This short story is set several years before the events in Above Ground. It provides insight into the WPL (Witches’ Protection League) and marks a turning point in WPL’s policies, from passive anti-werekin attitudes to the aggressive tactics seen in Above Ground.
Evelyn was a short woman, petite and blonde, seemingly innocent in appearance. She was also a woman who knew how to charm. She stood idly by the doorway, hardly betraying her inner turmoil. In front of her, slowly coming to his senses, was a werewolf.
The floor was covered with a murky carpet that matched her feelings inside. He was sprawled on it, one hand still stained with blood, a flash of colour in the near darkness.
He sat up, unabashed by his nudity. “What happened?”
She raised one hand and placed it against the door, keeping the other behind her back. “You changed.”
“Impossible. I don’t remember.” He sniffed the air, then scanned her body. “Did I bite you? Are you hurt?”
He noticed the blood on his fingers, brought it up to his nose. “Then what…?” He paused, unable to resist the impulse to lick off some of the blood. The sight nearly killed her.
“What did I do?” he asked.
“You lost control.”
He shook his head in response, looking bewildered. “Weres don’t lose control. We’re just as sentient in animal form as we are when human.”
Evelyn allowed herself a brief daydream: striding across the room, slapping his face, shoving his nose into the pool of blood behind him. When he looked up at her, she shrugged, striving to make the movement look casual.
“The smell’s so strong,” he said, finally. “I can’t tell where it’s coming from.”
Keeping her voice innocent-sweet, she replied, “How about behind you?”
He turned around, then let out a hoarse pain-filled cry. He scrambled away from the small body, on his hands and knees like the animal he was, and knocked over a vase filled with fresh, red roses. The petals scattered.
“No!” He pushed himself to his feet, turned to her, his lips curled into a snarl. “You did this! You and your stupid coven! They don’t like me, they never have!”
She let her control slip, just the tiniest bit. “How dare you accuse me of killing my own daughter?”
“How else could you stand there, looking so calm?” In his anger, his fingertips changed back to claws. He didn’t seem to notice.
Evelyn kept her voice flat. “Right now, my hatred for your kind surpasses any other emotion I could feel.”
“My kind?” He noticed his hands, forced them to change back. “What do werewolves have to do with it?”
“They killed her.” She paused, then added, “You killed her.”
His mouth opened and closed silently. He turned around, stared at the body. “Impossible,” he mumbled. He didn’t look at her. “How… how do you know?”
The hand behind her back clenched tighter around the cool metal. “Because I watched you do it!”
He flinched at the words, moved closer to the body on the floor. He crouched down. “No. I can’t have. I love her.”
He reached out, touching a cheek tenderly and brushing away the tangles of hair that covered the two year olds’ face. Glassy emerald eyes stared at the ceiling, small lips curved downwards in a frozen frown. His body shuddered with suppressed grief as he turned to pick up a rose from where it lay on the floor, amongst the scattered bits of glass. He placed it beside the young girl’s cheek. The rose had already begun to wither.
He straightened, took a few steps towards her. “Evelyn, I… I don’t understand.”
Evelyn pulled out the gun she’d been hiding behind her back and levelled it at his body. She didn’t give him any warning. His body shuddered from the impact and fell backward.
She released a whoosh of breath, let her arm drop to her side. It was over.
Someone coughed politely behind her.
Evelyn jumped and whirled around, bringing the gun up again. It was the witch who worked on reception at the W.A.W. headquarters, a self-important and overweight man. She lowered the gun. “What is it?” she snapped.
He looked startled. Reminding herself of the importance of networking, Evelyn forced a smile and apologized, then asked the question again.
He stroked his moustache, looking nervous. “The Grand High has been murdered. She named you her successor.”
Evelyn gave herself one second to process the news. Then, with a grave, sympathetic smile, she reached out and touched the man’s arm. “Very well. I’ll be with you in a moment.” She squeezed his arm reassuringly, letting her fingertips trail across his hand as she pulled away.
He smiled back almost giddily. His eyes slid past her, into the room, but he said nothing. He bowed deeply and strode down the corridor.
Evelyn was a short woman, but mostly a woman who knew how to charm. She stood idly by the doorway with a smirk on her face, hardly betraying her inner turmoil. At her feet, drawing his last, gasping breaths, was a werewolf.