It’s Hump Day and y’all know what that means… New words! I didn’t actually write today’s snippet for last week’s #ThursdayThreads because I was the judge. However, I did put the two very dispare prompts together after some serious contemplation. I mean, the team is in the Carpathian Mountains. There’s not many Flippers there. The #1LineWed theme is *DOLPHIN*. See what I mean? And the prompt for Threads is “Play the long game.” True story. As soon as I saw the prompt, my brain when immediately to Jennifer Estep’s KILL THE QUEEN. That phrase is an important part of the series plot arc. But I digress. I had to meld those two things into a snippet that makes sense and also fits into the current WIP. I’m rather pleased with the detour my brain took. I’m blaming it on the 110 degrees outside.
“You didn’t ask but I’ve a bit of advice for ya.” Loch paused and glanced back at Kin. “I’ve no room t’be talkin’ since I’ve not met m’mate but m’da caught and claimed his.”
Kin rolled his eyes but said nothing. The Irish Wolf would give his opinion whether he wanted it or not.
“Ya might think it wise to hold back, t’play the long game. Da always says t’strike while the iron is hot.”
“Catch her and claim her,” Kin muttered.
Loch laughed. “Yeah, that was his advice.”
Both men halted as the trail they’d been following spilled into a hidden clearing. What might have been a fairy-tale cottage perched in the middle, flanked by two buildings. Duke and the rest of the team appeared behind them almost immediately.
“Looks abandoned,” Tank said.
Duke turned to Uri. “I’ll send the Wolves. I want you to stay with the kids.” Uri nodded and melted back down the trail, Golda on his shoulder and Moshe at his side. “Kin, inside. Loch, outside. Tank, Dalton, take the outbuildings.”
Petrov came up behind them. “If there are people hiding, you may need me to translate.”
Duke couldn’t argue that. “Okay. You stay out here with me.”
The team split up. Loch paced around the exterior while Kin checked out the interior. Tank and Dalton checked the two outbuildings. Up close, the place looked much worse for the wear. Kin entered and the floor creaked. The dilapidated house was mostly empty. The place had been vacant for a long time. Kin’s wolf wanted to sneeze at the musty smell and the dust that floated in the air as he walked through the place. One room with a loft, this was likely a woodcutters cottage, used only during the summer. There was no food, no dishes. The furniture was bare-bones and primitive. He climbed the ladder to the loft. A moldy mattress was stuffed in the far corner and a small wooden chest with drawers sat against the highest wall.
Curious, he checked it out. The drawers were empty. No quick exit then. No emergency. Just people moving on and taking everything with them. The glint of silver caught his eye. Hunched over—being taller than the roof line—he headed toward the mattress. Tucked under one corner, he found a silver chain. He tugged and it came free. A small silver dolphin dangled from the other end.
“Rарна.” The Ukrainian word sounded like “harna.”
Kin stared at the little girl. She was not one of the orphas. He tapped his ear to turn on the microphone attached to his ear piece. “Duke, we gotta situation.”
The child held out her hand, reaching for it, saying a word that sounded like “shakhta.”
“She says it is here,” Petrov said in a whisper, his eyes peeking over the floor of the loft. “That word means mine.”
The girl stared at Kin. He stared back. Petrov disappeared and was replaced on the ladder by Duke.
“Where’d she come from, Kin?”
“Bloody blue blazes if I know, Duke. There was no one in this place. I saw the wee bauble and picked it up and there she was.” His wolf paced uneasily just beneath the surface of his skin. That’s when Kin realized what his other half was trying to tell him. “Fuck me, Duke. She has no scent.”
“What’s that mean?”
“It means I can’t smell her. I see her. I hear her, but I can’t smell her. That…that’s not possible.”
Duke eased on up the ladder and crouched on the floor. “How do I say hello and ask her name, Petrov?”
“Pryvit. Yak tebe zvaty.”
Before Duke could repeat it, the girl turned and walked into the wall. Kin blinked. No. She walked through the wall. He and Duke both scrambled to the spot. The timbers were solid. There was no door, no space, no place for her to disappear into.
Far from religious, Kin muttered a prayer anyway. Duke crossed himself. Very carefully, Kin laid the chain and dolphin on top of the chest. They backed away, Duke climbing down first. Kin quickly followed.
Petrov’s face was pale as he led the way out of the cottage. None of them spoke. Tank, Dalton, and Loch stood out front, at the ready.
Dalton studied each of their expressions, suddenly grinned, and quipped, “You three look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
And there you have it. A bit of whimsy for a hot day. Writers, if you are inspired by either/or/and the prompts, please share. Readers, do you like a good ghost story?