Hunting: Chapter 21

“Why didn’t you stop his escape?”  Wren glared at Adam.

“That wasn’t the mission I was given.”  Adam shook his head.

She fought the urge to take control of his mind, to make him crawl toward her and beg forgiveness.  “Sima’s pissed.”

“She was already on the phone to Giroux, telling him her version of what happened.”  Adam shrugged.

Wren froze.  “What do you mean?”

“Sima hasn’t been paid yet, Wren.  Giroux finds out Sima diverted resources over a pet, he’s going to be annoyed.  She’s got to downplay it, or spread the blame or something.”  Adam sighed.  “She’s probably going to say it was my fault or something.  I just hope Giroux doesn’t decide that makes it your fault.

“She wouldn’t…”  Wren narrowed her eyes.

“I hope so.”  Adam shook his head.  “I really don’t want to end up her pet.  Especially now that she knows about the talisman.”

Her fingers clutched the ring around her neck.  That’s right.  Sima knew.  And Sima had expressed an interest in Adam and…  She frowned.  And Sima had blown the mission by not letting Adam go into the field.  Adam could have killed the alpha and…  Giroux had known Sima a long time.  Surely he’d know…  Except he didn’t know Wren herself.  “There has to be a way to salvage this.”

“He lost a lot of people, and stands to lose the rest if they don’t get moving soon.”

“You can still kill Matthias.”  She nodded.

“I could.”  Adam folded his arms.  “Be a waste of time though.”

“You should keep a civil tongue when addressing —”

“My mistress?”  He had the nerve to smirk at her.  “Or what, Wren?”

“You know ‘or what’.”  She clenched her fists.

“You could break me.”  He met her eyes.  “Turn me into your pet.  You see how well that game worked for Sima.  But ask yourself something, Wren…”  He straightened.  “What good to anyone is a broken weapon?”  He shook his head.  “You’re a witch.  You’ve got me.  Nobody can do what I can do.  Giroux isn’t an idiot, Wren.  If you can manage not to be one as well, you can still come out on top of this.”

For a moment she just stood there, staring at him.  “I could…”  His gaze didn’t waver.  “You’re still mine.  Don’t forget that.”

“I’m well aware.”  He shrugged.  “Suggest you get to the airport, and use your magic to get the retreat going.  Giroux is going to be annoyed if he loses anymore guys.”

“Fine.”  She jabbed a finger into his chest.  “But when I’m done, you, me, and Sima’s little truth ability are going to have a long talk.”

“Looking forward to it.”  He sat down as she headed for the door.  And to her irritation, he just turned on the TV like he hadn’t a care in the world.



Hunting: Chapter 20

Ash fought the urge to laugh.  He remained curled up on the bed, every inch the dog.  Even though he knew there was a good chance Sima and Wren would end up taking their frustrations out on him, he couldn’t help but be pleased as he listened to them rant.  They’d sent people after his friends.  His friends had won.  Sima wanted him to think her all-powerful, the flawless mistress.  She wasn’t.  Despite what she’d done to Adam, he defied her.  Adam smiled, played the pet, and the moment Sima looked away, Adam defied her.  For all her confidence, all that she was a witch wolf, Sima was only human.  Adam defied her.  And if Adam could, so could he.


Emilio’s Puppy

Emilio took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself down.  He looked down at the remains of his case, and cursed.  Weeks of work, dozens of drawings, destroyed.  Cooper and his crew had been waiting for him just outside the building.  All four of them.  Andrew, Rylan, Lance, and Warren.  Goddamn it.  He hadn’t even done anything this time.  He brushed tears out of his eyes, and started home.

It was already getting dark.  Emilio shivered.  He didn’t care double back to the bus stop.  Too great a chance one of them was there.  Assholes.  Worst part was he’d been friends with Rylan and Lance once.  That had been years before high school.  Two years of college hadn’t grown them up any.  He sighed.  It was only about an hour walk, even in the cold.  He’d be fine.

Forty-five minutes later, he was cutting through the alley behind his family’s place.  He froze when he heard Rylan’s voice.  “Nah, I’ve got it.  See you in a bit.”

Slowly, he crept forward.  Rylan was near Emilio’s grandmother’s car, jimmying the lock open.  She had a bad habit of leaving things inside, such as her medication.  Rylan was…  Rylan was robbing his grandmother.  Emilio shook his head, then picked up a piece of wood.


Hunting: Chapter 17

He woke up, then looked around before awareness flooding back in.  “Ash.”  He started trying to sit up, only to realize he was tangled in various medical things.

“It’s alright.”  A calm voice said and someone reached over to pat his arm.  “You’re in the hospital.  Magda said to make sure to tell you as soon as you woke up that everyone is alright and they are looking for Ash right now.”

Stephan nodded.  The woman sitting by his bed looked to be in her early fifties.  She was a light skinned black woman, with warm eyes and a pleasant smile.  He tilted his head.  “Are you Laura’s mother?”

“I’m Gabriel’s mother.”  She smiled.

“You’re…”  He blinked.

“He’s adopted.”  She shrugged.  “We thought it best if someone was on hand to reassure you as soon as you woke up…”  She lowered her voice conspiratorially.  “So we may have let them all believe you’re my nephew.”

“Right.”  He shifted on the hospital bed.  “So, Aunt…”

“Patricia Williams, but you may call me Patty.”

“Aunt Patty…”  He nodded.  “Fill me in.”

“Good news first.”  She leaned back.  “Anna and her baby are healthy.  I’m not sure what all is going on and as soon as things are settled I am going to box some people’s ears, but Gabriel said to tell you that he’s ‘playing guardian angel’ and that as soon as…”  She took a deep breath and shook her head disapprovingly.  “Your ass can get out of bed Matthias is probably going to need you.”

“Yeah.  Probably.”  He started to sit up, then gave a frustrated sigh.  “Don’t suppose they left any —”

She offered him a set of clothes.  “I’ll be right outside.”


Wren and Adam : Chapter 16

Adam walked through the fair, occasionally stopping to play one of the games so as not to draw attention to himself.  Stasya was doing the same thing, while Patrick waited in the car playing mission control.  Patrick almost couldn’t help but look threatening, and the last thing they needed was some hysterical parent wondering what he was doing there by himself.

The blue haired girl finished dunking the younger cop, and walked away giggling.  He debated approaching her directly, maybe flirting and seeing if he could get her number.  Might help with the information gathering.  Or better yet, maybe she’d see through him and tip off the others.  Shit, the last thing he wanted to deal with right now is Wren deciding she needed to be jealous.  Fewer people got hurt, the better, and there was still a chance he could keep her and the old man out of things entirely.

Kidnapping a pregnant thirteen-year-old was risky in many ways.  Fortunately, it had been fairly simple to convince Wren they’d be better off just wait until the kid had been born and snatch it.  It wasn’t like they could actually keep him out of a room, and worst case scenario he could always shape shift into a stork or something.

That just left Stephan and Ash, both of whom Sima wanted.  The fact that Sima’s motives were clearly vengeful didn’t bode well for their intended fate.  He stopped at the center’s booth, smiling as he let Magda tell him about the center before dropping a hundred dollar bill into the donation case.  Sima didn’t care about Stephan beyond the fact killing him would hurt Magda, and she was too much of a coward to go after Magda herself.

He joined Stasya near the entrance to the church’s garden.  “Baby Bear.  Thoughts?”

“The guy Sima wants…”  He jerked his head up at the church.  “Is in there, but he isn’t alone.”

“Near as I can tell, he is never alone.  They are very protective of him.”  She nodded.  “Girl is never alone either.  The ex-cop might limp, but he carries two guns and probably can use them.”

“His cane is a weapon as well.  Tazer.  Strong one.”  Adam frowned.  “But he’s often one of the people looking after Ash.  Could take the two of them together.”

“Put gun to Ash, Stephan puts his gun down.”  Stasya frowned.  “Then what?  Tip off other werewolf and let her deal with Sima?”

“That’s not a bad plan.”  Adam nodded.  It was possible without Sima’s influence, Wren would…  He needed to stop thinking like that.  “She took out an alpha, and her son is an alpha.  We could sit back, make some popcorn, let nature take it’s course.”

“Would prevent her death from being traced to us.  We were obeying her orders.  Not our fault she was blinded by lust.”  Stasya smirked, then shrugged.  “Leaves baby matter.”

“That’s an issue.”  Adam exhaled.  “We’ve ruled out a lot of things William’s isn’t, but we still have no idea what he is.  And you ruled out a honey-pot idea.”

“Old man is very lucky man.”  Stasya nodded.  “I stopped by his booth.  Shook his hand.  You know he —”

“Nope.”  Adam shook his head.  “Still don’t want to hear details.”

“Williams is very flexible.”  Stasya smiled dreamily.

“You are such a pervert.”


Hunting: Chapter 13

Daniel looked around.  “Matthias?”

“Hmmm…?”  Matthias glanced over his shoulder.

“I’m leaving you for Ted’s kitchen.”

“What?”  Matthias blinked.

“You really can’t blame him.”  Magda chuckled as she looked around, then she turned toward Ted.  “You have a lovely home.”

“Thank you.”  Ted smiled.  “There are two guest bedrooms.  One has its own bathroom.  Anna may be more comfortable in that one, considering her condition.”

“Ted uh…”  Magda shrugged.  “Do you mind if I do use your kitchen?  I mean, the least I can do is make you all dinner.”

“Oh, not at all.  Please, make yourselves at home.”

“Yeah, uh…”  Michaels was looking out the back window.  “Dog boy kind of found your hot tub already and…”  He shrugged.  “Someone might want to ask him to put his clothes back on or something.”

“No, they don’t have to.”  Laura was also standing at the back window, her head tilted as she smiled dreamily.  Michaels gave her a look before putting his hand over her eyes.  She ducked away then stuck her tongue out at him.

“I’ll uh…”  Magda sighed.  “Just go take care of that.”

“There are towels in the cupboard there.”  Ted pointed.

“I can cook too…”  Daniel nodded.  “But Magda is much better at baking and at French cuisine which makes sense because she’s actually French even though she’s got like a Norse name and that’s because Matthias’s dad was an actual Viking and actually I’m not sure what Magda’s real name is but she’s been using Magda since he was born so I guess it’s her real name now and anyway I took a bunch of cooking classes in college so that I could —”

“Breath,” Gabriel said as he walked by.

“Yeah.”  Daniel took a deep breath, then smiled apologetically at Ted.  “Sorry.  I start talking when I’m nervous and I’m really nervous around you guys cause of everything and I just want you to know we won’t mess up your place at all and we can help out with anything you need and let us know what foods you like so we can cook and I cook anyway cause Anna’s down to only about six things she can eat without her stomach getting upset so I just try to make those —”

“Breath.”  Matthias patted his shoulder.

Ted tried not to smile as the young man inhaled deeply before launching into yet another rambling assurance.  “Daniel, son, please.”  Ted held up his hands.  “Sit down before you really do talk until you pass out.”  Then he shrugged.  “I do have a security system.  There are cameras on the front and back doors.  It’s not active at the moment, but I’m guessing at least one of you has the expertise to set it up.”

Matthias nodded.  “Where’s the control panel?”

“By the garage door.”  He watched the man walk away.  Matthias was massive even before taking into account the man could, according to Laura, turn into a ten-foot-tall werewolf.  He almost jumped when he felt Gabriel’s hand on his shoulder.

“You alright with this, Ted?”

“I issued the invitation, didn’t I?”  Ted smiled at him, and then mentally kicked himself.  “Though uh…”  He exhaled.  “Can I assume that werewolves have excellent hearing and other senses?”

“Yes.”  Matthias called from the other room.  “Werewolves do.”

“Oh.”  Well.  That was going to make some things very, very awkward.

Gabriel leaned forward, and whispered into his ear.  “You’ve still got my extra key, right?”

Ted smiled.


Hunting: Chapter 12

There was still a lot of tense and awkward silence.  Ted had his own few minutes of frustration when he learned that Anna was not under a doctor’s care.  “The ability to heal is not the same as the ability to ensure health.  She’s a child.  She should be getting blood tests to determine what supplements are needed to prevent cumulative damage to her body.”  He glared at the young man, Daniel.

“I’ve uh…”  Daniel glanced at Michaels and Gabriel.  “We are kind of fugitives from the police too.  Trent made sure there were warrants out on me.”

“I’ll call up a couple of the nurses that work with my center.”  Ted shook his head.  “They’ve worked with abused children before and will be discreet.”  He sighed, then looked over at Anna.  “Do you need anything, young lady?”

“They do take pretty good care of me.”  Anna shook her head.  “Matthias cuts the vitamins in half and everything so I don’t choke on them.”  She gave him a reassuring smile.

Reconciling a man who’d tortured his friend with a man taking care of a little girl was extremely difficult.  Ted nodded.  “I meant at this particular moment.  Juice or anything?”

“Oh, yes.”  Anna nodded.  “Thank you.”

“So your magical ability is you not only don’t have a magical ability you make everyone else not have a magical ability?”  Laura tilted her head at Stephan.

“Pretty much.”  He nodded.

“That is simultaneously awesome and totally ass sucking.”  Laura exhaled.

“What are your powers?”  Daniel frowned.  “I mean, his we saw…”  He nodded at Gabriel.  “And then you did the bullet stopping thing…”  He nodded at Laura.  “But what about the rest of you?”

“Oh, the bullet stopping thing was all her.  I haven’t figured out what my power is yet.”  Laura shook her head.

“Michaels and I do not have any powers.”  Ted shook his head.

Magda and Matthias exchanged a look.  Magda frowned.  “But this demon, Erilon or whatever, Anna sensed her in his head.”

“Yeah, cause she tried to get in and Erilon bolted the door.”  Laura sent a glare at Anna.  “Don’t do that shit.  It’s really fucking rude to go where you aren’t invited.”

“The point was that if he didn’t have magic, the demon taking possession would have killed him.”  Matthias glanced over at Michaels.

“Shows what you know.”  Laura stuck her tongue out at him.

“With all due respect…”  Magda straightened.  “I am almost four hundred years old.  This is not my first encounter with witches or demons.”

“Bull.”  Michaels narrowed his eyes.  “Shit.”

“Nah, she’s actually telling the truth there.”  Laura turned toward him.  “Werewolves live a lot longer than humans, or would if they didn’t piss people off all the time.”

“I was born before World War I…”  Matthias nodded.  “And fought in World War II.”

“That’s…”  Ted blinked.  “Certainly something.”


Hunting: Chapter 7

“Hey, check this out.”  Daniel waved Anna over to the laptop.  Ash followed.  “This town has actual superheros.”

“Seriously?”  Anna’s eyes widened.

“They call themselves…”  Daniel snickered.  “The Crimson Crusaders.”

“That’s an awesome name.”  Anna glared.

“Arf?”  Ash gave her a look that suggested she was insane.  And from a man that thought he was a dog half the time, that was saying something.

“Seriously?”  Matthias glanced over from where he was grilling them all hot dogs.  “Superheroes?”

“A couple of masked vigilantes.  First sighting was apparently when they rescued a bunch of teenage girls from a sex trafficking ring, and well…”  Daniel shrugged.  “That certainly fits my definition of superheroes.”  He grinned over at Matthias.  “Come on, I bet you’ve wanted to do the superhero thing.”

“I did do the superhero thing.”  Matthias turned the hot dogs over.  “Told you about it.  Batarang, Nazi bunker.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t wearing a mask.  These guys have masks.”  Daniel waved a hand at the laptop.

“I was, actually.  Gas mask.”  Matthias rolled his eyes.

“So doesn’t count.”

“Do they have capes?”  Anna began scrolling through the article.  “Superheroes need capes.”  She glanced at Daniel.  “We need to get Matthias a cape.”

“No.”  Matthias shook his head.

“Come on.”  Anna gave him a beseeching look.  “What’s cooler than a ten foot werewolf with a swirling black cape?”

“She uh…”  Daniel shrugged.  “Does have a point on the cool factor.”

“My luck, I’d end up blown of a building by a gust of wind.”  He started putting the dogs into buns.  “Ash, grab plates?”

“Woof.”  Ash went into the camper to retrieve a stack of paper plates.

“Oh, and they busted a dog fighting ring.”  Anna giggled.  “It says here when the cops showed up they found the guys running it all shoved into a dumpster half full of dog waste, and the Crimson Crusaders had locked it shut.”  She giggled again.  “It had been moved into full sun, and the police didn’t receive the anonymous tip about it’s location until six hours after the dogs had been rescued by the humane society.”

“My kinda heroes.”  Matthias took the paper plates from Ash, who was snickering himself.


Hunting: Chapter 6

Stephan switched radio stations a few times before sighing and just turning the radio off entirely.  “Today’s music sucks.”

“You really want to get into a ‘back in my day’ conversation with me?”  Magda raised an eyebrow.

“Not all today’s music sucks.  Just the popular stuff that gets played all the time.”  Ash leaned forward from the backseat.  “No classical station?”

“Lost it about twenty miles ago.  Doubt we’ll pick another up until we are closer to a big city.”  Stephan looked out the window.  “At least the landscape is pretty.”

“I remember reading once that the Pacific Northwest is technically a rainforest, just not a tropical one.”  Magda smiled.  “If we weren’t in a hurry, I wouldn’t mind…”  She shrugged.  “Well, going wolf and running around in there a while.”

“Me either.”  Ash chuckled.  “There is a lot of seismic activity, and the Cascade Range has risen in just the last 5 million years.  Volcanoes are all over, and it’s not just the big ones Mount St. Helens.  There is a string of like twenty major volcanic centers that create a network of small, shorter-lived volcanoes and underneath that the ocean plate plunges under the North American plate.  The subduction creates all kinds of cool effects and there are things like hot springs and stuff all over the place.”

“Who let the nerd out?”  Stephan grinned at him.  His tone was light, but he couldn’t help but give a quick look at Magda.  She was smiling too.  That was the most words Ash had strung together since they’d rescued him.  “Can’t say I’d mind visiting a hot spring after we save the day.”

“It goes up into Canada.  Mount Cayley is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.  The natives call it the landing place of the thunderbird, and Dad promised…”  Ash trailed off.  He made a small whimpering sound before retreating into the backseat again.

He swallowed, then glanced at Magda.  “I bet some of the best geological stuff is under the water.  Maybe after we save the day, we can look into renting one of those glass bottomed boats.”  He turned toward the backseat.  “Do some fishing?”

“Woof.”  Ash nodded.


Hunting: Chapter 5

He glared.  Ash made a whining sound, then pawed at his leg.  “Mine.”  Ash whimpered.  “You ate your share already.”  Ash stuck out his lower lip, then nuzzled Stephan before whimpering again.  “Fine.”  He handed the rest of the container of fries to Ash, who grabbed them and immediately retreated before Stephan could change his mind.  “Butthead.”

Magda just rolled her eyes.  “Ash, it’s your turn for cleanup duty and puppy eyes are not going to get you out of it.”

“Okay,” he said around a mouth full of curly fries.  “Dibs on the TV.”

“No.  We’ve watched Star Wars three times already this week.”  Stephan shook his head.

“We’ve watched Star Trek five times.”  Ash glared at him.

“There are like eight Star Wars movies.  There are hundreds of Star Trek episodes spanning several different…”  He narrowed his eyes.  “Don’t you growl at me.”

“I’m pulling rank.”  Magda shook her head.  “We’ve got a clear signal, and I’m watching something that does not involve space ships, lasers, or people in rubber masks.”  She laughed as they both turned to growl at her.  Then she picked up the remote and turned on the TV.  The signal from their little satellite wasn’t quite good enough to get every channel, but she was able to find a comedy.

As soon as she sat down on the couch, both men joined her.  Ash curled up with his head in her lap as Stephan sat down next to her on the other side.  She put a hand on Ash and petted his hair.  before leaning against Stephan.  Stephan’s arm went around her shoulder as they settled in for the evening, and it was all she could do not to let out a contented sigh.


Hunting: Chapter 4

“So can you like arrest people again now?”  Daniel tilted his head at Stephan.

“No.  I can however, turn over information to the police and let them arrest people.”  Stephan shook his head as he looked over the paperwork.

“I want one.”  Daniel pulled the private investigator’s license closer to him.

“Excuse me…”  Stephan raised an eyebrow at him.  “Raise your hand if you aren’t a wanted fugitive.”

“Arf.”  Ash raised his hand.

“You’re wanted…”  Stephan reached over and petted him.  “Just not a fugitive.”  Ash leaned into the petting.  “So I get to be the legit one.”

“We need a case.”  Daniel budged over on the couch to make room for Matthias, then immediately snuggled back into him.  Matthias draped an arm over his shoulders before taking a sip of his coffee.  “Oh, and a logo and catch phrase and —”

“And capes.”  Anna piped up.  Ash immediately woofed in agreement.

“No capes.”  Matthias shook his head.

“Oh come on…”  Anna put her hands on her hips, a pose that made her belly protrude even more.

Only Stephan still used his real name, though he had a second identity set up as well, just in case.  The ID in Daniel’s wallet made him, Ash, and Anna all siblings with the last name of McNamara.  There was enough resemblance that they could pull it off pretty convincingly.  At least, when Ash was being a human.  Magda and Matthias remained mother and son, but they were now using the last name Savatier.  A set of already prepared IDs was going to make Anna’s child the child of a sadly diseased mother and Ash’s real identity.  That way, in a worst-case scenario, the child would be insulated from the cabal and hopefully end up in the custody of Ash’s maternal aunt.  It wasn’t a good plan, but if things actually did get to the plan Z point it was the best they could do.

“Capes are impractical.”  Magda brought Stephan a cup of the coffee.  “They hamper, catch on things, get grabbed by opponents, and can off balance you at a critical moment.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”  Daniel grinned up at her, then when she just gave him a look, he blinked.  “You’ve fought somebody while wearing a cape?”

“I was born in sixteenth century France, Daniel.”  She chuckled.  “The only thing worse than fighting in a cape is fighting in a corset and petticoats.”

“So I guess adding a corset to the ensemble is out of the question?”  Daniel raised an eyebrow at Stephan.

“Depends on how drunk I am.”  Stephan chuckled.

“We still need a case.”  Matthias finished his coffee.  “Not a lot of call for private dicks way out here.”

“Hoping Anna will flash something, get us a lead.”

“Okay, the words ‘flash’ and ‘private dick’ are never again to be uttered in the same conversation.”  Magda shook her head.

“I did already.”  Anna rolled her eyes.

“A slightly less metaphorical lead.”  Stephan glanced at her.

She made a vexed noise.  “Not my fault none of you know where to find an angel.”


Ash : Chapter 10

He started barking as soon as he saw the man get out of the car.  He kept barking happily as the man limped up to the porch.

“Hey, Ash.”  Stephan ruffled his hair.

Ash smiled at him.  “Hello, Stephan.”

Stephan’s eyes widened, then he broke into a huge smile.  “Hey, you said it in person-talk that time.”

“And I’ve stopped chewing on Magda’s shoes.”  Ash nodded happily.  When Stephan stared at him, Ash started laughing.  “The look on your face.”

“You’re still a shit though.”  Stephan just shook his head.  “How’s things?”

“Come see what Magda got me.”  Ash grabbed his hand and pulled before dropping to all fours and rushing eagerly into the cabin.  He grabbed the stuffed ewok in his teeth before bringing it back to Stephan.

“That’s awesome.”  Stephan crouched.  “Does it —”  Ash squeaked it.  “That is cool.  So I guess you won’t be needing this.”  He reached into the bag he’d brought in with him, and pulled out something wrapped in newspaper.

“What is it?”  Ash took the ewok out of his mouth and stared fixedly at the present.

“I don’t know.”  Stephan stood up.  “It looks like you’ve got enough toys.”

“What is it what is it what is it?”  Ash bounced.

“Maybe I’ll just put this away for —”  Stephan cut off with a laugh when Ash tackled him.


Ash : Chapter 9

He still hadn’t spoken.  Magda sighed.  She thought back to what Stephan had said.  He’d been right about the collar.  Maybe he was right about other things.  She stood.  “Ash, come.”

Ash followed her into the bedroom, then climbed up on the bed.  He curled up at the foot of it, as he did every night.  She switched off the overhead light, leaving the one on her nightstand glowing.  Then she laid down.  “Ash, come here.”  She patted the bed next to her.


Ash : Chapter 8

Magda stopped the car, and stared up at the small house.  For the first time in decades, she was grateful she hadn’t been able to bring herself to sell the place.  Twice a year she came up, checked on things, sealed it back up tightly.  She’d missed the last check.  She sighed, then looked over at the young man watching her from the back seat.

He hadn’t spoken since they’d found him.  He’d respond to his name with curious looks or a barking sound, but trying to coax actual words out of him had just resulted in him whimpering and cowering like a beaten dog.  She’d managed to get him to wear a pair of sweat pants, though they were too short for him.  Trying to take the collar off had just made him whimper and cringe.  What the hell had those bitches done to him?

“Ash.”  He looked up at her.  “Ash.”  She gestured to house.  “We’re here.”  He made an inquisitive whining noise.  Magda opened the door and got out.  She’d only gone a couple steps before she heard Ash bark at her.  She frowned, then sighed before going back and opening the door for him.  She wasn’t sure if she felt more frustrated or sick at the fact that he started crawling after her instead of walking.  Stephan had a point.  They’d have taken Ash to the psych ward.  And with his father dead…  She wondered if he even knew.

It took her a couple tries to get the generator started.  Ash followed her though the house as she looked around, crawling after her as she checked each room.  Everything was dusty, but usable.  Better than she’d expected from a place she hadn’t set foot inside in almost year.  She turned the well on, then waited until the water ran clear.  Ash stared quizzically at the glass she offered him, and reluctantly she poured the water into a bowl and set it down.  He drank it before following her into the living room.

When she sat down on the couch, he hesitated before crawling up next to her.  To her surprise, he curled himself into a ball and laid down with his head in her lap.  When she just stared at him, he whined softly, and she could feel him start trembling.  Slowly, she brushed her fingers through his hair.  “It’s alright, Ash.”  She felt him start relaxing.  “You’re safe here.  I won’t let anyone hurt you.”


Ash: Chapter 7

She looked over the rifle Stephan had set on the table, then raised an eyebrow.  “So, when you said elephant gun…”

“I meant my grandfather literally hunted elephants with it.  And rhino, water buffalo, etcetera.”  He shrugged.  “Classic mighty whitey.”  He poked the box of ammo.  “No silver slugs though.”

Magda nodded.  “Can you shoot it with a busted arm?”

“It’s more my shoulder going to be an issue, but yes.”  He nodded.  “I can get off a couple shots, at least, though I might need some stitches replaced afterward.”  Stephan looked up at her.  “Did you get what you need?”

“I did.”  Magda looked away before looking back at him.  No matter how this ended, her life here was over.  She’d already hidden away the things she couldn’t bear to lose.  “You know if you come with me, then even if this works…”

“I know.”  He smiled.  “You’re my partner, Mags.  I’ve got your back.”  He looked down at the gun.  “And you have saved my life twice recently, so I kind of owe you.”

“There are two of them.  Lisa will be stronger and faster.”  She took a deep breath.  “She’ll also be focused on me.  Any idea what the other one looks like?”

“Name was foreign.  Sima, I think Lisa said.  When I asked who Sima was, Lisa said she was her roommate.”  Stephan frowned.  “That’s all I have.”

“She’ll be holding Ash.  So…”


“He’s just a kid, Stephan.”  She shook her head.  “A pup.”

“I know.”  He took a deep breath.  “Just hoping I’m still a decent shot with this thing.”

“Alright.  Let’s go set our trap.”