#Promo: Dirty Blood By Heather Hildenbrand
I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.
Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.
Up ahead, a movement caught my eye, pulling me out of my thoughts. I stopped short and felt my pulse jump at the unexpected company. I didn’t usually see anyone else in this part of the cut-through, but just past the next Dumpster, a girl with long blond hair and pointy-heeled boots stood in the center of the alley, shaking uncontrollably. I took a step towards her, wanting to help in some way, and then stopped again when I saw her face. She was glaring at me with a look of hatred so raw, it sent a shiver down my back.
“Um, are you okay?” I called out, still trying to understand why she was basically convulsing. Was she having a seizure? But she was managing to stay on her feet. Her gloved hands were balled into fists at her sides, and she was breathing heavily now. I tried again. “Do you need some help?” Something about the way she looked at me made my skin tingle. I shivered again.
“Help,” she repeated, through clenched teeth. “Right.” Her words dripped with sarcasm and unconcealed malice.
Then, before I could think of something to say to that, her shaking reached its crescendo and then she … exploded. There was really no other word for it. With a harsh ripping sound, her clothes disappeared, scattering into the air in tiny pieces. In the same second, her body seemed to waver and then morph, leaving in its place the largest wolf I’d ever seen. My jaw dropped. Was I crazy, or had that girl just turned into a giant dog?
I had a split second to stare at her before she charged. The brown fur became nothing more than a blur as she rushed forward, teeth bared, claws extended. In that moment, I was completely sure that I was going to die. I didn’t even have time to be afraid; it would all be over too quickly.
Then, somehow, though my conscious brain had nothing to do with it, my body reacted. Just before impact, I twisted aside, dodging her. Using my body’s momentum, I brought my hand around and swung. I hadn’t even realized I’d made a fist, but my knuckles connected and I heard the crack of bone as my hand slammed into the wolf’s cheek. The hit drove it—her?—back a few paces, but then she straightened and seemed to right herself. Her yellow eyes locked onto mine and she came again. I shed my jacket, and let it fall next to me on the concrete; some hidden part of me knew I needed better use of my limbs.
Three more times I managed to dodge the wolf as she lunged. On the fourth, her claws caught on my shirt and raked down my abdomen on either side, driving me back. I stumbled and fell. My back slammed onto the pavement with a hard thud. Again, I accepted my inevitable death. I watched as she continued to come at me, slower and more confident now that I was on the ground. All I could see were razor canines aimed straight for my throat. I cringed and turned away, unable to look into those bright yellow eyes, knowing what was coming. When I turned, a glint of slivered moonlight caught a piece of piping nearby, probably meant for the Dumpster but somehow had landed here.
Again, subconscious reasoning took over and I felt myself reaching for it, my hand closing around the cold steel. With a grunt, I swung out.
I hadn’t expected to actually land the blow or for the crack to be quite so loud. I felt the vibrations from it all the way up my arm but managed to hold onto the pipe until I felt the wolf’s weight go slack. She crumpled in a heap, half on top of me. I pushed her aside, which wasn’t easy, and scrambled to my feet. I stood, staring down at the giant mass of fur, wondering how in the world no one else had noticed what just happened.
As I stared, the wolf’s form began to shake and then shimmer around the edges, going hazy, and then finally, it was the girl again. Her long hair covered her face in stringy waves, matting to her head on the side where the pipe had made contact. Blood seeped slow and steady from the wound to the pavement. Her body was naked and curled together, almost fetal, except for her knee wedged at an unnatural angle. I could see that her eyes were open and staring vacantly but I didn’t linger on that. I couldn’t. Shock and disbelief surged through me as I gaped at her crumpled form, struggling to accept what I was seeing. No way. It was impossible. People couldn’t be … wolves. That was a myth. A way for Hollywood to cash in.
But there was no mistaking it. The girl lying in a heap in front of me was definitely the same girl as before. And she smelled, distinctly, of animal.
I kept hoping she’d move, or at least groan, from the pain of the head trauma. Ignoring the feminine details of her bare body, I stared hard at her shoulders and chest, looking for any sign that might indicate breathing. I didn’t see any. And I knew, deep down, that I wouldn’t.
My hands began to shake. Maybe from the cold, but I was too numb to feel the temperature against my skin. I took a step back and stumbled.
Hands closed around me, keeping me upright. I jolted and tried to jerk away from the unexpected contact. A strangled scream escaped my lips as the hands whirled me around to face my attacker.
“Whoa, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.
I didn’t answer. My ability to speak coherently had been momentarily lost; any sound would’ve been a scream, anyway. My breath came in uneven gasps and he waited until I got myself under control.
There was concern in his eyes but that didn’t go very far with me. I noticed vaguely that his eyes were the same exact color as his hair, a sort of bronzed brown. The color was fascinating: unlike anything I’d ever seen, and they seemed to hold some dark edge that hinted at danger, no matter how gentle they got. The rest of him wasn’t bad, either. His face matched his eyes, rugged and hard edges from his cheekbones to his jaw. When he’d spun me around, I’d grabbed out to steady myself and even now my hands still rested on his shoulders, where I’d first gripped. Underneath my fingers, and the leather of his jacket, was solid muscle.
The fact that I was actually checking him out—just moments after killing a girl—was my first clue I was in shock.
At least I’ve got plenty to take my mind off the fact that my psycho cousin, Miles De’Luca, keeps calling and declaring his love and promising to come for me just as soon as he’s destroyed anyone standing in our way. Wes isn’t going to like that idea. So between Miles, Wood Point’s evil welcoming committee, and the drill sergeant hottie trainer from hell, I just keep asking myself, how did I end up here?
If I had to choose one word to sum up all of my problems, this would be it.
Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to watch my best friend slowly becoming a monster. Without hybrids, I could let go of the mentality “hunt or be hunted.” CHAS wouldn’t be scouring the Earth, intent on slaughtering and using Alex to do it. Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to be on guard that losing my temper meant losing my shape. There would be no monster inside me, struggling to get out.
Then again, without hybrids, I wouldn’t have Wesley St. John.
About the Author
Heather is also a publishing and success coach bent on equipping and educating artists who call themselves authors. She loves teaching fellow writers how to create the same freedom-based lifestyle she enjoys. For more information visitwww.phoenixauthorink.com and find out how to create your own OutRAGEous Life.