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Authors: penelope sweet

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Wolves among men

BOOK: Wolves among men
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Wolves among Men

By: Penelope Sweet

Copyright 2014 by Penelope Sweet

Smashwords Edition

For Carter John Michael Sebastian
Sims

The little boy who cried
wolf

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything
but it is wrong.

No matter how fast light travels, it finds the
darkness has always got there first and is waiting for
it.”

Terry Pratchett

Chapter One

 

 

 

 

California has always been my home. It’s where
I grew up and where I thought I would live out the rest of my days.
Home is the one place in the world you always think of as safe
despite the crime rate but I know different now and I will do
anything I can to protect the last shred of family that’s left. At
times, I love her more than myself and I can’t take the thought of
never seeing her smiling face again but no one ever said that doing
the right thing was easy.

 

My truck groaned loudly as I flew down the
highway. My thoughts are never ending and threaten to throw me into
madness if I didn’t do something, anything to quell the guilt of
abandonment that hovered around me and made it hard to
breathe.

 

I turned up the radio to drown it all out as I
pushed my old Dodge just as fast as she would go.

 

“Just a little longer,” I whispered as I
reached forward and patted the dashboard. “And we can both
rest.”

 

She served me well, my old truck but it was no
mystery from looking at her and hearing the groan in her voice that
she was ready to retire. I just hoped that she was well enough to
get me where I needed to go.

 

But not tonight
, I thought as I saw the
turnoff. A few miles down, I found an old motel waiting to greet
me. It was rundown and uninviting but now wasn’t the time to be
picky.

 

Pulling into the gravel parking lot, I shut
the old girl down. Without the rumble of her antique engine, the
night was quiet, eerie and a little bit dangerous. Closing my eyes
for a moment, I took in the silence and the smell of the night air
as intoxicating as it was and had always been.

 

A few minutes passed and the need for sleep
washed over me, making it almost impossible for me to open my eyes
willingly. I shook myself awake, grabbed my bag from the passenger
seat and made my way up the drive to what I was hoping wasn’t the
Bates motel.

 

Now I’m not a big fan of landscaping, too
unnatural if you ask me but even in the dark, I could tell that
this place was sorely in need of some. Between the patches of
yellow dead grass and the cracked and mismatched stones posing as a
walkway, there was little to salvage the look of the desolate and
unwelcoming building before me.

 

From the outside, I could see the pale pink
curtains that dangled lifelessly behind the panes of glass that
lined the motel’s sickly green walls. Stopping for a second, I
wondered if anyone ever thought this looked good or if a bet was
lost years ago. The thought escaped me as I pulled open the door
and the overwhelming scent of mothballs and floor cleaner brought
me back to a painful reality. For a moment, I considered the
possibility of sleeping in my truck rather than having to endure
the violent assault on my senses but somehow I managed to find the
strength to shrug it off and step inside.

 

As the door closed loudly behind me with a
bells soft jingle, I took a look around the room and sighed. Just
my luck, there was no one to be seen.

 

The hum of static on the TV behind me was all
I could hear as I poked my head around the back of a beaten up
desk. No one. I rang the bell as loud as I could. Once ....Twice
...”Hello?” I called. No answer.

 

A few moments passed while I did everything I
could to suppress the urge to toss the T.V through the large window
to the side of me, it was amazing how quickly the dull distant hum
of nothing could get on your nerves. As I looked up from my
scattered thoughts, I found myself suddenly face to face with a man
I assumed to be the owner.

 

He was a small man with a menacing yet
friendly look about him. It was almost unnerving the mix of the two
and it took me a moment to compose myself. Thankfully, he spoke
first, “Can I help you?” with a voice so raspy that it barely
suited him at all.

 

“Hello.” I held my hand out with a smile. “My
name is Ethan. I don’t mean to bother you so late but your sign
said vacancy.” I threw in another smile for good measure as he took
my hand and shook it limply.

 

“No bother, son. So you looking to stay the
night or a few days?” he asked as he walked behind the desk slowly
and pulled a key off of the empty rack behind him. He placed it on
the counter and gave me another quick glance.

 

“Oh no.” I smiled as I adjusted my back pack
and stepped up to the counter. “Just the night.”

 

“It seems that is all we get these days.” He
chuckled as he reached down and pulled out a thick, leather bound
book. He flipped through it for a second, sending the smell of dust
and antiquity at me before turning it around to face me and handing
me a small chewed up pen.

 

“Sign here,” he pointed to the last of the
small boxes on the page. There were so many names and so many dates
that in a place like this I was sure at least half of them were
fake. I chuckled to myself as I scanned the creativity of the
various guests. John Smith was a fan of this place that’s for sure.
I shook myself out of my daze and finished signing my
name.

 

Ethan Harlow

 

Just as I finished, the old man took the book
from me and replaced it with a small key attached to a leather
chain, on it was the number 2.

 

“I don’t have many rooms here, but you’re in
luck-” He moved around the counter to face me. “we got just one
left tonight.” He chuckled as he patted my shoulder. I stepped
aside and followed a few steps behind the old man as he led me back
outside, toward the long sickly green building I had already
stopped to admire. The rush of cars from the nearby highway caught
my attention as he stopped in front of my door and shoved the key
into the lock.

 

“Okay, you’re all set, son.” He smiled as he
turned toward me and motioned toward the door. “If you need
anything, feel free to give me a holler.”

 

“Sure, thanks.” I smiled sincerely and waved
in thanks as he turned on his heels and made his way back to the
office. I glanced back as he cleared his throat and disappeared
into the front door, leaving me alone under the bug infested light.
Chuckling to myself, I took another quick look around before I slid
inside and closed the door behind me.

 

As soon as the room was flooded with light, I
found myself fighting the urge to simply live in darkness until it
was time to leave. The room was beyond salvageable in its
appearance. The same pink curtains hung next to the stained and
dirty purple walls and a sickly yellow carpet stopped at my feet. I
didn’t even want to begin to wonder what was going through the mind
of whoever decorated this monstrosity, it was beyond
fixable.

 

Shuddering as I took another step inside, I
threw my bag on a small round table that sat under the window next
to me. Running my fingers through my hair, I smirked and shook my
head as I made my way toward the tiny bathroom and reached inside
to flip on the light.

 

Taking a long look in the mirror through tired
eyes, I saw my hair was messy naturally and it was noticeably
longer than it was yesterday. “It’s growing too fast,” I grumbled
as I ran my fingers through it, trying the best I could to tame the
light brown mess of bed head that dangled over my eyes.

 

Running my hand down the side of my face, I
noticed I needed to shave but for now it would have to do. As I
looked closely at the man in the mirror, I was reminded of the kids
that roamed the halls of my old college campus. Too lazy to brush
their hair or even shave on a regular basis, donned in nothing more
than a black T shirt and too-big jeans in the place of any kind of
style, I could have easily passed for a kid fresh out of his
parents’ house and more than relishing in the freedom of nightly
parties and morning hangovers.

 

A slight chuckle escaped me as I splashed some
water on my face and dried off quickly. I had no desire to fix the
situation tonight and even if I had, the warm and inviting bed that
beckoned me from across the room had other plans in
mind.

 

As I lay there waiting for sleep to take its
hold on me, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was doing right
now. Was she worried? Was she scared? Would she come looking for
me? I didn’t have time to finish my thoughts before my eyes became
heavy and the dark grip of sleep washed over me.

 

But as luck would have it, it wasn’t long
before the phone started ringing.

 

Walking over to the table, I ruffled around
until I found it. The thought had crossed my mind to let it ring
but I decided I better answer. They would just call back anyhow and
I’d never get any sleep. I turned it over and checked the number
and my hands immediately went cold.

 

“No, no, no.” I grumbled. “I told her not to
call me.”

 

Cordillia had always been overly dramatic. The
scene she made when I told her I was leaving proved that more than
ever. The tears came first and then the screaming. It took
everything I had to calm her down and even then it still took damn
near an hour. I had to lie to her, I had no choice but she wasn’t a
fool and it didn’t take long for her to see right through
it.

 

I told her I was sick of California. I told
her I needed a change. The truth was I didn’t know where I was
going and I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just hoped that I
could get far enough away to keep her safe.

 

Clearing my thoughts, I lifted the phone to my
ear slowly. I didn’t even have a chance to speak before her sweet
voice came pouring out, “YOU ASSHOLE!” it was nice to hear she had
some emotion in her this time.

 

“Yes, Cordillia?” I waited for a reply. The
phone was silent as I heard her trying to control her
breathing.

 

“You meant it, really you weren’t kidding
about the whole leaving thing?” I paused for a moment and swallowed
the pain that grew in my stomach. I really hurt her, I never wanted
to but I did.

 

“I’m sorry, I had to. I don’t know how else to
explain.” Nothing, this was not good. The only time Cordillia ever
became quiet was when her gears were turning and that usually meant
a fight.

 

“I know you may think I’m a kid who just can’t
possibly get it, but I want to Ethan, please. We’re family. We can
work through whatever it is that’s making you run away like a
self-centered jackass,” her voice was angry and edged, not that I
blamed her. But I couldn’t think of anything to say. Nothing could
make this better and no explanation could make the situation any
less insane.

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