Winter Rain, part 20

She’s right: in my natural form, I’ll have more options. My voice will carry better, for one thing. A called warning might be enough. Though knowing Faolan, probably not. But I’ll be able to see better, and find the others by scent. Human form is pretty limiting for this kind of thing—especially at night.

I run down a side street and cut into an ally. It’s dark, but not dark enough. Changing where I might be seen . . . not gonna happen. I’ve caused one “werewolf” panic in my life, and that was enough. Last thing we need is some yokel with a rifle going on a “mission from God”. Fuck.

Silver bullets don’t hurt because they’re silver—they hurt because they’re bullets!

There’s a darkened alcove ahead. It’ll have to do.

I glance around, but there’s nobody in sight. No lights on in nearby windows, either. Some noise from restaurant kitchens, but I think I’m behind a store or something that’s already closed.

I put my phone down, pull off my jacket, and tug my shirt over my head. The night air is freezing, but I won’t have to put up with it for long.

But somebody tears into the alley at a full run.

I push myself back into the dark corner and wait for them to pass, but the running slows, then stops, barely a dozen feet away.

I can feel whoever it is, peering into the darkness. Him, from the gait.

Fuck, I wish I could catch a scent. But the wind is blowing the wrong way.

He advances slowly, only a few steps away. I silently lower myself to a crouch. A confrontation is the last thing I need. But I may not have a choice.

Three feet away from the wall. Maybe four. And he’s still slowing. How does he know I’m here?

But I can’t avoid him. Not if he’s looking for me. It’s not dark enough.

Only one choice left.

I launch out at his legs and tackle him around the waist. He yells with surprise, but I feel him recover way too quickly. Something smacks into my upper back and nearly knocks me free. But not quite. I hold, and he thuds into the ground while I roll over him. I hear something hard and hollow-sounding hit pavement beneath me.


I roll to my feet and rise to face him.

I recognize him instantly. “Conlan! What the fuck are you doing!”

He climbs unsteadily to his feet, holding one hand to his head. I can smell blood on the air.

“Stopping you,” he says, “from getting me killed.”

Shit. I didn’t think he had it in him.

“Conlan, go home,” I say, shaking my head. But, I’m so proud of him. I feel the smile spreading on my face, and I almost can’t contain it.

“Go home, now. Okay? You’ve done your duty. You’re in the clear. I think it’s great. But I’ve got to go. Now.

“You can take my stuff back with you, right?”

He drops his hand from his head—the smell of blood in the air gets stronger—and he crouches down. He’s either a lot braver, or a lot more scared than I thought.

“Fuck you, Tiergan,” he snarls. “I’m in charge! And you’re not going after them.”