Pacing inside the small bedroom in my rental was stupid -- I knew that -- but I really didn't feel like resting while that creature in my living room played with the werewolves like puppy dogs needing to be petted and fondled. Star wasn't above tormenting both of them, I had quickly figured out in the few minutes I'd endured her presence. I hadn't spent much time with other supernatural creatures of the fey variety, so I wasn't one hundred percent sure of the relationships within the different families and packs, but Star was definitely entwined here with the Michigan werewolves. Add in that I hadn't even known Gordon half a day and he'd already brought home some trash. I growled softly in the back of my throat worrying that fact. I had been around werewolves far too long and had picked up one or more of their bad habits. But that said, from what Uncle Harry had told me and I'd overheard, fey creatures usually used glamor to keep their real appearances cloaked or simply to make someone more comfortable and malleable.
Also, they bit. I knew that there were more than just one type of fey, but in nearly every story I'd heard and overheard there had been the point made that the fey, in general, bit their victims when doing whatever it was they were up to whether for fun or fuel. And this creature was supposed to be watching my back? I felt my stomach flip flop with a touch of anxiety at the thought.
I tugged on my lower lip with my fingers and consciously resisted chewing on my thumbnail. Star was enough to cause me to revert back to a few of my bad habits. The biggest challenge was going to be not popping out of any awkward situation that came up in the near future. She didn't seem like she'd keep that little tidbit a secret. Gordon knew or suspected who I was, but Riley had vouched for him and Gordon had vouched for Riley. The two werewolves weren't of the same pack or bloodline but I knew that they held each other in a respectful regard and it seemed also a strong sense of loyalty. When combined with the trait they both had of being very fierce and protective -- that was part of a werewolf's nature -- they were decidedly a force to be reckoned with on a bad day. Gordon's speaking up for Riley in the local pack's satellite office had caused the local pack to in turn kill another rogue werewolf and then completely torch the pack's downtown building -- pretty memorable to say the least -- so yeah they were tight.
Star, on the other hand, had the aura of a 'mean girl' with a bag of tricks that defied most of humans' comprehension. I didn't have to ask -- I knew it down to my bones. And I wanted to keep my skin on said bones so I was going to have to be really careful around her and keep my mouth shut. She was trying to get me to pounce on her or at least admit something private. The woman definitely had an agenda I wasn't currently privy to -- the bitch.
A sudden movement right outside the window caught my attention while I was trying to actively listen for anyone outside my bedroom door. I wandered over and peered out into the icy white landscape. There wasn't much moving but the snow flakes, and the mounds of snow that had fallen had shifted with the strong winds from one side of the walkways and street to the other. I shivered and wrapped my arms around me, trying to keep focused on the wintry view. I'd told them to come get me when we were ready to leave, but that was more than a bit of bravado since I didn't want to go anywhere near Star. I was pushing myself to keep from popping, not just out of the house but also Michigan, to somewhere warmer and closer to my home.
My thoughts must have summoned someone because there was a soft tap on the door. Even though I was half expecting it, I jumped at the sound. I slowly went to the door knowing very well that Riley wasn't on the on the other side. There was no way he'd knock so softly. Another tap and then a whispered, "Excuse me, Esmeralda? Are you awake?"
Gordon's voice was pitched low, and with relief I pulled open the door. He was startled by how fast I'd opened the door, I could see from the brief flare in his eyes. The werewolf was nearly free. I quickly dropped my gaze from his and said, "We leaving now?"
"No, we need to reach one more person." His voice was just above a whisper. I arched an eyebrow, knowing perfectly well that Riley could hear his voice in the other room louder than I could mere inches from his face. Werewolves had excellent hearing. I wondered if the Star flavor of fey wasn't as talented. I kept the question off my lips but it definitely was on my face. Gordon shrugged slightly silently, acknowledging my question yet not really answering. Fun for me -- more games with supernaturals. I was seriously regretting even letting Riley inside my home. And I was not even going to mention his dragging Gordon home at this point, but I was really getting angry at the secretive behavior of all three of them.
"Okay." I didn't offer to let Gordon inside the room and didn't follow through with any questions. If he wasn't sure if Star could hear us why would I stick my neck out any further? She seemed more than capable of carrying grudges well into the next millennium if not longer.
"I just wanted to check on you. You seem upset." Gordon was doing that suave thing with his voice that I'd begun to fall victim to right until he brought Star inside. Star's fey magic was supposed to be safe, but I wondered why she would do anything for these werewolves. My face must have been projecting my thoughts quite well, because Gordon touched me softly on my wrist. I felt my pulse underneath his fingers. Werewolves really liked to touch. Normally I didn't much care, but this was intrusive. He'd already figured out that he couldn't read my thoughts like he could with the usual humans around him, and that I wasn't exactly spilling out my every thought to help him adjust his behavior to placate me. Werewolves really liked to keep humans calm around them -- with a good reason, since people who were afraid tended to destroy whatever was the cause of the fears.
"I'm fine," I said tightly while moving my arm away from his fingertips. I could feel the warmth from his touch still on my skin. The chill in the house quickly shoved that warmth away, but I still knew there was something else that had brought him softly tapping on my door.
"You aren't, but I thank you for being so understanding." His tones were calm but his eyes were still bouncing between human and werewolf. It slowly dawned on me that I was grounding him and keeping him from some action he didn't want to make. That was disconcerting. The dual nature of werewolves wasn't something to be toying with by anyone -- much less me.
"Certainly. If that's all, I am going to go back to bed." I half-turned and blushed, seeing that the bed wasn't in the least disturbed, making it quite obvious I hadn't been sleeping or even resting. I shrugged and tried to stop blushing. It's a lot harder than it sounds. One doesn't simply stop because you want to, but rather I found myself more flustered and felt the heat rising through my neck back into my cheeks making me blush even brighter. I resisted thumping my head against the door frame simply because I thought it would bring Star running. Not to see if I needed any help, but I figured she'd come to see if I was bleeding. She really rubbed me the wrong way.
Softly chuckling, Gordon eased his way inside, just past my half-turned body despite my intention of getting him out of my bedroom. He shut the door softly and said in a velvet whisper, "She's not bad. She's just not human."
I scoffed softly and said, "Really?"
My tone wasn't in the least respectful, but was pretty much like that of a snotty brat child. My blush faded as I grew chilled at the thought that now I had Gordon in my bedroom worrying about what I thought, while the other two were out in the living room more than likely discussing little old me. I wasn't being self-centered but truthful. This whole mess was partially my own fault because I wanted to explore the salt mines beneath us.
Gordon went further into the room pausing to touch various bits and pieces of my life strewn around the room. I wasn't the best housekeeper and with all the studying and research hadn't exactly put my stuff away nightly. His fingers found my hair brush and I felt weird watching him stroke the wooden handle with a casual intensity that belied his placid expression. There was definitely something going on in his brain and I wasn't so sure I wanted to know what.
"Emma," I felt odd hearing him call me my nickname after his formality earlier. He was pushing to get me to relax my guard -- it was very apparent. If I'd been a normal girl it probably would've been very flattering for me to have such attention. Instead it creeped me out. I knew damn well that he was a least a decade, or possibly five, older than me. I didn't have daddy issues despite my screwy upbringing. My adopted parents were good to me and never gave me any reason to feel unwanted much less unloved. Their deaths still haunted me in my weaker moments.
I didn't answer his pleading look. I wasn't sure why he felt he had to defend Star to me. I wasn't exactly able to battle her, much less two love-besotted werewolves at the same time. I knew perfectly well from things Riley had said over the years, that the pack was first and the pack protected theirs. I could see that they considered Star 'theirs' and that wasn't helping me any.
Looking at me, Gordon came to some decision. He sighed and said, "She won't know what you are unless you tell her. I know you don't trust her, and she is fey."
I rolled my eyes and kept my lips shut.
"I promise you I won't betray you, and with Harry as your guardian there is no way I'd cross that line. Vampires tolerate us werewolves just because we are useful in their little wars. But your Harry has shown himself to be above the rest, and treats us with respect and consideration not usually given to us." He paused to see how I was reacting to his words. Years of being around vampires and werewolves helped me keep my poker face and I breathed slowly to keep calm and not let my heart beat speed up. Werewolves were nearly as good as vampires when it came to sensing fear or a rapid heart beat. That pesky predator prey thing being what it was.
Glancing right below Gordon's lips I gave in and asked, "Why are you here? Really?"
"Because it's time to clear out the mines. If humans have such short memories and are going to go back down, they need to be safe. It may not be this company, but sooner or later greed and stupidity will send humans back to see what they can rip from the earth." That was the first thing he said that rang true.
"Okay then. Go wait for your contact and call me when we are going. I have a few things to do before we go." Left unsaid was that I wasn't planning on spending any more time around Star than I had to. He didn't say anything, but let himself out. It was going to be a long night.