Enjoy! I'm off to the beach.
Conversation stopped. Every eye in the room turned to watch as the huntress moved catlike through the assemblage.
“You can’t go out unescorted,” Constance insisted. “Let me call Peter to take you to your cottage. Better yet, forget the cottage and stay here in the inn.”
“My dear cousin,” Atalanta said. “I’ve come to Bridgeport to hunt the monster, not be protected from it.”
“Yes, yes,” Constance replied, “but surely that can wait until dawn. You need rest.”
“Is your monster likely to wait for the light of day to strike?”
Constance’s face flushed.
“Tell Peter to saddle horses and pack provisions for a few days' travel. Theodora and I will ride for the mountains as soon as we change.”
Constance stood silent, her eyes forming a question too horrifying for her lips to speak.
“It has returned,” Atalanta said. “Have you reinforced the wards around the Inn? We’ve two days until the new moon brings the beast to the height of his powers.”
“That’s just an old story, told around the hearth on stormy nights. You can’t believe such a creature exists.”
Atalanta picked up her bag and turned toward the door. She had nothing to say to the willfully ignorant. There was no turning away from the heritage of Wilde-Woods, but Constance had chosen to learn only the most basic protections. She could believe or not, fight or remain inside the relative safety of the inn; either way, the new moon would bring darkness to their doorstep.
“Good-night, cousin,” Atalanta said. “See to the wards.”
“What are you planning to do?” Theodora asked when they were safely out of earshot.
“I am going to change into something more suitable for the task.”
“Really, Atalanta? Just like that, you are going to change your gown and the monster will bend to your will?”
“Theodora, many of my male acquaintances are of the opinion that all I have to do is appear in town, gaze wistfully into the distance, and the local monster will be naturally drawn to me.” She sighed. “If only it were that simple.”
“There was that vampire in West Madison,” Theodora said. She grinned at the memory.
“He practically fell at your feet declaring his love. And what did you do?”
Theodora’s voice held a note of reproach as she answered her own question. “For his trouble, you drove a stake through his heart and cut off his head.”
“Theodora, it is much easier to stake a vampire while he is prostrated at your feet than it is after you reject his proposal.”
Read the rest of the story and many others in Strangely Funny, now available in print, Kindle, and other e-book formats.