George closed the door to the dining room. Angie brought in coffee and Meg followed with a platter of peanut butter cookies. Everyone had found a place to sit. Andrew held Vivien in his arms on the couch, while Ginny paced.
“So, what happened?” Ginny nearly barked.
“We tracked the guy to a warehouse behind the homeless shelter,” Luc started. “He’d set up an office on the top floor.”
“Okay. So what grudge did he have against us, or did you forget to ask?” Ginny asked.
“We knew. It’s all part of that werewolf newspaper and dangerous beasts amongst us bunch,” said Patrick. He knew he was skirting the edge of the truth, but it was still true enough.
“So, did you buy him off?” asked Vivien. She remembered that had been one solution.
“No, we didn’t. When we found him, he was talking to an arsonist while watching the twin’s classroom,” Andrew said quietly. He was doing his best to keep his heartbeat steady.
“Then what happened?” asked Meg. She was watching the three men. She had a feeling that something was up, but not what.
“Well, there was a bit of a fight. I grabbed him, and during the struggle, he twisted and I… I broke his neck.” Patrick looked down at the floor, and took a deep breath. The room was silent.
Finally, Ginny broke the silence. “So, did you eat him?”
“What?” the three men said all at once.
“You heard me. What happened to the body? Did you call the police? Or, at least David and Seth? Or did you leave it somewhere?”
Luc took a sip of his coffee. “We… um… dumped it. The building had this incinerator unit. A dump all and it burns kinda thing. So we used it. Got rid of the computer, chair, his clothes and every trace of him.”
“So there is no body? Do you know who he really was?” asked Angie. She’d been watching the men too.
“There is no body. Everything burned. We checked. As to who he was, a guy named Bubba from the homeless shelter is all we knew. He wasn’t, but that was his cover. No real ID card or anything. Not even a drivers license.”
“And right after we left the warehouse, we found out that the arsonist had torched the office,” said Patrick.
“Kevin got burned, but Max chewed up the arsonist a bit,” Luc added.
“Are we going to have to worry about anything showing up? Vivien asked.
“No.” Luc shifted in his seat. “David and Seth are keeping an eye on things. As far as the cops are concerned, the arsonist was the guy doing everything.”
No one said a word after that. Angie used the break in conversation to pass out more coffee and cookies. The men got caught up on the happenings at the Bed & Breakfast. Ginny walked over to Luc. She said something softly, and then walked off.
“Anyone up for a run tonight?” asked George. He wanted to hear what else happened and knew from the looks on the three men that it wouldn’t be discussed in front of Meg, Vivien or Angie. Sometimes justice was a little rougher than most people expected.
Most of the men nodded. Andrew looked down at Vivien. “I think I’ll just cuddle with Vivien tonight.”
Vivien twisted to look at Andrew. “Go run. You know you’ll feel better. Besides, how often do you get to hunt up in the mountains?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. You can make mad passionate love to me after you shower.” She smiled and kissed him on the nose.
The wolves ran. Grass whispered under their feet. Trees flew by in the moonlit darkness. Rabbits scattered. A buck turned down the wrong path, and before it could change direction, it was dead. Neck broken by a leap that torqued the neck nearly 180 degrees. The wolves feasted. When they were done, they ran again. Through the stream, up the mountain until exhausted at last, they collapsed on a rock outcropping.
Ginny shifted first. She sat relaxed against a rock. She waited for the rest of them, wondering if they’d tell her the truth. George walked in next, followed by Luc and Patrick. Andrew was last and sat next to Ginny.
“So, what really happened? What wouldn’t you say in front of the others?”
Luc started, but Andrew raised a hand to silence him. After a second, he spoke. “We knew who it was. That’s why he’s dead. We didn’t burn the body, we buried him way out in the countryside.”
“Who was it?” asked George.
Luc, Patrick and Andrew looked at each other. Silent nods followed. Luc cleared his throat. “When we walked in, he knew us as well as we knew him. There was a fight. Patrick grabbed him and tried to hold on to him. When Andrew realized exactly who it was, he asked Patrick to kill him or said that he would.”
“And I couldn’t let Andrew do that. So I broke his neck.” Patrick took a deep breath.
“Would you three quit stalling!” Ginny was getting pissed. She wasn’t mad that the man had been killed, but that her mate and the other two were dancing around like their feet burned.
“Ginny, George, I have to ask you to never say who it was. Swear to me as the head of the family.” Luc stood and held out his hand face up.
Ginny blinked. She stood and covered his hand with hers. George stood as well, and his hand covered both hands. “I swear,” they both said.
“It was Eric Sunberry.”
“Fuck! No wonder you didn’t want to say.” Ginny was still swearing ten minutes later. George was simply dumbfounded.
“I couldn’t let him live,” said Andrew.
“And I couldn’t let him either.” Patrick’s tone was cold.
“Nor I. He was planning to kidnap all five children. What he did with them afterwards, who knows. However, he was one slick, sick bastard.” Luc wrapped his arms around his legs.
“Does anyone know he’s missing? Besides us?” asked Patrick. “Has Vivien’s parents called?”
“No. Not that I know of,” said Ginny. “She would have said something if they had.
“How likely is it that the body will be found?” George finally found his voice.
“We took it out pretty far. Unless there is some major event like a flash flood or fire, I doubt it will be soon. And when they do, we will be there for Vivien and hopefully enough time will have passed.” Andrew’s voice was tired.
“Shit. I’m glad the bastard is dead after everything he set into motion, but damn. What a mess.” Ginny gave Andrew a hug. He returned it.
“Just one last thing to do,” Andrew said as he stood. He walked out to the middle of the clearing. He raised his arms as if to gather the moon in his arms. The rest of them gathered around him. “We gather under the moon, in the woods and beneath open skies to remember a man who lost his mind and in doing so threatened family, pack and people we love. Eric Sunberry, you were a man bent on dishonoring your family. Bent on destruction. While you caused plenty of damage, in the end you lost. You paid the ultimate price. May the lessons you learned echo in your soul, and a reminder for you next time around the wheel.” Andrew lowered his arms, turned and shifted.
The wolves scruffed up the dirt where they’d stood a moment earlier and then ran. They ran across meadows and through trees until they reached the den where their mates slept. The biggest of them dropped his burden and nudged open a door. The rest followed him inside. Three wolves ran up the stairs, while another followed the first.
Wolf checked on his cubs. He snuffed and whiffled over them, taking in their scent. Assured that they were safe, he moved to the den where his mate slept. Jumping up on the bed, he turned three times and then settled next to her.
Meg put an arm over Luc, knowing that he’d stay shifted until morning.
Wolf sniffed the air. His mate was still awake. He let go of his form, and shifted. Andrew looked at Vivien. “I thought you’d be asleep.”
“I was. I woke up being kicked in the bladder.”
Andrew moved towards the bed. “Are they still kicking?” He reached a hand towards her belly.
Andrew put a hand on Vivien’s belly and felt the slight movement. He smiled and then began to croon softly at the babies.
The two wolves raced towards the upper floor. They fell over each other as they entered the room. They scrambled to be quiet as they noticed three dark heads on the bed. The male nudged the female out of the room and down the hall. The male shifted and opened the door. The female shot through the opening and into the room.
“Yes, and then hopefully, some sleep.” Patrick had finally relaxed and the strain of the last few days showed on his face.
“You going to be okay?” Ginny walked up and hugged her mate.
“Yes. As long as Vivien never finds out,” he said softly. “This has been too much like combat, and I have to admit I’m still jittery.”
Ginny looked into his eyes. “You are a good man. You did what needed done. I love you.” She reached up and kissed him. Patrick kissed her back as he walked them towards the bathroom.
Wolf checked his den. All of it. He headed back to the door and then shifted.
George picked up the haunch of deer meat and stuffed it in the fridge. He’d take care of it in the morning. Then he turned off the lights and headed down to his room. He was surprised to find Angie awake. He’d heard other conversations, so he knew she wasn’t the only one awake.
“Have a good run?”
“Yes. Needed.” He headed towards the shower. As the water ran over his body, he felt Angie move in behind him. Her hands on his body felt good.
“Anything you can tell me?”
“No. Vowed not to.”
“I’m sorry. Are we, the family really safe?”
“Then it’s alright.” Angie hugged George, and they stood there under the water as he shuddered.