When my shift finished I left the diner immediately. I was too scared to think about the trial shifts Misty had given me, or the growing hungry that was making every human in the diner, seem like chocolate ice cream sundae. The man in the black trench coat filled my mind. Who was he? How did he know my name? But most importantly- did he suspect me?
Wynter Rae’s little shenanigans became a distant memory in the wake of this new potential crisis. Tearfully I stepped out of the diner and began towards the tree line. I intended to cut through the forest at vampire speed straight to the hotel, to Jacques. Hunter had offered to walk me home, but I had politely declined. I didn’t want to drag anybody else into this mess. I paused at the forest edge, listening careful to the night. The usual nocturnal hum that filled the midnight air was deathly quiet. No insects or birds or animals forging in the undergrowth. There was nothing, like a predator had scared them away. I stood at the forest edge not wanting to enter. I felt like I was being watched. I felt like I was being hunted.
I wanted to see a flash of something in the darkness. I wanted to know what was there. Peering into the darkness, I concentrated…
“I know, you said no- but, I couldn’t resist.” Hunter brushed up beside me suddenly making me jump a mile.
“Shit, you can move girl!” Hunter laughed.
I wanted to laugh with him and be a part of his little human joke, but I could feel the big bad wolf out there, staring at me. Reluctantly I moved away from the forest edge, back on to the path with Hunter.
“I’m sorry, you scared me.” I replied clutching my chest.
“You were thinking about cutting through that forest.” Hunter sighed.
“Do you think it’s dangerous?”
“Well, apart from the obvious bears and wolves, there are monsters Wynter Rae and half the town keep nagging on about.”
“I hope that’s a joke.”
“You would be amazed by the crazy legends that get flung round here, and the amount of people that believe it.”
“Do you believe?”
“Hell, no. I don’t even believe in God, let alone bogey man. People have always believed in crazy stuff. Something weird happens in the town and the monster gets blames.”
“What is the monster?”
“God knows. Wynter Rae thinks it ate her sister Cherry. Dumb kid can’t get over the fact that Cherry abandoned her. I tried showing her the security tape footage of Cherry at the bus station, but the kid ain’t having any of it.” Hunter shook his head.
No wonder her emotions kept waking me up like that. She pretends her sister is dead, to hide from the awful truth, that her sister abandoned her. My heart softened towards the girl, and suddenly I felt really ashamed about the way I had been thinking about her.
“That must be terrible.” I said.
“Yeah, but she’ll get over it. Cherry, never liked this town any way.”
“She should have written a letter to Wynter Rae explaining why she had left.”
“I’m sure Cherry would have, if she could write.”
“Cherry couldn’t write?”
“Neither can Wynter Rae. Their Daddy doesn’t believe in educating girls.”
“Some people are dumb like that.”
I was lost for words. I felt so angry and annoyed but at the same time really sad. Hunter read my expression and changed the subject.
“Hey, did you see that guy who came into the bar with the black trench? He was asking about you though,” Hunter said. “But don’t worry, me and Crystal told him, that we knew nothing about you. Crystal said you ran away from home with some…guy.”
Bitterness and anger, dripped from his voice when he said the word ‘guy’. He moved up close to me and looped his arm around mine, possessively.
“You know, I really want to take you up to the hot springs alone, Christie. Just the two of us, sitting in a warm bubbling hot spring… naked.”
I jerked my arm away from his and pulled away, “Hunter, I am married woman and I have made a commitment before God to him.” I blurted out, repeating a sentence of one of my favourite romance novels.
“Didn’t I say I’m an atheist?” He smirked.
“Darling!” Jacques voice rang across the road. Striding towards us, Jacques eyes were fixed on me. He never once glanced at Hunter, who had awkwardly moved inched away from me. As he came nearer, I opened my mouth to greet him, but Jacques reached out, pulling me abruptly against him and crushed his mouth over mine, kissing me hard. Shocked, I tried to struggle, but Jacques held me closer, purposefully taking his time to deliver a succession of excruciating long kisses in full view of Hunter. Holding me tight, he lifted his head up to acknowledge Hunter, who was standing there mouth open.