Chapter One – A Lesson
I was exhausted. Physically, mentally; everything. Dealing with Eric – a werewolf hunter with werewolf abilities that was solely after me – was horrible, much worse than I'd ever imagined it to be. I'd assumed he was just like any other hunter, just maybe with a few quirks. This was one of the few times I was wrong.
Unfortunately, these sessions had been going on for some time. It had been a week since he'd bled me, marking my wrists and back with X's, reminding me that I had to face him sooner or later. I'd wanted to face him, and I had, but he always managed to best me. Every day I'd gone back to him, intent on each time being the last. It hadn't worked.
The first time, not much was said. He was just sickly delighted I was playing along – not that I had much of a choice – and he was quick to inflict more pain on me. He didn't fight fair, using things he found on the ground, and that was the first time I'd found myself outmatched. I'd backed off.
I'd still healed faster than a human, but it wasn't at my normal rate by any stretch of the imagination. The new wounds healed eventually, but the old marks stuck around. They'd be there until I fixed this blood debt thing. Being bled was some stupid, older tradition I'd only seen happen in my father's pack, and it was designed to keep the prey from getting away from the werewolf, not letting two werewolves fight each other. I'd never imagined I'd be bled.
If only Eric hadn't been set on me. I almost wished he'd gone for Nick, the other Beta who had really killed Eric's brother, and I wouldn't have shed one tear if Erica had needed to go. But he'd chosen me, and I'd chosen to take this on by myself.
I might've accepted Sam's help, but he had taken off before I'd been bled. I had an idea that Sam was trying to find dad, but I wasn't sure. He had just said he had things to deal with up North, and then he'd left. I wanted to go after him, but he was fully capable of taking care of himself. He probably wouldn't appreciate his little sister chasing him around either.
Eric's attacks had gradually gotten worse. I was wondering if people would start to notice, and that was never good. I could tell my family a few lies and then they'd be fine. The pack would be nosy, and they'd try to wriggle their way into it. Sometimes it was hard being around so many people.
I couldn't accept their help. I knew the majority weren't willing to give it, but I'd feel bad if they had. Eric had chosen me for a reason, not them: he was only going to hurt me. And I was okay with that, because I knew I could handle it better.
That was another thing that would keep the pack at bay: the fact I could shift at will. I hadn't told them before this – though Nick had found out when Sam flipped out, and possibly before that – because I knew they'd be in awe and think of me differently. I could use that as my trump card to get out of their help if need be: they didn't have to know that my shifting didn't matter in the least against Eric.
I didn't know how long Eric had been a werewolf, but he was pretty damn good. I'd had more practice killing hunters, and they were definitely easier, but I'd never imagined how difficult it would be to kill one of my own. There were pros and cons to each form you were in, and it seemed that I couldn't make the playing field quite right.
I always shifted first, and when I'd thrown myself at him, he'd lock my mouth shut and push me off him. If I went at him as a human he'd shift first, and then he'd manage to snag me in the air. It was a complicated process, and I couldn't find that right loophole.
It was annoying me. I'd always imagined liking a challenge, but now that there was one, it was pissing me off. He'd torn me up good this time, and it still hurt walking home. Today had also been the first time he'd talked to me, so I assumed that had to mean something.
"You're back," he said, eyes glinting. At the time I'd thought he was just trying to mess with me, but now I knew he was really excited whenever I came back. Good for him.
"I guess," I said, rubbing the marks on my wrists and trying to appear casual. In truth I was tired and my muscles were aching from all the old wounds, begging me to take a day off. I probably could've, but I didn't want Eric to go after anyone else.
"Let's see if you can get me this time," he chuckled, moving for me. He usually let me attack first, so this surprised me. I stumbled back, stupidly tripping over my own feet. It had worked out well in the end, because I'd been able to kick him off of me, but I'd been so sure it was all over when he slammed me into the ground.
I'd gotten back up in a hurry, and he'd eyed me almost hungrily. I was starting to really worry about this guy's sanity.
"You're not quite like your father," he said, beginning to circle me. I kicked into defensive, circling too, instead of letting him circle me. He laughed. "I don't think you'll ever be quite as powerful as him, especially if you can't beat me." He lunged, and I dodged.
"How do you know so much about him?" I feigned to the left and swung a punch, but it fell short. "I thought you'd just seen him in passing, not dated him."
He laughed again, but I'd hit a sore spot, because he struck out at me. I hadn't jumped back enough and it clipped me, snapping my head to the side. It was only a glancing blow, but I was so tired of being hit around these days. I moved farther back before he could get me again.
"When I hunt people I don't just take out a gun and shoot them. I get to know my enemy, learn their strengths and weaknesses. We're doing the same thing here."
"Except you never learned my dad," I said. That made me feel proud for some reason. "Because he's still alive, so that means you failed."
"How do you know I was going for him?" His kick was low, and I caught it between my legs. Neither of us could do much of anything now, and I felt stupid; I should've let him take his leg back. I could do it now, but then I risked the chance of him kicking me.
"You're a hunter, aren't you? Why would you just hang around with him for the fun of it?"
"So then you were hunting him." I was still trying to figure out what to do with his leg. I could sit on it, but that wouldn't be very mature or skilled. I could attempt to jump on it, or away from it, but I risked looking like an idiot. Not that I was having much luck otherwise.
"No, I was just along for the ride actually; it was my partner who was supposed to kill him."
It looked like I was going to have to jump. "So your partner's dead?"
I jumped then, using any sixth sense I had to see his next move. He hadn't been expecting it, and he wasn't moving to kick me; he was moving away. With a grin I settled as much weight into my legs as possible and moved to land on his leg. At the last second he drew it away, saving himself from a broken leg, and I managed to stagger out of the way.
"Thanks." I wanted to kill him. I wanted him gone so I didn't have to think about him anymore, but I knew he was going to be tough. "Will you ever leave me alone?"
"Not until one of us is dead."
I took a step to the left, just to have something to do. "What if I run?"
"Then I'll follow you."
"That sounds sickly romantic," I sneered. He threw a punch, which I neatly dodged. He was pretty touchy about relationships, apparently. "How good are you at running?"
"Hm," I said, wondering if it would be worth it to try and make a break for it. Not now – he was too aware of my plans. I'd have to take him for a chase some other time.
"You planning something, wolfy?" he barked, shifting from wolf to human in a flash. He hadn't made any moves towards me, but it was enough to throw me off. I was trying to track him, trying to gauge his next move, and I wasn't used to being against someone who was just as good as me. I faltered and took a step back.
"Just thinking of the many ways I could kill you," I murmured.
Eric was shaking his head, but he was smiling. It wasn't a good smile: he never smiled in a good way. When he smiled, I was filled with dread, because he was going to impart his 'wisdom' to me, and that never went well. I took another step back.
"You father was never like this," he said, shaking his finger. "Your father was smarter than that. He knew how to keep the conversation going in his favor, without giving anything away. You're not as good at it, but I guess in a way, you're only half of him."
"He has no influence over me," I spat despite myself. "He didn't even bother to stick around and help me through the change. Sam was the one who was there for me, and he's the one who I'm molded like: I haven't heard from my dad in years, and I like it that way."
"That's interesting," Eric said, cocking his head to the side. "So, you claim you're not your father's daughter?"
My brow furrowed. "No?"
Eric was shaking his head again, this time, condescendingly. "You have to demand it, say it like you mean it. You're still attached to him." He lashed out, managing to clip the side of my arm as I moved to block him. "And you're still not as good as him," he added.
His eyes shone, and I knew the worst had yet to come. I raised my arms in front of my face, ready to block again, but he was done aiming for my face. His fist landed directly in my gut, causing my face to scrunch up and my mouth to open, desperately sucking in air. He paused for a minute, letting me regain myself, before he moved again, this time shoving me back.
I was tripping over my feet, trying to regain my balance and trying to keep an eye on him at the same time. He was being patient, pretending to give me time to right myself before he attacked, but it was all a game. When he moved in for another hit I attempted to grab his hand. He let me, and our arms hung there for a minute. I dug my nails into the skin of his knuckles.
His other fist sank into my stomach again, and I couched, letting my hand slip away from his. His now free hand shot to my throat, cutting off my air. I managed to keep my face about as expressionless as possible, but I knew my eyes were dilated.
He tossed me away from him, towards a tree. As soon as my back hit the bark he was there, pinning me against the tree by my throat. He was doing it with casual ease, only using one hand and leaning back like he did this every day. I growled at him.
"It's a little late for that," he chastised, reaching over to pat my head. My nostrils flared, and I wished so badly I could sink my teeth into that hand that dared mock me. In fact, I wished I could just tear all of his flesh off until he was nothing more and wouldn't bother me again.
He reached up, breaking off a low hanging branch from the tree and looking at it idly. "Just get it over with," I spat out, glaring at him with all I had. If only looks could kill. If only there was a way to invade his mind and make him drop dead.
"I'm going to give you a lesson on breeding first," he said, smiling, as though this were the greatest gift he could bestow. "We were talking about you being—or not being—your father's daughter, and I thought it might help to explain things to you."
I drew my nails down the side of his arm, but he didn't flinch. He just kept smiling at that branch, choosing his next words carefully. "A girl being born as a werewolf is rare."
"No it's not," I said before I could stop myself. "I know several that were."
"Don't interrupt me," he said calmly, squeezing his fingers into the sides of my neck. "On a ratio, boys have a higher rate of being born as werewolves: that's just life. Now, what do you think happens when a male werewolf breeds with a female human?"
"As opposed to what, a male werewolf 'breeding' with a male human?" I asked bitterly. That earned me a smack across the cheek from the branch. I could feel it cut into my skin, and I jerked away, but he didn't look impressed.
"It was dull," he said, snapping a piece of it off. "And under those conditions, the chances of a child being born as a werewolf are lower." He stopped and shook his head. "No, that's not the direction I want to take with this—"
I forced his arm away from me, shoving him back. I ducked and tried to swing myself under him, but he caught my wrist and jerked me back. A blade was pressed against my throat this time, and I glared at it the best I could with visible contempt.
"You little bitch!" he hissed, though there was something happy in his tone. "That was the point I was trying to make, but you're just so eager you're trying to get ahead. The fact is, as the werewolf daughter, you will always be the bitch. You will be your mother's bitch, your father's bitch…"
I was growling now.
"And eventually, you might be a breeding bitch. Werewolf girls are rare, as stated before, and most don't believe in turning their children, because it usually doesn't work, so werewolf males tend to stay away from humans. You serve no purpose other than to successfully continue their line."
"Why the fuck are you telling me this?"
"Because you need to know your place." The branch ran down the inside of my arm, drawing a thin line of blood. Eric grunted his approval before continuing. "You walk around with your head held high, like you're better than everyone else because you're different. The fact is, there are a lot of people that are different from you, and they're a lot stronger." The branch moved up to my shoulder, digging in deeper. "In fact, one of them is going to take you down one day, and there won't be a damn thing you can do about it."
"Just shut up," I growled.
"You're only saying that because you know it's true," he smirked. "I'm different, and I can easily hold you here and mark you up all I want. Getting back to the breeding point, you are your father's bitch, but that's your only redeeming quality. You've got his blood in you, but it's tainted by a human's as well. You were bitten, and that gives you some advantage, but you're weak. You can't compare to a full-blooded werewolf."
"Maybe I don't want to."
"Don't lie to me," he hissed, stabbing the branch into my upper thigh. I narrowed my eyes at him, wondering if he would ever get to a point. None of this meant anything to me: he was just a rambling lunatic. This werewolf difference crap didn't apply to me, and most of all, I just didn't care.
"You are your father's daughter, and for that reason, you will fail, because you're also your mother's daughter." He twisted the branch, watching as I twitched. "If only he'd knocked someone else up for you." I bared my teeth at him and he laughed, pushing the branch in deeper.
"You hear me? You. Will. Always. Fail." He gave a final twist before yanking the branch out, not at all gently, and releasing my neck, watching as I crumpled to the ground. After a moment he bent down slightly and jammed the stick, briefly, into my right ribcage. A hiss of air escaped my lips. He hadn't anything important, and he hadn't gone for my heart, but damn it hurt.
"There," he said, stepping back and dropping the branch, surveying his work. "Now you're at least symmetrical in your injuries." He wiped one of his bloody hands against his jeans. It left a dark red smear that made me uneasy.
"Well, there's not much else to do here," Eric said, looking down at me. "I was under the impression you needed some time to think about this conversation, too, so we'll meet up again later. Think about what I said." I watched him leave, glaring at his back the entire time. He was so damn cocky, and I didn't know how he'd gotten away with it for so long.
I pressed a hand to my ribcage, vowing he wouldn't get away with it for much longer.
For once, I almost wished I had someone to help me with this. As soon as I thought of the idea I shook it from my head: I didn't need others involved, and I didn't need to start relying on others. I might be able to use them as a distraction though… but either way, it was still using them.
I knew the woods weren't far from our house, but it felt like it was taking ages to get there. I wanted to stop, curl into a ball, and sleep it off in the trees, but I knew it wasn't a great plan. It would worry my family, and I could get attacked. You couldn't trust the woods these days.
As if on cue, I knew Chase was near. His presence wrapped around me almost like a blanket, attempting to soothe me. He didn't mean me any harm, and I could feel that, but I still didn't want to see him today.
That's exactly what I told him. "Chase, I'm not in the mood."
"I can tell."
I couldn't remember exactly when he'd shown up in my life, because he had this thing with haunting my dreams before showing up in my reality. He was a big unknown in my life, constantly making me wonder about our connection. He'd been the one from dad's pack to bite and turn me, and because of that, we had a strange bond. I didn't really understand it, but he seemed to have a better grasp on it.
"Then maybe you should just leave," I said, pressing my fingers against one of my cuts to stem the blood flow.
"I know you're hurt."
"I think even a blind man would know that," I said bitterly. "I'm bleeding all over the place."
"I'm always willing to comfort you." Again, he didn't mean me harm, but my gut was telling me something was wrong. Not with Chase, necessarily, but with something else; something bad was going to happen.
"Did you do something?"
I had this ominous, weighty feeling that something was very, very wrong. I couldn't put a finger on what exactly was wrong, but it was hurting my head thinking about it. I felt uneasy, like when you knew someone was watching you but you couldn't do anything about it. No, I wasn't just uneasy: I was nervous.
"Like what?" He sounded a little mischievous, but not guilty. It couldn't have been him then. I paused, thinking through everything that could have happened. Was dad here already?
"I should get home," I said abruptly, beginning to walk before I was fully aware of what I was doing. The knot of worry inside my stomach clenched, and I prayed nothing irrevocable had happened. I could do a lot of damage control, but not in those cases.
Chase didn't follow me, and I was glad. Usually he was insistent on these things, but maybe he was sensing my urgency. I finished the walk to the house, practically running up to the fence before jumping it. My pain had been pushed to the back of my mind.
The house looked strangely empty from the outside, but I didn't waste much time on appearances. I threw open the door and strode in, waiting to see the army of werewolves waiting for me. There were none: the entire downstairs was empty.
Furniture had been pushed to the side in a hurry, and it was strange. Whoever it was hadn't been very careful, because one of the lamps had smashed in the process. Then again, if it was my dad, he might not care about the lamp. Hell, my mom probably didn't even care about the lamp. Why was I thinking about the lamp at a time like this? Cautiously, I moved up the stairs.
There weren't werewolves waiting for me there either. The hall wasn't empty, necessarily, but that wasn't reassuring. I could see open boxes against the wall, and several suitcases and duffels were strewn about. I nudged one with my toe, and it didn't budge: it was full.
I stuck my head into the master bedroom, wondering if maybe mom wanted to move now. I'd have to talk her out of it, at least while Eric was around. Moving with a hunter on your trail was never a pleasant experience. I'd managed to avoid it so far, and common sense told me it would be stupid to try it now and hope for the best.
No one was in there. There was more packing going on in this room, and I decided it would have to end quickly. I stuck my foot into the room, heading towards the bathroom, but a noise in the hall made me turn back around.
I almost didn't want to look. I didn't want to see my dad there, because I hadn't thought about how I was going to react. Should I forgive him for everything he'd done, or should I give him the silent treatment? At first I'd thought he'd just gotten lost, but then I'd found out that he'd chosen my fate, and after that, I wasn't so happy with him anymore. I still didn't know what to think.
It was only Ange. Something about her looked wrong: she wasn't scared, exactly, but she had this weird expression on her face. She was moving quietly, and she was mouthing something to me silently, without uttering a sound.
My forehead furrowed, and she gave up. "Alex, you can't be here," she gritted out through her teeth. I raised an eyebrow. "Alex-"
"Oh, good, you found your sister." That was my mom, and her tone definitely implied something was going on. I took one last look at all the bags, hoping they'd be easy to unpack later. I wondered if she'd been in my room yet.
Thinking of my room somehow led back to my injuries, and I noticed I was still bleeding. I probably looked like shit. That wouldn't make mom happy, but we had more important things to discuss right now than my looks.
I turned around slowly, plastering a sympathetic smile onto my face. I already knew the answers to this conversation. Yes, mom, it's terrible. No, mom, we don't have to move. Yes, mom, I'm sure. No, mom, you'll be fine, and you'll find some more work later.
She wasn't in her uniform, and that was odd. Actually, everything about this was odd. She was supposed to be at work, but if she'd been fired I guess it would make some sense she'd wanted to get away. That didn't explain why the living room would be trashed. Mom never got angry like that: she just packed and moved on.
Something clicked, and that made my attention actually focus on my mother. She was in a fighting stance, and I almost turned around to look at what she was going to attack when I noticed what she was holding. It was the gun I'd given Ange a week earlier, and it was pointed straight at me.
Ohhhhhsnap. I'm back! With a nice little chapter ending, I think. I really like some parts of this first chapter, and others I don't. Oh well. I'm probably just saying that because I've (barely) started the third book and I like the beginning chapter better.
Plus, the little "summary" thing or whatever is soooo stupid. Especially the deer. But see, I wrote a summary a while back that was too short, so I tried to include more and came up with little. 'Cause I didn't want to say too much and spoil some stuff/confuse people with things that haven't happened yet. And you only have so many usable characters. So uh. Yeah. This is story is mostly about Al's struggle with Eric, as well as some other guys in between. The summary covered most of that, though. I'm SO helpful... not.
So, as whentheboysmiles suggested, this is going up early. (Though maybe not by six hours... Like half that.) Mostly because I've got extra time, also because I know I'm going to have quite a bit of homework tomorrow. Which means I'll be fighting to get on here if I don't put it up now. And hey, what's it matter if the story is three hours early? Aside from this I will be consistent with Mondays and Fridays.
Mm. Not much else to say. Oh, except that I won a writing contest! I hear links don't work on here, so take out the brackets and you should get to the link. If not let me know? lernerbooks[.]blogspot[.][com]/2010/12/night-fall-scary-story-contest-winner[.][html]
Hope y'all enjoy this part of the series as much as the last. If anything doesn't match/is confusing let me know. I feel like my brain slips up sometimes... Enjoy!