This morning I woke up with a sinus headache. I haven’t had one for a few months so it took me a minute to realize that lying down wasn’t going to make me feel any better.
The best I can do for that type of headache is to sit up and drink something caffeinated. So I am sitting here, sipping coffee, and editing Dark Moon Rising.
Here is little taste of the next story in EJ Hunter’s world.
Dark Moon Rising
I woke suddenly, her smell lingering on the covers where she had slept the night before. The slight depression where she slept was still warm. I was still a dog, so I curled up in the depression. I could hear the soft sounds of Mari and Owen talking.
I let the warmth roll over me, then got out of bed. My mission was to find EJ, but I also had a secondary mission. I needed to hear what they were saying. It is hard to explain how a dog brain works. It is mostly smells and needs. But in the back of my head, my clan leader had made a spot where he could listen. I was a spy of sorts.
I slid under Owen’s hand and felt him rub my head and down my back. It felt so good that I wagged my tail back and forth.
“Adam said to come. We need to rescue EJ.” Owen rubbed my back again, more to calm his nerves than to calm mine.
I could smell the stubbornness coming off of Mari in waves. It smelled bitter with a slight touch of the ocean spray. I took another whiff at Mari’s shoes. She was going to the sea.
But Owen’s shoes smelled of desert cactus, dirt, and sage. Neither had the smell of the woman who could change into any wereanimal. I sat down and sighed. It was hard to think in this form. I waited and listened, letting my clan leader hear.
“The werecats have her. He thinks they want to experiment on her and she’ll end up in Loomis’ laboratory.”
There was a mulish tone in Mari’s voice, “Have you listened?” She hissed the question.
“To what I am saying? I had a vision. I need to go to the ocean clans and get allies… to help us.”
“What clans.” Owen snorted. “There are no sea clans. In fact there are barely any land clans except for us and the cats. You are going on a wild goose chase and even worse you are looking for a myth.”
I barked and when Owen gave me that look, I laid flat on the floor, my head hidden in my paws.
“You can go back to your Alpha,” by this time there was venom in Mari’s voice. “You can do what you always do and make fun of my abilities even though you came for ME.” She was shouting.
“Make your decision, but after breakfast I will be on my way. I’ll walk if I have too.”
Owen reached for her and then pulled his hands back to his sides. He clenched them. Mari tidied up the bed, grabbed her clothes, and slammed the bathroom door. We could hear the shower turn on.
Owen sighed. He called Adam again. “I can’t leave her here. Okay.” He listened again, “Okay.” He hung up the phone.
“Well, little buddy,” Owen sounded resigned. “Adam changed his mind. We are to follow Mari on this goose chase.” He picked up his clothes and stuffed them into a bag.
In the back of my mind, I heard my clan leader say, “Interesting.”
My boot heels made sharp loud noises as I marched down the hallway to my researchers. There was a method to my madness. When I reached the lab, the doctors would be shaking in their shoes. They were professionals but were prone to fear just like anyone else. I refused to be afraid. I was the one to fear.
I forced my steps to be deliberate, but inside I was dancing. The Queen of Cats had just called me. She had EJ and had demanded all the research we had done on the werecats. I hadn’t told her that the main reason the werecats couldn’t have children was because she couldn’t. As a liger, she was the scariest, most lethal, predator in her neck of the woods. She was sterile.
In my research of werecats I had learned of the queen’s use of mind control. The reason she could keep the clowder together was her ability to crush the opposition with her mind. Then she made them her advisers.
When she was unhappy with her subjects, she controlled their bodies as well. Anyone with a different viewpoint either left or became an unwilling sycophant. He admired this trait.
The werecats who were sent on missions from the clowder like Agent Foster did gain some independence. The agent was now in the tender mercies of his Queen. If he had gained immunity to his Queens influence, then would find himself at the tender mercies of me. I smiled.
So the Queen’s subjects couldn’t reproduce because she couldn’t reproduce. She put a part of herself in them and their entire species were lost. I wasn’t about to tell her.
I laughed out loud. Even the guards who were at my heels hid the shudders. The queen was at my mercy and I wasn’t merciful.
I opened the door to the lab and slammed it behind me, leaving the guards outside the lab door. The doctors jumped. Well, well, the scared doctors were trying to keep something from him. I would let this little rebellion run it’s course. It might help me in the end. Of course I had copies of all their research. I couldn’t have another Felony Flats incident.
“What have you got?” I asked. The doctors turned as one. Yes, the two of them had a secret.
One of them, I think it was Dr. Vandross, finally spoke, “We need more blood. The little bit we have doesn’t give us enough to find out why the blood looks normal.”
I laughed and felt delight when they shuddered. I would find their families soon, and then I would have more power over them.
“You’ll have as much blood as you want in a few days. Do what you can with what you have now. This new one, well, it can transform to more than one animal.”
I did a military turn and walked out the door, stomping down the hallway. I pulled out my tablet and checked the security cameras that watched my pet researchers. Yes, they were talking in the corner away from the microphone. I made a mental note to put another microphone in that corner.
Once we had EJ in a secure room near the lab, I would need better surveillance on both the werewolf and the researchers. It was better to be safe than sorry. I had learned that lesson too well.