In the Service of the Wolf: Part XIV

27Sep18

wolf14Part I here

Stacy tensed up. Almost like a sixth sense something screamed in her head and she scanned the diner. One or two of Coleridge’s people were by the window, but as far as she knew, no one was looking at her. Why was she so jumpy all of a sudden? She was beginning to regret ever coming to this town. What had she been trying to prove anyway? She looked around again and then at her watch. Her lips formed into a pout and she let them pop.

The door opening made her jump and she shot a glance over at it hoping to see Alice. Instead Jared Stone strode into the diner owning the floor with every step. His dark grizzled presence casting a pall over the room as it fell to silence.

Only Coleridge’s people dared look at him and for a moment Stacy feared some sort of confrontation. She felt sick. This was all her fault.

Behind Jared walked Adam, only a spit smaller and almost as mean looking. Both men scanned the room as if reading every face there, every face but hers, or so it seemed to Stacy. She half expected a nod from Adam but today he looked right through her. No doubt the presence of his elder brother deterred him from any hint of fraternisation.

After a moment Nancy plucked up courage to walk over and with a forced smile she offered them coffee. Jared only snarled at this and without a word both men swung around and left.

Only then did Stacey realise that she had stopped breathing. Something was going down and she had a hunch it was Coleridge himself the Stone brothers were looking for.

“Oh crap,” Stacy muttered under her breath, “What have I done?”

Outside Jared and Adam crossed the street to a parked Land Rover under a tree. No one had noticed Garrick Stone sitting in back and when the two men opened up the doors and got in anyone watching might assume they were heading out again and quickly pushed the men from their thoughts.

“Well?” Garrick asked from the back cross seat.

“She’s there,” Adam rasped.

“Then we wait,” Garrick said thoughtfully.

“Diner doesn’t close for almost four hours,” Adam told his father.

“Then we wait,” Garrick said with a shrug.

Jared grinned. He had all the patience of a hunter. They all did.

*

John was furious. Mad at Alice and Adam in equal measure, he wrestled with a deep sense of betrayal and the certain knowledge that he hadn’t been. After all, what was Alice to him really? She preferred Adam and even for him she could never be more than a dalliance. But he was angry all the same. He was even mad with his father for making him the errand boy.

Augusta saw the conflict in the young man and smiled indulgently. “I really do need you to get those supplies and I don’t think your father trusts anyone but you off the ranch right now,” she said in a kindly voice.

John nodded.  He knew she was right and anyway what were the alternatives? He really didn’t want any part of kidnapping the meddling Stacy, he was sure she was just out of her depth in all this. Nor did he really want to stay waiting at the ranch.

“I have a list,” Augusta said extending to him a piece of paper culled from an exercise book that usually contained her more experimental recipes.

“Sure, I’m on it,” he sighed.

“And while you are there maybe you can see that girl of yours before she skips town,” Augusta threw out casually.

John blushed and eyed his stepmother fiercely. “She’s Adam’s girl, not mine,” he snapped.

“Is that a fact?” Augusta asked with a knowing smile.

John hated that Augusta knew what had happened, but then she didn’t miss much. He wondered if his mother knew too and decided not to ask. But all the way to town he tossed around what Adam had said about how that evening had panned out. To begin with Alice had thought Adam was John. It was as John that Adam had opened her up…maybe? He quashed the thought and forced his attention back to the road, only to let his mind stray to Alice once again a minute later.

*

Alice Eden sat up with a start and immediately regretted it. Her bottom felt like she had been spanked by a bear and then dragged along gravel on her butt. She rolled over with a wince and eyed her hind end over her shoulder. Both her bottom cheeks were painted extensively with a dark red bruise, mottled here and there with purple and burgundy splotches. Nor was it only the outer circles of her behind that ached. Deep between her bottom cheeks the tight sore bud there felt also inflamed.

The mirror gave her a closer look at all the damage but instead of dismay she was aroused again and even considered slipping back into bed to relive her recent experience. A cold shower soon scotched that notion and the chilled water felt good on her behind as she stuck it out into the needles of icy water.

“The man is a beast,” she groaned aloud and then wished she hadn’t used that word.

After everything that Stacy had told her she was beginning to wonder what she believed. Nothing the rational mind could contain at any rate. Taking any of it seriously was a rabbit hole she did not want to enter.

She thought about Adam and thought how much fun he had been before the animal had overwhelmed both of them. Her kind of guy, she thought, but her tummy tightened. In her mind he had been John and it was thoughts of John that made her gooey inside. Gooey in a way she could tell her mother about. Adam made her go gooey in a way she did not want to think about and again a hand strayed to her sore bottom.

Once out of the shower she again checked out the damage behind and winced as her fingers prodded at the reddened curves. There was some masochistic pleasure at the end of her fingertips and she chewed forlornly on her lower lip. Turning her backside from the mirror she confronted her dishevelled visage full in the face and sighed. Who was she? Did she even know anymore? Why was she even still here? Mr Stone hadn’t wanted to sign; she should have just called that in by now and already have long put this town in her rear view mirror.

At that moment John was barely a mile from the outer gate when he saw a man cut across the road behind him in his truck’s rear view mirror. He was only seen for an instant but he had definitely been there and he had had a gun.

John frowned. So Coleridge meant business did he? It looked like his father was right. For a second he considered turning around to warn Sundance and the others, but he was sure the old Navajo would be on the scent soon enough and anyway, it was better that the man not know he had been spotted.

The road took him past Alice’s motel and his guts tightened. He strained his eyes to see if she happened to be there, slowing down to almost a stop as he did so. He remembered high school and all the chance meetings he had try to engineer by walking a dozen times up this or that girl’s street, all in the hopes of bumping into her.

The truck growled as it laboured in gear and John kicked up the pace. He had a job to do. If there was time he might call in on Alice, he thought. After all hadn’t he promised her to help her with his father? First he had some supplies to gather and turned towards down town and the store.

Margaret Dangerfield was the owner of the small mom and pop store Augusta preferred. She didn’t ask questions and stocked some of those rare items better suited to a former age. It was she who was waiting for John’s arrival at the store. She was short woman pushing 70 and wore sensible shoes that failed to match her loose floral dress. The bun of her greying hair was pulled so tight her skin stretched on her face and emphasised her smile.

“Hello John, I’ll have the boy load the truck, why don’t you get a coffee?” Margaret said after he had handed her the paper. “Augusta called ahead, I gather you folks…” she began and the stopped, “Anyway, I’ll get the boy,” she tailed off. She had known John since he was a boy and what she knew or didn’t know about the Stone family was nobody’s business.

John was about to say he would wait when he remembered Alice. This could take some time, he decided; why not drop in on her? He shrugged, hating himself for his weakness.

*

He approached the motel on foot, which was probably why the woman didn’t see him. John knew at once she was an outsider and from her grey-black-white camouflage fatigues, he guessed she was one of Coleridge’s hunters.

John sniffed the air and listened for the longest minute. The woman was alone, which suggested that for now she was just watching. But watching who? His stomach knotted. It had to be Alice; no one else could possibly be of interest to them. For a moment he considered turning back lest he put Alice into more danger, but if they had been watching since yesterday they would have seen Adam anyway. John frowned. From where the woman was secreted she could see the parking lot, the road, and the front door to Alice’s cabin. It was a simple matter therefore to slip around the back and find a window to climb in.

It took a moment to identify the correct cabin from the rear and another to do a double scan for any further surveillance. Then he made for the window.

Alice startled when she saw him step over the sill. “Adam,” she gasped and hugged her towel to her chest.

John adopted a sour expression and drew himself upright to regard her. Alice frowned. “J-John?” she ventured.

“Got it in two,” he said crisply.

“Why… John what is going on?” Alice demanded.

“I could ask you the same question. I hear you and Adam had a…” he accused.

“That was not my idea,” she barked, cutting him off, “You had a hand in that too I think.”

“So you sent him packing once you guessed?” John indolently dropped into the room’s only easy chair. He couldn’t help running an eye over her body, dressed as it was only in a towel. His gaze stopped at her thighs for a beat too long.

Alice was blushing and not just because he was studying her. She already felt badly enough about the previous night and now the way he was looking at her made her feel like the worst kind of trash. Face it you whore-bitch, if the cap fits.

John read the distress in her face and sensed her confusion. His face softened. “I am sorry about last night. You are right, it wasn’t your fault.”

“Nor yours either I am guessing?” Alice sighed and went to sit on the bed before she remembered and patted her bottom instead.

John couldn’t help a smirk. “Adam plays rough doesn’t he?”

“That’s none of your business,” she said angrily, “John what are you doing here?”

John sagged. “I know, I’m sorry, about everything I mean… I thought if Adam… he thought you and Stacy were in league with Coleridge… Coleridge,” he exclaimed suddenly, “I forgot, you seem to have someone watching you. Eh… the window, that’s why…” he added lamely.

Alice dropped to sit on the bed and grimaced as she shot to her feet again. She blushed furiously as he laughed.

“You should get out of town,” John said as she rubbed at her bottom.

“You think Coleridge is watching me? Why? John what is going on? What is with this crumby town?” Alice almost yelled.

“My family has enemies and I think our friendship, your… you know, with Adam, has put you in the firing line,” John groaned.

“Adam had nothing to do with anyone, least of all you, you bastard I have had enough…” Alice was close to hysterical now. Suddenly everything was too much.

“Alice, calm down,” John stood up, “Please don’t shout.” He glanced over his shoulder as if looking at their spy.

“Calm down, calm down, what are you people? Why do you have enemies? Why… why are you here?” she was raging now.

“Alice, stop,” John urged.

She punched his chest and when that met hard muscle she slapped him. Then they were kissing.

To be continued



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