The Immortal Beside Me, Book II

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Chapter 6

In bed, Lynch had another dream, so familiar to the other that it would jar him when he awoke the next day. He felt like he did when the wolf took over. It seemed that he was running after prey, not like the prey he took down. This prey was human prey, a man. He felt his body pushing him over the edge. There was no way to stop the wolf when he hunted. The victim looked over his shoulder, saw what was chasing him, and couldn’t believe his eyes. The prey screamed, but it didn’t do any good.

As soon as he was close enough, he flew in a flying tackle that would have made any football coach proud. The full force of his oversized body hit the back of his victim so hard, he flew a hundred feet or more. As soon as he hit the ground, he was almost dead and surely paralyzed from the snapped spine. As long as the heart was still beating, it didn’t matter whatsoever. He jumped on his prey, ripped, chewed, gnawed, and ate his fill. As soon as he was finished, blood covering the dark hair on his wolfen chest, he stood back and howled triumphantly.

Suddenly, Lynch sat up, nearly screaming. There was no blood on him, yet he could feel the sticky texture everywhere. The only thing covering him was sweat. Breathing heavily now, he threw back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Jenna wasn’t here, but Andy was. He hoped his movements didn’t awaken his friend. At the same time, he heard the thump of his feet coming up to the third floor and directly to his room.

The door was open, so Andy invited himself right in. “Are you all right, Lynch?”

Andy looked out of his element without his fake server uniform and spectacles. The only thing that was real were the spectacles. He was a loyal friend, research assistant, and one damned brain. Andy had never had a family of his own; he made the Tacketts a part of him, just like Jenna. It was an incredible rush to know they had his back no matter what the circumstances.

“Fine,” he said vaguely, waving his hand at Andy, trying to dismiss him.

“You’re lying, my friend. You had another dream, didn’t you?”

There was no getting away from his concern or glare of those ice blue eyes. “I did,” he admitted with a sigh. “Did I leave the house? I dreamed I killed again.”

“You didn’t, Lynch. Maybe it’s time to get Jenna back here,” he said.

Laughing sarcastically, he said, “Do you think I haven’t already called her? She wants nothing to do with me right now. I can’t blame her, Andy. I could try, but I wouldn’t believe she would come.”

Jenna was wrapped up in the bed covers when she heard Cici’s car pull into the driveway. After Jenna arrived, Cici set her up in the guest house behind the main residence. She hoped Cici wouldn’t come out to see her for a while. Although she heard her friend come home, she didn’t necessarily make a move toward getting up to greet her. In all honesty, she didn’t feel much like doing anything. She had no idea it was going to feel this bad. Well, duh, you stupid bitch. You are dying. Well, she was sort of dying. Jenna thought about her conversation with Lynch earlier. The hurt was clear in his voice. Again, she remembered how long she had waited for him to admit he needed her. When he finally did, she denied him. It was making her heart ache miserably at the thought. Was she allowing him to move on? Oh, come on. You didn’t leave him forever. Whatever processes were going on in her body were playing tricks with her mind.

Struggling mightily, she sat up. Carefully, she unbuttoned her blouse and slid it off her shoulder. To her amazement, the wound looked better than it had since Lynch bit her. The transformation was happening faster than expected. The swelling had gone down significantly. Right now, it was red, not puffy like it was when she arrived. Despite that, she felt worse than ever. The body aches wracked her; the feverish sensation was still present. Her headache had begun to subside, so that was the one bright spot in her condition. Cici was a busybody, just like she was in college. There was a good chance she would come out to the guest house to check on her. Jenna then decided it might be a good idea to try and get up off her lazy ass.

Slowly, Jenna swung her legs over the side of the bed and made her first attempt to sit up fully since arriving. It went better than she expected. The room spun somewhat, but not enough to cause her to fall over. She stuffed her feet into her slides. She had gone to bed without undressing, so she didn’t have to worry about that. Her head throbbed at the sudden movement. However, it resolved enough for her to continue. Jenna brought herself up to a standing position, again with little issue. She ran her fingers through her mussed hair. When she accomplished those tasks efficiently, she managed to walk into the small bathroom to take a look. Pleased with her appearance, she left the guest house and made her way out the door.

Cici heard a discreet knock at her back door. Knowing it was Jenna, she called out for her to come in. Jenna took her time as she was still wobbly on her feet. When she entered the kitchen, she saw Cici putting away the groceries she had picked up. She didn’t know that her friend had another guest. Sitting at the small kitchen table was a woman approximately twenty-five. She wasn’t on her feet, but Jenna could tell she was tall, probably well over five feet eight. Her hair was long, almost to the buttock and dark brown. From her vantage point at the back door, she could see that her eyes were bright green, with a hint of mischievousness. She smiled her way. It was friendly and contagious. Jenna smiled back in spite of feeling very uncomfortable.

Cici turned from her bag of groceries and smiled at Jenna. “Forgive my rudeness, Jen. I found her wandering around town. I thought she was cute, so I brought her home with me,” she said amusedly.

“You certainly wish, don’t you,” she replied with a very raspy voice.

Jenna approached the table where she sat and offered her hand. “Good afternoon, roaming stranger. I’m Jenna Vos.”

She took her proffered hand and shook it briefly. Hers was warm. Her grip was firm and strong. “I’m Sophia Honsterott. Although she hardly claims me, I’m her sister-in law. I’m married to her brother.”

Cici had mentioned having a brother when they were in college. She had never seen a picture of him or met him before. “Nice to meet you,” Jenna said.

Without waiting for an invitation, Jenna sat at the end of the table, about a chair away from Sophia. She turned hers head to watch Cici. Yet, it seemed as if she were paying attention to Jenna. She did so without giving away what she was truly doing. One of her hands was resting on the wooden surface of the table. That was when Jenna noticed a small scar that looked self-inflicted, but she had seen it before. It piqued her interest immediately. Internally shaking her head, Jenna thought nothing else of it. She had simply been living with Lynch way too long. Everything she saw these days reminded her of Lynch. Not every damned person was an immortal. There were plenty who had scars, dark hair, and deep voices.

“I invited Clark and Sophia to dinner. He’s on vacation here for a few weeks. . Soon, he’ll be back home in New York,” Cici explained. I have no idea where he is right now, but you’ll meet him soon.”

New York. It hit her again. Wasn’t Callie Norwood from New York? Again, she cooled her ticking mind. New York was a sizeable state. Numerous people were from New York. Besides, she was miles away from Callie Norwood and Lynch Tackett. “I thought you didn’t sound like you were from around here,” Jenna said.

She smiled Jenna’s way. “I thought I would come and keep an eye on Cici on Clark’s behalf. He’s so flighty. When her husband and daughter are away, someone needs to look after her.”

Cici looked Sophia’s way and stuck out her tongue. “Screw you. Watch your mouth or I’ll send you packing.”

“I doubt that very much,” she challenged. “What’s for dinner?”

“Clark’s standard man cave favorite. Steak and potatoes, apple pie for dessert.”

Sophia laughed and winked at Jenna. “Nothing like a good piece of meat.”

Cici laughed before she turned to look at Jenna. “Jen, I’m not trying to insult you, but you look tired.”

She shrugged. “I’m getting over a bout of the flu.”

Cici arched her eyebrow. “Really? Are you sure you didn’t let that guy you live with knock you up?”

Jenna cut her eyes at Sophia, then at her friend. She seemed not to have noticed Cici’s crass comment. Either that or she chose to ignore it. “Cici, come on. Not hardly. I told you that nothing is really happening there.” If only it was that simple.

That evening, dinner was a simple affair. Sophia begged off dinner and disappeared somewhere upstairs. Jenna stayed mostly silent. She politely listened to the sibling banter between Cici and Clark. They were very much alike with coal black hair and tall, lithe bodies. It had been a few years since she last saw Cici, but she was glad to note that their relationship had reverted back to what it was. She felt comfortable with her friend. She missed both Andy and Lynch immensely. Though that was the case, it was nice to get away, to live a normal life for once.

After they ate, Jenna offered to help Cici clean up. She completely refused and insisted that Jenna make herself comfortable. Choosing to go outside for some fresh air, Jenna sat in an oversized porch swing. Cici lived in a large house out in the country. It reminded her of Tackett House Manor, the house she had called home for twenty years. The only exception was that the view was better. There weren’t as many trees on the horizon and she was able to see more of the night sky. It was very nice. She could almost count every star out here. She should be sitting here thinking of nothing, relaxing, clearing her mind. It didn’t work. Everything she saw reminded her of Lynch. She was so tired, but she couldn’t move. Even the pain which had wracked her body since she arrived seemed to lift. Coming here almost made her forget what was to come.

Jenna wasn’t alone for long. She watched as Clark came outside. He noticed her sitting alone on the porch swing. “Mind if I join you?”

She didn’t want company, still she found herself nodding his way. “Sure.”

He sat beside her, seemingly enjoying the same view as she. He leaned over, rested his arms on his thighs, and clasped his hands together. “I don’t visit my sister often enough. It’s so quiet here, unlike New York. I love coming here, but I’d probably lose my mind if I lived here.”

She smiled and propped her arm casually on the back of the chair. “Lots of people say that. It’s ironic, really. I’ve already met two people from New York in so many days.”

He turned his head to look at her. “Really,” he said with a smile. “That’s unusual. Small world.”

“No doubt,” she said lightly. “What do you do?”

“Freelance writer,” he said. “I once dabbled in law for a while. You?”

It was a question she hadn’t been asked in years. How exactly would she describe what she did? “Private sector kind of stuff.”

He laughed. “Broad description. Do you live here?”

“Yes, about seventy miles or so away, in a town called LeVale.”

“Never heard of it.”

It was her turn to laugh. “I’m not surprised, not many people have.”

“My sister mentioned a guy earlier. Are you married?”

She shook her head. “Not even close. Attached? Yes. Married? No.”

“He sounds like an ass,” he said, keeping his eyes on her face.

“No, I think I’m the ass this time.”

It was vague, but gave him an opening. “Cici is always working and I’d love to know my way around. Would you like to give me a tour?”

Clark was married, yet he didn’t wear a ring. It was the first thing she noticed. Jenna bit her lip and found herself gazing out into the night. Wasn’t it just her luck? She had lived with Lynch for twenty years, had been in love with him her entire adult life, and when they finally connected, circumstances forced her to run away like a scared teenager. She had been here less than twelve hours, met a married man, and now he was more or less hitting on her. He clearly knew she was from another town, another county. It was more than obvious he wanted more from her than a tour. It was almost absurd. What would he do if she told him she had been bitten by a lycan and was in the process of becoming one herself? Did he want to be shown around town with a creature no one believed truly existed? Honestly, she didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry.

“Are you serious?” She asked, her eyes focusing on the swiftly darkening horizon. “What about your wife?”

“Of course I’m serious, but I’m afraid Sophia hates exploration. Why else would I have asked?”

Not believing what was happening to her tonight, she looked at him. “I don’t think I’m the guide you need, Clark.”

He smiled at her. She was sure he thought it was very charming. It might have been to another woman. “No? I think you’re wrong.” Suddenly, he stood in front of her. “It was very nice to meet you, Jenna. I hope to see you again before we leave for home. I’m going inside to say goodnight to Cici, gather Sophia, and head back to the hotel. If you change your mind about giving me a tour, just let me know.”

She smiled up at him and nodded. “It was nice meet you, too.”

Clark went back inside, leaving Jenna in peace. She gently rocked her body forward, making the swing sway lazily. Cici’s brother was very charming, but there was something out of place about him. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. He made her uncomfortable. It was a feeling she couldn’t explain. Forcing it out of her mind, she tried to relax, to forget for a moment everything that haunted her.

When Lynch went to work, Hugh told him there had been another murder. This one in nearby Green Lake. The name hit him hard. It was where Lynch had found his pa and forced him to come back to LeVale. Why were the murders happening in a seeming circle around LeVale? Andy had him convinced he wasn’t guilty of killing anyone. At the same time, he was either unconsciously running around killing people. Goddamn, I don’t kill humans.

Since it was in another county, they again had no jurisdiction. The Green Lake sheriff was less open than the one he had spoken to about the first murder. What in the hell was happening? Either there was another immortal who was undetectable by him, as Jenna had postulated, or he was killing people. He hadn’t done anything of the sort since the last human he murdered a hundred years ago. He was a different man now, not a killer. He took Andy’s advice and let it come as it may. Hard evidence was needed, just like any police investigation.

Tonight, she was in Dubois County. Sometimes she came as Clark, others she was Sophia. It was a wonderful way to distract the police. It was one county over from Calember. She almost went there. Deciding it might be too suspicious for her to go back, she chose another instead. She had been watching her prey for a few days now. It didn’t take long to get her routine down. She found several openings for an attack. Craving blood now, it was time to feed.

From time to time, she ate regular food. It satisfied the human part of her well enough. There was another part to satisfy. Tonight, it was ravenous. Oh yes. Very much so. Cloaking herself in the darkness and thick dense vegetation, she heard the heavy footsteps drawing closer and closer. At the sound of her prey coming toward her, her muscles became tight and tense. That was perfectly fine. If she were wholly human, it would work against her. Since she was not, it worked in hers favor.

The moment she saw the man’s ankle from afar, her hand began to ache. The pain came just before her claws were exposed. When no more than a few inches separated her from her prey, her claws suddenly appeared. As it occurred, she swung her arm outward, her claws making contact. They sank into the man’s flesh and he bawled out with pain. Her actions swift and sure, she dragged her prey into the bush before the man had a chance to scream for help. Like a flash, she pounced on her victim with savage strength and deadly accuracy.

Before her prey knew exactly what happened to him, she sank her canine teeth into the soft flesh of the neck. Blood poured into her mouth, tasting sweeter than nectar to a bee. She drank greedily, loving the warmth of the blood as it slid down her throat. Her victim kicked and cawed weakly. It wasn’t long before he stopped moving altogether. The killer drank greedily before her prey died. For good measure, she chewed up a bit of flesh. She had to move quickly.

When she finished, she stood up and wiped the blood away from her mouth. Looking down at her prey, she was sorry the man wasn’t as beautiful as the redhead. It didn’t matter. For now, her thirst was quenched. Soon enough, it would rage to the surface again. Before she began stalking her next prey item, there was something else she needed to do first.

Lynch awoke suddenly, a scream behind his lips. This time, he saw himself hiding behind dense vegetation, reaching out for a man, and drinking his blood. Like the other victims in his first dream, he could almost taste the blood and flesh in his mouth. He was almost certain that he was not the killer. Yet, it was disturbing all the same.

The first thing he wanted to do was call Jenna, to tell her about this dream. She wasn’t here and his heart felt damaged. It wasn’t as dramatic as it sounded, either. All he had to do was pick up the phone and call her. It wasn’t that simple. Jenna didn’t want to talk to him and he didn’t understand why.

Callie found herself at the university. She had just completed a tour of her future Chemistry department. From there, she visited the library. The school at LeVale was small, but they had quite an impressive library. Her mind was distracted after her conversation with Lynch, so she thought perusing the dozens upon dozens of shelves would do her some good.

With Jenna out of the picture, she expected Lynch to fall right into her arms. She was wrong. Unlike Clark, he was gentle and kind. He didn’t bask in the glow of his immortality. He was trying to get away from it. She had the cure; Lynch didn’t jump for it. He wanted to wait for Jenna. Why was she so important in this battle? She thought she had pinpointed it. He didn’t completely believe her. If he would only allow her to inject him, he would. Damn him. Damn all men.

She moved from one aisle of books to another. She touched each one, as if trying to become one with them. One major love of hers was books. She absorbed them the way a sponge absorbs water. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t take any of them home with her. She put her finger on one book and suddenly shuddered. Was someone following her? Watching her? She turned around, looking in each direction. There was no one. It didn’t stop her from feeling as if she were being observed.

She stepped to the end of the aisle, looking around again. No one. She went to another. Again, no one. Thinking she was only feeling slight paranoia, she went to a different aisle to pursue the volumes. It wasn’t long before she felt the same sensation once more. It began to work on her nerves. It brought back memories from New York. Memories of Clark. Impossible. He was in New York. Although he called her cell phone, he didn’t know where she was.

She was certain her feelings were unwarranted. She was confident, but shaken, so it was time to go home. She walked to the end of the aisle where she was currently standing when she saw something that shook her to her very core. It was a flash of glossy black hair. Okay, Norwood. Calm down. Clark isn’t the only person with glossy black hair. It was true. Many people fit that description. What chilled her even further was how fast this individual moved. Only Clark was capable of that.

Her heart hammering in her chest, she walked as fast as she could to get out of the library. She would feel safe at home with her cop brother protecting her. Every step she took, she glanced over her shoulder. She never saw anybody back there, could only feel eyes.

Callie drove recklessly all the way home. She didn’t know how she made it without crashing into dozens of cars. She tore her way out of the car, dove for the front door, and slammed into the apartment. She didn’t see Hugh inside, and she cursed him for that. She locked the door behind her and leaned her back heavily against it. Her chest rose and fell. If it was Clark, he could easily blow through the door without trying. Where the hell was Hugh? She had driven his car to the university, so it wasn’t like he could have gone far.

After calming down, she peeked outside. Seeing no one suspicious, she closed the blinds. The sensation of being watched haunted her. She absolutely knew she did not imagine this. On top of everything else, her brother wasn’t home. Where the hell was Hugh? Then, she realized something could have happened to him. She dashed into the kitchen, grabbed the phone, and that is when she noticed the note on the refrigerator door. It was from Hugh. I have gone for my run and will stop at the convenience store for a few odds and ends. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.

Out in the boonies, Lynch awoke from a troubled sleep. After a few hours, he got out of bed and discussed his dream with Andy. He also finally admitted what happened between him and Jenna. Andy said nothing, simply asked Lynch to ‘spare him the details of their tryst.’ Lynch was sore over it, but that comment broke him up completely. It felt good to laugh again. Worse for Lynch was that Andy had no idea why Jenna left. He did, however, mention that a vial was missing down in the basement. It seemed odd to Lynch, just not enough to make him worry. He batted it aside, drank a glass of water, and went back to bed.

He had just managed to throw the covers back when the phone rang. Hoping it was Jenna, Lynch got up quickly and grabbed it before the voice mail could pick up. “Jenna?” He asked hopefully.

“No, Lynch. It’s Callie.”

Her voice sounded distressed and somewhat disappointed that he said Jenna’s name first. “What is it? Is something wrong?”

She laughed bitterly. “You could say that. I need to see you.”

“Where do you want to meet?”

“Our usual place.”

The three words she spoke sounded like they were intimate. He knew she didn’t mean it that way (or he supposed so). “Give me twenty minutes. I just got out of bed.”

“That’s fine, Lynch,” she whispered. “Just hurry.”

When Lynch arrived at ‘their place,’ Callie was already there. She sat on the bench with her arms crossed before her. It wasn’t cold, she wasn’t trying to avoid a line of questioning, so Lynch discerned that she was scared. Something was very wrong. He got out of the car and slowly approached her. She didn’t acknowledge his existence or utter a single word. He sat beside her and waited for her to speak.

“I think Clark has found me,” she said shakily.

“What makes you think that?”

“I was at the university library, just killing time. All at once, I felt someone was watching me. Then I saw a person with glossy black hair. That’s Clark’s calling card, his hair.”

He didn’t want to make light of her fear. At the same time, she was upset and paranoid. She probably saw him at every corner. “Callie, it doesn’t mean anything. Just because you saw someone with glossy black hair doesn’t mean Clark has found you.”

She looked at Lynch. Hurt was written on her face. “To be so ‘sensitive,’ Lynch, you don’t know shit. That was Clark’s game. When we were together, he did that to me a lot. I thought it was exciting back then. Now it’s just sick. What was even sicker was that Clark would often shift into this female form and demand sex. I didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I went home immediately, looked for Hugh, but he wasn’t there. You were the only other person I could call. And what do you do? You try to be a cop, telling me I’m jumping at shadows.”

He was immediately sorry. “I don’t mean to be, Callie. You’re scared because he has made contact with you.”

“You’re acting like you don’t believe anything I told you. I’m tired of it.”

She made moves to get up, but he took hold of her forearm gently, preventing her exit. “Callie, I’m sorry. Listen. I had a dream last night about someone else getting killed. I think the killer was a woman this time. I’m going to check later today to see if anyone has some information. I have Clark on my suspect list and I will share the information with other departments. If he is around, if he is the killer, someone will find him.”

Callie laughed bitterly. “And what? Execute him by lethal injection? What will the prison do when he simply gets up and walks away?”

“I said someone will find him, not necessarily the police,” he said pointedly.

“Do you know how to kill him? You have never heard of an immortal like him until I told you about him.”

He shook his head. “No, I have no idea what we’re dealing with. You have created a cure. All we have to do is inject him with it. After that, he’s up for the taking.”

“You don’t understand,” she said. “It will take a miracle to catch him. The way he moves is unbelievably fast. No mortal can do it. What are you going to do, Lynch? Stop the serums that keep you from transforming? Are you coming after him as a lycan? That’s the only way he will be caught.”

Lynch absorbed her words slowly. He wasn’t stupid. He completely understood Callie’s words. There was simply no evidence that Clark had even darkened their doors. She was overreacting, paranoid, and upset. He didn’t want to make light of her distress.

“Evidence, Callie. As soon as we prove it’s Clark, we’ll go from there,” he told her. “When he shows his face, we will know.”

She had begun to cry. “We don’t have to see him, Lynch. I already know he’s here. I found you, didn’t I? I’m sensitive enough to know.”

Without hesitating, Lynch gathered Callie in his arms and held her close. She was right. She knew about him, and she knew about her ex-lover. He was now impossibly in two corners. He needed Jenna more than ever. He was so torn he couldn’t think straight. As a lycan, he could find Clark. As a lycan, he would be totally out of control. There might not be any other way.

After seeing Callie home and promising he would come running if she needed him, Lynch set out to the LeVale Police Department. He wasn’t expected in for another few hours, but he needed to get a jump on things. His dream led him to believe there were three suspicious murders. A few phone calls and Internet searches later, he had his answers.

Hikers in Dubois County found a body in heavy brush. From sources at the police department, the body had been mutilated. There was no forensic evidence left at the scene. These facts bothered him in more than one way. Andy admitted earlier that Jenna was staying with her friend. This small hamlet happened to be located in Dubois County. The most recent murder was in another county. As was thought before, it seemed the killings were literally encircling LeVale. This did not seem good at all. He sat at his small desk glaring at the blank computer screen. What would he do now? If he called Jenna, she would not come home. In fact, she might not even take the call. Then what? The bodies had injuries consistent with the woman in Calember County, and all three police agencies were connecting the crimes. At the moment, they were thinking a serial killer was lurking around, even though two victims were man and the other was a woman. He silently thanked those willing to share information with fellow officers. Otherwise, he would be fucked.

Fighting himself mightily against calling Jenna and also losing in much the same fashion, Lynch picked up the phone. Stabbing the number more than dialing, he waited impatiently for someone to pick up on the other end. It rang four times before the voice mail kicked in declaring that Cecilia Hendrickson was not available. Clearly, she could be working. However, Jenna definitely was not. She knew he was probably on the other end of the line. Without leaving a message, he slammed down the phone, cursing under his breath the whole time. Why the hell wasn’t she answering?

Callie stayed behind a locked door with blinds covering the windows until Hugh came home. He was confused by his sister’s actions. She explained it away as post-traumatic stress disorder. Knowing the type of ordeal she had just gone through, Hugh believed her.

Until he left for work, Callie stayed underfoot. Hugh was mildly amused, but mostly irritated. He was concerned for his sister and offered to hire someone to say with her. Tempted, she refused. Hugh left for work and his exit was uneventful. The moment he left, Callie locked the door, closed the blinds, and found Hugh’s secret hiding place where he kept his extra gun. It wouldn’t kill Clark. It would, however, alert their neighbors, saving precious minutes that might save her precious life.

From the pictures Callie kept, Clark was able to identify her brother easily enough. He stayed in the shadows and watched as Hugh climbed into his personal vehicle to drive in to work. He didn’t have to possess any special powers to realize Callie was alone. Their apartment complex was large, there were many units crammed in together. He did not know how easy it would be to force his way into the apartment, grab Callie, and be able to escape. Another fact he knew well was that she had on her person a few syringes of her cure, which she named Lyaisom. Destroying it was only one part of his mission. The other, of course, was doing away with her mortal life, bringing her back to blessed immortality. What good was solving one problem only to leave the other up in air? He also had a score to settle with Lynch Tackett.

Deciding that tonight was not the time to grab her, Clark casually walked through the neighborhood, ensuring that he gave much of his attention to the complex itself. While he strolled around, he wondered if she was aware of his presence. He thought about it. She probably was. He was with her at the library and saw how fast she left. To him, it was a clear sign that despite curing herself, she had some sensitivity left. It wouldn’t be easy kidnapping her because of this very fact. He had to have time to plan.

His other problem was that he sensed another immortal nearby. He picked up on the cues as soon as he fed on the woman in Calember County. He had yet to identify who it was. Once he did, he would be very happy, very happy indeed. As he moved several blocks away from Callie’s apartment complex, he looked back over his shoulder. I’m coming for you, Callie. Perhaps she knew how to find the other immortal. She would definitely be a font of information.

When Jenna came to stay with Cici, she understood that her friend was a very busy lady. She worked for a private company as a genetic engineer. On her third day as Cici’s guest, she announced she had to go away for a very short business trip. Cici was completely apologetic about it, offering to call down Clark or Sophia to keep her company. Jenna explicitly told Cici she understood. There would be more time to catch up as soon as she came back. She also informed Cici that she truly didn’t need company, and not to burden Clark. Actually, Jenna was hoping this type of thing would happen.

It was time for her first transformation. She could feel it happening. As darkness fell on the day Cici left, Jenna’s mortal life would end. She took to the guest house and waited. It was the primary reason Jenna did not answer the phone when Lynch called. She recognized the number, but was clearly unable to take the call.

Quickly, she stripped off her clothing. When the pain hit, it was intense and struck her limbs first, while she stood on her feet. She had just enough time to stuff a cloth in her mouth to stifle the screams. The moment it began, it brought her down to the floor. Her muscles stretched and changed, elongating in an unnatural fashion. It felt as if someone cruel had grabbed each of her feet and pulled with all their strength, unmindful of the discomfort. Just as the pain began to cease, her feet went through the same stretch/pull process. As it happened, she screamed as loud as she could. She thanked all the Gods that she had had the mind to stuff something in her mouth.

After her feet and legs were assaulted, her arms and hands were attacked next. Her fingers grew long, webbed together, and broadened. If asked, she would tell the person it felt as if a giant stomped on them, squashing them flat before turning them into deformed paw-like structures. The silver she pushed through her fingers popped right out without effort. It smoked as if it had been lit on fire. Claws replaced her toe and fingernails, seemingly pushing them outward and back. Jenna screamed again, this time the sound closely resembled a howl.

Her face and neck distorted. Her cheeks sunk in, a snout magically appearing where her nose once was. Again, the stretching and pulling moved her skin forward, dragging her teeth along for the ride. In her entire life, she had never felt anything so agonizingly painful. Her canine teeth began to grow long, sharp, and dripped with saliva. Her blonde locks, her glory as it were, receded inward, hiding in her scalp, only to be replaced with coarse fur that sprouted all over her body. It hid her skin, covering it fully, producing its own type of pain. Another scream/howl emitted from her mouth. She bit down harder on the cloth, working the material between her jaws. The ears were the last to emerge. This, for reasons unknown to her, was the least painful of all. It happened quickly, so much more quickly than she expected.

At last complete, Jenna lay in her lycan form on her side, panting weakly. Her human mind was replaced by that of an animal. Like an animal, all she was interested in was feeding. It seemed as if she hadn’t fed before. Food and water would satisfy her. Food and water was what she needed. After resting for no more than five minutes, she stood on four shaky legs. Her chest and hindquarters were longer and slimmer than that of a wolf. When she gathered her strength, she was able to lift her body upward on two legs. It was time to find food. Thinking like an animal, she did not look for a door. She looked for the quickest way out. Without a moment’s hesitation, she leaped through a closed window, shattering the glass. She left behind a tuft of white hair and small droplets of blood. To an outsider, she looked like a tailless snow white wolf on two legs.

Before the transformation was complete, Jenna hoped that no one saw what just happened. As a lycan in true form, she didn’t care. What she didn’t know, what would cause more problems in the future, was that she had been observed. Cici, having asked Clark to check on Jenna, had seen and heard everything. Watching the process, a smile spread on his face, one that literally lit it up. Immortals, it seemed, were all around him.

At dawn, Jenna awoke in a patch of woods. She had nothing on. Near her was a deer that looked like it had just been slaughtered. The belly of the animal was gone. There was a great cavity in its place where it had been hollowed out, or perhaps chewed. She realized it was the latter the closer she drew. The sight of it sickened her. A warm jet of vomit flew out of her mouth.

After she recovered, she brought herself shakily to her feet. She looked all around her, searching for clothing. At first, she had no memory of what happened. Then she glanced at the deer again. It hit her suddenly, like a fist to her stomach. There was dried blood on her hands, arms, and cheeks. Last night, she became a lycan. Last night, she had hunted the deer and killed it to fulfill her hunger, her blood lust. She wanted to vomit again, but she fought it back and turned away from the dead animal.

Jenna assumed she was completely lost. She took several deep breaths until her heightened senses began to kick in. Thankfully, Cici was gone and wouldn’t see her bloodied, nude body making its way back to the guest house. Padding slowly through the woods, her feet crunching down on dead pine needles, she made her way slowly back to the guest house. Once inside, she showered under the hottest water she could stand.

She felt much better afterwards and cleaned up the mess she left behind. Later on today, she would have to make it into town to find replacement glass for the window. Before she could do anything else, she sat on the foot of the bed. She didn’t remember much about last night like her hunt for the deer. She prayed that she hadn’t hurt any humans during her feast. If she did, she would never forgive herself. Thinking clearly for the first time since she showered, she went to her suitcase and dug out the small box where she stored the compound. She grabbed one of the syringes and quickly gave herself an injection. After that, she sat back down to catch her breath again.

Jenna didn’t have much time to relax. The doorbell rang, startling her. Who the hell was that? No one but Andy knew she was here, and he promised not to tell anyone. If Lynch knew the exact location, he would likely be the one. Then again, she supposed if he tried hard enough, Lynch could find her anywhere. She padded from the bedroom, through the tiny living room, and went to the door. She tiptoed up to the peephole. Shit. It was Cici’s brother.

Tightening the belt around her robe, she opened the door to his smiling face. “Good morning,” Jenna said. “Cici will be out of town for a little while.”

“That’s okay. She told me she was leaving and asked that I check on you,” he explained.

His accent was different, one she had a hard time identifying, and oddly, she didn’t notice it before. She knew he lived in New York, but definitely didn’t sound like a native. “I appreciate the thought. I’m fine. Where’s your wife?”

“No,” he said suddenly. “You’re not. Did you notice you cut your foot?”

He ignored the question she asked about his wife. Instead of pushing it, Jenna looked down, immediately noticing the small slice at the arch of her foot. It wasn’t bleeding, just looked fresh. Had she cut it last night or while cleaning up the mess in the bedroom? “Oh, yes. I had an accident in the bedroom last night. I was trying to toss something in my suitcase, missed, and hit the window. I cut it while cleaning up the mess.”

He had a look of concern on his face that was quite touching, considering he was a complete stranger. “Do you need a doctor?”

Embarrassed, she laughed. “Oh no. I took care of it myself.” Not only that, it will heal in record time, anyway. That is how it works for immortals. “I will need a ride into town to get replacement glass for the window.”

“I can absolutely do that for you,” he said with a smile. “If you’d like, you can get dressed and we’ll go right away.”

Again, she had the thought that something was not right with this man. He was married and seemed not to even speak of his wife. She didn’t want him or Sophia anywhere near her. Her politeness won out. “Of course.”

Jenna moved out of the doorway to allow Clark to enter the room. He sat down and started his wait for her. She went into the bedroom and closed the door. Not caring whether it was rude or not, she locked the door behind her. What was it about this man that she didn’t like?

Outside the bedroom, Clark sprang from his chair and walked up to the closed bedroom door. It was locked, but that didn’t matter. He could easily burst through it. Instead, he put his ear to the door and listened for a moment. He smiled, stepped back, and sniffed at it. He smiled again, his canines growing at the second, dripping venom and spittle. Fighting the urge to burst in on her, he licked the door as if he were pleasuring a mate. This woman was an immortal, a lycan. Lycans were sworn enemies of his, of Sophia’s. It would be fun playing with her.

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