Home > The Hunter (Monsters and Beauties #2)

The Hunter (Monsters and Beauties #2)
Author: Jenika Snow

 


Prologue

 

 

Marcella

 

 

I stumbled back, tripping over my own feet as the creature came closer. I fell on my ass but didn’t stop retreating, my lungs burning as I hyperventilated.

The creature was wolf-like, but… not. It was some monstrous animal/human hybrid that was plucked out of my damn nightmares.

It came closer, his body hunched over as it walked on all fours.

When the thick trunk of a tree stopped me from retreating, I wanted to scream, to fight back. But I was terrified, unable to move, this cold dread washing over me.

When it was ten feet from me it stopped, the shadows of nightfall shrouding too much of this beast. I could make out its massive body and inhuman head, and see a longer face, snout, sharp teeth, and fur covering its entire form.

And then the thing slowly rose to stand on two hind legs, its calves angled like wolves’ so they looked bent.

It came closer; the ground vibrating from how powerful its steps were. The thing had to be at least seven feet tall, with bulging arms, and hands that were more like paws tipped with black claws. It had a thick, furry tail that was moving back and forth, reminiscent of a predator about to pounce.

God… the thing was naked and aroused, and what hung between its legs was massive.

“No,” I whispered and shook my head, holding my hands out as if that would actually ward it off.

I trailed my gaze up its barreled chest and to its wolf-like face.

Holy shit.

Although it looked like a wolf—werewolf, my mind whispered—it held very clear intelligence behind its dark eyes as it watched me.

“Oh God. Please. Please don’t hurt me.” My voice was whisper-thin. I wasn’t even sure I’d spoken the words aloud. “W-what are you?” It was so close now that all I smelled was this wild scent that clung to it.

Here was this primitive creature crowding me, breathing on me… refusing to give me space. It was going to eat me. I was sure of it. Why else would it be here? What other purpose would it have for me?

Not it. He. This creature was clearly male given what he was working with.

“I’m the one who is going to make you mine.”

I shook my head and lashed out, raking my nails along his chest, feeling hard, defined muscle underneath. He was fast as he snapped his paw out and curled it around my wrist, my palm and fingers so tiny compared to his.

I felt this survival instinct rise as I started to scream and kick out, but I was like an annoying gnat compared to him, I was sure.

And when he let go of my wrist to grab my ankle, stopping my foot from connecting with the huge thing he had between his legs, I screamed again. But this time it was in fear. Bone-chilling fear.

He stood and started dragging me away like I was a damn sack of potatoes.

I twisted my body, clawing at the ground, dirt digging underneath my nails. Tears made my vision blurry, and then the world turned as he lifted me up and threw me over his shoulder.

For a second, the wind was knocked out of me as my stomach connected with his shoulder, and I lay there flopping around from his movements.

And then he picked up speed, running, so it forced me to grip the long, dark fur that covered him and hold on, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Don’t worry, female. I’ll have you crying for a far different reason soon enough.”

 

 

Chapter

One

 

 

Marcella

 

 

I thought I’d gotten used to death.

The initial pain. That horrible ache in the center of your chest that just didn’t seem to ease no matter how much time passed.

But as I watched them lower my grandmother’s casket into the ground… it hurt.

I stayed at the cemetery long after everyone had left, sitting on the ground with my knees pulled up to my chest and my arms wrapped around my legs.

I’d been close with my grandmother. She raised me when my mother hadn’t been fit to do the job.

Blanchette had shown me how to ride a bike, and even helped me buy my first tampons when I got my period and explained it all to me when I started crying because I didn’t know what was happening.

She sat down and talked with me about boys, showed me how to drive, and helped me with my homework every single night. And when I graduated from high school, she was the only family I had there, but she’s the only one I’d wanted.

For all intents and purposes, she was my mother.

And now, at twenty-two, I was utterly and truly alone.

I wiped an errant tear that slipped down my cheek and felt my heart continuously break, the shearing pain of it ripping into a million unique pieces.

They always said with time it got easier, but right now I couldn’t even imagine it ever being better. I literally had no one else. I hadn’t seen my mother since she dropped me off at my grandmother’s when I was just a child.

My father hadn’t been in the picture and had been an only child. Hell, I wouldn’t even call my “friends” more than acquaintances, only seeing them at work.

I stood and brushed the grass and dirt off my bottom, glancing down at my legs to see a run in my dark stockings.

I guess it was par for the course on how things were going for me.

My secondhand black Mary Jane shoes had scuff marks, and my dress, one I bought at the thrift store yesterday, had a stain on the side and the hem was fraying at the bottom.

“Well,” I said to myself, since I was alone, staring at the mound of dirt before me, “I’m going to keep thinking about all the things you said. And remember that boys can suck at any age, and that just because the sun sets and everything gets dark, it'll still rise the next day and brighten everything up again.”

Brushing another tear away, I smiled.

“And I’m always gonna remember how you taught me how to make your famous chocolate chip cookies, even though I burn them every single time.”

I smoothed my hands down my dress and took in a deep breath, then exhaled slowly.

“But let’s be real. I’ll never get it right. Not like how you always did.” I laughed softly as I pictured my grandmother standing in front of me, scolding me for bringing myself down. Her face would get even more wrinkled as she told me never to be negative toward myself, that there’s always room for improvement and that's how we grow… by trying repeatedly.

I turned and left without another backward glance, because I knew if I did, I wouldn’t stop myself from really breaking down.

A new chapter of my life started now, and I’d try to make the most of it. But truthfully?

It really fucking sucked.

 

 

Chapter

Two

 

 

Marcella

 

 

“Aren’t you scared to do that by yourself?”

One of my coworkers looked over my shoulder at my phone.

I pulled up a map of the area in Ketchikan, Alaska, where I’d be staying.

When I’d found out my grandma had left me a small, but comfortable, inheritance, I knew taking a trip was what she’d want me to do. It wasn’t much, but it included her two-bedroom house, the small piece of land the home sat on, and a few thousand dollars.

I’d cried when the lawyer told me, not because it was too much or too little, but because even after she’d passed away, she was still wanting to take care of me.

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