Hunter

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3. How to Identify Werewolves


That. Fucking. Dress.

I hate that hell-forsaken, goddamned dress!

It took twenty minutes to wrestle that cursed thing off of me.

Twenty. Fucking. Minutes.

It would have taken longer, but I gave up, slashed it open with my silver dagger, and threw it into the fire.

The dress is dead now. I killed it.

Say hi to my family for me, would you?

For good measure, I chucked my heels into the fire after the dress, watching them burn with a satisfied grin.

Immediately after doing that, I grabbed my running clothes from my bedroom, dumped my irritating brown contacts into their case, and had a long, hot shower to wash off any annoying makeup that happened to survive the night, my annoyance at Opal slowly boiling over. Though I was grateful for her bandaging up my vampire bite - thus saving me from a night of writhing in pain - I was angry at how she didn’t think I was ready to face Ryker Marcel.

Unrightfully angry.

Subconsciously, I know she’s only concerned. I know I’d be worried about her if our roles were reversed. Then again, if she were me, she’d understand this from my perspective. She’d know why I’m so hell-bent on destroying the supernatural population in this city.

Being quick to anger has always been one of my more despised traits.

I shut off the shower after five minutes, deciding that whatever makeup remained was probably held onto my face by cement. I quickly changed into a pair of leggings and a sports bra, throwing a light sweater on top. I gave my unruly, soaking wet hair a quick brushing-through - I can’t be bothered to dry it right now - and tossed it up into a ponytail. Glancing once in the mirror to make sure the bandage covering my bite was still holding strong, I slipped into my running shoes and left my bedroom.

Opal was still sitting at the kitchen table, idly tearing up the wrapper the bandage was in. She looked up when she saw me, but I ignored her - I’ll talk to her when I get back from my run. Running always managed to calm me down.

I headed straight for the door to our apartment, but when I opened it, I jumped back with a startled gasp.

“Fucking hell!” I cursed.

“Nobody’s fucking hell right now,” said Kyle, Opal’s husband, just now returning from work. He gave me a stern look. “At least, I hope nobody’s been fucking hell,” when nobody smiled, he glanced past me to his wife. “Opal?”

She sighed, brushing a few torn bits of paper into her hand to throw into the trash. He squinted at her, then turned back to me. “Reese?”

I brushed past him and went into the hallway, but not before I heard his confused, “Is it something I said?”


Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.

The sound of my feet hitting the pavement thudded in my head, drowning out my thoughts.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Focusing on keeping my breathing even kept my attention undivided.

I’ve been running for nearly fifteen minutes, I noted with surprise as I crossed over the Lower Don River, leaving Regent Park and entering Riverdale.

Riverdale... I’m only a few minutes away from Riverdale Park East...

Exactly the place where I told Opal Ryker Marcel would be.

An idea started rushing through my head, one that I’ve been subconsciously contemplating for a while, since I talked to Opal as she patched up my neck.

If I kill Ryker now, she’ll be able to see that I’m able to face more challenging targets. I’ll be ready for some high-profile supernatural beings, like the head of the vampire clan, or Nicholas Randon himself.

It was stupid, I know, and reckless too, but I know I’m ready for this! I haven’t spent the last five years killing vampires and werewolves for nothing. Hell, I’ve spent five years targeting useless nobodies, honing my skills, preparing for the day when I go up against somebody who really matters.

I don’t have a death wish, though - I know I still have a long way to go before I even think about going after the Alpha. Elijah Randon is legendary, having almost single-handedly overthrown the humans during the Takeover, just after he became Alpha.

I turned left onto Broadview Avenue, slowing my pace just the slightest bit - I didn’t want to be worn-out and exhausted when I reached the park. Keeping my breathing even, I started thinking of my plan of attack.

I had a stake on me, of course - I never left home without it. Since the Takeover, Toronto’s vampires have been nearly as bad as mosquitoes, eating whomever they want, whenever they want. I’ve had to stake at few vampires who haven’t been targeted, just out of self-defense.

Werewolves are a whole other story.

Even vampires are afraid of werewolves. They’re ruthless, have fast tempers, and have been known to rip apart those who even minorly annoy them. Literally.

And, unlike vampires, who have several weaknesses, like the stakes and the sunlight, werewolves only have one weakness.

Luckily, I also carry around a dagger made of the one material that can kill them.

Silver.

Books like The Mortal Instruments are spot-on in this case. Yes, werewolves are... allergic, per se... to silver. They age, and they can die from that, but they can’t contract human illnesses. They don’t like wolfsbane, though it isn’t lethal for them.

As I approached the park, I unzipped my hoodie just a smidge, closing my hand around the handle of the silver dagger I had awkwardly stuffed into the inside pocket. My dad gave the dagger to me during the Takeover, though I have no idea where he got it. As far as I know, he wasn’t a Hunter. Neither was Mom, nor my two brothers.

Just me. And only after they were taken from me.

Being a Hunter isn’t a genetic trait. You don’t inherit it from your parents. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’m the first Hunter to have graced my bloodline. They aren’t even supernatural in origin. Hunters are made.

I wasn’t always a Hunter.

But I’ve embraced the way I am now.

I slipped my hand out of my inside pocket, closing the hoodie, as I abandoned the sidewalk and stepped into Riverdale Park East, keeping all of my senses tuned towards finding this werewolf.

Ryker Marcel. Twenty-three years old. Blonde hair. Amber eyes. Five-foot-ten. Huh. He’s pretty short, for a werewolf. Strong bromance with Nicholas Randon.

That last thought brought me up short. I knew Ryker hung around this park. I did extensive background research while planning this target. But I never thought to check if he’d come alone.

From what I know, Ryker wasn’t the best at fighting - in his human form, anyways. Not too many werewolves are - they’re arrogant enough to believe that the only threat to them is from other werewolves. But there are a few who choose to train in their human form, too.

Nicholas Randon is one of them.

Not remembering to ask myself if Nicholas ran through the park with Ryker was a lapse in judgment on my part. I’d just have to pray he wasn’t here. I’m not ready to face the heir to Toronto’s pack.

Just in case, though, I ran through all the information I knew on Nicholas Randon.

Nicholas Randon. Twenty-three years old. Six-foot-one. Can be deadly in a fight. Known for helping his elder brother in the Takeover by...

Never mind that.

Let’s just say, I don’t particularly like him all that much. And I’ve never even met him.

A twig snapped behind me.

I whirled around, my heart pounding, every sense straining towards the noise. Doubt swept through me, and I longed to grasp the dagger again, allowing the handle to give me strength.

But I need to keep it concealed, lest the entire park knows what I am.

There was nothing behind me; maybe the noise came from a rabbit or a squirrel - a really fat one.

Taking a deep breath, I turned back to continue trekking through the park.

And recoiled with surprise, my breath catching in my through as I tried to surprise my startled gasp.

A man stood in front of me, a few feet away, his hands thrust into his pockets. He eyed me carefully, a slight smirk playing at his corners.

“I’m sorry,” he said, not sounding at all sorry. “Did I startle you?”

I forced myself to stay calm, though my every sense was screaming danger! Danger! I peered more closely at the man, trying to get a good look at his features. Every species has their own defining characteristics that give away what they are.

Take werewolves, for example. Almost always tall and well-muscled, though they always move gracefully and smoothly. Strikingly good-looking, though in a more human way, as opposed to the almost-otherworldly looks of a vampire. Strong, well-defined jawline and the arrogant way with which they hold themselves.

Unfortunately, this man was cloaked in darkness.

“Just a bit,” I admitted, letting out a small, nervous laugh, easily slipping into a character - only half-acting, though. I had no idea who this man was. I don’t even know if he’s human or not. “I didn’t see you coming.”

Didn’t see them coming... vampire, maybe, or a witch?

Vampires, too, hold themselves arrogantly, and as my eyes quickly adjusted to the shadows the trees cast, I saw that this man clearly fit into that category. Ah, a douche, I suspect.

“You shouldn’t be out this late,” he said, taking a step closer to me. In response, I moved back, keeping the distance between us. “There are dangerous creatures out now,” he nodded towards me. “I see you’ve already run into one.”

My hand flew to my neck, brushing against the bandage that was in clear sight. Curse the low neckline of this hoodie.

“Though most people can hold their own against a vampire, if they know what they’re doing,” he continued, picking up a stick as he spoke. “Just one quick jab to the heart,” he made a stabbing motion with the stick, as though it were a stake. “And they’re dead,” he looked back at me, dropping the stick.

“Vampires aren’t the most dangerous thing out here,” I said quietly, my hand itching to hold my silver dagger.

“You’re right,” he agreed cheerfully. “Werewolves are much more dangerous. Especially on a full moon, when they’re all running around, trying to find their mate. Don’t you know that?” he peered more closely at me.

“Of course I know that,” I muttered.

“And then there’s that rumored Hunter running wild, killing every supernatural creature she’s crossed,” his gaze darkened. “She’s killed a few of my packmates. My Alpha is not pleased.”

That grabbed my attention. A sickening feeling washed over me, mixed with pride.

On the plus side - I have the Alpha’s attention. That means I’m a threat.

But, on the other hand - They know I’m a girl.

I tried to keep my face expressionless. “If it’s so dangerous out here tonight, then why are you out?”

He grinned, taking another step closer. It was then that I finally used my mental ruler and scanned his height - though why I didn’t do that before is a mystery.

Five-foot-ten.

I’m pretty sure I visibly paled.

“Human are so unobservant, aren’t they?” he shook his head with mock exasperation, tsk tsk-tsking. “Don’t you know, petit humain, that I am one of those dangerous creatures?”

He stepped out of the shadows as he took another step closer, the full moon coming out from behind a bank of clouds, bathing him in the moonlight. I caught an eyeful of his tousled, golden-blonde hair, amber eyes reflecting the light. My eyes trailed along his jawline, chiseled, well-formed. Even I had to admit, he was attractive, though short... for his species.

Werewolf.

And I know who you are...

His grin widened. “I take it from your startled expression you know who I am,” he frowned, tilting his head. “But I don’t see how you could possibly identify me so quickly...”

I know who you are...

Ryker Marcel...

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