The Immortal Beside Me, Book II

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Chapter 12

Clark Honsterott finally lucked into finding a hapless traveler. It took only a few minutes to disable him. He fed greedily, drinking in the blood as if it were the finest red wine. If he had to take on a group of lycans, he needed all the strength he could muster and as much nourishment as he could find. After kicking the body carelessly out of the car, he inspected the damage to the vehicle. There was very little, which was even better for him. What made this day perfect was the simple fact that this man had passed a road which led to the estate of one Joris Hoff.

At first, Clark didn’t notice this. He was too busy feeding and ensuring that the car was still operable. Once he touched the corpse, in an effort to find something to wipe the blood away from his body, knowledge struck his brain like a lightning bolt. For a moment, he actually swayed on his feet. He didn’t know Joris Hoff from the hole in his ass, but he knew Callie. Oh yes he did. When he touched the sad bleeding sack of humanity, he saw a flash of red hair. He would have preferred to see her face. He took whatever clue he could get. He jumped into the car, forgetting about the blood covering him.

Dirk Havens and Christine Knight were sent by their chief to follow the trail of Lynch Tackett. They didn’t exactly know where they were going, only where his car was last seen. Luckily for them, it was the same road that Clark had found. The two junior detectives drove for miles, wondering if their boss had lost his mind. While Havens drove, Knight was the look out. She caught the flash of light before her partner knew what hit him.

“Slow down, you dumb bastard,” Knight yelled indignantly. “I see something.”

While Havens backed up the car, Knight kept screaming for him to ‘back up, back up, back up!’ Grumbling under his breath, he did as he was instructed until Knight saw the reflection even stronger. It was feet away, but she could tell the flash was coming from a windshield not quite covered by brush.

Leaving their cruiser parked on the side of an old country road, they slowly exited their vehicle. Keeping their hands close to their weapons, they slowly approached the abandoned automobile. It was Knight’s idea they wear rubber boots, and both were glad to have them. The car was parked in a bad spot. The ground was soupy here, so much so, that they had water up to their ankles.

Knight was smaller, quicker, and hungrier. She made it to the not so well hidden vehicle before Havens. Without thinking, gleefully, she smashed the butt of her service revolver onto the exposed windshield and let out a whoop of joy. It was Havens who reminded her that she just might have ruined whatever forensic evidence existed. Knight didn’t care. She found Keagan Tackett’s car. Her only question was how on earth did they manage to drive it out here to be hidden? She saw footprints in the muck, but no tire tracks. Further inspection of the car showed extensive damage to the front end. It was as if someone had picked it up and threw it over here. There were no tire tracks leading away or ones that might have belonged to a tow truck. Instead, there were bogged down tracks leading from the mess to the road. Did Tackett have others who left with him? Wasn’t one of them Norwood’s sister? How did they get back to the road?

While Knight pondered these questions, Havens stepped gently around the car, removing debris as he went along. He eyed Knight with a hateful gleam in his eye. She stood with her thumb up her ass as he did the real work. He took his flashlight out of his holster, turned it on, and shined it inside the car. It appeared clean, but they would have to bring out a team to fully inspect whatever evidence was left. Since he was the one who did everything around here, he radioed for a team. They found Tackett’s car…now where was Tackett?

When the forensic team arrived, Havens and Knight went back to their cruiser, to continue their journey. Up ahead of them was a fork in the road. How odd. It reminded Knight of the cross roads fable, where a man went to meet the devil to sell his soul in exchange for fame and riches. Havens wanted to go left, Knight decided on right. This time, giving her the benefit of the doubt, he went the way she wanted to go. They drove for another twenty miles until something else caught Knight’s eye. Blood. Havens brought the car to a shuddering halt. Knight was first out of the car and saw the trail of blood before her. The two detectives followed it until they identified a sad, bleeding sack left behind by Clark.

“I’ll call it in,” Havens said.

“No you won’t.”

The voice came from behind them. Clark, thinking clearly now after his meal, came back to the scene of his crime to clean it up. Unfortunately, he found a couple of human complications. Havens reached for his side arm, but it was too late. Clark thrust his fist into the middle of Havens’ body, killing him instantly. He grabbed Knight with his free hand, digging his claws in deeply. She felt as if she had been injected with gallons of anesthesia. She couldn’t feel anything or move an inch. Clark dropped Havens’ limp body near his feet. He gently laid down Knight. She was still alive, yet completely paralyzed. She watched in horror as Clark fed on the dead detective. She tried to close her eyes. Whatever he had done to her wouldn’t allow it. She had to watch everything. It was the most horrible thing she had ever witnessed. Her heart, mind, and soul went to another place, one that wasn’t filled with such violence.

When Clark was finished, he dragged Havens’ body off into the woods. He laid it next to the victim whose car he liberated. Digging like a maniac, he had graves ready for them within an hour. He dropped them inside, covered them, and mocked a blessing. There was still blood to think about. It was all over the place. Clark gathered up as much debris as he could carry. He spat on the blood, every drop he could see, and piled on the debris. His saliva was like glue to the junk he carried over. It stuck to the blood. No other person would be able to figure it out or see it from a car.

Speaking of cars, he forgot about the one he five fingered. What good was super human strength if he didn’t use it sometimes? He went to the car, easily lifted it into the air. He carried it away, as if it was no larger than a paperweight, and threw it into the deepest part of the woods he could find. The only thing he left behind was foot prints. Who would follow them? Who would see them unless they were walking by? Who would care if they did?

The female detective still lay where he had left her. Her eyes were bugging out of her head. The enzyme he injected would leave her like this until he broke the spell. He thought about killing her as well, going on his way. Although he was a greedy eater, right now, he was sated. He had another idea, one he had yet to try on another living thing. However, his kind was shifters. It would work just fine, like everything else had on this journey. Clark Honsterott was about to become Christine Knight.

He slowly approached her and took hold of her arm. The claw marks he left were visible in her flesh. He stood her up, dug his claws into her arm again, and drank in the venom he injected. When she began to regain some sensation, she began to scream. He stopped it with an eternal kiss. He blew his breath inside her mouth, all the while digging his claws into her arm. His essence, his being, was inside her now. When he ended the kiss, he was looking at the shell of his own body. It became faint, then fainter still, as if it were a ghost. However, he was still present. Always. He had never tried this before, but was overjoyed when it worked. He knew the effect would be temporary, so it was time to get moving. By the time he reached Callie Norwood, he would be his old self, ready to do what he had to do.

Jenna took Callie’s advice and took a nap. Her dreams were fevered, leaving her disturbed. After an hour or so, she was wide awake again. Lynch’s side of the bed was empty. He was probably with the others inspecting the chambers. She didn’t know what they were going to do or how they would end Clark’s life. She hated the thought of killing another being. Despite that, there was no other way to end this without killing him.

She sat up suddenly, feeling queasy instantly. Ugh. She could not be coming down with something, not when everyone else was counting on her to do her part. It wasn’t right. After a few minutes, her stomach settled itself. It was nerves, that’s all it was. It was driving her nuts. When this was over once and for all, she was going to drag Lynch away on a Hawaiian vacation whether he liked it or not.

Giving up on sleep for now, Jenna swung her legs over the side of the bed and slid her feet into her shoes. Slowly, like an elderly woman, she made her way out of the bedroom and downstairs. She heard noise coming from the kitchen. Since they had been here, it was the central room for meetings. She figured everyone would be there. When she stepped into the room, only Callie was present. She was at the stove, cooking using a book propped open in front of her.

“Where are the men?” She asked.

Callie, startled, turned toward Jenna. “You scared the shit out of me. They’re off in the chambers. They meant for you to go, but I told them you were napping. How’d that go?”

Jenna smiled wearily. “As you can see, not so well. What on earth are you doing?”

“Trying my hand at cooking,” she said with a smile. “I can cook pretty much anything as long as I have a recipe in front of me.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Jenna said as she took a seat at the table. She wanted a cup of tea. However, she had no energy for it. “What are you cooking?”


The thought of eating veal made her stomach queasy again. There was nothing wrong with eating veal. She had cooked it many times herself. Today, she became sick at the thought of it. What in the hell was wrong with her? It was her dream. It had to be. She dreamed that Clark was close to them, too close. She knew his presence here was inevitable. Still, she didn’t think Clark would be here tomorrow. Despite that, her mind was focused on nothing that didn’t have Clark Honsterott stamped on it.

“I love veal,” Jenna said weakly.

At the sound of her voice, Callie turned toward her. Jenna looked even more haggard than before. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t think so,” Jenna mumbled. “I had a dream earlier about Clark. I want this business over so we can all get on with our lives.” Jenna saw the compassion in the other woman’s eyes and she suddenly wanted to share a secret with her. Since they arrived here at Joris,’ the two of them had gotten closer. “Lynch asked me to marry him.”

She didn’t know what to expect. Would Callie curse their union? She had had a thing for Lynch in the beginning, but now seemed fine with Joris. Should she have told someone else? Should she have kept her mouth shut? Say something, Callie. Damn it.

“He did? Holy shit, Jenna, that’s big news,” Callie declared, forgetting all about her veal dish. “What did you say?”

Jenna smiled in spite of herself. It felt good having another female friend. Considering that Cici was Clark’s sister, she would never see her again. Vaguely, she wondered if Cici knew about him. She shoved the thought aside to answer Callie’s question. “I said yes.”

Callie ran over to the table and gave Jenna a hug. When she pulled away, she saw genuine love and admiration in the other woman’s eyes. “That is so incredible. From what you’ve told me, you have been waiting for him to pop the question for a very long time.”

Jenna laughed. “Oh yes, longer than Lynch wants to think about. That’s for sure.” She looked over at the stove where smoke had begun to rise slowly above the pan. “Your veal!”

Lynch, Joris, and Andy were down in the chambers ensuring that the special lighting didn’t have an effect on Lynch’s eyes. Luckily for them all, it didn’t bother him much. They had no doubt that Jenna would also be able to see down here. It would make their jobs so much easier when Clark finally showed up.

“From what I’ve researched on his kind, he probably will not show up as himself. If so, he would be stupid,” Joris said.

“I definitely agree. If we cannot sense him as someone else,” Lynch began, “how do we know?”

“By touch, most likely,” Andy said. “The thing is, he knows you and Jenna are lycans. I believe he will have something to keep you from transforming. Perhaps silver or something else, if he knows anything about our compounds or has Callie’s cure. It would be to our advantage that he would show up as himself. Of course, it would be naïve of us to believe so.”

Lynch grunted and kicked the floor with the toe of his boot, unconsciously mimicking the motion from earlier today. “We need to get Jenna down here and find out what she thinks.”

“Good idea. Do you need me to lead you two back in?” Joris asked.

He shook his head. “No, I think I can find my way.”

Lynch found Jenna in the kitchen. He noticed that Jenna and Callie seemed to be collaborating on some culinary masterpiece. It was both touching and funny at the same time, especially since the relationship between the two had a rocky start. “Jenna?”

She stopped what she was doing and turned toward her lover. “Yeah babe?”

“It’s time for you to come down to the chambers and check out everything.”

She nodded. “Fine.” To Callie: “I’ll be back to help later.”

The two of them didn’t speak as they headed off to the chambers below the Hoff property. Jenna was amazed at how large the property was, and even more so when she finally saw the elaborate network of tunnels. Lynch told her Joris’ family first built them as bomb shelters. Then, they laid waste until Joris saw fit to turn it into what it was today. Which was something indescribable. The entire network of hallways made her dizzy. It staggered her how much time and money had gone into this. Was Joris psychic? Did he know something like this was going to happen?

“Holy shit, Lynch,” Jenna whispered. “What are we doing down here? How are we going to know what to do?”

“It will come to us,” he said, his voice putting forth a promise he intended to keep. “The guys and I have been discussing this since we came down. We figure Clark won’t come here as himself. He’s a shape shifter. He will come as someone else. The trick to knowing him is touching him or seeing it in his eyes.”

Jenna stopped walking. “Jesus Christ, Lynch. What are we doing here? I didn’t figure Clark would be stupid enough to come as himself. But shape shifting? What the fuck!”

He placed his hand on her shoulder. “Baby, I know. I know how horrible you feel about this. About killing. It must be done. Clark is not human, he does not care to be, and he wants to hurt us all, especially Callie.”

She sighed heavily and absently rubbed her abdomen. She was starting to feel sick again. She needed an industrial sized bottle of that pink shit. “I know, Lynch. I’m ready for this to be over.”

He brought her closer to him so he could kiss the top of her head. “We all are, my love. We all are.” He drew away from her to look into her eyes. She seemed to be squinting slightly. “How is the light?”

She shrugged. “Not good, but not terrible either.”

“Terrific,” he said. “We should have the advantage. Any hint of Clark or anyone else, you and Callie are to come down here immediately, with her cure and our compounds. Got me?”

She managed a weak smile. “Aye, Aye Chief.”

With Christine Knight’s eyes and her cruiser, Clark followed the image of red hair, hair that would hopefully belong to one Callie Norwood. He drove for miles, almost convinced that his sense was bullshit. That’s when a lovely, unexpected thing happened. He saw a private drive that led to a huge house. The driveway was probably a mile or two away from the house. This had to be it.

Using Knight’s hand, he grabbed for the radio. “Attention all units,” he said with Knight’s voice. “I have located the hiding place of one Lynch Tackett. All units respond to 45983 Draghad Road. Please keep your sirens silent and park down the road from the house. The occupants have video.” After he made the call, he picked up Knight’s cell phone, found Belmont’s number and waited for him to pick up. “Yes, Chief, it’s Knight. We’ve found Tackett. He killed my partner, Chief. In cold blood. I barely escaped.”

Down in the chambers, everyone stopped. Jenna looked at Lynch. Joris and Andy ran past them to get Callie. It was time. Something was going on. Something bad.

“Jesus,” Jenna whispered. “It’s not Clark, is it?”

Lynch shook his head. “Maybe, but it’s definitely the police. They’ve found us somehow. I don’t know how.” He took hold of her arm. “You stay down here. Joris and Andy will bring down Callie with the compounds. We have some time.”

She nodded. “Yes, they’re down the road. Please, Lynch, I don’t want my future husband doing anything stupid. Keep your ass safe.”

“I will, baby, I promise.” Before he left her alone, he kissed her hard, holding her in his arms as long as he dared. “You stay safe.”

With tears in her eyes, she watched as he left her standing where she was. As soon as he was far enough away, she put her face into her hands and sobbed. She hoped this was not the last time she saw him alive. She couldn’t take it if he were killed.

Lynch watched as Andy ushered Callie with their compound cases to the chambers. They moved their luggage and other personal items down as well. Joris was standing at a bay window that allowed him to see out, but no one could see in. Lynch followed suit and stood beside his friend. Neither of them could actually see anything. Both could sense plenty.

“It’s the police,” Joris said matter-of-factly. “I can’t tell you if Clark is with them. He could be one of them.”

Lynch felt his blood beginning to pump in his heart. It was the adrenaline rush that began as soon as he felt a transformation happening. He and Jenna had taken only half a shot a day, changing would be easier. He had lied to them all, keeping it buried deeply within. For at least twenty-four hours, he failed to take his required dose. If he tried hard enough, a full transformation was within his grasp. Now was not the time to ‘wolf out.’ He had to make sure that the women were safe. It was what they needed to do.

“He is one of them,” Lynch said suddenly. “I feel it to be so.”

Joris could see the silver glint to Lynch’s eyes. He was close to changing. Very close. “Lynch, remove yourself from the situation. I can handle the police. If they made a connection between me and Andy, that is why they’re here. Go down with the rest of them. I’ll handle the police. There is no way they can find you down in the chambers.”

“I’m not afraid of the police,” Lynch announced. “I’m one of them, Joris. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“No,” he said shortly. “You haven’t. But your brotherhood with them is not going to help you this time. You need to worry about your brothers here, Lynch. Go down. I will take care of the police.”

“Joris, they will kill you,” he growled.

“No, they won’t,” he said fiercely. “I promise.”

Reluctantly, Lynch left Joris where he stood. The food in the kitchen Callie had abandoned was burning. Joris jogged hurriedly into the kitchen and put out the fire, just before he heard a banging knock on his front door. It didn’t take an intelligent person to know that it was the police. Calmly wiping his hands on a dish towel, he strolled casually into the living room, went through the door of the mud room, and then opened the front door.

Before him stood three police officers. One of them was female, another was a familiar face. There was something about the female he didn’t like. He didn’t push it, but he was almost positive this was Clark Honsterott. Shape shifters weren’t as clever as they thought.

“Can I help you?” Joris asked casually.

One of the men flipped out a badge. Joris studied it for a long time. It was real enough, he supposed. “I’m Chief Mick Belmont of the LeVale Police Department, and these folks with me are Christine Knight, who is also with my department, and Detective Washington from your local precinct.”

Joris knew Detective Washington. He had seen him out this way a few times for different mischievous acts against his property. Everyone saw Joris Hoff as the local weirdo, so something was always going on out here. Washington was usually the man who came out to inspect everything. He recognized neither Knight nor Belmont. Of course, it didn’t matter. Knight had to be Clark. The woman was looking at him rather interestingly, almost wetting her lips. She wanted to taste Callie on him. A pure male thought ran through his mind. Oh yes. I had her. She was good! He thought he saw Knight shrink back. Joris smiled. It was wide, lascivious, and threatening at the same time.

“Good to meet you all,” Joris said evenly. “What can I do for you folks?”

“We believe you are harboring a fugitive,” Washington said. “Chief Belmont has asked me to serve this warrant to search your home.”

The piece of paper was shoved into Joris’ hands. He looked at it briefly. “You are welcome to search whatever you wish,” Joris said. “They were here last night, but left this morning. I, of course, had no idea they were fugitives.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Knight growled, her eyes gleaming with an unusual light.

What they didn’t know was that Joris, Lynch, Callie, Andy, and Jenna had time to move everything they touched into the chambers. The only evidence the police would find were messy beds, made in haste, as if someone had left in a great hurry.

Joris stood back, allowed the police to enter, and they began their search. Calmly, Joris went back into the kitchen and sat down at the table. He would leave the burned food where it was, in case they were curious as to why it took him so long to answer the front door.

The police were pretty much tearing up his house from one end to another. It would take them a while, because his house was large. While most of the officers were at work, Knight and Belmont decided to keep Joris company in the kitchen. They were afraid he might run and tell the fugitives the cops were onto him. He didn’t watch them or make eye contact with Knight. If he did, he was certain Knight would attack the other officer and then fall on him. He wasn’t giving off anything that let Clark he knew Knight was him, other than the thing with him having sex with Callie. That was the only tidbit he allowed to leave his mind.

“You said you didn’t know they were fugitives,” Knight began, “how didn’t you? Don’t you watch TV?”

Joris laughed and shrugged. He made only brief eye contact with Knight. “In case you haven’t noticed, my house is too far away for cable and satellite TV is so expensive. I get one channel and it doesn’t show news.”

“Andy Hoff is your relative?” Belmont asked.

Joris looked up at him. This one, he would face head on. He was a good man. He didn’t believe Lynch was an evil cop killer. He immediately liked Mick Belmont. “Yes, he is. Andy is my uncle. He was more or less Lynch’s man servant, wasn’t he? How long have you known Mr. Tackett?”

He could tell the question threw Belmont for a loop. He wasn’t expecting it. “I’ve known Lynch for a long time. He and Hugh came up together through the ranks. It’s why we’re searching for them. There is no reason for Lynch to have simply gone missing with Hugh’s sister unless he knows something.”

“And don’t forget he killed my fucking partner,” Knight growled.

Belmont shot her a look. “I told you to keep that under wraps. You know better, Detective Knight.”

“Sure I do,” she hissed. She pounded on the kitchen table, trying to shake up Joris. It didn’t work. “And this piece of shit knows where he is. So why are you lying about them being here? They have to be.”

“No, they don’t,” Joris said calmly. What were they doing? Playing a version of good cop/bad cop? “They were here, Detective Knight. Today, they aren’t. What is so hard to believe about that?”

“Detective,” Belmont began, “I want you to go back to your squad car. Your presence is not needed here.”

Before she left the room, she pointed to Joris. “You will pay, you piece of shit. That I promise you.”

Joris smiled at her, looking directly into her eyes this time. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”

Of course, it was Clark’s plan to have Belmont send Knight outside. The police were having no luck finding the rest of the crew. He knew they were here. Callie’s scent was all over the place. He pretended to go back out to the cruiser. Instead of getting inside, he stood outside it, glancing up at the house. It was tall, like a castle with no visible foundation. He thought that seemed odd. Why wasn’t there a foundation? Every house had one, didn’t it? Especially old ones like this. However, if it didn’t have a foundation, there was some other means of support or stability. There had to be a tunnel underneath. The fuckers were hiding under the house. Oh, that sanctimonious bastard. He had fucked Callie and was now trying to fuck him. It wouldn’t work. Oh no it wouldn’t. He would make that son of a bitch pay, and painfully.

Under the house, in the chambers, everyone could hear the police tearing up Joris’ house. Andy and Lynch were taking it more personally than everyone else. Of course, they knew how much Joris was putting his ass on the line for them. But these people were Lynch’s brothers in arms. Mick Belmont amongst them. There was no way Belmont thought he killed Hugh Norwood. There had to be another way to work this out without Joris suffering or going to jail himself. It was time to turn himself in.

“Lynch, you can’t,” Jenna said suddenly, picking up on his thoughts immediately.

“Jenna, I must. Joris is putting his ass on the fire for us all. I won’t let him. You’re all safe down here. Joris said as much himself. If Clark comes, he will die down here. You don’t understand. I must put a stop to this before they destroy Joris’ house.”

She took his hand into hers. “Baby, please. Just wait. If they don’t find evidence of us here, they will go away. Everything we own is down here. They won’t find us!”

“Jenna, I have to stop this,” he said through gritted teeth. “As soon as Mick knows I didn’t touch Hugh, I’ll be back before you know it.”

Fighting him all the way, Lynch finally broke free of Jenna’s arms and made his way to the door that would lead him back into the house. Whatever he needed to face, he would do so. Otherwise, he was no more than a coward, like Clark Honsterott. The epitaph on his head stone would not read that he had let down his family.

Belmont and Joris both looked toward the hallway when several cops started scuffling with someone. Cursing, Joris knew who surfaced. Lynch. Goddamn the man for not listening to him. What would they do with Knight outside? Two beefy cops were on each side of Lynch Tackett as he made his way into the kitchen. They had yet to cuff him or read his Miranda, but they hung onto him so he wouldn’t escape.

“So much for not harboring fugitives,” Belmont said sarcastically, his eyes focused on Joris. “Where are the rest of them?”

“Gone,” Lynch said. “Andy, Jenna, and Callie have left the state. Callie came with us willingly. She believes her ex-boyfriend killed Hugh.”

“Let him go,” Belmont demanded of the officers. They did as he instructed. “Sit down, Lynch, and we can talk.”

Lynch took a seat at the table. Looking apologetically at Joris, he said, “I didn’t want Joris to get into further trouble. He’s a good man, Mick. Please don’t take it out on him. Callie came from New York to live with her brother. Her ex-boyfriend is Clark Honsterott. He has a sister who lives in Dubious County. Until recently, he has been staying with her. He is after Callie. When he found her with us, he lost his mind. Clark is the one who burned down the house with Hugh in it.”

Belmont consumed the story like an animal consumes his prey. “If that is the truth, Lynch, why did you run?”

“To protect Callie and Jenna. Clark Honsterott is unstable. Check on him, Chief, and you’ll see I’m telling the truth. He has a record in New York for various violent acts. I sent the rest of them on to keep them safe. Callie is going to call her folks as soon as she’s near a phone.”

“There’s another problem, Lynch,” Belmont said.

“What’s that?”

Before Belmont continued, Joris put a thought in Lynch’s mind. One so clear that Lynch nearly fell over. If written in words, it would have looked like this: CHRISTINE KNIGHT IS CLARK. HE IS OUTSIDE!!! Lynch licked his lips and passed along his own look. His heart began to beat harder and harder. He needed to get rid of Belmont so he could transform and kill the fucker before he touched Jenna or Callie.

“Christine Knight said she witnessed you murder her partner just outside of town, Lynch,” Belmont said. “As much as I hate to, my friend, I’m going to put you under arrest.”

Lynch balled his hands into fists. He felt his fingernails turning to claws. Fight it back. Fight fight fight. “I’ve been here for two days, Mick. I couldn’t have killed anyone. Ask Joris. He can verify my alibi.”

“We have an eye witness, Lynch,” Belmont said.

“Look, he couldn’t have killed her partner. He isn’t lying, he has been here for two days. That I assure you,” Joris begged.

“And you were so truthful before,” Belmont said sarcastically.

Lynch fought back his urge to transform. His fingernails remained fingernails. His eyes had gone back to their natural color. He unclenched his hands and placed them flat on the table. “If you must, Chief. I’ll go.” To Joris, he broadcast a thought: Protect everyone. I will break out and be back in an hour.

He stood up, allowed Mick Belmont to cuff him, and listened as he read his Miranda rights. He allowed them to lead him outside where he saw Christine Knight standing near her cruiser. To his great horror, he saw what Joris saw. This was not the same person he knew for five or six years. This was the monster who killed his best friend and a number of other people. What was worse, she took out her service revolver. She pointed it at Lynch, screamed something nonsensical before firing her weapon. Everyone inside and out heard the report from the gun. Only those waiting in the chambers did not hear. The moment the bullet hit Lynch in the shoulder, he knew what it was. It was silver. The bastard had hit him with a silver bullet. Unless it was taken out, he had no chance of defeating this blood thirsty killer.

Chaos ensued. Joris ran out of the house and was knocked down by an officer on scene. Before Knight could pull the trigger again, one of the other officers took his piece and blew a hole in Knight’s forehead. Of course it wouldn’t matter. Clark Honsterott couldn’t die. After the police left with Lynch, on his way to the hospital for surgery, Christine Knight’s body was zipped up in a body bag. Underneath, Clark Honsterott smiled with her lips. As soon as he made it to the morgue, he would be free to come back, get Callie, and take care of everyone else-including one Lynch Tackett.

As soon as everyone had left, Joris made the trip to the chambers to alert Jenna, Andy, and Callie. When they saw him, it took only seconds for Jenna to pick up on his thoughts. She ran to him, gripped his shirt collar, and shook him like a rag doll.

What the fuck happened to Lynch, Joris? Tell me what happened,” Jenna screamed.

He waited for her to stop shaking him before he spoke. There was no other way to speak to her. He saw that Callie and Andy were watching him closely. Both upset, but in such different ways. “Lynch was arrested for the murder of Dirk Havens and Hugh Norwood. There is much more that is worse. Clark was here, in the body of a female officer. She shot Lynch in the shoulder, probably with a metal covered silver bullet. Another officer shot Clark, but he will be back.”

“I’ve got to get to him,” Jenna said in tears. “I have to be there when he wakes. What will this silver do to him? I have to be there!”

Joris took hold of Jenna’s shoulders and held her tightly without using excessive force. “No. None of you are going anywhere. Lynch will come back to us. They will take out the bullet at the hospital. His chief assured me he is going there right away. Stay here, stay safe. I promised Lynch I would look out for all of you.”

“Oh dear God,” Callie cried. She had sat down on the floor against the wall. She was rocking back and forth like a child. “This is never going to be over, is it? Why didn’t I kill him when I had the chance?”

“No one can fall apart now,” Andy said. “We must stay focused. We know what we must do.”

Joris went to console Callie while Jenna went to Andy. She clung to her old friend like a shipwrecked sailor. There was nothing they could do now, but wait. For Lynch, for Hugh, they were ready to fight and end the menace that was Clark Honsterott.

Lynch was taken to the hospital in LeVale and sent straight into surgery. As he was given anesthesia, he wondered if anyone would know that the bullet was silver. Since it was, his shoulder had swollen up more than it would have otherwise if the bullet had been normal. He knew he would survive surgery. Death by silver only came with a lot of it. Not one bullet. That was the mistake Clark Honsterott had made. As soon as he was out of surgery, he would transform and get back to his woman before anything could happen to her. If Clark thought he won, he thought wrong.

While the bullet was being removed from Lynch’s shoulder, Clark had been shoved into a drawer at the county morgue. He waited for the lights to go out before he burst out of the bag. When Knight’s body ‘died,’ Clark’s body came to the surface. With a swift kick of his left leg, the drawer burst open. He slid out of it like a snake slithering out of its skin. He was lucky to find the room vacated. Otherwise, he would have had to kill an entire room of people. It was also unlucky in a way. He was hungry. Oh well, that’s what Joris Hoff was for. Food, glorious food.

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