We Meet Again | ii

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The heartbeat stuttered, stopped. The werewolf was dead. There was no telling where the vampire was if it left. In an attempt to avoid it all Nerina waited. She waited for a long time before she emerged. Just her dumb luck. Trouble had tracked her down once again. She wanted no part of it. It was time to move. Humans encroaching that was one thing this was another.

In what was the living room, slash her sleeping area there were two bodies. One certainly dead, the other — unconfirmed. The dead man was as naked as she was lying on his face with an ugly hole in his back. The second, a vampire, was slumped in the corner. Nerina would not know if he was still alive unless she checked which she was not. Hastily she grabbed a shirt and breeches dragging them on, hopping as she headed for what used to be the door. Her quiet little oasis had been disturbed and walking around naked no longer had an earthy feel to it.

She was buttoning up her shirt almost out the door, now a hole in the wall, when she heard a low groan. Not dead, not dead at all. Time to go.

"Nerina?"

Freeze.

One foot off the ground the other one planted, she did not breathe. That was her name. How did this vampire know her name? In that same moment, Nerina noticed movements around them. Left and right. Heartbeats. Surrounded. Nerina cursed. She took a step back stumbling over the dead body coming down hard on her backside. She let out a huff before a long string of unladylike curses. She scrambled to her feet.

Werewolves. There was a dead one at her feet and his pack heading in her direction and a vampire out of commission. She was outnumbered. She cursed again. If only good luck chased her screaming like the bad luck did. Nerina was in the middle of the rainforest for crying out loud. It was a huge place, why did they all end up here? Her little oasis.

As the werewolves drew closer, she registered for the first time a slight scent of familiarity. An old one she could not place but it was there nonetheless. She knew the man in the corner too. Nerina went quickly to him holding him up by the shoulder as she shook him. She needed reinforcements and this was his problem after all. He did not budge an inch falling to the side when she let him go. She held him up by the face trying to picture him without the heavy matte of hair that surrounded his face.

"Steele?"

He did not answer. He was out. She was outnumbered. His problem had them surrounded. Nerina stood wanting to kick him before she walked slowly to the door. Outside, she could see eyes glowing back at her from the shadows of the trees. Three pairs, teeth bare, low throaty growls. She sighed resigned to what was going to happen. She closed her eyes briefly then stepped outside.

"Something I can help you all with?"

One of them turned his nose up sniffing the air. Well of course. There was no way to hide the scent that was inside her little abode. Trouble, trouble, trouble, there was going to be a fight. Did it matter who started it?

Three to one was a fair enough disadvantage. She had faced worse odds and had made it out alive. She had faced werewolves before too but when she had, she had help—in a sense. Silver bullets meant for them as much as they were for her. In this case, however, Nerina took a proper beating. They broke bones faster than she could heal. More than once, she told herself to stay down, pretend she was dead but each time she ignored herself and got up just to be knocked down again—harder.

Nerina barely got in a punch and she was not the helpless damsel she once was. Maybe then, she had fought pups and now she was fighting grown men. That would explain it. She was on her back again her blood like liquid lead in her mouth. Nerina rolled over onto her side spitting out blood expecting to see a tooth with it. She was lifted off the ground by her hair to face the one who held her. His claws bit into her scalp as he bunched her hair tighter into his fist. Her hair had had time to grow back so he had ample purchase.

Over the enormous bulk of his shoulder, she watched squirming as the other two enlarged the hole in her wall. There was basically nothing left of the place. She kicked him hard thinking it would hurt. If it did, he did not give it away. Nerina felt like she had fractured her leg in the process. He was nothing but concrete blocks of raw muscle. Not a pup at all. Seconds later the other two came out; one with Steele over his shoulder, the other carrying his fallen comrade.

The monster holding her glanced over his shoulder then back at her the side of his mouth lifting up in a mean snarl. As if she was no concern at all, he threw her aside. Nerina slammed into the thick trunk of a tree, air rushing out of her lung. Splinters and broken bits rained down on her back when she hit the ground.

Taking up the rear of the small group, the werewolf who had thrown Nerina stopped. The other two continued with their loads missing what had obviously put him on alert. He felt movement coming towards them. He scented the air in the direction he had sensed movements but nothing came to him. Though there was no evidence the hair on the back of his neck told him something was off. Taking deliberate steps backward, he continued to move in the direction of his pack.

His growl was low as he lowered his head, ears going back at the scent of freshly spilled blood. In the silence of the rainforest, the slicing of flesh and the heavy thuds that followed were unusually loud. His anger was a fierce beast when he turned to find his comrades decapitated. The guttural sound he made promised her nothing but pain.

Nerina stood before him, not the woman he had slapped around so easily. Swords out to her side, blood from his fallen comrades dripping off the cold steel blade, she gave him a taunting grin. Splatters of blood dotted her face. She did not attempt to remove them. As she watched him, she brought the blades together. The scraping of metal on metal sliced through the tension and the heavy cloak of silence that covered the night. As the forest held her breath, everything that dwelled within heeded her warning.

"I don't think we have been properly introduced," Nerina rolled her shoulders. "I'm ready when you are."

Vampire and werewolf came at each other, fangs and swords, teeth and claws. It was a dance of death. The werewolf outmaneuvered Nerina getting the advantage to come up from behind sinking his razor sharp teeth into her shoulder. She could feel the pressure he exerted as his teeth began to scrape against bone. His claws dug into her side to keep her in place. His full intent was to rip her to shreds with his teeth.

Nerina had one of her swords, the other lying in the foliage somewhere. She had only one option in this position. His jaws were vice grips pulling to tear her apart. Faced with impending death, she impaled herself with the blade. Nerina shoved the sword through her torso pushing it at an upward angle her aim to stab the werewolf in the heart. Aiming for his heart, she sliced open her own lung biting down on the excruciating pain.

When the werewolf tried to unlock his jaw from her shoulder, she held him there with her free hand. Nerina forced the sword deeper, blocking her own pain as it went through her into him. The werewolf collapsed forward—dead—the force as they hit the ground buried the sword to the hilt through Nerina with the tip protruding from the werewolf's back.

Pain, a degree higher than she could process all at once had her blacking out. She was out for only a few minutes. The first thing she tried was to move. Pinned. To say between a rock and a hard place was an understatement. The werewolf felt like he weighed a ton. Added to that she had been out long enough that scar tissue had grown around the sword that had them skewered together.

Bad idea, now the thought came to her. It had seemed like a good one at the time she did it. When she thought she was going to die. She had not thought so far ahead to this point when she would be pinned and skewered.

The pain had her breath wheezing out as the slice in her lung opened again when she shifted. By the time she had flipped herself and the beast to their sides she was dizzy. Now instead of under him she was curled up on her side but there was still the matter of the sword holding them together. She closed her mind taking a deep breath. With urgency more than care, she yanked the sword from her chest gasping. No, she had not thought this whole thing through at all.


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