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The Tawny Eyes Of The Hunter

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“Then the second guy rushes me with this big, and I mean  big,  machete

Shaw leans back as the man shoves his fist in her face, too caught up in his story to care about personal space. Word is that he’s put out a hit on his ex-wife   and their daughter. Trash like him won’t be missed, and the cops won’t think to look for the body in her freezer.

She tunes him out, sipping her whiskey and surveying the bar. The clientele have been filtering out over the last hour, and those that have stayed don’t look like the kind to make trouble. If worst comes to worst she can drag him out under the pretense of a hookup, although the very thought leaves a bad taste in her mouth   or maybe that’s just the cheap whiskey. That’s one of the reasons bars make good hunting grounds. There are others as well, of course; the low lighting makes her look tired rather than revealing her dead pallor the way full sunlight does, and the staff tend to be used to mopping up blood.

The door creaks open and her attention snaps over to it. A tall, leather jacketed woman walks in with way too much swagger for someone turning up at a dive bar at 2am.

“Bloody mary,” she says, sliding onto the barstool on the other side of the mark.

He puts a shot glass down in front of her and pointedly fills it with vodka. She shrugs and downs it in one smooth movement. Her jackets shifts as she raises her arm, and doesn’t reveal the shoulder holster that Shaw had expected. Odd of her not to be carrying in a place like this. The mark pauses in his story, finally noticing that there’s another hot brunette in his orbit.

Hey  there,” he says to her. Shaw rolls her eyes and goes back to sizing up the woman. Brown hair and eyes; lanky in a way that says she’ll be faster than she is strong; fine features and high cheekbones.

“Hey,” the woman replies, tilting her head and smiling. It’s overly coy, but it’s not like she needs to put in much effort with him. Shaw glares at her behind his back.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?”

A flicker of disgust crosses her face, too quick for him to notice. “Heather,” she says, which is clearly a fake name; no-one called Heather comes to a place like this, and if they do, they lie about it.

“Blake.” Turning back to Shaw, he says “Where’d I get up to?”

“Maybe you should start over,” she replies with an insincere smile. Heather drums her fingers on the bar; she sits tense with anticipation, like she’s waiting for something, and Shaw nods in her direction. “Since we have a new friend.”

Heather perks up at that. “You haven’t introduced yourself.” She eyes Shaw with something between wariness and hunger    certainly with more interest than she’s looked at Blake. Shaw takes a sip of her whiskey rather than replying, and the tapping of Heather’s fingers resolves itself into morse code:  mine .

So that’s what this is about. She downs the last of her drink, weighs the glass thoughtfully in her hand, and hurls it at Heather’s head.

Heather ducks, her stool overturning with a crash, and that’s all the time she needs. She draws her gun from her thigh holder and fires. Heather grunts at the impact, then grins at her and rolls her shoulders.

Shit. This was meant to be a straightforward murder-kidnapping; she hadn’t come armed for a nonhuman. There’s the silver knife in her boot, of course   that’d better be enough.

She dodges sideways but Heather rams into her, throwing her backwards. A table catches her fall and she crashes through it; something in her shoulder crunches and she winces. Heather lands on top of her and presses down on it, smirking viciously at the grimace she draws out. Shaw drops her gun and jabs her knee upwards, snatching the knife from her boot. Her stab is intercepted with a hand to the wrist; she uses the movement to roll them over, pinning Heather to the ground with her free hand around her throat.

“This is fun,” Heather gasps. Shaw tries to drive the knife down, but she struggles against the strong grip holding her back. Heather grins up at her and her features start to twist, teeth elongating, brown fur sprouting through her skin. Her throat slips out of Shaw’s grip as her shoulders rip their way out of her jacket. The hand holding back Shaw’s wrist morphs into a paw, and the knife slams down into the floorboards at the sudden release.

Fucking  werewolves . Shaw yanks it out and jumps back, narrowly avoiding a newly-clawed swipe at her head. A crack rings through the bar as the last of Heather’s bones reform and she’s on her feet, panting and prowling towards Shaw. She falls into a fighting stance. Her instincts are screaming at her to run, but she’s well and truly cornered. Crap.

Heather crouches and springs. Shaw slashes out   thank fuck the attack was telegraphed   and catches her across the shoulder. Teeth sink into her forearm and the bone snaps. She punches her in the nose with her other hand. Heather yelps and lets go, but barges forward again. Shaw trips backward and crashes into the wall; stars flicker in front of her eyes, and she shakes her head to clear them. Claws rip searing lines across her stomach. She stabs forward and is rewarded with a howl, but it’s not enough; Heather reels backward for a second and then shakes herself, sending the blade flying. Shaw punches her again. The blow glances off her muzzle and she snarls. She lunges again and Shaw’s shoulder burns as she throws her arm up to block, but the attack goes low; the impact bowls her over and jaws clamp down on her leg and  her head thuds against the floor and

 

Fuck.  She lies still for a moment, overwhelmed by the ache in her skull. The bar is quiet   no,  silent .

Bad sign.

Carefully she opens her eyes, squinting against the light. Heather’s gone, presumably after Blake. The bartender is slumped across the bar, shotgun in hand, blood pooled under what’s left of his throat. There are no other bodies; anyone with sense would have booked it when the fight broke out, thank god.

She staggers to her feet. Her left leg flares with pain when she leans on it, but it doesn’t feel broken. There’s one upside to Heather killing the barman, at least: he’s an easy source of blood. She limps up to the bar, rolls him over with a grunt and laps at the remains of his neck; his blood is still warm, salty, sharp with adrenaline.

Her head starts to clear. Fuck, there’s a new werewolf in town? Now  she  has to compete for hunting grounds?  Just what she needs on top of the mess of undead turf wars that are constantly raging.

The bones of her arm start to knit back together, creaking slightly as they heal. Something scratches against her chest. She reaches down into her bra and pulls out a folded receipt. On the back in neat, blocky handwriting is written  You owe me a new jacket. I’ll see you around ;)     R