Bearly Holding On
would actually have a chance against me ?” he chortled.
    Awen didn’t back down. “Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. But either way, it’ll be a lot more interesting for you to hunt me down than it will be for you to let your pets do your work for you.”
    Enyeto considered her proposal. “I imagine you’ll want me to leave your parents alone after I kill you?”
    “Are you a betting man, Enyeto?” Awen took a brave step forward. “Because I think we can raise the stakes higher than just that.”
    “I’m failing to see what additional benefit I could get from this little game of yours that would be enough to stop me from feeling motivated to kill your parents.”
    “Let’s start with what will happen if I win, just so we’re clear,” she asserted. “Your lands will be forfeited to my people. Even if I don’t have enough evidence to connect you to any crimes, which quite frankly I do since you have been very sloppy tonight, I’ll still have enough to drag you through the mud. And, according to the laws of the treaty we signed around one hundred years ago, your tarnished reputation and death will mean your seat will pass to the closest tribe official in the area—my father.”
    “You know your tribal law,” Enyeto sneered. “So tell me why I should take your offer then, if the terms are so steep?”
    Awen smirked. “Because how many opportunities do you get to hunt down and kill the girl that broke your heart three hundred years ago?”
    The silence that dropped over the porch was deafening. Enyeto’s sneer quickly turned into a hard frown.
    “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he growled.
    It had been a guess, based on a hunch she had had when she first made the connection between his father’s name and his shapeshifting abilities; however, by his reaction she could tell that she had been spot on.
    “Awenasa broke your heart—told you she couldn’t accept your affection because she was promised to another,” she goaded, “and then you saw her sneaking around with Mati. I imagine it was easier for her to tell you that she was engaged than it would have been just to say the truth—that you disgusted her.”
    “Shut up!” Enyeto screamed, his face contorted with rage.
    Awen saw his eyes begin to glow but she was in too deep now to stop. “And you told your father about the mean girl, didn’t you?” she screamed back at him. “He already disapproved of her upcoming marriage so he used your pain as an opportunity to murder her!”
    Enyeto snarled.
    “I bet you only have one regret about that day,” Awen challenged, quieter now. “That you never got to do the deed yourself.”
    A great howl ripped from Enyeto’s chest. He turned his furious gaze to her, his teeth elongating into fangs. “You would have made a good leader, princess,” he spat. “You’ll make better prey.”
    A clap of thunder resounded overhead, drops of raining beginning to patter on the roof of the porch.
    “Awen, please.” Her mother’s soft cry from behind her caused Awen to turn. It nearly broke her heart, seeing the two of them there, huddled on the porch so helplessly. She was resolved though, she had to save them.
    “Don’t worry mom,” Enyeto said mockingly. “I’ll let her have a head start. And I will honor her terms. Fair is fair after all.” He smirked at Awen and sidled up to her, grabbing her jaw painfully in his hand. His eyes glowed yellow, his teeth horrifically long and sharp. “You get twenty minutes, Awenasa. Then I’ll be coming to rip your throat out.”
    He thrust her head to the side and bent to her neck, taking a long inhale of her scent. Then he licked the curve of her neck, where she had been scraped by a shard of glass on the floor of the dining room.
    “Your blood is like candy to me,” he purred. “And tonight I have a sweet tooth.” With that he released her, shoving her backwards.
    Awen didn’t know whether she was supposed to move or stand still.
    “Tick tock.”

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