Light of the Full Moon

Chapter One:

My eyes stared up at the hospital ceiling, looking at the faint stains there, wishing that I could just die. What was there left. A breathing tube was hooked through my neck, keeping me alive. Otherwise, I would die within minutes. It would be a blessing. No longer trapped within this tomb which had once been my body. For the last two months, I had been paralyzed from the neck down. I could not feel anything below there and could not move my fingers or toes even a fraction on an inch no matter how much I tried. I had heard that some people recovered but it was extremely rare. Somehow, my heart beat on its own.

There was the sound of my hospital door opening. I expected that it would be my coach. He had been the only one to stay with me through the whole ordeal. Het had refused to leave after I had been hurt. Looking over to the side, I saw that it was my mother and two of my brothers. Heavyset, no fat to be honest, all three hundred plus pounds of her, my mother almost waddled in. Yes, I could move my head a little bit.

My two brothers walked in right behind her, only a few years older than I was although they looked much older. While they were thinner than mother, they both had guts from too much beer. Last I remember hearing, they had both been in jail. What for, I could not remember. They had been in jail so much that their various charges just blended together. Most of their adult life, in fact.

They were dressed in shorts and Disney World t-shirts. Apparently before coming to see me, they had visited Disney. I really did not know what to think. I mean, this was Orlando, and that was the most famous attraction of the city, but it seemed cheap somehow. Chiding myself for such thoughts, I though to myself that at least they came to see me. That is something she had never done before.

Right behind them was a man with slicked down hair, Hispanic by the looks of him and probably a local, in a dark tailored suit and a brightly colored tie. The doctors who came into my room never dressed like this. They always wore a lab coat over their suit if they wore one. Something about him said 'Lawyer.'

Finally, behind them came my coach, looking upset for some reason. More upset that usual. He had taken what had happened to me quite hard. He had been the instructor who first taught me kick boxing and I though that he blamed himself. As a result, I always called him coach. Even in my mind, I called him coach.

My mother spoke, "Cami, dear." Slowly, I turned to look her in the eyes. She walked up to my bed and told me, "Cami, dear, we came to see you. We came to see how you were doing."

"Been better," I responded, not wanting to tell her how I really felt. How powerless I really felt. Taking a breath, I stated, "Don't worry mom, the tournament is paying for my medical bills because I was hurt during a fight."

It had been the final match and I would have won the women’s kick boxing tournament if she had not kicked me when my back was turned. We were suppose to be separating into our perspective corners. The blow had sent me flying and my neck had landed on the folding chairs of one of the judges. If he had been still siting there, he likely would have broken my fall. Next to my bed was the second prize trophy. They had decided to give it to me since I had gotten that far although some suggested I should have been given the first prise. It would not have felt right though.

"Cami, dear, I have a lawyer here to help us look after your welfare," she told me, motioning to the man behind her. She placed her hand on top of mine. I could not feel it but I though it was a nice gesture. "He has some papers which I need you to sign."The man pulled out the papers and at the same moment pulled a pen from his pocket.

As the man pulled out the papers, my coach stepped forward and asked, "Why don't you leave the papers her so she can have a chance to look at them?"

My mother told him testily, "This is a family matter."

He looked towards me. There was something which I was not catching. I really should have been suspicious. Still, I told me, "Tom, why don't you wait outside for just a bit." He did not want to but gave me a helpless look and then went outside my room. One of my brothers closed the door behind him.

When my coach was gone, the lawyer stepped forward once again. He stated, "Ms. Farmer, this is to give your mother power of attorney over your estate." I wondered if he was new at this because he held the pen as if he expected me to grab it with my hand.

My mother said, "Ooh, you have to sign it using your mouth." I nodded my head. She smiled at me, trying to be cheerful for me.

I opened my mouth to take the pen. Before I did so, I asked, "Did you see my fight." When my mother shook her head, I stated, "I was winning. I was going to win. I would have been the national women’s kick boxing champion." At thirty-five, almost thirty-six, and a comparative newcomer, it was something I felt I could still be proud of.

"Cami, dear," she responded, her whinny voice getting on my nerves already. As soon as I signed the paperwork, at least she would be gone. "But you didn't win. You didn't win and look at where you are now." In her voice, I could almost hear what she had been urging me to do my whole life. To do what she did. Find some man, produce some babies, and live on welfare for the rest of my life.

Suddenly, I realized that it was not concern for me in her eyes for me but greed. Greed for the money which the insurance company would be paying out. My brothers were likely here hoping that one of them would get my car. They would destroy it in a week too. I shook my head, "No, best you leave. Get back to Chicago and never come back here again."

She looked towards me and replied stupidly, "But"

"No," I stated, "You are not here for my welfare. You are here for what I have saved as well as the insurance money. Probably hoping that I die soon and you get it all. Maybe you have plans for a lawsuit as well." I was surprised at just how biting my tone was. "Leave now."

The lawyer was the first to leave, realizing that he would no longer get a big cut of whatever money he though could be gained from the insurance money. I had made a bit of money fighting but it was not a huge amount. My mother hesitated just a bit more but my brothers decided it would be best if they leave. I looked at her one last time with a chilled expression. Finally, she left. The room descended into a welcome silence.

After maybe ten minutes of silence, I heard footsteps coming into the room once again. These were extremely familiar. It was coach. He probably waited until my family left before coming back to check on me. Looking towards him, I saw that he was carrying a Styrofoam cup of coffee. Steam was rising off it. He asked, "Is everything alright?" His voice carried obvious concern.

Shaking my head, I replied, "No, everything is not alright. I cannot feel anything below my neck. As far as my family, I did not sign whatever paperwork she wanted me. You tried to warn I know. I never want to see them again." I could still cry and I found myself almost at tears as I said that. "You were right."

He smiles back at me, a sour smile. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"You know, I had forgotten why I had left home in the first place and joined the Navy. Throughout my entire childhood, my mother was always whining about how life owed her something," I responded back. To be honest, I just needed to talk to someone who really cared. "As far as I know, she has never worked. She had depended on government welfare her whole life as far as I knew. Maybe it was different when my papa was still alive. I don't remember."

Continuing, I added, "I went to boot camp in Orlando. Right here. Back in the early Nineties. I was one of the last classes of girls. The base is gone. I had been told but I had to check it out for myself and there is nothing left of the base. I thought it was fate that I would win the championship in the same city as I had escape home. Now it looks like there was another fate in store for me."

"My brothers, both of them have been in and out of jail for a variety of things. Several times they have stolen cars. Stephen robbed a liquor store. A host of other brushes with the law. Even with all of what they have done, mother always seemed to care more about them and their welfare more than me. They were always her darlings. No what they do, it seems like they can do nothing wrong," I told him.

He knew most of what I had been telling him about but I had never unburdened myself like this. I guess I was feeling a bit weak after having dealt with my mother and needed to talk to somebody.

Coach looked extremely weary and much older. I figured he was probably somewhere in his mid fifties but most of the time I though he looked to only be in his forties. We had never dated but I though he was quite handsome. Right now, he looked ever bit of his age. He still worked as an instructor in Charleston when he was not with me going to tournament as my coach. He was ignoring his instructor duties to stay with me. He had several other instructors under him but still he should have returned to his studio by now.

"It is not your fault," I stated. "I told my mother that I was winning and if she had not stuck me when my back was turned, this would not have happened. No, I don't blame you. No matter what happened, I still appreciate you teaching me kick boxing." I lapsed into silence while various thoughts drifted through my mind.

Coach had not actually introduced me to kick boxing. No, a former boyfriend had done that. He had talked me into going to a kick boxing class. It had taken quite a bit of talking but I was quickly hooked. Before then, I had a few indifferent Karate classes. The boyfriend had only lasted a few classes, dropping out, but I had enjoyed it so much that I had kept with it. Around the same time as he had stopped going to kick boxing classes, things broke up between the two of us. While it was only five years ago, it seemed like a lifetime ago sometimes.

Never had much luck with boyfriends to be honest. I knew I was not bad looking with blond hair but none of the relationships seemed to last very long. I had been a bit overweight before taking up kick boxing, about forty pounds but never like my mother. Pretty tall for a girl, almost five foot ten, I had slimmed down to one forty-eight since taking up fighting and had built muscles. Unlike a lot of girls, I was never particularly sensitive about either my weight or age. Even in boot camp, I had not been as good a shape as I had been until the accident and I had simply felt great. Sometimes I did wonder if maybe my height was considered threatening to the guys and that it why I had so little luck with boyfriends.

Later, I had become one of his instructors as well. After I had left the navy, I went to school to learn computer programming. It had not worked out the way I planned. Yes, I had graduated but I just could not find a job in the field. After that, I worked as a security guard. I think I did a reasonable job but never really pushed myself as much as I had when learning kick boxing.

After a long time, he asked. "No, what I am trying to ask is where can you go from here. Maybe we can get you some kind of wheelchair which would allow you some mobility. I have been looking online and saw a few which might be right for you. Maybe go back to school."

I shook my head, almost the only movement I could do, not sure how to answer him. Even though my mother might still get everything, I was half hoping for death. Still, I did not want to break coach's heart. We had half talked around him helping me commit suicide and he had been quite upset during it. To be honest, I was not sure myself and had not pushed as hard as I might have otherwise. Being trapped in the bed was torture but I was still afraid of death. I replied to him sadly, "I will think on it." I noticed that sometimes while we were talking, it had started getting dark. "Why don't you head back to your hotel," I told him. He had been staying at a hotel near the hospital since the accident. "The nurses will chase you out soon at any rate."

Chapter Two:

It was completely dark when I opened my eyes except for the light coming from the moon high in the sky. Quite bright still, it had just passed full moon. I often woke up in the middle of the night and just stared at the moon in the sky. Since I had been entombed in this hospital bed, my sleep had been erratic. From its height in the sky, it appeared to be around midnight. I did not like watching the television and could not change the channel anyway and most of what was on was lousy. Game shows and talk shows, I don't know how anybody could stand them. Somehow, the moon was peaceful.

There was a dark shadow in the room which I did not recognize and the window to my room was open and a breeze was blowing through the window. The shadow moved just a bit and could tell it was a person, not some sort of trick of the moon. The shadow moved closer to my bed.

Figuring that it was a nurse, I asked, "Who are you." I thought my voice sounded a bit nervous. Maybe it would have been better to say that I hoped it was a nurse.

A strong male voice answered, "Do not be afraid." Somehow that was not real reassuring. The figure walked close enough that I could see that it was a man. He was dressed in a dark t-shirt which appeared black in the little light there was. Could have been just about any dark color though. He was also quite scruffy with long hair and several days worth of stubble. Obviously not a nurse and no one who I knew.

"What would you say if I told you that I could cure you," the voice asked.

I cocked my head in skepticism, "Right. Only a miracle could cure me."

"Yes, I can bring you that cure. Have you ever heard of werewolves," He asked. This man was obviously off the deep end. The full moon really did seem to bring out crazies even though he was a couple of days late for it. Unfortunately, I did not think I could yell loud enough for anybody else to hear me. Not with the breathing machine anyway.

"I will prove it to you in a few minutes but first I have to tell you a bit so you can decide," he stated. "There is a risk, I can try to turn you into a werewolf but there is a good chance it will kill you. Even most healthy people often die from the act of becoming a werewolf. I must claw you while a wolf to the point of Death's door. Only those of strong will survive becoming a werewolf. Strong of body is also important but not as critical as your will. Still, I think you can make it. Normally it takes one strong in body but in some cases being strong in spirit is enough."

Nodding my head in agreement, I could only hope that some nurse check on me and see him in here. Then again, maybe death would be better. I would die within a few minutes of being taken off the life support machines anyway. He could not torture me or keep me in agony for very long. Still he continued, "The reason why is that I need your help. There is a war going on in Orlando and I need allies. I will return when you recover. When I do, I will show you what you need to know."

He stepped just a bit back until he was almost completely in shadows. Suddenly, he doubled over and a low growl could be heard. While I could not see the whole thing, his head began to shift. A muzzle extended and fur seemed to be growing all over his body. I could hear creaking and crunch, like bones breaking. Whatever, it sounded extremely painful. Unless I was being put through a treat by an incredible special effects company, I was really seeing a werewolf.. I did not know if I could believe it but I was really seeing a werewolf.

Somewhere along the transformation, he had gone onto four legs. He prowled to my bed and put his front paws on the sheets. He was dark grey with what appeared to be a large white splotch in the center of his chest. I was no wildlife expert, even though I enjoyed hiking and camping, but he appeared huge compared to how large I though wolves should be. He must be over two hundred pounds easily. The one think that still seemed human was his eyes which stared at me.

In a low voice, the giant wolf growled. I knew what he was asking. Anything would be better than being trapped in a hospital bed like I was now. Still, I had to wonder what I was putting myself up to. I replied simply, "Yes" while trying to nod my head.

He jumped up on my bed and brought his claws across my breasts and chest. The claws went right through the white sheet covering me with a ripping sound but appeared to offer virtually no resistance. There was no pain with my nerves severed. He slashed a second time, across my legs this time. The claws struck deep into the muscles. This time his growl was not low but extremely loud.

Maybe there happened to be a nurse right outside my door but suddenly the door opened and the lights flickered on. She stated, "What the hell." This was followed by an almost deafening high pitched scream. The wolf jumped off the bed and I was half afraid he would attack the nurse next. Instead, this was followed a moment or two later by the sound of breaking glass as he leaped out the window. Everything faded at that point.

Opening my eyes, I was in an extremely well lit room as doctors worked frantically to save my life. They were attempting to stitch up the deep slashes in my chest and legs. Then it hit me, pain. My legs and chest felt like they were on fire. Since having been paralyzed, I felt no pain below my neck. In my weak voice, I yelled out from the pain. If I had been able to move, I would have been struggling and fighting.

One of the doctors stated, "Don't worry, we have the bleeding under control and we are getting you sewn up. We also have security checking the grounds. We will find the dog which did this."

Fighting the incredible pain, I was able to get my voice under control, "It hurts." Tears streamed from my eyes from the pain, there was no way I could control that.

The doctor looked startled but was able to recover, "From the damage to your spine, you should not be able to feel anything." His voice was just a bit patronizing, as if trying to tell me that I was imaging things.

Shaking my head, I replied, "No, I can definitely feel it." For some reason, it seemed easy to move my head now that it had been.

"Well, we are pretty much for right now. We cannot give you anything for pain, sorry. We just have to wait and see if there is any problems with infection" he replied. Suddenly I realized to myself that the pain I felt meant that I could actually feel the rest of my body again. Instead, I should embrace the pain.

A few minutes afterwards, I was wheeled into a new hospital room. This room was oriented the opposite way and the trees outside the window were different. The sky was starting to lighten up and it would be dawn soon. Unfortunately, I would not be able to see either the sun or moon rise from this window.

Suddenly I felt extremely hot, feverous. Within moments, everything seemed to be fading from view with my vision going dim. Everything felt dizzy and I felt like I wanted to throw up. Just as soon as it started, my whole body felt cold as if I was laying on a block of ice. Pain was everywhere as well. My heart felt like I was running a mile a minute. It felt like sweat was pouring from my body.

They much have a heart beat monitor on me because suddenly the nurse came running in. My vision was so blurred that I could barely see her. As well, my mind was really fading in and out and was only partially here. It appeared as if she might be pushing some kind of button.

It seemed like the next few days were like this. Periods where I was lucid and other times where I was anything but. Time was extremely difficult to tell with fading in and out. The world continued to spin around me. At times, it felt like my whole body should be convulsing although dimly I knew I could not move at all. At times, it felt like my body was burning and at other times I felt so cold that my teeth felt like chattering. Sometimes it even felt like both at the same time. Hot and cold sweats continued as well.

Doctors and nurses came in almost constantly to check on me. I heard the words, "Fever and infection" as well as "I have never seen anything like it." They kept giving me injections of various kinds. A couple of times, I thought I heard the words, "She is not going to make it" and "Should we contact her family" but my thoughts were so chaotic that I was not sure if I had really heard it or not. Several times I thought I heard the coach's voice and thought I could feel him holding my hand.

Eventually, the world seemed to finally stabilize and I felt coherent once again. It seemed to take a while but eventually it came. I felt cool, not cold, and it felt like my heart was beating normally. I took a deep breath and noted that I seemed to be able to breath normally now. I opened my eyes and scanned around.

Next to the bed in a chair was sitting coach. His hands were not on mine but one was sitting on the bet next to me. It appeared that he had been here for days and his face was scruffy from several days of growth. He was looking at me with an anxious expression. He noticed my eyes opening.

"Cami, are you?" he asked

"I am alive," I responded before he could finish. Because it seemed to be expected, I asked, "What happened?"

"The doctors say that you a powerful infection from the dog bite. They said that they had never seen anything like it either. Several times they warned me that you likely would not make it." His response made it clear that I had not dreamed it but in fact had overheard the doctors.

My body no longer seemed on fire but I could feel an itch where the werewolf had slashed me. Without thinking, I tried to move my hand to scratch. I did not get as far as scratching but I felt my fingers twitch slightly. Experimenting, I tried to move my other hand and thought I felt it twitch as well. My toes would move ever so slightly as well.

Since being trapped in the bed, I had a tube straight to my stomach. They had cut a hole in my abdominal wall for it. Suddenly, I also felt incredibly hungry. It was almost as if I had not eaten in a week. I craved steak, a hamburger, anything with protein. Putting voice to it, I asked, "Can I get some food. Starved."

He looked at me, appearing slightly surprised. He pressed a button beside my bed, likely to get a nurse. He stated, "Someone should be coming."

"Coach, I can move my fingers, just a little, but I can move them," I told him. He looked at me, surprised. "Move the sheet so you can see them." After a moment or so of hesitation, he moved the white cloth and I flexed my hand again. His eyes showed definite shock but it was a pleasant shock.

Just then, the nurse came in. It was not one I recognized and I thought I had seen all the nurses. The woman was a bit older than most which I had seen. She looked towards where the coach's eyes were locked. Her eyes showed almost the same surprise coach's did. After a moment or two pause, she asked, "Do it again" and I flexed my fingers. Each time, it seemed easier to do.

The nurse put her hand to her mouth and stated, "I think I need to get the doctor." It seemed like the older woman disappeared almost as if by magic.

Once she was gone, I whispered to coach, "Everything is going to be fine.

It took a while for a doctor to come to my room but he put me through a whole bunch of tests, asking me to try to move my fingers, my hands, my toes, and my feet. Could not move them much but I could move them a bit and felt the movements getting stronger each time.

The doctor them tapped me all over with a rubber hammer, scratched me with a metal pick, and kept asking me if I could feel it each time. Like with movement, I was beginning to get feeling back. He also looked at the scarring from the "stray dog" and appeared to be pretty amazed about that as well.

It seemed like tests would never end. Of course, I wished he would talk to me more during this time. I did not know what was going on. The next step was to have me rolled into the X-Ray where they took a bunch of them of my neck and spine. It seemed like they took dozens of them before they were done.

Finally, I was wheeled back into my room. The doctor came back in after a while with a file folder. He stated, "I do not want you to get too optimistic but it appears that at least some functionality is returning. It is rare with paralysis but it does sometimes occur. It may take months or even years to recover and you may never recover fully. As far as we can tell from your X-Rays, there may have been less damage done to your spinal cord than we thought originally."

"Is there any possibility which the air tube might be able to be removed and if I might be allowed to eat solid food?"I asked him.

"For solid food, it might be quite a while. If needed, we can increase the amount of liquid nourishment. It is a very good sign that you feel hungry though. In a day or two, we might try to remove the air tube. You seem to be recovering quite quickly from the injuries you sustained a few nights ago. It looks like there might be very little scarring."

Soon afterwards, he left me in the bed. It was not long before I found I could almost move my hands completely and I began to have some movement in my arms as well. They did feel weak but they had atrophied for about two months. No matter, it was just utterly incredible that I could move at all again.

The doctor was wrong that it would be a few days before the air tube could be removed. It was within four hours that they removed the tube and I was able to breath by myself. The doctor told the nurse who was assisting him, "I have never seen anyone recover this quickly before."

It was only about half a day later that I was sitting up in my bed instead of laying down. Coach had come to visit me several times during the last few hours and was again sitting beside my bed. I was continuing to try and talk the doctors into removing the food tube from my stomach. The scars from where the werewolf had clawed me were at least half healed and the hole where the tube had been for breathing was starting to heal as well. They itched a bit but that was it. While I thought I was a quick healer before, I had never healed like this before. I wondering if within a few days, there would be no sign that I ever got hurt.

Finally, I had a chance to think about what the guy told me. I did not even know his name. I had seen a few movies with werewolves in then. They became werewolves after they were bitten and transformed to a wolf when it was a full moon. From him, it looked like they could transform at other times as well. They healed incredibly, which seemed to fit with what was happening to me. They were allergic to silver in most movies and the only way they could be killed was by a silver bullet. Some stories made them little more than slathering beasts. From what I could see from him, at least that did not seem to be the case. He had promised to be waiting for me when I left the hospital. Hopefully, he would explain what I needed to know when I got out of here.

"Coach, I don't think I will be able to return to fighting even if I fully recover," I told him. "I don't know what I want to do from here."

He smiled faintly, "Well, I could always use another instructor."

Shaking my head slightly, "I don't know if that is what I should do. I guess I just want to spend a bit of time by myself."

"Well, if that is what you want. I can definitely understand that with all you have been through. Still, you will always be welcome at the school," he answered. He seemed to be far more relaxed, even with my revealing that I don't plan to come back to Charleston. What happened to me I knew had been eating him inside.

"Keep it in mind," I turned towards him, smiling.

It was less than two week after the "Wild Dog" had bitten me and I was getting ready to leave the hospital. All of the doctors were amazed by how fast I had recovered. While I was just a bit weak, I was feeling great. The doctors tried to keep me longer but I felt ready to go.

The scars from the werewolf's claws were almost completely gone and the scars from the breathing tube and the one to my stomach were well on their way to healing as well. Even though I had trained hard, there were little aches and pains. Old age setting in, I guess. They were gone as well. Maybe it was just my imagination but when I looked in the mirror, I thought I looked just a bit younger.

There were other signs of the changes which I had noticed. My sense of smell have become much stronger. It is amazing how strong some of the perfumes which many of the nurses wore. As well, my hearing seemed to have gotten much sharper. Unfortunately, the downside was that there were several singers who I had enjoyed before which now grated on my nerves. I could no longer even listen to them now.

As I stepped out of the doors to the hospital, I expected to meet the guy right outside the doors. I had expected to get a note, a call, or another visit while I had been recovering but he never tried to contact me. This left me wondering. As my eyes adjusted to the bright Florida sunshine, the only ones I saw was the coach. It rained almost every day in Orlando but it was beautiful outside right now. When in boot camp, I learned that quite well. It would rain and then an hour later be bright sunshine.

No sign of the guy unfortunately. I paused for a few moments. I thought about looking for him but in a moment I had rejected the idea. There was no way that I could find him in a city of over two hundred thousand people. It had twice the population of Charleston and there would be no way I could find someone who I did not even know their name even there. If I had his name, that would at least be something.

I had noticed that I had to hold my temper a bit more than I had before. Sometimes, I had to fight so that I did not run out of patience with the doctors and nurses. Even a couple of times, I found myself almost snapping at coach. Maybe it was just having been trapped in the bed for so long but had to wonder if it was not something else at times. There were also times where I thought I felt a presence. It was a part of me yet somehow not me at the same time. It did not seem to express itself in thoughts but more like in emotions and in feelings. It did not appear to be evil but seemed to have a simpler yet more violent take on life in general. As well, it was extremely nebulous and hard to pin down.

Then I saw it. My pride and joy. I could not help but smile at the sight. Never though I would see her again. My brothers would not get her, not ever if I had my way. Coach had brought my car to the hospital. Parked in a parking space right next to the hospital, it was only a couple of dozen steps away. It was a black corvette, the same year which I graduated high school. It had always been a dream of mine to buy a corvette when I had been in high school. When I started winning at tournaments, I had used some to buy her. Never had the money before. She was almost fully restored and I loved her. Coach handed me her keys.

With the guy never having seemed to disappear, I had to figure out where to go from here. The insurance company for the tournament had settled with me, not a huge amount but enough to at least take a bit of time deciding what to do with my life. They were quite relieved by my recovery. The amount I saved previously would also be helpful. Kind of wanted to get away for a while.

I walked the few steps towards my corvette. As I walked towards the driver door, I ran my hand along her fender and felt the smooth satiny finish. It was an almost sensual pleasure. The drivers door was unlocked. Sliding in, I stroked my hand across her dash. I never thought I would drive her again. I put the seat belt on and put the key in the ignition. As I turned her key, the eight cylinders fired right up. She purred gently, waiting for me to put her in gear.

After a few moments, Coach slipped into the passenger seat. As soon as he was comfortable he asked, "You never told me what your plans were? You acted for the last couple of days that you were looking for someone."

Shaking my head, I replied, "No, I was not really sure until recently. Thinking of spending a few weeks camping. There are some nice cabins in the western part of South Carolina which I visited once. Give me a chance to recover and consider where to go next." Actually, I had just thought of the idea because I had been preoccupied with meeting that guy but still the idea of going away into the wilderness seemed right. The presence inside me seemed to agree with the idea as well.

Had not been to those cabins in years but they were extremely secluded and hard to get too. They were against the Appalachian mountains. I could only hope that they were still there and that I could find them again. They were not quite like staying at a hotel but they did have electricity and running water.

Another boyfriend had brought me up there. He did not last very long either. As I said before, boyfriends never seemed to last very long. Sometimes I think that they are mostly interested in sex and when you do not reciprocate quickly, they seem to lose interest. Never been as enthusiastic as some girls. That was why he had brought me up to the cabins and he did not like that I was not putting out.

With thoughts of my failures with the men in my life, I pressed the button to open the windows. Coach had the air conditioning running but I preferred the fresh air even though I could smell the pollution in the air. I put the black corvette in reverse and pulled from the parking space. Putting the car in drive I began accelerating away, trying to keep from speeding. It felt in many ways like a prison break and that at any moment there would be police cars chasing me to bring me back.

As I pulled onto the highway, I looked back in my rear view mirror towards the hospital and saw it slowly shrinking into the distance. The horses under the hood surged the car past eighty as the hospital continued falling further back in my view. The breeze blew through my hair as she got up to speed. Coach did not say anything for a long time seeming to enjoy the drive as much as I was.

Chapter Three:

The cabins were just as remote as I remembered. The were past Greenville and up near the border of North Carolina. Many cabins are in a semi-circle around the main office. These were instead far of the main road and screened from the others by trees. I could not see even the nearest cabin. When leaves began falling that might change. As a city girl, I was amazed just how dark the nights got here. No street lights and the stars shined incredibly bright.

My corvette had a hard time getting up here but here I was with her sitting on the gravel road next to the cabin. She was designed for speed not climbing hills. It took me the better part of a day to find this place. Luckily, it was October and it was the off season. As I understood it, these cabins were almost always booked between June and beginning of September.

I had been here almost two weeks and it was nearing the full moon. In fact, tonight was the night of the full moon. I did not know what to expect but felt that something was going to happen. There was a waiting in the presence I felt inside. Each day, it had gotten stronger until it felt barely contained. It was as if it knew that the waiting was over.

Using the Internet, I had researched werewolves as much as possible. In much of what I read, the victim of a werewolf bite transforms into a wolf when the full moon appears. Always being more or less scientific, I cannot figure out why the moon does this but most seemed to be in agreement. It would be really nice to have someone to show me.

Otherwise, I never had been healthier. Far from overweight since becoming a kick boxer but I seemed to have lost most of the fat I had and gained muscle mass. I found that I was stronger than I had been before. Too strong, to be honest. Inhumanly strong, maybe. I had found that I had to watch my strength and had broken several items before I learned to be careful. If I decided to compete again, I could likely beat any of the male kick boxers with ease. Every morning, I ran at least five miles and found myself barely winded. Sometimes, I ran ten and was beginning to think of working on marathon running.

The injuries which I had sustained when the werewolf attacked me were gone completely. As well, the place where the doctors had put a breathing tube and where they had went through my abdominal wall for a feeding tube. They should have remained for the rest of my life. It was as if they were never there. All the aches and pains from age were gone as well and I had not been imagining that I looked younger. While I had looked young for my age at thirty-five, now I thought I looked barely eighteen. A few times, I looked at my driver's licence and compared it to myself in the mirror.

I found myself eating far more than I had before but had not gotten fat. When I say far more, I mean like a dozen eggs for breakfast. I always seemed to crave meats of various kinds. Before this, I had preferred salads. Now I liked steaks, rare, where I had never liked meat which was still bloody before.

Not bothering to get dressed or make the bed, I walked over to the refrigerator. With no one around to see me, I wore just underwear and a t-shirt most of the time. Unless I was dressing up, I usually wore a tank top and men's boxers. Looking inside the ice box, I saw that I would need to go back to town to get some more groceries. It had been my only real contact with civilization. There was also a great restaurant in town.

A small town, population under a thousand, it appeared to have changed little in a hundred years. There was a gas station, restaurant, and a small store. I had been told that down the road was a Walmart but had not bothered to look for it. Yes, I could have saved money that way but did not seem worth the effort.

It was amazing that I actually had cell service here. Coach had called me every day to make sure that I was alright. He also tried to talk me into checking with the clinic in the nearest city to make sure that everything was normal. It was hard to keep coming up with excuses but somehow I managed each time. As I expected, I had heard nothing from my mother. She did have my cell phone number.

The only thing disturbing is that I had not heard from my best friend from boot camp. In many ways, we were as close as sisters. She had called me several times while I was in the hospital but I had not heard anything from her in over a month. It had been just before the encounter with the werewolf that she had called last. I had tried to call her but the phone had always rolled over to her voice mail.

For my daily run, I did put shorts and shoes on. It was possible that I might see someone. I stumbled towards the bedroom to get them. Looking at my watch, it told me that it was nine-fifteen in the morning. I preferred a man's digital watch over women’s watches. My wrists were bigger than most women’s and I found that a woman's watch would not last more than a few days.

I never have been much of a house keeper. In addition to the bed being in shambles, my cloths were strewn all over the room. It took me several minutes to find a sports bra and a set of running shorts. While I was not "well endowed" in the traditional sense, it was good to have the support when I was running. Finally, I found what I was looking for, half hidden under the bed. My sneakers were right next to them. Extremely battered, I would need to replace them soon. Like the watch, they were men's sneakers.

Finally ready, I headed out the door for my daily run.

If anything, I had pushed myself even harder that usual. Even so, I was barely out of breath as I ran the last bit of distance back to the cabin. The cabins were in an area up against the Appalachian Mountains and I had staked out a trail which brought me up into the mountains and back down again.

It was like the presence inside me pushes me harder than it had ever had before. Maybe It might be better to call the presence a "She" because she did appear to be a part of me. The thought of calling her "Sister Wolf" came to me. Whatever I chose to call the presence, she was definitely restive today as if she was tired of being caged.

I decided that breakfast would wait and went straight to the shower when I managed to get the door open. The lock was old and I had to wiggle it just a bit to get the door unlocked. Shedding my cloths, I stepped into the tiny box. The cabin did not have a full bathtub but instead just a shower stall. I always liked my showers kind of cool and set it a little bit colder than I normally did. Hopefully, it would help to calm me just a bit.

The cool water helped me relax from the run. Never one to take a long time in the shower, it only took a few minutes and I stepped out. My stomach was growling by this time. Blindly grabbing a towel, I dried myself off and grabbed a t-shirt and some boxers before heading for the kitchen.

Six eggs, six slices of bacon, and four slices of toast later, my stomach was no longer growling at me. I was sipping at my second glass of orange juice. The radio was on, playing Journey. There was a television as well but even though there was satellite, I had barely even turned it on while up here.

Looking at my watch, it showed ten-thirty. My phone rang beside me and looked to see who it was. As I pretty much expected, it was coach calling. He called almost every day around this time, just before he opened his studio. Flipping the phone open, I answer, "Hi"

"Cami, just want to check on you," came his voice. A note of concern was in his tone although it was every time he called.

"Everything is great," I answered. "Just finished my run and got some breakfast."

"Have you gone to the clinic," he asked, going straight into what he asked me every time. "I know you feel fine but you just got out of the hospital after being paralyzed for two months. The attacks of that dog, which I heard never was found, did not help the situation."

The doctors had tested me for rabies and found no sign of it. Otherwise, it is doubtful that they would have released me. Still, they hard started me on treatment. Not fun but I had gotten through it. They had found something unusual in my blood and tried to get me to stay for observation. I had overruled them and told them that I wanted to be released. There was no way I could tell coach about the werewolf but one thing I will not do is lie to him. "No, keep meaning to but never seem to get around to it."

"Well, you should go there today," he answered. "Your settlement will cover it."

One thing that I knew is that I was not going to go to a clinic today. "Um, got some plans today. I promise to try and do it sometime this week," I answered him, keeping it vague. Try meant that I might be able push it off again.

"You know, if you do not go to that clinic soon, I am just going to have to come up there and make you go there," he told me.

"What would you do, kick box me into submission. How do you think the doctors would react to black and blue marks all over my body?" After a few moments pause, I added teasingly, "So what makes you think you can 'Make Me' anyway? I was almost National Champion after all."

"You were flat on you back for two months and have had no one to spar with, unless you met someone up there and I doubt you would have found anyone to spar with in that manner anyway. You are so rusty that is is not even funny," He answered back.

"You might find me a tougher opponent than you think," I returned. After a second pause, I added, "Seriously, I promise I will try my best to get there sometime this week." Once I find out what tonight brought, I could decide what to actually do.

"You better," he answered gruffly. Vaguely placated by my answer, he asked, "You seem to like it there. After being trapped so long in bed, I would think you would want more time around people?"

"It is beautiful up here. Besides, this gives me a chance to think about the future," I answered. "Almost dying will make one think about where you are going in life."

"What are you planning to do?" he asked

"Don't worry, I don't plan to stay up here forever. Just a few more weeks," I answered.

"Have you given any more thoughts to possibly coming back and working in the school again?" he asked. He asked this several times. Sometimes, I was not sure if he was worried that my skills were getting rusty or if I just needed something to do.

Still, what he said next came as a surprise. "I was thinking that you might be able to take over the school." He was not young, I knew that but I did not consider him to be that old. Maybe the stress of what happened to me had gotten to him.

"That is quite an offer," I answered. "I still have not decide what I am going to do but I will strongly consider it."

I could hear the sound of the door opening in his studio. "It sounds like you have students. You likely need to prepare for them."

"Alright, I will call you again tomorrow," and he hung up. With that, I closed the phone up to wait until the sun to set.

For most of the day, it had felt like my skin was too tight. It seemed to have gotten worse throughout the day. Finally, I decided to just sit on the porch, rocking gently back and forth, and tried to be patient. The cabin had a small porch which faced the direction where the moon rises. The sun set and it slowly became darker and darker. It was fully dark now although the moon had not risen quite yet. The stars were incredible bright. Living in the city, I have rarely ever seen the Milky Way. A bright streak went through the sky, a meteor burning up as it hit the Earth's atmosphere.

Back in my mind, I had to wonder if I was not just going crazy. I mean, I was sitting on my porch in jean shorts and a t-shirt waiting for me to become a werewolf when the moon rose. How nuts was that. I was just a bit chilled as the sun went down and thought about getting a jacket from inside. All my life, I never considered werewolves to be anything but creatures from bad horror movies. It was hard to believe even with all of the evidence to the contrary.

A bit of white appeared in the sky. I could just barely peek the moon through the trees. 'So much for changing into a werewolf,' passed through my mind. Suddenly, pain shot through my arms and legs. The pain traveled up to my chest and my head felt like it was on fire. It hurt like nothing I had ever felt before but the best I could describe it was that felt like I was ripping out of my skin. I found myself in a fetal ball from the pain.

I could only get a few glimpses. Where my hands were against my breasts, they were definitely changing. They were no longer human arms but something more slender. Instead of hands, there were somewhere halfway between hands and paws. Hair started growing out of my arms until there was a thick coat of fur covering them. In front of my eyes was a muzzle. It was also covered by thick fur.

As suddenly as it had started, the pain ended. I still was extremely disoriented from the transformation. While my personal self was still here, I was no longer in charge. The presence appeared to have taken control of the body we shared. Still, it felt like I might be able to fight her for control if I needed. At the moment though, she was in the driver's seat. In a moment of retrospection, I had to wonder if there might be quite a bit of fighting for just who controls me.

I, or should it be she, was still caught in the clothing which I had been wearing. I found this incredibly restricting and decided to fight her way out. I could hear the sound of cloth ripping and I felt my claws ripping through something. It was most likely my t-shirt although could not actually tell.

Breaking out of the cloths, I raised my head up and howled at the moon. Standing on four legs, I noted that my sight had changed. The colors I could see had become dull while there was an incredible number of sounds of the night which reached my ears which twitched. There was also a rich number of smells. There was the smell of coyotes, deer, and rabbits among others. Long ago, wolves might have prowled these lands but they were long gone.

I found myself wanting to run and hunt. Even though most were empty, there were people in some of the other cabins and told myself that I would not hunt another person. The presence seemed to think they were easy targets. I persisted and it seemed to reluctantly gave in. I gave a second howl and had to wonder what the ones living in cabins near mine thoughts were.

I leaped off the porch in a full run and ran like I never had before. I ran deeper and deeper into the woods behind the cabin, traveling routes that I never could as a human. Likely, I had run for miles before I had worked off some the pent up energies.

I eventually slowed down and began hunting in earnest. Quite soon, I picked up the scent of a hare. While I had scented several deer as well, I had decided that a deer would be too large a game for just me but a rabbit would just perfect. Perhaps if I was in a pack, a deer would be better, but a rabbit would be fine for just me. The presence inside me appeared to agree as well.

I followed the scent of the creature deep into a thicket. Suddenly it saw me, its ears pricking up. It squealed in panic and the rabbit took off in the opposite direction. It was a relative large rabbit and it could run quite fast. Still, I was faster and I took off in pursuit. The presence inside me loved the hunt.

Even though I was faster, there were some places it could go that I couldn't. As a result, it took me quite a while to actually catch it. It was hard to tell just how long but it might have been as long as ten minutes. Eventually, I did catch up with it. Not wanting to torture the poor creature, I crushed the hare's neck in my jaws. The taste of the blood was sweet.

Satisfied it was dead, I held the hare between my front paws. Another new experience, I had never eaten any creature which the blood was still warm. Still, it appeared that the presence was satisfied and her own blood calming.

I woke up to sunlight streaming through the front windows of my cabin. My head was splitting and my whole body had a dull ache. Even so, it was time to get up. I did not have a stitch on and did not even have a sheet covering me. If someone had been looking through my window, they would have seen me in all my naked glory.

With catching a rabbit and having her hunting urges satisfied, the wolf inside me was satisfied and she relinquished most of the control back to me. My stomach was queasy as I thought about eating the whole rabbit including fur, bones, and guts. It churned at just the thought. Stayed in wolf mode to return to the cabin. Trying to get back through brambles, rocks, and other rough terrain in bare feet would have been no fun. Still, it had taken me far longer to return to the cabin than it had on the way out.

The transformation back to a human had hurt just as much as becoming a wolf in the first place. I wondered if I could transform at times other than the full moon. It seemed to take a lot out of me each time I transformed. Once human, I had stumbled to my bed and simply collapsed. I was so exhausted that came near just going to sleep completely naked on the porch.

Sliding my feet onto the floor, I wrapped my arms around my breasts. They were not huge but I still thought my figure looked good, especially with the muscle I had built up. Looking around, I spotted a t-shirt on the floor. When I looking at myself, I could see that I was splattered with mud from my wolf run last instead. Suddenly feeling filthy, I got up and headed for the shower and spent quite a bit of time under the warm water. After getting dried off, I had to fight with my hair. My hair was badly tangled not having remembered to put it in a pony tail before going to bed and it took some time to get it straightened out.

Once I got my blond mane tamed and in a pony tail, I went back into the bedroom to scoop up the shirt. It has an extra-large and hung half way down my thighs. Once I had it slipped on, I went to the door to look around. On the rocker sat the remainder of the t-shirt and shorts which I had worn the night before. They were beyond any hope of repair, completely shredded.

I was not going to bother throwing them away at the moment but it was then that I realized that I had left my cell phone outside next to the chair. I could only hope that I had not destroyed it as well. The phone would be expensive to replace and I would have to drive to the nearest reasonably sized city to get a new one.

Opening the door, I began looking around the porch. Luckily, I found it and unlike my cloths, it had survived. It was behind the cushion of the rocker. Opening it up, the phone was giving me a low battery warning. There were also three calls from a number which I did not recognize although it had the same area code as my girlfriend's. Maybe she had gotten a new phone. No message was left but I would try to call the number a bit later on in case it was her. I would need to charge the phone up before I called back.

I just got in the door, did not even get a chance to close it, when the phone rang again. The phone played the song "Who can it be now." Looking at it, I could see that it was the same number which someone had been trying to call from. Flipping open the phone, I answered, "Hello?" expecting it to be my best friend finally.

"Hello, is this Cami?" the voice asked on the other end of the line. It was male and I did not recognize it for several moments. Then it came to me. It was Nathaniel, the brother of my best friend from my time in the Navy. We had not spoken very often even though we had gotten along pretty well. Thinking back, it seemed to be about a year since we had last talked. There was worry in his voice.

In a rush, I asked, "Something wrong with Susan?" How coherent it came out, I did not know. Susan Clark had been in the same boot company in Orlando as I had been. We had been separated during 'A' School, she had become a Yeoman while I joined the Sea-Bees. We had been reunited in Charleston. Each of us had gotten out after our hitch was up but while she had gone home to Minnesota, I had decided to stay in Charleston. Until a month ago, we had talked at least once a week if not twice a week.

"No," he answered and there was slight pause. When he continued, he told me, "I don't know. Something is wrong but I don't really know what. She moved down to Saint Paul a few months ago and she has lost a lot of weight. She is not much more than skin and bones. I am worried that she might be on some sort of drugs. She has a new boyfriend. His name is Lucas. She never told me his last name. I have not met him but from what she has talked about, I have a feeling he is trouble." Anguish was plain in his tone.

Almost begging, I asked, "What can I do?" I would do almost anything to help her.

"I was hoping you might be able to talk to her," he replied. "Is there any chance you might be able to come up here?"

"Sure, give me a couple of days and I will be up there," I replied. I don't know what he might have had to say because my phone suddenly cut off. I would need to charge up my phone before I could even call him back. It was completely dead.

It was time to end my vacation. I had never driven that far before. As quickly as I could, I gathered up my stuff and started packing my Corvette. It had only the smallest of trunks and it would not take too long. Within an hour, I could be on the road.

I had stopped by my apartment in Charleston before heading up here. One thing I had picked up was my Daddy's old 1911. He was suppose to have carried it when he was in Vietnam. My brother had it for a while but he had hid it with mother and I had decided to keep it for myself. He had never asked me about it. After restoring it after the way my brother had kept it, it was still in good condition and I had always kept the old automatic cleaned and oiled.

Everything ready, I threw my bags in the car and jumped into the driver's seat. The eight cylinders turned over and the powerful engine hummed, ready to go. Putting the car in drive, I carefully started down the road.

Chapter Four:

I was half exhausted when I departed the cabins and could not drive straight through to Minnesota as much as I wanted to. The night had taken far more out of me than I thought when I had gotten up and I found myself exhausted. The stereo blared at almost full volume in an effort to keep me awake.

Still, I tried to make it as far as I could. With a pistol in the car and not knowing what the gun laws were in the states I was going through, I stayed within five miles of the speed limit as much as I wanted to race at top speed. A black Corvette already piqued the interest of the police, I did not need to give them anything else to attract their attention. Sometimes, a male officer would take pity on a young woman but I could not count on that.

I had to stop to get maps to get there, never having traveled around twelve hundred miles. Previously, the longest distance I ever drove was to Florida for the tournament. As well, my stomach rumbled and had to stop several times to get food. After eating the rabbit last night, I did not think I would be hungry. I guess I needed to start carrying more in the way of snacks in the car. Being a werewolf seemed to make one almost constantly hungry.

Finally, I could drive no more. It was still quite early but the multiple bottles of Coke and Pepsi were no longer keeping me awake. I began looking around for the signs for a motel. I was beginning to think that I would need to just stop in the nearest rest area and just crash in the car when I finally saw I sign. I had passed Louiseville some time ago. I guess it was about the half way mark.

Pulling off the interstate, it was only about a quarter mile away. It was not one of the major chain motels which I was familiar with but looked nice enough. In front, the motel boasted cable television and high speed Internet. Neither was of particular interest to me. I pulled the Corvette next to the office and shut her engine off.

There was a set of bells on the door which chimed when I stepped through. The lady behind the counter was older, maybe late sixties. "How can I help you?" she asked.

It was a ritual but I answered her anyway, "Yes, I would like a room please."

"How many nights?" she asked in return.

"Just one," I answered. Just then a yawn escaped my mouth.

She handed me the usual bunch of paperwork and stated, "It is sixty-five per night before tax."

A little pricy but I did not argue with her. Instead, I pulled four twenties from my wallet and handed them to her. Never been much for purses although I had one. As quickly as I could, I filled out the paperwork. It was the usual stuff. They wanted name, a home address, your vehicle type and plates.

When I was done, I hand it back to her and she looked it over. She told me, "I need to see some ID." I pulled out my driver's licence and presented it for her to see. She scowled at it for several long moments as if questioning if it were really me.

Deciding a little white lie might be best, I told her, "Botox, works wonders." I smiled faintly back to her. She nodded although her lips showed disapproval. I put my wallet back in my pocket.

Finally, she handed me the key and told me , "Room 113, to your left." With that, I headed out of the office. It took me a few minutes to get to the room, yawning almost constantly. I grabbed a single bag before getting out of my car. It contained my toiletries and a single change of cloths. I almost forgot to lock my car before heading inside. The door opened easily, I stepped inside. It had the usual, one double bed, one mini-refrigerator, a television, and a door which must lead to the bathroom.

It was the bathroom which I headed for first. It had been a long time since that last rest stop and my bladder was practically swimming. All of the soda I had to keep me awake was catching up with me. I quickly got undressed and put a large t-shirt on before going to bed. The sheets were nice and cool although the bed was a bit hard.

Once in the bed, I expected to fall immediately to sleep. Instead, my mind would not let me sleep and I laid in the bed looking up at the ceiling. The phone was fully charged from the car but Susan's brother had not called me back. What could be happening to her and what could I do. If her brother did not call me back, I would need to call him. I did not know where she lived. What was it like to have family who genuinely cared, I wondered and was ashamed of the thoughts just a moment later.

She had liked drinking when we had been in the Navy but had never been a heavy drinker. Like me, she did not even smoke cigarettes. Lung cancer had killed my father when I had been only about six but my mother and both of my brothers still smoked. While I had never tried it, Susan told me that she tried pot once but never had touched anything harder.

Unlike my relationship with my family, she was extremely close to her family. Her father and mother were getting old but they were both living. Her brother was a few years older than her but there was definitely love between them. I had decided to stay in Charleston in part because I had no where else to go. She had returned to Minnesota when her enlistment was done to get back to her family. She had offered for me to stay with her family. To this day, I did not really know why I had refused.

My thoughts drifted over towards this new boyfriend which her brother had told me about. While her brother did not know much about the guy, for some reason I had a bad feeling about him. I had never been a really party girl, feeling lost when I tried it. I never really liked wearing makeup either. She had been the direct opposite. While I was extremely tall for a woman, she was only a couple inches above five feet, and was extremely attractive. She always had one or several boyfriends. To me, it was hard enough keeping one let alone trying to keep two. She had never been married although had been engaged a couple of times. She seemed to be the one to break it off each time. To be honest, marriage never interested me much. I was not one of those women desperately looking for anyone who would marry me.

Sometimes I found myself torn and found myself attracted to other women although had never acted on any of the feelings. We had talked about it once after I had a breakup with a boyfriend. She told me that she never had any sexual feelings for other women but never held what I had confided in her against me and we had remained friends. I was struck again how we were such good friends yet so much opposites in some respects.

This was not working. Even though I was exhausted, I simply could not fall asleep. Instead, I got up and headed for the shower even though I had already had a shower less than ten hours before. Stripping off the t-shirt and tossing it on the ground, I stepped into the steaming water. Under the hot water, I was able to relax bit by bit. Finally, I felt I was able to sleep. Grabbing a towel, I dried myself off quickly. Laying back on the sheets and still slightly damp, I willed myself not to think. Finally, it all went dark.

It was early in the evening on the next day when I finally reached Saint Paul. It had been quite warm in South Carolina, high eighties at least when I had left and it was almost chilly as I finally found my way into the city. It was probably in the upper fifties. Still, the chill air felt good through the open window of the Vette. She had taken me up here like a champ.

Nathaniel had tried to call me that evening but I had left the phone in the car. It was not until nine in the morning that I actually woke up. This time he had at least left me a message. He had asked me where I might be able to meet him. He actually lived in the upper part of Minnesota and needed to find when I was actually due. I had told him early evening, not really sure.

When I had returned his call, he seemed extremely glad to here from me. We had arranged to meet at a Panera Bread. He gave me directions from the interstate but I still got lost on my way to find it. Along the way, I swear I saw a few dozen Peanuts characters. Snoopy, Lucy, and Charlie Brown all painted in a wide variety of ways. Finally, I had found it. It was just as well because by this time my stomach was rumbling at me again. I was tired from being on the road so long but at least I was not as exhausted as I had been the previous day. Seeing an available space, I pulled my Corvette into it.

Sliding through the doors, I looked around. I had never met Nathaniel although his sister had shown me pictures several times. Sometimes, I had to wonder if she was not trying to hook me up with him. He seemed to have as much trouble with women as I had with men. Still, I was worried that I would not recognize him. She had shown me the picture fifteen years ago and could not clearly remember him.

I looked around but no one seemed to catch my attention. Several people were looked towards the door and some of them looked to be around forty or so. I sat down at an empty table. It was possible that he had not arrived yet. It was also possible that he had gotten tired of waiting for me. I toyed with ordering something for several minutes. Finally, I pulled out my cell phone and called his number.

A cell phone rang just a couple of tables from mine. Looking over, I saw the man. The guy was around forty with a neatly trimmed beard with streaks of grey through it. He was wearing a flannel shirt that did little to hide the fact that he was quite muscular. He reminded me of pictures of a lumberjack. He had been one of the men who looked up at the door when I had entered and had looked back down when he had seen me.

"Hello," he answered and the sound echoed from my own phone. From what I remember of the picture which Susan had shown me, Nathaniel did not have a beard and was slim almost with a runners body.

"Hi, this is Cami. I am only about two tables from you." I responded. He looked around until he locked eyes on mine and I smiled faintly as I waved. After that, I hung up the phone and put it back on the case riding on my hips.

Since he already had a cup of coffee, I got up to walk over to his table. Once there, I told him, "I have not had anything to eat in a while. These days I get quite snappy if I don't eat. If you don't mind, let me grab something and I will be back." He nodded and I walked over to the counter to order a sandwich and soup. As an afterthought, I ordered the same thing for him as well.

It did not take too long and I was juggling two trays over to his table. I set one beside him and sat down across from him. He nodded and after a moment or two stated, "Thank you."

I took a couple of bites out of my sandwich and he did the same. He did not seem inclined to speak first so I asked, "You told me just a bit over the phone but not enough to get a good feel on what is going on? What more can you tell me?"

"Pardon me, I did not recognize you. Susan showed me pictures of you but you seem different. Younger and more muscular," Nathaniel answered, amazement in his voice in spite of what was going on.

"Working out," is all I replied.

"Oh. Well, you know that Susan goes down to Minneapolis or Saint Paul fairly regularly to go to clubs? Maybe once every couple of weekends?" Like her brother, she lived a couple of hours to the north of the two major cities. When I nodded, he continued. "I guess I about two months ago she met Lucas. He invited her to his place which is suppose to be a place to go. She seemed to be taken with him and started coming down a lot more often. At first everything seemed fine. Just another guy which she would likely get tired of eventually." As he talked, I would take a bite from my sandwich periodically.

"Well, mom, dad, and I began noticing changes. She began losing weight, slowly at first and she seemed vacant. At first, I thought it might be worry about you but it was much more than just worry. She began becoming worse and the last time I saw her she seemed little more than skin and bones and almost wasted. Her hair was a lank and generally she was a mess. As well, she just looked old, almost older than mon in many respects." The Susan I remembered was a raven haired and curvaceous. Unlike me, she never seemed to have much trouble keeping her figure. I tended to bounce between being slightly overweight or being skinny. Like me, she also had not shown her age really.

"About a month ago, she told us that she was going to move in with him. She just quit her job with no notice. I don't know if she is working or not down here," He added. Previously, she had worked as a secretary at a local trucking company. From what I understood, her bosses loved her.

He sat there for a few minutes and neither of us said anything. Finally he spoke again, "I am hoping that you might be able to talk some sense into her. I figure that if anyone can do it, you can."

"I can try," I responded. "I have not heard from her in about a month. She seemed normal the last time I spoke with her though. She told me something about having a new boyfriend and that the sex was amazing but nothing beyond that. What do you know about Lucas?" I promised myself that if it was the boyfriend's fault that there would be a reckoning. If he had hooked he on some sort of drugs. I imagined myself wrapping my hands around his neck.

"As you might expect, she did not talk to her older brother about such things," Nathaniel replied. "Of course I knew that she was intimate with any number of guys." He took a breath and continued, "I asked her if I could see him but she always seemed to come up with some reason or another. Tried coming down several times, in the morning or early afternoon. She always told me that he was sleeping." Susan's brother tended to be a morning person from what she always told me, usually going to bed by nine or ten at night at the latest.

"From what she told me, he is pretty rich. Maybe not quite filthy rich but at least quite well off. She told me that he is part owner in a number of nightclubs. Supposedly somehow associated with the guy, whatever he calls his name now. You know who I mean." I nodded. Yes, I knew who he was talking about, the big time singer from the Eighties who came from Minnesota. I think he was back to his original name now though. "Supposedly, he sometimes brings people back from clubs to his house. You have to be someone from the 'In Crowd' though. Obviously, I am not among that crowd. "

Continuing, he told me "His house is pretty big, maybe not quite a mansion but big enough. Bigger than anything I have seen. Susan told me about the place before she met Lucas. She always wanted to get the invite. She said it was suppose to be set up like a club and have a dozen or more bedrooms. The house seems to have a couple of acres of land and a tall iron fence around with trees hiding the grounds. Susan never would let me in and always met me somewhere else. We met about three weeks ago and I followed her there. I was stopped by security and couldn't get in though."

"How have you gotten a hold of her?," I asked. "I tried her cell phone and each time it just goes to her voice mail. I have left her several messages but she never called me back."

Nathaniel shook his head, "No, when I have tried to call her for the last couple of weeks, I have gotten no answer either. I must have left a couple of dozen messages but she never called me back. I fretted for a while but remembered hearing that you had recovered and was out of the hospital. I decided to see if you could help. Of course I did not expect to see you so well."

"The only thing I can think to do is confront her at his place." He nodded in agreement. I added, "I don't like the idea but I will have to wait until tomorrow. I am simply too exhausted if something goes wrong. I get a feeling that this could become ugly. I also think that I should go alone."

He asked, "You think that I should let you go alone?" His voice was just a bit testy.

"Look, I am a lot tougher than you think. Also, I hope I might be able to reason with her girl to girl. We have been best friends for fifteen years." I responded, keeping my voice as calming as I could manage. With I saw his disapproving expression "I promise to call you if there are any problems. Besides, I have a plan to get in to see her. Tomorrow is Friday I believe." I was starting to have a germ of an idea.

"I still don't like it but I will agree," he told me. I nodded my head. My eyes closed for just a moment and found myself yawning. "Do you have a place to stay yet?" he asked.

"No, I had enough trouble finding this place already. Got lost when looking for it," I told him. When last I had seen Susan, she had flown down to Charleston and had stayed with me for a week. I had seen her about four years ago although I had promised to come up here next time. I guess I was here now but I had never been to Minnesota before.

"I have a motel room," he told me. "It is small and has a single bed but you could have the bed while I sleep on the floor." From his tone, I could tell that he no plans beyond giving me a place to crash.

"Thanks, it would save me trying to find a place for the night. I would be perfectly willing to sleep on the floor though."

As I expected, he answered, "That just would not be right. Do you think you can follow me there?" He was what was extremely rare these days, a true gentleman. Both of our plates were empty by this time. I nodded and prepared to get up from the table.

Chapter Five:

The plan had cost my credit card a bit more than I was comfortable with. Half the day was spent getting ready for that evening. Never been one to dress up but it would be essential to the plan. I would have to look like one of the 'In Crowd' myself. I had bought a black leather jacket and mini-dress. Finally found my way to the Mall of America. Black leather boots and a black silk camisole completed the outfit. It was surprising just how good the outfit looked on me when I had modeled it in the mirror of the boutique although the boots were hell to walk in even though I had chosen the lowest heels I could find.

I also went to a stylist to get my hair down and actually bought some makeup. Many girls can just get their faces done in a few minutes but I almost never wore makeup. As a result, it had taken me over an hour to get ready. If I had been there to actually have the trophy presented to me, instead of lying in a hospital room, I might have worn some makeup then. Even if had only been second prize. When I had been in the navy, Susan had always helped me but she needed rescuing.

Finally, I was ready although I was afraid that I would smudge myself somehow. Where Lucas lived was just out of the city. While I had looked up how to get there, It was still an extremely difficult drive because I did not know the city in the least and made several wrong turns on my way to find it. As a result, I had to backtrack several times in order to find the house but finally found my way there. I was quite a bit later than I planned as a result.

When I finally found the place, there was a long line of cars pulling into the compound around Lucas's estate. If it was not a mansion, I did not know what it was. Lights lit up the place almost as if it were daylight. It was pretty overwhelming, as much a fortress as a house. As Nathaniel had described, there was a heavy iron fence at least ten feet high surrounding the estate and it was covered with sharp spikes. Bushes obscured any ability to see the grounds. Stone faced, the building still stood over the fence, three stories tall.

Immediately in front of me was what looked like a new Jaguar. Still, a couple of the cars were a bit older such as a Seventies era Mustang. I followed the pack of expensive cars and each vehicle stopped at the gate to be checked by the security guards. There appeared to be a pair of guards, one right at the gate and the other in a guard house. They appeared to take turns. Suddenly, I was glad that I left my 1911 with Nathaniel.

Finally, it was my turn. As I pulled up towards the gate, a wooden striped arm went down blocking me from further progress. As I pulled my Vette to the guard post, a man in a uniform stepped over to my door, "Can I help you, Ma'am?" I rolled down my window as he approached. A beat could be heard coming from the main house as I opened it.

Dressed in a black uniform, the guard had a sidearm on their hip and I could smell fresh gun oil. He wore fatigue pants and seemed to have bullet proof vests under a black uniform shirt. One his shirt was a cloth name tag which had M. Long in white letters. This Lucas was extremely serious about his security. As well, to most people they would be quite intimidating. Of course, as a former security officer myself, I know that the true proof of their quality was not in how they dressed.

"Yes, Cami Farmer," I answered him.

He pulled out a list and looked it over. He stated, "I am sorry but I don't have you on the guest list."

I smiled faintly back to him. Keeping my tone reasonable, "Why don't you call up to the main building before turning me away. I am the lady's national kick boxing champion." A little white lie but close enough to the truth I thought.

"Your serious," he asked. He looked me over for several moments, I guess to see how tough I was under my leather jacket and makeup. Whatever the case, his eyes were quite professional. Still, the wolf inside me did not trust him for some reason. She seemed to think that there was something wrong with him.

"Nodding my head, "Yes. I was in town on some business and I heard that his parties were the place to be." Suddenly, I had to wonder if the whole idea was bad. I mean, compared to some of the people here, I was likely a small fish. Maybe, I would have been better to try and see if I could get noticed at a club which he was suppose to frequent.

He nodded after a moment and stated, "Just wait one moment." He motioned for a second guard to come to the gate to watch me, "Barton, come over and watch the gate for a few moments."

The guard came from the guard house and glared at me as if to make it clear that I was to stay where I was. One her was in position, the first guard stepped back about a dozen feet and called in a low voice, "Gate to Main, this is Long." He did not have a walkie-talkie but instead appeared to have some kind of ear radio and microphone.

My hearing had definitely grown far more sensitive because not only could I hear him, I could here the one on the other side of the ear radio as well. It was not easy but I could still make out what the other side was saying even with the loud beat. The voice did sound like a male voice so I assumed it was a man's voice. "Hold on, I need to move away from the main crowd so I can hear you." There was a s several moment pause before her continued with, "Yes, this in the main house. I should be able to hear you clearly. Go ahead."

"Yes, we have a lady at the main gate. She is asking for entry. While she does not on the list, she claims to be Cami Farmer and the Lady's National Kick Boxing Champion. You know how the boss usually wants us to let celebrities into his parties." There seemed to be disgust in his voice, like he was tired of celebrities and their peculiarities.

Through the ear radio came, "I know. He is kind of busy but let me check with him. Do you think this woman might really be what she says or another party crasher?"

"Well, she appears to be pretty muscular. Not quite body builder but extremely strong anyway," officer Long told the person on the other side. "Not too bad looking, blond hair and likely pretty tall as well."

There was another pause as if the person in the main building was considering. Finally, "If you can have her pull off to the side, I will get someone else take the lobby and I will see if I can find him."

Security officer Long walked back over to where my car idled and he stated, "Officer Brady is going to check and see if Mr Cesarski wish to invite you in." I had done a bit of research and had been able to get his last name as Cesarski although almost no one seemed to use it. Long pointed over towards the side and I pulled my car to wait, shutting the engine down in the meantime.

It was maybe ten minutes while I waited. I looked carefully around. Looking at the fence, there was no way anything larger than a cat could make it through the openings between the bars. There was a heavy iron gate which was open. Like the fence, the gate appeared to be topped by sharp iron spikes. I could also see a couple of locations where there were cameras. Some, like those facing the gates, were obvious while others with quite unobtrusive. They were not quite hidden but definitely not obvious. I was pretty sure that I had not noticed many of them.

Finally, the guard came back to my car and told me, "I was told to tell you to proceed."

I walked through the heavy wooden doors of the main building. The beat now was almost deafening and the wolf inside me appeared to be cringing from the sound. She also seemed to be nervous about the whole situation. I told her to calm down although maybe I was telling myself to calm down.

There was a pair of men dressed in suits at the doors who greeted each person as they entered. They had a no nonsense expression about them. Each had an ear speaker with a microphone hanging down. Like the guards at the gate, there was the smell of fresh gun oil. As with those at the gate, the wolf did not truth these guards.

The house was lavishly appointed in a mixture of modern styles and the antique. Somehow, Lucas or his interior decorator was able to blend it all into a harmonious whole. Dark colors dominated the room although the curtains of the room were blood red. They were thick enough that they would block even a hit of light. On the walls were various painting and sculptures. I am not expect on them but they looked old. Some reminded me of stuff I might have seen in textbooks while reading about medieval times during school. Many appeared to be painting of kings or queens but something struck me as malign about them. There were several sets of plate armor in square glass display cases and swords and other weapons hung along the walls out of reach.

The crowd was huge, maybe several hundred people total. There seemed to be all sorts here. No one extremely poor but some not particularly wealthy. Still, several of the girls wore diamonds which cost more than my car had when new. Some were young, boys and girls not much older than eighteen while others were quite a bit older, forties or fifties. They appeared to mostly be wealthy and several had the tight skin usually indicative of plastic surgery. Of course the apparent number of boob jobs, young or old, was incredible. Either that or he chose his female guests based on breast sizes.

Various smells assaulted my nose. The smell of perfume was almost overpowering. The wolf preferred the clean human smell of sweat over it. To be honest, there was plenty of that as well. There was various kinds of smoke as well. Cigarette dominated but other smoke smells could be sensed by me as well. As one might expect, the odor of alcohol was also strong. There was various smells which I simply did not recognize. Maybe drugs other than weed? Finally, there was a smell which the wolf knew quite well. The strong tang of blood. I had to ask myself why. I did not think that a few steaks would create such a strong odor of blood. My suspicion was that I would find Lucas somewhere near the back. Slowly, I began to push my way through the crowd. With the sheer number of bodies, it was a monumental task. The center of the room was occupied by people dancing.

In the end, I found myself on the edges of the crowd and had to try to edge around the great gyrating mass of people. As I got further along the sides, the odor of food assaulted my senses in addition to the smell of beer, wine, and other alcohol. Not interested in the drinks, still the wolf inside me told me that she was hungry. It seemed like she was always hungry. Still, it would be better if I went ahead and satisfied her. I found a couple of burritos and grabbed a plate. I held the plate away from the people dancing as I continued to try to find my way around them. As soon as in a lull, I wolfed them down, partially satisfying her.

Finally, I was able to find my way through the room and I could see thick dividing curtains to another room. Like the curtains on the windows, they were blood red and extremely thick. There were people visible on the other side but the huge press of people appeared missing there. I had to continue to fight my way through people but eventually I made my way through the room.

I was able to get a clear glimpse of the next room. It was decorated similarly to the first room, mostly in dark colors with antique looking artwork on the walls. There were also weapons along the walls well above the reach of the guests. In the back of the room, there was a huge painting. This one was different. It looked like a medieval painting of the devil. In the background were scenes of people being engulfed in flames.

That only attracted my attention for a moment because in front of it was a raised area with a high back chair. It looked like a throne from movies and in it was a dark dressed figure who somehow seemed to awe everybody else in the room. Extremely lean although not to the point of emaciation. I figured he would be around six feet if he stood up. The cliche term of tall, dark, and handsome fit him perfectly. He wore a pair of stone washed jeans with black ruffled shirt which looked like something someone would have worn hundreds of years ago. In his hand was a long slim glass with red wine in it. The wolf immediately tried tell me that something was wrong with him although not what. Several well dressed ladies were on either side of him.

Beside him, on the floor was an emaciated figure. She had black hair and was wearing a long black dress. Her head was turned so I could not really see her face. Thinking of Susan, I could only hope that it was not her although my heart seemed to sink as who else could it be. Every so often, he would seem to say something to her and she would whisper something in response.

Locking my eyes on the dark man, I walked through the crowd. About half way through the room, he noticed my attention and his eyes locked onto mine. I could not tell a color, if they dark blue or brown. Instead, they appeared to be black. There was an amused expression on his face. His eyes seemed to be trying to stare into mine as if to take control. The wolf recoiled and I found myself growling in a low tone. Obviously, it was not loud because nobody seemed to take notice. The wolf was mad as hell though and I did not know why.

By the time I had gotten to the throne, the man's expression had turned from one of amusement to one of icy anger as well. The women beside him seemed to see this as well and they backed away several steps although the figure on the floor seemed not to have noticed. I stood right in front of him and our eyes fought each other for several long moments.

Finally, he spoke, "I drove your kind from this city decades ago." What could he be talking about. Then it came to be, perhaps he meant werewolves. Was he a werewolf himself. My inner wolf told me no. What was he if he was not a werewolf. Something was definitely wrong.

I answered him, "I am only here for my friend Susan."

Laughter came out, "So that is all." His head turned to the figure on the floor beside him,"Susan, tell you friend that you are fine."

The woman finally turned her head towards me. Her face was just as wasted as her body and if anything she looked even worse than her brother had described her. She looked to be seventy years old. It was Susan but what had happened to her. A dry and weak voice came out, "Cami, is that you?"

"Yes, I am here," I responded, tears almost coming from my eyes. I was horrified.

"I am fine. Lucas has been treating me great," she responded. Had she fallen into this guys clutches due to what had happened to me. Has she become hooked on drugs in morning of what had happened to me.

He smiles back at her before turning back to me, "As you can see, she is fine." It was then that I figured out the odor I was getting from him. He smelled dead somehow but not quite the way a hospital body might. Several times after my sense of smell had begun increasing, a body had been wheeled by my room and I knew what a dead person's odor was. His was not quite right but it was similar.

My mind took a leap there. Werewolves were real, obviously because I was one. If so, maybe other supernatural creatures were real as well including vampires. Perhaps he was a vampire. Once the idea went through my mind, I became almost certain of it.

"There is but one of you. Before there was a whole pack including an Alpha. No allies, you have been a cur perhaps a month," He told me. "Still, I am feeling generous tonight and do not want to disturb my guests. If you leave now and never come back to the Saint Paul, I will forget you were ever here."

My wolf argued that we should attack him now. I told her that it was not the time and the place for it. She fought me but I was stronger. Suddenly, I could smell the same deadness from the ladies surrounding him. Their perfume had covered it up at first but now I knew that they were vampires just like him. How many more vampires were there here. Obviously not everybody because the wolf could smell the scent of life around her.

I backed off, not really having a choice. My eyes remained locked on his. The wolf had changed her mind and wanted to run from the room as fast as her feet could carry her but I resisted. It would show the wrong message. Nobody, vampire or otherwise, would make me run like a dog while her tail between her legs.

Chapter Six:

I knocked on the door to Nathaniel's motel room. "Hey, It is Cami." I yelled into the door. This moment I had been dreading since having left Lucas's home. No one had tried to stop me as I left the mansion and not even when I drove out the gates. It felt like I had run away with my figurative tail between my legs and I had felt eyes on me the entire time. I could only hope than no one had followed me. It did not appear so but my car was not exactly hard to spot.

The wolf wanted to go back in there and fight and I agreed with her. Still, I had restrained both her and I and just tried to think of what to do next. The problem is that I needed some sort of plan. I knew nothing about vampires beyond some horror movies. Their ideas about werewolves were pretty far off so I did not have much hope that they had gotten their stories right about vampires.

The door opened after a few moments with him in a set of jeans with no shirt on. His eyes held hope for just a moment and then his whole expression deflated. The bag of burgers I held in my hands was little consolation and I spit out, "I am sorry, I could not get her."At least with Wendy's open so late, even at two in the morning, I could feed myself. Sitting in the bag were half a dozen double cheeseburgers. Actually, I had originally gotten eight but had eaten two already.

In spite of the situation, I had to admit that he had a very nice chest. He was not over muscled but was still quite strong. He stepped away from the doorway and motioned for me to come in. I stepped through the door and he slammed it hard. For a moment, I thought he might have actually broken the door.

I laid the bag of burgers on the counter along with my purse and tossed my jacket on the seat next to the table. At the same time, I kicked off my boots, glad to get them off finally. The wolf reminded me that she was hungry but I earnestly told her to wait. I sat down on the bed and patted the bed right next to me and stated, "We need to talk."

He hesitated for several moments but eventually sat down. I took a deep breath and stated, "You are right, she is pretty bad looking and the guy has her under his spell."

Shaking his head, he asked, "Is it drugs? Everything she ever told me, she hated the very mention of drugs."

"No, not drugs. I don't know how to tell you this," I replied. I could not go on with my mind racing.

"How to tell me what," he responded.

Deciding to spit it out, I took a deep breath and told him, "You are going to think I am nuts suggesting this. Lucas is a vampire."

He shook his head. Vampires, like werewolves, were suppose to be tales told by kids. His eyes showed that he thought I was nuts. "Really, he is a vampire. I think I can convince you that I know what I am talking about,"I continued. "You need to promise me that you will not freak out."

While still looking at me in disbelief, he told me, "Convince me." There was only way which I could convince him. It was something that I had not wanted to do in front of anyone. Still, what choice did I have but to show him.

"You need to promise me that you will not freak out," I told him a second time.

"Alright, I won't freak out," he responded.

It was not likely that he truly expected what would happen next and that he would not freak out. Still, what choice did I really have. I closed my eyes for a moment and concentrated, willing the wolf to come to the forefront. Suddenly, there was pain and my whole body began cramping out. She was coming out and there was no way I could change my mind now.

He saw me in agony and yelled, "Are you all right." He tried to turn me over to see what was wrong. There was no way that I could answer him. I had to fight so that I was not growling in pain. My hands were in front of me and I could see them changing, getting less and less human. It seemed like my bones were breaking and reforming in different ways. The silk blouse ripped as I continued to change. Even in all the pain, I had to wonder what had happened to the clothes of the wolf who had made me. What had the hospital staff made of the pile of ripped clothing. On my arms, I could see long fur growing as the transformation continued.

As he saw me transform, his eyes changed from fear for me to fear of me. There was also a change in odor which indicated that his fear had intensified. Along with my human face becoming a wolf's muzzle, my sense of smell hit me hard. He backed up towards the door and watched me as if ready to run out the door at the first hostile move. The wolf whispered in my ear, "Easy Prey." She could pounce of the bed and have her jaws in his throat in seconds.

I fought those thoughts and told her, "Pack." She was far from convinced and told me that he did not smell like pack. I added "Human Pack," thinking about how humans and dogs have formed a symbiotic relationship for thousands of years. She then tried telling that we could make him pack. I told her sternly, "No." I had no intention of making him a werewolf.

Somehow, he had mastered his fear. He did not freak out even though he was definitely scared. It is hard for me to know what the wolf might have done if he had freaked out. I could still taste his fear but somehow he had mastered it. He walked towards me and held his hand out. Still laying on the bed, I brought my nose up to his hand and sniffed. The wolf seemed pretty calm and more accepting than I had expected.

I was not looking forward to the transformation back but I could not talk in wolf form and there was much which needed to be discussed. The pain of transformation either way was incredible. As well, I could feel that the wolf did not want to be locked up so soon. I had to argue with her so that she would allow me to become human once again.

The change hit me again and I rolled up into a ball. Finally, after what seemed like my whole body was on fire, the pain finally subsided. I moved my hands away from my face and looked out of human eyes once again. Trying to get up, I felt extremely weak and barely able to move. This was only the second time I had transformed to a wolf and back and it had been much longer between transformations. I did not know what to expect although it was quite clear that the transformations took a lot out of you.

I felt a blanket get laid on top of me. It was only them that I realized that I was completely naked with a man in a motel room. If I had not felt so exhausted, I don't know how I would have reacted but I just felt numb. I asked in a croaking voice, "Nathaniel, can you hand me a couple of burgers."

He unwrapped the burgers and handed them to me. I wolfed them down and the burgers were gone in seconds. With the protein, I was feeling a bit better. He handed me a couple of more and those disappeared almost as fast as the first two.

I tried to collect my thoughts into an organized fashion. We needed to talk and hopefully come up with a plan on how to rescue Susan. Still, found me eyes closing. I fought to stay awake. Maybe some coffee would help. With those thoughts, I was fast asleep.

There was sunlight streaming through the window blinds when I opened my eyes. The room was still quite dark. I sat up slowly and looked around. In the only chair in the motel room, Nathaniel lay sleeping. I could hear him gently snoring. I suspected that he had tried to stay awake but sleep had overcome him. At least he had not run from the room in panic.

I could see that under the blanket, I was completely naked and I could just see my torn cloths on the floor beside the bed. All of the embarrassment which I had not felt last night came to me suddenly. I felt myself turning red, not just red in the face but everywhere.

While there was no clock handy, I figured it was around nine or so in the morning. My watch was in my purse sitting beside the Wendy's bag. The wolf could still smell burgers and wondered if there was any left in there. If Nathaniel had not eaten them, there should be two left.

I tried to wrap the blanket around myself as I got up while being extremely quiet but it was impossible. The bed creaked and the blanket whispered against the bed. He was likely only fitfully asleep and my movement caught Nathaniel's attention because suddenly his eyes opened up. Before he could react, I spoke. "Hi."

"Hello," he responded back. While his tone was almost normal, there was still a note of caution in it. "Did I dream what happened last night?"

"No, you did not," I told him solemnly.

"You are not a vampire yourself," he stated. "Everything I have been told, they cannot stand sunlight." His answer was half statement and half question. I was surprised at just how calm he was considering that I had turned into a wolf last night.

"No, I am not a vampire. I am a werewolf." I told him. He was the only person I had ever told what I was and the only person to have ever seen me in my wolf form. In many ways, it felt good that I could actually to somebody about it.

"Oh," is all he said.

"The supernatural is as new." His expression was skeptical and I stopped and decided to rephrase what I had said. "The supernatural is almost as new to me as it is to you. I have only been a werewolf for around a month. Before then, I did not believe in werewolves or vampires myself."

"How did it happen?" he asked.

"You knew I was paralyzed in a hospital bed?" I asked him.

"Yes, Susan told me." he replied.

"Well, a man came to my room. Don't know who he was. Well, he offered to heal me and that I was suppose to help him with something afterwards. Of course I was skeptical. What he did was transform into a wolf right in front of me. After that, what could I do but believe him. He clawed me up and it almost killed me. Still, I healed from his clawing and feeling started to return. Never saw him again though and don't know what happened to him."

Continuing, I stated, "He was suppose to show me about being a werewolf so I only know what movies have shown and much of that appears to be inaccurate. I don't really know much about werewolves and almost nothing about vampires. All I can go by are the stories as well Most stories seem to tell that vampires are effected by sunlight but would not trust the stories if I were you."

"I was I could blame what I saw on drugs but I know I did not drink or eat anything unusual. You really did turn into a wolf." He pauses for a few moments but I had a feeling that he had something more to say. "I have to confess something. I had a friend who is a Sioux Indian. His grandfather is a shaman, I believe. He had some interesting stories to tell including stories of what he called the 'medicine' world. I never really believed him but some of what he told me made me think. Now, I have to wonder if what he said was true."

"Sorry, I meant to tell you more last night. I just could not stay awake," I told him. "I never transformed so quickly twice." Taking I deep breath, I corrected myself, "To be honest, this is only the second time I have transformed to a wolf and back. I was not actually sure I could do it without a full moon. As I said before, I am really new to all this. I would not have believe it myself a couple of months ago, before I became one myself. I don't know that much myself."

He simply sat there waiting for me to continue. After a pause, I stated, "Maybe your friend knows more than I do and can tell you more." Actually it came out more of a question than a statement. "Lucas, he had a strange scent. He smelled like a dead body. There were some women with him as well. I guess about half a dozen of them. They all were vampires as well."

Taking a deep breath, I stated, "Unfortunately, I don't think we have long. Susan looked bad. I mean even worse that you described. She looked like an old woman to be honest. Whatever we do, we need to do within the week if not a couple of days."

"How do you plan to fight them?" he asked

"I don't know," I replied. "I the stories are true and they are unable to move during daylight, that would seem to be when to attack. Even so, with the security of that house, I am not looking forward to attacking it. I have seen prisons less secure than his estate." Continuing I added, "The only thing else I can think of is that we have to ambush him or some of the others outside of that house. Do they leave that estate to find their guests or do they send people out?"

Nathaniel shook his head, "You know I am not much for the party scene? I would not really know. I don't really even know who to ask, to be honest."

"Never been much for parties either," I replied. "I was hoping that you knew. Do you know any of the clubs which Susan frequented."

"I know a couple," he responded.

Taking a breath of relief, I told him, "Maybe I can go to some of the clubs and listen to others and see if I can find some of her party friends."

Shaking his head, he responded sternly, "No, I will go with you to the clubs but you will not go on your own." Before I could respond, he added, "She is your friend but she is my sister and she has been my sister longer than your friend."

I want to still disagree but could not. "Alright," I responded. "I want to see if your friend can tell us anything first. Maybe we can come up with something."

I never was one for going to clubs and had only been to one once or twice, both times with Susan. Maybe four times total when I thought about it. Each time, it seemed like I was out of place and was miserable for the entire time. The smell of cigarette smoke, thick enough to be a haze, always turned my stomach. Finally, it seemed like every one played their music so loud that it felt like my ears would split. I would spend the first half an hour or so after leaving the clubs feeling like I was deaf. What Susan liked about these places, I had no idea.

This time was no exception. If anything, it was worse this time although it could have simply been my imagination. My nerves felt like they were on end as well from my worry for Susan. The scents here were far stronger than I remembered courtesy of the wolf. There was the usual smells of too strong smoke, perfume, and beer. Still, the wolf could smell under then the scent of sweat and lust under the other strong scents. I knew the odor of Cannabis but there were other drugs which I did not recognize. I was worried though that with the strong scents, she could not smell a vampire if one came in.

I had to restrain her from running from here from the overpowering music. If I had been in wolf form, she would have folded her ears back to protect them. Don't get me wrong, I like music but this artist is one I would have listened to by choice. It did not help that with my more sensitive hearing, I could hear just how off key the lead singer was. It seemed to put my teeth on edge.

Nighthawks was the clubs name and from what Nathaniel told me, it was one of Susan's favorite clubs. It might have even been the one where she had met Lucas. We were sitting at stools at the bar. Trying to be covert, I looked towards him. I wondered if I looked as uncomfortable as he did. In a way it was a relief to know that someone felt the same way I did. I held out my hand in an attempt to comfort him even though I still would have preferred to go alone.

At least I had dressed more comfortably than I had when going to the mansion. Black jeans, leather boots, and a camisole style T-Shirt under a black leather jacket. The skirt was destroyed from my transformation so there was no hope for it but I had taken the jacket off before transforming. Never been one to dress fancy anyway and half the women in the club were dressed similarly. Nathaniel dress in a simple white dress shirt with no tie and faded jeans.

Looking at him, I was taken aback for a moment. The line of his face made him look especially handsome in the dim light of the club. Susan had tried to hook us up together a couple of times but we had both ignored her. Now I had to wonder if that had been a mistake. Maybe she was right. The wolf agreed that he was quite handsome. She also told me that she could smell his desire for me as well. That was too much. Shaking my head, I turned away. It had been years since my last boyfriend and I probably just lonely. This was not the time for it anyway.

I caught a female figure with glossy red hair. Something stuck in my memory about her. It took a couple of moments but I realized where I had seen her before. She was one of the women surrounding Lucas. In the darkness of the bar, I had almost not recognized her. Her hands were clasped around some guy. She looked like she was five foot nothing and he looked pretty good sized yet it looked like she was dragging him along.

` I quickly got up to follow her out. The crowd slowed me down but I simply pushed my way through. Without the strength of the wolf, I don't know if I could have gotten to the door as quickly as I did. I got to the door and looked around. There she was going towards the parking lot. A few moments and they would have been around the corner of the building and would have disappeared from sight. How she could move so fast in high heels was a mystery to me. If I tried to move that fast in heels, I would be tripping every couple of steps. Pushing though the crowd around the door, I broke into a run.

I was about a dozen yards away and around to the side of the building when she turned to face me. She appeared to have been heading for a black Mercedes. Her eyes held fury as she looked towards me. Stealing a glance towards the man, I could see his eyes were completely blank. She told me, "Get back into the club, you don't want any of this."

The wolf's anger climbed several notches and she already was not happy. This woman had tried to command me. Some kind of vampire trick. Nathaniel had tried to contact his friend but had not gotten through to him. As such, I still knew little about what a vampire could and couldn't do.

In turn, she realized that she did not have control over me and after a moment her anger seemed to turn. It appeared to me to be fear although I could not smell any fear off her but I was now close enough to catch the smell of death on her under her expensive perfume. I was right in thinking she was a vampire. "You are that one." What did she think I was, a girl who had her boyfriend stolen from her.

There was not much time though, she outstretched her hands and made them like claws and she opened her mouth and bared her fangs. Maybe she had seen too many bad vampire movies as well. Instead of playing games, I swung around with my left foot and slammed it against her head. Vampire or not, that knocked her to the ground.

I did not wait for her to recover but instead took a couple of quick steps and grabbed her wrist and twisted it behind her back before she could recover fully. It was then that she began fighting and she fought like a hellcat. It took virtually all my strength to hold her and there is no way any normal woman could have held her, even one that worked out. Hell, I am not sure if even a male body builder could have held her. As it was, she caused me

to move forward several steps in order to keep control over her.

"Stop fighting or I will break you arm off," I told her. "You tell me what I want to know, I will release you. Otherwise, we will find out if wooden stakes really do work on vampires." Nathaniel had followed me and was beside me. It had just taken him a while to catch up. We had both carried a couple of sharpened wooden stakes and he has his out, ready to use.

"Ask what you will," she hissed back. She still fought me but it had become less strident. This close, the scent of death was extremely strong although it smelled clean somehow like she was not truly rotting. There appeared to be some fear in her eyes. Maybe wooden stakes did work.

While still keeping her in my grasp, I told Nathaniel, "Don't look her in the eyes. She seems to try to control you by looking you in the eyes." There was the sound of someone quickly running way. I guess it was her date for the night getting more than he bargained for. Pulling on her arms, "Can't you."

I could feel her nod her head although he meekness seemed to only last for a moment. In a demeaning tone she told me, "Ah, you are a new one. Your alpha never told about vampires did he. Lone wolf cub all by herself. You should have run when Lucas gave you the chance. It will be a pleasure hunting you down."

"I don't think so," I told her. "No, you will answer my questions. What is Lucas doing with Susan?"

"What do you think?" she replied. "Do you worry about the deer you hunt down as a wolf. Don't worry though, she does not suffer. She will die in absolute bliss. Not long either, maybe a week on the outside."

A deer is not a human being. "We will see about that," I told her. In a way her answer was a relief. I half expected him to be planning to turn her into a vampire as well. "Now, Lucas stated something about a whole pack. Tell me what you know?" I pulled her arm back further.

"I don't know personally, I just know what Lucas has told me." She responded.

"So tell me," I told her.

"He said that when he first moved into Saint Paul, there was pack of werewolves in the city. One of the other female vampires was with him when he moved here and she was able to seduce the pack's second in command and convince him to go after the alpha for the pack. Through some careful manipulation, what might have been simply a battle between an alpha and a rival was brought into a full scale war."

She paused and I stated harshly, "Go on."

"Lucas offered his aid to the second in command as well. In return, he was able to get the information about where all the members of the pack lived. When the war broke out in earnest, most of the wolves killed each other off and Lucas hunted down most of the survivors. A few escape according to Lucas," she finished with.

"How old are you?" I asked. Before she answered, I added, "I mean, how long have you been a vampire. How old is Lucas?'

"I have been a vampire for ten years," she responded. "Lucas is old although he never said. I have heard some of the others whisper that he is hundreds of years old."

"How long has Lucas been in Saint Paul?" I asked her. "Also, how many other vampires does he have?"

"He has been here about twenty or thirty years, before I became one of his. He was a partner with the singer, you know who. Supposedly, Lucas helped him get started." She replied. "There are two dozen of us. He has forbidden us for making any more and said that he would kill anyone who does. I know he has killed a couple although he never said why. He calls us his 'Handmaidens' and expects complete loyalty."

I did not expect that there were two dozen of them. There had been only six with him when I had seen him. Some might have been in the crowd. Now, I knew that I could not afford to deal with them one at a time. I asked, "How often does he make more vampires?"

"Only if he kills one of us over being disobedient," the red haired vampire responded back, her voice sounding like she was straining against something. "Maybe one in a year. Most of us know what his punishments are, they are never fast. Some though just decide to be willful. Afterwards, he will replace the one he killed with another Handmaiden. He might wait a month or so."

"You effected by sunlight like the stories?" I asked her. She did not answer for several long moments. so I stated, "You want my friend to test the theory on wooden stakes. I repeat, does sunlight effect vampires like in the stories?" I didn't know if Nathaniel had it in him to kill a woman, he seemed an old fashion kind of guy in many respects, but hopefully she would not call our bluff.

"Yes, Yes!" she responded. "You really do know nothing about vampires."

"Just a few more questions and I am prepared to let you go," I told her. "Where does Lucas lair during the day? Also, when does Lucas leave the Mansion?"

I thought she had settled but she began fighting me once again. Somehow, she managed to pull from my grasp. Maybe, I had loosened my grip slightly. I was not sure what she was going to do, run or try and fight me. It was then that I discovered what Nathaniel was made of. He slammed the wooden stake into her chest. Somehow he managed to get it between her ribs and into her heart.

She collapsed to the ground with her hands around her chest. Within moments her body began decaying and shriveling. It was like time had been held at bay and then within moments it began all catching up with her. She did not completely rot away but within moments, she was basically little more that a mummy.

I looked at Nathaniel. There was more questions I really needed to ask her but I could not fault him for his quick actions. As well, I did not want the cops seeing us standing over a corpse, even one that looked like it had been dead for years. Grave robbing could land us in jail just as murder would. I told him, "Run," and took off. Nathaniel's truck was a couple of blocks away in a parking garage. We thought it would be less conspicuous.

Chapter Seven:

I looked at my watch again. Fourteen-Twenty-Three. Yes, I liked to keep my watch on military time. We had been waiting almost forty-five minutes so far. It seemed like time was running out. I had no way of knowing if Susan was even still alive. I could only hope. Common sense told me that there was no way we could get her out by just rushing in there. Instead, Nathaniel and I were cooling our heels in a diner a couple of hours west of Minneapolis / Saint Paul.

Nathaniel's Indian friend, I finally found out his name was Daniel Redhorse, had returned Nathaniel's call this morning. I had hoped he could tell us something over the phone but instead insisted that we meet him here before he would speak to us. We had spent the morning moving to another hotel just in case someone knew where we were staying and had hidden my Corvette at one of Nathaniel's friends who lived a little ways outside the city. We then had raced out here hoping to get here before he got here.

Adding to my frustration, I had no clue what this guy looked like and since arriving here, at least half a dozen men had come into the restaurant who were partially or fully Indian. At least there were enough pure whites here so that we did not look too out of place. Been in places where I was the only white girl and never really felt safe there. I know the politically correct term was Native American but had never been particularly politically correct. Coach once told me that Theodore Roosevelt stated that he did not believe in "Hyphenated Americans." What was next anyway, "Werewolf Americans" and "Vampire Americans?" In spite of the seriousness, the thought made me smile just a hair.

I was on my fourth monster burger and fires. Nathaniel had given me a strange look each time I had ordered another burger but the wolf was hungry. I tried to explain that too him with unfortunately I only had limited success. He just had trouble believing a skinny girl like me could eat so much.

Nathaniel looked up as the door opened yet again. He nodded his head and smiled, "That is him. Finally." He stood up and motioned towards our table. He managed to get the man's attention and he started heading for a table.

Getting a good look at Daniel, he did not have the look of a full Indian but some kind of mixed blood although he had sleek black hair down below his shoulders. He also was not overly tall, a bit shorter than me, maybe around five six or so. He looked to be around forty or so with the sun etching deep lines in his face. Even so, there was a rugged handsomeness about him. He was dressed simply, a plaid shirt and faded jeans. In many ways, that seemed to be the uniform around here.

He stopped a half dozen footsteps from where I was seated. His eyes locked onto mine and appears to be trying to stare into my soul. What was he looking for. My wolf was getting nervous at his close scrutiny. At the same time, she refused to back down. After what seemed like an eternity, he nodded. After stepping a few steps closer, he told me, "I am sorry. I was worried that you were a skin walker" He did seem genuinely sorry.

"A skin walker," I asked, hoping my voice did not sound too stupid.

Before answering me, he sat down on the other side of the table, "Native American medicine man but quite evil. They use the skin of an animal to transform into that animal. It is created through the use of dark medicine and involves the sacrifice of a close relative, child, parent, or brother or sister to complete." I could not help but shiver at the idea even though I doubted the world would miss any of my close relatives.

"I am hoping you can tell us something about Vampires?" I asked. "Susan is in the clutches of one and we have to rescue her soon or else."

"I have only met Susan once myself," he stated. "She seemed nice enough and Nathaniel I consider to be a friend. Still, you need to understand that I don't know that much about vampires. They are from the white man's world. My grandfather told me a little bit but I cannot claim to be anything like an expert."

Shaking my head, I told him, "I don't even know much about werewolves and I am one. Anything you can tell us would be helpful."

He again stared at me although this time he did not lock eyes directly with me. "According to my Grandfather, both werewolves and vampires are not native to this land but invaded at the same time that the white man did. They killed many of our medicine people. Only the most powerful of medicine people are able to fight them. "

The waitress chose this moment to ask him for his order. Like many of the customers, she appeared to have Indian blood in her and it seemed like they knew each other. He must be a regular here. I took the time to order yet another burger with the wolf growling at me that she was still hungry. She shrugged as she wrote down my order.

After the waitress departed with his order, he continued quietly, "Kind of have to start from the beginning. The stories you have been told about vampires have a basis in fact but do not go far enough. Most stories tell of vampires drinking blood. That is true but they also drain life force at the same time. It can be extremely pleasurable for the victim and many beg to be drained of life force.

"I saw Susan two nights ago," I told him. Continuing on, I told him, "She looked like she was old. She is around my age." Realizing that I looked to be only eighteen or twenty, I amended what I said. "I mean, she is in her middle thirties but when I saw her, she looked like she was around seventy years old."

"That sounds like what my grandfather described a long term victim of their draining often looks like. She may never come back completely even if you are able to rescue her. I have to warn you that a person who has been drained my them is also supposed easier to control." he replied.

Realizing that I may not know about their mind control, "They also have the ability to control others with their eyes. Luckily, they have trouble with those who practice medicine, you would likely call them wizards or witches, and creatures like you would tend to be hard to control as well. A truly ancient one might be able to control a werewolf though."

Nodding my head, I replied, "Lucas, he seems to be the leader of the vampires. He tried something like that. He locked eyes with me but something inside of me got angry and he could not control me. Nathaniel and I encountered one of his handmaiden last night and she tried the same thing."

"The term for the leader of a vampire group is usually a master vampire. Heard a variety of terms for them including families and covens. There most powerful tool is often how they can manipulate others without any actual use of their mind control. Many are master manipulators which they have many years to learn how to do."

"How do you fight them?" I asked

"Well, they are both stronger and faster than any normal person. A werewolf is suppose to be just as strong though," he told me. "They are also extremely tough. A wooden stake through the heart is suppose to work but enough bodily injury will kill them as well. For example, cutting off their heads is suppose to work."

He paused for a moment before continuing, "They do have several weaknesses like werewolves are supposed to be allergic, they are suppose to be allergic to sunlight." I was able to hide my reaction. It had only been a guess at this point. I had watched several movies where werewolves were killed by silver bullets but was not sure. "They are suppose to burn in sunlight if exposed more than a few moments."

"Do they sleep during the day, I am thinking about trying to go after Susan during the day," I asked. "As I said, I have to go after her soon."

"From what I have been told, most of them go into a sleep which makes them appear almost dead after the sun rises. Your are right that is the best time to attack them if you can manage it. Still, that should be treated with caution. I believed that the older a vampire is, the less time they will spend sleeping and the easier they will awake," he told me. "How old is this Lucas?"

"According to what the female vampire we questioned last night, he is hundreds of years old. Of course, I have no way of confirming that." I responded.

"There are some which are suppose to be thousands of years old," he stated. "Hundreds, he may or may not sleep through most of the day."

It was then that the waitress brought his order and my new burger to the table. Once she had left once again, he added, "The only thing else I can think of which might help you is that holy symbols also will drive them away although you have to have faith in them or they are of no use. It does not have to be crosses either."

I did not know how that would help me. I had never been particularly religious so it would not likely work. I would look pathetic trying to wave a holy symbol in front of Lucas.

Daniel looked towards Nathaniel and it looked like he was warring with himself. After a few moments he asked, "Do you need any help?"

Nathaniel looked in turn towards me. "What do you think?"

I did not want to involve anyone else but we needed all the help we could get. As well, Daniel actually knew something about the supernatural. "If he thinks he could help."

Daniel locked eyes with me, "You know you are going to have to kill this Lucas." I simply nodded my head. Yes, I knew he had to die. The trick would be to stay alive while doing it.

After finishing at the diner, we decided that we should settle back at our motel room to plan out a strategy that might work. The new room was a bit bigger and had two beds instead of just the single bed. There were also several lounge chairs and a small table. Nathaniel, Daniel, and I had all settled in chairs around the table.

For a long time, we sat not saying anything. Breaking the silence, I started off, "The biggest problem I see is how do we deal with the security guards. There are at least two at the main gates and I would not be surprised if there is not at least one, if not a couple, of guards watching monitors."

Nathaniel replied, "If you pardon me, there is nothing like a pretty girl to distract a man." He might have trying to have a little levity.

"No," I replied, "I don't have enough breastage to be that kind of distraction." I tried for levity as well but could hear in my own voice that I failed. In a more firm tone, I stated again, "No, he tried once to control me and failed. Can you tell me that he cannot control you?"

It looked like he might try to argue with me but Daniel agreed with me, "What my grandfather taught me should protect me from the vampire's abilities as well. That master vampire though, he will have you like a puppet on a string though."

"Nathaniel, what can you come up with as a distraction? A car accident perhaps?" I asked.

"How about some kind of truck dumping its cargo?" he asked. Nathaniel's regular job was a building supply driver and he had access to such trucks.

"Could work," I responded. "If you think you have an idea." I turned towards Daniel, "It sounds like you plan to go into the house as well?"

Daniel answered me, "Yes, if the spirits are willing, I can make the eyes of a person slide right off us. If we directly confront someone or make a ruckus, it will not work but as long as we stay quiet, no one should notice us." Having heard that Indians often don't like to be pressed about their abilities, I did not inquire more even though I could not help feeling extremely curious.

"Another problem I have is that the house is absolutely huge. I don't know where she might be in that house. We cannot afford to take hours to find her either. The distraction will only keep their attention for a few minutes," I mused.

"I think I can help you as well," Daniel answered me once again. "I need something from her though. With that, I have Medicine which should help us find her." He looked at us, obviously asking if we had anything of her.

"What do you need. A book of hers? Some clothing" I asked, cautious.

Shaking his head, "No, not just a belonging. Needs to have her essence. Blood, hair, fingernails, or that sort of thing. If her clothing had some of her hair on it, it should work though."

While I still had a couple of pieces of clothing we had traded, they had been washed too many times for something like that to remain on it. Taking a glance at Nathaniel, I shook my head. "I don't think I have anything like that."

"How about where she lived?" asked Daniel.

"She had an apartment but she moved out of there. I don't know if she put her stuff in storage or what," Susan's brother answered.

"How about at your parents place?"

"She did visit on occasion but that is almost four hours away," Nathaniel answered. Susan had described where it was many times even though I had never been to Minnesota. I knew it was in the northern part of the state.

Breaking in, I added, "Well, there is likely no better time than the present." After a moment, I asked, "Have you given any thought to where we might take her once we get her out of there. I am thinking perhaps about your parents place."

"They have been as worried about her as I have been," Nathaniel answered. "I am not looking forward to explaining what we are doing there in the middle of the night. I want to go after her tomorrow. She has been there far too long already."

"That's simple actually," I told him. "We are simply getting some clothes for her when we perform an intervention and stay light on the details. Tell them that we will be back by tomorrow evening" Turning towards Daniel, I asked, "Speaking of intervention, will we be able to break whatever hold the vampire has over her?"

He shook his head, "I don't know. Sometimes Medicine and Western Magic seem to not interact at all. They are just so different. I am also not the medicine man that my grandfather was. It really would be best if we killed the master vampire but don't know how tough he is. Also, getting to his sanctum is likely next to impossible."

Something that was what I was afraid of. "Well, we have to try to get her. I am not looking forward to fighting the vampire either so lets try that only as a last resort." Hold my arms up, I stated, "Tomorrow, Daniel and I will go into the house after her. In the meantime, lets get up to your parents house and find what we need. Might as well take a few minutes and pack up here. I don't think we plan to come back to the motel."

Chapter Eight:

Dressed in camouflage fatigue pants and a black sweatshirt, there was nothing to do but wait. This time, I packed my fathers 1911 and had several sharpened wooden stakes in my cargo pockets. I felt as nervous I had even been before a kick boxing match. Once the action started, just like with my matches, I knew it would resolve itself. Daniel and I were waiting just outside the fence hidden in some bush. We were waiting for Nathaniel to create the incident we had planned out. Hopefully it would distract them. I should have been exhausted but instead my adrenalin was pumping. My senses were on alert as if the wolf was ready for battle. She seemed to be telling me silently that she was.

Nathaniel and I had only been back for a little more than an hour. The drive up to the northern part of the state and back had taken most of the night. We had spend maybe half an hour there before heading back here. His parents were extremely worried, to the point where they were not curious about me. Nathaniel had promised that we would be back with her tonight. Still, we got the prize. We had found a comb which was hers and there were several of her hairs still on it.

As we waited, Daniel pulled out a bag of herbs and sprinkled it first on me and then on himself. An extremely weird sensation came over me as he did. They had a strange scent, nothing I could remember smelling before. He was chanting something in his native tongue. Suddenly, his voice faded out. I could still just barely hear it but it was like he was a good distance away. Turning towards him, it was like he was faded out and grey. He was not invisible but someone I felt I would not notice him if I was not looking for him. At the same time, I could not smell him either. The brush and trees were still distinct so I knew it was not my vision. After a few moments, he stopped chanting. He then warned me, "I have to also caution you that if you actually run into someone, the shock will break the Medicine."

It was only a few minutes later when Nathaniel staged his distraction. His truck made a fast turn and the bundle of two by fours on the back of his truck tumbled off. Nathaniel had left the strap which was suppose to hold the lumber secure off but instead had just tucked it in so it looked secure. It was quite a sight and the wood completely blocked the estate's main driveway. The noise from the lumber hitting the asphalt

Nathaniel got out and immediately started looking towards the pile, seeming to try to figure out how he might get it back on the flatbed. One of the guards also stepped out and even with my excellent hearing, I could not hear what was said. Within a few moments though, it was obvious that they were arguing. Apparently concerned with what was going on, the other guard stepped out to join up with his partner.

Waiting two more minutes and then I ran for the fence, allowing the argument to become even more heated. Looking back, I realized that Daniel was falling behind and slowed up my pace so her could keep up. Looking at the fence looming up, it looked incredibly high. The wolf told me that we could leap it though and I put everything into it. I was airborne and sailed over the fence. Landing on the other side, I rolled and came back on my feet. Looking over to the side, I saw that Daniel was right beside me. How he got over it, I had no idea but he managed it. That is what was important.

The house itself was another hundred yards beyond the fence and I started back running towards it. There was a side door which I was aiming at. It felt like every eye was on us and it seemed to take forever to get across even though it really only took a few second. If we could have gone in darkness, it would have been far better but then the vampire would be a danger. Between security guards and vampires, I would rather face the guards.

When I reached the door, it was locked. Instead of forcing the door, I dove into a sculptured bush beside the doorway. Daniel was only a few moments behind me and hid in the bush beside the one I had hidden in. While I was barely breathing hard, I could hear him panting like he had run a four minute mile. In our position, we could no longer see what was happening out front. We would just have to hope for the best and that Nathaniel could keep them distracted.

Standing up, I craned my neck to look into the window right above me. It was a hallway. I moved a couple of windows down and looked in again. Success, or at least I hoped so. It was hard to tell what its original purpose was but appeared to be being used as a storage room now. There were boxes piled up around the room. Taking a few more moments, I checked the doors into the room and there appeared to be closed as well. The boxes appeared to have some dust on them as well. People might sometimes use the room but rarely based on the dust.

Stripping off my sweatshirt, now just in a bra, I put the thick black material against the glass just above the window latch. Hopefully, it would hide the sound of the broken glass. I brought my fist fairly gently against the cloth. It broke with more noise that I would like but hopefully no one had heard it. I have heard it said that a noise you make often seems louder to you than it does to anyone else.

There was no glass on my sweatshirt after a hasty examination so I slid it back on. I had to pull a couple of pieces of glass out from the window frame to clear enough for my hand to reach through. I did not want to cut myself. Releasing the latch, I pushed the window open and climbed through. Even though the room was not in use, the floor was carpeted which should reduce any sounds of me landing in the room.

Waiting a few moments for me to clear out from in front of the window, Daniel followed me and landed right behind me. Whispering, I asked, "Are you ready."

He nodded and pulled out the hairs we had collected from her brush. He began whispering in his native tongue again, concentrating on them. He looked around and his eyes turned upwards. "She is upstairs. Once we get up there, I should be able to find where she is exactly."

I tried the door out to the hallway. This door was not locked and the handle turned smoothly. There was no betraying squeak as I opening the door. Once open a crack, I looked around. I saw no one and stepped through. Daniel followed behind me and closed the door so no one would go in and see the broken glass.

It was time to find the stairs now. Keeping my back to the wall, I started inching down the passageway. Mentally, I cursed how slow I was moving. At the first intersection, there was a staircase going up. Stealthily, with my companion still just behind me, I climbed the stairs.

It seemed to take forever but we finally reached the top of the stairs. So far, I had seen nobody and could only hope it continued. There were several hallways and there was a dozen doors visible from where we were standing. Just how many bedrooms did this estate have anyway, I asked myself. Looking towards Daniel, he nodded and brought out the hairs once again. It appeared that he was chanting the same words which he had before. He pointed down the passageway.

Just then, there was a person walking down the hall. Not a guard, maybe one of the vampire's guests. A man dressed in grey pants, perhaps silk, but had bare feet and no shirt on. Clean shaven, he was slim to the point where he could almost be considered gaunt. At least I could smell that he was human, not a vampire.

I slid to the side to allow him to pass. Daniel hugged the wall as well. The man walked passed us and his eyes only flickered on us for a moment and it was as if he never actually really saw us. It seemed as if this magic really did work. I was kind of skeptical about it. The man got to a a door and stepped in, never seeming to pay any attention to us.

Daniel had to repeat the ritual with the hairs several more times before found ourselves in front of a door. He nodded, "She should be in there." Gently, I pushed on the handle. The door was unlocked and it opened easily. Looking in, it was extremely dark in the room. Extremely thick curtains covered the windows. There was a bed which seemed to have white sheets. In it lay a small figure with long dark hair. The wolf sniffed at the air and the figure in the bed was female and had a scent similar to Nathaniel.

Abandoning caution, I stepped through. Going to the bed, I put my hands on the figure but it did not move. Suddenly scared, was I too late and waited too long to go after her, I pushed back the mane of dark hair and put my hand on the figure's neck. At first I felt no pulse but then could feel it. The pulse was weak but there was one. I could also hear her breathing shallowly. Exhaling a breath that I did not know I was holding, I whispered, "She's alive."

Turning the figure over, I pushed her dark hair away to reveal her face. It was Susan. What hit me was that she looked even worse that she had just a few days ago. Her face looked even older. It was something that I would not have believed before I had seen her like this. At least the wolf did not seem to consider her an easy meal. Perhaps she considered Susan to be a hurt member of the pack.

Looking over my shoulder, I could see that Daniel was scowling. He whispered, "Darkness clings around her. I have never seen anything like this. I don't know what I can do to help her."

"Well, we need to get out of here before the guards find us." With that, I wrapped the sheet gently around her and picked her up. She seemed so light although I did not know if it was due to my increased strength as a werewolf or that she had lost a huge amount of weight. Hoisting her to my shoulder, I headed out the door. She had not woken up at all which scared me as much as the way she looked.

It was then that our luck ran out. Not paying attention while carrying Susan, I ran right into someone. There was a tingling as the magic keeping me hidden collapsed. I guess it was another of the vampire's guest. All of these upstairs rooms likely held guests. The vampires likely resided in the basement to protect them from the sun. It was a woman, dressed in a almost see-through short nightgown. Blond haired, not dark like Susan although she was about the same height. The girl was slightly drawn looking, slightly wasted, but nothing like Susan. She came around the corner just as I was leaving the room. She screamed. There was no way that the guards or somebody would not hear her. Several people suddenly poked their heads out of various doors.

I did the only thing I could, I ran. Within a few moments, I reached the stairs and took them two at a time. Beside me, I could hear Daniel breathing hard. Carrying Susan, I could not take the stairs as fast as I would have liked. As it was, I was afraid of falling down the stairs or dropping Susan.

Once I reached the bottom of the stairs, instead of heading for the storage room, I planned for the doors. Maybe we could still get out of here before the guards reacted. Even the best guards usually took a few minutes to react to a situation.

Suddenly there was the sound of people running in front of us. As I came around a corner, there were a pair of black uniforms. Two security guards with crew cuts with heavy builds and tough expressions on their face. Tough likely is not the right word. A better term might be outright mean. As I skidded to a halt, their hands went to their weapons. Both drew their weapons and pointed them directly at me, appearing to be aiming for my chest. From what I could see, they looked like nine millimeters, most likely Glocks.

By this time, I was a few steps in front of Daniel and when I stopped abruptly, he stopped as well, hidden from their view. The magic which concealed him also might still be hiding him. Hopefully, they would not notice him. Gently, I lowered Susan to the ground, trying to keep my actions as non-threatening as possible. She laid on the ground. Through my running and my almost rough handling of her, she had not woken up.

I was just standing up when one just fired at me. Maybe it was an accident but I doubt it to be honest. It felt like I was hit by a giant sledgehammer. The round missed my heart but hit my left lung. At first the shock prevented me from feeling anything but that was only momentary. Then the pain began, my left lung felt like it was on fire. My knees buckled and I could see that I was leaking blood everywhere. It was then that the wolf seized control. As weak as I was, I could not fight her.

Through ears ringing from the gun firing, I heard one of them saying, "Another body to dispose of. I guess we should take the girl back to her room even though we might as well dispose of her along with this one." I felt a foot kick several times against me. Obviously, they did know at least something about what Lucas was up to.

Then I heard from the other heard "There might have been another one with her. Some of the guests reported that there were two of them while others said they only saw her. I don't see anybody else though" They were both looking down the corridor but did not seem to see Daniel. From the way they acted with me, they tended to shoot first and not bother to ask questions later.

Fur was growing on my back and my whole body was twisting and contorting. I could feel my face transforming into a muzzle and canines growing in. This transformation was far more rapid than anything I had ever experienced. It seemed like just moments later that I stood up on four legs. Apparently their ears were still ringing from the gun shot and could not hear the clothes ripping when I transformed. It appeared that considered me to no longer be a threat.

The bullet hole still hurt but the wolf did not seem to let it slow her down. I found myself launched myself at the closer of the two guards and bringing my jaws down against his throat. I think it was the one who shot me. He was just turning towards me as I impacted with him. While he did outweigh me, I was able to knock him down to the ground. Blood spurted as they closed. After a moment or two, the blood stopped and his heart stopped.

Standing over the downed guards body, I looked for the other guard. I found myself growling at him. Maybe he was afraid of dogs but he dropped his pistol and turned to make a run for it, quickly disappearing around the bend. The wolf wanted to chase him but she also wanted to protect the other members of the pack.

After a few moments, Daniel came around the corner. "Keep calm, Cami. We need to get out of here,"he told me in a surprisingly steady voice. He had to repeat himself several times but it did seem to work. The wolf allowed me to take control of myself.

Maybe it was the fact that the pain had already faded quite a bit and it appeared that I had almost stopped bleeding. The healing as a werewolf was incredible. Such a wound should have killed me without immediate medical attention.

Daniel picked up my gear and slung my holster over his shoulder. My clothes looked beyond repair but I had an extra set of sweat pants and a t-shirt in a bag in Nathaniel's truck a few blocks away. I wish he grabbed my boots but I could get new ones. It was not as if I could talk. With a grunt, he heaved Susan onto his shoulder. After a few moments, he told me, "Lets get moving." It seemed best to stay in my wolf form. Transforming into my human form would take too much time and it seemed to exhaust me.

Somehow, we were able to get to the truck without further incident. There were still the two guards by the gates but they were too far away to catch us before we were able to get over the fence. It was then only three blocks with Nathaniel's truck being parked in front of a house for rent. Nathaniel planned to take my Corvette up to his parents house and meet us later. I had made it clear that he needed to be out of Minneapolis / Saint Paul before nightfall. Still, he should have plenty of time. It was still not even afternoon yet.

It was an extended cab and the first thing Daniel did was open the back and lay Susan in the back seat of the truck. She still had not moved although she was still breathing. On the floor, he dropped my holster. Closing the door, Daniel next opened the front passenger door and I jumped in. After he saw that I was settled, he slammed door shut and he headed for the driver's side.

Even though the truck was older, a Nineteen Ninety-Five F-150 pickup, it was well taken care of. With the road salt used every winter, most vehicles did not last all that long. If I stayed here, I would need to garage my Corvette during the winter. The truck's engine started smoothly when he turned the key. The engine rumbled quietly. Without further wait, he put the truck in gear and drove off.

Finally, I could allow myself to return back to my human form. The wound had fully healed and no longer even twinged. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on becoming myself. Now that hurt although it did not seemed to have in the heat of battle. This transformation back also seemed to take far longer.

Finally, I was fully human once again and opened my eyes. The transformation left me feeling extremely weak. Suddenly, I realized that I was completely naked next to a man I had known only about a day. Immediately felt my cheeks turning red. It seemed to happen every time and it was something I really needed to get over. Hastily, I grabbed at the blanket which I had been sitting on and wrapped it around myself. Looking over the dash, I could see that we were on Interstate 35 going north. From the position of the sun, it was only around eleven in the morning. Looking at the clock radio in the center of the dash, it showed 11:17 on it.

"Hello," Daniel said

"Hi," I responded back.

"You seem to have recovered nicely from the bullet wound. I guess what my grandfather told me about werewolves was true then." he continued. "Wish I could recover from a bullet wound like that." Pulling open the blanket and I looked where the bullet had hit me. There was no more hole although blood covered my chest. The blood had mostly dried to being tacky although it did stain the blanket.

The bag with my extra clothes was on the floor in the back seat. I turned in my seat and leaned over to reach it. It took a couple of tries before I was able to grab it but I was able to finally to pull it to the front. Immediately, I pulled out the t-shirt and slid it over my arms. With my less than ample breasts, at least I did not really need a bra. It took some contortion in the cramped compartment but was able to finally get it on. The sweat pants were even harder and had to wiggle my hips for a couple of minutes until I could get them on. It was only there that

Finally, I was at least mostly dressed. I really should have grabbed a pair of sneakers but would be able to get some if we stopped at Walmart or something. I believe I saw one off the interstate when Nathaniel and I had driven to his parent's house last night. It was only then that I realized that I lost my watch when I had transformed to a wolf. Well, I certainly did not plan to go back for it. At least I had left my wallet and cell phone in the truck. You had to wonder if Lucas did not have the cops, at least the local ones, in his pockets.

My stomach rumbled. Granted since become a werewolf, I seemed to always be hungry, but these transformations seem to magnify it. There was no way I could make it all the way to our destination without eating something. I really needed to start getting into the habit of carrying snacks with me. "We need to get some food," I told Daniel. "Is there a McDonald's or Burger King near the highway?"

He looked at me extremely skeptically. I added, "Since becoming a werewolf, I seem to eat far more that I did previously. Transformations seem to consume even more energy. I am a bit concerned about how I might react if hunger truly takes over. We really need to stop somewhere."

"Sorry, while my grandfather told me a bit about werewolves, he never mentioned that. I don't know to the north of the city all that well. I live to the far west of here," He told me, "I believe that there is a Wendy's at the next exit."

Nodding back at him, I concentrated on anything beside food. My hands went to the nob of the radio as I tuned in one of the Eighties radio stations. In my car, I had replaced the old stereo system with one with a plug for an MP3 Player. At least the music did help to keep my mind off of food.

I was rewarded just a few minutes with the sign indicating that there was a Wendy's coming up at the next off-ramp. Taking the exit, within a few minutes we were in front of the drive through. Daniel looked at me strangely when I ordered four half pounders with bacon and a couple of large fries. Wendy's fries were not the best in my opinion but I was hungry. Maybe most of those people who win the eating contests are werewolves. Some of them were surprisingly skinny. Daniel added a quarter pounder and a small fry for himself.

Maybe fifteen minutes later, we were back on the interstate heading north again. Slowly, I began eating the burgers. I was glad that Daniel was driving so that I could truly enjoy them. As I ate, I felt energy returning and the grumbling in my stomach eased.

Daniel spoke to me between bites of his own burger, "You lost a lot of blood back there. I had been told about a werewolf's healing abilities but never seen anything like how you healed."

Nodding my head, my mouth still full of hamburger, bacon, and cheese. Gulping it down, I stated, "Well, I was paralyzed below the neck down before becoming a werewolf. Still, never been shot before. The wolf took over though and I am glad you were able to control the wolf. I wonder how he will explain the security guard getting killed."

"I am a bit concerned he could involve the cops," he responds back.

"Why?" I asked although a moment later I added, "Sorry, that sounds dumb."

"Actually, not such a dumb question," Daniel returned. "Us involved in medicine do not like to involve those who are not gifted especially the police. From what my grandfather to me, the supernatural community, mages, vampires, werewolves, and others don't like to involve the police or others who don't know about the supernatural in their affairs. Actually, they don't like to involve any mortals in their affairs."

"That does make some sort of sense. I know that before I became a werewolf myself, I did not believe in werewolves," I responded. "In general probably best if not may people know about us in general. I also get the feeling from the werewolf who made me that we usually police our own."

"Vampires are much more likely to be involved in the community with they claws in all sorts of things, or so I have been told," he continued, "The often have connections in entertainment or heavy political connections. While it is not too likely that the have the police in their pockets, it is quite likely that they have some sway. Still, hopefully they consider this their own affairs."

"All we can do is see what happens," I responded. "If they do have the police involved, they may be able to trace down where her parents live. I hope they just decide to leave us alone. Not looking forward to fighting a vampire who has been around for centuries."

Finished, I simply relaxed and watched the highway in front of us. All of a sudden, the weight of everything which happened fell on me and did not feel like talking anymore. From the lack of conversation from Daniel, I had a feeling he felt the same way. The road eventually began fading and I felt my eyes closing. Even with my energy returned, I was still tired. It had been a long night and I had gotten just a few minutes of sleep. Next thing I knew, I was out.

Chapter Nine:

The next thing I remember is the road under the truck was extremely rough. Opening my eyes slowly, it was pretty dark. At first I thought it was getting dark but then noted the trees all around the road. It was almost like we were driving through a tunnel of trees. The house was just north of the town of Nashwauk and this area of Minnesota, unlike the southern part of the state, was pretty heavily forested. There also was some hills although nothing like western South Carolina where there were some almost mountains. Lakes, of course, were just everywhere. I don't think I had ever seen so many lakes except for in Florida.

Sitting up, I looked around. It had been dark last night but I thought I recognized it as the road to Nathaniel's parents. It was a gravel road which appeared to be in need of being redone. I could not believe how long I had slept although I felt much better. Daniel had driven right by Duluth without me waking up. It was only the rough road which had woken me up.

Of course I had not asked if we could stop at Walmart to some new shoes. Unfortunately, both Susan and her mother had tiny feet and the men in the house seemed to have boats for feet. It would be bare feet until I could get a chance to get some. Well, maybe someone had a set of flip-flops which I could wear.

After a few more minutes, Daniel pulled into the driveway of Nathaniel's parents. They lived in a two story house which Nathaniel and Susan had both told me that their father had actually built himself. In the daylight, the house was painted a light tan although appeared to be off white in the darkness. Even the porch light did not do much to reveal the color. Susan had told me long stories about her father working on it when she was a young girl. From what Nathaniel had said, their father had slowed down some but was still as tough as an oak. From my quick impression last night, I thought he was right. Before he had retired, he had been a carpenter and the house he built for his wife and children had been his masterpiece.

Daniel barely shut the engine off when he stepped onto the porch. Mr Clark must have been waiting at the door for us to show up. There was a huge wrap around porch at the front of the house. I had been told a few times that there was a matching porch in the back of the house but I had not actually seen it. Moments later, Mrs Clark also stepped out of the house as well. Even though they were a couple of dozen yards away, worry was visible on both of their faces. I craned my neck around to look at Susan. She was still asleep in the back seat. Nothing seems to wake her up.

Pulling the door handle and swinging wide, I stretched my legs towards the ground. They were cramped for being half contorted in the front seat for several hours. The wolf seemed to perk her ears at the sound of birds in the trees. As well, she took in the odor of the forest and animals all around us. Obviously, she was glad to get out of the city.

Not wanting to get their hopes up, I did not smile at Susan's parents. Slowly, Susan's father began walking towards the truck. If anything, he looked even more worried than before.

After opening up the rear door, I gently pulled Susan up from where she was laying, keeping the blanket wrapped around her, keeping her face covered. Only a little bit of black hair escaped. I was haunted yet again about just how light she felt. At least I could still hear her breathing. With my hips, I bumped the door closed.

Carefully, I began walking towards her father with her cradled in my arms. I had to be additionally careful because I was in bare feet. The gravel did not really hurt but was rough enough that I had to be careful of my balance. Behind me, I heard the other door open as Daniel climbed out of the truck as well.

When we were just a few feet away from each other, Susan's father brought his hands up to where her face was hidden. They were roughened from years of hard labor but were extremely gentle. I wanted to tell him no but she was his daughter long before she was my friend. He removed the blanket from around her head and immediately gasped. Still, he recovered quickly and told me, "I will bring her upstairs. We have gotten her old room ready."

He held his hands out for me to hand her to him. Again, I did not want to give him her but passed her to him anyway. For just a few moments, he simply cradled her like he might have when she was just a baby. My own heart sunk when I realized just how easily he actually held her.

Suddenly, he turned and quickly headed back to the porch. Catching me by surprise by how quickly he moved, I followed a few steps behind. extremely long legged, his pace was surprisingly quick for a man in his mid sixties. His wife had not closed the front door and he barely slowed down entering the house.

In just a few moments he reached the hardwood stairs and took them two at a time. I was able to keep up with him easily enough but both his wife and Daniel had fallen behind quickly. It was a right turn at the top of the stairs and just a few steps to the room which had been hers as a little girl and still hers when she visited.

Laying her on the bed, he pulled the blanket from around her. He then pulled the blanket which had already been on the bed up to her chest. Gruffly he whispered, "She has lost a lot of weight and she looks older than I do. What happened to her?"

Being the only one in the room, although I could hear footsteps on the stairs, I could only assume he was talking to me. The problem was that I did not know how to answer him. I did not want to reveal what exactly happened with her but refused to lie to him. Taking a deep breath, I ventured "She fell in with the wrong crowd. What exactly they did with her, well that is hard to answer."

"Could a doctor help," he asked. "I could call our doctor. I think he would come if we called."

"I really don't know," came my reply. Cautiously, I added "Perhaps." Just then, Daniel reached the room with Susan's mother just a few steps behind. Both Susan and Nathaniel had told me their parents names but could not remember either one of their names.

Daniel stated, "I know a reservation doctor we can trust but not sure if we should involve any other doctor, Paul." That was the father's first name.

Susan's mother spoke just then. She had been silent so far. "We have known him for four decades and brought her into this world. If we can't trust him, we can't trust anyone."

"No, the problem is that the people who had her likely have some powerful friends. I think it would be best if we keep it quiet if at all possible," Daniel answered.

Paul scrunched up his face, "If what you say is true, there is something I need to get. If you guys will get out of the way" Squeezing his way by as we flattened against the wall, he stepped out from the room and headed further down the hallway. I presumed he was heading for their bedroom for something.

Susan's mother squeezed past us towards her daughter as soon as he had gotten by us. She kneeled beside the bed and began looking at her daughters face. "I almost don't recognize her." Her hand went to her daughter's lank hair and gently stroked it.

There was the sound of rummaging coming from another room. She stood up after a few minutes and told Daniel, "Go ahead and call your doctor. You brought her back to us. The least we can do is trust you." She then followed her husband further down the hall.

Standing there and looking at Susan's emaciated form, an idea formed in my mind. I could make her a werewolf. That would make her be able to fight this. The idea though collapsed almost as fast as it formed. The wolf who made me said that you had to be strong in order to survive the transformation. Strong in spirit if not in body. She seemed to be neither.

In the background, I could hear the sound of water in the direction where Susan's mother had headed. Daniel was talking in a low voice on the phone. I had not been paying too much attention to him talking to the doctor. He finished with, "I will see you tomorrow then," and closed his cell phone.

Turning towards Daniel I asked quietly, "I remember something about vampires being unable to enter a house uninvited. Do you know if that is true?"

Shaking his head, he replied, "Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is though a Medicine ritual which is suppose to prevent a vampire from entering. It needs to have the willingness of those who reside in the house for it to work though." He stood there thoughtfully.

Any answer which I might have given was interrupted by Susan's mother reentering the room. In her hands was a red plastic pan which I could see steam rising from. A washcloth hung off the side of the pan. She kneeled beside her daughter and dipped the cloth into the water. She then began washing her daughter's face, dipping the cloth back in the pan every so often.

It was only a few minutes later that Paul entered the bedroom once again. Under his arm was a lever action rifle. My own pistol was sitting still in the car. I had forgotten to grab it when I had picked Susan up. "I don't care who comes for her, they are going to find themselves with a fight on their hands."

It was not quite dark but the sun had set some time ago. It was already cooling down and likely would be below freezing before long. It was quite a change from South Carolina. There was the faint smell of burning wood in the house from the fire which Paul had lit a couple of hours ago. I was still not sure if I should call him Paul or Mr Clark myself. Huge stacks of wood surrounded the house, the work of all summer. Much of it was gathered from fallen trees.

Nathaniel had yet to arrive up here yet. I was beginning to worry about something having happened to him. Had the police arrested him as an accomplice. Were they on their way up here right now to arrest for the murder of the security guard. Listened on the radio and television all day and heard nothing either about what happened at the mansion or anything about Nathaniel. Not even a blurb about the truck dumping its load. Repeatedly, I picked up my phone to call his cell phone. Each time, I had put back down my phone without calling him.

I had spend most of the day checking on Susan. Spend a lot of time pacing as well. At least I had found a set of flip-flops which kind of fit. All the rest of the day, my best friend had not stirred. Her form had struck me over and over again just how emaciated she looked. It seemed like I could not get used to it. At least her mother had cleaned her up. While both her father and I had checked on Susan numerous times, her mother had barely left the room for most of the day sitting next to the bed.

There was a sudden creaking as I decided to check on them one more time. It grabbed my attentions and my hand moved to the pistol. My nerves were had been on fire all day. I had taken the time to grab it from the truck. When I turned my head, I saw that Susan sitting up in the bed. Her eyes though looked glazed as if no one was looking out from them. Her mother asked, "Susan, how are you?"

"Where is Lucas?" came the response and my heart sunk at the question. Her voice was fragile without her usual energies. I had filled her parents in as much as possible about Lucas without telling them about him being a vampire. They thought that he ran a sort of cult.

"No, dear," responded her mother. "He will never bother you again. You are safe at home."She pulled a stuffed bear from the side and placed it beside Susan.

"I need him,"Susan told her.

Unable to keep quiet any longer, I had to speak up. "Susan, it is Cami. What Lucas was doing to you, it is bad. We had to get you away from him."

"Cami, what are you doing here?" Susan asked, showing no sign that she even heard what I just told her. I did not know if it was good or bad that she at least seemed to recognize me.

Speaking slowly and distinctly, I responded, "I came here because you needed help." Hearing us talking, Susan's father walked into the room.

"Everything is great. All I need is Lucas."

Just now, Daniel entered the room as well. Whispering, I asked him, "Is there anything you can do?"

"I don't know," he answered in a whisper as well. "My Medicine teaching never covered something like this. " He said nothing further. Looking towards him, I could see that his lips moved as if he was chanting something inaudibly.

Still it appeared as if she was barely aware but Susan did look around finally. "Mom, Dad, what are you doing here with Cami?"

Her father responded, "You are at home, don't you recognize your bedroom?" There was no answer from my friend. All she did was fold her hands over her chest.

Shaking her head, Susan's mother stood up. "I will bring you something to eat." She then headed towards the door and after a few moments, I could hear her footsteps down the stairs.

Her father then told us, "I will be back in just a few minutes." With that, he walked out of the room as well. That left just Daniel and I in the room with Susan.

There was a long silence before I spoke again. "Daniel, what can you do?" I asked. Susan seemed to pay no attention.

"There is some kind of strings on her, binding her to him I would guess. It is the only way I can describe it. I am not really sure about the exact nature but I think that the vampire can use it to sense her, possibly even find her," he answered.

"Lucas and I are joined," Susan stated. "He will come for me."

"I don't think he can hear what she sees or be able to see what she sees. I also think it will take a bit of time to actually track her down," Daniel told me. "I don't think he will find her tonight but tomorrow or the next day. Not much longer though."

"Can you cut it somehow?" I asked. To me, my voice sounded almost pleading.

"If she had Tribal blood, maybe. I could cut it with a sacred fire I think. The problem is belief. She has to believe in the Medicine that it would work," he responds. "Medicine works by belief as much as anything."

Grabbing onto the slender hope, I asked "If you break it, will he still be able to track her down?"

"Maybe," he told me.

There was the sound of feet coming back up the stairs. "I think we should tell her father and mother the whole thing. If Lucas comes here, we may have to fight him," I added.

He shrugged almost unperceptively. "I am not sure."

What I was about to tell was interrupted by Susan's mother entering the room. In her hand was a bowl of soup which steam was rising from. My own stomach was rumbling from the inviting smell. She took her seat beside the bed once again. She brought the spoon to Susan's mouth. At least she swallowed the liquid down.

It was not but a few minutes later when I heard the familiar rumbling sound of eight cylinders of power. Susan's mom had managed to get her to eat most of the soup. Nathaniel had finally returned. My worry over him evaporated. One less thing to worry about at least.

"That is my 'Vette. Nathaniel is here finally. I will be back in a few minutes," I told everybody in the room.

"Nathaniel, Nathaniel is here as well?" Susan asked.

"Yes, I am sure that he will want to see you as well," I told her. I began backing out of the room slowly. Once out of the room, I turned around and headed towards the stairs.

When I reached the outside door, Nathaniel was already climbing out from the sleek black car. From how gingerly he was moving, it was obvious that his legs were cramped from the long time in the car. "Cami, how is my sister?"

Shaking my head, I began almost running towards him and my Corvette. "Not good. Lucas has his claws deep in her." I responded. "Daniel is not sure if he can do anything to help either."

His father had just stepped out of the door to the house as well. Stopping in front of Nathaniel, I wrapped my arms around him, "What happened to you? I was worried that the guards got you."

"Not much. It took a lot longer than I had expected to get the lumber picked up. I then had to explain to my boss what happened. I still have a job, by the way. Finally, there was a traffic accident on thirty-five. It seemed to take hours to clear it. You know, if you were so worried, you could have called me on my cell phone."

Shaking my head, I broke off from him. "Daniel thinks that Lucas will be coming for her. Maybe not tonight but probably tomorrow or the next day. I think we better tell your father and dad exactly what Lucas is."

I turned towards the passenger side of my glossy black baby and went inside and began digging into my gym back. It took me a moment or two of scrounging but found my extra sex of men's sneakers. They tend to be cheaper and I never liked pink girl's sneakers anyway. It might have been my imagination but it seemed like women’s sneakers fell apart quicker than mens. Digging in one of the pockets of the bag, I also pulled out a set of white sports socks.

I sat on the satiny fender of the corvette and slid the flip-flops off. Quickly, I put the socks and sneakers on. Wiggling my toes, they were a lot more comfortable than the flip-flops were. It took only a few moments although in the short time, Nathaniel had already disappeared inside of his parent's house. I hurried in after him.

It took some time but finally was able to talk Mr and Mrs Clark into leaving Susan for a few minutes. Nathaniel told them that we had something we had to tell them. From their expression, I had to wonder if they thought that we were going to get married or something. Well, what we had to say would not their socks right off when they found out.

Five of us sat in the living room. Daniel had joined Nathaniel, his parents, and I. The fire crackled in a stone fireplace. Mr and Mrs Clark sat in the couch with Daniel and Nathaniel each taking recliners. Unfortunately, there was no were for me to sit without furthering any wrong impressions they might have. Instead I leaned on the stones of the fireplace.

"I do not like taking you away from Susan right now," Nathaniel told his parents. "There is a further problem with her though." Mrs Clark's eyes got real wide suddenly although her husband remained more stoic. He hesitated before adding anymore but finally stated, "Lucas is not the leader of a cult as you were led to believe."

Correcting him, Daniel stated, "I think it would be more complete to tell them that he is more than a simple cult leader. He is a vampire. He has been draining her of life energies."

As one might expect, they both looked skeptical. "What Daniel is saying is true," I stated. "Nathaniel and I fought one of them just a few days ago."

Mr Clark was shaking his head and both had expressions that told me that they thought we were crazy. I was afraid that I would have to do this again. Beginning to feel like a show dog or something with having to keep transforming on command. How they would react to me afterwards was another worry. "I bet that you believe that werewolves as just fantasy as well."

With that, I began concentrating on bringing my wolf back out while at the same time keeping her calm. I did not want my inner wolf to attack them. Suddenly the pain hit me as the transformation began. I found myself doubling over. Through the pain, I could see Nathaniel holding his parents. Dimly, I could hear his mother ask, "What is happening." As the transformation continued, it felt like everything was on fire. The sound of cloth ripping told me that I was destroying yet another set of clothes. This was getting pretty expensive.

Finally, the pain stopped and I looked up at Mr and Mrs Clark through wolf eyes. It was such a relief for the pain to stop. Even so, I had to fight to keep from howling out. Shaking myself, the tattered clothing fell away and I stretched my legs. It was only a moment or so that they felt wobbly. I tucked my rear paws under my rump and sat up and listened to Nathaniel.

Nathaniel told them, "Don't worry, Cami will not attack. She told me that she was transformed into a wolf after she was paralyzed," He continued. "The details, I am not real sure of. She is a werewolf. Daniel practices Native American Medicine. Not as in a doctor but more like magic. I guess a term you might have heard is Shaman."

The wolf could smell their fear but I had her under control. I was afraid that she would escape my control and attack my friends. She seemed to be accepting more from me about who I considered to be pack. Maybe this would work eventually. Of course if I ever found myself in the same room as my mother and brothers again. My own anger at them might feed back on her and cause her to attack not matter how I fought it.

He continued, "Between the two of them, they managed to rescue Susan. I don't think there is any way that I could have done it myself. I did not want to tell you but we think that the vampire who had Susan, his name is Lucas, is going to be coming here for her. There seems to be some kind of connection between them that he can follow. As well, he may be after us for rescuing her in the first place. We have to figure out some way to fight them. He may have other vampires with him."

Mr Clark stated, "He is not getting my daughter without a fight." He paused for a moment before stating, "I don't plan to let them get you either. Cami either. Werewolf or not, after what she did for Susan, I consider her a daughter too." My heart jumped with that statement. It would be nice to belong somewhere.

I don't know if he would have included Daniel as well but the Indian man interrupted with, "I was thinking about the connection which the Vampire has between him and your daughter. Vampires do not just feed on blood but life energies as well. He took some kind of vital life force from her and somehow created a link between them. Perhaps he has life energy bound up in her as well."

Taking a breath, he continued, "The energy somehow needs to be returned to her. Otherwise, I am afraid that she may continue to live like a shell. I suspect he plans to kill her to get his own energies back. While I don't completely understand how the magic of this works, I think she could get back at least a good measure of her own life energies back if he was slain. I think that I may be able to guide Susan's life force back into her body and restore her. If it is like a spirit, I think I can redirect it back to the body instead of continuing beyond."

Mr Clark asked, "When do you think Lucas will be here?" His wife grabbed her husband's hand. He looked nervous but was mostly composed. As well, his scent of fear was not as strong as it had been. Instead, anger seemed to have replaced it. His wife was quite a different story. Fear continued to radiate from her.

I wanted to speak but I figured a growl would not assure anybody. Daniel responded though with, "I don't think they will be here tonight. I think he will want a night to prepare and figure out just where she has gone. It might be the next night but I doubt it. There is a faint chance tonight and we will stand guard but I expect it to be tomorrow night." He was quiet for a moment before adding, "The spirits seem to agree as well."

"What can we do," asked Mr Clark. "Do crosses work? How about stakes? What about the other items which are suppose to work according to movies."

"Remember what I know about vampires was told by my Grandfather," the young shaman responded. After the father nodded, he continued, "What I have been told is that any holy symbol, if you have faith in it, will work against vampires." From what I had been told by their daughter, neither Susan's mother or father were particularly religious. We might believe in something but nothing defined.

"As I told Nathaniel and Cami, there is a ritual which I can try which might keep them from entering the house. If it was the house of someone of my tribe, I am pretty sure it would work. You just don't have the right connections for me to be certain it will work," Daniel continued. "The real problem though is that if it works or not,, they can still do something like burn down the house."

"Like the stories though, they cannot move around during daylight. Sunlight burns them badly," Daniel told them. "That is why if they don't attack by dawn, we are safe. I don't think he will be ready to attack until tomorrow."

"As far as stakes, any weapon will kill them. They are very tough though. An injury which would kill a normal would do little to them. It has to be massive trauma in order to kill them. A bullet hole would not kill them although cutting over a vampires head would work," he told them, going over much the same ground as we had earlier. "Bullet wound should slow one down though. A bullet hole to the heart or head might stop them for a while but would not count on it being permanent. They are extremely strong as well, far stronger than any normal person."

After that, no one spoke for what seemed like hours. Eventually, Mrs Clark stated, "I will see about getting something to eat together." My stomach rumbled at the idea of food. These transformations took a lot out of me and I had just been transforming too often.

Taking advantage of the pause, I stood up and started padding my way to the bathroom. When I got there, the door remained open a bit and I was able to push the door open with my nose. There was a large towel in there which I could wrap around myself. Using my nose, I was able to push the door most of the way closed. Once I returned to my human form, I could call for someone to bring me some new clothes.

Each of us had decided to take turns watching Susan. We had finally talked Susan's mother into taking a break from watching her daughter. It was not like anyone would sleep tonight anyway. Every noise outside set my nerves off and I assume it was the same for everybody else. Still, it was finally getting close to sunrise. It was my turn to watch Susan. She was as pale as ever. Sometimes she would move around or moan slightly but there was little other reaction from her.

Soft footsteps could be heard coming down the hallway. It was easy to identify them as Susan's mom. The footsteps stopped at the door. The door to Susan's room was left just cracked open. Through the door, I could smell food. The wolf told me it was hand and her metaphysical ears perked up. She was always hungry.

A knock was heard on the door and Mrs Clark confirmed, "I made some ham and cheese sandwiches." It was real good to see that she had gotten over virtually all of her fear of me.

"Come on in," I replied. She walked in slowly and sat down. There was only one chair so she had to sit on the bed beside her daughter. I would have given her the seat but I could see that she was looking down at her daughter with concern.

I decided to concentrate on the sandwiches and give her a few moments. The plate was heavily laden. In addition to four sandwiches, she had piled a huge mound of chips. It was not thin lunch meat type ham but thick hunks of ham. Likely the meat came from a pig they had butchered themselves. She stated, "The way you eat, you are going to eat us out of house and home. Of course the way you have been eating, I would weigh about three hundred pounds in a month."

Swallowing the bite I had been checking, I answered guiltily, "It is the wolf. Since becoming a werewolf, my metabolism seems to have kicked into high gear. If we can make it through the next few days, I will help with the groceries. I have a bit of money."

She shook her head, "Don't worry about it. What do you plan to do once Susan recovers? Are you going to stay in Minnesota?"

"I have been considering where to go for the last month. I was thinking about becoming a kick boxing instructor. With being a werewolf, I don't think it would be fair for me to compete. I am now stronger than just about any male kick boxer. You can imagine what a fight between me and any female kick boxer would be like." I told her. "There is a settlement with the tournament which will continue to pay out. Probably not quite enough to live off of with any comfort but still a reasonable settlement. I have been dipping a bit into my savings but I still have a reasonable reserve. In the Navy, I was a Sea Bee. I could try to work in construction as well or go back to being a security guard. Doesn't pay the best but should be enough."

"If you want to stay here, you are welcome," she responded. Her voice got suddenly quite and asked me, "I am worried, will Susan become a vampire?"

Shaking my head, I responded, "From what I understand, a vampire has to transfer their own blood back to the person who they want to make a vampire."

Continuing in a quiet voice, if anything even quieter, she asked, "How about making her a werewolf. Could you do that and heal her?" There was just the bite of hope in her voice mixed with something I could not identify. Perhaps she was worried about what her husband might think of the idea.

Again, I had to shake my head. I wish I could help her in that manner myself. "No, the person who made me a werewolf told me that only somebody strong of will can survive the transformation. Whatever Lucas has done, he basically shattered her will. I think if I tried, I am pretty sure would kill her. The werewolf who attacked me almost had to claw me to death."

"Do you want to talk about what happened?" she asked.

Thinking about it for several moments. She appeared just about to get up. "I am still trying to get used to what happened. The actual attack hurt but was only pain. It certainly is a lot better than what would have happened otherwise. Death would have been better than being trapped in that bed for years. Not even half alive, slowly going crazy."

Susan's mother hand her hand out and placed in on top of mine. I could not help but continue, "I could see what it was doing to coach. It was destroying him just as surely as it was doing to me. I don't know how dying would have effected him."

This was the first time I had someone I could talk about this to. I was afraid to tell coach all of this. "My mother came by the day before the werewolf. She had my two brothers with her and a lawyer. She wanted to have me give her power of attorney. I thought she cared but no, she just wanted the money from the settlement. She did not care about me. She was likely hoping I would die."

Mrs Clark looked at me with sad eyes, "I really don't know what to tell you. I would like to tell you that your mother loves you deep inside but I can't say that. It would be a lie. Paul and I have always tried to do what was best for our children but I have known others who did not care."

"I was real little when my daddy died. I don't know what mother would have had done if he had lived but she had always lived on welfare," I told her. "I think she wanted me to do the same thing. She wanted me to just be a welfare mother."

For the longest time, we just sat there. She did not seem to have an answer for me although just talking to her seemed to help. Looking to the east, the sky was just beginning to lighten up. We were safe until the sun set once again.

Chapter Ten:

Sleep had been extremely elusive during the day and had not been able to catch more than a couple of hours sleep total. It had been in fits and starts, never longer than fifteen minutes at a stretch. From seeing the others, when I finally got up, none of the others had gotten much sleep either. The exception seemed to be Daniel. Maybe the spirit had helped him sleep or something.

During the day, Daniel's Indian doctor had visited. The man was obviously a professional but managed to mix Native American Arts with the training of a traditional doctor. He had examined Susan extremely carefully. The doctor had also talked to Daniel extensively in their native tongue with both of them looking quite grim. Afterwards, the doctor told that there was nothing which he could do.

Him and I were waiting for Lucas to get here. It could only be hoped at this stage that the plan would actually work. We had discussed it extensively. Probably we had in the end over discussed the subject and ended up discussing it in circles. It still did not stop me from coming up with the dozens of ways which the plan might end disastrously. It would go down tonight. Daniel had told me that the spirits had told him that Lucas was coming although they seem to have not told him exactly when.

Crouched in an evergreen thicket, we were hidden from view. The thicket was near the dirt road leading towards the household. As well, Daniel had called on those same spirits to help hide us. It was funny because I could not smell either of us even though he was standing only a few feet from me. He had told me that it was basically the same Medicine which he had used at Lucas's house. Not invisibility but simply make no one notice us. My own eyes seemed to have a hard time focusing on him when I looked in his direction.

The entire Clark family were waiting in the house. It was protected as best as Daniel could to prevent a vampire from entering the house although he had confessed that it would not likely stop Lucas. It very well might stop the vampires which were Lucas's minions though. From what Daniel had told us, it was less likely that the younger vampires could force their way through whatever he had protected the house with. Each of them were armed and were prepared to shoot and ask questions later.

Nathaniel was at an upstairs window and watching through the scope of a high powered hunting rifle. At his side was a crossbow. The one trip out of the house today had been to get as many crossbows as possible. If he got the chance, he was to try to shoot anyone out here through either the head or heart. That should at least slow down even a vampire or possibly kill them. He also had a revolver on his side and both his father and mother both had revolvers as well. Susan had told me long ago, much have been while were both still in that navy, about just how good a shot her mother was. Both of them waited in Susan's room.

While I also sported a crossbow, a pistol crossbow in my case, Daniel did not. Instead he had a recurve bow. It looked like it might be hand made. He also did not have store bought arrows but wood shafts with real feather fletchings. He indicated that the bow might contain some kind of magic as well. I did have my old 1911 also on my hip.

With the sun going down, Susan had begun tossing and writhing in her bed. In the end, I had to hold her down while her mother had tied her to the bed. It was something which we had all had hated to do but in the end none of us had not been able to come up with anything else. We could only hope that when Lucas was killed that she would return to some kind of semblance to normalcy.

Looking in the sky, the moon was still in the gibbous phase almost in its last quarter. The moon reminded just how short it had been since I actually had been a werewolf. It seemed like I had been a werewolf forever by this time but it had only been a few days since I first transformed. Silently, I told the wolf to react. The whole plan revolved around staying calm and dealing with him as a human while she wanted to rend him with her claws and take wrap her jaws around his throat. From the height in the sky, it was around ten in the evening and I had been waiting for hours and my legs were cramped. I had to move a little bit but I needed to be as quiet as possible just in case the came on foot.

In the distance, suddenly a set of headlights could be seen. The first thoughts in my mind was that it was likely Lucas but there was at least a bare possibly of it being a friend of the Clark's. I could only hope not because the odds were that they would be in grave danger because the vampires would be coming soon no matter what. A few moments later there were the sounds of a big powerful engine could be heard of the nature sounds and the wind. The vehicle looked too low off the ground to be a truck or an SUV. Behind the vehicle, I could see two more sets of headlights after a few moments. These appeared to be much higher off the ground, some kind of truck or SUV I would guess.

The first vehicle continued past where we were hiding. It was some kind of large limousine, perhaps a Mercedes from what I could see. Gloss Black, or some other dark and shiny color. Incongruently, the idea flashed in my mind about how cliche that was. It seemed like virtually every movie with Dracula in it, he rode in a black limousine of some sort. Most did have it being something old, a Rolls Royce or something like that. At least it should mean that it was not a friend of Susan's parents. They just did not seem to be the type who knew many people who regularly rode around in limos.

The second vehicle slid past me and it turned out to be a HumVee. Not a true military Hummer which I had experience with but the overpriced sports utility vehicles. The third vehicle turned out to be the same thing. Both of them appeared to be gloss black or some other dark color which appeared to be black in the darkness.

The vehicle slid to a halt where the road was blocked by Nathaniel's and Mr Clark's truck. They could not go to either side of the trucks without ending up in a ditch. They would have to cover about two hundred feet before they would reach the house. One of the rear doors opened up of the Limousine and a figure which appeared to be female stepped out. She was in what seemed to be some kind of filmy white dress.

A few moments later, a gunshot rang out from the house. A splay of blood from the back of her head could be seen and the woman fell to the ground. Whether she was dead or just injured I was not sure. The range was just too far for an accurate crossbow bolt although he had made the best of the situation and a 30-06 round to the brain is never a pretty sight.

There was a pregnant pause and it seemed like several minutes passed with no movement. Suddenly, all of the limo doors opened and what were virtually blurs ran from the car into the trees on either side of the road. Vampires certainly can move fast. There was no chance for Nathaniel to get a second round off. A few moments later, the passengers of both of the HumVee also bailed from their vehicles. Nathaniel expected it from the HumVees and got off a quick shot but it did not appear that he hit anything. Hitting one was better than I expected.

It was hard to get an accurate count on how many figures that climbed from the vehicles. A rough count might give around twenty which jumped from the truck and limousine. If what the vampire we had killed a couple of days ago did not lie about how many he had under him, that would be virtually all of the remaining vampires. A few might have remained in Saint Paul to control things for their master. Right now they were not any kind of concern.

I could only hope that the female vampire who had been with him when he had taken over Saint Paul was either the one with half a skull or still in the city. I had a feeling that she could very well be quite powerful as well. I had been hoping that far fewer would be with him. Hopefully, the remaining female vampires would not stay if we were able to kill their master. In order to do that, I would need to catch him away from the female vampires. Of course if they decided to continue fighting, I did not see any reasonable way of winning.

Looking around carefully, I saw that one figure was a bit bigger than the others. The vampire seemed to chose his female companions to be relatively petite. Not tiny, but maybe five-five or five-four. Lucas seemed to like to have his female vampire dress in dresses or gowns as well. Unlike the first one, these were all dressed in relatively dark colors. He was the only figure dressed in pants. Maybe a legacy of being several hundred years old. In those days, a woman would be ostracized for wearing anything other than what were seen as female garments.

He seemed to be wearing black jeans just like when I had seen him a few days of. Squinting to try and see, it appeared that he had something on his side. At first I though it was some kind of walking cane but after a few moments I realized what it was. It was some kind of long and slender sword. He had a number of swords in his mansion, maybe one of them.

Using the woods as cover, he approached the house. Even with the leaves having fallen, there was too much cover for Nathaniel to get a shot off on him. I quietly prowled after him, hoping to catch him by surprise. He did not seem to sense me, his attention focuses on the house. The magic which Daniel used prevented me from feeling his presence.

There was one of the female vampires behind one of the larger wood piles, hidden from view from anybody inside the house. Perhaps she was suppose to ambush anybody who tried to make a run for it. Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to sneak up behind Lucas with her waiting there. Her position though isolated and she was hidden from the other vampires as well. Maybe I could turn tables on her.

Cautiously, I crept up to where she was hiding. The stalk seemed to take forever but she did not seem to notice me approaching her from behind. It felt like murder but what choice did I have. From what Daniel had told me, she would be ash when the sun rose but it still did not feel right. I could reassure myself in believing all vampires are evil. After all, if I had believed in Werewolves, I would have believed them to be evil as well.

When I was just a few feet away, I grabbed her from behind. so she could not scream out, I brought my hand up to block her mouth. She fought me but she did not seem to be as strong as I was. Still, she was extremely hard to keep a hold of. I had made a number of wooden stakes earlier and one was ready in my hand. Not hesitating, I brought the wood into her chest. She collapsed to the ground. The whole fight had taken only a few moments and I did not think that it had made any more than a few scuffing sounds.

Going around, I saw a second vampire hiding. This one was hiding behind the smokehouse which I had seen earlier. Susan's parents smoked some of their meats. She was about a dozen and a half feet away. Instead of trying to sneak up behind her, I took careful aim with the pistol cross and waited for her to turn. When she did, I fired. The bolt flew true and hit her in the center of the heart. Leaving the hand crossbow where I was, I dove away to tried to get under better cover. Still, it seemed like none of the other vampires noticed what had happened to her.

In the time it had taken me to stake her with the crossbow, the majority of female vampires had snuck onto the porch. That seemed to be keeping their attention. Nathaniel should have had a chance to get a round off but he continued just waiting. In fact, it appeared as if he was not even looking down on them. Instead he seemed to be looking off into the distance. Daniel had stated that vampires could control with the mind by locking eyes with the victim but that they could do a number of other tricks at a longer distance without locking eyes. One of those was simply confusion. Being a werewolf gave me at least partial immunity to most of their abilities according to Daniel.

At least the magic which Daniel had cast seemed to work because they seemed unable to enter the house. One of them tried to bring her hand to the door nob. Suddenly she let go and shake her hand as if her hand was burned. Another one tried to throw herself through the window and she seemed to bounce an inch or so from the glass and ended up laying on her shapely ass. If the situation was not so serious, I would have laughed.

One of female vampires shouted to Lucas, who was still concealed in the woods, "We cannot get in. There is something preventing us from entering."

"It seems that they have some magic on their side," he responded. While he did not shout like the female, his voice seemed to carry. "Lets see if it will stop a master as well."

I had continued sneaking up on Lucas. At the moment he by himself. There would only be moments where I could get him this way. With his sword, I did not want to try to fight him close and had drawn my old forty-five and held it to my side. There was no way of knowing just how good with the sword he was but with potentially hundreds of years of practice, it seemed best to error on the side of caution. A few bullet wounds hopefully slow him down a bit though.

I began bringing the pistol up at the same time as I charged him. Suddenly, he turned towards me. At the same moment, he drew his sword. The blade seemed to glow in its own light with what looked like mystic symbols along the length of it. The weapon looked sharp enough to cut the air. He made a fancy leap towards me and brought down the blade. I felt a stinging sensation on my right arm and the old pistol flew from my hand. I managed to just away before he got me any harder.

"So you really think that I only used words to defeat the werewolves of Saint Paul," He taunted. "Granted, I was able to get many of them to kill each other. Still, I needed to deal with a few on my own. This sword was specially forged to slay werewolves though with silver infused into the blade. Any injury will not heal any faster than if you were a mortal human not the dog you are. Surrender Susan to me and I will slay you quickly."

My hand would not clench. He probably had severed the tendons but there was no time to look at it either. Whatever the case, it was pretty much useless at the moment. I did not waste my breath at responding to him. Instead I concentrated on just surviving. It also took much of my concentration to control the wolf. She wanted to break free and attack him. Lucas swung the sword back at me and this time I was able to dodge the silver blade. Still, he seemed to be an expert with the sword. My kick boxing training did not make me a real good judge of sword technique though. The training also did not do much to prepare me on how to fight to fight someone with a sword. A knife I could have dealt with but they had far less reach.

He was not done taunting me though. "This sword has tasted the blood of a dozen of you curs, many of them quite old and experienced. You are but a puppy with little clear idea of what it even means to be a werewolf. Maybe if tried to transform to wolf, you could beat me. Of course you would never survive to complete the transformation." Since that was pretty much my thoughts, I concentrated on keeping my wolf sister under control.

His sword continued to sweep towards me and I continued to dodge. I tried to step to the side but it seemed like I was continuously backing up. A couple of times he managed to get shallow cuts but the leather jacket had protected me so far. My brand new leather jacket would be ruined though. What I really was something to protect myself with. From my time as a security guard, I had a little experience with a baton.

Suddenly I felt my elbow hit something. I had backed up against one of the wood piles. Might have been the same one which I had staked the one vampire behind. An inspiration suddenly hit me and I grabbed a split log and threw it at him. It was solid even though much of the wood was from ground fallen wood. The vampire tried to duck but the log struck him a glancing blow on the shoulder. There was no time to follow it up and I did not think that it had actually hurt him either.

On the pile, I spied a piece of wood which would make an improvised club. I grabbed it and managed to parry his next blow with it. At least the club seemed solid. When he brought down another sword blow, I blocked with the tip instead of the side of the club. The blade sunk deep into the grain and stuck fast although he pulled the wood from my remaining hand. The weight though made it impossible to use the sword. He tried to hit the sword against the ground to free the blade from it.

Using the momentary distraction, I put all my strength into a kick. No, I did not aim the kick into his groin, which he might have expected, but instead into his knee. I heard a crunch as my foot hit. Patrick Swayze said in one of my favorite movies, "Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he'll drop like a stone." Unfortunately, it did not seem to work that way with the vampire. No, he limped back but did not drop.

At least he was forced to drop the sword, not having time to free it from the wood. He did not seem able to stand fully on his damaged knee which meant he could not effectively kick back. Still, his movements seemed to show that he was quite a skilled fighter unarmed as well. Of what martial art, I had no clue although it might have been just long years of experience.

He was able to block each blow I tried although I was able to stay far enough away that he could not bring any punches against me. Once or twice though he almost managed to get a hold on my legs. It did not help that I effectively had one working arm but had to wonder how this fight would go if we were both uninjured. Eventually, I should win with his knee shattered but my real concern was what were the female vampires doing. This fight had to be finished quickly.

The wolf wanted to latch her teeth around his throat but if I got caught transforming, he would kill me long before I could become a wolf. Instead, I made what looked like a dumb move. I dropped my guard to make it look like I was exposing myself. At the same time, I also let him get closer than I had before. As a trick, I had allowed my defenses to drop when I first started as a kick boxer although I never let one get this close. He feel for it, punching me in the abdomen and following the punch up with his hands up at my throat. Too close for a kick to his ankle, I instead kicked downwards into his foot. This was rewarded by a cracking sound a second time.

That foot collapsed and he fell to the ground. He managed to drag me down with him though. The vampire's hand was still at my throat and he continued squeezing. I was having trouble breathing and I felt faint. The wolf still wanted to be released but at least she did not fight me. He was incredibly strong and I did not know if I could fight both him and her at the same time.

I did not try to fight his hands with my remaining hand but instead brought my knee into his groin. That did not do much good so I reached around. Maybe there was a rock or something. My hand struck against the log which I had thrown at him. I slammed it with all my might against his head. He did not let go of my throat but his hand weakened. I struck with the heavy piece of wood against his head again and again. Somewhere along the way, he let go but I just kept hitting him over and over again. I don't know how long I continued but when I stopped, his head was smashed to a bloody pulp, no longer even recognizable as human.

Taking a deep breath, I stood up. When I did, I looked around to see where the female vampires were. Five of them were only a few feet away from where Lucas and I had bought. Three had arrows or bolts through their chest. One seemed to have her head blow out. It was pretty amazing that I had not even heard the rifle go off. Another one had been staked, I assume by Daniel.

Daniel was standing between the remaining vampires and where Lucas and I had been fighting. He had some kind of pouch held up. From it was a golden light. The female vampires had their hands up to their faces. I could see redness in their faces like as if they were sunburned. I had been told that sunlight would burn them. His magic seemed to be able to harness that.

If it was not for Daniel and Nathaniel, I would have been a goner. Looking at my right arm, it was covered in blood. The ground was also covered in blood and I had to have lost a lot of blood. I wrapped my other hand around it to stop the bleeding. It looked like it might need stitches.

When I looked up, the vampires which Daniel had been holding at bay seemed to just disappear. A moment later, I heard the engine of one of the Hummers rev up. While they had been left running with the doors open, they had only been idling. A few moments later, it swung around and raced back down the road away from the house. This was followed a few moments later with the second HumVee. There was not enough room for the limo to turn around but they seemed to have decided to just leave it. Yes, I could have easily chased them down in my Corvette but what was the point. Besides, my arm was still immobile.

Checking on Susan was all that was on my mind and I ran into the house and then up the stairs as fast as I could. Her brother and parents were both already in the room by the time I reached it. Daniel appeared to have been knocked around by one of the vampires and was limping a bit so he would be a few minutes.

Susan opened her eyes and looked at all of us. "Why am I so weak. He voice was strained but it lost that far away quality it had before." Locking her eyes on me, she added, "Cami, you are here. I thought you were in the hospital? I was suppose to go to the club tonight, Might meet a guy named Lucas." Her memories of the last few months seemed to be gone completely. Maybe she would recover.

"I think you will miss that date," is all I responded with.

By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2009, Kitsune. All rights reserved.