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Demon Hunter

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Chapter 2: Stalking a Werewolf

Alaska is cold.

The dragon fire coursing inside of me generates enough body heat that the frosty weather doesn’t bother me, but I still hate the snow as my bare feet pad through it. I packed a fleece coat and pair of jeans in my emergency duffle bag but forgot to put in a pair of shoes. Go figure.

After landing in the forest at 4 A.M. in Juneau, Alaska, I make my way on foot toward Elm Lane. My trip was two days long since I only flew during the night to avoid being spotted by human eyes. Nearly four hours before sunrise, the streets in the neighborhood are quiet and empty.

I check my cell phone periodically for texts from Fatema. She sent me the address of the house Christina’s family procured and set up for us.

Knowing my friends, they planned to move even before the dragon attack. We never settle down for more than a full year. Christina’s parents are loaded and have beef with my parents over some chaotic disaster that took place in the past.

When Chris decided to support me and help me flee the arranged marriage, her family funded our efforts using bank accounts set up in the Bahamas. By keeping me under the radar, they could silently give my mom and dad the middle finger behind their back.

Arriving at the gated entry to the address Fatema sent me, I stare up at the crescent moon and breathe in deeply.

“Be strong, Nessa,” I coach myself. It’s what Sofia would say.

Putting my hands on the black gate, I pull myself over and land softly on the other side in one lithe move. I walk up the path to the two-story mansion. The windows are wide, and two pillars frame the doorway. The snow was plowed earlier that day, and the lawn was neatly mowed.

The building is painted a horrid yellow color, like many buildings in Juneau. I walk up to the double door up in front and put in the passcode on the lock that Fatema relayed to me via text. By now, my feet are numb and blue from the ice and snow. With a beep, the door unlocks, and I push it open.

The warmth from inside provokes a sigh of relief from my lips. Home sweet home... for now, at least.

The interior is homey, with dark wooden ceiling bars and an unused fireplace in the living room. The carpet is soft and soothing under my toes, and the walls are painted a pleasant beige.

I make a beeline for the fridge to see if it is stocked. The countertop on the kitchen island is immense, giving us enough space if all four of us want to cook at the same time. The stainless steel fridge is sadly empty. There are a few dry snacks in the cupboard next to the fridge that I devour quickly.

Even after I finish the snacks, my stomach growls, and I sigh. “Please let there be a car,” I beg.

I head over to the garage and am pleasantly surprised to see two vehicles. One is a silver Lamborghini, and an embarrassing gleeful squeal leaves my lips.

I sprint to the hood of the car and tear away the note that someone had left there.

The sticky note says: Inessa, the maid who cleans in the evenings better have left this note for you to see. We know you hate moving, so we decided to give you a gift. If you wreak this car, bitch, I’ll kill you. And for the love of god, drive the truck to school to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. Love, Christina.

My heart swells in my chest. I bring the note to my lips and plant a gentle kiss.

“Thank you, Chris,” I say.

The other vehicle in the garage is a faded, grey 2010 Ford truck. Old but functional.

An itch to go out and buy necessities prompts me to stay awake instead of crashing into one of the nice plushy beds and calling it a day. I chalk it up to hunger.

I check the bedrooms upstairs and find a closet with a few shirts, a new pair of pants, and a thick coat. I change into the new clothes and put on a pair of socks and winter boots that I find on the closet floor.

I back out of our driveway at five in the morning and head for a 24-hour gas station for some basic amenities and food. When the grocery stores begin to open, around 6 A.M., I put my credit card to more intense use. Spending a good two hours at Safeway, a large supermarket near Elm Lane, I fill up the cart with cereal, meat, bread, mineral water, and countless other goods. I plan to hit the clothing stores right after.

The cashier at the Safeway grocery store sends me a suspicious stare when I wheel my shopping cart over to the checkout counter. I am the only one in line though the sun has come out; there are only a few others in the supermarket.

“You sure you can pay for all of this,” the cashier says as he begins to scan my items. He almost says it like a question, ruffling my temper.

I take out my wallet and cross my arms, “do they pay you to comment?”

He flushes red but keeps his mouth shut. It takes him ten minutes to scan the hundreds of items from my cart, and the total cost runs up to over $500. A dragon’s appetite is immense.

I pay with my credit card and wheel my cart out to the front of the store. My car is parked nearby, and I fill the back of the truck with plastic grocery bags. The itch from before, the one that prompted me to leave the house, bothers me again as a group of teens my age get out of a car parked a few rows away from mine. It puts me in a state of discomfort, as if there is something I am missing or need to do.

The boys are werewolves, I can smell the wolf in them along with a foresty scent they carry. I silently thank Christina for forcing all of us to wear the intoxicating fruity perfume. Otherwise, my dragon identity would not be easily concealed from other supernatural creatures.

I roll the cart over to the receptacle a few parking spots away and head back to my truck. The voices of the teenage guys talking reach my ears.

“It’s too fucking early to be out at Safeway,” one of them says.

Low laughter reaches my ears as someone else speaks. “Vanessa is hosting my parents at her house for lunch. She needed to run to the store to grab some wine and hors d’oeuvres.”

The second boy has a beautiful voice, husky yet smooth and velvety at the same time. His tone is confident, arrogant even, but somehow seductive. I resist the temptation to step around the cars in the parking lot to get a better look at him.

Knock it off, creepo, I think to myself and scowl.

I brush my straight, long hair off my shoulder as the wind blows around my neck.

The boy with the beautiful voice stops talking for a brief moment.

“Kaden, I’ll be back in a minute,” he says.

“Where are you going?” Kaden asks but receives no response.

Footsteps approach my car as I finish adjusting the groceries in the back of my car. He’s there, behind me. He has a strong presence that can be felt even at a distance. His eyes bore into the back of my neck, and the itch from earlier worsens into something unbearable.

I finally turn around to face him. He’s only a few feet away from my car. Boy isn’t the right term to describe him. Man would be better fitting.

He’s taller than me; if I stand right beside him, the top of my head would be level with his broad shoulders. His hair is dark brown and hovers over his electric blue eyes. Werewolves are generally fit and muscular, but based on his strong build, he’s been in his share of fights before. Power radiates off of him in waves. I’m undoubtedly in the presence of an Alpha wolf.

His face is familiar. Perhaps leaner and sharper than I remember, but I could never forget the intensity of those eyes.

“LJ,” I utter under my breath.

My voice is weaker and more breathy than I expect, but I can’t hide my shock. Suzanna Johnson’s boy, Luke, was here, standing right in front of me.

His brows lifting upward are the only indication of surprise at hearing my words. Luke’s eyes rake over me, lingering on my curves in a way that makes me think he sees through my winter clothes. My skin feels hot under his scrutiny, and I drink up his attention. I’m frozen in place, unable to move a finger even if I wanted.

My heart pounds against my chest. My knees feel abnormally weak. There is a pull between us, similar to the itch from before, an urge to run into his arms and touch his full lips. To kiss him senselessly and forget about the world.

The hungry way his eyes roam me is the same way I look at him. I can’t help but notice the small details—the flatness of his stomach and the way his navy shirt is tight against his hard chest. His skin is tan, despite the fact that he must have lived in cloudy Alaska all his life.

My stare shamelessly undresses him, and I think he enjoys it because his lips curl into a lopsided smile.

My face flames up into an unattractive red color. I feel like a pervert caught watching a man undress while also feeling naked and bared, vulnerable before him.

His nostrils flare as he takes in my scent. He flinches as he catches a whiff of the fruity cocktail Christina whipped up.

“Luke!” Kaden calls out. He’d been calling out his friend’s name a couple of times already. He comes into sight and puts his hand on Luke’s shoulder to get his attention.

Luke turns his back to me swiftly, startled to attention by Kaden’s presence. Released from a trance, I can suddenly move again.

In his moment of distraction, I slip into my grey truck and turn on the engine. Faster than the blink of an eye, the car screeches out of the parking spot and speeds toward the main road.

My stomach lurches, and my breathing picks up. Oh god, no.

My knuckles are white as I clutch the steering wheel tightly.

I know what that pull means. What that urge to jump Luke earlier in the parking lot indicated! Horror sinks in, followed by mind-numbing fear. I slump back into my car seat as I hit the brakes to stop at a red light.

My fist shoots out, and I hit the dashboard of my own truck. I hit it again and again and again until there’s a bloody dent in the wooden dash. My knuckles are red and bruised, but the pain is nothing.

My mouth is dry, and tears blur my vision. Fate is cruel. Just as I try to escape an arranged marriage to the Ice King, I stumble across a mate bond that ties my soul to an alpha wolf.

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