He paused at the forest edge, observing the woman who sat on the old concrete boat ramp as she reeled in a fish with expert skill.
“Y’all can come out now,” she called over her shoulder without looking behind her.
He obeyed her beckons and quietly took a seat beside her as she cast her line again. They sat in companionable silence, inches apart and never touching. He did not quite know her reason for the studious avoidance of physical connection and did not question it. He simply enjoyed the soft sounds of her breathing, the rustle of her clothes, the splash of water, the rustling of leaves, and the chirps of birds. It reminded him of his home in midsummer.
She caught another fish, deemed it inadequate for her purposes, and released it back into the water after extracting the sharp hook from its mouth. She glanced at the horizon and noted the sun’s descent and the vivid flare of color across the western sky.
“I’ve got enough to feed both of us tonight if you’re hungry,” she invited him as she hauled up the day’s meager catch. She gathered her cooler and tackle and began the hike back to her tiny cabin. He fell into step behind her, feeling protective and watching for danger.
“Nothing but the occasional black bear or badger around here,” she said, her voice quiet in the rustling wilderness.
He said nothing, but shadowed her nonetheless. He knew park visitors occasionally tramped through what she considered her territory and that some of them had less than benign intentions. He’d killed one of them not three days past.
The elimination of a tainted soul did not disturb him. After hundreds of millennia, little actually disturbed him. He glanced at the slender hips swaying with each step, the lure to masculine interest unintentional. Desire surged, a heady sensation he hadn’t enjoyed since his mate died.
Had been killed.