Moonsilver Transfusion Chapter 5
We managed to lose the van while we parked at the hospital. The dish made it too tall to follow us into the parking garage. We made it into the building without cameras or microphones being stuck in our faces. Hopefully, they’d get bored and wander off before we came out again.
Sadly, the gift shop only had red roses; I’d have to order Victoria’s bouquet online. As soon as wolf time ended, I’d need to take a shift at NLR; my bank account probably needed a boost.
I traced a half-remembered route to Cliff’s hospital room. Victoria claimed one hand as Secret skipped ahead of us, peering curiously through the open doorways. As we rounded the final corner into the hallway that contained Cliff’s room, I heard his voice boom through the air.
“Not helping, Mom!” His voice shook with exasperation. Gloria had gotten here before us.
Victoria and I glanced at each other, the skin around her eyes crinkled, indicating a smile behind her mask, even as she kept a firm hold on my hand. Clearly, this wouldn’t be an encounter I handled solo.
Secret hurried on ahead and disappeared into the room.
“Hey, kiddo!” Cliff greeted her, followed by an, “Oof.”
“I’m going to be a flower girl at the wedding!” Secret declared with enthusiastic authority.
I paused our progress toward the room to ram my palm into my forehead.
“Oh yeah?” A pause, “How much is my mother paying you?”
The old woman’s cackle echoed.
Victoria stepped in front of me to enter the room first.
“Note how precise that was,” Victoria said, “She didn’t say who was getting married.”
She pulled me in behind her. I wondered if she could feel the paw pressing up beneath my palm. Cliff’s scent drifted through the air and wolf me’s patience waned by the second.
Cliff lay in a hospital bed, the head of it raised almost completely upright, his feet nearly dangling off the end. A grinning Secret pulling back from a hug and sitting in his lap. Gloria stood beyond the bed, near the window, far more put together than when I’d seen her last. Maybe her curse, which turned her into a murderous manifestation of her disappointments during moonless nights, really had eased. Her white hair had been woven into thin tight braids, Sophie’s usual style. Mirth had turned to puzzlement as she took in Victoria and I.
Taya, the middle Gifford child, sat in a chair by the door, sliding her phone into a purse, blinking at the scene as if just roused.
“Now, that sounds like a trap if I’d ever heard one,” Cliff said, flashing a frayed but sunny grin.
“Nah, it’s just the sound of the first shoe dropping, but the second one can fall later,” I said as Victoria and I approached. “You look better than you sounded on the phone.”
He glanced down at our intertwined hands. Victoria gave me a not-gentle squeeze and released my hand.
“Heh,” He gave a one-note laugh and yawned. “They tell me I’ve been asleep for a day, but it feels like I’ve been running for a solid week on nothing but coffee. I’m ready to go home and take a nap. I signed all the paperwork. Just waiting for a nurse to come around and unplug me.”
“Well, I’ll let you two catch up.” Gloria announced suddenly. “This is out of my hands now, anyway. I’m sure they can give you a ride home, Cliff.” She strode out the door. “Come on, Taya. We should hurry and get back to my bunker before sundown.”
“We have nearly four hours, mom,” Taya said with an exasperated sigh, yet she stood from her chair. Jabbing a finger at Cliff, she mouthed the words, “You owe me.” Then mimed slugging back a drink before following her mother out.
“Trust me, I need quite a few of those myself,” Cliff mumbled as he nodded towards his departing sister. Once their footsteps faded, he pushed the heels of his hands into his eye sockets so hard that one of his eyeballs squeaked. “Please tell me that lifting her curse doesn’t actually require she sees all her children married off?”
“Phhhtp!” I spit laughed, “Is that what she said?”
“Pretty much. Told me to hurry it up and fling a ring at you. The wedding thing was a joke, right, Secret?” He turned his smile to the girl on his lap.
“Nope! There’s gonna be a wedding. Abby promised a fey so it has to happen or she might die.” Secret’s tail tip twitched as if she were readying to pounce and her green eyes gleamed.
Cliff visibly paled.
“Calm down. To get Joy to get out of town I had to promise her an invite to my wedding. I never specified who I was marrying or when,” I said, touching his arm.
His brow furrowed. “Well, who else would you marry?”
I literally barked out of surprise.
“Hellooo!” Victoria called out to him. “Hi! It’s me. The person who she’s been sleeping with for the last six months? Cliff, you’re cute, but you’re Abby’s sideline.”
You could see the detonation in Cliff’s mind as he realized the landmine he’d just stepped on. Eyes widening to the point his dark irises were completely encircled by white. He sputtered to cover his mistake, “Right! I just meant you two have already tied the knot and stuff. That makes perfect sense. Have I mentioned that I am still recovering from massive blood loss?” He put a hand to the side of his head, “I suddenly feel woozy.”
I’d never seen a man go from pale to flushed so quickly and it made my heart do a flip. Adorable.
Victoria, meanwhile, fixed Cliff with a gaze that might make a small mammal die on the spot.
Wolf me growled impatiently, Stop stupid human whining. My turn. Want play with Cliff.
“Victoria, could you close the door please?” I whispered as I reached to undo the button of my pants. She glanced at me, the wolf must have already started to show because she sprang for the door.
“Cliff, did anyone tell you whose blood we put into you after that sword took it all?” I spoke hurriedly, managing to finish the sentence right as the muscles around my jaw seized up.
“What do you mean? Wait, what are you doing? Abby you can’t do that here!” Cliff’s voice scolded.
“Don’t worry, I brought a collar and leash.” Victoria said.
“Sssssoorrry, she wants to see you too…” I managed to grind out of my lengthening jaws, pulling my shirt and hoodie over my head. Victoria rushed over to help pull off my pants as the sharp snaps of my reshaping bones reverberated within my skull. With the small flow of Luna’s power available, wolf me emerged slowly, starting with my face and traveling down my spine. White fur grew in thick and fast, hiding my bulging muscles and bending bones. I clenched my teeth together, trying to hold in both whimpers of pain and pleased huffs. After nearly three days as human, it felt wonderful to finally stretch out beyond the constraints of legs.
“Why’s it taking so long?” Cliff asked.
Victoria answered him as she knelt beside me and stroked my spine. I arched up into her touch as the last of humanity vanished from my limbs. Finally finished, I leaned against my mate and gave a soft howl of thanks.
“Shhhh.” She slipped an arm around my neck and hugged me tightly. I licked her cheek and inhaled her dusky scent flavored with notes of exhaustion.
Change too. Nap, I growled playfully and nipped at the collar of her leather jacket.
“Later.” She pushed me off. “Remember why we’re here and where we are.”
Cliff! I remembered the big man suddenly and refocused my attention on him, returning his grin.
“Guess we’re done talking now?” Cliff said as I pushed my nose into the side of his belly, allowing him to scratch my ears as I took a sniff. Yes! A shiver of happiness ran down my spine as I detected Luna resting within him. I snuffled hard, poking and prodding up and down his side, trying to determine its precise flavor. I’d caught whiffs of lupine scent off Victoria before she’d changed for the first time but the scent of the magic within him remained indistinct.
“Hey! Hey!” Cliff protested, “Watch the IV, Abby!”
I relented but only to lick at his face, much to Secret’s amusement.
“Victoria! Little help here?!” he cried out, but he joined Secret’s giggling with a laugh of his own.
“You’re a big man, can’t you handle yourself against a little wolf like that?” Victoria laughed.
“Little?” he sputtered, getting his hand onto my chest and pushing me off. “In what world is she ‘Little?’”
“She could show you big.” Secret giggled, “Knock you right over.”
“Okay, she’s little compared to that,” Cliff admitted while shielding his face, “But this is far from small.”
I relented with a huff and a wag before trotting over to Victoria. There, my pack, now and future was all smiles. Affection filled this room, that’s all we needed. All this wedding talk was needless complication.
A sharp rap on the door and a nurse strode in. “Mr. Giffo- woah, crap!” She did a double take at me and nearly jumped back into the hallway. She grabbed the door frame as if she were afraid of being blown away by a wind. Her expression swiftly changing as she covered her shock with cold fury.
“Did you register that dog with the front? Why isn’t he leashed? Visiting pets must be leashed at all times Ma’am!” her voice sharp and shrill.
I lowered my ears in annoyance.
Meanwhile Victoria rushed to apologize. “Sorry, that’s why we closed the door, hang on.” She pulled a leash and collar from the pocket of her leather jacket. I growled and started to pull away.
Victoria dropped her voice, “You agreed to this; don’t grump about it now.”
Human me had agreed. Make her wear it, I huffed. I considered ripping that collar from her fingers, but the nurse’s fear stink made me reconsider. Did not want panics. Sullenly, I let the collar ring my neck, only biting at the leash a little.
“There!” Victoria displayed the leash to the nurse. “Don’t worry; she’s a big softy. Normally she’s a service dog, but she’s off duty now.”
The nurse, an older, petite white woman, looked the both of us up and down. Victoria’s black clothing contrasting with my white fur. A glint of recognition flared in her eyes but she shook it away. “Service dog, my ass.” She muttered before fixing her glare on Victoria. “If you weren’t about to leave I’d have security escort you out, Mrs. Gifford. Don’t bring a dog like that into the hospital, you’ll give someone a heart attack.”
“Noted,” Victoria said, then tugged on my collar, “Come on, Abby. Let’s get out of the woman’s way. Secret, let Cliff up.”
Surprised that she didn’t correct the woman, I followed her to stand against the wall.
“Uuh,” Cliff’s eyes flicked from side to side looking for a clue that I didn’t see either, but the nurse didn’t give him much time to think. Giving me as wide a berth as she possibly could, she descended on him.
“Right, let’s unhook you, sir. Give me your hand,” she said, already seizing his wrist before she finished speaking.
“Ow!” Cliff yelped as she tore something from his skin. I tensed, baring teeth, but human me stirred, assuring that she was only removing bandages, not hurting him.
“Fast and quick is the best way to do it, Mr. Gifford. Be glad you’re not Italian. Now let me see your chest.” Not pausing, she reached down the front of his hospital gown. Cliff flinched when she pulled the electrodes off his chest, but stifled any noise of pain to a grunt.
Afterward, she rattled off a bunch of warnings and explanations before asking him if he wanted to be wheeled out or walk out. He told her he was plenty good enough to get changed and walk out on his own. She gave a smile to Secret and left without glancing at Victoria or I.
“Mrs. Gifford?” Cliff blew out his lips. “Is there something in the air or something? I was only sleeping for a day or two, right? Did I miss something major?”
Victoria shrugged. “I didn’t see what correcting her would gain. Besides, I need a new name. Victoria Quintine now is a city villain. Victoria Gifford doesn’t have a bad ring to it. Also, I think you are missing an important bit of info that Abby was trying to tell you before her wolf got impatient.”
“Okay, lay it on me.” Cliff sighed.
“Did your sister or mother happen to mention where the blood we transfused into you after you gave all yours to a sword came from?” Victoria asked.
“From… a hospital?” he asked. Then, very slowly, the pieces coming together, his eyes fell on me.
I gave him my very best wolfish smile as Victoria pointed down at my head.
Secret bounced up to the foot of Cliff’s bed. “Not just her! Taya, Sophie, who’s a werecat now, and your mum, too! Abby filled you up with all the moon magic.”
“Wait. Werecat? Sophie?” Cliff blinked.
“Oh, you didn’t tell me that! Is that what happened to her when she followed Abby into the dream?” Victoria laughed.
Cliff put his face into his hands. “Call that nurse back in. I think I’m about to have an aneurysm.”
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