We Meet Again | iii

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After throwing the sword aside, she decided to stay where she was for a while. He was certainly in no hurry and she had all the time in the world. Unless of course the rest of his pack came storming through the trees. In which case, she would be in a bind. While she waited for the pain to run its course and the internal damage to heal, she felt the werewolf shifting back into a man. Slung across her body was one of his arms. As if the whole thing could not get any weirder, she was cuddled up with a dead werewolf.

Patched in the worst parts, she sat up groaning. There had been wounds along her side and back, plus where she had stabbed herself but those were fine. The wound on her shoulder, however, remained raw and swollen.

On her feet, she went over to check on Steele. Again, Nerina tried to wake him but there was no response. She checked him for wounds and found him covered in bite marks that were barely healing. Added to that, his skin was deathly cold. Steele had lost a lot of blood. Where was she going to get what he needed? Nerina flopped down beside him. Her shoulder burnt. Not a harsh pain, just a dull fiery kind of ache. She too needed blood but was in no shape to hunt. What she needed was a bit of rest to build up her energy.

Some time later, she woke with that energy. Not where she had fallen asleep but inside what was left of her humble abode.

"Finally awake."

She rolled over to see Steele sitting on a chair he had salvaged. Her shoulder was wrapped and he was covered in bandages as well.

"How long?"

"Not long. Few hours. Still some night left."

"Where did you get these bandages?" It would not have come from her stuff. Those were moldy and mildewed, carrying more germs and infections than she could think of. This was the rainforest. A tiny scratch could get you killed. If you were not a vampire or a werewolf.

"I travel prepared."

The only scents present were hers, his and the werewolves that were lying dead out in the forest. She got to her feet, testing her arm as she did. Her clothes still hung from her in threads in places where the werewolf had clawed her. It was her last good suit of clothes. Covered in dirt, caked in blood. Nerina tried not to think about it.

Steele could clearly see this was not the woman from the island. She was—tougher now. In an elemental kind of way. The way she spoke, the look in her eyes, the way she stood. The way she had taken down three werewolves. The woman he had left on the island would not have been able to cause the damage he had seen when he had woken up. When he reached for something behind him, he saw her go still. Coiled, waiting for him to make a move she did not like. He held up his other hand, moving now slowly to take something from behind him.

It was her swords. Nerina still did not stop watching him. Not the same woman at all.

"Where did you get these?"

"Couldn't you have found another place to crash into?" She took them from him leaving the ramshackle stack of rotten wood he suspected at one point had been her house and his question. Nerina had been here for some time.

It was half on its side with barely any room for him to stand to his full height. It was more than good fortune that had brought him to her. Being tracked by those werewolves, however, was not part of his plan. He had gone out searching for the scared little girl he regrettably had to leave behind but in her place, he found this woman. A woman who was more than capable of handling herself.

"The years have changed you," he was trying to make conversation.

Nerina wanted him gone. If he would not leave, she would. As far as she was concerned, she owed him nothing else. Many years ago, he had helped her and now she had helped him. That was the end of that. She scoffed impolitely at his comment about the years having changed her. He had no idea. Did the years change her? Or was it the cruelties that came with them? Her immortality was an issue that still had her going back and forth.

"Still running?"

She gave him a look over her shoulder. Steele noted how she held the swords. Nerina said nothing as she walked away.

"Where are you going?"

"You crashed my house. Now I have to find another place to live."

"Werewolf saliva slows down healing," he called after her. Steele knew he was stalling and with his stalling, she was becoming more impatient.

"The only reason I got bitten," she said spinning around, "was because you led them here. A coincidence, fine. But I won't be sticking around to be chomped on again. Consider my debt paid."

"Debt?"

"You helped me once. Tonight, I saved you. Now I move on and you don't follow me." Nerina spun around again heading away into the denser parts of the forest.

"You killed her."

Nerina stopped not facing him.

"How did it feel?"

"Like freedom." She blurred, leaving Steele alone.

Nerina went to a natural cave she had used only once before. It was not the best of locations because the entry was barely big enough for her to crawl through to get in and out. Vines and shrubs masked the entrance. Before sticking her head in she checked to make sure she was not intruding. Though it was small for her, it was the right size for a leopard to make it her den. The last thing she needed was teeth marks in her skull. She settled in. This was as good a place as any to hibernate. She shut down her system and drifted off.

Not again.

Jolted awake Nerina remained where she was underground. A dark scowl knitted her brows. She listened overhead and heard no heartbeat in the chamber or close nearby. That did not mean someone was not out there. She rose in the small chamber of the cave swords in hand looking at the little opening. If someone tried to get through, she would easily have his or her head. If she tried to get out and they were waiting directly at the entrance in ambush, they would have hers.


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