“Let me make sure I understand….”
Victoria could barely keep from gaping at Noel. “You don’t like me. You don’t trust me.You suspect me of being, at best, a St. Clare spy, at worst of being the traitor I’m supposed to help you find. You don’t think I’m qualified for the job. And yet you are prepared to take me into your confidence regarding the most sensitive matter the company has faced in decades?”
“I didn’t say that. I said I would work with you, Victoria.”
She swallowed back a hot retort. “Do you mind if I ask exactly what you expect me to do?”
Noel returned with no hesitation whatsoever, “Whatever I tell you to.”
Rebecca Flanders has written over seventy books under a variety of pseudonyms. She lives in the mountains of north Georgia with a collie, a golden retriever and three cats. In her spare time she enjoys painting, hiking, dog training and catching up on the latest bestsellers.
Wolf in Waiting
My name is Victoria St. Clare, and I am a werewolf. Now that we have that out of the way, let me be quick to point out that you would never know I’m a werewolf if you saw me on the street—or anywhere else for that matter. If you were a man, in fact, you’d probably ask me out; quite a few human men do.
They tell me I’m quite striking looking. I’m tall, five feet nine inches, and slender—one advantage to being a werewolf is that we never have to worry about our figures, what you see is what you get—with long black hair and gray eyes. My ivory complexion is due to the northern climes from which I hail, although I’ve always suspected a few weeks in St. Tropez would do wonders for my coloring, and I have the high cheekbones, patrician nose and full lips which are St. Clare-family characteristics. Many people—humans, that is—tell me I look like a ballet dancer, which I find enormously flattering. I think human ballerinas are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth, and I sometimes try to play up the resemblance by wearing tights and gauze skirts and pulling my hair back in a chignon.
But I don’t want you to think I’m vain. I am, of course—all werewolves are; we’re an exceptionally good-looking species and proud of it, but that’s not the only reason I told you all this. It’s important that you understand that many preconceptions you might have about werewolves are wrong.
For one thing, we don’t have hair all over our bodies or have long teeth and claws. For another, we don’t eat humans. Most of us, in fact, don’t even like the smell of humans—no offense intended, but our noses are exceptionally sensitive. We don’t go mad during the full moon. And you can’t become a werewolf by being bitten by one; you have to be fortunate enough to be born that way.
What is true about us will probably surprise you even more than what is false. For example, we’re listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Oh yes, several of our companies are Fortune 500. You see, the same cunning, skills and extraordinarily adaptive senses that enabled us to survive, indeed to thrive, for thousands of years in a wild and essentially hostile environment have evolved over time to make us kings in a very different kind of jungle: the world of human big business and corporate finance.
Our parent company, the St. Clare Corporation, is the umbrella under which we manufacture and merchandise everything from computer chips to perfumes. We are completely pack-owned and operated, although of course we employ quite a few humans and even sell stocks to them. We’re not averse to taking your money or using your skills when necessary, but make no mistake about it: The company belongs to werewolves; it is run by werewolves; it exists solely for the livelihood, ambition and perpetuation of werewolves.
We collect art; we go to the opera; we sun ourselves on the Côte d’Azur. We do business with you; we share cabs with you; we dine with you every day and you would never guess that we’re not one of you. Life is simpler that way, trust me.
As for me…I’m in advertising, a junior account executive in the marketing division of Clare de Lune, a very small cog in a very big wheel. Clare de Lune is a perfume company, and it is the foundation on which the St. Clare fortune was built. This shouldn’t surprise you. The werewolf sense of smell is approximately five hundred times greater than that of humans. What more appropriate business for us to be in than perfumery? You’ve probably worn some of our fragrances: Honesty, Ice, Ambition for Men? I know you’ve seen our television commercials. The one with the man getting out of bed and putting on his clothes in the morning—Wear Ambition or Nothing At All—was my idea, by the way, although no one will ever know it except you, me and the account exec who stole it.
I am twenty-six years old, and I’ve never had a date. This isn’t particularly surprising when you consider that I am a werewolf and most of my friends are humans. Werewolves don’t find me attractive for reasons I’d rather not go into right now, and I don’t find humans attractive for reasons that should be obvious. Actually, I do find humans entertaining, articulate and a great deal kinder than many of my own species, but to date one in the classic sense of the word—wherein one puts on sexy lingerie and enticing perfumes and puts clean sheets on the bed and engages in all kinds of other arcane rituals that humans, ever-hopeful, endure for the sake of finding a mate—well, the entire concept baffles me.
As for why I don’t attract members of my own species…well, allow me to get clinical for a moment. An essential part of our nature—some might even say the essential part of our nature—is the ability to change from human to wolf form and back again. The Change occurs at will, or can be triggered by strong emotion or sexual arousal. We mate only in the wolf form.
Most wolflings are born with the ability to change; all of them achieve it by the time they reach puberty. All except a few genetically disadvantaged anthromorphs, like me. I can’t change. In all other ways I am a perfect representation of our species, but for this one little defect I am considered a freak, a pathetic imitation of a real werewolf, an object of pity and scorn.
I learned to accept who I am and live with the antipathy—indeed,