Blades of Sass(2)

By: Robbie Cox

Alanna laughed. “You whittle? Really?”

“I can learn,” Eve said, a smile curling her lips upward. As Alanna laughed, Eve couldn’t help but join her, the ridiculousness of her excuse apparent even to her. As they rounded the bend leading to Eve’s cabin, she said, “Let’s just say it’s a security blanket for now.” She took a deep breath. “Let’s head to my place. I could use some tea.”

Alanna nodded. “Sounds good.” Yet, it was obvious she wasn’t ready to drop the subject of the knife. “So, have you even used that knife on anything besides poor defenseless trees? What did those trees ever do to you anyway, you big meanie?”

Eve swiped her sandy-blonde bangs out of her eyes. “The noble trees around my cabin have sacrificed daily in order to help me with my proficiency with this knife. I’m sure they know the worthy cause for which they suffer.”

Alanna shook her head, her dark hair swishing across her back slightly as she did. “Trees are noble like that,” she said with a chuckle. “Of course, the fact that they have no choice…”

Eve shrugged. “What can I say? I’m not ready for a moving target yet.”

“So you have been practicing.” Alanna crossed her arms as they walked. “And just why are you practicing? Bane and his men are gone, the whole pack of mangy coyotes either dead or in hiding.”

Eve nodded, remembering quite well the battle her shifter friends fought just a couple of weeks ago in order to protect the humans in Bull Creek. It was over now, the coyotes gone. That should make Eve feel safe again, but the coyotes weren’t what worried Eve. Her past, however, scared the hell out of her. Eve shrugged, “I like to stay ready. Who knows when something might pop up again?” Her reply was weak, she knew, but she wasn’t exactly ready to spill her guts. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

Alanna nodded, her expression showing that, while she didn’t really believe Eve, she wasn’t going to press it any further. Alanna was one of the few who was around when Eve first arrived in Bull Creek and saw her battered condition. Yet, no one knew the reasons for her appearance and Eve never offered an explanation. That was the great thing about their small community. It was a safe haven for anyone who needed to escape their reality. Bull Creek was full of misfits and vagabonds, each oppressed in one way or another. All kinds of shifters resided here, as well as humans, and even a vampire or two stayed hidden on the outskirts of their community. While everyone knew that everyone else was there, hiding from something, no one asked what that something was. If people wanted to speak about it, there were shoulders to lean on, ears to listen. If they didn’t, then it remained their secret, as long as that secret didn’t spill over onto anyone else in Bull Creek. Eve didn’t think her secret would ever harm anyone else, but she wouldn’t take that chance. Ever.

She also wouldn’t take the chance that her secret would return and hurt her again. Once was enough. More than enough. Only one other person knew she was even in Bull Creek, her mother. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, Eve Hartlow vanished from the face of the earth.

“So, you’re telling me no one is sniffing around your skirts worth talking about?” Alanna asked, obviously ready to change subjects.

Eve shook her head, not really liking the rehash of the dating topic. “I haven’t really made myself accessible. As I said, like you, I’m just not ready. Not yet.” She shrugged.

Alanna glanced over at her, her expression sympathetic. “You know, if you ever need to talk about whatever it is you’re keeping inside, I’m all ears. Sometimes, it pays to talk it out. Get it off your chest. Helps you move on.”

“Thanks,” Eve said with a slow shake of her head. “But I’m not ready for that, either.” She wasn’t sure she’d ever be ready. While it was over six months ago, it was still extremely raw. Nightmares woke her up, screaming, leaving her shaking. She took a deep breath. She was tired of waking up shaking.

They turned down one of the streets leading to Eve’s cabin and the promise of sweet tea to cool them off. “We need another ladies night out. Take the edge off the monotony. The last one kind of ended poorly.”