I posted an excerpt of MUSCLE MEMORY about a month ago, and thought I would toss up part of my other book, WOLVES DRESSED AS MEN as well. This chapter is from the middle but it’s fairly easy to follow since it’s mostly exciting action. The main characters, Thiess (werewolf dude) and Maria (the babe that’s hot for him), are discovered by The Tracker (the badass werewolf hunter who’s out to get Thiess at all cost). That should be all the setup you need…
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Thiess stood in the doorway watching the hooker. She passed a photograph through the passenger window of a car idling at the curb.
“I ain’t see the dude, but he big,” he heard her say. He instantly knew she was talking about him. “He come out the alley fast and jus’ grab her and knock me on my ass. Then he was gone. Smelled bad, too, like a dead dog or sumthin.”
Maria stood on the sidewalk, checking the street. The neighborhood buzzed with an energy that assaulted his senses. Aromas popped in his nose. Men leaving the pornography shop next door
wore a muddled musk of oil and latex and guilt and shame like pheromonal cloaks as they passed by with their secret purchases. He scanned each face for…something. He didn’t know what, but
he felt he could read them. They paid him no mind whatsoever, each attending to their agendas, except for the hooker.
She straightened up and turned toward him, then to the others hustling and ambling along. She had picked something up, with her head tilted back as though she was searching for his scent, but clearly felt unsure of what exactly she sensed.
Then he felt another set of eyes on him.
Across the street, on the park bench, hiding behind a newspaper, pretending to read. Mud caked boots, the end of a leather overcoat dangling behind the seat, a closely cropped military crew cut. Thiess knew in an instant who it was. The Tracker must have realized it as well and looked directly at Thiess. That brief connection set off every warning signal in Thiess’s body.
He snatched Maria’s hand and hauled her up the stoop and into the building. The wall near his head exploded in a shower of plaster and splinters. He glanced back through the newly formed hole to see the Tracker in the middle of the street, charging toward them with a rifle jutting from his shoulder.
They flew down the first floor hall toward the fire exit in the rear, Maria struggling to keep his pace. They slammed through the back exit, setting off a wailing siren, and ran through a filthy alley.
Thiess’s body surged with a vigor that powered his muscles and wiped clean his mind. His surroundings fell away as they sped along, the edges of his vision graying as he focused straight ahead. He felt no urge to fight, only to escape, that familiar terror that he had felt most of the morning. The fear stoked him along, oblivious to Maria’s pleading until she had fallen and he was dragging her along the pavement. She cried out, finally disrupting his focus, and he hauled her back to her feet. They stood in the alley huffing for air.
“I can’t keep up with you. You’re going too fast.”
“Here,” he said as he guided her over to a dumpster. There was just room enough to slide behind it. “Hide here and I’ll lose him. Meet me at the church, you know the one. Where you saw me go last night.”
“What if he finds me here?”
“He won’t bother. He’s not after you.”
Thiess hesitated despite the urge in every twitching muscle to flee. He held Maria’s shoulders and pressed his lips to hers. He felt her initial tension melt away and she kissed him back. Then she pushed him away and said, “Now go! I’ll find you. I promise.”
As he watched her wedge in behind the dumpster, a distant echo of footsteps drew near. He bolted again, blasting along the alley. He turned left down a long corridor, behind opposing rows of desolate buildings, but it dead-ended at a chain-link fenced topped with razor wire. The Tracker hadn’t broken into view yet, but Thiess knew he was coming. With each second he delayed, his pursuer closed in. The walls of the crumbling tenements on each side leaned closer and loomed taller, blocking out the sunlight and drawing a veil over his eyes. His breathing constricted and his muscles began to knot and pulsate. Incoherent thoughts entangled his mind as he searched every corner and wrenched on every locked doorknob of the claustrophobic alley. The nearing footfalls boomed in his ears like cannon shots, drowning out any shred of rationality he had left. He huffed and spit and began to whine as he backed toward the corner where building and fence came together.
A lone suggestion from some deep recess in his brain whispered to him, an ancient, familiar voice.
He cast his face up to the shrinking sky above, searching for the source of that voice. He thought he would see God. Instead, he found salvation in the skeletal outline of a fire escape ladder directly above his head. He leaped high into the air and grasped the lower rung of the ladder, a full story off the ground. He pulled his body up the clattering rungs and scaled the rusty scaffolding until he reached the roof. A blast of fresh air met him. He filled his lungs and immediately felt renewed by the distance he had gained on his pursuer. His body surged with power as he raced toward the roof’s edge and vaulted across, without hesitation, to the top of the next building. He continued on until his muscles began to tire and that omnipresent sense of urgency began to slowly drain away. He stood at one final parapet wall and realized that he couldn’t muster the strength or the courage for one more jump. Every normal fear of teetering at the edge of a precipice returned and rational, terrified thoughts replaced the droning buzz of adrenaline.
He stumbled away from the edge and headed for the rooftop doorway. A man stood by the door, grinning and holding a package under his arm. Their eyes met briefly as Thiess passed. He saw a flicker in the man’s black pupils, a flame that contradicted the man’s gentle smile. Thick scars crept up the man’s neck and spider-webbed around a smooth, yellow blotch on his right cheek. Thiess detected a sour note of gasoline as he passed through the door into the stairwell. As the door swung shut, the man simply stood and watched with his placid smile and smoldering eyes, his hands folded before him and his package tucked under his arm as though he were waiting patiently at a bus stop.
Thiess descended the stairs slowly, each step more difficult to navigate than the last. His body felt like it had entered shutdown mode and would soon switch off. He scuffed down a hallway filled with open doors. He peered into the rooms and discovered huddles of semi-coherent men and women languishing behind a haze of smoke. Some inhabitants regarded him with fear etched upon their gaunt countenances as he passed and clasped their precious glass pipes close to their breasts. Others simply swooned and paid him no mind through half-closed eyes.
He staggered down to the street, lurching along like the rest of the building’s patrons, and disappeared behind the gritty veil of the inner city.
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Read the rest in print here.
Or get it on the Kindle here.
Or get a PDF file for your eReader here.