I was sitting on the floor with my back against the bed, reading one of the books Ed had left for me, when I heard D.K.'s knock on my door. After pounding on it a few times, the doorknob jiggled.
“Sonofa…" the alpha growled, and then the door shuddered as he tried to shoulder it open.
“I'm listening," I said, putting the book down. Across from me, Kimberly set her Barbies on the floor, giving me an anxious look.
After a few more seconds, he gave up. He couldn't open it, just like Ed had promised. I smiled to myself.
“Got another job for you," he said, sounding properly pissed off at not being able to get into my room. “Place called Fat Hog Bill's Barbecue. $1,200. I'm gonna count it when you get back."
Suddenly, I felt sick. I didn't say anything, and a few seconds later D.K. shouted for me to get going and walked away.
“What's wrong?" Kimberly asked.
I shook my head. “Nothing, sweetie. Just gotta go do something for the big ol' jerkbutt."
This made her giggle, and I got up to put my shoes on. Then I paused, and gave her a stern look. “You do not say that to him, though, got it?"
She nodded, still trying to hold in her giggling, and I finished getting dressed. I was happy to see her laughing, but it couldn't get rid of the slimy feeling I had in my stomach. Another one of D.K.'s payments was due, and he was sending me to go get it for him. I could still see the look on Chuck's face when he found out that I had come to steal from him. Even the fact that I hadn't left with any money didn't make me feel better.
“Remember," I said, “if anyone tries to come in, put all the stuff away first."
“I'll remember," Kimberly replied without looking up from her dolls.
I opened the door, glanced outside to make sure nobody could look in, and then stepped into the hallway and shut the door behind me. D.K. was in the kitchen, trying to get the pack's old toaster to keep his bread inside it for more than two seconds. He growled when it spat the bread back out again, and punched it off the counter.
“I'm going," I called in to him.
“Whatever," he snapped. “Shut up."
No problem, I thought, and headed for the door.
It was unseasonably warm outside, and I happily shed my jacket and threw it on the porch. Fall was almost over, and winter wasn't far behind, so I needed to take advantage of weather like this while it was still around. Tossing my hair over my shoulders, I broke into a jog.
The restaurant was a thirty five minute run away, and I was satisfyingly out of breath when I arrived. I decided it wouldn't be good for me to go in huffing and puffing, so I leaned against the wall to rest for a couple of minutes.
Heh. Huffing and puffing. The big bad werewolf.
The restaurant's sign was without a doubt the strangest one I'd ever seen. It was a picture of the earth with a pig standing behind it, holding a fork a knife and licking its chops. What kind of message was it trying to give? “Better hurry and eat those darn pigs before they eat the whole planet!"
I finally caught my breath, pushed myself off the wall, and went to the door. It wasn't even ten o'clock, so I was surprised to find the door already unlocked. Not that it mattered, I guess. Would I really have gone back to D.K. and told him I couldn't get his money because the door was locked?
“Hey, that you, Mitch?" a voice called from the kitchen. “You're fifteen minutes late. Start getting the chairs down!"
The chairs were all still stacked upside down on top of the tables. I didn't say anything, and a minute later the noises in the kitchen resumed.
Well, I'm here to rob him, I thought, my stomach still twisting. I guess this is the least I can do for him.
So, I took all the chairs down and set them under the tables. Then, taking a deep breath, I walked into the kitchen. The man in there had his back to the door, and was busy chopping strips of meat for the grill.
“Hey," I said to get his attention.
His cleaver stopped in midchop, and he turned to look at me. If the size of his belly and his three chins were anything to go on, this place's barbecue was pretty good. My stomach growled a little, but I pushed the thought out of my head. He wouldn't have any food to share with me after he found out why I was here.
“You're not Mitch," he said, and then went back to his chopping. “We're closed, so what do you want?"
“D.K. sent me," I answered, already bracing myself for the hostility. This guy didn't seem overly friendly now. I didn't want to see him when he was actually mad— especially when he had a meat cleaver in his hand.
He stopped chopping again, and this time set the cleaver on the counter next to the meat. Turning to face me, he folded his arms and gave me an appraising look. Suddenly, I got the idea that he was measuring me like a butcher would a cow.
“All right," he finally said, “come on."
I blinked in surprise, and stepped out of the way when he walked past me, to the front counter. He stabbed the cash register with bloody fingers, and then removed a large handful of dollars. He held them out, but in my shock I couldn't take them.
“What?" he asked irritably. “Did he raise his price again?"
“Um, no," I stuttered, finally grabbing the money. “Sorry. I guess I just wasn't expecting you to do this so willingly."
The man frowned, and then closed the register. “You think I like doing this? Nah. But I guess I can't complain. He got those dogs to stop breaking into my stores, after all."
“I'm sorry, he did what?" I asked.
He shrugged and waddled back into the kitchen. “I didn't pay him at first, but then some dogs started breaking into my freezer every night. He offered to get rid of them if I made my payment, and he did. I would have gone out of business if he hadn't, so I guess $1,200 every other week isn't such a bad price to pay."
I swear, if I hadn't already been sick, that would have done it. It was pretty obvious what, or rather, who, those dogs were.
“Well, thanks," I said, making for the door.
“Thanks yourself," he called back out, “for getting the chairs down. Now, scram! We're closed."
NEXT TIME: Okay guys, I know this looks like another really depressing chapter, but trust me— it's leading into something pretty funny. I think so, at least. I figure you guys have put up with enough misery for the time being, so for the next few weeks we're gonna have some FUN chapters! Wheeee! :D