Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel (16 page)

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
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I dropped my hand, seeing that he was on his knees in front of me. “How do you know?” I asked quietly.

He smiled up at me. “Like I said, you’re the best kind of woman. You are the most carin’ woman I’ve ever met. How anyone could say that about you is beyond me.”

As I stared into his eyes, something in me just snapped. I stood, glaring down at him. “Well, you’re wrong,” I hissed. “Would a woman who had a heart let the man she really likes be stuck the way you are?”

Mike stood, smirking at me. “You like me?” he asked, trying not to laugh.

“This isn’t funny,” I yelled, folding my arms. “You want to know how
not
funny this is? I asked Samuel for a divorce.” I had no idea where this was coming from. But as soon as I said it, I felt better.

“Are you insane?” he yelled at me, throwing his hands up. “Didn’t we go over this a few minutes ago? Are you tryin’ to get yourself killed?”

As soon as he said that, the flash of an alleyway came into me again. Samuel was on his knees in front of me, his fangs sinking into my thigh. Then I blinked, focusing on the conversation at hand. “Well, excuse me for not consulting you first,” I screamed, “before I decided to get out of a marriage that isn’t working!” I threw my hands up at him. “I figured you’d be happy. After all, weren’t you the one who said that you would be my lawyer when I decided to divorce him?”

“Yeah,” he sighed; his voice still agitated. “But I didn’t actually think you’d do it.”

“You’re not making any sense,” I said, tapping my temple. “How can you pretend to have any feelings for me if you don’t
truly
want me?”

“I don’t want him to hurt you,” he hissed, grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me. “Please stay with him until we figure somethin’ else out.”

“I don’t want to stay with that monster,” I said gently. “I want to be with you.”

“Well,” he said, his hands sliding from my shoulders, “you can’t be with me right now, Patricia.”

“Why not?” I asked, shaking. I was so frustrated I felt like I was going to scream.

“Because,” he yelled, closing his eyes, “I don’t want you to get hurt!”

“You keep saying that,” I whispered. “But you should’ve thought of that
before
you did what you did last night.”

“My God,” he said, opening his eyes. “You really just don’t care about your own safety.”

I blinked at him. “You’re right, I don’t care. I’m leaving him with or without your permission, Michael. And if you can’t understand that what I’m doing is not only for me, but for us, then maybe we should just end this.” I took a deep breath. “I don’t need you to be my knight in shining armor, Mike. I just need you to have my back, and if you can’t do that, you should just leave.” I turned on my heels, walking up the stairs.

“What are you doin’?” he asked my back.

“I’m going to go pack.” I told him, running up the rest stairs and into the master bedroom. I slammed the door behind me. I needed a minute alone, but the image of Samuel on his knees in the alley came back to me. It wasn’t a dream. It was a memory, and I knew where the evidence of it would be. In Samuel’s sketchbook.

I walked over to the bed, and knelt beside it. Then I went down on all fours and reached for it. When my fingers touched its course exterior, my heart stopped, and I pulled the book out, quickly placing it on the bed before I could chicken out. Then I got up off my knees and sat next to it.

I bit my lip, closed my eyes, and flipped the book open. I waited a second and then looked down at the first page. I was shocked by what I saw.

It was a woman—or what used to be a woman—sprawled out in the gutter. And I can’t explain what shocked me more, the fact that her clothes were torn from her body or the fact that she was split open from naval to nose. I think it was the latter.

I placed my hand over my mouth in order to stifle the scream that almost escaped my lips. I was horrified, and I shook when I flipped the page again. The next drawing was worse. This girl had her head between her legs, only it wasn’t attached to her neck. I had to turn the page.

There were dozens of pictures like that, each one more blood-ridden and horrifying than the last. But it changed when I came to my picture. It was beautiful. Never in my life had I looked so unlike myself. My hair was tousled, and my eyes sparkled. I looked beyond human.

Thinking that it was the last drawing, I turned the page to check. But when I did, there were more pictures, all of which were of me—me smiling, me sleeping, me looking over my shoulder at him, me in that same alleyway, eyes glazed over and looking paler than usual. Everything was…me. Then I got to the last drawing, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was Mike and I kissing in the hallway.

Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. No one could’ve known about that except the two of us. Yet there it was in black and white.

Seeing that I couldn’t hold it in anymore, so I lowered my head and cried out.

That’s when I heard someone stomp up the stairs, and Mike burst through the door. “What is it? What’s wrong?” he asked frantically.

I pointed down at the sketchbook, borderline hyperventilating. “
This
is who you want me to stay here with?”

He walked over to me and looked down at the pictures, his eyes widening. “This just proves what I said,” he whispered, but when I flipped the pages back to the beginning, he sank to his knees in front of me.

“You would have me stay here and become like one of them?” I asked, flipping through the pages with the mutilated women on them.

He shook his head, staring at the book. “I wouldn’t let that happen to you, Pat.”

“How can you stop it?” I asked, voice shaking.

“I will,” he said, taking hold of my hands. “I promise.”

I looked down into his warm eyes. I believed that he wouldn’t let anything happen to me, but… “I’m not a damsel in distress,” I said the first thing that popped into my head. “You don’t have to protect me.”

“Like you said you don’t want me to be a knight in shining armor,” he whispered. “But I do have your back.”

“Are you sure?”

He nodded. “I’m sure.” He touched my face, and I leaned down, kissing him. We were locked like that for what seemed an eternity until he pushed me back, staring into my eyes.

I took Mike’s hand, pulling him up onto the bed next to me. He pushed the sketchbook down onto the floor, looking around the room with his mouth slightly open. “You know,” he breathed, “I’ve never been in his room before.”

“Technically,” I said, making him look at me while I unbuttoned my shirt, “it’s our room.”

As he watched me, his eyes bulged out of his skull. “Wh—what are you doin’?” he squeaked.

“Well,” I smirked, “if it isn’t obvious, I must be doing it wrong.” I took off my shirt, throwing it onto the floor next to the book. “I want to be rid of him for good,” I said, unclasping my bra and tossing it so it joined my shirt. “Please help me with that, Mike.”

Mike’s hands trembled as he touched my bare shoulders. “Oh God,” he managed to say. Then I took his hands and moved them down to my breasts.

I’d wanted this ever since we had met. And I silently cursed myself for having a vampire sink his fangs into me in order for me to win a werewolf’s heart.

After that thought, I left all the decisions up to Mike, and he made all the
wrong
ones. In this case, that was a good thing. Then, before our sense caught up to us, he and I were naked lying on the bed.

“We can’t do this,” he breathed, pulling away from me. “He’ll know.”

I pouted. “Well,” I said with an exaggerated sigh, “if you don’t want to, I guess I could always—” I started to get up, and before I had a chance to finish my sentence, his lips were on mine. Then I rolled him over.

I was “ready for anything,” as my mother would say. And I knew that I was ready for
this.

.

chapter

FOURTEEN

“Wow,” Mike breathed, smiling at me. He was lying on his back looking a little shell-shocked, and I had to admit I was a bit shocked myself.

Never had I had someone make love to me like that before. It was perfect. His caresses were so sweet and gentle. And when it was time, he kissed me so passionately that I thought I would pass out. One thing was for sure: he made what I had with Samuel feel like a childish whim instead of a lover’s romance.

“Thank you,” I said with a blush. It was the best compliment a girl could ever get. I turned onto my side, placing my hand on his chest. “I do try my best.”

“Well,” he said, laughing low and throaty, “if that was your best, brava.” He clapped, and I laughed. Then he sighed. “But seriously, are you really gonna tell Sam about this?”

I inhaled his slightly musky scent. “You said it yourself,” I paused, my anger edging, and then it subsided. “He probably already knows.”

When I looked at Mike’s face, his eyes seemed troubled, and his forehead crinkled. “You may be right,” he agreed, not in the least bit irritated that my husband took the word “snoop” to a new level. But he did seem a little worried.

“I know I am,” I said, kissing his shoulder, and he kissed my forehead. “Don’t worry about it,” I made sure my voice was a comforting whisper. That seemed to relax him. “Besides, it’s not as if our marriage is legal.” When I said that he raised an eyebrow at me, and I had to think of a way to explain it properly.

“I think that there’s a law that states that you can’t marry a corpse,” I said, trying to remember some legal theory from high school. “And the vows do say until death do you part. And there’s not exactly an amendment that declares, ‘or until your husband is reborn.’” I thought I was making a good point there. “So technically, since death has already parted us, we’re not really married.”

“From a legal standpoint you’re right about that,” he said after a moment’s thought. “But I doubt that you’ll be able to convince a judge that your husband’s a vampire.”

I sighed. “I guess you’re right. That
would
be a hard sell.”

Mike turned onto his side facing me. “However,” he said with a smile, “you could cite misrepresentation and fraud or say that he concealed his true nature from you, and you can most likely get it annulled.”

“Hm.” I thought about that for a second, and then decided that, “Works for me.”

“You really wanna go through with this?” he asked skeptically; his smile gone. He was the one who’d suggested it in the first place. After all, I understood his concern for my safety, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t live another day in a life filled with lies and misery, especially knowing that at any moment Samuel might quite literally snap my head off my shoulders.

“Uh-huh,” I answered, short and simple. “As long as you’re my attorney.” I smiled at him.

He beamed at me. “Absolutely,” he agreed, and then there was a moment of silence.

“So,” I said, pursing my lips.

He nodded. “So.”

“So.” I paused, excited. “Tell me how you became a werewolf.”

“You really wanna know?” he asked with a sigh, and I nodded energetically. “All right,” he caved. He sure was easy (pun intended). “God, where do I start?” he said to himself, rubbing the back of his neck. “Okay. When I was about fifteen, my friends and I were in the woods right outside our parish. It was gettin’ really dark out, so one of the boys bet me to run deeper into the woods.” He lay on his back, and I cuddled up to him while his hand stroked my arm absentmindedly.

“What did he bet?” I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.

He laughed. “Twenty bucks.”

“Nice bet.” I would’ve done it. Then again, I was always doing stupid things. Especially lately.

He nodded. “Yep. So of course, I did it. I ran so deep into those woods that the only light I could see was from the full moon overhead. Then after a while I ran out of steam. And I must have looked back over my shoulder because the next thing I knew I fell down into a huge hole.” He chuckled, shaking his head. “I cried, screamed, and carried on, but there was no one around to hear. Then I started to get real tired of tryin’ to pull myself out of the ten-foot-deep hole, so I stopped.

“Boy was I banged up. My jeans were torn. My shirt was covered with a mixture of dirt and blood, and my head was so sweaty that my hair was practically glued to my forehead. My nose was broken, and so was my wrist.” He encircled his right wrist, as if could still feel the pain.

“It must’ve been an hour before I heard footsteps,” he continued. “And at first I didn’t want to let anyone know I was there. I mean, there are a lot of crazies out in the woods at night. But then I thought what the hell and started screamin’ like a sumbitch.” He paused, looking mortified. “Sorry.”

“Go on,” I prompted. It was getting to the good part. Who cared if he cursed?

“Anyway,” he said, a little shocked by my matter-of-fact reaction, “the footsteps got closer and closer ’til finally they stopped at the openin’. That’s when I looked, and I saw a huge pair of yellow eyes starin’ down at me, followed by a mouth full of sharp fang-like teeth.”

He shook his head. “I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t do anythin’. So I prepared myself for the worst, knowin’ that there was no chance for me against a big beast like that. Then it did something amazin’. It reached down and pulled me out with its claws.

“You can imagine how shocked I was. I mean, this big mean lookin’ thing was starin’ at me like I was food. And the fact that it looked like a mixture of human and wolf…well…I almost pissed my pants. It had a muzzle, ears, and even a nose like a dog, but its body was hunched over and looked more human than anythin’ else. Of course, it had fur all over, but I couldn’t help thinkin’ that I wanted to be like it. Then I grabbed a stick and shook it at it. The poor thing whimpered, I guess tryin’ to tell me that it meant me no harm, so I let it tend to my wounds.

“She was a magnificent creature,” he mused with a smile. And before I could ask how he knew it was a she, he explained, “I know now that it was female because their snouts are smaller than the males.” I thought that was an interesting fact to know about werewolves. I was going to have to remember that. “She was kind and gentle to me, but then there was a big howl from behind us, and she did what she had to do to protect me.” He paused, sighing deeply.

“What?” I asked. All at once, I was terrified, even though I’d pretty much figured out what she’d done.

“She bit me.” I my eyes widened, and he laughed. “Don’t worry, it wasn’t hard,” he comforted, squeezing my shoulder. “Just a little love bite is all. And then she left. After that I found my way through the woods and went home.

“The next mornin’ I woke up, and I was all better. No scrapes or bruises. Not even a headache. The only thing I had was this.” He held up his left forearm, showing me curved marks on either side of his flesh. The marks were dotted, not connected, as if the teeth had penetrated the skin recently instead of all those years ago.

He shrugged. “Life was pretty much the same after that. I grew almost overnight, not too tall, just about five-foot-ten. I lost all my baby fat and gained strong, lean muscle. I was more active, went out for sports. Girls started to notice me, and I was feelin’ great.” He smiled. Then something changed inside him, and he frowned deeply.

“A few weeks later the night of the full moon came. I was outside doin’ yard work when the sun went down. All of a sudden I had an urge to go into the woods. That’s the last thing I remember. When I woke up the next mornin’, I was right outside my back door, naked as a jaybird and covered in blood. The next day it was as if nothin’ happened. That is, until I found out that a girl from my school was mauled and killed by some kind of dog. Then the whole thing clicked in my head, and I knew that I was the one who did it.

“I was ashamed of myself, and I tried to commit suicide. But it didn’t work out.”

“Why not?” I asked, wanting to know the answer more than anything else in the world.

“We don’t die like you do. We’re not immortal like Sam, but only certain things can kill us. And a few pills weren’t gonna do much. Anyhow,” he shook his head, and I was sure that it was to rid himself of the bad feelings, “the day of the next full moon arrived, and someone knocked on my door. He looked like one of those door-to-door salesmen, and after he assured me that he wasn’t, he told me about his organization called The Children of the Full Moon. Then he handed me an invitation to one of their social gatherings. I told him I would try to make it but that I wouldn’t promise anythin’. But around sundown I had that urgent feelin’ again, so this time I went to them. I thought if they couldn’t help me then no one could. They greeted me with open arms, tellin’ me that they were werewolves and that they wanted me to join their pack.

“I was freaked at first, but then I slowly began to realize that it all made sense. And when I asked them about the girl, they told me that it was another pup that had killed her.” He sighed. “I felt relieved until I asked where the other one was. They told me that they were proud of him and that he’d done well. I asked why a creature that had killed another human being would be praised. They said that in order to join their pack, or any other pack, for that matter, that I had to lead them in a hunt—the target prey being human beings.” When he said that, my eyes widened.

“My reaction exactly,” he huffed. “I told them that there was no way in hell that I was going to kill someone.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “But when I changed, everything went dark. I only remember bits and pieces of that night. But the screams of the man still haunt me in my sleep.” He shuddered. “I couldn’t believe the bloodlust was so strong. And without realizin’ it, I’d become a monster.

“I was a member of that pack for years, until I decided to go to law school. They weren’t too happy about me goin’ out of state. But I convinced them that it would be the best opportunity for me
and
for them. So they agreed.

“Once in Columbus I met a man who knew what I was right away, and he promised me he would help me with my situation, on one condition: that after law school I would work for him and only him.”

I nodded, knowing exactly who he was talking about. “Samuel.”

He sighed and nodded. “Samuel. And he was as good as his word. He persuaded the pack to give me up, provided a generous donation to their cause, and that was that.”

He shrugged. “So that’s it. That’s the sad yet transcendin’ story of how I became a werewolf.” I didn’t know what to think about that. Should I think of him as a murderer or a lover? Or, better yet, a wolf or a man?

I would have to think about all of that later. Right now, the story had enthralled me, and I only wanted to know one thing. “What happens now that you’re older?” I asked, because it had plagued me a little. “Do you remember the nights when you turn?”

He shrugged again. “Most of the time I remember bits and pieces,” he answered solemnly. “But on rare occasion, I do black out completely.”

“Do you ever kill people?” I tried to bit my lip, but the question just came out.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” he said, looking at his chest trying not to meet my eyes. “Sometimes, the times when I black out, but I try not to. I lock all of my doors and chain myself to the bed.” I could hear in his voice that he was getting upset. “But sometimes it…it just can’t be helped.”

“Would you ever kill me?” I didn’t mean to say that out loud, but it just sort of slipped out. I needed to learn how to filter myself.

He frowned. “I’d try not to. But if you got in my way…yeah, I probably would.” That scared me more than you will ever know, and I got the chills. “Don’t be afraid of me,” he said, his green eyes pleading with mine. “I couldn’t stand it if you were.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” I said, asking myself if that were entirely true. “Well, maybe a little.” Much better. “But I’ll try not to be, for your sake.”

I touched his face and he shrugged, looking defeated. “I guess that’ll have to do.”

“Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” I sang, trying to lighten the mood. “Not me, that’s who.” That made him laugh, which made me laugh. Then we started kissing, and we quickly had other things on our minds.

It had gotten dark quickly after Mike left.

I wanted to speak to Samuel alone. So I waited by the front door, debating with myself on whether I should tell him or not. And if so, how?

Maybe I should just come right out with it. “Honey, I slept with Mike.” No, that would not do. Maybe I should tell him after dinner. But what if I was dinner? Maybe I shouldn’t tell him at all. He might already know.
In that case, I wouldn’t have to tell him anything.
This internal dilemma had gone on for over an hour. And just as I was about to give up, Sam walked through the door, covered from head to toe with dirt. Let me tell you,
that
was a sight to see.

He had on a pair of dark boxers. But what really caught me off guard was that his hair was clotted with mud, and the rest of his body was just plain filthy. I’d never seen him so disheveled before, and it made me think that he was human for a minute. That is, until he spoke and burst my bubble. “Please tell me that you did
not
have sex with the dog!” he hissed, his lips curling back into a sneer, and I straightened my spine boldly. “Why would you do such a thing?” he asked. There was barely any emotion in his voice, which made me shiver as I shrugged. “You do not know? How could you not know?” His voice was strangely calm, but just by looking at him, I knew he was furious.

“I didn’t think you cared,” I whispered. Not because I was scared, just because I didn’t see any point in screaming at him.

“Why did you think that?” He sounded amused.

“Well,” I said loudly, “you were all too willing to do it in his body this morning. So I figured, why the heck not?” His amusement annoyed me. And if I was going to die, I’d do it with dignity and strength. I was not going down without a fight.

He truly laughed at me, smiling for the first time, and I could see his fangs were out just like in my dreams. “You humans are all alike,” he said, face contorting with rage, but his voice was still strangely cold. “You do not think about the consequences before you act.”

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
11.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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