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Maybe fate brought them together. There are dozens of smaller towns the vampires could’ve chosen to attack, but they picked Derris, likely the only place in Alaska with a resident werewolf.

So many “ifs”. If Rance hadn’t been on their trail, those vampires might have wiped Derris off the map. If Chelsea hadn’t run into Rance and learned what was happening to us, she’d be far away. If he hadn’t come back now, three months later, we wouldn’t be embarking on a lovers’ triangle.

If I hated Rance, that last would be more difficult to accept.

I don’t. It’s hard to hate a man who risked his life for the lives of strangers. Of course, he risked Chelsea’s too, but he also saved her and I know how badly the narrow escape rocked him. I was there when he carried her in, wrapped in a blood-spotted quilt. I helped him dress her wounds, and listened to him repeat she’d be fine several times, as though he were trying to convince himself.

And I witnessed how he ripped apart vampires that night.

All of that, plus Chelsea’s confession that she couldn’t fight the primal instincts pushing them together, led me to wishing them a good night and going home alone.

We could discuss things later.

~


Rance



I’d never thought to meet a female of my kind. The shock of having one run into my arms in the middle of a blizzard hadn’t lasted long; my primal instincts had seen to a shift in my priorities.

We are not a prolific race, numbering perhaps a half million of the billions of people inhabiting the world. It’s estimated less than a fifth of our number are female, and that’s considered a generous estimate.

Far fewer aren’t called by the full moon and forced to shift shape. I know of only one other, aside from Chelsea and myself, who isn’t moon-called.

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