“By the great moon, you’re her, aren’t you?” a voice purred at Alley, breaking up her brooding glare out the rainy window from her restaurant seat next to the window.
With a sigh, Alley turned to look at her accuser. It was a younger pup, maybe in his late forties, and he was attractive with starry eyes and broad shoulders for days. But, then again, all the male werewolves seemed to be attractive. “Whoever you think I am, it’s not me.”
“No, way. It’s totally you, Alley, the werewolf who has somehow been able to fight the moon’s curse. I’d recognize you anywhere.” The pup had wavy brown hair that was either styled to look effortless, or he just hadn’t bothered to style it at all. Alley guessed he’d probably spent two hours in the mirror getting every short hair to stand out in a different angle perfectly.
“That wasn’t me. The only reason people think I can do that is because I’m not really a werewolf.” Alley told him slowly, so he’d begin to understand. This is why she hated coming to non-human restaurants. The others had no problem with coming over and talking about wolf business like they would have if humans had been around. She considered again for the hundredth time about going to human places, but so far she hadn’t been able to bring herself to do that. Habits were hard to break and humans were just so… smelly.
The pup laughed. “That’s exactly what I’d say if I were trying not to get attention.” He turned and waved at a group of pups sitting in a booth across the room. “Hey guys. It’s really her.”
Alley groaned as three other guys came over, their scents mingling with that of the first. Separately, they probably smelled of their own version of a sexy musk, but all of it combined together made Alley’s nose itch.
“So, how’d you do it?” A blond pup leaned over on the high top table with one elbow while the other hand held his drink.
Alley, admittedly, wasn’t more than a pup herself, having only just had her fiftieth birthday, but she felt decades older than these whelps. She might not have been a werewolf, but she did age like one. It was just one of the many side-effects of having magic in her blood.
“As I was just telling him,” Alley tipped her head to the first kid, “I can’t do that. I’ve never, and nor will I ever, be able to resist the pull of the moon. I’m just not a werewolf. The moon doesn’t affect me the same way.”
The blond one tipped his nose into the air into an exaggerated sniff they all knew he didn’t need to make in order to smell her. “You smell like a werewolf.”
“None of the fae smell like werewolves. You can’t be a fae.”
Alley shrugged. “There probably isn’t a name for what I am. It’s never bothered me and it shouldn’t bother you. In fact, none of this is really your business so if you’d all kindly go back to your booth and leave me in peace, that’d be nice.”
The pups looked at each other with toothy grins and Alley felt the hackles on her neck raise. Awesome. They weren’t going to make this easy.
She was sick of encounters like these. If she hadn't been dying of loneliness inside her own apartment, she never would have come to the place. Alley sighed, knowing how this evening was going to end, having already lived through quite a few of them. She couldn’t say the same for the other werewolf pups who had tried to goad her into proving who she was, or wasn’t, as the case may be.
On the other hand, the huntress inside of her perked up and reminded her to quit lying to herself and that this was exactly why she was there.
“That’s what someone who does what you can do would say to drive off curious wolves,” the blond kid said.
“That’s what I said!” The brown haired pup sloshed his drink at his friend, the movement clumsy, even by human standards, and knocked over Alley’s tea.
Alley stared at the corpse of her drink as its contents bled, making her sandwich soggy and pooling into a puddle on the table.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to knock your drink over but since it’s gone, we can get out of here and you can show us how you’re not a werewolf.” The first pup’s teeth gleamed even in the dull cloudy evening light coming through the window, the canines long and pointy even though the moon was at least a week away from being full.
“Look, I’m going to give you guys one more chance to walk away from this. I’m famous for being able to resist the moon’s change, but I promise you that what they aren’t saying about me is what’s really the stuff of legends. You’ll want to leave me alone and get back to your evening of debauchery and revelry.”
The blond kid laughed and actually rolled his eyes. “Even if you aren’t a werewolf, you’re talking to four of them. Surely, you have to at least know what we’re capable of.”
Annoyed and ready to go find another sandwich somewhere else, Alley slid off her chair and put money onto the table that should be enough to cover her uneaten food and a tip. Then, she simply walked out of the restaurant, not bothering to see if the pack of pups would follow her. The fae hunger within bubbled eagerly, knowing they would follow, while the wolf part of her howled in anticipation of the hunt.
A short time later, Alley watched the retreating figure of the last boy running through the underbrush.
“Make sure to spread the legend of the werewolf who can resist the change of the moon,” she called out to him as she sent her fae magic to alter his memory just a little.
She may have hated the fact that she was famous for something she wasn’t, but she also had started the rumor herself. Sometimes she felt there were two different beings trapped in her body, each wagging an inner war that neither could win.
Alley emerged from the forest and wiped the last of the blood off her mouth. Her own blood danced to the beat of her pounding heart, receding from the rush of the hunt. Four werewolves had been a better challenge than she’d had in a long time, but her nimble feet and lithe muscles had caught up to them in no time.
She felt a little bad that they hadn’t been able to change into their wolf forms, being as it was not a full moon, but she reminded herself that they had been fierce and fast enough in their human forms. Also, there had been four of them against her, and they had started it. She’d warned them at least twice.
Maybe for her next challenge, she’d take down a wolf in its full-moon glory.
For now, the huntress inside was satiated and would be at least for a few days.
She walked down the sidewalk of town, headed towards the first restaurant, which just happened to be a human one. The rain drizzled down her curly sand-colored hair and washed away the rest of the sweat and blood.
“Can I help you?” the human asked. She smelled like old french fries and women’s deodorant.
“Yes. May I please have a sandwich and a cup of tea?”