This is the fourth in my Gay Christmas Werewolves series.
It is thirteen miles by interstate from the insane asylum in Danvers to Route 113, which takes the traveler into the ancient city of Newburyport. The old coast road through Innsmouth, Rowley and Ispwich is longer, older and much narrower. The sprawling Boston metroplex sends out squamous suburbs, growths that threaten to swallow the whole of the state. Already, the twisting streets and oddly uniform houses creep down Highway One to Providence and up Route Three to Nashua. The world seems very small and urban and hardly the place for fear and the unnameable. The Space Age and Information Age have both come and gone.
So, of course, no one would have believed the two older men who stepped out of the little Ford wagon, on this gorgeous spring morning of the Lower Miskatonic Valley, were anything other than human.
“I don’t like it, elf,” Corin Faw growled at his half-Sidhe mate as he looked up and down the street of Arkham Massachusettes. “It smells wrong. All kinds of wrong.” He sniffed again. Under the smells of spring melt and damp earth, under tulips and hyacinth and green leaves and pear blossoms, he scented decay and death and something that whispered of seas and stars and things best left undisturbed at the bottom of them.
Cian O’Brian came around the car to his mate. “Arȗn, my own sweet wolf, it is wrong. There is ancient evil here. Here is where we are needed.”
“Aye,” Corin growled, his nose still twitching. He unlocked the hatch. “We’re to fight evil from a tea shop. And not just a tea shop, but Miska-Tonics Tea and Herb Shoppe.” He pronounced the extra p and e with scorn.
Still, he had to admit that there was nothing wrong with the two-story frame building whose gambrel roof, butted back against a hill, almost to the point where a person could climb the hill and right onto the roof. The colorful sign on the veranda, the daffodils and hyacinth dancing in the flowerbed and the lace curtains in the windows gave the place a cheerful air, even if it did look a bit like that place in Amityville which was on the market suspiciously cheaply. The spring woods, just showing the first yellow-green leaves, came right to the back door.
“Love, you know the Sight is not always clear. It took us to Memphis for Danior and now it brings us here. Take what comes.”
Corin growled again. The bites and wounds he had taken last fall in Memphis, in futile defense of Danior and his pack from the ravening power-thirst of Danior’s uncle Zoltan, still ached on damp days. He was not a young wolf any more. He got the bags from the car, making sure Cian saw the bite-scar on his arm from Zoltan’s teeth. “Not playin’ fairy godfather to pair of pups again, I’m not.” His brogue thickened, as it always did when he was irritable.
Cian laughed at him and lifted a portfolio of papers from the front seat. “Of course not. And you didn’t instigate the last game of Tail-Chase with them either.”
“Yer in trouble, elf,” he snorted.
Cian gave his most charming smile and Corin felt the faintest tingle of sidhe magic at the edges of it. “Have I told you I love you recently?”
“Ah, you'll not get out of this with your flattering fae tongue, O'Brian.” Corin set the bags down at the foot of the stairs. “More stairs. You couldn't find a place with the apartment in the back? Just how good do you think my knees are in my old age?”
Cian laughed and ruffled Corin's grizzled hair. He set down the last box of fragile knick-knacks and picked up his suitcase. “I'll make sure the next one has living quarters adjoining, Corin darling.” He caught the glance Corin shot the bed when they reached the loft apartment and laughed again as he put his suitcase in closet. “And shall we break the house in proper? Or at least the bedroom?”
Corin growled low in his throat and set the last boxes down. “Insatiable fae,” he rumbled. He caught Cian and pressed him to the covers. It was the new moon, so he was at his most human, with no threat of the wolf. Despite this, he did love pouncing.
“Aye, always, love.” Cian drew him down for a kiss, his hands in Corin's thick, graying hair.