Eventide of the Bear

By: Cherise Sinclair


“You mangy dick.” Gary’s bellow split the air. “She’s mine!” He yanked her away from Andre and shoved her toward the mating room.

Her head slammed into the doorframe with an excruciating thud, and the hallway went black.

Why am I on the floor?

She was sprawled on her side. Carpet scraped her cheek. Her vision blurred, focused, blurred. Her head felt as if it would crack open with each pulse beat—if she didn’t throw up first. Groaning, she struggled to her knees. Was the floor swaying?

Sounds surfaced through the hum of pain. The smack of flesh on flesh. A grunt. Another slapping sound. Snarls, growls, and cursing. With dawning terror, she realized Andre and Gary were fighting.

No, oh no. Emma tried to stand, failed, tried again, and finally succeeded with the help of the wall. Shaking her head to try to clear it, she stared. And cringed. This—this was horrible. “No.” Her voice cracked. Not even heard. “Don’t. No.”

They were enraged. Crazy. Grappling and biting. Growling, Gary punched Andre’s face. With a furious roar, Andre seized Gary by the throat. Choking him.

“Stop!” She sprang forward, grabbed Andre’s arm, and yanked his hand away.

A fist hit her forehead, splitting the skin. Blood filled her eyes even as another blow landed on her cheek. She staggered back into other bodies. Other shifters. Watching the battle.

“Stop them!” Blinded by the blood pouring down her face, she clutched one female’s arm and was pushed away.

The growls increased. Clothing tore as both males trawsfurred into animals. Panther and bear.

Savage snarls. Bellows. Shrieks. Thuds. A ghastly sound of wheezing. The bear’s jaws tore into the cat’s throat. Even as blood sprayed the air, the panther’s hind legs clawed through the bear’s fur-covered stomach and groin, shredding skin and muscles and arteries.

Bellowing in agony, Andre flung Gary away. Blood was everywhere, splattering the floor and walls.

And then there was silence.

Still dazed, Emma could only whimper in denial as, in death, the bodies shifted back to human. Bits of blood-soaked fabric still clung to them. Gary’s throat had been torn out. Andre’s whole abdomen was sliced open.

Her bloody hands covered her mouth as tears filled her eyes.

“In the God’s name, what is going on?” Still unclothed from mating, the Cosantir leaped down the stairs. He shoved through the cluster of shifters blocking the halls and saw the bodies. His face turned white.

“Gary?” He sank to his knees beside his son. Touched the lifeless body.

Oh, no. The anguish in his face battered Emma, hurting her heart, bringing tears to her eyes. The shifters in the hall were silent as he turned his head, taking in the carnage.

Like a crippled elder, he struggled to his feet. “What happened?” His voice was hoarse.

“Rich bitch Cavanaugh made them fight over her.” Standing next to Marnie, CeeCee pointed directly at Emma.

“Yeah. The bear teased them into it,” Marnie confirmed.

The Cosantir’s gaze turned cold, seeping into her, freezing her bones.

Emma shook her head. “No. I-I didn’t want—”

“Wait a minute,” said someone behind her. “She didn’t—”

“She’s as bad as her mother,” a female said. “Cavanaughs.” She made the word into a curse.

“Getting a thrill from goading males into fights that leave them crippled. Scarred.” Cedrick’s fingers traced a bite scar on his shoulder before his gaze dropped to Gary’s body.

She hadn’t caused the fight, had she? But they’d killed each other…because of her. Emma shook her head again. No.

The movement made the Cosantir look at her. Grief and fury rolled from him in icy waves. “I had no choice but to tolerate your mother.” His voice harshened. “You, though… I should have dealt with you before you cost us so much.”

A few protests came from the shifters in the hallway—too few, too soft. The Cosantir ignored them, his gaze never leaving her. “Emma Cavanaugh, you are cast out from the Daonain, banished from us. Forever.”

As despair filled her, she simply stood as he trawsfurred into his cat form. His paw rose. Claws slashed across her face.

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