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I looked at the silver glowing orb that was the moon, and howled. Nothing was better than being a wolf. Freedom to do what I wanted, the wind rushing through my fur, a growl racing through my lips. It was perfect. Until they came. The humans. The ones who wanted to go through my DNA and figure out how I had become a werewolf.
Not that I cared to tell the story. I would never give away the man who turned me, trusted me, and kept me safe. My own brother. He had done it. But he’d run when they came after him. He knew I would be safe for a while, at least until they figured out we were related. So he ran. I knew he was caught, and I was determined to set him free.
I heard their approach before I saw them. Their footsteps were loud, inconspicuous. I smelled gunpowder, and I knew they had a gun. A rifle, maybe. I turned away from the moon and stared straight into the eyes of the leader, a burly man with short, blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
“Looks like we got her, boys. Take her,” he said in a gruff, deep voice. The other four approached cautiously, knowing I was dangerous. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t know I was fast. Very fast.
I turned tail and ran, ran through brush and trees and far from the men. They were fast, too, but not as much as I was. Nothing exhilarated me more than a good, hard run from some idiotic people. A gunshot rang out, and I ducked my head instinctually to avoid getting hit in the head. I may have been small, and frail looking, but I wasn’t stupid.
As I ran, I smelled the scent of other wolves, half human. I didn’t care, not unless they steered clear of the men.
“Come one, boys! She ain’t that fast! Get her!” the leader shouted.
Then, they cornered me, at the bottom of a short-ish cliff. I saw a few ledges, big enough for one paw to fit on and I tried to climb. I made it maybe seven feet up before one of the men shot a foothold that my paw was on, and sent me sprawling to the ground. I landed with a loud thud, and lay nervously, waiting for their reaction.
“Is she dead?” one of them asked.
“You better hope not, or your tail is next!” another shouted. I assumed no pun was intended.
Slowly, I got up onto my forepaws and looked at them pleadingly.
“Oh, looky here, boys. She’s alive and well. Can’t move her hind legs, I s’pose. Get her, ‘fore she gets away!” the ring leader cackled with laughter.
As they neared, slowly, I growled fiercely and tried to get up on my hind legs.
Just as one raised a gun to shoot me in one hind leg, a large, russet colored wolf jumped from the cliff top and landed smack in front of me. My eyes bugged out of my head, and so did the humans’.
He growled angrily, and bared his sharp canines and claws. He raised a clawed paw and struck the gun from the man’s hand. It flung into a tree, and snapped in half like a twig. His power was intimidating, but awe inspiring, and all the more attractive.
The man turned and fled, screaming bloody murder.
“You coward!” the leader howled after him. He turned to the russet wolf, eye to eye with him. “Now I see why…. Well, I ain’t lettin’ no dang wolf stand in my way of finishing my job!” He raised a long dagger and cut wolf’s leg. It did nothing, truly, but anger the wolf further. Just as the man raised the knife to throw at me, the wolf lunged for the man’s hand and flipped him over his shoulders. The man turned tail and fled as well, howling in rage.
“I’ll be back, and when I return, you will die!” he shouted. The other three men followed pursuit, too afraid to mess with the russet wolf. I would be, too, if I wasn’t a wolf myself.
The large wolf turned around and faced me.
“Were they bothering you?” he asked, a joking tone in his voice.
“They always are. They want me for my DNA,” I explained.
His eyes traveled over me as he chuckled. They stopped on my hind legs, still on the ground, not standing.
“Are you alright?” he exclaimed, rushing over to me.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Nothing serious.” I tried to stand, and whimpered as pain shot through my left leg. “Must have fallen on it the wrong way,” I explained, pain straining my voice.
“Here, I’ll help you up,” he said, tucking his nose under my stomach and lifting my body. “By the way, I’m Bear.”
“Thanks, Bear,” I said as I stood on three legs with his help, “I’m Shala.”
“An interesting name,” he commented, smiling a wolf’s smile.
“So is Bear,” I argued playfully.
“Well, Bear is sort of like a nickname, but it’s my birth name. I’m named ‘Bear’ because I’m big like a bear. Why are you named Shala?” he explained.
“Shala is short for Shaleigh,” I said. Slowly and carefully, I stood on my hind legs (or tried to, anyway) and shifted back to my human form. I was thankful for the clothes that had remained on me throughout my Change, or Bear’s eyes would have been the size of tennis balls. Even though the clothing was limited, it covered everything it needed to.
I didn’t mind as his eyes traveled over my body, from my sleek black hair, to my black sports bra, down my slender curves, over my bootie shorts, and down to my dirty toes.
As he shifted, too, I waited, wondering if he was as glorious as I’d imagined him to be. He was more than that.
His bare chest was littered with muscles and beads of sweat. His camouflage shorts were torn and ripped in several places. A clearly visible six pack of abs caught my attention for a moment. My eyes traveled over his muscly biceps, over to his poppin’ pecks. His Adam’s apple stuck out a bit, but on him it was adorable. Finally, I looked at his face. He had a long, thin scar running from his left ear to his cleft chin. His nose was crooked, clearly broken before. His eyes were a deep, ocean blue, mesmerizing in their own way. Rough, chapped lips curved into a smile below his nose. His eyebrows were thick, but handsome somehow. His hair was cut almost military style, but a little longer, and the color of a new penny mixed with a rusted penny, to create a russet-gold color. His angular cheekbones emphasized his handsomeness. Oh yes, he was more than I’d imagined he’d be.
His eyes traveled over my body one last time, and he whistled. “You, uh…,” he cleared his throat, “You got a nice figure, Shala.”
“Thanks,” I laughed, “You, too.” A spot of red on his arm caught my eye. “Bear! You’re bleeding!” I took his hand and gently yanked him closer to me. The sudden close proximity scared me to death, but I ignored it as I examined the cut the ring leader had given him.
“It’s nothing, I’ll be fine,” he said, and tried to pull his arm away. I wouldn’t budge.
“No! It could get infected and you would need it to be amputated. Just sit still,” I argued. The cut was deep and long, thinning out along the edges. I pulled a disinfectant wipe out of my back packet and tore it out of the package. “This might sting a little.” I gently pushed the wipe onto the cut, hearing a slight sizzle that only my sensitive hearing could detect. Then, I pulled a large Band-Aid out of my pocket and ripped apart the package.
“You have first aid in your back packet?” Bear commented.
“Just in case,” I said, carefully putting the Band-Aid over the cut. “There.”
I turned in an almost-180 turn to put the trash in my other pocket.
“You got other supplies in your pocket?” Bear asked.
“Yeah, why?” I answered.
“‘Cause your back is cut up, too,” Bear explained.
“What?!” I exclaimed. I turned to look at my back. Sure enough, there were thin, long, red lines running from my right shoulder to the bottom left corner of my back. “I don’t know if I can fix that.” I dug in my pocket to see what I could find. I pulled out another disinfectant wipe, and asked Bear, “Can you please gently wipe my back with this?”
“Yeah, no problem,” Bear said. I could hear the smile in his voice. He took his sweet time, carefully dragging the wipe across the scrapes. I could tell he was savoring each moment his fingers brushed my skin. A tiny, stinging sensation traveled with the wipe as it killed any germs in the wounds.
“Don’t enjoy it too much,” I joked in a whisper.
“I’m trying not to,” he laughed. As soon as he was done wiping the cuts and scrapes, I turned around and took it from him. I put it in my other pocket. “Don’t you have another Band-Aid for those scratches? They’re bleeding.”
“No, I don’t have a Band-Aid that big,” I chuckled. “If I did, I would have had to steal it from a hospital.”
“Maybe you need to go to the hospital, get that stitched up.”
“No. I’m not going to the hospital to get a few scrapes fixed. They’ll heal on their own.”
“So will this.” He pointed to the Band-Aid on his arm.
“Not if infection gets to it first.” At that, Bear silenced. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way. Don’t want to get caught by those men, now do I?”
“How are they to know what your human form looks like?” Bear questioned.
“They’ve seen me human before. They’ve been chasing me for months. I feel like there’s a GPS in me somewhere, because they seem to find me everywhere I go,” I answered, sighing.
“Come with me. No one has ever found my pack. And if they ever came close…well, let’s just say daylight never found them again,” Bear suggested.
“I don’t do well in a pack. I nearly killed the Alpha in the last pack I was in. I decided from there I was just going to be a lone wolf, you know?” I disagreed.
“That’s how you replace the Alpha. They either step down, the next is inherited, or you fight for it. It’s quite simple, really,” Bear explained.
“Who’s your Alpha then?”
“No. I can’t go to your pack if you’re the Alpha. I fight too much,” I said.
“Please? Just for tonight. One night, please?” Bear pleaded.
“No, Bear,” I said as sweetly as I could.
“Too late,” he chuckled, and swept me into his arms.
“What? No!” I argued, kicking.
“Stop fighting me. You’ll just end up staying longer,” Bear said calmly.
“Please put me down?” I pleaded.
“Nope. You’re staying with me for tonight,” he disagreed.
“Then put me down so I can walk there,” I said.
“Alright,” he said, after a moment’s thought.
“Jeesh,” I muttered, dusting off my shorts. “One look at a pretty girl, and he thinks he owns her!”
“Because now I do,” he whispered in my ear.
“What? No. No you don’t,” I argued.
“Yes, I do. I saved your life, therefore, you owe me.”
“Are there any other wolf-law-things I don’t know about?”
“Perhaps. But you’ll figure them out along the way.”
I sighed as he put me down gently, took my hand and started walking again, or in my case, hobbling. I rolled my eyes as he looked back at me, slowly hobbling behind him, and he whistled again.
“Quit your staring, or you’re gonna lose an eye,” I teased.
“Well, you know, I wouldn’t have to turn around and stare if you were beside me,” he said, in a slightly questioning way. I rolled my eyes again as he gently pulled me to his side.
A stick broke nearby. My head snapped in the direction of the sound. Pale yellow eyes stared at me. I could feel another Change coming, and a growl rising up my throat.
“J, leave,” Bear said, somewhat calmly. The wolf growled in response.
“Bear,” I warned, as I sank to my knees.
“No, Shala, no!” Bear ordered.
“Can’t…stop…me!” I huffed, twinges of pain making me twitch. My muscles shifted to become that of a wolf’s muscles, my bones stretching and some shortening, my teeth growing into canines.
As a wolf, finally, I stared into the eyes of J.
“You’re going down,” I growled to him.
“In your dreams,” J growled back. He lunged for me then.
I easily dodged him, and leapt on his back, biting his neck in all the right places. He tried to throw me off by rolling on his back, but I clung tight with teeth and claws. Pain in my neck pulled me off and threw me into a tree. It was Bear, as the beautiful russet wolf he was. I watched as Bear attacked J, reaching for his jugular. His teeth wrapped around all the right puncture points and he bit. Hard. Blood splattered everywhere, coated Bear’s teeth and fur, and J’s fur as well. I dodged as much as I could, but a few drops hit me square in the face and my shoulders. I felt as though I’d rolled around in a blood bath. I was dripping blood, and not mine.
Bear stood as the last of the blood in J’s body drained onto the ground.
My breath was shaky as he neared me, and I nearly took a step back.
“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered.
“I’ve never…I’ve never seen someone be killed, I’ve never killed anyone. I thought maybe I could maybe maim or seriously injure him and he’d go away. But then you came and…I didn’t get the chance,” I said softly. “I’m not afraid of you. I’ll never be afraid of you. But I don’t want to be near you.”
“He was trying to hurt you! What did you expect me to do?” Bear argued, but tried to say calmly.
I shook my head, and turned tail and ran back to the city, to the streets of London, where a lone wolf could easily find a meal off of rats, and perhaps a rogue thief or two.
I blinked tears from my eyes with each step, trying not to remember the gruesome scene.
People screamed at the sight of me, a bloody, crying, almost screaming wolf. I pushed past the crowds, growling at any who thought they were brave enough to try and stop me. I ran to alley between to shops, where I knew plenty of rats and thieves hid.
The alley was dark, so dark only people would see my bright green eyes glowing in the darkness as I awaited my next prey. It sat between a beauty salon and a shoe store. Oh, yes, there would be plenty of thieves here for me.
I’d been on the streets for a few months now, and I’d eaten so many rats, I was sure they were all gone now.
I slept in the corner, between the fence of someone’s yard and the back wall of the shoe store. I could hear the malicious laugh before I saw the person.
He held a sack full of what smelled like money and coins, and a small pistol in the other hand. He laughed again, his shoulders shaking with it.
“Can’t believe that was so easy!” he laughed, counting the money. I could see several hundred dollars worth of money.
I growled, hungry for justice, and thirsty for blood spilt at my hands. I’d scared all the rats away, unfortunately. But as my stomach rumbled and my growl grew louder, the man looked up.
“What the…?” he mumbled. As he saw my eyes, he jumped back. “Aw, crap!” He quickly raised the gun and aimed at me, while he tried to shove the money into the bag. A shot rang out, and hit me squarely in the stomach. But that didn’t stop me. I pounced, and clawed at his chest and face. When he was too weak to move, I dragged him to the front of the building, where the police and victims were, and dropped him in front of them.
“So, looks like we don’t need to put out a search party. Our little wolf friend here found him,” an officer said. He leaned his head to get a better look at me and said, “And I take it that she is expecting payment. Anyone got enough cash for a few T-Bones for her?”
The owner of the store slipped his hand up for a moment and said, “I think two pounds of steak out to cover it, huh, sweetheart?” He looked at me like one might look at a puppy. I guess I was skinny enough to be a pup.
I pawed at him, begging.
“Alright, two and a half?” the owner asked. I smiled a wolf’s smile and jogged back to the alley, waiting for him expectantly. He followed me as I lead him to my little corner. “This is where you live? Okay. I’ll be back with some steaks for you in a bit, okay?” I nodded in response.
“Are you sure she’s a wolf? She’s acting like a dog on the streets,” he murmured to the officer.
“Yeah, ‘course she is. What dog has green eyes? She’s just a little skinny is all. Needs to put on a few pounds, get a little muscle. Maybe we ought to call animal control, and have them take her to the zoo. And a vet,” the officer disagreed.
“Yeah, maybe. Hey, Jackie, call animal control would you? Tell them we got a lost wolf here, that she needs a vet and they can take her to the zoo,” the owner said.
I crept up slowly on them, growling. I had the urge to Change and shout at them, but I knew that would be a bad idea. Instead, I settled for growling my discontent.
“Oh, I don’t think she wants that. She’s happy out here in the alley, catching thieves and what not. Who knows? I haven’t seen any rats around. She must have eaten them all or scared them away. But I don’t think she should go to the zoo. Just take her to the vet, and then rehabilitate her,” a passerby said, “Would you like that? Huh, sweetheart? Just get healthy and happy, and we’ll move you to a new home.”
I put my ears back, then thought for a moment. A new home wouldn’t be so bad. But I still didn’t want to leave. I growled again, this time to the owner.
“I think she just wants those T-Bones. Yeah, Boss, she wants them T-Bones,” Jackie said.
“Call up Bill’s Steak House and tell them to bring two and a half medium rare T-Bones, would you, Jackie?” the owner said, back away slowly.
I turned and jogged back into my corner in the alley, content. I heard the officer calling someone, but didn’t hear everything. I settled with a short nap.
I woke up to the sound of a vehicle pulling up in front of the store. I heard chains rattling and cages moving. No, I thought.
I got up and stood on my hind legs for a few seconds before I Changed. It was quick and swift, and I was human before the two animal control men came. As they rounded the corner, they only found me, sitting down, with my head in the corner, eyes closed.
“Where’s the wolf?” one asked, irritated.
“What wolf?” I asked, opening my eyes.
“There’s supposed to be a wolf here. Not you. Man, I don’t have time for this. Where’s the dang wolf?” he said again, coming at me slowly, angrily.
“Here she is,” I whispered, so only they heard me. I got down on my knees, and Changed.
Their eyes bugged out of their heads, and they backed away slowly.
“What the heck?!” they screeched. They tripped over their long poles with wire circles on the end. I pounced, and clawed at their uncovered faces.
They screamed bloody murder, and tried to crawl away. I bit at their hands and their poles.
The officer from before ran around the corner. His mouth dropped at the blood splatter everywhere, the wolf attacking them, and the men screaming. He shouted into his walkie-talkie, “Back up! I need back up! There’s a rogue wolf here, attacking two men! We need animal control, anyone that can handle this!” He ran back to the front. I let the men go, and they followed in pursuit of the officer. I could hear them shouting, “It was a girl! There was a girl, then she—she just changed! She changed into a wolf!”
I smiled, licking my paws clean of blood.
“No, gentlemen, that’s not possible. No human can change into a wolf. Men, please, relax,” the officer argued.
I went back to my corner and Changed again. I sat in the corner and screamed, trying to look terrified. I dragged a clawed finger across my skin to forcibly make myself bleed and look like I had been attacked by a wolf.
The officer ran back into the alley and dropped his jaw again.
“Who are you? What happened to you?” he said, and knelt beside me.
“The wolf! I jumped the fence, training for cross country, and it attacked me and jumped the fence! It ran!” I exclaimed.
“Don’t worry, just come with me. We’ll get you fixed up right away,” he said, and then spoke into his walkie-talkie again, “Bring up an ambulance. We got three wolf attack victims here. The wolf ran off. Put out a search party.” He helped me stand as I cradled my bleeding arm, and held a hand over my stomach to cover the bullet’s entry and exit wound. And then he took me to the front of the building.
“That’s the girl! That’s it! She’s the one that changed into a wolf!” the men howled, backing away from me.
“Oh, come on! That’s impossible!” the officer huffed.
“Oh, really? Come on! Do it! Show him!” one of the men said.
“Show him what? My bleeding arm?” I said, half joking. As I was about to argue further with them, Bear appeared out of nowhere.
“Officer, this is my sister. Can I take it from here?” he said persuasively. He put his hand on the middle of my back in a brotherly way.
“After she sees an ambulance, of course,” the officer said.
“She’ll be fine, sir. Our mother is an experienced nurse. She will take care of it,” Bear argued softly.
“Of course, of course. It was nice meeting you, Miss…?” the officer agreed.
“Newman, sir. Kaytlyn Newman,” I said, using the first name that came into my head.
“A pleasure, Miss Kaytlyn Newman,” the officer said, holding out his hand for me to shake.
“Perhaps another time? I’m covered in blood,” I laughed.
Bear slowly dragged me away. I looked back once more, and the animal control men were staring daggers into me.
“Where did you come from? How did you find me?” I turned on Bear when the men were out of earshot.
“I traced your scent. It wasn’t all that difficult, really. Then I saw you, and I decided you probably don’t want to go to the hospital. Also, I heard them talking about taking you to a zoo. I just…let’s just say, a zoo is no place for a werewolf,” Bear answered.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t need your help. I can take care of myself,” I argued.
“Oh, so almost being taken to the zoo is taking care of yourself? Being shot by a thief is taking care of yourself? Making yourself forcibly bleed is taking care of yourself? That’s okay to you?” Bear growled.
“Maybe not…but I could have escaped! I’m a smart girl, despite what you think,” I snapped.
“I know you’re smart. And I also know you can’t jump the fence in a zoo. It’s too high. And you couldn’t Change, either, because that would raise suspicion and those men would be after you again.”
“Oh, so you do know I’m smart? And you decide to tell me that now?”
“I couldn’t tell you back there. I couldn’t tell you that night. You’d done nothing to prove it to me. But one thing that was smart was sending those two guys to a mental facility.” He chuckled. “Most of your ideas have a lot of backfire choices in them. If I hadn’t shown up, they’d have hauled you out of that hospital in chains, like you were a criminal, and over to the place where those men who want you are.” He put his other hand on my back and pushed me forward. I had no idea where we were going.
“Let go of me! I don’t need your help!” I exclaimed, fighting to get free.
“Really? Would you prefer I bring you back and tell them you’re a werewolf and have those men haul you off?”
“No,” I sighed.
“Then quit fighting me.” His voice was stern, commanding, almost parental.
“Then let me rephrase my original statement: I don’t want your help, now please let go of me, and please leave me alone,” I said.
“You need my help. And you know it.” He stopped and turned me to face him. “Just admit it. I see it in your eyes. You want my help, you need my help, and you want me to help.”
“No, I don’t. Just let go of me and we can part ways as unlikely friends.” I yanked my arm out of his grip, and rubbed it gently where his hand had been.
“How about this: let’s not part ways but instead continue forward as unlikely lovers?” Bear suggested. He pulled me into another alley and kissed me in the darkness.
His hands ran along the bare skin of my waist, until he wrapped them around me and held me tightly to him. I stood there, acting like nothing happened.
When he released me, I turned on him.
“What the heck was that for?!” I exclaimed in a whisper.
“To prove my point,” he said calmly.
“Yeah, well, I got something else for you. Kiss my—,” I was cut short by a voice saying my name.
“Shala?” a man said.
I turned to see who it was, and immediately recognized my brother, Jessie. He hadn’t changed much. A bit more muscular, maybe, but he was still taller than me and still had honey brown hair and green eyes like my own.
“Jess!” I exclaimed, and hugged him tightly around his midsection. He hugged me back, around my shoulders. “How did you escape?” I asked as he released me, wiping tears from my eyes.
“Well, Bear helped me really. It’s a fascinating story. But first, let’s get back to H.Q., and then we’ll talk about it,” Jessie said.
“H.Q.? Head Quarters? No. I’m not going. I’m not going anywhere with Bear, ever,” I argued.
Jessie took my hand and looked down into my eyes. “Trust me,” he said, and pulled my out of the alley, Bear trailing behind us. I could feel Bear’s hand reaching for places it shouldn’t, and I threw my elbow into his rib cage and stomach harshly.
His muffled groan satisfied me, and I hummed deep in my throat.
“I can see how you two are twins. You look alike, you act alike, and you both cause pain,” Bear said, catching up beside Jessie, and rubbing his stomach. Smart choice, I thought.
“Yeah, I guess she took on my bad habits, huh, lil’ sis’?” Jessie agreed, giving me a nuggy. I punched his stomach playfully and broke free of his embrace.
“Yeah, except I made them a little more dangerous,” I added.
“Yes, that’s my little sister: The evil, blood thirsty, raging wolf. Nah, Shala, you’re the sweet, polite, wonderful sister any brother could have. Only difference is, I got the best sister ever,” Jess said, and kissed my cheek in a brotherly way.
“Yes, Jess, and you’re just as soft and cuddly as I am a fairy princess. But you are a great brother,” I said. I hugged him tightly for a moment.
“Okay, so…. What’s the plan, Bear?” Jessie asked Bear.
“Not much of a plan, but we’re going back to Head Quarters right now,” Bear answered.
“What exactly is Head Quarters?” I asked.
“The place where a group of people meet….What else?” Bear said, chuckling.
“Don’t push it, Bear. You’re already in for a beating from me,” I warned him.
Jessie leaned down and whispered to me, “Go easy on him. Be nice. He’s just a little lovesick puppy, is all.”
“What are you talking about?” I whispered back.
“Tell you later,” Jessie suggested, only it wasn’t a suggestion.
“Tell me now or he loses his head with the next snide comment he makes,” I argued.
“You will not hurt him. Understand?”
“Good luck with that, Jess. I’m my own girl now.”
“Shala,” Jessie warned.
“What? It’s true,” I grumbled.
“Be a good little sister. Listen to your big brother,” Jessie instructed me.
“Fine. If I can, at least,” I agreed.
“Shala, I think you need to take it easy. Don’t Change for a while. The wolf’s emotions are getting to you,” Bear suggested.
“I’ll Change when I want, thank you very much,” I growled, almost lunging for Bear’s throat.
Jessie held me back, saying, “Shala, relax. Don’t hurt anyone here. We’re on your side.”
“Hey, Jess, when we get to H.Q., can I have a word with her alone? And, no eavesdropping?” Bear asked.
“Yeah, go ahead. I’ll get her for her attitude later,” Jessie answered.
We rounded a corner and stopped in front of a row of small two-story houses. We passed a few before turning into the yard of number one-six-five-three. The yard was desolate, with dead grass and wilted flowers. The house itself was about to fall down, its own rusted door hanging by a thread.
“This is H.Q.?” I said, raising my eyebrow.
“Yeah. It’s much safer than it looks, trust me,” Jess said. “It’s also nicer on the inside.” He opened the door and pulled me inside, Bear following.
There was a small, thin hallway leading to what looked like a kitchen and stairs on the left side at the end of the hall. The walls were a bright yellow, with white flower prints flowing from one point to the next. A clean, white chair rail poked into my side as I stopped and waited for Bear and Jessie to lead the way. I followed behind Bear slowly, not wanting to stir up any more trouble. I ducked as I nearly hit a lamp hanging on the wall.
Bear stopped and ducked onto the stairs. I went on to follow Jessie, but Bear grabbed my hand and stopped me.
“Come on. I want to talk to you,” he said, and pulled me up the stairs. He turned left and practically threw me into the closest room, slamming the door shut. Then he turned on me.
“Why are you so…so…so arrogant? What makes you think you can say what you want to me? I’m Alpha. You’re not, and you’ll respect me or else,” he howled in rage.
“I’m not in your pack, so why does it matter? I’ll talk to you however I want to talk to you!” I argued back, nearly shouting.
“Anyone in this city who’s a werewolf is under my control. And you will be no exception,” Bear growled, wiggling a finger in my face. I resisted the urge to bite it.
“I will be an exception if I leave,” I snapped.
Bear’s demeanor softened, and he whispered, “No. Please don’t leave, Shala. Please.”
“What? Why?” I asked.
“Just…please, don’t go, Shala. I’m begging you,” he whispered again.
“Why?” I asked again.
He looked down into my eyes. “I couldn’t stand it if you did.” And he kissed me again. But this time, I didn’t just stand there and wait for him to stop. I kissed him back.
I could feel the smile on his face as I kissed him back, and wrapped my arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around my waist tightly.
As much as I didn’t want to, I was beginning to love him the way he loved me. He was so kind and caring, I felt as though I didn’t deserve him. But it was the same for him. He didn’t deserve me, not truly, anyway. I was way out of his league.
A growl rumbled in his throat and escaped his lips as he took a moment to breathe. As soon as his lips were back on mine, he pushed me against the wall.
“You’re mine now,” he said between kisses.
“Good,” I said, earning a quick chuckle from Bear.
His hands ran down my arms, slipping on my blood. As I realized the blood was there, so did he. His hands slowly dropped, his lips pulling away.
“We need to get you cleaned up. Come on, love,” he said, and pulled me back onto the stairwell and downstairs.
“Well, look who it is. Shala. Nice to see you again,” said a somewhat familiar male voice. The ringleader from that night in forest.
“No,” I whispered as my heart nearly stopped. I froze in place, staring at him. He had Jessie in his arms, in a chokehold. Anyone else in the room was also in a chokehold by the other four men.
“A little bloody, but we can fix that. Bear, take her,” the ringleader said.
My jaw dropped as Bear pulled me into a chokehold, with my arms behind my back, held in his firm grip.
“No, Bear!” I shouted. I turned to Jessie and the ringleader. “Jessie! Help!”
“I can’t, Shala,” he said. “They’re too strong.”
I struggled for a moment, fighting to break free. In my peripheral vision, I saw the ringleader nod. A sharp, painful, electric shock spread from the bottom of my spine, to my neck.
“Stop! Please! Stop!” I screamed in pain. I sank to my knees, screaming bloody murder.
“Let her up,” the ringleader said.
“Yes, sir,” Bear agreed, and stopped the insane pain. He pulled me up to stand, pulling a knife to my throat. Tears streamed down my face. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered, loud enough for my ears alone to hear.
“No, you’re not,” I whimpered. Suddenly, the click of a lock sounded and cold metal wrapped around my wrists. Handcuffs. Silver handcuffs. They burned into my skin, with a searing white hot pain. “Get these dang handcuffs off me!”
“No. They restrict your power and are a wonderful way to teach you not to mess around,” the ringleader said.
“Why are you doing this? I’m of no use to you!” I cried, trying to restrain my tears of pain and heartache.
“Quiet! Bear, get her into the car. Fast. And make sure she’s tied down good and tight,” the ringleader said.
“Wait!” I screeched. I had to know his name. I had to.
“What?!” he growled.
“I need to know your name. Before I die. Please. Tell me your name,” I pleaded, in the smallest, weakest voice I had. I tried to look as frail and innocent as I could, to appeal to his better nature. If he had a better nature.
“Travis. Travis Rafter,” he sighed.
I nodded small, jerky nods and murmured, “Okay. Okay.”
Bear jerked me away, pushing me forcefully through the door and out into the sun. The glare froze me for a few seconds, too bright for my eyes to adjust fast enough. Bear pushed me forward, and put me up against a car. He patted me down like an officer would; looking for any weapons I had on me. Of course I didn’t have any weapons. I’d been a wolf for the past, gosh, like three months. If I could have, I would’ve clawed him to smithereens!
“I don’t have any weapons, you idiot!” I pointed out as he reached into my shorts pockets.
“Shut it!” Bear exclaimed. The sharp, electric pain ran through my body again. Worse this time than the last.
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” I screamed.
“Leave her alone! Stop it!” I heard Jessie scream. As I fell to the ground, the last thing I saw was Jessie break free of Travis’s grip, and attack Bear.
“Get her up. Now!” a rough voice said angrily.
Large hands shook me roughly. “Get up!” an angry, familiar voice exclaimed. The electric shock was back, but only for a second.
I shot straight up and screamed bloody murder.
“That worked,” Bear laughed.
I was sitting on the sidewalk, in front of an unfamiliar building. I realized Bear was within range of my feet, so I kicked straight up into his jaw, and then knocked him over. I jumped up and ran. Fast. Even in handcuffs, I could run faster than the wind. Jessie followed in hot pursuit and as I turned the corner, I found there was no was out. A brick wall, too tall to climb up or jump over, stood on my way, creating an open square. My only other option was to run the way I had come. But I found that blocked, too. Travis, Bear, and three others stood in my path. I was fed up with Travis and Bear at this point, to I stepped through the hole between my arms, stretched my arms as far as they could go, and broke free of the handcuffs. I smiled maliciously and Changed.
As a wolf, I attacked, teeth and claws bared. I slashed and clawed at anyone who came at me. I broke the handcuffs off of Jessie and he Changed, too.
Suddenly, a gunshot rang out, and I froze. It was Travis, with a handful of silver bullets in his hand, and a pistol in the other. He pointed it at me as I jumped towards him, and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit me square in the chest, and fiery pain exploded in my lungs. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. Blood pooled around me, dripping from my mouth. The taste if metal swam around in my mouth and I coughed it out. The bullet case fell to the ground from my lips.
Bear rushed forward, cradling my head in his lap. I tried to growl, but whimpered instead.
“Why did you shoot her with silver bullets?! You’re killing her!” he shouted.
Jessie stood to the side, cowering like a puppy.
“She deserved it. She tried to attack me,” Travis said calmly.
“You weren’t supposed to kill her! Boss’s orders!” Bear argued. Tears streamed down his face. Maybe he was sorry he was doing this to me. Maybe he wasn’t. It didn’t matter, not when I was about to die.
The light left my eyes, and I could feel it. My eyes closed as Travis raised the gun and pointed it at Bear.
“You’re okay, you’ll be fine. I promise, I won’t let them hurt you again,” a hushed voice said quickly.
Bright lights shone in my eyelids. A small pinch pricked my arm. Squeaking wheels sounded beneath me. A hand slipped into mine.
“Where is she? Where’s Shala? I’m gonna kill that girl, kill her!” an angry voice shouted loudly.
“Security! Security!” an unfamiliar voice said.
“Will she be okay?” the hushed voice asked.
“Move aside, sir. Please, sir, move aside. Sir, you can’t go in the operating room,” another voice said. The hand left my grip and I was suddenly very aware of something cutting my skin.
“I’m sorry, sir, but she didn’t make it. She passed away halfway through the procedure,” the doctor said, hanging his head in shame and sadness. I wondered who he was talking about, and who he was talking to. I turned the corner and found a distraught Bear holding the arms of his chair so tightly, they cracked in several places.
“No. She couldn’t. She can’t…she can’t be dead. No,” he argued, tears choking his voice.
“Sir, she’s dead. I’m sorry. There was nothing I could do. I tried to bring her back when her heart stopped, but I couldn’t,” the doctor argued back.
“No!” Bear screamed, and jumped up. He swung angry fists at the doctor, screaming in rage and sorrow. The doctor ran backwards to get away. Jessie held tight to Bear, trying to stop him. Bear went limp as my cold body passed him in a small, wheeling bed. I wondered how I was standing there, watching them, as my own body wheeled past.
Bear stopped the bed, pulled the sheets back and picked me up carefully. He kissed my forehead, and carried me out of the hospital.
As I followed, I heard malicious laughter outside the hospital. It was Travis, laughing at my limp body.
“So she died, then?” he laughed.
“Shut it! You’re not taking her body, you’re not taking Jessie, either,” Bear growled.
“Fine. But when the boss comes after you, I ain’t helping you,” Travis agreed.
“He’s got others. He doesn’t need Jessie. And he didn’t need Shala.”
Bear walked off, head high, shoulders back, and tears restrained. Jessie had his hands in his pockets, and his head down, silently crying. I followed, running, until I realized my legs weren’t moving. I was just going forward.
Whatever, I thought, I’ll figure it out later.
“Bear, where are you going?” Jessie called.
“Home,” Bear answered.
“What? No. Why?” Jessie asked.
“I’m taking her home.”
Jessie stopped and stood in the middle of the street, watching Bear walk away with my body.
“Jessie! Jessie! Don’t let him just walk away with me!” I shouted at him. He stood there like I wasn’t even talking to him. “Jessie? Hello? Jessie! Can you hear me?” I asked. I went to slap him, but my hand went right through him.
I forgot Jessie for a moment, and turned back to Bear. He was on the other side of the street, standing there, watching me. Or, watching Jessie. Jessie was staring at Bear.
“Jessie? What’s going on?” I asked, forgetting he couldn’t hear me.
“Shala…,” he whispered, and walked through me, and over to Bear.
My head swung over the side of Bear’s arm, and he picked it up and moved it into the crevice of Bear’s bent elbow. Then he moved my swinging, limp arm so that it rest across my stomach. His careful actions and cautious demeanor told me he was still being careful with me, even if I was dead.
Bear smiled a short, fast smile and returned his posture to a gloomy yet honorable state.
“Take her to the hospital! She needs help!” a passerby said, nearly screamed.
“She’s dead. We’ve just come from there,” Bear growled.
The passerby looked shocked, but said calmly, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Then after a momentary glare from Bear, she asked, “What was her name?”
“Shala,” Bear said.
“How old was she?”
Bear looked to Jessie for an answer.
“Sixteen,” Jessie said.
“How did she die?”
“Gunshot wound. She died in the middle of the operation that should’ve saved her life,” Bear said angrily.
“It was in her chest, see? It’s very rare for people to survive that,” the woman said.
“I don’t need your commentary. That’s not the only reason she died. Get out of my way,” Bear growled and pushed her aside, minding my limp body.
“Bear, be gentler. You could hurt her,” Jessie said.
“I don’t care about her,” Bear growled.
“You don’t care about my sister?” Jessie asked, frozen in place.
“Of course I care about her. I mean the woman,” Bear answered, still walking. Jessie jogged to catch up with him.
Suddenly, a police car pulled over. Officers stepped out, and one I recognized as the officer who had come to get me out of the alley.
“Oh, my goodness! Kaitlyn!” he exclaimed. “Is she all right? Take her to the hospital! Get in the back of my car! I’ll take you—.”
“No. She’s dead. And her name isn’t Kaitlyn. Her name is Shala,” Bear said. The officer stood there, silent and sorrow faced. Bear walked on, not bothering to stop no matter how many times the officer told him to, and that he would take me to a cemetery.
Bear took my body back to HQ, and laid me down gently in a bed in a spare room. He brushed my hair from my face, put a bouquet of flowers under my hands, and kissed me one last time. Then, he sat in a chair beside the bed, just watching my unmoving body.
I put my hand on his back, comfortingly, and of course, it went through him. I stared at my body, too. The blood that covered me was near black, splattered in random places. The hole in the middle of my chest was larger than I’d thought. It was burned in places, where the silver bullet had pierced my skin. My arms were scarred and bloody from my attempt at escape. There was a small hole in my stomach, from when the robber shot me. It, too, was burned in some places. There were charred rings around my wrists from the handcuffs.
“Bear,” Jessie said, meekly making his way through the door.
“Leave!” Bear growled. He took a cup from the dresser and threw it at Jessie. Jessie dodged it easily, but the message got through. He nodded and left.
Suddenly, Bear burst into loud, nerve-racking sobs. Tears streamed down his face. He laid his head on his arms on the edge of the bed. I was still mad at him for helping Travis capture me. But looking at him like that…I couldn’t take it. I wrapped my arms around his body, and for once, they were solid.
Bear’s head slowly straightened up as he felt arms around him. “Jessie, I thought I told you to…,” he started, but stopped as he saw my face. “Shala? What…? How…?” he stuttered. “Is it really you or am I hallucinating?” He stood and took hold of my arms.
“Yes…it’s me,” I croaked. If I could cry, then whatever had been restraining my tears was now broken. Tears would’ve been streaming down my face if I wasn’t dead.
“How are you here? You’re body…it’s…,” Bear said, but left his sentence unfinished.
“I know my body’s dead. But my…my soul…isn’t,” I said. The sudden solidity of my body was gone, and his hands went through me.
“Where did you go? Shala?” Bear asked. The tears returned to his face.
“No, Bear, don’t cry,” I said, as I started to drift away. I blinked and suddenly I was in the forest.
I watched as a dark black wolf howled at the moon. She turned around and stood face to face with Travis. He spoke, “Looks like we got her, boys. Take her.” The same words he had spoken to me. The wolf turned tail and ran. A gunshot followed her. I suddenly realized that I was watching the memory of the night I had first met Bear. It kept going, to when I fell, to when Bear came, and to when J attacked. I watched as I walked away from Bear, and the memory froze in place, like a paused movie.
“Do you see what you did wrong?” a male voice said.
“What? Where…who are you?” I asked, turning in circles to find the owner of the voice.
“I am Hasban. You are Shala. This is a memory,” the voice said, and walked slowly out from behind the trees.
He had his arms behind him, almost like he had handcuffs on him. He wore a leafy, green and white shirt and tight green pants. His hair was bleach white, streaked with thin lines of purple, and pulled up like he had a water bottle under his hair, curling at the end. His eyes were almond shaped, and brown. His thin lips were set into a straight line. His pointed ears flicked in different directions. His shoes were blue and pointed at the toe.
“Do you see what you did wrong?” he asked again.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Look at Bear’s face as you walk away. Do you see what you did wrong?” Hasban said.
I looked at Bear’s face. The pain of loss that was plain on his face shook me and tore my heart apart. I answered in a choked voice, “Yes. I shouldn’t have left. I wouldn’t be dead if I had stayed with him.”
“Yes. And no,” Hasban replied.
“What do you mean?” I repeated.
“It is true that you should have stayed with Bear. It would not have caused him so much heart ache and he would not have had to make a deal with the scientists and Travis to find you. But it is not true that you would have survived. You see, we Faeries have the ability to look into the future. We watched yours if you had stayed with Bear, and you still would have been captured, and you would have been worked by scientists so hard, that you would have died of exhaustion. It would have been a much less painful way to die. But you still would have died, and you would have died with him,” Hasban answered.
“Wait a second…what’s a faerie? Like, tiny people with wings, grant wishes if you step into a faerie ring faeries? Or evil, mean faeries who cause disease and kill people?” I said slowly.
“Neither. If you step into a Faerie Ring, and you are older than eighteen, you become a Faerie. And whoever’s Faerie Ring it was, you belong to them. I, however am a Faerie on the Justice and Law Board, and therefore have the power to choose your penalty. We do have wings, though,” Hasban said calmly.
“My penalty? For what?!” I exclaimed.
“You are charged with deprivation of love, murder, and assault on an innocent man,” Hasban said, extremely calm, “and you have ten minutes to convince me that you deserve a second chance with Bear.”
“Who did I kill?”
“You, Shala, killed Bear when you left him. You deprived him of your love, and you assaulted him, Travis, a robber, and two innocent animal control workers.”
“First of all, Bear is still alive. And second, he didn’t need my love. There are plenty of other more suitable girls for him than me. I am not the only woman in the world—,” I said, but he cut me off.
“Yes, but you are the only woman he ever truly loved. Anyone else was to pass the time before he found you.”
“Well…he could have gone back to them. Or stopped me from leaving. And third, what did you expect me to do? He tried to capture me, I tried to escape. So did Travis. And the robber was just because I like justice, and he needed some. That and he shot me. The animal control men were because they were trying to capture me, too. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t like being restrained,” I argued. “All my charges have reasonable excuses. Just let me go back to Bear. Please. He needs me.”
“I was hoping you would say that. But, as penalty, next time you die, you’ll not be returning alive. You’ll be a Faerie and under my jurisdiction until otherwise stated,” Hasban said, and actually smiled. He smacked down a gavel on a wooden platform that had just appeared out of nowhere. The memory faded to white, gone now, and I would try to forget it forever. “Go back to Bear. Grab you body’s hand, and just take a breath. Goodbye, Shala,” Hasban instructed.
“How do I—,” I started, but stopped as he disappeared, “Or just leave me, that works, too.” I concentrated on the image of Bear in the spare room, crying next to my body. And suddenly, I was there. I reached out to touch Bear, but I wasn’t solid enough. I grabbed my hand like Hasban said to, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.
My eyes opened, staring up at the blank ceiling. My ragged breath left my lungs in a hurry. I turned my head slowly and looked at Bear. His head was still down on his arms, tears still streamed down his face, sobs still racked his body.
I moved a finger, just a little twitch, then slid my hand onto his arm. I wrapped my fingers around his wrist and turned my head to face him.
“Bear…,” I whispered, “Bear….” His head slowly perked up and he looked at me.
“You…you’re still alive? No. You were dead. I saw you’re ghost. What…?!” he exclaimed, but didn’t seem to care about my death now that I was alive. He shoved the flowers out of my hands and swept me into a tight hug. He caressed my hair, and held me tightly. He wasn’t willing to let go.
“Bear, let me breathe,” I joked.
He let go, saying, “Right. Don’t you ever stop breathing. Ever.” He smiled, and kissed me. It wasn’t a normal kiss, not a quick little peck and go, but a deep, loving kiss that touched my heart and completely melted it.
He arms wrapped around my body, my arms interlocking around his neck, and my fingers tangling in his hair. Slowly and gently, he pushed me down onto the bed, so I sank deep in the plush mattress, the weight of him feeling like a feather with my renewed strength.
Suddenly, Bear rolled over and I was on top of him. His hands roamed downward, reaching into my back pockets. I chuckled, copying his movements.
“I’ve missed you so much,” he whispered, breathing raggedly.
“I’ve always been here. In you’re heart,” I whispered back.
“I’ve missed you in person. I need to know that you’re safe. And unharmed,” he said.
“So safe that you put me in the hands of Travis?” I couldn’t stop myself from saying it. It just came out. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—.” He stopped me.
“Travis was my only way of finding you. I had no other choice. I didn’t know which way you had gone and there were far too many scents for me to try and find yours alone,” Bear agued.
“I said I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. But as long as were stating facts, may I remind you that you certainly left me harmed? You got me shot, shocked, and dead,” I said, as calmly as I could. Rage was stirring within me, building up and ready to explode.
“I had no choice! I didn’t want to do it! I would’ve been killed, too!” Bear shouted. He sat up quickly and pushed me—as gently as he could with his anger flaring—off him. He jumped off the bed and stalked to the other side of the room.
I sat up straight and fast. “You did have a choice! You could have let me and Jessie go! You could have run with us! We could have left! Escaped!” Just as I mentioned Jessie, he swung the door open and exclaimed, “Bear, who are you—.” He stopped short when he saw me. “Shala? Is that you? Are you really alive?” He ran over hugged my tightly, knocking onto my back and making me sink deep into the mattress.
“How did you—? What happed? How are you here?” Jessie asked.
“Faeries. I got a second chance,” I explained.
“Faeries? Great. More mythical creatures to worry about,” Jessie joked. “I guess I’ll leave you guys to it, then. See you later, Shala.”
“Bye, Jess,” I said. I sat up.
“See you, man,” Bear said, giving him a high-five. Jessie left slowly and calmly, closing the door behind him.
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “I didn’t mean to say it, I just couldn’t help it. You know me. Wolves…we get angry fast, and we don’t easily forget. But unlike others, I forgive easily. I’m sorry, Bear. I didn’t mean it.”
“I understand. I’m sorry, too. I get angry easy. I need to work on that,” he chuckled. “I forgive you. Forgive me?”
“Of course I forgive you. I can’t stay mad at you forever,” I said. I stood up, walked over to him, and hugged him tightly. As his arms gently ran up and down my back, he stopped at the hole in my chest. Pulling away, he looked at it. He gently ran his fingers along the edge, a tear running down his cheek.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
I looked down at it, too. “It’s alright. It’s the past, it’s forgotten. You are my present and my future, and you will never be forgotten,” I dismissed his apology.
“No. This is my fault. I did this to you. I’ll never forgive myself for this,” he said solemnly.
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I probably shouldn’t have done what I did, but you didn’t do anything. You just wanted to find me, to be with me. I can’t be mad at you for that,” I argued softly.
“Shala—,” he started, but I cut him off.
“Shh, Bear. It wasn’t you fault. Don’t argue. Please,” I pleaded, my lips close to his, my voice just a whisper.
“But, Shala—,” he tried to argue, but I cut him off again, this time with a kiss.
“No arguing. Alright? Let’s go. I need to find some new clothes. This is about to rip in half,” I said, gesturing to my black, burned and bloody sports bra.
“That’s not so bad,” Bear joked.
I mock punched his arm.
“Hey, easy,” he chuckled.
“You’re one to talk,” I laughed, “Breaking a rifle in half with one swipe of your claw.”
“Oh, you remember that?” he asked.
“How could I forget? That guy’s face was comical! He ran screaming,” I answered.
“True, true,” Bear laughed. “You weren’t afraid of me, were you?”
“No. Never was, never will,” I answered, slipping my hand into his.
“Good,” he said, smiling, and squeezing my hand.
As we walked down the steps, Bear called out, “Jessie? You there?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” Jessie responded. “What do you need?”
“Clothes. According to Shala, hers are about to rip in half. Not that I have a problem with that,” Bear called.
“Yeah, but I do. You don’t need to see her like that. Yet,” Jessie laughed.
“Hey! I’m still here!” I exclaimed, mock punching Bear again.
“Ha ha ha! Love you, sis!” Jessie called from what I assumed was the kitchen.
“Sure you do!” I called back, laughing. I hopped down the stairs, two at a time, waiting at the bottom for Bear.
“Just ‘reborn’ and you’re full of energy! God, I’d be dead tired if that were me!” he exclaimed.
“No, you wouldn’t. You have more strength; it was reserved in your body. You just didn’t know you had it. So, when you need it, you can call on it and it will come,” I explained. Bear gave me a confused look. “It’s hard to explain.”
“Yeah, and hard to understand,” he replied. I laughed, and kissed his cheek.
“You, my friend, need to shave,” I said, gently touching the stubble on his jaw line and chin.
“I face an unfortunate complication: I don’t have a razor,” he said.
“Then I guess we’ll have to do it the old fashioned way,” I said, “With a knife.”
“Pray I don’t cut myself,” Bear joked.
“I know you won’t. You’re not that stupid,” I said.
“But I was stupid enough to let Travis get hold of you,” Bear said sadly.
“No. Stop that,” I said, gently slapping his arm. “I am here, and I always will be. I’ll be yours as long as you want. I promise.”
“Good. ‘Cause I’m keeping you forever and ever,” Bear agreed.
“Then I’ll be yours forever and ever,” I said, smiling.
“Awesome,” Bear laughed, gently pushing me into the kitchen.
“Here. I got you one of my old t-shirts and a pair of shorts,” Jessie said as we entered.
“My shorts are fine. I just need a shirt. Or a new sports bra,” I said, somewhat slowly.
“I think what you got on now is just fine,” Bear said, in a hushed tone, and he lightly spanked me.
“Uh, no. I don’t think so,” I argued playfully, pinching his hand with one nail and one claw.
“Ow, ow, ow!” he said, bending over sideways and trying to break free. “You’ve made your point!”
“Good. Don’t make me do it again,” I laughed.
“Oh, God, don’t do it again!” Bear said.
“I won’t,” I promised, “As long as you’re on your best behavior.”
“I will be, trust me,” he agreed.
I picked the t-shirt, examining it. It was white, with Jessie’s and my favorite band on the front: Every Avenue, and our favorite album: Bad Habits. I slipped it on over my head, and pulled it back so that it hugged my so-called “figure”, and tied it up with a hair tie, tucking it up under the shirt to I wouldn’t have a tail.
“That’s better,” I said, using another hair tie to pull my bloody, mangled hair up into a ponytail.
“So, what now?” Jessie asked. “You have clothes, so now what?”
“Travis has others, right? Other wolves, I mean,” I asked.
“Unfortunately, yes. But for some reason, he wanted you and Jessie,” Bear said.
“Okay, well we’ve got to find a way to get them free,” I said.
“Are you mad? That’s impossible!” Jessie said.
“I agree! The place it fortified with every manner of protection possible! If you manage to get through one, you’ll be killed in the next!” Bear exclaimed.
“Maybe. But you’re forgetting one crucial detail: I have you, and you know Travis. Travis knows how to get past it all. If you take me to him and pretend I’m still dead, I’ll bet we can get past the protections and eventually find a way to free the others,” I explained.
“That could take months! I’ll not let you play dead for months, because then you might actually die!” Bear argued.
“Neither will I! You’re my little sister! I just got you back, and you’re expecting me to let you go back there? No!” Jessie exclaimed.
“Trust me! I know what I’m doing. Please? Bear, please. Don’t you care about the others? They’ll die if they stay there!” I said.
“How do you know? Last I saw, they were plump as pumpkins,” Bear replied.
“Trust me. A Faerie told me—,” I began, but he cut me off.
“A Faerie told you? Now you’re just making this up! You’re asking for death! No, begging for it!” Bear said.
“If I was making up Faeries, how else would I be here?” I said sternly.
“I don’t know,” he whispered.
“Exactly. Faeries can see into the future. One of them told me my fate, had I not run from you that night. Therefore, I can easily assume their fate is the same.”
“Assumptions don’ prove anything,” Bear said.
“Bear, I can easily make my point again. Don’t argue with me. I have to set them free, or at least I’ll die trying. They don’t deserve to be locked up and worked to death. They never did anything wrong to deserve it. I never deserved my death either, but I will stop the slow murder of innocent wolves, even if it kills me to do it,” I said, “Are you with me or not?” I held out my hand, the way a sports team might do before a game.
“I’m in,” Jessie said, putting his hand on top of mine. I looked at Bear, waiting anxiously for his answer.
“I guess I’m in, too,” he sighed, “Just don’t die on me. I couldn’t stand it if you did.” And he set his hand on top of Jessie.
“Together, they’ll be free,” I said, “To freedom!”
“To freedom!” Jessie and Bear said together.
“One question,” Bear said, after removing his hand from the pile, “How are we going to find Travis? We haven’t a clue where he is.”
“How did he find me last time?” I said, answering with a question.
“In a forest, tracking you,” Bear said slowly.
“Exactly,” I said, smiling maliciously.
A few minutes before sundown, I was waiting by the edge of the black forest that Travis had found me in earlier. I sent Bear out to the city, as a wolf, to search for Travis and lure him in. Jessie was in a tree, hiding in wait for me to run by, so he could join me as we lured Travis in.
Bear came back, at least ten yards ahead of Travis and a few other men.
“Go, run! He’s coming!” Bear exclaimed, out of breath. He ran forward, and jumped into a tree, hiding.
I waited until Travis caught sight of me, and then ran deep into the forest.
“I swear, if that’s her and she’s somehow alive, I’m going to kill her!” he exclaimed, close behind me.
I ran back through a familiar trail, one I’d been on before. Ducking under fallen trees, jumping over puddles, and swerving in and out as confusingly as possible, I headed for the small cliff Travis had cornered me in before. Suddenly, Jessie jumped down beside me, and ran with me.
As we neared the cliff, I hid behind Jessie to make it look like we were one wolf. He cowered in front of me, and I cowered behind him.
“Shala,” Travis huffed, “You’re alive?”
Jessie nodded, and growled.
“Hey, that’s alright with me. But now—you’re mine,” Travis growled, raising a gun at Jessie and I.
As he put his finger on the trigger, I leapt up from behind Jessie, and tackled Travis. His gun fell out of reach, and his eyes bulged out of his head.
“No, Travis. I’m not yours. But I am the reason you die,” I said menacingly. “Tell me where the others are, and I’ll let you live.”
“The other what?” Travis spat.
“The other wolves,” I growled, pressing my paw down on his windpipe.
“Okay! Okay! I’ll take you to them!” he said after a minute, his voice scratchy.