Juliet watched the trees. She had been laid prone here since sunrise, setting up her gear and strapping on an adult diaper in order to remain in position.
She popped a piece of jerky in her mouth and sucked it between her back teeth. She picked up the range finger, gauged the distance and wondered if the wind would change before she made her shot. The ravine shielded her from most of the wind, even though it meant that the noise might echo around for a little longer than she would have liked.
She was just under a mile away. An impossible distance to the layman, but she had the eye and enough gun to do the job necessary.
With a target like this, the further away you were, the better.
Her eye came from thousands of hours behind a rifle scope. At first with her daddy, then on her own, then in the military, serving in the Corps until her mom took sick and she came home. She never went back because Daddy had taken her passing harder than anyone had anticipated. There were long, sick stretches of weeks where he had to be moved from room to room, a figure of warm plastic and sad breathy sighs who looked out with glittering, pained eyes and could not speak of his pain aloud.
A plague on their house, he had muttered to himself. Juliet sighed and swallowed her feelings down, she could not lift them and him together. Nurse was too old to manage him alone. She had gone out into the town to collect the groceries when she had bumped into him, leaning against the brick wall, too old to carry off the juvenile delinquent look any more but his amber eyes stared into her and she shuddered with forbidden delights.
He was from the other family. Sworn enemies, forever condemned to mutual hatred without pause or quarter given.
‘Are you staying, Juliet?’ he asked.
The rough, sawn whisper of his voice went straight to her bones. His danger was inherent in the musk of his scent, the light fur on his lean forearms and the raw knobbed cheekbones that gave him a grace that belied his nature.
She shook her head.
‘Just until things settle.’ she said.
She sought to keep the emotion from her voice. Duty and honour had made for fine defences right up until he was at the barricades of her, calling her name in his smile and his easy, deep eyes to fall into again.
‘I need to get inside.’ she said.
He grinned, but the wound had been made, there in the pained light of his eyes.
She went inside, held it together until she was back in the car and weeping behind the steering wheel. If people saw her, they did not disturb her and by the time she was done, the windows had misted up from the inside.
They had written one another’s names in the mingled fog of their breath.
That started her crying for a second time.
It had gotten desperate, last time around. He had been willing to either bite her or take his own life alongside hers. Either one would have been a death sentence, literally but Nursey had been quicker on her feet back then and pulled her out of the priest’s back offices, sweeping the barrel of the revolver across the room as R had spat and clawed at her, feral with grief and love.
It was either the military or they would marry her off to Tib, her cousin.
She never regretted that decision. Tib had come out at Thanksgiving, introduced everyone to his boyfriend, a retired Army colonel and Juliet had gone to her room and cried into a pillow with relief. Her family motto had affirmed her decision.
‘ad laetitiam consolationis non hoc errore deciperis’
The colonel had been accepted into the fold, especially when he showed them the livid scar across his chest from when he had gone hand to hand with one of the other family, in the late eighties, on a camping trip after one of them had murdered his wife and children.
She had returned to the house, unpacked the groceries, read to her father and helped put him to bed before taking the key to the armoury and spending a few careful hours down there, making her choices.
Love made some things easy.
She had gone with the heaviest rifle in her father’s collection.
The Barret.50 cal. It was why she was a mile away from the other family’s compound and still comfortably within range of him. She had found up the silver jacketed rounds, four in total, although she knew that she would only need one.
It would be kinder that way. R would appreciate the romance of it if she had told him what she was planning. It spoke to her pragmatism and his soulful violence that they would be sundered apart, and not even touching when it happened.
The sun had set. She watched the gate at the rear swing open and R stepped out, naked aside from a pair of loose jogging bottoms. His skin glowed pale against the last traces of dusk, his eternally boyish physique already starting to twist with the pangs of transformation.
She would kiss him with silver-jacketed lips from afar. She slid back the bolt, rested her cheek against the guard and stared into the scope.
Magnified, she watched fur sprout like weeds from his skin as his limbs wrenched backwards and his jaw dislocate and lengthen into a maw bristling with razor sharp teeth.
She slipped her finger around the trigger.
‘Oh happy dagger, this is my sheath.’
She took a deep breath, until her universe was the scope and the supported angles of her position, bone on bone and whispered that she loved him.
‘There rest and let me die.’ she said.
She squeezed and part of her died with him.