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The Order of Human Purity

Werewolf Bane

Written By: Steven Sterup Jr.

Copyright 2018 Steven Sterup Jr.


Legal Disclaimer - This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Special thanks to my wife, Tammy, for her help with the cover.





Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Epilogue

Introduction

Long ago, werewolves ruled the world and where protected by their faithful guard, the lamia. In a time when humans were considered a lesser species, an act of kindness sparked a war that continues to this day.

Although the lamia were sworn protectors of the ruling werewolves they were also responsible for protecting all sentient life. A group of lamia realized that humans were much more than beasts to be raised as food and a few of the wisest lamia took some of the humans and taught them to speak. Years later the humans, accompanied by a faction of lamia, attacked the monster capitol and a civil war began. The war raged on for decades and when the dust settled the human faction, named The Order of Human Purity, was successful in liberating all the humans of the world. But the humans were resentful and overthrew their one time allies. Soon the age of monsters came to an end, bringing about the age of mankind.

To this day The Order still hunts the remaining monsters in its bloodthirsty quest to rid the world of these vile beasts.



Chapter 1

Jeremy Sindel coughed as he laid in the grassy field, in the middle of a large forest, somewhere in Washington. He was not alone in this forest. All around him lay the bodies of Order soldiers. Jeremy’s black hair was trimmed neatly just like the other soldiers he had killed. He’d been shot multiple times and his life was fading quickly. He knew his death would be soon but took comfort in the fact that he had saved his daughter, Amanda. His ten year old daughter was hiding in a secluded house a little over a hundred feet from him and she didn’t even know her father was dying. Jeremy ripped off The Order badge from his uniform and threw it in defiance. He yelled in frustration then began coughing. Blood covered his hands as he tried to stifle the cough and he knew what he had to do.

“MIRAVEN!” he yelled as loudly as he could. His Hispanic accent was thick. His parents weren’t originally from the United States and he had picked up his accent from them. He regretted the mistakes he’d made over his life, joining The Order and all the innocent non-humans he had killed but the one mistake he didn’t regret was Amanda. Her mother thought she couldn’t have children but she was wrong. When the baby came she took off without saying a word, leaving him to care for Amanda on his own.

In a few seconds a small Middle Eastern woman in a long black dress walked up to him. Her long dark hair, that curled slightly, went nearly to her waist. Her sharp features and dark skin made her look very beautiful in the moonlight. He watched her walk carelessly through the bloody battlefield as she surveyed it then, when she reached Jeremy, she smiled down at him.

“You’ve made a mess,” she laughed.

“I’m not going to make it. You have to watch over Amanda,” he pleaded.

“Oh no. Not a chance in hell! I can’t be responsible for her. I told you this would happen,” Miraven argued angrily.

Miraven looked at one of The Order soldiers who wasn’t quite dead. She walked up to him as he crawled away. When he saw who was coming toward him he tried to crawl faster.

“Leave me alone!” he shouted.

“Are you ready to die? It will be painless. Just say the words,” Miraven taunted.

“I won’t say them,” he said. “I’m going to radio for help. The girl won’t make it out of the forest and you can’t do a thing about it.”

Miraven looked at her small hand and long curved claws, nearly six inches in length, came out of her finger tips. She calmly bent over and cut the man’s throat then smiled evilly at his fearful expression.

“I can’t take your life force without permission but I can sure as hell kill you. You were going to kill a child,” she said and started walking back to Jeremy, whose life was fading.

“Please Miraven,” he begged.

“I just saved her. She’ll be fine on her own. No one will even know she is in this forest,” she said with a smirk.

“I Jeremy Sindel…” he started.

“Don’t you dare!” Miraven shouted.

“…give my life to the wraith Miraven…” he continued.

“Shut up Jeremy! Don’t you do this!” she ordered.

“…in exchange for a favor,” he finished.

Miraven screamed at the sky as an invisible force pulled her to her knees beside him. Her face turned pale white along with her hair. Her eyes hollowed and long needle like teeth appeared in her mouth.

“What favor do you ask of me?” she asked in a deep voice, almost in a trance.

“You must protect my daughter until she finds her true love,” Jeremy replied weakly.

“It will be done,” Miraven answered then bent over his body and kissed him on the lips. As his life force drained into her she changed back to her human form and her eyes glowed bright white. When Jeremy was completely drained she got up and stomped her feet.

“Damn it Jeremy!” she said angrily and began walking toward the cabin. “I shouldn’t be within a hundred miles of her and now…I have to find her a boyfriend? Grrrrr! Stupid humans!”

This was the story Miraven told to a young Amanda Sindel every day of her childhood. It became ingrained in her personality, that fateful day her father gave up everything for her and it shaped her future as well as her almost naïve belief that all men should be like her father. This was consequence Miraven hadn’t considered…or maybe…it was exactly what Miraven intended.

Chapter 2

Many years later Amanda Sindel unlocked her apartment door and walked in. She shut the door, chained it then turned the deadbolt. She was now twenty four and several states from where she had been raised. Her apartment was small but neat. In the living room was a couch, a TV on top of a small table and a high backed chair. The room next to it was the kitchen, with its pristine counters and clean appliances. Then, off to the side of the kitchen was a short hallway that lead to Amanda’s bedroom. Right before the hall was a door which lead to the bathroom. Although her apartment was much smaller than where she had grown up it was all hers, a fact that filled her with pride. When she left the house in the woods at sixteen she could barely imagine having a place like this.

As she turned around she noticed her roommate. He crossed the tan, shag carpet and Amanda bent down to pet him.

“Hi mittens. I missed you,” she said to the eight week only kitten. Her tuxedo kitten purred and circled her legs. “You just know its supper time.”

Amanda didn’t have an accent as thick as her father’s but if someone listened closely enough they could tell. Her light brown skin and facial features also told a story about her father’s parents, who had come over from Cuba. She didn’t know much about them and the little she did know had come from background checks she had done when she became a U.S. Marshal. Even though the system had so little information on her grandparents it was her father who was the mystery. He had a birth certificate and a social security number but that was all. No school records, no medical records, not even a registration with the Selective Service. It was as if her father vanished after his birth.

Amanda wasn’t a tall woman at five foot four and she attributed this to her parents and grandparents. Though she knew even less about her mother than she did her father she did know a few details. Her mother had apparently been even shorter than she was. She didn’t have a clear picture of her mother but what she did know seemed to line up with what she saw in the mirror each day. Long, dark hair with a hint of curls and sharp facial features. Her mother must have been a very beautiful woman. She’d seen pictures of her father and knew she must have taken after her mother. The thought made her laugh quietly as she led the kitten to the kitchen. How strange that her father, the good parent, wasn’t very attractive yet the mother who left her must have been gorgeous. Not that Amanda was vain, she just wasn’t blind and she looked nothing like her father.

She continued on to the kitchen while Mittens raced her then jumped up on the counter. She opened a can of cat food while it stared on in anticipation. After feeding her kitten she took off her U.S. Marshal’s jacket and tossed it on the chair. Next she unbuttoned her shirt, removed it and tossed in on top of the jacket. Underneath she wore a black tank top. She pulled the ponytail holder out and her long wavy hair fell over her shoulders.

“I’m going to have a shower. Want to play that new shooter when I get out?” she asked the kitten and he meowed back as if he was responding. “No. I’m taking a shower first, the game can wait,” she said. The kitten hopped down from the counter and circled her legs again. “Just give me five minutes ok?” she asked.

She kicked off her shoes then undid her belt and let her uniform pants fall to the ground. After she stepped out of them she made her way across the small apartment to the dark bathroom. When she looked back Mittens was already curling up in her discarded pants.

“You little bugger. I’m going to have cat fur all over them now,” she said with a grin. “But I guess it’s my fault for putting them on the floor.” She turned and flipped the switch to the bathroom and the lights came on.

“HOLY SHIT!” she exclaimed when she saw the small Middle Eastern woman in a long, flowing white dress, sitting on her bathroom counter. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack Miraven?!”

“Sorry, darling. You’re miniature tiger hates me so I’m hiding in here,” she said pushing out her bottom lip.

“Really?” Amanda asked with condescension. “He’s like three inches tall. And he doesn’t even look like a tiger,” she chastised as she found a towel from the small closet and put it on the towel rod.

“He did that thing,” Miraven said.

“What thing?” Amanda asked while looking through one of the drawers for some shampoo. “I swear I bought a new bottle yesterday.”

“He did that growling thing when I touched him,” she said sheepishly.

“He’s purring. It means he likes you,” Amanda replied absentmindedly while pulling out drawers. She couldn’t find the bottle. She sighed then turned to Miraven. “You look pretty today.”

“I figured since I was gone for four months I should dress up for our reunion,” she replied. “Speaking of useless mammals.” Miraven had a devious look on her face and Amanda knew what was coming.

“Todd and I are done,” she announced before Miraven could get her jabs in.

“Why is that?” Miraven prodded with a knowing grin on her face.

“You know why…you were right about him too,” she sighed. Miraven was always right about guys. Which was a little disturbing since Miraven was a figment of her imagination. Did Amanda secretly know these men would lie and cheat? What did that say about her? Was she sabotaging her relationships on purpose?

“Did this one lie or cheat?” Miraven asked with a self-satisfied smile.

“Both,” Amanda replied angrily. “You know Janine? What am I saying? You’re in my head. Of course, you know Janine. Well he tried to sleep with Janine. He told me he was going to his mother’s for dinner but he really went to a conference where Janine was speaking. I’m just glad Janine is more honest than the men I seem to find. I probably wouldn’t have found out.”

“Honestly…your taste in men is horrible,” Miraven said, losing her smug attitude. “Let me set you up!” Her enthusiasm surprised Amanda.

“How are you going to do that? You’re in my head. An imaginary friend I made up when my dad died and left me alone in that cabin. How are you going to set me up with a guy?” Amanda asked.

“To start with, your idea of a cabin was a two story house in the middle of the woods and I’ve told you a million times. I’m not in your head and I’m not imaginary. I’m as real as you are.” Miraven reached out and grabbed Amanda’s arm.

Amanda pulled her arm back quickly.

“Quit that! It creeps me out! I’m not that insane. I don’t want to feel my imaginary friend. Well, maybe I am that insane,” she said dejectedly. “Oh wait…” she said with a devious smile. “If you’re not imaginary then why hasn’t anyone ever seen you? Hmm? Answer that one,” she said smugly then noticed the shampoo in the shower. “How the hell did it get in there?”

“Sorry dear I took a shower,” Miraven replied. “And most humans can’t see me. They’re too afraid. Unless they know about our world their mind refuses to believe I exist. I am a little frightening.”

Amanda stared at her companion crossly then a smile spread.

“That is exactly how my mind would rationalize it. I’m some mysterious monster…” she started but Miraven interrupted.

“Non-human. Monster sounds so ugly,” she said.

“Fine. I’m some mysterious non-human so I can see you but no one else can. It’s the perfect rationalization so my mind can keep you around.” She turned around and sounded sad as she continued. “I really thought you were gone this time. You’ve never been gone that long before.” Truthfully, she had missed her imaginary friend, Miraven. Though she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, Miraven was the one person she could always count on…even if she was imaginary.

“I’m sorry dear. I had another project that needed my direct attention,” she sighed.

“Oh geez. Don’t give me that. Next you’re going to remind me that you made an oath to my father and you can’t leave until I find my true love. Exactly what an orphan girl would tell herself to avoid the fact that her mother abandoned her and her father died.” Amanda turned to Miraven who looked strangely sad. “And then to top it all off. My father was a heroic man who gave his life to protect his non-human daughter from evil soldiers who want to kill her. It’s just too perfect. I’m nuts.” She threw her hands in the air then pulled off her remaining clothes and stepped into the shower.

“It’s true dear but for your sake, I hope you can continue to believe your crazy until the day I leave,” Miraven said with even more sadness.

“Why are you so depressed?” Amanda asked, popping her head out of the shower. “You’re in my head. Am I depressed and can’t deal with it?” She pulled her head back in and wet her hair then put in some shampoo.

“No, dear,” Miraven replied.

“Ah ha!” she exclaimed and stuck her shampooed head out of the curtains. “Then what am I? Huh? Got an answer for that one? What kind of non-human am I?” She waited as shampoo dripped on to the tile floor.

“I won’t tell you that. I’m going to make sure you have a happy life and die without ever changing into that…thing,” Miraven replied almost angrily.

Amanda pulled her head back inside and sighed.

“I’m arguing with myself about being a non-human but I haven’t even come up with what I am? I really am nuts. How the hell did I pass the psych-eval?” Amanda asked rhetorically and started rinsing out the shampoo.

“You’re avoiding your feelings with Todd,” Miraven stated, trying to get Amanda to talk about anything else. Amanda wasn’t nuts but the longer they talked about it the more convinced Amanda became. Once, when she was sixteen, right after she insisted on leaving the house in the woods, she talked about checking herself into a mental institution. Eventually Miraven talked her out of it but it had come up a few times since and Miraven wasn’t in the mood to argue with Amanda about this topic right now.

Amanda stopped her rinsing and stood in the running water, letting it run over her face. Miraven was right again. She was angry and hurt. Todd had been perfect. Well, the version of Todd he let her see was perfect. Amanda punched the shower wall then pulled back her fist and cradled it.

“Damn it! Even after we break up he still hurts me.” She sounded like she was about to cry.

“You didn’t breakup. You dumped the cheating bastard,” Miraven offered.

Amanda started to growl like an angry woman ready to do something stupid yet gratifying.

“I’m going to show up at his office with a fake warrant! I want to see the look on that asshole’s face when I tell him Janine is charging him with sexual harassment.” Amanda laughed and pulled the wet hair out of her eyes. “I bet I can get Janine to go along with it. Maybe she’ll come with me. Oh man that’s good. I’m evil.”

“How about you take some time to think about it? Get away for a while and forget about Todd.” Miraven suggested.

“What did you have in mind?” Amanda asked. She felt stupid asking her imaginary friend for advice but perhaps this part of her brain was smarter about men. Who was she kidding? This part of her brain was a lot smarter about men. Her luck with men was nothing short of horrifying. Every single one of them either lied, cheated or both. It was as if she wanted to be hurt by them.

“They’re asking for volunteers to collect out of state prisoners and transfer them to their hearings. Maybe you should do that for a while? Quit hanging around the same town Todd is in and just live on the open road for a while.” Miraven sounded very convinced that this would solve her problems.

“What would I do with mittens?” Amanda asked.

“We could always eat it for supper,” Miraven said with a laugh.

“Ewww. He’s a cat. That’s disgusting,” Amanda replied, now laughing. She knew Miraven was joking, well the part of her brain that manifested Miraven was joking.

“Give it to Janine,” Miraven said seriously.

“Hmm, that’s a good idea. Janine is almost as lonely as I am. She could use the company and he’s already house trained.” Amanda stepped out of the shower, unembarrassed and stood in front of Miraven.

“I think that sounds like a very good idea,” Amanda said.

Miraven grabbed the towel and handed it to Amanda.

“Cover up, please. It makes me very uncomfortable talking to you without clothes on,” she said looking at the ceiling.

Amanda laughed forcefully.

“I’m embarrassed to look at myself naked? Oh man I have problems,” Amanda said while drying off on her way to the bedroom.



Chapter 3

Amanda stretched as she got out of her unmarked car and looked at the North Dakota sunset. She had to admit, Miraven had been right, and the beautiful sunset was the icing on the cake. The last two weeks had been relaxing and she had mostly forgotten her anger toward Todd. She hadn’t even had to wear her uniform. The blue jeans and black tank top she was allowed to wear were very comfortable. Even driving for hours on end seemed peaceful and serine compared to the life she had led before. No chasing criminals, getting shot at, to be fair it had only happened once, but mostly no Todd!

Amanda pulled on a blue button up shirt over her tank top. The air was getting chilly but not enough to require her to button it. On her belt were her badge and handgun, although, she hadn’t even had to pull it out the entire trip. That in itself was relaxing.

When Amanda entered the sheriff’s station the young man behind the counter gave her a look…a look she knew quite well. His blonde hair and blue eyes, coupled with his masculine frame were appealing but she was on this trip to forget about men. Besides, she was here to pick up a prisoner who needed to be in Washington State in three days. It wouldn’t be too difficult but she also didn’t feel like driving all night to make her deadline, nor did she feel like hurrying. She felt like this was almost a vacation and most of her prisoners didn’t mind stopping at landmarks and new places to eat along the way. In fact, a few of them had gotten quite friendly with her. Telling her about how they had messed up and about their families.

The blonde deputy looked at her with lust in his eyes as she pulled open her shirt and showed him the badge.

“U.S. Marshall Amanda Sindel. I’m here to transfer Eric Bane,” she said sternly but the man wasn’t dissuaded.

“We have a top notch hotel in town here. Why don’t you take a load off and pick him up in the morning?” He leaned in and smiled. “You might be surprised at the top quality cuisine we have here in Alamantha. We’re not big but…” Amanda interrupted.

“Let me just stop you there sparky,” she said condescendingly. She grabbed the ring that was fastened with a chain around her neck and held it up. “Married.”

Amanda often used this tactic to avoid rambunctious men. In truth, the ring belonged to her father. Anyone who looked closely enough would notice it was far too big to fit her finger. Now if she could just remember to use the ring when she met a man like Todd. It was easy to tell the ones who wanted a one night stand. The charming ones, the one’s offering something more, were harder to figure out and harder to turn down.

“Sorry, miss,” the attractive man replied.

She almost felt bad. He probably would have been an interesting way to spend the night but she was on a vacation from men. If she hadn’t been she would have slept with the sheriff at the last pick up. He was more her type. A rough looking, muscular man who was sure of himself. His dark hair and soulful brown eyes would have been a nice sight to wake up to.

“What’s your name deputy?” she asked, feeling guilty for her abrupt shutdown of the man.

“Deputy Adam Gile,” he replied, his crushing rebuttal evident on his face.

“Let me give you some tips Officer Gile. Next time look for a ring first and don’t make it so obvious. Ask her out to dinner. Skip the glowing recommendation about the hotel. Mentioning the hotel first is a little…stalkerish,” she said with a laugh.

Adam walked around the counter and led the way to the cells. He looked embarrassed so she patted him on the shoulder as they walked.

“You should also make sure she’s not on the job,” Amanda laughed again.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.

“You don’t get to call me ma’am. You’re my age,” she said while she followed the downtrodden deputy as he led the way.

“I was referring to your position not your age,” he said, loosening up a little.

“I’m not your boss. If you want to be respectful call me Marshal Sindel,” she said flashing him a caring smile. “Never call a woman ma’am unless she’s way older than you or your superior. I’m neither.”

“I’ll keep that in mind Marshal Sindel,” he replied and his smile returned.

“See? That sounds so much better.” Her smile left and she forced an emotionless expression on her face while she looked at her next prisoner.

Amanda felt that getting the prisoner captor relationship off in a professional manor was critical when transporting dangerous men from one place to another. She was in charge, she was not their friend and if they wanted to make it with the same amount of bruises they started with, they had better listen to her. The few prisoners she had been friendly with had earned that right.

“Hands behind your back prisoner,” Deputy Gile said sternly. “You’re ride is here.”

The man was looking down as he stood then turned his back to the bars, put his hands behind his back and backed up. He was either not new to being in prison or had been given instructions prior to her arrival.

“What’s the deal with him?” she asked as she handed Adam her paperwork.

Adam looked at the paperwork and nodded.

“I guess this doesn’t really say why he’s in prison does it?” he asked.

“Nope. Just pick up here, transport there. I’m supposed to treat them all like murderers and keep them locked up tight,” she replied.

“Well then, I guess that’s a good thing because he actually is a murderer. Beat a man to death and won’t say why,” Adam said. He turned to the cell and stuck his hands through the bars while holding a pair of handcuffs. “Don’t move. I’m putting cuffs on you so you can be transferred for your trial.”

“So, he killed a man in Washington and decided to hide here?” Amanda asked skeptically.

“I told you we have some top notch cuisine,” he said with a laugh.

“Yes you did,” she replied with a smile.

Amanda looked over her newest prisoner while Adam secured the cuffs. He was still in his own clothes. The tan sleeves of his button up shirt were rolled up to the elbows, revealing very strong arms. His muscles flexed as Adam put the cuffs on and Amanda didn’t doubt that this man could beat someone to death. His brown hair was touching his shoulders and looked clean and brushed. Not something she was used to. Most prisoners were scruffy, dirty and cared little for personal hygiene.

She let her eyes make their way down to the tight fitting pants he was wearing then forced her eyes back up. Why did he have to look better than the sheriff she had almost slept with? Two or three days with this man might be a little frustrating. This was supposed to be a vacation from men. As Eric Bane turned she finally saw his face. He had a trimmed beard and the most incredible light blue eyes. They almost looked white when the light caught them just right. They were almost too amazing to be real. The kind of thing you read about in romance novels. Like the ones she passed her nights with recently. The next few days were going to be very frustrating indeed.

Amanda leaned forward and looked through the bars.

“Did you do it?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.

Adam laughed when Eric called her ma’am.

“He’s older than you. You going to let him get away with that?” Adam asked. His smile quickly left when Amanda corrected him.

“Prisoners are supposed to call me ma’am. I am their boss,” she scolded.

She turned back to the strangely polite man and continued her standard questioning.

“Are you going to be a problem on our trip?” she asked.

“No, ma’am,” he replied. His scowl hadn’t left. He looked angry and, to be honest, scary. He wasn’t extremely large, maybe a little shy of six foot tall but the lean muscles visible on his arms and chest looked problematic. If this man somehow got the upper hand or got out of his cuffs she wouldn’t be able to stop him. If Eric Bane wanted to, he could probably kill her and Deputy Giles with his bare hands.

Amanda turned to Adam.

“Is he violent?” she asked.

“Actually he’s been the most polite prisoner I’ve ever seen. We had him in with one of our regulars, Tommy. He’s a loudmouth who can usually rile anyone up but Mr. Cool here didn’t say a word all night. I find it hard to believe he beat a man to death.” Adam looked surprised.

“I’m the reason a man is dead and I deserve my punishment.” Eric said angrily. He wasn’t extremely loud but the look on his face was enough to send a chill down Amanda’s spine.

“Well, that was a little violent,” Amanda said raising an eyebrow to Adam.

“Ok, he does get touchy if you don’t believe he killed that guy. Just keep away from the subject and he’s a perfect gentleman,” Adam explained.

“I think I’ll play it safe. Just in case,” Amanda replied and headed back to her car.

“What are you doing?” Adam asked.

“Getting my new toys for people like him,” she replied as she pushed through the front door.

When she returned she had a belt and an ankle bracelet.

“What are those?” Adam asked.

She looked at Eric and spoke clearly so both of them understood exactly what her toys did.

“This belt holds an electric charge powerful enough to drop an elephant.” Then she held up the ankle bracelet. “If the ankle monitor or the belt are tampered with they will put you out in under a second.” Then she looked at Adam. “Let’s get him ready for transport.”

Adam unlocked the cell while Eric stood completely still. After the ankle bracelet and belt were in place Adam looked on curiously.

“What now?” he asked.

“Now comes the good part,” she parted her button up shirt and motioned to her belt. Then she put her thumb on the buckle and after a second it beeped as did the ankle monitor and belt Eric was wearing. “If you go more than fifty feet from me…zap. So no running.” She looked down at Eric’s feet and saw the torn up sneakers he was wearing. The only part of his wardrobe that looked worn. Why would that be? Was he actually running from the police? Maybe running wasn’t just a clever phrase in his case.

“Remove your shoes, Mr. Bane,” she ordered and the man did as he was told.

Amanda bent over and picked up the shoes then headed out. “Fifty feet remember?” she asked over her shoulder with a laugh and Eric started walking quickly to catch up to her. “I think we understand each other perfectly but to be sure. The buckle on my belt won’t deactivate unless it’s my thumbprint so don’t get cute.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied and hurried to keep up with her.

She tossed his shoes in the front passenger side then opened the back door. Although unmarked, it was a standard police transport vehicle. The doors in the back wouldn’t unlock from the inside and there was a security fence between the driver and passenger. She unlocked one of Eric’s handcuffs and moved his hands in front of him so he could sit then reattached them.

“Get comfy Mr. Bane. We’ll be to the edge of North Dakota by midnight and I’m not stopping until then,” she instructed. Again he did as he was told and got inside without a complaint.

When Amanda was buckled and ready to head out Eric leaned forward which made her nervous. He was scary and she wasn’t exactly sure why. He had been polite and, although he was in very good shape, he wasn’t a large man. He didn’t even look all that menacing. Under different circumstances, in a bar perhaps, she would have been more than happy to meet him…maybe quite a bit more.

“I’d prefer if you call me Eric,” he said calmly and politely without a smile.

“Ok, Eric,” she said with a sigh of relief. Adam was right, he was the most polite prisoner she’d ever met. “You can call me ma’am or Marshall Sindel. Up to you.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.

For the next two hours she drove down the highway while her passenger sat in the back quietly watching the road. He didn’t fall asleep and he didn’t talk her ear off. It was a very strange ride.

She pondered her strange passenger as she drove. He was only twenty nine. Not much older than she was. If he wasn’t a wanted felon perhaps they could have hit it off. He seemed nice yet commanding. Definitely someone she would have fallen for. She certainly would have gone for his looks. It was a good thing she was on her vacation from men and a good thing he was a prisoner. Her fear seemed unfounded but she couldn’t shake the feeling that this man could be dangerous if he wanted to. He just didn’t want to, at least not with her.

As she was daydreaming an explosion rang out. Amanda swerved the car while hitting the brakes and barely stopped before plunging the car into the ditch.

“What the hell was that?!” she exclaimed. Her heart was beating loudly and her breath was uneven. Did she run over a grenade? After a few moments to clear her head she got out of the car and inspected the damage. She noticed Eric’s expression as she passed his window. Was the angry killer afraid of a car wreck? He looked terrified and kept searching the road as well as the empty field beside them. She could tell it wasn’t the explosion which frightened him. What was he so afraid of?

When she reached the back tire she saw the mess her tire was in. It hadn’t just gone flat, it had exploded. Maybe not like if she’d hit a grenade but still…it looked serious. This was just wonderful. Now she would have to put on the doughnut, get to the nearest town at fifty miles an hour and pray they had the right sized tire.

After changing the tire she hopped back in and looked at Eric in the mirror.

“What’s the look for?” she asked. When he didn’t answer she asked it differently. “Why are you so scared?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he replied, his fear fading. Within seconds he looked angry again.

She shrugged this off and headed out slowly. If he didn’t want to be civil she didn’t have to be either. This trip could be boring and uncivilized if that’s the way he wanted it. Just wait until the hotel room. She could be very uncivilized if she put her mind to it.

Within an hour they had found a small town with a local garage. The man who was working there said he could get a tire but, after a few phone calls, said it wouldn’t be there until the morning. It was actually better news than she had hoped for. Feeling like things might still be going her way she got them a room, attached Eric to the bed with handcuffs and proceeded to relax with her newest book but this didn’t last long.

Not only was the man in the bed beside hers better looking than the man in her novel, she couldn’t stop herself from picturing Eric as she read through the sex scene. Despite his indifference that bordered on anger, he was very attractive.

After a few minutes of listening to Eric trying to get comfortable, she decided that being uncivilized was boring. They were going to spend a few days together, not speaking the whole trip would ruin her vacation. Not to mention, not speaking let her mind wander in places it shouldn’t.

“So,” she started and let the word hang. When he didn’t reply she smirked and continued. “Looks like we’ll be stuck together a while longer than I expected. Feel like sharing anything? Got any questions?”

“I’m fine,” he replied brusquely.

“Any food allergies I should know about when I order our dinner?” she asked. It was like trying to force a child to take medicine. What was he so afraid of her finding out?

“Not hungry,” he replied, still staring at the ceiling angrily.

This was getting her nowhere and causing some frustration as well. Perhaps it was time to try the vinegar since the honey wasn’t working.

“I’d offer you a book but you don’t look like the reading type.” She felt vindicated but his response left her wanting.

“Not interested,” he replied.

His response took all the fun out of it. If he wasn’t going to get upset at her jabs what was the point? Now she was really frustrated but not in the way she’d originally imagined.

“I think I’ll take a shower,” she said and put the book down on the bed. “You just sit there all nice and cozy until I’m done.” She said this spitefully but he didn’t even notice. “You can’t take a shower with those on. So I guess you’ll just have to make due until we get to Washington.”

“I figured as much,” he replied and continued staring at the ceiling.

She fumed at his response, stopped and stared right at him. She envisioned eye lasers coming from herself and Eric catching fire but even this funny mental image didn’t calm the burning anger inside her.

“Now I consider myself a nice person but you’re really starting to piss me off,” she said with her hands on her hips.

“Most people think they’re nice until they meet someone they don’t like,” he replied with the same, almost angry, expression. “Let’s get one thing clear.” He turned his head to stare right at her. “It’s my fault a man is dead and I just want to be left alone. I’ll take my punishment but I won’t be telling you my life story. I’ll be respectful and listen to your instructions but I WILL NOT be telling you a single thing about myself.”

Her mouth fell open and anger festered inside her. He was intentionally trying to piss her off wasn’t he? She stormed to the bathroom and slammed the door. He had seemed polite at the police station. Why was he so angry? A better question was. Why was she so angry? He hadn’t insulted her. Eric was actually calm and honest. Perhaps a bit too honest. She had been expecting belligerent or chatty but what she got was neither. He was polite and kept to himself. Most people would consider that a blessing but not her. Why was that? Why was it so important for her to know so much about her prisoner?

Amanda pulled off her tank top and was startled by Miraven who had appeared and was sitting on the dirty counter.

“Damn it, Miraven! Why do you always have to scare me?” Amanda asked while continuing to undress.

“Why do you always have to be naked?” Miraven asked with a laugh.

“It’s a bathroom. I’m taking a shower. And I’m not naked yet. If you don’t like it then quit sneaking up on me in the BATHROOM.” She said the word loudly and deliberately to get her point across. Why was she so angry with Miraven? It wasn’t her imaginary friend she was angry with, it was herself. Or maybe it was Eric. Was she actually angry with Eric because he wouldn’t even acknowledge her snide comments? Or was it because he wouldn’t tell her anything about himself? Maybe a little of both.

“So, how’s the vacation going?” Miraven asked cunningly.

“Wait…what is that supposed to mean?” Amanda asked as she removed her pants, then her underwear and stood in front of Miraven completely naked. At least she could get a rise out of her friend. Maybe that would ease some of this frustration.

“Oh geez,” Miraven complained and threw a towel at Amanda but she threw it aside.

“Oh no! You want to talk to me in the bathroom. This is what you get,” she laughed then got in the shower. The warm water felt wonderful and she nearly forgot Miraven until she spoke.

“How is your vacation going with him in the next room?” she sounded like she was enjoying it way too much. “You’re naked. He’s chained up. That give you any ideas?”

“Oh shit! I’m trying to tell myself I’m attracted to him?!” she shut off the water, unable to enjoy the shower any longer and grabbed a towel. As thoughts raced through Amanda’s head she knew it was true. Picturing Eric instead of the hero of her novel, getting so frustrated because of his indifference, that was exactly what her problem was. She was attracted to Eric and not just a passing fancy like the sheriff or Deputy Gile. This was more like how she had felt when she first met Todd. This was bad, very bad. She couldn’t fall for Eric. He was a murderer and her prisoner.

“Maybe that’s why you’re so angry,” Miraven suggested.

“Well, that can’t happen. At most, he will be fantasy fodder. He’s going to jail for a very long time,” she complained. Even as the words came out of her mouth, she knew she wasn’t just lying to Miraven. She was lying to herself as well. If given the chance, she would probably forget everything and sleep with Eric if he showed the slightest interest. It was what she always did. She fell for the guys she wasn’t supposed to. Then a thought occurred to her and she looked around the bathroom. She had forgotten her clean clothes.

“What if he didn’t do it?” Miraven asked.

“He says he did,” she answered absentmindedly while trying to figure out how to get her clean clothes without walking in front of a prisoner in just a towel.

“And you believe him? Even you wouldn’t fall for that.” Miraven snickered. “Did he actually say he killed the man?”

“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?” Amanda asked, ignoring the second question for now. She was paying full attention to her tormentor now.

“I’m just saying. A scruffy face, a pretty smile and you buy anything they’re selling. Don’t deny it,” Miraven prodded. “And I’m sure you noticed his body. Who wouldn’t?” Miraven winked.

“Ok, fine! I’ve had my problems with attractive men in the past but this is the new me,” she said and couldn’t help but notice the look on Miraven’s face. Miraven wasn’t buying any of it. “What?! Fine!” she surrendered. Instead of arguing she decided to pull one of Miraven’s tricks. She completely ignored the current conversation and addressed Miraven’s other questions. She wasn’t about to admit how much she was attracted to Eric, even to her imaginary friend. “I did notice he was a bit too adamant about it though. And no, he didn’t exactly say he killed the man. His wording caught my attention too. I wasn’t that blinded by him.”

“What reason would a man like Eric have to admit to a crime he didn’t commit?” Miraven asked, making a show of putting her finger to her chin.

“He was paid off?” Amanda asked.

“Nope. A man like that can’t be bribed,” she answered.

“No. He is a bit too honest,” she thought more. “Blackmail.”

“You really think Mr. Honesty out there has ever done anything worthy of blackmail?” Miraven asked with her eyebrows raised.

“Ok, no. Then he’s…protecting someone.” Amanda looked at her faithful friend whose look was a mixture of ‘I told you so’ and pity.

“Oh that’s just great!” Amanda shouted and leaned on the counter.

Eric’s voice carried through the door.

“Everything alright in there?” he asked.

“I’m fine!” Amanda replied.

“What’s great dear?” Miraven asked with a knowing smile.

“I want to sleep with a guy who isn’t even guilty but he’s still my prisoner. And I thought I was messed up before. Holy hell!” Amanda looked distraught so Miraven eased up.

“Well, I need to go but let me give you some advice,” she said.

“What advice could you possibly give me that would keep me from doing something really stupid and ruining my career?” She paused and thought about what she was saying. “Other than don’t do it. Which is pretty damn obvious.”

Miraven smiled at her kindly.

“One step at a time dear. First figure out how to prove he’s innocent. Or, at the very least, get him to admit it to you.” Miraven boosted herself off the counter and waited by the door.

“What good will it do if he tells me? I’m just transportation. What can I do?” Amanda asked.

“And didn’t you find that flat tire a little too convenient? I mean…he was scared of something…or someone.” Miraven looked at Amanda with one eyebrow raised then opened the door and vanished.

The door was open so Amanda made her move. She scoured the room with her eyes, looking for her bag, the one with her clean clothes in it. When she spotted it she made a mad dash for it then sprinted back to the bathroom. Had he had seen her? She was certain she felt his eyes on her. Maybe it was her imagination. Maybe she kind of liked the idea of him looking. After getting dressed she walked out casually and he was still staring at the ceiling.

She flopped down on the bed and huffed then whispered to herself. “Well that was anti-climactic.”

After a few moments of fuming she noticed Eric making a face other than his permanent angry face. He looked like he was going to be sick and was sniffing the air.

“What?” Amanda asked loudly, clearly annoyed.

“Something in here stinks,” he said, disgusted.

“Well it’s not me! I just took a shower,” Amanda argued.


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