My eyes felt like rocks the whole bus ride home; the exhaustion was setting in and the only thing preventing me from completely passing out was Kendra’s loud babbling.
But even as I sat on the bus, gazing outside the dark window, images of the sexy mystery man haunted my mind. I didn’t even get him name, but it was probably for the best. I had to focus on the fight and finding Troy, and the last thing I needed right now was a distraction.
Kendra was disappointed we didn’t get to see him after my little run in, but I was relieved, because she'd probably embarrass the hell out of me.
“Maybe I’ll ask Sam who he was.” Kendra voice bolted me awake as soon as she mentioned the mystery man.
“Wait, what?” My eyes flickered wide open as I curiously glanced in her direction.
“The sexy man you want nothing to do with. Maybe I’ll ask for you. He was so into you Hunter.”
“Here we go again. Are we going to talk about him all the time now?” I scoffed.
“I think so! By the way, I’m sure this mystery man is a werewolf, sooo maybe you can quit the job and be a house wife?” She glanced at me with a serious expression, and I exchanged the same look.
Suddenly, our silence was broken with an outburst of laughter.
“You crack me up.” I said as I nudged her arm with my elbow.
"I try my best!" She chuckled back.
Even know Kendra and I had opposite personalities, we fit each other like yin and yang. I never had a real friend, outside from being friends with Troy, but he was my twin brother. It was refreshing to connect to someone else, especially now since I’m completely alone. It was like she popped into my life at the perfect time.
“It would be so nice though, wouldn’t it? To not worry about money? To live in a nice place uptown in some swanky penthouse; to eat caviar tarts for breakfast and to sleep in the COMFIEST bed imaginable...” Kendra sighed as her eyes wondered off like she was in a daze. She reminded me of myself when I was younger; hopeful that she could be saved by a knight in shining armor. Unfortunately, life wasn’t a fairy tale.
“You know Kendra, you don’t need a man OR werewolf to succeed. Take it from me, you don’t want to live in the shadows of a man, whether he’s werewolf or not. Just remember that, ok?” I narrowed my gaze and grabbed onto her hand, hoping to get through to her. I felt obligated to guide her, even know I myself have never been in a relationship. Kendra told me she came from a small town on the outskirts of Elysium city, so I wasn’t surprised of her ignorance, but one day it was going to bite her in the ass.
“You can’t cut yourself off to the world Hunter, how are you going to meet your soul mate if you deny anyone that even glances in your direction? You should give him a chance... I mean, I don’t know who the mystery man is, and maybe he isn’t for you, but how will you know if you don’t give him a chance?”
I released my hand as I peered out the window, “I have my reasons... You don’t understand...” I felt myself starting to choke up as horrible memories started filling my head.
Memories that I shoved under the carpet and ignored. Memories of my parents, abusive foster families, werewolves, my own brother...
Suddenly, Kendra bolted up from were she was sitting, causing me to jump in excitement, “We’re here!” She yelled.
I held my hand to my chest as my adrenaline kicked into overdrive. “God Kendra, loud enough?”
“Opps, sorry, just anxious to get home.” She chuckled.
As we stepped off the bus Kendra was already bundling her black pea coat tightly around her body. It was the middle of winter, and temperatures went well below freezing at night. I had two sweaters on and I was already beginning to feel the icy chill of the wind.
“I’ll see you tomorrow? I see you’re booked in the schedule every day this week?” She asked as she put a pair of pink mittens on.
“Yea, I gotta catch up on some bills. Too much time off.” I sighed.
I pulled my back pack over my shoulder tightly, thinking about my financial situation. I was more then behind on bills, I barely had money for food, let alone rent.
As Kendra finished placing her hands in the blush pink mittens I narrowed my gaze on them. I could see black embroidered initials on the outer part of the stitching, which read ‘KD’.
“You like these?” She held them up and analyzed the embroidery, “My mom knitted them for me before I left; it’s the only thing that reminds me of home.”
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously in her direction, “Why do you want to live here?” I abruptly asked.
“Excuse me?” She looked back at me, and I could tell the question caught her off guard.
“Why do you want to live in Elysium city? It’s dangerous, full of power hungry werewolf packs that the police won’t even touch, and on top of that, your living in the most dangerous part of the city. I’m trying to get my ass out of this place, but something is always pulling me back into the gutter. So, that's why I ask Kendra. You seem like such a nice girl, and this place..” I looked around at the poorly lit street. “This place is full of darkness...” My tone was harsh, but I had a point, and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Why would someone who had everything, want this life?
“Art.” She replied.
“Art?” I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion.
“I dream of being an accomplished artist, maybe even have a few art installations. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to come here, and go to school. It has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My parents hated the idea of me living here, but I can only afford to live in this part of town. It’s either this, or living the rest of my life on a farm and in regret...” She sighed.
“Well...” I hesitated and remained silent, I didn’t know what to say. Was I wrong to question her intentions of living here? I would kill just to have a piece of her life. She lived outside of this city; free from abuse; free from poverty; free from the corruption. Was I jealous of her?
“Hunter, I know you’ve had a rough upbringing, and I could never understand that... But there is more to life then running away. There is beauty in this city, and you just have to look in the right places.” Her smile lit up as she grazed my arm with her hand.
I gave a small smile back as I glanced down at the pink mitten.
“And don’t worry, your not alone, I’m a month behind on rent too.” Kendra reached out to hug me, and thankfully her grip was not as tight as before. I embraced her, feeling the warmth radiate from her body.
“Feel better Hunter, and by the way, the initials stand for Kendra Dautaine.” She said as she released her arms.
“French?” I asked.
“Oui, mon papa y est.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed, but now that I know, I can actually hear a slight accent.” I smirked.
“I guess I’m loosing it since I’ve moved here.”
“Well, damn, don’t loose it, it’s sexy as hell Frenchie.” I chuckled.
“Hopefully I can bump into my own mystery man then, eh?” I could hear her voice starting to shake and her body starting to sway back and forth, probably to keep warm. I myself was starting to feel the frigid air seep into my clothing.
“Anyways, it’s 2 am and I’m freezing my ass off, better call it a night.” I said.
“Yea me too, see you!”
As she turned around to head back to her building I felt a moment of regret. I didn’t want her to leave, but I knew she had to get home.
“Kendra?” I called out.
“Ya?” She stopped mid-step and turned her head. Her red hair wisped in the wind around her freckled face as her cheeks were starting to turn red from the cold. Seeing her under the street light made me realize that she was more then just a young girl; she was a woman, with goals and ambitions just like myself. How could I rashly judge her decisions?
“Thanks. For being a friend.” I fiddled with my bag strap while I waited for her response; I may have a hard exterior, but deep down I was scared of disappointment and abandonment.
Maybe it stemmed down from my horrible childhood, because when it came to personal relationships, I put up so many walls to prevent anyone from getting in. Deep down, I was scared of rejection.
“Hunter, thanks for being MY friend.” Her smile lit up, giving me a sense of relief that she felt the same way. “Be safe, lots of weirdos out at this hour.”
“You too Kendra, be safe.” I smiled back and sighed as I watched her disappear around the corner. I knew at least I could defend myself, but she was a tiny red headed woman with a big mouth. Hopefully, it wouldn’t get her into trouble one day, because she was right, there were lots of crazies in Elysium City. Especially in this part of town.
As I walked towards my building I gazed down several alleyways, thinking about my brother Troy. I often wondered if he was in one of these alleyways, slowly killing himself. Deep down I knew he was alive, but where was he? Why did he run away? It was a weird feeling, but my bond was so close to him, even if we were far from one another, we could hear each others heart beat.
I kept my eyes down the rest of the way to my apartment, hoping not to catch eyes with any homeless junkies on the way in. The last thing I needed was to be guilt tripped into not giving them any money, because let's face it, I was broke.
Just as I approached the front steps of the building I heard something strange coming from the darkness in the streets. I stopped dead in my tracks and focused on the sound.
“Hunter.” A man’s voice whispered.
My eyes widened when I heard my name, especially when I didn’t recognize the voice. I went into full on panic mode, jumping straight for the door while jumbling the keys in my pocket. I kept my eyes focused on unlocking the latch.
“Come on,” I gritted through my teeth.
I fumbled the keys through my fingers as my whole hand shook with fear, making it near impossible to place the key in the hole.
“Hunter.” The voice was getting closer and panic surged through me like a tidal wave.
“Come on you piece of shit!” I felt like I was in one of the those horror movies where the victim took forever to unlock the damn door.
Finally, the key was in and I unlatched the lock. As soon as I turned the handle I stumbled inside the front lobby, almost completely falling on my ass. I turned back around to see that the door was still open, so I immediately raised my foot and slammed the door shut. Once I heard the latch click, I sighed with relief.
“What the hell was that.” My heart was still throbbing from anxiety, because I knew if it was a werewolf, this door wasn’t keeping it out.
I slowly leaned over and peered out the door window, and much to my surprise there was nothing. Just darkness and distant streetlights. There was no werewolf, no man, no robber; just my reflection in the glass. Did I just imagine someone calling my name? Was I going insane? Was this some sort of PTSD crap going on in my head?
Just as my tension was eased I felt a sudden vibration in my pocket causing me to once again jump in surprise.
“Holy shit, what now?!” I was so frustrated at this point and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.
As I opened my phone I was yet again, left with another surprise. An unknown phone number filled the screen, along with a surprising message that made my stomach flutter.
I'm sorry for the late text, I got Sam to give me your number if that's ok. I was rude to not introduce myself last night, but better late then never? Well here goes nothing...My name is Marcus, and you Hunter, took my breath away. :)