4. How to Become the Predator
My hand itched for my silver dagger, but I knew grabbing it now wouldn’t end well - for me. I’m sure it would end splendidly for him.
Wait until you have the upper hand.
Unfortunately, he caught me by surprise. I know I ran headfirst into this park looking for him, but I didn’t expect to run into him this way. I thought I’d have more time to prepare...
This is on you, Reese. You went in headfirst, eyes closed, without a plan. Whatever happens next is merely a result of your own stupidity.
My inner voice growled at me, reprimanding me. I ordered it to be quiet.
Ryker took another step closer to me. I quickly added to the distance between us, suddenly wary. All too aware of the phase of the moon that hung in the sky above us, illuminating everything but the shadows.
“You know who I am, girl, but who are you?” his head was still tilted to the side, his amber eyes questioning. “How did you manage to identify me so quickly?”
Don’t answer, was my immediate thought. But logic told me that not answering was just as suspicious as telling the truth.
So I did what I did best, what I always did while baiting my targets.
Slip into character. Improvise. Lie your ass off.
“Your face is a well-known one,” I said. “The best friend of Nicholas Randon, heir to Toronto’s pack? Possibly the future Beta as well...?” I allowed a question to slip into my words, as though I was not precisely sure of the answer.
He came even closer, and I was all too aware of the forest closing in around me. It was only a matter of time before backed myself into a tree - and I wasn’t about to take my eyes off of him to check just how close that time was.
“You’re particularly observant, for a human,” he commented. “Braver than most, too. Most would be running for the hills by now, especially upon meeting an unmated wolf during a full moon...”
I don’t like the implication behind his words...
I let out a nervous chuckle, taking another step back. No tree yet. “The full moon is the night where a grown wolf finds their mate, yes?” I knew the answer, but I voiced my thoughts aloud anyways. “I never really understood why it was so dangerous...”
The moment the words flew out of my mouth, I called up my memory to remember everything I’ve read about the full moon.
A full moon is the only night where a werewolf can find its mate. Everything about them is heightened that night, allowing them to locate their other half. The full moon is when the wolf is at its most powerful - sight, hearing, smell, everything is augmented and twice as strong as usual. Many unmated werewolves, who have searched for many years to find their mate, with no luck, develop a rather powerful sexual drive...
Ah. Well, shit.
From what I’ve managed to dig up, werewolves are able to find their mate from the moment they first shift - sometime after they turn eighteen. Ryker is twenty-three, shifted for the first time on his eighteenth birthday, and, as far as I know, unmated.
Not good. I’m stuck in the middle of a park with a horny werewolf, with no plan, no backup, and no way out. Damn me and my stupid ego.
Supernatural beings - well, vampires and werewolves - already have an above-average sex drive. But with the full moon augmenting everything about a wolf...
Well, there’s a reason I tend to hunt only vampires on a full moon.
Sensing my sudden wariness, something inside Ryker shifted - his eyes darkened, the amber morphing into a pitch-black, until his eyes seemed to resemble long, dark tunnels. I tensed as he held his head upright again, something about him seeming more... feral.
This is not good.
My hand slowly began reaching for the silver dagger, my fingers playing with the zipper on my hoodie, prepared to unzip it and grab the dagger at a moment’s notice.
I’ve had friends who’ve been raped by werewolves before. During and just after the Takeover, when everything was in chaos while power moved from the humans to the supernatural beings. This was back before I met Opal, before I was a Hunter, before Reese Hearne disappeared off the face of the Earth.
I don’t really want to join those friends at rock bottom. I’ve been there before - or, at least, some version of it - and I never intend to go back there again.
“You’re a smart little human, aren’t you?” a grin spread across his face - and not a friendly one. It was one that spoke of pain, of suffering - and that he would enjoy it. I tensed, and he eyes my balled-up hand - the one that wasn’t clutching my hoodie’s zipper. “Feisty, too, I’m guessing. You got off better than most who try to kill a vampire. Most bleed out before they get in the killing strike.”
I thought over his earlier words, most people can hold their own against a vampire, if they know what they’re doing.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know what they’re doing. When the average human tries to kill a vampire, it’s normally out of panic, out of fear, and they get sloppy, they aren’t fast enough, and they’re dead before they get the chance to pull out their stake.
This is why I train for those situations. I did drills until my reflexes match those of an adolescent werewolf or a newly-turned vampire.
However, my tactics usually involve waiting until my target is distracted. Something tells me Ryker Marcel will be expecting me to fight back - but will he expect me to have a silver dagger? Will he expect me to know exactly what I’m doing?
I took another step back as he came closer still, my breath catching with unease as my back hit a tree. This is it. I can’t go any further back. If I suddenly dart to the side, or make any sudden movements, he’ll pounce.
Though he pounced anyways.
The moment my back collided with the tree, the instant it became clear I had nowhere to go, he lunged.
He stopped only inches short of me, his chest not quite touching mine, but enough for me to recoil away in disgust. He leaned closer, his breath brushing my cheek, and I bit my lip in anticipation. My hand tightened around the zipper of my hoodie.
Not yet, Reese. Patience.
I forced myself to remain in character - a weak, scared human. I whimpered.
“Hush,” he ordered, trailing a finger down my arm. I went rigid, allowing my eyes to reflect fear. Inside, I was stone. Cold. Unyielding. I was suddenly utterly focused on the task at hand, a single-minded purpose that jolted through my head with every beat of my head.
Kill. Kill. Kill.
“It will all be over soon,” he said, his voice darkening, turning harsher, and I knew I was now dealing with a werewolf that was more dog than human. “Then you can drift off into whatever abyss you humans go to when you die.”
He eyed my zipper, the one my hand was clutched around, with a feral grin. I debated whether or not my character is the type to scream for help. I choked in air, filling my lungs.
He tsked at me again. “No help coming for you, little human. I suspect you’re the only one dumb enough to be out at this time during the full moon.”
Yes, I get it, the full moon is dangerous. No need to relish in my stupidity.
His attention went back to the zipper, and his hand not-so-gently peeled mine away. I allowed him to, thrashing about just so he would buy into the whole feisty character he so clearly wanted me to be.
Be the perfect bait for your target.
He yanked the zipper down, revealing the sports bra I wore - and the dagger.
Before he had time to process the fact that I was, in fact, carrying an illegal silver dagger, and that I am, in fact, the Hunter every Supernatural being hates and fears, I whipped it out of my inside pocket, marveling at how right it felt in my hand for just a moment, and sent it whirling straight through his heart.
He looked down, surprise etched onto every aspect of his face, as he processed just what was happening. I yanked the dagger back out, the blade coated with his blood, as his legs gave out and he sunk to the ground.
“Hunter,” he hissed, blood pouring out of the wound in his chest - he’d die within the next minute or so.
I crouched down in front of him, twirling the dagger around my fingers. “How does it feel, Ryker?” I asked softly. “Knowing that you’ve been defeated by a weak, pathetic, dim-witted human?”
“My death will be avenged,” he managed to growl out, though the words were weaker than they would have been a moment ago. “He’s close...”
His eyes rolled back into his head, and he exhaled - for the last time.
He’s dead. Mission successful.
But I was no longer interested in the success of this mission. I was now much more focused on the last words he’d uttered, words that sent a wave of feel weeping down my spine.
My hand gripped the dagger tighter, locking the muscles in my hand, as I stared down at the body of what was once Ryker Marcel.
But who is he -
I already know I’m not ready to face him. Though I’ve defeated one of the stronger wolves of Toronto’s pack, I know I’m nowhere near ready to face those closer to the top. The Alpha, his brother, the Beta... I can’t face them yet...
And knowing one is here, lurking nearby, perhaps having heard the scuffle...
My survival instincts kicked in - a strange, almost foreign feeling.
Hey, there. Long time, no see.
I stood up, preparing to bolt out of the park. I turned -
And stopped short.