The almost full moon illuminated the lawn and surrounding trees with weird shadows. I paused and crouched behind a hedge and tried to still the beating of my heart so my ears could pick up the voices again.
“Let Ronan make the kill,” a female argued. The voice sounded familiar, and I peeked through the shrubs. A pack of wolves too large to be Arkansas red wolves or coyotes circled a deer, the animal’s eyes wide with fear. Two of wolves, the largest and smallest, were black, and they were accompanied by a silver wolf and a golden one.
“He’s young,” another replied.
Talking wolves? Was I dreaming? I shut my eyes and opened them after a few seconds. Nope, still there.
“I don’t know, guys. We shouldn’t be here.”
“The old man always let us hunt here. Why should now be different?”
“Is a flat-chested, elf-faced ivory-tower academic who won’t even know we’ve been here.” It was the female’s voice again. “If you’re careful, Ronan.”
The golden wolf lunged at the deer but misjudged its angle, and two of the others leapt aside as the animal crashed through their circle, hooves flying.
“We’ve got to figure out how real wolves do this,” the silver one panted as they took chase.
Real wolves? I shook my head. It was too incredible. What were these things? And what did my grandfather have to do with them?
I waited five or ten minutes to make sure they wouldn’t come back and staggered to my feet, my head still reeling from what I’d just witnessed. Especially the last comment by the gray wolf. If they weren’t real wolves, what were they?
“Amazing night, isn’t it?”
The voice shocked me, and I wheeled around.
Leonard Bowman stood there, leaves stuck to his sweater and jeans. The light of the moon flickered in his dark eyes.
“What are you doing here?”
He raised an eyebrow. “I could ask you the same question.”
“It’s my grandfather’s house.”
“It’s my house.” The words felt awkward on my tongue, and I became aware I stood there in my nightshirt and boxers in a flimsy robe on a cool night. I shivered.
“So your lawyer says.”
I tried my best imitation of a Gabriel shrug.
“Do you always lurk in the bushes of your own house?”
My cheeks burned with the flush that crept up my neck. “Not always. Sometimes I lurk in the trees.”
“I’d be careful if I were you, then.” A smile flickered across his lips, but his eyes remained serious. “You never know what might be in the woods around here.”
Why am I putting up with this stupid questioning? I took a deep breath. Because he might know about the talking wolves. “As long as it speaks, I can handle it.”
When he moved, the moon flashed in his eyes that looked more yellow than his previous dark brown, and the rumble of a snarl vibrated the air between us.