in this library that she didn’t get in normal libraries. Somewhere in the distance the school bell rang ushering out students that scurried about and hurried home. College students preparing for a weekend of binge drinking that would release them from the hectic day-to-day college life. The students were thinning out now as she reached the library.
The eerie air around Malstros’ plantation, sections of Alicia’s diary, the gentleman stranger Devon who opened her eyes to the mythical lycanthropes, and lastly the several arsons that she herself reported, compounded her fear. Amy had a long night’s conversation with Rogers and it did not soothe her anxiety but she had needed to hear his voice like a crack addict itching for the next fix.
Rogers had given her the green light to investigate further, but he said to stay off the radar of any media sources until she had something concrete to show them. Well I’ve got Devon and his recorded conversation don’t I? She said to herself of course, it would be considered the ravings of a madman. Devon had been gone for several days, though. She had made the long, grueling trip to the library for weeks now with nothing to show for it. There had been no proof that the Malstros plantation ever existed.
She sat hunched over the books in the library with thoughts flooding through her busy mind, the events of the last few weeks hazy like a distant dream. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for and nothing she read seemed quite right. Since Devon came into and out of her life nothing had been quite the same. Amy strained her eyes trying to read the last of the first two books, neither one of them were helpful. Too deep in myth, unsuccessfully weeding out more facts than mystery, that was not what she was looking for. Then Amy turned to the census, residence and parishes of Louisiana. No proof of ownership, what had happened to the last residents or even what happened to the mysterious Alicia.
Frustrated, Amy subconsciously nibbled on her pencil, aware the research was amounting to shit. As she wrote in her notebook straining her eyes until she felt a headache coming on. Unaware of piercing eyes watching her from a corner across the room. She threw a pencil and slammed the book as she pulled the chair out from the table and stood up and turned around. Amy jumped; a stranger had emerged from the shadows, taking her breath away. Out of breath she stared at the figure that now stood beside her.
“Don’t be afraid…” The stranger assured Amy, “I would like to talk to you, but not here.”
James gripped a particularly large branch in the Cyprus tree. The leaves concealed him from occasional passing college students. He stared down into the library window at Amy, drooling. He had tracked her to the library where she had stayed inside researching for hours. He had been given orders by Aticus to record her every movement. James would zealously take any order Aticus gave him. With the guidance and tutelage of So-seti he could shift from one form to the other without the moon’s presence. Aticus should respect James as the mate of So-seti whom he had impregnated and by association would be his relative. By all rights Aticus should obey him for his power, but he was repulsed by his very presence.
James stared at her in the window, but he dared not venture much further. He could smell a threat from within the library. He didn’t know what to do. With another tall stranger upon her he did not dare to give away his position.
“You are in grave danger,” The stranger whispered, pity in his voice as he offered her one hand. “They’ll come for you now....” he said as he rested the other hand on her shoulder.
“Come with me.” His tone suggested it wasn’t a suggestion but a command.
The stranger’s gaze too intense, she felt powerless and frightened. She studied his face to avoid looking at his eyes. He had a wide chin, large square face, and thick neck like a professional body builder. He had a rough exaggerated five o’clock shadow, thick wild brown hairs sprouting about his not yet bearded complexion. Her body beyond her control she was following him out the door before she knew it.
“Who are you?” Amy asked pulling her jacket up and across her arms in an unconscious sign of fear.
The huge man turned his back to her. She could see his full form now and felt like a rag doll in his presence. He was a powerful man her head barely even reaching his chin. Dressed in a brown leather duster he had dark, greasy brown hair coming over his shoulders. Until he stopped suddenly she noted a substantial limp when he walked.
“It isn’t important who I am, what is important is your safety.” He grabbed her wrist cutting off the circulation in her hand.
Amy anxiously looked around for any security or even a helpful stranger. She saw an old woman in the midst of a novel, a college student trying his best moves on a co-ed and a homeless man drooling and asleep on a desk, they would not be helpful though.
Her mind frozen in fear and her body betraying her she did not know what to do. She had actually came face to face with Devon, a self-professed Lupine-noid creation, and now she found herself being forced out the door by a hulking behemoth. Her heart sped up when a uniformed security guard came out of the restroom turned the corner, adjusted his shirt, secured his belt and looked around. She could see the double glass doors of the exit just a few paces away.
“Don’t even think about it,” Hunter whispered gesturing toward the oblivious security guard and roughly jerking Amy’s body to hammer the point home like a nail, “I don’t want to kill a human being, but I will if I am discovered. Believe me when I tell you, I’m your friend.”
A yawning college security guard with a uniform that looked two sizes too small for him glanced over suspiciously at Amy and the hulking stranger. Her nervous expression managed to change into an insincere smile, and with a flirty bat of her eyelashes the Security guard looked away and leaned on the library wall. Amy could almost hear it groan with the increased weight.
“Good night to you, come back and see us again.” Saluting, the security guard mumbled to them with an insincere smile on his face.
Hunter cordially smiled, then dismissed him with a flick of the wrist. The glass doors of the library closed behind him. Hunter glanced around the courtyard nervously like a small rodent in the wild looking out for predators everywhere.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Amy thought as the couple walked down the cobblestone sidewalk arm in arm toward the parking lot. Amy glanced at Hunter who sniffed the air around him. Something did not smell right to him and in response Hunter drew Amy closer and a brisk walk turned into an invasive trot.
At his vantage point from the treetops James observed Amy and Hunter coming out of the library. Both Aticus and So-seti had asked him to keep tabs on Amy, but So-seti had plans of her own whispering in secret to him if the opportunity arose he should abduct her for Soseti’s own devices. A successful abduction could bolster the respect of the den without Aticus. He breathed in Amy’s aroma, Sarah’s bouquet all over her body. A split second decision had to be made because though he hadn’t been spotted yet he soon would be. He had to act because if somehow the accursed Hunter escaped he surely knew how to cover his tracks. This is it, he told himself, and descended easily from the treetops.
Before Hunter knew what hit him something smashed into him the wind leaving his lungs. He fell headlong into a parked car cracking the fiberglass bumper and falling down on his ass. He came to his senses to see one man… or was it two men? A nasty gash on the back of his head had given him double vision and the Earth spun out of control.
“Help me!” Amy yelled out as James grabbed her and hefted her over his shoulder.
“Stay back. I don’t want to hurt you!” with a mouth full of fangs James’ warning was garbled.
Hunter crinkled his nose… but that is impossible! Did his nose betray him? He checked the sky for the moons phase then stared at the stranger. The Wolf blood that traveled through his veins smelled fresh, the gravitational influence weak at best. The stranger should not have any control to manipulate his body at will. Yet Hunter stared at hands that transformed into lupine claws. He raised and shook his arm that used to be limp at his side for years, and then pointed a fur covered long, sharp talon pointer finger as a warning to Hunter still lying on the pavement.
Hunter craned his neck to see his van realizing he had left his arms and ammo in a duffel bag. Amy struggled to wriggle in vain. He struggled to find something in his duster, and then frantically stuffed plugs in his ears. He grasped a little black box, a speaker directly in the middle and a red button on the side, a homemade sound grenade. He pressed it and tossed it toward the stranger.
James looked curiously at the foreign device. Hunter was in rescue mode before the alarms squealed into James’s ears. The black box vibrated on the concrete. An intermittent amplified shrill like a fire alarm on steroids that violated James’s skull forced James down on his knees.
“Now!” Hunter barked. He saw James’ claws spontaneously convert back to hands as they shielded him from the harsh sounds.
Amy saw James’ hands pressed firmly to his ears, mouth open from immense pain, it was her chance, she thought; now or never, with one firm push of her hands she leapt from James’ clutches.
Before she hit the concrete Hunter caught her, then clumsily twirled around metal hitting metal with his brace and ran towards his van. He had started it and was putting it in gear before the sound grenade turned off. James was still covering his ringing and bleeding ears.
Before James came to his senses shaking off the dizzying experience he could see the van’s tail lights. It could be a blessing in disguise, James thought to himself as the van disappeared into the distance. He could smell the strong aroma of Sarah and chances were, he thought, they would meet again off neutral territory and he could capture the both of them.