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    Andromeda's new apartment was the smallest in a refurbished Victorian house.  She liked the place because it was on a quite street, in one of the better sections of town. There were only four other tenants, the land lady was very nice, and all the electricity and pipes and paint were close to new.  The last place she lived in smelled of gas all the time, giving her a slight headache as well as feeding fantasies of lighting a candle some day and sending herself to kingdom come.  After that, she made it her business to find a place with electric appliances.
    She glanced at the mailboxes in the entry way, but saw nothing in hers, so she went on up.  The metal door opened quietly, and Andromeda listened for the click of claws across the floor.
    "
Zelda?  I'm home..."  She closed and locked the door, then kicked off her shoes, because she never walked on her carpet in street shoes.  Her apartment was one big room.  There was a kitchenette to her left, divided from the rest of the room by a long breakfast bar.  The bathroom was across the room to the right. Rugs overlapped each other, pillows were heaped almost as high as the futon that served as couch and bed.  There were short book cases, soon to be crammed with books and trinkets, the electronics were piled, unhooked up, on a cheap entertainment stand, and everything else would soon, hopefully, be either hung up in the closets or kept in big plastic boxes.  Right now, everything was scattered around in piles and cardboard boxes.  She never had friends who could come help her move, so she bought everything so she could take all of the furniture apart in minutes and take it down to the car with out help.  
      She checked the plants to see if they needed water, then put fresh in
Zelda's bowl.  "Get you're over pampered Siamese butt out here." she said in a light, friendly voice as she opened a can of food.
    She could see bright blue kitty eyes peeking out from under the crocheted lace that decorated the water damaged, square table she used for everything from eating to crafting.  "Come on, puss."
Zelda crawled forward, then backed away, deeper under the cloth. Andromeda knelt before it, reaching her hand under. She took it back when her kitty hissed at her.  Generally, she described her cat as incredibly good natured. "This isn't the first time I've left you alone over night.  What's wrong?"  Andromeda crawled away from the table, craning her neck to look at the cat. "Are you hurt?"  Finally she stood up.  Maybe she doesn't like the way I smell, she thought, on her way to the shower. She couldn't wait to get out of her evening dress and cloak.  She would have to try and carefully wash them, because the hems were all muddy.
***

    Alaister walked his last customer for the day to the door.  Her name was Alex, and she had two constants in her life:  her kids laughing and fighting and running around her like a madly orchestrated circus, and the fact she always came in at the last minute, just when he was about to close.  He didn't mind, the kids were honest and nice tempered, and any sale was welcome.  He had a pretty short commute home.
    "You're looking a lot better." He commented, and she smiled.
    "I feel a lot better.  I think I've finally gotten..." she looked at her children.  "I think my problems are gone for good."  She looked at him meaningfully, and he nodded to show he understood that she was talking about her ex-husband.
    "It's tough, taking care of your kids by yourself."  
Alaister said.  "But I think you're doing really well."
She was one of those women whose faces lit up when they smiled.  Her smile made her look nineteen or twenty, rather than thirty.  "Thank you.  And thanks for the discount."
    His eyebrows shot up.  "What discount?"
    But she just smiled again, over her shoulder, and called her kids to her.

    He flipped the sign over, and locked up.  Tomorrow was his day off.  He always closed the store Monday and Thursday. He would have chosen Wednesday as his second day off, but he noticed that the comic book store a couple of shops down from him received its shipments on Wednesday.  Since a lot of people who came out pick up their monthly books would also stop and look in his shop, Wednesday was one of his best nights.
    Okay.  He'd bottle some herbs and oil and put them in a sunny window while he cooked supper.  He'd watch a movie and stuff tea bags for his
internet orders.
    Or, he thought looking at he stack of books he'd brought up, he'd do some more research on Werewolves.
    He sighed, put water on to boil.  He got out some canning jars, and made up the oils. He scooted his plants around so he could put the jars on the sill.  "You know,"  he said conversationally to the spider plant, who in a moment of morose symbolism or moon calf love he'd named Andromeda, "I have a business to run. Orders to fill.  In short better things to do with my time than ingratiate myself with an ungrateful wench."  He watered her, looked at the spider babies that hung down, wondering if he should cut them.  He wondered if Andromeda still had the one's he'd potted for her.  "Oh, you look nice." he praised the fat aloe, running his fingers down a fleshy leaf, avoiding the twin rows of thorns. "I mean, it's not like she even wants my help.  Anything I dig up, either I can't tell her or she'll already have known.  Or she'll act like she did."  He admired the magenta leaves of the
bloodgood, then poured water around it. "All she'll do is say, 'Thanks, sweet of you, mind your own business.' Like these things are a detective's business.  If she ever saw a Vampire..."
    But his gaze still lingered on the books.  What she couldn't use, Connor and the rest could.  Well, the parts that didn't include spells.
    He shrugged and went on with his work.

    The phone was ringing, somewhere, distantly.  He opened his eyes, blinked at the TV.  Clint Eastwood was clinging to the roof of a snow covered cable car.  Alaister stood, cursed when one of his more fragile volumes slid of the couch and thunked to the floor.  
    "Hello?"  
    "Harry?  He's at it again...oh God, you have to come now."
    "Who is this?  What's wrong?"  He saw Alex's face in his mind. Did she think his name was Harry?  He didn't think so, and it didn't sound like her.
    "Don't play games with me, Harry.  You said you'd come down next time he was beating me."  She sobbed, and he could feel her fear and pain like a knife in his own chest.  
    "Where are you?  Have you called the police?"
    "Harry!  Please stop fooling around with me!  I think he's serious this time.  Say you'll be here soon!"  He thought, perhaps, that he heard something, a voice, an action, in the back ground. He desperately tried to think what to do.
    "But Ma'am, I..."
    She screamed, and the phone went dead.  He got the dial tone back, then called the operator.  This was followed by a call to the police.
    "Do you know the woman's name, sir?" The man on the other side of the line sounded too young to be a sergeant.
    "No."
    "Did you call the operator?  Were they able to give you a number?"
    "Yeah, I called."  He stopped awkwardly, suddenly wishing he had thought this out better.
    "And?"
    "They said that no one has called this number in three days."
    "I see."
    "I was just wondering if there were any similar occurrences reported."
    "It's late sir."
    "I know.  Is there anyway I could look it up, perhaps? I'm really worried about this woman."
    "I think you should get some sleep."  This was said quietly, not unkindly meant.
    "Yeah, maybe."
Alaister said.  Things had taken on a surreal quality.  The operator insisted there had been no calls.  Maybe he dreamed it.
    "I have another call. Take care, sir."
    "Thanks."  He replaced the phone on the cradle.  He itched to call Andromeda, Alex, the two or three other women he knew who had problems.  
Alaister's a weird name, he comforted himself.  Very hard to forget or confuse with Harry.
    He put away his books, looked at his scribbled notes. A couple of interesting spells and tinctures, some folklore. Not a whole heck of a lot, for the time he'd put into it.  His bed felt wonderful, despite, or maybe because its familiar lumpiness, but he still spent the night tossing and thinking, hoping the poor woman had somehow found help.

***

    "I don't mind you sitting on my head. Or my lap, or even hanging from my neck.  But you must let mommy type!"  Andromeda picked Zelda up, the cat's claws pulling a few delicate filaments of long black hair as Andromeda set her down on the floor.  Zelda was enjoying the attention, what ever had been bothering her earlier was gone.  She circled, deciding what part of Andromeda's anatomy she was going to clamber over next.
    "Next stop's the bathroom, cat."  She warned as she scrolled down the computer screen,  trying to get to the parts of the file she didn't already have first hand knowledge of.  Detective
Swinbourne had spent several of his Sunday hours putting the statements and everything up on his computer. There were long notes about each person, checking the validity of what they said.  The introductory note on her file said that no PI's he'd talked to knew anything about her, that the Federal Government had her listed as a clerical employee.  Andromeda was surprised, because he shouldn't have been able to get to that fact so quickly.  Balance was so top secret and classified, that even the US president didn't know about it.
    He also mentioned
Alaister' business.  They met while he was still deciding what to do with the place.  She was happy to see he'd kept it open.  Margo's file mentioned a society page clipping, announcing her engagement to Evan Forest.  He poked a tiny bit of fun at Mary, saying, "Miss Perkins is an undecided fourth semester sophomore."  There was more dross than gold in the files, but from time to time she scribbled down nuggets of information.  
    She then went to the Balance database, to see if anyone mentioned any type of unrest or fighting among Werewolves or Vampires.  
Zelda went to the futon and took a running jump to the computer.  This caused Andromeda to click the exit button rather than the minimize screen button, meaning she would have to re-login, retype a ton of passwords, redo her search.  "That's it, cat."  She picked up the feline, and marched to the bathroom. The second she stepped into the room, Zelda spat and hissed, wriggling like mad.  Andromeda looked at the silver shot material of her dress, and the dark velvet cloak she's hung from the shower rod to dry.    "Okay, honey," she said, closing the door as she backed out.  She sat back sown and petted Zelda, saying soothing words.  She gave Zelda Kittenlet, a small stuffed toy and muffy, a piece of cloth that was more rag than blanket.  Zelda sat very still among Andromeda's covers.  The kitty soothed, Andromeda went back to the bathroom and examined the two pieces of clothing.  She found nothing amiss, a couple of long red hairs she hadn't found earlier showed that Vera had run around wearing the cloak.  She's only washed the hem of the cloak, since the rest was fine and she was leery of washing velvet for fear of ruining it.  She sighed, decided to move the kitty litter box to the kitchen because she didn't want to ball the still damp clothes up into a bag.  When they dried, she'd try and find a place to hide them.
    The bright blue letters of the alarm clock told her that it was way too late for her to continue with her readings anyway.  "But I have to get them done."  she groaned, as she  made herself some ginseng and lemon green tea.  "Miles to go before I sleep..."  she quoted, and went back to work.  She started, this time, with local newspaper data bases.  Many papers put their stories up on the net.  The first one was the best and most thorough.  
Olivia was the head reference librarian at the university.  She had lived in this area all her life, and was survived only by a brother. She was well loved, not involved in anything that could have lead to a violent murder. The police were giving out very little information.  
    She looked over the things she had written down.  "There's no hope for it.  I guess I better revisit the scene of the crime tomorrow."

***

    Helena wasn't much on patting herself on the back, But today she thought she deserved it. About, oh, five months ago, she'd stayed at a Super Eight in New York...Batavia, she thought it was, right off the New York expressway.  After dinner she stopped at a gas station, filled up, and bought herself a six pack of Heineken, mostly because she thought it was neat to buy beer at a gas station.  She was half way through her second bottle, watching nothing much on TV and keeping half an eye on her car, when she remembered something from a John Sanford novel.  Brilliant, she thought, practically untraceable.  So she saved the bottles, wiped them down, resisted the temptation to keep just one for herself, they were such a pretty green, and etched them. Just like Mr. Sanford had that silly woman do, up and down, around and around, until the bottles looked like they were in nets.  Well, when you squinted, any way. She hid them in the trunk of her car, and now they finally came into their use.  She sat with four of them lined up in a neat row at her feet. She watched the activity below, the deceptively human forms laughing and joking with each other as they bedded down for the night in their cabins.  Calls of good night and pleasant dreams echoed down the valley, and up to her.
    Helena looked up at the sky.  Tomorrow would be a full moon. She should wait, be sure.  She looked back at the two cabins. No. Tomorrow they would also be at full power. She knew she was right, her instincts, the little primeval part of her at the base of her spine recognized these things for what they were, and urged her to run.
    She waited a bit, as silence settled around the camp.  Her rear end began to get numb with cold, and she kept twitching.  After awhile she uncorked the kerosene and filled the bottles, then put in the wicks.  She had waited to do this, fearing the things below would smell the fuel on the wind.   One by one she lit and threw the bottles. They arched in the air, and it was right pretty, the way the fire made them look like falling emeralds. She aimed well, and they shattered across both roofs. She turned, ran up the hill, climbed a tree she had selected earlier, and took up her rifle.  Now, she thought, if the police, or any other kind of thing investigated this, they'd start by casing the beer distributors and bars in the area.  They'd never get a lead on her, because she bought her last beer several hundred miles and a couple of states away.  And, she thought with a mental note, she wasn't going to buy any more, not for awhile.  She checked the sight again on her rifle, using the telescope to keep a watch.  There were screams, now, and they were finally beginning to run out of the house.  She aimed again, took a deep breath, and went to work.

Chapter Three
 
    "There are Vampires, Werewolves and humans.  Humans  are divided between mage and mundane.  There are tales of other races, other beings, of ghosts and elves, goblins and those things that live in the deep black quiet that can only be provided by the sea."
     - Beldon, L.R.  "More Things Under Heaven: An Avatar's Guide"  

    At Eight o'clock in the morning, Alaister walked three blocks to the old brick building that housed the telephone company in the hope that they would have an old reverse phone directory.  As he went in, looking at the small cubicles created by short white cloth walls on aluminum frames, and the rows of computers, he marveled at how different it must be from the architect's intended use.  His boots made muffled stomping sounds as he passed terminals where switch boards used to be.  A kindly lady who might have been old enough to document these changes for him directed him to a dank little room in the very back, between the rest rooms.  The reverse phone book he was looking for was helping to stabilize a table leg.  He had an interesting time wiggling it out, with out knocking the other ones over or causing the books on top of the table to avalanche.  The person who owned his number before him was Majel Barnes.  He kept looking.  Several books and a couple of minor spills later, he had a pretty complete record of the telephone number's history.  So far, no Harrys.  He sighed, rubbed his eyes.  The number could have belonged to Harry for a short time, between the publishing of the directories.  
    He left, making it back to his own store in time to miss a UPS delivery.  He though for a moment, then got into his car and went to the courthouse.  Maybe Majel was married to a Harry Barnes.
    It took him an hour to drive to the nearest county courthouse and back, but when he set foot through his door again, he had his answer.  
    It wasn't Majel Barnes.  Someone had misspelled, or misread the entry when they typed it in.  It was Major.  Major Harry Barnes.  He was, at least back then, a policeman.

***

    The phone was ringing. Helena struggled from the muzzy depths of sleep to slap her hand on the receiver.  "Hello?"  she said, will forcing her voice clear and awake.  She ran a hand over her face, relieved that the burning, scream filled dreams had been interrupted.
    "Miss Hunter?  I've just been out to admire last night's work.  You are as efficient as they say."
    She looked around the hotel room, feeling eyes on her from every direction.  She thought no one knew.  She swallowed, trying to decide which tack to take.
    "Who are you?"
    "Do you think you're the only one who wants to see these monsters stopped?  There's quite a few of us, and we feel that we need a lady such as yourself.  With no help you've managed to cut a swath from California to Pennsylvania with out injuring even one innocent.  I particularly liked the way you handled the coven up near Niagara Falls."
    "Sir?  I have no idea what you're talking about. Is this some kind of joke?  Did Lori put you up to this?" She asked, pulling a name out of thin air.  
    "You don't have to hide any more.  We're on the same side.  Who was it?  What loved one did they steal from you?  An aunt?  A father?"
    She barely heard the last part, as she carefully placed the phone back on its rest.  "The whole town."  She answered, standing up to dress.  
    She knew that they must be watching her, waiting for her next move.  
    She was packed and ready to leave in five minutes. She took the plastic bank bag out of its hiding place in the knapsack and put it in the lining of her coat.  She searched the room, looking for traces, wiping down knobs and any other surface she might have touched.  Her hair was still wet from the three washings it had taken to get the smoke smell out of it, so she brushed and braided it.  
    She made a mental inventory of her car.  She had to take it, because some evidence of last night's work might still cling to it.  
    A glance through a crack between the curtains showed that the lot was mostly empty.  The clock read that she had a half an hour until check out time.
    She took some drain cleaner out of the suitcase, and dumped the entire contents down the shower drain. This is where she washed everything last night, her clothes, boots, and body.  She had gone down, afterwards, and heaved the bodies onto the pyre made by the cabins.  The task had not been pleasant or easy.
    She chased the chemicals with lots of hot water, then stuffed the empty bottle  into the trash, which she would take with her and throw out elsewhere. She took up her bags, did one last check.
    The phone rang, again, and she let it keep doing so as she walked down the hall to the front desk.
    She drove her little Dodge Aries to the car wash, checking it over carefully. In the shadow of the bay she took another stash of money from the wheel well, a few valuables.  They went into the knapsack.
    She drove her newly cleaned car to the mall, driving around and around, trying to see if any one was following her.  No one seemed to be.  Then she parked in the lot close to the bus station, and walked to the mall. She glanced back towards it, when the first set of glass doors had closed behind her.  She felt as if she was leaving a beloved pet behind in the pound.
    Maybe the police would pick it up and check the registration.  The owner wouldn't answer, and maybe they'd try the Sheriff's office.  When Della or Mike didn't answer, maybe someone would go looking.  They would only find ash, a few bones, a few charred beams, some crumbling piles of bricks, and a couple abandoned houses with dinner still on the table.  It'd be a Dateline Mystery.  She flashed a derisive smile at her reflection in the next set of doors, and went inside.

***

    The path's stones were still tinged brown.  Andromeda picked her way around the spot carefully, looking for clues.  She had spent several minutes looking for prints, hoping to see something strange that would give her a direction.  There were too many prints from the police and from bystanders to tell.  
    She came to this spot pre-frustrated, because she had spent a rather unpleasant hour with Margo and Mary, trying to discover if they knew anything.  They'd been as useful as saltwater in the desert.
    They were both lying to her, and she didn't yet understand why.
    She stepped over the police lines, knelt close to the stones.  They had done a thorough job cleaning up, but she could still smell death and impending rot, caught by the small rocks and the mud beneath them.  She tried to discern any messages the pattern of blood might hold.  
    She looked up at the sky, at the vault of trees.  She had always felt close to the woods, to the sky and weather.  They were in the middle of a short thaw right now, but she knew the snow was going to return soon.  She enjoyed the sun on her face, and remembered the funny shadows the moon had made on Olivia's skin.
    She'd been coming up the path, away from the greenhouse.  If Olivia, when Andromeda and Alaister had found her, had been standing, she would have faced the house.  "Dummy." She reprimanded herself.  She stood, and looked down the path.  Even from here, she could see the green house, in little flashes of reflected light, here and there through the trees.
    "I didn't see her, though."  she thought, knowing she would have to have passed Olivia, or at least heard her.
    Someone had cut back the brush around the greenhouse for the winter, but dead weed stalks and briers still circled it, making it impossible to go any further into the woods noiselessly.  She studied the little house, daylight robbed it of its magic, and it sat, perfectly clean, but empty.
    She looked closer at the glass. Not even the patina of dried rain and snow marred it.  Andromeda frowned, wondering why anyone would bother cleaning it so recently, with so much winter left to come.
    She went inside, but there wasn't much to see.  She looked at the dirt and water stained tables, marked here and there with a half circle of white from a pot bottom. A ratty hutch with a stack of broken clay pots leaned in one corner.  She stood there for a time, trying to get a sense of the place as it had been in the glory of its purpose.  An escape, perhaps, since it was so far from the house. There was no ready water supply, though, and she shuddered at the thought of carrying water all the way down the path.
    She picked up a shard of clay pot, and muttered, "If I'd gone to all the trouble of sweeping and polishing, I certainly would have thrown these out.  Or at least boxed them up."
    She walked outside, around to the back of the building.  She could hear water, and she followed the tramped down weeds to a tiny spring.  The water was cold, untainted, and it solved the question of how they watered the plants.
    The ground was covered by a mat of bruised grass, and there seemed to be prints, but she couldn't tell what they were.  She followed them around the other side of the greenhouse, hoping to be able to see more when the path turned to mud.  They were blurred, hard to really focus on until one place where the owner of them had stood...or crouched for a long time.  The mud was pretty stiff, so they were not recent. She studied them for a moment, wondering why anyone would run around in bare feet in this weather.  A werewolf?  She looked in the window, wondering what they had been staring at.  Saturday night she had stood with her back facing this window.  
    She followed the prints, which faded away again as they skirted some brush and took again to grass and leaves.
    She looked at her watch, saw that it was already nearing three o'clock. She had a place she wanted to reach before dark, but she would have to hurry.  She glanced around, a little self conscious, and hoped no one was watching.
     She crouched down, her nose only a few inches from the ground.  Ever since she was a teen, she had noticed that her sense of smell was very keen.  She never used scented detergents of perfumes because most manufactured smells drove her crazy.  Concentrating, she breathed in loam, decaying leaves, sleeping grass, a musky dark smell that seemed to belong to a wolf...but wasn't quite right, somehow, and a tiny bit of blood. She couldn't smell magic, or anything certain enough to help her.
    She followed the scent, which was getting fainter and fainter the further she went.  She was on all fours, following the path, skirting trees and thickets.  It soon disappeared, but not before she had followed enough of it to discern a general direction. The trail was leading toward the outbuildings that lay on the edge of the woods behind the house.
    "Loose a contact?"
    She gasped, her attempt at spinning about quickly

    Alaister stood there, hands in his pockets, attempting not to grin.
    "What are you doing?  How long have you been following me?"  
    He offered her his hand and pulled her up.  "Curiosity.  I wanted to see the scene of the crime by day light."
    "A little late in the day to let curiosity get the best of you."
    "My mother always told me I was weak willed."
    She smiled, brushing off her pants.  "You know what they say about the cat and curiosity."
    She heard him sigh. "I don't think it's cats we're  worried about."
    They were silent for a moment, and she stared at the tower of the main house.  Orange light glimmered off the windows, and she wondered what the view was like from there.

    "Walk with me."  She said, looking for more tracks. They were nearly parallel to the murder scene, and she was wondering if
Olivia had come from this direction.
    "Any insights?  I was surprised to hear that you'd gone into detective work." He said conversationally.  It still earned him a wary glance.
    "I got bored with my job.  You knew at the time that I hated it, because it was so structured.  Every day was exactly the same.  So, I decided to follow my uncle's footsteps and become a private detective."
    "Big leap, from the secretary's desk to PI.  How do you like it?"
    "It's ok.  I'm glad to see that you kept your aunt's store."
    "How did you know?"
    "I looked it up."  She gave him a coy smile.  "I'm a very good detective.  Do you still do research for a living?"
    "Here and there.  Not often."  With those words they pretty much used up their store of chit chat, and stood awkwardly.  
   
Alaister was trying to think of a way to get her to let him help.  She had no idea about the things that hunted the night, and could end up getting herself hurt, or worse.  If he could stick by her, because he all ready knew there was no way in hell he could convince her to leave things alone, he might be able to steer her away from danger.
    Andromeda was making her own mental calculations.  She had no idea why he was interested in this business, but had a sneaking suspicion that he was too damn stubborn to just leave things alone, especially since he knew she was on the case.  If she let him "help", perhaps she could manage to keep him from stumbling over something dangerous.
    She stooped down, looking closer at the scratches that marred the bark of a tree. She ran her fingers over it, trying to see if it had meaning.  
    "What bothers me,"  
Alaister broke the silence, "is how fearless the killer was.  Anyone, at any time could have come down that path. I must have missed meeting the thing by seconds."
    The marks had no meaning that she could see.  Sometimes scratches in bark were really just scratches in bark.  She turned and stood in front of him, then looked down, suddenly shy.  
    Her part was crooked, and he touched it gently before he could stop himself.  She looked so delicate, that sometimes he had a hard time remembering that she wasn't made out of porcelain.  "I'm in this, whether either one of us like it or not."  He continued.  "I think you should just give up and let me help you, because I'm pretty handy to have around.  And, well, if you don't, I'll just have to muck around trying to figure things out myself.  One day you'll be sneaking around in the dark and trip over me while I'm kneeling down, peeking through a key hole or something.  You'll make all this noise falling over, I'll curse because you scared the crap out of me, and then..."  he paused for effect, she kept looking at her feet so he wouldn't see her grinning.  "Then you'll wish you'd gone partners with me."
    "So what happened?"
    "When?"
    "After I fell over you and made all of that noise."
    "The Werewolves came out, and ate you up.  Nothing left, not even a toe or hair."
    "Yeah?"  She laughed.  "And what about you."
    "I got away. Who'd want to eat me when they already had a sweet thing like you?  Oh, I mourned you, of course, but I didn't bother revenging your death because..."
    "We weren't partners. Okay.  So, I have only one more question."  She put a finger over his lip.  "Am I going to have to put up with your ridiculous stories all the time, now that I'm deigning to let you help?"
    "Oh, we're deigning to let me risk my life?"  His eyes were bright, and he was having a hard time keeping a straight face.
    She tried to think of a good come back, failed, and said, "Just shut up and kiss me then."  And he did.  
    For the first time in a long while, she contemplated not being alone.

    The last of daylight was gone by the time Andromeda neared her destination.  She slowed at every driveway, looking for a street number. The trees were thick, only the occasional twinkle of light showing the existence of a home.  She was in the middle of what Alaister used to call "deep country", the perfect place for a pack of Werewolves to have their home.
    At the end of the drive she saw a tree with a series of claw marks scarring the trunk.  They were weathered gray, but still readable. She painfully translated them, the dialect a rusty memory.  "You are in the domain of the Gray Whisper."
    She drove up the driveway, red dog crunching under the tires.  She felt nervous, because this was the first time she would meet the leader of the Werewolves for this area.  She had thought about calling first, but decided to avoid giving them the chance to put her off.  
    The house she eventually reached was a lovely Victorian painted lady, all bright colors and delicate gingerbread.  She checked the time, saw that it was nearly five.  Hopefully she was early enough not to interrupt dinner.  She turned off the engine.  Silence settled over the place, strangely eerie. With the headlights off, shadows distorted the details, giving the trim along the eaves a fang like look.  By the front door, someone pulled up a blind, a huge yellow eye opening to look at her.   She climbed the wood front steps, cursing herself for her vivid imagination.  She focused on the lovely leaded glass fanlight, and reached for the door bell.
    Andromeda had to tilt her head all the way back to meet the eyes of the Werewolf who opened the door.  He was shaped like a mortar cannon, and seemed only slightly more friendly. He looked like a normal man, a somewhat large and nasty looking specimen, but normal.

Andromeda Pendragon:  Balancing Act
by Cindy Lynn Speer
Go to Balancing Act Part 4