Frostbite- Chapter 60

He came for her, the other wolf. She had seen him fall through the air, and though she had not heard him smack into the ground she knew he must have been hurt when he landed. He did favor one hind leg—maybe the other had broken on impact. He did not mewl or whine as he slinked through the shadows, his muzzle twitching as he sniffed for her.

When he found her she was barely conscious. Her breath came in and out, in and out, shallow draughts of air wheezing in and out, in and out of her lungs. It was not even panting, but the labored breathing of one about to die.

She had silver inside her. She was poisoned and she was done for. He did not waste time greeting her, but fell upon her at once with a vicious snarl. With his powerful jaws he tore at her, pulled her apart. He ripped open her guts and they spilled with a rank smell across the broken road surface. He tore off her leg and threw it into the darkness like so much poisoned meat.

The pain was intense, but she could not complain or fight him off. She lacked the energy to even raise her head. He tore and bit and ripped her apart and she could only experience it passively, as if from some remove.

Somehow she knew that he wasn’t killing her.

That he was saving her.

When he was done, when all the silver was torn out of her body and cast away from her, she breathed a little easier, and then she sank into a fitful sleep. He stood watch over her throughout the night, occasionally howling as the moon rode its arc across the night sky. Occasionally he would lick her face, her ears, to wake her up, to keep her from fading out of existence altogether. Once when he could not wake her he grabbed her by the back of the neck and shook her violently until her eyes cracked open and her tongue leapt from her mouth and she croaked out a whine of outrage.

When the moon sank behind the buildings of Port Radium, she was glad for it. For the first time ever the wolf was glad for the change.

Chey woke curled in a ball, naked, cold, hungry, and in massive amounts of pain, but she was alive. She lifted her left arm and saw there was no blood there. Nor was there any bullet wound. She touched herself all over, felt her smooth skin and found it unbroken.

Her head pounded, but she rolled up to a sitting posture. She had no idea what had happened during the night. She knew somehow, though, that Bobby was dead. The exact circumstances eluded her, but she was sure of it.

“Here,” Powell said, and he threw her a blanket. He’d been standing behind her the whole time. He was wrapped in a blanket himself and he sat down next to her, close enough that his body heat warmed her, a little. She snuggled closer to him and pulled his arm around her shoulders.

He seemed surprised when she pulled him close. “You forgiven me or something?” he asked.

“Never,” she told him, honestly.

“But things have changed between us.”

She shrugged her shoulders. That wasn’t good enough, though. “Yes,” she said. “I want to stay with you. I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

“Fair enough,” he said.

The sun was halfway up the sky when they moved again. They’d both heard a sound, a familiar and unwanted sound. The noise a helicopter makes as it cuts up the air. Together, pulling their blankets close around themselves, they jumped up and moved around the side of the abandoned hangar, keeping to the shadows.

A big double- rotor helicopter passed over the buildings of Port Radium. Chey recognized the symbol painted on its underbelly, a red maple leaf inside a blue circle. She also had a feeling she knew who was inside.

Before Powell could stop her she ran out into the parking lot and waved her arms at the helicopter. The pilot brought it around and then dropped to a soft landing twenty meters away. A hatch opened on its side and soldiers in blue- gray uniforms jumped out. Behind them came a man in a dark blue suit. It looked like a uniform, but it wasn’t. The man was retired and he wasn’t even Canadian.

Chey couldn’t hear anything over the noise of the rotors. Uncle Bannerman gestured at the soldiers and they all stood back. Then he dashed over toward her, only stopping when she held her hands out, warning him to keep his distance. “Listen,” she said, “I’m okay. Everything’s okay. But I’m going to change in a little while.” She could feel the moon trembling on the horizon. In fifteen minutes, maybe less, it would rise. She didn’t know if the soldiers standing in formation by the helicopter had silver bullets. She didn’t want to find out. You have to go now.”

He stared right into her eyes. The way he always had. Then he glanced sideways at Powell, who was lingering in the shadowy entrance of the hangar building. Bannerman studied Powell for a second and then looked back at her.

“Is he ...?” Bannerman asked.

The lycanthrope who ate my brother, your father. She could see the words in her uncle’s eyes.

“Yes,” she said.

“I have equipment with me. I can keep you safe. I can keep you from hurting anyone,” he told her. It was a question.

She could guess what kind of equipment he meant. Chains. Cages. Maybe he wanted to take her back to his ranch in Colorado, where he could lock her in a shed every time the moon came up.

That wasn’t acceptable to her. It would never be acceptable. She was a werewolf, and she needed to be free. If he locked her up she would go insane.

“I’m going with him,” she said. Powell took a step forward, but she waved him back. “We’ll go where there aren’t any people.”

There was a lot more to be said—Bannerman clearly wanted to argue with her—but she had no more time. She was going to change any minute.

“I don’t know what happened to Fenech,” he said, finally, “but I doubt the Canadians will just leave you alone.” It was a warning—not a threat, not an attempt to make her change her mind. She thanked him with a nod.

Three minutes later the helicopter was in the air and headed south.

A moment later the moon rose, and two wolves headed north.

Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.

Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

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