The Better to Bite(86)

By: Cynthia Eden



Then my mom’s face stared back at me. Younger. Smoother. Smiling as she lifted her pom-poms high in the air.

Footsteps tapped behind me. My eyes lifted, and I saw his reflection in the glass.

Sometimes, you just couldn’t get away from the wolves.

“Mr. Knoxley.” I drew his name out on a sigh. “Is there something you want to tell me?” Because I’d seen his picture, too. A football player, number sixteen, standing close in the picture of my mom. His team, my dad’s old team, had been state champs that year. The golden trophy still gleamed as it sat next to that picture. Someone must polish the trophy regularly.

“You remind me of her.” His voice was soft with memories.

I glanced over my shoulder. “No.” I was absolute on this. He was wrong. Valerie was wrong. They were all wrong.

“I keep wondering how much you’re like her, and how much you’re like your father.”

This wasn’t happening. I licked my lips. “My mom—she went to see Granny Helen, she had power, she wasn’t—”

“She wanted to stop being a monster.” He turned away from me and began to shuffle down the hallway. “Sometimes, we all want to stop, but we just can’t. You can’t fight your nature.”

I shook my head and glanced up. Brent stood in the doorway. Watching me.

And Rafe, he was there, too. Rounding the corner, hurrying to find me.

Brent to the left.

Rafe to the right.

Monsters.

Just like…

Me?

But…my father had said he was a hunter. My family—they were the ones who hunted the rogue wolves. They weren’t the rogue wolves.

“Time will tell us just how much like your mother you truly are.”

Maybe my father had been a hunter.

And my mother was the one he hunted.

***

The woods waited before me. So dark and deep. The waxing moon hung in the sky, a sliver of gold in the blackness of night.

The bushes rustled, and he came to me.

Rafe stood there, hair tousled, wearing a black t-shirt and worn jeans. His gaze held mine.

“I’ve missed you, Anna.”

A wolf, in the skin of a man.

“You don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

But I did. My instincts were screaming at me. There was more to fear in Haven.

There was more. I’d just scratched the surface of this town. Death, blood, werewolves. More danger waited in this sleepy town, I knew it. The danger would be coming for me soon as I discovered the path that I would have to take.

Hunter.

Or hunted.

He offered me his hand and a smile. A smile that made my stomach twist and my heart race. “Come into the woods with me. I’ll keep you safe.”

So tempting. So very tempting.

I didn’t know what was real anymore. After what I’d learned about my mom, I was lost. For the first time, I was—

Lost.

And the power kicked in for me. My focus shifted, and I saw an image of myself. Standing with—

Rafe.

I took his hand, and, for a moment, my worries eased. I could never be lost. No matter what else happened to me, I would not be lost.

I knew where I needed to be, and who I needed to be with.

Perhaps I should have known better than to go into the woods with the wolf.

Perhaps I should have, but in that moment, I trusted my beast.

We ran into the dark. He led me unerringly, his gaze far stronger than a human’s.

The better to see.

His step was agile as he led me over fallen trees.

The better to run.

Then he turned to me, and I saw the shine of his glowing gaze. The glow of the wolf.

But I wasn’t afraid. Not of him. Not then.

He pulled me close. His arms were strong around me.

The better to hold me.

His head bent and his lips brushed over mine.

The better to taste.

My tongue slipped into his mouth and brushed over the sharpened edge of his canines.

The better to—

His head lifted. “I’ll always keep you safe,” he told me, voice rumbling.

I hoped he’d be able to keep his promise. Because I knew my wolf wasn’t the only monster that waited in the dark.

Haven.

My home. My curse. And, I was coming to realize—

My life.

###

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