Hunter's Moon (Chapter 40)

The hunter's moon had set. The sun had risen. Elise had returned with the moon and more serum.

"Just because the cure worked on Leigh before she changed doesn't mean it will work on Damien," she cautioned. "It could very well kill him."

"That's a chance I'm willing to take," Damien said. "Just do it."

"No," I said.

Everyone looked at me.

"Leigh," Edward patted my back, still scared, thank you very much. No magic cure for me. "Let Elise do her job. She has researched every cure ever written, every method even whispered. None work. This is the only way."

"I don't want him dead."

"You'd rather he was furry?" Jessie asked.

"Damn straight. I seem to recall your saying you wouldn't have cared if Cadotte was a werewolf."

Will glanced at Jessie. "You say the sweetest things," he murmured.

"Shut up, Slick. I was out of my head at the time." She turned to me. "Think about what you're saying, Leigh. That's no kind of life."

I moved closer to Damien, took his hand, held on when he would have pulled away. "It's no kind of life without him." I tightened my fingers. "Don't leave me. I need you."

He sighed and closed his eyes. "Leigh, I have to try."

I guess I had to let him.

Elise, her hands covered with protective, plastic gloves – I guess I couldn't blame her for being cautious – stuck the needle into Damien's arm, then released the serum into his veins.

"What's supposed to happen?" he asked.

"I have no idea. Why don't you step outside and see how you feel."

Elise had insisted on waiting until the moon was high in the sky before attempting the cure. That way we'd know immediately if it had worked or not.

I followed Damien out of my apartment and down the steps to the ground. The tavern was deserted, all of Hector's werewolves fled to parts unknown. Crow Valley was awful deserted, too. It was amazing how many residents had been secretly fanged and furry.

Damien kissed my forehead, touched my cheek. "I love you, too, you know."

"I know," I whispered.

He turned his face up to the moon and he changed.

Hours later I waited alone. Elise had returned to Montana with Edward. She had a lot of work to do, since it appeared her cure only worked before the initial change of the just bitten. She seemed more upset about that than I would have thought.

Everyone had given me their advice. Elise wanted Damien to be her guinea pig. Edward had offered him a job. Having a werewolf as a werewolf hunter wasn't a bad idea. Jessie and Will agreed. They thought we should be a tag team J-S unit.

I'd pretended to listen to them all while my eyes scanned the trees searching for Damien. Nothing mattered unless he came back.

The door opened. I could smell him – woods, wind, water – the man I loved.

"I don't care what you are," I said. "All I care about is who we can be together."

"We can never be parents, Leigh."

"Never is a long time. Give Elise a chance."

"What if she can't find a cure? What if I'm always a werewolf?"

"Wolves and werewolves do one thing right. They mate for life. We can, too."

"Having a family, a home, that white picket fence – it was your dream."

"Now you are."

I looked at him then, opened my palm, showed him the ring he'd worn, the one I'd taken and never given to anyone else,

"Marry me?" I asked. "Be mine forever."

He stared at the ring, then lifted his eyes to mine. "Forever means something different to me. Like this I'll never die, Leigh. And you will."

I'd thought of that, and I didn't care. In fact, I was glad. He'd be damn hard to kill – unlike everyone else I'd ever loved.

Besides, I'd learned something at last.

"We need to live for now, because tomorrow everything, hell, everyone, could change. If I have a day, a month, a century, I want to spend it with you."

He reached for the shiny circlet, lifted it to the waning silver night. I held my breath, half-afraid he'd take the ring and leave me behind.

"The werewolf and the werewolf hunter," he murmured, "we're going to have quite an adventure."

"I thought we already did."

Damien slipped his mother's ring onto my finger. "This is only the beginning."