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Hunter's Moon (Chapter 38)

"Can you do it, Leigh?" Will's voice, his face, was concerned.

"Of course she can." Jessie smacked me on the back. "If it means getting rid of Hector, you can handle anything, right? He murdered your family."

"I remember."

The room went silent, as if in respect for those who had died. I thought of them – went over their names again in my mind.

Jessie was right. I could do anything if it meant sending Hector to hell.

"Let's make a plan," I said.

Edward ran a hand over my head. "There's my girl."

Warmth spread through me at his praise. However, when he saw I was still holding Damien's hand he frowned and stepped away. I hoped I wouldn't have to choose between the two of them. But that was a worry for another time. If I lived past tonight.

We sat around the kitchen table. Will made coffee. Since I had no cinnamon, the secret ingredient, it wasn't as good as the last time. But it was certainly better than any coffee I'd ever made.

The planning didn't take long. "Shoot him with silver," Edward advised. "It is all you can do."

"Cora said silver will kill a Weendigo. But a power eater, she wasn't sure."

"Silver wasn't supposed to kill the wolf god," Jessie murmured.

"But it did?"

"Only because / shot her." Will took Jessie's hand, and she squeezed his fingers with a sad, wistful smile.

"I loved her."

"The wolf god ritual was about love," Will explained. "Zee needed the blood of the one who loved her to complete the ritual. Therefore, only the hand of the one who loved her could end her life. This ritual is about hate, enemies, lust, and not love."

"Nice," I muttered.

Will continued as if I hadn't spoken. "So it follows that if the power eater is shot by the one who hates him, his enemy, he should be wounded, disabled at the least. Then, to end his existence forever…"

Will looked at me.

"Conquering of the enemy, by eating of the flesh."

"Precisely."

I could hardly wait.

The meeting broke up. The others dispersed to take their hiding places and wait for Hector. Damien and I, the bait, waited, too.

I wanted to finish what Edward had interrupted. Sex with love – for the first time.

Damien touched me and I felt reborn. If we could get through tonight alive we could share love, life, a future.

The door burst open and in strode Hector. My back flared with agony, and I fell to the floor, writhing, helpless. Hector grabbed Damien by the neck and tossed him across the room as if he were a doll.

Damien cracked against the wall and slid into a heap.

A man would be dead. A werewolf should be fine. Damien lay still. He appeared broken.

I crawled toward him. My back was on fire, but I had other things to worry about.

I placed my palm against his chest. He was breathing, but a tiny trickle of blood ran out of his ear. I had to remember that Hector was stronger than the average werewolf. I reached for Damien's face, and suddenly Hector yanked me to my feet.

"I'll kill him later. Under the full moon." He prodded Damien with his toe. "I will enjoy it. No one touches my mate."

Hector turned his back on Damien as if he were nothing. He stared down at me, then grasped the neck of my T-shirt and tore it off with a single jerk. Shocked, I could only stand there as he made short work of my jeans and underwear.

"Trust me, querida. You won't need them."

I nearly gagged at the thought of what he had planned. I soothed myself with the knowledge that his plan would not go as he wanted it to. I had to soothe myself with something. Damien was unconscious; I had no clothes, no weapon, and the blood moon glistened heavy on the horizon.

With one hand Hector tossed me over his shoulder, and he carried me down the steps. We passed others on the way. Black, white, red, I recalled many of their faces from the tavern. I guess race relations were tip-top among the ranks of the fanged and furry.

Perhaps that was one of the reasons Hector had made himself a werewolf. With them it was all about strength, power, who could kill whom – not the color of your skin, the amount of money you made, or who your parents had been.

Understanding werewolves – what next?

"I'm going to throw up if you don't put me down," I managed.

"Werewolves do not throw up."

It was on the tip of my tongue to say something smart about the best-laid plans, but I contained myself. I needed to wait until I had him where I wanted him before he learned the truth. But where exactly would that be?

I managed to glance back at my apartment right before Hector hauled me into the woods. The others, still in human form, carted Damien down the steps. Hands had their uses, it seemed.

The cool, damp air of the forest closed around us. Darkness descended, nearly complete, the time between sunset and moonrise a still, peaceful, eager place. I waited for that first sliver of silver to spill through the leaves. What would happen then?

Where was Jessie? Will? Edward? I knew they wouldn't leave me. They had to be following as closely as they dared.

"How did you like your first change?"

I wasn't sure what to say, since I hadn't had one. I didn't want to make a mistake, tip Hector off.

He laughed; his exquisite voice lowered to a rumbling growl, rippling through my belly, setting panic to my brain. "Don't worry; the first change is always the worst. You will love the second. Especially what comes after."

Somehow I doubted that.

He turned his head, nuzzled my thigh. His palm stroked my scar, then lower. "I remember how we were together. You were hot, wet. I've never come so hard." His teeth grazed my hip. He licked me, took a fold of my skin between his lips, and suckled. "I can't wait to be inside you again. It'll be even better this time. I promise."

My mind raced, trying to find a way out of this pickle. My brain felt like a hamster on a wheel, running, running, getting nowhere. I had to kill Hector, but how?

We came to a clearing I'd never seen before. How would Jessie and the others find me?

My heart beat as fast as my mind twirled. I was long past scared and halfway to terrified. Killing Hector and becoming free of him forever had sounded good, but doing it was another matter.

I didn't want to be alone with this man, this beast. The very thought paralyzed me. If I was paralyzed, how could I stop him? Even if I knew what to do.

Hector dumped me onto the ground. I looked up. Blinked. Sighed.

Jessie, Will, and Edward sat in a row, each tied to a pole and gagged for good measure.

Well, at least I wouldn't be alone.

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