A werewolf with a death wish bargains with a hunter for salvation.
Justin has spent several lifetimes atoning for the violent nature of his curse. A mindless angry beast several nights a month, he carries a burden of blood for past sins. Tired and lonely, he’s seeking an end to his torment.
Vincent bears the curse, though only by half. A hybrid, he hunts those of his brethren who let their monsters take over. And he’s hell bent on destroying them all, until he's forced to deal with one who’s begging for peace. Except deliverance wears many guises.
Their desire for redemption erupts in a fiery passion drawing them closer together.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: Badass Hero, Enemies to Lovers, Lone Wolf, Love Can Heal / Redemption
Word Count: 34000
Setting: Tokyo, Japan
Languages Available: English
The crunching of bones breaking and mending echoed off the cement walls and metal cage surrounding him, while his gasps of pain mingled with the excruciating change until Justin lay there a panting, trembling mess. He curled into a fetal position, staring at the bars and wondering how much longer he could continue to live through the unbearable transformation. Every full moon he became a monster with no thought of anything except feasting on flesh, human or otherwise. He’d lock himself in a steel cage lined with silver in the basement of whatever house they were renting to stop himself from hurting anyone on the three nights he couldn’t control himself.
“You’re back to normal, I see.” A low voice came through the darkness.READ MORE
Justin closed his eyes against the brightness of the light flicked on and Kara, his best friend and caretaker, stepped toward the cage with keys in hand. She unlocked the door, then the chains, and helped him to his feet. After handing him his clothing, she went back upstairs without another word. Kara was the only person in his life who knew about the beast inside of him. She’d been a loyal friend and his only family for the last ten years. But before her, he’d spent almost two hundred years on his own, merely surviving.
Despite his outward appearance of an eighteen-year-old young man, he’d actually lived for two hundred and eighteen years. He stood at an even six foot with a wiry, lean build, which never changed no matter what he ate or how much he exercised. Black hair, as dark as a moonless night, just brushed his shoulders when he didn’t keep it tied back. Most humans found it hard to stare into his eerily light blue eyes. Maybe because they could sense the evil lurking beneath the surface, or perhaps they could see the creature pacing inside him, waiting for the nights it could be free.
In the time since his life changed forever, he’d seen many wonderful and horrible things: the invention of trains, cars, and airplanes, wars, slavery, death, and blood. The only cure he knew of to end his torment was either death or to kill the one who’d bitten him. His desperate search led him here, to Japan, where he spent every waking hour not working trying to find word of the bastard’s whereabouts.
Justin made his way upstairs to the kitchen and found Kara cooking breakfast on the old stove in the house they’d rented. He watched her as she moved about the tiny kitchen. Petite at five-foot-two, she had beautiful auburn hair that hung down her back to her hourglass waist. She kept it in a ponytail most of the time. Bright green eyes complimented the light dusting of freckles across her nose. He cared for her a great deal, even loved her in his own way, but he knew it wasn’t the kind of love she wanted from him.
Thirty-five now, she’d found him ten years ago lying in the bushes in her backyard the morning after a full moon. He’d had large wounds all over his body from a fight he’d been in with another werewolf in the area. She’d tended his injuries and taken care of him until he’d regained consciousness. When he’d awakened, she’d demanded the story from him; she said it was either that or she’d call the police. So he’d told her everything, his past and the monster hiding beneath his flesh. They’d been together ever since, moving from place to place in search of the one who could break his curse. They both worked odd jobs during the day to support them as they moved from city to city and country to country. It’d been her idea to build the cage lined with silver and secure it to the ground wherever they were.
Setting a plate on the table for him and another for herself, she slid into one of the chairs. “You were overly anxious last night. More so than usual.”
Justin looked at her and then away. He picked up his fork but didn’t begin eating immediately. “I don’t remember anything, you know that, Kara. Maybe there’s another werewolf close by.”
There were many malevolent creatures in the world that humans remained unaware of, or they chose to ignore the obvious signs, writing off anything unexplained as animal attacks. Mostly, his kind stayed away from one another unless they felt threatened. “Tonight’s the last full moon, for this month at least. I don’t know how much longer I can take this, Kara. I want it to be over.”
Kara studied him for a long moment before replying, “We’ll find him, Justin. You just need to have patience.”
“How much more patience can I have, Kara?” Justin snapped. “It’s been two hundred years. Another hundred and I’ll go insane!”
She looked at him sadly but didn’t say anything. They sat in silence for the remainder of breakfast. Justin barely touched the scrambled eggs, attempting a bite or two to appease Kara, but he couldn’t stomach the idea of eating. He knew she meant well, and she couldn’t really understand why he wanted to die, but her words only served to reinforce why he couldn’t continue to live like this.
After breakfast, Kara washed the dishes and then grabbed her purse. “I’m on my way to work. I’ll be back before the sun sets to lock you in.”
He watched her leave, staying at the table even after she’d gone. The night he’d been bitten played in his head like a mini movie, almost as if it were someone else’s reality. It was 1802, and he’d been out drinking at a local tavern, celebrating the birth of his best friend’s baby. When the owner finally kicked them out at two in the morning, he started toward home, weaving along the street in his drunkenness. Most people were tucked in their beds asleep. No noises could be heard other than the odd stray cat in the alley garbage bins or the lone bark of a dog in the far off distance. A loud crashing sound echoed off the cobblestones and in between buildings just before a large heavy weight slammed into him. He flew through the air, landing with a thud on the unforgiving street.
He realized a huge animal, something akin to a wild dog, lay on top of him, pinning him to the ground. Before he could react, the animal sank his teeth into his shoulder. Justin remembered screaming in pain as blood poured from the torn flesh. He heard a gunshot as someone came running down the street, yelling to scare off the dog. The animal let go and ran off, leaving him lying in a pool of his own blood.
The man who’d saved him had taken Justin to his home and rung the doctor. The doctor stitched him up and bandaged his wound. Justin returned to his own home the next day and went about his normal life. The wound healed in a miraculously short amount of time, and he’d begun to notice strange things happening to his body in the following weeks. He found himself abnormally attracted to the scent of blood, and he could smell things from several hundred feet away. His eye sight and hearing grew sharper, and his strength increased three fold.
The first full moon came a little over three weeks after he’d been bitten. He was out chopping firewood for his parents when it started. He thanked God every day since then that he hadn’t been home when it happened. He remembered dropping to his knees as a sudden pain gripped his entire body. His screams of anguish filled the forest behind his home; the snapping of his bones breaking was the only thing louder than his cries. Hair sprouted along his hands and arms; his jaw elongated into a snout. He could still feel the terror he’d felt during his first change. He lost consciousness afterward or so he’d thought. He figured out the next morning that when he became the monster inside, he lost all control of his awareness and the beast took over.
The only thing he remembered was waking up covered in blood the next morning. He’d vomited at the grisly sight beside him. A mutilated body of a man lay near him. He couldn’t even identify the face of the man, to know who he’d been, because his face had been torn to shreds and then gnawed on by some great animal. He’d gone to the nearby river to wash the blood away the best he could and made his way slowly toward home, where he’d snuck into his room to pack some of his things. He left a note for his parents telling them he was sorry, but he could no longer stay with them. They weren’t safe with him. He’d saddled his horse and left for good.
He’d been running ever since. The only person he’d gotten close to in the last two hundred years was Kara. Even after ten years he still feared for her safety, but she never let him take off alone no matter how many times he tried.COLLAPSE