Dominic could smell the blood well before they pulled up to the tiny bungalow at the end of the street. In all the years that Dominic had been on the force, they never had to respond to a homicide, much less the murder of the mayor’s son. As the squad car pulled into the driveway, the hairs on the back of Dominic’s neck stood on end. He knew this was going to be a bad day. Dominic shifted the car into park and took a breath in.
“This is going to be ugly.” He said to his deputy, Tanner.
“I can smell it from here,” Tanner replied. His face was pale and Dominic could sense the unease inside of him. It was understandable, being a deputy in Timber Creek wasn’t a stressful job. The town was small and the normals in town were an easy going sort. The werewolves, well, tempers could run hot, but ever since the two clans agreed to a truce thirty years ago, there hadn’t been any incidents. The wolves liked to a keep a low-profile, and murdering someone was a surefire way to bring in unwanted attention.
“Any ideas who could’ve done it?” Tanner asked as rubbed his wrist. Dominic noticed that he wasn’t wearing his watch, the watch Dominic bought him when Tanner had first become a deputy. It wasn’t the time to ask about it.
“No idea,” Dominic said in a low grumble, but that was a lie. Underneath the smell of blood and fear, he could smell the unmistakable odor of the Browns. He was surprised that Tanner couldn’t smell it, but then again, Tanner was still new to being a werewolf and his senses weren’t as sharp as Dominic’s.
“Well,” Dominic’s voice was deep and smooth. “Let’s figure this out.” He got out of the cruiser and Tanner followed behind.
Dominic opened the front door and stood in the doorway. He filled up the frame and had to bend his neck slightly to walk through. Dominic’s broad shoulders filled out his tan uniform and he was always the tallest one in a crowd. Underneath of his dark and naturally stylish hair, Dominic’s crystal blue eyes took in the scene in front of him. The tiny living room was torn apart and a ratty orange couch was overturned. A limp leg hung off the end of the couch and Dominic didn’t want to see what it was attached to.
“Jesus christ.” Exclaimed Tanner, “They tore the whole place up.”
“They sure did.” Dominic moved over to the couch and looked at the other side. There was Ron Hamilton, lifeless and ripped apart. Dominic had always liked Ron and it was troubling to see him like this, the poor kid didn’t deserve it.
“Does Winston know yet?” Tanner walked up beside Dominic, took one look, and turned the other way.
“No, but we’re going to have to tell him.” Winston was Ron’s father and the mayor of Timber Creek. More importantly, he was the clan leader of the Greys, Dominic and Tanners clan. Winston Hamilton was a stern, severe man that ruled over the clan with a quiet intimidation. He wasn’t looking forward to telling him about the murder of his only son, but someone had to do it.
Dominic and Tanner started to look around and piece together what happened, but Dominic’s nose told him all he needed to know. That was one of the perks to being a werewolf, having a strong sense of smell; it’s more than just being able to smell better than normals, it opens up a whole new world. Everyone leaves tiny bits of their fragrance in the air that a wolf’s nose can pick up, even weeks later. In a way, it’s like a window into the past. He could smell the Browns clearly, and they had been in wolf form, and there was Ron’s corpse; it seemed pretty simple.
“Boss,” Tanner started to say, but Dominic already knew what was coming. “This was the Browns, no doubt about it.” Tanner saying it out loud made it all the more real, and this was a problem that Dominic didn’t want on his plate.
“Sure seems that way.” He replied and crouched down to examine Ron’s body. There were bite marks all over him and his throat had been torn out. It was definitely the work of wolves, and seeing how Ron was still in human form, they came in quick and didn’t even give him a chance to transform.
Dominic knew what this meant – a full-out war between the Browns and the Greys. The last time the two clans went at it, Dominic had just been a child and hardly remembered it at all, but the stories were all over town. Over a dozen wolves from either side were killed and the old-timers told stories about a town ripped apart. Dominic liked Timber Creek and felt an obligation to protect its citizens, normal and wolf alike. He desperately searched his mind to for a way to prevent a clan war.
“Who all knows about this?” Dominic asked Tanner. Tanner had been on duty when Ron’s roommate, Mitchell, came into the station and was all shaken up. It was during the early hours of the morning and Dominic had been enjoying a good night’s sleep when he had gotten the call.
“Just Michelle back at the station and us.” He replied.
“Good. We got to handle this real careful.” Dominic was searching over the room for clues. He noticed the corner of the carpet was lifted up and he could make out a shape underneath.
“Handle this careful?” Tanner barked and Dominic turned around to look at his deputy. All of the uneasiness had vanished from Tanner’s face and was replaced with a bright red anger. “This is the Browns Dominic, they’re starting a war. Let me off the leash boss and I’ll settle this up.” Dominic could smell the wolf inside of Tanner start to swell up.
“You ain’t going anywhere near the Browns until we know what’s going on.”
“It’s pretty obvious what’s going on!” Snarled Tanner. Dominic moved closer to him and placed his large, muscular hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“You got to settle down Tanner. This ain’t the time for the wolf. It might not be what it seems and you don’t want a fight. There might not be a lot of Browns, but they’re a tough clan. It won’t be good for any of us.
“So what do you figure we do?” He glared at Dominic.
“We’re going to call an ambulance, and you’re going to tell Winston.” Dominic’s voice was calming and strong.
“You want me to tell Winston? That’s something you should be doing.”
“I know it is, but once this gets out, there are going to be a lot of hot heads. I’m going to the mill to talk with Coleman, see if I can figure this out before all hell breaks lose. You ride up with the paramedics and I’ll talk to the cruiser. We got to handle this quick.”
“You might be walking into a trap. If they did this to Ron….”
“I’ll take my chances. There’re not too many wolves that I’m scared of, and Coleman ain’t one of them.”
Tanner stayed in the house while Dominic got back into the cruiser. He sat there for a moment and thought about the murder; it just didn’t make any sense. Why would they go after Ron? Ron wasn’t the type to get into a fight, and the feuds in the past were almost always a result of a barroom brawl gone too far. Ron was nothing like his father. Winston was looming and cold while Ron was a buffoon. He was Winston’s only child, and Ron could not have been more different than his father. Ron, who quickly dropped the name Ronald, was a kind hearted guy, but a good deal lazy. He was known around town for sitting on his butt and playing video games all day. Hell, when Ron first started shifting no one ever noticed because he just preferred to stay at home and game all day. Ron was the last guy who would have started a fight, and while most werewolves are naturally muscular from shifting all the time, Ron was…squishy. There’s no way he would have picked a fight with any of the Browns. So what was it then? Were the Browns really just trying to make a statement by going after the clan leader’s son? It was a stupid move if they did. Wolf law dictated that every slight deserved an equal response, and while Dominic had never met her, he knew Coleman had a daughter. If they wanted a war, Coleman must know that his own daughter wouldn’t survive very long. So what was it? There was only one way to find out. Dominic started the cruiser, pulled out of the parking lot, and headed towards the lumber mill.
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