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My scream rang clear and loud, my tears ran wild, as I watched the monster rip my daddy’s throat apart.
“DADDY!!!!!” I cried out for him as his cool blue eyes gazed at me, all life draining from him.
“Princess…… run...” he gasped out as the monster bit down harder.
I ran, my white nightgown flapping in the November breeze. I kept running even when I heard the howl and the thud of the monster following me.
Sobbing I ran, my daddy’s face the only thing I could see. My bare feet hit a downed tree and I fell, tumbling to a stop back against the trunk of another tree.
I looked up and sobbed loudly as I saw the red eyes of the monster. His claws dug into the earth around him and a growl escaped his mouth, teeth bared.
“Please….please don’t eat me...” I begged pressing harder back on the tree.
The monster cocked his head and snarled at me, taking a slow step toward me.
“Please...” I sobbed and closed my eyes as I felt its hot breath on my face. Smelt its stench.
One careful claw ran down my cheek and along my neck causing me to shiver. Its clawed hand grabbed me by my throat; I coughed choking and looked into its gaze.
A hiss came from behind him and even through my clouded vision I saw the man. His teeth so sharp and shiny.
“Let her go” he breathed taking a step towards the monster.
The clawed hand around my neck tightened and everything went black, the monster and the man gone.
I heard talking, whispering and growling like a dog protecting his bone from another dog. Fragments of a conversation floated to my ears.
“Will she live…” one voice asked.
“I don’t know, it’s been almost a week and still nothing. Her heart beats still but he bit her… his venom is still in her blood. If she does wake up she’ll be turned, if she doesn’t... she’ll live in a coma until one of us has the nerve to end her.” Another voice, a raspier voice said.
Somehow I knew they were talking about me. I felt it twinge in my stomach and I knew if I didn’t fight to live they’d kill me.
But most of what the raspier voice had said made no sense to me. What had the voice meant by venom? And she’ll be turned? I didn’t understand it at all.
I looked down at the girl, who still lay on the cot, unconscious. It’d been nine days since I came across her and the wolf in the woods not far from the city. The wolf was now dead but his venom still lived inside this girl.
She looked to be about seventeen, maybe eighteen. Her brown hair in soft curls around her cheeks, full reddish pink lips, and bluish green eyes. To be honest she looked beautiful.
“You staring at her like that isn’t going to make her wake up you know...” Shane said sitting down next to me on the couch.
I pulled my gaze away from her and looked at my rugged brother.
“You’re a mess! Get your arse off my couch!” I said shooing his muddy self off the couch.
Grinning he looked down at his usually black tee, now caked in mud. Jeans also completely dirty.
“What? It’s not gonna hurt anything, just a little mud.” He said.
Shaking my head I grabbed a spare change of clothes and tossed them at him, “go shower Shane, I really don’t need mud all over my house, you’ve already gotten blood on half the furniture.”
“Ok ok ok jeez… ill go shower… thanks mom!” he said chuckling as he disappeared into the bathroom.
When I heard the water click on I sighed and glanced at the girl once more. Why was it so hard not to look at her? Was it her beauty? Why did I feel so strongly for her?
I shook my head, my auburn hair getting in my face.
That’s when I heard it, the slight coughing coming from the girl’s throat.
Within seconds I was next to her, looking down at her worried she was having a bad reaction to the venom, worried I’d lose her before I even had her.
Her eyes opened and she gazed up at me, my breath caught in my throat as I stared into her eyes, that feeling stronger now. But her eyes… they weren’t amber, they weren’t turned… they were still human.
The man from the woods stared down at me, his green eyes filled with some emotion I couldn’t distinguish.
“W...were am I?” I whispered looking around the room… and away from the man.
“Erm… you’re at my house in eastern Nevada. After what happened you needed medical care…” he said moving away from me.
“Nevada!?” I shrieked
He looked at me again and nodded, just a slight motion of his head.
I sat up and instantly felt dizzy, I felt faint. A strong arm wrapped around my waist steadying me, and I looked up to find the man holding me.
“Easy easy…” he whispered.
“Who are you?” I asked when my head no longer felt like waves.
“My name is Xane.” He said looking into my eyes, “and you are..?”
“Emma...” I breathed, caught in his eyes…
He smiled so brightly my heart leaped.
“It’s nice to finally meet you Emma. I’m sorry about your father…” he said and you could hear the sincerity in his voice.
“I go to take a shower for five minutes and she wakes up!? Damnit that’s just bad luck!” a voice… the other voice from the conversation, the raspier one said.
I jumped at the sound and looked at the other man… well I should stop calling them men… they couldn’t be that much older than I. He was damp and standing in a doorway, which upon later review proved to be a bathroom, he had a towel wrapped around his torso, his chest bare.
Xane chuckled and nodded at the other boy.
“Emma this is my brother Shane, Shane this is our guest Emma.” He introduced her to the other boy, who grinned his teeth almost as white as Xane’s.
“Hello Emma, it’s really nice to see you’re awake.” Shane said and then disappeared back into the bathroom.
Xane got up and went over to a sink and got a glass of water, he brought it back to me.
“You’ve been unconscious for nine days; I can imagine you’re hungry.” He said going back to the kitchen.
My stomach growled and I blushed slightly taking a sip of the water he had given me. It was then I saw the bloodied bandage on my arm and gasped dropping the glass to the floor. My gaze stayed locked on the bandage, even when I heard the glass shatter and the water hit my feet.
Xane was there in seconds; Shane opened the door and peered out at me.
“Emma? Emma it’s alright, the wolf bit your arm when you fainted… I bandaged it up.” Xane said touching my cheek. His skin felt so hot compared to mine, or maybe it was just my imagination.
My eyes still wouldn’t leave the bandage as I remembered that night. My father’s dead gaze, the wolf stalking me through the woods. Its stench, breath, claws, the feel of its fur on my skin. Then Xane the stranger who came to my rescue.
I felt myself being lifted off the small cot and being carried to a room. I heard water being turned on, and myself being placed in cold water.
“shhh Emma, Emma it’s ok… your safe…” a voice whispered in my ear as strong arms held me close in the cold water, pulling me from my panic.
He held me until my sobs subsided. I felt his arms around me even when I slipped asleep.
Even when she slept my mind was on her, it seemed all my energy and time revolved around her. When she started to panic all I wanted to do was hold her and make her ok. Let her know she was safe, that nothing would ever hurt her.
“I’ll never let anyone or anything hurt her” I whispered to myself.
I looked over at Shane and realized I’d that out loud.
I turned my head away, knowing my cheeks were turning red and sighed softly to myself “nothing just thinking out loud is all.” I said waving it off.
Shane looked unconvinced and plopped down next to me.
“Xane… I’ve never seen you look the way you did when you held her… I’ve never seen that look on anyone except… except a man in love…” he whispered staring at me as if he just now got it…
I laughed nervously and punched him in his arm
“C’mon Shane were the hell did you get a stupid idea like that? I don’t even know her… how the hell could I love her? You need to get your head outa the clouds and concentrate on finding out who issued the order for that attack.”
He laughed with me and shook his head “wow your right… that did sound kina nuts. I’ll get back to work.”
He got up and left then, leaving me to sulk next to her cot.
Was Shane right? Did I love Emma? Even if I didn’t know her… I felt this pull as if I was meant to be hers’. Like if I could stare into her eyes forever I’d be happy.
I looked at her sweet face, and smiled. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful.
I knew I was back on the cot as soon as I opened my eyes. I heard a soft snore, and looked to my left. Xane looked so exhausted.
Smiling to myself I sat up and looked around, getting more familiar with the house. The kitchen was a peaceful yellow, looked more like something my mother would have painted than Xane and his brother. The room I was sitting in was a nice sea blue with green trims. Not much furniture but there was a couch and recliner; they seemed oddly out of place.
I slipped off the cot and tip toed over to the window and looked outside. It was magnificent. I’d never been out of Arizona, and Nevada was very different. The air was even different.
I shivered; the air was diffidently different, colder. I looked down at the nightgown I still wore from that night. The sleeves had been cut off, probably Xane’s idea, to hide the blood from my arm.
Looking at him now my heart leaped, I couldn’t explain it. It was as if I knew I’d be safe as long as I was here, with him.
Sighing to myself I went in search of something to wear. This night gown was far too thin.
I found a room with a closet full of clothes and pulled free a black sweater that was more than likely Xane’s for Shane’s shoulders weren’t as broad. I slipped it on over my night gown, huddling myself into the softness of the fabric.
I heard Xane’s snore from this room and I giggled softly, making a mental note to tell him he snored far too loudly for a boy of his age… whatever his age was.
I decided to explore, and I tip toed into the common room, looking at the pictured of Xane and Shane… and another guy around the same age as them. He even had the same eyes as Shane. The same dark brown eyes.
A hand slipped on my shoulder causing me to jump and whirl around. Xane stood in front of me, his auburn hair a mess and his eyes sharp as knives, but still that bluish green.
“S…sorry… I didn’t mean to wake you” I muttered looking away, my heart beating so loud I could hear it. I prayed he couldn’t…
His thumb tilted my chin up so I was no longer looking at the ground and his smile warmed my stomach.
“Its all right, I was only dozing. I’m the one who should be sorry, I know I snore…” he said chuckling softly while his thumb slid away. My heart screamed for his touch to come back.
I blushed slightly and looked around the room, avoiding his searching gaze and trying to hide my blush from him.
“You do snore softly… but it’s alright you didn’t wake me. I woke up and found you asleep and didn’t want to disturb you.” I said hugging the sweater to me shivering slightly.
I felt his eyes on me even though I didn’t dare look at him. That’s when I remembered I was wearing one of his sweaters and I stuttered to explaine.
“I …I …. I I’m so sorry I was just so cold… I should have asked” I was in a state of panic until he laughed and watched me.
“Emma its fine, you’re not used to Nevada winds, I understand. And it’s perfectly fine, it looks better on you anyways.” He said walking away and into the room were my cot was.
He sat on my cot and waited for me to follow him. Which I did.
I sat next to him on the cot careful not to touch him. He still radiated heat and it startled me.
She looked so pale against my black sweater, but I had to admit, she looked so amazing in it. Better than I ever would. Her eyes were full of something, but I didn’t know her well enough to know what it was. Her lips seemed redder and her scent was like pine.
“So how long have you lived in Nevada?” she asked obviously aware I was watching her.
I cleared my throat and looked away studying her reflection instead.
“Hmm? Oh about seven years. Shane and I moved here with our other brother John when our father died.” I explained
She turned and looked at me, “Xane, excuse my rudeness but how old are you and Shane?” she asked. The question caught me off guard.
“It’s not a rude question, I’m 19 and Shane is 17. John was 22 last fall before his accident” I said then added, “How old are you Emma?”
“I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I’m 18, turning 19 in 4 months.” She said with a slight smile that warmed me to the bones.
“Ah so we are close to the same age then.” I said softly brushing hair from her face with the tip of my fingers. She didn’t move while I did this only stared at me, our gazes locked on each others.
“SO! I found more information about that thingy you had me research Xane!” Shane’s voice echoed through the house and Emma jumped looking to the doorway were we could hear his footsteps.
I stood up and put a little distance between Emma and I, then looked at my brother.
“You did? Well I’ll be right there to see what you’ve found then.” I said moving towards him. He put a stopping hand on my shoulder and shook his head, then looked at Emma.
“Emma can I ask you a few questions?” he asked moving into the room and taking my earlier spot sitting next to her.
She looked at me as if wondering what I’d say but I only nodded and she nodded with me turning her gaze back to my brother.
“Sure…” she said and waited for Shane to ask her whatever it is he had to ask her.
“Were you born in Arizona?” he asked her
Shaking her head she replied “no, I was born in Tennessee. We moved here last spring when my father got a job out there.”
Shane nodded, “ok. When you moved out there did your father act any different? Work later? Snap at anything?”
She seemed to think about this one and it intrigued me, I moved to sit on the couch just a crossed from them and waited for her to answer.
Shane looked at me obviously knowing something and wanting to share but was waiting for what she would tell him.
“Well he did work a lot more, but I always thought he was just working different hours. He acted the same, most the time anyways. He never snapped at me, but he did snap at the pool boy once. The pool boy being the little boy from down the street who liked to swim in our pool. Father yelled at him for not putting the cover back on once. He was really mean to that poor little boy…” she said looking at Shane and then to me.
Shane nodded again and looked at Emma “I know your still in shock… and his may sound rude... but… erm did your father ever… touch you?” he asked and my mind reeled… what on earth had he found...
Emma froze... her whole body seemed to go ridged... it was then I knew… I knew she’d been through more than I could even imagine.
She got up and bolted to the bathroom… I could hear her heave… and Shane glanced sadly at me...
I went and held her hair, saying anything would just upset her so I made soothing sounds and hummed as she got everything out... every sob, and fear.
How could they know? HOW….? My mind reeled and my stomach twisted. Xane’s warm hands held back my hair a I let it all out… as the tears poured down my face.
“h..how did you find out?” I whispered pulling away from Xane.
I stared at him and Shane who had just now walked over to the door, they looked sad… almost regretful.
It was Shane who spoke...” he... your father… posted pictures on his website… I took his laptop from your home in case it helped us with who attacked you and I found it...” he explained...
I felt my breath catch. “Pictures? what pictures? What are you talking about?’
Xane looked… feral… frightening... I followed his eyes to the manila folder clutched in Shane’s’ hands and I snatched it… I needed to see… to prove it wasn’t true.
My eyes could barely follow her’s as she snatched the folder from my brother’s hands. I watched as she ripped it open and I flinched at the sound of her sobs… all I wanted to do was kill the bastard who’d called her his daughter..
Emma ripped the pictures; I raised my hand when Shane moved to stop her. We didn’t need them... and she had a right to dispose of them…
“Emma… Emma I’m sorry. So sorry “I whispered pulling her tritely into my side.
She sobbed clutching my shirt and not letting go. I rocked her and didn’t let go, we sat there for hours, eventually Shane left... realizing he would find no more answers from her.
Emma clung to me as if I were her life line. It was then I knew… I did love her. She held me as I held her, and before I realized what I was doing I kissed the top of her head, she looked up at me, her eyes bloodshot at puffy, but suddenly they changed… they looked… happy.
I looked into them and knew what she saw in mine… she saw the love I felt… the need to protect her at any cost. And she was happy… happy even after everything that had just happened…
Her frail hand shook as she touched my jaw… my heart beat unevenly, and my breath caught. She leaned up and kissed my cheek, my eyes fluttered closed… I couldn’t believe it… it must be a dream.
I looked at her, shocked and oddly fuzzy.
“W…why did you do that?” I stuttered
Her cheeks turned bright red and she looked away.
My heart seemed to stop; I wanted her touch again… I needed it...
My thumb tipped her chin back so she was looking at me, her cheeks were still red and she looked at me wondering what I was doing. I bent my head, and brushed my lips softly on her, like a painter making the first strokes of his brush.
Her eyes fluttered closed and her lips kissed mine. My hand cupped her jaw and I kissed her, like I meant it. Her lips matched mine, her fingers gripping my shirt.
When I broke away we were both breathing heavily, “s...sorry” I muttered looking away.
“I’m not…. I’ve been feeling strange ever since I woke up… and it’s only when I’m with you… I’m glad you kissed Me.” she whispered so softly that if I hadn’t been paying attention I would have missed completely.
My eyes snapped back to hers “you... you felt it to?” I asked incredulously.
She nodded and smiled a little.
I leaned my head back on the wall and laughed softly, I knew she studied me, and I didn’t care… I was already her’s and I wouldn’t object to her chaining me up just to look at me that way forever. My eyes found hers again and I smiled.
“What are you thinking?” she asked me in a soft voice as her fingers traced a scar on my hand, from where I had been burned many many years ago.
I studied her as she traced every inch of my hand, “I’m thinking about you…” I whispered.
Her finger stopped and I saw the tiniest smile break out on her beautiful face.
When he looked at me my heart raced, when his lips had found mine id lost all reason. What on earth was I doing? I didn’t know a thing about him and I was already IN love with him. I found I didn’t care; I just wanted to crawl into his arms and never move.
“Me? what about me?” I asked when he didn’t elaborate.
He tilted his head back against the smooth tile of the wall and closed his eyes before he answered.
“why I’m falling in love with you when I don’t know you… why you have such a strong pull inside me… why you seem to anchor me in a way no one ever has… why a wolf would attack you and the bastard you called a father… why your father did such things to a person who is amazing… why I feel the need to whisk you away and hide with you until we can spend forever together.. Safe…” his voice dropped off and I just looked at him.
What wolf? What had he meant by attack…? I knew I loved this man… but I needed to know what had happened.
“Xane… what… what wolf… I’m so confused… and not just about you and me, but about what happened…”
He nodded and looked at me.
“I know you need to know everything so I’m going to start with what and who I am ok?”
I nodded not sure what he meant.
“Ok… Shane and I and our brother… we were born into a family known as ‘hunters’… the things we hunt aren’t the everyday hunt… we hunt beasts… vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, ect ect. Our brother was turned wolf on a hunting trip a few months back… he is no longer human... no longer our brother. We were by Arizona when we got reports of a wolf… we thought…stupidly that it might be our brother… it wasn’t. The thing that attacked you, was a werewolf… one turned not a pureblood. It was sent by someone to kill you and you’re …ermm father. We don’t know why, or how, but I promise you we will find out. The wolf that attacked you… it bit you, but you haven’t been turned, and Shane doesn’t understand why…I think you have immunity… but I can’t be sure”
My mind tried to grasp everything, but I couldn’t quite grasp it.
“So...o there are such things as that?? Werewolves, vampires, ect??” I whispered...
Xane’s nod only made my heart flutter.
“Great…..” I said leaning back against him, not really caring that I’d never truly be his.
His arms encircled me and I was glad that even for this tiny moment I felt whole. His warm body seemed to stop my shivering and my Goosebumps went away.
“Be mine…” I closed my eyes hearing those words drift to my ears.
I nodded knowing it probably was a dream, but to happy to care. His lips drifted up my neck and along my jaw, making me sigh and realize I wanted him… a lot.
“Mm xane…” I muttered. His arms grew slightly tighter keeping me pressed against him.
“I mean it Emma…. Be mine… forever...” his voice was steadier and I realized I wasn’t dreaming, he was for real.
I looked down at her, knowing I might have just scared her away completely, but I wanted her to bad to care.
Her eyes searched mine as mine did hers, and then she nodded, her back arching up and she was kissing me, and I was still for two shocked moments and then, I matched her need with my own. I picked her up, my mouth locked on hers and walked us to my bedroom, closing us in with a slight kick of the door.
I paused and listened for the sound of Shane, but he wasn’t there, he must of went for a walk…. And I silently thanked him for giving me this, even without knowing what he’d given me.
Emma leaned against my wall and I gladly pressed her titer to it, kissing her with such raw passion I moaned. Her hands tangled themselves into my hair m,oaning, as her tongue wrapped around mine in spearing motions that left me breathless.
I swung her onto my hips and laid her on the bed.
The rest of the day slipped away…