Home > Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)(7)

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)(7)
Author: Patricia Briggs

“Tony?” I asked, walking away from Adam so my conversation wouldn’t get mixed up in his. Adam was talking to Darryl, whose voice sounded urgent.

“I don’t know if you and Adam can help us,” Tony said rapidly. In the background, sirens were doing their best to drown out his voice. “But we have a situation here. There is something, a freaking-big something, on the Cable Bridge, and it is eating cars.”

“You and Adam” was short for “please bring a pack of werewolves out to take care of the car-eating monster.” If they were asking for the pack, they must be desperate.

“Mercy,” said Adam, who, unlike me, apparently had no trouble keeping track of two conversations at the same time, “tell him we’re on our way. Darryl and Zack are almost on-site.”

I repeated Adam’s words, then said, “We’ll be right there.”

I hung up and started out the door. The Cable Bridge, which had another name no one remembered, was about a ten-minute drive from our house.

“Mercy,” said Adam tightly. The last time we’d faced down a monster, I’d almost died. It had taken me six weeks to stand on my own two feet, and it hadn’t been the first time I’d been hurt. The werewolves were two-hundred-plus pounds of fang and claw who mostly healed nearly as quickly as they could be hurt. I was as vulnerable as any human. My superpower consisted of changing into a thirty-five-pound coyote.

He still had nightmares.

I looked at him. “You’re going to be a werewolf. Darryl is going to be a werewolf, and I’m assuming Joel is going to be a monstrous tibicena, spitting lava and looking scary. I think you need someone on the ground with the ability to shout things like ‘Stop shooting, those are the good guys.’” I took a deep breath. “I won’t promise not to get hurt. I won’t lie to you. But I do promise not to be stupid.”

His cheeks whitened as he clenched his jaw. His eyes shadowed, he nodded slowly. That was the deal we had, the thing that allowed me to give up my independence and trust him. He had to let me be who I was—and not some princess wrapped in cotton wool and kept on a shelf.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay.” Unself-consciously, he stripped out of his clothes because it would be easier to do that here than in the car. “Joel? Are you coming?”

The big black dog, who already looked a little bigger, padded out of the kitchen. I wasn’t certain how much control Joel had about what shape he wore except that it wasn’t much. We needed to get to the bridge before he started melting things in the car—the tibicena was a creature born in the heart of a volcano.

I opened the door, stopped, and ran up the stairs. I opened Jesse’s door without knocking.

“Monster on the Cable Bridge,” I said. “Police are requesting assistance. Stay home. Stay safe. We love you.”

I didn’t give her time to say anything, just bolted back down the stairs to Adam’s black SUV, where the others waited.

We were going to fight monsters.


Adam had not quite changed all the way when the traffic on the highway to town bogged down. A traffic jam on this road was unusual, but then so was a monster that destroyed cars. I suspected there was a connection. Sometimes, I’m observant like that.

I slowed until the cars ahead stopped moving altogether. Then I put the SUV into four-wheel drive and pulled onto the shoulder of the road, driving on the sidewalk when I had to in order to get around the parking lot the highway had become.

At the old metals-recycling center, I pulled into their abandoned parking lot and stopped. From here it would be faster to go on foot. As soon as I opened the door, I could hear the sirens.

Joel hopped out of the backseat into the driver’s seat. He flowed out of the car and it rocked, because he was denser in tibicena form than a real animal could be. He waited until all four feet were on the ground before igniting the fire inside him. His skin cracked and broke, revealing something that glowed fiercely even in the daylight.

Adam, all wolf now, exited after Joel. He shook himself once, then set off for the bridge. Joel and I followed him.

Even on two feet, I was fast, though the coyote would have been quicker. But I needed to have clothes on when talking to the police—for some reason, I suspected the police wouldn’t take me as seriously if I were naked. So I stayed human and ran with the silver-and-black wolf who was Adam on one side of me and Joel, who no longer could be mistaken for a dog, on the other.

We garnered attention. Pack magic operates passively to make it difficult for mundane people to notice werewolves. Adam could run down the interstate at high noon and only one or two people would see anything but a stray dog. We’d discovered that wasn’t true of Joel, even though he was a member of the pack. It was as if something in his magic fought to be seen.

Joel’s eyes were hot coals that glowed like those of a hellish demon out of a comic book. He was bigger than Adam, and he left oily black marks on the ground wherever his feet touched. People noticed. Once they noticed him, they noticed Adam.

Adam was a public figure, and though he didn’t often appear in his wolf form on the national news, locally, even in his werewolf shape, he was a celebrity. A smallish-town hero, if only because he was sort of famous.

“Hey, Mercy,” came a shout from the double line of cars. “What’s up? When you gonna reopen the shop? Sheba has an electrical problem I can’t find.”

“Shop phone still gets me, Nick,” I called, waving vaguely without looking around. I didn’t need to see him to recognize him. Nick’s Sheba was a VW bug that broke down with a regularity that was almost supernatural. “Gotta go help the police with a car-eating monster on the bridge right now.”

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