Authors: Mark E. Cooper
Tags: #werewolves & shifters, #Urban Fantasy, #Vampires, #serial killier, #Science Fiction, #Magic, #Paranormal & Urban, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery & Suspense, #Fantasy & Futuristic
A word on language and pronunciation
These books were written and produced in the United Kingdom and use British English language conventions. For example the use of ‘ou’ in the words colour and honour instead of the American spellings: color, honor. Another example would be the interchangeable use of ize and ise in words such as realise or realize.
Way of The Wolf: Shifter Legacies 1
1 ~ Arcadian
Professor Elliot Massey finished the last of his cognac before shrugging into his overcoat. It was late and he was the last one to leave again. He didn’t mind. He liked to spend the last hour or so alone going over the previous day’s results, it kept him up to date with what everyone was doing. He grinned as he remembered some of the rumours he had heard about his prodigious memory. His colleagues seemed to think him remarkable in the sorts of things he could recall about their work. They knew him as someone who oversaw them with a light hand; he wasn’t one to push himself into their research uninvited. So it seemed almost miraculous to them that he knew exactly what they were talking about with the minimum of explanations when they came to him with a problem. He of course, cultivated that persona assiduously.
Elliot put the glass away in his desk drawer, switched off his terminal, and made his way through the darkened lab to the door. He stopped at Sheryl’s work area to switch off her comp. She was always forgetting to do that. A few feet further on, he scooped up some of Dave’s papers and dropped them in his top drawer. He slammed the drawer closed and rattled it to make sure it had locked. Dave was the worst where security was concerned. Sheryl’s comp might have been on, but at least she had logged off before she left. Dave’s was dark, but he was always printing sensitive data and leaving it lying around.
Elliot took a last look around before exiting the lab. He patted his pockets listening for the jingle of his keys before punching in the alarm code on the keypad beside the door. The clunk of electronic bolts shooting home and the reassuring red light blinking upon the control panel informed him all was secure for the evening. Nonetheless, he worked the door handle out of habit then turned away toward the exit.
Outside he paused to turn up his collar against the evening chill. It wasn’t that cold, but he was beginning to feel it more as the years rolled by. He sighed, he was getting old. It happened to everyone eventually, but how had it happened so quickly? Where had his life gone, and what of his grand plans?
My god… you’re actually feeling sorry for yourself!
Elliot scowled at the thoughts going through his mind. He had nothing to feel sorry for… well not regarding his career at any rate. His personal life was another matter. There were things he had not done that he wished he could change, but who didn’t have regrets? The biggest regret of his life was not spending more time with his wife while she lived. That most of all. But they hadn’t known her time was limited. How could they have known? They used to be so good together—a team at work and at home. Her assistance with his work in genetics had netted him the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine way back in 2016. Maureen had been proud of him, he knew she had, but then cancer had stolen her from him and ripped her from the world before they could enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Elliot blinked rapidly trying not to let his burning eyes shed the tears they so wanted to shed. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that the goddess had taken Maureen from him so soon, but he had one consolation. She had left him their daughter to care for, not that Susan needed an old man’s help these days. She was grown and looking after him now. Elliot grinned, and then shook his head. She really should have left him to moulder alone and found her own way to love and happiness as he had done at her age, but he couldn’t find it in his heart to regret her continued presence. Looking at Susan was like looking at Maureen when they had first met. They looked so alike.
Elliot rammed his hands deeply into his coat pockets and hurried across the parking lot to his car. His black Mercedes was alone in an ocean of darkness. He shivered and increased his pace a little, but then he stumbled to a halt when one of the shadows came to life and resolved itself into the form of a man. The man did nothing, he simply watched and waited. After a brief hesitation, Elliot continued walking toward his car.
Elliot stopped fumbling for his keys and said warily, “Yes? Do I know you?”
“Cadmon Blake is my name, sir, we’ve never met. You missed your appointment with Arcadian. Perhaps you wish to reschedule?”
Elliot scowled and turned back to his car. He pointed the remote at the door and pressed the unlock button. “Mister Arcadian and I have nothing to discuss,” he said aiming the words over his shoulder.
“That is where you and he must differ. You should not have inconvenienced him; he doesn’t enjoy being kept waiting or made to look a fool.”
“And I did not enjoy our last conversation,” Elliot snapped and glared at the shadowy figure. “Neither am I enjoying this overly dramatic confrontation you have going, Mister Blake. Say what you want to say and be gone. My daughter is waiting up for me.”
“Ah yes,” Blake said and pursed his lips. He frowned, looking at the ground a moment before raising his eyes again. “Your daughter. How is she doing?”
Elliot gripped the open car door to prevent his hands shaking. “She’s fine.”
Blake closed the distance a little more. “You have spoken with her then?”
Elliot relaxed a little now as more of Blake’s face was revealed in the meagre light. There seemed nothing sinister in it. The face was clean shaven, the eyes a washed out grey. The man wore his hair in what he thought of as a military cut—short almost shaved at the sides, but longer and a little spiky on top. He looked bulky in his overcoat, but Elliot doubted it was due to fat.
He blinked. “What? No, not today. Look, I have to get going. You tell Mister Arcadian we have nothing to talk about. Tell him not to call me. Tell him that if he keeps insisting on badgering me like this, I’ll call the authorities.” He began climbing into his car, but hands suddenly gripped his shoulders. Before he could yell, he was pulled roughly back out of the driver’s seat. His keys fell from his hand as he wrenched at Blake’s grip, but the man was built like a gorilla and he couldn’t break free. “What are you doing? Let me go, damn you!”
Blake pinned him with his back against the car. “Struggle and I’ll break your arm, Professor,” he said without the slightest trace of emotion in his voice.
“Thank you. I do not want to hurt you, sir, but I will if you make me. Arcadian wouldn’t like it if I did so, but if the choice is between you hurt, or me failing his orders, you can guess which I will choose. You can can’t you?”
He swallowed nervously and nodded.
Blake smiled his dead little smile. It didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m so very glad you understand my position. Arcadian can be a very hard master to serve. He does not take failure well. Now then, I take it you are unwilling to reschedule your meeting.”
“I suppose I could meet with him.”
“I do not believe you mean that. In anticipation of your reluctance, I’ve arranged for something to persuade you. Take this please.”
Elliot fumbled and nearly dropped the link Blake handed to him. “You want me to call him?”
“Use the speed dial. Press one and then the connect button.”
Elliot did and raised the link to his ear. It rang three times and was answered by a man’s voice.
“Blake, that you?”
“This is Professor Massey. I was told to call this number.”
Blake nodded in approval.
“One moment, sir,” the voice said. A minute of silence followed and then a familiar voice came on the line. “Daddy?”
“Susan!” Elliot glared at Blake. “Where are you, are you all right?”
“Of course I’m all right, silly! Mister Arcadian is a wonderful host. How come I didn’t know you two were friends?”
“I err… I must have forgotten to mention him. Where are you?”
“Waiting for you of course! Mister Arcadian was very worried when you missed dinner, but I said you were probably just working late and had forgotten the time. He said he would send someone to collect you. Did his friend find you all right?”
“I’m with his friend right now.”
“Oh good,” Susan said happily. “I’ll see you in a while then. Bye!”
“Wait!” he said, but the line went dead. “You bastard.”
Blake took back his link and slipped it into a pocket. “Insulting me will not help matters, Professor. Arcadian wishes to meet with you tonight. I suggest for your daughter’s sake and your own that you come with me quietly. I have a car waiting.”
Elliot couldn’t see that he had any choice. He followed Blake as he led the way to his car. Blake opened the rear door of a silver four door Jaguar parked not far from the parking lot’s exit. Elliot climbed inside and Blake followed him in. Their driver didn’t speak or even look their way as they settled themselves. He simply piloted the car smoothly out of the lot and into the sparse traffic.
Elliot sat in uncomfortable silence for the entire journey. A couple of times he nearly blurted the questions crowding his brain, but he always held back and left them unvoiced. He had a feeling that Blake wouldn’t tell him even if he knew the answers. With no hope of enlightenment, asking questions would only make his position appear weak. He almost laughed aloud at that. He was being kidnapped, his daughter held ransom to his good behaviour. How much weaker could his position get?
That was a question soon answered.
He had taken no notice of his surroundings during the journey, but remedied that when he felt the car pull off the highway onto a narrow country lane. The car’s suspension was superb and turned what was a terrible surface into a tolerable one. Still, the driver was cognisant of the conditions, and had slowed down to pilot the car safely along the winding turns. The headlights revealed that trees and other vegetation encroached upon the little used lane. There was barely enough room for the car to pass without twigs and branches flensing away its paint.
He eyed his surroundings uneasily.
If Blake had wanted to kill him, he would be dead already, of that he had no doubt, but he could think of no better place to dump a body than this. Left here, he would never be found. He glanced uneasily at Blake only to find the man’s amused countenance already turned his way. He had obviously deduced his concern and it amused him.
“I have already mentioned that Arcadian would take it amiss should you come to harm, Professor.”
“But what about after the meeting?”