tagNonHumanTwisted Tails Ch. 01

Twisted Tails Ch. 01

byJaisen©

I have been asked by numerous people for Andrew's story. Once the 'right idea' sparked, I began this story that braids in and out of the More Than Just A Fairy Tale cast of characters. I'd like to thank my bevvy of readers, Mazuri, Mokkekle, Southern Sir and my dear partner Wolf for their help, encouragement and scratching at the door until I wrote this story. I hope you enjoy this story. Please vote and comment. It's the only thanks or encouragement we get for writing.

Jaisen

Vivien sat across from the store watching the stream of people move in and out. She made marks on a checklist. Six months had passed since the debacle at the courthouse where reporters and newspapers alike had been fined for slander, trespassing, vandalism and other charges. As a junior reporter for one of the papers, she had been spared the charges, and told to hand in all of her notes and photographs. Vivien had done so, but failed to mention the backup copy she had at home. There was more to this whole story and she intended to prove it. She wanted to find out what was really going on and she had no intention of giving up.

Now, in her free time, she had started to keep tabs on the businesses that had been part of the lawsuit. Four or five of them she had scratched off for being mundane boring businesses. She stayed clear of the big name businesses like Alpha Wolf Technologies in part because of the nature of their business didn't lead to easy observation and partially because of the two guard dogs. The Silver Lode on the other hand was an easy target. Especially as the mall traffic kept things mixed up and it didn't hurt that there was an ice cream shop across from it as well.

Vivien ate a bit of her ice cream sundae in between taking notes. She made it a habit to be here at least once a week. No one noticed a person eating ice cream. She had a list of coded entries for the people who were repeat customers and staff. SF was shifter friendly. S for suspected shifter, H for human and O for other. She didn't log everyone either, just those that she had seen more than once or twice in the store. She looked at her 'most likely suspects' list.

Silversmith, SF H

Goth chick, clerk SF or S

Baldy, owner SF H

Tall Dark & Dangerous S!

Bitchy-Poo, S (mate of TD&D?)

AWT S! (Alpha?)

Classy SF (Alpha's mate) H

Mountain! S

Midget SF (Mountain's mate?)

Swish S

Cowboy S

Cowboy 2 S

Wolf girl S!!! (Cowboy 2's mate)

Lanky S?

Son of Lanky??

Bitch 2 S

Bitch 3 S

Some of them were just numbered as she hadn't had time to figure out names, but if they came in with one of the regulars, she noted them. Bitchy-Poo and TD&D had just walked in. They were off to the left side of the counter, talking to Goth Chick. Vivien wondered what they were looking at. She knew that the store sold all kinds of jewelry. Maybe she'd check it out later.

Ten minutes passed and she'd finished her sundae. Dropping the dish in the trash, she walked over to the story. The two shifters had just left, so she took her time walking around the story. As she walked around she noted what kind of jewelry was in each of the displays. They had changed things around a bit since the last time she'd been in, so it took a moment to figure out what was in each case.

"May I help you?" a deep voice asked.

Vivien looked up to see the Silversmith standing there. "Damn, he's sexy!" she thought. "Um... I was just looking. Do you have any sinuous bracelets? Sort of Hindu styled?" she asked.

"Well, we have these rope bracelets and then there are the more standard chains," he said. He pulled out a couple of trays and showed her some of them.

She looked them over, noticing his hands were strong and showed that he worked with them instead of just sitting at a computer or counter all day. "No, nothing here really sparks my fancy," she said. "Except you! You smell like chai tea. Hmmm..." she thought as he leaned over to point out more bracelets.

"We occasionally do custom work for a price," he said.

"Oh, what kind of stuff?" Vivien asked.

"Special requests, bear claws, wedding sets, that kind of thing," he said as he pointed to various pieces of jewelry in the case. One tray held turquoise animal charms, bear claws, wolf prints and eagles. Another held necklaces.

"Ah, okay. Nothing in gold or platinum?" she asked.

"A few bits, but most people come here for the silver. I'm the silversmith and I make sure the metal is good quality," he said.

"Cool," Vivien replied. "I can understand that. "I think I'll keep looking for now. Appreciate you showing me the bracelets."

"You're welcome. I'm Andrew Davis," he said and held out his hand.

"Vivien, Vivien Sopris" she said and shook his hand. It was strong and warm. "Nice to meet you." With that, she walked over to another display and then headed out the door.

Andrew moved back to his work area. As he did, he sniffed his hand. Her scent was familiar under the sticky sweet smell of ice cream and chocolate syrup. He'd remember her now. "What are you up to Vivien Sopris?" he wondered.

Vivien sat in her car and wrote a quick note next to her list.

Silversmith SH H Andrew Davis. Sandy hair. Smells like chai.

"Well, at least I know he isn't a werewolf," she said to no one as she put her notebook away. She drove out of the mall parking lot and headed home. Once she got home, there'd be entries to make in her data base. Data would be the way this story would play out, not just idle speculation or chance sightings in the middle of the night or the rantings of some paramedic. She'd work this out like a science project. Observation, data and hard cold facts.

*

It had been a couple of weeks since Vivien had been to the mall. She'd spent time running down various leads. Some had worked out, while others didn't. Vivien was still convinced that there must be jewelry that the werewolves could wear that wasn't being shown to the regular customers. Otherwise, why would they frequent a shop that sold so much silver. She couldn't figure out how to check this out. Granted, she hadn't seen anything like the necklace she'd seen on Classy, the Alpha's mate. She'd made a few more inquiries and had some new data to add.

Goth chick, clerk SF or S Becky

Baldy, owner SF H

Tall Dark & Dangerous S! Patrick Dorrit

Bitchy-Poo, S (mate of TD&D?) Ginny Dorrit

AWT S! (Alpha?) Luc Moreau

Classy SF (Alpha's mate) H Margaret Moreau (twin babies)

Mountain! S gone

Midget SF (Mountain's mate?) gone

Swish S Kevin

Cowboy S Cal

Cowboy 2 S Pete

Wolf girl S!!! (Cowboy 2's mate)

Lanky S? Alexander

Son of Lanky??

Bitch 2 S Marie

Bitch 3 S Ysabel

Vivien couldn't believe how lucky she'd been. Court records had cleared and she'd been able to see them because of a friend of a friend, and all it had taken was a date with the dweeb. For all the information she'd garnered it had been worth a movie and dinner with the mouth breathing groper.

Another lead was a doctor that seemed to have a very selective group of patients. She'd followed Classy, and discovered that she went to a clinic out in the foothills that no one seemed to know existed. They didn't take new patients without referrals either. Her request to interview the two paramedics had died. One sent her a cease and desist order and the other letter came back "undeliverable". She packed up her notebook and decided to go to the mall for a little shopping therapy and ice cream.

*

"Hey, Andrew," Becky said with a whisper.

"Yes?" he said poking his head out of his work area.

"Ice cream headache is back," she said with a giggle in her voice.

"Becky, that isn't nice," he said as he stood up. He looked out the window and saw that the woman Becky had given the nickname to was sitting across the mall eating ice cream. She was usually there once a week, but this was the first time he'd seen her in almost a month. She wasn't bad looking. She had one of those hair cuts that would defy gravity. Red curls that wouldn't stay in her hair tie scrunchie thing. Right now, as she sat there, one curl was dangling almost in the center of her forehead.

"There once was a girl, who had a little curl..." he thought. Andrew realized that she reminded him of Ginny. Feisty and obviously up to something. She wasn't a shifter or a thief, so he was puzzled.

"Becky, I think I'm going to get some ice cream," he said.

"What? You don't eat that stuff! What the hell are you up to?" she asked.

"I'm curious and there is nothing worse than a curious wolf," he said smiling.

"Fine. Just be careful. I've seen her somewhere other than the mall, but I can't remember where," said Becky.

"Keep your ears tucked girl. I'll be careful. Besides, I trust you with my dastardly secret," he teased.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah...." Becky said dismissively. She wasn't a shifter, but she'd been a classmate of Bitty's and 'Solda's. She had a hell of a crush on Luc at one time, but just couldn't get past the furry sex thing.

Andrew smiled and headed out the back door so he could approach the ice cream shop and the woman upwind.

Vivien finally pulled her book out of her handbag. No traffic at the Silver Lode. She nibbled at her sundae as she got lost in the latest urban fantasy novel she'd picked up. "Ah, Anita, you have all the luck," she thought as she read.

"Do you mind if I share your table?" a deep voice asked.

Vivien startled, and looked up to see the Silversmith standing there. "Oh. No, no problem, let me move my stuff," she said. Grabbing the messenger bag off of the chair, she set it on the floor.

"Thanks. It's about the only table I can see the store from and if my assistant needs me, I'll see her," he said as he sat down. "I've met you before I think?"

"Yes. I'm Vivien..." she started.

"Vivien Sopris, yes. Came into the shop looking for bracelets," he said. "My name is Andrew."

Vivien nodded. Her brain was whirling ninety miles an hour. "Damn he's handsome."

"So, what brings you to the mall today?" he asked.

"Ice cream. It's been a long couple of weeks and I decided I needed a treat," she said.

"Understandable. I usually don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I discovered that they have frozen sorbet, and I just had to have some," he admitted pointing to his dish.

"Not ice cream?" she asked.

"No, ice cream and I don't get along, but this stuff is okay," he said. "And now the game begins."

"Oh," she said. "Geeze, that was intelligent conversation," she thought to herself.

"What do you do when you're not eating ice cream or shopping?" he asked pointing to her small pile of shopping bags.

"I'm a freelance journalist," she said before her brain could put the breaks on her mouth. "Shit!"

"Oh, what kind of stuff do you write?" Andrew asked in a friendly voice.

"Just about anything my editor tells me to write. Baby stories, cooking contests, local interest, court cases, and sometimes new books at the library," she said holding up her book.

"Ah, a gopher," Andrew said as all kinds of bells and lights went off in his head. The book she held up was by an author known for her supernatural characters.

"Freelance is the term I prefer. Still works out to about 5 cents a word, but it looks better on a resume," said Vivien just a little more frustrated than she wanted to come across.

"And what do you do for the rest of your income? Certainly 5 cents a word won't pay for even your ice cream," he said.

"I get a salary from the paper, but anything I write is extra, and in essence does pay for my ice cream," retorted Vivien.

"And what story are you hunting down at the moment?" Andrew asked. He'd remembered where he'd seen her. Back of the courthouse main court room during the legal case that the families had been involved in almost a year ago. She'd been more of an observer and not one of those charged with misconduct.

"Well, I'm doing book reviews," she said rolling her eyes. "I really like the author and I've been doing her works as well as other urban fantasy writers."

"What sparked this?" he asked taking a bit of his sorbet.

"Well, promise not to think I'm crazy?" she asked.

"Maybe. I'll keep an open mind," he said.

"Okay. Well, there was this court case about a year ago. Slander, hate crime stuff and just some really weird shit. All based on some pretty odd circumstances," she started.

"Yes. You aren't telling me anything," he said. "And will you?"

She took a bite of ice cream for courage. "Well, this is the weird bit. Um... the whole thing stemmed from two paramedics who claimed a guy they got a call on up in this big resort town was a werewolf. It had all sorts of ramifications and a bunch of companies here in the city got buildings vandalized, people hassled and that kind of thing because people were accusing them of being werewolves," she said.

Andrew chuckled. "And were they?"

"Well, that's the funny thing. The papers got charged with slander and defamation of character and things like that, but nothing ever came of the actual cause of the whole thing. I mean, no one ever proved or disproved that anyone was or wasn't a werewolf. It just sort of got lost in the legal bits," she said.

"So, because of this court case, you started reading 'urban fiction' and writing book reviews?" asked Andrew.

"Sort of. I've been reading these kinda books for a while. What made me curious is that in every myth, there is a grain of truth. In every weird off the wall story, there had to be something that sparked it. The story sort of made me curious. I started checking into things," she said. "And now we will see what happens."

"Let me see if I have this straight. First off, there was an accusation that someone was a werewolf. A shape shifter like in these stories you read. Then, because of the way things got handled, you decided to investigate things further in your free time between writing book reviews that deal with the supernatural," he said.

"Sounds pretty lame doesn't it?" she said. Vivien realized it did sound pretty sad now that she thought about it.

"Maybe. Then again, if you find things that support your hypothesis, it might be very advantageous. You might stand to make some money off of it if you can get anyone to publish it," he said.

"That's the frustrating part. Considering the fines the papers had to pay out, no one will touch the story if I found anything, or wrote it. It would simply be for my own satisfaction. The idea has gotten under my skin. All these books about werewolves and vampires have to have some kernel of truth, and I simply want to know," Vivien said.

"Ah. Intellectual curiosity. A noble reason. So, when you get frustrated, you come down here to drown your sorrows in ice cream?" he asked innocently.

"No. Um. Sort of. Oh hell. No," she said. She tried to lie, but realized she couldn't. There was something about this man that she liked. She didn't want to lie to him.

Andrew smiled. He could tell she was trying not to lie. That gave her credit with him. "So which is it?" he asked.

"Okay, I'm going to be totally honest with you. You can laugh, or leave. Just don't get angry with me or call the police," she said.

"All right," he said. "And now we will see just how close you've gotten."

"I followed the court case. It was really interesting. I... I just couldn't let it go. So, I traced some of the people who were part of the court case. They frequent your shop, and I believe that shifters really exist. I think they buy stuff from your store, and either you know this or are totally clueless," she said in one rush of breath.

Andrew looked at her, and made a decision. "Yes, I know," he said.

*

Vivien blinked. "Whhha?" she stuttered.

"I said, I know. You've been very clever. Since you didn't lie to me, I decided to tell you the truth you wanted to know," Andrew said.

Vivien took a deep breath and tried to swallow the bit of ice cream that seemed to freeze in her throat. "Yyou know that there are shifters?" she finally said.

"Yes. We do have shifters who frequent the shop, because we cater to them," said Andrew. He was enjoying the way her emotions fluttered across her face. Part of him wanted to shift right there and see what would happen. The other part wondered just how many tales she believed about shifters.

"Oh god! Um... and you're still willing to talk to me?" she asked as reality slammed home.

"Yes. You need to understand that we have a philosophy. If people honestly ask, we explain. If you're a kook of some kind, we'll never talk to you," he said. "And to be honest, the latest craze in literature have made for interesting speculations for us." Andrew pointed to her book as he said this.

"Wait. You can't be a shifter, you work with silver," she said.

"Ah, that is a myth. Silver doesn't bother shifters," he said holding out his hand which were dirty and stained from working metal.

"Okay, you're pulling my leg. Teasing me. That's just mean," she said starting to stand up.

Andrew put his hand over her wrist and held her there. She was surprised that she couldn't move. "I am not teasing you. Shifters exist, and I am one. Silver is a beautiful metal, but doesn't hurt us. That is a myth," he said softly.

"Fine. Prove it. Shift. Turn into a..a wolf," she said. She honestly didn't know whether to panic or just scream. This was not how she expected her day to go. If silver didn't hurt them, what else wasn't true. And why was he being so open with her?

"I will not cause panic in the mall, nor would I be that stupid. Would you care to go for a ride to a park? Your choice? I'd be glad to shift there. The only requirement is a little privacy like a bathroom," Andrew said.

"Why do you need privacy?" she asked before she thought.

"Well, I'm rather partial to these trousers," he said.

Then it dawned on her. He didn't want to rip his clothing, if he really was what he said he was.

"You'll follow me to a park of my choice?" she asked gathering up her things.

"Yes. Just give me a moment to tell Becky I'll be gone the rest of the afternoon," he said. He dumped his trash and headed over to the Silver Lode.

Vivien dumped her trash and followed him to the store. She got there just as he walked out.

"Let's go," he said.

Twenty minutes later, she pulled into a park on the edge of town. He'd followed her in his burgundy Subaru and parked next to her. He got out, stretched and emptied his pockets onto the front seat of his car. He locked the door and walked over to Vivien.

"If this is some elaborate joke, we can stop now you know," she said very uncertain of things.

"No, you wanted proof. You've been hunting us for at least six months. There's a bathroom over there. I'll let you go in and check to make sure it's empty. Then, I'll go in and shift. If you want to watch, I'll understand," Andrew said.

"Um... okay," she agreed. They walked over to the bathrooms and after checking to see that no one was nearby, she entered the men's room. It was a little dirty, but no other exit and nothing in there. Andrew walked in after she exited. He faced away from the door and stripped off. Andrew piled his clothes up in the window sill. Out of the corner of his eye, he could tell she wasn't watching. He smiled and shifted.

Vivien was just about to turn to see if he'd somehow crawled out the window when something wet bumped her hand. She turned to see a huge wolf standing there in the doorway of the bathroom. She screamed.

Wolf cringed at the noise the female made. He didn't mean to scare her, so he dropped to his belly and put his head on his front paws. He waited for her to stop making noise. She smelled nice.

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