Kiera’s words, “You’re scaring me, Potter!” kept going around and around in my mind. Her voice had been scared and confused, and I hated the sound of it. Not just that, it was her eyes. They usually looked like a cornfield someone had set a torch to, gold and bright, almost ablaze – but as she had looked at me and said, “You’re scaring me, Potter!” her eyes seemed darker somehow, as if they had lost their fire. There had been a tremor to her voice and that bothered me too. I didn’t want her to be scared of me because she had no reason to be. She bugged the hell out of me most of the time with her little-miss-know-it-all attitude, but she was smart and I couldn’t deny that. But, I guess in a perverse kind of way, I liked that about her. She didn’t just have the sweetest cheeks I’d ever seen, she had brains too. There was a spark in Kiera, and that spark had ignited something inside me.
I’d never been great at expressing my feelings and writing fancy poetry – to be honest I was always thought that kind of stuff was bullshit. I mean if you love someone, you just love them, does it need to get anymore complex than that? I don’t think so. I’d never been into all that romancing stuff. A girl either likes you or she doesn’t, jeez, I’d known guys who had spent a fortune on wining and dining and still never scored a home run! The biggest bunch of flowers, the brightest diamond, and all the fanciest poetry in the world ain’t gonna hide the fact that you’re butt-ugly with the personality of an amoeba.
I’d told Kiera how I’d felt about her and I hadn’t had to use any fancy words, I just told her how it was. I don’t know if it’s what she’d been expecting, I suppose other guys might have declared their undying love to her in another way – a more romantic way – but the Bruno Mars song was a stroke of genius on my behalf. I still think ‘I’m Your Man’ by Wham would have been better, or even ‘The Edge of Heaven’, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps another time. But was there ever going to be another time for us – for me and Kiera?
I feared the odds were stacked against me. Not only was I going to rescue Luke and bring him back to her, I still didn’t know exactly how Kiera felt for him. With the Brad Pitt of the team returning, would I stand a chance? Did Kiera feel for me the same way as I felt for her? I got a sick feeling in my gut when I wondered if I wasn’t some emotional prop for her while Lukey-boy had been off the scene. Then I could hear Kiera’s voice again, “You’re scaring me, Potter!” and I pushed it away.
I must be going on some emotional shootout; either that or I’d completely lost the fucking plot! Why was I putting my life at risk to save the person I feared Kiera was truly in love with? And had I gone too far by killing Eloisa in front of her?
“You’re scaring me, Potter!”
And I had scared her. I could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice. But I couldn’t go back and explain; I had to keep moving forward through the driving wind and freezing snow to rescue Luke. Why? Because he was my friend, just like Murphy had been. We had a history together. We’d shared a lot. Luke had been like a brother and Murphy like a father to me. Both of them had literally taken me beneath their wings. So, if by rescuing Luke and killing Eloisa in front of Kiera I ended up losing her, then that would be something I would have to live with, because I had reasons for doing both.
I couldn’t turn my back on Luke and I couldn’t let Murphy’s death go without revenge. We had been a team, and I could remember way back when…
…the red traffic signal ahead glowed an angry red. The line of traffic in front began to slow, but Murphy sped up.
“Lights!” Murphy snapped, although it sounded more like “mights!” as he sucked on the end of his pipe.
I took the blue emergency light from the dashboard, and winding down the window, I lent out and stuck it to the roof. Flicking a switch, the light came on, lighting up the night in strobes of fluorescent blue.
“Do you want the sirens? Go on, Sarge, we’ve got to have sirens!” I smiled and stuck a cigarette in the corner of my mouth.
“Of course I want the bloody sirens!” Murphy barked.
Grinning from ear to ear, I hit the switch and then lit my cigarette. The whoop-whoop! sound of the sirens made my heart race.
The traffic ahead began to peel away and head for the curb as they cleared a path for us. Murphy lurched our unmarked cruiser left then right and pressed his boot hard against the accelerator. We sped through a STOP sign in the road junction and nearly collided with another car that snaked across our path. Murphy slammed on the brakes and I shot forward, smashing my face into the windscreen.
“Christ almighty!” I yelled as I rocked back into my seat and snatched the now-crumpled cigarette from my mouth.
Rolling down the window, I roared at the driver of the other vehicle, “What’s the matter with you!”
The driver sat in his car and glared at me.
“Have you got shit in your eyes, or what?” I hollered at him again.
“I was driving here!” the driver shouted back.
“And can’t you see we’re the police here? Didn’t you see the big flashing thing on top of the car?” I roared. “Look where you’re going next time, Mr. Fucking Magoo!”
“Just leave it,” Luke said, poking his head from the backseat of the car.
“He could have killed us!” I said, looking back at him.
“These things happen,” Luke replied in his usual, unruffled manner.
“Not to me they don’t!” I shot back. “That jerk is dangerous – he shouldn’t even have a driving licence!”
Smiling, Luke sat back in his seat and said, “Potter, you’ve got a lot to learn.”
“And I s’pose you think you’re gonna be the one to teach me?” I asked, glaring at Luke, then back at the dumb driver.
Speeding away from the near-car wreck, Murphy growled, “Potter, just keep your face shut. I’m not interested in driving offences. We’ve just discovered that we might have a rogue Lycanthrope to catch. If you want to deal with traffic, go and get yourself one of those bright yellow jackets and spend the rest of your life prancing up and down at the nearest school-crossing!”
“But…” I started.
“No buts!” Murphy barked, gunning the vehicle faster and faster out of the town of Little Hope to its outskirts where the railway station lay. Without taking his eyes off the unlit road ahead, Murphy peered through a cloud of blue smoke that wafted from his pipe and said, “Don’t forget, wise guy, that if I hadn’t got you out of police training school, you’d probably be sweeping the streets or raking the tunnels back in The Hollows right now.”
“I was doing just fine at training school,” I snapped back, although deep down I knew Murphy had gotten me out of the shit. I was just about to be kicked out for putting three of my trainers in hospital. It hadn’t been my fault. They’d been trying to teach us some fancy new restraint techniques – arm locks and crap like that. I really didn’t mean to break their arms while practicing the new moves. It wasn’t my fault that I was stronger than most.
Looking at Murphy, I said, “I’m grateful to you for getting me out – but I didn’t mean to break those guys’ arms.”
“Break their arms!” Murphy coughed on a throat full of pipe smoke. “You nearly ripped them clean off!”
“Yeah, poor old Patterson’s arms looked like they belonged to that guy from the Fantastic Four by the time you’d finished with him,” Luke said from the back of the car.
“Okay! Okay! So I get a little enthusiastic from time to time,” I said. “But I’m a good cop and don’t need you two babysitting me all the time.”
“We’ll see,” Murphy said as he stopped the cruiser in the small car park outside the Little Hope railway station.
There were three marked police vehicles already parked outside the railway station and several officers in those fluorescent yellow jackets. I noticed some of them were already marking out the crime scene with reams of blue and white police tape.
Swinging the car door open, I stepped out into the cold November night. Although the town of Little Hope was situated on the remote west coast of England, the night was surprisingly dry for this time of the year. The sky was clear and star-shot, and a full moon hung above like a giant yellow eye, watching us.
Murphy and Luke climbed from the cruiser, and pulling the collar of my coat up against the crisp wind, I made my way towards the outter cordon that had been put in place to protect the crime scene. Grabbing my arm, Murphy stopped me.
“Listen, Potter, remember what I said, no wisecracks. Just listen, watch, and learn.” He stared at me with his piercing blue eyes and they looked hard and frosty, just like his short, silver hair.
“Whatever you say, Sarge,” I said, and looked at Luke who was standing just behind Murphy.
I liked Luke, but he was just a bit too straight-laced. I mean, he was a good guy and I knew he had been friends with Murphy for a while now. Had they been friends before coming from The Hollows, I didn’t know, but they had a solid friendship. Sometimes though, Luke tried to act like my big brother. I didn’t have a big brother and I didn’t want one or need one, not to mention, Luke was a couple of years younger than me. I was twenty-four for Christ’s sake, I could look after myself.
Luke noticed me looking at him and he gave me a friendly smile. “Let’s see what all the fuss is about,” he said, looking over at the taped-off railway station.
Eyeing us both carefully, Murphy said, “As we know from Chief Inspector Rom, a possible murder has occurred here at the hands of a Lycanthrope, so whatever happens, we have jurisdiction here. These cops aren’t going to be happy about us marching in and taking over. So let’s be nice about it, okay?”
Then, without saying another word, Murphy strode towards the ring of police tape, his pipe hanging from his mouth and his hands thrust into his coat pockets. I turned to make after him, when Luke suddenly pulled me back.