Cat and Mouse | iii

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Grueling. Nerina had never imagined it would be so grueling. Steele was brutal, pushing her harder the more she complained. On her back, breathing heavy she could feel the soreness in her arms starting to ease. Before she could fully recover, Steele was standing over her.

"Again."

"I've been running my feet sore."

"You will heal. Again."

Nerina got to her feet scolding.

"Strength is nothing without speed. Speed. Strength. Agility. Cunning. Patience. Control."

Control. The one thing she sorely lacked. Nothing in her life seemed to be in her control. Everything was driven by some outside force she could not change or avoid. Running her feet bloody did not seem like an effective way to change all that. Nerina bit back her complaint. She had asked him for help and he was helping her though at this point she could not see the method of his madness being anything but madness.

"Again."

Just before dawn, Steele allowed her to go to ground. Until the sun went from the sky, she was free to rest. As soon as darkness fell across the land it was back to whatever Steele deemed necessary to prepare her to face what she was running from. Running... maybe, he was teaching her how to run faster.

Working with him Nerina had to admit that her senses expanded. She became faster. Stronger. She was not skilled enough to beat him in a fight but she was starting to hold her own. In other words, she was not getting pummeled just a little beat up. Nerina was beginning to feel more powerful. Without her emotions, she was more powerful but that was not an option for her. If she could harness even half of that now she was up for the challenge. Oddly, Nerina felt empowered. Though she kept looking over her shoulder because Eve was lurking somewhere in the shadows she no longer felt helpless.

Her optimism took a kick in the teeth the night Steele came to her barely able to stand still long enough to inform her that he had to leave. It had only been just over three months since he had started to train her. She felt empowered yes but nowhere close to where she felt she needed to be in order to take on Eve.

"You can't leave." The childish plead in her voice had her biting lips that were trembling.

"I have to."

She jogged after him. "Why?"

"An emergency."

"But you haven't taught me how to break the sire bond. She can still get to me."

"You can't break the bond."

Nerina stopped, stunned by his words. Steele cursed to himself when he realized what he had said. He had told her there was a way to break the bond between her sire.

"Nerina."

"You lied to me?" Why was she surprised? In the time they had been training together, he had not divulged anything about himself. Nothing about his life; past or present. They had focused solely on her training. To be fair, she had not volunteered any information about herself either. But he had lied to her. She had not lied to him.

"I didn't lie. I simply did not fully explain."

"You lied to me and I wasted all this time. She is going to find me. And she is going to kill me." Nerina knew there were worse things than death when it came to Eve. She was up against a twisted mind.

Steele took her by the shoulders and shook her silent as she went off into a frantic rant driven by dread and fear. Her teeth rattled causing her to clamp them together.

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