tagNonHumanNight Hunt Ch. 12

Night Hunt Ch. 12

byNightcaps©

Dear readers,

To those new to this story, welcome! It is advised that you start from Chapter One. Also, if you are looking for a quickie, this is not the place.

To those who have been following this story, thank you for your patience and encouragement! Thanks for your likes, your votes, and your comments. I'm sorry it took so long. As usual, finding time to write, and then to be inspired, is a constant struggle. Once again, I'm still determined to see this through however long it takes! I have much more in store for my characters, I promise!

Enjoy xoxo


******

There was a popular entrance to the nature reserve a short drive from the Bed and Breakfast, but Sam and Connor chose to enter directly from the edge of the woods right behind the building instead. There was no trail here, but they didn't need one. It meant that it was easy to slip in and out unseen. The last reported "animal attack" had taken place five days ago, about two miles from where they were. They intended to head there first, unless they found anything else along the way.

As they walked, Sam could feel the weight of her trusty sword, Gwyndelle, at her back. She wore it sheathed in a leather harness that was slung tightly across her chest, cloaked by a glamour so that it was invisible to humans. It had belonged to her mother. When she had received it from her father, she had sworn that it would never leave her side.

Today she had dressed prepared for combat, in a dark green sleeveless wrap top, woven from a stretchy material that her people had created. It was snug on her body, allowing her free movement. The thick fabric was also resistant to cuts, offering her moderate protection from the swipe of a blade. She wore black leggings of the same material, with hidden compartments at her thighs where she had hidden two smaller daggers. Her shoes were soft, rubber-soled booties that offered her the flexibility and grip she needed to run fast, or climb on any surface.

Everything on her fit her like a second skin.

Her long hair was braided back in tight, intricate braids, preventing it from being a liability in combat. It meant that her ears were uncovered, revealing their pointed tips, the only physical feature on her that revealed her true nature. She'd already caught Connor casting them a curious glance twice, though he'd said nothing about them.

Sam followed behind the cantankerous werewolf, distracted. Her phone call with Enrique had not gone well last night. He'd been sulky, repeatedly asking her to head back to the city. He hadn't been supportive of her leaving for a few days, especially when the duration of the trip was unspecified.

She recalled his last words to her. Come back mi cariña, my bed is cold. I don't know how much longer I can wait. She would never admit it, but what Connor had said about incaendo demons and their infidelity had gotten under her skin.

Her relationship with Enrique was still pretty new. They had only been seeing each other for just over a month. He had come back with her after a whirlwind time together backpacking through Europe. Before she knew it, what started out as a short crash at her place, had now become a stay of a few weeks. Lately, they'd been tiptoeing around the topic of where they were headed in the long run, although he hadn't yet mentioned anything about wanting to go back to Spain.

Sam gave herself a mental shake. What was she doing? She knew that she loved Enrique, and he loved her too. So what if they didn't have a plan? They'd figure things out. She should trust her fiery, amorous Enrique, and not let the words of a faithless werewolf get to her head.

Connor stopped in the middle of a clearing, sniffing the air. They were about ten minutes into the woods, away from any trails. The area had been clear of any tracks or disturbances. The trees and shrubbery here were dense, hiding them from anyone who might happen by. The werewolf gave a brief nod, then to Sam's alarm, began tugging off his t-shirt.

"What do you think you're doing?" Sam hissed.

He shrugged nonchalantly, as if to say what else? "I need to shift. Here's as good a place as any."

He proceeded to strip off his jeans and boxers, folding them away as he did so and hiding them under a bush. Sam found herself gawking at a full frontal Connor. The guy was ripped. Tightly corded muscles bulged everywhere, even in places she didn't realise could develop bulk and definition. There wasn't a single tan line to mar his golden, sun-kissed skin. She couldn't help but let her gaze wander between his legs.

Yep, even at rest, she could see that she hadn't imagined his girth the day before. No wonder the man didn't appear to have a shred of modesty. He didn't need it.

Connor cocked his head to the side, a smirk on his face. "Liking what you see, princess? You know... it's never gonna happen."

Reluctantly, she jerked her gaze back up to meet his. She didn't feel sorry for staring. Nudity was commonplace amongst her kind, and many other species. It wasn't like she was doing anything, she was simply looking. And she was a full-blooded supernatural after all. One who had, only a year ago, just completed Meta - the equivalent of puberty for immortals who were born and not turned.

Whilst humans made the transition into adulthood in their early teens, immortals went through a series of changes over a decade or so. She was glad that the transition took that long. Once Meta was completed, one's appearance ceased to change for all eternity. It would have been difficult to be taken seriously if she looked sixteen for the rest of her life.

Since Meta had begun, her supernatural hormones were perpetually in overdrive, one of the side effects that she had had to deal with. In fact, given how supernaturals were always hooking up with one another, she wasn't sure if the state of said hormones ever subsided.

"Even if it were on the table, you couldn't handle it anyway," she replied sweetly, sweeping another glance down his body and back up again.

For a moment, she thought she saw a look cross Connor's face. Contrary to what he had just said, she could have sworn the look that he gave her was... hungry. An involuntary shudder ran through her. He blinked, and it was gone, replaced by his usual expression of ire.

"A little privacy, please," he grumbled before he stepped behind some shrubs to shift. Sam took a second to appreciate the rear view before turning away to give him what he'd requested. As annoying as he was whenever he opened his mouth, the werewolf had a great ass.

The moment he was out of sight, the sound of cracking bones and pained gasping reached her ears. Sam winced. She didn't have to like the werewolf to sympathise with how unpleasant the shift sounded. Although she didn't know much about werewolves, having been kept away from them all through childhood and then avoiding them when she moved to the city, she'd heard that when they shifted, they went through a motherload of agony. Some said the species originated from a curse, this being one of the punishments.

A couple of minutes later, she heard a thud on the grass, and the gasping sounds changed to gutteral snarling. She hesitated, wondering if she should check on Connor. Was that supposed to happen? He wouldn't be too pleased if she saw him in midshift. It was considered a major violation of their etiquette, if werewolves were considered to have any etiquette at all.

She was just about to take a step in Connor's direction when the snarls stopped. A beautiful wolf padded soundlessly out from the shrubs. It was large, much larger than what she knew wolves should be. A thick coat of grey and white fur covered its body. Piercing blue lupine eyes stared out at her.

She was surprised to find that in spite of his animal form, she could immediately recognise Connor, just by looking at his eyes.

She'd never been so close to a werewolf in his animal form before. There was something exhilarating about standing in the proximity of such a wild, deadly creature. The only time her people saw a werewolf in this form, they were either trying to kill it, or were about to be killed. She'd been taught since young to fear it, but she'd never been told that its beauty could take your breath away. His fur looked so soft, she had to stifle the urge to reach out and touch it.

A low growl reverberated from Connor's chest. The corner of his upper lip lifted, revealing a row of sharp teeth.

Quit looking at me like I'm some goddammed pet, his voice sounded in her head.

Sam rolled her eyes. So much for thinking that Connor would be any different than he was, when in wolf form. All that beauty and he was still the same asshole. She wouldn't go through that misunderstanding again.

Connor chuffed, shaking out his long grey fur. He padded in the direction that they had been heading in, then turned around and beckoned her with a paw. The movement was so human-like that Sam blinked in disbelief.

Come on, we have some work to do. Try to keep up, Princess.

She gritted her teeth. "Stop calling me that! And it's me that you should worry about keeping up with."

He made a sort of hacking sound in his throat, almost like a laugh. She read amusement on his furry face. Without another word, he launched himself through the shrubbery, setting off at a run.

A grin spread across Sam's face. Finally, some action. She'd been waiting all day for a challenge, and she was more than ready for this one. With a light leap, she pushed towards the nearest tree. Her feet scraped against rough bark as she went upwards, scaling the height with little effort. She caught the nearest branch, swinging herself over it weightlessly. With the grace of a practised gymnast, her feet landed soundlessly on the thick branch, balancing perfectly on the narrow width.

She ran along its length, until she reached the end of it. Eyes closed, she took a moment to center herself. A nature reserve this large was steeped in elemental magic.

She connected with it, feeling its energy call to her. She could feel the rustle of every leaf around her, the calm gurgle of a brook nearby, even the nocturnal creatures sleeping in their hidden nooks. A short distance away, she sensed Connor's wolf running through the trees. He, too, had melded with the nature in his own way. She could sense that the forest welcomed his presence.

Aligning herself with Connor's direction, she set her sights on the next tree... and leapt.

****

Anya was finding it difficult to process the scene in front of her. Standing before her was Tyrus, shoulders squared and bristling with animosity, a gun pointed to his head. Seeing him like that created a whirlwind of unidentifiable emotions, deep in her chest.

Even more bewildering, was that Lara was holding the gun. The same Lara who had drawn her out of her shell and taught her to live life to the fullest. Lara, who had dragged her out to numerous bars, and knocked back countless tequila shots with her, whilst rating men on their own customised eleven-point rating system. Lara, whose car had dropped off a cliff and exploded, the wreck so mangled, nobody could have possibly survived. Lara, whose death she had mourned four years ago.

It couldn't be.

The Lara that she had known had been warm, her energy always filling any room she was in, making her the center of attention. She'd always dressed in flirty skirts and heels, her white-blonde hair loose around her shoulders. This leather-clad version of her best friend was frighteningly cold. She still had the same feminine sex appeal, and she was still stunningly beautiful, but now she also had a very lethal edge to her.

Lara looked down the barrel of the gun at Tyrus, her face devoid of emotion. "Do you realise what you have done, bringing Anya into our world?"

Tyrus stared back at Lara with eyes of burning amber. He was in full vampire mode now, his body on alert.

"Who are you?"

"Someone you should be very afraid of right now. This gun holds charmed silver bullets. There's no coming back from that."

A look of clear focus crossed Lara's face. Her own grey eyes were glowing, and there was no mistaking the fangs peeking from her lips as she spoke. Her grip tightened around the gun, her finger hugging the trigger.

Anya felt her breath come is short pants. Lara was a vampire like Tyrus. Had she been one the entire time she had known her? This wasn't happening. It couldn't be happening.

"Lara, please," she whispered. Two pairs of inhuman eyes turned to look at Anya. She saw the confusion in Tyrus' amber ones.

Suddenly, Lara's nostrils flared. Her eyes widened, then narrowed with rage. Her head whipped around to glare at Tyrus.

"You've marked Anya, you son of a bitch! Do you have any idea who she is? She is not, and will never be, a slave. That's the last mistake you'll ever make."

She stepped closer to Tyrus, until the gun actually pressed into his temple.

Blinding panic flared through Anya.

"No!"

Without thinking, Anya sent a blast in Lara's direction. She heard a shot ring in the air, but the gun had already been flung towards the woods. It landed on the grass, a few meters away.

Lara stumbled, mouth open in shock as the blast knocked her to the floor.

"Anya! You... so you know-"

Tyrus was on Lara in a second, snarling as he pinned her to the ground, a hand wrapped around her neck. She bucked hard beneath him, but he was too strong for her to shake him off. Anya felt a sense of déjà vu as she watched Tyrus tower over Lara, fangs bared. She could almost see him ripping Lara's heart out, like he did with the other vampire just three nights ago.

"Tyrus, wait!"

At the desperation in her voice, he stilled. Warily, he regarded the woman in his grasp, still keeping his grip on her delicate neck. A human should be choking to death, but Lara simply glared at him with her cold gaze. Her eyes followed his, waiting to see what he would do next.

"Lara... I've heard of you. You're Lara of the Primakov vampire clan. Did King Primakov send you?" Tyrus relaxed the hand on Lara's neck, but didn't remove it completely.

Lara drew in a rattling breath to speak.

"Maraav sent me," she ground out. Her voice was gravelly and still seething with anger. "I'm an agent for the Governance, just like you. He called me because I was the closest one to this town, and said you might need some assistance."

"If Maraav sent you, then why did threaten me with a gun?"

"He didn't tell me that you had a human with you. I never expected to see Anya here. I've been protecting her for years! She was never supposed to know about us and our world. Nobody from our world was ever supposed to know about her, either. What are you doing with Anya? How could you... mark her?"

The revulsion was clear in Lara's tone.

"I had to. The subcouncil ordered her dead. They saw us together. I did it to protect her, not to enslave her to me. Nobody else will dare touch her if she carries my mark."

Lara said nothing for a moment, pondering what Tyrus had said. Her eyes lost some of their heat.

Anya's mind was spinning. She sifted through all of the information at a frantic speed, her thoughts sparking off in all directions. She'd been best friends with a vampire for years and she had no idea! Lara was a Governance agent and a member of a vampire clan. Were they working together? Or was she some sort of double agent? What did it mean, that she was trying to keep her a secret from their world? Did she really know what Anya was, and where she came from? And why did Lara fake her own death and disappear?

Anya felt a burst of anger with the last thought. She'd been grieving for Lara for the last four years and she'd been alive all this while.

"What is Anya to you?" Tyrus pressed, taking opportunity at Lara's silence.

"What is Anya to you?" Lara shot back.

Anya's thoughts stopped at Lara's question. Her heart skipped a beat. This was something she had to hear.

Tyrus opened his mouth, glanced at Anya, then shut it again. Anya held her breath, waiting. Lara studied him quietly. When he continued to say nothing, a slow smile spread across her face.

"Huh. Tyrus the Terror is... speechless. Interesting," she mused. "Tell you what. I think we've established that we both mean Anya no harm. Let go of me, and we can find somewhere to talk. Anya and I have got some catching up to do."

Tyrus gave an almost imperceptible nod, then let go of Lara and rose to his feet. He didn't offer any help to Lara, leaving her lying on the ground. She shifted to her feet so fast, Anya didn't even see it happen.

In a couple of quick strides, she was standing in front of Anya.

"Anya... I never thought I'd ever be able to talk to you again." Lara reached out and touched Anya's face and hair, as if checking to see if she was real.

Anya lifted her own shaky hand to Lara's face, then dropped it, hesitating. Right before her eyes, the new, cold Lara disappeared, leaving her best friend standing in front of her.

She could read the vulnerability in her eyes, the way she'd learnt to in the past. She remembered how Lara always looked so confident on the outside, but had the same fears and doubts as everyone else, if you got close enough for her to let you see it. It was what bonded them, once they had gotten to know one another.

Underneath it all, they were so much like each other. Instantly, she understood that the cold version of Lara she had just witnessed was yet another façade of the complex and multifaceted person she loved.

Whatever anger she had felt at Lara's disappearance, she knew there would be a good reason, and a deeper story behind it. And whatever person Lara had pretended to be, she was still her best friend.

"Lara," she whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. Without another thought, she grabbed her friend in a tight hug.

Lara hugged her back just as tightly, letting out a sob, "Oh Anya, you have no idea how much I've missed you."

They clung on to each other, as if afraid the other would disappear if one loosened her hold. With each moment that she held her best friend, Anya felt the tension in her body leave her.

"Where have you been? I thought you were dead! You faked your own death, didn't you? Why? I have so many questions!" Anya exclaimed through her tears. Four years. There was so much that she didn't know.

Choking back another sob, Lara released her. She wiped back tears with the back of her hand. For all her glamour and femininity, Lara was not the most elegant when she cried.

"Not here. Come, I'll bring you somewhere safe to talk. There's so much that I wanted to tell you, but couldn't. Now that you're here, you need to know everything."

Tyrus cleared his throat.

Lara stiffened, as if she had forgotten that he was there. Anya watched as Lara shifted back into the cold killer version of herself, ignoring the tears that stained her face.

"I can take over from here. I never should have left in the first place. Anya comes with me now."

Tyrus hissed. His eyes blazed like two indistinguishable flames. "If you think I'm leaving her side, you're wrong. You said you'd talk."

"Tyrus, Tyrus..."

Lara smiled faintly, clucking her tongue. Even with mascara stains on her cheeks, she still somehow managed to look contemptuous.

"You're taking a vampire at her word? As if you didn't know any better. You're still alive because Anya doesn't want you dead. I can respect that. But she stays with me. I don't need you around her to do any more damage than you've already done."

"The damage I've done?" Tyrus' deep voice was lowered almost to a whisper. It held a promise of danger. "If she means as much to you as you say, then why did you leave her? Did you even know that she was in Le Bastille? She was nearly killed there, by a mere fledgeling! I saved her! Where were you then?"

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