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Hunting through the blog…
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“Libby! Answer me!” Gabby pounded on the door again.
“Maybe we should get the bursar,” Betsy was torn between trying to force the door and fleeing downstairs.
Gabby stopped pounding on the door. “Fine. Go get him. Make sure he brings a key. I know something’s wrong. Libby wouldn’t miss class.”
Betsy ran down the stairs to the domestic Bursar’s office. She was back in a few minutes, with Miles Stour, the bursar. He was a bit out of breath, but he had the keys in his hand.
“Better not be one of your pranks,” he said as he opened up the door. He was about to give them more of his thoughts when the door swung open. The room was a mess. The two girls screamed at the same time as they launched themselves into the room towards a crumpled form on the floor. He was half way down the stairs when one girl screamed at him to call an ambulance.
“Sir? Will she be alright?” Gabby tried to ask the doctor as he moved down the hall and away from the room that they’d taken Libby.
He stopped and turned. “Are you one of the girls that found her?”
“Do you know where her parents are? Any guardian?”
“No. I don’t. Her parents were in Canada. Up doing some sort of research in the Yukon.”
He sighed. “Would the college know of anyone?”
Gabby thought for a moment. “No, but my parents might stand as guardian until someone was found.”
He nodded and gestured for her to follow him.
Three hours later, Gabby’s parents came out of the conference room to where Gabby waited with Joan and Betsy.
“Girls, Libby will be alright. She was terribly dehydrated and seems to have suffered some sort of seizure.” Gabby’s father paused to let this sink it. The doctors had feared drugs, which were beginning to be seen more and more in the Oxbridge circles, but there had been no trace in Libby’s blood. They finally wrote it down as ‘unknown seizure’.
“When can we visit her?” Betsy was still teary eyed.
“Tomorrow. The doctors want a few hours to bring her back. She’d been very near death. If you three hadn’t been worried, they might not have found her until it was too late.”
“We’re very proud of you girls,” Gabby’s mum mentioned. “Now we need to find a way to contact her parents.”
The next day, with the bursar’s permission, the girls went through Libby’s room. They found her address book. After returning to Gabby’s rooms, they began calling people. They started with those of the same last name, Paquet. No one answered the first number. They moved on, and finally someone named Tilly answered the phone. It was some aunt, and she said she’d come as fast as she could. When they’d tried to describe where Libby was, the woman said she was English, and knew Oxford.
The three girls walked down the hall of the hospital, and waited to be admitted into Libby’s room. When they went in, Libby was curled up with a book, looking pale but better than when they’d found her. She looked up and smiled. “Thank you.”
All three spoke at once.
“Anything for a friend.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Just so glad you’re alright. We called an aunt of yours, and she’s coming over,” Betsy explained.
Libby blinked. “Who?” Her voice was still a bit gruff.
“Tilly Paquet. She was the first person who actually answered a phone.” Betsy suddenly felt unsure. “We… we didn’t know how to find your parents.”
Libby nodded. “She’s alright. At least you found someone.”
“What happened Libby?” asked Joan.
Libby looked at the three, as they set down flowers, grapes, chocolate and their coats. She took a deep breath. “This will sound strange, but I was sitting in a the library when I had this horrid pain in my side. I thought I was going to be ill, right there in the Bodleian. I ran, and headed home, thinking I was going to be terribly ill, but all I could think about was my mum.”
“Your mum?” asked Gabby.
“Yes. I… I had this feeling that something dreadful had happened. That she is dead. Then I just curled up in a ball and cried. Next thing I know, I’m in hospital.”
“Did you tell the doctor that?” asked Joan.
Libby nodded. “Mum and Dad are up in the Yukon somewhere, and they have been terribly hard to contact. I hadn’t heard from them in a bit, and they should have contacted my aunts or my cousins by now. I…” She began to cry.
The girls moved forward to hug her.
Tilly moved through the airport and out to the nearest taxi. He loaded her luggage and headed for Paddington Station. From there she caught the next train to Oxford. The Churchhill Hospital was familiar to Tilly. She was dropped there by the cabbie at tea time. She was exhausted, but hoped that Libellule would be waiting for her. The nursing sister at the desk was brisk, but responded when Tilly informed her of the relationship to one of their patients.
“Come with me.” The sister walked briskly down the hall and then into a room.
Tilly followed and found that Libellule was asleep. “I’ll just wait for her to wake.”
The sister nodded and left.
Tilly made herself comfortable and waited. It didn’t take long before Libellule stirred, stretched and woke. She looked over to see a thin grey haired woman sitting quietly in the chair by the door.
“Libellule, how are you?” Tilly moved forward to embrace her niece.
“Tired, but better. Has… has anyone heard from Maman?”
“No. We can’t find them.”
Libellule nodded. “I think… that Maman is dead. I hurt so bad, yet no injury. An when I call for her, I can’t here her anymore.”
Tilly took this all in. Everyone knew that Libellule had been able to hear all of the shifters from the time she was very little. Only Celia had had that talent, and even she had limitations. “Are you certain?”
Libellule nodded. “I try and try. I hear all my cousins, I even here Granpere Buster. He crazy lonely.”
Tilly nodded. The whole family shattered in slow motion when Natalie died, and her husband Brian had never recovered. Those left in the valley did there best, but there were just too many people.
“Do you want to come home with me?” Tilly wasn’t certain what the right course of action was, but she had to offer.
Libellule thought for a moment. “I… I don’t know. Part of me wants to run to where I last knew they were, and the other part of me wants to run and hide. I have never felt so alone. I always here Maman.”
“Can you hear your papa?”
“Non. Sometimes I hear him, like the day he came to get Maman and I. Or when he is very happy. Now, I hear nothing. I worry. Papa, he will live so long and now…” Her voice drifted off.
Tilly stood up and wrapped her arms around her niece. “If you’d like, I’ll talk to the doctors and see if you can at least leave the hospital.”
Two hours later, Tilly and Libellule left hospital and headed for the Royal Oxford Hotel. Room service brought tea and a light supper. The two women talked while they ate. Tilly made a few calls while Libellule took a bath.
“Yes, let me know the moment you discover anything. Thank you Rose.”
I’m almost recovered from all that has gone on over the last three months. An SCA event, a music festival and lots of craziness with life in general. Wolf and I have been going to bed by 9pm! Gaaah! I will not even begin the rant that is “lack of playtime”. My goal is more writing, more sex and more “us time”.
However, on a funny note… my sister while looking for an Outlander coloring book came across a coloring book entitled “Color my Boobs“. Yes, the coloring book world had forayed into Erotica! There is one on sexual positions and cunts as well!
Wordwych sneaks in the door, sits at the computer and types away furiously. Wolf is working out in the living room, and understands that it is late, yet knows that a writer must write. It’s been beyond hectic. The mundane life has eaten them both and spit out the bones. However, things are beginning to settle down.
The beloved dog’s grave is a garden. Wolf is due to start a new contract in September, and a vacation at long last looms. Yes, it’s time for that SCA holiday. Seven days of no phones, meetings, committees, brunches, BBQ’s with political overtones, no interviews, no must be present politically moments.(yeah… there’s a political side to live.) Nothing. Just relaxing and Living the Dream…
To hold you over, the next chapter in RitW.
He walked. When the light faded, the pack gathered round the fire that he lit, bringing in a rabbit or deer to be shared. The number of wolves grew too. Most times they saw no humans for weeks on end. On the occasion that a hunter crossed their paths, most never saw anything except tracks. Wolf hunters were buried.
He forgot where he had been heading. If a pack member died, they mourned and moved on. His clothes rotted and his shoes wore out. They were replaced haphazardly with items from hunters or raw skins. They slept, ate and traveled across the forests.
He woke up one morning, to howls. He looked around and realized that the shifter stuck in wolf form had passed in the night. The other shifters had begun to dig a grave, and he joined them. When they were finished, he sat back, trying to remember a task he’d forgotten.
“What matter you?” a shifter asked as he squatted next to the fire.
“I have forgotten something I was suppose to do.”
“We no ask you to do somethin’.”
“Non. It was not you.” The tears began to well up in his eyes. Memories flooded his thoughts. He’d blocked out so much until now when the death and grave brought everything back in sharp detail.
“You grieve your mate.”
“Aye. And she ask me to look after Libellule. That is what I forget.”
The shifter nodded. “Where that Libellule?”
“England. I think.”
The shifter turned his head to the side in a gesture more readily seen on a wolf. “You don’ know?”
“Non. It was long time back. I don’t know how long we travel.”
“Ah. You leave the forest now?”
He thought for a while. “Aye.”
“We come with you.”
“You… you will?”
“You, us, pack. Your mate pack bitch. No one take her place. No one tell us different.”
He realized that on some level, that Maria still ruled their lives. Their loyalty still commanded by her love. He nodded. Now for the difficult part of finding ‘civilization’ and then Libellule.
Six weeks later, they walked out of the forest, and into a small village. The sign on the side of a building read “Ross River Cafe”. Some stayed in the dark pines, while seven filthy, shaggy men walked into the sunlit streets. The humans gawked at the men, and backed away. They hadn’t gone more than a hundred yards when a vehicle pulled up in front of them. A man in a red uniform stepped out and walked up to them.
“Hello, can you tell me who you are and where you’re going?”
Three of the men stared in silent terror. They realized that they barely understood the man. The fourth cleared his throat and began to address the officer. “We’ve been lost. Plane crash. Been walking.”
The Mountie took a good look at the men and then turned back to his car and grabbed the radio. He said something and then came back to the men.
“Um… when was the crash?”
“What’s the date?”
The Mountie blinked. “It’s.. June 14th, 1975.”
Tears ran down the man’s face. “It’s been almost three years.”
“Oh… oh dear.” The mix of panic and horror that filled the man’s voice. “Let’s take you to the station.” He moved to open the doors of the car and help the men inside. Once they all were in, he started up the engine and pulled away from the edge of town. In the shadows, the wolves followed.
“Sit down here. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Who do we contact? Do you have any family?” The Mountie was trying to do everything at once. The other officers in the RMCP station didn’t know what to do either. One ran for the local doctor, and the other for food from the cafe.
The men sat quietly. They’d talked about contact with others and what they would say. Most were shocked by the lights, noises and smells after so many years in the forest. The one thing they did know was that none of these people were shifters.
“My name is Andre Paquet. My wife, Maria, died in the crash. We lived in Portland. Her… her family lived near… near Lethbridge. Our daughter is in Oxford, England.
The officer scribbled down things as fast as he could. “The rest of you?”
“David Burns. Calgary. No family.” The man’s voice was rusty with disuse.
“Evan Jones. Alberta, divorced.”
“Micah Daigre. Jasper. I don’t know.”
“Felix Pelletier. Edmonton. I.. I don’t know either.” The man began to cry, and one of the others put his arm around him.
“Paul Verlow. Watson Lake. No family.”
“Mathis Wolfe. Use to live in Red Deer. I had a daughter.”
The Mountie scribbled notes as fast as he could. He didn’t have any way to check even the most basic facts, but he’d make a record. “Now tell me again what happened.”
Andre took a deep breath and began to talk.
An hour passed and the men had eaten every crumb of food that was brought in. One of the wives came in and after getting a general idea of sizes, headed off to the church and rifled through the charity donations. She and another wife came back with more than enough clothing. Then the men took turns showering in the back of the station.
Andre looked at himself in the mirror for the first time in ages. His face was dark from exposure. His hair and beard were scraggly. It was clean, but he couldn’t get a comb through it. He walked out into the office area and over to Jeffreys, the Mountie who had first found them.
“Do you have any scissors?”
Jeffreys looked at him and shook his head. “Wait a minute.” He picked up the phone and made a quick call. When he finished, he came over to where Andre stood at the window. “George is a barber. He’s coming over.”
It took another hour to cut and trim the men up to a semblance of normality. All had kept their beards, and their hair was collar length. George must have swept three pounds of hair up off of the floor. He gathered up his equipment and waved to Jeffreys.
“How can we repay you?” asked Felix.
“You don’t need to. We just want to get you safely to your families.” Jeffreys had been speaking to his superiors, and the general consensus was that the men would be taken to Edmonton. Hopefully by then, families could be found. “I’m heading home now. You can sleep in the cells, and we’ll see you in the morning.” With that, he and the other Mountie said their goodnights and departed.
Andre waited until the men had been gone about half an hour. Then he opened the door and whistled. The remaining six shifters ran out of the woods and in the doors. It was their turn to shower. Andre had found scissors in the one desk and helped the men trim up their beards and hair. Others had actually saved a bit of food and brought that out. Once the food was gone, the men curled up to sleep while a couple took turns watching.
Wolf and I have had a hectic few weeks. Our dog died unexpectedly. Mundane work has gone nutty. I have half a chapter written, and am having difficulty getting more than 5 minutes alone to write. Jobs have appeared and vaporized. Responsibilities have multiplied and there had been general craziness all around. I’m about ready to run away from home, but I know that won’t work. They’d find me. I know this, because in the dictionary next to that phrase “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” is my picture. (four different groups want me to be their “chairperson”)(two of them I can’t walk away from as there is no one else to do the job.)
So, my plan right now is to tell the world to just fucking cope without me for the next few days. I hope to do some writing as the story is burning in my head.
Hugs and love to dear friends that are having issues. You are not alone. Don’t know what the heck it is, but life can just settle down for so many of us!
Yes, gnash your teeth. Cry. Rend your clothing. I had to finish it. You’ll understand when you get to the end.
Declan sat with Lord Duncan while Bette cleared her desk. “James, I just couldn’t turn down the offer.”
“I understand. I’m just sorry to lose the best secretary I have ever had. Are you certain you won’t reconsider?”
“No. It’s just too much money, and for almost all the right reasons.” Declan ran his hand through his hair. “Granted, America is still a wild and wooly place.”
“Well, I’ll keep the toybox for you. Don’t want Customs rummaging through leather corsets, whips and that lovely strap on dildo.” Lord Duncan smiled.
Declan laughed. “Oh no. They’ll think bad enough about me when they see the last name.”
Bette walked in wondering what the laughter was all about. They explained, and she blushed.
Lord Duncan saw them off at Heathrow. It was a difficult departure. Although he’d never tell Declan, he loved Bette as much as he had any woman. In some ways, more.
Bette looked out across the grass of the little house they’d rented. Declan’s job had afforded them a decent place. “It’s so different. I don’t know if I’ll ever get use to driving here. And then there’s the shopping and the doctors and…”
Declan wrapped her in his arms. “Don’t worry love. It will be alright.”
“We should have said something before we left.”
“If we had, he’d have never let you go.”
Bette nodded. She gently rested one hand on her stomach.
“Lord Duncan! There’s a phone call from America. Sounds like Declan.” Violet stood next to the bed with his bathrobe in hand. He took it and headed down the hall to where the phone sat. He picked it up.
“Yes? Declan? Say that again?” Lord Duncan listened. “I’m what? Oh lord! Oh! Give Bette a kiss for me. And the baby too!” He sat down the phone and walked back to his bedroom. Just before he reached the door, he shouted his joy out loud.
“Jennifer! Front and Center!” Lord Duncan was still trying to train a secretary to his liking. Jennifer was the third woman. The first two hadn’t lasted a week. When there was no response, he walked over to the office door and peered into the room. It was empty. “What in the bloody hell?”
Walking down the hall, he started hollering for Betsy. He’d nearly made it to the kitchen before she appeared. “And what are you yelling for?”
“Jennifer has disappeared. Do you know where she is? Did she call in sick?”
“No. She quit and left in the night. That’s the third one you’ve run off.” Betsy’s tone was harsh.
“I… um. Fine. I miss Bette. She…”
“She spoiled you. I suggest that the next crop of subs that come in be looked over in case one of them is single and of a secretarial mind.”
“Fine, but what am I to do in the mean time? I need a secretary.”
“Bring one in from Headquarters. They’re use to being ordered about.” With that, Betsy turned on her heel and headed back towards the kitchen.
Lord Duncan headed back to his office and rang up Staff headquarters. Thirty minutes later, he had a secretary on the way. While he waited, he wrote a letter to Bette, thanking her for the pictures of the baby, their new home, and the scenery.
Subaltern Jones was efficient. He did what he was told and dealt with most of the work that Lord Duncan required. As for the other duties, Betsy stepped up and took over. When the phone rang, Jones put the caller on hold and went in search of Lord Duncan. When he didn’t find him, he returned and took a message. He gave the message to Betsy as it was nearly time for him to head back to the base. Betsy read the message and returned the call.
When Lord Duncan came into the house later that night, he found Betsy in the hall, sitting on the bench next to the phone. “Betsy, Whatever is the matter?”
She turned her tear streaked face up to him. “James, they’re gone.” Then she began crying once more.
“Gone? Who? What do you mean?” He sat down next to her as she never used his first name unless it was something dire.
Through the sobs, she explained. The police had called. There had been an automobile accident. Declan and Bette were dead. It had taken the police a bit to figure out who to notify and the babysitter had mentioned Lord Duncan. The police called and left a message with Subaltern Jones.
James walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured two stout whiskies. He handed one to Betsy. “What about the baby?”
Betsy sipped the whisky. “The British Consulate is picking up the baby and will deliver him here.”
“You are the legally appointed guardian.”
“I’m the baby’s godfather, but…” He finished off his drink and poured another one.
“Yes, and Declan apparently gave you full custody should anything happen. The consulate aide said that there was paperwork that will be arriving with the baby.”
James sat down heavily next to Betsy. “But… I know nothing of raising babies.”
Betsy gave him a look. “You raise soldiers and subs. It isn’t that different. You will need a nanny. I’ll see to it in the morning.” With that, she drained her glass, set it on the table and walked out of the room.
James sat there and quietly got drunk.
In the morning, he read the full report. Declan and Bette had gone out for the evening. They’d left the baby with a sitter and headed out. While the weather had been drizzly, it got worse and by the time they headed home, it had become a downpour. Declan had misjudged the speed of a lorry, and was clipped by it as he attempted the turn. The lorry clipped the bumper and spun the car right back into traffic. There was a three car pile-up. By the time the police got to the scene, Declan had died and Bette was rushed to hospital. She died on the way there.
In the mean time, the babysitter had gotten concerned when the O’Hara’s were late. She rang her parents who rang the police. When they discovered that there had been an accident, the British Embassy had been contacted. Due to the condition of the O’Hara’s, they were cremated. All of their possessions, their ashes and the baby would be delivered to Lord Duncan’s estate as soon as possible.
Lord Duncan yelled for Jones and began giving orders. From what he could estimate, he had three days to get ready for the arrival of the baby.
Workmen had completed the nursery in record time. Betsy was airing out the room when she saw the furniture van arrive. She went down to greet them and direct the delivery. She turned to where Lord Duncan paced. “Go do something! They’ll call when they are on their way!” When he didn’t move, she put both hands on his shoulders and shoved him out the door.
Lord Duncan walked into the nursery and inspected. He was desperate to do anything to occupy his time until the call came. It had been a hellish week, and no one had escaped his temper, not even Betsy. Luckily, she was use to him and groused right back. He was looking out the window, and wondering if they should install some safety grills, when headlights slewed across the drive. He sprinted out of the nursery and down the stairs. When he got to the main hall, Betsy was just opening the door.
“I thought they said they’d ring first!”
“I know. But, they’re here.” She stepped out of the way so that the two gentlemen in Burberry’s could enter. They exchanged greetings and then the first man stepped out and gestured towards the car. A slight woman got out of the car carrying a baby. At eight months, he was a fussing, wriggling handful. She walked into the hall and approached Lord Duncan.
“Here you go sir.” She handed the baby over to Lord Duncan who took the baby as if he were made of glass.
“Oh relax, you won’t break him.” She smiled.
Lord Duncan looked at the baby. A smile broke out on the baby’s face. “He’s… he’s got Bette’s eyes.”
Betsy smiled and nodded. “Shall I take him while you deal with the paperwork?”
“No. I’m fine.” He transferred the cooing happy baby to his hip and gestured for the two men to follow him into his office.
An hour later, Betsy escorted the men out the door and went to the office where Lord Duncan was playing with the baby. “Are you alright?”
“As alright as I will be for some time.”
“Was there much legal silliness?” She sat down and gestured for Lord Duncan to hand over the baby. He shook his head no.
“Not really. I’ve signed all the papers. I legally adopted the baby. They’ll file all of the documents and send me the originals. The only important paper was one that had been left in a safety deposit box.”
He nodded and handed her a letter. She opened it and began to read.
It seems so strange to call you that, but Declan said it was right. I want to tell you in person, but mum said never leave things to chance. She’s still not talking to us by the by. I’ve torn up versions of this three times. I keep thinking that I’ll never have an occasion to actually have this delivered. But, the nagging feeling won’t leave. In case anything should happen, you will know the truth.
You see, we discovered that Declan couldn’t have children. We decided that as you were often our partner in all kinds of fun, that we’d just not bother with contraception. I wanted to tell you as soon as I knew that I was pregnant, and yet… I couldn’t. I was afraid. Afraid that I might lose it. We’d tried so hard, and it finally happened. Declan got the job offer and then all the plans got thrown to the winds. Including talking to you.
Betsy stopped reading for a moment and looked up at James.
Our plans are to raise our child, and when he or she is old enough, introduce you as Uncle James. We figure that we will be back in England long before and can let you in on our lovely secret. Besides, we might want another child, and… I love you too!
Betsy finished the letter. It was such a Bette thing to write a love letter and then stick it in a box, never to send it. “Oh James.” Tears were running down her face.
James handed her his handkerchief. “I never knew.”
Betsy nodded. “You have a son.”
“I do indeed. Betsy, meet my son, David.”
Libbellule Paquet loved England. It was similar enough to Vancouver that she didn’t feel totally lost when her parents waved goodbye to her from the train station on their way back to Heathrow Airport. She was registered at St. Hilda’s for the Michaelmas term and there was just enough time for her to explore the countryside. More importantly, the moors, where she could run.
The trip to Dartmoor had been a retreat back in time. Oxford was a sprawling city with just enough green space to make her comfortable. However, it gave her nowhere to run. Every clack of the rail cars carried her closer to a place where she could be just herself. After checking into her room at the inn, she changed into walking gear and headed out. She carried a copy of The Hounds of the Baskervilles in her pocket.
After an hour of walking, she felt she was alone enough to shift. She stood next to a kistvaen, and disrobed. Stuffing her pack under a bit of rock, she shifted.
She ran. It felt so good. The rabbit that crossed her path filled that empty spot, and she drank brackish water from a pool. The sky was getting dark as she ran towards the spot where the two legs clothing was hidden. As she ran across the moor, she picked up the scent of humans and did her best to stay out of sight.
“Harry! Did ya see that?” Maude pointed towards the ridge and the setting sun.
“That bloody huge dog!”
Harry looked up and saw the hindquarters of something disappear. “Guess I missed it.”
“I swear that was the biggest dog I’ve ever seen!”
“Oh give it up Maude. Just ’cause we’re up here on the moors and you’ve been reading that damned book doesn’t mean that the Hound really exists. Probably some poor bugger’s mastiff got loose is all.”
“Oh Harry. You have no romance. No sense of adventure in your soul.” Maude pouted as they packed up their picnic. She placed her copy of “Beasts of the Moors” carefully on the top of the basket.
Harry rolled his eyes and started walking down the hill.
Libellule dressed and headed for the inn. She was starving in spite of her ‘snack’ earlier. It had been a glorious run. When she got to the inn, the Public Room was abuzz with some sort of chatter. She could barely understand the local accent, and ignored it. When she came back down for supper, the room had quieted.
The next few days followed the same pattern. Libellule went for a hike, shifted and ran until she needed to head back. The last day she was a little late, and it was nearly dark by the time she had returned to the inn. Once more, the room was full of people all chatting about some ‘beast”.
The innkeeper’s wife was smiling at her as Libellule ordered a pint cider and a plate of dinner. “Oh miss! So glad you got in safe.”
“Haven’t you heard? There’s been sightings of the Beast of the Moor!”
“Beast of the Moor?”
“Oh aye! Right scary beast. Tall as a horse, fangs like razors and red glowing eyes.” The woman nodded the whole time she spoke.
“Well, I never saw anything more than a few ponies and rabbits.”
“Lucky you are miss. Very lucky. You know there’s always tales, but facts is at the base of them. Next thing we know, shepherds will be missing sheep and ponies will die with terrible wounds.”
“Ah. Sorry I’ll miss it then, as I head back to Oxford in the morning.” Libellule picked up her pint and headed towards a table. Luckily, the lights were dim enough to hid the blush on her face. Once the food arrived, she ate quickly. In her head, she could hear Granpere Buster talking about the stupid English, and their stories. She also thought of her uncle Henry and others who were running wild on the moors. Next vacation she would have to be more careful.
Libellule fell in love with university life. The Bodleian became her favourite haunt, and her friends shorted her name to Libby. She didn’t mind, and soon exchanged many of her stodgier pieces of clothing for bright and colorful pieces from OxFam. Her favourite blouse was blacks silk embroidered with multi-coloured dragonflies.
Letters flew back and forth across the Atlantic. Postcards from her parents, letters from Lewis, Ross and Rose. The family was branching out farther and farther. Uncle Quintus finally got Lizzybit and her family to move to Montana. Libby smiled at the thought of wolves running in Montana.
With no word from her parents that they were heading home to Vancouver or Portland, Libby made plans to stay in Hexham with her friends Gabby, Betsy and Joan. Joan’s parents had invited all of the girls up to their house for the holidays. The end of the Michalmas term saw the group boarding the train for Northumberland.
The house in Hexham was tucked up against Hadrian’s wall. Libby was entranced. She and Betsy spent most of their free time walking along bits of the wall and exploring what Roman ruins were nearby. Joan of course had grown up with the Wall, and thought of it as ‘old hat’. She and Gabby would take the train into Newcastle to shop.
“Libby, I’m cold. Do you mind if I head back?”
“No. I won’t be much longer.” Libby hoped.
“Alright. Don’t forget that tea is late tonight. Joan’s brother is due back from Cambridge at long last.”
“I’ll be home soon.” Libby waved as Betsy headed back to the house. Then, she slipped down on the northern side of the wall. She stripped, changed and headed out for a much needed run.
“Oh look! There’s been a sighting of a ‘beast’!” Jeffry said over breakfast. He held up a copy of the Guardian that had a grainy picture of something that could have been a cow, deer or dog.
Libby looked up and tried not to blush. She hadn’t seen or heard anyone as she ran yesterday, but she had discovered that England was a very crowded country. The rest of the family passed the paper around and eventually she too looked at the article and photo of the beast.
“Looks like someone was bored and took pics of their dog.” She handed the paper to Joan.
“Yeah. There was a bit of a panic down in Dartmoor in August. Same sort of blurry pics. Reminds me of all the fuss about Loch Ness.” Joan dismissed it and dropped the paper on the floor.
Christmas was busy, fun and very soon over. The girls headed down for the Hilary term. Classes, protests, and the rail strike in February kept them close to Oxford. Libby wrote her family, and wondered how her parents were doing. The last post card had mentioned them heading to an area deep in the Yukon. The area was known for the wolf packs. She wondered just how many of them were family, or shifters that just couldn’t cope with the modern world. Lewis wrote that he’d started a lumber business and had changed to night classes for his degree.
After her exams, Libby headed to Cardiff for a holiday. No girlfriends, no anxious parents, just time on the shore and exploring castles. She’d written Rose and asked for her to see if she could find her parents. So far, there had been no letter. She knew she shouldn’t be worried, but she was. After a week, she headed home to Oxford.
Libby had just finished preparations for Trinity term. St. Hilda’s had been a wonderful college for her, and perfect in other ways. Separated by Magdalen Bridge from the center of Oxford, it gave her a chance to escape the hectic noise of the High Street, and into the gardens and eventually the fields. She’d learned the trick of shifting and leaving no trail in the densely populated countryside.
Walking to the Bodleian, she was filled with apprehension. There was no reason for it. Well, maybe. The bombings in London were unsettling. Yet, she kept thinking of her parents. Settling into a reading nook in the grand library, she tried to keep her mind on her studies. It wasn’t helping.
The pain shot through her like a knife. She stiffled the scream, and looked down at her hand that was clenched to her side. No blood, but another searing pain knocked her out of her chair. A student next to her helped her to her feet.
“You alright?” he asked quietly.
“No. I’m… I’m ill. Stomach ache.” She gathered up her books and exited the library as fast as she could without making too much of a scene. When she reached the street, she ran.
By the time she got to her room, the pain had burned it’s way across her sight. Panting, she crawled into bed and curled up into a ball. An hour later, the howl of pain ripped out of her throat, as she felt her mother die.
Across the quad, heads turned at the sound of the first wolf heard in Oxford for centuries.
Bette worked hard. During the week, she was at Lord Duncan’s beck and call for whatever secretarial duties he needed. She swore that she deserved a medal for dealing with some of the soldiers that came through.
“Yes, Lord Duncan,” she said as she came through the door, and into his office.
“We have a special luncheon tomorrow afternoon. Upper eschelion bunch. I need you to be ‘on’. Don’t take any bull from these officers. In fact, if you wish to practice being a right little domme, I’d be just fine with that.”
Bette smiled. Her last weekend had been spent on ‘topping’. It hadn’t been too difficult to another sub in their place. It also helped her get in the right mind for Declan the next day. They’d gone to a country faire, and had a wonderful time. She’d loved it when the air had poofed up her skirt, and flashed her ass to an older man. He’d just smiled.
“Oh, and Bette, listen well. Remember what was said, but no obvious note taking.”
“Yes, Lord Duncan.
The lunceon was a little intense. Eight men all trying to be top dog. She’d never been in a room full of that many generals, colonels, or brigadiers. Officially she was in there to be Lord Duncan’s assistant. She was to hand out papers, serve coffee and ‘take notes’. During lunch, one of the brigadiers grabbed her ass.
“Sir, if you ever touch me like that again, I will make certain that not only your wife knows, but you’ll wish you could crawl back to Nanny and ask to be forgiven for such behavior,” Bette whispered in his ear.
He’d started to laugh, and then saw her face. He apologized and shut up instantly. One of the generals sniggered at him. Bette fixed him with a look and he shut up too. Lord Duncan smiled and patted the chair next to him. Bette sat, smiled and began taking notes again.
Once the luncheon was over, Lord Duncan called Bette in to discuss what had gone on.
“Pilser is a whimp. Hen picked at home, and a bully at work.”
Lord Duncan nodded.
“Jones is a good man, but needs to learn to speak up. Wilson is a gem, and Davis needs shot.”
Lord Duncan laughed. “You put him in his place with a look.”
“Yes, but I’ve dealt with arses like that before. They need hit hard again and again.”
“And the rest?”
Bette thought for a moment. “Gervaise is losing it. I thought he was going to climb out of his skin when the door was closed. Archer needs to bathe, and to stop pretending he’s always right. Nelson is a good man, but out of his depth. Black scares the hell out of me.”
Lord Duncan smiled. “Gervaise is still suffering from shell shock. Archer is another one who could use a good whipping, and a bath. Nelson got a field promotion and can’t believe he deserved the rank. As for Black, you should be glad he is on our side.”
“Yes. After an hour with him, you’d do anything he wanted, and think it was your idea. He is psych ops and not allowed to play here.”
Declan reclined in the leather chair opposite Duncan. “You think she’s ready?”
“Very much so. I’m ‘graduating’ her this weekend. Are you still wanting to marry her?”
“Of course.” Declan gave Duncan a look.
Duncan laughed. “Well, are we having the wedding here?”
“Yes. Her parents disowned her. They figured that she was already shacked up with me when she came up here to work for you.”
“Idiots. Well then, if she’ll have me, I’ll give her away.”
It was Declan’s turn to smile.
Violet pulled on the strings of the corset. “Just once more miss.”
Bette held onto the bed post as Violet tugged once more. Then Violet quickly tied the laces. “Can you breathe miss?”
“Just. Why did I agree to this dress? Or, agree to let Lord Duncan pick out this dress?”
“I don’t rightly know miss.” Violet smiled. She’d actually helped Lord Duncan with the dress. It was a copy of his many great ancestresses dress. The painting in the great hall shows the dress, and as Duncan had found the undergarments that lady had worn years before, he knew the size. Violet was a good seamstress and had copied it.
“We need to add your stockings.” Violet bent to help Bette. They were nearly finished when Lord Duncan strode in the door carrying something in his hand.
“Lord Duncan!” Bette cried out.
“Oh shush! I’ve seen you in less.” He walked forward and stood next to Bette. “Besides, we need to fit this.” In his hand, he held a leather cock with straps attached.
Bette looked at him with a mixture of horror and fascination. “No… You’ve got to be joking. I’ll… I’ll pass out!”
“Nonsense. Open your legs.”
When Bette delayed, he thrust his hand between her knees and opened her legs. “Do as I say, or you will walk naked down the aisle.”
Bette opened her legs and after a bit of a struggle, Lord Duncan slid the cock into her pussy. She gasped at the feel of it. He strapped it onto the corset where the stockings connected and then stood back to admire his handywork.
“That will do. And know if you orgasm, we will all see it.” With that, he tugged her nipples up over the edge of the corset and gave them a tweek before walking out.
Bette was blushing and sputtering. “Oh… that man!”
“Now, now miss. He did more than that to you at your graduation.”
Bette took a deep a breath as she dared and nodded. Two hours of standing on the balcony while he and others touched, fondled and spanked her as she was blindfolded.
“Let’s get this dress on before he comes back.” Violet held up the ivory colored satin and Bette bent so it could be dropped over her head. Once it was in place, Violet laced up the back. Once the dress was on, Bette sat with a gasp to have her hair done.
Violet giggled. She’d had her own time with one of Lord Duncan’s toys.
Declan paced. He knew that Duncan was planning some sort of silliness, but not sure what. He’d be happy as long as Bette came down the aisle in a dress that didn’t show every inch of skin. When he turned around, Duncan stood in the door.
“Time old chap.”
Declan nodded and headed towards the door. The two men entered the small private chapel, filled with friends. Declan stood to the right of the altar where the minister stood ready. Duncan had headed to the back of the chapel. The music began and Declan turned to watch Bette walk down the aisle. She was gorgeous. A princess. A dream in a cloud of white.
Bette was nervous. That cock rubbed her in all the right ways with every step. Lord Duncan took her arm and they walked down the aisle. In a moment, she was standing next to Declan.
It wasn’t until after they signed the registry off to one side that everything felt real. She’d shuddered with a near orgasm when she sat down to the bridal supper. She swore that Duncan planned every move, so that she had to stand and sit over and over. Each move drove the cock in her pussy in new and intense ways. When they started to dance, she’d almost swooned with the first waltz.
After toasts, cake, more toasts and lots of laughter, the dinner was over and the crowd sang them through the garden to the folly where they were to spend their wedding night. When Lord Duncan opened it, Bette was surprised to see it lit with hundreds of candles. Off to one side, there was a bower, and someone had covered the altar with roses. It was beautiful.
Declan swept Bette into his arms and carried her into the room. Lord Duncan closed the door behind them and then they were alone.
“I love you Bette.”
“And I you.” She squirmed a little as he dropped her to the bed.
“Lord Duncan’s toy has driven me crazy all day.” She lifted her skirts to show him the back side of the strap.
“Ah… and aren’t you wet.” His finger traced over the leather. Then he shoved the palm of his hand against it, driving it deeper inside of her.
“Oh! Oh damn!” She gasped and writhed as the sensations rolled her.
“Just be glad he didn’t give you a saddle.”
“Yes. The same ancestress had a saddle with an attachment.”
Declan smiled and pulled her to her feet. Then, slowly, he began to undress her. The dress and veil fell to the floor, followed by the petticoat, shoes and stockings. Once she stood in just the corset, he stood back. “Your turn.”
Carefully, Bette undressed Declan. When she undid his trews, his cock sprang up. She took it in her mouth, and he sighed. “You are not the only one who has been horny all day.” His hand gripped the back of her head, and he thrust harder until he came deep in her throat. Bette swallowed and then licked him clean.
Declan took her hand and walked over to the altar, where under the roses, lurked the cuffs. Bette discovered that the roses covered a soft pillow and she was soon cuffed to the altar on her back with her knees up. Her ass was near the end of the altar. Declan stood between her thighs, and unbuckled the cock. He teased it out of her pussy, and showed her just how thoroughly she had soaked it. He teased her clit, and when she began to mewl, he thrust it back in. The shock of the wet cool leather brought her to a shocked orgasm. She bucked and writhed as he thrust it in and out of her pussy. Just when she thought she couldn’t cope with another orgasm, he pulled it out and thrust his own hot cock deep inside. He rode her hard, and as she came and came, he too let lose with another orgasm.
This time, she was face down on the altar with no pillow. The cold marble pressed against her breasts and belly. Declan had spanked her until she felt her juices roll down her thighs. Now he was rubbing that leather cock up and down her slit from clit to ass. It was making her writhe. She wanted to be filled, but every time she tried to thrust against it, he moved the cock at the last moment.
“De-clan,” she gsped with need.
“No! Please take me!”
Declan smiled. She was so wet and almost ready. He ran the cock across her clit, and then up. As she arched, trying to mount it, he slid it up against her ass. She was so horny, that she pushed against it, and after a moment’s gasp, he slid the head into her ass.
“Shush,” he soothed her. Stroking her clit, he brought her to orgasm and the cock slid in further. She gasped, and the second orgasm made her push back and it seated itself all the way in.
“Oh! That’s… oh…” She was uncomfortable, and turned on all at the same time. Her pussy was soaked, and he slid his cock into it, feeling the leather cock nestled in her ass. So tight, and so good, he had to take a breath not to come right then. Bette’s own reaction was a gasp and then an orgasm that made him think she’d rip his cock off with the muscle spasms.
Declan grabbed her hips and thrust, building up a rhythm that got faster and faster. Bette started orgasming and and kept right on orgasming with every stroke of Declan’s cock. Her back arched and her whole body went rigid with orgasm. It was all he could take, and he exploded deep inside. Bette was still trembling and spasming with pleasure as he pulled out. When he removed the leather cock, she cried out in a shuddering orgasm and then collapsed.
When Declan caught his breath, he uncuffed Bette and carried her to the bed where they curled up and fell into a deep sleep.
At long last… I write. I live. I start the next shifter story. Hardest part of this bit has been figuring out a title. Hope you enjoy Riddles on the Wind.
She ran. Snow crunched beneath her paws as the muscular legs drove her faster and faster. The whomping sounds over her head drove the pack towards the treeline. The scattered as they hit the shadows. Just a bit further, and she’d be safe too.
Pain seared her side. She tumbled and staggered as she regained her feet. Running hurt. Breathing hurt. She ran for her mate.
Andre heard the supply plane turn and bank. He smiled, and hoped that Marie would get back before the pilot and his buddy came with their supplies. It usually took them thirty or forty minutes to unload supplies. This trip had started after they’d dropped their daughter off at University. That had been nearly eight months ago. The locals all thought that they were wildlife researchers. Their real mission had been to help all of the shifters who had drifted north to hide from a world grown too loud.
He bent to add wood to the fire. The kettle on the tripod began to heat. Marie would want a cup of coffee when she returned. The sound of gunshots brought him to his feet, heart pounding. Andre turned towards the sound, searching the woods. “Oh let it just be a deer hunter!” He started towards the trees.
She could smell her mate. Hurt so much. She stumbled and got up. This time it was harder to move.
Andre saw the wolf stumble out of the undergrowth. He ran. When he reached her, he could see the blood in her fur. “Marie!” He dropped to his knees, inspecting the damage the rifle bullets had done. Three long gouges had opened her right flank. He stripped off his shirt, and wrapped the wolf. Then he lifted her and ran for their camp.
She smelled her mate. He carried her as she struggled to breathe.
Andre placed the wolf on the ground next to the fire. He grabbed for his first aid kit and began checking out the wounds. One was a scratch. Another had nicked her shoulder. The last one bled badly. The angle of it probably meant it had nicked her lung. For the hundreth time, he cursed himself for not taking more veterinarian classes. “Marie, shift back. I can’t tell where you’ve been hit.” He held a compress to the wound as he tried to check the rest of her.
The wolf growled, and then slowly, shifted. After a few minutes, Marie lay there naked and bloody. Andre took a good look and realized that the bullet had entered her shoulder and hit a lung and shattered ribs. He realized that without an operating room that there was no hope for his wife.
“You bury me here. You no die. Gotta care for Libellue.” Marie coughed and blood tinged her lips.
“No dammit! You can’t die!” Andre was frantic on the inside, and icy calm on the surface as years of medical training tried to stem the flow of blood and life from his wife.
“I go. See Mama. See all my family. You…” She coughed. “You take care…”
“Conserve your strength. Let me…”
“Non. I go. I love you so much. Don forget to tell Libillue I love her.” Marie’s voice began to fade. Her eyes fluttered.
“Nooo!” Andre cried as he clasped Marie to his chest. He held her as her breath slowed and then stopped. Tears slid down his face and mingled with her blood.
When the two men approached camp, they were surprised when the man didn’t acknowledge them as they hailed the camp.
“Hey! Andre! You shoulda seen the wolves we saw today! Killed three of them varmits!” said one as they put the boxes down on the ground.
“Yeah, that big one got away though. Hit it two-three times and it just kept running,” said the other one. He stepped around in front of the fire and saw Andre’s face for the first time. His eyes went wide in horror at the sight of blood covering the man. “What the hell happened?”
“You.” Andre stood up.
“What?” asked the first man.
“You killed my wife.” Andre pointed to Marie. She was laid out on the sleeping bag and covered with a blanket. Blood matted her hair and was spattered across her face.
“No man, we shot us some wolves.”
Andre moved towards them slowly. “No, you shot a shifter. A werewolf. My wife.”
“No man, you just gotta settle down. You musta be confused. We shot a wolf.” The man backed away as he spoke.
“Yeah, what Jack there said. Your… your wife died, and you just blamin’ us. We didn’t have nothin’ to do with her bein’ dead.”
“Three shots. Three wounds. One fatal.” Andre was almost whispering. He kept walking towards the two men. They turned to run.
The wolves heard the mate growling at the other two legs. The leader nodded to the gray wolf who slunk down on his belly in the tall grass and headed to the right. Then the remaining two wolves headed left. When the mate started forward, they raced forward. One leapt high, catching the first one in the throat. It squealed as the heavy teeth clamped down. The other wolves tackled the two leg that smelled of sulfur and shit high and low. The leader grabbed the squirming two leg and ripped it’s throat out. As the two legs lay dying, the wolves turned their backs on them and kicked dirt over them. Then they walked over to the mate, sat down and howled.
Andre was stunned. He hadn’t had any plan except to confront the men. His knife lay next to the fire, and his bare hands were still covered with Marie’s blood. One second he’d been walking towards the men. The next, he was witness to their slaughter. It had been so quick, he’d almost missed the first attack.
He looked at the wolves approaching him and wondered if he’d be next. He almost wished it. To his surprise, they sat and began to howl. That sad low keening he’d heard at Natalie’s death. Sobs burst from his chest as his legs gave out, and he fell to the ground. The wolves ran towards him, nuzzling him, patting him with their paws, leaning against him as he sobbed.
The sound of buzzing flies and the heat on his shoulders brought Andre back to the present. He took a deep breath, and realized that the wolves were still pressed up against him. He could smell blood and death. He turned towards where he’d put Marie down and saw that one wolf stood guard. “Must get up. Must move.” Andre tried to stand. “Come on guys, let me up. I’ll be… alright.”
The wolves moved, but not far. They followed him to Marie’s side. Dropping to his knees once more, he brushed the flies away from her face. Then he kissed her forehead. “Goodbye my love.” He stood as the tears ran down his face. Looking around, he found his shovel and headed towards the hill that the two of them had claimed as their picnic spot. He began to dig.
“Let me help,” said a rough voice.
Andre looked up to see a filthy naked man standing on the other side of the grave he’d been trying to dig. He nodded and handed over the shovel.
The man dug for a while and then another man who didn’t speak took a turn. A wolf jumped into the hole and dug. One of the men shoveled the loose dirt out of the grave. Between the four of them, they got the grave dug. Andre stood up and headed back to camp. The men helped him wash Marie. Then they wrapped her in her sleeping bag and carried her up the hill. Gently, they lowered her into the grave. Andre kissed her one last time and then stood there with his head bowed. One of the men had grabbed flowers from the meadow and scattered them in the grave. Andre reached into his pocket and pulled out the flask of whiskey.
“We gather under the Sun, in the woods and beneath open skies to honor Marie Davy Paquet. My wife, my mate, my love. May she run in the woods with family gone before.” He took a swig of the whiskey and passed it to the next man.
“To Marie. Damn good woman.” He took a drink and passed the flask.
“To one fine bitch.” The man took a drink and then passed the flask to Andre.
The wolf next to Andre turned his head to the sky and howled. The other shifters joined him. Andre poured the rest of the flask into the grave.
After they filled the grave and placed what stones they could find over it, the pack walked back to the camp. The two shifters hauled away the bodies of the pilot and his friend. The wolf, a shifter who could no longer shift back stayed with Andre. A little while later, he heard the ‘woosh’ as the plane burst into flames. Crashes were part of life in the Canadian forests. No one would think twice about it once the Mounties found the wreck.
The next morning, Andre had packed camp and headed south. He didnt’ want to stay in the camp that held so many raw memories, the scent of blood and death. He’d marked Marie’s grave on the map. The wolves followed in his wake. He was pack, and pack stayed together.
She tossed and turned. Finally in an effort to cool off, she got up and opened the bedroom door. Then she laid down on top of the covers.
“No. Too hot. Too stuffy.”
He rolled over and wrapped her in his arms. “It will be okay.”
“I know, it’s just…” She began to shake, and the tears rolled down her cheek.
“Just not our house.”
He held her gently, letting his hand caress her hip, waist and just the edge of her breasts. It wasn’t about sex, but comfort. Familiarity. He moved his leg over hers, pinning her to the bed. Pulling her close, he could feel every shudder, breath, and sob. He also knew that all he could do was hold her as they fell asleep.
That morning, she’d cried in the shower. He pretended not to hear her. To give her enough space, enough privacy. The morning had been busy, and things kept them occupied with meetings, errands and lunch. After lunch, they’d had to pull items out of the storage locker, and that is when the tears began to roll.
“I can take you back to the house if you want.”
“No. I just didn’t think it would be this difficult.”
“Sweetie, if it upsets you, I can do this by myself.”
She wiped her eyes. “No, I need to cry, and if I don’t find the stuff, it won’t happen. It’s… just so hard to…”
He hugged her and nodded. It was rough on him to see so much of their life stuffed away. She knew where almost everything in the 200 sq.ft unit was, and understood how it had been tucked in like a warped game of Tetris. They loaded up the stuff they’d pulled out and closed the unit. By the time they got back to the house, her tears were dry.
He thought about things as he grilled sausages for dinner. Privacy and intimacy had become rare visitors. Too many people, too much to do and now the pain of waiting once more for a place of their own. He’d had his own moments of despair of late as well. He used schedules, lists and routine to try and move things back to some sort of normal. The best part of the evening had been when they’d walked around outside, watering the garden. It was the closest to normal they’d had in over a month.
He rolled over in the middle of the night, and she turned with him. Cuddled up to his back, he could feel her breath tickle his back. Her arm curled around him and he fell back asleep with thoughts of normality drifting through his dreams.