WARNING: Contains violence.
Lot meets a werewolf, but are they friend or foe?
Nine Shillings and Victorian Mistress are also available on Wattpad.
London – 1844
I shouldn’t have been on the rooftop in Covent Garden alone, not when I couldn’t sense the murderer coming, but I had to know. I’d never forgot anything before, or perhaps it wasn’t forgetting if you hadn’t seen it to remember. I was so used to being able to open my memories at any point from my past and remember with perfect clarity it bothered me, despite knowing Bran couldn’t remember what he’d had for breakfast most days.
I got down on my knees where I’d been the night the murderer attacked and waited for some sense of… something. All I got was damp knees and an itch between my shoulder blades.
It might’ve helped to step back into my memory but I’d lose all sense of what was around me; although I’d be able to remember it after, assuming the murderer didn’t reappear and kill me.
Soft footfalls ran across a nearby roof. I stayed where I was.
Someone being on the rooftops wasn’t unusual. The Thieves’ Road wound its way around the rooftops of London, it was how I got about unseen for most of my life.
There was a heartbeat, fast, but they’d been running. The breeze brought wolf fur, it reminded me of the hints of wolf spun into Edward’s little boy scent but stronger, and a grown woman.
My fingers curled around the knife release up my sleeve.
There was a thud behind me.
‘I’ve been looking for you,’ she said.
‘That’s not ominous at all.’ I rose and turned to her.
She must’ve been about as tall as Bran. That was a lot of person to be so stealthy when she couldn’t use illusions on me. ‘You have taken one of ours and he belongs with his own kind.’ She stared at me.
I held her gaze. ‘No.’
‘No?’ she asked.
‘Unless you know where his family is Edward is my son.’
She considered me. ‘They’re dead. But a wolf belongs with wolves.’
‘Far as I can see wolves let his family die and let a man take him and try to sell him.’ A muscle in my neck twitched with the urge to look away. ‘Not a winning argument.’
‘And what can a vampire do for him a werewolf can’t?’ she asked.
I flicked out my knife. ‘You’ll just have to go through me.’
She hit me in the chest.
I smashed through a chimney. I rolled across the roof through the debris and fell off the edge. My hand grabbed the gutter and it groaned at my weight, not as much as my broken ribs complained.
She put her foot on my fingers, the metal cut and blood dripped on my face. ‘Are you sure of this fight, little vampire?’
‘Not really,’ I wheezed.
I dug my claws into her calf. She snarled like an injured dog. I let go of the roof and we dropped.
I landed on my feet. Pain exploded in my chest and my legs dropped me on my face. She landed on her side with a grunt, and no crunch.
She wasn’t taking Edward.
I shoved myself up. She rolled aside. My fist crack the cobbles. She kicked my elbow. It snapped and I pitched forward. She was on me, arching me back and trying to get a grip on my neck as I bucked and clawed and snapped.
I let her arm close and dug my claws in. She rolled onto her back, wrapping her body around me, grinding my bones with her grip. I head-butted her. She growled and held on. I hit her again and again. My elbow snapped back into place and a second set of claws joined the first. Her grip loosen.
She wasn’t taking my child.
I pulled her arm away, an increment at a time. Her flesh tore. She stabbed at me with her own set of claws. I ignored it.
She couldn’t take my child.
I bit. Citrus blood filled my mouth and I gulped it down.
She howled and threw out her arm. I shot off, taking a chunk of flesh with me, and smashed through a heap of old crates. The wall stopped me and a heap of rotting wood landed on top of me.
I spat out the meaty chunk and lay still, breathing heavily. My blood pooled around me.
Outside my cocoon, there were low growls and bones crunching.
She didn’t know when to give up.
My elbow didn’t want to lock and my limbs slipped in my blood.
She wouldn’t take Edward.
I forced myself up, shedding broken wood and brick chunks. I staggered towards her lying on the ground. Her arm was stretched out, the bones shifting and the flesh writhing.
‘I yield,’ she said.
‘Carry on like this and I’m going to kill you, not what I was aiming for.’
I swore in Irish about my crunching ribs, bent over and rested my hands against me knees. ‘What were you aiming for?’
Her arm stopped shifting and she flexed her fingers. The chunk had filled in and scabbed over and her nose had reset. ‘I had to see if you were a worthy Dom.’
‘A worthy what?’
‘The leader of the pack. A Dom. Dominant wolf.’
‘Oh.’ I had no idea what else to say and sat down with my back against the wall before I fell down.
She sat up. ‘You’ll fight for the boy till the death.’
She nodded. ‘As Dom it’s my duty to protect all the wolves in this city, whether they can shift yet or not. Not all Doms would agree.’
I thought of Elizabeth and Bran. ‘You don’t have to tell me that.’
She chuckled. ‘Yes, I heard about The Coven Master, but I couldn’t be sure if that was defence or power.’ She rubbed her arm. ‘You want to know a person’s mettle, a fight’s the best way.’
I stopped before I pointed out that not everyone could fight, but I supposed it wasn’t the skill it was the odds. Elizabeth would’ve let her take Edward to protect herself, Veronica had no fighting skill but she would’ve fought as hard as I did to protect him.
‘He’s lost one mother, you could’ve taken another from him,’ I said.
‘Only if you were unworthy.’
There was a philosophical point to be argued but between pain and hunger I didn’t think I had the energy to make a coherent argument.
‘You fight well, vampire,’ she said.
I tilted my head back. ‘I would’ve bloody won.’
‘I doubt it.’
I looked at her. ‘Losing wasn’t an option.’
‘I like you.’ She offered me her hand.
I stretched over, body protesting, and shook it. ‘Undecided.’
‘Fair enough, I did attack you.’
We both leaned back.
‘Eventually we have to leave,’ I observed.
‘One, one way. One another?’ I asked
She nodded. ‘Sound plan.’
I eased my way up using the wall for support. ‘Can’t say it was pleasure.’
She grabbed a box with her good arm and used it to lever herself up. ‘Likewise.’
‘Let’s not do this again.’
We both limped down the alley in opposite directions, facing each other, until we were on the streets at opposite ends. Then we retreated to lick our wounds.
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