The first two weeks everything went smoothly, the work environment was awesome and Trish no longer suffered from sleeplessness and nightmares. She felt better than she had in years.
Tate continued to flirt shamelessly and she pretended not to notice. She loved the attention but wasn’t going to screw up a position as great as this by sleeping around and creating drama.
The first October snow storm hit hard on a Sunday, leaving a heavy layer on the ground Monday morning. Thankfully the sun came out full force to melt some of the snow clogging the roads but it made driving into town like going down a slip and slide. Trish came close to the shallow ditch twice, but after quite a bit of cursing and the help of four wheel drive she got to work early.
Since the men were sluggishly late most mornings and loved her kick in the ass coffee, Trish opened the office everyday and immediately went to brew a pot. A festive mood carried her through the opening routine and she hummed softly along with the morning radio. Sitting at her desk, Trish took a moment, sipped her coffee, and let the light warm her face.
At the sound of the door clicking she snapped open her eyes, but couldn’t make out the features of the person that entered with the brightness behind them. She guessed by the towering size of the silhouette that it was Tate. He was carrying some awkward sports equipment and she rushed forward to help him through the doorway.
“Hey, took you long enough. I’ve had a pot waiting for half an hour,” she teased and pulled a crossbow and snowshoes off the top of his armload.
“If I knew you were here waiting for me I would have showed up to work a long time ago.”
Trish froze at the unfamiliar voice, realizing it wasn’t anything like Tate or Grant’s. It was deep and rough. She peered around the pile to see the mystery man’s face.
“You!” she squeaked right before passing out cold.
“I didn’t do anything. Maybe she’s sick.” Logan said as he searched Trish for signs of sickness.
Grant pushed him aside, “She’s not sick Logan. You and your backwoods manner probably scared her to death.”
“You know what?, I think she may have recognized me. She said You! and dropped like a stone. She looks like..”
“Where would she recognize you from Logan?”, asked Tate.
“She looks like a woman I put back together after one of Zeke’s men used her for bait. This was a while ago though. All I can figure is that they thought I or or one of our kind, would be lured in by her screams. Maybe show up to finish his kill. I thought she was dead for sure when the bastard got done with her. So I went back to her house for something to wrap her body in and as I was running out, she comes dragging herself up the porch stairs. Hellion kept fighting to get into the house even after I was carrying her.” He shook his head, “I couldn’t let a woman that strong die if I could help it, so I healed her. Damn near killed me, but I did it and she was good as new. I didn’t recognize her right off, what with the makeup and all.”
His face full of worry, Tate sat on the couch cradling Trish’s limp body. “Didn’t you wipe her memories. Especially after being tortured.”
Not liking his brother’s tone, Logan snapped back, “Of course I did, I’m not an idiot.
It’s possible that I gave her so much of my blood, that she is now as impervious to mind warping as we are.”
Grant scraped his roughened hands over his face before asking, “Why would they target Trish?”
“Why do they do anything? She was alone, undefended, out in the middle of the forest. Easy pickings, if your looking for a victim.” Logan answered, his disgust for the hunters clear in his voice.
Tate was still upset with Logan and cut in, “So tell me why you didn’t interfere and kill the bastard?”
“Nothing would have brought me more pleasure, but a mother and kit were running nearby. I couldn’t confirm our presence so close to their home turf.”
“A dead man tells no tale.” Tate growled back.
“I couldn’t take the risk. If he had told any of his crew his plan and was found torn to bits or not found at all, they would scour these woods for as long as it took. Eventually that young one, her mother or both would be skinned.”
Grants brow rose, “A female huh? Rare these days. Dammit, what a mess. Her being here, might be a problem. I did notice that she smelled… different.”
Logan bent his head and smelled her hair. The scent was lavender and something excitingly familiar, “It’s stronger than the last time I smelled. Could it be possible she is nearing a cycle?”
“This could be very bad. Who knows what side effects there may be?” Grant asked as he paced the office space. “She may even have symptoms that will be pretty hard to ignore. We’ll have to warn her.”
Logan broke the silence that fell over the room while they each thought of how to break the news to her, “You do realize that a random clan member could claim her, she wouldn’t stand a chance against the instinct.”
Grant bristled and growled at the thought, “I won’t let that happen.”
Tate looked at his brothers over her slumbering form, “Me either.”
Logan held up his hands, “I don’t think any of us want that to happen.”
Trish moaned and all eyes looked to her, “I don’t remember drinking tequila,” she said and rubbed the lump on her head. Logan quickly went into the other room, as to not scare her a second time. Tate handed her a glass of water when she sat up, “You might want some later, but you’re sober. You fainted Honey.” She looked over to Grant in confusion while he petted her head, “Why did I faint?”
From the storage room came another male voice, “You recognized me.”
Trish gripped Grant’s shirt in her fist, “Who is that?”
She wanted it to be anybody but the hallucinated Indian of her nightmare. If he was real, it meant that all of it was real. The torturing, the evil man, all horrifyingly real.
Grant speaks quietly and calmly, as he would to a spooked animal, “That is our brother, Logan. He came into the office to pick up some new equipment. Would you like to meet him?”
Trish wanted to bury her face in her hands and shake her head no, but the adult in her couldn’t be so rude. “Yes, I suppose so.”
She stood to face him, her thoughts racing, maybe he just looks like the man in my dreams. Maybe I saw him around town, didn’t realize it and somehow he got into my nightmare.
Logan stepped around the corner and waited for her reaction. She stared and waited for him to joke that she was crazy for fainting. But he silently watched her study him. Trish recognized his sharply angled face and muscular body. By far, the largest of his brothers; the most masculine. There was no way she would have forgotten seeing him. He had a singularly handsome face.
So there went that excuse, Trish thought.
Logan slowly walked forward and extended his hand, “Hi, Logan Two Feathers, nice to meet you Trish.”
She stood in front of him and crept her hand forward, still creeped out by the strange sense of recognition running through her. “Nice…um nice to meet you.”
“Do you remember meeting me before?”
“No. We’ve never met.” Trish said with more conviction than was necessary.
“I guess officially we haven’t. But you’ve seen me. That night at your house. I healed you.” He took her hand and caressed the backside in a comforting manner.
“I tried to wipe your memory but I gave you too much blood. Your like us now.”
Trish looked back and forth from Grant and Tate, waiting for the brothers to correct their brother, yell at him for talking crazy and scaring her. But they were quiet.
“Do you think this is funny! Is this a funny joke for you!” she screamed as tears began to slide down her cheeks. In fear, she lashed out at the men when they reached for her. Trish felt like all she needed was to get away from Night Howls. Away from the reality that she’d been brutally attacked in her own home. Away to safety.
The men watched as she grabbed her purse, then paused at the door with the realization. She wasn’t safe anywhere but here. The evil man could come into her home anytime. He already had.
More to come….