Marcus strode through the Quarter like he owned the place. He made sure he was seen, hitting the most popular tourist traps and jazz joints. The town was filling up with Mardi Gras and Lent barreling down on them. A lot of strangers were in town. Lots of pretty girls. People in a mood to party and get a little wild. Now and again, Marcus would pause just to watch, or see if the pretty little things who couldn’t take their eyes off him were brave enough to sidle up and say hello.
The krewes, be they human or supe, were gearing up for the parades but still keeping an eye on things. Marcus totally ignored the Weres shadowing him, never once looking into a window to catch their reflection, let them know he knew they were there. Every step, every sardonic lift of a lip, was an open challenge to the local Packs and he knew it. He just didn’t care.
A few people nodded at him or started in his direction. He didn’t quite encourage either, waiting until he was on his way back out the door before nodding back or just scowling as he slammed a beer or whiskey when someone looked like they might speak to him. The only ones he gave the time of day to were the bouncers and the bartenders. They had enough sense, or enough to do, to keep the chitchat to a minimum. The tips he left showed his appreciation and made sure they would remember him even in the crowd.
After a couple of hours, he saw what he was looking for. A dark haired Creole girl with skin the color of one of those fancy lattes Luna liked, hurrying through the crowds, eager to get home after work. He worked his way around so their paths would cross. A quick sniff and he knew she was no Were, though she hung or worked with supes. Their scent covered her. Marcus grinned and fell in step behind her.
As luck would have it, she was headed for one of the quiet streets leading away from the Quarter. He followed close enough that she knew she was being tailed and it made her nervous. Not nervous enough to turn back to the Quarter, however. Marcus guessed she must be heading somewhere close by or put too much faith in herself or her supe friends. His shadows wouldn’t follow him here, not unless they knew the girl, which, apparently, they didn’t. Marcus didn’t bother hiding a feral smile. The girl must have seen or sensed his smile because she picked up her pace, almost running towards her destination.
The porch light was on, someone was waiting for her. As she swung onto the porch steps, her backpack swung free, caught on the decorative railings. Marcus sprang into action, grabbing the bag. The girl had decent instincts. She let him have it and scrambled for the door, her keys in her hand, eyes on him. For a moment they stared at each other. Then the door behind her opened, a thin young man with a reedy voice stepped into the night, asking what was going on.
Marcus freed the backpack from the railing with a violent jerk that tore through the heavy canvas like cotton gauze. The message was clear. This could end much differently and that choice was his, not theirs. Without a word, Marcus handed the girl her kit. Her jaw trembled though she raised her chin defiantly as she took it. Their eyes locked once more, Marcus nodded a ghost of a smile touching his lips. He was rewarded by a confused blush as he stepped away and headed back towards the Quarter.
A few houses away he ducked down an alley and stripped, shoving his clothes into trash cans, dog houses and under cars. The only thing he kept were his boots which he tied together by the laces before shifting into his wolf form. Taking up the boots, he began to run, easily leaping over hedges and racing across streets to where he had buried a bag earlier that night. With powerful paws he dug it up, yanking it from its hiding place. He took a good look around, drawing in deep breaths of air, seeking any sign that he was being watched. Confident he was alone, he began to shift again.
I would have loved to have just lain there forever. My skin and mind crawled with the knowledge of what I had just done. Even the cold dirt beneath me felt cleaner than i did. Not for long, though. My stomach rebelled and I retched until there was less than nothing in it. With shaking hands I buried the vomit and pulled on my own clothes. Stashing the boots in my bag, I began the long walk to the bus that would take me back to the airfield. I pulled a mini-bottle of whiskey out and swished it through my mouth before spitting it out. I knew I looked awful, hopefully the whiskey smell would fool everyone into thinking I was just drunk or something. It was a good thing I’d already called in sick for Friday. I wasn’t going to be in any shape, mentally or physically to deal with other people.
Skinwalking was bad enough. Skinwalking as Marcus was a whole different level of disgusting. I didn’t want to know I could pull it off, that I could make people believe I was him. But I didn’t have any choice. Wolves were watching Emma and me. They were probably watching Sam, too. I couldn’t risk that they would do more tha watch, so I had taken Marcus’ form and begun sowing seeds of doubt that the Pack Leader was gone. I knew Marcus was gone. I also knew he’d never be forgotten. It made me want to kill him, again. Maybe I would.