Chapter 1

Meriel MacKenzie rubbed the bridge of her nose. The morning had been horrific. She had woken up to find her best baker, Melina, dead out back of the bakery.  She had supposedly been ripped to shreds by some sort of animal, but Meriel knew better.  She bet anything that her heart had been taken.

The police didn’t have a clue. Not to the truth. Animal control had been called and were searching for the beast that killed the baker. They wouldn’t find it. They didn’t know what they were looking for.

“Mer are you alright?” Kristy Larson asked. She had quickly become Meriel’s best friend after she moved to Wichita about six months back. She was the only one that knew Meriel’s secret.  So, she thought.  This latest string of so called animal killings made her wonder if he had found her.

She prayed not.

“I’m okay.”. Meriel answered. She smiled softly, all too aware of Kristy’s concern. Meriel was born empathic. She could sense and even feel the emotions of others.

“Are you really?”

Meriel shrugged. “I have to be….” She trailed off, her attention being drawn to the tall man in the suit who had just walked in.  Her heart skipped a beat. She wasn’t one to believe in love at first site, but wow.

“Earth to Meriel. You’re staring.” Kristy’s voice drew Meriel’s attention and she looked at her.

“Huh?”

Kristy let out a small laugh.” Yeah, thought as much. Don’t look now, but Romeo is on his way over.”

Meriel glanced over to see the man walking their way. His brown hair was down to his neck and his chocolate eyes were focused on her.  They seemed empty. As he approached he pulled out a badge.

“Miss MacKenzie? I’m Agent Richards. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Why not. Everyone else has.” Meriel glanced over at Kristy before she leaned back against the bakery counter. “What do you want to know?” She gently reached out empathically to try and get a read on the guy. Oddly, she came back with nothing. No, not nothing. Just…. emptiness. darkness. It made her shutter.

His eyes narrowed at the involuntary movement. “Is something wrong?”

Meriel shook her head. “No. Well, I mean nothing but the obvious.”

“Listen Miss. MacKenzie.”

“Please call me Meriel. I didn’t mean to be short with you. I’m sorry. It’s just been a long morning.”

He crossed his arms “Okay, Meriel. Why don’t you tell me about it?

Meriel shrugged, pushing back a strand of brown hair that had fallen in her face. “I live in the apartment above the bakery. If she screamed, I didn’t hear it.” Meriel shook her head.  “Why didn’t she scream? Maybe I could have come down and stopped it.”

“Or you could have gotten yourself killed as well. When did you find her?”

“Around six. She was supposed to open this morning and start the morning orders before the rush. I came down to a spotless kitchen. She hadn’t started anything. I don’t even know if she made it inside.” Meriel’s lower lip began to tremble as she imagined the horror Melina must have suffered.

He looked away for a moment then back to her. “Did you notice anything out of the ordinary?”

Meriel shook her head again. “She was just dead. Whatever killed her…Oh God” Meriel trailed off as new tears fell.

“Did you also know the first victim?” He looked at his notes, his voice sounded irritated.” Mrs. Jane Wilson?”

Meriel looked at him and nodded as Kristy took her hand. . “She gave me the financing for the bakery.”

“I see. Do you know why anyone would be targeting you?”

Meriel’s heart skipped a beat at the notion. She cleared her throat and shook her head. “No. Not at all. I get along with everyone fairly well.” She fidgeted slightly with her hands.

“It’s true.” Kristy added. “Everyone loves her and her cupcakes.”

“Alright.” He reaches into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out a business card. “If you think of anything else. Anything. Don’t hesitate to give me a call.” He gave Meriel a wink.

Did he just…. did he just flirt with me? No…yes? I must be losing my mind. Meriel took the card from him, her fingers slightly brushing his. Still no emotions. Contact usually worked. It wasn’t like he was blocking…She’d feel that. It just was as if nothing was there. “Thank you, Agent Richards. I might take you up on that.” What the hell? Was I flirting back? What was wrong with me? He definitely had me curious.

“Good.” He nodded his head before turning and walking away. Meriel watched as he left through the shop door.

This wasn’t good. It couldn’t be. She had a bad feeling.

 

*     *     *

 

Sam Winchester walked out of the bakery and to his truck. He got in and sat for a moment watching the petite brunette through the window of the Heavenly Confections bakery. She was visibly upset over the loss of her friend and Sam didn’t think she was a suspect. Cute though. He hoped she would call him or maybe he’d drop by later. Since losing his soul, he had a one-track mind when it came to women and Meriel MacKenzie was doable. Even if she had lied.

The only other thing Sam really cared about was the job. It looked like a werewolf was in town, but he wouldn’t be positive until he saw the body. His next stop would be the coroners. If the heart was indeed missing, he knew he would need a silver bullet to finish the job.

Sam put the old truck in gear and drove to the coroner’s office.  There he discovered that the heart was indeed missing from both victims.  He was dealing with a werewolf. He had no doubt.  It wasn’t even a full moon but since the apocalypse, things have been different. The old rules didn’t seem to apply. Didn’t matter.  He had a link between the two.  Meriel MacKenzie.  It may have been just a coincidence, but when is it ever just that?  His instincts told him something more was going on.  There was something the woman wasn’t telling him.  Sam got back to his truck and took out his phone. He dialed the number to the bakery.  There was a message stating the bakery was closed due to an emergency and to leave a message.  Sam introduced himself as Agent Richards and asked her to meet him at the café down the block for dinner to talk about the case more.  He hung up his phone and tapped the top of the steering wheel.  There was something about that woman that got under his skin, even after just the one meeting. It was different than what he was used to.  She intrigued him.

He had a couple hours to kill. Sam decided to go back to the hotel room and do what he did best other than hunt.  Research.