Excerpt for Enchanted (Torn, Book 1) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


By M.D. Bowden

Enchanted (Torn, Book 1)

By M.D. Bowden

Copyright © M.D. Bowden 2017

All Rights Reserved.

M.D. Bowden has asserted her moral rights to be identified as author of this work. No part of this book may be reproduced without prior permission in writing from the author. All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living, dead or living dead, is entirely coincidental.

















A Terrible Idea

Nothing’s Wrong

Everything’s Wrong



Over … For Now

From The Author

By M.D. Bowden


I pull out my phone to reply to a text and sit on one of the concrete steps by the river path – even though it’s damn freezing! I pull my coat tighter around my chest and look at the screen, glowing in the dark. I hear footsteps approaching and try to ignore them, they sound heavy and masculine, and at this time of night I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention. I keep my eyes on my phone, but as he walks past I glance up and a young, very good-looking man meets my eye.

“Hi,” he says, giving me a half smile, and continues on his way towards The Quay.

“Hi,” I murmur back.

As he walks away I watch his back. He is tall, well over six foot, with dark brown wavy hair. Unlike a lot of tall guys he doesn’t look lanky, in fact he looks fit and muscular. Nice.

He fades away into the darkness and I get back to my feet, pocketing my phone, and continue home after a night out with my friends. I can still hear his footsteps, and the gentle movement of the water, along with the odd car going over the bridge. Up ahead I can see the glow of lights around The Quay.

To my left I catch a glimpse of movement from the grass above the steps, and as I turn towards it there is a blur of movement and suddenly someone is standing right next to me. I squeal, putting my hand on my heart as it starts to hammer, and step back towards the water, my eyes trying to focus on the man whose face is in shadow.

My eyes slowly adjust and I see he is gorgeous. He’s about the same height as me with a nice bone structure, a good jaw, and dark eyes, with his hair shaved close to his head. His mouth quirks into a leer.

“Hello,” he says, although his voice doesn’t sound friendly, but somehow seductive and threatening.

He steps towards me and I step back, aware that the river is behind me and I can’t step back any further. He’s staring at me, just staring, not saying or doing anything else, and I can hardly breathe. He has been quiet too long, just looking at me, and it feels very wrong – I desperately want to get away. I try and sidestep him, but he copies my movement, while looking directly into my eyes, challenging me; to do what I don’t know.

My throat feels constricted; I feel I should say something, but I’m too scared to talk. I sidestep again, and he grabs my arm.

“I don’t think so, you’ll fall in the river, and I don’t fancy going in to get you,” he taunts.

I want to run, or even jump in the river if that’s what it takes to get away from him, but I have a horrible sense that whatever I do won’t work; this guy radiates power.

He makes a sudden movement, lunging forwards with his teeth exposed, like he’s going to nip me on the neck – what the hell?!! I try to move back, but his grip turns painful and he pulls me closer, laughing loudly. I want to run so badly but it’s like my body is out of my control, and my breath is coming in short shallow gasps. I try to struggle again but it’s hopeless – he’s too strong.

He looks directly into my eyes and opens his mouth wide. I stare, horrified, as his canines change, lengthen, and turn into fangs; long, white and pointed. I try to scream but no sound comes out. I struggle backwards, forgetting about the water, but he lunges for my throat. His teeth sink into my skin and the pain is searing; I feel like I’m being ripped, sucked hollow … like my insides are leaving me as—

Something collides with us and I’m falling, my back hits the water … an icy sting … and my face goes under.

Weird sounds, muffled shouts, stillness, sinking … I hit the bottom. This does something to me, jerks me back awake, and I start to move. I push with my hands and feet against the bottom, but they sink into the mud. I pull them out and flap, pushing my arms against the water, pushing myself up, and then my head breaks the surface.

I cough, not even having realised I had water in my lungs, and cough again, revolting water coming up. I cough again, and then gasp for air, half aware of fighting on the shore, but most of my awareness on myself … physical sensations … I gasp again, and then cough, paddling, desperate not to go back under.

Two more coughs and I manage a normal breath, and I wipe off my face and the water from my eyes and then I look to the bank, just in time to see a streak of blackness as my attacker flees. The other man, the one who walked past before, is climbing into the water and swimming towards me. Before I can object he is behind me and his arms are wrapping around my chest, and he’s pulling me to the side, out of the water. He’s laying me down on the concrete surface of the path, and hitting my back. I cough again, and feel so weak, so cold … like everything’s fading away … the night is disappearing….


I come to, eyes still closed, but it’s very, very bright, so I squeeze them shut tightly and listen to the sounds around me. Voices, footsteps against sticky floors, things being pushed on wheels. I can smell disinfectant. My neck hurts, as do my lungs and my head.

An image of a man with fangs exposed pops into my mind, and then what happened rushes back, and my heart starts pounding. I open my eyes, scared of what I might see. For a second I squint at the brightness, but then I manage to see, and prop myself up a bit, and look around properly. I’m on a ward with other patients and there’s an IV in my arm. My mum is beside me, slouched down in a chair and asleep. I scan everywhere I can see, everyone, and it all looks fine: I can’t see that man.

My heart rate starts to slow and I take a deep breath and relax back onto my pillows, comforted by my mum’s presence. What happened last night? And how did I get here? That man who attacked me … as I think of him I feel cold inside. It was like a vampire horror movie, and I was so scared. How could it have happened?

Then there was the guy who saved me. What happened to him?

There’s a movement next to me and I look over at Mum.

“Ava!” she says, worry lines instantly replaced by a smile.

She gets up and hugs me. I give her a one-armed hug back, not wanting to get my IV line tangled.

“Hi Mum,” I say. “I’m sorry.” And then I can’t help it, it’s like flood gates open and I start to cry, shaking as I do.

“Shh, Ava, shh,” Mum says, as she keeps holding me.

She carries on holding me, making gentle noises until I calm down, and then she takes my hand, sitting perched on the edge of my bed. “Tell me what happened.”

“I don’t know! Well, I do know, but you won’t believe me. No-one will believe me…”

“Tell me,” Mum says, a soft command.

I describe everything I remember, sobbing again at the end. I can feel my mum’s hand shaking in mine, even though her look is still gentle and caring.

“Ava, I’m sorry this happened to you,” she says, hugging me again. She doesn’t question what I tell her, whether she believes it or not. “Your injuries are consistent with what you say happened, and the doctor says you lost a lot of blood. You’ve had a blood transfusion, and the skin at your neck is torn.”

“Will it heal? Will I be ok?”

“Yes, the doctor said you will be, and it will heal, although you may have a scar.”

I nod, my eyes filling again.

“The guy you described, the one who saved you; he was here when I arrived.”

My eyes clear and widen.

“I agree with you that he’s good-looking!”


“He called an ambulance and rode in with you, staying by your side until I was here.”

“Really? For how long?”

“We got a phone call from the hospital at half past two in the morning. I was here within two hours.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You shouldn’t walk home alone again,” she says, her eyes watery but her gaze serious.

“Believe me, I won’t.”

“Dad is upset he couldn’t come, but we had little Penelope overnight, so he had to stay with her.”

Penelope is my older sister’s child, she’s only two and a handful.

I close my eyes for a moment, but then the man’s face, his vampire face, flashes before my eyes again. I open them right away, not looking forward to trying to sleep tonight.

Mum gets up and pulls a piece of paper out from the clipboard at the end of my bed. “The guy who saved you – he left you a note,” she says, giving me an annoying, knowing look. “I’ll just pop out and call your dad while you have a look.”

I prop myself up on the pillows, wincing at the pain in my head, and look at the sheet of paper. There is a brief scrawl in large right-slanting writing.


Saved your ass last night, you better call me.


Under that is a phone number.

My heart beat speeds up again, but in a more pleasant way this time, slightly shocked and also intrigued. And scared of ringing him! But I will – he did save me. I owe him a phone call at least.

I fold the piece of paper up and put it on the table next to my bed, groaning when I see my phone. It seems pretty unlikely it would have survived last night, even if by some miracle I did. I try to turn it on and no luck. Great. Well, that will slow down my response to Alfie’s message.

It is the following day before I am allowed out, after being asked lots of questions by doctors and police, and pumped with fluids and medicines. My sister has her kid now so my dad has joined us and they take me back to my place, which is by the very river I was attacked on, but further along. It is a flat above a weir, so I am surrounded by other people, even if I can’t see them.

After lots of hugs, warnings to be careful, and commands to call if anything is wrong, they finally leave me alone. But it feels weird after being surrounded by people in hospital, and after what has happened, and I feel uneasy. I open my laptop and send messages to my best friends, Trish and Mark. They agree to come over after they finish at university, which leaves me with four hours to myself. I still feel weak after what happened, and can’t face walking into town, or working, so I while away the time searching for a new phone online.

After what feels like forever Trish and Mark show up with pizza. We have all been friends since primary school and spend so much time together. Even though I did not need to move for my job I decided to move to Exeter with Trish and Mark as I did not want to be away from them, and I thought it would be fun to have a change of scene, and live somewhere with a more varied night life. Although getting bitten in the night was not exactly what I had in mind.

“What’s happened to your neck?” Trish says. Trish is gorgeous-looking, with wild dark brown curls. At the moment her hair is cut down to her chin at the front, but much shorter at the back. She has brown eyes and the cutest little upturned nose, which is splattered with freckles. Her personality is as wild as her hair.

“You are seriously pale,” observes Mark. Mark looks slightly funny to be honest, with his hair styled so it sticks up all over the place, and it is black with blue streaks, which go with his bright blue eyes. His clothing isn’t as eccentric as his hair – jeans and a hoody is his standard. The three of us are all about five foot eight.

“Thanks,” I say, rolling my eyes.

Once they are both in we sit down on my sofa and I tell them everything. This time I manage it without tears.

“We saw a poster this morning, warning about attacks,” Trish says.

“If we’d seen it before we went out last night we would have never let you walk home alone!” says Mark.

“It’s not your fault! I chose to walk home alone. What did the poster say?”

“It was up in our Hall. It warned against going anywhere alone – said people had been killed,” says Trish.

I pale. “Killed?”

She nods.

“How many people?”

“It didn’t say,” says Mark.

He picks up my laptop, signs in and gets Google on the screen. I watch him type in ‘Exeter murders’, feeling queasy.

There are lots of hits. Turns out a guy was killed last night in the city centre. A girl the week before. Other people are missing.

“At least I’m alive,” I say, taking in a deep breath to try and feel ok.

Trish leans towards me, peering at my bandage. “Have you had a look at it?”

I shake my head. “No! I’m too scared.”

“I think we should look, see if it really does look like you were bitten by a vampire,” Trish says.

“Most definitely,” adds Mark, sitting forwards.

Trish gets to her feet and extends her hand. “Let’s do it in front of the mirror so we can all see at the same time!”

“But no! What if it’s horrible?” I squeal.

“It will be horrible,” Mark says, “but we need to know.”

I hold my hand over my neck. “I’m worried it will look disgusting.”

“It will,” says Mark, leaning forwards and raising his eyebrows a few times in quick succession.

“Ignore him,” says Trish. “How about we stand in front of the mirror, I hold your hand, and Mark gently,” she shoots him a narrow-eyed look, “removes the plaster.”

I raise my shoulders in defeat and take Trish’s hand. She hauls me off the sofa and Mark follows us into my little bathroom. There is a mirror above the sink, which I stand in front of and take a deep breath. Trish squeezes my hand and Mark stands just behind us. He pulls back my near-black hair and pushes it over my right shoulder and out of the way. The plaster is a white two inch square patch, sealed around the edges with a white tape. Mark starts to pull the tape back while I grip Trish’s hand tighter and squeeze my eyes shut. Unfortunately it’s as unpleasant as having a normal plaster removed.

The plaster comes away and I keep my eyes closed. Trish and Mark are silent.

“Is it horrible?” I whisper.

“It’s not as disgusting as you feared,” says Mark.

“But it is worrying,” adds Trish. “Open your eyes.”

Tentatively I do as she says, and lean closer towards the mirror so I can see better; there are two marks, deep red with dried blood, each looks like a small circle with a line just over a centimetre long trailing away from it.

“It does look like a vampire bite,” Trish says quietly.

“It does look like you were bitten, but then the teeth ripped your skin above it when he was pulled off you.”

I look from the bite to my pale face. My brown eyes stand out against the colour of my skin. And then I look back to the bite.

I feel sick.

“Please can you cover it up again. A nurse gave me some clean pads,” I say, and gesture to the bag on the floor that contains them.

Mark nods and gets on with it, while I close my eyes again.

When he is finished I look at my friends and say, “I know what it looks like, but I can’t process it now. I need a break from thinking about it, from talking about it…”

“No problem,” says Mark. “Pizza and movie coming right up.”

Trish gives me a hug. “We won’t talk about it tonight sweetie. Let’s kick back and relax.”

After we’ve eaten pizza I pull out the note from Alfie and pass it to Trish. She reads it, wide-eyed, and then passes it to Mark.

“Nice,” he says, and passes it back to me, grinning.

“What should I do?”

“Ring him of course!” says Trish.

“I don’t know…” I say.

“You could just text him,” says Mark.

“Great idea,” I say, feeling like I’ve been let off a scary ordeal. It’s ridiculous that I should be worried about calling him after what happened the other night, but it is a whole different realm of fear.

Trish chucks me her phone to use, and my heart pounds a little harder as I work on writing a text. In the end this is what I plump for:

‘Thank you for the rescue. Ava’

He doesn’t keep me waiting long:

‘No problem. But I think you owe me one. ;-)’

‘Hmm … what did you have in mind?’ I shoot back.

‘Your company. Meet me tomorrow outside The Waterfront.’



‘Alright then. See you tomorrow.’

‘Looking forward to it. Alfie’

I look up at my friends who are obviously staring, and I grin. “That was easy!”

“He must be keen,” says Trish.

I shrug, and laugh. “He may be hot, but I don’t know whether we’ll get on. He must be a good guy though as he did save my life.”

Trish nods and grins at me.

We watch films until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer, then crash out. Trish sleeps on a mattress on my floor and Mark sleeps on the sofa. I wake regularly through the night, dreaming I am being attacked over and over. When I open my eyes and see light streaming in around the edges of the blind I am relieved it is morning.

Trish is still sleeping quietly so I lie in bed wondering what it will be like meeting up with Alfie later, feeling both excited and apprehensive. Five minutes of wondering is all I get as her alarm goes off, and then there is a frenzy of activity as they get themselves ready for lectures.

Soon it is time for them to leave.

“Just think of us listening hard in our special relativity lecture while you’re meeting up with a hot guy,” Trish says, rolling her eyes.

I pull a scared expression.

“You’ll love it! You never meet up with men,” Trish says.

“Apart from me,” Mark says.

“But he doesn’t count,” says Trish.

“Hey!” Mark objects.

“You’re not date material because we’ve known you forever,” Trish says.

Mark makes a pseudo-hurt face.

Trish and I laugh, and then the three of us group hug.

“Have fun in physics,” I say to them. “Thanks for staying with me.”

“No probs,” says Mark. “Enjoy your hot date.”

He winks at me, and I whack him on the arm.

“Stay safe,” Trish says.


I go back into my flat and close the door behind me, reassured that it is light outside, but wondering how I will cope with tonight on my own. I’m not meeting Alfie until two p.m. so I spend the morning working on a new website which someone has commissioned me to design for them. It is not anything particularly interesting, a shop site, but it is well paid.

I eat a quick lunch (during which my new phone arrives!) and then spend ages debating what to wear, before choosing a dark blue long-sleeved top, tight jeans and brown knee-high boots. I cover most of this with my warm coat, which nearly reaches down to my knees, and wrap a fluffy black scarf around my neck – which has the added bonus of covering my wounds.

The Waterfront is on The Quay, only a five minute walk along the river from my flat. As I approach the pub I spot him immediately, how could I not? He is taller than anyone else in sight. He is looking out at the water, leaning against the veranda by the outside seating of the pub. He is also looking gorgeous, definitely as good-looking as he appeared in the dark. He looks younger than I had thought though, maybe the same age as me. I walk towards him, trying to breathe normally and not hyperventilate. He looks up and his face breaks into a wide smile which shows his teeth.

I smile back, but not in such a relaxed way as him. “Hi,” I say, and then unnecessarily I add, “I’m here.” I feel so foolish.

“I can see,” he says, and chuckles. “How are you feeling?”

He has dimples. It’s very cute.

I shrug. “I think I’m ok now, but kinda freaked out by it all.”

“I don’t blame you,” he says, meeting my eyes, and it seems like he is trying to convey some hidden meaning, like he knows more than I do.

I ask, “What do you want to do?”

His eyes twinkle mischievously. “Hire a boat. You up for that?”

“Sure, sounds like fun.” And will give us something to do so I feel less awkward – I am so no good at situations like this.

The boat hire place is only a few feet away, so we go over and wait. While he is arranging our vessel I am free to watch him. He is wearing baggy blue jeans, a casual checked shirt, and a scruffy old leather jacket. Over one shoulder he is carrying a rucksack. He is very large, I am guessing six foot four, and well built, making me feel quite petite even though I am five foot eight and not at all skinny, just a normal weight. His face looks like it will be rugged and masculine when he is older, but it is a lot more boyish than his body suggests. His hair is naturally wavy and looks unstyled.

He hires the boat for four hours! Yikes. It is a rowing boat with one set of oars. He gestures for me to go first, and I climb in, the boat wobbling, me trying not to fall into the river again – that is something I could do without.

Alfie practically jumps in, making the boat wobble violently, but he has such good balance he just laughs at my expression, sits in the middle of the boat, tosses his rucksack on the boat floor behind him, and takes up the oars. He paddles us away and down the river, while I rest back and look around, up at the bank as we go past the shops and pubs.

As the lock gates to the canal are closed we have to carry the boat from a landing stage to get past the gates and into the canal. It is seriously heavy, and I suspect that Alfie is taking most of the weight. I feel happier once we’re back in the boat and Alfie is rowing again. For a bit I don’t say anything, but keep meeting his eyes and smiling. After a while I start to feel more relaxed.

“Thank you so much for the other night. I’d probably be dead if it wasn’t for you,” I say.

For once he doesn’t smile, anger flashes across his face. “You would be. But it’s no problem; saving people from vampires is what I do.”

Oh my God, did he just say that? I gape at him, unsure what to say.

He laughs. “I’m not crazy! But you know it was a vampire that attacked you, even if you don’t believe it.”

“How can I believe it?” I shake my head. “How can it have been a … a … vampire? I must have been seeing things… I can’t have seen his teeth grow like that … it must have been the light. He probably had fake fangs. Extra sharp ones.” I look across at Alfie, challenging him to enlighten me.

“Extra sharp fake fangs?” He laughs again, but in an affectionate way. “Nope, they were real, and vampire fangs do that growing thing you just described, just before they feed. You are not delusional. Neither am I.”

“Huh,” I say, my mind reeling, no idea what to think. “And you regularly save people from vampires?”

“That’s a fact, but I don’t regularly take them on boat trips,” he meets my eye and smirks.

I raise my eyebrows at him.

“You think I’m crazy,” he says, and laughs again. He has a great laugh, and I wonder how he can take this all so lightly. “But I’m not. I’ll show you; prove it.”


“Because you are very pretty and I’d like to get to know you better. But I have a feeling that won’t work too well if you think I’m a loon.” He laughs again, but this time like it is some secret joke.

I feel my cheeks heat. He is so confident! He doesn’t seem at all embarrassed by what he just said. I watch his face as he looks around us at the scenery; we are now away from the houses which line the area around The Quay, we have passed my flat – which I didn’t point out to him in case he really is crazy – and are out into a more rural area, surrounded by reeds and trees, although there is a canal path near us and we still see the odd couple walking past, so we are not entirely alone. Regardless of his light-hearted manner, he seems deadly serious about this vampire business. I don’t know what to think. He seems genuine though, and I don’t feel threatened by him, so feel I may as well go along with this and see where it leads.

Also, something did attack me and I’d like to know more.

Suddenly he grins at me. “Your turn.”

“Ha, you’re going to regret this,” I say, getting down on my knees and shuffling to the centre of the boat, while he stands and makes a show of balancing around me.

He whistles nonchalantly, looking around us, while I get to grips with holding the oars the right way. I push them against the water and we do move: closer and closer to the bank.

I catch him smirking. “Hey! It’s tricky with going backwards and all.”

“Very tricky.”

He doesn’t seem bothered at all, or inclined to provide any advice, so I push harder into the water with one oar, trying to change my trajectory, but to no avail. There is a grating sound and we come to a stop.

He grins at me.

“I told you you’d regret it!”

“You’ll get better; all you need is practice.”

“It’s a good job you booked this for a while then.”

“I’m in no hurry.” He has a look around; we are surrounded by reeds and under the shelter of a willow tree, its drooping branches nearly reaching our heads. “In fact, this seems like a good place for a break.”

He picks up his rucksack and stands up. The boat tilts and I grip onto the sides, scared the boat will capsize, but he expertly climbs over me and onto the land, taking the rope out of the boat and tying it loosely around the trunk of the willow tree.

“Come on!” he says, smiling wickedly.

I stand up very carefully and hold onto a bunch of wispy willow branches, which are quite crunchy with the remnants of autumn leaves, to ensure I keep my balance until I step onto the bank and sigh with relief. While I’ve been doing that Alfie has opened his rucksack and pulled out a waterproof-backed blanket, which he has spread out on a dryish patch of ground. He sits down and motions for me to join him. As I sit by his side he gets out two bottles of beer and a large bag of chilli crisps.

He opens a beer with his teeth, making me wince, and passes it to me.

“Thanks.” I’m not normally a beer drinker, but I take a sip and it is not too bad.

He opens his and downs half of it in one, then relaxes back onto his elbows.

“This is very nice,” I say. “Shame it’s not summer though, then it would be perfect.”

“Are you cold?”

“No, I’m wrapped up warm. Are you?”

“Nope, don’t get cold.”

“Not even after you jumped into the river to save me?”

“Nope, not even then – too much of an adrenaline buzz to feel it.”

“I didn’t get a buzz,” I say, thinking about my attacker.

“I’m sure you didn’t. Sorry I didn’t kill him for you.”

Not sure if he’s serious I ignore that comment. “Thank you for fighting him off. It’s horrible to think he’s still out there though – I really hope he hasn’t attacked anyone else.”

“He will, but we’ll catch him, don’t you worry.”


“My pack.”

“Your … err … pack?”

“I’m a werewolf, in case you hadn’t figured it. You know, werewolves, the traditional enemies of vampires, always at war, all that malarkey,” he says, laughing.

His face turns serious and he looks intently into my eyes. His eyes are a light brown with rings of golden amber. They are very appealing.

“I’m not kidding,” he says. “I’ll prove it to you at the full moon.”

I raise my eyebrows. I do not believe him, or I don’t think I do, but he is good company, and even if he is delusional, right now I would quite like him to be my friend as he is a lot of fun.

“That, I’d like to see,” I say.

He laughs and leans back, looking up through the branches of the tree at the white puffy clouds moving overhead across the sharp blue sky. “Good,” he says.

For a while we munch away at the crisps without talking. I ponder him and what happened the other night; it is very perplexing, I wonder what Trish and Mark would think if they knew what he had said? Would they tell me to get away from him? Maybe I should, but I don’t want to, and he did save my life, so he can’t be that dangerous.

We stay there until the sky starts to darken. “We should head back,” I say, eyeing the sky. “We’ll get stuck out here in the dark.”

“No we won’t, werewolf remember – I have great eyesight. You can practice with the oars until it gets dark, then I’ll get us back.”

I decide to trust him, and take the risk. Back in the boat I push an oar against the edge until we are far enough from the bank that I have some leeway to make us move. It takes a while to get back into the centre, but I do succeed, and after rowing for a while I get a little better and begin to enjoy it, but darkness eventually comes and I have to give the oars back to Alfie.

As he rows back to The Quay we chat about other things, no more about werewolves and vampires, just about music, movies and computer games. It’s pretty watching the lights of the city get closer, and by the time we get back it is completely dark. The man in charge of the boats has left for the day so Alfie ties ours up with the others and this time he actually acts like a gentleman and helps me out of the boat.

“What next?” he says, a cheeky smile spreading across his face. “Cinema?”

“What? You haven’t seen enough of me yet?”

He laughs. “I don’t think that’s possible.”

I consider it (while blushing!); it is either staying home alone freaking out about what happened, or spending time with the guy who saved me. Regardless of his possible craziness, I trust him after what he did; I feel safer with him than alone.

“Sure, why not?” I say.


We walk back along the river, towards the site of my attack, and my heart rate picks up.

“Don’t worry,” Alfie says, “I’ll protect you.”

He must be able to sense my fear, either that or he actually possesses some common sense.

I nod. “I can’t avoid this area forever.”

As we approach where it happened I see someone sitting nearby on the concrete steps that line the river. Alfie spots me looking.

“It’s not him,” he says.

“You can tell from here?”

“Yes, werewolf remember; great eyesight.” He laughs, and I give him a sideways look, scrutinizing him. “You’ll believe me soon – only a few days until the full moon,” he says, looking up at the sky. As he looks up a cloud exposes a three-quarters full moon, looming on the horizon.

“But if I watch you change … won’t you bite me?” I say, playing along. Although he did navigate us back along the canal with no problem – he is right about the great eyesight. And he did fight off my attacker. And according to the movies vampires have super-strength, therefore he must have super-strength to have fought him off. That is if that guy really was a vampire, and not some freak with very sharp false teeth who freaked me out so much that I imagined them growing, then Alfie could have just regular strong guy strength; he does look muscly, and he is very large.

As we pass the guy sitting on the steps I feel his eyes on me so I look up, and for a second stop walking, and just stare back at him. He is beautiful. Black hair, wavy like Alfie’s, but a bit longer. He looks delicate, but intense. Dangerous.

Alfie puts his arm on my back. “Come on Ava,” he says, in a low voice.

This jolts me back to the present, and I realise I am still staring at this guy, and he is staring back at me. His lips quirk at the side, and then he looks away at the river.

I start walking again with Alfie, embarrassed that I had such a reaction to the guy on the steps. Whatever possessed me to stop and stare at him? What must Alfie think?

“I don’t want you walking alone at night again,” Alfie says. “I’ll walk you home tonight.”

“Thanks, but are you sure? I could get a taxi.”

“It’s no problem.”

We walk on, chatting about computer games again, but I feel shaken by that guy. There was something about him – the way he looked at me. I feel unsettled, it is weird, and feeling unsettled takes me back to the night I was bitten, getting me thinking about it all. A vampire … and now I am with a guy who claims to be a werewolf – is he serious or just messing about?

I look at Alfie again, thinking about his strength, his size, the rings of amber in his eyes, his eyesight…

“What is it?” he says.

“Just wondering about you – do you really think you’re a werewolf?” I say, as we reach the main road. Even though it is dark it’s not late, so it’s noisy with cars and there are plenty of people on the pavements.

“I don’t just think it – I am it! It’s hard to ignore changing into a wolf once a month.”

“What’s it like?” I say, really having no clue what to think. If it wasn’t for how safe he makes me feel there is no way I would stick around.

“It’s exhilarating. A real rush. Great fun, running around with my mates.”

“Do you hurt people?”

“Not me – no way!”

“But werewolf legends talk about werewolves attacking people, biting them to make them turn, or to just kill them.”

“I would never do that!”

“But what about other werewolves in your pack?”

“No! It’s forbidden to hurt humans in my pack, and anyone who did would be chucked out. I have heard that other packs might, but I don’t know.”

“If you bit me would I turn?”

“Nope, it’s not like that; it’s a blood line thing. If you had a kid with me it might turn, but not you.”

Ignoring the comment about us having a kid together, I say, “Hey, what about vampires. I was bitten – I’m not going to turn into one, am I?”

He smiles, like he’s amused by my lack of knowledge. “Not unless he fed you his blood first, and then killed you, and if he did I must have missed that. And you’d be vampire already, munching on my throat. And you would have burned up in the sun.”

“They do that?”

“Well – let’s just say they can’t handle it well.”

He is either the best actor in the world, completely delusional, or telling the truth. It is very strange that I am not running, I am guessing I am in denial as a result of my ordeal.

“This is all so crazy,” I say, and look up at him. “You know that, right?”

He laughs loudly. “I know it must seem that way to you. To me it’s just life.”

“Are you allowed to tell me this stuff?”

“Yep, because you’re in the know; you saw one of those things. I can’t just divulge this secret info to any pretty girl to impress them.”

“I’m not sure it would be the best strategy anyway,” I say.

“You may be right,” he replies, still light-hearted.

We arrive at the cinema and spend a while debating what to see, before settling on a thriller. We buy large popcorn packs instead of dinner and munch through the movie. His upper arm leans against mine right the way through, but I don’t know if this is on purpose, or whether it is just because he takes up so much space. At one point we have a mini popcorn fight, until we get shushed. He is definitely a fun guy, good to be around, and very nice to look at, but I don’t know if I actually fancy him. And I kind of suspect that maybe he does fancy me – I hope it doesn’t get awkward.

“Do you want a drink?” Alfie says, as we walk out into the drizzly evening air.

“Thanks, but I’m tired. I don’t think I’ve quite recovered yet.”

“No problem, I’ll walk you back then.”

We walk back to the High Street and as we turn the corner I catch a glimpse of someone behind in the shadows. He looked a bit like the guy who was sitting on the steps near where I was attacked. I shiver.

“Are you alright?” Alfie says.

“Hmmm? Yeah, but think it will be some time before I get my head completely straight about all of this.”

“I think knowing the truth will help.”

I let that go for now, not sure there is much point continuing with my questioning. I feel like I want to wrap myself up in a ball on my sofa and watch a chick flick to take my mind off everything. I am not very communicative on the way back, and Alfie doesn’t push me to talk. Without the distraction of our conversation I feel more aware of my surroundings, the halos of streetlights, the buzz of traffic, footfalls of other people. And a sense that I’m being watched. It’s eerie. I think Alfie senses something too, as he keeps looking back over his shoulder.

I consider whether it is sensible letting Alfie know where I live, but to not let him know would mean walking some of the way alone, so I decide letting him know is the safer alternative. When we reach the weir, and I have to raise my voice above the sound of the water, I turn to the left and say, “I live up there,” pointing to my top floor flat.

“You live there on your own?” Alfie says.

“I do. I like it that way.”

He shrugs.

“Where do you live? Do you have far to go home?” I ask.

“It’s a way, but no problem. We’re staying a bit outside the city – I have a cabin; it’s cosy.”


“I don’t get cold remember! Anyway, when can I see you again?”

I shrug. “Don’t you have something you want to show me?”

“My transformation – yes! I’ll have a think about the best place to let you see, then will get back to you.”

“OK,” I say, wondering what he will do. I obviously don’t believe him. I think. I’m feeling very confused.

I give him my new phone number and then he leans forwards and kisses me on the cheek. “Night Ava.”

“Good night.”

He stands there watching until I have closed the door behind me. I watch through the glass window as he waves, then ambles away.


The next day my phone beeps while I’m working:

‘Ava, it’s me Alfie. Let me pick you up at 2 on Saturday and I’ll prove it’

I drum my fingers on the keyboard absentmindedly; I spent the night tossing and turning and wondering about everything he said, and all that had happened; wondering what I believed, what seemed right and what was possible. I could think about this situation forever and it would not get me to the truth.

‘See you then,’ I type back.

Four days and I would find out.


The buzzer at the entrance to the block of flats goes off and my heart leaps; I’m so jumpy since the other night. I run down the stairs to open the door and Trish and Mark are standing in the dark with big grins. Trish holds up a bottle of tequila, Mark a bag of ice and a bag of limes.

“Margaritas – yum,” I say, and stand aside so they can come in.

“Margaritas and dancing!” Trish says. “Let’s go to the same club again – it was so much fun, well, until the way home for you. We will come back here with you after so you’re not alone,” Trish quickly adds.

“It was fun,” I say, “I’m up for that – I need to move about after sitting at the computer all day.”

I had already filled them in, over the phone, on the details of my meet up with Alfie. They have insisted I keep my phone on so they can use it to track me if I end up dead. Very thoughtful. And reassuring.

Mark gets out the blender and throws in the ice, while Trish opens my cupboard in search of cocktail glasses. I juice the limes, then let her take over with the mixing. Mark pulls a chair back from the table and takes a seat, watching, looking far happier than the situation warrants.

Trish sees me watching him. “Mark met a girl yesterday – she said she’s going to go to the club tonight!” she says.

Mark blushes, his eyes all twinkly.

“Really, what’s she like?” I ask.

“Cute, very cute,” says Mark.

“She’s in one of our physics classes,” says Trish, handing out the cocktails.

We all raise our glasses and Mark says, “To best friends,” then we chink them against each other’s.

I take a sip, it’s so sour and salty, but with tequilary yumminess.

“So that’s why you’re up for going out on a Thursday,” I say.

“Hey, I’m always up for going out – I don’t take uni that seriously! And anyway – don’t have to be in until tomorrow afternoon.”

I laugh. He looks excited, and I hope he does see her so he doesn’t end up disappointed.

“When will we get to meet Alfie?” Mark asks.

“I’ll see whether or not he’s crazy first; but I think you’ll like him; he’s definitely very likeable.”

Trish and I sit down at the table with Mark, and his face falls serious.

“Have you seen the news today?” he says to me.

I shake my head, feeling a wave of cold pass over me. “What’s happened?”

“Two more people were killed last night; students from uni. They were found on the campus with neck trauma and blood loss,” he says, giving me a meaningful look.

“Oh God, I wonder if it was the same guy … or whether there are more … of them … out there,” I say.

Trish sits forward. “You have to both promise – no leaving the club tonight, not without us all together. Not even for a moment.”

“I promise,” Mark and I both utter.

“Were the victims together, or at different places on campus?” I ask.

“Different places. They didn’t know each other,” Trish says.

“I was just wondering how safe it is even going out in a group…” I say.

“But … I know this is awful … but there are thousands and thousands of people in Exeter. The chances of something happening to us … or happening again,” she says, looking at me, “are very, very small. The victims have all been found alone; no groups; and no-one has reported seeing what happened, or having escaped. We have no idea how long it will be until this stops … and we can’t stay in forever!”

“You’re right,” I say.

“Live for the moment,” Mark says, raising his glass.

We all chink glasses again, but this time in a more sombre fashion.

While we drink our drinks our conversation strays to the feasibility that vampires and werewolves could be real. We go through the same things over and over but none of us have a clue what to believe….

Three cocktails later and our mood has considerably lightened. We go out, wrapped up in warm coats and scarves, chatting and laughing. It is the first time I have been out after dark since Alfie walked me home after the cinema, and it feels liberating. I have spent too long cooped up at home.

We walk through the city centre; it is ten p.m. but there are still plenty of people about, although I notice there are not many people walking alone. We reach the club and stand outside queuing for five minutes before being ID’d and then finally let into the warmth. We deposit our coats in the cloakroom and then head into a dark corridor with little pinpricks of light guiding us towards the main room. I push open the double doors at the end and loud music pounds around us, lights flash and there are people jammed up against each other everywhere.

“I love this song!” shouts Trish, “Let’s dance, come on.”

She grabs my hand and pulls me towards the packed dance floor, while Mark winds around people to get closer to the bar. After a moment there are too many people between us to see him anymore, and I let myself be dragged into a tiny gap that Trish has found. The song is fast and I let it wash over me, through me, feel my body let go and just move with it. It is over a minute later, but I feel invigorated by the movement, and when the next song comes on I am moving again, and Trish is jumping around like the wild thing she is, creating a bigger space for us as people try to avoid her.

Trish waves and I look to see Mark by the side of the dance floor, putting our bottles of vodka and coke on a shelf. We dance over to him, or more like try to, as we squeeze our bodies between other people. Our dance space disappears in a second.

“Thanks!” I shout, and then glug back the sugary mixture.

Trish beams, and shouts something in Mark’s ear, gesturing to the side. Mark looks that way and blushes, making him look very brightly coloured with the blue in his hair. I figure it must be the girl they were talking about earlier so follow his gaze but can’t see who he is looking at, just lots and lots of people. He visibly takes a deep breath, and shouts something back in Trish’s ear, then picks up his drink and walks towards the girl he likes.

“He’s being brave,” I shout to Trish, and she nods. “Who is it?”

There’s no need for her to answer as I see Mark approach someone who is small and wearing a baby-doll white dress, and has gorgeous olive skin, but then some people move between us and he’s obscured from view.

“Ah, now we can’t watch him!” Trish says.

“He’d probably prefer it that way,” I say, and laugh.

We watch the people on the dance floor move as we finish our drinks, and it makes me want to join in. “Let’s dance again.”


This time I lead the way to find a space, wondering how things are going for Mark. I look around, but still cannot see him. I squeeze into the biggest space I can manage, and when I turn around I catch Trish sending a guy her sexy smile. I look the way she’s looking and see someone smiling back; someone very blond and yummy looking; and he’s moving our way. I start dancing and pretend not to notice, turning my back slightly on Trish so she can dance with him without me getting in the way.

For a time I lose myself while I’m dancing, and when I glance back towards Trish she is dancing tantalisingly close to the guy, and he looks like he’s enjoying it. She smiles happily at me. I grin back and keep dancing … until I need to pee. I shout in Trish’s ear where I’m going, and she shoos me away, so I leave her to it.

It takes bloody ages waiting to go to the loo, then working my way back. By the time I get to the dance floor again I can’t see Trish. Mark is still chatting to the girl he likes, and I don’t want to interrupt him, so I decide I had better dance on my own.

The music is loud and I’m surrounded by other dancers – it feels hypnotic. I sway, caught up in the song, but then someone puts their hand on my shoulder. I turn around to see who it is, and my breath leaves me – I recognise him straight away – it’s the guy who was watching me down by the river: the guy I couldn’t help but stare at.

Beautiful but dangerous.

He smiles at me, a slow, almost secretive smile, and starts dancing, looking into my eyes. His eyes are mesmerising and so black I can’t differentiate his pupils. He’s slightly taller than me, something I couldn’t tell last time I saw him as he was sitting down, and he has a fantastic bone structure – prominent cheekbones and jaw. And the way he’s moving to the music, subtle, coaxing, I can’t help but move with him. He puts his hand on my waist and I feel a cool shiver go down my spine; I can’t work out whether it’s from the thrill or from fear.

There’s something about him; it’s almost like he is too beautiful, ridiculous though that sounds. I feel very drawn to him, but scared at the same time; part of me wants to stay put and another part wants to run. But I remember what Mark said: Live for the moment, and decide I’ll take the risk.

As I move my hips to the music his hand stays on my waist, and he takes a step closer so our bodies are almost touching, but not quite. It’s very tantalising. All my nerve endings have become hyper-sensitive – I’m aware of his every movement and his closeness. His other hand brushes mine, and my hand flares with tingles in response. I look into his intense eyes and smile at him, and look down at his lips involuntarily. I quickly realise what I’ve done and look away as my cheeks heat.

He squeezes my waist gently in response and keeps dancing, the same tantalising distance apart. I want to move closer, but a thought occurs to me: I don’t know this guy, I haven’t said one word to him, or him to me. This is all about looks, or how he portrays himself. Silent signals. But that might be why this is such an irresistible situation – it’s such a mystery.

I look back at his face and his eyes meet mine in an instant. He holds my gaze as he slides his hand down from my waist, over my hip, to the top of my thigh, and then puts his other hand on my waist at the other side. Our faces are really close. I can feel his breath – it is cool on my lips, his lips so close, our bodies so close, and mine is almost screaming to move closer; so I do, and his lips are on mine.

For an instant.

Someone screams, not far away; it’s piercing, even over the music. We break apart, and there is another scream.

People are moving back, clearing an area not far from us, and we are pushed back, but I want to see what’s going on as there is a horrible cold dread growing in my heart.


There’s someone on the floor. I see blood at the same time as I see wild curly hair. I move closer, feeling detached from my surroundings, from reality. I’m on my knees.

“Trish,” I whisper, reaching for her shoulder, touching her, then shaking her.

There is blood on her neck. Lots of blood. More is seeping out, pooling around her.

“Trish!” I shout, pushing her over onto her back.

Her eyes are open. Vacant. “Trish!” I shout again, as if it will make some difference.

My eyes well up and overflow. “Trish,” I whisper again, sobbing, half aware of activity around me, someone pulling me back, lights coming on, and the music stopping. Someone in a uniform is bending over Trish. There are people shouting. There’s more sobbing next to me. Arms around me. Mark’s arms. We are being taken to the side, forced to sit down. Given water. Swarms of police. Paramedics. Everyone leaving.

My eyes clear and I watch as blue and white tape is put up around Trish. A police lady comes and sits with me and Mark; but I can’t say anything. I’m shaking. Someone puts a blanket over my shoulders and forces water into my hand; makes me drink it. I can hear Mark talking, but I can’t hear what he’s saying; I can’t take my eyes off Trish. I can see her curls. Her body. She’s lying there so vulnerable. So still.




Mark is crying hard by my side, and I can feel he is shaking too.

“I want to see her!” he’s sobbing.

“You can’t touch her body; it’s evidence,” is the reply from the police woman.

“Her parents…” I murmur.

“Mark has given us their number. They have been informed,” she says.

Informed. Imagine… I can’t imagine. I’m here and I can’t take it in; how will her parents understand?

Mark gives the police woman my details, and she says I will need to be questioned tomorrow. She asks us if we will be ok. Mark says he will stay with me. We are shunted away, my eyes on Trish until the last moment. We are put in a taxi. Then we are back at mine. Just like that, my mind out of it. Gaps in time.

We are inside my flat. I make us tea, slowly, numbly. We sit on the sofa, next to each other, holding our drinks. Not talking. Not drinking.

I look up at Mark, and as our eyes meet I can’t stop crying again. Neither can he.

“This feels so wrong,” he says. “How can it be?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know how this could have happened. Trish…”

We put our drinks down and Mark holds me in his arms. We sit there like that for a long time. It feels wrong to do anything. I can’t put on the TV; no distractions, no music. Everything feels wrong to do, like it would be disrespectful.

We lay down in the end, my head on Mark’s chest, and after a long time fall into a numb sleep.

When I wake up light is flooding into my living room. I am lying on Mark’s chest still, and can feel his rhythmic breathing and his warmth. My eyes feel puffy and uncomfortable, my head is killing and my throat dry.

Then I remember what happened. My mind freezes. Glazes over. I can’t think about it now. Can’t process it.

Slowly, so as not to wake Mark, I climb out of his arms and go to the sink and fill a large glass with water. I stand in the kitchen, looking out at the grey sky, until I have finished the whole glass. I spend a long time in the shower, hoping the water will wash away what happened, even though I know it can’t.

It did happen.

After I’m out of the shower I go into my room and slowly dress, getting ready for a day, like everything is the same. But my life is not the same. Trish isn’t here, and won’t ever be again.

I can’t believe it.

I hear noises, shuffling feet and a door. Mark is up. I hear the toilet flush and water run.

Part of me doesn’t want to see Mark. It is like seeing him will mean I have to face what has happened. But I know it’s unavoidable.

I go back out there and put the kettle on, keeping to routine, getting out the coffee, doing things as I normally would.

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