Death Hunter



Author:  UTsSQ

Rated:  NC-17 for Language, violence, graphic sexual situations

Features:  Kane, Taker, various--and yes, I call Glen Glen--1 N, never 2.  I just don't like the way the 2 N thing looks. 


A/N:  I have not been inspired to write a fic that features wrestlers in a while, so this is kind of a surprise. 


Summary:  Vampires.  Demons.  Werewolves.  Bounty hunters determined to collect their quarry. Yeah, roads I've traveled a few times before.  This time all thrown together in a nice little heap and stirred with an evil stick.  Enjoy.







He knew something was wrong as soon as his plane touched down at the airport.


It was nothing concrete.  A hollow pain in his stomach.  The feel of cold-as-ice phantom fingers on the back of his neck.  He felt as if he were moving in slow motion as he grabbed his carry-on bag and shouldered his way off the plane. 


There was no reason to hurry.  But he had this...urge, rush, to get home.  Before...


He'd been out of town for a week on a business trip.  No big deal.  Buying another rental property in an area where he was already well known and respected.  He'd made the trip a hundred times in the past five years, and he expected to make it even more as he expanded his holdings.


But this...he tried to take a deep breath, tried to reign in the sense of urgency that all but overwhelmed him.  He hadn't felt anything like this since...


He refused to let the thought form.  He'd worked long and hard to put his past where it belonged.  Behind him.  Buried and forgotten by time and by living a normal life.  He had everything he had ever wanted now.  A beautiful wife, an energetic four year old son, a rambling home that he'd had custom built.  He was happy, content.  And now...this.


He clenched his teeth as the cold phantom hands once again caressed the back of his neck.  Ridiculous to have these damn feelings.  There was nothing wrong.  He was just fatigued.  The flight had seemed to take forever and he just wanted to go home.  That had to be it.


But that did not stop the feeling from continuing.  And growing.  By the time he reached his car, parked in the long term lot, his nerves were practically screaming at him.  He slammed the key into the lock and then leaned forward and let his overheated forehead rest on the cold metal of the roof of the car.  He took in a deep breath.  Then another.  Eyes closed, hand tightened on the key in a death grip, he finally straightened up. 


He forced himself to slowly open the car door and slipped inside.  Although his movements were liquid, smooth, graceful he felt as if every fiber of his being was vibrating, thrumming.  It was bad, then, and was getting worse.  Something was close...something was...


Once again he forced himself to stop.  Thinking about the past would do him no good.  This...intuition of his had been something of a unique trait in his former life.  A talent that he had built up over the years and used with no doubts in his strange ability to sense things.  But he'd stopped using it, had let it lie dormant for so very long.  And suddenly he felt as if his nerve endings were aflame.  As if he had never stopped using it for even a moment. 


He guided the car through the lot and onto the interstate.  In half an hour he'd be home and this incident would seem like some kind of dream, a momentary fugue, a sensory overload...thing.  He could write it off and settle in with his wife and son for the night, and forget this episode ever happened.


At least that was what he told himself.  He did not notice the speedometer of his car climbing steadily past the legal limit.  Did not see the blur of other cars as he shot past them.  He was deep in his thought and was being driven solely by the intense need to GO.  To get to...whatever was causing this sudden upheaval of his life.


He careened into his driveway and slammed the brakes hard enough to lock them up.  Surprised out of his jumbled thoughts, he stared at the front of his house, the first faint tremor of fear going through him.  No.  Everything was fine.  The house looked so peaceful.  A few lights glowed through the windows, looking inviting on this chilly spring night.


He climbed out of the car and walked toward the front porch, relief mingling with his fear, the strange thrumming still vibrating through his body.  If he could just get into the house, through the door, he'd be all right.  He'd see he was being over dramatic, that his intuition, his sense, had just had a momentary flare up.  He was already jingling his keys, seeking the one that would unlock the door...


The door was already open.


He halted in his tracks and stared wide eyed.  The door was not just open.  It was splintered, the bottom half had a strange mangled look, the knob dangled precariously on the edge of falling off completely.  The top hinge looked warped, twisted.  He suddenly could not breath.  His throat had closed,  he could not get any air.  He tried to swallow and produced only a dry click. 




The single word was softly spoken, out of his mouth and voiced before he was even aware he was going to speak.  It seemed to unlock him, to free him, and he ran forward, mindless of the crunch of broken glass under his feet as he entered the foyer of his home.  The entryway table was splintered in half, the crystal vase of fresh cut flowers that always greeted him was laying on the floor, broken, shattered.  He did not care.  It wasn't important. 




He shouted his wife's name, scaring himself at the tremor in his voice.  There was no answer, the house was completely silent.  Tomb silent. 


That thought did nothing to calm him.  Running now, he called her name over and over, glancing into rooms and moving on, his fear and urgency growing with every step.  Every room had been destroyed.  That much registered.  Books were ripped to shreds and thrown to the floor.  Glass broken.  Pictures there slashed, crushed, discarded.  The furniture was tumbled, fabric shredded.  And his Jack's toys...


He could not look at it anymore.  Frantic, he ran up the stairs, already knowing what he would find, but knowing too that he would have to find it.  To find them.  So much destruction...there was no hope that the ones he loved, his family, had made it through unscathed.


Jack was not in his room.  His son’s was the only room in the house that appeared not to have been touched at all.  Everything was exactly as he remembered it.  Backing from the door, he glanced warily at the master bedroom.  The door was cracked open and yellow light spilled into the hallway.  The urgency was gone, as suddenly as it had come upon him.  And now he felt as if he were really in a dream, moving forward almost against his will, fingers tenting to push the door open.


The light hid nothing.  Blood.  So much blood.  On the walls, the floor...the ceiling.  And on the bed, on his bed, on the bed they had shared...Angie.  Her naked body was torn, covered with marks and scratches, spread across the dark comforter as if to mock him.  Her eyes were open, the pain and the fear she had felt at her death still marking them.  Marking him.  Accusing him for not having stopped this from happening. 


He could not move forward, could not go to her.  His son.  He had still not found his boy.  And he would not be found...not here, not at this house.  Jack had been taken, his wife brutally murdered.  He had to find him.  He had to find his boy.  His son was the only thing he had left.  If he was still alive.



One Year Later




Something was up.


Taker's house was never technically calm, too many people running in and out at all hours of the day and night, but this was even more crowded than usual.


Christine pushed her way through the group of people standing on the porch, nodding when she was called but not stopping to chat.  She'd just gotten back from two weeks in Los Angeles and she was dead on her feet, jet lagged, and just generally out of sorts. 


"Chris!"  She had barely gotten into the foyer of the house when someone called her name. 


"Could I at least come all the way into the house before you swamp me?" She grumped, turning to see Allison rushing toward her.


"Sorry.  Come in, how was the trip, did you find it?"  Allison's words ran together.  Chris took a moment to decipher what she had said.


"It sucked, and yeah, I got it."


"Good.  Great!"  Enthused, Allison took her arm above the elbow and began tugging her toward the stairs.  "Taker's up in his office.  He wanted me to bring you up as soon as you got here."


"Whoa, wait up.  You want to tell me what's going on here first?  Looks like a damn company picnic or something."  Christine planted her feet and refused to move, forcing Allison to stop.


"'ve been gone.  It's crazy!  Taker's..."  She abruptly cut herself off.  "He should tell you himself.  But it's big.  Big!" 


Christine raised an eyebrow and stared at the younger woman for several seconds.  "This unbridled enthusiasm of yours is starting to scare me.  I take it something 'big' is going on, then?  What...did Steve find another nest?"


Allison was shaking her head before Christine could even finish forming the question.  Steve was one of their trackers, probably the best one they had.  He'd been in the field for almost four months now, and no one had seen or heard from him since he'd left.  It wasn't unusual and no one was worried, of course.  Steve was an old hand, he knew what he was doing.


"I...oh, come on.  He's waiting."  Allison tugged at her arm, and Christine gave up and let herself be led to the second floor.  What used to be bedrooms had been turned into workrooms filled with electronic equipment, except for the master suite.  That was Taker's office.  There was no computer there, no phone.  Just a very large desk and some chairs. 


Christine gave a perfunctory knock, but didn't wait for an answer before opening the door and going inside.  She also grinned a bit as she shut the door behind her, closing out Allison, who was craning her neck trying to see inside the room. 


It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the gloom.  Taker liked his office dark.  The shades on the windows almost completely blocked the sun from entering.  The only light came from a small lamp on the corner of the desk.


"Chris."  Taker's deep voice held a smile.  It was subtle but something she'd learned to pick up from him. 


"Boss."  She was already unshouldering her backpack, tugging the zipper open. 


"That can wait."  His tone made her come to a halt, and Christine finally looked toward him.  He was sitting behind his desk, arms folded, a very large shadow in a room otherwise full of them.


"Oh.  Well."  She dangled the bag by its strap and took one step forward, then noticed that one of the chairs in the office was occupied.  By another very large shadow.  "Uh.  Allison told me to come up.  I didn't know you were in with somebody."


"This is why I wanted you up here."  Taker rose slowly from his chair and the other man did the same.  Their movements were eerily similar.  Christine looked from one to the other, wishing it were just a little brighter in the room.   "Christine.  This is Kane.  My brother.  He's finally come back home where he belongs."


Christine frowned and opened her mouth to speak, but Taker's brother did not give her time.  "Don't call me that.  That's not who I am anymore."


Taker gestured at Christine to have a seat.  She did so, slowly, a little wary at the hostility in Kane's voice.  He braced his arms on the desk, leaning forward.  "It is who you always were and always will be.  I told you when you left that this is not a life you can just walk away from."


Christine shifted uncomfortably in her chair, embarrassed to be witnessing this exchange.  What did he call her in here for?  To play referee?  Not likely.  She was dwarfed by both men.  They'd crush her.


"It was my choice to leave.  Just as it's my choice to come back now."


"Why do you fight it?  You of all people..."


Kane sighed.  "I didn't come here to argue with you Mar...Taker."  He said the name with obvious disdain.  "There is only one reason that I am here, and once that is taken care of I am leaving again.  This is no homecoming on my part."


"Um..." Unable to keep quiet anymore, Christine got to her feet.  "I don't know what's going on here, and I don't know if I want to know.  But I don't want to be hearing this...personal business, family crap."


"Forgive me," Christine caught the humor in Taker's voice.  What could he possibly find funny about this?  "My brother and I have never been on the best of terms.  Isn't that right, Kane?"


It was an obvious provocation, but Kane did not bite at it this time.  "I apologize.  And it's Glen."


"Right."  Christine said, because it seemed to her that something was called for.  "Ok.  I take it that you're the reason it looks like every hunter we have is downstairs right now."


Glen sighed and finally sat down, his hand going up to rub at his temple.  Taker smiled and nodded.  "That's right.  Word got out pretty quickly.  Kane was the best hunter we had, and everyone remembers."


Christine looked at Glen, eyebrow up.  Must have been before her time.  If he was so great, why was this the first time she'd ever heard it mentioned? 


"I'm not here to be a leader for them."  Glen said softly.


The two men stared at each other for what seemed like an eternal amount of time.  Christine finally cleared her throat, drawing attention to the fact that she was still in the room.


"I'm still a to why it is exactly that I'm sitting here."  She rose to her feet.  "I'm going home, I need some sleep."


"Not just yet."  Taker's voice stopped her.  Christine sighed and turned to face him again.  "Glen's a bit rusty.  It has been a long time.   I want you to help him."


"Help how?" 


"You're the only one I trust fully, Chris.  You know that."  Taker's voice dipped low.  Christine frowned.  "He'll need a team.  He'll need assistance.  As to what exactly he's doing, I'll leave it to him to explain it to you.  You'll be under his command until he's found what he's looking for."  The tone of his voice changed, making it seem to Christine that Taker didn't think that goal was going to be an easy.  "Go home.  Be back here in the morning at eight sharp."  Taker rose to his feet and came around the desk to stand in front of her. 


He let his hands rest on her shoulders, his thumbs moving slowly along her collarbones.  Christine forced herself to remain still, not showing any kind of reaction.  "Unless you change your mind about what I offered before." His voice had dropped low again, too soft for his brother to hear.


"I can't."


"You can.  I can wait Chris, but I will not wait forever."


"So you keep reminding me." She couldn't keep the sarcasm out of her voice.  And she knew very well that she was the only person under his employ that could get away with that kind of insubordinate tone. 


He squeezed her shoulders gently then released her.  "I'll be here all night, should you come to your senses."


"I'll keep it in mind," Christine reshouldered her backpack and spared Taker's brother one last look.  He seemed totally oblivious to their exchange.  "See you in the morning."  She didn't wait for his reaction.  She turned and left the office.


Lost in thought, Taker resumed his seat behind the desk.  "She's a bit hotheaded but she's good."


"And you want her, no doubt."  Glen's voice was barely above a mutter.  His head was pounding, had been since he'd entered his brother's house. 


"No doubt," the hint of a smile touched the corners of Taker's lips.  "But that is really none of your business."  Taker opened one of the desk drawers and pulled out an envelope.  "This is yours.  Just as you left it, of course.  I've had a service go in once a week to keep things in order."  He slid the envelope across the desk.


Glen hesitated then picked it up.  He could feel the outline of a key through the paper.  "You held onto the house.  All this time."


"Because I knew that you'd be back."


"I am not back.  This is...temporary."  Glen ripped the envelope open and let the key drop into his hand. 


"Keep telling yourself that.  Maybe you'll start believing it."


Glen had had enough of his brother for one morning.  "If that's all..."  He rose to his feet.


"For now.  And it is time to go downstairs and greet your friends."


Glen grunted a response and left the office.  Taker leaned back in his chair and smiled.  He'd never doubted his brother's return to their cause.  It was in his blood, just as it was in Taker's.  "Get used to it, little brother," he said out loud.  "You're back.  And you're here to stay." 




Christine probably would have slept all day if not for the damn telephone.


She cursed under her breath and attempted to ignore the incessant ringing, but whoever it was--they were damn persistent.  She rolled out of bed, wincing at her stiff neck, and shuffled toward the dresser where she'd thrown the cordless earlier.


"Yeah?" Still mostly asleep, she cleared her throat and managed at least that much.


"As always, a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day."


"Kate.  What want?"  Christine went back to the bed and dropped onto it, trying to work the kink out of her neck.  "What do you want?"  There.  Got it right that time.


"Damn.  You do realize that you haven't spoken to me in almost a month right?  I was starting to think you had fallen off the edge of the world."


"No such luck."  Christine managed around a yawn.  "I just got back from LA this morning and I'm beat.  Plus I'm starting some job in the morning.  I need sleep."


"You need a vacation," Kate's voice was concerned.  Kate was Christine's closest friend; they'd known each other since they were six.  She was the only person from Christine's past that she had any contact with.  And that was forbidden.  Christine did not care.  She had to have somebody to talk to, after all.


"Tell me about it.  He's going to have me babysitting for him.  Shit assignment." 


Kate sighed.  "Look, Chris, I know you're good at what you do..."


"Oh, please, do not hit me with this crap right now."  Christine collapsed back on the bed and rubbed her forehead.


"You need to get it through your head.  What happened, happened.  You can't change it.  And what you're doing is illegal.  If you get caught..."


"I won't get caught.  I'm good at what I do, remember?"  Christine couldn't keep the edge from her voice.  This conversation happened like clockwork.  Kate thought she should get away from here and live a normal life.  That just wasn't possible.  And probably never would be.  " least I'm working against the really bad guys here, all right?  And besides, after all that went on back home, there's no way I could ever start over there.  We both know that."


"No, you 'know' that because that's what he tells you," Kat sighed heavily.  "Nobody would blame you for what happened.  You've got to see that."


"Yeah, I do.  I also see that I found a place where I belong, and for now that's good for me."


"Fuck, Chris.  You go around stealing shit from bad asses, and that's where you belong?"  Kate's normally soft voice was raised.  "And that boss of yours.  I'm sure he's still trying his damndest to talk you into bed."


"So?  No worse than anything else I've had to put up with."  Exasperated, Christine pushed up from the bed and paced the room.  "I can handle Taker.  He can try all he wants to.  It's not going to happen.  This is strictly business."


"Yeah?  And what's gonna happen when he gets tired of playing cat and mouse and says that you have to fuck him or he'll send you packing?  Ever thought of that?"


"He wouldn't do that," Christine said, sounding more sure than she felt.  She'd actually wondered about that herself.  Surely his patience would run out. 


"Trying to convince me, or yourself?" Kate said with a mocking laugh.  "Get off it, Chris.  He saw you, saw you were in trouble, and decided you were a convenient piece of ass with a particular talent for breaking and entering."


"Did you just call me to brow beat me?"  Tired of listening to her friend's ranting, Christine was more than ready to end this conversation.


"Chris..." Kate's voice softened.  "I know what happened with your stepfather was bad, all right?  But you can't hide forever.  Nobody thinks you had anything to do with it.  I just think you're making a mistake getting too comfortable with what you're doing now."


"I know, I know.  I can't make you understand, Kate."  Christine stopped pacing and looked at her reflection in the mirror over her dresser.  She looked so damn tired. 


"I'm sorry.  For yelling.  I was just worried when I didn't hear from you."


"Yeah.  It's all right.  Look, I'm going to go get a shower and some food.  I'll call you back in a little while.  Maybe I'll be in a better mood."


"All right.  I'll be here."  They said their goodbyes, and Christine hung up the phone then tossed it onto the bed.


No sense in trying to sleep more.  It would take too long to relax enough to doze off.  Resigned, Christine headed for the shower. 


Under the spray of water, she finally woke up all the way.  And cursed Kate under her breath.  Just when Christine thought she was ready to put her past behind her, something...or someone...happened to bring it all back.


She let her mind drift as she washed her hair.  Five years ago, Christmas Eve.  Her mother was working a double shift at the hospital where she was a nurse.  Christine had come into town to visit for the holidays and was alone in the house with her stepfather. 


He'd been...well, she had thought he was drunk.  Pete Johnson worked nights and spent his days sleeping, so when he'd come downstairs early afternoon it had surprised her.  He was swaying, staggering a bit, looking around as if he did not know where he was. 


His eyes fell on her and Christine had been completely and instantly terrified.  How could she have known the truth about what he was?  She had risen from the couch and backed away, mentally running through her list of options.  Pete stalked her around the living room, soundless, not speaking, his eyes...


Christine shivered as she saw it replay in her mind.  She'd come up short against the fireplace, cornered.  Pete had grinned and for a moment she had seen how very sharp his teeth looked.  Then he had jumped at her.

Without giving herself time to think, she grabbed the nearest weapon:  a decorative letter opener her mother had left on the mantle.  As Pete launched himself, she held it out, stabbing it into his stomach.


Blood had gushed over her hand, and she'd screamed in revulsion.  Pete stood there for a moment, looking down at the handle that protruded from his midsection.  Then he looked at Christine, eyes glowing with some strange inner light. 


He started laughing.  The sound of it chilled her to the bone.  She still heard it in her nightmares.  He reached for the letter opener, yanked it out of his flesh, and threw it to the floor.  Then came at her again.


Christine shrank back against the fireplace, eyes darting, looking for an escape.  Pete reached for her and she ducked under his arms, going down on the floor and rolling forward.  She scooped up the letter opener as she went.  Pete was still laughing.  As if he were enjoying this game he'd instigated. 


Christine scrambled to her feet but wasn't quick enough.  Pete fell on her, wrestling her to the floor.  One of his hands brushed against her breast and she flinched back from the contact.  He saw her reaction and grinned again.  His hand closed around one of her breasts, squeezing it painfully as he lunged his head forward and snapped his teeth together. 


Flinching again, Christine knocked her head against the hardwood floor and dazed herself.  She felt Pete's breath on her neck, could hear the sharp click of his teeth as he snapped at her again.  She still had the letter opener.  She changed her grip, turning it in her hand.  Then she swung it at his back with as much force as she could muster.


The blade sunk into Pete's back with little resistance.  He roared in pain, a sound that she was grateful to hear.  He rolled to his side and Christine shoved him away and moved quickly to her feet.  She watched as he writhed on the floor, reaching for but not able to grab the letter opener. 


Christine shook her head, clearing it of her thoughts.  No sense in letting the past ruin her life.  And of course, going through it again almost guaranteed she'd be having nightmares about it the next time she went to sleep.  And for the week that followed. 


It was enough to know that she'd gotten out of there.  Taker had found her, had taken care of things, and had given her a job working with him.  A strange job, yes, but it was a new life where she hoped she could forget...or at least do some good.  He'd seen a her that she did not even know she possessed.  An ability to get into places and back out with no one being the wiser. 


She could deal with that.  The rest of this business was just...complicated.  The fact that Taker wanted to bed her--did not even try to hide the fact--that was something she could handle.  Eventually he would get to the point where it was no longer a game to him, and Christine would have to make a choice about that...when the time came. 


And now this assignment.  Throwing her in with his brother for whatever the hell reason.  What could she possibly do for the guy?  She was a jumped up thief, nothing more, nothing less.  With a sigh she shut the water off and stepped out of the shower to towel off.  She'd just have to wait until the morning to find out what the hell was going on.




Glen paced the foyer of the house, glancing from time to time at the grandfather clock in the corner.  Taker had told his people eight.  It was only seven-thirty-five.  He just needed to be patient.


But his patience was wearing paper-thin.  He’d done all he could do on his own to find Angie’s killers.  And to find his son.  All he knew for sure was that the ones he suspected were in Taker’s neck of the words.  Glen had to swallow his pride and go to his older brother for help.


He was almost sorry he’d done it now.  That smug look…Glen’s hands itched with the urge to smack it from his face. 


He’d controlled himself.  As much as he hated to admit it, he needed Taker’s resources.  Glen had expected maybe one hunter, but his brother had insisted on at least a basic team.  A hunter, a tracker, and…well…the girl he wasn’t sure about.  Some kind of seeker, although Glen had thought their use was out of fashion in the circles his brother kept company.

Glen grimaced what passed as a sarcastic smile.  As if he really needed to figure out why his brother kept this particular seeker around.  She was a beauty that was for sure.  Taker’s weakness had always been good looking women.  He surrounded himself with them.  Lucky for him most of these ladies knew what they were doing.  Glen wondered how the hell Taker kept getting away with it.


With a sigh, he looked at the clock again.  Time was not going to speed up just because he wanted it to.  He kept pacing, walking a circle in the floor.

When the front door opened, he jumped a bit.  He’d been lost in thought.  It was the girl, Christine, the one Taker seemed to be so taken with at the moment.  This early in the morning, she looked a bit more rested than she had the day before.  She met his eyes for a moment, then glanced at the clock herself.


“Tell me I am not the only one coming.” She said, her tone a bit sarcastic.  It was one minute until eight. 


“I think there are more.” Was all Glen offered.  He could definitely see why Taker was so fascinated with this girl.  She definitely had a dark mysteriousness about her.  Dark hair, dark eyes. 


They didn’t speak again.  Chris was staring into space, looking completely bored.  Glen impatiently tapped his foot.  At five past eight, the door opened the two men came in, looking sheepish.


“Sorry.  Had an issue with the car.  Greg’s getting another ready for us though…” The taller man stopped in mid sentence.  “I’ll be damned.  Chris.  When the hell did you get back?”


Christine smiled, the first real smile she’d doled out in weeks.  “Yesterday.  Glad my arrival was harkened by all.  How’s it going Dave?”


Dave grinned and hugged her.  “Same old shit.  Caught a couple of fangs last week.  Right here in town.  They’re getting damn bold.”


“They think they’re invincible.  Hey John.”  Christine extricated herself from Dave and grinned at the other man. 

Glen let the three of them catch up for a few minutes.  It gave him a chance to judge them without them noticing.  Without having to ask, he knew Dave was the hunter. He just had that look about him.  It wasn’t something he could define, but it was there.  So that made John the tracker.  Glen looked him over, wondering how old he was.  He seemed so damn young.  Or maybe Glen was just getting too old for this job.  That was one of the reasons he’d gotten out.


Shaking his head of his thoughts, he stepped forward.  “Is there somewhere we can go for a briefing?” He broke into their conversation.  To their credit they were not put off by his interruption. 


“Conference room?” Christine shrugged and led them down the hallway.  She opened the door and herded them inside.  The room used to be a den. Taker had put a large table and several chairs in it.  The windows were totally blacked out.  Glen flipped a light switch and moved to sit at the head of the table.


“All right.  Let’s get this going.”  Finally.  Something was going to get done.  Glen knew he couldn’t relax yet, but just getting started felt damn good.  “I’m Glen.  The only person I’ve met is Christine.”  He motioned to her. She shrugged again and shook her hair back from her face.


“It’s Chris.  This is Dave…” She pointed to the tall man who had hugged her.  “And John.” Another gesture.  “I have to say, I have no idea what the hell is going on here. I’ve been gone for a while on a job.”


“Me too.” John echoed.  Taker had called him at home yesterday just minutes after he’d walked in the door.  It was freaky how he just seemed to know when to call. 


“Not me.  Like I said, I was right in town.” Dave’s lips were curled into a cold smile.  Glen got the feeling the guy was extremely well suited for his job.  Good.  He didn’t need anyone who was too wet behind the ears to help him out.

Speaking of that.

He looked at John.  “How long have you been tracking, kid?”


“It’s John.  And I’m no kid.”  John cocked an eyebrow.  “I started doing this when I was twelve.  With my dad.  He passed a few years ago, had a stroke.  I was working for another group when Taker called me and offered me a spot.”


“Recruited.” Christine poked him in the side.  John grinned at her.  “Must be nice to have your talents recognized by all and sundry.”


Glen cleared his throat, getting the attention back to him.  He had carried a folder with him all morning.  Now he opened it up and passed them copies of documents he’d collected over the past year.


“This is what we’re going after.  A nest of dogs called Shadowvein.”

Dave whistled.  “Are you for real?”


“Better question is, are you fuckin’ nuts?” Christine flipped through her paperwork and then met Glen’s eyes.  “The ‘Vein are some hardcore full mooners.  Who did they manage to piss off?  The president?”


“Me.”  Glen tapped the folder against the table.  It hadn’t taken him long to figure out who had been responsible for killing his Angie.  And taking his son.  The Shadowvein group still had a grudge against him, fifteen years after he’d killed their leader.


“Holy shit…” John was in awe.  He was staring down at the packet of pages in front of him, hand rubbing idly at his hair.  “Just us four against…fuck…how many are there?  Fifty?  Sixty?”

”Seventy-eight and counting.  They aren’t being very selective about who they’re initiating either.” Christine said, reading from her papers.  “John Layfield.  Fuck.  Didn’t he go to jail for killing three girls?”


“Killing and raping.” Glen confirmed, not bothering to look at his notes.  He had them practically memorized.


“Shit.  Like I said…not selective.” Christine was twirling a pen in her fingers.  Glen did not take it as a sign of nerves, just an indicator of deep thought.


“Who’s their leader?” Dave asked.  He’d skimmed the pages and had pushed them away.  Now he knew the target, he was ready to get going.


“Nobody’s talking.” Glen said, settling back in his chair.  “There was an incident a while back, the head got iced.  Now they keep the brass top secret.”


“We can find out.” John said, cracking his knuckles.  His awe was gone.  He too looked ready to work.


“There’s something else…” Glen hesitated.  Taker had not approved what he was about to say, but he did not care.  He wanted his vengeance damn it, and he was going to have it.


“What else could there possibly be?” Christine asked, eyeing him warily.


“We go in, we go in to wipe them out.”


“All of them?” Dave did not sound shocked.  He sounded…eager.


“Every last damn one of them.”  Glen let his eyes go from person to person, making sure he had their full attention.  “There will be a boy with them.  Five years old.  Maybe turned, maybe not.  Don’t kill him.  He’s mine to deal with.”


“You’re saying our real target is some kid?” Christine asked surprised.


“Not just some kid.  My kid.”  His expression hardened.  They all understood the subject was not up for discussion.


“So…when do we start?” John broke the silence that fell over the group. 


“Right now.”  He pulled out a card and slid it across the table to the younger man.  “You’re the tracker.  Get to tracking.  This is the address of a guy named Mike.  He’s been rumored to be a groupie for the ‘Vein.  See what you can dig up.”


“You got it.” John rose to his feet and left the room without another word, already plotting his actions for the day.


“Dave…we need more info.  Ask around, see what you can find.  I wanna go in soon, but I don’t wanna go in ignorant.”


“You got it, Boss.” Dave ignored Glen’s pained look as he rose to his feet.  He dropped a hand on Christine’s shoulder and squeezed.  “Meet ya later for dinner?”


“Usual spot.” Christine grinned and watched him go. Then she turned her attention back to Glen. “All right.  What about me?”


“You?”  Glen managed not to smile.  Remembering Taker’s smug expression, he’d been toying with a thought.  Now he was going to do it.  Just so his big brother knew that although Glen had been gone for a while, he still wasn’t a man to be fucked with.  “You stay with me.  We have a little research of our own to do.”




Glen led Christine into the basement.  That’s where Taker kept the ‘good stuff’, as he called it when the mood hit him.  Glen would just refer to it as the ‘illegal stuff’.  Guns mostly.  Some knives, a few swords…some of the guys were really stuck in the old ways. 


“Wanna tell me why we’re going to outfit ourselves if we’re not even going after the nest yet?” Christine finally broke the silence that had fallen between them in the conference room.


“I have my reasons.  You know how to shoot?”


“I can hold my own.”  She said wryly.  Actually, she’d learned how to use almost every weapon in this room.  It was one of Taker’s requirements after all.


“Good.  From now on you don’t eat, sleep, or fuck without a weapon in reach.”


He gave her credit.  All that got was a raise of an eyebrow.  Glen opened a heavy steel door and let her enter first. 


No one else was there, not even Kate, who was in charge of their cache.  Christine headed directly for the shelves in the back corner, already knowing what she was going to pick. 


“I’ve read your file.” Glen said it softly.  Christine looked over her shoulder, face a carefully blank mask.


“Good for you.” Even her tone was neutral.  “Taker’s anal retentive about his employees.  His guns.  The world.” She rolled her eyes and turned back to the gun shelves.


“So want to tell me why he’s using you as his resident burglar when it’s kind of obvious you’d make a better hunter?”


“Me?” Christine laughed and hefted a gun into her hand.  “I can’t kill a freakin’ spider in my house, you want me to go out hunting fangs and dogs?”


“You took care of your stepfather pretty handily.”


Christine sighed and closed her eyes, not wanting to go into this with a strange person.  Hell, she didn’t even like talking about it to her best friend.  “If you read the file, then you know I’m not the one who killed him.  Taker took care of him before he could finish turning.”


“I did read that.  I’m just saying…not everybody could have fought off a fang in the first stage of bloodlust.”


“Well, color me special.”  Christine resolutely opened her eyes and began loading the gun, snapping the bullets into the chambers angrily. 


“Do you know what a seeker is?”  Glen’s question surprised her into looking at him again.  It seemed to be an abrupt change in the conversation, one she was all too willing to take.


“Uhm…It’s not a term I’m familiar with, no.”  She admitted, pocketing some spare ammo.  She slid the gun into the waistband of her jeans and faced him.  “Why?  Are we going to find one?”


“No.  We have found one.”  He nodded. “You.”


“Ok.  Since I don’t even know what that is, I can’t argue.”  She was flippant about it. 


“A seeker is a person who is…well…kind of psychic.”

Christine laughed.  “Me?  Psychic?  Not in this lifetime.”

“You can find stuff that nobody else can.”


“Right.  And yet I lose my car keys twice a day and need help finding them.”  The sarcasm all but dripped from her voice.


“Not mundane things.  Special items.  Items that interest Taker.  And others…of course. The fangs.  The dogs.”  Glen wasn’t going to let it go.  “A long time ago, a seeker was worth big money.”


“I guess they’ve fallen out of fashion thanks to metal detectors and GPS, huh?”  Christine crossed her arms over her chest and sighed again.  “What does that have to do with anything? If I am one of these…seekers…then it’s a wasted talent.  Taker just wants me to steal from the rich and give to him.  And that’s what I do without question.”


“Without question?”  Glen felt the corners of his mouth twitch. 


“Ok.  Maybe with a small question or two.  But that’s my job.  And I’m good at it.”


“All right.”  Glen shrugged and gestured.  “Got what you want?”


“Yeah.  Did you?”


“Not remotely.” He met her eyes and held her gaze for several long minutes. 


Christine didn’t like that look, but she refused to look away.  “Want to tell me why I’m the only one you are insisting on having a gun at this stage?”


Glen cleared his throat.  “Just a feeling I have.  That you’re going to need it. Hell maybe it’s for my own piece of mind.  I get the feeling that Taker favors you.  I don’t want to see anything happen to you.”  He hid a smile at the look that crossed her features before she could rein it in.  Hardcore aggravation at Taker’s unreturned attraction.


“God forbid.  We doing anything else today?”  Now it was her turn to change the subject.  Glen shook his head. 


“Nothing I can think of besides wait.” He couldn’t keep the frustration out of his voice.  Then his features hardened.  “I do have one thing for you to do.”


“Oh?”  Christine had moved to stand in front of him.  Glen reached into his pocket and pulled out a worn piece of paper. 


“How about finding this?”  He unfolded it carefully and turned it so she could get a look.  There was a black and white picture of a necklace, a heavy looking chain with a locket attached.  Christine looked from the picture to Glen in confusion.

“What does a necklace have to do with anything?”


“Consider it a test of your skills.”  Glen held out the paper.  Christine hesitated before taking it.  “Of course, you won’t need to use a computer or anything to find it.”


“I won’t?  I don’t even know what this is.”  But she felt drawn to it, that was for damn sure.  She looked into his eyes.  “What the hell is going on?”


“You’re a seeker.  Like I said.  You seek things.  Now, seek me out this.  I’ll give you about six hours.  Of course, you probably won’t need that long…”


Christine wasn’t listening.  Her eyes were drawn back to the paper.  Her lips were moving but no words were coming out.  Glen smiled, sure she was not going to see it.  He watched, amused, as she turned and left the room without bothering to speak.




Two hours later Christine stood in the driveway of a very large, very imposing Victorian-era house.  The paper was still clutched in her hand.  She could not tell how she had gotten here, or why…there was just something that seemed to pull her and she could do nothing but follow the feeling. 


And here she stood.  Christine studied the place for while, absolutely sure no one was home.  She couldn’t explain that feeling either…but it was why she was so good at her job.  She moved until she was on the front porch, standing in front of the door.  Reluctantly she refolded the paper and tucked it into her pocket.  She took a moment to study the lock on the door.  Child’s play.  An infant could get into the place. 


She pulled a plastic card from her pocket.  It was the size and shape of a credit card, only a bit more flexible and totally blank.  One of the various lock-picking tools she carried around out of habit.  Now it was going to come in handy.


Humming under her breath, she slid the card into the doorframe and twisted the knob.  She got it on the second try.  Some of these old locks could be a pain.


Christine ducked inside and shut the door behind her, then pulled the paper from her pocket and replaced the card.  Oh, yeah, the necklace was definitely here.  Upstairs.  She boldly walked up the stairs and paused on the landing, looking left and right down the hallway.  Instinct pulled her to the left.  She passed two doors before stopping.  Without hesitating, she entered the room.


There was a massive carved wood bed in the middle of the floor, covered with a deep red comforter and pillows.  There was no other furniture.  The bed looked like it belonged in some medieval castle.  Christine only admired it for a few moments though…the pull she was getting led her to a closet in the corner.


She opened the door and stood on tiptoes, stretching her hand over her head to feel along the high shelf in the small space.  Her fingers brushed something square.  She felt triumphant as she grasped the box and slid it from the shelf.


She lifted the lid and stared, momentarily mesmerized by the necklace.  It was either white gold or platinum, heavy, the locket the size of one of those half-dollar coins she used to be so fascinated with as a child.


And now that the necklace was in her hands, Christine felt…nothing.  The driving urge to find it was gone.  The urge to possess it was gone.  It was just somebody’s family heirloom sitting heavily in her hand.


“Kind of a let down when you find what you’re looking for, huh?”  The deep voice behind her made her jump.  Christine spun around, clutching the necklace to her chest so she wouldn’t drop it.  Glen stood next to the bed, leaning against the carved footboard, his arms crossed over his chest, a look of satisfaction on his face.


“I don’t…understand.” She said softly.  She looked at the necklace again.  It was a beautiful piece of jewelry, she knew that, but it was just a necklace.  She had no need for it.

Glen moved until he was standing in front of her and gently took the necklace from her hands.  “It was my mother’s.”


“Oh?”  Christine watched as he stroked one finger down the polished surface of the locket.  He sighed and put the lid back on the box.


“Yes.  She was a seeker.  This is what she used to practice with.  My father would hide it, she would find it.  Training, you see.  It got to the point where she didn’t even need to go to it, she could just tell you where it was and be right.”


“But…” Christine reached toward the box then dropped her hand to her side.  “I’m afraid I still don’t get it.”


“It pulled you, you see?  The necklace, it’s blessed.  Fangs can’t touch it.  Seekers can sense it, if they know what it looks like.  They’re drawn to it.  It’s a talisman of protection of sorts.  Which is why you were pulled to it.”


“So this was just to teach me a lesson then?” She asked, seeming to come back to herself.  She eyed him defiantly.  “It’s a nice parlor trick, but what good is finding the same necklace over and over?”


Glen shook his head and leaned over her to put the necklace back in the closet.  “You are still going to deny that you have this power? I could show you a picture of anything, and you would eventually find it. The necklace…it has power.  It was strong enough to guide you.  Other objects will take time…but you will always find them.”


“What good is such a power?”  Christine scoffed and tried not to flinch from his close proximity.  She had never been one for the invasion of personal space.  Glen didn’t seem to mind, or to notice her discomfort.  He shut the closet door and resumed his leisurely perch on footboard of the bed.


“Fangs and dogs sometimes hide treasures.”  He smiled but it did not touch his eyes.  “The power is handy if you know what you’re looking for.”


“And what exactly am I looking for?”  Christine asked in a whisper.


“That’s for you to figure out, I suppose.”  Glen stretched his arms over his head.  “I suppose I should look into changing the locks if it was that easy for you to get inside here.”


“This is your place?” She asked, looking around.  There wasn’t even a lamp in this room. Just the bed.  She eyed it nervously, glancing at him, wondering if it were really smart to be in some stranger’s bedroom while no one knew where you were.


“Used to be.  Is again.  Temporarily.” 


“Try a dead bolt.  I can still get in though.” 


“Can you?”  He tilted his head to the side, studying her in the muted morning light that came through the room’s only window.


“If I really want to.  Doors are just temporary obstacles.” She refused to believe the look held anything but curiosity. 


“You do like a challenge, don’t you?” It sounded rhetorical.  Christine took it at face value.

“Look, I don’t mind…” She didn’t get to finish.  Her cell phone rang, startling her.  Glen cocked an eyebrow at her as she pulled it from her pocket and answered.  She ignored him and went to the window.


“Yeah?”  She knew without looking who it was.  He was getting predictable with the phone calls too.


“Working hard?”  Taker’s deep voice held a chuckle.  Christine sighed and glanced over her shoulder at Glen, who had turned to watch her.


“Not hardly.  Getting a little lesson in B and E.  What’s up?” No need to tell him where she was.  Christine got the feeling that Taker wouldn’t like the idea of her being alone at his brother’s house…with his brother. 


“Just wanted to see if you were up for a late dinner tonight.”  His voice was practically a purr.  Christine rolled her eyes.  Taker was a good-looking man, hot even, but she had no interest in him…not physically anyway.  He was her boss. She liked her job.  Fucking the boss meant fucking with her job.  That as how she was going to look at it.


“I don’t think so.”

“Chris…all work and no play…”


“Makes me keep my sanity.  I’ve told you no a million times.  When is it going to sink in?” The sarcasm was back.  Taker seemed to enjoy it.  He chuckled.


“I’ll keep asking until I hear the answer I want.  If not dinner…how about later?”


“No, Taker.” She barely held her annoyance in check. Christine had the thought that if she’d just break down and fuck the man, he’d leave her alone.  He only wanted her because she presented a challenge, something he wanted and could not have.  And Taker was used to getting the things he wanted.  Very few had ever balked him. 


“You’ll change your mind.” He sounded sure.  Christine chose not to bother with a reply. 


“See ya at work.”  She powered off the phone and tucked it back into her pocket.  Her fingers brushed the paper Glen had given her, with the picture of the locket on it.  She turned and walked to the foot of the bed, and stood before him, holding it out.  “Guess you probably need this more than I do.”


“Hmm…” He made a noise and stared at her face, into her eyes, as if trying to read her.  Glen finally reached out and closed his hand on the paper, touching her fingers in the process.  Her eyes widened a bit and he could tell she was biting back a smart ass comment. 


“If that was it…” She finally sputtered out.  Why the hell did this guy make her so nervous?  She wanted to put some distance between them, for some reason. 


“That was it.  We’ll be meeting here from now on.  Actually, we’ll probably be using this house as home base.  You should go home, pack some things…”


“Wait, wait, wait.  I am not moving out of my house for this.  It’s local!”


“For safety reasons.  And because this is not going to constitute a regular job.  We’re in this together to the end.”  His tone invited no argument.


“You got it…Boss.” Christine took a bit of pleasure in the pained look the word caused.  She’d noticed it earlier, and had decided the guy had some definite leadership issues.  She was more than willing to put him in his place if he got a little too power mad.  Then again, Glen seemed to not want any kind of power or leadership position.  “I’ll get in touch with Dave and John, let them know what’s up.” 


He seemed about to protest.  Christine ignored him and dragged the phone out again.  No time like the present.  She had an idea…that Glen had an idea…something to do with her.  And she was damned if she was going to let him lead her blind into some crazy scheme.




It was around seven o’clock when John finally made an appearance at Glen’s house.  He carried with him maps, old notebooks, and several large three-ring binders.  He and Glen were in deep discussion at the kitchen table, papers spread in front of them, when Christine walked into the room.


“Well, if it isn’t the lady of the manor,” John said with a grin, winking at her.  Christine gave him a mocking half-bow, and grabbed her jacket that was hanging on the chair behind him.


“Going somewhere?” Glen asked, watching as she shrugged it on.


“I have a dinner date.  Remember?”  She knew he’d heard Dave ask about tonight, as he’d been sitting not two feet away.


“Do you really think it’s wise to date a hunter?” What Glen wanted to say was did she think it was wise to date one of Taker’s hunters when Taker himself was so determined to have her.


“We are not ‘dating’.  We’re just friends.  Dad.  Sheesh.”  Christine smoothed her hair and then ruffled John’s.  “Don’t wait up.”


“You have your gun?” Glen called after her.  Christine waved a hand over her shoulder as she left the room.  The two men looked at each other for a moment, John grinning.


“They trained together.” He thought an explanation was in order. “Dave might act like he loves the hunt, but he needs to talk about it.  So Chris is his ear to bend.”


Glen nodded and went back to studying the pictures in front of him.  “I thought that any kind of fraternizing was off limits.”


“It is.  But that doesn’t stop people.  Besides…they are just friends.” John refolded one of the maps thoughtfully.  “I’m sure Taker wouldn’t like even that, which is probably why Chris hangs out with Dave so much.”


Glen looked at the other man, surprised.  “You know about Taker?”


“You’d have to be blind not to see it.  He’s been after Chris since he brought her here.  The man is patient, I’ll give him that.  She’s not interested.  He’s hard-headed.  It’s kind of funny really.”  John shrugged.  “Of course, it’ll stop being funny when he stops trying to get her in the sack.”


“My brother thinks he’s smooth.” Glen said, surprising himself by making a joke.


“Under normal circumstances, he is.” John said wryly.  “Chris is just…not like other women.”


“I gathered as much.”  With a sigh, Glen shut the binder and rubbed his eyes.  “I guess that’s enough for today.  Take a break, we’ll go digging in the morning.”


“All right.”  John gathered his paperwork, meaning to put everything away. 


“Leave it.  If I can’t sleep, I’ll get an early start.”


John looked at him for a minute before nodding. “Ok.  Try not to burn yourself out.  It’s a lot to go though.”  He seemed like he wanted to say more, then thought better of it and stood from his chair.  “I guess I’ll grab something to eat then pass out for a while.  I want to get an early start tomorrow.”


Glen nodded but didn’t look up until the younger man had left the room.  He stood and rubbed his hand over his face.  Sleep.  Right.  He hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a year, since before…


He didn’t want to think about it.  For just five minutes he didn’t want to think about it.  He couldn’t even think of his vengeance without remembering his wife’s battered body or his son’s sweet face.


Glen headed for the stairs.  Maybe a long soak in the tub.  Then bed.  He’d force himself to sleep.  He had a feeling he’d need the rest. 




It was after midnight when Christine led a very sleepy Dave into Glen’s house.  She warned him to be quiet…she figured that the other men would be sleeping. 


They said goodnight and she watched him go down the hallway on the right.  She turned and headed for her own, which was across the hall from Glen’s.  She saw his door was cracked open, and tried to be quiet as she crept past it.

She froze in her tracks when she heard a noise.  A moan.  Not a good kind of moan either.  It made the skin on the back of her neck tingle at the sound of it.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out it was coming from Glen’s room either.


Cautiously, Christine pushed his door open all the way.  She could vaguely see him on the bed in the dark.  He was thrashing, twisting his body as if trying to escape from something. 


She debated for a moment, then stepped into his room and shut the door.  She tiptoed to the side of the bed and hesitated again before reaching out and touching his arm, meaning to shake him awake.


Christine bit back a yelp when she was suddenly grabbed and spun.  The air was forced from her as her back hit the bed forcefully.  She tried to suck in a deep breath as she felt a weight pressing into her.


“What the fuck are you doing in here?” Glen’s voice was masked with anger. Christine regretted her decision to wake him.  Apparently he was not a morning person.


“Trying…shit…” She gasped a bit. “Can you…give me…some room…please?” She was still trying to catch her breath.  Glen shifted back so she could get some air.  “Damn.  You were having a nightmare.  I thought I’d wake you up.”




Christine did not think it was possible to put so much emotion into a single word.  Glen managed it swimmingly.  “No shit.  Must have been a real bitch too, you were making so much noise.”


His long hair tickled her neck as Glen hung his head.  “Sorry.”  He muttered it, so softly that Christine wasn’t sure she’d heard him.



“Uhm…”  He shifted away from her, then helped her sit upright.  “Tackling you?”


“Not a tackle.  More like a throw.  And you’re forgiven.  Just don’t make a habit out of it.  Especially if I swear never to wake you up again.”


They were quiet for minute. Christine cleared her throat.  “Wanna talk about it?”


“No.” He didn’t hesitate.


“It might make you feel better.” She persisted.


“It won’t.”  Glen shifted on the bed.  Christine got the hint that he wanted her to leave.  With a sigh, she slid to the edge of the bed and hesitated. 

”I don’t want to pry, but…”


“Then don’t.” He didn’t sound angry. Just tired.  Christine felt a wave of sorrow for him wash over her.  She didn’t know how to deal with it.  Ever since her old life had ended, she wasn’t very attuned to her emotions.  It was easier to just shut things out and worry later.  She had a feeling that it was going to get her into trouble some day.


“All right.  Try to get some more sleep, Ok?” She resisted the strange urge to reach out to him and rose to her feet.  After another brief hesitation, she left the room, shutting the door behind her. 




“Hey, Chris!”


“Jeff.  Got you filing papers, huh?” Christine had gotten out of bed at eight.  After a light breakfast, she’d headed to Taker’s house before the men in the house knew she was gone.  She’d had an idea…and had a feeling Glen wouldn’t like it if he knew what it was.


“Just for this week.  Rick finally gets to go on a tracking mission.”  Rick was Taker’s usual paperwork man.  He’d been begging to go out and do more.  It looked like Taker was finally tired of hearing him whine.  “What are you looking for?”


“A file.  I can find it myself, you know.”


Taker kept all of his files on a computer.  On occasion Christine had the need to do some research and knew how extensive they were.  She wasn’t kidding when she had told Glen that Taker was anal about his paperwork.


“Ok. Just don’t spill anything in there.  Taker would have my head on a pole.”


She winked at him and entered the computer room.  There were four of them, currently none of them in use.  She was there early enough to avoid a crowd.


Christine settled into a chair and started typing.  Just as Taker kept files on all his employees, he had one on Glen too.  Although his was filed under ‘Kane’.  The file was huge.  Pages and pages of notes and facts.  Even some pictures.    She began reading, not sure exactly what she was looking for.


She almost wished she had just forgotten about his dream from the night before.  Glen…Kane…was apparently personally responsible for more than six hundred kills, an even mix of both fang and dog.  He’d started when he was just a kid, eleven years old.  He was a natural born hunter who had required no awakening or pretense of a job. 


Years ago he’d decided to retire.  Against the wishes of Taker and all who worked with him, he’d disappeared into regular life.  He’d married a woman named Angie…he’d known her since grade school.  They’d had one son, Jack.  Christine studied the picture that was attached to the file.  He looked like Glen…same dark hair and hazel eyes. 


Dreading what was coming, already half guessing, she scrolled on.  Over a year ago.  An apparent wolf attack.  House destroyed, wife brutally murdered.  And his son missing.  Christine swallowed a lump in her throat and felt like crying.  How horrible to have to live with that…no wonder he had nightmares…


The file ended with his return to Taker’s house and his hunt for the ‘Vein.  At the end of the file was a note stating that the mission had been moved off site and would be updated pending completion. 


Christine leaned back in her chair and rubbed her eyes.  She felt like she knew too much.  She vaguely recalled that old adage about curiosity and the cat.    With a sigh she shut the computer down and left the room.  After waving goodbye to Jeff, who was talking on the phone, she headed outside for her car.


Glen’s house was deserted when she got there.  Christine didn’t have to go inside…she just knew it.  It was that weird thing again, that special gift that made her so good at her job.  Well…that was good.  It would give her a little while to get her thoughts in order before figuring out what exactly Glen was getting them into.


She let herself in with the key Glen had given her the day before.  And froze in the doorway.  She had the weird prickling sensation at the back of her neck again.


Christine turned to look outside.  And was slammed forward from the force of something hitting her in the back.


She fell face-first onto the porch and rolled, instinctively getting out of the way.  A sleek gray wolf snarled at her from the doorway, it’s hackles raised. Although she was good at knowing when humans weren’t home, it didn’t work the same for dogs or fangs.  They weren’t human, after all.


The wolf pawed the boards of the porch as if considering a charge.  Christine kept her eyes glued to it as she fumbled the gun out of the waistband of her jeans.  The animal came forward, eyes blazing with some interior light.  The damn gun was stuck on something…she tugged and yanked, but it wouldn’t come loose.


The wolf was within a foot of her when it decided to mock her.  It snapped its teeth, its head lashing out.  Christine jerked back, afraid of a bite, horrified at the thought of turning into one of those…things.


With a rip of fabric, the gun suddenly let go of her jeans.  Christine scrambled back, trying to get some space, to buy some time.  The wolf hunched down, preparing to leap at her before she could fire the gun.


Christine was fast.  Too fast for the wolf.  It jumped.  She raised the barrel and fired off three quick rounds, each one punching into its stomach and chest.  The weight of the wolf carried it the rest of the distance, slamming into her and knocking the gun out of her hand.


She struggled under the animal, pushing and shoving, until she was free of the panting, dying wolf.  She backed against the wall of the house and pulled her knees up to her chest, hugging them, watching the wolf die in front of her.




Glen pulled his truck into the driveway, frustration eating at him, not listening as Dave talked about the next steps they could take.  The two men had spent the morning trying to track down any of the humans who had contact with the ‘Vein.  None of them were to be found.


“What the fuck?” Dave’s curse broke into Glen’s thoughts.  He looked in the direction of the other man’s stare, mouth dropping open.  There was a naked man lying on his front porch.  Christine was sitting a few feet away, seemingly in shock.  With a curse of his own, he rushed from the truck to the porch.


“Christine…” Glen had barely gotten it out when Dave was there, reaching out and pulling her against him.


“Chris, baby…what the hell happened?”


Glen let Dave comfort her and turned to get a look at the man lying on the porch behind him.  Man was maybe the wrong word.  Boy would be closer. He couldn’t have been more than twenty.  And probably wasn’t that old.  There were three round bullet holes…two in the stomach, one dead square over his heart.  There was very little blood. 


He turned his attention back to Christine, who was staring at the body in a kind of sick fascination.  He motioned to Dave.  The other man reluctantly let go of her and turned to get rid of the body.  He carried it around the back of the house.  The men would burn it later.  It was the simplest way to dispose of it.


Glen hesitated briefly before pulling Christine against him.  She was shaking, as if a constant jolt of electricity were running through her.  She was in shock.  Not at the attack, but at the fact that she’d killed.  How she reacted after this would determine whether he’d been right about her being an untapped hunter.


“In the house…he…jumped on me…tried to bite…” She tried to talk, but her teeth were chattering as if she were cold.  She couldn’t seem to complete a sentence.


“It’s all right…” Glen kept his voice low.  He settled onto the porch and pulled her into his lap. He rocked her as if she were a child, one hand stroking her hair as he muttered softly to her.  “Do…did you know him?”


“I…uh…no…I don’t think…” She tried to reign herself in.  “I’ve never seen him before.”  A shudder worked through her body.  Glen hugged her to him and saw Dave coming around the house again.  He waved the other man off.  This would be easier without him hovering around.


“He attacked you.  Are you hurt?” Glen kept his tone even.


“I don’t think so…” Her shivers were subsiding.  “My back hurts.  I fell on the porch.”


“Probably just a bruise…” Glen smiled a little, and resumed stroking her hair.  “I think you’ll live.”


“I’m sorry…” Christine sounded mortified. 


“For what?” Glen raised an eyebrow.  He remembered having this similar question and response last night, only reversed.


“I just…I don’t know…breaking down…”


“Understandable.  It’s your first kill.  You’re handling it remarkably well.  Some hunters go a little crazy after the first one.”


“I’m not a hunter.” Christine sat up and stared at him.  “How did you know?”


“Know what?  That you’re a hunter?”


“I’m not a damn hunter.  About the gun.  That I’d need the gun before this thing was through.”

Glen shrugged.  “I just had a feeling.  Like I said.”  He gave a weak smile.  “I also said you were a hunter.”


“No.  You said I was a seeker.”


“That too.”  He studied her closely.  “I think you are the first person besides myself who had more than one job class.”


“I’m a fuckin’ thief.”  Christine seemed to realize that she was sitting in Glen’s lap.  Her face reddened.  She wiggled away from him and sat with her legs crossed, arms hugged around her chest.  It was warm out but she still felt so incredibly cold.


“For some reason, he doesn’t want you to know what you really are.”


“Taker?” She didn’t have to ask.  There could be only one ‘he’ that wanted to control her.


Glen nodded and rose to his feet.  “We have to burn the body.”  He saw her shudder.  “You don’t have to help with this one.  Go inside.  Wrap up in a blanket and rest for a while.  We’ll talk some more in a while.”


He watched Christine get shakily to her feet and head inside.  Glen thoughtfully turned to go down the porch steps.  He felt as if things were moving way too fast.  He couldn’t let go of the feeling that there was more to what was going on than what he thought.


And on top of all of that…he was starting to like Taker’s lady of the week.  She had some fire in her.  She just didn’t know it.  Liking was all he was going to do though.  He didn’t want to betray his wife’s memory with thoughts of another woman.  And he didn’t want to have to relive the memory of his wife the last time he’d seen her. 




Days passed slowly.


John was out, doing his thing.  Tracking.  He had gotten a few leads and wanted to follow them up before telling anyone what was up.  He was barely in the house.  He’d pop in, shower, sleep for three hours, then be gone again.


Dave was scarce too.  He’d pop in at odd times of the day or night, then disappear for a while. 


Christine was stuck at the house most of the time.  And she spent that time trying to avoid Glen.  She didn’t know why.  Actually, she did know why.  She knew too much.  That was one reason.  She didn’t want him to know what she knew.  And…she was strangely attracted to him.  It wasn’t just how he looked either, although she did think he was handsome.  There was something about him…a quiet strength.  She found herself wondering if Glen and Taker were truly brothers, they were so different in their approach to everything.


Glen spent some of his time helping John or Dave.  He was amused that Christine was trying to distance herself from him; he could have told her she had nothing to worry about.  He found her attractive, but he was not ready for that kind of thing.  Not now, not in the foreseeable future.  He caught her studying him from time to time when she thought he wouldn’t notice, an expression of puzzled curiosity on her features. 


He knew she was bored.  Which was making her curious toward him.  There wasn’t much he could do about it.  Taker had told her to help.  He was going to let her help.  What he really couldn’t figure out was why Taker had let her talents lie dormant for so long.  Thinking with the wrong head, that’s what Glen thought.  It did bother him.  Because that was nothing like the Taker he used to know.


Not wanting to remember the Taker he used to know, Glen spent each day focused on finding Angie’s killers.  Time did not go by any quicker.  He was almost at the point of going to Taker and asking for more help…which was something he did not want to do.  He hated to ask his brother for anything.


Luckily John saved him the trouble.


He burst into the house one afternoon, looking excited. 


“I found ‘em!”


Christine was at the head of the stairs, looking down.  “What’s going on?” 


“I found ‘em!”  He repeated, sounding just as excited the second time.  Christine came downstairs and stood in front of him.  Glen was standing in the doorway to their left, relief and eagerness in his features. 


“Where?” Was all he said.


“Do you remember that old hotel on Route 47?”


“The roach motel.  I know it.” Christine said, smiling a bit.  That hotel had been abandoned for years.  No one knew who owned it.  No one bothered with it.  It was too far out of town.


“Holed up like rats in a flood.”  John cracked his knuckles.


“Why the hell did it take so long to find them?  They’re less than ten miles away.”  Christine frowned.


“Shit.  Nobody was talkin’.  Dave had to beat the shit out of this informant we know, guy named Frank.  He led us to another guy.  Then another one after that.  They were more afraid of talkin’ about the ‘Vein than they were of getting the hell beat out of them by Dave and me. It’s crazy.”  John looked troubled as he said it.  It was strange.  Most informants know if they talked to one of Taker’s people, they wouldn’t have to worry about retribution.  There was usually no one left to get revenge.


“Dave’s on his way back.  He had to stop and get some food.”  John looked at Glen, not sure if he should say what else he had found out. He knew Glen was going to find out anyway.  “One of the informants said he saw a kid out there a few days ago.”


“What?”  Glen’s eyes widened.  “Is he all right?  Was he turned?”


John was shaking his head.  “I don’t know.  He didn’t know much.  Just glimpsed him really.  I don’t know how reliable the information is.  The guy was under a lot of pain.”


Glen closed his eyes, not wanting to get his hopes up but knowing it was too late.  “Let’s go in the kitchen and wait for Dave.  We have to plan.”  He led the way.


Dave arrived fifteen minutes later, carrying food for all of them.  Glen did little more than pick at his.  He was more interested in hearing everything the two men could tell him.  It sounded like the whole gang was staying at the hotel, which was strange.  Usually they were a bit more spread out.  It prevented a wipe out.  The ‘Vein seemed to think they were untouchable. 


“So when do we go?” Dave asked, biting into his chicken.  He was more than ready.  He’d had enough of waiting.


“A couple of days, at least.” Christine was munching a roll, looking at the men thoughtfully.  “We’ll have to get plans of the hotel.  Shouldn’t be too hard.  I thought the place was gutted.”


“The top couple of floors. Apparently our little friends dug into the basement, made themselves a comfy lair.”  John told them.


“Three days.  That should be enough to get us outfitted, get the plans, and come up with an idea of how to go about it.”  Glen said, but he didn’t sound like he was happy about it.  He was ready to go now.  His son was so close…


“Maybe we should talk to Taker, get some back up…” Dave didn’t get to finish.  Glen was shaking his head.


“No.  No one talks to anyone.  This stays between us.”


“Damn informants are gonna talk.” Dave said, finishing off his food.


“Let ‘em.  Deny it if anybody asks.  I don’t want them knowing we’re coming.”  Glen finally picked up his fork.  “Christine can get the plans.”


“I can?” She asked, all sarcasm.  “I can do something besides sit here? Catch me, I may swoon.”


Dave laughed and poked her in the side. “Hush up eye candy.  I told you, you can do my laundry if you’re bored enough.”


“Eye candy.  Shit.”  Christine poked him back.  “And I told you, I am not going anywhere near your dirty underwear.”

The two of them joked playfully for a while.  Glen let them.  He knew that Dave was over-eager.  And Christine was nervous.  Joking helped them stay calm. He forced himself to eat, knowing he was going to need his strength for what was to come.




Everything was ready.


Everything, that was, except for Christine, who felt like she was going to pass out.  She was scared, and that was an understatement.  She’d never been on a hunt before, had never even thought of going on one. 


The sun was setting.  Glen had decided to wait until dark to go in.  The four of them were sitting in John’s SUV, no one speaking.  Christine seemed to be the only one who was nervous.  That or she was just not good at hiding it.


She’d slipped into Taker’s house to use the computer again, this time to get a graphic readout of the hotel’s set up.  The guys had handled the weapons, checking out more than any one of them could carry.  Christine felt as if they were going to war, although this one would only have one very bloody battle.


“Stay behind us.” Glen finally spoke up, looking at Christine, breaking into her thoughts. 


“Yeah.  Ladies last.” Dave said with a grin.


“Believe me, this is one time when you won’t hear a complaint out of me.”  She rubbed her hands on her jeans nervously. 


“Some might get by.  You have to be ready to kill or be killed.  You understand?” Glen held her gaze.  Christine nodded slowly.  The thought of killing again…she just didn’t think she could do it.  Glen had said she was a hunter at heart.  She thought it was the one instance when he was going to be dead wrong.


“Everybody have their guns?” John asked, checking his for the hundredth time.


“And spare ammo.”  Dave added.


Christine put a hand against the small pack she carried.  In it were spare clips for her gun and an extra in case the first one jammed.  That thought scared her too. 


“We’re ready.” Glen said softly. “Fast and hard.  Don’t give them time to group up.  We’re too outnumbered for any other plan than that.”  He looked at Christine again.  “You two…get out and take a walk.  I need to talk to Chris.”


They didn’t seem surprised.  Dave and John climbed out of the car, leaving Glen and Chris in silence.


“I have something for you.” Glen reached into his pocket, pulling out a piece of paper.


“We already did your trick with the necklace.  This hardly seems the time to…”


“It’s not the necklace.” He handed the paper over.  Christine looked at it, seeing the face of Glen’s son.  “Find him.”


“I thought that was the plan.” She said sarcastically.  She was still staring at the picture.


“It is.” He shifted, facing her fully.  “Study it. Him.  His name is Jack.  Just concentrate on the picture and tell me where he is.”


“You make it sound easy.” She said, her voice soft.  She felt as if she were miles away, as if Glen were talking to her through a dream.  A frown of concentration marred her face as she committed the little boy’s face to memory. Such an innocent little guy, probably scared to death.  She felt like crying. 


“Where is he Chris?” Glen whispered.  “Is he here?  Is he…is he…” His voice betrayed him, fading. 


“He’s alive.  Still human.  Alone.”


“Alone.  Where?”


“Here.” She didn’t elaborate.  “It’s dark and he’s scared.  He just wants to go home.  The dogs scare him.  They howl.  Someone dark is protecting him, but it’s bad.  It’s cold.”  Christine looked up at Glen.  “It’s a trap.”


“What?” His eyes widened when she snapped out of her trance.


“A trap.  They know we’re here.  They know we’re coming.  Someone told them.”


“That’s not possible.”  Glen refused to believe it.  They’d been careful.


“Whether or not you think its possible, its true.  They’re waiting for us.  We can’t do this, Glen, not now.”  Tears sprang into her eyes.  She blinked them away.  The little boy…the pull from him was so strong she had to fight not to run out of the car and go to him. 


“We have to go now.  I can’t wait any longer. He needs me.” He gestured to the picture in her hand.


“You’re signing all of our death warrants.”


“If that is what fate has in store…who’s to say we wouldn’t die in a car wreck leaving right now?”


Christine sighed.  There would be no talking him out of it and she knew it. She clutched the picture and opened the door, getting out of the car.


Glen followed her lead, waving at Dave and John to come back.  They trotted over, rejoining the group.


“We’re going. Any one not want to?” Glen asked, at least trying to be diplomatic about it.  He was going with or without them.  It did not matter to him.  His son was within reach.  He would save him or die trying.


“I’m ready.” Dave cracked his knuckles, making Christine wince.  He had a gun, tucked into a holster at the small of his back.  He probably wouldn’t use it.  Dave was a hands-on kind of hunter.  His weapon of choice was a vicious looking knife that he carried strapped to his thigh.


“Let’s get it going,” John agreed.  Although not a hunter, he knew how to handle himself.  He also knew that Glen was going to need all the help he could get.


They all looked at Christine expectantly.  She sighed again and looked at the picture.  “Let’s go.”  She headed north, not in the direction of the hotel, but to the side.


The three men shared a look.  “She knows what she’s doing.” Glen said with a shrug. 


“I hope so.  I haven’t been this wired for a hunt since…well…ever.” Dave said with a cold laugh.


“Yeah.  Me either.” John rolled his eyes.  They grew silent as they followed Christine across the field that was adjacent to the hotel.



Instead of leading them to the hotel, she followed a path that seemed to lead nowhere.  The four of them traveled though a small patch of woods, then across yet another field.  The men kept their eyes watchful, making sure no dogs were lose in the night.


Christine came to a sudden halt.  John wasn’t paying attention and walked into her.  She shot him an exasperated look over her shoulder.  “Watch it, jackass.”


“Sorry.  Sheesh.” He looked around.  “I feel like we’re being watched.”


“I second that. I’m starting to wish we’d talked to Taker about reinforcements.  Would be nice to have a few more guys watching out backs.”


“I don’t think Taker would be willing to lend me anyone else.” Glen said, although he too felt watched. 


“He would if Chris would put out for him.” John said with a soft laugh.  She huffed and rolled her eyes.


“I’d sooner masturbate with all three of you watching than sleep with Taker to get back-up.” She said, voice full of scorn.  The three men looked at each other, then at her with more interest than before.


“Hell yeah.  Do we have time?” John asked, winking lasciviously.


“Fuck off perv.  It was sarcasm.  You should look it up.”  Christine flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Stop looking at me.  I’m not going to do it, for God’s sake.”


This got a chuckle from all of them.  Some of the tension went out of the group.  They relaxed a bit. 


“Do you know where we are?” Glen asked, bringing them back to the problem at hand.


“Yeah.  The hotel is that way…” She pointed.  “About two hundred yards.  We’re going this way…” She pointed again.  “There’s an underground tunnel that backs to the hotel.  It’s how they got away with the drug trafficking that went on here about twenty years ago.”


“How’d you know that?” Dave asked, falling into step beside her as she led the way.


“I don’t know.  It’s weird.  I feel like I’ve been here before.”


“You’re seeing it through the eyes of someone who came this way.  It’s a seeker trick.” Glen said from behind her.


“I kind of figured that one out on my own, thanks.”  She was sarcastic again, but it was weak.  She was gripped again by the need to go, to find what she was looking for.  Without saying a word she led the men toward a small rise in the field. On the other side was a set of heavy iron doors that seemed to lead directly into the ground.




The doors were not locked.  They looked like they hadn’t been used in years.  They all knew that was not true.  Behind the doors was a warren of rooms and passageways, full of bloodthirsty dogs.


“All right.” Glen’s voice was a whisper.  “Dave is first.  Then me.  John will be at the back with Christine for now.” He looked at her.  “Stay behind us.”


“You said that already.” Her voice was as low as his. 


“Just making sure you got it the first time.” He nodded and drew his gun.  He didn’t like guns as a general rule, but for this many dogs it was a necessity.  “Lead on Dave.  Chris, you tell us where to go.”


Dave heaved open one of the heave doors, babying it to the ground.  They were going to leave the door open to facilitate a quick escape if necessary.  He stepped through the doorway, taking the steps inside in twos, quickly clearing the first area of the nest.


Glen followed his lead, going slower, cautious.  He could hear John and Christine descending behind him.  The only probably with having Christine in the back was…although she was protected in a frontal attack, if they were jumped from behind she would be caught in the middle.  He didn’t want to think about what would happen if that occurred.  He just had to believe the dogs would be bold enough to fight face to face, sure in their power of numbers.


There was nothing in the first chamber.  The bottom of the stairs ended in a large room. Probably an old storage area.  Christine studied the two passages that lead from the room and indicated the one of the left.  Dave went in, gun up, silently checking out the hallway that opened before him.


Christine held back the urge to cut in front of all of them and run toward the beckoning urge that was in her mind.  It pulled them onward, through seemingly random turns.  What made it worse was…there was nothing down here.  No dogs, at least so far.  If they were going to attack, it would have been when they first came in.  Her nerves were on high alert.


She nodded at another turn.  Then came to a stop.  The three men kept walking.  Glen noticed first that she was not following.  “Chris…” His voice was a hoarse whisper.  “Get movin’.”


“No…”  She shook her head, tears once again filling her eyes.  “We can’t go in there.” She looked from one man to the other, not sure of what she was feeling, just knowing that one of them was going to fall in the next room.  “Please…Let’s go back, think of something else…get help!” Her voice was raised.  Glen held a warning finger to his lips.


“Anyone else want to go back?”  He asked John and Dave.  Both men were shaking their heads in the negative.  Christine sobbed quietly.  She felt as if her stomach were being turned inside out.


“Don’t you feel how…how…wrong this is?” She stuttered out, gasping for air.  She couldn’t breath.  Her throat felt as if it had closed up.


“Hell, it’s a nest.  They’re all wrong.” Dave said from the front.  His fingers brushed the handle of the door in front of him.  Christine shuddered.  


“I can’t.  I can’t do this.” She felt as if her whole body had suddenly gone numb.  John came to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.


“Come on, babe.  I’ll take care of you.  I won’t let anything happen to you.”  He said softly.  Glen and Dave were standing at the ready at the door, meaning to go forward even if John and Christine didn’t. John took her hand and led her toward the door.


“We could all die.  I just know something bad is going to happen in there.  John…” She stopped him with a hand on his arm.  “John, please. I’m not being hysterical.  Please listen to me.”


“I am listening.  And I’m not worried about this room or the one after that.  We’re gonna take care of some business, that’s all.  And like I said, I am not going to let one of those things come near you. Trust me, Chris.”  He rubbed her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

Christine decided to save her breath.  They weren’t going to listen.  Not even Glen, who put so much faith in this so-called power of hers.  She felt as if she were the only sane one in the group.


“Here we go…” She barely registered Dave’s soft whisper. He pushed the door open.  They went inside.


This room was huge.  And dark.  There was a faint glow coming from one of the corridors to the right, that was it.  To Christine the room felt as big as a stadium.  At the same time the walls seemed to close in on her until it felt as if she could not breath.  A tomb.  That’s what it made her think of, one of those old ancient places that housed so many bodies they became a mockery of themselves.


And then the smell hit her. 

She’d never smelled anything like it.  A wild, animal smell that made her think of dead things.  She couldn’t breath.  She’d heard of this, heard of nests reeking of death and hatred, but had never believed such a thing could exist. A cold chill worked its way down her back and she gripped her gun tight in her hand.  She didn’t remember even pulling it out of the holster. 


“They’re in here…” She whispered.  Her voice did not sound right even to her own ears.  The men formed a line in front of her without speaking.  Christine gulped in a breath of foul air, once again feeling like crying.  Even in the face of what could be a slaughter, their first thought was to protect her. 


There was a noise from in front of them.  A shadow stepped toward them, vaguely man-shaped but changing.  The first wolf.  Not a leader by any means.  They would not send the big guys to take out so few enemies. 


Another appeared to the first wolf’s right.  Then another.  Two more.  Christine lost count as the animals kept coming, seeming to step right out of the darkness.


Glen aimed his gun, tracking the first wolf.  “Aim for head or heart.  Try to take them out with one bullet.” He said under his breath, still loud enough for them to hear.


One of the animals howled.  He was joined by another.  Christine covered her ears, mindful of the gun, as the noise echoed off the walls and seemed to swell.  She cried out at a high pitched bark.  One of the wolves broke from the pack and loped toward them.


Glen didn’t give it a chance to get close.  He fired on shot, taking the wolf cleanly in the head.  It fell, legs twitching, already changing back to human form, dead before it hit the ground.  Other wolves took their cue from the first.  They began rushing the four people against the door, trying to confuse them with numbers.  It was easier to get a kill that way.


Dave gave a crazed sounding laugh as he squeezed off a shot.  Then another one.  Two wolves went down, ignored by their brethren.  Glen was shooting, seeming calm under the barrage of animal that streamed their way.  John stayed by Christine, ready to jump in if needed, not wanting to leave her side.


Glen’s gun emptied.  He quickly slammed another clip in and moved a bit to his right.  Dave followed his lead, reloading and stepping left.  They were trying to draw the wolves from John and Christine while at the same time creating more targets.


One of the wolves was heading for Glen.  At the last second it turned and leaped at John, standing five feet away.  He calmly raised his gun and shot the wolf, then kicked it aside as it came near in its fall. He moved forward a bit, evening up the line created by the other men, and began shooting any wolf that came within range. 


Christine could do little more than watch as the men ducked and dodged and shot the wolves.  Something was not right here.  The wolves did not seem to really be trying to kill the four of them. It seemed a half-hearted attack, more of a scare tactic than anything.

The wolves stopped their forward march and faded briefly back into the shadows.  The three men moved forward, wanting to keep the animals in range in case they got full-out rushed. 


Christine nervously stepped forward, not wanting to lose sight of the men in the darkness.  She saw something move and had time to scream as a silver-colored wolf leaped onto Glen’s back.  He was knocked forward, the gun falling from his hand as he fought to keep his balance.


The wolves attacked in earnest.  Christine realized too late that their goal had been to draw them away from the door, away from escape.  The men fired their guns, Glen used his bare hands, avoiding sharp teeth and claws as he snapped necks in his grip. He was lost in a kind of fury, a deep seated emotion that he had not felt since he was a full-time hunter. 


Christine saw a wolf coming at her from the right. She turned and fired, missing.  She shot again, catching it in the head.  Another one came.  She fired again.  She kept shooting as she was rushed time after time, letting some deeply hidden instinct guide her.  She did not think about what she was doing, she just did it. 


Until her gun ran out of ammo.  She fumbled a clip from her pack, smacking it home with the palm of her hand.  Not fast enough.  A wolf was leaping at her, jaws open, sleek black fur making it hard to track with the eye.  She knew it was too late to put the gun up and fire, and started ducking down, hoping it would fly over her head.


Instead it slammed forcefully into her, paws first, knocking her onto her back.  Her gun went flying into the darkness.  She screamed and reached up, trying to push the heavy animal off of her.


It would not budge.  Christine held it by the throat, trying to keep the sharp teeth away from her face.  He snapped his teeth, and she felt hot saliva drip from his mouth onto her neck.  With a shudder of revulsion she twisted her hands, feeling rather than hearing bone snap in her grip.  She shoved the wolf away, still shaking as she tried to rise to her feet.


She was immediately knocked back down.  Another wolf had slammed her from behind.  She scrambled to her side, kicking at it with her feet, trying to avoid its teeth.  Another wolf appeared, panting, eyeing her hungrily.  Christine could handle one.  But not two.  And not from two different directions.


She didn’t have to handle them.


John came out of nowhere, gun gone, knife in hand.  He dove at the first wolf, knocking it away from her.  He stabbed, the knife smoothly sliding into the wolf’s chest.  It yelped once and lay still.  The second wolf lost interest in Christine.  It eyed John warily, baring its teeth.  John stared it down. 


“John…look out!”  Christine was too late.  She’d barely glimpsed another wolf, this one a mottled brown color, as if burst out of the darkness and jumped on John’s back.


The first wolf leaped and caught his chest.  He fell, rolling onto his back to fight off the team of animals.  Another wolf appeared.  And another.  Christine lost site of John as the knife flashed in the darkness.


“John!” She tried to crawl toward him, seeming to have lost the ability to stand up.  The knife was no longer moving.  There was a strange sound, a bubbling wet sound.  Christine gagged, realizing it was John trying to scream through his ripped throat.


She felt herself being lifted to her feet.  Christine fought, struggling against the arms that had closed around her waist.


“Shh…Chris, it’s me,” Glen almost had to shout to be heard over the howling of the animals around her. 




“I know…I saw…” He was carrying her toward the door, kicking at wolves that got in his way.  Christine looked back, barely making out Dave’s outline as he stood over John’s prone body. 


“What’s he doing?  Dave!  What the…”  Christine started yelling at him.  Glen found the door and opened it, making sure no wolves were on the other side.


“You know what he has to do, Chris.” He said softly, setting her on her feet.  A gunshot rang out.  Christine sobbed and turned, running down the hallway, wanting nothing more than to get out of the den of death they had caused. 




Christine stood in the hot spray of the shower, head down, not moving, just letting the water flow over her.


How many had they killed?  She had no way of counting. All she knew for sure was there had been a lot of them…and John…


She hitched in a breath then roughly shut off the shower.  She stood there for several minutes, letting water drip from her hair to the drain.  Tears slipped down her cheeks.  It was her fault.  She couldn’t help but blame herself for what had happened.


She was not ready for this new challenge, these new skills of hers.

Christine stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel.  Without bothering to dry off she went into her room, wanting to just cry herself to sleep.


Glen was there, standing at the window.  She stopped, watching as he turned and crossed the room.  Without a word he took her in his arms, hugging her against his body, not paying attention to the water that soaked his clothes.


Christine sobbed against his chest and tried to hold in some of the emotion she was feeling.  She knew it was just shock wearing off, that she’d get over it eventually.  That the loss of John wouldn’t be such a sharp ache in her stomach.


She looked up at Glen, wanting to say something…anything.  He met her eyes then dipped his head, capturing her lips with his before she could even begin to form words.


She wanted to push him away.  And pull him closer at the same time.  It was wrong, very wrong.  She knew his past, she knew it was wrong, but it felt too damn good right now, to be in his arms, to feel his tongue parting her lips as he deepened the kiss.  Life-affirming somehow.  Proof that she’d made it out of hell unscathed except for the pain of her loss.


Christine tangled her hands in Glen’s hair, letting her tongue play against his.  She could forget everything, for just a few minutes, as long as he kept kissing her.  She knew that.  She needed that.  She got the feeling that he was searching for the same thing in her, a confirmation that they had made it out in one piece.


Glen tugged at the towel and dropped it to the floor.  His hands were everywhere, sliding down her body, back up, stopping to cup her breasts in his hands, sliding down her sides, her hips.  Her whole body felt as if it were tingling.  She wiggled against him, closer to his warmth, tugging at his shirt.  He broke the kiss long enough to jerk the shirt over his head.  He mouth reclaimed hers, drawing a soft moan of approval from her at the feel of his skin against hers.


Christine tugged at his sides, moving him backward until she felt the bed hit her knees.  It was her turn to break the kiss.  She sat on the bed then slid back, waiting for him to join her.  She heard him shove his jeans off, and felt the bed dip next to her as he climbed onto it.


He leaned over her, lips brushing hers.  “This is wrong…” His voice was a husky whisper.  Christine reached up and stroked his face with her fingers, lingering over his lips.


“I don’t care.  I need this…” She arched her body against his, smiling in satisfaction at the moan the movement elicited.  “Please…”


It was all he needed to hear.  He claimed her lips again, this time with less urgency and more passion.  Christine reveled in the feel of his hard body against hers, his hot skin warming her better than a shower ever could.  She urged him on with soft words and moans as he explored every inch of her body.  She had never felt so worshipped in all of her life than she did when Glen could not seem to get enough of her. 


When he entered her, she cried out in ecstasy, wanting to pull him in deeper.  He moved within her, slow at first, faster when he felt her straining against him.  Christine relished the feel of his weight on her, his body going into her, stroking her to an orgasm that left her shaking with aftershocks.  He said her name over and over as he spilled his seed into her, his arms tightening almost painfully around her as he collapsed exhausted in her arms. 

They did not speak after that.  Glen wrapped them in a blanket and held her close, not wanting to let go of her just yet.  They drifted into a spent sleep, able to finally escape reality for however brief a time.


Christine dreamed.


She knew this dream.  She hated this dream.  She was sitting on the couch in her mother’s house, fire burning the fireplace, Christmas tree twinkling in a corner.  She was reliving that night with her stepfather, that night that her old life had ended and her new life had begun. 


Not wanting to, but not able to help it, she turned at the sound of footsteps from behind her.  Her stepfather would be there, eyes glowing with some evil inner light. 

Instead of Pete, it was a woman.  She was slim, with honey blonde hair and green eyes.  Christine knew she had seen her before, she just couldn’t remember where.


“Hi Chris.”  The woman greeted her as if she knew her.  Christine did not speak, could not speak, could only watch as the woman settled onto the arm of the couch next to her.  “I need you to do me a favor.”


“A…favor?” She managed to speak.  The woman smiled at her, and Christine was flooded with a feeling of warmth. And she realized who the woman was. “You’re Angela.”


“Angie.”  The woman corrected, the smile never leaving her features.  “Glen’s wife. Well…I was.”


Christine was once again at a loss for words.  She’d never met this woman, had only briefly seen a picture of her.  Yet here she was, dreaming about her.  The day had been rougher than she’d thought.


“It’s not just the bad day, Chris.  And you never said you’d do me that favor.” Angie said with humor.


“Name it.” Christine said, wondering if she should feel guilty.  After all she’d just slept with this woman’s husband.  It seemed wrong, even if Angie was dead.


“Don’t be guilty.  I died.  He didn’t.”  Angie seemed to be able to read her mind, and why not?  It was a dream, after all.


“What’s the favor?  I’ll do it, it doesn’t matter what it is.”


“Take care of him.  Don’t let him be alone in this.  Follow through til the end, no matter how much it hurts.  No matter what you have to do to get there.”  The smile faded.  Angie looked…for lack of a better term…dead serious.


“Ok.” Christine could not say no.  There was a noise from upstairs.  Angie looked up with a grimace.


“Can you promise me?” She said, turning back to Christine.


“I promise.  I’ll do anything…and everything…that I can.” Christine glanced up at another noise.  Angie sighed.


“Thank you.  And there’s no sense in having this rehashed again, is there?” She pointed upstairs.


“What are you…” Christine opened her eyes.  It was dark.  She was in bed.  “Talking…about…”She finished slowly. 


She waited for her eyes to adjust.  For a moment, she thought she was alone but she finally made out Glen’s shape on the far side of the bed.  Shaking her head of the strange dream she slid over to him, wrapping an arm around his waist, cuddling against his warmth. 


Glen muttered in his sleep and took her hand, pulling it closer around him.  Christine yawned sleepily.  Even with all that happened, maybe she’d be able to get some real sleep after all.




No one said anything over breakfast the next morning.


No one ate much of anything at breakfast the next morning.


Even Dave was morose.  Usually after a hunt, even an unsuccessful one, he was bouncing off the walls.  Not this time.  John’s death hit him hard.  The two men had been friends for a long time.  Having to pull the trigger on him was hard, but he did not want anyone else to do it.  He felt like he owed it to John.


Christine not only had thoughts of John to deal with, but also of the wolves she’d killed, and what had happened the night before with Glen.  She understood Dave’s actions.  John had been bitten but not dead.  In a few hours he’d have turned dog.  It was not something he would want.  Dave had taken care of it.  She knew it was for the best. It didn’t stop the hurt though. 


And Glen…she sighed and glanced at him before staring down at her plate.  Yes, it had been a mistake.  No, she wasn’t sorry.  Sometimes things had to happen. 


Dave excused himself and went outside.  Glen and Christine looked at each other uncomfortably for a few long moments.  He ducked his head.


“Look…about…what happened…”


“About last night….”


They spoke at the same time.  Christine gave a wan smile and gestured to him to finish.


“I…don’t know.  I don’t know what came over me.”  He kept his eyes down, and sounded positively bashful.  Christine’s smile widened. 


“Me either.”  She agreed.  He met her eyes and gave a sad smile.


“If the circumstances were different…”


“I know.”  She tucked her hair behind her ear.  “We’re adults.  We can handle it I guess.  We’ll just keep it between us.”


“We can’t let…”


“Taker know.” Christine finished for him.  The thought had occurred to her earlier this morning.  He’d been pursuing her for so long that he’d probably have a stroke if he found out she’d slept with his brother. She wasn’t yet at the stage when she could handle his wrath and probably would never be.  And Glen was basically in the same boat.  Although he had the advantage of being Taker’s brother.  Family changed outlooks.  She knew it from first hand experience.


“So what do we do about…your son?” She almost said the wolves, but stopped herself.  She didn’t want to think about them right now.


“I don’t know.”  Glen said it softly.  “I need time to think.  Maybe I can come up with something.  I do know this.  Time is running out.  We have to hurry.”


“Well…I’ll give it some thought. But battle plans aren’t really my thing.” She gave him a weak smile.  “We’ll get him out of there, Glen.  I promise you that.”


He nodded but did not look at her.  Looking at her seemed to hurt something deep inside him.  Christine rose to her feet and announced that she was taking a shower and a nap.  Glen could think of no good reason to stop her.  He spent a long day trying to come up with a plan of attack.


And should have saved the effort.


After eight o’clock that evening…and a dinner no one touched….Glen and Dave sat at the kitchen table weighing their options.  There was a knock at the door.  Christine was in the living room, lying on the couch.  She got up to answer it.


She was surprised to see Taker standing there.  There was a sadness on his face, and she knew that he knew what had happened.


“It was John, wasn’t it?” He asked, not bothering with a hello.  Christine nodded and looked away from him.  Sometimes Taker just sensed this stuff. 


“We were outnumbered…” She said softly.  She held the door open, letting Taker inside the house. 


“Is there anything I can do?” He stood in front of her, reaching a hand out to touch her face.


Christine shook her head, but didn’t pull away from him as she usually would have done.  She would take her comfort where she could get it.  Of course, after last night that was all she was ever going to take from him. 


“Glen and Dave are in there…” She gestured toward the kitchen.  “Trying to brainstorm.  You’re help is probably going to be welcomed.”  Taker nodded and brushed a hand through her hair before turning and moving into the kitchen.


The two men at the table looked up at the same time.


“Taker.”  Dave sounded relieved.  Taker was known for his schemes.  In the old days he could pull off jobs no one else would touch.  He was glad to have another plotter helping them out.


Taker took a seat and looked at his brother.  “I thought you might need some help.”


“I wouldn’t turn it down at this point.” Glen admitted, reluctantly.  “How did you know?”


“I have eyes everywhere.” Taker said with a bit of humor.  Then he sobered.  “You took care of John?”


“I did.” Dave said, toying with the silver ring on his finger.


Taker nodded.  “That’s taken care of then. Nothing worse than a hunter turning.  Or a tracker for that matter.”  He held up a hand when Dave opened his mouth, maybe to call him on making light of the situation.  “You were outnumbered.  There was nothing you could do but what you did.  I’m sure he’d be grateful.  No one wants to be one of those dogs.”


“So, what do you suggest we do?” Dave asked.  “The kid is still in there somewhere.  I don’t think we’ll be able to drag Chris in there even if her life depended on it. We wiped out a few of them, but there are more.  We were lucky they didn’t follow us out of there.”  At this he frowned.  It struck him as odd that the wolves didn’t try to follow them as they retreated. 


“They won’t be expecting a second attack tonight.  Not so soon after the first one.” Taker looked at Glen for reaction. 


“We’ll have to do it.  There’s no other way. Hopefully they will be relaxed enough to let us slip in a ways before we’re caught.” He agreed.


“You might not want my help…but I’ll go in with you.  If you want me to.” Taker met his brother’s eyes.  Glen slowly nodded.


“I’d be glad to have you there.” He admitted truthfully. It would be like the old days.  Days when he and Taker had been all but untouchable. 


“Midnight then?” Taker asked, rising to his feet and stretching.


“Sounds like a plan.” Dave nodded.


“I’ll go to the house.  Stock some weapons.  I’ll be back in a hour.”  Taker left the room.  Glen and Dave shared a look.


“Nice of him to offer to help.  It’s weird though.”  Dave frowned thoughtfully.


“What is?  Him asking to help?” Glen knew that was strange.  Taker hadn’t hunted in at least five years…and it was probably longer than that.


“Yeah.  That too.” Dave stood up.  “It’s weird that he talked to Chris for more than a ten seconds without offering her a ride.  If you catch my meaning.”


“I do catch it.” Glen said with a frown of his own.  He knew he shouldn’t feel it, but a wave of jealousy washed through him. 


“I’ve never seen that happen before.  It’s strange…” Dave shook his head.  “I’m going to go walk.  Maybe force myself to eat.  I’ll be back in a little while. You might want to talk to Chris.  We’re going to need her to find the boy.  She’s not going to be so willing to go back in, not this soon.”


“I know it.”  Glen watched the other man leave then followed his lead.  Although his destination was no further than the living room, where Christine sat in the dark, staring into space.




The metal doors seemed to mock her as she stood in front of them.


Christine sucked in a shaky breath, and looked at the three men standing behind her.  They were all subdued.  Even Dave was uncharacteristically calm in the moonlight. 


They weren’t going in light this time either.  Everyone had at least three guns.  Taker had a shotgun.  He rested it casually on his shoulder as he eyed Christine curiously. 


She couldn’t believe she’d let Glen talk her into coming out here again.  She’d protested, not wanting any of them going near this place, but he’d argued gently with her, his urgency at finding his son evident.  It was his son that really changed her mind.  She could still feel the pull, that need to find him, and it was harder to fight than Taker’s advances toward her.


So here they were.  Something was definitely different this time.  Christine felt strangely calm as she tried to sort her senses.  It was nothing like yesterday.  The place had a deserted feel.  She knew she couldn’t count on that to work, not with dogs, but this was too strong a feeling to ignore.


“I guess we should go in.  Night’s not getting any younger.” Taker said, voice low.  He cocked his shotgun and moved forward, helping Dave open the doors.

Christine led the way this time.  No one argued with her.  Back through the mazelike tunnels.  There were dirty light bulbs strung up at odd intervals, dispelling the darkness somewhat but leaving shadows everywhere.  She tried to ignore the smell.  It seemed even stronger this time.


“Place feels empty.” Dave said from directly behind her.  Christine jumped, started out of her thoughts.


“Probably out feeding.” Glen stated, coming to a stop in the hallway.  “Or turning more.  Who knows what they do at night.  Chris…is Jack still here?”


Christine read the question he didn’t want to ask in the set of his shoulders, the way his head tilted to the right.  “Yes.  He’s all right.  Still scared though.  He’s been alone for a while.”


They continued on. Christine did not stop again until they’d reached the door to the large room they’d had the fight in last night.  She hesitated, not sure if she were really ready or willing to go into the dark room again.


“We’ll take the lead here.” Glen said, stepping around her with Taker at his heels. He gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze then turned and opened the door.


Weak light from the hall did not filter far into the room.  It was just as dark as she remembered.


“Oh…God…” Christine clapped a hand to her mouth.  There in the floor was what remained of John’s body.  The dogs had torn him badly in their fury.


“Don’t look at him, Chris…” Dave’s voice from behind her was soft.  He cupped the back of her neck in his hand and pulled her closer to him, letting Christine bury her head against his chest. He led her blind into the enormous room.  She didn’t mind a bit.  She did not want to see.

”No dog bodies.  They cleaned up their own.” Taker said, voice a deep rumble in the room. 


“They usually do.” Was Glen’s dry statement.  They stood there for a moment, silent.


Taker finally cleared his throat.  “I’ll get a couple of our guys out here when this is over to take care of John.  We shouldn’t leave him like this.”


Christine was pretending not to hear.  She stared into the darkness from the safety of Dave’s arms, eyes widening.


Dave felt her stiffen against him and instinctively raised his gun.  At first he could see nothing in the darkness that enveloped the room.  His eyes slowly discerned a shadow, darker than the shadows around it, with glowing luminous eyes.


The wolf padded silently out of the darkness, its black coat gleaming in what little light entered the room.  Its eyes were pale silver discs, cold, calculating.  Glen raised his gun and cocked the hammer, ready to shoot at the first sign of an attack.

Taker reached over and put his hand on his brother’s gun, making sure Glen was not going to start shooting.  “Wait…”  He said it in a low whisper, but Glen heard.


The wolf sniffed the air and whined.  It turned in a circle.  Then with one last long look at the human in the room, it turned and faded back into the darkness.


“I don’t get it. Why didn’t he attack us?” Dave asked, turning to face Glen and Taker.  The other men shrugged.


“Maybe he was showing a rare bit of sense for a dog.  Who knows?” Taker pulled his hand from Glen’s gun.  His eyes settled on Christine, still huddled in Dave’s arms.  “Like I said, they aren’t expecting us.  Seeing us here now is just confusing the few who are standing watch.”


“Few…” Christine gave a rusty laugh.  “Look around!” Her voice was louder than necessary and echoed off the walls.  “Are all three of you fucking blind?”


The three men looked around.  Whatever had Christine spooked, they could not see.  She angrily stepped away from Dave and swiped at her cheeks with her hands. 


“What is it Chris?” The back of Glen’s neck started tingling, although he didn’t know if it was because he sensed something or if Christine was just freaking him out.


“There are dozens of those things in here.  Just sitting there, watching us.”  She stepped away from the men.  Glen and Dave both stepped toward her, meaning to keep her in the relative safety of the group.  She was having none of it.  “Why aren’t you fucking killing us?”  She screamed it, the sound echoing through the room.  Although Glen could not see them, he definitely heard them.  There were whines and one low bark at the noise Christine was making.


“You tryin’ to get them riled up?” Taker asked, pulling Christine back against him.  He felt her shaking as if some electric current was pulsing through her body.


“They’re not riled.  They’re just watching.” She muttered.  The wolves just sat there.  Christine hadn’t believed it when she’d first seen, but for some reason she could see the glow of their eyes in the dark. 


“Do we go forward?” Dave asked softly.


“We can. They’ll let us pass. For some reason.”  There was a bit of sarcasm in her voice. “Another trap.  Most likely.”


“Do we risk it?” After losing John, Glen wasn’t sure if going in balls-out would be wise. 


“We have to.  If we don’t get Jack tonight, he might not survive tomorrow.” Christine said, certain.  She didn’t know how or why.  She just knew that the boy’s life was in danger immediate danger.


“Which way, Chris?” Taker asked, voice soft against her ear.  She hesitated then pointed left, away from the glow of lights from another hallway. 


Glen led the way.  Taker kept an arm looped around Christine’s shoulders, the other cradling the gun.  Dave brought up the rear.  The wolves parted, opening a path for the humans to follow.  There was door.  Glen eased it open.  More light entered the room, but not enough for them to really see what was behind them.

They hesitated.  Christine went first, grabbing Taker’s hand and pulling him behind, not wanting to venture even a few steps alone.  Glen took one last look behind him and followed.  Dave stepped toward the door and it was slammed in his face.


“Hey!”  Glen yelled and turned, dropping his revolver.  He grabbed the doorknob but it wouldn’t budge.


“Dave!” Christine let go of Taker’s hand and pounded on the door. 


“What the fuck!” Dave’s voice was muffled.  They heard him pound on the thick wood.  The sound was followed by the muted howl of a wolf. 


Shots sounded from the other side of the door.  Glen tried to use his shoulder against the wood, wanting to break it down.  Taker stepped forward to help, but they couldn’t budge it.  Christine cried helplessly, sinking to her knees on the hard dirt floor, covering her ears with her hands as more shots rang out.


“Dave! Go back! Get the fuck out of there!” Glen yelled through the door. 


No answer.  Just more shots.  Taker kneeled down in front of Christine and took her hands.  “Was that the trap?” He asked softly.


“I don’t know.  Yeah. No.  Maybe.” She shook her head. 


“We have to keep going.  They’ll come after us next if we don’t.” He said, his tone low.  Christine stared into his green eyes, not able to form the words to tell him that she couldn’t do it.


“Taker’s right.” Glen reached down and took her hand, helping her to her feet.  More shots came from behind the door, followed by another round of howls.  “We have to hurry.  Dave can keep them back, can get out.  We can’t unless we find another way.”

She nodded slowly, then turned, trying to ignore the fight going on behind her.  “Then let’s hurry.  I just want to go home.”


The sounds faded behind them as they moved through the next hallway.  Christine decided to just lose herself in this pull she felt.  It as easier to do that than to think about Dave, alone in a room full of dogs.  She made turns, led them up and down stairs, her gun all but forgotten at her side. She felt the cool metal of the other gun she carried against the skin of her back.  It was a smaller weapon, the one she’d used to kill the wolf on Glen’s porch.  Glen had taken it but Christine and snuck into his room before they’d left the house and tucked in into the small of her back.  She didn’t know why, she just felt better having it with her.


She brought them at last to another wooden door.  Christine looked from Glen to Taker, biting her lip.  “This is it.  The basement of the hotel. ”


Glen nodded.  He reached over and rested a hand on her shoulder.  “Where is he, Chris?”


“Upstairs.” Her eyes had taken on a dreamy cast.  “The thir…no…the second floor.” 


Glen shared a look with Taker.  “Let’s go.  I wanna get him home.”  Glen moved to the door and grasped the knob.  Sudden pain bloomed in his head and everything went dark.




Glen felt hands shaking him.  He frowned at the pain in his head and tried to block out the sensations. The hands grew more insistent.  His eyes fluttered.  There were lights, but flickering lights.  Candles.  Even that was enough to make his head pound.  He managed to focus blearily on Christine, who kneeled over his with her hands on his chest.


“Glen!” Her voice was a hushed whisper.


“What happened…” He muttered thickly.  Damn but it was hard to talk.


“Taker…he hit you.  Knocked you out.  Tied your hands and they dragged you in here.”  She nodded to the right.  Glen turned his head with some trouble and saw ten or so men huddled in a corner. 


“Fuckin’…dogs…” He managed to push through his lips.


“Yeah. They changed back human to help him.”


“But…Taker…is he one of them?”  He tried to sit up but a wave of dizziness rocked him.


“No…” Christine said, trying to hold back a sob.  “He’s worse.  Much worse.”


In retrospect, it was pretty obvious what Taker really was.  At some point in his long career as a hunter, a fang had managed to…well…sink her fangs into Taker.  He was a vampire. Had probably been one for the better part of ten years.  She remembered now that he kept his office pitch black. No sunlight in his house.  And she had never, ever seen him in the daytime.


One of the wolves was staring in their direction.  Christine stared back, meeting his gaze dead on until he looked away.  Glen smirked through the pain, and tried to sit up again.  This time he made it. He swayed dizzily.


“You seem to be getting over your fear…” He whispered.


“Fear nothing.  They don’t like being in this place, any more than I do.  This hotel makes them nervous.  They haven’t come near us since they dragged us in here.”  She studied the knots the bound his wrists.  She wished for a knife.


Taker had relieved her of her guns.  At least, the one in her hand and the spare in her pack.  She still had the one tucked into her jeans.  And an even smaller one attached to her ankle in a clever little holster she’d found when raiding Taker’s house.  All in all about eleven bullets.  Not enough to do any real damage if she were taking on the whole pack.  But maybe enough to get Glen safely out of hotel.  She knew from hearing talk that unlike in fictional works and folk lore, vampires were very much susceptible to a plain old gun shot in the head or heart.  She knew if it came down to that she would have to get Taker on the first shot.  He was too fast and calculating to give her time for a second.


“Listen.”  She lowered her voice, not wanting the men in the corner to overhear.  “I have an idea.  We have to get you out of here.  I’m gonna do something you’re probably not going to like.  Just shut your mouth and let me do it. Ok?”


“Sounds ominous…” Glen didn’t like it.  He didn’t like the hard look she had in her eyes either.


“It might be.” She glanced at the men.  None of them were paying any attention to them.  “I’m gonna get you out of here.  At dawn, you be at the front door of the hotel.  Jack’ll be there around that time.  Take him and get the fuck out of here.”




“Don’t try to argue with me.  Just do it.  And do not for any reason come back inside this place.  Not for me, not for Taker.  Just take your son and go.  Get as far away from Taker as you can and disappear.”


Glen was going to argue. There was a noise from the stairwell at the end of the room. The basement was a huge open space.  All dividers had been torn out long ago.  There were piles of furniture lying around in messy heaps.  The wolves did not go near them.  They seemed to shy away from things they considered too human.


Taker descended the steps, a smirk on his face when he noticed his brother was awake.  “Glen.  Sorry about that.  But I didn’t see any other way of getting you in here quietly.”  He motioned with his hand, and the dogs formed a loose semi-circle around Christine and Glen.  A few of them started changing.  Taker looked on with impatience. 


“What the fuck is going on Mark?” Glen said, unsteadily rising to his feet.  His hands were still bound in front of him.  He paid it no mind.


“Hmm.  If you call me Mark, then I’ll take that as your permission to address you as Kane.”  Taker slowly crossed the room.


“I don’t give a flying fuck what you call me.  What the fuck is up with you, man?”


“Me?”  Taker chuckled and pulled a chair from the pile closest to him. He settled in and leaned back, eyes studying his brother from twenty feet. “Nothing.  I’m the same me I always was. You were the one who changed.”

“I didn’t change, Mark.  I just wanted more.” Glen said angrily.


“Um hmm.  Leaving all the work to me, that was more I suppose.  Well I had to think of a way to bring you back.  I think it’s going well so far.”


“You’re the leader of the ‘Vein.” Glen’s voice was flat.


“Very astute.” Taker nodded.  “Wasn’t hard to take them over, not after I changed.  Which was actually kind of enjoyable.”


“But you still hunt fangs.”


“Well, I personally don’t hunt anything.  But I do send my people out on contracts.  Keeping the population in check, if you will.  I don’t want any of them challenging me to what I’ve built here over the years.”


“Fuck, Mark.  We killed your kind together.  We swore we’re rather die than be like them.  What the fuck has gotten into you?”


“It’s kind of nice, not having to worry about getting old.  I do like the power, as well.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” Taker smirked again.


“Wouldn’t be the first time you’ve lied about something.”  Glen’s eyes narrowed.  “Why did you kill Angie?  Why did you take Jack?”


“I thought it was obvious.  I wanted you back here, little brother.  Home where you belong.  Couldn’t do that if you were out playing house with some whore and brat, now could you?  I did you a favor.  Too much more of that life, you’d would be old and fat in a few years, useless to everyone but yourself.”


Glen’s jaw clenched angrily. His hands itched with the urge to be wrapped around Taker’s neck.  He wanted to hear the bones snap under his fingers. 


Taker chuckled, seeming to sense Glen’s thoughts.  “Now, now.  I’m sure in time you’ll learn to live with what I’ve become.  With what you’re going to become.  We’ll even turn your son.  When he’s old enough of course.  Unless you decide you don’t want to join me.  Then I’ll have to kill him.”


At his harsh words, Christine rose to her feet.  Taker was obvious in some kind of power trip.  She had an idea how to head it off.  She’d talked to Dave several times about fangs.  And the one thing she’d found most fascinating was the fangs real weakness-their obsessive nature.  And what had Taker been obsessing about for the last few years?  Why…getting her in bed of course. She almost shuddered at the thought, but knew what she had to do.  Glen had to get out of here.  She had to help.  She’d made a promise, after all.


Seeing the way Glen tensed at his words, Taker smiled.  “Or maybe I’ll just raise him as my own son. He’s young.  Eventually he’ll forget about you and treat me as his only father.  Then I could change him and have an heir to follow in my footsteps.  What’s the matter, little brother?  Don’t like my ideas?” There was a joking note in his voice.


Glen sneered.  “Why couldn’t you just let me live my life?  You have everything.  Why do you need me?”


“Because you’re family.  And because you ran away when I told you not to go.  I don’t like being balked.”


“So you killed Angie because you were having some kind of fucking tantrum.  Makes a lot of sense, Mark.”  Glen took a step forward.  The men surround him stepped with him, closing in. 


“Glen…Kane.  I would hate to have to give the word to kill you.  You’re my only brother.  I want you with me, to help me.  You were the best hunter I ever knew.  You could be that again.  We can wipe out every nest within a hundred miles, take over, pretty much rule our own kingdom.   You’d turn that down for vengeance?”


“In a fucking heartbeat.”  Glen took another step.  Taker nodded at the men.  They grabbed Glen, holding him still.  Even tied up, Taker still looked at him as a threat.


“One word from me, and you’re dead.  And then what about little Jack?” Taker laughed. 

Glen struggled against the men holding him at the sound of his son’s name.  Christine knew that she had to act now or else Taker would lose his control and Glen would die.


She stepped in front of Glen, surprising every one in the room into being quiet. All eyes fell on her.  Taker’s eyes raked her body, proving her theory.  He still wanted her.  Maybe she could use that to her advantage.


“Taker.  Let him go.” She said it softly.  There was not inflection in her voice.  Taker grinned.  There was no humor in it.


“Why would I want to do that, darlin’?” He leaned forward in the chair, completely forgetting about the wolves holding his brother. He was focused entirely on Christine. 


“If you do…I’ll sleep with you.”


“Chris…” Glen’s voice held a warning note.  She held a hand up, shushing him.


“Interesting proposition.  I could just take you if I wanted to.”


“But you don’t want to.  You want me to be a willing participant.  And I will be.  If you let Glen leave here, unharmed.” She held his gaze.  He was quiet for a minute, as if soaking in her words.


“And if I don’t agree with what you are offering?”


It was Christine’s turn to smile humorlessly.  She reached behind her, pulling the gun from her waistband.  “If you disagree I’ll use this.”


“On me?” That smirk was back.


“No.  On myself.”  She pulled the hammer back and rested the barrel of the gun on the soft flesh of her chin.  Taker’s eyes were riveted by the motion.  This was her biggest gamble.  If she were dead, he would be denied something he wanted.  She just hoped he wanted her enough to agree.


“We can’t have that, now can we?”  His eyes raked her body again.  Christine felt that she could relax a bit.  Taker was known for being very single minded.  He could always keep Jack, and lure Glen back.  If Christine were dead, then he’d be at a loss.  He rose to his feet.   “Let him go.”


“No.  Chris…don’t do this…please…” Glen reached out.  Christine moved before he could touch her.  She had to do this.  There was no other way.  She couldn’t let him die when she could save him.  She’d thought about just shooting Taker, but the wolves would be on them in a heartbeat.  She had to buy him some time. She glanced over her shoulder, meeting Glen’s eyes, trying to pass a message without words.  She hoped he’d remember.  Dawn, the front door. 


“Untie him.”  Taker stepped toward Christine.  “Give me the gun and it’s a deal.”


“No.  Let him go.  Let me see he’s safe.  Then you can have the gun.  And me.” She settled the gun firmly at her chin again.  Taker sighed. 


“Boys.  Show my brother the exit.  Make sure he leaves the property unharmed.”  Taker met Glen’s eyes.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll have another discussion, and soon.  Right now I have some other business to take care of.  You should thank her.  She’s bought you some time to think over what I’ve told you.”


Glen made a noise low in his throat as the wolves led him from the room.  Taker held out his hand.  “Come on.  We can watch him leave from upstairs. Just so you can be sure I’m true to my word.”


Christine ignored the hand and walked behind him, never taking the gun from its lethal position on her head.  Taker did not worry about being shot in the back.  He knew at the moment he still had control over the situation.  Glen would not be safe until he had her gun.  She knew it, Taker knew it, Glen knew it.


They went upstairs, to the third and highest floor.  Taker led her into one of the rooms, shutting the door behind them.  It was nothing that she’d expected.  Everything was sleek and modern and looked brand new.  The bed was huge, the headboard curved black metal, the sheets and comforter a deep wine color.  There were a few couches and chairs, and a television.  Taker went to the window and raised the blackout blinds, motioning for Christine to stand with him.


She reluctantly did so, eyes seeking out in the dark.  She saw Glen being led down the driveway by the wolves, casting glances over his shoulder at the house.  When they reached the road, the wolves removed the bindings from his hands and backed away from him.  They waited several minutes.  One of them turned to the hotel.  Taker waved a hand.


“Now…the gun please…” He held the hand out.  Christine reluctantly handed over her weapon.  She watched as the wolves came back to the house.  Glen stood in the road for a few minutes, then turned and disappeared into the trees across the street.


“I do hope he’s not foolish enough to try to come in here again.” Taker said with a laugh.


“You ain’t the only one.” Christine said softly.  She suddenly felt like throwing up.  Taker put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. 


“I’ll give you a few minutes to calm down and get ready.  I do have some business to attend to before we get started.  Why don’t you take a bath, relax?” He sounded like a gracious host.  It did not make Christine feel any better.


“I’ll do that.” She slid from his grip and headed for the bathroom in the corner.  She had to think, and think fast.  Taker was going to have her.  There was not getting around it.  She just hoped he didn’t kill her as soon as he was done.  She couldn’t believe she was going through with this.  She cranked the hot water on in the tub and watched it fill up, then looked at the ceiling.  “Angie…you’d better be fucking grateful. I said anything and everything.”


She peeled off her clothes and then debated on what to do with the small gun in the ankle holster.  Christine cracked open the bathroom door.  The bedroom was deserted.  She quickly moved to the bed and put the gun under the mattress.  At least it would be at hand later.  Trying not to think about it, she returned to the bathroom to soak.  She needed the calming.  Especially considering what she was about to do.




Taker gave her an hour.


It was time enough for her to soak in the tub and pace worriedly in the bedroom, wrapped in a robe she’d found hanging in the closet.


When the door opened, Christine was standing at the window, staring into the night, wondering how far Glen had gotten.  She hoped he’d just do as she told him, hide until morning, then come back to get his son. 

She turned and watched as Taker entered the room.  She still could not believe he was a fang.  He looked so normal.  Of course, if he’d been a fang for a while, it was the only way she knew him.  He smiled at her, and it sent a chill through her although it held absolutely no threat.


“You’ll be happy to know that your friend somehow managed to escape the coliseum.”


“What?”  She had no clue what he was talking about.


“Dave.  That big room where John died.  That’s what the dogs call it.  As a joke.” He explained.  Christine wasn’t going to laugh.  She felt a flood of relief.  Dave was alive, somewhere.  Hopefully he’d get some help out here.  She knew better than to hold on to that hope though.  If she was going to get through this she’d have to get through it on her own.  Taker tugged his shirt over his head.  Christine swallowed and averted her eyes. “I’m going to take a shower.  Why don’t you have a seat.  Relax.”


Again he was playing the part of host.  Christine obediently took a seat on the couch, tucking her legs under her as he went into the bathroom.  In fifteen minutes he reappeared, a towel wrapped around his hips, hair still dripping water.  She nervously avoided looking at him as he walked toward her. 


Taker held out a hand.  “Come on.”  She took it hesitantly, letting him pull her to her feet.  He led her to the bed then turned her to face him.  “I’ve been waiting a long time for this Chris.  I can make it good for you, you don’t have to be afraid of me.  Hell…I think I might be in love with you.  I would never hurt you.”


To her, his words sounded hollow.  She didn’t know whether or not to believe him.  Could a fang actually feel love toward someone?  And if he did have some kind of feelings for her, how the hell could she use that to get her out of this situation.


Taker was untying the sash that held her robe shut.  Christine stood silent as the material slipped from her shoulders.  He looked over her body, eyes hungrily taking her in.  She closed her eyes when he reached for her and tried not to jerk away when he touched her.


He laid her back on the bed and threw his towel to the floor.  Christine felt him settle near her, felt his hands roaming her body again.  She felt like crying, but knew she couldn’t.  She had to try to pretend she was enjoying this.  To pretend that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.


His fingers found her center.  Christine stiffened up at the first touch.  She fought the urge to push him away.  Taker murmured something and leaned across her, pulling something from the nightstand next to the bed.  She risked a glance.  Apparently he’d been prepared for her not being willing.  He had a bottle of lube in his hand. 


Biting her lip, she felt his fingers once again touching her center, this time lubricated with the oil.  A shiver wracked her body as her massaged her flesh.  She wanted to shove him away from her, get his hands off of her most private parts, but knew that would be her death.


She kept her eyes closed and pretended it was Glen touching her.  It wasn’t hard to imagine.  After all, she’d been with him. And this was his brother.  They looked a bit alike, were built alike.  As long as she didn’t look, she could fool herself into believing that Glen was the one stroking her.


A moan escaped her lips, surprising her.  Taker made a low noise in his throat at the sound and doubled his efforts, moving faster against her silken flesh.  Every move he made, Christine replaced his image with Glen.  When he kissed her.  When he caressed her.  When he finally claimed her body with his.  She never opened her eyes, never wanted to face the reality of what was happening. In her mind it was Glen who was making love to her.


Taker’s fingers were once again stroking her center as he slowly moved inside of her.  Christine felt the hot tension coil in her stomach and cried out as she climaxed against his hand.  He moaned with her, releasing himself in her body, and collapsed on top of her.


Embarrassed beyond words, Christine held herself stiff.  With her climax came reality crashing back. It was not Glen here with her.  It was Taker.  Taker was not a good guy.  She’d let him take her body and now she felt dirty as if she’d never taken the bath.  His lips were sliding down her neck as Taker kissed her. 


“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” He whispered against her skin.  Christine slowly shook her head.  At least she could be truthful.  She felt him smile against her neck.  “I want you with me forever, Chris…” Her eyes fluttered open at his words and she was too late to stop him as his teeth sank into the soft skin of her neck.




Christine’s eyes blinked open and she sat straight up in the bed.  Her hand went to her throat.  She rubbed absently, horrified at the feel of the marks there. 


It hadn’t been a dream.  Taker had bitten her, sucking her blood, infecting her.  A fucking vampire.  She’d managed to avoid a bite from her stepfather and had been caught by the man she had considered a hero.


Her eyes adjusted to the dark.  She was alone in the room. Taker was no longer in the bed.  She rose to her feet, wincing at the soreness in her thighs. He’d taken her again after biting her, more urgent than the first time.  She barely remembered it. 


She went to the bathroom and got dressed quickly.  She had no idea what time it was, but it had to be close to dawn.  Taker would have stay inside after that.  While most legends were wrong, vampires could not stand sunlight.  Wolves weren’t too fond of it either, although the younger ones did venture out on occasion.


She just hoped and prayed that Glen would be there.  Christine went back to the bedroom and reached for her gun.  It was exactly where she’d put it under the mattress.  It wasn’t much, but it made her feel a little better.  She stepped to the winder and parted the blinds.  The sun was starting to peek over the horizon.  She felt a prickling sensation in her stomach and belatedly remembered…soon enough she wouldn’t be able to go out in the sun either. 


Christine resolutely turned from the window and opened the door to the hall.  Jack was downstairs.  She knew that, had sensed it earlier.  To her right was the stairwell that Taker had led her up.  She heard voices from that direction.  One of them was a familiar deep rumble.  Taker.  He sounded as if he were in the midst of an argument.  Good.  Let him stay occupied for ten minutes while she slipped downstairs.


She turned left and crept down the hall.  She knew from the plans she’d seen that their were stairs at the end of this hall too.  She just hoped no one had torn them down.  Her luck was in.  She slipped into the stairwell and descended.


At the next floor she listened at the door for several minutes to make sure no one was standing guard.  She opened the door and peered out.  The hall was lit with a lantern.  No one was there.  They didn’t even stand watch around the kid, so sure they were that he would not get out without them finding him.


She moved silently down the hall, stopping at the only door that was closed.  It was locked of course.  Locked doors meant nothing to Chris.  She found a nail on the floor and used it to break the pins in the locking mechanism.  The door swung open on silent hinges.


The room was dark.  Light from the hall spilled in, highlighting the small area.  There was a bed and a television.  That was it.  A little boy was huddled in the corner of the room, shaking.  Christine felt her heart wrench at the sight of him.  She slowly moved until she was next to him, then sat on the floor.


“Hey, Jack.” She whispered softly, reaching out.  He jerked from her hand, turning untrusting eyes to her face.


“Don’t…don’t touch….me…” He was scared half to death.  The wolves had thought it was funny to mess around with the kid.  He did not know who to trust.


Christine smiled at him.  “You’re daddy sent me.  We’re going to take you home, hon.”


He stared directly into her eyes and tilted his head to the side.  It sent another pang through her.  She’d seen Glen do that exact same thing on several occasions. 


“You’re lying.  They said my daddy is dead.”  Jack’s voice was cracking with emotion.  Any second he’d start crying.  Christine didn’t want that to happen.


“No baby, they were lying.  He’s downstairs right now. I’m going to take you to him.”  She said it with conviction, and inside was hoping against hope that Glen would be where she said he was going to be.


He studied her for another minute as if weighing her words.  “If you’re lying to me, I’ll kill you.”  His brave words were enough to break her heart.  Christine smiled through tears the suddenly filled her eyes.


“Fair enough, kid.” She held out a hand.  He hesitated only briefly before taking it and following her through the door.


Once again luck was with her.  There was no one around the first floor either.  Christine had to tinker with the knob for a minute, but finally managed to crack open the big doors that led outside from the lobby.  A shadow made her flinch back, but Jack was running through the opening, a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh issuing from his mouth.  He flung himself at Glen’s legs, clinging to his father as if he would never let go.

Glen looked into Christine’s eyes, tears filling his.  He couldn’t believe she was still alive, couldn’t believe Jack was safe, couldn’t believe she’d done what she’d said she’d do.  He lifted his son into his arms and kissed him, hugging him tight.


“God…Jack…baby, did they hurt you?  Are you all right?”  Although he knew they needed to get away from there, he could not just snatch his kid and go without saying anything to him.


“Daddy…” Jack was squeezing his neck so tight that Glen couldn’t breath.  And he loved every second of it. “I’m Ok Daddy, it’s all right…” Glen chocked back tears at his son’s attempt to comfort him.  His eyes fell once again on Chris, who hadn’t stepped out of the gloom of the hotel.


“Chris.  Come on, we have to leave.  Now.”  He shifted Jack and held out a hand.


Christine shook her head. “I can’t leave Glen.”


“Why not?  You got Jack out!  We can be gone before Taker ever notices you’re gone…”


She was shaking her head again.  “I can’t Glen.” She moved forward a bit.  Glen sucked in a breath as the meager sunlight fell on her skin.  He saw the puncture marks on her neck, each one standing out against her too pale skin.


“I’ll kill him, Chris. I swear to God, I’ll kill him for this…” Glen could not believe that Taker would do such a thing.  Even after everything else that had happened, to bite and turn someone…


“Glen, you have to go.” She looked over her shoulder.  “Take Jack and get as far away as you can. Where Taker can’t find you.  Where…I…can’t find you.”  She knew that sometimes newly awakened vampires liked to seek out people they knew for food.  It was just easier.  She did not want to get that feeling about Glen or his little boy.


“There has to be something we can do…” But Glen knew as well as anyone else that there was no cure.  Taker had bitten her not to kill her or just to feed, but to change her.  Already the sunlight was beginning to hurt her skin, her eyes.  There was nowhere they could go, no way she would leave the dark of the hotel.


“Taker said Dave survived.  Find him.  Take out this nest.  All of it.”



“Including me.  I don’t want to be one of these things, Glen.” Her voice caught.  She started crying.  “If you don’t, then I’ll kill myself.  I have to do it before my first feed, or else I’ll be lost.  Please…go find Dave.  Tell him.  He’ll understand. He’ll bring people.  You find him then you leave, get the hell out of here before something else happens.”


“I can’t just leave you to die, Chris…”


“I promised I’d make sure you made it, Glen.  I’m gonna keep that promise.”


“Promised who?” Glen asked, puzzled, hand stroking Jack’s hair absently.


“Your wife.  She made me promise to see you through this.  I intend to keep that promise.  Now get out of here before they find out we’re missing and kill all three of us.”


Glen could think of nothing to say.  His wife had been dead for a year, how the hell had Christine spoken to her?


“In a dream, damn it. I dreamed about her.”


“Reading my mind already?” He said, half humorous.


“Lucky guess.  Now please go, Glen.  Send help.”  She gave him one last lingering glance then ducked back into the building, shutting the door behind her.  Glen cuddled his son then turned and walked away.  There was something he could do.  He just had to think of what it was. 




Glen went directly to his house, not letting go of Jack for even a second. He knew that time was short, that the dogs would figure out the kid was missing.  And there would be only one person to blame.  Taker was crazy, who knew what he might do to Christine when the discovery was made.


A blood covered Dave was standing on the front porch.  Glen had never been so happy to see a person in his whole life.  Well…seeing Jack topped it, but it was a close second.  Cradling his son, he walked to the porch and met the other man’s eyes.


“We have to call in everybody we can find.  We’re wiping them all out.” He said by way of greeting.  Dave nodded, a pained expression on his face.


“Where’s Chris?” His eyes fell on the boy in Glen’s arms.  “And Taker? What the hell happened?”


“I could ask the same thing…” Glen led the way into the house. He settled Jack on the couch, covering him with a blanket.  The boy was asleep.  He was exhausted with fear.


“Damn dogs jumped me.  I managed to get to the exit.  Took a while to find my way out. I think I got about twenty-five of them.  It was hard to tell.” Dave shrugged.  To him it was just another day at the office. 


“We’ll have to go to Taker’s house.” Glen said reluctantly.  “That’s where everybody is.  Although I do have a question.”


“Yeah? What is it?”  Dave had found and towel and was cleaning blood from his arms. 


“Do your loyalties lie with Taker or with the job?”


Dave was silent for a few minutes.  “Taker taught me everything I know.  But I think I would still be doing what I do even without him.”


Glen nodded.  “Taker’s the leader.”


“What?” Dave looked shocked.


“I saw with my own eyes.  He has Chris. He…turned her.” He wasn’t sure he should tell that part but realized he would have to.  There would be no hiding it when they went back in.


“Turned her?  Taker’s a dog?” Dave threw the towel down and started pacing.  He shoved a hand angrily through his hair.


“No. Taker’s a fang.  And he’s insane.  I think that goes without saying. Who would you trust to watch Jack while we go back in?”  Glen asked.  Christine had told him to go far away but he could not do it.  Not until this was finished. 


“Allison will do it.” Dave said with no hesitation to think.  “She’s good with kids.  And I’d trust her with my life.”


“Then we’ll see if she wants to baby sit while we kill us some dogs.” Glen said with a humorless smirk.




Christine went back to Taker’s room.  It was still deserted.  He was still further up the hall, talking to someone animatedly. She quickly stripped and hid the gun once again under the mattress.  Then she climbed into the bed, covering up, and pretended to be asleep.


It wasn’t long before she heard the door open.  Heavy footsteps neared the bed.  She listened as Taker got undressed, and felt the bed shift as she joined her.  He reached over and pulled her against him, snuggling into her.


“What time is it?” Christine asked, trying to sound sleepy.


“Morning.  Time for some sleep.”  He nuzzled her hair.  Christine tried not to shudder.  “You can feed when we get up. You might have some pain today.  But I’ll be here to help you through it.”


Christine nodded and remained silent.  In a few minutes Taker was breathing steadily next to her.  She tried to close her eyes and rest, knowing she was going to need it, scared to death by what she knew was coming.


She must have dozed off.  A short time later she was awakened by a dull pain in her joints.  She stayed still, feeling the pain wax and wane.  Her stomach felt strange too.


Her whole body suddenly went stiff.  A low moan issued from her.  Taker stirred next to her, his arm tightening around her waist.  His lips were next to her ear.


“Just try to relax…” His deep voice was still sleepy.  “It hurts for a while, but after that it’s like waking up for the first time.”  He stroked her with his hand, warming her suddenly cold flesh.


“What’s happening to me?” Christine managed to speak through clenched teeth.  Her head was throbbing, matching the pain in her stomach.  Shudders wracked her body.


“You’re dying.”  Taker said softly.  “It only takes a while.  Then you’ll be better than ever.”


She hated having him so close to her, walking her through this, but was scared to death he was going to leave her to go through it on her own. Tears squeezed through her clenched eyelids as the pain took over all thought.




Glen debated a moment, trying to decide if they should directly attach the hotel or try once again to go through the back door.  Dave had gathered every hunter he could get his hands on…there were at least fifty of them, all armed to the teeth. 


Glen felt strangely calm.  The other times he’d been here, his nerves had been on edge.  Now he felt a familiar coldness seep through him.  He was ready to go into full hunter mode.  It was almost comforting to step back into that mindset.  Especially knowing that he might have to kill his own brother.


“Everyone ready?” He said, not bothering to be quiet.  It was straight up noon.  Christine had been under Taker’s care for thirty six hours.  It had taken Glen that long to get everyone up to speed.  He surveyed the people around him.  “If you see Chris…restrain her but don’t kill her.  We don’t know if she’s fed yet.” There were nods.  None of them wanted to be the one to take out a friend.  Taker would also be Glen’s problem to deal with.


“Let’s get it goin’.” Dave said, waving an arm. 


Glen nodded and led his makeshift army to the metal doors.  At least he knew that way in from here.  The main hotel would present more of a challenge.  He motioned the hunters underground, hoping that they were ready to deal with this mess.




Sleeping in the daytime was going to take some getting used to.


Christine sat on the couch, the television on, curled against the cushions.  The sound was muted.  She stared blankly at the screen.  Taker was in the bed behind her, sleeping deeply.


Last night had been…bad.  There was no way around it.  Terrible, horrible, awful.  The dogs had discovered Jack missing and Taker had gone on a rampage.  He killed a few of his own men, carelessly tossing their bodies around the hallway.  The wolves had waited until he’d shut himself into his room before removing the corpses. 

Lucky for her, he didn’t blame her.  Taker blamed the wolves’ lazy nature for the boy managing to get away.  It chilled her when he’d laughed and said getting the kid back would be easy.

Christine was too sick to argue with him.  Cold chills had wracked her body all though the day, and last night she’d been so weak she could hardly move.  Taker had piled blankets on her, all the while talking about the things they would do together.

It struck her how lonely he seemed.  He’d been bitten on one of his last missions and had suffered through this ordeal alone, during a short leave of absence from home base.  At first the thought of running hunters while he himself was one of the hunted had been a novelty. 

Unfortunately the fun part wore off rather quickly.  Taker had no one to share his new life with…he could not very well tell any of his friends or coworkers.  When Glen had targeted the ‘Vein, he’d seen an opportunity to move in and run his very own league of wolves.


Even that had lost its allure.  The wolves feared him, not only because he was a vampire, but because Taker’s status as a hunter was legendary.  They kept his secret, and kept his involvement with them secret.  The ‘Vein, in turn, got the run of the area, not having to worry about retribution from the hunters.  Taker could turn suspicion elsewhere.


That was, until Glen had entered his mind.  His brother was the only person on the planet who could really understand him. Taker had pretty much raised him in the business.  Glen shared the responsibility of running the place.  But Glen had started rumbling about wanting more out of life than just the job.  He was so disenchanted with it that their final mission together was the one where Taker had been bitten.  Glen’s head had not been in the game that night. 


The fang who had bitten him had been a woman.  She’d promised to teach him, to guide him, but had run off the very next night, while Taker lay dying in his bed.  When he got his strength back he hunted her, killing her with no remorse, blaming her for all he’d suffered through at his turn.


Christine actually started feeling sorry for him. That scared her.  Glen had moved out, had gotten married and had a kid, a family.  Taker had nothing but his bloodlust and his hunters.  And the bloodlust seemed to get stronger every year.  He controlled it through a great effort of will. 


While doing research on a new group of fangs, Taker had run into a woman who went by the obviously fake name Thorn.  She was a fang.  She was a study in contradiction.  Small of stature, slim, girlish, she had no problem keeping the bloodlust at bay.  She’d told him to take a mate, or make a mate, whichever presented itself first.  Two fangs could live together and feed from each other, and not have to worry about the rest of the world.  It was still recommended to feed from regular people, but instead of nightly it would only have to be done once or twice a month.


And then he’d met Christine. 

Sarcastic, strong willed, beautiful Christine.  And knew that she was the one he wanted.  He thought that in time she would come around, would accept him.  When that didn’t happen, he’d bitten her out of desperation.  The wolves had wanted her killed along with Glen and Dave.  He was hearing none of it.  Christine was his.  He’d known it from the moment he’d seen her.


Now, sitting on the couch, she shivered at the memory of those words.  He’d known from the beginning that he’d turn her…whether she asked for it or not. Tears pricked her eyes.  She was amazed she could still cry considering she was for all intents and purposes dead.  Christine still could not believe it was happening.  She knew something had to be done, before she’d had her first feed.  At that feed, she’d be a full vampire-bloodlust, fangs and all. 


She wondered if she should just talk Taker into taking her away from this place.  Let the wolves deal with the hunters who were surely coming.  Leave Glen and Jack alone.  She’d go willingly if he promised to do that. 


But she didn’t want to ask.  She didn’t want to have to ask.  She’d gotten Glen out of here, and his son.  That was all she’d promised to Angie in that damn dream.  He’d taken Jack and he’d left…by now he would be far, far away. 

Christine shook off her thoughts.  She decided to lie down for a while, at least pretend to sleep when there was a rush of footsteps outside the door.  Someone pounded on the wood.


Taker was up, throwing off the blanket and moving across the floor before Christine could even get to her feet. He ignored the fact that he was naked when he threw open the door, taking in the faces of the two men that stood before him.


“They’re here.  Hunters.  And a lot of them.” The bigger one said, nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot.


“And my brother?” Taker asked, curling his hands into fists.


“Apparently…leading them…sir.” The smaller wolf said. Taker laughed and turned to Christine.


“I knew he wouldn’t be able to stay away.”  He waved a hand dismissing the wolves.  “Attack them if you must, but leave my brother to me.” He slammed the door in their faces.


“Taker…” Christine said softly from her spot near the couch.


“Chris…get dressed.  I think it’s about time you had your first bite to eat.” His tone did not invite argument.  Feeling more ill by the second, Christine ducked into the bathroom to get dressed.


Glen was still here.  She didn’t know whether to be pissed off or relieved.  She knew she had to stop Taker from hurting him, knew it but did not know how. 

She took a minute to compose herself, her hand on the doorknob.  Taker would not wait for long, and would probably bust the door down if she hesitated any more than what she did.  But she just needed a moment to convince herself this was really happening, that she really was on the side of the damned, and that there was no way out of her predicament.




“We’ll find the weakest hunter, one in the back of the group.  We won’t have to kill him, just get enough blood to finish your change.” 


Taker talked as he moved down the stairs, Christine following along behind him.  He held her hand.  After her initial urge to pull away, she’d let him do it.  She still felt so damn weak she could hardly move.


Taker assured her the blood would fix that.

Christine was not comforted.  Nor did she like the thought of feeding off of a hunter, a friend, someone she had known for years. And something strange was happening to her.  An hour ago the thought of actually drinking blood from person had repulsed her.  Now…while she was not by any means all right with it, she understood the fangs’ driving need.  There was a hollowness in her stomach that she knew no real food would touch.


Taker paused before entering the lobby.  There were sounds from the other side of the door.  Fighting sounds.  No guns, but there was definitely a scuffle of some kind.  The sounds faded.  Taker smiled reassuringly and opened the door.


There were bodies.  Apparently a few hunters had tried the front door.  The wolves had tried to fight them back.  A few of both were still alive.  There were more wolves then hunters though.  Christine was relieved.


She recognized one of the men.  Her eyes widened when she realized it was Jeff.  He’d been hit in the head.  Blood poured from a cut over his temple.  But he was alive.  He pushed himself to a standing position against the wall and stared in shock at Taker and Christine neared him.


“Chris…” His voice was unsteady.


Christine pulled away from Taker’s hand. He grinned, but she did not see it.  He thought she was focused solely on the blood that covered the right side of Jeff’s face. 


“Jeff…are you all right?”  She reached for him, shocked when he pulled back before she could touch him.


There was a noise from behind them.  Taker reluctantly backed away.  “Feed, Chris.  Just a few drops for now.  I’ll be right back.”  With that he turned and left Christine with a very weak Jeff.

They stared at each other for a minute. “Well?  Go ahead!” Jeff finally broke the silence.  Christine shook her head, tears again forming, and falling from her eyes. 


“Get out of here Jeff.  Before he decides to kill you.”

Jeff looked confused.  “Chris…I thought you were turned…”


“I am turned.  I don’t want blood from you…and I don’t know how much longer I can keep from getting it from you.  Please…” She sobbed and dropped to her knees on the floor.  “Just…run…please…get out.”


Jeff hesitated, then used the wall to guide him to the door.  He spared Christine one last look before exiting into bright sunshine. 

Telling him to leave had been the hardest thing Christine had ever had to do.  Even now the scent of his blood left her mouth watering fiercely.  She’d taken one look at the wound on his head and her stomach had clenched up, wanting it.  She wanted to lick the blood from his face, and suck on the wound until the pain in her stomach subsided.


Knowing she could not fight the urge to feed, she looked around the room.  The dead did not concern her.  There was a wolf, a man just changing back, in the corner. He was stirring, moaning a bit in pain. Not able to hold the bloodlust in check, Christine crawled to him. 


She had no idea how to do this.  She would not grow fangs until she’d fed the first time.  With shaking hands she reached out and rested her fingernails against his neck.  With a cry that was part revulsion, part triumph, she dug her fingers into the soft skin.  How blood pooled at her fingertips.  She couldn’t stand it anymore.  She leaned over the wolf’s prone body and began sucking rhythmically at the punctures in his neck.




Glen led the charge into the underground tunnels.  A few of the hunters had decided to go the direct route through the front door.  Glen had a very bad feeling about that but knew that he could not stop them. 


Wolves came at them from every angle.  Sometimes alone, sometimes in groups, there seemed to be an endless supply of them.  Glen led his group toward the big room where John had died, where Dave had been left. 


He knew that was going to be their biggest challenge.  Even in the middle of the day, the room seemed to deny light.  It was dark, but this time they were ready.  A dozen hunters entered the room, a dozen more.  The wipeout could not go any better.  Wolves fell before bullet and blade.  One of their seasoned hunters, a man named Michael, was using a sword.  He slashed the wolves almost too quickly for Glen to mark with his eyes. 


Dave was at his side, seeming to fire randomly into the waves of wolves as the approached.  The men shared a brief look, both knowing that they’d have to move on.  They began making their way around the room, to the door that had denied Dave entrance in the night. A couple of the hunters followed, but the majority stayed behind to clean the room of the wolves.  Glen shouldered the door open and led his small group into the familiar hallway.




“Chris…stop…that’s enough…”


The voice sounded far away.  Chris was lost in the throes of her first feeding.  She felt arms wrap around her waist, felt herself being pulled from the now dead wolf that lay before her. She hissed, struggling against the arms that kept her from the blood.


“Shh…Chris…it’s all right…” Taker’s voice was low, calming.  The blood had stopped the pain in Christine’s midsection. And if she were anything like him…


Christine suddenly froze, not moving.  Then she lurched forward, not toward the body, but away from it.  Taker let her go, knowing what was coming.  Christine crawled a short distance away, her head low. “What’s happening?” Her voice was a plaintive whine. 


“It happens.  The first time. And if you gorge.  You’ve managed to do both.” Taker moved beside her, his hand going out to pull her hair from her face.


Her whole body seemed to vibrate as Christine threw up most of the blood she’d sucked into her mouth.  It took a few minutes, but when she finally stopped she felt even weaker than she’d been before she’d fed.


Taker pulled her against him again, settling her between his legs.  He rocked her slowly, talking to her in that low, soothing tone.


“Just your body’s way of telling you that you don’t need much to survive,” He said, smoothing her hair back from her face.  Taker looked around.  “I see you let your friend go.  I would think a kind-hearted vampire is something of an oxymoron…” He sounded amused.

Christine shook her head.  “I don’t see why it should be so shocking.” Even her voice was weak.  She felt sleepy all of a sudden, and wished she’d followed Taker’s lead in getting a nap that morning.


“It’s not shocking.” Taker whispered, his lips against her ear.  “Vampires still feel.  At least, some of them do. Sometimes the bloodlust makes them get out of hand.”


“Have you?  Ever gotten out of hand?” Christine asked dreamily. 


“On an occasion or two.”  He kissed her cheek, near her ear.  Christine shivered.  “My first time, I bled two men dry before I got sick.  I didn’t realize it was the gorging, you see.  And I’m a slow learner.  I did it again the next night.  It took a week to figure it out.”


Christine smiled weakly.  “Obviously not the brightest crayon in the box.”  She moved her hand.  The fingers felt tingly.  Something was happening to her.  Her toes also tingled.  She felt warm.  For the first time in days, she felt warm.  “What’s happening?” The tingle spread through her arms and legs, her torso.  Her face flushed pink.  “Taker…” She looked over her shoulder at him, frown of worry on her face.  He smiled at her.


“The blood is doing what it’s supposed to do.  Jut relax and let it, Chris.”  He pulled her tighter against his body.  She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feelings that were spreading through her.  She no longer felt sleepy.  As a matter of fact, she suddenly felt as if she would never have to sleep again.


“I feel like I have the start of the biggest caffeine high in history,” She said.  Her voice still sounded strange. 


“It’s not unlike that.  But from this you might never have to come down.” Taker said softly. 


Christine rested her hands on his thighs, slowly rubbing his legs through his jeans. She could feel every ridge in the heavy material, could feel the heat his legs put out, could almost feel the skin they covered, that was how sensitive her touch was at the moment.


And she realized another issue she was having.  She felt like getting laid.  And that was an understatement.  She felt like throwing Taker down on the blood stained floor and blowing his mind.  And about him doing the same to her.  She had never heard about bloodlust making a person horny, but she supposed it made sense.  Lust was, after all, part of the word.


That scared her.  She did not want Taker.  She had never known what she wanted, but he was not it.  He’d done this to her against her will, no matter how good it felt at that moment. 

Clearing her throat, she asked in a weak voice, “How long would it take hunters to kill seventy wolves and come looking for us?”


Taker chuckled.  “A hell of a lot shorter time than it would take to kill over three hundred wolves.”


“Three hundred?”

”Um hmm.  It’s possible I forgot to include some information in those files your team was looking through. My mistake.”  He sounded amused rather than contrite. 


“I want to go.”


“Watch them fight?  Might be a disappointing bloodbath.  Like I said, the wolves are lazy.”


“No.” Christine shook her head.  “I want us to go.  I want us to go before they decide to kill us both.”


“Are you afraid of them?” His voice held curiosity.


“No.” She meant it.  She did not fear the hunters.  The blood working through her system was giving her strength and power she’d never dreamed had existed.


“What are you afraid of then, Chris?”

She could only shake her head.  She did not know.  The only thing she was sure of was she did not want to see Glen and Taker have a final showdown. 


“Are you ready to go downstairs?  This game is almost at an end.” Taker gave her a squeeze.


“I suppose…” Christine let Taker help her to her feet.  Strength surged through her body, making her feel warm.  The gloomy lobby seemed to be lit up as if the noon sun were pouring through the windows.  “Holy shit.”


“Like waking up for the first time.” Taker said with a knowing smile, as he watched her take in her surroundings through her vampire eyes. “We’re going to get through this.  I have so much I want to show you about who you are now, Chris. I can’t wait to get started.”




Taker led her to the basement. They stood at the upper landing of the stairs looking down. The room seemed bigger than she remembered.  Even though there were no lights, she could see every part.  The blood she’d drank seemed to sing in her veins. 


There were wolves in the basement, although still in human form.  A few dozen of them.  Christine watched as they changed, preparing for the hunters who were now in the hallway.  She stepped forward. Taker put a hand on her shoulder, keeping her still.  She understood he wanted to observe but not join in. 


The door exploded inward, shards of wood flying.  The wolves howled and tried to rush the now open doorway.  Gunshots rang out.  A few wolves fell.  The first of the hunters came into the basement.


Glen was in the lead.  Christine could not believe it was really him. She’d told him to go far away damn it. Irrational anger filled her.  There were only five hunters, Dave one of them, but they were doing a hell of a job keeping the wolves at bay.


“I wanna help.” Christine said softly.  Taker gave her shoulder a squeeze. 


“If you must.  Just remember…you are not invincible.” He stared down into her eyes and leaned down, kissing her lips briefly.  “Be careful.”


Christine nodded absently, her gaze being drawn back to the battle on the floor below. There were wolves everywhere.  The five hunters were cornered but still fighting.  More wolves poured in through the open door to the back entrance.  A few straggling hunters entered too.  She watched at Glen was surrounded by three wolves.  He was calmly reloading his gun. 


She made her way down the stairs, ignoring everything but him.  Taker stayed behind, wanting to watch what she’d do, what decision she’d make.  Now that she’d fed, her attitude had shifted a bit.  She was no longer horrified at what she’d become.  There was a grudging acceptance in her eyes. 


At her approach the wolves backed down from Glen, ducking their heads at her passing.  She paid them no mind.  Glen was staring at her, his expression a mix of sadness, regret, and cold hunter iciness. 


“Chris…” He could barely get her name out.  It was obvious they were too late.  It was in her eyes.  Her once dark eyes had taken on a strange light, a red glow that could only mean she’d just fed. 


She nodded at him, and looked over her shoulder.  The wolves were keeping a wary eye on Glen, pacing back and forth, loath to attack another hunter when this one was standing right before them.


“I told you to leave.” She said, finally facing him.  Glen shrugged.


“I came back for you.”


Christine laughed.  “It’s way too late for me.  You should have just gotten the hell out.” One of the wolves whined uneasily at her laugh.  She ignored them.


“I couldn’t leave you.” He said, dropping his voice.  “Did you tell him?”


“Tell him what?” She drew closer.  Glen ignored all that was going on around him, staring down into her eyes.


“About us.”


“What us?  We agreed that was a mistake.”


“Do you really believe that?” He put his free hand on her shoulder.


“I don’t know what I believe.” Christine’s eyes carried a sadness that made Glen’s heart hurt.  “You can’t kill him, Glen.”

He huffed and shook his head.  “He deserves more than just a quick death for all of this.”


Tears were spilling from Christine’s eyes.  “If you kill him, then you’ll have to kill me. I don’t think I can do this without him.”




“He’s just lonely, Glen.  Lonely and sad and probably as scared as I am.  I don’t think he meant for it to go this far.”

Glen shrugged.  “He started it.”


“No.  The wolves started it.  He just took the credit.”


“If you’re trying to convince me that he had nothing to do with Angie’s death, with Jack’s kidnapping, you can save your breath.”


Christine smiled sadly.  “That’s what I’m saying.  It wasn’t his idea.  He just took the credit. He missed having family around.”


“You’re just saying this shit because you’re like him now.”  Glen seemed to remember his gun.  He finished loading it, snapping the bullets home angrily.


“I’m nothing like him,” Christine said sadly.  “I think I’m the only one who can keep him from going crazy.”


Glen laughed without humor.  “I think it’s too late for that.”


Christine shook her head.  “Believe what you want.  I won’t let you kill him.  And I won’t let him kill you.”  She studied his face one last time.  “I’m gonna talk him into running. With me.  He needs me.  And I hate to admit it, but I need him.”


“Only because he did this to you!” Glen raised his voice.  One of the wolves took a step toward them.  Glen raised the gun and fired, catching it in the shoulder.


Another wolf leaped at the sound of the gunshot.  Christine surprised herself by grabbing it in mid-jump, twisting its neck in her hands.  The body fell to the floor.  Glen looked at her, open mouthed.  She was fast, her reflexes like lightning. It drove home what she really was.


He should just end her now, save her from the life that Taker had forced on her.  He raised his gun.  Instead of shooting her, he moved the gun at the last second, shooting the wolf he’d missed the first time.


They stared at each other for a minute, each trying to convey a message without words.


“Let’s get this done.” Christine finally broke the silence. 


“I told you…you’re a hunter at heart.”  He meant it as a joke.  He felt like crying instead of laughing.  Christine seemed not to notice.  She had turned from him and was walking into the thick of the fight, ready to take out some wolves.


Taker watched from the landing, gripping the rail in his hands as Christine and Glen talked, mindless of the violence going on around them.  He was surprised when Christine joined the battle, taking out wolves with ease.  Even though he’d changed her, even though she was no longer one of the humans, she still fought with them as if nothing had changed.


The wolves’ numbers fell.  Soon there were just a few stragglers.  More hunters entered the basement. Christine found herself surrounded by them. He watched as she seemed to notice.  Glen stepped toward her, his hand out.  She stepped away as if afraid she would burn if he touched her.


“Chris…” Taker called her from the top of the stairs.  It was time for her to make her choice.  She looked from brother to brother, a frown of confusion and worry on her face.  The hunters just stood and watched, not trying to interfere.  She reached out finally, touching Glen’s face with one hand.  Neither spoke.  Christine finally turned and walked through the hunters toward the stairs. Taker felt relief swell through him as she climbed to join him at the top.


Glen motioned the hunters back through the tunnels.  “I’ll deal with him.  Just go back. Make sure you didn’t miss any dogs.  Pick up our dead.  We won’t leave them down here…” He barked orders at Dave, who looked at him with worry before leaving to take care of business.


“Chris…you don’t have to do this!” Glen called after her when the hunters had left.  She leaned over the rail, smiling sadly down at him.  He was not going to just let her go that easily.  “Come with me.  Let’s get the out of here together.  You know you don’t belong with him.”


“I don’t think I’ve ever really belonged anywhere, Glen.” She called down to him.  It was true.  She’d always felt like an outsider in everything that she did. Taker wrapped an arm around her.  She stepped into him, closing her eyes at the sound of frustration Glen made from below him.


“I’m sorry about Angie, Glen.” Taker said, just loud enough for his brother to hear.  “I didn’t get there in time to stop them.  I did get the boy out before they could hurt him.  I’d take it back if I could.”


“Shut up!” Glen yelled.  His hand tightened on his gun.  He did not want to hear this.  “Let her go, Mark! You changed her against her will! Let her go so we can help her!”


“It’s too late, you know it as well as I do.” Taker said sadly. 


Glen raised the gun.  He aimed for Taker’s head.  Christine shoved him backward and stood in front of him, blocking Glen from taking the shot that would kill his brother.


“Get out of the way, Chris.” Glen’s voice was low but perfectly clear.  Christine shook her head calmly.


“I can’t let you do it, Glen.  Let us leave.  We won’t bother you again.  He won’t bother you again.  I’ll take care of him. We’ll take care of each other.”


“And that’s what you really want?” Glen asked, incredulous.  He had thought that Christine hated Taker.  He guessed he was wrong.

”It’s enough for now.” She leaned on the rail again.  Glen dropped the gun, feeling more helpless than he had in his whole life.


He stared up at her.  “Take him then.  Get the hell out of here before the hunters decide to chase fangs.  If either of you come back, we’ll probably take you out.”


“I understand, Glen.” Christine smiled.  Taker once again pulled her into his arms.


“I’m sorry.” Taker’s voice was a low rumble.  “I didn’t know what else to do.”


“You could have just asked for help!” Glen said, feeling angry at his brother’s impetuous decisions. 


“Sometimes there is no helping what we are.” He kissed the top of Christine’s head.  “We’re going to leave.  Go somewhere far away, try to have a life together. The business is yours to do with what you want.  I’ve already made the arrangements.”


“You knew all of this was going to happen?”  Glen stared at his brother.


“I knew I’d either leave or be killed.  Both seemed permanent.”  Taker shrugged.  “Take care of them, little brother.  They’re going to need you.”


“Goodbye, Glen.”  Christine’s waved down at him, morose but wanting to get out of there.


“Chris…” It was all he managed to get out before Taker and Christine faded back into darkness, heading upstairs and somehow out of the hotel.  Glen had no idea how they were going to get out of the place in broad daylight, but knowing his brother, he’d manage.  “You take care of her, or I’ll kill you…” He muttered under his breath.  With a sigh of resignation, he turned and left the basement, cautiously stepping over wolf bodies as he went.





Christine haunted Glen’s dreams for some time after the final fight between the hunters and the ‘Veins. 


He often dreamed about what would have happened if she’d decided to come with him instead of Taker.  If they could live together, she a vampire, he a human hunter, and make it work.  That there had been something between them was obvious.  But she’d made her choice.  And her choice had not been him.


Dave survived the incident with no outward issues.  He became Glen’s second in command, his number one hunter, and his best friend and confidante.  Jack called him ‘uncle’, which warmed Dave to no end.

Dave himself had been seeing Allison for quite a while.  Glen encouraged it as often as he could.  No one deserved a good life more than Dave did.


Jack was Jack.  He’d had nightmares for a time after coming home.  At first he’d asked Glen what happened to the angel who had saved him.  This angel soon became his mother.  Glen did not try to correct him.  Some part of Angie had reached out to help her son.


Glen had taken over Taker’s house, running the group of hunters for lack of anything better to do.  He learned to love the job again.  They solely hunted wolves now, leaving vampires alone unless a rogue made life difficult.  Some vampires were not bad after all. Jut misunderstood.


Glen had ways of keeping track of even the farthest flung fangs. The vampire world was in something of an uproar at the moment.  Not a bad one.  Christine and Taker had disappeared for a time, but had been recently located.  Not only that…Christine was rumored to be pregnant.  Although vampires did die with the change, it was as Taker said:  A rebirth.  Alive but different.  It would be the first vampire couple ever to have a child through natural means. 


Glen wondered if it would be enough for Taker, to have his woman and a child, to give him the family that he craved but would not admit he needed.  He hoped so.  He hoped that Taker would love Christine and their child and that it would heal whatever part of his heart that was scarred so deeply by loneliness and anger. 


Glen himself hoped to someday have that same thing.  He could have had it, if he’d not been so singularly obsessed with his revenge. He did not want to make the same mistakes that his brother had made. 


Jack seemed to settle well into their new environment.  He was fascinated by the hunters and trackers, and asked endless questions.  Although he was wary, Glen began to train his son as a hunter.  Just as he’d thought, Jack had a natural perception for the work, just as his father had before him.


He didn’t want to trap Jack into this life in the same way he’d felt trapped in it.  He wanted Jack to be prepared, but also wanted the boy to be able to make his own decision when the time came.  And it would come.  He only hoped that he was giving Jack the right tools to help him make that choice, to make the right choice for him.  It was really all he could hope for at this point.  And it was more than he himself had been given.