The Better to Bite(5)By: Cynthia Eden
Back home, Dad had made a career out of bringing down killers. The more vicious they were, the harder he hunted them.
Most kids were told bedtime stories about fairytales and castles when they were little. That hadn’t been my life. At night, I’d overheard my dad talking about crime scenes and profiles.
So maybe I’d had more than my share of nightmares because of that cop talk.
No one’s life was perfect, least of all mine.
“We’ll send dogs out into the woods,” my dad said and his hand patted my back. “We’ll find what’s…hell, we’ll find him.”
It didn’t seem like there was much of him to be found.
He pulled back and stared down at me. “Until we figure out what’s happening, I want you staying out of those woods.”
His fingers rested just below my bandage. The wound still ached, and I was pretty sure the blood might be close to leaking through the gauze I’d put on it. “S-sure thing.” My immediate plans didn’t include another hike through the forest.
I pulled away from him before he could find evidence of my earlier slip-away into the woods. No sense worrying him now.
“A bear could’ve done it,” he said, and I saw his gaze dart to the line of trees just behind our house.
I nodded, but I don’t think he even saw the movement. “Maybe—maybe it was a wolf.” Yeah, I blurted again.
His head snapped toward me. He hadn’t missed that mutter.
I forced a shrug. “I heard some howls earlier. It sounded like a few wolves might be running close by.”
“Wolves?” He repeated like I’d spoken Greek. “In Haven?”
“I heard them.” And had almost been eaten by one. My, what big teeth you have…I already knew who—what—would be starring in my nightmares tonight.
“If you see any wolves, you run as fast and as far from them as you can.” A muscle jerked in my Dad’s jaw. “You understand?”
I nodded. “Trust me, if I see a wolf coming at me—” I’m hauling ass. “I’m out of there.”
He exhaled and some of the tension finally seemed to drain from his body. “Good. Wolves are vicious. They’ll turn on you in an instant.”
Just like people. We both knew just how deadly humans could be. After all, mom was barely cold in her grave.
Dad went inside and started cooking dinner. I stayed on the porch, and my gaze turned back to the dark wall of trees.
It might have been crazy, probably was, but I could have sworn as I looked…
Something looked back at me.
I could almost see the eyes, bright yellow, locked on me.
I jumped and glanced over my shoulder.
My dad frowned at me. “You okay, baby?”
I nodded. What else was I going to do? I’d learned six months ago that there were some things my dad couldn’t fix, no matter how hard he tried.
So I turned away from those woods, I pushed aside the gnawing in my gut, and I went inside.
Whatever was out there…it could just wait.
The first day of school. Is there a day more dreaded? Doubtful, for a teenager.
But here I was, getting dropped off in the sheriff’s car of all things. Right, way to score points as the new kid. But at least I wasn't starting in the middle of the year. This was Day One fun for everyone.
“Come by the station when you’re done,” my dad said, leaning toward me.
I nodded. After school care at the cop shop—what else did I know?
I turned away and my eyes swept over the school. Much, much smaller than my old school had been. Haven High looked like it had seen better days. Like, a lot of better days. A line of orangish-yellow school buses waited on the side, and students piled out of them. I knew the kids were bused in from a few close-by towns to attend the school.
“Anna…” I heard the sigh that was my name, and I glanced back. “Try to have fun this year, okay? Things can be different,” my dad said.
No, I’m different. But I didn’t say the words. What was the point? I threw him a smile. “Dad, I’m wearing my fun clothes, how could I not have a party?” I was half-serious. I’d actually dressed to impress. Semi-short skirt. Not too short cause I didn’t want my dad to freak, but short enough to show off the fact that I had pretty good legs. I wore a top to match my eyes—a few guys had talked about how pretty my eyes were, um, when my dad had let the guys in question get close enough to talk to me.