One never really knows the choices one has to make in life until they are thrust upon them. Up until this moment, Lizzy Greenley had lived a sheltered life, protected from the outside world by her loving family but now she felt her world crashing down on her bruised shoulders. Glancing through the wooden boards of the rattling rail car at the rising sun’s flickering light, Lizzy could see a wall of green and brown beyond. She had lost track of the time but the train had moved into the northern forests of the mountains during the night. She could smell the change from the city smog to the pine-filled air. Her mouth watered as she scented fresh game. Her body ached to leap off the train and race through the forest. Shifting right now wouldn’t be a good idea no matter how hard it would be, considering how rarely she changed. Besides she could never leave.
The man lying beside her on the floor, his body hot with fever, moaned fitfully. She rubbed his bare muscular arm. He sighed and lay still once again. Jeremy Sanderson. NFL’s next rising star. Best arm in the business. After four years of college through a full-ride scholarship he had been drafted and following a successful Rookie year was marked to become one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. His strong, muscular body lay shaking like a child beside her on the floor of a train heading north all because of her. They were running from people who wanted her, Lizzy, one of a very few female werewolves in existence and all because Jeremy had been tricked into taking W, a synthetic werewolf steroid so he could be a better quarterback.
Beneath her hand, she felt Jeremy’s body start to tremble. He had gone into several seizures during the night. Five maybe six, she had lost count. She knew this wasn’t good for humans. Brain damage and all that. Lizzy moved around, sliding carefully on the splinter-filled floor so she could hold his head with her hands. When his body began to thrash about as it would soon he didn’t need a concussion on top of everything else that had happened that night. He had gained a lot of muscle over the past few months and had become too strong for even her to hold down. Tears stung her eyes as she watched his arms flail about in the air and his legs jerk, his dress shoes scraping ruts in the wooden floor. The seizure wouldn’t last long, she reminded herself, and within thirty seconds, albeit long seconds, his body calmed and he lay still again.
“Did I hurt you?” Jeremy’s voice, raspy, full of concern, nearly made Lizzy burst into tears. It had been over an hour since he had last spoken.
“No, I’m fine,” she said. “Is it getting any better?”
“It hurts all the time now,” he said.
“Why did you do it?” she asked for the hundredth time.
“Everyone takes steroids,” he said, weakly. “Only way…”
Not everyone took performance enhancing drugs. Why Jeremy? Why?
“I wish…” his voice trailed off. He rolled onto his side laying his head on her lap, extending his arm around her thigh.
“You wish?” she prompted.
“I wish it was last summer,” he said, his voice dry, needing water she didn’t have, “and I hadn’t met those people and this hadn’t happened.”
She sighed and ran her fingers through his hair, brushing his reddish-brown bangs off his sweaty brow. W. She had smelled it on him when she had first seen him yesterday after the day of training camp. His team had won and when she had leapt into his arms to kiss him, she had smelled the drug on his skin, tasted it in his kiss. Thinking she must be wrong in the confusion of the moment, she hadn’t noticed it again until after the banquet and they had started dancing. Then everything had gone wrong. An argument. She had tried to leave. Stopped by a pack of werewolf unknowns, she had felt threatened. Jeremy had tried to help, pushing her out of the way, taking on the wolves, getting hurt. Security had arrived and they had scattered, Lizzy and Jeremy running to the edge of town, boarded a slowly passing freight train, planning to get off at the next town, call for help. But then Jeremy had gone into a convulsion. After which, he had told her about the steroids. She had told him about W. He had gone silent, his way of dealing with bad news and she knew to give him time to think about it. His body had gone into more convulsions and they hadn’t talked about it since.
W, the nickname for the werewolf steroid, actually came from synthesized werewolf blood. It was meant to be used by human-werewolf half breeds to help them to shift. It was used illegally by humans to enhance their performance in athletics. Several sports stars had already been suspended due to its use. Side effects were the same as steroids, including increased muscle mass and violent tendencies. It was believed, but not yet proven, that with enough W in one’s system, one could become a werewolf. The addiction was severe and withdrawal painful even with other drugs to help the body adjust. The other cure for the addiction was something Lizzy shouldn’t but had begun to consider as she watched the man she loved suffer.
At first she had been angry that he had succumbed to the temptation of performance enhancing drugs. When he had finally convinced her he hadn’t known it was W and his coach had pumped into his system, she felt sorry for him. It broke her heart to watch the man she loved suffer so. They had planned to marry shortly after graduating from university but Jeremy had been under so much pressure as a rookie they had put off planning a wedding until he became settled with a team. She said she didn’t mind being the wife of a football star as long as he didn’t mind her being a werewolf. Jeremy had laughed, saying it only made their life much more interesting.
Now this man who loved her so much, died bit by bit in front of her. And she knew the only way to cure him.
“Jeremy,” she said, running her hand along his arm down to his wrist.
“Yes?” he said, exhaustion making his voice weak.
“You know I love you,” she said, picking up his hand, lifting it to her face where she pressed it against her cheek.
“If you want me to make love to you,” he muttered, “I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much good.” He chuckled and ended up coughing, his breathing ragged.
“You know I would do anything to help you, Jeremy,” she said, kissing his palm.
“It’s all right, Lizzy,” he muttered, “the train will stop soon. Then we’ll get off. Get to a hospital. Get some help.”
His body began to jerk. She held his hand tight. The train wasn’t going to stop. She had smelled the freshly cut trees for a long time. This train was on a long haul to the ocean and wouldn’t get there for two or three days. Jeremy didn’t have that long. His human heart would give out long before then. She waited a few more seconds for the moment when his body convulsed, his head bent back and his eyes rolled up in his head. At that point, Jeremy would lose consciousness. No need for him to feel anymore pain than necessary.
His back spasmed throwing his neck and head off her lap. She held his palm tight with both her hands now. He glanced at her face and recognition flashed in his eyes. As his head tilted back and before his throat constricted shut, he forced out, “No.”
Lizzy bent over his hand, opened her mouth and bit into the soft flesh between his thumb and first finger. Blood squirted into her mouth. Her stomach rumbled. Only human flesh and blood was the best. It beat out animal many times over but to bite a human was punishable by death. Lizzy didn’t care. And she kept her teeth submerged in Jeremy’s hand, letting her saliva intermingle with the blood, pushing it forcefully with her tongue into the wound.
Her body shuddered. Her teeth clamped down harder on his hand. Good, so good. She sucked at the blood. It had been a long time since she had tasted human blood. Only once before had she been allowed. Now she remembered the draw of it. She could sense Jeremy’s beating heart begin to slow. In the back of her mind, she knew this was good and that she should let go now. But the blood. It flowed into her mouth, down her throat, warmed her stomach. She had sacrificed for him. He could give her a little more of his blood. Selfish man. Wanting to be the best athlete. Bastard. She was supposed to be first in his life. She…With a sob, Lizzy jerked open her jaw and shoved his hand away, dropping it on his chest.
She crawled to far side of the rail car, wiping her mouth, disgusted with the thoughts that had run through her mind. Curling up in a corner, she brought her knees up against her chest and wrapped her arms around her head, burying her face in her lap. She had nearly succumbed, nearly killed him. This addiction was worse than what Jeremy had. This addiction belonged to her other side, her werewolf side. She could taste his blood on her lips and tongue, could hear his body pounding with life, life she could take anytime while he was in this weakened state. Lizzy shook her head. No. Not Jeremy. The walls of the railcar closed in. Never Jeremy.