I know, it's been a really long time since my last post, and for that I am sorry. It is a bitch to be a full time college student. But, I have a little more free time this semester and I'm hoping to get more writing done. I hope to actually turn out another chapter next week. I know I have to get this story done sometime! And I hope that this high powered chapter makes up a little bit for my lack of posting in the last year. Enjoy!
Chapter 4: Bullets
By: Helena F. Lupin
The rage was a tangible thing that hung on the air, like oil clinging to water. There, but unable to mingle and dissipate. It was steadily growing, choking out the breathable air. It made the dozen people in the room nervous, twitchy. Yet none of them dared to move from where they sat around the rectangular, highly polished rosewood table in the middle of the plane, undecorated white room. There were no windows. Just dark red carpet on the floor. Carpet that had once been a pale blue, was still blue in a few spots. The russet tone of the fibers now was due to the source of that mounting anger sitting at the end of the table.
Fingertips slowly drew across the table's surface, making idle patterns. Then, the fingers curled and nails left deep gouges in the silky smooth grain. "And why, pray tell, am I just finding out that Valmont could be near our territory?" a feminine voice prompted.
A soft pitched laugh escaped her and a few of those around her flinched, lowering their heads in clear submission. "Oh, my darlings. You've been failing me. He's been loose for two weeks now and you can't bring him to me now, when he might be so close? Just one lone wolf, denied the aid of his pack as long as he cannot reach them. But what happens if he reaches his pack territories? Do any of you know?" Her tone was light, purring, inviting someone to speak.
When no one broke the silence she slammed her fists against the table hard, making it shudder and creak ominous. "It means we have to let the fucking human authorities handle him! I want him in my care! Do you hear me!" Shoulders around her slumped and still no one dared speak.
The woman settled against her high backed chair and considered those around her. "You're all weak," she murmured. Hair the color of ink spilled over one shoulder, and eyes burned like embers as she looked at each and every one of them. Her full lips pursed into a line. "Some advisers you all are." She had been stuck with this gathering of advisers since she overtook the clan from her father ten years ago. Well, now she had an excuse finally to clean house.
She raised one hand and snapped her fingers, the sound echoing sharply.
Everything happened at once. Humanoid creatures spilled into the room, half wolf and half man, coated in fur and built of strength and power. She sat calmly as blood spattered across the table in front of her. Her gaze wandered off after a moment and she held out one hand. "Oliver, come to me."
A muzzle nuzzled against her palm a moment later and she shifted her hand to stroke between the glowing amber eyes. "Bring me Valmont. I command this of you, my best hunter. Cale will have already sent someone; beat them." The wolf licked her fingertips, leaving blood on them before departing, carelessly stepping over, or on, bodies.
She gave an idle hum and propped one elbow on the arm of her chair, resting her chin in her upturned hand. Cale, such a pathetic excuse of a clan leader. She understood why Cale wanted Valmont, everyone among wolf-kind understood. Cale had done something very unspeakable to Valmont and Valmont would want revenge. Cale would hunt Valmont out of fear. Normally, it was policy not to interfere between feuding clans that threatened war between one another, but she had her own reasons for wanting to intervene.
Her lips quirked upward. "No more blue carpet."
Valmont glanced over at Ambrose in the driver's seat of the car. It had been a tense three days of driving and slow going because Valmont kept insisting on back roads. They were officially in the state of New York. They were almost to his home territory of Maine. Maybe then the tension in the car could burst. Or, maybe it never would. The tension was born of frustration, confusion and sexual desire.
He had not explained anything to the boy and he wished that he could. But the safest thing to do would be first to get him into his clan territory and then to tell him everything. Valmont rubbed his eyes. He did not see this going well. Explaining non-humans to humans never went one hundred percent well.
Worse, he had been skirting the issue of their draw to one another. He had caught himself, several times, watching the way Ambrose's body moved. Or reaching out to touch the boy and only just stopping himself. Sometimes he failed and he did lay hands on her boy. Twice already he had fallen to the drive and kissed Ambrose in the last few days. And the boy was not fairing any better than he was.
Valmont understood their draw, the boy did not. The boy. Valmont wanted to groan. He recalled very well how young his would-be mate was. Oh yes, Ambrose would be his mate. Whatever it took, the boy was going to be his and he would make Ambrose happy if it killed him.
Valmont turned his gaze out of the window. He was tense for another reason. They were in Venna's territories. He would have gone around New York if he could have, but there was no choice. Venna would be on high alert to catch him. And he could not afford for her to catch him with Ambrose.
"Valmont?" He was stirred from his thoughts and looked at the boy. Ambrose eyed him for a moment or two before looking back at the road. "Why did you kill people?" he asked. Ambrose had not actually asked yet. He had only just worked up the courage. Actually, he had forced himself to blurt it out before he could let himself reason himself out of it.
Valmont was silent for a long moment. "They all did something to my family that was unacceptable. They harmed my younger brother."
Ambrose's fingers tightened on the wheel. "How?" But he had the feeling he knew just how. Why else go off the deep end and become a convicted murderer?
"A lot of ways, Ambrose. It is best if you never know the details," he replied, reaching over to squeeze one of the boy's thighs gently without thinking. "The details are worth a million nightmares and I am still working them off myself."
He recalled that night so vividly when he found his brother broken. His brother had never deserved that. He had come home to his own apartment, finding his sibling curled up and hiding beside the couch, bloodied and smelling of a dozen violations that made his own eyes water. He had smelled so many people on his baby brother. His brother had been much like Ambrose. Young, beautiful, bright and full of life.
That was not his brother anymore and he would repay all those deserving for every moment his brother had suffered.
Valmont was so far-gone in thought he almost missed it. Almost, but not quite.
His eyes focused on the side mirror that captured the image alongside the car and behind it. The car had been following them for a little while now. His eyes narrowed as he focused on the two men inside. A quick glance and he knew that neither were wolves. Valmont would have had more trouble catching wolves on his tail.
"Ambrose," he said in a level tone as he looked ahead. "There are two officers in an unmarked car behind us. I'm going to assume they have seen me and they know who I am." He could feel the new tension radiating off of the boy. He knew he should have ordered the boy to take more back roads but they were so close to his home, main roads were faster.
"Take the next exit and let's take this to a more private place."
"I am not going to kill them," he promised. "I'm going to make sure no one else can follow us. If they have already called us in, then we are going on foot." It was foolish. He should go on foot alone and leave Ambrose with them. But inside, his inner wolf snarled at the idea of separation, even for a short time.
Ambrose did as he was order, falling over to the next exit and taking every turn Valmont ordered thereafter. The car stayed on them, falling back so as to look inconspicuous. It was too late though, Valmont was aware of them. "Take this dirt road," Valmont said at last. "It most likely leads to a private cabin or something like that, but we won't be going that far."
The tailing car did not follow. "Stop now," Valmont stated and Ambrose did as told. Valmont opened his door and turned to Ambrose. "Stay put." He reached out, one hand cupping Ambrose's and he murmured, "Please, trust me. I need your trust, Ambrose, do you understand that? Without your trust, I really do have nothing."
Ambrose felt his cheeks flush slightly as Valmont's thumb brushed across his lower lip. His heart sped up, beating painfully against his ribs. He swallowed, throat dry. "I u-understand," he murmured. He watched Valmont slide out of the car and shut the door. He sat and watched the other man walk away in the rearview mirror.
Was he actually going to just sit there? This was insane. He pealed his fingers off the wheel, the joints aching from how tightly he had squeezed. "Fuck," he gasped. He was not just sitting there! He shoved the door open and got out, shutting it as quietly as possible with a soft thunk.
He looked around and frowned faintly. Valmont had just been in his mirror, where had the man gone so fast? Ambrose walked toward the main road, still insight but a few dozen feet away. The first explosion of gun made him jerk and stumble to a stop, almost tripping over his own two feet. The second report made his feet move. He heard wheels squealing and the loud whine of twisting metal. He was running toward the sounds. Why would he do that? His heart was beating so fast it felt like it was actually humming, vibrating with the fast pace. Then he realized he felt fear. It wrapped around his spine and squeezed, spreading like a disease through his body. Painful, unbearable.
What did he fear?
As he skidded to a stop he saw the car that had been tailing them. It was far away, heading back the way they had come from. It was half in the ditch and it had obviously hit something, the front right side half crushed in. He saw one indistinct finger slumped in the passenger seat and another on the ground half way between him and the car. It had taken him less than a minute to run to where he stood now. What the hell had happened in less than a minute?
"Valmont!" he shouted, panting hard, lungs, sides and legs burning. His breath puffed in white fog before his face. "Valmont!" he screamed again, voice a little hoarse. His eyes skirted around as he moved toward the man on the ground. He crouched next to him and reached out with shaking fingers. He found a strong pulse and only a single cut on the man's temple. His clothing was pristine. So he had not been thrown from the car obviously.
What had the car hit?
His blood ran cold. Where was Valmont? He stood up, no longer concerned with the man on the ground who was perfectly fine in comparison to what might have happened to Valmont. "Valmont!" He did not understand his irrational fear as he hurried toward the car and began looking for a human body thrown from impact. The man was nuts for going to face two cops in a car by himself.
He almost jumped out of his skin as he turned around and found Valmont standing in the middle of the road behind him. "Valmont," he gasped and moved quickly toward the man. "What happened?" He began checking the man over, gripping his jacket and opening it to look for blood or some kind of injury. His fingers brushed against Valmont's sides and felt his ribs, not that he was a doctor, but he feared for the worst.
Valmont gripped his hands and last and raised them, kissing Ambrose's fingertips. "Hush," he murmured in a soft, soothing tone. "Hush, I'm fine. I'm whole."
"But…but their car…" Ambrose shook his head and rested his forehead against Valmont's chest. He was shivering. Not from the cold, but from raw adrenaline.
Valmont smiled faintly. "They are fine. I got to them before they could call in backup. Just barely. We must make good distance before anyone comes along and finds them. I tried to handle it calmly but things got a little…hectic." He chuckled and glanced up toward the car, the man in the passenger seat still unconscious. Good. He looked down at Ambrose and wrapped his arms around the other's waist, easily lifting him up and hugging him tightly.
Ambrose gave a small laugh and wrapped his arms around Valmont's neck, hugging him in turn. Irrational happiness. He had no idea where it came from but it was there. "I'm insane," he murmured to Valmont. "I hope that's okay." His gaze trailed over Valmont's shoulder and he gasped, "Valmont!"
The gun went off before he could warn Valmont. He felt Valmont's body jerk and the man hissed in pain. The bullet took him in the side, barely missing Ambrose himself as it went through. The unconscious detective on the ground was sitting up, gun in hand and fevered determination glittering in his eyes. Ambrose found himself set down hard on his feet and Valmont rounded on the cop. "Valmont, no!" The gun went off several times as Valmont walked with barely a twitch or falter toward the cop.
Ambrose stood, his hands clasped tightly over his mouth and eyes wide. Valmont stood before the cop who was trying to scramble to his feet. Valmont backhanded the man across the face and sent him flying and rolling a dozen or more feet. The cop did not get up again. Valmont stood, his back to Ambrose for a few long minutes that rolled with silence.
Ambrose swallowed and lowered his hands. He could see bullet holes along the man's jacket. Bloody marks that promised collapsed lungs and bleeding out. He moved slowly, then faster, running to Valmont. Valmont turned to face him and Ambrose slowed again, staring with wide eyes. Valmont's eyes were burning amber.
Now or never it seemed. Valmont raised his hands and ripped his shirt open because it was ruined anyway. Ambrose could see the dark marks of bullet holes which were beginning to lighten. To seal and vanish. All but two. "They won't heal until I pull the bullets out," Valmont said softly.
"How…what…" Ambrose shook his head as he walked slowly, warily, to Valmont. He reached out and his fingertips touched one wound as it healed over completely to form fresh, pink skin that was quickly evening in tone. He drew in a shallow breath and looked up at Valmont. "What are you?" And why was fear not rearing its ugly head? He should have been terrified. But all he could feel was relief for Valmont's safety.
"You mean a…a werewolf," Ambrose repeated incredulously. But then…his eyes dropped to the wounds that were no more, except for those two bullet holes in his chest, near to his heart. "The bullets…"
"I'll handle them," Valmont said, cupping Ambrose's hands. "I have a lot of things to explain. Let me remove the bullets and while we're on foot, I'll tell you all I can. I'll tell you everything. I promise." He kissed Ambrose's fingers and felt the boy shivering. A little fear, a little desire, but mostly that ebbing flood of hormones that came in high risk situations.
"I'll tell you everything," Valmont murmured again.
Valmont certainly does have a lot of explaining to do. Let's home he can do it quickly with Venna not far behind him!