Another character study for you. Enjoy and have a great weekend.
© 2009 Suzanne Lazear
Thomas Murray was in the small general store that passed as gas station, grocery store, and gossip central for the tiny Colorado mountain town of Moon River. It was a peculiar little town, but then most of the folks were peculiar.
They also all knew each other. So when the very young woman with the long raven hair walked in, he took note. So did everyone else in the store. Moon River was not easy to get to and not a place people found by accident.
Either way he needed to tell his father. Wes Murray was the “leader” of this town. There were only a few reasons why a stranger would be in town. Most of them were not good.
“Excuse me.” Bypassing everyone, including the man at the counter, the woman went right to him. Her eyes were a startling robin’s egg blue. Her long blue dress had a tin whistle sticking out of the pocket. She had no purse, no bag. He heard no car pull up.
She’d come on foot.
Moon River was a haven for misfits. The slim and rather beautiful woman had that air of desperation that unfortunately was not uncommon for women who sought them out. He could see it in her eyes, and the way she her shoulders rounded as she approached him.
Someone had hurt her, beaten her down, abused her spirit, and probably her body as well. His Wolf growled. He had a strong urge to protect. There was something about her that needed protecting. Was she submissive?
But who in their right mind would beat a submissive wolf? True submissive wolves were rare and the instinct to protect them was strong. Submissive wolves could fight, protect themselves, but they didn’t feel the need to the way dominant wolves did. They helped bring balance and unity to the pack.
“Can I help you?” He had the urge to call her child. She didn’t look that much younger than he did. Thomas knew first hand that looks were deceiving. Still there was something about her that was just young.
“Perhaps you can help me.” Her Irish brogue was very distinctive. Someone had traveled a long way. Why? “I am looking for a woman named Avril.”
“Why?” That made him freeze. Everyone else in the store froze too, even those who were human, not wolf. Avril was their pride and joy. Everyone would protect her. But Thomas could not sense any danger from this slip of a girl. Neither could his wolf.
Then he realized something. She was not a Wolf. She wasn’t human either.
“Avril was my roommate at Uni. I am passing though and would like to see her.”
Passing though? No one passed though Moon River. Not on foot anyway. Or by car. If she wasn’t a Wolf, or Human, what was she? She smelled of Ireland. Of salt, like the ocean and of peat. He could hear music in her voice. There were also the faintest traces of wild magic.
“Why?” She clearly was not Texan and there were no Irish in that Texas pack that had hurt Avril so badly.
His intense questions made her squirm, cower almost. Her eyes dropped, her voice quieted. He had scared her. But she didn’t move. “I willna hurt your brother’s mate Thomas Murray. I simply want to see her. Robby can accompany her.”
He was stunned. She knew who he was. She knew that Avril was Rob’s mate.
“If you question my motives you are welcome to call Finn Gerrity. He will tell you I mean her no harm.”
Finn Gerrity? She had Finn Gerrity for a reference? The ancient Irishman ruled the packs of Ireland with an iron fist, with the help of his brother and sister. They had held Ireland for centuries. Many centuries.
Wait a moment. The informant who tipped them off to the terrible situation in Texas, the one that led Rob to Avril, had been Shamus Gerrity, Finn’s brother. Has this mystery woman somehow been part of this?
But how was she affiliated with a wolf pack?
“Aye, I know yer secret too.” Her voice was still a whisper. “I willna tell.”
She was afraid. The wolf wanted to comfort her. She was awfully pretty. She could have been downright magical if she didn’t look like a beaten puppy.
“You know an awful lot about us.” Again, he bit his tongue to keep from calling her child. Avril was quite young, but there was something almost child-like about this girl. “I don’t even know your name.”
Coinín? Who had the last name of Rabbit? He, his father, and Rob, left Ireland a very long time ago. But he still remembered his Gaelic. It came in handy for covert conversations.
“Well Caít Coinín, I am not confirming that there is anyone by that name here. But if there were, what makes you think Avril would want to see anyone she knew from Texas.”
Those blue eyes gleamed, and a slight smile played on her lips. “I dinna say I went to Uni in Texas.” Then her mood changed. “But I do not know if she would wish to see me. After all I abandoned her when she needed me most.”
The ramifications of those statements.
“What does this roommate of yours look like?” He smelled no lie. Only regret and fear.
The woman took a breath and closed her eyes. “I knew her as Avril Bennett of Montana. She was a history major. Her hair is like thirty-year old single cask Scotch, in a cut crystal glass held to the light. She always wore it in a single braid which nearly reached her arse. She had eyes like peat, and freckles on her nose. Her laugh was like music. She was taller than me, but just as slight.” She opened her eyes and tilted her head as if to say enough?
That was Avril. But she was Rob’s mate, and he was going to think twice before taking anyone to her. Anyone who knew Rob would think twice before acting against his mate. Actually, anyone who knew Wes would think twice before messing with anyone in his pack. Avril was also…special.
Something about Caít was downright gentle, putting him at ease. The wolf wanted to curl up at her feet and let her stroke him. Actually the man would let her stroke him. Her fingers were long and nimble. Musician’s hands. That made sense considering the whistle in her pocket. Now that could make his Da happy. Not only were they a pack of misfits, they were a pack of musicians and artists.
“I promise I willna hurt her.” Caít sounded so forlorn…defeated. “Call her. If she doesn’t wish to see me I will leave.”
How? Was she going to fly away? Maybe turn into a rabbit? But he didn’t smell rabbit or any other animal on her. Also, it would be downright stupid for a rabbit to visit a wolf pack. Wolves ate rabbits.
The wolf perked at the word leave. He wasn’t ready for her to leave yet. “That sounds fair.” Whipping out his phone he didn’t call Avril, he called Rob. “Rob, ask Avril to describe her roommate in college?”
He could hear Avril’s voice. “Which one?”
That got a girlish squeal that made him wince. Avril was a very young wolf and hadn’t leaned much control yet. “First of all, it’s not Caít unless there’s a tin whistle in her pocket. She has long black hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and sings constantly, and she’s Irish. Did I pass?”
“She wants to see you. Do you want to see her?”
“Hell yeah. Tell her I even have pints.”
Thomas could see that even though Caít was not a Wolf, she could hear the phone conversation. Pints? Of what?
“Where do you wish to meet here?”
That got a snort. “Just bring her here.” Her mate made a noise. “Oh, back off you possessive wolves. Caít is the gentlest soul I know.”
His wolf sniffed in agreement.
“So when is she coming? I can’t believe that bastard Dane let her come see me. I hope this means he’s dead.”
Who was Dane? By the way Caít shuddered when Avril mentioned Dane’s death, Tomas wondered if he was the one who had hurt her. It certainly wouldn’t be Finn Gerrity.
“She’s standing in front of me.”
“Good. I’ll make lunch.” The line went dead.
Putting away his phone, he sighed softly. Avril was adjusting to life in Moon River just fine. At first they weren’t so sure even Moon River could help her. But Rob had gone a long way in repairing the damage that had been done to her.
Sending his father a brief text to alert him of a stranger in Moon River, he turned to Caít. “She wants to see you. May I show you the way?”
There was still a way look in her eyes and stance, as if she were expecting him to hurt her any moment. “Please.”
Thomas led her to his truck. She froze. “I’m not going to hurt you, Caít. You’re as skittish as a rabbit.”
He shouldn’t have said that. The look on her face was terrified. Her shoulders and eyes drooped. If she were a wolf, her tail would be between her legs.
“I am nothing.”
She certainly was something. Would Avril know?
“It’s better to drive. But if you’re up to it, we can walk.” She didn’t look like she could.
Something flashed in her eyes. Was it defiance? “I am capable of walking further than you might think.”