“This is your handiwork.”
The final confrontation. I think I track of everyone. And I think I answered questions.
Chapter Twenty Four
Alek turned to Luis, grabbing the young man by the arm. “Did Miles drink the wine?”
“What? Of course. We’ve all had some wine,” Luis said.
Everyone spoke at once. Alek closed his eyes, trying to think. Chambers knew about Alek’s condition and he knew about Mile’s having been bitten. “Get him somewhere safe. He’s not in control of himself,” Alek said.
“Don’t touch him!” Miles rushed towards Alek, snarling.
He sidestepped the man, moving more sluggish than he liked. Miles crashed into a table. Gasp went through the room.
“What are you doing?” Charlotte stood at the table, her wedding finery sparkling in the candlelight.
Miles hissed and moved for her, apparently forgetting all about Alek. In a quick motion, he had the bride by the throat and pulled her forward, across the table. Dishes crashed. Glasses spilled and rolled to the floor before breaking. She screamed, weak and thin as the blacksmith crushed the air from her throat. Her face turned red. People shouted, rushing for the door. Furniture overturned.
All the while, her husband watched with folded arms and a bored air.
Alek stumbled forward, his legs not responding correctly. He just couldn’t move fast enough. It felt like lead weights held down his feet.
Damn Chambers. He’d tear the man’s throat out with his bare teeth for this, and he didn’t care who watched. His claws came out, and he felt his fangs descend.
Yes, ripping out throats seemed like a wonderful idea.
Godwin’s cane appeared behind Miles, pressing against the man’s throat. The man leveraged his weight, forcing Miles to release his grip on Charlotte or be choked.
Miles threw his head back, bashing it into Godwin’s face. Blood poured from a likely broken nose.
Sweet blood. Godwin’s injury pleased the beast inside him. The older man deserved to bleed for all the misery he inflicted.
Alek finally reached the grappling man. Miles twisted, slashing out with claws. He missed Alek but Alek had not been his target.
He raked Godwin’s stomach. Scarlet red blood bloomed across his evening clothes. He looked at Alek in surprise, as if trying to blame this on him, and then collapsed to the floor.
Miles was back to Charlotte. He swiped, she ducked, but he grazed her scalp.
Alek tackled the out-of-control man. “Calm. Do not make her hurt you,” he said, growling behind his words.
For a moment, the man stilled, as if responding to Alek’s command.
“Good. I will help you. You wanted me to help,” Alek said.
Something in Miles’s eyes snapped. He foamed at the mouth, all teeth and snarling. With surprising strength—it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The blacksmith was all muscle—he flipped Alek onto his back. Claws dug into his gut. Alek twisted, trying to dislodge the man, but that made the claws dig in deeper.
“Not him! Her!” Chambers finally moved, grabbing his wife and shaking her by the arm like a rag doll. “What is wrong with you! Why don’t I care if you die?”
Solenne knocked Chamber’s hand away. It wasn’t hard. The man wasn’t expecting a woman to fight back. She placed herself in front of Charlotte, holding out her arms to create a barricade.
A self-satisfied smile crept across Chambers’s face.
“This is your handiwork,” she said.
His gaze slid over to her. In the confusion and the chaos, there was no mistake the violet gleam in his eyes.
“You,” she said.
“Me,” he agreed. “I’m rather disappointed it took you this long to figure it out. You’re more clever than the average person but still failed to see what was in front of you. Twice.” He nodded towards Alek, struggling to subdue Miles. “I suppose your uneven education is to blame. I wonder if Godwin knew.”
“Leave my father out of this.” She held his unsettling gaze, resisting the urge to look at her father on the floor. Bleeding. Unconscious.
Miles gutted him like a fish, like it was nothing. She pushed that horror away. She couldn’t help her father if she fell to a beast. Survival was the most important thing at the moment.
Solenne nudged a butter knife with her foot, moving it away from the overturned table. She held out of her arms, forming a barricade. Charlotte stood behind her.
Chambers gave a lazy shrug. “I suppose he might not have been so eager to give you to me, had he known.”
“Solenne?” Charlotte’s voice sounded so far away, despite being close enough that she stepped on Solenne’s feet.
“What did you give Alek?” As soon as the question left her lips, she knew. Wormwood. An anti-inflammatory and harmless, unless the person was a werewolf.
“Oh, not just Alek. Everyone. Wormwood. Wonderful little herb, isn’t it? It lower’s the inhibition and lets the beast out.” That grin again, this time with too many teeth. His control was slipping.
“But why?” And then she knew. “Charlotte’s your anchor.”
He growled. “She’s defective. Useless girl. I intended you for that role, but your heart was already set on another.”
“The anchor has to be willing,” she said. If she kept him talking long enough, Alek and Luis could subdue Miles, then focus on Chambers.
“Receptive. She was certainly desperate enough. Practically fell to her knees thanking me.” A vicious grin slithered its way across his face, and Solenne did not want to hear what other activities her friend performed on her knees. “But the connection just wasn’t happening.”
“So endangering her? That was the plan?”
“And it didn’t work!” He growled, and the hairs stood up on the back of her head. “I bite Miles on a whim, but he proved useful. Now, enough chatter, give me my wife.”
Charlotte pressed herself to Solenne, burning her face into Solenne’s hair. Step by step, she eased them away from the table and away from Chambers. Her foot continued to nudge the knife along.
“Come my sweet, I can smell your blood. You smell delicious. I could just eat you up.” Chamber’s licked his chops, his face more beast than human now. He grabbed them both, tossing Solenne to the floor and lifting Charlotte. She kicked and squealed. His massive tongue licked her face.
Solenne rolled to the side, aware of broken shards of glass cutting through the thin material of her dress, and reached for the butter knife. It was nothing compared to the beast that masquerade as Chambers, but it was silver and the handle felt sturdy. She thought the past months of terror this cursed man brought to them and what he took: Godwin’s eyes, mauled livestock, Jase’s leg fracture, the beast that cornered her at the stone circle, and Miles. If he survived his first shift, if he found an anchor, his life would be forever changed.
Her anger grew with each slight. This pathetic excuse for a man wronged her. Took from her.
Finally, Charlotte, the best person she knew who had so much love in her heart. He was going to kill her. Solenne knew it in her bones, and she couldn’t let that happen. Charlotte was her’s first.
The knife handle warmed to her touch. It nearly vibrated with her anger, demanding to be the instrument of retribution. Fine weapons decorated the walls, but none were in reach. This is what she had. A wind from an open window stirred through the room, whipping up her hair.
She’d make do. She’d make the humble butter knife make do.
Chambers’s opened his maw, lowering towards Charlotte.
Rushing forward, she jumped and grabbed what she could reach. Her finger dug into his eyes. She grabbed his earlobe and pulled with all her weight. He tried to shake her off, but she clung to him. Claws raked her skin, sharp. Charlotte fell to the floor.
Solenne sank the knife into his eye, causing a roar that rattled the windows. The silver stung her hand but she did not let go. Twisting and pushing it in as far as possible, she clung onto him until he finally threw away.
Chambers stumbled blindly, heading for the door.
Luis rushed him from behind and ran a sword clean throw. She must have hit her head at some point because the blade glowed violet. “I knew it,” her brother breathed.
Half man, half beast, and all monster, Chambers looked at the bloody point emerging from his abdomen. Such a blow would have ended any other werewolf. He lumbered towards Luis, who darted back to the wall and grabbed the nearest weapon, a lovely silver headed war hammer.
Chambers had decorated the room with the weapons of his own destruction.
Solenne looked away. Fortunately, the pounding of her heart in her ears drowned that out the sickening crunch of metal against bone.
Chambers fell. He did not get up again.
Copyright 2020 Nancey Cummings
Coming December 26th!
Hunted by Moonlight has a new name and a new cover!
The final version will be available in all the major stores on December 26, 2020.
Additional scenes (yes, the sex scenes) will be included, especially what happened on page 72!