Mate's Appeal(2)

By: Robbie Cox

Stepping out into the dirt parking lot—everything was dirt and not pavement in Bull Creek—she took another deep breath and shook the agitation that had crept up on her inside the bar. The night was balmy with the Florida heat, and crickets could be heard off in the distance chirping their song. At least, Eve hoped it was crickets making that noise. Living in a paranormal community, one just never knew. Eve then giggled to herself as she shoved her hands in her pockets and continued walking, wondering if there were such a thing as bug shifters. So far, she had seen bears, panthers, coyotes, and wolves, had even heard of a vampire living at the edge of Bull Creek, and now a witch resided there as well. Still, that was about it as far as the supernatural. That didn’t mean, however, that there weren’t others out there she had no clue about. The one thing Eve had learned when moving to Bull Creek was that not everything was as it appeared all the time. Monsters were real, but not all monsters were evil.

Something moved off to her right, darting in the woods, rustling the lower brush. She tried to ignore it, hoping it was a natural creature scavenging in the woods for its nightly meal. Of course, it could be a shifter in animal form as well. Just a few days ago, Dimitri and Josh did patrols in their panther forms, guarding Bull Creek against the coyotes who wanted to drive out or slaughter the human population. However, things had quieted down since Bane and his goons were driven out or killed, so she doubted the rustling in the shrubs was anything with wicked intentions.

Even with Florida’s humidity, the night wasn’t as bad as usual. A slight breeze whispered through the trees, brushing against Eve’s sandy-blond hair as she walked the dirt road. She probably should have driven, but she didn’t live far, and walking always gave her a chance to clear her head and enjoy the quietness of the woods. Bull Creek was a safe haven, but even more, the small town, made up of cabins and supernatural creatures, was a quiet sanctuary far enough from the city that darkness could actually cover the area. Streetlights and the neon signs of businesses didn’t keep the night air lit up, making sure everyone knew the city was still open for business. Eve needed the quiet peacefulness of the small community and the residents who dwelt there. She looked forward to the weekly bonfires that Dimitri held to bring everyone together, the ladies night out at Everglades, and the camaraderie that she felt with those who made up the small town. This was her home, and furthermore, it felt like her home, more so than where she had lived before. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else now that she had found this place.

More rustling off to the side forced her to stop and this time pay attention to the bushes that were being rustled, the hair on the back of her neck standing up. She stared, peering with squinted eyes into the palm fronds and shrubs, but nothing appeared. You’re just imaging things, Eve ol’ girl. Yet, the feeling refused to leave her. The rustling stopped almost as soon as she did, and Eve worried that whatever she was staring at in the bushes stared right back at her. Okay, so I still get the creeps, even in this quiet town. Sometimes, quietness was just too…quiet.

A car rumbled down the street toward her, and Eve stepped off the road, but made sure to move in the direction opposite the rustling bushes. She waited for the car to pass, not wanting to risk walking on the edge of the woods and tripping over a fallen branch or into a hole and injuring herself. However, the car slowed as it neared her.

“Eve?” Alanna Bradbury said from the open window. “What in the world are you doing in the middle of the road?”

Eve glanced at the bushes one more time and then turned her gaze to Alanna. “I just left Everglades, and thought it a nice night for a walk.”

“Well, I’m heading home now. Want me to give you a lift the rest of the way?”

Eve would have said no under normal circumstances, but unable to shake the feeling that crept up her spine, she eagerly accepted Alanna’s offer. As she moved around the car, however, she kept her gaze on the section of the bushes where the noise had come from, not taking her eyes off the overgrown area until she was in the car and her door was locked.

“You okay?” Alanna asked, her brows pinched in concern.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Eve fastened her seatbelt, her attention still out the window. “Just a night for weird noises is all.”

Alanna laughed. “Honey, this is Bull Creek. It’s full of weird noises as well as loud moans and groans and cries of ecstasy.” She laughed harder as she continued down the road. “I thought you’d be used to all that by now.”

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