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Strongest Love, Strongest Hate
I laid the cold metal of the blade to my arm, feeling the sharp edge slice into my flesh. I gasped, heat racing through me. Drawing the knife slowly across my skin, I watched the blood well up from the wound like water gushing from a spout. The liquid was black in the moonlight against my pale skin, a splash of ink across a blank page. I caught a whiff of the coppery scent, like an old penny. I breathed deeply, my eyes searching the wood.
“Where are you?” I whispered, straining my eyes, trying to see past the gloom that hung around the gnarled trees like mist. The forest was still. The silence was eerie and weighed upon me with a physical force.
Blood trickled down my arm. It was warm, like a summer evening just before the storm. The sensation of such a vital fluid running down my skin sent shivers through my body. Every instinct screamed for me to stop the bleeding, to save the precious substance.
A few drops fell from my arm onto the forest floor.
“I know you can smell it,” I murmured, my eyes searching the darkness, looking for him. “I know you can feel it hitting the ground. Where are you?”
“Right here,” a rough voice hissed from behind me. I whipped around, my heart leaping into my throat. It bucked and ran like a wild horse, trying to beat its way out of my chest, surging with terror.
A young man stood before me, cloaked in the shadows of the wood. The muscles of his arms rippled as he crossed them over his chest, leaning casually against a tree. Curly black hair fell to his bare shoulders in silken waves, nestling around the base of his shapely neck. I swallowed sharply and looked up to meet his eyes.
And oh, what eyes they were. A bright, vivid blue, these eyes made the purest sapphires look like lumps of coal. They were like the summer sky on a cloudless day, or a bright tropical sea at noon. I longed to drown in those eyes, the eyes of my lover, and my greatest enemy.
“Why did you call me?” he asked harshly, staring at me with such hurt and anger on his face that I longed to run to him and throw my arms around that warm, solid body. I clenched my fist and closed my eyes, nails biting into my skin. The pain helped me focus, reminding me of why I was here, in this cursed and haunted wood, looking at the man who has destroyed my life.
“Because,” I said slowly, my voice shaking. “I am going to kill you.”
I opened my eyes hesitantly and looked at him. His mouth was curved in a loving, indulgent smile, like I was a little girl who had just done something cute and endearing. A hot rush of anger pulsed through me, searing my throat. My lips curled up in a snarl as he pushed off the tree and sauntered towards me.
“Oh Rain,” he murmured, placing warm, soft hands on either side of my face, thumbs brushing across my cheeks like light, quivering butterflies. “I’d forgotten how innocent you are sometimes.”
“I am not innocent,” I snapped, jerking my face away, though every particle of me longed to curl up in those strong arms and bury my face in his forest-smelling hair.
“Have you forgotten what I am?” he asked gently, running a hand through my red mane, studying my face. “You can’t kill me, Rain. No human can.”
“No,” I said quietly, putting my hand on top of his. “No human can kill you. But thanks to you, I’m not human anymore.” He looked at me, those brilliant eyes confused. I could see him trying to figure out whether or not I was telling the truth. As if he couldn’t smell a lie.
“You missed one, Gabriel,” I hissed, my voice full of venom. “You forgot to destroy one of the bodies. I found Anna crawling around, slavering like a rabid dog, tearing at the corpses of my family, eating the hearts you ripped from their chests!”
Despair choked me, cutting off my voice. I could see Anna clinging to my hand as I led her into school on her first day of kindergarten. I could hear her gentle, innocent voice as we named the constellations in the sky, lying in our backyard.
I saw her covered in blood, crawling on the ground towards me, insanity in her eyes. I heard her whisper “Hello sissy” in that sweet, angelic voice that didn’t match her demonic red pupils.
“She bit me,” I whispered, regaining control of myself. I stared into his blank, neutral eyes. “And then I had to kill her.”
“You’re lying,” Gabriel murmured. “I can always tell, Rain.”
“Is this a lie?” I snarled, holding out my hand and concentrating.
At first nothing happened. Then, ever so slowly, my hand began to lengthen. The fingers curled up and the nails grew longer and sharper. My palm roughened and bulged, turning brown and thick. Russet hair shot out of my rippling skin. I was left gasping and heaving from the pain as we both looked down at my arm.
A wolf’s paw sprouted smoothly from my wrist, flexing and stretching as I breathed deeply, shaking away the ache of the change. I looked up viciously at the man I loved, the one who had slaughtered my family.
“Well,” he said, looking at me, face devoid of emotion. “That changes things.”
The blow came out of nowhere. I reeled back, stars bursting in my vision. I shook my head, clearing my eyes. Gabriel was on the ground, his spine stretching and lengthening, skin peeling away to reveal coarse fur.
I closed my eyes and released my beast. I don’t know why it was so easy. Maybe it was because I had already begun the change. Or maybe the beast inside me could feel my bloodlust and was eager to taste warm flesh.
I burst out of my body. My spine snapped and reformed, my ribs shattered and mended. I raised my muzzle and howled at the moon in agony, thrusting all of the searing fire that raced through my body into that one single note.
The scents slammed into me like a wall. I could smell the heat and musk rolling off everything living thing within a five hundred foot radius. The rich smell of earth filled my lungs like a thick soup, telling me of every creature that had walked upon it. I breathed deeply, still not used to the sharp and potent scents of the world in this new shape.
Something heavy hit me, throwing me into the trees. I snarled in pain as I slammed into a trunk. Whipping around, I stalked towards the massive black wolf that was Gabriel.
He rushed at me, teeth bared. I leaped forward with a snarl, sinking my fangs into his ruff. Anger burned in my, feeding my thirst for revenge. I wanted to rip him apart, destroying him the way he destroyed my family.
I don’t know how long we fought. Blood splattered the clearing, staining the soil and burning the trees. Werewolf blood runs hotter then human, coursing through our bodies at about 150°F. Every drop that leaked from our wounds seared a hole in the ground, causing the earth to smoke.
Weariness dragged at me, making my movements slow and clumsy. My muscles burned as I lunged and twisted, trying avoid those slavering jaws. Our snarls and snapping echoed through the forest, like something out of a nightmare.
Gabriel bit and worried me, ripping and tearing with teeth and claw. My anger was ebbing, replaced by sheer hopelessness. I couldn’t win against him. Maybe it was better to just give up and let him kill me. At least then I could see my family again.
I sagged to the ground, all my strength gone. There was no point in fighting. I couldn’t destroy him. Even after all he had done to me, I still loved Gabriel. It was better to just wait for the promised death that loomed over me, blue eyes burning with bloodlust, white fangs bared in the moonlight.
Something inside me balked. That part of me that had always been too stubborn and contrary to go along with anything raised its ugly head. I fought to push it away, but that belligerence surged through me, filling me with new energy.
Adrenaline raced along my veins, pumping into my heart. I lunged to my feet, driven on by sheer stubbornness and force of will. I would not die. I would not let him kill me. Anna wouldn’t have wanted that.
I flung myself onto his back, my teeth sinking into his front leg. Gabriel snarled with pain, snapping at me. His teeth clicked close a few scant inches from my face. Instinct kicked in.
I dug my teeth in deeper, feeling them hit bone. I shook my head back and forth, ripping muscles and fraying tendons. Gabriel howled with pain, falling over to the side. His weight knocked the wind out of me, causing me to scrabble at the ground, trying to right myself, fighting for breath. Gabriel’s teeth bit into my ruff. The pain shot through me like bolts of lightning. I snarled, digging my claws into his wounded leg and ripped with all my might.
My claws sliced through the skin like it was paper, ripping four long gashes down his entire leg. The flesh flopped and oozed as he floundered, trying to get up. I could hear the muscles slapping wetly together. The wolf in me relished in that sound, for it knew it would feed soon.
Blood was pouring out of the open wound, burning the ground like acid. He fell to the ground with a scream of frustration and pain, snapping back into human form. I morphed back, too tired to hold the wolf shape any longer.
I crouched over him, my hand on his chest, looking into the pale, tortured face of the man I loved. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I placed my hand over his frantically beating heart.
“Don’t do this,” he whispered brokenly, agony choking him. “Please. Why do you have to kill me?”
“Because I loved them,” I replied, my voice steady even as the tears fell faster and faster. “I loved them, and you murdered them. You’re a monster, Gabriel. You need to die.”
“I’m not the only monster, Rain,” Gabriel said, looking directly at me, trying to reason with me. “You’re a monster now, too.”
“I know,” I whispered, stroking that soft, silken hair back from his eyes. “I know, Gabriel. And I don’t plan to live long after this.”
Suddenly I was swamped with pictures, images of my life. I saw Gabriel the first night I met him, fighting off the bear that had tried to maul me. I saw him with Anna on his shoulders, laughing in the sunlight. I remembered the safety I felt when I was curled up in his arms, sheltered from my family’s fighting. My heart surged with love for the man who had brought sunlight back into my life.
I knew why he had killed them. Deep down, I knew he had done it for me. We had often talked of me joining him for eternity, running in the woods together every night until forever. But I wouldn’t let him change me because I couldn’t leave my family behind. So he had made the choice for me. He had set me free.
“I love you, Rain,” he murmured. My heart broke then, shattering into a million pieces. I didn’t answer, not trusting my voice. Then I did what had to be done.
Shoving with all of my supernatural strength, I punched my hand through Gabriel's chest, ripping apart his heart. The burning blood scalded me, causing my skin to blister and bubble.
A furred hand swung at me. Flames roared across my eyes as his claws dug into my skin, ripping out my throat. I fell forward, collapsing on top of him. The world began to fade. I welcomed death, smiling at it.
“I…love…you…Gabriel,” I whispered raggedly, my hand still embedded in the heart of the man who had destroyed everything I had. Then the world went black as I followed my werewolf lover into eternity.