Colton's Dilemma (Shadow Breeds) - By Dara Nelson

Chapter 1

He stared at her as she emerged from the tree line. How the hell had she survived the night? He had heard the wolves on the hunt last night and heard a woman scream. Could this possibly be that same woman? Did those wolves, those pests, actually miss their target? That had never happened as far as he knew. Of course, socializing with what he considered, with a smirk, his monthly nuisance, was absolutely dead last on his list of priorities, or any other list that he might keep for that matter. He hated those damn wolves, but at least they were only around once a month. Now, the Aswangs, those were a real pain the ass. He hated them worse than the wolves. And don’t even get him started about the Abaddon. He’d only encountered one of those in his long life, and one was one too many. A shiver moved down his spine as he remembered that night.

The woman’s movements outside brought him back to the present and back to the other question that was nagging at his mind: why the hell had he been drawn to the window in the first place? Yes, he had heard the sounds outside, but he heard those same sounds month after month, year after year. No, the sounds were not what had pulled him to the window – and that was what was so confusing. If he weren’t a vampire, he would swear that she had drawn, or compelled as they say in the human world, him to the window. But compelling a vampire was not possible, at least not that he had ever heard of. So how was it that he had actually lurched forward, like an invisible rope had been lassoed around his mid-section and yanked? He knew it was her, he could sense it getting stronger the closer she got. How the hell was this possible?

He had no answers right now, so instead he stood, hands clasped behind his back, and kept watching. She stumbled forward out of the trees and tried to peer through the thick fog. He gasped slightly at her ragged appearance – her hair was covered with mud and hung wildly down her shoulders, her blouse was mostly shredded just below the breast line, she was barefoot and limping noticeably, her pants were torn, she had blood dripping down her forehead, arms and legs, from what he hoped were just cuts from her escape and not from the wolves. He cringed at the thought that they very easily could be from the wolves.

The fog dissipated slightly and she caught her first glimpse of his formidable abode. Relief turned to fear as she studied the monstrosity. He smiled slightly – that had been his first reaction to it too. I mean, not only was it huge and, well, creepy looking, but it was ten miles outside of New Orleans, it was ten miles from anything. Why would anybody put a house out here – in the middle of nowhere? Why would anybody choose to live here? Why did he?

“I like my privacy,” he said aloud, trying to convince himself. Oh, who was he fooling? This house chose him….but that’s a story for another time.

She gingerly took a few more steps toward the house. It had to be an imposing, awesome sight: an enormous, obviously well-cared for, but incredibly dark and sinister old mansion. The only lights on in the place were for his faithful servant, Hansen, and those were few and far between. He figured that she would probably assume that nobody was home and so she’d keep going. Instead, she captivated him by taking a few more steps towards him. Was she insane? Didn’t she see that this house just screamed, “Go Away!”? Another few steps brought her even closer. He could hear her heart pounding in her chest, her breath coming in ragged, panicked gasps. He could even hear the blood slowly oozing out of the numerous cuts on her body, especially the head wound. The head wound was big. He took a deep breath through his nose, sniffing hard. Oh yes, he could smell her now. The blood smelled divine, but it was mixed with too much fear. He didn’t like the taste of fear. He preferred to take his victims by surprise – by sneaking up behind them, or by their invitation – which happened a lot more often than you might think – so that there wasn’t the taste of