Vol. 2 - Cat and Mouse | i

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She was back to being alone again as she should be. As she should have been. Weeks had turned into months as she roamed through Asia, never staying in one place for too long feeling watched at every step. Before it had been a healthy case of paranoia, now it was a glaring fact. Eve had found her. Nerina was sure the red headed demon was not far behind. Taunting her by doing nothing. Eve played by her own perverse rules; did nothing unless it suited her. It would suit Eve just fine to leave her sweating with uncertainty.

A deadly game of cat and mouse. Nerina being the mouse as she always was. The weak pathetic little mouse going in circles. Dancing to the tune of the piper.

She could not close her eyes and not see them. Not hear their voices in her head accusing her of bringing death into their lives. Their bodies had been so—torn. There had been so much blood. And she had left them. By the time she had realized what she had done she was miles away. In that moment, she had thought of no one but herself. That was the height of her betrayal—she had left them. Now their faces haunted her and she accepted it as her due though nothing could ever make up for what she had caused.

Eve must have been watching her for some time. That alone made sense. But how? Nerina had been so careful. She had not picked up any signs that Eve had been that close. But then again Eve was older, stronger, and she had more tricks.

That was why Eve was the cat and she was the weak little mouse. With the scene from campsite now seared into her mind, her guilt had something else to feed it. There was no getting around the images even when she was wide-awake and her eyes were wide open. There were no screams but there were death-blinded eyes. Accusing eyes looking back at her with silent condemnation. We trusted you. You betrayed us. You killed us. Those eyes would haunt her forever and for a vampire forever was a long time.

Eve knew her weakness and would always have an upper hand because of it. Nerina was unable to let go of her human emotions. Human attachments. That was why her sire had lit her house on fire with her family inside. Why she had willed Nerina to watch and do nothing as their screams reverberated against the biting teeth of flames against skin.

Human emotions were Nerina's weakness. Emotions Eve wanted her to switch off. Nerina knew Eve's tactics; overload her emotions until she had to flip the switch to escape. It was one thing Eve could not will her to do. It had to be Nerina's choice. The red head was ensuring that the emotional load would be too heavy for her to bear. Nerina had flipped the switch once against the pain of the death of her family. Against the bone crushing guilt of having caused it. If she had stayed awake like Eve warned... Her sigh was heavy.

Nerina was determined to remain strong now. She knew that without her emotions she was a monster Eve could easily control. From the shadows, Eve was going to pull her strings in every maniacal way possible. An onslaught that would only end with her surrender. With her broken. With the sacrifice of blood and as many lives as was necessary for Eve to achieve her ultimate goal.

Forewarned was forearmed.

A pretty view from the outside but it was Eve she was dealing with. Things were going to get ugly. Messy ugly. She knew her sire would never hurt her directly and that made it all the more difficult. Eve was not one to be predictable and she was—creative. Underestimating her—creativity would be more than a mistake. It would be your life.

At the base of the Great Wall of China, Nerina stopped. Head back she looked towards the very top. The cries of those who had died to build it vibrated from the earth and wood used to make it. In the mountain regions, it would be stone. To her left and her right, the wall went on for miles. The Great Wall of China. Fortified with the blood, sweat and tears of millions over many dynasties.

Nerina scaled it like a six-foot wall with footholds. Another stop on her nomadic journey. At the top, she took two steps, stopped. Sensing that she was not alone, she glanced over her shoulder. Something. Not human. Another vampire. Eve had lectured her about staying away from those of their kind. Vampires could not be trusted. A picture effortlessly painted for her by her sire.

In too short a time she had encountered werewolves, a vengeful redhead and now she was standing on the Great Wall with her back turned to a predator. Nerina had made the mistake to stick around one time before and it was too soon to make the same mistake again.

The vampire, a man, had her drawing up short, her breath coming out in a gasp. He had blurred passed her and was now standing ten feet away hands behind his back.

"If you had wanted to make it off the wall you would have gone in the opposite direction. You were closer to the east than you are to the west."

In flight not fight mode Nerina turned but before she could run off there he was again. Unruffled his hands behind his back as if he had been standing there all along. The thought had her looking over her shoulder but he was not there. He was that fast. This vampire was older, stronger.

"Or you could have vaulted over the way you came and disappeared into the trees," the man continued.

Nerina's eyes shifted to the ledge.

"Redundant now that you know I can out run you so I can certainly catch you." A smile tilted the side of his mouth.

The stranger seemed friendly but she knew how deceptive vampires could be. How many victims had she charmed before she drained them of their blood and tossed them aside like garbage?

"Did she send you?" It would not be the worst of Eve's parlor tricks. Anyone who kept her company would have to be just as cruel. Or worse. Nerina had never imagined there could be worse.

"She?" He inquired genuinely interested.

It did not pacify Nerina. "Don't play games with me. She sent you to bring me back to her."

"No one sent me anywhere and if I am not mistaken I was here before you."

"Then why are you running after me."

He shrugged his shoulders. "An amusement of sorts. We vampires do bore easily."

Nerina slanted her eyes at the man. The laughter was not only in the tilt of his lips but in his voice and the wrinkles around his eyes.

"What possible cause would I have to murder a random girl in the middle of the night?" His brows knitted when he was finished. "Ah. An odd question. Maybe not the best considering..."

"That you are a vampire."

"You say it with such scorn as if you too are not a vampire."

Nerina gritted her teeth. She did not need a reminder of what she was. It was not something she could easily forget.

"If you are not here to capture me—"

"Or kill you," the unnamed man added. He was puzzled and slightly amused by the woman facing him.

"Then let me go."

He held up his hand palm towards her innocently. "I am not holding you captive. I was here before you. For all I know you were sent here to assassinate me."

"I am not much of an assassin," she said bitterly amused. She was running across the world frightened for her life. Frightened of one woman. Nerina was as cowardly as they came and she knew that. Weak. Limited by her human emotions. She was no fighter though she wished with every fiber of her being that she was.

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