I have been sitting in my car, staring at the zoo’s entrance for almost ten minutes now, trying to gather up enough courage to get on with my job.
Doctor Keller had already phoned in with a list of medical supplies that I was supposed to be picking up from the local vet, Doctor James. The only problem was my mate. The mate I had practically ran away from the last time I saw him and left him gawking at my back in a state of confusion as I retreated without even trying to offer him an excuse for my strange behavior.
The sole person I was trying to avoid, worked in those rocky walls and there was a big possibility that I might run into him, whether I wanted to or not.
Sighing in frustration, I finally pulled my sorry ass out of my Jeep and started to stroll towards the entrance. The outside of Lion Heart was quite amazing. Large, banners with colored photographs of various animals lined the entire length of the parking lot and the zoo itself was nestled within the safety of thick, almost ancient looking rocky walls, reaching up towards the sky.
The young woman sitting behind the glass window in the ticket office openly scanned me from head to toe the moment I stepped in front of her. She had a strange look on her face, almost like she had tasted something rotten. It didn’t last long though, because she quickly became bored with my presence and started digging around in the drawer underneath her desk.
“Sorry, mam, we’re not open yet,” she said sounding somewhat annoyed.
Instantly I decided I did not like her.
She had long, blonde hair and beautiful brown eyes, but it was that look on her face that had bothered me, along with the arrogant air she had around her.
I quickly plastered a fake smile onto my face and tried again, “good morning to you too.”
She stopped what she was doing and slammed the drawer shut with a loud thud. Her eyes were shooting daggers at me as she slowly spoke, “we-only-open-at-9h00,” she said, overpronouncing the words as one would do with a small child “it is only 7h30 now, which means that you will have to come back a bit later on,” she said smugly.
My blood was boiling at that point and I was struggling to keep my wolf contained.
“Doctor James is expecting me, he asked to see me before the park opened,” I seethed out through clenched teeth, all the while keeping that damn stiff smile on my face.
Don’t lose it in front of the human, don’t lose it in front of the human.
She eyed me skeptically for a moment before she decided to phone in herself and ask whether I was telling the truth. As she turned her back towards me, I heard the park’s radio system reverberating throughout the tiny office.
“Come in please, Louis,” I heard the unmistakable sound of my mate’s voice coming from the radio.
Instantly my heart rate started to pick up and my palms became sweaty.
“Standing by,” another male voice, obviously belonging to the Louis person replied followed by some heavy static noise.
“Are you busy at the moment?” My mate asked through the scratchy static noise.
“I am, but I can pick this up again later, what’s up?”
“I need some help,” my mate almost growled over the radio, and I promptly flicked my eyes toward it.
“Location?” The Louis guy asked.
“Reptile house,” Conner answered quickly.
My mind was bombarded with questions, what could he possibly need help with inside the reptile house? Was he ok? Should I go and help?
“Doctor James is expecting you, Melena; do you know where to go?” The blonde finally spoke, jerking me back to reality.
“I-uh,” I began to answer, but my focus was still on Conner and Louis’s conversation in the background.
“On my way,” Louis replied one last time, followed by some more static noise.
The blonde quickly turned the volume knob on the radio to zero and eyed me again in disgust.
“I know where to go,” I answered quickly.
“Fine, go on in then,” she mumbled and gestured towards a heavy, metal door to the right of the office. A loud buzzing sound filled the air, followed by a metallic click as the door cracked open a few inches and I pushed it open to step inside.
The smell of wild animals immediately overwhelmed my senses and for a second, I just stood there, adjusting to it, and taking it all in.
I could hear numerous sounds of different mammals, birds and other critters echoing against the office wall behind me. They all seemed so excited; it must have been feeding and cleaning time that early in the morning.
Conner was in the reptile house. If I wanted to get to Doctor James without him unnoticing, NOW was my chance. My legs started moving, taking large, deliberate strides. I quickly made my way towards the old fashioned, brown, rocky building where I had met with Doctor James the previous time.
“Melena, so nice to see you again,” Doctor James greeted with an outstretched hand as soon as I stepped into his office.
“Doctor,” I greeted back respectfully.
Doctor James was also a wolf from an ally pack and an elder for that matter, so showing some respect towards him was expected.
“That Old Bag sending you around doing his errands now is he?” He asked jokingly, obviously referring to his dear friend, Doctor Keller.
I chuckled lightly and shook my head, “I don’t mind at all, Sir.”
“Here you go, Dear,” he said while handing me another one of his signature white cooler boxes with the big, bright red cross painted on the side.
“Thank you, Doctor,” I replied with a warm smile as I took the box from him.
“Please send my regards to Peter,” he said one last time, sounding sincere. They should know each other quite well if they were on a first-name basis.
“I will relay the message to Doctor Keller the moment I hand him his meds,” I answered kindly while pulling the door open to be on my way.
“Take care now,” I heard the old man yelling from behind as I started making my way back down the hall towards the exit of the building. I needed to escape before Conner finished whatever he was busy with in the reptile house.
The sooner I could get out of Lionheart, the better.