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Chapter Three

I stood there, staring at the moon like an idiot. I couldn’t help it. I was like a drug addict getting high for the first time after a long, painful rehabilitation. I knew it was bad, but it just felt so freaking good. It wasn’t until my body started straining against my clothes that I snapped out of it and ducked back into the hallway, towing Stewart with me. He punched me with his gloved hand, the red runes flashing, and his mouth fell open in surprise when I didn’t even stumble.

 

“That’s what you get,” I growled, my voice already losing its humanity. By getting out of the moonlight I had slowed the transformation, but this place was still exposed enough that I couldn’t stop it completely. It was getting hard to think. “That’s what you get that’s what you get THAT’S WHAT YOU GET!”

 

I grabbed him by the throat and raised him up off the ground. The muscles in my arms threatened to burst out of my sleeves, and I held him up a good six inches higher above the floor than I could have a minute ago. His face went white with terror.

 

BITE. TASTE BLOOD. EAT.

 

No, I wouldn’t do that. I wasn’t that far gone yet. Instead, I grabbed the gauntlet with my other hand and pulled on it. He clenched his fist to keep it from coming off.

 

“Give!” I yelled.

 

“No!”

 

So I tore his arm off.

 

Stewart howled in pain, but the gauntlet slid right off his limp hand, so mission accomplished, I guess. I set it down on the floor. That still left me with a one armed satyr to deal with. What to do with him? He had stopped screaming, but the strangled gasps he was making now were almost worse. I was tempted to leave him here, force him to take my offer of mercy whether he wanted it or not.

 

Is that what you are now? I asked myself. Has he gotten to you that much?

 

I shuddered. No. Thug, assassin, delivery girl, whatever I was, I wasn’t going to leave him here to suffer.

 

Sorrrrry,” I growled, barely able to form words anymore. My hand was still around his neck, and with my newfound strength I tightened my grip. His eyes widened for a second before—SNAP!

 

I dropped him just as another blast of moonlight hit me. Ripping sounds came from the back of my shirt as I grew another inch or seven. I was out of time. Stepping over Stewart’s body, I ran for the steps. My skin was starting to itch all over. Fur. I’d forgotten how uncomfortable it was to grow fur under my clothes.

 

NOOOO! the monster yelled as I sprinted down the steps seven at a time. LET ME OUT!

 

I wouldn’t, though. I hadn’t let it out…I hadn’t transformed…in three years. Not since the night it had taken everything I loved from me. Now I would take everything from it. It wanted freedom, so I would keep it locked inside me. It wanted to hunt, so I would keep it away from anything it’d consider prey. It wanted OOOUUUUTTTTT! so I would keep it IIIIIINNNNN!

 

My feet carried me faster than I should have been able to go, even being what I am. Everything was a blur as I raced down the old hotel steps until I reached the bottom floor. I didn’t bother using the door, instead smashing straight through the wall. The door leading to the street was right in front of me, and through the dusty, faded glass I could see the limo parked outside.

 

Now came the hard part. To get to the limo, I had to go outside. No walls or ceilings to separate me from the moon. I growled in frustration, not even sounding remotely human anymore. I couldn’t stay in here. There was still enough moonlight seeping in to change me, eventually. My only chance was to get to the one place I knew of where no light could ever reach.

 

I put my hand on the door and dragged newly grown claws down its murky glass. It sounded like dragging nails on a chalkboard, and I winced when the sound attacked my supersensitive ears. The monster retreated for a second—and that was all I needed. Bracing myself, I plowed through the doors, showering the sidewalk with bits of wood and glass, and sprinted for the car.

 

The moon hit me harder than ever. It felt like it was focusing all its energy on me—my own personal Death Star. I felt the bones in my legs snap into digitrade forms, and I stumbled. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet…if they were even feet and not paws anymore…and kept heading for the limo. The bald, gangly man in the driver’s seat was giggling at my plight.

 

KILL HIM. TEAR HIM APART!

 

You know what? I thought back. I just might.

 

Something burst from my spine, just above the hem of my pants. My tail. It wagged agitatedly, even though I tried to keep it still. I was holding the changes back as much as I could, but they were coming more and more quickly anyway. I had seconds, if that, to get out of the moonlight.

 

I reached the car and desperately slammed my right hand against the door, watching helplessly as it shrank to become a paw. No! I couldn’t give in now, after working so hard! My other hand was still a hand, even though the thumb was rapidly disappearing.. I hooked it into the handle and heaved backwards, praying that he hadn’t locked it as a joke.

 

He hadn’t.

 

I dove inside, the sounds of the city disappearing behind me. Instead of landing on the leather seat of the limo, though, I found myself in a dark, damp old mineshaft. Turning, I could still see the moonlit city on the other side of the door. I got to all fours—I couldn’t stand on two feet anymore—and slammed it shut, severing the connection with the outside world.

 

The moon’s relentless assault vanished. Slowly, I felt myself shift back to human form. The fur beneath my clothes receded, my legs and spine snapped back so that I could stand up again, and—most importantly—the monster inside me retreated to my subconscious, furious that it hadn’t been let out. Again.

 

Suddenly feeling exhausted despite the energy coursing through me, I sat down on the hard stone floor. A couple of old fashioned lanterns hung from the wall, providing meager light. Just the way he liked it.

 

I laid down on my back, feeling like I could sleep there on the floor for at least a month. That had been too close. A few more seconds, and…

 

I opened my eyes to find a pale faced, black eyed monstrosity looking down at me. He grinned, revealing his razor sharp, shark-like teeth.

 

“Welcome back, Amber,” said Hendricks. “I trust you’ve had a pleasant evening?”

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