Red [Lilith Mercury 1]
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by Tracey H. Kitts
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Dark Fantasy
Description: When the 'animal disease' spreads from Terra to Earth, the Hunters are established on Earth, as well, and Lilith's father is commander of Earth's Hunters--reason enough for Lilith, a Hunter herself, to ignore the magnetic pull of the alpha male determined to have her for his mate. But Lilith isn't quite human herself--not since she was attacked by werewolves--and she's always had a 'thing' for tall, dark, and creepy. Rating: Sensual, graphic violence, adult language and situations. Not a traditional romance.
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: April 2008
119 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [426 KB]
Reading time: 288-404 min.
I was looking forward to the end of another hot, miserable summer night as I drove home that evening. Hopefully the local police would be able to cover up the night's work without too much difficulty. God forbid they should be inconvenienced. I was called out at eleven thirty at night to hunt down a rouge werewolf, but hey, why should anyone else lose sleep?
Hearing the gravel of the driveway crunching underneath my tires was a relief. It was my signal that I was almost home. Oh, what I would have given to just crawl into bed and sleep for a couple of days. If I didn't hate to stain my sheets with blood, I might have done just that.
I drove around to the back of the house, got out of the car, began unfastening my many weapons and depositing them in the trunk. I had just removed my long silver blade and closed the lid when I realized I had also locked up my keys. Before I could make an attempt at breaking into my own house, a noise caught my attention. It sounded like something was crunching through the underbrush in the nearby woods.
Since I was locked out anyway, I decided to investigate. I should have used more caution. But, I had stopped being afraid of the dark a long time ago. There was nothing in the dark worse than me, not that night.
I looked up, admiring the beautiful night sky. The next thing I knew, I was face down in the grass with something heavy on my back. I should have seen it coming. Perhaps I was more tired than I had thought. The werewolf growled, pressing me further into the ground. I could taste dirt between my teeth, feel its claws digging into my shoulders, and its hot breath on the back of my neck.
I dug my knees further into the grass, pushing back with my hips. By the time I rolled over and jumped to my feet, the werewolf had run back into the woods. I tore off after it, listening to the sound of its frantic footfalls ahead of me. Ducking limbs, jumping roots, and dashing around branches, I stopped at last and listened to the night around me. It was quiet. When I say quiet, I don't mean the normal sounds of a hot summer night. There were no birds, no crickets chirping, nothing.
I closed my eyes and sensed the woods around me, reaching out for any trace of human emotion--a thought, a feeling, a heartbeat. I felt something moving back toward the house. I started back more slowly, more quietly than before. I was in the woods hunting a werewolf with all my weapons locked in the trunk. It was not my night. I could only imagine what my father would say. Here was Lilith Mercury, a.k.a. Quicksilver, a.k.a. The Silver Bullet, out hunting werewolves without so much as a silver nail file.
As I approached the house, I found the werewolf looking through the glass walls of my sunroom at the open back door to the kitchen. All he had to do was break the latch on the sunroom door and he would be inside. Nope. I did not want to have to kill a werewolf in my clean house that night. Without further thought to stealth, I sprang on him. My arm wrapped tightly around his massive throat. He flung his head back hard, knocking me into the flower bed where I hit my head on a large shepherd's hook. The shepherd's hook! Why didn't I think of it before? The hook was plated with silver!
I jumped up and snatched on the hook. Whack. I was back on the ground again, enjoying the flavor of an azalea branch. Spitting out the flower, I stood up and pulled on the hook again. This time I managed to get it out of the ground. I was immediately knocked off my feet again, but I held on to the hook. It was positioned at the perfect angle when, a split second later, the beast leapt upon me, impaling himself on the silver.
He howled with fury and began pulling the hook through his body, pulling himself closer to me. I put my boot against his chest and shoved him backward, removing the hook from his body with a sickening slicing noise. He staggered back against the house. I slammed the hook across the side of his head, knocking him to his knees before I stabbed the hook through the back of his neck, and watched as his body slumped to the ground.
After washing the bloody smears off the vinyl siding, I decided to break in the back door and call it a night. This time, I locked the kitchen door. * * * *
I heard footsteps coming from the staircase leading into the research lab beneath the house. Alfred came rushing up, looking completely disheveled.
"Good night, Alfred," I said, continuing toward the stairs.
"What's going on?"
"I handled it," I answered simply.
He stomped barefoot across the foyer into the kitchen. "Holy shit," he said, as he stomped back toward me. "You can't just leave that monster in the back yard," he insisted.
Being something other than human myself, I took offense at the word monster. It must have shown in my expression as his next words were not spoken so harshly.
"What were you thinking?" he asked.
"That you could handle something, for once."
"Fine." And with that, he turned back toward the lab and I ascended the stairs.
Dr. Alfred Moody isn't exactly what you'd call normal either, but he's human. I knew him through his work with my father before he became my partner. He's about six foot five with dark hair and skin the color of an exotic caramel. He's in decent shape, but not overly muscular. However, I didn't doubt he could handle disposing of a werewolf carcass. He's a brilliant scientist, twenty six years my senior. I believed he had spent every one of those years with his nose in a book.
"Wait," he called.
"What?" I asked, walking back toward where Alfred stood at the foot of the stairs.
"What about the report? You know the commander will be expecting a report on the incident tonight."
I looked at him blankly for a moment. I had honestly forgotten about giving a report. "Alfred, there are advantages to him being my father. I'll make the report in the morning."
"I'll make the report," he said with a sigh. "Come on; give me the gist of it."
I walked back down the stairs and into the sitting room to the left. Alfred clicked on a lamp and I winced.
"What? I can't write in the dark," he said, taking a note pad out of his lab coat. He had a point. I normally didn't turn on the lamp. Why bother with the light, when you can see in the dark?
I gave Alfred the rundown. Just as he rose to leave, I happened to glance out the window. Storm clouds had appeared over what was once a clear sky. The faint rumble of thunder in the distance told me I would sleep well, if I could ever get to bed. I've always loved a good storm, and living in Florida, I got plenty of them.
Gazing out underneath the gathering storm clouds, I caught sight of Marco Barak watching my house through the first sprinkles of rain. I'd left something out of the rundown I'd given Alfred. I'd recognized the werewolf I had killed earlier. He was a friend of Marco's. There was a true monster, though at first glance one might be mistaken. Marco was attractive in that rough Harley Davidson, Marlboro man sort of way. Sexy and rugged, with a natural tan and dusty brown hair. I'd spoken to him only once before. He was being trained as a Hunter years ago, when he'd been contaminated. That had been at least eight years ago, making him around thirty four now.
He hadn't changed. Even through the rain growing steadily harder, I could see his tall frame clearly, looking exactly as I remembered him. Marco is around six feet tall, though he has always appeared larger to me. But, everyone seems tall when you're five foot four.
I was on the way to my father's office when we'd bumped into each other all those years ago. It was the first time I'd worn my now customary black leather cat-suit.
"Why black?" he'd asked.
Marco smiled at me. As I recalled, he had a nice smile, even white teeth, and full lips. Like I said, the man was good looking.
"Why bother? That red hair of yours glows in the dark." He ruffled my hair and walked away. I didn't know him well, but I'd thought he was a nice guy. Everyone had, including my father, who beats himself up to this day for not killing him when he had the chance. No one expected him to go crazy once he turned, let alone form a resistance group.
My father is the commander of The Hunters, a group originally formed on planet Terra to eliminate the threat of werewolves. They are the most elite group of professional assassins the world has ever known ... and yet, the world doesn't know them. Very few people know of the existence of The Hunters. A few of the local police had to be informed, for obvious reasons.
Werewolves have turned up for centuries in legends and myths from different cultures around the world. Every country has its own version of the werewolf, what they look like, and the powers they have. It is not a coincidence that before people on other continents were aware of each other, they had all developed their version of the same legend.
Lycanthropy was created during the only world war the planet Terra has ever known. It's a man made disease, born of nightmares. It was engineered as a biological weapon by Lionel Ferdinand, a scientist with radical ideas of what should be done with individuals who disagreed with his own political views. The idea was that people contaminated with the disease would transform and annihilate everyone else. Not everyone is capable of contracting lycanthropy, however. Just as some people have immunity to certain diseases they have been immunized against, others have a natural resistance. It was from these people that a vaccine was developed. Many hoped it would be 'the cure' for what was at the time known as the animal virus. Unfortunately, such was not the case. The virus ran rampant. The only person rumored to have developed a successful vaccine was Ferdinand himself, who had at this point had already been killed, slaughtered by a monster of his own making. Only pieces of his research were ever found. The complete formula, it would appear, was in his head. And most unfortunately, that had been lopped off by a werewolf.
Something had to be done. It was at this point that The Hunters were formed under the supervision of the acting President of the United Continental Terran Federation, Josiah Roark. Roark, formally vice President, had been forced into action by the contamination of the President himself. Not exactly the way he wanted to take office, I'm sure. It had been the first mission of The Hunters to assassinate their own President. Once the disease began to come under some sort of control on planet Terra, people who were contaminated began escaping to our sister planet, Earth. The environments are virtually the same, though at this time, Earth was in its primitive stages. That was the beginning, thousands of years ago, of the organization my father now commands. He's the reason I am still alive, but that's another story.
My reverie was broken by a loud crash in the basement, followed by a thunderous curse from Alfred. I blinked. In the seconds it took me to look back through the window, Marco was gone. I remembered my idea of just crawling between the sheets, and seriously considered it for a moment. I looked down at my blood stained hands, attempted to run my fingers through my blood crusted hair and decided against it. I definitely needed a bath first.
I was tired in a way that makes your very bones ache for sleep. I trudged wearily to the upstairs bathroom and closed the door behind me, desperately needing to relax. I kicked off my boots beside the chair near the door. There was blood underneath my fingernails and dry scaly places on my cat-suit that was probably more blood. I peeled the suit off and let it stay where it fell.
I was tough when I had to be. I didn't back down from a fight or a challenge. I wore leather instead of lace, and silver blades had long since replaced my jewelry. But, I'm still a woman, and sometimes nothing is more appealing to me than a bubble bath. Normally, I just took a quick shower. But that night I filled the tub with water as hot as I could stand and bubbles up to my throat. A few minutes later, I was listening to my favorite R&B CD and lighting some vanilla scented candles.
Lowering myself into the water, I winced. The water was so hot it made my skin tingle. After the night I'd had, I welcomed the slight pain. I had finished washing the blood from my hair and scrubbing under my nails when the door opened. Alfred came in, clipboard in hand.
Sighing with a weariness which seemed beyond physical fatigue, I realized I hadn't heard a word he'd said. "Can we talk about this tomorrow?" I asked.
Alfred checked his watch. "It is tomorrow."
I just blinked at him, too tired to do anything else. He seemed to study me more closely, as if I were something interesting under one of his microscopes.
"Maybe you should get some sleep. You look like shit." Oh, the flattery never stops! I stood up suddenly, letting the bubbles slide down my body.
"Fine, but you're sitting on my towel."
Alfred stood up, handing me the towel like it was nothing.
Was he that into his work, or was he just not impressed? Either way, it was insulting. I stepped out of the tub, snatched the towel, and began to dry off in an indignant huff. Alfred walked toward the door. He turned and looked back at me before he left.
I covered it before he had finished turning back around. He laughed softly, closed the door behind him, and left me to brood once again. That jackass, he'd been looking all along.
I sat down at the vanity and began drying my hair with another towel. I keep my hair in a short spiky cut that requires little maintenance. It's sort of a cross between a pixie and one of those flippy little bobs. It gives me a wild look that, being what I am, I could appreciate. I didn't have to like it, but no point not having a sense of humor about things. Occasionally, laughter is the only thing that stands between us and a nervous breakdown.
I thought about seeing Marco outside the house that night. What was he doing there? I didn't have the strength or the brain cells left to think about it at the moment. My mind kept wandering back to the way he looked standing there in the rain. I could still see the way his wet jeans clung to his every curve. His shirt open and clinging to his body. Whatever color his clothes had been, they were so wet that they appeared black, making the contrast of his skin seem pale.
I remembered water running down his hair and beading in his long eye lashes. In my minds eye, I traced a drop of rain as it slid down his forehead, down his face, his collarbone, around one nipple, and down the ridged curves of his abs, only to disappear in the line of soft hair at the top of his jeans. I wanted to follow that drop with my tongue. I wasn't necessarily meaning to be kinky. Part of me just wanted to know what Marco tasted like. Even as I thought it, I could imagine the faint salty taste of his skin on my tongue, mixed with the overpowering scent of a man.
I shook my head. I was coming undone from watching a man standing in the rain and Alfred had barely noticed a naked woman right in front of him. I would never know how he managed it. Maybe his work was more interesting to him than sex. I opened my towel and gazed down at my body.
"Or," I thought out loud, closing the towel, "Maybe I'm just too horny to be a scientist."
Letting my towel fall to the floor, I walked over to where my robe hung on a hook by the door. As I passed by the full length mirror, I paused. I had always loved this mirror. It was old, framed by dark elaborately carved wood. It had a sort of medieval appeal to it. Yes, I loved the mirror, even if I was not as fond of what I saw reflected in it. My bright red hair stood out at haphazard angles, sharply contrasting with my skin. I have a fair creamy complexion, almost like alabaster. My muscle tone though not overly 'cut' was plainly evident in my curves. For the most part I liked my body. I was attractive, even sexy. The image was only ruined by the scars, slashing their way across my lower abdomen. But, I can hear you thinking, werewolves don't scar. That's right, they don't. But, I'm not a werewolf.
The scars are a remnant of my attack. There are several vicious slashes across the right side of my stomach, beginning level with my belly button, and extending to the front of my upper hip bone. Three diagonal cuts above my navel, and three cuts at an angle on the left side. That's right, no bikinis for me.
I was fifteen when I was attacked. First I should explain I have lived here, on Earth, all of my life. My father was stationed in the Deep South, where I was born and raised. He had only recently been promoted to commander. My mother was out of town, visiting a friend. We were watching television when I heard the glass breaking. Werewolves stormed the house. The halls echoed with frightening blood thirsty howls. Apparently we were not the only ones to learn of my father's new appointment to commander. The werewolf resistance thought it would be a great show of power to cut down the new commander his first week in office. Having a chance to kill his only child, that was just a bonus.
"The closet," he yelled as more glass broke, signaling the fact that we were being surrounded. The 'closet' was more of a mini arsenal, and it was located at the back of that very room. He took out an AK-47 loaded with silver bullets and handed me the same. Before further plans could be made, we began firing at the werewolves charging through the living room door. We mowed them down like tall grass. He went for the heads, I went for the kneecaps.
I'd just emptied a clip and turned back for more ammunition when I was slammed to the floor. Not possessing the strength I now have, I was in trouble. Upon hitting the floor, I took a blow to the head and was nearly knocked unconscious. I was only vaguely aware of tearing pains in my lower abdomen. I looked down in time to see my father slaughter the monster tearing its way through my stomach with a large silver machete.
The world spun. One look at my savaged stomach told me I was on the verge of passing out from blood loss. I felt strong arms lifting me and heard for the first time, the sound of my father crying. The werewolves were dead, but at what price? I drifted in and out of consciousness. The next moment I was aware, voices were arguing over me.
"My daughter is not your guinea pig!" my father roared.
"This may be her only chance," it was Alfred's voice, pleading with my father. "Do you want to take a chance and maybe see your daughter turn? Or do you want to watch her die right now? Because that's what is going to happen if we don't act now!"
I felt a sharp pain in my arm. I was being given what I would later find out was supposed to be a cure for lycanthropy. Alfred had been one of a group of scientists given the task of creating a working vaccine, as well as an eventual cure. I was injected with the prototype. My memories of the next few days are blurred. I remember pain, terrible pain, and my father's voice, though I've no idea what he was saying. When I opened my eyes days later, my dad was standing over my bed, looking like he hadn't slept.
"What happened to me?" I asked.
He explained about the injection. "To be honest, we don't know what will happen. You may or may not transform with the next full moon." His hands shook as he reached for a glass of water on the nearby table. Apparently thinking he couldn't hold the glass steady enough to drink, he sat it back down. "There was no choice," he began desperately. "I couldn't lose you," his voice broke. "It was either take a chance, or watch you die. Either way, it's a decision I'll have to live with the rest of my life ... I just couldn't live with watching you die." His eyes seemed to glaze over with tears. "Forgive me."
I wasn't sure what to say, or if I should say anything at all. Watching my father cry was not easy for me. Here was the strongest person I knew, and he was weeping for me, as if I were already dead. "It's alright," I began, feeling like an idiot. Of course it wasn't alright. He'd just made a decision that for better or worse, had altered both our lives. I tried again, "You did what you had to do. Either way, I'll live."
His expression became determined, the last of the tears falling away as he looked back at me. "Yes, you will," he said vehemently. "If you turn, those bastards won't come near you. Any of them! If anyone, I don't care from which side of this war comes for my daughter, they'll have to kill me first." I cried then. I knew my father loved me, but knowing he would turn traitor if he had to in order to save my life ... it moved me in a way three words could not.
I awaited the first full moon three days later in a holding cell in Alfred's lab, then located underneath my parents' house. My wounds had not yet healed. Alfred took this as a sign that perhaps I was not going to turn. Werewolves heal at an accelerated rate, due to their dramatically faster metabolism. I didn't bother to tell him I had lost five pounds in the past few days. I thought it might discourage him.
The transformation of a werewolf is brought on by the pull of gravity from the moon, not the moonlight shining on them, in spite of popular belief. As the moon began to rise that evening, I was in increasingly more pain. It was as if something were trying to rip its way through my skin. I felt a warming sensation behind my eyes, similar to the feeling you get when running a high fever. Muscle spasms began to shake my body and I grabbed the bars of the cell. Alfred ran toward me, but kept his distance by a few feet. Someone was screaming, a high, angry sound. It was the most rage filled scream I'd ever heard. It belonged on a battlefield in a long ago place.
I collapsed several minutes later as the muscle spasms subsided. I looked up at the mangled bars in amazement. I was no longer in pain, but felt a sudden rush of weakness at seeing what I had done to the reinforced steel bars.
"How do you feel?"
I jumped. Alfred was sitting on the floor on the other side of the bars. He crawled tentatively toward me, as if afraid to come too near. The fear on his face hurt me worse than I could express. Who else would see me the same way? The one thing I was certain of was I did not want people looking at me like I was some kind of monster, or worse with pity.
"I'm fine," I croaked, my voice barely audible. It was then I realized I was the one who'd been screaming. I felt like crying, but I would not let someone who looked at me like that see me cry.
"My eyes burn," I said, looking to Alfred for an explanation.
He moved closer. His fear seemed to be replaced by curiosity. Alfred's eyes widened. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, as if he were going to speak, but thought better of it. "Here," he said, finally giving up on an explanation and handing me a mirror. I took the mirror from Alfred with trembling hands, determined not to scream at whatever I saw. I turned the mirror slowly to face me, my heart hammering in my chest. Looking back at me was a pair of amber wolf eyes. They looked wild and out of place with the rest of me. Under normal circumstances, my eyes are hazel. I looked at Alfred and he jumped back from the bars, cursing under his breath.
"I'm sorry," he said, sounding embarrassed.
I chose to ignore his reaction. I supposed I was being too hard on him. I cannot begin to imagine my reaction if I saw someone I had known for the past five years looking at me with wolf eyes.
"Is this permanent?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly.
The next morning, once he was fairly certain any real danger had passed, Alfred released me from the cell and gave me a thorough examination. The wounds on my stomach had healed over night. All that remained were faint pink scars.
"These may finish healing," he'd said. He was wrong. The eyes were not permanent, but the scars were. However, they were the last scars I would ever receive. The only thing that can permanently scar a werewolf is silver, to which I appear to be immune. I'm technically not a werewolf. I don't transform with the full moon, and after that night, it hasn't caused me any more pain. My eyes only seemed to change when I got angry, but with years of practice, it's something I can control. I occasionally use them to make my point in arguments with Alfred. Wicked, but effective.