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Ferocious (chapters 31-38) - Literature - Nairaland

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Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:17pm On Oct 05, 2018
31.
Even though they had arrived five minutes late, Claire, Susan and Brent were still just in time for dinner about two minutes after they had arrived. The Mayor immediately started to introduce the team to the dignitaries that were in attendance with his voice so loud with excitement as he laughed at everything his guests said, even though they weren't funny.

"Dinner is served," the Mayor's butler had announced before everyone made thier way to the dinning area.

Claire held down a gasp as she took in the sight of the enormous dinning table with up to ten chairs on each side. She heard Tate whistle quietly behind her as they all settled down. The dishes; spotless and clean china, had already been set and the cutlery; shinning silvery eating utensils that seemed to ooze with quality.

Claire looked up and saw Larry pick a spoon and fork and try to squeeze it into his suit pocket while he was looking at everyone on the table. Brent suddenly caught him, smacked his head and yanked the utensils from his grip; placing them back on the table as Larry glared at his with his hands rubbing his head.

Claire realised she was the only that had seen them and then she started to chuckle. She looked away and caught Liam's eyes on her from across the table. She felt her cheeks heat up before she looked away again.

"So," a pot bellied and bald headed man started from across the table. "Tell me doctor, what's Kenya like these days?"

The butler kept moving round the table, filling everyone wine glasses up as they waited for the food.

"Wonderful as always," Liam replied with a cheerful smile on his face as he raised his glass up to the butler beside him.

A woman beside the bald man chuckled. "I agree," she said. "Gerald and I went there on vacation two summers ago. It was beautiful."

"Well I don't know," another woman; blonde and quite pretty, uttered from the other side of the table. "I really do prefer South Africa."

Claire looked across to Susan in time to see her roll her eyes. She did know that something like this would come to play in a party like this. Rich, influential and ostentatious people bragging about thier vacations in expensive but unpopular places.

"Why?" Liam chuckled. "..because they have white people there?"

Tate immediately dropped his fork, shook his head and face panned when he heard Liam's utterance while Claire shot her head up and gave Liam an incredulous look. The entire table fell silent.

"What?", Liam chuckled. "I was kidding, jeez."

Then everyone started laughing. Everyone except Tate and Claire.

"No you weren't."

Three women whom Claire knew were the Mayor's makes, came out with silver trays of dishes in thier hands. At the point, she instinctively turned in Larry's direction and how was staring at the incoming food with his mouth slightly open before he closed it and licked his lips.

Claire smiled and noticed one of the guests, a young man, probably in his late thirties, staring at her from the table with narrowed eyes. He looked like he was trying to remember something. He looked like he was going to ask her the age old question, "Have I seen you somewhere before?", but Claire wasn't buying that Crap.

Claire turned away as soon as they dropped her meal before her. "Thanks," she smiled at the maid, before she raised her glass of wine for a sip.

Claire saw one of the guests staring; with curiosity, at Jelani who was standing behind Liam. She felt a smile pull on her lips when she saw the African warrior standing there in his white long-sleeve shirt and his black bow tie. She felt proud that she had been the one to pick out that shirt for him. He looked so handsome. The way his dark skinny contrasted with the pure whiteness of his shirt. The way his ebony black braids fell down his shoulders and the ornaments dotted with cowries hung from his ears.

She smirked when she remembered Jelani's refusal to wear something for the occasion. He wanted to come over shirtless and they all knew that would be weird. He had refused everyone's suggestions, but for some reason, he had listened to Claire.

"He still think you have the heart of a queen." Liam had scoffed.

"Um- Is-Is he your bodyguard or something?" The man's voice yanked her out of her thoughts. She spun and saw the young man that was staring at her earlier as he gestured towards the African man behind Liam.

Liam spun to look at Jelani who had not cracked a smile all night. But Claire didn't expect him to, since he obviously couldn't understand a word of what they were saying at the table.

Come to think of it, Claire hasn't been able to understand Jelani lately. Ever since they moved into the house with her, Edith and the Kids, Jelani has been feeling uneasy. At first, Claire thought it was the fact that Jelani was going to have to stay with complete strangers that made him uncomfortable, but when she saw how surprisingly playful he was with her son the first two days they had stayed, she was sure there was something else.


One minute, he would be outside, totally lost in his meditation on the lawn in the backyard, with his legs folded and crossed under him, while Adam and Ottie kept running and playing in circles around him, and then the next moment, he's just standing there, staring out the window, with a worried look on his face.


It was almost as if he was waiting for something, or at least he knew something. Something that was about to happen.

Claire remembered when she once saw him sleeping outside the house with his bow and arrow. She didn't know how to explain it, but it freaked her out. It freaked her out so much, she had to tell Liam about it and he said it was fine.

"It's Natural for Kisii warriors to always feel unsafe and alert, especially when they are in a unfamiliar terrain," Liam had said.

"He's your what?" The young man's voice dragged Claire out of her thoughts.

"My brother," Liam repeated and then smiled.

The young man darted his confused eyes between Liam and Jelani. "Oh," he said. "I see."

Claire could hear Tate chuckle quietly before she heard a louder chuckle from the far end of the table. "Dr. Price is a very peculiar man, isn't he?" Chief Kent said. "That's why he was able to solve our problem."


"Exactly." The Mayor added. "Thanks to him, this year's J4 festivities will be unforgettable. It's just a shame Dr. Price has refused to stay with us till then."

"Oh come on Doc," another man uttered as he threw his hands in the air. "It's just in two weeks. You'll love it."

Liam gave the Mayor a wry smile.

"Yes Doctor," another man with beards whom Claire could swear she had seen before, said. "Tell us how you killed the infamous Cherrywood Beast."

"Cherrywood Beast?" Tate whispered beside Claire. "Someone's been watching way to many Movies."

"It was a black panther actually," Patrick called from across the table. " A very....large...Black Panther."


"A black panther?" The bearded man uttered, puzzled. "In America?"

Liam smirked. "Quite possible Mr. Robertson. You see, The Black Panther is just a Melanistic colour varient of any large Cat."


"Meaning?" The Young Man uttered with a puzzled look on his face.


"Meaning any large cat can come out as a black panther," Patrick explained. "Including Mountain lions and Cougars."

"Really?" The pot bellied man uttered. "That's amazing."


"How did you know where to find it?" The pretty lady asked. "Because from what I was hearing on the news, that thing appeared to be quite smart."

Tate cleared his throat. "It was simple really," he said as he adjusted his glasses. "Most large predators, especially large wild cats, will always come back to the last place they had thier last meal. If they don't get any more, they move to another food source."

"Exactly why the farm and the camp grounds were both attacked twice." Patrick added before he forked up a piece of steak to his mouth and chewed. "Food sources."

"Wow," The pot bellied man said.

"Hell, the entire Cherrywood was a food source for that panther," Liam chuckled. "Before we went hunting for it, we realised the bastard attacked on the outskirts and not inner areas."

"So what did that mean?", The young man asked.

"Cherrywood was it's territory," Liam replied with a smirk as he searched the faces of the guests. He was scaring them and he loved it. "It's feeding ground."

Claire saw one lady raise her hand to her chest and exhale.

"So what would have happened if you didn't kill it?" The bearded man asked.

"It would breed, raise a family equally as ferocious as it is and that's the end of Cherrywood," Liam shrugged.


"You're saying that shit would have wiped out the town?" The Mayor said. "Impossible."

"Mayor", Patrick chuckled. "We all saw the damage one panther did, now think of the damage Six or even ten could do."


"Lord." The young man said as he raised his glass and sipped on his wine, shaking his head in disbelief at the same time.

Claire watched and listened as Liam, Patrick and Tate lectured the guests on Melanism, Black Panthers, and the hunting tactics of big wild cats. They all watched Liam with that look that told Claire they were impressed as hell and she couldn't blame them, Liam was surrounded by this strange Aura of knowledge as he spoke. From the way he was gesticulating, the brightness in his eyes, the smile on his face, it was clear that he was passionate about what he was telling them.


Claire tilted her gaze away from Liam and caught Susan staring at her with a naughty smirk on her face.

"Oh Lord," Claire rolled her eyes as she immediately knew what Susan was insinuating. But she knew Susan was right to think that way, because they both couldn't deny the fact that Liam had been stealing glances at her ever since she walked into the party.

Even as Claire tore her eyes away from her friend, she glanced in Liam's direction and caught those blue eyes of his on her as he raised a glass of wine to his lips for a sip.
She felt her face heat up before she looked down at her glass of wine, picked up and took a sip. She then began to scan the dinning room. Tate and Patrick were still talking with the guests, Brent was whispering something to Susan that was obviously amusing her, Larry and Kent were engaged in a serious conversation.

Claire then moved her eyes back to Liam's direction and felt her stomach flip when she met his eyes still on her.

She quickly looked away and sighed to herself. "Oh Lord." She suddenly wished she hadn't worn this dress.
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:19pm On Oct 05, 2018
32.
Dinner was over and everyone was in the living room now; talking, laughing, and sipping thier champagne. Claire was beginning to get bored as she sat there on the couch, watching almost everyone gathering round Liam. He was obviously the man of the night and even though everyone had thier eyes and attention on him, that didn't stop him from stealing occasional glances at Claire.

He had been stealing glances at her ever since they were at the dinner table, hell, ever since she walked into the party and she honestly didn't know what to make of it.

Claire's uneasiness caused her to turn her attention towards Tate, Larry and Brent who were gathered at the corner, talking and laughing with each other. Since she was used to seeing them in thier uniforms and khakis, she smiled weakly when she realised how adorable and handsome they looked in thier suits and tuxedo.

She spun to Patrick's direction when she heard his phone ring. She was even more confused when she saw the look on his face when he held the phone to his face and saw the caller. Whoever was calling him, Patrick wasn't pleased about it.

"Shit," Patrick hissed before he hurried out of the house and went outside.

"Excuse me," a man uttered while close to Claire. "You're Claire Hayes aren't you?"

Claire spun quickly and looked up from her seat to face the man standing beside her. With his sleek black hair combed back, bright brown eyes and a grin, he held his wine glass with one hand and his other hand was in his pocket of his expensive looking suit. His were placed on Claire like she was a strange but beautiful creature. A creature he had never seen before.

"Yes," Claire answered with uncertainty as she eyed him. "I am."

The young man chuckled with a smile on his face that Claire couldn't deny, was quite charming.

"I'm sorry," the man cleared his throat. "I don't expect you to remember me. It's just...you know, while we were at the table, I knew you were familiar, but I didn't know how to approach you."

He then stretched his hand for a shake. "I'm Rod Willis."

Claire took his hand and shook it with an expression on her face that made Rod realise she still didn't remember him.

"It's okay If you don't remember me," Rod said as he looked down at his black Italian shoes. It was almost as if Claire was making him nervous and she thought it was cute.

Claire smiled at his gesture as she moved her gaze carelessly in Liam's direction. She was slightly shocked to meet Liam's steely eyes glaring thier way.

"I went to Cherrywood High too, in fact, I was on the school team with Bradley," Rod said as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other.

Claire spun to face the young man quickly. The mention of her husband's name was enough to make every other thing in the room irrelevant.

"Really?" Claire uttered as she shifted her entire body to face him. If he didn't have her attention before, he had gotten it now.

"He was the coolest guy ever," Rod went on as he suddenly became lost in thought of his college years. "He was one of the nicest people I had ever seen. Generous and kind."

Rod stopped and shook his head with a smile on his face; the memories obviously flooding his mind. "He-erm- he is the reason ..emm," Rod stuttered.

Claire kept staring at the man standing before her. She felt she should do something, or say something at least. It didn't take a genius to realise Rod was holding something down. It didn't take a genius to realise the fact that even though she didn't really remember Rod, he must have liked Bradley very much, or at least been very close to him.

She stood up from her chair and moved close to the young man, placing her hand on his shoulder. She had to show her sympathy some how, right?

"I-er-had problems with-um-drugs when I was a kid; in high school." Rod started. He kept his eyes on his shoe and when he raised them, he often looked away to another direction. For some reason, he couldn't look Claire in the eye. "I was in my teens and was going through a lot of things, you know...."

The young man smiled wryly and faced the ground beneath him again. "My drug issue was so bad that I had lost everything. My father; who was an alcoholic, kicked me out of the house before I even graduated high school and all hopes of going to university or college were lost."

He looked up again; avoiding Claire's eyes and she felt her heart sink when she noticed his eyes were beginning to redden. "My-um-Dad wasn't really parent material. He was one of those that liked to use his belt and his fists as useful tools in parenting."

For the first time since that conversation started, Rod turned and looked into Claire's eyes finally and coughed out a humourless laugh. "He beat the shit outta me."

Claire gave a wry smile. There was hardly any doubt in her mind that Rod did look like someone who had gone through hell. She stole a glance at the scars on his left wrist when ever his sleeves were slightly pulled back. She had been working with troubled teens long enough to know that those were the first signs of an attempted suicide.

"Bradley helped me out," Rod's voice suddenly pulled Claire out of her thoughts. "I was stranded and lost, and he -um- he just helped me out, you know, with the drugs and school and stuff. He never gave up on me."

Claire nodded her head slowly and gave him a weak smile. "That's good." Claire felt a pang of guilt when she began to ask herself internally, why this young man was telling her all these things.

Rod was quiet for some seconds, before he chuckled at something that had just come to his mind and Claire furrowed her brows in curiosity.

"Bradley got jobs for both of us at Whitney's; you know, that really popular eatery on 4th street then," Rod muttered as he saw Claire nod her head quickly in response, and then he went on. "He put both our pay into my tuition for college. He knew only mine wouldn't cut it, so he had to get the job and add his."

Claire then went back to UCLA in her mind. She and Bradley had been lovers since high school, and she knew things were serious when Bradley came to join her in UCLA. She remembered the period he had become a little detached. He had become scarce. She wasn't seeing him very often anymore. Then she had found out that he had gotten a job and was pissed at him for not telling her. Even so, Bradley never told her the reason why he got the job, because she was very sure that he was on a football scholarship...but now, she knew.

"Your..er...husband is the reason I have a job that gives me least Twelve thousand dollars a month....and it's not like it's a job I hate," Rod stopped for a while, looked down at his shoes and began sobbing quietly. "He gave me the courage to be who I am today and I couldn't show up for his funeral and...I."

Rod then looked up at Claire. His eyes bloodshot and wet now. "I just wanted to apologise...I was on a project in India,..I didn't even know, I'm so sorry...I just...."


Claire didn't let the young man finish his sentence when she reached out and pulled him in for a hug. She felt a lump in her throat when she felt the grown man breakdown on her shoulder. He was even too weak to hug her back with his hands hanging lifeless beside him.

"It's okay", Claire said. "It's Alright."

"No its not," Rod sobbed. "I should have been there. Everyone was there. I didn't know...I-."

"Hey", Claire uttered as she pulled him off her, cupped his face in her palms and looked into his sorrowful eyes. "You knew Bradley well, didn't you?"

Rod gave a weak nod in response.

"Do you think he would be mad at you?" She asked as she searched his eyes.

Rod thought for a moment and then shook his head slowly. "N..No."


"Good," Claire said and then she pulled him in again and hugged him.


When they pulled away from each other, Rod choked out a chuckle and sniffed. "Shit," he said with his face bright red. "You must think I'm some kinda wimp, crying all over you like that."

Claire said nothing. She just shook her head and gave the young man a weak smile. She didn't think he was a wimp though, because she knew her husband had that effect on people.

They looked at each other for a while, before Rod stretched out his hand again for a shake. "Well...eh...it was an honour meeting you Mrs Hayes."

Claire's eyebrows furrowed when she heard him say that and then she took his hand and smiled. "Likewise."


Rod gave a curt nod and pulled out something from his pocket and handed it to her. "....and if you need anything, just give me a call," he said as he handed what looked like a complementary card to her.

Claire took it from him and glanced at it.

"Willis and Brans Inc." She could swear she had heard a lot about this company. If it wasn't on some business headline on CNN, then it had to be one of the companies she had seen on Forbes' lists of companies to watch, and he appeared to own it.

Claire looked up at him and felt a surge of pride deep within her. The ends of her mouth tugged into a smile as she looked into Rod's eyes; the eyes of a fighter. He had survived.

Rod reached over and kissed her cheek and then smiled at her. "Please excuse me."

"Sure."

As she watched Rod leave, she wanted to sit back down on the chair, but her legs felt weak. Rod had taken her back to a time she had been avoiding. A time she felt like the happiest woman in the world.
Suddenly, A vision of Bradley standing at the bottom of the stairs of her dorm building in his Kiss t-shirt and jeans, smiling up at her sheepishly with the gentle breeze rustling his curly brown hair, came to her head.

That smile that always made her day. That smile that made her feel that everything was going to be alright, no matter how bad they were. The way he always stared at her when she wasn't looking. The way he smirked whenever he said something that made her blush.

Claire suddenly felt dizzy. She felt a pain in her chest. She started to hyper-ventilate.

"Oh God."

She had not felt like this since the day he died. It was all coming back now. The grief was coming back. Claire dropped the glass in her hand on a stool close to the chair. She spun quickly and met Susan's concerned gaze on her.


"Claire?" Susan said as she hurried to her friend. "You okay?"

Claire waved her off as she walked passed her. "I'm fine. I just need some air." The blonde lady walked passed her friend and moved towards the glass door leading to the Mayor's large garden at the back of the mansion.

She needed to breathe.
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:22pm On Oct 05, 2018
33.
Claire just stood there staring at the world before her. The large grey moon pouring its light on the world beneath. The billions of twinkling dots surrounding it. It was all beautiful, no doubt, but Claire wasn't taking it in.

She held herself tight as she felt the cold wind hit her body. She shivered and held the sides of her arms, rubbing them up to her shoulders for warmth.

"Bradley."

She tried to get him out of her lead. She tried to forget him. Rod Willis had taken her on a journey to the past. A journey she never wanted to venture into. Her thoughts then began to wander.

"Bradley."

"Edith."

"Adam."

"Samantha."

She exhaled bitterly when she remembered her daughter's cold eyes before she had left the house. She remembered the way she slammed the door in her face. Claire was lost now. She had come to Cherrywood Valley for a summer vacation, in hopes of getting closer to her kids, accepting her husband was gone and working on her grief, but things were not working out. Things were actually getting worse.

Her husband was dead and gone, and her daughter; for some reason, blames her for it. Worse of all is the fact that Samantha believes her father is about to be replaced.

She shut her eyes and wished all this was a bad dream and that she was going to wake up in thier apartment in New York, with Bradley laying beside her; the feeling of his stubbles, pricking her neck.

"No, I'm saying i'm done with you gaddammit," Claire heard a man raise his voice in the distance. She spun and saw Patrick still with his phone pressed to his ear, answering his call. Even from that distance, Claire could tell that he was pissed off about something and that his gestures were forced and vehement.

"Do not call this number again," she heard him hiss in a sort of quiet rage, before he lowered his phone, looked up to the sky and exhaled.

Claire furrowed her brows and was starting to wonder what that was all about. Patrick then looked down and caught her gaze. Claire thought to look away, but she decided not to. She didn't want to make it look as if she was spying on him of something. So, instead of looking away, she smiled at him. Patrick smiled back at her before he began walking towards the door and disappeared into the house.

Claire slowly turned away and faced the world before her. She always knew a fake smile when she saw one and the smile that Patrick had given her; that was definitely fake.

Something was bothering Patrick obviously, but ofcourse, Claire thought it wasn't her business.

Suddenly, the temperature around her dropped and she felt a suddenly chill travel down her entire body. She wrapped her arms around herself as she suddenly started shivering.

Her entire body stiffened when she felt a soothing warmth cover the top of her body. She spun in slight shock and saw Liam's concerned blue eyes on her as he placed the coat of his suit over her shoulders.

"What are you?" He asked with a smile. "..trying to freeze yourself to death?"

Claire smiled back at him and looked away when she felt her face starting to heat up. She pulled the coat closer and tighter around her body and exhaled.

"Thank you," uttered with her eyes still trained to the world before her.

Neither of them said anything after that and so Liam decided to break the silence. "Can't believe how cold the summer nights in this town are?" He said, before he glanced at Claire in hope of a response; but there was nothing. She didn't even turn to look at him or smile at his remark. It was almost as if he wasn't there.

"Claire?" Liam called again in a softer tone. "Are you alright?"

Claire hesitated a bit, before she finally turned quickly and eyed him with a wry smile. "I'm fine," she said as she shifted her eyes away from him and faced forward again. "Fresh air," she uttered. "I...I just needed some fresh air."

"Right," Liam smirked as he nodded. He hesitated, but still, he walked closer and stood beside the blonde woman.

The two of them just stood there in silence. Nothing could be heard except the crickets chirping in the distance and the music coming from the house behind them. Liam spun briefly to savour the sight of the way the gentle night breeze tugged at he blond curls and her silk white gown. Her scent; he wanted so much to tell her that it was driving him crazy. He could sense that she was troubled. She was clearly worried about something and he knew it had something to do with whatever she was discussing with the young man from inside the house. He wanted to ask her who he was, but he thought that would be a really silly question, I mean, who was she, his wife? So, he figured he would ask something else.

"How's Samantha?", Liam said.

Claire faced Liam. The shock of his question was unmistakable in her eyes. She looked into his blue-green eyes boring into her, and was surprised she didn't know what to say for the first few seconds.

"She....she's fine", Claire stuttered.

Liam turned away again, slowly nodding as he sighed. He obviously realised that from her reaction, the question may have been misplaced. It may have been awkward.

Claire could tell that Liam had more questions. She could also sense that he was afraid to ask.

She never wanted to discuss her husband's death with anyone, due to the fact that it was the most painful period of her life. Edith always told her to talk to someone. Edith always told her to move on and live her life. She would always tell Edith that she had moved on and that she had forgiven herself and forgotten all about it. Claire knew she could tell anybody anything she wanted, but she couldn't deceive herself.

Here she was, Standing with someone who obviously was ready to talk about the issue. Somebody who was ready to pull her out of a pit she had been trapped in for years. She didn't know what to say, but she knew she had to say something.
Liam, on the other hand, was beginning to feel like an intruder all of a sudden. He felt like he was not wanted, at least not now, so he did what he thought best.
"I'll be inside," Liam said as he spun and began walking towards the house. He wished she would talk more. He wished she would open up to him. He didn't like seeing her like this and he didn't know why.

The softness in Liam's voice was one Claire hadn't heard before. As he turned to go, the guilt was too much for her at that point. She had to say something.

"She blames me for it, you know," Claire uttered in a shaky voice.

Liam spun slowly and looked back at Claire who was still looking out into the darkness. She spun and faced him, letting him see her welling eyes. "She blames me for her father's death."


Liam immediately walked over to Claire and held her, fighting the temptation to draw her close to him.

"I'm a doctor, and I couldn't even save my husband," Claire uttered before she broke down and sank her head into Liam's chest and began to cry.

Liam then pulled her in for an embrace. "Shhh," he uttered. "Don't say that."

As he felt Claire give out heavy sobs on his chest, he felt a pain in his heart that confused him. He looked across the Lawn and saw a Gazebo a few yards away.

"Come on," he said as he slowly pulled Claire away from him so he could look into her tear filled eyes. "Let's go take a seat."

The two of them walked over to the Gazebo and sat beside each other. They apparently felt uneasy with each other, not knowing what to do because, let's face it, the situation was weird. They had never been in this situation before, not together.

Liam reached into his pocket, pulled out his handkerchief and handed it over to Claire. She took it and began wiping her face.

"God, look at me," Claire began to chuckle. "I look ridiculous, don't I?"

"Nah," Liam uttered with a smirk as he threw his arms over the seat. "You look worse than ridiculous."

Claire gave him a playful death stare and then chuckled again at his remark. She then exhaled heavily and faced the vast expanse of greenery below the glowing moon surrounded by billions of stars.

When Liam saw the gracious smile on her face, he was surprised at the relief that poured over him. Why did Claire's smile make him want to smile? What the hell was wrong with him this evening?

"It's beautiful out here," Claire uttered. "Isn't it?"

"Yes it is," Claire heard Liam reply. "Really beautiful."

She spun quickly and caught Liam's steely blue eyes on her. She felt her face heat up immediately when she saw how handsome he was under the glowing moon. It was almost as if his blue eyes were glowing, together with his skin.

When Liam saw the way her face reddened, he realised he was making her feel uncomfortable and then he suddenly turned away with a smirk.

Claire felt awkward, but she didn't want him to feel uncomfortable. She stared at him for a while as he played with is thumbs resting on his laps; rolling them over one another. An obvious give away of anxiety and uneasiness.

"Tell me about Africa," Claire uttered and Liam turned and saw her looking at him with that dreamy look in her eyes. "What's it like?"

"What? You've never been to Africa?" He asked as he furrowed his brows with a feigned look of shock.

Claire grinned and shook her head like a shy six year old girl. Liam chuckled and then adjusted himself in the chair so he could face her properly.

"Africa...," he began as he narrowed his eyes to the beautiful night skies above, thinking of a reply before he suddenly faced Claire with a frown on his face.
"....Is a really shitty place."

Claire threw her head back in laughter at Liam's utterance and when Liam saw her do that, he felt something inside him come to life again.

"No," Liam chuckled. "Don't laugh, I'm serious, it's a real shit-hole."

Claire then faced him; still smiling wildly at him. "Then why do you live there?"

Liam smiled and looked away from her again while he thought of an answer. "Hmmm," he uttered. "That's a good question. He looked down at her with a smile again and replied, "I guess it's because that's were my soul is."

Claire found herself smiling at him when he said those words. She turned her entire body towards him, facing him completely. A gesture that seemed to tell Liam that he had her full attention.

"What I love most about it are the people", Liam went as he looked out into the glowing night. "They are beautiful. All of them."

"Well that's not exactly what CNN tells us," Claire scoffed.

Liam turned and faced her with a sneer. "Oh Bleep CNN, they don't know shit," he hissed. "Yeah, so what if they've got farming, drought, Islamic terrorists and wars? Over here, we've got serial killers and murderers, but you don't see that very often on the bloody CNN, do you?"

Claire looked amused as she nodded slowly while staring at him. "You really do love black people, don't you?"

Liam chuckled.

"Don't get me wrong I mean, I don't have a problem with the way we do things here," he said. "It's just that over here, we take life too seriously. We care about a lot of things that don't matter, but over there in Africa, people are exactly what they are meant to be; humans beings."

Claire kept staring at the man sitting beside her. She could see the passion in his eyes when he spoke.

"You're a doctor right?" Liam said as he faced her, looking into her eyes. "Why do you think Cancer, Leukaemia and all that shit is so common with us here? Our lives are too bloody artificial, that's why."


Liam saw the slight flash of pain in Claire's eyes when he mentioned the word 'Cancer', but chose to ignore it.
Claire looked down and saw Liam clench his fists. This wasn't passion anymore, it was rage. He was obviously angry about something, but Claire didn't know what.

She tilted away from Liam and stared into space; lost in thought once more. "You know, when my husband died of cancer," she began. "A lot of people, Including my daughter, just couldn't understand why I let it happen. Hell, I couldn't understand why it happened."

Then she turned and met Liam's eyes boring into her. "But then, I realised, at that moment my husband told me he was ready to go, that there are some things that you can't change. There are some things that just have to happen for you to grow in strength," Claire said. "The world will always be what it is. People will always be who they are. You can't change that."

Then she gave Liam a wry smile.

The dark haired man chuckled and looked away. Claire studied him for a while and started to notice how comfortable she was with him all of a sudden.

"You know, Samantha is mad at me because she thinks you may replace her Dad," Claire chuckled.

Liam suddenly spun to face her. He looked like he had been waiting for those words all his life. "Really?"

Claire nodded in response.

"Wow," Liam uttered. The sudden uneasiness was unmistakable in his tone. He became silent. They both became silent. Claire knew that what she said had pressed a button. She knew she had touched something in him because as Liam stared into the night, he was lost in thought and his smile was gone.

Claire looked behind and saw the guests back in the house through the glass doors. They were still chatting, throwing thier heads back in laughter, having a swell time.
"Liam, when are we-."


"Am I?" Liam suddenly interrupted her, his gaze still fixed to the glowing world before him.

Claire faced him, looking puzzled. "Are you what?"

Liam then faced her. He kept blinking heavily and rapidly. A sign that he was about to say something he wasn't use to saying. "I-I mean is there...you know...a chance?"


Claire couldn't understand at first, but as his words registered, her expression began to dissolve from that of confusion, to a mixture of anger and regret. What was she thinking? She felt her heart beginning to race.

She suddenly got up from the seat,shrugged his coat of her shoulders and began heading out of the Gazebo as as she had just remembered something she had left in the house. "I'm sorry," she said.

"Wha---,for What?" Liam called after her as he stood up too. "Look, i'm sorry okay? I didn't mean-."

Claire ignored him and kept moving towards the house.


"Claire wait..," Liam called. "Where are you going?"


"To meet Brent," Claire said. "I need to go home now."
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:24pm On Oct 05, 2018
34.
Claire laid there on her bed, still in the evening gown she wore for the party. Brent had left some five minutes ago after he dropped her off. Ofcourse, he kept asking her why she wanted to go home so soon and she just kept telling him that she was tired and needed to rest.

This night had been a long one for her indeed. First, she had gone down an unwanted memory lane of her beloved late husband, now she just realised that Dr. Liam Price may actually have feelings for her.

"Oh God," Claire moaned as she lifted her hand and rubbed her temple.

How could she not see this coming. Even her sixteen year old daughter was smarter than she was in this case. The thought of the fact that Liam was even going to be sleeping in the same house with her tonight made her stomach flip.

Claire stood up, moved to the front of her mirror and stood there, staring at her reflection.

The vision of Liam's face in the moonlight suddenly came to her head and she found a smile tugging slightly on her lips. She didn't want to admit it, but Liam had given her certain type comfort tonight. He had shown her concern. She had seen a side of Liam Price that she had never seen before.

Claire exhaled and deflated before she fell back into her bed. She felt like a confused teenage girl who had just spoken to the hot highschool quarterback for the first time.

Brent dropped off Liam and Jelani an hour and a half later. Claire hurried to her room window when she heard the slamming of car doors. She looked down in time to see Liam step out of the black police car. As soon as he stepped out, he turned to Jelani and looked up at Claire's window.

"Shit."

Claire pulled herself down and hid below, before she heard Brent's car roaring off into the night and Edith's cheerful voice welcoming Liam and his African brother into the house from downstairs.

Susan called that evening to know how Claire was doing and if she was okay. Claire talked to her about everything. From her moment with Rod Willis, to her time with Liam, but she dared not tell her about Liam's confession, because she knew she wouldn't hear the last of it from Susan.


It was when Claire woke up and turned to face her alarm clock that read "1:25AM," She realised she had fallen asleep, in her evening gown.

"Crap, guess I was more tired than I thought"

She pulled herself up, took a bath and changed to her silk night gown. Before she laid down again, she decided to get a glass of water. She always hydrates a little before sleeping and she groaned when she remembered the kitchen was all the way downstairs.
Claire made her way out of her room and walked through the hall way, but she stopped short when she noticed Adam's room was slightly open.

She then changed her direction and walked over to Adam's room. She walked into the room and saw the little boy covered up to his neck in his Toy Story duvet. He looked so adorable, Claire couldn't help but smile as she stared at him.

Then he moved a little; turning slightly to his side, and that was when Claire saw it. The thing around his neck. Claire moved in for a closer look and realised that Adam was wearing a necklace made with animal teeth. Canines, and then some beads all held in place by a black string.

It looked like something she had seen Jelani wear all the time. As she reached down and touched the necklace in curiosity, Adam slowly turned his head and faced his mother before he opened his sleepy eyes slowly.

"Mum?" The boy whispered.

"Hey sweety," Claire whispered. "Sorry, didn't mean to wake you."

"Has Jelani gone yet?" The boy asked as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

Claire then sat close to her son on his bed with a perplexed expression. "Gone?" she asked. "What do you mean honey?"

"Jelani told me he was going away," Adam said, and then he reached up and rubbed the necklace on his neck. "He even gave me a present and said he will always be with me and protect from the black devils as long as I wear this."

"The black devils?"

Claire suddenly felt a chill go down her spine. She didn't know what to say. She knew Liam and Jelani were going to leave, but it wasn't tomorrow, but the next day after. She was meant to process thier hospital papers tomorrow.

"Okay sweety," Claire whispered. "Come on. Go back to bed, okay?"

"Okay," Adam yawned, before he sank back into his pillow.

Claire watched him drift off, kissed his forehead and left the room.


After She had gotten her glass of water, Claire decided to check the front of the house, as she was sure she would find Jelani there.

She looked out the front window, and there he was. He was sitting in the front lawn, legs crossed under him like always ever since he came to the house.

His bow and arrow lay on the floor beside him and nothing but darkness infront of him. Claire could feel the freezing night air hit her face from the window and wondered how he was coping without a shirt on.

So, she decided to ask him herself. She thought it was cold inside, but when she stepped outside, it was a different story. She couldn't understand the summer nights in Cherrywood anymore. She was always use to warm summer nights, but this, this was strange.

She wrapped her hands around herself and walked towards the native African man.

"Hey-hey Jelani," Claire uttered.

Jelani gave no response. He didn't even turn to face her. He's eyes remained closed as he was focused on his meditation.

"Ofcourse," Claire thought.

She then stretched forward and tapped his shoulder. Jelani suddenly spun and faced her. Claire was so startled, she jerked back a little.

She became uneasy as he glared at her. She started to think maybe it was all a bad idea disturbing him.

"You should come inside," Claire suggested as she began to demonstrate with her hands since she knew he didn't understand English, pointing to the house and hugging herself. "It's getting really cold."

Jelani glared at her for a while and then turned his attention forward. Claire raised her hands to the air and dropped them again in frustration.


She looked in the direction of Jelani's gaze. It was pure darkness, but she could make out the towering trees and green vegetation. It was just the tiny glittering stars in the skies now. The moon was gone.

Claire turned and faced Jelani again. "Suit yourself," she shrugged as she began working back to the house.

Then Claire heard something that made her freeze.

"Goodbye Ms Hayes", Jelani said in a suprisenly fluent Queens English.

Claire froze, spun back and faced the native African man with widened eyes. "Di-di-did you just-?" Claire uttered.


She hurried to Jelani's side again. "Did you just speak English?" Claire choked.

Jelani did not respond. His eyes were still fixed forward.

"You mean you speak English?" Claire hissed.

Jelani was still silent.

Claire then tightened her lips in rage. She was seething. She didn't know if this was his idea of a sick joke, but she was over it. "Fine," Claire said. "Goodbye."

Then she turned and made her way to the house. When she got in and closed the door shut. She turned and looked out the window at the African warrior in her front lawn.

She doubted if there was anyone on the planet weirder than this guy. Claire turned and made her way up the staircase. It now made sense to her how Adam could have gotten that information from him, he spoke English.

Then she frowned at another thought.

Why did he tell her Goodbye?


***

Later that morning, Edith rolled in her bed and looked up at the large grandfather clock before her.

"Five thirty."

The old woman dragged herself out of bed, slipped into her flip-flops and headed downstairs to put up hot water for tea. She started every day with tea. It was a thing for her. Dragging herself from bed to do it was the hard part, but this on this particular day, it was made easy by Ottie's obnoxious early morning barking.

"The damned dog can't just ignore the squirrels, can he?" Edith hissed as she moved down the stairs.

She got to the kitchen, picked up the kettle, filled it with water and the placed it on the burner.

She then made her way towards the sitting room, but she stopped short as Ottie's loud barking was beginning to get quite unusual. She stopped at the front door and pulled it open.


Ottie stopped barking immediately it saw Edith emerge from inside the house. The dog started to wag its tail playfully. Whimpering loudly and pulling on the chain that held it to the dog house behind.

Edith chuckled as she moved towards the over-excited animal.


"Hey boy" Edith cooed. "What's the matter?"

Ottie got more restless as the old woman got closer.


Edith finally got to the Labradore and began to play with him, rustling his fur as he licked her palms and face.


"Good boy" Edith cooed. "That's a good boy. Now you hush up, you hear, 'cos some people are still sleeping."


Ottie barked out as if in response to her instructions. Edith chuckled as she backed away from dog and started to make her way back to the house.

Then she stopped when she caught something from the side of her eye. It was out there, laying in the grass. laying in the lawn. She didn't know what it was, but she knew she would have to get closer to find out.

The old woman kept moving closer and closer now and the figure laying in the grass began to materialise. It started to make sense.

Edith jumped and yelled when Ottie started to bark again.


"Jesus Christ Ottie! shut up! " Edith shouted.

Ottie was suddenly calm.

Edith turned and faced the figure on the lawn again and continued moving closer.

As Edith got closer and closer, her heart began to race. Her eyes began to widen and her lips began to part at what she was staring at.

"N-No.....It can't be," the old woman thought to herself as she began to tremble.

Edith felt the blood in her face start to drain as she got closer. The hairs behind her neck began to stand. The old woman raised her hand and pressed it to her chest as she began to breathe heavily.

"Oh...Oh My God!" She gave a haunting Whisper. "No."

Edith raised her hand from her chest and squeezed her mouth to stop her from screaming that morning when she saw what was infront of her.

Both his limbs were gone. His left arm had been severed from below the elbow and the right one was completely gone. The green grass around him was painted red with his blood. Jelani's severed head lay beside his mangled body, staring into the morning sky with haunting dead brown eyes.
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:25pm On Oct 05, 2018
35.
By 9:30AM that morning, Claire's front lawn was a beehive of activities. A white ambulance was parked by the side, two men were close to the body, taking pictures, before the paramedics walked towards the body and covered in a white cloth, they were probably waiting for a body bag.

Claire just stood there, watching Liam as he knelt down beside the body, rocking himself back and forth, mumbling something under his breath. It really hurt for her to see him like this. The man was in pain; a pain he couldn't hide.

Tate and Patrick where at the far corner and it looked as if they were engaged in a heated argument that had to do with what just happened, because they kept stealing glances at Liam and the body as the spoke to each other.

"Oh God."

Claire didn't understand what was happening. She didn't want to believe what she came out and saw on her front lawn when she heard Edith screaming at the top of her lungs at the staircase. She may have doubted it last night, but she was sure as hell now that all this, was a nightmare.

She tore her eyes away from Liam and the body and then looked towards the front of the house. Susan was standing there with her hands on Adams shoulders. Her teenage Son, Luke was beside Samantha who had her hands crossed on her chest. The poor girl had confusion all over her face ofcourse, as kids, no one would tell them anything.

Brent urged Susan to take the kids into the house before he shifted his attention to Claire and began to walk towards her.

Claire wasn't surprised when nobody asked questions. The only person who was asked some questions was Edith because she was the one who found the body, and even she had gotten enough.

"How are you doing?" Brent exhaled as he walked over and stood beside Claire.

Claire said nothing. She just shook her head. She was too weak to say anything right now. She shifted her gaze in Liam's direction and watched as he knelt there, watching them pack up the mangled remains of his native African brother into to the body bag. Claire and Brent immediately saw the devastation in Liam. This was going to take a big toll on him.


"You think he's gonna be fine?" Brent asked.

"I doubt it", Claire replied.

Claire felt a slight pain in her throat when she watched as Jelani's body was being carried away and Liam watched as it was lifted and hauled into the van.

The look on Liam's face was one Claire had never seen before. She held herself from crying as she watched the man drop his shoulders and lean forward until his head touched the grass before him.

Liam was in so much pain, it was clear. Tate and Patrick shifted thier attention to him and hurried over to console him.

Claire couldn't hold her tears anymore the moment she spun and caught officer Larry in tears with his eyes fixed in Liam's direction. She reached up and wiped the tears off her right eye.

She didn't really relate with Jelani that much, but hey, she felt his presence everyday. He was his own person, and she couldn't believe he was gone.

Claire then remembered what he had told Adam and the gift he had given him. She then remembered Jelani's last words to her.

"Goodnight Ms Hayes."

It sounded crazy, but Claire could swear Jelani knew he was going to die today.



***


It was past two in the afternoon. Brent, Liam and Claire just pulled up infront of the house on thier way back from the hospital where Claire had gone to process Liam's papers for him to be released from medical supervision.

As soon as the car stopped. Liam spun to face Claire in the back seat. He raised the file she had given to him and gave a curt nod.

"Thank you," Liam uttered.

Claire gave a weak smile. Those were the first words Liam had said to anyone that day.

Claire and Brent watched as Liam pushed his door open and walked out of the car and into the house, not minding if they were coming with him or not.

"Poor guy," Brent sighed as he shook his head and pulled the keys out of the ignition.

When Claire got into the house, she found Luke, Samantha and Adam on the three seater vouch watching TV. Tate was on the other single couch. He gave a wry smile when he saw Claire and she smiled back at him.

She took one look at Adam and knew someone had told him the bad news. The boy was resting on Luke's body as Luke had his arms over his shoulder. Luke spun and saw Claire with his slightly widened eyes. "Hey Mrs Hayes," he uttered mildly with a polite smile.

"Hello Luke", Claire uttered as she walked over, leaned forward and kissed Adam's forehead. "How are you?"

"Good," Luke replied.

Claire took one last look at Adam whose tired eyes where fixed on the TV. She shifted her eyes to Samantha who was also watching the TV, pretending her mother wasn't even there.

"Where's Grandma?" Claire asked.

"In the kitchen with Luke's mum." Samantha replied without even glancing at her mother.

Claire knew she was still mad at her, but considering the circumstances right now, She didn't care. She just found the mangled body of a man she had spoken to just few hours ago in her front lawn. Frankly, she wasn't in the mood for Samantha's youthful exuberance right now.

Claire walked out of the sitting room just as Brent walked into the house and collapsed on the couch.

As she moved away, she saw Tate call Brent's attention and the both of them went outside the house to talk. Claire began to feel suspicious, but she decided to ignore it. She walked into the kitchen and saw Susan and Edith were at the island table with a mug of coffee each. Patrick was at the corner with a can of beer in his hand.


"Hey," Patrick uttered when he saw Claire walk in. "Done with the papers?"

"Yep," Claire sighed as she walked over to Edith. She kissed her mother in law on her head and looked into her eyes. "Are you okay?"

Edith gave a weak nod and swallowed. Claire kept studying her. She looked older than usual today. It's not everyone who wakes up in the morning and finds a dismembered body in thier front lawn.

"Here," Susan uttered as she stretched a mug of Coffee in Claire's direction.


"Thanks," Claire took the cup and took a sip.

"I thought you said you killed it", Edith's words caught everyone off guard as she turned and glared at Patrick.

Susan and Claire turned and looked at the astonished zookeeper. He looked like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him when the three women glared at him.

"Well-em-I..," Patrick began to stutter. "We can't be sure if it's..."


"It's the same animal that killed the Wilson boy and those college kids, isn't it?" Susan interrupted.

"Errmmm..," Patrick uttered before he glanced at Claire with a look on his face that seemed to be asking for help.

Claire knew there was no way around this. She knew there was nothing Patrick could say, because even she knew the truth. The severed limbs, the massive tissue loss at the side of his torso, and of course, the severed neck.

Claire didn't want to believe it herself, but it was pretty obvious. The Cherrywood beast had returned. All she was trying to fathom now was how possible it was because she saw Jelani kill this thing some days ago.

"Patrick," Tate's voice got everyone's attention as they all spun and saw him peeping from the kitchen entrance. "A minute please?"

Patrick then hurried over to meet Tate at the door and Claire could see the relief in his features as he walked over. Tate had saved him.

The two men stood at the kitchen door, Tate whispered something to Patrick that made his eyes widen, then he hurried quickly to the front door of the house with Tate right behind him.

Claire's curiosity was sparked immediately.

"How is he?" Susan's voice broke her concentration.

"Huh?", Claire turned back to Susan.

"Liam," Susan said. "How is he?"

"Devastated," Claire sighed, and she wasn't kidding. She had never seen Liam like that before. Even at the hospital, whenever he looked at her while she was speaking to him, his eyes were different now. The man she had spoken to at the dinner party was gone. He looked almost lifeless now.

Claire then realised that he had every right to be lifeless. Jelani was all he had in this world and he was gone.

Claire suddenly began to feel bad about the way she had left him at the dinner party.



"You should go talk to him," Edith said as if she was reading Claire's mind.

Claire gave a nervous smile as she shifted her gaze from Edith to Susan who was nodding slowly in agreement with Edith's remark.

"Don't tell me to fucking calm down!" Brent's loud roar startled everyone in the kitchen.

"What the hell?" Susan uttered as she raised her hand to her chest in Shock.


Claire then stood up from her seat and headed straight out of the kitchen and to the front door. As she passed the living room, she saw that Brent's voice had also gotten the attention of the kids too; their worried eyes were watching the front door.

"It's okay," Claire said to them to calm them down as she pulled the door open and went outside the house.


Claire met Patrick, Brent and Tate right there at the front deck outside the house. Brent looked like he wanted to punch someone. He looked angry. He looked enraged.

Tate and Patrick shot nervous glances at Claire and Brent.

"What's going on?" Claire demanded as she shot the door behind her.

The three men exchanged glances with each other. None of them could utter a word.

"Look", Claire began. "It's pretty obvious that from what happened this morning, our nightmare is far from over, so I think it's best we stop keeping secrets from each other and look for a way to end this. Even I know that it was one of your black panther..things that killed Jelani. there is obviously still one out there, so we should stop throwing tantrums and figure out what to tell the Mayor."

At that point, Patrick and Tate exchanged nervous glances again.

Claire narrowed her eyes at the both of them. She was certain now that these men were not telling her something. She shifted her weight and crossed her arms on her chest. She licked her lips and glared at Tate.

"Tate," Claire warned.

Tate raised his face to Claire, still unable to meet her eyes.



"What. Is. Going. on.?" Claire separated her words through gritted teeth.

Tate's lips parted, but no words came out.


"Oh for christ sakes just tell her," Brent fired. "Everyone is gonna know eventually."

Claire shot a confused look at the pissed off Police officer. She was getting scared now. She had never seen Brent like this before. She watched in a nervous fright as Brent walked out of the deck at started to pace about in the lawn, lost in thought.


"T-two," Tate uttered softly.

Claire turned and faced the young scientist. "What?" She asked.

"We...err...followed the body to the morgue this morning for an examination." Patrick stuttered.

"We started to suspect after you...you said the last time you saw Je...Jelani was about an hour and a half before his body was found," Tate added.

"The bite radius on his body was far bigger than that of the last one we killed," Patrick said.

Claire began to shake her head now. She was beginning to get confused out of her mind. "Wait," she said as she raised her hand to stop them from talking. "What are you guys talking about?"

Patrick and Tate exchanged nervous glances again. "There ...there were t..two different bite marks on Jelani's body," Patrick uttered.

Claire's eyes slowly bulged and her jaw dropped open as Patrick's words began to register.

"There are two of them, Claire," Tate's voice was trembling now.

"...Jelani was killed by two panthers, each one three times the size of the one we killed a few days ago."
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:26pm On Oct 05, 2018
36.
Liam felt his legs weaken beneath him, even though he wasn't that surprised. He knew for sure that a panther, or something similar, had done that to Jelani, but never expected what Tate and Patrick were telling him to his face.

Liam walked over to the room window and stood there for a while; lost in thought. Tate, Claire, Brent and Patrick stood there watching him. Claire had insisted Tate and Patrick move up to Liam's room and tell him.

"He's gonna kill us," Brent hissed through gritted teeth as he rubbed the back of his neck, looking restless and somewhat agitated. "He's gonna fucking kill us."

"Who?" Tate gave Brent a confused look.

Brent turned and gave Tate a glare. "Santa," Brent's sarcasm escaped him. "Who else?"

Liam spun and faced Brent before he walked over to the bed side and sat. Claire could see a thousand things going through the man's mind, but unlike Brent, Liam was calm.

"Bu...but it's not our fault," Patrick started to give nervous utterances. "I mean, how the hell could we have known there were two other large cats out there?"

"Actually," Tate said mildly before he came into view. "I suspected."

Everyone immediately faced the young scientist. "You suspected what?" Patrick asked with a puzzled look on his face.

Tate exhaled. "I ran an observational autopsy on the corpse of the Cat...you know, the one we killed...and I...err...found something really baffling."

"Like what?", Claire asked.
Tate turned to Claire. "I began to suspect when I first saw it on the night when it attacked us in the car, but I wasn't sure." He said.

"Sure of what, Tate?" Brent hissed as he walked close to Tate, seething.

Tate moved back a little in response to Brent's look of frustration. "Well..," Tate raised his hands and scratched the back of his head. "Certain parts of the specimen weren't really mature."

Claire and Brent gave puzzled looks when Tate's face was lit by a wry smile.

"Oh God," Liam sighed as hour raised his hands to his face when he understood what Tate was saying. Claire spun and faced him in time to see him fork his fingers through his black hair in what seemed to be frustration.

"Oh you have got to be kidding me," Patrick uttered in disbelief as he raised his hands to his head. "You have got to be fucking kidding me."

Brent and Claire shared puzzled glances at each other. Everyone in this room seemed to know something that she and Brent didn't.

"Wait," Brent said. "What is he talking about? What does he mean?"

"Why didn't you say anything?" Liam's voice was still calm as he stood up from the bed and began pacing around with his hands on his waist.

"I..I just wasn't sure...I mean...", Tate shrugged.

"Is someone gonna tell me what the hell is going on here?" Brent growled; darting his eyes at everyone in the room.

"It all makes sense now, doesn't it?" Patrick said through gritted teeth as he faced Liam. "It's parents obviously killed Jelani."

Brent's eyes suddenly went as wide as saucers as he heard what Patrick had said.

"Parents?" Claire uttered in disbelief.

Tate turned and nodded at Patrick before faced the astonished blonde woman beside him. "We killed thier offspring."

"Jesus-fucking-Christ," Brent exclaimed as he raised his hands to his head. If there was one person who wasn't taking the entire situation well, it was Brent. Claire was pretty sure he was going to pass out at any moment.

Claire spun and turned to face Liam. He was confused now. He looked like someone whose entire life was falling apart. This was too much for him. Hell, it was too much for all of them.

"Its Parents."

Claire still couldn't believe it. The beast they had killed some day ago was actually a baby.

"Jesus Christ."

Tate and Patrick had said that both bite radii found on Jelani's corpse were actually larger than that found on the previous victims. If the one they had killed, as big as it was, wasn't fully grown?....God.

"July fourth was next week".

"J4 festivities were starting next week".

Claire began to feel dizzy at the implications of everything, but she felt the hairs at the back of her neck stand when she remembered that it was Jelani who killed the large cat, and now, he had been torn to pieces. What chance did they have without him?

"God." Claire held herself when she started feeling feverish all of a sudden. If the situation wasn't getting to her before, it was now.

"Does the Chief know?" Liam spun and faced Brent.

"After what happened out here this morning?" Brent uttered. "Obviously he would suspect."

"Yeah, but he definitely won't suspect that we are dealing with two large adult man eaters," Tate hissed as his eyes darted to Liam. "Would he?"

Liam exhaled. "Okay," he said. "Here's what we'll do."

"We go over to the station and tell the Chief what we know," Liam said. "..and then with his help, we can figure out how to let the Mayor in on this too."

"Oh Bleep," Brent buried his head in his hands when he heard Liam's words. Like everyone in that room, that was his fear.

The Mayor.

"Come on Brent," Liam said as he pulled out his phone from his pocket, walking passed them towards the door. "You're dropping Tate, Patrick and me at the station."

"Okay", Brent nodded as he followed behind. "sure."

Tate, Claire and Patrick followed too.
When they all got down stairs, Liam stopped and spun to face Claire who was coming out the front door."What are you doing?" He asked with a casual tone.

"I'm coming with you," Claire said as she closed the door behind her.

"No you are not," Liam hissed in a tone the made Claire shudder, even if she didn't want to show it. Liam then raised his hands slowly and pointed to the house. "Get back in."

Claire looked into Liam's eyes with uncertainty. She had never seen him look at her like this before. His eyes were filled with rage. There was a fire in him that Claire felt he was holding ever since he saw the body of his African friend in pieces that morning.

But still, Claire found the courage to defy his orders. Claire gave a nervous chuckle as she tried to show Liam that she wasn't intimidated by him at all.

"You're crazy if you think I'm not going with you," Claire said as she spun and began strolling towards the car.

Suddenly, she felt Liam's strong arms wrap her and pull her arms back with a force that made Claire yell a little.

"Hey, what are you....?", Claire exclaimed as she yanked her arm away from his grip. "Get your hands off me." She spun and faced the obviously enraged man.

"Get back in the house," Liam growled as he pointed to the house again.

Claire studied the man infront of her as she noticed her breathing begin to quicken and her heart begin to pound.

"No," Claire stood her ground as she raised her chin and crossed her arms on her chest. "You can't..."

"Lady, get back in the fucking house right now!" Liam exclaimed in a rage and a voice that made Claire almost jump. She could swear Liam was about to hit her when he came closer. She even saw the three men behind then exchange nervous looks of concern as Brent stopped himself from coming into the situation.

"What had gotten into him?"

Claire stood there staring at Liam. she was astonished. She saw the way his eyes were burning into her. The way he was breathing and how tense his muscles were. She took a long look at Liam and something told her this man would not hesitate to hit her or something. Not that she would tolerate it or anything, but this was a man who had just lost someone he regarded as family, the only person he regarded as family. At the same time, he just realised that the mission he had was not accomplished and that Jelani, the man who saved his life was gone. Jelani had somewhat died in vain.

Claire knew that at this point, Liam was obviously not thinking straight. That's why she decided to stop. She of all people knew the damage grief could do to a human being.

She turned to the police car on the drive way and saw the three men looking out thier windows, probably wishing that for her sake, Claire would just listen and stay back

She spun back to Liam, stood there and watched as he tore his eye away from her and began matching towards the car. As she watched him pull the car door open and get in, Claire couldn't help that defeated feeling in the gut. She clenched her fists at her sides. Still, another part of her was glad she had done as he said.

"Lady?" Claire thought as she frowned at the realisation of the fact that, Liam had never called her "Lady" before, nor used the "F" word on anyone before.


***


"Let's go," Liam ordered as he pulled on his seat-belt. He saw the way Brent, Patrick and Tate kept thier eyes on him, but ignored them. Brent dug the car keys into the ignition and twisted before the car engine immediately roared to life.

"What do you guys think the Mayor is gonna do," Tate asked softly from the back seat as he shifted his nervous eyes around everyone in the vehicle. "You know...seeing that July fourth festival is next week and all."

"Hell, I know right," Patrick scoffed. "People are moving into town already.Got a friend who works at the Petals hotel and he says it's filled up already."

"Really?" Brent uttered as he spun to face the back of the car, at the same time, backing the car off the drive way. "Jeez."

"The Mayor won't have a choice," Liam said in a hard tone as he kept his eyes on Claire; watching her move into the house moving out of the driveway. He then turned to face Brent on the drivers' seat beside him with his intense eyes.

"....Cherrywood is gonna have to cancel the July fourth celebrations this year."
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:27pm On Oct 05, 2018
37.
Chief of police Kent, Liam, Tate, Brent Larry, Patrick and Donovan stood there in the Mayor's office. A deafening silence filled the room as the Mayor just sat there in his desk, with both his fists folded under his chin. Liam thought, compared to Chief Kent and his comrades, the Mayor was taking the news quite well. He had not said a thing since Chief Kent broke the news to him about a minute ago.

Standing there, Liam immediately went back to Kent's reaction in the police department after he had told Chief Kent. "That doesn't make any sense," Kent had hissed at first, before raising his hand to pinch his nose and shake his head, and then he just snapped and threw his table over, screaming at the top of his lungs in clear rage.

Everyone else, like Larry and Donovan, were in total shock.

Kent had not said anything to the group until they had gotten to town hall and into the Mayor's office where he conveyed the bad news to the bald man.

Finally, the Mayor stood up from his seat. The first time he had moved since. The men watched as he moved to his window and looked out.

At this point, Liam was expecting anything. An unexpected outburst. The Mayor was furious; he could tell.

"How many men are we gonna need Kent?" The Mayor uttered, his gaze still fixed outside his window with his palms interlocked behind him.

Liam furrowed his brows as he looked at an equally confused Kent.

"Ermm," Kent uttered. "I-I'm lost s-."

The Mayor spun quickly and faced the men with rage, his eyes were burning as he punched his desk with his fist.
"How many men am I gonna need to protect my tourist gaddammit!" The Mayor's roar cut Kent off and made the men stiffen.

Liam suddenly felt uncomfortable when he heard the Mayor's question. His brows furrowed as he scanned the face of every single person in the room with him to see if he was the only one hearing what the Mayor was saying.

"Umm..sir, I...We..," Kent stuttered in confusion as he looked at his comrades, hoping one of them would help him out.

"It's a simple question Kent," the Mayor uttered as he brought his head forward as if trying to make Kent understand him better. "How many more men are you gonna need on your force?"

"Excuse me sir, but I don't under...,"Liam uttered in confusion.

"You! shut the Bleep up!" The Mayor fired as he pointed to Liam, moving towards him in a rage that made Liam stagger backwards a bit. Liam saw drops of saliva fly out his mouth as he screamed at him in rage.

"You hear me!?, shut up!" The Mayor hissed in a menacing voice. "You're not supposed to be talking right now!"

"Sir with all due respect..," Patrick uttered from behind.

"Listen to me you...," The Mayor tightened his fists in the air as he kept himself from cursing. It was obvious now that the bald man had lost his cool. "You are supposed to be the experts," The Mayor uttered in a humourless chuckle. "You are supposed to be the fucking experts for God Sake!"

"Sir, we...," Patrick uttered again, but closed his mouth and tightened his lips in frustration when he saw the Mayor raise his palm to the air. An obvious sign that the Mayor was telling him to shut his trap.

There was a brief silence and then the Mayor spun to the men again with a smile on his face that was anything but pleasant.

He was seething.

"This is what i'm going to do," The Mayor began as he rubbed his hands together. "I'm gonna mobilise a hundred man security personnel and they are gonna be everywhere on the night of the display and the concert."

Liam immediately went all out when he heard the Mayor's suggestion. "You..You can't be serious!" The words that poured out of his mouth surprised Liam himself.

The Mayor turned and glared at Liam.

"Look sir, I know we made a mistake, but...what...what you're suggesting is...is, sir I've seen what those things can do. People will die sir," Liam said in a manner and tone that he never he knew he had.

Liam then inched forward towards the Mayor and met his eyes. "I've been working with Animals for years Mr. McLauren, and i'm telling you that what I have seen that...those creatures exhibit this past few weeks,.....it's....sir, please, think this through. please." Liam begged.


The Mayor chuckled and looked at the floor beneath him as he himself inched closer to Liam until the two of them were face to face; Liam was taller so he had to look up.

"So-eh-," the Mayor uttered. "What do you suggest I do huh?"

The words were hanging in Liam's throat, but as he stared into the bald man's dark eyes, his instincts told him not to utter a word, or he would regret it. He knew that was what the Mayor was waiting for.

The Mayor then slowly backed away as he kept his menacing glare on Liam.

"If you think that for one second, I will cancel this July fourth and lose over three hundred million dollars worth investments because of your incompetence....," the Mayor then stopped an chuckled before he stopped and glared at Liam with a smile on his face.

"Shit," Tate heard Larry's whisper beside him at the mention of the three hundred million dollars.

"....You must be crazy", The bald man finally completed his statement.

The Mayor then went back to his seat and sat, while dusting his suit in the process.

"Everyone except Chief Kent can leave my office please." The Mayor said coldly as he began to search for what appeared to be a file on his desk.

As everyone started to turn and leave but Liam, Tate and Patrick seemed reluctant. Liam saw Patrick's eyes glaring at the Mayor. His fists clenched at his sides. It made Liam a little glad to know that he wasn't the only one enraged by the situation.

Patrick then spun and matched out of the office in anger. "Hey," Donovan uttered in shock as Patrick yanked him out of the way on his way out.

Liam turned and faced the Mayor one more time. He didn't want to let it. He didn't. The Mayor was seeing it from his own point of view.The point of view of a man who wanted the best for his town. A man who wanted to move his town forward and put it on the world map, no matter the cost. But, Liam felt his own point of view was the most definite and was not to be ignored. He was seeing it from the point of view of a animal expert and he knew that what McLauren was doing was as good as serving these tourists on a dish to these blood thirsty man eaters.

"S...dir", If you would just...", Liam uttered.

"Dr. Price!" The Mayor raised his palm in the air to stop him from talking as he cut him off. "You've obviously proven yourself incapable of handling this situation."

Then he looked up and glared at Liam. "Now I suggest you go back to the third world shit hole you came from and let me handle my town."

Then the Mayor shifted his attention away from Liam, not caring if he was still standing there. Liam felt the bile rise in his throat. He felt his heart beat faster as he slowly spun and started to move towards the door.

He found Tate standing out side the door, waiting for him, giving him a wry smile when he realised his boss had been defeated.

As Liam walked out the door, the mangled body of Jelani flashed in his head, the bodies and bones they had found in the cave, the bodies of the college students he had seen in the pictures.

Liam suddenly felt a splitting headache as he raised his hand to the beam of the door way and rested on it for support.

"This can't be happening".

Mayor McLauren was about to flood the streets of this peaceful little town with the blood of innocent people, and there was nothing Liam could do about it.

Liam had never felt so helpless and angry in his life.
Re: Ferocious (chapters 31-38) by Chykwrites(m): 7:29pm On Oct 05, 2018
38.
"What is he? Crazy?" Claire uttered in disbelief as she shot worried glances between Brent and Tate out there on her lawn.

"Nope," Tate shrugged. "Just greedy."

"God", Claire hissed again as she raised her hand to her temple. She could swear she was having a headache right now.

Brent had dropped Tate and Liam at the house some minutes ago. Claire had seen Liam trudge up to his room, ignoring her as usual, but she didn't know he was actually going to pick his things, although she did suspect.

"He...he's putting the lives of innocent people in danger for Christ sake," Claire complained.

"Well..," Brent began as he playfully kicked a stone with his boot. "Apparently, He doesn't see it that way."

Claire then looked away from the men with her hands on her waist, and into the vast expanse of greenery way beyond her lawn. She found it hard to believe that even Liam could not have done anything to prevent this, so she faced the men one more time and asked the only question that was lingering on her mind at that moment.

"What about Liam?" She muttered. "I mean, surely, he has a plan, right?"

Brent and Tate exchanged nerve wrecking glances at each other. "He pulled Liam out," Brent said with a wry smile.

Claire eyes widened. "What?"

"We're supposed to be at the airport by this time tomorrow," Tate shrugged again, before he coughed out a chuckle that made Claire realise that the young scientist may lose his mind soon.

Claire threw her hands in the air and pulled them back down again. "Nightmare," she spat. "This is a complete Nightmare."

"The Chief told me an hour ago over the phone, that McLauren had called in someone from National Geographic or something," Brent frowned and shrugged.

Claire and Tate darted thier eyes to the police officer. They couldn't hide thier surprise at Brent's words. "Are you kidding me?" Tate hissed.

"We're even supposed to go pick them up at the Airport tomorrow morning." Brent said.

"Jesus," Tate sighed as he placed his hands on his waists and walked away, shaking his head. The whole situation was obviously too much for the young man.

Claire just stood there, lost in thought. She couldn't believe it.

"Liam was leaving tomorrow."

...and the Mayor was bringing a new team. Claire couldn't help it, but she knew this was not going to end well. Liam could be an asshole sometimes, yes, but something told her that Liam's team knew more about these things than anyone. They've shown great and extensive knowledge of the matter ever since they got here. Hell, they had even succeeded in killing one of these things, and the Mayor was just going to dump them like that?

"Hell No."

Claire immediately spun and began walking towards the house.



"Claire?" Brent called. "Wh..where are you going?"

"To see Liam," Claire said as she grabbed the door knob. "I need to talk to him."

***

"Shit," Luke turned to Samantha and uttered In a heavy whisper as he hurried back to the living and threw himself on the couch beside her. "She's coming."

Immediately the teen left the front window, the front door flew open. Claire walked into the house and glanced into the living room.

Samantha and Luke sat side by side on the two seater couch pretending as if they were watching TV, while Adam was on the floor with a large book filled with animal pictures infront of him.

Luke spun and smiled at Claire. Claire responded with a weak smile that Luke knew was all too forced and fake, before she hurried upstairs.

"Oh yeah," Luke said in a hushed tone as he turned to Samantha. "Something's definitely going on."

"I knew it." Samantha hissed as she spun to look at the stairs and then back at the green-eyed boy beside her.

"...Or maybe we're just being paranoid." Luke grimaced.

Samantha rolled her eyes. "Are you serious right now? You heard the way your dad lashed out the other day,didn't you?"

"Well..," Luke shrugged. "Yeah."

"..And you said your dad and been acting all weird at home, right?" Samantha asked.

"Yeah, but come on Sam," Luke said as he shifted his whole body to face her now. "Someone died in your front lawn three days ago. You don't expect everything to just get normal after that."

Samantha turned to Luke and opened her mouth to say something, but closed it again when nothing came out, and then she turned her gaze from Luke, straight to the TV.

Luke still kept his eyes on her for a moment. "You really hate him don't you?" Luke uttered.

Samantha tried hard not to look into Luke's eyes when he side those words. She felt her stomach flip when he said that. She didn't know whether to be mad or not, because she knew he was saying the truth.

"You think he's the cause of everything," Luke said in a mild tone.

"Well, he moved in here sometime ago and suddenly, my mom started acting weird, your dad starts acting weird and someone dies on our front lawn," Samantha lashed out in a tone that almost made Luke jolt and pulled Adam's attention from his book. "So yes, I think he's the cause of everything."

Samantha then turned back to the TV and crossed her hands on her chest. Her breathing had increased now. Even Luke could see that she was seething.

Luke could see that the girl was upset and so he decided to let it go.

He pulled out his phone from his pocket and smiled when he saw a message Blake had sent to him earlier that day.

Blake: Hey dude, picnic at the Display. You're in?

Luke: Hell yeah.


Blake: Sweet. You can bring your New York girlfriend, what's her name. wink


Brie had called him yesterday and informed him about the plans for the picnic too, she had said it was for Courtney. To get her mind off Rick's disappearance.

Luke then sighed when he remembered.

"Rick."

He couldn't believe Rick was just gone, and no one knew what had happened to him. Ever since the day at the lake, no one knew what had happened to him. Not his mother, not his brother, not Courtney. Luke felt even sicker when he remembered Courtney telling him that the police think he could be a possible victim of the "Cherrywood beast."

"You okay?" Samantha's voice pulled Luke out of his thoughts.

Luke shot her a glance and cleared his throat. "Yeah sure," he nodded. "I'm good."

Samantha gave him a weak smile that suddenly seemed to flash an exciting idea into his head.

"Hey," Luke uttered as he shifted on the couch. "So, the guys are planning this picnic for the July 4th fireworks display and...."

Samantha smirked as she raised a brow while looking into Luke's nervous eyes. Luke chuckled and looked away from her and then back again. "Wanna come?"

"Sure," Samantha shrugged as she faced the TV. "Anything to get me outta this house."

"Cool," Luke uttered as he slapped the seat beside him on the couch.

"Hey," Adam immediately stood up and pout his lips. "What about me? I wanna come too."

"Forget it Frodo," Samantha hissed as she glared at her little brother.

Luke chuckled. "No. It's okay. He can totally come too," Luke uttered. "The girls will love him anyway."

"Yeah," Adam yelled as he punched his fists in the air.

Samantha narrowed her eyes at her little brother as she shook her head. "Twerp."

***

Claire walked into Liam's room without even knocking, and found him standing infront of the window, looking outside. Thinking deeply.

She looked to the bed and saw a neatly packed box with a backpack beside it.

"God. Brent and Tate were right. He really is leaving."

She looked up at him again. His hands where obviously folded on his chest, his attention still out the window. She could tell that Liam knew she was in the room, but he had chosen to be silent.

Claire scanned the room one more time and felt the anger creep up her throat. She didn't know why, but she didn't want Liam to go. She felt her heartbeat quicken.

She looked up at him with his black hair and his white shirt on top blue jeans over his tanned smooth skin. She felt something in her heart and realised she couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't stand the fact that Liam was going to give up like this.

"So that's it?", Claire uttered in a shaken tone. "That's it?"

Liam said or did nothing. His eyes still outside his window.

"You're just gonna give up?" Claire hissed.

Silence.

"Oh come on Liam," Claire said as she threw her hands up and back down again. "You're stronger than this."

Liam was still silent.

"You know as much as I do, what will happen if you leave. You know McLauren is thinking about the money." Claire urged on. "People will die, Liam," Claire yelled out. "Innocent People."

Liam shifted his head to the side when he heard Claire's shaken voice that made him realise she was about to cry. Then, for the first time since Claire came into the room, Liam slowly spun and faced her. His eyes were dead and his face bare.

"Think about the innocent people out there," Claire said as she shook her head slowly. "What about the kids that would be playing, without knowing what's out there?" She sobbed.

Liam's eyes were still on her.

Claire then straightened up and narrowed her eyes at the man before her. "What about Jelani?" Claire said in haunting whisper. "He couldn't have died for nothing."

Claire saw as Liam's jaws clenched as he slowly walked to the bed and gently sat on it.

As she watched the man thinking for a while, she began to feel uneasy. There was no way she was going to let him go and deep down, it wasn't just about the man eating animals or saving the tourists.

They had come too far.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Oh come on Liam", Claire hissed. It's not just about......" The blonde woman stopped short and gave Liam a surprised look. She thought she had heard something, but she wasn't sure.

"Wh...what?" Claire asked.

Liam raised his head and looked up at the distressed woman before him.

"I said, I'm not going anywhere." The scientist said in a steady voice.

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