I struggled to remain calm. My leopardess vibrated with excitement. I tried to push them apart. She wanted her backside pressed against their packages. I demanded they stop. She devised how further to provoke them. I cried out for help. My cat asked “what for? “ That’s when I prayed not to be killed, and hoped the message didn’t go straight to voicemail.
“No, damn it. We don’t have time for this idiocy”, I roared at myself as much as to anyone else. If what I suspected proved to be true there’d be a hell of a lot more to worry about than some sordid love square. For the umpteenth time I flattened my hands upon each man’s chest and pushed with everything I had.
Scotch snarled and threw his shoulder into the punch.
“Pissed she wasn’t into you?”
Ryland backhanded the blow and shifted to one side.
“You took advantage, Ry.”
Scotch swung again. I ducked.
“Liz came to me, and it fucks with you.”
Ryland grabbed his arm, turned momentum against Scotch, and yanked the two hundred pound security chief forward.
The hardness of him slammed into my back, and for a fleeting moment, my cat was elated. Heat radiated across my cheeks. An arrhythmic pattern dictated the rise and fall of my breasts. As an electro-erogenous charge raised the hair on my skin, and began to overload my analytical circuits one by one. Goodness knew I understood her need, a year had passed since our last lover, and well Diehard just didn’t make a battery THAT strong.
I had to clear my head fast, or find myself on the floor presenting my behind to whoever was left standing. It took all the will I could muster to send my leopard’s trifling-ass deep into my psyche where she normally slept. That faint act of will gave me just enough presence of minded to act.
I shifted my weight to the opposite leg, pushed off with as much strength as I could without evoking primal energy (or my cat), and pushed off on the opposite leg.
Scotch utilized the momentum and energy from the shove to break Ryland’s hold. He then propelled himself with the aid of my shoulders four feet above our heads, to land on the opposite side of Ryland.
“You used her.”
“No, Scotch, I gave her what she needed.”
Ryland kept his back from Scotch with a half turn to the right, as he lowered himself into a partial squat. Scotch overshot his next swing, by a handful of whiskers, which he corrected a millisecond too late. Ryland made use of the opening to lunge forward and deliver an open-palm strike to the center of his adversary’s chest.
Scotch backpedaled a few feet, recovered his footing, spun in the direction of his fall and landed in a three-point stance. Within a breath, he’d rushed the wall and managed a three-foot vertical climb, before he launched himself through the air.
Ryland once more pivoted to one side causing Scotch to torpedo past him. As his belt buckle came into range, Ryland raised both arms over his head, cupped one hand over his fist, and with precision accuracy brought an elbow down into the defenseless man’s gut.
Finally, I saw Ryland without his mask of humanity. It chilled me to my very core.
Ryland never hesitated, hadn’t held back. He had one friend dead at his feet, and appeared content to add another. With the exception of a few stray hairs, he looked as immaculate as he had during my interview. I understood then what had concerned Dr. Lynn. Scotch was a much closer friend to Ryland than the deceased. Yet in spite of the obvious pain and guilt his friend displayed, Ryland had shown about as much concern or remorse as the very dead Mr. Prentice.
I immediately placed myself in front of Ryland, and took hold of his left arm. He would have to fight me if he wanted to continue, a premise that suddenly felt very likely.
“Mr. Hynes please stop this. I believe Chief Landers is partially correct in his assumptions. I think I can demonstrate that it had to be someone in-house who killed Mr. Prentice.”
“I already knew that, Kitten. What do think we were discussing before you showed up?”
“Then for the love – can we stop this stupidity and work together? The institute isn’t the only thing at stake here, Mr. Hynes.”
“I don’t need you to remind me of that, Kitten. Tell that asshole.”
I thought to reason with him. I hoped his bloodlust would temper when confronted with his obvious passion for Tepes Memorial and it‘s staff. It might have worked, if not for a fragile spike of energy that emanated from behind me.
Intermission it seemed was over.
Scotch lay sprawled on the floor, breathless, a few inches from the deceased. For a full minute, he remained as he’d fallen, a slight trembling of his midsection the only clue he hadn’t followed poor Mr. Prentice beyond this realm.
The first twitch started in his left cheek, moved across his massive chest, and down his right arm. As expected, a cascade of spasmodic eruptions followed intent to claim their own pound of flesh.
Eyes wide and unfocused, chin thrust toward the ceiling, Scotch bared his fangs and rent the entire room with silent rage.
“Don’t,” was all I managed.
Ryland flash stepped past me, snatched Scotch from the floor by his throat, and yanked the partly shifted hyena to his knees.
“Are we done with this yet, or do you wanna dance for real?”
Ryland held Scotch firmly in his hydraulic grip, as the impulse to snap the Were’s spinal cord bled into his eyes like amber fire. With a control few shifters possess, Ryland sprouted a single black talon that he trailed down the back of Scotch’s neck.
To be continued…..