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Later that night, Ben headed back to the manor, waving and thanking me and generally making a spectacle of himself that made my inner hunter cringe.  I went back to my hunting solemnly and, damn it, quietly.  I ran through battle tactics in my head to kill the time, reviewing scenarios for taking out werewolves individually, what to do when confronted with a group, things like that.  It was too late to catch many of them near the den and surprise them with a katana through his or her neck so I just sat and waited.  That nagging feeling continued to plague me, though.

My nose isn't near as good as a werewolf's but I scented nothing of significance anyway.  I could detect no werewolf, vampire or human.  If anyone was out there, he was downwind.  The night was relatively quiet as well.  No sounds betrayed something large enough to be an enemy, not even a normal wolf.  An owl hooted in the distance and it struck me as sounding uncharacteristically eerie.  I shook my head, chiding myself for letting myself get psyched out by, well, nothing.

After an hour or so, the groundless anxiety started to drain my energy and my nerve.  I was twitchy and irritable, bordering on paranoid and itching for a fight.  At that point, I'd have fought anything to release the energy stored in my muscles, werewolf or not.

Finally, I decided to get gone.  I wasn't doing anyone any good sitting here, fidgeting in a tree.  In the hopes of relieving the tension, I floored it to the car, letting my muscles ease and then burn with the exertion.  When I reached the car, I didn't want to stop and the nagging feeling was back, the feeling like I was being watched.  It was driving me nuts, like a twitch between my shoulder blades that couldn't be relieved.  

 Could someone have followed me?  At that speed?  There weren't a lot of creatures capable of it.  Werewolves aren't that fast and, because of my physical training, I'm faster than most vampires as well, so I didn’t think it was likely.  I was pretty good I what I did.  Even with Ben slowing me down, it would be hard to follow me undetected.  Nearly impossible, in fact.  Anxiety humming through me once more, I scanned the black forest.  The boughs of the Pine Barrens skeleton-like with their needle-laden branches.  I smacked myself on the forehead for coming up with yet another Halloween-worthy bit of imagery.  What was with me tonight?  

I looked into the trees once more, daring them to inspire more demented poetic thoughts but, to my relief, none came.  The trees were simply trees.  The branches were scaled with green pine needles.  The forest faded into black in almost all directions.  A strange draining feeling bordering on sorrow, or maybe dread, filled me, emptying my body of what remnants of strength I laid claim to.  Exhausted, I clicked the key fob and collapsed into the little convertible, letting my head fall back and bounce off the headrest.  A groan escaped my throat before I sat up straight and started the car.  Sleep.  Sleep would do me a world of good.



When I drove into the spot in front of my townhouse, I noticed a blue sedan across the street I’d never seen before.  My blood ran cold and my paranoia got away from me before I managed to grab it by the throat and yank it back down where it belonged.  The car seemed to be an early 90’s Honda Civic, I noted to assure myself I was still in control of myself.  It might behoove me to keep an eye out for that little car.  The anxiety was still there  as I got out of the car, closed the door and hit the button on the clickie-thing until the car gave me a reassuring beep.  I jogged to the door, for some reason uneasy about being out in the open.  After unlocking the front door, I dropped the keys next to the monitor and locked up again, double checking the deadbolt and chain.  Now, time for that sleep I promised myself…




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