Disclaimers: This is a work of fiction by yours truly. It has lesbians in it, as well as things that go bump in the night. The gore level is minimal but if the other things are not your cup of tea, why are you looking at my story? Seriously.
I'd like to thank my better half for continuously poking me to finish the story, and the Academy for inviting me to write, and my beta reader Kat. You all should thank my beta reader Kat as well for pointing out the glaring plot holes that she helped me fix to make this a better story.
Jessica turned onto Lost Acre Drive, tapping the steering wheel in time with the music playing in her new iPod shuffle. She was getting ready to deliver a package to her favorite stop. The blonde carefully maneuvered the large, white FedEx truck onto an almost hidden driveway and hit the gas and sang along with the chorus.
Life is funny, life's a mess
Sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing
Don't worry 'bout a thing, don't worry 'bout it
Life gets sticky, life can bruise
Sometimes you win sometimes you're losing
No matter what it brings
Don't worry 'bout a thing
She liked this stop despite the fact that, the first couple of times she had tried to deliver to this address, she had missed the driveway entirely - and the winding driveway almost hidden by trees hadn't helped convince her the GPS device she was using was correct. After almost half a mile of questionable road, she pulled onto a smoothly asphalted driveway that ran up to a complex of buildings and what looked to be a very nice house. She pulled up in front of a metal - sided, two - story building with three roll - up garage doors. Usually she heard music blasting from what was obviously a workshop, but had never had the courage to venture into the doors.
Jessica grabbed her electronic pad and jumped down from the driver's seat, her door already propped open that morning in anticipation of another beautiful Santa Cruz day, and ran around to the back. She blew her wayward bangs out of her eyes yet again as she opened the back doors and climbed in, looking for the packages addressed to Wolfe Industries. After quickly locating the packages, she dumped them into the white carry tub and jumped down from the truck and made her way over to the normal - sized door that had 'Office' stenciled neatly across the window. Opening the door, Jessica backed into the office with her box and electronic signature pad.
"Good morning, Jessica. What goodies do you have for us today?" called out a cheerful voice.
"Morning, Katrina. I have some packages and an envelope requiring your John Hancock this morning. What do you have for me today?" replied Jessica in her slight Midwestern twang as she set her box down on the floor. She quickly scanned the first envelope in her pad and held it out for Katrina to sign. Katrina stood up from her office chair, topping Jessica by a good couple of inches. Katrina was a large woman, both in height and girth, with brown hair and lively hazel eyes. She also had one of the biggest and most beautiful smiles Jessica had ever encountered.
"Nothing much today," said the brunette as she signed for the package. "Cameron and Jared are working on something, so there will probably be nothing for a bit - then I'll need several visits by you and by the Ground gentleman."
Jessica snorted, her blue eyes amused. "I've met the driver that holds this contract for Ground. Gentleman is not the term that I would use to describe him." She scanned another package and held out her pad for Katrina to sign as she made a small pile on an empty table near the door into the workshop. A techno beat coming from the other side of the door was actually making the doorknob vibrate slightly in time with the bass.
"Well, no," said Katrina rather distractedly as she signed for another package that Jessica held out for her. "But a proper lady does not use such language. Especially not in a public forum." She looked up and noticed the FedEx driver staring at the doorknob. "Oh yes, it's been battle of the bands day." At Jessica's confused look, she explained. "Cameron and Jared have eclectic tastes when it comes to music. For the most part, they overlap, so all is well. Every once in a while, though, they seem to revel in getting on each other's last nerve and play the music the other hates. Cameron likes this stuff," Katrina waved her hand in the general direction of the workshop, "and soon, my husband will get a chance to play his music, guaranteed to drive Cameron up the wall."
Katrina paused and looked at the big digital clock above the front entry door. "In fact, his musical choice for the morning should begin just . . . about . . . .now." And with the office manager's last word, the techno beat cut off and the wailing of bagpipes was heard. A loud crashing sound came from inside the workshop, followed by shouting and then a large thud as something heavy hit the wall next to the door to the workshop. Katrina calmly walked over to her phone, picked up the receiver and punched in a couple of buttons. "Now, children," came her amplified voice through the door. "You know the rules. Take it outside." The sounds of a scuffle stopped on the far side of the door. Katrina hung up the phone. "Okay, where were we?"
Jessica just stared at the woman, then shook herself slightly and handed over the last package. Katrina signed for it and glanced out the front door's window. "Uh oh. They went for the weapons. You don't have to leave for a couple of minutes, do you?"
At Jessica's look of alarm, Katrina hurriedly reassured her. "Relax, they're both well trained and they are wearing armor. Whenever they get stuck on something, they take out their frustrations on the current project on each other. Shouldn't last more than a couple of minutes before you can head on back to your truck without worrying about getting an accidental whack."
Jessica sat slowly down on a chair next to the table she had been stacking packages on. "So . . . what exactly does Wolfe Industries do?" she finally came up with what she thought was a safe question.
"Innovative design solutions," Katrina replied promptly. "Which is a fancy way of saying that those two," she jerked her thumb in the direction of the yelling and thumping, "get to work in their shop and invent stuff. Cameron Wolfe went to college with my husband. They both got their engineering degrees from Berkeley, then went out in the real world and got jobs. Neither was happy with their jobs, so Cameron got some money together and started Wolfe Industries. She asked Jared to join her and now they get to play together every day. After trying to deal with the paperwork on her own for a while, she went looking for an office manager and hired me. Now I run the business side and they go invent new things. We have a couple other employees scattered across the Bay Area, but we're pretty low - key."
The blonde looked thoughtful for a minute, then smiled at the thought of getting to work with your best friend doing what you loved doing more than anything else in the world. "That sounds wonderful," she said. Just then, a delighted whoop came from outside. A few minutes later, a slightly battered figure came through the door holding her nose, blood trickling down her hand and dripping on the floor.
"Katrida . . . " came a slightly muffled whimper from the auburn - haired woman. The office manager jumped up and grabbed some Kleenex off her desk.
"Cameron, you are bleeding all over my office," she scolded. "You could have stayed outside and just called me." After seating the bleeding woman in her office chair with a nose packed with tissue, Katrina hurried over to a small coffee corner, opened the freezer portion of a refrigerator, and pulled out an icepack. She wordlessly handed it to her boss and started for the door to the workshop.
"He's fide," came a muffled and slightly impaired voice from behind the icepack. "He figured out the wiridg while he was thubping od be."
"If it's all the same to you, I'm going to go check," said Katrina firmly while continuing through the door. "You two have a slightly different definition of 'fine' than I do." And the door to the workshop swung shut.
Jessica studied the woman, who was now slumped in the office chair muttering something about fire and eyebrows and that no hospital visit meant fine. Baggy cargo shorts showed off a pair of well - muscled legs, and a long sleeved t - shirt was pushed up to the elbows, displaying strong forearms. Scarred and calloused hands held the icepack over her nose, hiding most of her facial features. Cameron had short brown hair, with what looked to be red and blonde highlights liberally streaked through it. She also seemed to be wearing some kind of leather vest over her shirt. The blonde glanced back up to the woman's face and found a silvery eye studying her as well from around the icepack.
"So, ub, is that your truck out there?" asked Cameron awkwardly.
Jessica looked down at her own distinctive FedEx polo shirt and shorts, the electronic pad she was holding, and the white box with the FedEx logo printed on the side. "Nope, I'm here for the Halloween Party. Here's your sign."
The woman in the chair started laughing, and the moaned in pain. "Yeah, okay. You got me. I like Bill Engvall too. Might have to send that one in." She switched hands on the icepack and stuck out a slightly damp and cold right hand. "I'm Cameron Wolfe, by the way."
Jessica gingerly took the hand and shook it. "Jessica Berns." She glanced at the clock overhead and stifled a groan. "It was nice to meet you, but I have to get back to my route. I hope your nose gets better soon." Jessica fled out the door, discreetly shaking her hand like she had been shocked. Cameron lowered the icepack from her face and watched the blonde walk back to her truck through the window. She rolled and flexed her hand as if trying to remember a sensation. "Nice to meet you too, Jessica Berns," she said softly, then started spinning around and around in Katrina's chair.
Wolf was running through the woods. She had been running a long time. Head up, Wolf scented the wind, sorting through the confusion of squirrel and raccoon, and searching for Her scent. Nothing mattered now, not hunger or thirst. Only Her.
Wolf crouched in the trees, her sharp eyes making out a glimmer of light. Water, with the odd scent of man. Human voices. She crept closer.
The water hole was round, and somehow the lights came from inside it, instead of reflecting on the surface. Wolf slunk further back into the trees. The humans didn't matter . . . She was not here. Only a faint trace of Her scent remained, as if She had been gone for days.
But She would be back. And Wolf would be here. Waiting.
Jessica staggered into her apartment and dragged her bike in after her. The back tire was totally flat and the blonde gave a small scream in exasperation as the pedals got hung up on the doorframe while she was battling to get the key out of the lock, hold the door open and drag the uncooperative bike inside. She finally managed to extricate the key, get the bike inside enough to let the door close, and proceeded to drop the demon - possessed instrument to the floor, kicking it a few times.
"Oh, that will help," came a voice from behind her. Jessica gave a little squeak of surprise and turned to face her roommate.
"It was a great day, until the tire blew halfway home." She moaned as she slumped down onto the couch in the small living room. Josh, her roommate, took pity on her and disappeared back into the kitchen. Returning, he handed her a cold bottle of water and sat down on the couch with her.
"Tell me all about it. Is she cute?" Jessica blushed as she choked on her water.
"How do you know I met someone?" she stuttered.
"Because only when you meet a cute girl do you describe a day as 'great'" Josh made those annoying little quotation marks with his fingers when he said great. "Now spill," he demanded.
"You know that route I have up by Felton, the one it took me weeks to be able to find all the places without backtracking?" at Josh's raised eyebrow she continued. "Well, I usually deal with the office manager at this one stop and never see anyone else. Today, I got to meet the owner." A small smile played at the edges of Jessica's mouth. "She was cute, even though she was bleeding."
"Wait, back up. Bleeding?"
Jessica explained the encounter she had at Wolfe Industries to her roommate. Had she tried to explain such a thing to anyone back home in Iowa, they would have looked alarmed. Josh, born and raised here in Santa Cruz, just looked amused. That was one of the reasons that Jessica had moved from Decatur, Iowa, to Santa Cruz, California, as soon as she had finished high school. That and she had decided, since she liked members of her own sex and the dating pool in Decatur was rather small, she would move to a part of the country where there was a lot more opportunity.
With her modest savings, Jessica had moved herself and her few belongings to Santa Cruz - a choice made by watching Lost Boys countless times - and had looked online for a roommate. She had emailed Josh and started up a correspondence with him. He agreed to give her a six - month trial as a roommate and, if they didn't kill each other, sign a lease together. Josh and Jessica had hit it off the moment she showed up with the rental truck. Jessica had quickly gotten a job at the FedEx in Soquel, about two miles from their apartment. That had been four years ago and Jessica loved the life she had.
"So are you going to ask her out?" asked Josh, breaking into her thoughts.
"I don't know. I can't be sure she bats for our team," admitted the blonde.
"Girl, please. You're not in Iowa anymore. Even if she didn't, she'll just politely turn you down. Most straight women I know would be flattered. Especially with a woman as hot as yourself asking her out for dinner. As Nike says, Just Do It." He emphasized with snaps, making Jessica laugh. "Okay, okay. I'll ask her."
"Good. Boring stuff out of the way, now on to me!" And with that, Josh launched into a hilarious take on his day working at one of the more upscale tourist restaurants down by the boardwalk, with commentary on cute boys peppering every anecdote he shared. Jessica was rolling on the floor, tears in her eyes, by the time he finished. Oh yeah, life couldn't get any better.
It was two weeks before Jessica got a chance to ask Cameron out on a date. Between her route schedule and the woman's business obligations, they never seemed to both be in the office at the same time. Jessica was just scanning in the new packages that Katrina had given her to ship when Cameron came running into the office and skidded to a halt next to Katrina, trying to look casual.
"No, she hasn't left yet, Cameron," said Katrina dryly, looking amused.
"Oh. Um, good." said Cameron, blushing slightly.
"Did you have something else that needed to go out?" asked Jessica, captured by Cameron's odd, silvery eyes.
"Uh, no, I . . . " stammered the taller woman. She looked helplessly at her office manager.
"This is just too painful to watch," said Katrina. "I'm going to the house to fix lunch. You're on your own." She started to walk out the door, then stopped, went back to her desk, pulled out a card after a little digging on her desktop, and handed it to Cameron. "You'll need this." Then she left.
"Ms. Wolfe?" gently prompted Jessica as Cameron stared at the card, seeming at a loss for words. Cameron just looked up at Jessica, confused. "Is it a FedEx related question?" asked Jessica, trying to lead the poor woman to safer waters. A strangled sound that sounded like a no came from the other woman as she shook her head.
"Is it a personal question?" asked the blonde, amused by the other woman's seeming sudden difficulty with speech. The other woman nodded and blushed.
"Would you like to go to dinner with me?" asked Jessica, suddenly putting two and two together with Cameron's sudden imitation of the village idiot. Cameron smiled and almost shouted "Yes!" making Jessica smile. "I mean, no." Jessica frowned. "I mean, I would like you to go with me."
"That was as clear as mud," replied Jessica, her brows drawn together slightly.
"Here," Cameron thrust the card at her. Jessica set the packages and electronic pad down on the table and took the card from Cameron's hand. It was an invitation to a banquet being held at the Dolsa Hays Mansion on Saturday in San Jose. "You want me to go with you to this?" she asked the blushing woman slowly.
"Yes," beamed Cameron, glad she finally got her point across.
"Is it really formal?" asked Jessica, noting the heavy card stock of the paper and the embossed lettering of the invitation.
"Yes," said the auburn - haired woman slowly, sensing a problem.
"Do you know any other words?" joked Jessica as she handed the invitation back.
"Yes," grinned Cameron, playing along with the blonde.
"I can't go, Cameron," said Jessica gently, explaining further at the crestfallen look on Cameron's face. "I don't have anything that I could wear to this. I don't think I would fit in there."
"I would like you to go," said Cameron, her first full sentence to the blonde that day. "If I arrange for your attire, would you go with me?"
Jessica thought for a minute. Did she want to go to dinner with Cameron? Yes. Did she mind dressing up? No. If she had something nice to wear, would she like to go? "Yes," she smiled at Cameron. "Yes, I'd like to go with you if we," she stressed the word, "can find something for me to wear."
"Good," smiled Cameron. "Wait right here." She ran out of the office. Jessica could hear her shouting, "She said yes!" into the workshop as the taller woman ran by the open garage doors.
Jessica was loading up the Wolfe Industries packages into her truck and uploading her latest tracking information when Katrina appeared from around the building with Cameron pushing her.
"I'm going, Cameron, calm down." snapped the harried office manager. Cameron ran over to Jessica.
"Katrina can give you the contact information for the tailor. You have to see her tonight after work so she can get everything done by Saturday. Don't worry about anything else, okay?" at Jessica's amused nod, Cameron practically skipped over to Katrina, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and ran into the workshop.
"Such a reserved and quiet lass," quipped Katrina as the first chords of AC/DC's Thunder came thumping out of the garage. "I'm going to give you a card. You just show up after work tonight and everything else will be taken care of. Don't worry about the cost," interrupted Katrina as Jessica started to protest. "Cameron is getting an award and she wants you to go with her. We can afford to get you a dress so you will feel comfortable going with Cameron." She eyed Jessica speculatively. "You do want to wear a dress, right? I know some lesbians won't be caught dead in one. Cameron, for example; she's wearing a nice suit. Do you want a suit as well?"
"No. A dress is fine," said Jessica faintly, as some realizations came to her. This was a rather large plot of land, probably with a wonderful view of the ocean if there weren't so many trees. It obviously cost a pretty penny, now that she thought about it. Cameron probably had access to quite a bit more money than Jessica made on her FedEx courier wages. "Will I need shoes?" The office manager looked at her strangely. "I mean, can I buy shoes to match the dress or will we be dying some." Katrina nodded in understanding.
"I think we'll stick with a more somber color, since Cameron's not the flashy type. It should be easy to match. If not, the place I'm sending you will take care of your shoes as well. Don't worry about it. If they can handle Cameron, you should be a breeze." Katrina walked off to the office to get the card.
"Just what am I getting myself into?" wondered Jessica aloud.
Saturday quickly approached and, with it, the mounting anxiety of how she would handle a formal reception.
"Relax," coached Josh. "This is California. You don't get shot for making a social faux pas. That's the East Coast. In L.A., you might have to do a few casting - couch sessions to make up for it, or hire a PR firm to spin stuff. This is Silicon Valley. Home of the ultra geek. Outside of bloodshed or openly supporting George W. Bush, I don't think you could make an ass of yourself."
Jessica smiled at her roommate's humor. Cameron had said she would be picking her up at 6:30, and since 10:00 that morning, Josh had been ready to shoot her with a tranquilizer gun. He shooed her off to start her preparations at 4 with a sigh of relief. At 6:30 on the dot, there was a knock on the door. "At least she's punctual," he muttered as he opened the door. His eyes widened "And tall."
"Nice to meet you," said the woman at the door, "I'm Cameron Wolfe. Should I call you tall?" she teased.
"No, Josh will do just fine." He said as he ushered Cameron in. "I'm glad you're here. Jessie has about worried herself into an ulcer about this event." The woman's puzzled expression prompted an explanation. "She's worried that she'll say or do something to embarrass you."
"Oh," Cameron laughed a little. "I'm not worried about that." She thought a minute. "She's not prone to starting food fights when presented with bad banquet food, is she?"
Josh laughed. "No, I'm pretty sure that her mid - western upbringing left her far too scarred to do something as impolite as throw food."
Jessica came hurrying into the room, "Are you talking about me?" she asked as she finished stuffing keys into the small purse the tailor had insisted was the only acceptable accessory for her dress.
Both Cameron and Josh stopped and stared at the blonde, taking in the sight of her in a formal dress. It was midnight blue, accentuating her muscular form with a tight bodice and no straps to hide her delicately sculpted shoulders. The silken fabric gently flowed down to just above her trim ankles, and the shoes added a few inches to her normal 5'6 height. Her hair was up in a smooth chignon, and the make - up was subtle and accented her eyes.
"Wow," breathed Cameron.
Jessica blushed and eyed her date for the evening. Cameron was also wearing a midnight blue suit. It was cut and styled for a female body, showing off her curves in a very flattering way. Her crisp white linen shirt had a band collar with a large, sapphire set button instead of a tie. "I think you look pretty good yourself," replied Jessica.
"Shall we?" asked Cameron, holding out her arm. Jessica took her arm, patted her still stunned roommate on his cheek, and smiled.
"Don't wait up," she said as she sailed out the door with her escort.
"Look out, San Jose," quipped Josh as he shut the door behind them.
Cameron pulled up to the hotel, hopped out of the bronze Cadillac Escalade and handed her keys to the valet. On the ride over, she had explained to Jessica how she loved the ride and feel of a Cadillac, but needed something with four - wheel drive to get her in and out of her driveway during the winter months. She settled for the Escalade and converted the engine to burn alcohol to assuage her feelings of guilt for driving a gas - guzzler. "Now I have a still in my backyard to brew my fuel," she explained proudly.
The auburn - haired woman quickly walked around the SUV to help her date down. "Now remember, just smile. I asked you here as my date tonight, and I am proud to have you on my arm." smiled Cameron. "Everyone else can go piss up a . . . "
"CAMERON!" gushed a rail - thin woman as they walked into the banquet room, interrupting the conversation. "It's sooo nice to see you." The woman deftly separated Jessica from her date and left her standing awkwardly by herself in the entranceway.
"Sharon," said Cameron, prying the woman's hands off her arm. "I don't think you've met my date for the evening." She moved back toward Jessica, not so subtly indicating to the obnoxious woman that she was here with the blonde. "Jessica Berns, meet Sharon Redmann."
Jessica stuck her hand out to shake but was completely blown off by the anorexic brunette that was reattaching herself to the taller woman.
"Charmed. Now Cameron, what have you been up to recently? I haven't seen you at all around town."
"I've been busy," Cameron almost hissed, once again extracting herself from the woman's clutches. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go let people know I'm here." She quickly grabbed Jessica's hand and made a hasty escape before Sharon could latch onto her again. "Sorry. I've been avoiding her for six months now, ever since a business associate set us up on a date. I've been trying to come up with a suitable punishment for him."
Jessica laughed softly. "Maybe you need to start carrying a big stick." When Cameron looked at her blankly she elaborated. "To beat the women off?"
"Oh," Cameron blushed. "I think the attraction has more to do with my last name than anything else."
Jessica looked confused. "What about your last name?"
The taller woman grinned easily. "And that's a lot of your attraction to me. You have no idea who I am."
The blonde frowned, not sure if she had been insulted or not. Cameron quickly jumped in to avert disaster. "You didn't grow up here, so you don't know anything about my family. You saw me, Cameron Wolfe, and were interested. You didn't see a Wolfe, of the San Francisco Wolfes."
"So, your family is famous?" asked Jessica slowly.
"More like infamous," laughed Cameron. "How about we finish this date, and if you want another date, I'll tell you all about the Wolfe clan, ok?"
The blonde smiled. "It's a deal."
The night progressed without any further incidents. They ate a surprisingly good banquet dinner, Cameron received her award, made a short speech, and the couple left shortly after the presentation ended. Neither one wanted to go home, so Cameron drove them up to a club in the City where they danced the rest of the night away. It was early in the morning by the time Cameron dropped off Jessica at her door.
The blonde turned to her date after Cameron turned off the engine. "Walk me up?" she asked.
"Of course," replied the taller woman.
At the door, Jessica turned to Cameron. "I had a really nice time. Thank you for taking me to your awards dinner."
"You made the dinner fun. I was not looking forward to going until you agreed to come with me," replied the businesswoman.
"I liked going dancing with you. I'd like to do it again."
A wide smile spread across Cameron's face. "How about next weekend?"
"It's a date," smiled Jessica, and leaned in to kiss her escort goodnight.
What was intended as a chase kiss quickly turned into a passionate exploration. With some reluctance, Jessica broke the kiss and leaned her forehead against the taller woman's chest, breathing hard. "Are you sure you're okay to drive home? You could crash here?" she said without looking at Cameron's face.
"I don't think that would be a good idea right now," came the woman's husky answer. "I don't think I could be responsible for my actions right now."
Jessica nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She turned to unlock her apartment door, and cast one more hopeful glance over her shoulder. Cameron smiled, and shook her head slightly. The blonde's mouth curled up in a slight grin and she shrugged her shoulder in a 'can't help the girl for trying' motion. Cameron shook her finger at the woman in a mock scolding manner and sauntered off as soon as she could tell that the blonde had the door unlocked.
Days and weeks passed as Cameron and Jessica continued to date. The first time that Jessica had stayed overnight with her, Cameron had proved that using that smoke detector as a kitchen timer ruined breakfast. Of course, they were both rather distracted at the time, so Cameron's cooking skills couldn't be faulted.
Cameron had left a couple of times for out of town business trips. Each time Jessica had missed her new girlfriend, but the 'I miss you' sex had more than made up for it. This time, Cameron had left Jessica a key to her house and told her to enjoy herself while she was gone. Since Jessica only had access to her FedEx truck and her bike, some bribery was required to get Josh to drive her up.
"Oh my god, look at this place," exclaimed Josh
"Cameron and Jared designed it themselves. It's a LEEDs house," explained Jessica as she gave Josh the tour.
"What's that mean?" asked Josh as he drooled over the huge kitchen, going through all the cupboards.
"It means it's a green house." Josh stopped rummaging through the pantry and looked at her with a raised eyebrow, then looked at the ceiling as if expecting to see the sky. "No no, not a greenhouse, a Green House, as in energy efficient. Cameron has it set up to live completely off the grid."
Josh closed the pantry and turned around to face his roommate. "Is she one of those?" he asked carefully. "Am I going to have to do an intervention? You aren't going to stop shaving are you?" he peered at Jessica's legs as if waiting for them to become hirsute.
"No, actually, she's a closet Republican. She explained it all as sustainability and that real business people would be very good conservationists if they hadn't gotten lazy and stuck with the rape - and - pillage philosophy. "
"Riiight," agreed Josh, looking skeptical. "But I reserve the right to schedule a day at the spa for a wax treatment if you start looking a little shaggy there."
Jessica only laughed and pushed him into the bathroom off the kitchen. "Change into your suit so we can go play in the hot tub. That is why you are here, right?"
"No," he grumbled. "But it was a much better reason than 'I wanted to check out your girlfriends place to see if she had an ax collection' once you told me she had a hot tub," he called through the door.
Jessica merely shook her head in amusement and started preparing a tray of snacks to take out by the hot tub.
Jessica looked at him and winced "Do you think you could have found a more obnoxious pair?" she asked, trying not to look at his rainbow neon Hawaiian print shorts.
"No, and I tried." He strolled over to the snacks and started picking through them. Jessica merely sighed and grabbed her stuff to go change in the bathroom. "There's no beer here," called out Josh as the door to the bathroom closed.
"It's outside on the bar." Came Jessica's muffled voice through the door. "Cam has some nice things on tap, outside on her Tiki bar."
"Tiki bar?" mouthed Josh silently, as he crossed over to the French doors and flicked on the outside lights. The harsh spot illuminated a stunning patio setting with a pool, hot tub, bar and what looked like a waterfall out back. There was lush vegetation all around and the decking appeared to be flagstones. The woods were just beyond the edge of the light, making the whole scene seem like it was a still pond found almost naturally in the forest. Well, if by naturally you could explain away the bar with taps and a large, brightly colored parrot. Jimmy Buffet would have been proud.
"Wow," was all he could say. Jessica startled him by reaching over his shoulder and turning out the light.
"That's not how you turn on the pool lights," she explained. She then opened the doors and left them open to let in the cool night air and the smell of the pine forest. "This is how it's supposed to look." She walked over to a mostly hidden control box, flipped open the top and touched a few buttons. A soft, indirect glow came from everywhere and no where, lighting up the pool area without distracting from its natural appearance. Tiny stars appeared under the water, lighting up the pool. The hot tub glowed like a moonpool, and the Tiki bar lit up with indirect lighting that would allow you to mix drinks easily without losing most of your night vision.
"Oh my God! Does she have a brother?" exclaimed Josh. Jessica laughed.
"Yeah, and to think she showed me this after she got me in bed." Jessica left Josh with his mouth hanging open and dove cleanly into the pool. When the blonde surfaced, she called out, "Can you go back in and bring out the food?" Josh shook himself and went back inside and grabbed the tray. As he walked back through the doors, he made as if to shut them with his foot. "No, leave them open." Jessica said, lazily paddling around the pool.
Josh brought the tray over to a small table by the hot tub. "Why are you obsessed with that door?" he asked curiously.
"I have a thing about sliding glass doors and drinking. Since I plan on drinking, I'd rather have it open." She responded as she made her way to the slight lip that separated the hot tub from the rest of the pool.
"Honey, I know you are a lesbian and therefore have not a shred of design theory in your pretty little blonde head, but that," he pointed at the door," is a French door. French," he enunciated slowly, "door. Not a sliding glass door."
Jessica shrugged. "I know. It's a phobia I developed after seeing someone go through one at a party. We called him Buzz Kill the rest of the school year. "Her eyes narrowed "I am allowed to have quirks, Mr. I do the Bug Dance of Horror for every little bug I see."
Josh cleared his throat. "Consider the subject dropped." He turned his attention to the bar. "Are the glasses over there?" he asked as he approached the Tiki bar. "Ah yes, and a nice plastic variety too," he grimaced, and then held up his hand to stave off the retort that Jessica had drawn breath to utter. "I know, I know, safety first. What do we have on tap?"
"Um, a cider and an amber, I think," replied Jessica as she transferred from the pool to the hot tub with a sigh.
"Which do you want?" asked Josh as he tested the taps.
"Bring one of each and we can trade off. I like both." Jessica leaned back and looked up at the stars and the full moon peeking out from behind a cloud. "What a beautiful fall night. Back home, the leaves have turned, we'd be breaking out the winter clothes and laying in the firewood for the winter." She glanced up at Josh as he set a glass down by her head and climbed into the hot tub. "I will never get over the fact that the Bay Area gets warmer in October than it is in August."
"It is a strange thing if you aren't from here," agreed Josh. "But tell me, how did Cameron achieve the little lights scattered all along the bottom and sides of the pool?"
"Fiber optics," explained Jessica as she reached for her beer. "Cam saw it in a pool design book when she was designing her house."
Josh peered around him and pointed to some lights he saw in the trees, "What's over there? I though Cameron owned all of this area?"
"Jared and Katrina's house. Cam wanted her best friends as her neighbors. Jared's on the business trip with her, but Katrina is still in town. She might join us in the hot tub if she sees the lights on when she gets home from her class."
"That sounds like fun," Josh settled back with a gleam in his eye, "but before she gets here, you need to spill." He crossed his arms and took on a fierce expression. "I've been very good about keeping my nose out of your business while Ms. Wolfe has wined you and dined you into her bed, but now you must face the inquisition."
Jessica winced and took another swig of her beer. It was time to face the music.
Wolf ran through the forest, enjoying the feel of cool earth against her paws. She put her nose up to smell the breeze, sorting out all the different scents, processing the information her nose brought her. The forest was filled with familiar scents; small wildlife, plants, trees, strange humans . . . .
Wolf came to a sudden halt, casting her head around to find the new human scents. They were not supposed to be here. This was Her territory! Her mouth pulled back and exposed her teeth while a rumbling growl started in her chest. Wolf put her head up and cast around in a circle, trying to find the direction in which the smell came from. There, that way! Towards the lights. Wolf put her ears down in anger and the growl became more audible. That was home territory! How dare they!
Wolf ran silently towards the lights, hearing the sounds of human voices and laughter as she approached. She crept forward slowly, hiding in the dense shadows cast by the trees and brush that went nearly to the edge of the man made pond. Wolf knew it was man made because it smelled funny and tasted bad when drunk, though it did not make Wolf sick. The male and female sat in the hot water, making noises, but the smell indicated happiness, not fear. Wolf bared her teeth. She would soon change that.
Suddenly, the female looked up, almost directly at Wolf. She seemed alarmed, and touched the males arm and he too stopped making noises. Wolf detected the change in scent on both of them. The female was prepared for flight, while the male just radiated confusion.
Wolf crept closer, eyes never leaving the female, who had detected Wolf somehow. The male was resisting, slowing the female down, giving Wolf time to creep closer to attack. Wolf knew that the female would be slowed leaving the water, giving Wolf time to rip and tear while the female's back was turned. Wolf bided her time, slowly approaching the hot water and the humans, waiting for the moment to strike.
Now! Wolf leaped forward, latching onto the back of the female's leg, attempting to hamstring her before attacking the male. The male cried out and fell back into the hot water while the female screamed and tried to shake Wolf off, doing more damage to her leg and loosening Wolf's hold. The water had made the female slippery. Wolf tried to get a firmer grip on the leg while the female made pain noises, then something hit Wolf in the head, causing her to cry out and let go of the female. The male had picked up a weapon from somewhere and hit Wolf with it. The male hit Wolf again before she had managed to recover from the first hit, stunning her. The male then lunged out of the pool and managed to grab the whimpering female under the arms and drag her towards the house. Wolf shook herself a little, trying to get the dizziness to stop, and growled her displeasure at the male for hitting her like that.
The male was making noises to the female, who was trying to push herself along with the good leg while the male dragged her towards the lighted den. Wolf realized that if they made it to the den, they might actually get away. She leaped over the hot water pool and started running towards her prey. The man radiated fear smell, but increased his speed instead of freezing. He pulled the wounded female into the den and closed the opening just as Wolf got to them. Wolf slammed into the wood, frustrated that she couldn't get to them. Wolf slammed into the wood closures again, feeling them give a little. Wolf hit the wood closures again.
When Jessica had gotten nervous at the woods going completely silent, Josh had blown her off, not realizing that something was out there. When that big fucking dog had charged out of the woods and bit her while she was trying to get out of the hot tub, he took back every bad thing he had ever said about her Midwestern sensibilities while he scrambled around to find a weapon to help her. The tray had made solid contact with the dog's head, not once but twice, giving him time to pull Jessica to the safety of the house, leaving a large blood trail. He would never razz her about her phobia ever again, since having the doors open probably saved their lives. Jessica whimpered as the huge fucking monster disguised as a large dog hit the doors again. Josh saw the doors bow inward.
"Jess, I don't think the doors are going to hold." He hated how his voice sounded breathy and high.
"SUV," she gasped, and pointed to the garage door.
Josh picked her up and put one arm over his shoulders to help her walk quickly towards the garage door. Behind him, he could hear glass breaking and wood cracking as the beast crashed its way into the house. "Where are the keys?" he asked, knowing he couldn't hotwire a car if his life depended on it. He silently vowed to pick up that skill if they made it out of this alive. As big as a car was, he was holding onto the theory that the dog thing would probably be able to tear it apart to get to them.
"She keeps them in the ignition," said Jessica breathlessly. Josh looked over and noticed her grey pallor in alarm. "Does that so she can't lose them," the blonde smiled weakly.
"Goody for us, your girlfriend has sense," quipped Josh as he yanked open the garage door. The large crash behind them indicated the French doors had collapsed. He quickly maneuvered the two of them through the garage door and pulled it shut behind him. "Should take a bit longer to get through that one since it opens the other way that thing is ramming," he gasped as he lugged the blonde to the SUV on the far side of the garage. The pounding on the door commenced as soon as he shut it, shaking the whole garage. "Or maybe not," he amended as he yanked open the passenger door of the Escalade and practically shoved Jessica inside. She screamed at the rough treatment and seemed to pass out. "Sorry, babe," muttered Josh under his breath as he slammed shut the door and ran around the front of the SUV. He grabbed a handful of bungee cords off the hook on the wall as he opened the driver's side door. He tossed them on Jessica's lap as he climbed into the driver's side and shut the door. Jessica was right, Cameron had left the keys in the ignition, pulled out far enough to cancel out the annoying dinging when you opened the doors. He locked the doors, even as the rational part of his mind commented that the dog, lacking opposable thumbs, probably couldn't open the door in the traditional manor, and looked for the garage door opener.
Just then, the garage door, made of less sturdy wood than the French doors, exploded inward in a shower of splinters, expelling a large and pissed off dog. Or wolf as his mind amended. "Fuck this, Cameron can buy a new door," he said as he put the SUV in gear and shoved his foot down the gas. The SUV took off with a screech of tires and then slammed into the closed garage door. The force of the SUV took the entire door off, the solid piece blocking Josh's view out the back window, which miraculously didn't spider web. As Josh curved to the left so he could then shift into drive and take off down the driveway, the large wolf jumped onto the hood of the SUV.
Josh screamed and jumped in his seat. The wolf growled, blood and saliva dripping off its muzzle as it locked its yellow eyes with him. Jessica seemed to regain consciousness, and her movement broke the stalemate between Josh and the wolf's strange yellow gaze, allowing him control of his limbs once more. He quickly shifted into drive and floored it. The wolf scrabbled for purchase on the hood, and Josh slammed on the brakes. The wolf flew off the hood and disappeared from sight. Josh quickly floored it again and aimed the front of the SUV where the beast had disappeared. The double bump indicated that he had hit his target. He didn't let up from the gas as he took the curve from the front driveway to the graveled ease way, until Jessica reached over and put her hand on his wrist.
"Slow down or you are going to waste your heroic act," she said in a breathless, pain - filled voice.
"Use the bungee on your leg so I can get you to a hospital." He instructed as he let his foot up from the gas. "I need you to verify my butchness. No one else would believe it," he tried to joke.
Jessica tried to tie the bungee off on her leg to help stem the flow of blood from her bite. "Bungee cord would not have been my first choice," she muttered after failing for the second time to pull the cords tight with her failing strength.
"Next time we have a rabid wolf chasing us, you can hold it off while I go digging through your girlfriend's garage to find a proper tourniquet, alright?" he snapped, the stress of the situation starting to hit him.
"But that's just it," said Jessica quietly. "I don't think it was rabid. And there was a scary amount of intelligence in its eyes."
Josh risked a glance over at his friend as he barreled down the winding road to the hospital, but the blonde had passed out again.
"Hello?" called a bright and cheery voice from the dark. "Jessica? You around?" Katrina emerged from the darkened path into the lit up pool area. Her smile fell as she noted the signs of violence. When she noticed the trail of blood from the pool to the smashed in doors to the kitchen, she was overcome with panic. She ran into the kitchen, expecting the worse. All she found was more blood and the smashed in garage door. She followed the trail to the garage and saw the SUV was gone, as well as the bigger garage door. She followed the trail of destruction out to the driveway, where she found the missing garage door, as well as another puddle of blood and tire tracks through it. At least they manage to hurt their attacker, whoever it was. Good. Meanwhile, time for damage control.
Katrina ran for the house phone in the kitchen to make calls.
"For the last time, I don't know what kind of dog it was! It was huge, had to weigh over 100lbs and stand at least 3 feet tall at the shoulder!" hollered Josh in the emergency room. He looked quite insane, between the loud swim trunks and being liberally coated with blood. "All I can tell you is that it ran out of the woods and bit my friend while we were in the hot tub."
"Did you notice if it had rabies? Was it foaming at the mouth?" pressed the nurse doing intake. Full moons always sucked, especially in the Santa Cruz emergency room.
"I did not see it foaming at the mouth, but it did look really pissed off," said Josh as he hugged himself.
"Uh huh," said the nurse, writing on her clipboard, not believing a word he said. "The police and animal control are on their way out to the house now to look for the animal. We are going to have to put it down and examine it to determine if it has rabies or not."
"I wish them luck," muttered Josh. "They better bring a freaking elephant gun with them. That thing was huge." He shook himself. "Do you know what is going on with Jessica?"
"Your friend is in emergency surgery at this time, trying to stop the bleeding. That was a nasty bite regardless of what caused it," she eyed Josh suspiciously. "You should have put a tourniquet on her and waited for the ambulance instead of driving her down here yourself."
"One, if I hadn't been scared the thing that bit her would have finished us off and two, that the ambulance could have found the house, I would have. That 'dog' " Josh made little quote marks with his hands, "crashed through 2 doors to get to us, and almost came through the windshield of the SUV if I hadn't gotten it off the hood." He held up his hand to stop the argument. "I know, I know, you don't believe me. That's ok. When the police bring back crime scene photos of the doors, maybe you'll believe me then."
"Sir, if you'll just take a seat over there, we'll let you know about your friend's progress. I don't suppose you have her insurance information on you?" the nurse actually looked almost hopeful at that.
"No, but she works for FedEx and has her insurance through them."
The nurse nodded. "I'm sure we can look it up of some of the older injuries from their drivers to get the name of the insurance company off of it."
As the adrenaline and anger wore off, Josh started to get cold and start shaking. Jessica had looked awful and was unconscious by the time he pulled up to the ER doors. Any ass - chewing he was going to get by the security guard was quickly cut off when they saw the blood on his chest and legs. He got the staff to bring a gurney out to the SUV and pull the blonde out. She was grey from blood loss and they were having trouble finding a pulse. A doctor started yelling things, just like on ER, and whisked Jessica off while the rest of the ER nurses descended on him to see if he was injured as well. He tried to fend them off and follow his roommate, but one of the nurses seemed to be a black belt in something and he quickly found himself on his own gurney getting checked out. After they saw that he was fine, they made him move the SUV before they would give him any information about Jessica. The sight of all that blood in the car almost made him hurl, but he moved the car, vowing never to get into it again.
Josh was pacing up and down the waiting room, unable to sit still for any length of time when he heard a female voice asking for information on Jessica Berns. He turned around and saw a tall, stout lady with long brown hair at the desk.
He quickly walked over. "Who are you?" he asked bluntly.
The woman turned and her eyes grew wide at the site of him. "I'm Katrina, Jared's wife. I went over to join you in the hot tub and saw the blood." Her eyes filled with tears. "Is Jess alright?"
Josh shook his head, unable to speak around the knot in his throat. Katrina gathered him up in her arms just as the tears started, making soothing sounds and stroking his back.
"What happened," she asked as the flow of tears slowed.
"We were in the hot tub, enjoying the view when Jessica noticed it had gotten really quiet. We were getting out to go inside, and then wham, this big wolf thing comes out of nowhere and tries to take her leg off."
Katrina looked concerned. "Did you notice what color this wolf was?" Josh looked at her strangely. "Just so we know what to look for so it doesn't attack anyone else." She reassured him.
"Brown, brownish. It had yellow eyes, that I can tell you for sure. And it was huge!" said Josh. Katrina seemed to relax a little bit.
"Okay, that is not one that I've seen around in the woods," was her only explanation.
"I've already called Cam and Jared, and they are on their way back. They should be here sometime early this morning. Cameron was really concerned."
"Cameron should be building a really big fence and getting a gun to carry around," said Josh angrily.
Katrina patted Josh's arm comfortingly. "I know Cameron, and the situation will be sorted out quickly. You have no need to fear that wolf attacking you again. Trust me."
The wait seemed indefinite, but finally a doctor came into the waiting area and called for Josh and Katrina to come over.
"I'm not really sure what ripped into that young lady's hamstring," started out the doctor, "but it mauled her really badly. We think we saved the leg, but we'll have to see if the repaired veins don't spring a leak. I am really concerned about blood flow to the lower part of the leg. If we can keep that going, I'm sure she'll get to keep the leg. However, she'll always have a limp." Josh closed his eyes at the thought that his best friend might lose her leg. The doctor went on, " The other thing I am worried about is infection. This was a very nasty, very torn wound caused by an animal of unknown origins. We don't know if the animal was rabid or not, so we have started the drug protocol anyway to be on the safe side. Right now, the young lady is holding her own, even though we pumped about 3 pints of blood into her." Josh and Katrina flinched at that. "I hope I have better news for you in 24 hours. Until then, your friend will stay in ICU so we can monitor her. Does she have any family in the immediate area?"
"No, she's originally from Iowa and all of her blood family is out there," he explained.
"I assume you are her emergency contact?" At Josh's nod, the doctor sighed. "I will make sure to note in her chart that you are allowed to visit her in ICU, as her closest point of contact. Do you need me to contact her family or are you prepared to do it?"
"I'll do it," Josh choked out. "This must be really bad then," he said tentatively.
"I would really recommend her family come out," was all the doctor would commit too, before excusing himself to go clean up.
Katrina led a stunned Josh over to a chair in the waiting room. "It's just so strange," he whispered, "we were just talking and laughing a few hours ago, now I have to call her family and tell them they had better come to California if they want to see their little girl." Katrina rubbed his back and said nothing.
The doors opened and Cameron rushed into the waiting room, followed by a large, hirsute man with a goatee.
"Josh!" she called as she ran over. "What happened? Is Jessie alright?" then she took in the blood on his suit and blanched.
"She's in ICU. I have to call her family." Josh stood up, still in shock and walked out of the waiting room and into the parking lot. Cameron locked eyes with Jared and jerked her head after him, indicating that the large man should follow him out into the parking lot. Jared nodded once and followed Josh. Cameron then turned to Katrina.
"What happened?" her eyes narrowed and the words came out almost like a growl.
Katrina gulped and started to explain everything that she knew. At the end of the story, Cameron looked sick. "You know you are going to have to call your father in, right?" Katrina asked. Cameron nodded.
"I'll start making arrangements to transfer her to our hospital," she said, pulling out her phone and walking out to the parking lot. "This is not the way I had planned on telling her about my family, you know."
Jessica opened her eyes to see that she was in a hospital room. She could see various intimidating pieces of equipment sitting around beeping. The majority of it seemed to be hooked up to her. The blonde exerted the effort to turn her head and look to her left. There was a closed door in that wall, and an empty chair next to her bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a window with gauzy curtains at the end of her bed, blocking her view to the outside, but letting in plenty of sun.
Her right leg hurt. That was an understatement. Her right leg felt like it was on fire, with hot pieces of coal shoved under her skin. There were some numb spots mixed in with all that pain, which led her to believe that there was some nerve damage involved with her injury. Just as tears started welling up in her eyes in response to the pain, the door to her room opened and Cameron walked through.
Cameron looked horrible. The clothes that she was wearing looked like they had been slept in, stomped on and run through a car wash. There were black circles under her eyes and her hair, always slightly messed up in a carefree way, looked liked the businesswoman had constantly been running her hands through it until her hair stood at attention in self defense.
Jessica was so happy to see her lover, but the only thought in her head that she was able to vocalize was "Ow." She winced at her word choice but lacked any other way to explain how she felt at the moment.
"Oh sweetheart," breathed a relieved Cameron. "I know. It hurts." Cameron leaned over and pushed a small button that was on a cord looped over the railing of Jessica's bed. "The nurse will be in to give you a shot now. Can you tell me what happened?"
"Wolf. Bit me," was all Jessica could get out around the pain that was making her thoughts break apart as soon as she formed them.
Cameron frowned. "Did you see the wolf coming? Did you taunt the wolf in any way?"
Jessica closed her eyes, trying to piece together the images in her head. "Hot tub. Quiet, something wrong."
Cameron started stroking her hair as the nurse came in with a shot. "Shhhh, just concentrate on getting better. I'll take care of everything else."
The blonde's eyes flew open and she started to sit up. "Josh?" The movement triggered agony in her leg that caused her vision to temporarily black out and she felt Cameron and the nurse easing her back down into bed.
"Easy, easy. Josh is okay," soothed Cameron, "No need to jump up and check on him. I expect he'll be here they next time you wake up."
"'kay" came the sleepy response from Jessica as the shot the nurse had put in her IV started to take effect.
"I'll be right here when you wake up," murmured Cameron.
"Clean?" mumbled Jessica, wrinkling her nose. The nurse laughed while Cameron made a face.
"Yes, I will take a shower," said Cameron from between gritted teeth.
"Good," said Jessica as the darkness claimed her.
"How is she?" asked Josh as he looked anxiously at his friend lying prone on the hospital bed.
"Fine," lied Cameron, her voice betraying her worry.
"She is not fine!" exploded Josh. "I have no idea why you moved her from a perfectly good hospital in Santa Cruz to this private one. Obviously they don't know what they are doing because she is dying!"
"She needs to be here where my people can watch over her," ground out the taller woman, trying to reign in her own worries and anger.
"You are trying to control this situation because it happened at your house! You are once again, trying to hide anything bad from sticking to the Wolfe name. My God! You people are worse than the Kennedy's! Jessica loves you, and you are sticking her in a out of the way place to try and cover up what happened to her."
Cameron closed her eyes against the hurtful accusations. "I am telling you this because you are going to find out anyway." Or die in a convenient accident she thought to herself. "Jessica was attacked by a werewolf and she can't be in a conventional hospital where there is a chance that they will notice something odd about her bite or any blood tests they run."
Josh just stared at her. "Do you really think I'm stupid enough to believe that crap? Of all the things you could have told me, you told me about fucking werewolves?"
Cameron smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid I'm quite serious. I really hadn't meant for Jessica to find out about werewolves this way. It's been a long time since anyone was attacked in the Bay Area. We have strict rules and deadly enforcement about that."
"You are un - fucking believable." Said Josh. "I think you really believe the shit you are shoveling."
Cameron locked eyes with him. She held up her right hand, for all the world seeming to simply show him her manicure, and then his reality shifted. With a crackling sound like twisting a sheet of bubble wrap, her hand changed. It elongated, the fingers becoming thinner and the nails turning claw like. The natural soft down on the back of her hands grew to become almost fur like, and Josh abstractly noticed that her hair, no fur color was grey with dark brown highlights. Her face never changed, but all of a sudden he noticed her eyes became more feral looking, and the strange silver color seemed to take on an almost otherworldly glow. The sheer intensity pouring off of her made him want to fall to the floor in a fetal position, whimpering. With the same popping sounds, the fingers retracted to become more normal, and the hair shed off as the hand returned to more normal proportions.
"Do you still doubt my werewolf story?" she asked calmly.
"Did you attack us?" he asked softly, wanting confirmation that the wolf that he saw was not the woman he had come to like.
"No, I really was out of town dealing with some business."
"And the fact it was a full moon . . . .."
"Hollywood invention. We can change at will. Though only Alpha weres can assume transitional states or shift only parts, like I just did. For most weres, you are either in human state, or animal state."
"So you're an Alpha?" he asked weakly.
"I'm an Alpha," agreed Cameron solemnly.
"Would never have been in danger from catching the retrovirus from me or any of my kind. She would have known, of course. Being my partner, she would have been intricately involved with pack business, but as a human, not a were. Just like Katrina."
"You had no intentions in biting her?" pressed Josh, not quite convinced that this whole thing wasn't a set up.
"No," said Cameron sadly. "Weres are born, not created. Most humans do not survive the infection."
"Shit," breathed Josh.
Jessica heard voices over her, but did not have the strength to call out or open her eyes more than slits. After identifying Cameron's voice, she started paying attention to what was being said.
"I don't understand why you are being so stubborn about this," insisted a male voice. "The chances of her recovering are slim to none."
"Father, please," begged Cameron, identifying the other voice. "Give her a chance to choose."
"And I am telling you, it would be better for everyone if you just put her down now, in her sleep, and be done with it." The voice was brisk and business like.
"She has a chance and it should be her choice, not ours." Cameron sounded defensive.
"Look at her. Even now the body grows weaker. It's obvious the girl is dying," exclaimed the elder Wolfe.
"No," said Cameron.
"You are defying me? I am still leader, until you challenge me and win."
"I am defying you on this point. You can take that as a challenge or not. I will not back down from this."
There was silence, then. "This girl is so important to you, you would challenge my authority over this?"
"Fine, give her the choice. And then when she dies, what will you do?"
"I will go on, like always," but there was pain in Cameron's voice.
There was a sharply indrawn breath. "Then you are saying she is the one?"
"Yes. I would have brought her in anyway. I just wish I had had more time to explain it to her," said Cameron sadly. "Is there any word on the wolf that attacked her?"
"None, so it is not one from our pack, or a registered visitor. I will keep looking."
"Don't you think that you should concentrate on that, and leave me to my business?" The threat was subtle, but there.
"The perpetrator will be found, and sentencing will be carried out immediately."
"My thoughts are with you. I will tell your mother of your choice." The door opened and closed, and Jessica heard Cameron sit down and felt her lover take her hand. Jessica squeezed it lightly.
"You're awake?" asked Cameron. Jessica squeezed the hand again, all she seemed to have strength for. Breathing seemed to require concentration.
"This is not the way I wanted to tell you, but I don't have much time and you have to make a choice." Cameron expelled a breath while she worked to find a way to explain things to her lover.
"The thing that attacked you was a werewolf," stated Cameron quietly. "The reason you are so sick is not just from the damage of the bite, but from the retrovirus that all weres carry that make them - make us - what we are. Almost all weres are born, not made, since the retrovirus is fatal in almost all humans." Jessica heard a sniff and realized her lover was crying. "My family, clan Wolfe, has had control over the San Francisco pack almost since there was a San Francisco pack. I had planned on telling you about my family, but not like this. My father is suggesting that we," and here Cameron choked to get the words out, "euthanize you, since humans rarely survive an attack from one of us that leads to an infection of the retrovirus. I want to give you a chance to fight, even if the probably that you will become a werewolf is low. I need to hear what you want to do." Cameron fell silent and listened for her lover's choice.
Jessica smiled and felt the muscles in her face move a little. "Fight," she whispered, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Cameron pressed the blonde's hand to her face so that Jessica could feel her tears.
Cameron felt herself relax, a tension finally flowing out of her that had been with her since Katrina's phone call. "Then that's what we'll do. Fight. Together."
"Together," whispered Jessica, drifting back into the darkness of sleep.
Wolf whined. There were too many Others here, crowded into Her territory, but She had not returned. Wolf was confused and frightened. She had only defended her chosen territory, her chosen mate, but the Others were angry. And they were hunting her.
Wolf curled deeper into the hollowed rock and waited.
Jessica woke up to two anxious faces peering over her. She was surprised to see both Josh and Cameron had tears in their eyes.
"How are you feeling?" asked Cameron.
The blonde took a mental inventory. The pain in her leg was gone, and she felt stronger than she had in awhile. The light seemed brighter and the antiseptic hospital smell was threatening to overwhelm her.
"Great." She said. "You guys look terrible." She took in their haggard appearances with concern. "How bad did I get?"
"Don't you remember?" asked Josh.
"Not a lot. I must have had great pain drugs." teased Jessica.
"So forbidding you from shedding on the furniture isn't going to mean anything to you?" pressed Josh, sharing a concerned glance with Cameron.
Jessica looked confused.
"Honey, do you remember that talk we had? About why you were so sick?"
The blonde went white. "I thought was a dream? I was so out of it, I was having trouble distinguishing reality." She looked beseeching at her lover. "Tell me the werewolf story was part of my drug induced hallucinations."
Cameron shook her head. The blonde looked at Josh. "No, I didn't believe her either until she demonstrated. But she's telling the truth." He nudged Cameron. "Show her."
Cameron sighed and started to remove her clothes. "Whoa! Wait a minute, you're getting naked now! You didn't get naked for me?"
"I want her to see everything," replied Cameron determinedly as she continued to strip.
Josh covered his eyes. "I don't want to see everything." He muttered.
Fully naked, Cameron locked eyes with her lover, then started to change. With teeth locked tight against crying out, the change was accompanied by bones shifting, skin stretching, and the rapid growth of hair. The changed seemed rather painful, as Cameron's muffled groans filled the room. Finally, after what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes, a large, grey and brown wolf with light colored eyes stood where the tall businesswoman once stood. She gave a great shake, then nudged Josh who had clapped both hands over his face.
"You don't look anything like the wolf that attacked us." Was all he could say. Just because he saw her change her hand, didn't mean he was fully prepared for the reality of a werewolf in the room. He studied her intently. "So you are a Grey Wolf?" he asked. After what sounded like an affirming woof, he explained. "I've been looking at pictures of wolves on the internet, trying to picture what attacked us. I think it was a Red Wolf. But you are the biggest wolf I've ever seen. Even bigger than the one that attacked us."
Cameron then hunched over and by the painful huffs and rapidly shedding fur, Josh could tell she was shifting back. He yelped and quickly shut his eyes, put his hands tightly over his ears and started humming 'Mary had a Little Lamb".
Jessica, meanwhile was in shock. It was one thing to see special effects in the movies; it was quite another to watch your girlfriend, one you thought you had all the intimate details of her body, shift into a wolf.
Cameron finished her change and started getting dressed again, as the fact that now Jessica would be required to do the same painful transformation hit home.
Jessica started to cry. "So I'm a monster now?"
Cameron looked hurt. "No more than I am. You don't think I'm a monster do you? Or Jared?" Jessica shook her head. "There are benefits to being this way. Heightened senses, you rarely get sick, you can heal any injury, extra strength . . . " the business woman grimaced. "The pheromones to attract every single human around you," she muttered.
"And the downsides?" asked Jessica.
"Heightened sense, having to beat men and women off you with a stick, having to be extra careful not to attract attention with your special abilities . . . "
"Wait, go back to the pheromone thing." Interrupted Josh.
Cameron rolled her eyes. "For some reason, this scent that we put out that identifies us to other weres seems to drive humans mad." Jessica grinned remembering the times out in public that Cameron received extra attention from both sexes, especially males, and how exasperated it made her. "I tend to not socialize or go out in public much because it drives me nuts."
"And what else do you have in common with wolves," she asked.
"We are social animals with packs, though werewolves tend to have larger packs than wild wolves. We do have a pecking order, complete with Alphas through Gammas. The Gamma in our pack is considerably better off than the Gamma in wolf packs, or even other were packs." Cameron hastily reassured her lover, knowing that she was worried of what her status would be in the pack. "Once they accept you as my mate, you will be treated as an Alpha female."
"And monogamy?" pressed Jessica, trying to convey her true question with her eyes.
Cameron got the clue and relaxed. "We also mate for life."
Jessica looked at her lover, no her mate and smiled. Cameron smiled back, reassured that the blonde would find a way to accept the life that had been thrust upon her.
"Um, not to interrupt the moment that you all are having," blurted out Josh "but what happens now?"
"Now I teach her the laws of the pack and how to control her abilities. It's going to take a while before she'll want to go out in public, since the heightened senses thing will overwhelm you quickly in a metropolis like the Bay Area. That's one reason I live up in the mountains away from people." explained Cameron.
"And the werewolf that attacked me, what happens to him?" asked Jessica
"That were will be hunted down and dealt with for endangering us all. I can say with absolute certainty that none of the people in my pack, or the registered visitors attacked you. That means we have a rogue werewolf on our hands." Cameron turned grim. "My Father has promised to track down the were responsible and deal with him. The thing that bothers me the most is that this happened on my lands, and I have not found more than the slightest trace of this wolf since the attack."
Jessica shivered as she thought about running into that werewolf again.
"Don't worry honey," said Cameron as she held her lover's hand. "I'm sure the rogue has been scared off by the intensity of the hunt and we won't see him ever again."
Conner Wolfe looked up from the application to the young woman seated in front of him. "It says here you wish to petition the pack for admittance because you want to take a job out here. What exactly is it that you do?"
The woman smiled, her light brown eyes lighting up as she tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear. "I work in Financial Investments." She blushed. "I also understand that San Francisco is a financial center, but more importantly, it is more acceptable for someone with my lifestyle to live out here." She smiled knowingly, her eyes glinted dangerously. "My main reason for the transfer is I wish to look for a mate."
The Alpha of the San Francisco pack looked carefully at the woman seated in front of him, and the application in his hand. Something was not quite right, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. "Your acceptance into the pack will be provisional, based on a trial period of one year. Provided there are no objections, we will formalize your induction to the pack at that time. Is this acceptable?"
"I understand perfectly." She smiled, and once again, the small hairs on the back of Conner's neck stood up in warning.
He stood up and held out his hand. "Welcome to San Francisco."
She stood up as well and shook his hand. "I'm sure I'll love it here."