“Can you really eat all of that?” Myra stares at the plate of food in front of me with an expression of disgust on her face.
“Of course,” My stomach rumbles and eagerly awaits the food Jayson set in front of me. “I need as much energy as I can.”
“Aren’t you gonna at least take a shower?”
“Why would I do that?” I grumble inhaling the tuna and lettuce sandwich. “We still have things to do. Besides, I like being all sweaty. Makes me feel like I’ve done something.”
“Being sweaty makes me feel gross,” Trina grumbles into her sandwich. “I want to shower, but Jayson says I can’t.” She starts eating glaring daggers at Jayson who’s conversing quietly on the other side of the kitchen with Ryner. No doubt they’re wondering how to get us to focus better. It’s kinda funny knowing Jayson is so pushy on the matter of physical exercise.
Tyler carries over a pitcher or ice water fills out cups. “You guys are so lucky you can do this. I want to get out there and do it again.”
“Again? Why were you out there in the first place?”
Tyler sets the pitcher of water down and hops onto the counter. “As kids we’re trained to fight because you never know when the next war might be waged. You don’t want us to be defenseless.” She kicks her legs and hits the counters spilling the pepper. Myra backs up and goes to the other side. I start sneezing.
“May Satan have your soul.”
“What?” I laugh through another sneeze. “Why would you say that?”
Trina crosses her legs. “Two bless you’s is enough. If you sneeze more than that there’s obviously something wrong with you.”
“Trina, pepper was spilled. Of course, I’m gonna sneeze.” I look at my sandwich and groan. “Damn it, now there’s pepper all of it.”
“Sorry,” Tyler says. “It was an accident.”
“It’s okay,” I brush all of the pepper off and keep eating. “I’d still eat it if you spilled sugar on it.” Lunch carries on with minimal incidents. By the time noon rolls thirty minutes later, Ryner and Jayson have herded us back outside and to the pool house. Instead being empty like I first thought after seeing the replica, it’s full of weapons. Knives, swords, maces, daggers, axes, and an assortment of other medieval and modern weapons.
“Wow,” I say. “Shouldn’t this be in a safer place than a pool house?”
“Perhaps,” Ryner says. “But that is of little consequence right now. Choose a weapon.”
“We already have weapons,” Trina points out.
“Trina,” Jayson concedes. “But are you any good with it?”
“Uh, no. I’m alive based on sheer luck from the fight at Westmoor Clearing.”
“As I thought,” Ryner nods. “I do not think that you enjoy being in close range to another person while fighting, correct?”
Trina shifts her stance, putting most of her weight on her right foot. “I’d much rather be a safe-ish distance away.”
“Then you’d be best suited with a bow and arrow,” Jayson says then frowns. “It’s not my strong suit, but I should be skilled enough to teach you.”
“I hate to be a party-pooper on this medieval weapons parade, but what about guns and everything?” I interrupt. “I know that a regular army’s not gonna fight with this.”
“That is correct,” Ryner says. “Silver bullets are hard to come by if you would believe it. Hunters run the monopoly on silver and how it is distributed.”
“Right. Hunters. Why not?” So not only do I have to worry about other supernatural people and creatures trying to kill me, I have to worry about humans too. Although, it might not be so bad if it was Sam and Dean Winchester hunting me down. Knowing my luck, it’ll be more like Crowley and Lucifer. But still, I did like them as characters no matter how annoying they were.
“Wait, hold on,” My musings are interrupted by a stray thought about hunters. “If the hunters run the silver business, the hunter probably have money out the wazoo, right? So whose side are they on? I don’t doubt they’d love for wolves to fight wolves, but the side opposing us wants to wipe out humans and will more than likely make the soldiers more human than wolf. That’s what I would do if I were them anyway. Do you think the hunters would be willing to join sides with us? I mean, we are fighting for the sake of the humans, right?”
“Yes, we are,” Ryner says. “Marcy, how did you know that the other side is trying to wipe out the humans?”
“How? I… I—” Stuttering to a halt I frown. “I don’t know. Someone told me? I really dunno. Answer the question. Do you think the hunters would be willing to work with us?”
“Perhaps,” Ryner frowns. “But that is none of your concern right now. Right now, you need to pick a weapon.”
“Let it go.” But I can’t let it go. I want to know more about hunters, what they can do, what they know, how they might be able to help us. The warriors on the other side aren’t human so I know that the hunters aren’t with them. If we could convince them to join us, that might help with the overall outcome with this war. If we’re lucky, and that’s a monument-size if, they could just make this war shorter.
When his request is met by my contemplative silence, he narrows his eyes and says in a strained voice, “Pick a weapon.”
I glare at Ryner and bite back a sarcastic response. I know he’s on a short rope—possibly because Ethan is giving him a hard time because he’s upset. Being an expert on having a short fuse, I know better than to intentionally try someone—certainly someone like Ryner who already has it rough.
“Fine, I’ll let it go.” Ryner narrows his eyes at me as if he can see the lie as it passes through my lips. Maybe he can, who’s to say. Touching my necklace, the two knives mom left as her keepsakes to me are in my hands. Unable to hold back, before Jayson and Trina wander off to do their own practicing, I say, “Just don’t be upset when I kick your ass.”
My knife to his throat I try to steady my breathing while keeping my stance guarded. Ryner Hyde is a man with whom I’d hate to make an enemy of.
Knife fighting has been something that’s interested me for years and one of the only good thing Sebastian did for me was teach me how. It was the only dangerous thing from him I enjoyed.
But Ryner can give even the strongest a run for their money. Of course after my threat, there was no way I could let him win even if I had to push myself past my physical breaking point.
While my pride is taken into account, Ryner’s skill and anger is also an important part of our fight. Because of it, I was almost stabbed, I was cut several times, and I almost lost. Almost. My ability to take risks was nothing short of vital. Ryner is cold and calculating, but I’m more whimsical. Things like flips, last minute dodges, and getting intentionally hit might never cross his mind, but I always love to keep it interesting.
“Oh, God, I’m so done with today.” I fall to the ground and stab the knives into the dirt. “You really do have a lot of anger.” More than me if that’s even possible.
“And you do not?” he question almost as breathless as me. It brings a prideful smile to my face.
“I do; I just know how to deal with it better than you.” I let out another groan and roll onto my stomach. Moving around is gonna be such an issue tomorrow. I don’t care how advanced our genetic structure is, no one would walk straight the next day after this fight. Maybe Ryner and Ethan because of whatever pride they have on being invincible.
I wave to Trina and Jayson. She looks nothing short of exhausted, but Jayson only looks amused.
“Ready to switch?” Ryner asks helping me to my feet.
“I’d say ‘Hell yes,’ if I didn’t feel like my muscles would hate me.”
“My muscles already hate me,” Trina calls from her spot a few feet away. “And these arm guards can kiss my ass. They’re uncomfortable as hell.” The sound of Velcro being ripped from its other half sounds and Trina throws the offending equipment at Jayson. He catches it and shakes his head.
“Unless you’d like a welt the size of your ego you need to wear this.”
“Jayson, why are you being such a jackass? I want support,” she cries in mock despair. “I’m trying and all I hear is criticize, criticize, criticize!”
I laugh and Jayson only rolls his eyes. Jayson waves for me to follow him. In a small clearing, Jayson hands me a longbow.
“Jayson,” I ask. “How the hell am I supposed to use this if it’s only a foot and a half short than me. I’ve met little kids four feet tall. It’s weird.”
“I know it’s a little different.” A determined and analytical look about him, he circles me like a hawk. “The longbow isn’t quite suited to everyone’s needs. Body type and preferences and all that. I think that you can do it.”
I roll my shoulders and adjust the arm guard. Damn. This thing is uncomfortable. “Why am I learning this if I’m not gonna be using it?”
“Because you might have to step out of your comfort zone one day and you need to be prepared.”
“I could smack people with it,” I emphasize my point by hitting his shoulder. “But if you really think I’ll have to use it, fine. What do I have to do?”
“Are you right or left-handed?”
“Alright, turn to the side and put your right foot forward. Make sure they’re shoulder-width apart and stand up straight, but make sure you can easily lean over to aim.”
“You’re being contradictory.” I complain.
“Archery is contradictory.” He smiles. “When you hold the bow, keep your arm straight and since it’s a longbow you have to hold it at a forty-five-degree angle.” He circles me again judging my stance. “Now, draw the string back.” I give an experimental tug to the taunts fibers. If I hadn’t just come from a fight, this would be easy, but I struggle to pull back the string. I pull again this time getting it to touch my cheek.
“I’m right here if you need help,” Jayson startling my concentration. “I’m not just taking up space.”
“Right, yeah. I was concentrating. Am I doing it right?”
“Mostly,” he chuckles. “You and Trina both have a death grip. It needs to be strong but don’t choke the bow.”
“Jayson, do whatever you have to do to make sure I’m doing this right because all I want is a nap.” He mutters what sounds like a curse but moves behind me to adjust my stance and give me an arrow.
“I’m not going to shoot it for you, but I will guide you.” He lets out a sigh. “Relax.”
“I find it hard to relax when you’re standing this close.” In fact, everything in me is saying smack him with the bow and kick him for even coming closer than two feet.
“Try,” Mirroring my movement, his hands gently placed over mine, we draw back the arrow and let it go. I miss the target but hit the tree. “Not bad.”
“Bet I did worse than Trina.”
He chuckles. “By a long shot.”
Thirty minutes later I’m still a horrid shot. I throw down the bow and kick it towards Jayson. I’m tired, it’s hot, and I just want to take a nap. While I don’t like brats and hate it when they throw fits I felt entitled to at least one with all the crazy that’s happened to me. Once again, Jayson doesn’t seem anything but amused by the antics of the Winters sisters.
“You’re irritating the hell outta me with that smirk,” I inform him. “Mind you I can kick your ass from here to hell if you keep it up.”
“I’m sorry,” he puts his hands up defensively and laughs. “It’s just that I never thought you would struggle so much at something I’m good at. It’s a comforting to know you’re not perfect.”
“Oh, Jayson, I am far from perfect.” Never in a million years have I been perfect nor do I want to be. Like I told Myra, I don’t want to be anyone but me and that includes all my faults and flaws and annoying ticks and irritating sarcasm. And, unfortunately, that includes my inability to hit a target.
Jayson picks up the bow and offers it to me again. “Try it one more time and I promise we’ll stop. But this time,” he holds the bow back as I try to reach for it, a wide smile on his face. “You let me help from start to finish and relax. If not, we can keep going all day.”
“You and your brother are certainly cut from the same cloth,” I mutter snatching the bow from his hand. “Sadistic bastards.”
“Say what you will, if you miss this shot—and I mean you have to at least hit the target—you could be out here all day. And I wouldn’t mind seeing as I’m in my element.” He flashes me another smile I notice for the first time that he has dimples. Damn him and his smile. Damn him and his playful eyes. I swear, if he didn’t have so many attributes I liked and a kick ass personality when it comes down to it, I’d have kicked his ass by now.
Shame he and Ryner couldn’t have switched places. But in the end, I’d still end up wanting to kick Ryner but not following through for the same reasons.
I let out a long sigh. “Fine. Whatever. I’m so ready for this to be over I’d be willing to jump off a cliff.”
“Knowing you, you’d survive out of spite.” He grumbles positioning himself behind me. Just like earlier he placed his hands on mine and murmured again. “Relax, Marcy. It’s just me.”
And I try to relax. Honest to Jebus I do, but it’s so hard to relax he’s close enough to where I can feel his heartbeat on my back.
If I relax I can go take a shower and sleep, I remind myself. I just have to make this and try not elbow my way away from him and remember to breathe. Easy enough.
I take a deep breath and slowly relax so I don’t feel like a coiled spring. Jayson guides my hands along the bow and follows my movement as I pull back the string. A small smile makes its way to my face when I hit the target—and a bullseye no less.
“Great job,” he murmurs.
My grip loosens and the bow falls. I step away from Jayson and take a deep breath. Too close, too close, too close. It’s not like I specifically have a problem with him, personal space is just a huge issue with me. Even before it got invaded without my permission by a certain someone it was an issue.
“Yeah, awesome, I’m gonna go take a break.” Turning on heel, I try not to run back to where Ryner is no doubt pushing Trina to her limit. Focus on other thing and you’ll be fine, I tell myself. Right, focus on Trina.
When I see her, she’s hanging upside down from a tree branch looking a little dazed. “Trina?”
“Marcy?” She pulls herself into a sitting position and cocks her head to the side. “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be with Jayson.”
“He let me off the hook,”
“What?” she scoffs. “That’s not even fair; he refused to let me go until I could do it on my own.” Climbing down with more grace that I expected from her, she lands in front of me.
“Well, when you suck as much as me, it’d get kinda frustrating and as you said he’s afraid of me. And since I was so bad, he made a deal that if I hit the target I could go take a break. If not, we’d skip the gun lesson and keep going until I could. But enough on my training, what are you doing?”
“Oh, well,” she grins sheepishly. “I kinda ran away from Ryner.”
“Trina,” I put my hands on my hips thankful for the change in topic. “You’re always getting on to me about being serious and just getting things done. Go back and fight him.”
“But I’m not you,” she huffs. “I’ve never been good at fighting or analyzing or any of that.”
“That’s right, you’re not me. That means you’ve got a host of amiable traits that surpass my own. And you can’t tell me you’re not good at analyzing. I’ve seen you shop. That also means I know you can be aggressive when you really want something.”
She shifts her weight from foot to foot. “But this is different. I’m not fighting over a pair of shoes. Or the last dress. I don’t want to accidentally hurt him or get hurt.”
“This is Ryner we’re talking about.” I remind her. “He would never hurt you if he can avoid it. Unlike me, being around you for more than five minutes doesn’t make him irritated so I can guarantee he likes you a lot more than me and has more qualms about hurting you.” I look at the slow healing cuts on my legs and arms and smile. “I’m kinda glad he doesn’t have much of a problem not holding back when he fights me. Makes it more interesting.”
“You’re an adrenaline junkie,” she says. “But all the same, I could still hurt him.”
I put my hands on her shoulder and give her a shake. “Ryner is like a brick wall. It would take a wrecking ball to put a real dent in him.”
“And even then he probably wouldn’t fall over,” she grumbles. “I guess I could go back, but you have to come with me. Don’t skip out on me and leave me to fend for myself.”
I give her a cheeky half-smile. “Now why would I abandon my sister in her time of need?”