Less than five minutes had passed since the report of the orderlies’ death, which had shaken me more than those who worked with him.
Mrs. Ellicott, staff assistant to Dr. Lynn possessed all the humanity of an iceberg. Outside of the initial urgency she displayed when relaying the news, Thelma Ellicott did not furrow as much as one perfectly arched eyebrow.
Everything about the woman bellowed militant professionalism; from her flawlessly styled sister-locks painstakingly woven into a French braid, the stoic beauty of her unsweetened cocoa features, to her wrinkle free navy blue linen suit accented with a cream silk camisole. Thelma Ellicott was prepared to address any emergency with military precision and runway model aplomb. Exactly, what the doctor had ordered.
Dr. Lynn remained seated behind his desk, a massive piece of furniture carved from an ancient tree long extinct. He was a man of power though the source was indefinable, much like the man himself. His shoulder length mane was white, not platinum or blonde, but white. As if, the very roots had drained the color from each shaft to paint his skin in a multitude of ethnicities.
Near colorless his eyes held the intensity of an experienced sharpshooter, though his gaze emanated tenderness and sorrow. Both ears and nose had the slight sagging normally associated with advanced age, yet his face and overall build portrayed a man just short of reaching his prime.
Even his mouth, shaped by sin, was a profound contradiction. Though he spoke with the softness of cotton, Dr. Lynn’s words resonated like thunder. So, when he requested my assistance to help resolve the current crisis, refusal was neither an option nor a thought. I admit, I felt somewhat compelled to follow his instructions, and knew I wanted never to disappoint him.
“I would like for you and Ryland to lead this investigation,” Dr. Lynn said. “Your para-forensic background will be an asset.”
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Dr. Lynn. I promise you, I’ll do everything within my power to bring closure to this tragedy.”
“Forgive me Dr. Xanders; I had hoped to broach this sensitive subject with you in private. Unfortunately, delicacy is no longer an option. How much control do you have over your leopardess?”
Of course, I expected the question; where else if not a facility for supernatural and two-natured beings could I practice with some measure of peace.
In the civilian world, not many of our kind are able to pass for human. Those who are successful can only do so for limited amounts of time. Rarer still are those civilians who know and accept our kind, some to the degree of becoming willing mates.
Still it would have been preferable not to have Ryland Hynes present, not due to the flavor of his other nature, simply because he was an ass.
“As I’m sure my background check revealed my heritage traces back to the Arabian Leopard Leap. To my knowledge, I am the last of my bloodline, I have not learned to shift or survive in bestial form. However, I-”
“With respect, Merryl,” Ryland broke in. “If her parents weren’t responsible enough to teach her about her other nature, how can you think to trust her in such a critical situation?”
“Are you questioning my judgment Ryland, or just challenging my authority?”
Lighting. I swear that for a moment I actually saw lightening flash across the clear crystal of Dr. Lynn’s eyes. His expression never darkened, he made no attempt to rise to his feet. In fact, Dr. Lynn reclined further in his overstuffed leather executive chair, and laced his fingers across the flatness of his stomach.
Ryland was out of his chair so fast, the laws of gravity had become confused, as black leather and chrome somersaulted in mid air before the chair crash-landed on its arms against the hardwood floor.
I didn’t need to be psychic to know it was about to go postal, and I was first in line at the counter.
To be continued…