Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Howling (2)

I wake to find John’s face staring at me. Rails line my bed and a swivel table looms above me with an interesting array of mystery food items positioned neatly on a green tray. John’s eyes are a mix of anger and regret. Anger because I have put us all in grave danger. Regret because he did not stop me from taking his motorcycle.

“Looks like you won’t be coming to the mountains with us.” He says with a gleaming smile full of teeth. “You’ll miss our first hunt with Maria.” Maria is John’s new mate. They have set the wedding date for a month from yesterday. This will elevate John’s status among us.

“Such a pity.” I know that there is sarcasm in my voice and I don’t care. I don’t see a reason for me to like Maria. John took a trip back to the mountains of Canada several weeks ago to visit his family. He returned last week with a dark-haired beauty on his arm. I could instantly tell that she was one of us: half human and half wolf. I could tell that she was going to fit in with no problem and yet make our group different in so many ways. She was lovely and nice. She had given me no reason to hate her. No reason other than the mutual love between her and John.

Since John had found his mate first, he would be elevated to the alpha position – a position that I would have inherited if we had stayed in Canada. Since we had agreed unanimously to start our own pack and move to the city of Charleston that meant that anyone was able to attain the position of pack leader. John had done just that by finding his mate first. He would be our alpha and she would be his – forever. His children would inherit the title and it will leave my line forever. My father will be even more disappointed in his only child.

“You’re going to have to accept her, Molly. She’s going to be a part of our family.” John tells me, pushing a strand of dark hair behind my ear.

“I know that. I’m just being petty. It’ll pass.” I tell him. I realize that I am acting like a child, but I can’t help it. My feelings are running rampant and I feel like I have no control over them. “I hope anyways.”

“It will.” John says, in a soothing voice.

“But, why won’t I be joining you?” I ask, the realization of his initial words finally sinking in. I love the three day trip to the mountains to phase from human to wolf. I look forward to it each month. I don’t want to miss it.

“Because you won’t be healed enough to survive in the wild. We’ll leave you on the island.” John replies, as though it should be obvious.

“But my bones are already healing.” I argue. “In fact, they are mostly healed now.”

“The full moon’s only two days away, Molly. We leave in a couple of hours. You won’t be ready by then.” John points out. His fingers trace the dates on the calendar posted near the bed. It has been a whole day since I stole his bike and wrecked it.

“So I won’t be phasing this month?” I feel a pout coming to my lips. I try to fight it. I can’t let him see me weak.

“You’ll be healed enough by midnight to phase.” John tells me. “That’s why we have to figure a way out of here.” His hands motion around the room. I can tell by his voice that there is no conceived plan for an escape.

“The doctor.” I say in a whisper.

“What about him? He can’t help you now. Your body will finish the healing process. You know that no drugs or technology could work faster.” He wears a puzzle of confusion on his face.

“I know that.” I respond quickly. “But maybe he could help me escape.”

“He’s human, Molly. He’s not going to just let you walk out of here. It’s bad enough that your bones were almost healed when you arrived here. You’re lucky he knew to re-break them or you would be a pretzel right now.” John recounts what he knows of the emergency room for me.

“He didn’t know. I told him to re-break the bones, John.” I inform him, feeling in some of the gaps in his story. “He listened.”

“And you think he’d help?” John asks, surprised by my blatant trust in a complete stranger. I can’t explain it, even to myself, but I feel compelled to trust this human that I have barely met.

“I do. Could you be a good dog and fetch him for me?” I tease lightly. He quickly hurries away.

Moments later, a doctor appears in the room. For the first time, I am able to see my savior with my own eyes. The smell of Crest has been replaced with a husky cologne. He looks to be in his late twenties. His hair is dark and freshly showered. I’m guessing that he just arrived for duty.

“May I help you Miss Brekenridge?” He looks at me, carefully surveying my body. John has not accompanied him.

“I need to get out of here soon.” I tell him, motioning for him to come closer.

“How soon?” He asks as he crosses the room to stand next to the bed.

“By midnight.” I watch his face for a reaction and find that there is none.

“Why?” He isn’t going to make this easy.

“Because I have something important to do. Something that can’t be postponed.” I answer, trying to evade anymore questions.

“And you want me to help you?” A lopsided smile is forming on his face. I can see pearly whites between his lips. “You’re not scheduled to be released for another two days, Miss Brekenridge.”

“It’s Molly and I know that Dr. Sinclair.”

“Call me James.” His reply is short and hurried. “If I’m going to help you out of here, then we’re going to have to be on first name basis.” The smile is back as he hurries for the door. He is gone before I even have a chance to say anything.

I sit alert, listening to every little sound, while I wait for him to return. Feet are hurrying by in the hallway as doctors and nurses rush from one room to another tending to their patients. I can hear coughing several rooms down and a couple having a teary reunion. Further down, in the waiting room, I can hear my group of friends talking about their upcoming trip. Six will be going on this trip as always; except my spot in the van will be filled by Maria. Footsteps continue to hurry in every direction. I can make out one pair of feet approaching the door of my room.

His husky scent enters the room before he does. I breath it in, trying to remember every ounce of this moment. This will quite possibly be the last time I see him and I want to remember it forever. There is something remarkable about this human. Something different.

“Put this on.” He tells me, pulling a long white lab coat from behind his back. A forged name badge reads Mrs. Sinclair, RN. I slide the coat on and look him in the eyes.

“Is your wife a nurse?” I ask, curious as to why he has used his own last name for the badge.

“No. I just couldn’t think of any other last name to use. I guess you would call that a mind blank.” He replies, placing a stethoscope around my neck. “Follow me.”

I follow him out into the hallway. My bones seem to be completely healed and I have no trouble keeping up with him. He leads me to a back elevator and pushes the down arrow. He politely asks how I’m feeling and I reassure him that I am doing just fine. The elevator arrives and we ride it to the ground floor. It’s crowded so we neither one bother to speak, barely even making eye contact.

I follow him across the busy emergency room and out into the parking lot. He pauses for a second, checking behind him to make sure I’m fine. We continue until we’re about mid-way through the parking lot. My friends are waiting to take me home. They are parked in the darkest corner of the lot under a large tree. All of their eyes are staring intently and I am sure their ears are listening as well.

“Here’s your coat, Dr. Sinclair.” I say, peeling the coat from my body and reaching it across to him, making sure to keep my distance.

“Keep it.” He says, with a smile. “I have plenty.” I start to turn away but change my mind. There is still one more question that I want answered.

“So, what does your wife do?” I ask.

“I’m not married.” He says in the simplest of tones. “What does your husband do?”

“I’m not married.” I mirror his comment and tone of voice.

“In that case,” his eyes light up. “Can I take you to dinner tomorrow night?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m busy. Maybe some other time.” I let him down as gently as I can. Things could never work between us. Werewolves and humans aren’t meant to be compatible. We might live in the same city, but our lives are in two completely different worlds. Worlds that aren’t meant to merge.

I turn to leave. My friends are still waiting patiently for me. I know that they will be heading out soon. I feel a hand grasp mine from behind. It is cool and firm. An electric current shoots through my body as our skin met. A small slip of paper is nestled between his fingers and he smoothly slips it between mine. It is over in an instant. He is headed back inside and I continue to join my friends. I can feel the raised paper from where he had written his phone number for me.

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Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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