Home > King of the Shadow Fae (The Darkest Fae #1)

King of the Shadow Fae (The Darkest Fae #1)
Author: Amelia Hutchins

 


Chapter One

 

 

Sundays were meant for religion, families, and relaxing. Yet, here I was, on my day off, hunting a werewolf. Few women could brag that they tracked and hunted otherworld creatures or that they’d been raised with beings that belonged in fables and fairytales. I was one of the select few who earned the title of hunter. Well, huntress if you wanted to get technical.

Peering through the forest, I scanned for any signs that the werewolf had come through this section. Crumpled bushes and twigs were usually easy to spot, but this werewolf was clumsy. It didn’t bother to cover its tracks, allowing me to follow the blood trail that had started in Montana. It wasn’t hiding the carnage or corpses left in its wake. I was more than likely dealing with a newly bitten wolf, one abandoned by the alpha that had created it. Sad as it was, more often than not, they had to be put down.

Their first change brought on an endless hunger, and without an alpha to teach them how to stave off that need to feed, they did so gluttonously. This one, in particular, had eaten its way through a herd of cattle, five horses, and a rancher’s family. This turn of events forced us to intervene, ending its life before it was featured on the front page of the town newspaper.

Stopping by a brook, I kneeled, cupping water in my hands and drinking it before splashing it on my face and wetting my hair to cool off. The spring sun was sweltering today, making my task bothersome. Refilling my empty canteen, I hooked it onto my backpack and withdrew my compass. Checking my location, I quickly marked it on my GPS, then stood, readying myself to go deeper into the woods.

A branch snapped behind me, forcing my attention toward the noise. The hair on my nape rose, and my senses heightened, knowing that I wasn’t alone in the forest. Stepping into the brook, I stifled a groan as my new boots filled with water. Then, ignoring the icy nip of the snow runoff, I moved in a tight circle, pausing as a blur of motion caught my focus.

I didn’t have time to think or react as the beast collided with me. The air left my lungs in a whoosh, sending pain radiating throughout me. Lifting my hands, I pushed against a set of broad shoulders as sharp, elongated teeth snapped inches from my face.

“Bad dog,” I growled as my feet lifted against its chest, forcing the wolf up and shoving it away as I rolled, producing a blade seconds before it slammed into my body again. “Shit, you’re heavy!” I groaned, wincing against the red-hot pain pulsing through me.

Huge, razor-sharp nails protruded from its fingers, slicing through my side. A burning sensation began where the poisonous claws had cut across my flesh. I thrust forward, and my blade found purchase in the wolf’s abdomen, and it howled in agony as I crawled backward on my hands and knees, putting distance between us.

The beast’s mutated face was grotesque, half human and half wolf. Unfortunately for the werewolf, the full moon was a week away, which prevented it from fully shifting. The creature screamed, then stood, vanishing into the thick brush on the other side of the brook.

“Freaking pussy,” I muttered, standing up to look down at my wound that was already oozing. My phone started buzzing, and I reached into my back pocket, silencing it before trekking after my prey.

Only a few feet into the woods, I scented the blood trail. Quickly following it, I entered a rocky path, frowning at the stupidity of the wolf, until the air whizzed with power. My forehead creased with worry moments before something rammed into me.

My body slammed against the ground, and that power rushed over me. Forcing myself to roll, I glanced around the forest, finding that I was alone. What the hell was that? Swallowing the aches and pains, I got to my feet once more. My hackles rose, knowing the werewolf wasn’t the only thing hunting me in the woods.

A shiver of fear trickled along my spine, and I changed courses, forcing myself to push through the pain in my side as I headed back toward my jeep. Before I could exit the forest, I felt the air rushing around me, as if something was coming at me from all angles.

I was lifted, and a scream ripped from my throat before my body smashed against the rock wall of the valley. The heavy scent of pine trees and evergreens surrounded me. But there was something else there, too. It was dark and wicked and clung thickly in the air. Before I could get my bearings, the unseen force smacked my head against the rocks, and a yelp escaped me.

“Does the hunter not like being the prey?” a deep, seductive voice asked.

“Not entirely,” I mumbled, realizing I was immobile, unable to move anything other than my lips. “Care to make it a fair fight?”

My head was slammed into the rocks again, causing a soft gasp to echo against its smooth surface. An elbow pressed against my neck, and stars danced in my eyes. One second it firmly planted me against the rocks, and the next, I was on my knees, gasping for air. Whatever the fuck was behind me, it was powerful.

The being threw my body without warning, and I shouted in rage, landing hard against more rocks. Blood poured from my forehead, and my vision swam. Nausea caused stomach acid to burn against my throat, threatening to spew from my lips. I lifted my head and withdrew a blade, searching for a target. I found nothing, not a single trace of anything or anyone within the forest.

Pushing up from the moss-covered ground, I held my forehead, moving in a tight circle, still looking for my unseen enemy. Blood continued to trickle down my face, and I repeatedly blinked to remove the droplets from my vision.

The sound of branches crunching had me aiming and thrusting my blade toward the noise. I felt it sink into flesh as I saw the wolf, and I twisted my knife upright to ensure the wound would be deep. His claws ripped through my shoulder, and I whimpered before unseen hands pulled the beast away from me, sending it flying through the air as I searched the empty space around me. The werewolf lifted from the ground, lunging at where I teetered unevenly on my feet.

It never reached me. Instead, its body was torn apart, and a scream of horror escaped my lips as I turned, rushing away from the mangled corpse. Laughter followed my retreating form, and I lost my footing as I tried to cross the brook, splashing as I went down hard. Air left my lungs rapidly, threatening to hyperventilate my brain.

Before I could rise, a foot pressed against my back, forcing my face beneath the icy water. I screamed, sending air bubbles to the surface, but no sound escaped. My assailant lifted me by the hair, causing me to jerk my head away from the water before I was submerged once more.

I blindly grabbed for a weapon or anything to use against the creature that was prematurely trying to end my lifespan. My hand landed on a rock, and my fingers gripped the smooth, solid item before I was picked up once more. I jackknifed my body, propelling my hand through the air, colliding with something solid.

It snarled in rage, but I wasn’t waiting for it to retaliate against my assault. Finding my footing on the creek bed, I bolted toward the trees. I didn’t make it far before I was thrown to the ground, and I jerked wildly against the warm body holding me there.

“You’re a fighter, aren’t you?” the male voice purred huskily, forcing my stomach to tighten with unease. “I wonder if you got that trait from your mother or your father?” he asked, sending my thoughts swimming from the heated breath fanning my ear.

“Screw you!” I snarled, slamming my head back, hearing bone crack from the hit before I screamed in agony as something seared into my back. “Stop!” I shrieked, curling into a ball as everything inside of me demanded I give in and quit fighting.

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