Against Her Will
When Anna Davis woke, her chemo-ridden limbs,
no longer thin and bruised, pulsed with vitality and power. Am I asleep? Still dreaming? Hair clung
to her face and brow. She lifted a honey brown lock away from her face and
stared at it. She’d been nearly bald after her recent round of therapy, wearing
wigs and scarves to hide her patchy scalp. Now her hair hung loose around her
shoulders. It hadn’t been this color since her late twenties when she’d gone
bottled blonde. She pushed back the tangled locks. Where am I?
Anna predatorily tracked her surroundings
with a sweeping gaze.
The room had a low ceiling, concrete walls,
and a floor littered with heavy, colorful blankets. As her eyes adjusted to the
darkness, she caught the scent of something more than damp wool. Amazingly, her
vision zoomed in and out, reminding her of the autofocus feature on her son’s
digital camera, until she could clearly see who she’d been scenting.
A naked man, who appeared to be in his late
twenties or early thirties, sat cross-legged against the opposite wall. The
lean muscles across his wide chest and arms created a maze of grooves and hard
angles in his chiseled torso. A crop of black hair fell around his ears. His
head was down, but she knew his eyes were the color of rubbed sage. Just like
she knew his full, sensual lips curved like a bow ready to fire when he was
deep in concentration. Conor Evans .
“I should have known,” she said, unable to
keep the anger from edging her voice. Another person might have been grateful to suddenly be cancer-free, but
Conor hadn’t cured her. “I made peace with death. You had no right to make me
into this…this thing.”
Conor flexed his arms as he combed his
fingers through his dark hair, the move pushing the loose curls off his square,
masculine face. The sight of him made her lower parts clench with need. In
twenty years, he hadn’t changed. Anna couldn’t say the same. She’d been curvy
her whole life, something she’d never been ashamed of, but age had a way of
making the curves sag a bit, and cancer had a way of deflating the rest.
Self-consciously, she touched her body. The emaciated woman she’d been before
waking up in this room was gone. Even though her lush body had reappeared, it
didn’t matter how good or healthy she felt, she only had one thought: I didn’t choose this life.
Last week, Conor showed up at her chemo
treatment and begged her to let him save her. He wanted Anna to become like
him—a werewolf. When she’d worked as his assistant, he’d told her about his
tribe and their ritual of culling. He’d explained that the last cull had taken
place during the Great Depression. His mother, a struggling jazz singer, had
been one of the invited . Shortly
after, Conor had been born—a first generation lycanosapien. An evolutionary
breed of werewolf and human.
Conor still looked so young for someone who
had lived more than eighty years. Seeing him made Anna realize she’d never
stopped thinking about Conor—never stopped loving him. Turning down his offer
had been difficult and painful, but she’d made her peace with dying and had
been firm when she’d told him no .
What he’d done to her, taking her and
changing her without permission, was forbidden by his kind. Werewolves only
took the willing. This wasn’t her choice ,
she thought again, while trying to ignore the small, niggling hope worming its
way into her brain.
When they’d met in the 90s, Conor had been a
doctor—a researcher in the field of medical biology—and Anna had been his
assistant while she finished her education. She’d been married at the time with
a baby. All the same, she’d fallen in love with Conor, and he’d trusted her
with his secret. For the sake of her family, she refused to leave her husband
Robert for Conor. Later, Robert cheated on her, but she couldn’t deny that
she’d claimed the first betrayal—a betrayal of the heart. Had Anna