Following the Feeling Ch. 01bycricketmuse©
Groggily she walked into the restaurant and headed for the hostess stations. A petite woman with amber hair and green eyes smiled and asked, "Do you have a reservation?"
"It's under the name Gareth for 9 o'clock," she responded around a yawn.
The hostess checked her book, smiled and picked up two menus. "Will you follow me, please?"
Kiera hastily nodded while smothering another yawn. They walked through a maze of well dressed tables mostly occupied by other diners. At a booth towards the back the waitress waited until Kiera sat and then handed her a menu then put the other one down on the opposite side. A waiter immediately appeared to place her napkin on her lap.
My, what service, Kiera thought while smiling her thanks.
"Would you like to order a drink now while you wait for your other party?" the waiter asked while yet another waiter, also handsome, poured glasses of water.
Mentally rolling her eyes at the number of attractive servers, she replied, "No thanks, just water for now."
With a dazzling, yet polite smile, the waiter and water bearer walked on to be oh so helpful to other tables. Sipping her water, Kiera surreptitiously looked around at the other diners. Some were casually dressed, but most had nice cocktail dresses and suits on. She felt worn down and ragged in her present company. She picked up the menu and saw many offerings in beef and pork and lamb and more meat dishes. She wasn't a vegetarian, but how much meat could one place offer? She put the menu down with a sigh and leaned her head back against the back and closed her eyes.
He's nervous, he must be going to propose tonight. She already knows and is impatient for him to ask. A waiter is irritated with his current table. The group there is drunk and lusting after the cute waiter. Someone in the kitchen is angry and probably yelling at someone else who is also angry, but scared too.
The emotions of the people in the restaurant rolled over and through Kiera's mind. She couldn't turn it off, couldn't make it quiet when she was this tired. She just wanted to be home with her cats and with the quiet. The blessed quiet and stillness of home. But no, Gareth insisted they have dinner tonight and picked "the best restaurant in the city" to come to. She agreed because she liked Gareth's company and he'd just haunt her cell phone and doorstep until she agreed. Single gay friends would be the death of her, Kiera thought with a smile. Single gay friends who finally showed up, that is.
"Kit-kat, you look positively run over."
Kiera opened her eyes and her smiles wearily grew. "Always a charmer, you. No wonder David dumped your sorry ass."
Garteth slip into the booth across from her and glared. "Not nice and totally uncalled for. My God, how long has is been since you've slept?"
Kiera tried to think. "What day is it?"
"Thursday. It's September 22nd, official first day of Autumn, 9:05 PM," he finished while looking at his watch.
"Hmm, you were late."
"No, I'm sure I was in the parking lot by 9:00. And don't dodge the question, Kit-Kat."
Kiera sighed and picked up her menu. A petite sirloin sounded nice with sautéed mushrooms and a side salad. Maybe a nice hearty meal would put her out. Isn't there something in turkey to make her sleep? Or is it just sleepy? She was already sleepy she needed no help there, and besides there wasn't turkey on the menu. Petite sirloin it was.
"I caught a cat nap on Tuesday afternoon before opening the bar," she finally replied.
Gareth huffed in that way of his that seemed both refined and offended. As if it was her fault. As if it impeded his life. As if.
"Love, whatever it is this time that's keeping you up, you need to fix it. Or try drugs. Have you tried taking something?"
"Yeah well I've tried smoking pot, but it just makes me hungry," she said with a smirk. "What are you going to have?"
"I've been craving some big meat," he answered with the same smirk, "I think I'll have the prime rib. This is the best restaurant in town for steak, you know. Apparently the owners own their own ranch and raise the best beef."
Gareth began to speak, but just then one of the good looking waiters came over to take their order. Gareth ordered a glass of red wine and the prime rib and Kiera ordered the sirloin, medium rare.
"Would you care for a cocktail with dinner?" the waiter asked.
"No alcohol for me, thanks."
With a lingering smile he nodded and walked back to the kitchen.
"I think he was flirting with you, K. Pity. All the cute ones are straight."
Kiera laughed at that. "One, the popular saying is all the good ones are married or gay and two, I'm pretty sure being charming is in the job description."
"I said cute ones, not good ones. Rarely do the two meet. And you seem to have forgotten that you a quite a lovely creature. Speaking of creature, back to your freaky statement. I would think that given your...uniqueness, that you could appreciate a restaurant with a certain flair. Something out the ordinary, like you."
Kiera's eyebrow raised. "I think there was a compliment in there somewhere, but it got lost. I'd ask you to try again, but I'd rather you didn't. I'm too tired and there's way too much going on here for me to focus on sifting through your words looking for sense. So let's talk about..." and then she slammed her fist on the table.
Gareth grabbed for the water glasses and exclaimed, "Shit, K, what the fuck was that about?"
But she was lost to feeling. Not hers, but someone else's nearby. Someone in pain and fear and...dying.
"Someone...is...dying," she hissed through clenched teeth.
Gareth looked around, but didn't see anything unusual other than the other diners staring at their table. He leaned forward and whispered, "K, I don't see anything. Just breathe. Maybe an ambulance is driving by, just breathe through it."
"Not passing. Close."
"Can I help you?" the waiter asked with a concerned face.
Kiera's eyes rolled up to his. His immediately dropped to the ground. "I-I'll just get th-the manager."
Through the haze of pain and terror she was experiencing, she felt the waiter's fear like a lick again the back of her brain. She didn't care if she upset the waiter. She didn't care that she scared him even if it wasn't intentional. She just wanted to be able to breathe and escape from the vicinity. She pushed herself up from the table and Gareth stood quickly to catch her arm.
"Don't touch," she warned. Strong emotions could be transferred through touch and she'd rather not subject her friend to this. With as much focus as she could muster she started her way back through the maze of gaping diners to the entrance. They probably thought she was having an asthma attack with her shallow wheezing breaths. Almost at the entrance, just a few more steps and then the door was blocked by a towering bulk of a man.
"I'm sorry, but can I help you? I'm the owner and will assist you in any way I can," he spoke in a professional, yet soothing tone. "Should I call a cab or do you require emergency assistance?"
"Move," Kiera whispered while being assailed by an excruciating wave of pain induced terror.
Gareth moved beside her and said, "She'll be fine, just needs some fresh air. You know how these intimate settings can, uh, overwhelm a girl."
He continued speaking to the man Kiera only registered as large while she sidled between them with barely a brush of clothing and headed outside. At the first blast of cool evening air reached her she drew a deep breathe and tried desperately not to scream. She turned left away from the source of what she sensed, and then stopped. This wasn't natural death, it was murder. The fresh air and space cleared her brain enough to feel some guilt about just walking away. She turned around and walked in the other direction while following the trail of emotions she felt. Such extreme feelings blocked out most everything else, though she knew Gareth was worried and was following her along with someone else. The feelings magnified as she approached a dark alley. She paused at the entrance.
"Stay here," a voice said behind her, but she didn't hear it. Kiera stepped into the darkness of the alleyway heedless of the hands that tried to hold her back. She walked about halfway down before her other senses picked up what the one had already been screaming. The bitter metallic smell of blood, the red splashes of it painting the dimly lit walls. And there in the middle was a huge beastlike creature biting at a man who desperately tried to fight it off. His eyes were wide and panicked, but alert.
As the scene sank in, Kiera was roughly pushed aside as a great growl echoed through the alley. The beast raised its head at the growl and whipped around to meet the new aggressor. It was barreled backwards over his recent victim and thrown to the ground. Kiera dimly registered the man from the restaurant entrance, but her primary focus was on the bloodied heap of a man on the ground. Inching forward she pulled off her sweater and tried to find the best place to staunch the blood flow. Gareth knelt next to her while watching the fight in front of them. He tore off his dinner jacket and also started covering gaping wounds and applying pressure. The man on the ground growled at them, but was too weak to do otherwise.
Seconds later they heard strange yelping and growling and then the beast fell to the ground. The restaurant owner stood with his back to them for another half minute before turning to join them on the ground.
"Derek, help is on its way," he said while looking over the various wounds.
"Should I call 911?" Gareth asked tremulously. He was pretty sure he was going to be sick.
"No," the man growled. "Help is coming."
Kiera was still only peripherally aware of the conversation. The man on the ground still pulsed with fear and pain and...shame? She reached out and touched his hand. After an initial jerk the man settled back down and looked back at her.
"Okay," she whispered, "it's going to be okay." Meanwhile she let calmness fill her and she pushed it into him like a warm blanket meant to soothe away the fear and pain.
In response he tightened his grip on her hand. They sat like that for another minute before voices were heard. In a rush a group of people surrounded the small group pushing them aside to get to Derek. He refused to release Kiera's hand and held onto her like a life raft while the people spoke with the other man, replaced the sweater and jacket with swathes of bandages and as an afterthought covered the dead beast with a black tarp. Minutes later they were ready to transport Derek, not through the entrance of the alley but rather towards the back. Kiera was dragged along despite everyone's efforts to get him to let go of her. At the other end they went into one of the buildings which was attached to the restaurant and then into a large elevator. It went down several floors and then pinged open to what looked like a hospital corridor. It was white and smelled sterile. They rushed along to a room that housed a doctor and roomful of nurses who swarmed around their patient as soon as he was transported onto a bed. In the rush Kiera managed to free herself with one last burst of calm into Derek. He whimpered briefly, but settled.
She stepped back and looked around. She blinked and then everyone else's feelings came rushing into her mind. It was intense, but manageable. She saw Gareth slumped in a corner and walked towards him. Again her way was blocked by a towering figure.
"You." he began. It was the man from the restaurant. He was glaring, but she didn't sense his anger was directed at her. "You knew something was wrong when you were in the restaurant."
"Yes," Kiera replied.
His eyes narrowed, "What are you?"
She blinked. "I'm human. What are you?"
"I'm not," he answered with a growl. "How did you know? Are you a witch or a psychic?"
Kiera's spine stiffened at his interrogatory tone. Somehow she knew she should be afraid, but she was too tired and emotionally wrung out too heed her natural fear.
"Empath," she bit out.
"So you just felt something and went to investigate? How altruistic. How do I know you aren't lying? That you aren't working with them? That you haven't been assigned to ingratiate yourself to the pack by "saving" one of our lives? That the bastard who attacked Derek was supposed to finish the damage and be gone before you showed up? Who are you?"
The last accusatory question echoed in the room while the doctor and nurses tried desperately to ignore the distraction. Kiera stood there while her own emotions warred within until one won. It was anger.
"What the FUCK are you talking about?" And with that the exhaustion caught up with her and she passed out at his feet.
Grayson James Gray, Alpha of the most prestigious werewolf pack in the Southern states, stared down in disbelief at the woman at his feet. Of all the ways he'd made woman lose consciousness, while screaming at him was a first. He stared down at her still form, over at the terrified man in the corner and at the bed where his staff worked on Derek. Shaking his head he scooped her up and growled at the man, "Follow me."