Bullets peppered the big screen of the
Teatro de la Noche. Screams
rang out around me, and I dropped to the floor, pulling my cousin
Chandra down with me. Tension ached in my shoulders, and my heart
pounded in my chest like a trapped animal, desperate to escape.
Gunpowder stung my sensitive nose, but
through the overpowering scent, I caught a whiff of a hunter heading
our way. “Chandra, we have to move.”
If Chandra and I didn’t get out of
here we’d end up dead—or worse, test subjects for the Cazador—human
hunters ordered to scour the land of nocturnes by the plutocratic
“How? They’re all around us.” Chandra
peeked over the seats before dropping back down beside me. “A few of
them are chasing down those who ran from the first assault, but two
more are heading straight for us.” She ran a manicured hand through her
honey-brown hair, which was only a shade darker than my own. “Come on.
I have a plan. Let’s try to sneak out the side door.” She crawled in
the opposite direction, down the row of seats.
The sight of my cousin’s butt cheeks
hanging out of her short skirt filled my vision; some things were
better left unseen. I lowered my gaze, particularly since Chandra had
forgone panties. She almost always held herself with an air of power
and purpose. Perhaps that’s what it took to get attention from other
werewolves. Chandra got it in heaps, but her lower social status
stopped a lot of relationships.
While it was a horrible time to
second-guess my modest fashion sense, I couldn’t help wonder if I
should take a lesson from my cousin. My own blouse and dark blue jeans
had much less pizzazz. But I doubted my father would allow me to dress
like Chandra; we had a privileged image to uphold.
I bit my lip, struggling to turn my
thoughts back to the problem at hand. This was all too much. How could
we get out of here unscathed when the roar of gunfire continued to
We reached the end of the aisle.
Chandra moved to glance over the seat, when a shout came from the
opposite end, startling us both.
“Run, Chandra!” I barely kept my voice
to a whisper.
She sprinted toward the bright red
exit sign at the front of the theater, and I chased after her, trying
to keep my pace natural though her long legs made it challenging. Maybe
if they suspected we weren’t nocturnes, they’d leave us alone.
The stomping of heavy boots on the
theater’s plush carpets said otherwise. Then again, they weren’t
opposed to taking their fellow humans down too. The very rich in power
thrived on oppressing those less fortunate. What better way to keep the
populace down than to have their thugs strike whenever possible.
“We should split up.” Chandra shoved a
heavy trashcan in front of the door, but that wouldn’t be much of an
obstacle to the pseudo-military bastards.
“What?” I couldn’t believe my ears.
“No way. If we do that, we’ll—” The trashcan scraped the cement as the
hunters tried to open the door. Maybe she was right. If we were
together, there was a better chance of them catching us both. Alone, we
might survive the night.
I nodded to her, and we took off in
opposite directions down the alleyway behind the Teatro.
The door slammed open, smacking the wall hard, as I turned the corner
and headed toward the main street. I had to find somewhere to hide out
before the hunters spotted me again.
In front of me, another group of Cazador
chased a few werewolves down the main road. I slowed to keep my
distance from them, but if I didn’t get somewhere fast, they were going
to catch me. Ugh. As much as I loved getting out of the house and going
to the movies, I wished I’d listened to my instincts tonight and stayed
Two sets of feet pounded the sidewalk
behind me. Perhaps they’d spotted me before I reached the corner.
I picked up speed a little, pumping my
arms as I struggled to keep to a human speed while staying out of
range. The temptation to race through the streets nearly drove me to
action, but I glanced back, seeing my pursuers for the first time.
One of the men had greying hair and a
rounded belly, which explained the slower, heavier footfalls, while the
other guy appeared younger and super-athletic. No wonder I was having
trouble getting away. If he hadn’t been so scary, he might’ve been
attractive. Pure masculine aggression raged through him, tensing his
shoulders as his gaze focused solely on me, his prize. Each man carried
a large-caliber handgun. I was just glad they were too busy running to
try to shoot me...for now, at least.
My sandal hit an uneven patch of
concrete in the sidewalk. My body lurched forward, but I caught myself
before I could go down. I should’ve been paying more attention to the
street. Up ahead on the opposite side of the road, I spotted a dark
alleyway running alongside a row house. If I cut through, I could
safely turn up the speed without exposing myself, and lose them.
The older hunter slowed; his breathing
had become increasingly labored. He cocked his revolver’s hammer, and I
darted across the empty road, making a beeline for the alley. The last
thing I wanted tonight was to see Dr. Matthews. Just a little
bit farther. A bullet smacked the ground at my feet, hitting
me with fragments of pavement. I bit back a yelp, not wanting to give
them the satisfaction of knowing my fear.
“I got this one, old kook,” the
younger hunter grumbled, and his footsteps slowed too.
Another gunshot pierced the hazy night
air. White-hot pain rocked my shoulder, nearly toppling me to the
ground. I screamed, unable to hold it in, and picked up speed, no
longer caring if I appeared human or not. The faint creak of a door
barely registered before a pair of arms wrapped around my waist,
jerking me inside the dark row house.
My rescuer softly shut the door,
careful not to make a sound, and shoved a hand over my mouth. “Sshhh,”
he whispered. “I won’t hurt you. You’re safe.” His voice was deep, with
an English accent. He pulled me away from the door and hunched down in
the darkened room, holding me close, waiting and listening.