On The Prowl - Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs - Alpha and Omega #0.5 - On The Prowl

On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)
Patricia Briggs

fantasy/romance/werewolves

Alpha and Omega

Patricia Briggs

Chapter 1

The wind was chill and the cold froze the ends of her toes. One of these days she was going to break down and buy boots - if only she didn't need to eat.

Anna laughed and buried her nose in her jacket, trudging the last half mile to her home. It was true that being a werewolf gave her greater strength and endurance, even in human form. But the twelve-hour shift she'd just finished at Scorci's was enough to make even her bones ache. You'd think that people would have better things to do on Thanksgiving than go eat at an Italian restaurant.

Tim, the restaurant owner (who was Irish, not Italian for all that he made the best gnocchi in Chicago) let her take extra shifts - though he wouldn't let her work more than fifty hours a week. The biggest bonus was the free meal she got each shift. Even so, she was afraid she was going to have to find a second job to cover her expenses: life as a werewolf, she had found, was as expensive financially as it was personally.

She used her keys to get into the entryway. There was nothing in her mailbox, so she got Kara's mail and newspaper and climbed the stairs to Kara's third-floor apartment. When she opened the door, Kara's Siamese cat, Mouser, took one look at her, spat in disgust, and disappeared behind the couch.

For six months she'd been feeding the cat whenever her neighbor was gone - which was often since Kara worked at a travel agency arranging tours. Mouser still hated her. From his hiding place he swore at her, as only a Siamese could do.

With a sigh, Anna tossed the mail and newspaper on the small table in the dining room and opened a can of cat food, setting it down near the water dish. She sat down at the table and closed her eyes. She was ready to go to her own apartment, one floor up, but she had to wait for the cat to eat. If she just left him there, she'd come back in the morning to a can of untouched food. Hate her he might, but Mouser wouldn't eat unless there was someone with him - even if it was a werewolf he didn't trust.

Usually she turned on the TV and watched whatever happened to be on, but tonight she was too tired to make the effort, so she unfolded the newspaper to see what had happened since the last time she'd picked one up a couple of months ago.

She skimmed through the headline articles on the front page without interest. Still complaining, Mouser emerged and stalked resentfully into the kitchen.

She turned the page so Mouser would know that she was really reading it - and drew in a sharp breath at the picture of a young man. It was a head shot, obviously a school picture, and next to it was a similar shot of a girl of the same age. The headline read: "Blood Found at Crime Scene Belongs to Missing Naperville Teen."

Feeling a little frantic, she read the article's review of the crime for those, like her, who had missed the initial reports.

Two months ago, Alan MacKenzie Frazier had disappeared from a high school dance the same night his date's body had been found on the school grounds. Cause of death was difficult to determine as the dead girl's body had been mauled by animals - there had been a pack of strays troubling the neighborhood for the past few months. Authorities had been uncertain whether the missing boy was a suspect or not. Finding his blood led them to suspect he was another victim.

Anna touched Alan Frazier's smiling face with trembling fingers. She knew. She knew.

She jumped up from the table, ignoring Mouser's unhappy yowl, and ran cold water from the kitchen sink over her wrists, trying to keep nausea at bay. That poor boy.

It took another hour for Mouser to finish his food. By that time Anna had the article memorized - and had come to a decision. Truthfully, she'd known as soon as she read the paper, but it had taken her the full hour to work up the courage to act upon it: if she'd learned anything in her three years as