Monica took off her uniform and put it in the locker. She grabbed her coat and bag and turned to leave the room when a voice stopped her.
“Why are you in such a hurry, Dr. Mackenzie? You've never disappeared so quickly like in the last few weeks. Did you get a boyfriend or something?” the hygienist, Mrs. Palmer asked curiously.
Monica barely managed not to roll her eyes. This woman always loved sticking her nose in other people's business. Probably that was the reason everybody in the vet clinic avoided her.
“No, I just have some work at home. If you see Dr. Ferguson, tell him I left without him.” She turned to the exit again, but a second later added, “Oh, and remind him about Lady's examination today!”
“Of course, I will! You know me! Just don't forget about your friend and don't make him jealous because of your new boyfriend. He's been sulking these days!” When the older woman saw she got no response, she mumbled under her nose, “These interns think they are such a big deal because they managed to graduate early...”
Monica cocked an irritated eyebrow but ignored her. It was useless to get mad at the biggest gossiper in the clinic. Mrs. Palmer had taken it upon herself to know every single thing happening around. She had ears everywhere. As if that was her job. Sometimes she chose it over her actual duties.
Holding her trench coat over her arm, Monica swiftly took the car keys out of it. She made sure to nod at every single patient in the waiting room she knew. Here was Ms. Pattinson again, sitting on the sofa with a small dog lying on her lap. Archie. Was he sick? Had he even gotten better since the last examination with Connor? A part of Monica wanted to stop and talk to her, but she couldn't let herself get distracted. She was in a hurry. She loved her job and animals were such a big part of her life, but right now, there was somebody waiting for her. This thought just made her move faster and in a few short minutes, she was at the front door.
Exiting the veterinary clinic, Monica heard a thunder roar in the distance. A strong gust of wind blew in her face, and she lifted the collar of her coat, hiding her neck and mouth behind it. A shiver ran up her back. It was still early spring; the peak of the bad weather and storms, and she couldn't wait until summer arrived. She hated thunderstorms.
Monica unlocked her small car and climbed into it, carelessly throwing her bag on the passenger seat. She had no time to waste. She wanted to see him as soon as possible. Since she had met him almost two weeks ago, he was the only thing she was thinking about. She couldn't understand why—well except his mysterious appearance and origin—but she kept feeling pulled and pulled to him.
Before exiting the town, Monica decided to stop at a grocery store and a pizza place to get some necessities. Putting them in the trunk, she glanced at the sky again, confirming how grim it had become in just fifteen minutes. She grunted. The rain wasn't going to wait for her to reach her villa. It was going to catch up to her.
As Monica started the car and continued on her way, big drops of water started hitting the windshield. She heaved a sigh, but at that moment her phone buzzed and made her nearly jump out of her skin. She grimaced.
The first time Monica ignored the call, but on the second, she barked through the Bluetooth speaker, “What?!”
“Hey, hey, is that the way to answer your best friend that is just concerned about you and the reason you abandoned him to go home alone again?”
“You're a big boy, Connor, you'll be fine.” She rolled her eyes. “Or if you're so lonely, why don't you call April? She's your girlfriend, after all.”
“Maybe she needs a little break from me! Besides, I almost haven't seen you in the last two weeks! The only times I get to see your crazy face is when we're at work and if our shifts collide! What is going on with you? Is Mrs. Palmer right? Do you have a boyfriend I know nothing about?” He sounded suspicious and Monica was sure he was narrowing his eyes, squinting at her and trying to read her mind.
“No.” She touched the bun of her head, making sure it was tied securely. “There is no such thing in my life. I don't even know what a boyfriend is. Is that some kind of a toy or something?”
Connor chuckled at her stupidity. And here she was, trying to annoy him.
“He can be if you want him to.” He laughed, his dirty joke making her giggle. “Now, seriously, Mon, where do you go off to every night? When will I properly see you? I miss you, I'm not used to seeing you so rarely. We've been together since kindergarten!”
Monica clenched her jaw. She couldn't tell him. He was going to kill her first. Even before that creature.
“Connor, even if you're my best friend, you can't know everything about me. Where is the fun in that?” She cleverly avoided his question, turning the wipers on full speed. “I'll talk to you later, okay? The weekend is here, I need rest.”
“What, you mean I'm—” he began complaining, but Monica pushed a button on her steering wheel and ended the call.
She had no time for him. She had to see the creature. The one in her mind all the time. The thing that was much more than it seemed.
An hour later, Monica was in front of her summer villa, unpacking her things. She turned to the house, carefully walking in the wet soil. High heels and mud didn't work together. It was a good thing they weren't that high. Just like she used to love them in university.
Drops of water clouded her vision, soaking her clothes and supplies. The storm was news-worthy. At least for her. Even if she had an umbrella, she knew it wouldn't be able to keep her dry. But that was her last concern at the moment.
Boldly strolling in the dirt, Monica held her breath as her impatience and trepidation swallowed her. The creature in the basement floor had spent the last three days all alone. Her crazy shifts in the city stopped her from going to the villa and she spent most of the time in her apartment, asleep on the couch.
Monica chuckled to herself. She lived such a lonely life. Ironic. Especially, considering at the start of her university years she had been so eager to study, become popular, and full of male admirers. Stupid dreams. And in reality—so many broken hearts. So many times men had broken her heart that she had just given up. Especially after her ex—Brad. The man she dumped three months ago because she caught him cheating.
This was the end. Monica didn't want to hear about men anymore. Not at least in the next few years.
And maybe she wouldn't have to think about men. Taking care of such a big paranormal creature had turned out to be much more intriguing than she had first thought that morning she found him almost frozen in the forest behind her villa. The brown wolf had been there, lying motionlessly on the cold soil, blood spilled all over his body and head. He had what seemed like gun wounds, missing patches of fur and scars. Countless scars. There were also more than a few puncture wounds from knives.
At first, Monica thought he was dead. He wasn't moving. But on a second very close look, she saw his ribcage was barely lifting up and down. The first thing that caught her attention when she started pulling him to the house was the spark when she touched him. It filled her with warmth and excitement. Something Monica hadn't felt in at least a few months.
The second—his eyes the first time he opened them. It was during the improvised surgery on the table in the basement but... His eyes were so blue and deep, so hurt and human-like. It was a good thing she had tied him up then because if she hadn't, she wouldn't have been alive.
Thinking about all these wounds... She was certain they weren't ordinary. They were caused by hunters, in a fight. A fight with humans who knew who they were facing and weren't running away screaming in fear. After all, ordinary people would panic seeing a beast a bit taller than them. Just like she did.
Another thing that caught her eye, during the surgery was the wolf's... tattoos. Having cut the fur around the wounds Monica was going to work on, the presence of a few big patchy tattoos became known. When she had seen them, she had been left speechless for a few seconds, not able to budge.
This felt like the biggest mystery she'd ever fallen upon. It was much better than the crime shows she used to watch with her mother while she still lived with her parents. This was real, and it was right in front of her eyes. Her own mystery to take care of.
An electrifying spark of thrill made her guts squeeze, and Monica touched the handle of her front door, pushing it down. She couldn't believe deciding to spend her weekends alone after splitting up with her boyfriend could lead to something good. But it definitely did. Her red lips thinned, and she thought about a small problem. All the medicine she usually kept for squirrels and random small creatures was already nearing its end. She had to buy some more.
Monica huffed, entering her kitchen. The creature had almost healed in less than two weeks. Something that would have taken months for other animals. He was amazing. And she wanted to know more. She turned to the fridge, putting inside the raw meat she bought, and when she closed the door, she smirked. The photo of the wolf she had stuck on the door four days ago was gone. What was he? Either he wasn't just a wolf, there was a poltergeist in her home, or she was just going crazy. She knew which option was the most satisfying. Her heart thumped in excitement, and Monica started shoving the groceries in the fridge, not caring about them anymore. She was going to think about them later.
She took a quick shower and tied her unruly red hair in a tight bun, not interested it was going to be a sad mess on the next day. It was her day off, and she was going to spend it alone. Well, if you didn't consider the wolf somebody. If there was a somebody behind his dark shell or he was just that—a probably mutated animal. The biggest wolf ever discovered.
She grabbed the pizza box and another bag in her other hand and headed to the basement. With every step towards it, the pound of her heart became louder and louder. By the time she reached the basement and faced the beast, the rhythm in her chest was almost insane.