Home > Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)(12)

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)(12)
Author: Patricia Briggs

I stood up, stretched, and started the long run back home.
* * *

WHEN I ARRIVED AT MY BACK DOOR, BEN WAS PACING back and forth in front of it uneasily. When he saw me, he froze - he'd started realizing something was wrong, but until he saw me, he hadn't been sure I wasn't there. His upper lip curled, but he didn't quite manage a snarl, caught as he was between anger and worry, dominant male protective instincts and the understanding that I was of higher rank.

Body language, when you know how to read it, can be more expressive than speech.

His frustration was his problem, so I ignored him and hopped through the dog door - much, much too small for a wolf - and straight to my bedroom.

I changed out of my coyote form, grabbed underwear and a clean T-shirt, and headed for bed. It wasn't horribly late - our date had been very short, and my run hadn't taken much longer. Still, morning came soon, and I had a car to work on. And I had to be in top form to figure out just how to approach Samuel so he wouldn't tell Adam what I was asking.

Maybe I should just call his father instead. Yes, I decided. I'd call Bran.
* * *

I WOKE UP WITH THE PHONE IN MY EAR - AND THOUGHT for a moment that I'd completed the task I'd decided upon before falling asleep, because the voice in my ear was speaking Welsh. That didn't make any sense at all. Bran wouldn't speak freaking Welsh to me, especially not on the phone, where foreign languages are even harder to understand.

Muzzily, I realized I could still almost remember hearing the phone ring. I must have grabbed it in the process of waking up - but that didn't explain the language.

I blinked at the clock - I'd been asleep less than two hours - and about that time I figured out whose voice was babbling to me.

"Samuel?" I asked. "Why are you speaking Welsh? I don't understand you unless you talk a lot slower. And use small words." It was kind of a joke. Welsh never seems to have small words.

"Mercy," he said heavily.

For some reason my heart started beating hard and heavy, as if I were about to get some very bad news. I sat up.

"Samuel?" I addressed the silence on the other end of the phone.

"Come get - "

He fumbled the words, as if his English were very bad, which it wasn't and never had been. Not as long as I'd known him - which was most of my thirty-odd years of life.

"I'll be right there," I said, jerking on my jeans with one hand. "Where?"

"In the X-ray storeroom." He barely stumbled over that phrase.

I knew where the storeroom was, on the far end of the emergency room at Kennewick General, where he worked. "I'll come for you."

He hung up without saying anything more.

Something had gone very wrong. Whatever it was, it couldn't be catastrophic if he was going to meet me in the storeroom, away from everyone. If they knew he was a werewolf, there would be no need for storerooms.

Unlike Adam, Samuel was not out to the public. No one would let a werewolf practice medicine - which was probably smart, actually. The smells of blood and fear and death were too much for most of them. But Samuel had been a doctor for a very long time, and he was a good one.

Ben was sitting on my front porch as I ran out the door, and I tripped over him, rolling down the four steep, unyielding stairs to land on the ground in the gravel.

He'd known I was coming out; I hadn't tried to be quiet. He could have moved out of my way, but he hadn't. Maybe he'd even moved into my way on purpose. He didn't twitch as I looked up at him.

I recognized the look though I hadn't seen it from him before. I was a coyote mated to their Alpha, and they were darned sure I wasn't good enough.

"You heard about the fight tonight," I told him.

He laid his ears back and put his nose on his front paws.

"Then someone should have told you that they were using the pack bonds to mess with my head." I hadn't meant to say anything about it until I had a chance to talk to Samuel, but falling down the stairs had robbed me of self-control.

He stilled, and the look on his body was not disbelief, it was horror.

So it was possible. Damn. Damn. Damn. I'd hoped it wasn't, hoped I was being paranoid. I didn't need this.

Sometimes it felt like both the mate and the pack bonds were doing their best to steal my soul. The analogy might be figurative, but I found it nearly as frightening as the literal version would have been. Finding out that someone could use the whole mess to make me do things was just the flipping icing on the cake.

Fortunately, I had a task to take my mind off the mess I was in. I stood up and dusted myself off.

I had planned on waiting and talking to Adam directly, but there were some advantages to this scenario, too. It would be a good idea for Adam to know that some of the pack were . . . active about their dislike of me. And if Ben told him, he couldn't read my mind to figure out that I wasn't weirded out only by the mind control, but also by the whole bond thing, pack and mate.

I told Ben, "You tell Adam what I said."

He would. Ben could be creepy and horrible, but he was almost my friend - shared nightmares do that.

"Give him my apologies and tell him I'm going to lie low" - Adam would know that meant stay away from the pack - "until I get a handle on it. Right now, I'm going to get Samuel, so you're off duty."

Chapter 3

I DROVE MY TRUSTY RABBIT TO KGH AND PARKED IN the emergency lot. It was still hours before dawn when I walked into the building.

The trick to going wherever you want unchallenged in a hospital is to walk briskly, nod to the people you know, and ignore the ones you don't. The nod reassures everyone that you are known, the brisk pace that you have a mission and don't want to talk. It helped that most of the people in triage knew me.

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