It was a quarter past three when Annabel glanced at her watch. This would be the last group to tour the Louvre museum with her before it closed for the evening. She rubbed the back of her neck and did a little roll of her muscles until a pain-relieving crack echoed in her ears.
The hours grew long, and the days short, since she took on extra shifts at the museum. But the long nights of hunting all the beasties that humans perceived as fairy tales made her body sound as if it were a century old and she didn’t want her jobs competing with her spare time. Her few hours in between jobs had become filled with so many regular errands that she got none of her Christmas shopping done.
Christmas was not something she normally celebrated. In fact, she didn’t celebrate much of any holiday. Not since her hunter’s toolbox of weapons had been given to her by her father on the Christmas she turned eighteen.
It was bad enough having a birthday that fell on Christmas since she always felt short-changed in the gift department growing up, but when her father produced such an overwhelming gift that clearly had no thought put into it, she just couldn’t bring herself to celebrate anything anymore.
Annabel’s father, Winston Thomas, was a cold man towards her and her mother, Francis, while growing up. So being blindsided with a crossbow as a gift and the matter-of-fact tones of declaring that the family was a bunch of monster hunters didn’t surprise Annabel much. But he had been a man of his word and taught Annabel how to hunt, and for that, she was grateful.
Annabel had grown up thinking that family was a bother to him since he didn’t spend much time talking to her or her mother. Hunting and training to hunt seemed to be the only things that kept the family bond strong and even then, Annabel was doubtful about her father’s feelings.
But now being older she understood what the family business was all about and realized his cold demeanor had more to do with being afraid of losing the two loves of his life, and far less about the careless emotions he seemed to exude.
The group began to fill up next to her as she looked up from the watch on her wrist and she glanced briefly at the crowd. The eyes she gazed upon popped wide with excitement about the tour they were about to embark on. That look, reminded Annabel of her own excitement of the museum around Christmas when she was a child.
Her parents always took her to the Louvre every year before Christmas because she loved looking at the art. And now that she was in her twenties she came to the conclusion that they were probably bringing her here because they too enjoyed art and needed an escape from all the darkness of the night.
It was a tradition for them to go until the hunting forced her parents into Spain five years back. A pack of werewolves went crazy and were killing off more humans than cancer and heart disease combined and her parents had little choice but to move there to try to help the other hunters with the terrible pack that grew and spread like a virus.
Annabel remained in France and fought the nasty creatures of the shadows by herself. Many of them were vile, but not all of them were bad. Many witches and werewolves that grazed her path, had come across to her as fair. They proved willing to protect humans as much as she did— which proved helpful since she was the only hunter in France.
During her nightly hunts, Annabel even came across a vampire that also protected humans. But that was rare for a vampire because their nature is one of selfishness. And since the majority of the ones she had witnessed had no care towards humans, she developed a large distaste for vampires.
When her parents left, she was heartbroken. She then directed that grief into a personal mission to hunt as many of the nasty paranormal creatures as she could find and put an end to their horrible existence. She quickly realized her goals were lofty once her kills grew into the hundreds. Now, keeping track of her kills became futile because no amount of vanquished beasts would bring her parents back to France. There were simply too many paranormal creatures to tackle on a worldwide scale.
This would be the first time that she might be celebrating Christmas with her parents in five years and she wasn’t sure how happy she was about seeing them. The years of isolation from any real human contact and the sting that welled up within her after discovering dead humans at the hands of these monsters made her bitter. And the one thing she didn’t want, Annabel found herself doing. She saw herself as her father— growing apart from most human companionship because of all the horror she witnessed nightly.