Crimson

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Chapter 10

It took a few days for Scout to summon up the courage to attempt to call Remy again. In the meantime, she took to pondering this new arrival in Crimson. She wanted to be concerned at the level of ease she felt with him. It should have worried her. Mostly, because she didn’t even know his name.

She knew why she liked him. It was because he treated her as an equal. Tom treated her like a child who couldn’t defend herself. Remy treated her like a real person when he wasn’t acting as though she was his annoying kid sister. Rhys treated her like a plaything--something around for his amusement that he could ignore or order around depending on his whim.

The base of Scout’s affinity for Remy was because he’d opened her eyes to the world of vampires. He was able to explain that nagging feeling that plagued her. The one that had her looking over her shoulder. He taught her everything she knew and had saved her life more than once. He’d proven that he could be trusted.

Remy was important because he was someone she could confide in. She hid nothing from him. She couldn’t tell her mom about vampires because Mom would think she was crazy. Luca was the only person Scout had befriended since, and because Luca was a Hunter, Scout felt her biases would make it impossible for her to open up completely.

Humans are social animals and they aren’t very good at keeping secrets. They need to confess to at least one person. Remy was that person for Scout.

All teenage girls need a shoulder to cry on. Most teenagers think the world is out to get them. For Scout, it wasn’t her imagination blowing things out of proportion. Things in the night were out to get her. She needed someone to keep her sane.

After leaving Louisiana, Scout lived as an outcast and a loner. She’d tried to make new friends with those who shared her knowledge of the world. All the Hunters she’d ever met were punks. They were full of themselves and Scout learned she wasn’t good at taking orders. They also thought that the only good vampire was a dead one. Since Scout knew different, she decided to keep her own counsel. It was a lonely existence and she hated it, but it had seemed like the only way.

Things were different in Crimson. The Hunters were helpful and friendly. They listened when she voiced her position. They might not agree but they would hear her out. The Hunters here were persistent but they weren’t hostile. Scout might even admit she liked them as a species if they didn’t believe what the rest of them did: that the only good vampire was one with a stake in its ribs. She was more comfortable with the Hunters in Crimson than any of the other groups she’d run across and she could co-exist with them pretty flawlessly, but they still didn’t get her.

Scout thought Rhys did. He’d shown up just like Remy had in her life, to help her out in a tight spot. But there was something about Rhys that never sat right. She didn’t want to credit it to Luca’s bias. Was it the fact that sometimes he treated her like a possession? Like when he ordered her not to kill vampires. Or was it because she was uncomfortable with their relationship? When given time to think about it, it was kind of creepy, a four hundred and fifty year old vampire pulling moves on an eighteen year old girl. Maybe it was his complete one-eighty lifestyle change? Tomes upon tomes recorded Rhys’s kills. His involvement in wars had swayed outcomes. And now he was claiming to want to live a simple life and forget about it.

Could he? Was the past really in the past? She tried to judge people based on how they acted around her. Rhys hadn’t tried to kill her. Yet. Neither had this new guy. She didn’t know his name so that certainly hindered any research attempts. Was it because she didn’t know his past that she was willing to give him a clean slate? What if he’d been as deadly as Rhys? Deadlier? Would that change things? He’d been in the bottle for an indeterminable amount of time. Surely that rendered him mostly harmless. Could she respect him for being drunk for so long? Doubtful--unless she decided to buy stock in Mates, or Pairs, or whatever they called their life partners in the vampire world. Maybe she respected his commitment to staying intoxicated that long. It had to be hard work.

The thing with the vampires she’d befriended was that none of them had incurred her harm. Remy and his friends had gained her respect by helping her stay alive. Rhys wasn’t really a friend, just a hookup, and he had helped her, but in the heat of the moment, he’d gone for her neck. Scout wasn’t ready to forgive that just yet, but on an average day, it didn’t seem to be on his mind. This new guy had nothing to offer her, except an ear to listen. Scout wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Telling people too much could not end well.

Scout struggled to come up with a legitimate reason that would explain why she felt comfortable around him. Was it his age? Was he so old that she didn’t think him a threat? Shouldn’t the reverse be true? Because he was so old and still around, he had to be dangerous. Vampires had an allure that helped to make them the ultimate predator. It was why vampires were so good at seducing people. She was no stranger to the pull of vampires when they were trying to use their mojo to lure her in. Rhys had used it on her, now that she was thinking about it. You could ignore it if you wanted to, if you were focused enough.

The new guy wasn’t using his vampire charms to win her over. She didn’t want to jump into bed with him (that was normally the end result of a vampire using his skills effectively). She was fine just to hang out and swap stories. Scout would love to pick his brain. Since he was Irish, it was possible he’d seen a lot of the history firsthand that she was fascinated with.

Scout decided to take advantage of her fledgling friendship with this new vampire to find out more about him. She should start with his name. Scout resolved to remedy the name issue as soon as she could coyly figure something out. Their words seemed to flow pretty easily, Scout was confident that she could wing it pretty well.

Scout switched gears as she turned over her cell phone in her lap. She was seated on the porch swing at Rhys’s house. Since he wasn’t home it seemed the safest place to loiter. The Hunters wouldn’t bother her here, neither would her mother, nor, hopefully, any vampires.

Scout was toying with the idea of calling Remy. Had it been long enough? Had they let him out of the chair? Had he had time to ask around?

Screw it.

With all this craziness of vampires wanting to be her friend and boys liking her, she needed to talk to the one person she knew who would not surprise her. The one person she could count on to tell her his honest opinion and to get advice.

She found the number she had previously programmed into her phone, and hit ‘send’. It rang twice before a voice with a cajun twang answered.

“It’s me,” Scout said.

“Oh, hey.”

“They let you loose?”

“Yeah,” he chuckled.

“You get a chance to look up that thing I asked you about?”

“Yeah. Your friend Merrick is apparently the most infamous of all vampires.”

Scout’s grip on the small cellular device tightened, “How so?”

“He’s spent the last three hundred years in a drunken stupor.”

Scout stilled in her rocking. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe she had heard wrong, “How many years did you say?”

“Three hundred,” he answered. “Like the Spartans.”

Scout was too busy trying to get through her shock to laugh at his joke, “I’m going to go out on a limb here, but, I’m going to guess that vampires don’t get easily intoxicated.”

Remy snorted, “When you change, human food doesn’t fill you up and alcohol doesn’t affect you.”

“So how---?”

“I’ve been brainstorming a few options. I’ve never tried this, but I am pretty sure if you drink enough to give the average human alcohol poisoning, you might get a buzz.”

Scout chuckled. By that, he meant that he’d tried it once, “Hard liquor?”

“Moonshine.”

She laughed again, “And the other option?”

“Well, if you consumed the whole of a liquor store, I think you’d get drunk, but damn, that would take some stamina.”

“From what I hear, he has that, in spades.”

“Yeah,” he paused, “the last option you’re not going to like.”

“Try me.”

“If he fed on some winos…”

Scout nodded. It was possible she made an audible reply.

“Yeah. The alcohol content in their blood would result in him also being inebriated.”

“Huh,” she paused, “well, at least he’s getting rid of some alkies.”

“If I had said that, you would have murdered me.”

Scout nodded. In the beginning, she wanted to save everyone. She also knew Remy had to feed to survive, so it was a nuance they jointly ignored. Aubrey had told her though. Remy fed on what he considered the dregs of society. Fourteen-year old Scout had been repulsed. Now, she respected him more.

“Four years ago, maybe,” she replied. With age comes wisdom and Scout had learned that not everyone deserves saving. It was why she only looked out for herself now and tried not to judge.

“Do tell.”

“I’d rather not.”

“It’s about a boy.”

“What?” She was taken completely by surprise.

“I know that tone in your voice. It’s two parts embarrassed, one part frustrated. There’s a living, breathing boy at the heart of this problem.”

“You think so?”

“I’m going to guess that you’re frustrated because he knows what you do and still associates with you. Since he’s not like me, as you just established, that means he’s a Hunter. And I know you don’t like those.”

Scout was silent. He was right.

“The embarrassment comes from the fact that this boy has taken a non-academic interest in your affairs. Because you don’t like to think that anyone could ever find you attractive, or interesting, or would want to spend time to get to know more about you.”

Scout was flustered. This wasn’t what she’d called to talk about. She had a real problem, like some dude named Merrick possibly trying to kill her. Now was hardly the time to discuss her romantic interests. Scout rose the bait, however, and said: “That’s not true.” She wasn’t interested in Tom. He wouldn’t take the hint. It was frustrating, yes, but not important. Or relevant. She said as much.

“You’re never going to get in a relationship with anyone. You like to think its because you’re never in one place long enough to get to know people. But you do your best to alienate people while you’re there. You do it because you don’t like the idea of having to look out for more people than you have to. No eighteen-year-old should know what goes bump in the night. No eighteen-year-old should have to perpetually defend herself and her mother from said things. Another person in your life is another burden, another risk. You don’t want that and that’s fine, but a Hunter can take care of himself.”

Scout growled into the receiver, “While you believe that to be true, I legitimately do not like him. I have no interest in him. So will you get off my back about it? You sound like my mom, and I already want to kill her. I am seconds away from hanging up on you.”

“Mallory, honestly, when was the last time you did something teenagers do? That’s what you are: a teenager. Not some vampire killing machine. A girl your age should be snuggled up with girlfriends gushing about boys.”

“I don’t have girlfriends. They try my patience. I have you and even then--”

“So you’re saying I have to initiate this girl talk? Let’s go. What are your ideal traits in a boy? Do you have any? At all?”

Scout probably should have hung up the phone. But she wanted to spite him. He was wrong and she could prove it. She was interested in boys like he claimed girls her age should be. Having seen more than her fair share of them made her choosier than most. “Well, let’s see, for starters, I’ve always had a thing for boys afflicted with color contrast. I like them strong and sturdy, able to take care of themselves. Intelligence is key. Good humor. Sarcasm. A superior taste in film. An appreciation for a wide array of musical tastes…” she trailed off, thinking.

“And what constitutes ’superior taste in film’?”

“Casablanca, Some Like It Hot. The Quiet Man, White Christmas...you know the answers to these questions. Anything made before 1980, when technicolor was new, and the plots were fresh. Before they started turning books into movies and remaking the classics.” He knew full well that Scout liked old films because they were the only ones available for her to watch on public television. She liked to claim their sense of humor was richer, the plots held her attention better and she couldn’t always anticipate how the story was going to end.

“Yeah,” he agreed. He’d sat through too many films at the indie theater with her watching movies he had seen premiere decades before. “What about this color contrast thing?”

Scout gulped, “Um, light hair, dark eyes. Dark hair, light eyes. Dark hair and eyes with a pale complexion. Light hair and eyes with a dark complexion.” Remy had blonde hair and brown eyes.

“Mal--you’ve got to--”

“Don’t tell me what to do. I like who I like, and I can’t help it if I don’t like the people who like me. I don’t like when you tell me what to do, and I will like you even less if you tell me who I should like.”

“I didn’t mean--”

“I’m hanging up now,” Scout told him coldly.

“I just think that if you survive this mess with Merrick and Rhys,” he practically snarled the name, “you should look into making yourself happy.”

“You’re going to give me advice on how to make myself happy?” She asked incredulously. “How long have you been around? And you haven’t found a Mate yet?”

“That was a low blow, Scout,” a different voice oozed.

“You make sure to tell him that I said that, Aubrey.”

“I thought we raised you better, Scout.”

“You barely tolerated me,” Scout replied bitterly.

“A role I am made to fulfill even now. How is it you could spend so long with us and know so little about Mates?”

“Because I was fourteen and you thought the matter was over my head.”

“I still think it’s over your head--”

“Hang up the phone Aubrey,” Scout could hear Remy in the background.

“I think she ought to know.” That was Pierce adding his two cents.

“Depending on how some us leave the world of the living, we are consumed by the thought that we lived or died alone. As a result, some of the more desperate--”

“Romantic,” Pierce interjected again.

“--devote their lives to finding their Mate--based on the idea that every person in the world has a soulmate. But if you believe the hype--that we don’t have souls, then you understand the name change. They say you have to choose a Mate wisely--so you don’t get sick of each other after a few centuries.”

“The less skeptical of us believe it’s a bond that lays dormant until you meet. The less artful call it ‘clicking’. It’s the only true magic in the world,” Pierce said.

“I still don’t understand,” Scout said. She didn’t know why they were explaining it to her if it was a vampire phenomenon.

“Aubrey is being ornery,” Pierce explained. “Being a vampire allows you a second chance at finding true love. He’s angry that you keep making a habit out of killing every other Mate you come across.”

“I don’t do it on purpose,” Scout said quietly. “I don’t go looking for trouble anymore. I learned my lesson with you guys.”

Scout could hear Pierce’s sad smile through the phone, “Vampires wander the earth looking for their Mate and the promise of eternal happiness. Once they find them they are faced with a terrible choice--to fulfill their own selfish needs and turn their Mate into a vampire and risk them resenting you for a few centuries, or let them pass into and out your sight and let them live their mortal life and spend eternity sulking.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Scout wanted to know.

“So you can understand our struggle,” Pierce replied. “I was so angry at Aubrey for cheating me out of my mortality that I refused to acknowledge his existence for a few hundred years.”

“But you can live forever and do anything you want,” Scout countered.

“If we avoid Hunters,” Pierce agreed. “Aubrey didn’t want to be faced with the struggle of killing me or letting me walk out of his life so he baited one of his friends into doing it, thinking I would never find out.”

“I don’t understand why you didn’t just talk it out,” Scout made a face into the phone and was answered with silence.

“Because no one thinks you’re crazy when you ask them to spend forever with you,” Aubrey scoffed.

“Your situation is different because you already know about vampires--” Pierce started to say.

“That’s enough,” Aubrey cut him off.

Scout could make out Remy cursing in French in the background.

“I still don’t understand--” Scout said.

“For someone so smart, you really can be kind of dumb,” Aubrey remarked.

“What?” She asked.

Remy muttered something in French. Scout was a little bit rusty on her translation, but she knew it to be a threat, to Aubrey.

“Don’t call this phone again. You cannot talk to Remy,” Aubrey threatened.

The call ended and Scout just sat, staring at the phone.

Someone cleared his throat.

Scout looked up. The vampire, with his dark hair styled into a pompadour, was standing in the dirt drive with the most unusual expression on his face. His nose was wrinkled, as if something was gravely offending his sense of smell.

Rhys.

Of course.

Scout took this moment to look at this vampire as if she were seeing him for the first time. He had admitted to being drunk for a few centuries. Merrick was infamous for it. Merrick was coming to town for her. This new guy had told her he was new in town. She didn’t know why she hadn’t realized it earlier.

This was the one they’d sent to kill her? He didn’t look like much. A slip of a figure--born for the shadows. She didn’t see him as a man built for the head-on assault. And despite his meager frame, those aqua eyes had seen a lot. She didn’t want to fight him. Maybe there was a way she could talk him out of it. What were the chances that she could make him see reason? He seemed like a reasonable guy.

She should say something. It was too late for “hello.” Her mind was running in a thousand directions at once. Her only constant was the fact that she was staring at Merrick, the vampire with hair like Elvis and the dreamy eyes of a British pop star.

“Bad news?” He asked, after the girl struggled and failed to come up with any words to initiate conversation.

“Could be,” she responded, sounding distracted. “I just found out you’re Merrick.”

“Is that a problem?”

“It is if you’re planning on killing me. I’m Scout.”

Merrick nodded, like he’d figured that out already, and said, “I’m here to settle some business with Rhys.”

“And it doesn’t involve me?”

“Not unless you get in my way.”

Scout made a face. She had no intention of jumping into a centuries-old feud, “So why does Rhys think you showed up to kill me?”

“To scare you, I imagine.”

Why did she need scaring? Scout wasn’t above admitting she was confused. She didn’t like admitting it to Merrick because while they could chat easily, there was the small fact that he was in town to kill her. What she needed to find out was who was definitively an ally and who was the enemy. The only way to do that seemed to be to bare all her concerns and see which way she was steered. Her voice felt flat and alien as she said, “Explain.”

“I was asked to Crimson to quell the upstart pretensions of a teenage girl who fancied herself a vampire slayer.”

Scout made another face.

“I can only assume they meant you.”

Scout shrugged. She’d lost count of the number of times that stupid title had been applied to her.

“I seem to recall hearing your name whispered in the dark like you were a bogeyman. We don’t scare so easy.”

“That’s because technically, you’re the highest thing on the food chain.”

Merrick grinned, “We still are.”

“True--they’re just not used to having people fight back--and win.”

“That’s because Hunters normally run in packs.”

“I’m not a Hunter.”

Merrick nodded, “It is very rare for a Hunter to come into the world without an established lineage, but it does happen on occasion. Only Hunters can kill vampires. Humans try but they aren’t fast enough or strong enough to take on seasoned veterans.”

Scout was silent as she processed this information. To be honest, she’d never given much thought as to how and why she was able to stand against them and win. “How are Hunters created?”

“It’s said they started with the first vampires, to keep the population in check. The yin to our yang. Our blood runs in their veins. That’s how they can counter our moves and push against us. Not much,” he said in response to the question Scout was about to ask, “just enough to cause trouble.”

“But you aren’t here to kill me.”

“You’re having a bit of trouble processing this aren’t you?”

Between her confusing phone conversation about Mates, learning a little about Merrick, and now this, Scout had every right to be scatterbrained. “Rhys said you were coming to kill me. Why would he lie? What does he gain by trying to scare me?”

“I would imagine, from what I’ve been able to pick up about you, you are difficult to control. No one’s managed to kill you yet. That resiliency can be appealing too.”

Controlling. That gave some proof to her unease with Rhys. “Resiliency can be trouble,” Scout acknowledged. “I still don’t understand why I need controlling.”

“That’s his mind. Not mine.”

“He’s not here.” When Merrick shrugged, Scout eyed him shrewdly, “He’s been hiding from you for years. You don’t think he’ll come back here--”

“I do.”

“Why?”

“Because Rhys would never stick his neck out for any human. The fact that he did means that something is up. Now I see why. But I still don’t understand it.”

“He told me he was going to find out if the rumors were true. He thought you were dead. Maybe he just got lazy and let his guard down.”

“That was wishful thinking on his part.”

“Sorry, run this by me again. You’re here to kill Rhys. Not me. They lured you to this town by telling you Rhys was protecting me. Won’t they be upset when you don’t deliver?

“No one has ever crossed Rhys and lived. That’s why nobody rats him out. The dust-up you caused had people scared. For once, people are more scared of you than they are of Rhys. That’s why they came to me. I’m stronger, I’m older, and I have a grudge. They called me in to kill his human plaything like a bully kills a puppy because I would survive the fallout. The problem is that Rhys doesn’t care enough about anyone to mourn their loss so killing you would be for naught, and given your skill sets, I could use an ally. Rhys has been terrorizing the known world for years. I’ve been in the bottle for as long. You’re sharp.”

“This is your fight. I’m not getting in the middle of it,” Scout stood, ready to dismiss herself. She didn’t like this turn of events. Her life wasn’t in danger. Not from Merrick anyway.

“You’re already in the middle of it,” Merrick said plainly. “You didn’t jump in with both feet, you were dragged in unwittingly. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Rhys had you marked the second you landed in this town.”

“Why? He didn’t know who I was.”

“It’s not who you are. It’s who you look like. And smell like, which is unsettling.”

“Who do I--?” She started to ask. She realized it pretty quick. It made sense. When she’d first encountered Merrick, drunk in the street, he’d called her Macha. “I smell like her?” Scout made a face.

Merrick nodded.

Scout took a moment to try to reason this out. Merrick said Rhys didn’t care about anyone. If that was the case, why did he expect Rhys to come back? Because of her apparent resemblance to Macha? It was a reason. It wasn’t a good one.

Scout didn’t want to believe that Rhys was still hung up on the same chick Merrick had mistaken her for in his drunken stupor on their first encounter. It seemed a little far-fetched. “Do you think he wants me for a second coming of Macha?”

“I don’t know anything well enough to make suppositions as to why he’d come back for you, but that would be my best guess. If he won your confidence, I could see him trying to turn you. Macha was always unruly. It was part of her charm.”

“So he wanted Macha 2.0 to obey his every whim?” Scout guessed. “That wouldn’t happen any way I was involved.”

“As your maker, you kind of have to do what he says,” Merrick made a face. “Blood bonds are a bitch.”

“Noted,” She glanced at her watch. It was later than she expected. She should probably start heading home. She told Merrick as much and started down the stairs, “Why do I smell like her?”

Merrick shook his head as he fell in step with the girl, “That is a question I have no answer for.”

“I’ll try for an easier one then: what was your name before Merrick?”

“Ah, before the bottle I was known as Bran. I changed my name out of cowardice. I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of what I had lost. By changing my name, I was forgotten.”

“So, what’s next for us?”

“I am going to wait for Rhys’s return. What you do is your own business.”

Scout grinned, “I knew there was a reason we were friends.”

“I learned a long time ago never to tell a woman what to do. I’d say I’m the better for it.”

Scout laughed and the pair parted ways.

Merrick leaped over the fence into the cemetery as Scout followed the dirt track to her house. She decided to look up Bran in Luca’s books, see what they had to say. She knew she shouldn’t listen to what Merrick said so implicitly, but she didn’t get that sort of second-guessing feeling in her gut like she did when she was with Rhys. Remy said Rhys was bad news. He didn’t say anything about Merrick.


First thing the next morning, Scout stole off to the Dumitru household before the kids from the night’s patrol tumbled out of bed. She pored over the books, scanning for Bran’s name. He peppered the literature, but only in the oldest volumes. He and Macha were quite the item. The girl couldn’t help feeling genuinely sad knowing, as she crept closer to the current histories, he was going to get his heart broken and Macha was going to die.

When Scout finally skulked out at the close of the day (apparently the Hunters didn’t hang out on the third Saturday of every month), she had to stop herself from racing home and finding Merrick. She wanted to quiz him about his history. She’d known he was old, but she didn’t imagine...

“I have so many questions,” she told him when he popped out of the woodwork. “Did you really get made when Christianity came to Ireland? You’re ancient!”

Merrick cocked his head, “How do you know how old I am?”

“It’s possible that I spent the day reading about you,” she informed him, her voice excitable. “That’s not weird is it? I mean, you are a vampire, and you told me that I’m a Hunter and I was just utilizing my resources to find out about the local color.

“You could have just asked,” he said.

“People embellish.”

“You’ve been subjected to a few of Rhys’s stories, I take it.”

“Don’t duck the subject.”

Merrick grinned and shook his head, “It’s true that Macha made me when Christianity came to Ireland. How do you even know when that was?”

“Roughly 430ish AD? With the coming of St. Patrick? I’m Irish and I like history. Sue me.”

He cocked his head to the side, surprised. That answer seemed to appease him. “Macha and I terrorized the world for a good long time. We tried to avoid killing the Irish because they, as you might know, do a good enough job killing themselves. We headed east to play with the minds of the superstitious people there, and then in Rome, to get back at them for Christianizing Ireland and putting Macha out of a line of work.

“In the fifteen hundreds, after Columbus and Cabot discovered the New World, the French were setting up colonies. Macha wanted to go. I convinced her that it was too soon. She got angry and we went back to Ireland for her to work off some aggression. She wasn’t a Goddess of War for nothing. We split up so she could cool off--time she spent picking fights with the invading Protestants.

“That was how she met Rhys,” he spat. “He was in the army. She took him in to piss me off. What she didn’t count on was him being such a persuasive, conniving bastard. He convinced her to abandon Ireland and to show him the world. I followed for a time, but watching her with him was like getting my heart ripped out. I tried to get her to ditch him but she wouldn’t and eventually she sent me away.”

“The blood bond?” Scout whispered.

Merrick nodded.

The blood bond was the result of the maker, Macha, giving her blood to somebody on the verge of death, Merrick, so that he could be reborn as a vampire. It was what made vampires loyal to their makers, the sharing of blood, as families do.

“Old as I was, I couldn’t fight it. She made me and I had to obey. I followed at a distance, and maybe it was my fault because I gave up on her. When I saw she wasn’t coming round, I returned to Ireland. I had to. We vowed to put Ireland first. She abandoned the country that worshipped her for centuries. If she had stayed, the English never would have. I just didn’t have the name she did. Macha was Ireland.

“They were reckless. After watching the trials of Henry the Eighth, the Spanish Inquisition, and the crucifying of Joan d‘Arc, you learn to be careful and not to stand out. The new guy either didn’t know or didn’t care, but that’s what kept Macha around. It caught up to them eventually. Hunters cornered them, and instead of giving up his own life, or ending both of theirs, he threw her to the dogs and ran like the coward he was.” His eyes narrowed, “She taught him everything she knew. She kept him alive. And in the end, he treated her like garbage.”

Scout ruminated on this information. Merrick blamed Rhys for the death of Macha. He was chasing Rhys across the world, not because Rhys had stolen his lover (possibly his Mate), but because Merrick believed Rhys was the reason Macha was dead.

It wasn’t that Scout didn’t believe him--Merrrick felt strongly about the way things had gone that fateful night. But he hadn’t been there, so how could he know for sure?

The only person around to know the truth was Rhys. Based on what she was hearing from Merrick, the caution Remy had issued, and the open dislike displayed by Luca and her family, Scout worried she had associated with a very bad character. He told a good story. Scout found herself wondering how truthful they had been.

Since Scout couldn’t get Rhys’s opinion--nor could she vouch for his honesty--she wanted another one. It didn’t take her long to think of a source. The Hunters, in addition to their written histories, kept something of an oral tradition as well. There was way too much information about Rhys and the people he killed. It would takes ages to sift through. In the few weeks Scout had been reading about Rhys, even she hadn’t gotten to the end of Macha.

Scout would be interested in hearing about the death of Macha. That was probably a bedtime story Hunters told their kids. The story of how good triumphed over the ultimate evil. Scout decided to seek out Alin Dumitru in the morning--to see what wisdom he had to share.

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