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The Hunter's Daughter (Sample)

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Summary

Chloe grew up with a skewed vision of the world. She was a hunter's daughter, so her beliefs were taught by a man who informed her all shifters were an abomination and not to be trusted--to be eradicated at all costs. That man? Her father. And Chloe? Well, she's not all she seems

Genre:
Romance / Fantasy
Author:
R.K. Knightly
Status:
Excerpt
Chapters:
3
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

Chloe sat with her back ramrod straight as she listened to her father ramble on about their hunting trip next week. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t heard it all before, though this time she was expected to take a more active role.

Killing. Death to shifters of the werewolf variety.

She shuddered, trying to keep it hidden as her only parent, Peter McAvoy, explained the area they would be heading off to.

“The woods are a bit denser, and our sources say that much of it is patrolled by a pack of wolves, most likely shifters,” he was explaining. She took a moment to sip down more of her hot, herbal tea, a recipe that had been passed on from generation to generation and filled with all sorts of nutrients and vitamins. It was always brewed strong and steeped for a long time, but her father was an avid supporter of herbal and homeopathic medicine. He told her it had echinacea and ginseng root in it as well, the former good for the immune system, the latter a good source of energy.

That was probably why it tasted a little more woodsy than regular teas. To be honest, it was an acquired taste, but one he had given her since she was old enough to drink anything other than formula.

Chloe’s mother had died in childbirth, so Peter had learned how to be a mom and a dad when she came into his life and took her mother’s with it. There were no photographs of Elsa McAvoy around the house, but she knew her father didn’t like to talk about her, and she steered clear of the topic of her dead mother. It was anathema to both of them.

As Peter expressed the importance of being completely prepared for their mission the next week, Chloe’s mind wandered. Like the wolves they were hunting, she lived deep in the forest in a small cabin she shared with her father. With no nearby neighbors, they were, for all intents and purposes, alone in a cabin in the woods.

Rifles and guns lined nearly every wall, one room of the small two-bedroom, one bath, and one study cabin dedicated to animal heads that had creeped her out from the first time her father had shown her his “prizes”.

And Chloe…well, some deeper, inner part of her, hated the needless violence. She felt it was cruel to kill for the simple sake of killing. When she was only 14, she had expressed this to her father, who’d recently told her all about the supernatural world as he knew it. He informed her about of abominations of “shifters” and how they lacked the moral compass that humans had.

Looking at the news every night on their tiny television, Chloe wasn’t so sure about that. It seemed humans did as much killing as any other species, and for lesser reasons than that of the animal world. A grizzly bear or wolf might kill for sustenance, for meat in their belly, but what about all the senseless shooting you heard happening during drive-by’s and territory disputes between gangs? It didn’t happen in her neck of the woods, for lack of a better term, but it was certainly happening somewhere. The news portrayed it like an endless reel of snuff films.

Peter had told his daughter that his parents had been hunters, as were his grandparents. It was a tradition passed down from generation to generation, and she was the next in a long line of descendants, all the way back to the Mayflower—maybe even further.

Chloe didn’t want to bear the mantle of ‘killer’, but that was what she was expected to do, and do it she must. The mission next week wouldn’t be her first one, but it was the one that was most important to her father. Peter was expecting her to kill another living creature, and Chloe cringed inwardly at the thought of shamelessly taking a life.

For someone so sheltered, she was very open-minded. It was true that they shot deer or bear for the meat, but killing something just for the sake of killing it really rattled her. The shifters had a human side—a skin side, as she liked to think of it—and was a sentient being that wasn’t going to be used for any nutritional value. After killing their prey, shifters were burned to a crisp.

Somehow, that made all the difference to her.

“Chlo—are you listening to me?”

Her father’s voice shook her out of her thoughts, and she sighed. She didn’t have to listen. It was the same old song and dance every time they went out to slaughter intelligent, sometimes-human creatures, even though she had yet to make her first quarry.

“Yes, Dad.” Her voice was a soft murmur, and her father could tell she wasn’t happy in the slightest.

“Your first kill will always be the hardest,” he explained to her, attempting to get her to buck up and accept her life’s mission, his passion. “After that, it’ll get easier, I promise.”

She took a deep breath, her lip wobbling. Could she do it? Could she take down a life that wasn’t threatening hers? It was miles apart from slaying for food or in defense, and her soul rocked inside her, unable to come to terms with what she needed to do the next week.

“Hey.” Her father prodded her with a callused hand to her shoulder. “Remember that one time that feral beast came at you? Remember how he lunged forward to attack you?”

She was deadpan as she looked over at him. “I had a gun pointed at his head. Of course he was going to attack. I would have done the same thing in his place. It’s kill or be killed in a situation such as that.”

Peter sighed. No matter how many times he tried to instill in her the justice that was meted out every time a shifter died, it was no use. His daughter was soft for all life unless it was that or starve.

Or die.

“Shifters are evil. Bears, wildcats, wolves. Even the smaller shifters are an abomination, love. They need to be eradicated, and that’s what we’re here for. It’s our legacy, our job. If we don’t take down the mangy mutts, who will? They will try to take over the world if we let them. Powerful strong beasts they are, and we are doing the world a justice by taking them down, one pack at a time.”

As Chloe couldn’t agree with him in her heart, she fell silent, thinking. She had only seen shifters in wolf form, but that didn’t matter. Knowing that they were sometimes human was what stuck in her craw. Human—with thoughts and feelings like herself. They loved, they lost. They fought amongst each other like any culture, any community. She believed that more than any vile thought her father had toward them as a whole. True, she had seen that they acted differently than other creatures of the forest, but that was to be expected as their minds were more complex.

As she sipped her tea and listened to her father’s plans, she wondered. Had she ever met a shifter when going into town? They blended so well in their skin side that it was against Peter’s rules that she speak with anyone outside of employees when they headed into the small town of Stony Creek when they needed to purchase some dietary staples. Chloe had been homeschooled by her father, so she had no friends and very little contact with the outside world except for watching news on the television.

From what she could see of that outside world, she didn’t want to know it. It seemed full of hatred and needless violence. She got enough of that at home when her father came back from solo missions to take out wolves of the shifter variety.

Now if friends didn’t exist in Chloe’s cloistered little world, boyfriends weren’t even a fleeting thought. The one time she had spoken with a boy her age she had been sixteen and he had seemed interested in more than just telling her which aisle at the market held the cereals and which had condiments.

She’d blushed furiously when he’d asked for her cell phone number, and then turned crimson with embarrassment when he’d laughed at her when she told him she didn’t own a cell phone and didn’t even know how to use one. He’d called her precious for that, and then her father had butted into the conversation and pulled her away from the first guy who’d ever given her any attention.

It wasn’t that Chloe was a bad-looking female, it was just that she had no experience with men and couldn’t gauge what one was thinking if she caught them looking at her. She didn’t know what want looked like, or why a man might lick his lips for any other reason than they were dry and needed the moisture. It wasn’t like she had a Blu-ray player or even an old VHS system. If it wasn’t shown on the 4 channels she got on her small television in the living room of their cabin, she had no bearing on it. Rom Com’s could have been synonymous with horror, as far as she knew.

Her tea had started to get cold, but she still sipped it down to the last, gritty dregs.

Later on, after her father had talked himself hoarse, she inspected herself in the mirror, wondering what she looked like to other people.

Dark red hair, a gift from her mother, her father had told her, and sparkling green eyes. She didn’t wear much makeup, because who would see her that way? She didn’t have anyone to impress, and work around the house had only caused her eyeliner and mascara to smudge the few times she’d played around with it.

So, she left it off, unimpressed by the stuff. In turn, and as if to make up for the lack of interest in blushes and lipstick, she took good care of her hair. She liked the long, silky strands of it, and let it grow down to her lower back before trimming it a few inches.

She supposed her breasts were generous enough, and she had a larger than normal ass. She was short, only five-foot two inches tall, but then so was her mother. She had what many would call an hourglass figure, though the term had only passed her ears maybe once or twice in her life, and the one time it was from the lips of a good-looking gentleman who had been eyeing her up at the hardware store as he looked for zip ties and rope. His gaze had made her uncomfortable, and she steered clear of him by following close behind her father.

And the way he’d handled and squeezed the length of rope had her leery of meeting his eyes, much less wandering near his shopping cart.

While Chloe was curvy and dipped in all the right places, her father was a barrel-chested man. At 50 years old, he had something of a paunch, though he was getting older and more gone to seed each year. She thought it was because he was no longer in his prime that he was so eager for her to get her first kill of a shifter.

She brushed her teeth. Her mouth had that nasty, bitter aftertaste that came with her herbal drink. It always felt somehow drier after drinking it, but she was sure the vitamins had something to do with that. The echinacea itself was worth the nastiness. Chloe rarely, if ever, got sick.

There were chores around the house to do, and not enough time in the day. Something always seemed to be falling apart, and the house was older than both of the residents’ ages put together. It had to be a hundred years old, if not more, not that there were any records in the town of it being there. They were truly off the beaten path and under the proverbial radar.

As she slipped into her bed that night in her comfy flannel pajamas, she went directly into a fantasyland of her choosing. In it, she was far away, living a normal life, having friends she could speak to instead of just her father, maybe even a romance with a steady guy who was good to her.

It was very likely that she would end up instead with a man who was another hunter, someone whose cool and calculating gaze would always be wary, looking for wolves or bears in the forest. One eye always trained on her, the other looking for threats that she couldn’t discern.

Hunters married hunters, for the most part, and since she was 20 years old, her father was already talking marriage between her and another hunter’s son, a man she’d only met once. Jason wasn’t bad-looking, but he seemed too cold, too stiff. His back was a straight, tense line, and he was always looking around, trying to suss out danger when there was none. In the store, his house, his backyard—everything was something to be memorized, catalogued. It rendered Chloe cold inside to think of being married to a man like that, but they had already been introduced, and he took to their possible future coupling like any other unwanted task, like it was a part of life that he had to suck up and adhere to.

Just like Chloe.

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