It had been a couple of weeks since Vivien had been to the mall. She’d spent time running down various leads. Some had worked out, while others didn’t. Vivien was still convinced that there must be jewelry that the werewolves could wear that wasn’t being shown to the regular customers. Otherwise, why would they frequent a shop that sold so much silver. She couldn’t figure out how to check this out. Granted, she hadn’t seen anything like the necklace she’d seen on Classy, the Alpha’s mate. She’d made a few more inquiries and had some new data to add.
Goth chick, clerk SF or S Becky
Baldy, owner SF H
Tall Dark & Dangerous S! Patrick Dorrit
Bitchy-Poo, S (mate of TD&D?) Ginny Dorrit
AWT S! (Alpha?) Luc Moreau
Classy SF (Alpha’s mate) H Margaret Moreau (twin babies)
Mountain! S gone
Midget SF (Mountain’s mate?) gone
Swish S Kevin
Cowboy S Cal
Cowboy 2 S Pete
Wolf girl S!!! (Cowboy 2’s mate)
Lanky S? Alexander
Son of Lanky ??
Bitch 2 S Marie
Bitch 3 S Ysabel
Vivien couldn’t believe how lucky she’d been. Court records had cleared and she’d been able to see them because of a friend of a friend, and all it had taken was a date with the dweeb. For all the information she’d garnered it had been worth a movie and dinner with the mouth breathing groper.
Another lead was a doctor that seemed to have a very selective group of patients. She’d followed Classy, and discovered that she went to a clinic out in the foothills that no one seemed to know existed. They didn’t take new patients without referrals either. Her request to interview the two paramedics had died. One sent her a cease and desist order and the other letter came back “undeliverable”. She packed up her notebook and decided to go to the mall for a little shopping therapy and ice cream.
“Hey, Andrew,” Becky said with a whisper.
“Yes?” he said poking his head out of his work area.
“Ice cream headache is back,” she said with a giggle in her voice.
“Becky, that isn’t nice,” he said as he stood up. He looked out the window and saw that the woman Becky had given the nickname to was sitting across the mall eating ice cream. She was usually there once a week, but this was the first time he’d seen her in almost a month. She wasn’t bad looking. She had one of those hair cuts that would defy gravity. Red curls that wouldn’t stay in her hair tie scrunchie thing. Right now, as she sat there, one curl was dangling almost in the center of her forehead.
“There once was a girl, who had a little curl…” he thought. Andrew realized that she reminded him of Ginny. Feisty and obviously up to something. She wasn’t a shifter or a thief, so he was puzzled.
“Becky, I think I’m going to get some ice cream,” he said.
“What? You don’t eat that stuff! What the hell are you up to?” she asked.
“I’m curious and there is nothing worse than a curious wolf,” he said smiling.
“Fine. Just be careful. I’ve seen her somewhere other than the mall, but I can’t remember where,” said Becky.
“Keep your ears tucked girl. I’ll be careful. Besides, I trust you with my dastardly secret,” he teased.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah….” Becky said dismissively. She wasn’t a shifter, but she’d been a classmate of Bitty’s and ‘Solda’s. She had a hell of a crush on Luc at one time, but just couldn’t get past the furry sex thing.
Andrew smiled and headed out the back door so he could approach the ice cream shop and the woman upwind.
Vivien finally pulled her book out of her handbag. No traffic at the Silver Lode. She nibbled at her sundae as she got lost in the latest urban fantasy novel she’d picked up. “Ah, Anita, you have all the luck,” she thought as she read.
“Do you mind if I share your table?” a deep voice asked.
Vivien startled, and looked up to see the Silversmith standing there. “Oh. No, no problem, let me move my stuff,” she said. Grabbing the messenger bag off of the chair, she set it on the floor.
“Thanks. It’s about the only table I can see the store from and if my assistant needs me, I’ll see her,” he said as he sat down. “I’ve met you before I think?”
“Yes. I’m Vivien…” she started.
“Vivien Sopris, yes. Came into the shop looking for bracelets,” he said. “My name is Andrew.”
Vivien nodded. Her brain was whirling ninety miles an hour. “Damn he’s handsome.”
“So, what brings you to the mall today?” he asked.
“Ice cream. It’s been a long couple of weeks and I decided I needed a treat,” she said.
“Understandable. I usually don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I discovered that they have frozen sorbet, and I just had to have some,” he admitted pointing to his dish.
“Not ice cream?” she asked.
“No, ice cream and I don’t get along, but this stuff is okay,” he said. “And now the game begins.”
“Oh,” she said. “Geeze, that was intelligent conversation,” she thought to herself.
“What do you do when you’re not eating ice cream or shopping?” he asked pointing to her small pile of shopping bags.
“I’m a freelance journalist,” she said before her brain could put the breaks on her mouth. Shit!”
“Oh, what kind of stuff do you write?” Andrew asked in a friendly voice.
“Just about anything my editor tells me to write. Baby stories, cooking contests, local interest, court cases, and sometimes new books at the library,” she said holding up her book.
“Ah, a gopher,” Andrew said as all kinds of bells and lights went off in his head. The book she held up was by an author known for her supernatural characters.
“Freelance is the term I prefer. Still works out to about 5 cents a word, but it looks better on a resume,” said Vivien just a little more frustrated than she wanted to come across.
“And what do you do for the rest of your income? Certainly 5 cents a word won’t pay for even your ice cream,” he said.
“I get a salary from the paper, but anything I write is extra, and in essence does pay for my ice cream,” retorted Vivien.
“And what story are you hunting down at the moment?” Andrew asked. He’d remembered where he’d seen her. Back of the courthouse main court room during the legal case that the families had been involved in almost a year ago. She’d been more of an observer and not one of those charged with misconduct.
“Well, I’m doing book reviews,” she said rolling her eyes. “I really like the author and I’ve been doing her works as well as other urban fantasy writers.”
“What sparked this?” he asked taking a bit of his sorbet.
“Well, promise not to think I’m crazy?” she asked.
“Maybe. I’ll keep an open mind,” he said.
“Okay. Well, there was this court case about a year ago. Slander, hate crime stuff and just some really weird shit. All based on some pretty odd circumstances,” she started.
“Yes. You aren’t telling me anything,” he said. “And will you?”
She took a bite of ice cream for courage. “Well, this is the weird bit. Um… the whole thing stemmed from two paramedics who claimed a guy they got a call on up in this big resort town was a werewolf. It had all sorts of ramifications and a bunch of companies here in the city got buildings vandalized, people hassled and that kind of thing because people were accusing them of being werewolves,” she said.
Andrew chuckled. “And were they?”
“Well, that’s the funny thing. The papers got charged with slander and defamation of character and things like that, but nothing ever came of the actual cause of the whole thing. I mean, no one ever proved or disproved that anyone was or wasn’t a werewolf. It just sort of got lost in the legal bits,” she said.
“So, because of this court case, you started reading ‘urban fiction’ and writing book reviews?” asked Andrew.
“Sort of. I’ve been reading these kinda books for a while. What made me curious is that in every myth, there is a grain of truth. In every weird off the wall story, there had to be something that sparked it. The story sort of made me curious. I started checking into things,” she said. “And now we will see what happens.”
“Let me see if I have this straight. First off, there was an accusation that someone was a werewolf. A shape shifter like in these stories you read. Then, because of the way things got handled, you decided to investigate things further in your free time between writing book reviews that deal with the supernatural,” he said.
“Sounds pretty lame doesn’t it?” she said. Vivien realized it did sound pretty sad now that she thought about it.
“Maybe. Then again, if you find things that support your hypothesis, it might be very advantageous. You might stand to make some money off of it if you can get anyone to publish it,” he said.
“That’s the frustrating part. Considering the fines the papers had to pay out, no one will touch the story if I found anything, or wrote it. It would simply be for my own satisfaction. The idea has gotten under my skin. All these books about werewolves and vampires have to have some kernel of truth, and I simply want to know,” Vivien said.
“Ah. Intellectual curiosity. A noble reason. So, when you get frustrated, you come down here to drown your sorrows in ice cream?” he asked innocently.
“No. Um. Sort of. Oh hell. No,” she said. She tried to lie, but realized she couldn’t. There was something about this man that she liked. She didn’t want to lie to him.
Andrew smiled. He could tell she was trying not to lie. That gave her credit with him. “So which is it?” he asked.
“Okay, I’m going to be totally honest with you. You can laugh, or leave. Just don’t get angry with me or call the police,” she said.
“All right,” he said. “And now we will see just how close you’ve gotten.”
“I followed the court case. It was really interesting. I… I just couldn’t let it go. So, I traced some of the people who were part of the court case. They frequent your shop, and I believe that shifters really exist. I think they buy stuff from your store, and either you know this or are totally clueless,” she said in one rush of breath.
Andrew looked at her, and made a decision. “Yes, I know,” he said.