Death. Evil. Destruction. Murder. Curse. Werewolf. Do any of these words terrify you? For me, the dark and rather ominous child who grew into a flesh eating woman (in books of course), they fascinate me. I am drawn to the world of good versus evil. I’ve always been. I quite frank can’t stand the HEA where the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset, their golden retriever following like a good little soldier. Somewhere in there a white picket fence will appear. The scene, the setting, the sickeningly sweet version of life makes me nauseous.
If you hard in a darkness lurking our heroine, one that will eat them both alive, then you might picque my interest. Well, now that you know my dirty little secret, how about a terrifying tale on this All Hallow’s Eve? Is there a better time to bring you a dark curse set in the Bayou, three werewolf brothers, one human woman hell bent on solving a case, and a sinister red moon. Now what could be better? Tasty in my opinion. Something I can take a bite out of… Oh but I digress… Enjoy one of my favorite pieces.
Death. You’re already dead.
The words had remained in Scarlet’s mind since the horrific nightmare. The ugly images of torture and dismemberment she hadn’t been able to get out of her mind. Scarlet Dumane was drawn to the edge of the forest, could swear she’d heard a hoarse whisper. Swallowing hard she knew instinctively a wicked storm was kicking into high gear. The air was charge with current, unlike anything she’d ever felt hung thick in the air, humidity off the charts. She squinted and scanned the tree lines. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and goose bumps popped all along her arms. There was no doubt she was being watched. “Who are you?”
She could have sworn she heard a single growl coming from the shadows. Refusing to be terrified, she lifted her chin in defiance. She snarled hearing the clattering of the house phone just inside the door. Who in the world could be calling her now? Everyone in town knew her grandmother had died and her work would only use her cell phone number. The interruption had to be a sales call. Her nerves on edge, she was already having difficulty concentrating. Sales jerks she didn’t need to add to the mx. Well she was ready for their asses.
Panting, she glared at the ringing phone and hissed. This day was turning out to be a pain in the ass. Her lack of decent sleep wasn’t helping her mood or her motivation. “Damn it.” She managed to drop the wet bag of groceries onto the small hall table and grab the phone on the forth ring. “Scarlet Dumane.” A loud clap of thunder forced a screech to erupt from her mouth. “Shit! Hello?” Through the crackling of the phone lines she could swear she could hear someone breathing. “Hello?”
“If ya know what’s good for ya, you’ll get out before ya end up dead.” The sinister male voice reverberated through the phone.
She was used to her share of innocuous threats given her profession as a crime reporter in the bowels of Chicago. For some reason there was something about his ominous tone that rattled her. Maybe the dream was making her anxious. Either way, she refused to succumb to bullshit or fear. “Excuse me you asshole? Who the fuck do you think you are?” Hang up. But she didn’t. Instead, she egged him on. “Who the hell are you, you freak?” If there was one thing she hated, it was an asshole hiding behind phone or Internet lines.
“You heard me. We don’t want your kind here.”
“My kind? Just what kind is that?” Okay this wasn’t going to be accepted.
Exhaling slowly, he dropped the level of his voice. The tone that remained was guttural and very threatening. “You heard me. If you don’t leave, you’ll end up like the rest of them. We don’t want you here.”
“Is that a threat buddy? You cock…shit!” Realizing he’d hung up, she slammed down the receiver resisting the urge to rip the phone out of the wall. God knows she had no idea if her cell phone would work all the way out in the boondocks. The ancient push-button phone was stained and worn, and she wanted to rip the plastic piece out of the wall but was afraid she’d actually need it one day.
Another sharp clap of thunder followed by a too-close sizzle of lightening reminded her that she needed to get the rest of the groceries in before the raging storm hit.
“Ah!” Crap. Crap. Crap.
Racing outside, Scarlet snagged the two bags of groceries just as the skies opened up. She couldn’t help but steal a quick glance at the trees and could swear she saw a pair of glowing golden eyes staring back at her. You’ve been reading too many horror stories. Scarlet dashed inside as the screen door slapped her in the ass and headed for the back of the house. Her skin remained covered in goose bumps. “Whew!” She stood for a second and sucked in her breath. No asshole was going to bully her. After a hard clap of thunder echoed in the sky, she realized she was dripping wet and the air was stifling.
It was hot as hell inside the house. Turning on the kitchen light, the dull fluorescent bulb accentuated the drab space, dingy from years of neglect. Her grandmother certainly hadn’t updated much in the place over the years. She set the bags down and moved back to grab the other one from the hall. Why she hadn’t left earlier she didn’t know. The term ‘dumbass’ floated in her brain. It had been a long drive and she was exhausted.
Scarlet thought about the call and tried to put his ugly voice out of her mind. Her grandmother’s house was nestled smack in the middle of Bayou country after all. In the various discussions she’d had with her grandmother over the last few years before her death, Scarlet had heard all about how suspicious the entire town was of strangers. Sighing, Scarlet tugged her iPod and travel speakers from her bag, clearing a space on the counter. As the soft strains of Kenny G floated into the room masking at least some of the raging storm, she willed her rattled nerves to calm down. Thoughts about the sound in the trees bothered her more than the jerk on the phone. She was no one. Why was she being watched?
Opening a bottle of wine, she hummed softly as she put the groceries away, thankful the electricity hadn’t been turned off. Her grandmother’s death hadn’t surprised anyone, but Scarlet hadn’t anticipated being the one to deal with her grandmother’s estate. As she poured a hefty glass of wine, Scarlet knew why her family refused to have anything to do with her grandmother. Viola Dumane believed in the occult and voodoo, carrying her beliefs to the grave. Glancing around the perimeter of the stuffy space, Scarlet realized it was going to take her the entire four weeks of her leave of absence to deal with getting the house ready to sell. Thank God her boss was a wonderful soul.
So many thoughts milled about in the back of her mind. Worried about the unknown, Shannon put the rest of the groceries away and stood back gazing at her surroundings. Her grandmother had obviously thrown little away over the years. Clutter was everywhere. Hard work she was used to, but this was going to take some serious effort. Still, if she sold the house for a decent amount of money she’d have a tidy little nest egg.
“Fuck!” Screeching, she gazed out the kitchen window as the trees swayed back and forth. Her grandmother’s home was surrounded by hundred-plus-year-old trees and Scarlet realized just how isolated the setting was. Too many thoughts about voodoo and creatures of the night rattled her brain. The realization made her shiver to her core. The blackened sky was swirling with dense clouds and the rain pelted against the side of the house, pinging off the aluminum trim. Scarlet laughed softly, chastising her silly fears. Grabbing her wine, she moved back toward the front of the house. It was time to look around.
As the phone rang again, she shook her head. Should she not answer it? No, being afraid of anything wasn’t like her. She was tenacious and sometimes bulldozed into situations blindly. Her relentless balls were one reason she got the best and the worst of stories in a crime-riddled town. Chuckling, she put on her singsong voice as she answered the phone. “Hello. How in the world can I help you, sugar?”
Heavy breathing was followed by a husky chuckle.
“Hmmm… Be careful Scarlet Dumane because we know where you live. We know who you are and what you are. More importantly, we know what we need to do.”
“What you need to do? Look… Shit.” As the receiver went dead, a trickle of fear raced down her spine. It was one thing to have a mysterious caller, but for him to know her name and to use the term “we” meant she was being watched. She swallowed hard and placed the receiver back into the cradle. Gliding toward the entryway, she closed the door, locked the deadbolt and turned around. What had she dropped into the middle of?
The wind whipped around her as she moved into the shadows, the full moon allowing her to see the ragged terrain crisscrossing her path. She was being hunted, pushed deeper into the forest. A quick look at the glowing orb reminded her why they were in this predicament. The warm red hue wasn’t easily seen, but she knew. They all knew. The time was near, the moment when all of them would be judged. She should be terrified of the unknown, but she was exhilarated by the possibilities. The future wasn’t set in stone. What the wretched men couldn’t understand was how comfortable she was in the protection of the trees. She slowed by a stream, her throat parched. As she lowered her head, the luminescent light sparkled against the rippling water, illuminating her face.
There was no real surprise, no fear of what or who she was. She’d been forced to admit what she was a long time ago. Saying the words wasn’t needed. The coppery taste of blood remained in her mouth and even after several swallows of cool water, the bitter flavor persisted. Some savored the taste of blood and gore. For her, even the thought disgusted her. She wasn’t like them—not completely. She was the unwanted. The damned.
Yet she was the very reason for the chase and drawing them away from her people was the only thing she could do. No, this was the honorable thing to do. The sound of a snapping twig a half mile behind her made her growl. The monsters were closing in. She had little recourse but to run for if they followed her, then her people might be safe. Might be. There was no way of telling. Unable to trust her instincts, she drank until she was full then turned and sniffed. They were far too close for her comfort.
Taking off at a jog, she made enough noise they would turn away from the village and toward her, their need for a kill remaining in the forefront of their minds. She was the lone solider tonight, the only one who had the strength left. Tonight was a new beginning for her, perhaps for all of them.
Hearing the sounds of the men, their banter of the hunt pushed her forward. She stopped and turned. There was an interesting smell in the air, something she wasn’t used to. A new man had joined them, one who seemed to be their leader. Was he kind? Was he honorable? There was no way of telling. She smiled and licked her lips before taking off at a full run. As the cool night air rushed past her, tingles swept down her spine. She was taken by the intensity of her emotions, dazzling sensations. She’d never felt as alive as she did tonight.
Are you terrified of the night? You should be…
Kisses and…keep the lights on.