Where Ghosts Whisper and Wolves Howl

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Untitled Police Wolfen Excerpt

      by Runere McLain


     Kenna White became a police officer mostly for the extra avenues the job provided. Avenues to find the mother who'd abandoned her at eight years old. Kenna believed her institutionalized. She'd certainly sounded insane with her assertations Werewolves existed, and were hunting her and her daughter. But they'd moved so often, used so many aliases, Kenna truly didn't know where she was from or even her real last name.

     No problem. She'd use the one the orphange had assigned her, and track down all the others she remembered, writing them on the pad she kept at her bedside for when the dreams came. 

     But then something happened that shook her beliefs to their very foundations after being called in to assist a S.W.A.T. team in a hostage situation.

     She'd seen a Werewolf. Face to face. 

     Or had she merely inherited her mother's insanity?

     Until she could find out for sure, it was a secret she must guard with everything in her. If they weren't real, if anyone found out what she'd thought ocurred, it could cost her the job she loved.

     If they were . . . and her mother was right, it could cost her her life.  


 
     Sweat filmed her body. That had been a close call. Too close. Anxious to reach the hostages in time she'd amost rounded that blind corner, almost exposed herself. Stupid, stupid, stupid! A man they'd been unaware of patrolled the hall.

     Weapon held upright in a two-handed grip, back pressed tight to the wall in a crouch, she waited for him to reach the corner that concealed her. Eyes closed, she stopped breathing to better discern his advancing steps. She concentrated totally, listening for that slight change of sound in his steps to indicate he was moving in the opposite direction, afraid the pounding of her heart might drown it out. Two of their four minutes had been spent to reach this point, and more precious seconds reeled off in her head as she waited; tiny, desperate, irretrievable moments of time.

     She held until the faint grating sound of a sole spinning on the tiles indicated he'd turned back, reversing his nervous march. From a carefully low position deep in the shadows she stole a look and glimpsed a broad shirt-clad back. She closed the distance between them in two running steps, moving lightly, soundlessly as possible. Gun gripped in her fist, she brought the butt down sharply on his skull.

     Hope buoyed anew. He crumpled without so much as a moan. She kicked him solidly in the jaw in passing just to be sure he stayed out.  

     Slipping to the partially open door she peered silently in, frustrated as she had to move this way and that to assess even a small portion of the room. Her initial survey was grim. Prone on the floor, lower face coated with blood from a deep cut on his cheek, lay one hostage bound and gagged. Kenna believed the worst until the man's foot twitched, followed by the restless movement of his legs. He was alive; but of no use. Gaze sweeping the room, she located a young girl tied to a rolling desk chair.

     Kenna's heart twisted.

     About ten, her thin shoulders shook with her quiet sobs, pale cheeks wet with tears. Terrified gaze locked on her father, her small fingers worked helplessly below the knotted ropes binding her stacked wrists. Glimpsing Kenna in the doorway her tear-swollen eyelids flew wide.Stepping so the child could see her badge Kenna shot her a quick grin containing all the confidence she could muster. Releasing one hand from her weapon she lifted a conspiratory finger to her lips and winked, relieved when the girl relaxed somewhat.

     "They've got one minute!" a man snarled, unseen.

     "Why aren't they calling back?" another voice asked, nervous.

     "They will," he was assured. The peal of a cell phone reinforced his words. Kenna heard it snap open.

     "Where's our ride?" He made the demand without acknowledging the caller. Silence followed, filled with heavy breathing. The pant got faster and faster until he erupted. "What do you mean a problem? Don't you believe I'll kill this kid?"

     Another slight pause. The negotiator must be speaking.

     "No!" he interrupted, voice rising. "No more time! No more time!" he repeated. He screamed now, out of control. "You're out of time! You just killed the kid! She's dead, you hear me?" There was the sound of a grunt as the phone was hurled. It exploded against the wall, tightening Kenna's stomach.

     "How we going to talk to them now?" that second voice sounded again, panicked.

     "Don't you get it, asshole? They're through talking! It's over!" The nervous man obviously following the harsh-speaking one, their mismatched steps neared the door. "Kill the kid," he ordered. "We're out of here!"

     Two of them; seven rounds. Fair odds.

     Kenna slid back to prevent being seen, provoking a protesting whimper from the child. Meeting her despairing stare she mouthed, "It's alright." Her rounded little eyes rolled toward her captors then, tracking them as they approached. The raw chafe marks from her gag stood out as angry red streaks as her cheeks paled further.

     The metallic scrape of a shell being chambered echoed by the child's strangled cry was Kenna's prompt.

     Determined, she came in on a whispered prayer, hard and low. The door flew wide as her shoulder hit it, revealing a whip-like man coldly raising a pistol toward the child's head. The noise of Kenna's charge startled him into turning to meet this unexpected threat. Intent, already deep in the room, Kenna barely heard the door rebound off the wall and slam shut.

     Controlled choas swallowed Kenna's world as split seconds bogged down to untra-slow motion. Sounds stretched weirdly, simultaneously registering then unconsciously either catalogued or discarded.

     Eyes narrowing he triggered, his shot streaking hot past Kenna's ear. Kenna answered with one of her own. Being in mid-motion it didn't connect, but at least it served to drive him to seek cover.

     Taking advantage of his momentary distraction Kenna jumped for the child in a rolling dive, slamming the chair's side with both boot soles, firing a second and third shot while on her back. The chair spun crazily across the floor. The child clung to the wooden seat edge between her knees, shooting out of sight behind the questionable protection of a wall of high-stacked student desks awaiting removal.

     Sensing movement, Kenna rolled, hastily sighted. He took her shot in the right shoulder, but only staggered, not going down.

    Ignoring the pistol bore seeking her, Kenna blanked out everything but her target; his chest. Her weapon recoiled almost delicately, two rapid rounds, one after the other, tossing him to the floor. Her gaze followed the gun skidding from his lifeless hand.

     Before relief had a chance to register a different hand entered her vision, reaching for the still spinning weapon. The distinct crash of falling barriers was heard in the distance. Help was coming.

     One shot left. Kenna squeezed off her final round taking this new man over the right brow. His eyes went impossibly wide beneath the small hole that blossomed. Then his lids drooped and he collapsed in place.

     Rising slowly, dull shock settled over Kenna with the sudden adrenalin deficit. Empty weapon extended, she walked cautiously forward, kicking the pistol to the side before allowing her arms to fall to her sides.

     In the act of taking a deep breath the hair on her neck crawled in warning. She spun in reaction.

     A third man? Reaching for the discarded gun! He'd gone to one knee, grasping hand eagerly extended.

     The sinking sensation in her stomach was simply the emotional response that reinforced the chilling rationale: Reloading was impossible before he'd lift the gun.

     She knew it even as her thumb slid instinctively over the smooth finish, found and depressed the familiar button, ejecting the empty magazine. Her subconscious barely registered it striking her boot toe.

     He gripped the weapon, stood . . .

     Her other hand flashed to her thigh, closed around the extra mag. The elongated piece of metal felt cool, weighty in her hand. Felt like life. Her fingers tightened around it in preparation. Like death, her mind contradicted.

     . . . too eager; his muzzle traveled above her head. He fought it down . . .                                                                                   

     She brought the mag up, unconsciously angling the gun butt to receive it, slammed it home despite the futility of continuing.

     . . . centered her sternum; nothing left but to fire. She saw his eyes flare, the corners of his lips beginning to curl in smug triumph.

     Her heart hitched, expecting death's kick to her chest. She nearly froze in despair.

     Chamber one, something feral inside her snarled, a demand she battle the helpless resignation trying to overwhelm her.    

     She responded grimly. Damned if I die without trying.

     Fingers closing on the slide, eyes locked on his tightening trigger finger, Kenna blinked at the arm snaking swiftly and surely around her enemy from behind, the muscled bulk of it forcing his gun-arm up and away from Kenna at an awkward angle. The gunman's body stiffened against the unexpected containment.

     Yet that clasping arm tightened inexorably, pulling the man's body close as a lover. Fear burgeoned in the gunman's eyes, blinking helplessly with inevitable knowledge of what was coming as the strong tanned fingers of his captor's other hand wrapped around his jaw. 

     Arm muscles bulged with the sudden jerk, a wet popping sound accompanying the gunman's head twisting up and sideways at a distorted angle. His body went rigid, then relaxed. The pistol slipped from limp fingers to clatter sharply on the floor. His slumped form was held suspended for a few seconds, then dropped with a soft thud to reveal the man standing behind him.

     Barefoot, shirt hanging open, the newcomer eerily mimicked her earlier actions. A silencing finger lifted to faintly smiling lips. Green eyes burned in a handsome masculine face, trapping her gaze.

     Swiftly, yet non-threateningly, a finger and thumb went to each lapel. Lifting his shirt back from his shoulders with meticulous movements, he allowed it to slide down his arms. His hands were already lifting harmlessly into the air as it floated to the floor.

     Kenna tensed, adjusted her stance, ready for a hide-out weapon as one lazy hand dropped to the front of his pants. Her eyes followed that hand, a slight frown creasing her forehead as he unfastened them, the rasp of the zipper overly loud in the pronounced silence. Done, hands once again in the air, he began a controlled turn. His movements sent the fabric slipping lower, revealing bare tight buttocks then strong, muscular thighs. No hidden weapons, just smooth, swelling muscle.

     Okay, he goes commando, Kenna thought, his back fully to her. Still neglecting to halt their slide, denim pooled around his ankles. He stepped out of them. Embarrassed heat touched her cheeks as he faced her, sans covering, revealing much more.

     He's all man and proud of it, was her absent conclusion as his eyes locked with hers in amused challenge. She swallowed, made nervous by the intensity of his stare, unsure how to react to what was happening.

     Recovering, Kenna tore her gaze away, focused on his chest where peripheral vision could pick up and telegraph any aggressive movement of his arms or legs.

     Arms lifted, he stood for several moments, doing nothing that could be interpreted as threatening, and Kenna found herself unable to ignore his heavy-muscled, masculine beauty. Their eyes met again. 

     This time he broke eye contact, head falling back, his face tensing

as it lifted toward the ceiling. Muscles swelled over his entire body, flexing as if he strained against invisible restraints.

     Biting her lip, she wondered, What now?   

     She froze, every muscle locking tight as blue snakes of electricity shimmered and rolled over his form. He was . . .

     Melting away?

     Before her eyes he was disolving into a fine, glowing sandy mist, a mist that seperated into fluttering veils that sifted and swirled madly in unseen air currents. Kenna gave her head a sharp shake, as much in denial as an attempt to clear her vision.

     But it didn't clear, and those mists didn't fly away. They flowed downward, caught in a mad swirling dance as blinding streamers of light burst outward. Shifting and stacking they created a new form. It flared briefly, brilliantly, then solidified.

     Kenna sank to her knees, breath lost with shock.

     A huge dark wolf crouched over the rumpled pile of clothing, staring at her. One emerald eye winked. Whirling, he was gone.

     A single minute sound registered as coming from behind her an instant before the door burst open and someone knocked her flat. The heavy form stretched protectively over her body while taking the precaution of stripping her weapon from her numbed fingers. The side of her face pressed to the floor, all she could see were the booted feet of uniformed men sweeping the room. Someone shouted "Clear!"

     The good guys were here, she thought dully. She could relax. Her world went black.

* * *

     

     "They were righteous shoots." Jason tried to assure her a final time. 

     The words registered and Kenna froze. Shaky fingers rubbed her brow as she realized she'd begun rocking again. With a deep breath she pulled her floundering thoughts and emotions tighter around her. She needed to project at least a semblance of normalcy!

     Kenna sat on the floor near the wall, out of the way of the other officers busily cataloguing the room. Crouched beside her huddled form, Jason misinterpreted Kenna's tight nervous rocking as she hugged her bent knees.

     The child and father had been removed by paramedics nearly an hour ago, the child's clinging fingers pulled from Kenna's hand only as they loaded her into an ambulance. The pair had been in rough shape, but Kenna had been assured both would recover fully. The scene was owned by the investigators now.

     "Must have been another hostage," Jason remarked. His voice carried quiet sadness over the one he believed they hadn't saved, distracted as two workers, black shirts with white lettering indicating they were from the coronor's office, began body-bagging the broken-necked man.

     "Don't know," Kenna lied, shivering, her eyes sliding away. "He was dead when I got here."

     "Have you ever had to draw your weapon before?" Jason probed gently.

     Kenna barely suppressed a snort of hysterical laughter. He thought she was suffering some sort of psychological repercussion from shooting the kidnappers!

     Sobering just as quickly, she worried more over her total lack of guilt feelings. The lack of doubt that was supposed to plague officers who took a life in the line of duty. She knew her mental make-up was different from most, but shouldn't she be feeling regret right now? Agonizing over if there had been any possible way to preserve life?

     She searched deeper, a little desperate by her lack of typical emotion.

     Nothing. Only the conviction she'd reacted in the only way possible. She felt nothing but relief such scum was forever removed from the world. She shivered, wondering if that made her a monster.

     Yet how could she tell anyone what really happened, knowing the recoil she would see in other's faces? It would be the same recoil, poorly disguised amusement--or worse, pity--she'd observed when her mother had gone to officials for protection with her wildly impossible tales.

     Kenna rested her forehead on her knees. Who'd ever believe it anyway? She'd be locked up, deemed just as crazy as her mother when she'd abandoned Kenna at eight years old.

     Bitter fragments of long-repressed childhood memories whirled, blown free with the force of a bomb by what she'd witnessed. Of necessity, they remained a private maelstrom in her head.

     Memories of moving hurriedly, repeatedly, often with no warning; the moves sometimes only days or hours apart. Her mother, her beautiful laughing, loving mother, growing nervous, haggard, overly-thin; her once clear eyes wild as she paced, searching ceaselessly in the shadows for enemies only she knew or could see.

     All the babbled snatches of conversation filled with warnings, crazed descriptions and dire predictions of what would happen if they were ever discovered. Pitying murmurs from others that stress could be the underlying cause of her mother's delusions.

     Had the stress of the moment caused a similar reaction in her own brain? An inherited insanity?

     Pressing her forehead harder against her knees, her breathing labored, Kenna's hands smoothed up her arms, feeling the ghostly bite of her mother's fingers gripping her tightly as she forced her daughter to look into her eyes. Again heard the desperate admonition to listen for God's sake, or we die. Her fervent, fevered insistence there existed a dangerous race that could shift between man and wolf . . . . 

     "They had a dog in here?" The words tore into Kenna's thoughts.

     She raised her face cautiously. The crime scene photographer indicated he'd finished and a detective carefully lifted the shirt between his gloved finger and thumb, face screwed up in disgust as he dropped it into a large evidence bag. "These things are covered in dog hair." The jeans were maneuvered inside the bag as well.

     Kenna shuddered. Jason's fingers slid to the nape of her neck in a comforting massage. Kenna lifted her head sending him a wan smile.

     He shrugged. "Maybe it was the dog the kid kept talking about that slept beside her." A perplexed frown creased his brow. "Nobody's seen it anywhere though."

     No way was she responding to that. Self-preservation, physical as well as emotional, demanded she remain silent. Who would believe her anyway?

     The S.W.A.T. leader motioned from across the room.

     "They're ready for your statement," Jason murmured.

      Rising, Kenna made her way to the waiting grim-faced men.    

  __________________________________________________

             All rights reservered. Runere McLain 2009     

Wolfen Passage 

   by Runere McLain

Tralynne Sonnier is unaware she's given refuge to three juvenile werewolves, sole survivors of a ruling Were family assassination . . . and is even less aware of the building danger as the desperate assassin stalks them still!

    Grief-stricken, under threat of being accused of her grandparents' deaths, twenty year old Tralynne Sonnier flees everything she knows. A damaged soul searching for stability, she's created a solitary new life deep in the Tennessee hills, her determined attempt at a home no one can wrest from her.

     Moving into the remote farmhouse during a horrific storm, some . . . thing else has come seeking shelter. Tralynne is totally unaware she's given refuge not to boys--but to three wolflings, survivors of an assassination of a ruling Were family. How was she to know their tale of "Mob" connections was a lie? Especially when faced with some pretty damning "proof" in the form of guardianship papers with her name on them!

     The peaceful existence Tralynne and the boys create together explodes into chaos with the arrival of the boys' uncle: the same disturbing man Tralynne escaped at a local club, convinced he is the long-dreaded assassin here to finish his executions.

     The very stranger who leaves her doubting her judgement, whose hard-muscled physique brought uncharacteristic physical awareness to roaring life, igniting long suppressed needs to blazing intensity with one long stare from his strange eyes.

* * *

The boys are three eerily beautiful children keeping deadly secrets. The cousins must hide for their very lives. Sole survivors of a vicious pack coup, the wolflings cannot reclaim their stolen heritage until all three have gained the ability to shift into their true Wolfen forms.

     Until that transformation happens not only must they keep secret what they are from the young woman who befriends them, they must keep their very existence secret from the traitorous unknown assassins searching for them still.

     The once harshly distinct line between human and lycan now blurred, the boys are increasingly torn between their growing love for their unsuspecting human caretaker, and duty and vengence that demands their eventual return to pack.

* * *

Tralynne and the boys' five year illusion of family is shattered by the enigmatic muscled force of Calder Phillips, the boys' alpha male uncle and enforcer for the pack. Hard, rughless, a self-proclaimed loner, he's long believed death his closest constant companion due to his dangerous pack duties.  A way of life that prohibits close or lasting ties. Yet his relentless five year search for the boys belies that declaration. Calder's innate sense of family loyalty and memory of his beloved sister have kept him a driven man.

     Armed with only an obscure lead--Tralynne's name--he ghosts into town. Stopping by a local club to get a feel for the area and its inhabitants, his uncharacteristic intrigue with the female singer in the band challenges his long-held disdain for humans. Immediately attracted to her, he mistakes Tralynne for the regular female singer she's substituting for--unaware she's the very woman he seeks. 

     Male pride is something an alpha wolf has in spades. And when Tralynne manages to slip away from him, his Wolfen pride is stung beyond recovery. Especially when learning he's been tricked by a mere human!

* * *

At odds over the boys' best interest, Tralynne is determined to stop him returning them to dangerous Mob life. Calder treats Tralynne as nothing more than an obstruction to their destiny, someone to be dismissed or disposed of. Yet both are irretrievably bound by the commonality of maintaining the boys' safety. Their greatest conflict is neither adult can ignore the undeniable heat that flares between them.

     As the deadline for the boys' reclamation of rightful leadership of their pack looms, tensions build as everyone--good and bad--wait to see if the youngest boy gains the ability to change into his Wolfen form in time.

     A wait that stretches interminably, because until that event happens, a determined unknown enemy stills seeks them out . . . for death.

* * *

Runere McLain 2009