Jared's Wolf (Page 12)
"It broke. I heard it break. Maybe we should take you to the hospital. Has Wyndham called a doctor?"
"Wyndham set it for me. You know, it wouldn't hurt you to call him Michael. Stop trying to get up." She sat down in the chair next to the bed, and propped her leg up on the mattress. The swelling was nasty, but Jared couldn't see the lump of broken bone any longer. Her leg was tightly wrapped in elastic. Not plaster.
"Huh. I guess it didn't break."
"Lucky for you, sugar, because that could have been nasty."
"And by the way, you must have had some kind of adrenaline rush in that hell house. You were tossing Geraldine around like she was made of paper. It was like watching the Hulk. A short blonde Hulk."
" Jared. "
"And I'm not staying here, cutie. Not even for you." He tossed the blankets back. "This place creeps me right the hell out. I'm heading back to my place, and I'd love it if you came with me. In fact, I insist on it. I need a sexy nurse to take care of me."
She was staring at him. Why was she looking at him so strangely? Part of him knew, part of him was pulling back the veil so he could see. He willed the understanding away. "Moira? Come on, let's book.
What do you say, babe?"
"I can't do that."
"Sure, it's easy. We'll scoot down to the truck, hop in, make a quick stop at the Colonel's—I'd kill another werewolf just for some fried chicken—"
" I'm a werewolf."
He didn't blink. "No."
Her eyes widened. For a minute he thought she was going to fall out of the chair. She'd clearly been braced for any reaction except calm denial. "Yes, I am. I'm a werewolf. Tonight when the moon rises I'll be hairier than the drain in the locker room at the YMCA."
He calmly folded his arms across his chest. "No."
She leapt to her feet. Her cheeks were flushed, her forehead burning like a lamp. "Jared, stop it! You know I am, you must know. I'm a werewolf."
He shouted, although it hurt his head like hell. "I'm not having this discussion, no way, uh-uh, count me out, folks." Of course she wasn't. It was impossible. They were the monsters. She was Moira. Ergo, nuh-uh, not happening, no way.
She bellowed so loud he feared for the mirror across the room. "I'm a werewolf!"
No slouch in the vocals department, he roared back, "The hell you are!"
Moira's temper snapped. "Of course I am, you idiot! Adrenaline rush! Come on!"
"Science is on my side."
"Bullshit is on your side. You would have seen it before now, if you'd allowed yourself."
"You are not ," he repeated stubbornly.
"I am, so, a werewolf."
"You're just saying that so I don't think they're all scum. Which, by the way, they are."
"They aren't, and I am one."
"No, you're not."
" How can you say that! You can only fool yourself for so long."
"Because I can't care about one!" he roared. "That's absolutely impossible and not in the plan ! You're not you're not YOU ARE NOT ! You leap around like a monkey because you've got a gymnastics background, you heal quickly because—I dunno, you've got a super immune system—you don't get tired but big deal, one of my buddies can go for three days without sleep, he does it all the time and it never bothers him except he gets really bad breath from drinking all that Mountain Dew . . . people are different."
She was holding her head in her hands. "Oh, my God. You're a moron."
"I mean, don't get me wrong." He could hear himself talking fast and faster, almost babbling, but it was impossible to stop. "You're definitely weird. I'll give you that. But the stuff you can do, it's all within the realms of good old homo sapiens. "
"So I'm a liar? Or just crazy?"
He had no answer for that one. After a long pause, he said, "I don't know. Maybe after working for werewolves all this time you think you're . . . I don't know. I'm not the brains of this team."
"You got that right," she muttered.
"I just know you're not one of them. You're not. I won't believe it." And you can't make me, he added silently, stubbornly.
Because she had nothing, not one fucking thing, in common with Geraldine. Because he wanted to marry her and have kids with her and his kids weren't going to be fuzzy. Because his sister's killer was dead and he wanted to finally build a life without grief. Because.
"I just won't."
"You said you couldn't care about a werewolf," she said slowly, and now she stood, and walked to the door (without a limp, his mind pointed out treacherously) and turned. Her eyes shone with unshed tears.
"I take that to mean you think you care about me."
"Yes." He paused. "I'm sorry. I had about a thousand nicer ways planned to tell you. I didn't mean to just blurt it out in mid-yell. I do care, Moira. From the minute you hightailed it down the road dressed in my shower curtain, I never wanted anything bad to happen to you, ever."
She winced away from him, as if his words hurt her. "You care about a lie then, Jared. There's no shame in not knowing things. But I won't be with someone who puts on blinders on purpose. And won't take them off, no matter what he hears and what he sees." She wrenched open the door and fled.
"Moira, don't go!" He slapped his hands over his eyes and writhed in agony. "Oh, God, my head . . .
The door slammed open, hard enough to crash against the wall and stick as the doorknob was imbedded in the wood.
A large, blonde man filled the doorway. Filled. His hair was the color of the sun, cut brutally short. His eyes were a deep, mesmerizing green. He was broad-shouldered and the T-shirt he wore did nothing to hide his excellent muscle definition. Given the man's ridiculously good looks and powerful build, Jared assumed he was dealing with a Wyndham werewolf.
"I'm going to shove your head so far up your ass," the man said with ominous calm, "that you'll be able to kiss your own colon."
"Go chase a mail truck," Jared snapped. "I've got bigger problems than whatever bit you on the ass today."
The man blinked. Held up one finger. Paused. Turned. Left. Jared heard a muffled sound from the hall—a snort? A chuckle? Then the stranger returned, looking stormier than ever. "You blew it, Monkeyboy."
"Moira hasn't given a guy so much as a come-hither look in years, and you had her. She was yours, all you had to do was ask! She saves your life, helps you avenge your sister, then finally screws up her courage and tells your bigoted sorry ass the truth, and you rejected everything she is."
"Did you actually say come-hither?"
"Stop making me laugh. This is a serious thing, ape face."
"It's Jared Rocke , do I have to paint it on my forehead?"
"I'm going to throw you out the window." This in the same tone someone else might have said, "I'm going to fix you a cup of coffee." "The fall will probably kill you, but you'll be out of Moira's hair, and it'll make me feel better. Also, you deserve multiple broken bones for making my friend cry."
So saying, the man moved with that same terrifying quickness Geraldine had demonstrated. He seized the footboard of the bed and shoved. As if it was sliding across ice, the bed zipped across the carpet and slammed against the far wall . . . uncomfortably close to the window. But to Jared's human senses, the man had finished with ". . . making my friend cry." and suddenly his bed was against the window.
He supposed he should have been terrified.
"Bring it on, German Shepherd!" His head pounding, Jared thrashed feebly among the blankets. "As soon as I get out of this bed, we'll see who goes out the window!"
"Crud." The man blew out his breath in disgust. "I forgot your injuries wouldn't have healed yet. You guys are made of tissue paper, I swear."
"What?" The man turned. Wyndham's wife stood in the doorway, hands on her hips. Jared inwardly groaned.
"Keep your hands off him, "Jeannie warned, looking cutely threatening.
"I was only going to slap him around a little," Derik said defensively. "Wasn't even going to break the skin. Much."
"You and what army, Liver Snack breath?" Jared jeered.
"See? See? This guy's an asshole squared. And he made Moira cry." Derik kicked the footboard. Jared heard the 'crunch' of splintering wood. "For which he will bleed and puke and beg."
"Moira would jam your ass up to your shoulderblades—"
"Worth it," Derik said stubbornly.
"—and you know it. Besides, that's why I'm here. Ole Rockhead's got a concussion, so I figured I'd shriek at him for half an hour or so until he agreed to go after Moira."
At last the bickering couple had his attention. "Go after her? Where's she gone?"
"You think she was going to stay here ? Tonight? She's out of here, pal. I doubt she'll be back until she gets word that you've moved on. Let me know," Derik added with a giant, toothy, terrifying smile, "if you need help packing."
Jared threw back the bedcovers again and stood. Instantly, the floor rushed up to his head. "What the—?"
Jeannie and Derik were bending over him. "You can't go anywhere," she informed him, while he tried to get up off the floor. "Geraldine really rattled your cage. You've got a bad concussion and about a zillion minor injuries."
"My knees work," he said through gritted teeth. Slowly, painfully, he rolled over onto all fours and started crawling for the door.