When Diego rescues a naked man from the rail of the Brooklyn Bridge, he just wants to get the poor man out of traffic and to social services. He gets more than he bargained for when he discovers Finn is an ailing pooka, poisoned by the city's pollution. To help him recover, Diego takes him to New Brunswick where Finn inadvertently wakes an ancient, evil spirit: the wendigo.
While they struggle to find a way to destroy the wendigo before it can possess Diego or kill nearby innocents, Diego wrestles with his growing feelings for Finn. Kill the monster and navigate a relationship between a modern man and a centuries old pooka. Piece of cake.
The figure crouched on the bridge shocked Diego so thoroughly he drove a hundred yards before he realized what he had seen.
A man squatted on his heels on the rail, one hand on a cable, the other clutching a ragged blanket at his throat. Threadbare cloth flapped around bare ankles. The persistent wind yanked it this way and that to show flashes of naked legs.
"Holy shit," Diego muttered, as he wrestled his ancient Toyota into the nearest side street to park. This was none of his business. Didn't he have enough problems? Even as he argued with himself, he ran, dodging traffic and ignoring angry epithets as he pelted back up the bridge against traffic. The inevitable gaper delay had slowed the flow at least, making his precarious journey easier.
People stared from the safety of their vehicles as they inched along but no one stopped to help.READ MORE
Diego ignored them. His primary concern was not to startle the man into falling. He slowed his approach, ready to offer soothing words, but the man heard his footsteps. Long black hair whipped and snaked in the wind, hiding his face, though Diego caught a glimpse of bared teeth.
"Did you come after me?" the jumper snarled. "I won't go back."
"Go back where?" Diego seized the opportunity to start the man talking.
The jumper shook his head to clear the hair from his eyes and peered at Diego. Black eyes, not dark brown, but black, set in deeply shadowed sockets. "No, I suppose you don't look like one of those," he said in a softly accented, weary voice.
"One of who?" Diego edged closer to stand next to him.
"The ones who shut me in the iron cage. I changed. I escaped." His words seemed to stick in his throat and even above the traffic, Diego heard him swallow hard. "But now I'm too tired. I can't...and the river is so filthy. I think it might kill me."
At least he doesn't sound like he wants to die. "Look, if you don't want the police catching up to you, or the hospital staff, or whoever it is, this is about the worst thing you could do. You're upsetting all these people and attracting a lot of attention. They'll be here any minute." Diego reached out a hand, palm up. "Please come down. Let's get you safe and out of the wind. Then we'll see about straightening all this out."
The man regarded him through the shifting curtain of hair for a long moment. "What are you called?"
Depends who you talk to. "My name is Diego. Diego Sandoval." He lurched forward when the man swayed, his stomach plummeting to his feet, but the jumper retained his place on the rail.
The man repeated his name a few times as if trying it out and then nodded. "It's a good name. Pleasurable to say."
"I am called Fionnachd."
Diego tried to repeat it and won a hint of a smile from the man when he mangled the pronunciation. "Could I call you Finn?"
That got a shrug. The blanket fell back from his shoulder to reveal all too prominent bones. "You could. Some have. I don't mind."
"Climb down, Finn," Diego urged again. "I'll help you. Let's get you somewhere quiet where you can rest."
Finn took his fingers in a light grip and Diego caught a whiff of rotten orange rinds as he slid from the rail.
What the hell am I doing? He could have Hepatitis or HIV or tuberculosis, or worse. He's probably crazy. Maybe even dangerous.
The intense plea in those black-on-black eyes silenced his practical objections. Lost and alone, he needed someone. Diego had never been good at walking away.
He slipped out of his trench coat, placed it around Finn's shoulders, followed it with his arm and led him away. His "latest project", Mitch would have sneered. Not that he should care anymore what Mitch thought.
They reached the car without incident, but here, Finn balked. "They put me in one of those before."
One of...the car? "Well, I doubt it was as beat up as this one," Diego tried to joke, but Finn backed up a step. Diego patted the car's roof. "No lights. Not a police car. Or an ambulance."
Finn lifted his chin and sniffed the air. "You do smell kind and trustworthy. But some of the others did, too."
"They probably wanted to help you and didn't know what would upset you. Why did they arrest you? Did they say?"
Finn rubbed a hand over the side of his head, further snarling the mess of hair over the top half of his face. "Indecent exposure. I don't know what's indecent about standing on the dock watching the boats, though."
Irish. Diego was certain he'd placed the accent. "It's usually because someone's stark naked, not because they're watching boats."
He had no idea how much of this was a put-on. No one could be that naive. Though someone could be that deluded. Time enough to sort it all out later. Right now, he had to get Finn off the street before he crumpled to the pavement.COLLAPSE