What’s missing here?

I need help. This scene, from Midnight Bites, involves characters in their first encounter with The Monster. It’s still a bit rough, but I know something is missing, and it’s driving me nuts.

  • Is there enough suspense here that would cause you to turn the page? 
  • Is there anything missing?

James Earl leaned against the side of a building and pulled a bandana out of his pocket. “Damn! It’s hot.”

CC gulped down the last of the water from her water bottle. No one walked the streets tonight. Even the midweek party goers were at home by now. CC looked at the clouds blanketing the sky, growing thick and heavy. She felt a curl tickle the back of her neck and turned around. “A breeze. The storm will start soon.”

“Call it a night?” James Earl asked.

“A little while longer.” CC taped her phone. The map blared into her eyes. “We’re in the area the kids last saw Louis.” A drop of rain hit her screen. She lifted her head and looked across the street at a mostly empty three-story garage. “But maybe we hang there till the rain stops.”

A burst of wind blew down the road, wiping the last of the sweat from their bodies as they jogged into the protection of the building. As they stepped under the threshold thunder cracked and rain poured from the sky following the wind. Sheets of rain blinded the lights from streetlights. The yellow lights of the garage glowed against newly painted white parallel lines and a half dozen cars scattered on the first floor.

CC pulled her phone out and tapped a text. It beeped in reply. “Max says it’s raining all over. He’s on his way to pick us up.”

James Earl walked away from CC. He cocked his head as though listening as allowed his hand to slide along the wall of the up ramp. 

“What is it, babe?” CC asked. She watched him disappear and reappear in the flickering fluorescent lights on the ceiling. A tingle ran up her spine she recognized. 

She turned, hissing under her breath. “Tommy!” 

The golden-haired vampire walked down the ramp, smiling wide enough to show his dimples even in the dim light of the garage. “What?” he asked. “I worry. Your boyfriend can defend himself, but you don’t know what you’re up against. I want to help.”

“If I need a big brave vampire to come to my aid,” CC said putting her hand on her hips. “I’ll ask for it.”

Tommy’s cheeks glowed as his lips formed into a well-rehearsed pout, “I’m hurt, CC. Can’t I just worry about you?” 

“I don’t know what you’re up to, but when I find out -“

A growl echoed throughout the garage, interrupting her. CC froze, her hand reaching for the gun on her hip.  

Tommy leaped from the ramp to stand next to CC. “It’s here,” he said.

“That was James Earl.”

Another growl echoed. 

“He’s growling as something,” said Tommy, placing a hand on her CC’s shoulders. “He wouldn’t change unless he felt threatened.”

CC narrowed her eyes to peer into the darkest corners. “He’s learning control,” she said, but she felt the shaking in her voice as she said the words.

“Stay here,” Tommy said and vanished before CC could answer. Thunder rolled down the street and through the garage, and then she heard the intake of a breath, deep and choking. A shadow of a man that must have been the monster they sought, stood in the rain outside the lights of the garage, silhouetted by lightning. He was huge, with shoulders broad and looming but slouching. The figure took a step forward, almost into the light of the garage. As he moved closer to the lights spilling from the garage, CC saw deep oval eyes reflecting the yellow lights, reminding her of pools of urine in the alleys between bars. The head turned as though it were listening. 

CC followed its head as it moved from side to side. Pointed ears stood proud of thick hair drooping under the flow of rain. Its teeth white, sharp, and long glistened at her. They dripped red, the only color CC could see in the light. An arm reached out a hand at least as large as her head and pointed a finger at her. The tip of a long, yellow nail caught the light. Hair surrounded it dripping red rain. 

CC took in a long, slow breath as she felt a cold sweat breaking out on her skin. The monster took a step toward her. She breathed in again, reaching for her gun, She aimed and shot.

Rage poured from the mouth of the beast as it flew back into the driveway with the rain running down it. Its roar drowning the sound of the gunshot. From her right another growl preceded a large brown wolf leaping toward the figure. It smashed into the monster. It roared again pushing the wolf away. The wolf flew past CC’s head to land and slide along the wet concrete floor until it stopped with a thump against a car on the far side of the garage. 

Tommy appeared behind the monster, lifting him at the waist. CC aimed her gun, but Tommy and the monster squirmed into one image.

Tommy yelled, “Shoot it!” 

CC hesitated. The creature yelled, swinging its body into a turn and roll. Tommy leaped off the creature with a loud plop and splash into a muddy pool. CC shot, but the creature ran into the storm, disappearing into the darkness.

CC bent over grabbing her knees. She gasped twice and closed her eyes. She no longer heard the monster, only thunder and loud car speeding up and getting close to them.

With a final deep breath, she put her gun in its holster and reached a hand to help Tommy, but Tommy jumped up and pushed her into the garage as the wolf ran into him, knocking him to the ground. The wolf bit into Tommy’s shoulder, tearing out a chunk of flesh. Tommy didn’t scream, but rolled to his side. His fangs flared white as his eyes reflected the light. Blood ran down his face. He turned his head to look at her. “Run!” he shouted.

CC pushed herself up and ran up the ramp leading to the second floor, as far as the entrance as she could. The wolf leaped faster than she could run. She froze, seeing him standing in front of her rain, mud, and blood dripping from his fur and fangs. She raised her left palm to him as her right hand surrounded the hilt of her gun. “Babe, you know it’s me. I need you to take a step back.”

The wolf answered with a growl. She gazed at his eyes, their usual red glow burning a sickly orange in the yellow lights.  

“James Earl,” she said forcing her voice to remain soft despite the roaring of a car engine racing in the driveway and thunder pouning in her ears. “I know you’re there, babe. See me.”

The horn of a car blared in answer as tires squealed to a stop behind her.

The wolf leaped at her. CC fell and rolled as Tommy pulled her down and under him. The wolf’s claw swiped her wrist as her arm pulled away from Tommy. Instead of the wolf landing near her, she heard the wolf howl in pain. Tommy lifted them up and she turned to see Max holding the wolf in his arms, squeezing. The wolf yellped. CC looked into his eyes and saw the brown eyes she recognized.  

“Don’t kill him!” CC yelled, trying to pull away from Tommy, but his hands wouldn’t budge. 

The wolf fell to the ground.

Tommy released his grip and CC rushed to the head of the wolf. He lay in front of her panting until she picked up his head and put it in her lap. She closed her eyes to breath. When she opened them, James Earl lay unconscious in her lap. 

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