Moon Rising

By: Lori Devoti

Chapter 1

The human lived in squalor.

Not exactly what Marc Delacroix had been expecting from a man who claimed to have found a fortune in hidden treasure.

He flicked his tongue over one fang and plucked a rotting banana peel off the table beside him. Holding the thing with two fingers, he frowned. If the man had found the vampires’ treasure, he was hiding it well.

Or perhaps he was spending it now.

The blog article had appeared on the internet only this morning. Still, by now the man could be in another city. Or he could be hiding in the cellar. It was the only part of the house Marc had yet to investigate.

He dropped the banana peel onto the floor.

Behind him a door creaked.

Instantly alert, he slid into the shadows. Ideally, he didn’t want to encounter the man. Of course, ideally, the man would have been fast asleep with his stolen goods sitting conveniently by the door.

But few things worked out ideally.

With a grimace, he made sure his appearance was cloaked, that he would blend into the background should the treasure hunter look in his direction, and waited.

Two people entered the room. The first, despite an athletic build, was most definitely female, the second male. Both moved slowly with the stealth of an animal stalking prey.

Marc slowed his heart almost to a standstill and stood completely still. Then he inhaled.

The telltale scent of woods and wild greeted him.

Werewolves.

If he hadn’t been afraid of discovery, he would have cursed. Wolves weren’t known for their technological prowess, and Marc certainly hadn’t expected them to be monitoring RSS feeds. He had hoped the vampires had a jump on them.

He had hoped they would miss the significance of the man’s supposed “find” entirely, but obviously, they hadn’t.

“How long do we have?” the male asked.

The female pulled out a flashlight and switched it on. “How drunk was he?”

“Four beers and three shots.”

“The bar was packed. I doubt anyone has even spotted him yet, much less done the Good Samaritan thing and called him a cab—if they even have cabs in Cave Vista.”

The male grunted.

“To be safe, we need to be out in thirty. I’ll do the other rooms. You check here.” She motioned with her flashlight for him to search the area where Marc stood hidden.

He stayed calm and still, waited for her to leave, and then focused his energies on the male she’d left behind. The wolf passed him twice, taking a step toward him each time, but then paused and turned.

After ten minutes and two more close calls, the female returned.

“You find anything?”

The male wolf frowned. His jaw jutted to one side. Marc could see that he was struggling with what had happened while he was alone in the room.

The thrall Marc had cast had worked on the werewolf, but not entirely. Marc filed the information away for future reference.

He hadn’t dealt with werewolves for sixty years, not since the war. And stealth hadn’t been an issue then; speed and strength had. His job at the time hadn’t been spying on wolves. It had been killing them.

A much simpler task.

The female stepped around the male. She was tall for a woman, close to six feet with dark hair that reached the middle of her back. Despite her simple clothing and lack of makeup she was striking. An interesting choice of emissary if the pack wanted their arrival in Cave Vista to go unnoticed.

Standing in the middle of the room, she spun slowly on one foot, assessing the space. When her attention turned to the area Marc occupied, he doubled his efforts at deflection.

A line formed between her eyes. They were hazel, with shadows that shifted as she moved. At one moment they appeared green, the next gray. As she stood still, focusing on where he hid, they settled on gray.

Thinking it fit her indecision, he smiled.

The break in his strict stillness cost him. She blinked and took a step forward.

“CeCe.” The male who accompanied her grabbed her by the elbow. He pointed toward the cellar door.

With another frown, she followed him, but as he opened the door, she hesitated.

The scent of damp earth flowed out of the underground space. Marc resisted the urge to inhale deeply and pull the smell into his lungs.

“I’ll wait here.” The female, CeCe, took a step backward.

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