Mate's Appeal(8)

By: Robbie Cox

Turning the ignition off, he opened the driver’s door and stepped out into the Florida humidity, taking a deep breath as the wave of heat hit him. Arlin, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Or Draven Falls for that matter. As much as he needed a vacation from working at Shades, when Jed suggested Arlin use his younger brother’s cabin in Bull Creek, Arlin knew he should have asked for more details. If Nathan Landry hadn’t made the place his homestead, there had to be a reason, and Arlin wished he knew what it was. A little forewarning might keep what happened in Draven Falls from happening here as well. Arlin did not need a repeat of his loss of control, the bloodlust of his tiger consuming him once again. No one needed that.

He closed his eyes as he recalled the last night he worked the door at Shades, the drunks who ventured in desperate to stir up trouble. Damn hyenas. They managed to get more than they bargained for that night, and it almost cost one of them his life. Arlin took a deep breath, turning his gaze to the sky full of clouds in an attempt to calm his nerves. There was a special place in Hell for men who preyed on women, trying to bully the females into the backseats of their cars, and Arlin did his best to send one of those men there that night. Only Drey Hawkins’ interference kept Arlin from crossing a line from which he would never recover. Of course, now he was on vacation until the heat died down. It was worth it.

He locked his car after popping the trunk lever, walked around to the back, and pulled his duffel bag out of the trunk. Might as well get settled. He was here now and would make the best of it, whatever that turned out to be, as long as wandering pedestrians paid better attention to moving cars, that is.

The interior of the cabin was musty from where it had been closed up for several months, a fine layer of dust coating everything. Before he could use anything in the cabin, he would need to spend some time cleaning up the place. As it was, he couldn’t even sit on the furniture. He needed to teach his brother how to cover things with old sheets before leaving the cabin. Some proactive measures would have made the clean up a little easier. At least, Arlin would have been able to sit down as soon as he walked into the place after such a long drive. Of course, his younger brother was never one for much forethought in things, preferring to rush out and deal with everything later. Arlin should be happy Nathan at least closed the door and locked the place up.

He chuckled to himself as he dropped his duffel bag on the floor just inside the front door. With a deep breath, hands on his hips, he shook his head. Hopefully, Nathan kept some cleaning supplies here.

Luckily, Arlin discovered bottles of cleaning fluids and old rags under the kitchen sink. He had just pulled everything out and filled an old mop bucket he found in the back room with water when he heard sirens breaking the natural peacefulness of Bull Creek. He turned his attention to the front windows as he finished filling up the bucket. Now, I bet that’s unusual for around here. Turning off the water and dropping the rag in the sudsy bucket, he decided to check it out and see what constituted a nine-one-one call around such an isolated community.

Blue and red lights bounced off the giant oaks and pines that filled the wooded area around the cabins, guiding him to where a sheriff’s car was parked in a dirt driveway down the street that he witnessed those ladies turning down earlier. One of them probably walked right out in front of a passing car. He gave another shake of his head as he turned down the road to see how bad it was.

He was pleased—surprised, but pleased—to see that neither of the women he passed earlier had wound up being struck by a passing motorist. However, he was shocked at what he did find in what he assumed was such a peaceful community. The flashing lights of a sheriff’s car ricocheted off a cabin that had been vandalized severely. Windows were smashed, plants destroyed and scattered everywhere, and in dark red paint over the front of the cabin were the words, There is no escape. With a cock of his head, he stared at the words, wondering, Escape from what? Nathan had obviously left out the dramatic aspects of his home away from home at Bull Creek.

Arlin glanced around at those gathered in front of the cabin, and his nose twitched at the mixture of shifter scents he sensed mixed in with humans, and…he took another deep breath….witches and vampires. He gave an appreciative nod. Jed did tell him the place was a diversity of paranormal personalities. Arlin just didn’t expect it to be a melting pot.

Next to the sheriff’s car stood a portly elderly man in uniform along with a female deputy and a muscular man with shaggy, tawny hair, his arms crossed over his chest as he listened to the sheriff speaking. Near the front of the porch, stood three women, two of them were the ladies he saw on the road earlier, and the third was a smaller woman with dark hair and a powerful stance. The shortest of the three, with sandy hair and a knife hanging at her waist, attempted to get past the other two ladies and into the cabin, but was blocked every time. Must be her cabin. I’d want inside as well to see what else the asshole who did this destroyed. Probably some teens thinking they found an easy score out here in no man’s land.

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