Karyn stared at him. She spaced out her words carefully. 'What put this idea into my mind, Goddamnit, is that it happened.'

'Yes, of course,' the doctor went on. 'Maybe when you were a little girl there was some experience, something ugly, with wolves or large dogs.'

Karyn shook her head wearily. 'No, Doctor, not when I was a little girl. My only traumatic experience with wolves came when I was a full-grown woman. Three years ago. In Drago. You're telling me the same old thing, aren't you, that it's a delusion?'

'Delusion is a term we don't use much any more. We understand now that things that happen in the mind are every bit as vivid, and often more damaging than what we call reality. I'm sure your experience in Drago is as real to you today as this room we are sitting in. The important thing, as I said — '

Karyn only half-listened as Dr. Goetz droned on in his silky, reassuring voice. He was saying the same thing everyone else did. Namely, that she had imagined the whole Drago episode. Maybe in time he could convince her of that. If he could, he would be well worth whatever David was paying him. In the meantime, it did help a little to be able to talk.

There was a subtle change in the doctor's tone, and Karyn saw his eyes flick over at the discreet little clock on his desk. Her hour was up.


KARYN DROVE SLOWLY north over the Aurora Bridge toward Mountlake Terrace, where she and David had their home. Her thoughts, as usual when she left Dr. Goetz, were on Drago and what happened afterward.

There had been one moment of triumph at the very end when she had fired the deadly silver bullet into the head of the black she-wolf. But that small victory, like the escape with Chris Halloran, had lacked a ring of finality. Even as she and Chris had paused to look back on the valley in flames, neither of them had really believed it was over.

For six tempestuous months they had tried to pretend it was, and that they were just another ordinary couple. After sharing the horror of Drago, it had seemed a natural thing to stay together. How wrong they were.

For a time they had traveled aimlessly from place to place, living on pills and nervous energy. Before long their pent-up emotions were turned against each other. At the end of six months these two people, who had shared more in a day than many couples do in a lifetime, were living on the edge of violence. The most insignificant squabble could erupt in an ugly word battle. They were staying in a Las Vegas hotel when the final blowup came.

Karyn had spent the morning in their room. She had the air conditioner turned up full and wore a sweater buttoned to the throat as protection against the dry cold. Chris had gone down to the swimming pool early, after making only a half-hearted attempt at persuading her to come with him.

At noon Chris returned. He glanced briefly at Karyn and went into the bathroom. Not until he had showered, shaved, and dressed did he speak to her.

'Do you want to go down and get some lunch?'

'Can't we have something sent up?'


'I'd rather not leave the room, that's all.'

'For God's sake, Karyn, you can't just sit up here and hide from the world like a frightened child.'

His words cut into her like a dull knife. She flared back. 'I can do anything I want. Who are you to tell me what I can't do? Nobody asked you to run my life.'

Chris's eyes had turned dark and dangerous for a moment, then he whirled and stormed out the door. Karyn fought down the angry impulse to throw something after him.

The rush of blood through the veins made a roaring in her ears. She walked over to the window, parted the draperies, and blinked at the bright white Las Vegas sunlight. Twelve stories down, she could see people in the pool and on the deck around it. Everyone seemed to be laughing and having a fine time. Was she the only one in the world, Karyn wondered, who was miserable?

She let the draperies fall back across the window, and returned to the chair where she had sat all morning. She was still there, shivering with the cold, an hour later when Chris returned.

He closed the door firmly behind him and stood looking at her. 'Why the hell don't you turn the air conditioning down?'

'I like it this way.'

She could see him start to get angry, then, with an effort, relax.

'Karyn, we have to talk.'


'Because we're destroying each other.'

'Is that a fact?'

'Cut it out, damn it. I've had all of this I can take.'

'Poor you.'

'This continual picking at each other is tearing me apart. It isn't doing you any good, either. Have you looked at yourself closely in the mirror lately?'

'Well, thank you very much.'

'Will you please stop playing childish games? I know what you went through at Drago, but — '

Karyn sprang out of the chair and faced him angrily. 'You have no idea what I went through. You were there only at the very end. I spent six months in that place. Six months in hell.'

Chris spoke in a carefully controlled voice. 'I know that, Karyn. I know you suffered a lot. What I want to do now is help you.'

'Oh? And just how do you think you can help me?'

'It would be a start if we brought the whole thing out in the open and talked about it.'

'I don't want to talk about it,' Karyn snapped. 'Not to you, not to anybody.'

'I'm the only one you can talk to about Drago,' he said. 'I am the only person in the world who would believe it, because I was there. I saw the wolves, and I know what they were.'

Karyn clapped her hands over her ears. 'I don't want to hear. I don't want to think about it. Why don't you let me forget Drago, so it will go away?'

'It will never go away,' Chris said. 'It will always be locked in the back of your head. If we could just talk about it — '

'There you go with your 'talk about it' again. You sound like one of those fucking parlor psychologists. Tell me, where did you get your medical degree, Doctor?'

'Cut it out. I can't take any more of this.'

'Don't then. Don't take a Goddamn thing you don't want to, Nobody's holding you.'

'That's right,' he said in a voice that had gone suddenly cold. 'Nobody is.'

In thirty minutes Chris Halloran had packed his clothes and left the hotel. That had been two and a half years ago. Karyn had not seen him since.

* * *

The weeks that followed the Las Vegas breakup with Chris were fragmented in Karyn's memory. She knew that during that time she was very close to losing her hold on sanity. Somehow, she had made her way back to her parents' home in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. For two months she had a full-time nurse, and never left the upstairs bedroom that had been hers when she was a little girl. The days were blanks and the nights were filled with shadows where lurked unspeakable horrors.

Then gradually the world came back into focus. Karyn at last learned to talk about the summer in Drago. Then as now, no one really believed her, but they listened sympathetically. She learned that Chris had been right. Talking about it did help.

After six months in the quiet, comfortable house with her family, Karyn began to feel whole again. She tried

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