Making our way back into town, the bookstore had a closed sign hanging from the bar handle inside the glass. With no indication of activity within we were faced with pursuing other avenues of investigation. Recanting on my earlier objection, we took the bus to an address where Rose claimed she’d attended one of the rituals.
A knock at the door produced a pair of predators that were apparently indiscriminate in their bisexual appetites. The male answering wore a pair of white microfiber shorts of obvious intent and a tight-fitting designer tee. Introducing himself as Cliff, he possessed a swimmer’s build, long blonde hair, devouring eyes and I couldn’t tell if he was more interested in Rose or yours truly.
Calling herself Patrice, the woman looked like a raven haired runway model. Wearing a pair of clingy shorts and semi-transparent blouse she was on the tall side of slender. Her face was pretty in a famished feline sort of way. Aiming a come-hither smile like an archer’s bow in my direction, she also placed a caressing hand on Rose’s lower back while ushering her inside.
Seeming quite anxious to party with the pair of us, by feigning interest we solicited some needed info. Although not actual members of the coven, they thought of themselves as part of the ever-expanding outer circle, like an extended family. True they had recently hosted a Sabbat, but it was the first time they’d been asked. It was also likely the last for a while as the group rarely performed rituals in the same place twice.
Personally I thought it a strange practice, running contrary to the establishment of power site. Paranoia probably played a large part in that and regrettably, the pair only received invitations to rituals that were open to satellites. Whenever Patrice looked at Rose she had an expression on her face that I’m certain was one of recognition.
Attempting to conquer by dividing, I put an immediate halt to their joint efforts to split Rose and I up. Perhaps thinking I preferred a communal environment, the mistress of the house then departed for refreshments. Returning a few moments later, she carried a serving tray laden with drinks and had somehow managed to lose every stitch of clothing along the way.
Noticing my attention to detail, Cliff leaned closer and whispered an offer to share his lovely bride unnecessarily near my ear. With her bare hips swaying gently to some rhythmic Brazilian music that just sort of magically started playing, tempting as the offer might otherwise be, I turned to Cliff and placed him in a trance.
Smiling prettily as she presented herself and the tray, one whiff confirmed the presence of drugs in the alcohol. Seeing that Rose was keeping an interested watch over me, I glanced at the glasses and gave her a quick head-shake. Turning my attention to back to Patrice, I caught her by the eyes eyes and drew her into mine.
“Patrice, who contacted you regarding the ritual you hosted?”
Like a child lost in whimsy she replied, “Arlan.”
“If you call him on your phone, would he take your call?”
“Yes. He thinks I’m pretty. I can tell that he wants me.”
“Good. I think you’re pretty too and this is what you’re going to do for me.”
Laying out a plan that would guarantee the participation of Arlan and his group, I released both Cliff and Patrice from their trance states. Making apologies for our being bound to another appointment, I took Rose by the hand and led her out the door.
“I think ol’ Cliff fancies you as much as his pert little strumpet!”
“Now, now, let’s not be judgmental.”
“What was the address you gave them?”
“It’s to the house I keep in the suburbs, one whose location I don’t try to hide.”
“Because sometimes I want to be found.”
“Okay, where to now?” Rose asked as we headed for the nearest bus stop.
“Shopping. We’re going to be entertaining and need to stock up on a few things.”
“Including veggies for home.”
“Yes.” I said turning to look at her somewhat amazed. “Those too.”
That she already thought of the place as home was a surprise. I find the fortress kind of homey, but I’m pretty sure it would creep most people out. Apparently she’d taken to it and to me with amazing quickness. That was a stunner, but I could roll with it without reading anything further into her motives. Soon enough she’d catch a glimpse of the real me and that was usually a game changer.
In the meantime we dropped by the city house and prepped it with a few safeguards. I let her watch and even help towards the end. She was quick on the uptake, but patient in the casting. By my reckoning, for a novice she had the raw talent to go far as a weaver of incantations. After a few hours of cobwebbing the corners with clingy spells designed to dampen any unauthorized magical casting, the house was safe enough that we could stay there.
Deciding that we might as well be near the center of things, we stuffed the pantry with preservatives and threw the fresh goods in the fridge. I let Rose have run of the kitchen while I tidied up the exterior with multiple layers of trip-fall alarm spells. When I finished, no one was getting in without me knowing about it in advance and with a few broken bones to boot!
When I re=entered, Rose was finishing up her cleaning and ready to cook.
“Steak and potatoes?”
“Sure, sounds great, but I need to tell you something about myself and I should do that before things go much further. For most who are innocent of the what goes on behind the scenes it’s a deal breaker.”
“Fine, you talk, I’ll cook.” She replied slipping a large carving knife from the rack.
“Okay, here goes. I’m a werewolf.” Fortunately I’d already broken the ice on this topic, but it was time to let her know I was serious. Since she hadn’t mentioned it, I figured she was in denial, but it seemed likely the time would soon come when her life might depend on believing it.
She didn’t look at me at first, just stared at the slab of meat in front of her. After a moment she looked up with an expression of half-relief and half dis-belief.
“That’s the blood disorder I mentioned.”
“Christ! I thought you were going to tell me you were gay.”
I gave her the reassuring smile she was looking for and then went on very matter of fact like.
“I have full control over the transformations and well defined loyalties. You’re either a friend, foe, or one of the many that I look after who have no clue I exist. You fall in the first category now and have nothing to worry about. If you want to walk away I won’t stop you, but the world out there is a dangerous place for you now. You also know enough to be dangerous so I would earnestly advise discretion.”
“You really believe you’re a werewolf?”
“More than that, I’m the werewolf! I wasn’t joking about my age. I’m the oldest of my kind and those few still out there are mostly my responsibility. I’ve made it my business to track down any who have accessed my blood-line and taken to preying on humans. Sadly, it seems that in time they all succumb to that temptation.”
“Like in the movies?”
“My story is something I’ve kept secret from all but a select few. You know a large part of it now and I’m going to have to trust you with that information. As for the movies, the moon is a factor for the others and so is silver. There are a few more ways to destroy one, but they tend to keep their distance from me and stay hidden.”
“I want to see it, see you change.”
“It isn’t pretty and can be a little distressing.”
“I trust you. I don’t think you would hurt me.”
“Alright, but let’s eat first.”