The Thing About Weres

A Mystwalker Novel

A Mystwalker Novel (Volume 2)

Leigh Evans

St. Martin's Paperbacks

On the Tricky Subject of Wishes
 
 
I don’t know why Weres think the moon’s so beautiful. Look at it. The thing’s rutted with craters. Not once have I gazed at it and wanted to let loose a wolf howl or break into a melancholy chorus of “Moon River.”
Most nights, I refuse to give it more than a brooding glance. Matter of fact, most of the time, I make a point of not looking upward. I keep my eyes trained on the life around the pond and the dead air above it.
But sometimes, when my thoughts are muddy and circular—like they are tonight—my gaze will slowly swing upward to a certain star.
Star light, star bright.
If you want to see what I’m waxing poetic about, tilt your chin up and slant your gaze to a few degrees left of the Milky Way. There it is: one twinkle-perfect light. To my eyes, it’s not silver or white but a definite blue—a faint copy of the azure that glimmers from Trowbridge’s eyes. And even though it sparkles from a blanket of similar lights, to me its glow is far brighter than any other star’s.
It stands alone.
Brave. Insolent. Bright.
That makes it unique, and so I claim it as mine. Screw the dudes with the pocket protectors and penchant for Latin. They may have already given that radiant beauty a double-consonant moniker but I’ve redubbed that bit of pretty “Hedi’s Star.”
The first star I see tonight.
I’ve never pinned a wish upon my star. Mostly because I have the sneaking suspicion that Karma’s not done with me yet. And I can’t help but worry that no matter how cagily I frame my request, that greedy witch would hear the naked plea in it, and would immediately begin plotting something nasty.
And she’d already done a whole bunch of the nasty.
Why? Because Karma’s an insatiable bitch.
Which is exactly the type of talk Cordelia loathes hearing. Trowbridge’s best friend has several pithy life prompts she repeats whenever she’s convinced I’m in need of some attitude coaching. “You are the architect of your own life.” (Pinched from Alfred A. Montapert.) “Find your passion and embrace it!” (Lifted from Oprah.) And her own wry creation, “Stop brooding, darling, or you’ll get lines around your mouth.”
They’re relatively new, these buck-up phrases.
At first, back in the day when we were getting accustomed to each other’s foibles—basically those early weeks just after we’d shoved Trowbridge through the Gates of Merenwyn—my six-foot roommate had been confident that I’d figure out how to summon the portal.
Uh-huh. That and a dollar bill will get you four bits.
Then one day, she came to the quiet realization that I wasn’t going to summon up the smoke, and the myst, and the round window to the Fae realm—or maybe better said, she finally understood that I really couldn’t—and she abruptly dropped the subject of bringing the true Alpha of Creemore home.
That’s when Cordelia started focusing on the here and now, which meant alternately scowling at me with something akin to reluctant affection or holding up her bejeweled finger to utter one of those little bon-mots.
And that’s when I knew.
My new best friend had resigned herself to what she considered the truth: that Trowbridge wasn’t ever going to return home; that Merenwyn had swallowed him just like it had swallowed my twin brother Lexi; and now it was up to the three of them—Cordelia, the ex–drag queen; Harry, a Were who’s seen three score and more years; and Biggs, the wolf voted least likely to succeed—to form a protective barrier between me and Trowbridge’s pack.
“Look on the bright side, darling, where there’s life, there’s hope,” she says now when she’s feeling generous.
But she doesn’t look at me when she says it.
Days have run together. Fast forward and we’re here—the first night of the Hunter moon, six months and twelve days after I slid my mate through the Gates of Merenwyn. Which was one of the reasons my favorite star and I were having an epic stare-down before I threw in the towel and tried to get some sleep.
Last night, as I lay alone in my bunk bed, listening to the dead branches of the old maple chafe in the wind, I had a mind-blowing epiphany.
Ready? See if you can follow my logic: if there really was such a thing as Karma, then how much of a stretch was it to believe that there’s such thing as a benevolent Goddess in the sky? And even more wondrous—what if my Sky Goddess was more powerful than Karma?
Could there really be such a loving deity? One that waits, invisible and Godly, dying to hear your problems? And better yet—what if she could protect me from Karma’s whims? What if my Goddess was just waiting to hear me wish upon a star?
On that hazy thought, I drifted off into a dreamless sleep, from which I woke with the sudden, irritating awareness of one additional and painful twist to the previous night’s revelation.
Hells-bells, if my logic was sound, then my silence over these last six months wasn’t an act of stoic restraint; it was a piece of lame stupidity.
Crap.
So here I am. Sitting cross-legged on Lexi’s pirate stone, slapping at late-season mosquitoes, setting myself up for a fall. On the plus side, I’m solo tonight—nobody’s breathing over my shoulder because my would-be protectors believe I’m safe by the fairy pond. The wolves are spooked by it, and the humans don’t know about it. Up in the trailer, Cordelia’s fussing with her wig. Back at his apartment, Biggs is probably reading some wolf-girl’s Facebook timeline. And Harry? Goddess knows what my favorite geezer’s doing. Maybe he’s oiling his gun.
I’m finally alone. About to pin a wish on a star.
I wish I may, I wish I might.
I clear my throat. “Hey, Star. I’m not sure how this wish-fulfillment thing goes, so I’m going to just work my way toward my request, okay?” Cover all the bases first. You’re not above doing a little groveling to smooth the way. “I know that it’s totally my problem that I can’t summon the portal. I accept responsibility all way round on that. And I know if you really want to be pissy, then it’s my own fault that I’m in this position. After all, I was the person who pushed Trowbridge through the Gates of Merenwyn—”
Gad, am I turning into one of those wimpy women who tune into Dr. Phil?
“I had no choice,” I say, in a harder tone. “It was either that or watch him die.”
And I’ll never sit helpless again, watching someone die.
“Look, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Karma’s already taken a big bite out of me. A Were killed my dad, and the Fae executed my mom. The Fae stole my brother too—by force—and dragged him across the portal into Merenwyn, and then…” Even now, it’s hard to think of it. “They slammed the gates shut. I haven’t seen Lexi since.”
Unforgivable.
Lexi’s got to be alive. Trowbridge, too.
“Maybe it’s time for the tide to turn. Maybe you can tell Karma to back off and throw me a bone.” I blink hard at the tears gathering, and my star—that round blue diamond—blurs into something you’d expect to see hovering over a stable, a donkey, and a pregnant virgin.
“I’m not asking for the moon…” I feel my lips curve into a weak smile. “So I won’t ask you to return Merry, too.”
No, I can’t do that. She made it home. She’s safe now.
My damned throat is so damn raw it hurts to form the words. “So all I’m asking for is…”
Oh, Goddess. What if Trowbridge is happier there? What if life is better in Merenwyn? Is that why neither of them have returned home?
I can’t shape the words.
I can only silently pray.
Please, Star.
Give me the wish I wish tonight.


 
Copyright © 2013 by Leigh Evans