Getting back

Into the swing of things is quite hard after NaStyRoMo, lol. I’ve spend three weeks writing a totally original story I planned in about 5 minutes. It reached almost 20K word count wise and the characters are demanding more. I haven’t felt like this in ages, it’s quite… exhilarating. I’ve come to really appreciate the people that I worked with and I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to get to know a person well is to read their writing. People can act a lot when they speak to you, but there’s something raw and open about words on paper. It’s been a blessing to read other people’s stories I tell you. I have to go back to commercial writing now, lol, needing to finish the three (four if you count the one on hiatus) fan fiction stories that I have in the pipeline. I’m looking forward to it of course, but somehow it won’t be the same. This month has been a lot of fun and NaSty gave me a wonderful distraction to how crazy my life’s become.

I’d like to point y’all to a few websites once again. To those who want to know more about NaSty – please feel free to go to: http://nastyromo.webs.com We’ve gone world wide and hope to have more people to participate next year. The website is still under heavy construction, I’m doing it and I only have the odd moment to spare to play with it. Next, feel free to go to the NaSty blog. I realized that I haven’t pointed this one out at all. You can find the other participants stories there. It’s at: http://nastyromo.wordpress.com
Lastly – and this is more directed towards the NaStyNine, I’d like to point you all towards www.fictionpress.com. It’s a great website on which to host original stories and get some feedback.

Hope to read you all soon!

Alyss

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NaStyRoMo – Einde

So, here we are at the end of my NaStyRoMo attempt. J Before you all disappear back to your lives I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s been such a pleasure to write, and I certainly hope that it was a pleasure to read. This was my attempt at Romance, but, lol, needless to say – I’m not terribly good at it. I tell a story, with different aspects of life woven into it. Thank you for baring with me, for sharing with me and for allowing me to read your things in return (you NaSty Nine you). I hope most of you will return on the odd occasion to see what I’m up to. 😉

If you want to read more of my stories – the only place I can direct you to is Fan Fiction.net. My page is: www.fanfiction.net/~alyssc01 There’s something for everybody there and – if you want to read more f/f stories in particulary, I’d point you towards the two – The Touch of Green Fire and it’s sequel, The Healer’s Touch. Even if you are not familiar with the cartoon, the story (I’ve been told) is pretty self explanatory.

Thank you again. Without anymore delay – I present to you the last part of Bitten.

Bitten – Finale

Into the Future…

Antonio was waiting in the truck, but he had turned up the music and was paging through a magazine, his way to give them privacy as they said their farewell. Technically, they had already done so the night before and the morning when they got up, using their time together to speak about what had happened, but more importantly, to be together in a way that only lovers could. Vaughn felt sad to be leaving, but she knew that for the moment, she had to return to her life in town, settle her things, think about life and then make a decision as to how she was going to live with her new found outlook on the world.

She was also going to have to leave town for a while, reinstate contact with the family she had neglected ever since moving here and see the doctor Francis had recommended to try and have her scarring reduced. Like Francis, she didn’t want to send the wrong message. It was hard, and exhilarating, and frightening, but Vaughn knew that for the first time, she had to take some responsibility.

She looked at Francis as she stood at the bottom of the steps on her porch, her arms crossed over her chest even though her face seemed calm and serene.

“You never told me why you’re here,” she said, sensing Vaughn’s thoughts. “What you’re doing in this one horse town.”

Vaughn smiled and shifted, refraining from scratching at her healing wound. “I guess, like everybody, I was running,” she said lightly as she bend down and spread her hands, inviting Romulus to a farewell hug. He came over with his wolf-like smile and pushed his body against her. ‘I’ll protect her,’ he said to which Vaughn hugged him gratefully.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “I appreciate it.” She rubbed his back, mindful of his healing wounds, then stood up to look at Francis again. “But I think the difference between me and everybody else as that I was running towards something. Not away.”

Francis raised an eyebrow and smiled, curious about her words. “And, what were you running towards?”

Vaughn’s answer was in her smile. ‘You.’

Francis blinked surprised then dropped her gaze, embarrassed but clearly pleased. “And I’ve been waiting,” she said softly. “As I will wait again.”

Unable to help herself, not caring what Antonio read in the gesture, she leaned forward and carefully hugged her lover. “I’m coming back,” she said. “As I told you, in order to do that though, I have to leave a bit. I need to put things back into perspective. So much has changed Francis and this last change certainly pulled the mat out from under me. I need distance from the forest to think about this, distance from the wolves. I’m not sure what my thoughts and needs are at this stage. Before I decide to do anything, I have to figure that out. But,” she held her more tightly, “I am coming back.”

Francis nodded, briefly burying her head in Vaughn’s neck. “I know,” she said. “As I told you, I have hope. You haven’t even howled with us yet.”

Vaughn smiled at her and nodded. “When I’m ready,” she whispered. “I want to make sure that it’s my need instead of Athena’s.” She paused then whispered. “I love you, you are the single most amazing thing that’s happened to me. Thank you for everything.”

Francis nodded again as she pulled away, her cheeks coloured slightly. “I should be thanking you,” she said and smiled, reaching down to squeeze her hand. “I already have.”

There was nothing else that they could say to each other. Vaughn smiled at her lover and took a step back, bowing slightly to acknowledge her, making Francis smile. Then, she turned around and walked to Antonio’s truck, only looking back when she opened the door and checked to see if Francis was still standing by her cottage. She was, with Romulus pressed tightly against her side. When Vaughn looked at her, she smiled and returned the small bow that she had given her, before turning around and walking back into her cottage.

She didn’t look back.

Fighting tears suddenly, Vaughn slipped into the truck next to Antonio and quietly closed the door. She heard him put his magazine down and start up the truck, a sound so alien to her suddenly it almost frightened her.

“Feeling better?” Antonio queried with a smile as he looked around and started backing down the natural driveway to a spot they used to turn around. “You still look a bit pale.”

Vaughn nodded as she fastened her seatbelt, mindful not to show how stiff she was in her shoulder. “I just need some rest,” she said. “She took good care of me.”

Antonio chuckled and glanced in his rear view mirror. “Well, you’re going to need it,” he said. “John’s given a month’s notice. He’ll be moving to the city. He came to me and said that this life is just not for him.”

She could hardly contain her surprise. “Really?” she queried then added hesitantly. “What set it off?”

Antonio shrugged. “Dunno,” he replied. “Sometimes, people just need to move on to greener pastures. It would mean more work for you. If you want to come back of course.”

She had to laugh. “Why does everybody think I’m leaving?” she queried. “As we told you on the radio, I just want to take a few more days’ leave to go and sort some things out. I’m coming back then, I’ll definitively be back by the time that John leaves.”

Antonio smiled at her. “Just checking,” he said then blinked and hit the breaks, painfully jolting Vaughn’s shoulder. “Would you look at that.”

Vaughn blinked and turned to see what he was looking at, the hair on the back of her neck rising. Athena the she-wolf had moved into the road behind them and was staring at them, her golden eyes shining in the sun. When their gazes met, she lifted her head and howled, a clear sound that told Vaughn all that she needed to know.

“I wonder what she’s doing,” Antonio stated, unaware of her reaction.

Vaughn swallowed and took a steadying breath, allowing the wolf’s emotion to wash over her. “She’s saying good bye,” she whispered. “In her way. And, telling us what she feels. Sharing her emotion. That’s why they howl you know, to reach out and get in touch.”

Her boss turned to look at her. “And did you howl?” he queried, though he didn’t seem surprised, making her smile. “I suspect that Francis does it sometimes.”

She shrugged and glanced back to Athena. The wolf’s howl trailed of and, when she grew silent, she quietly slipped back into the forest.

“No,” she said. “But, I will one day. Soon.”

FIN

NaStyRoMo – Part 12

I wrote this entirely while working, lol. I just finished typing it up to my computer. Working a double has its advantages and strangely enough, today I felt very creative while waiting tables. Could be that I was at work for almost 15 hours…

Bitten – Part 12

Now.

She sat outside, listening to the night, listening to the forest and listening to herself. She took a deep breath and then another, feeling truly awake for the first time in her life. There was a shift on the floor boards and then a creak as Francis came up from behind her and sat down, handing her a cup of tea as she made herself comfortable on the veranda steps. They sat in silence for a while, though it wasn’t uncomfortable.

Vaughn shifted so that she could look at Francis. The woman was truly an enigma. A part of her was so normal; the part of her that worked than tended to her garden and which still wrote essays for universities. Yet, the other part of her was wild and magical and wise beyond knowledge. Her life would not be easy- ever – but not because she wanted it to be. She chose this odd life and embraced what was pushed her way rather than running away from it. She had a gift and it was called Understanding. Vaughn found herself smiling as she reached out and touched the woman’s leg.

“What happened after I was bitten?” she asked sofly, breaking the silence. “Did you… I mean… Benjamin?”

Francis turned to look at her and smiled slightly. “Did I shoot the boy?” she queried with a chuckle, making Vaughn blush. “I saw him on the ground,” she confessed. “I thought that you had.”

Francis chuckled softly and sighed, looking out to the forest. Romulus came from behind them and went to lie at her feet. Now that she paid attention Vaughn realized that he too looked a little worse for wear. There were scratches and bite marks on his chest and legs but considering that he was still here she figured that the other dog must’ve looked worse.

“A part of me wanted to,” Francis said finally as she pushed her one foot into Romulus’s fur and rubbed his belly. “This wasn’t the first time these lads tried it but it was the first time that I was able to stop them in time. I could feel Athena’s anger and need to get home, needing to harm those trying to kill her cubs. She has lost two litters in the past three years. So, when the lad struck his lighter and threatened to kill them I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.” She paused and smiled at Vaughn. “But I didn’t kill him love. The thing about life is that you can’t always do what you want because sometimes it’s just not the right thing to do. So, I fired next to him, making him drop the lighter and dynamite stick.” She trailed off and sighed, pulling her leg back so that she could hug her knees to her chest. “Athena didn’t mean to bite you,” she said softly. “She was scared and focused on protecting me and her cubs. They had been out hunting on the far side of the mountain when she heard Romulus’s call. When you pushed John out of the way she just reacted on instinct and grabbed you instead.” The look she gave Vaughn was almost apologetic.

Touching the bite, Vaughn shivered and wondered what would’ve happened if Athena had grabbed her by the throat. It was strange but in a sense she remembered attacking herself. She remembered standing in a stream and smelling the air as she heard Romulus’s call of alarm. As she remembered running through the forest after Bucephalus, she remembered running towards the den. One memory wolf, the other human but both hers now.

She swallowed and let her hand drop to her lap.

“What’s going to happen now?” she queried, feeling suddenly fearful. “I mean, those boys will cause a lot of trouble for you. They are just looking for legal reason to harm you.”

Francis’s smile wasn’t quite as friendly when she shrugged. “I trust that nothing will come of it,” she said slowly. “Nothing has and if they would’ve done something then they’d have done so already. You see, after you fell, the boy Benjamin couldn’t pick up himself up from the ground fast enough to run down the track – leaving quite a stink behind him I have to add. And John…” She paused and sighed – looking at her hands. “At first he ran to the truck; grabbing his dog away from Romulus who had managed to pin him down and almost suffocate him senseless. He leapt into the truck and drove off which gave me the space to get Athena off of you. I could see that you had lost your senses and admittedly for a moment I panicked, knowing that we were miles away from my cottage with no quick way to get there. Athena rushed off to see if her cubs were alright and I tried to asses the damage that had been done. While I was busy, I suddenly heard Bucephalus coming back at a quick trot and when I looked up I saw John riding him back, his face ashen and smelling of fear. He didn’t say anything but helped me get you on the horse. I have to believe that he felt remorse or rather responsible for what happened to you. Which is why I hope he won’t cause anymore trouble.”

She turned to smile at Vaughn and for the first time she saw a hint of tears in the older woman’s eyes. Again she felt an overwhelming sense of love for the woman and reached out to touch her leg.

“You’re putting a lot of faith in the good of humanity,” she said quietly. “Assuming that John wouldn’t do anything because he felt guilty.” When Francis snorted she knew that the woman was contemplating the same thing.

“I have to,” she said quietly – not looking at Vaughn. “I have to do it to keep on believing that I’m better off in my cottage, pretending to have some kind of a normal life as opposed to getting lost with the wolves.” She blinked suddenly and angrily wiped at tears that had snuck down her cheeks. “Sitting here has to be worth something.”

Vaughn heard Romulus whine but, with her new sense, she heard the comfort in his voice, saw the subtle gestures she’s always missed. But, she also knew that right now Francis needed a human gesture, a conformation that being a person was worth just as much as being a wolf. So, she leaned forward carefully and hugged the woman who had changed her life. Francis stiffened at first and then softened into her embrace.

“I’m sorry for my part in this,” Vaughn said softly as she pressed a gentle kiss on her lover’s cheek. Francis shook her head and pulled away from her, turning so that she could touch her cheek.

“You saved them Siobhan” she said softly. “If it wasn’t for you – they would’ve died.” She seemed to want to lean forward and kiss her but hesitated, unsure if she was still allowed to.

Vaughn smiled at her and gladly leaned forward to meet her halfway, brushing her soft lips with a light kiss.

‘It’s alright,’ she found herself thinking. ‘It’s going to be alright.’

Francis deepened her kiss; allowing her hands to move to Vaughn’s back. ‘I know,’ her touch sang to Vaughn’s new perception. ‘That’s why I have hope.’

Vaughn, mindful of her sore shoulder, also allowed her hands to travel to Francis’s back, moving her fingers until they brushed her hair. ‘And me,’ her touch confirmed. ‘You have me.’

&&&

To Be Continued…

NaStyRoMo – Part 11

Hey guys and everybody. Sorry for the long delay. I’m not going to dig into the reasons, it’s just been a hell of a weekend. Sigh. My life’s going to change again. Drastically. I’d welcome change if I wasn’t so tired. I’m reminded of why I write because heaven helps me, it keeps me sane. But, enough of me, J you came here for my characters so, I present to you the 11th instalment of NaStyRoMo. It’s coming to and end. I might rewrite this later, I think I can do better, but for now, I just enjoyed typing.

Bitten – Part 11

&&&

Now.

“So, I came here,” Vaughn said softly – still looking at Francis, starting to feel calmer than she has since waking up with the need to howl. “Am I right?”

Francis, still on the couch beside her with her legs tucked in underneath her, smiled at her kindly, nodding her head ever so slightly. “I had warned you so many times not to drive up this mountain in the dark,” she said softly. “I had just come back from a long ride and Bucephalus was actually quite tired.” She sighed. “I just knew when I saw you that something was wrong, something that stretched beyond me and my problems of the day though, I most probably set it off. What else do you remember?”

Vaughn swallowed as she remembered seeing Francis lead her horse to where it’s stable was, already tacked off and lead just by her hand in his mane. The woman had looked closed off and alone as she turned to look at her, the headlights of her work truck flashing in her eyes. She could not see Romulus, except for the two green orbs of his eyes in the dark. She remembered how Francis had frowned when she leapt out of the car and ran towards her, frightening her horse. Francis had calmed him down quickly with a quiet word, then turned her dark eyes on Vaughn, fear tight in her face, demanding to know what’s wrong.

Vaughn had told her of the conversation that she had over heard in the pub and told her that she had heard the boys decide to come up during the night to kill Athena’s cubs. She understood now the look of fear that she had seen in Francis’s eyes, the wild look that screamed; ‘Not again, I don’t want to see that again.’
She had not known then, but she had understood that Francis was deeply afraid for her wolves. She did not say anything, but pulled Bucephalus around and lead him to her porch where she had hung her bridle. Vaughn had tried to talk to her, tried to ask her if she needed to phone help but Francis just shook her head tightly.

‘This is my responsibility,’ Francis had told her as she tacked up her heavy draught horse and shoved the reins into his hands. ‘Hold him.’

She went into her house, with Vaughn numbly holding her horse’s reins, wondering if she should put a saddle on but knowing that she wouldn’t know which end went wear… Francis returned quickly, carrying a rifle and a backpack and had scrambled onto Bucephalus’s back without a saddle.

‘Stay here,’ she had barked at Vaughn as she took the reins and turned the gelding with one hand but Vaughn quickly grabbed the bridle. ‘Should I come with you?’ she had asked. ‘Should I…’

Francis reply had been quick, but not unkind. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Don’t follow me Vaughn, you don’t want to know where this will lead.’

She then kicked her horse again, urging him forward as he pulled out of Vaughn’s grip and cantered into the dark forest. Romulus had remained behind for a second longer, looking at Vaughn as if accusing her of causing this trouble. Then, he threw his head back and howled once – a long, spine chilling sound that felt as if it froze the marrow in Vaughn’s bones before he disappeared after Francis.

Vaughn looked up at Francis on the other side of the couch, finding the woman’s eyes tired but kind. “I remember that you told me not to follow you,” she said softly. “But – I didn’t listen.”

Francis shook her head sadly and gently, carefully, reached out to touch Vaughn’s leg.

“No,” she said – her voice holding all the sadness of the world. “You didn’t.”

&&&

What has come before…

She remained where she was for a few moments longer before she found herself bursting into a run in the direction Francis had gone in. She was fit, though not very fast, but she knew with the terrain and lack of light Francis wouldn’t be able to go very fast either. Sure enough, she soon heard the faint sound of Bucephalus’s heavy hooves and breathing ahead of her. She tried to see the black cob but it was too dark already and she could not look ahead of her for very long, needing her eyes before her to keep her footing. Instead of risking a fall, she trusted her ears to guide her towards Bucephalus.

Vaughn didn’t know how long they ran and, if the circumstances weren’t so dire, she would almost have enjoyed it. When her eyes adjusted to the dark and she could see the dangers in her way, she found herself falling into a comfortable rhythm of movement and breathing, savoring the feeling of the forest around her. She wondered if this was why Francis went riding, to feel so in touch with her surroundings or whether the woman sometimes ran with the wolves she loved so much.

There was an alien light in the darkness suddenly and a shout, so alien in the serenity around her that it send a jolt of adrenaline through her body, urging her to run faster. The light, perched at the top of an incline in the forest, became brighter, joined by the sound of a running truck that drowned out the sound of hooves. And, above the noise of the truck there was the clear sound of dogs starting to fight. For the first time, Vaughn stumbled and fell down amidst the moist undergrowth but, she quickly picked herself up and ran up the hill, her lungs burning by the time she reached the top. There, she paused a moment, leaning on the tree for support, to survey the scene before her in the clearing.

Romulus was furiously fighting with a black bull terrier hear the car, the wolf’s ears flat and his teeth already bloody as he tried to best the fighting dog. The two boys were there as Vaughn had anticipated, John lying on the floor, curled up in a ball as he tried to get his breath back. Although she couldn’t be sure, Vaughn wouldn’t be surprised if Francis had rode him down on her cob. She didn’t see the horse, but she quickly found her lover and the other boy. Benjamin was standing over a tear in the earth, a stick of dynamite in his hand and a Zippo lighter in the other. His eyes were dark and feverish as he looked at Francis, his body language challenging her to stop him. Above the fighting of the animals, there was a strange quietness that hung between the two people. Francis looked like the Greek goddess Artemis as she calmly stood in front of Benjamin, her legs spread slightly as she trained the rifle on him.

“I’ll repeat my command,” Francis was saying softly – her green eyes almost shining in the faint light. “Drop it and go home.”

Benjamin glanced at John and then turned a smooth smile on Francis. “You won’t do it,” he said slowly. “You might be mad woman, but we all know that you’re no murderer. You can’t shoot me.”

Francis took a deep breath and closed her one eye, still aiming the gun at him. “Go home,” she said again, though Vaughn could’ve sworn that she saw her finger twitch. “You lost nothing here. Go home.”

Benjamin sneered and glanced down to the crack between his feet. There was a faint whimper from the depths of the earth and Vaughn almost became sick when she realized that he was keeping the cubs inside the den. “I have business here,” he said. “Your the one who should go home woman, you have no business here.”

Francis shook her head and dropped the gun slightly. “This is my home,” she said bluntly. “And those cubs are mine. I won’t let you harm them. Go home boy, end it here.”

“Oh,” Benjamin said with a barked laugh, “it will.”

He struck the lighter, the flame dancing above the silver Zippo.

Everything suddenly seemed to happen at once. There was an ear splitting crack through the clearing as Francis fired her rifle and a shout as Benjamin fell. Vaughn yelped in fear and realized suddenly that she had closed her eyes. She opened them quickly to see Benjamin scrambling up as Francis armed the rifle again. Frightened that she had done something terrible, Vaughn started running down the clearing, yelling Francis’ name at the top of her voice. Still looking at the boy, Francis looked up surprised as Vaughn yelled again, running to grab the gun from her lover. Her shout was drowned out by another as John screamed his mate’s name. The world slowed down as he too ran towards Francis, his hands gripping a baseball bat. In a split second Vaughn changed her angle and ran into him, her need to protect her lover from herself and them exploding in her like a bomb of emotion. And, then, from no where, she saw Athena. The wolf too was running towards John, her teeth bared as she raced to her cub’s rescue. They barreled into the young man together, Vaughn stumbling as she pushed him out of the way, a split second before Athena leaped from him.

The world stopped completely when Athena leapt, not into John, but miscalculated and at her snarling fiercely as she grabbed Vaughn by the shoulder and threw her to the ground, growling as her teeth tore into Vaughn’s flesh. Vaughn experienced a split second of shock before her world was enfolded by a wave of pain and fear. She screamed and tried to push Athena from her, the wolf’s nails digging into the soft skin of her stomach and thighs as she remained standing over her, shaking her head and tearing deeper into her flesh. Vaughn screamed once more, thinking of the rifle and Francis and then, suddenly, everything became warped.

Something shifted and her emotions turned inside her like a whirlwind of sensations. Above the pain, above the fear, she became aware of not only her need to protect Francis, but realized that it was also Athena’s need, knowing that the woman had protected her cubs from the boys. Her blood was hot on her neck, as hot as Athena’s saliva and her screams of panic blended with Athena’s fierce growls and, as their body fluids mixed so did the crescendo of sounds that they were making. Vaughn didn’t know anymore if she was screaming or growling or how it was possible to taste her own blood as her fingers wove into the wolf’s fur, blending so that they became one of body and of spirit. Vaughn lost all awareness of the world around her and found herself slipping into the dark recesses of the wolf’s mind. The last thing that she was aware of was a voice with no name, a kind voice that she loved whispering at her.

“Athena, let go. It’s alright, they are gone. Let go of her, please…”

&&&

To Be Continued…

NaStyRoMo – Part 10

I’ve reposted this, as I’ve made it a bit longer than the first one I published. The sickness seems to have its advantages as I can’t sleep. Yes, I’m as sick as a dog. Which makes it three people on Kim Harrison’s blog actually. I think it’s something there…

Bitten Part 10

What has come before…

When she reached Francis’s cottage later that day, the woman wasn’t there – her house abnormally locked up and a note on the door for Vaughn, telling her to put the groceries in her horse’s empty stall. She did so with a heavy heart, the grounds unnaturally silent in Francis’s absence. Her goats, that was penned up in the only other stall, didn’t come to Vaughn as usual, but stared at her – their demon like eyes seemingly accusing her of their mistress’s plight. She tried to coach them over, but gave up eventually and went to the chicken coop. They at least were oblivious to the world around them and seemed happy enough when she threw in an extra handful of seed.

She watched them for a while then miserably went back to the house. By chance, she tried the back door and found it open, Francis so unused to locking up that she forgot to check it. Vaughn hesitated there, then – thinking that the woman was her lover and that it was her damned right, she went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. The silence that hung around the yard had spread into the cottage and, feeling awkward, Vaughn walked around – restless and still upset by what she had seen the afternoon. She couldn’t imagine that people could be so unthinking, nor could she believe that they got away with it.

She had come to this small town to get away from the rushed life she was falling into, to get her bearings and settle down for a bit. She had never thought that she would think of staying here for the rest of her life but had started to entertain the idea in the past few weeks. Now, she wasn’t so sure…

Sighing, she rubbed her neck and wandered over to the living room. Although she tried to tell herself that she was allowed to be there, she still felt like an intruder into Francis’s space and, unable to sit down, walked around the room, restless. She found herself stopping in front of the book case, studying the titles she had never had the time to read. There were a lot of books, and text books it seemed, on Greek mythology and literature. There were a few novels, both old and new, with genre’s varying from true life stories to fantasy. There was even a cook book, though Vaughn knew from experience that Francis wasn’t very focused on her personal culinary skills.

Then, tucked away in the lowest corner of the shelf, Vaughn found a couple of moleskin notebooks. She picked them up, first thinking that they might be Francis’s, but – after guiltily skimming through them, she realized that they must come from her grand father, the books old and dusty, the handwriting almost illegible. Feeling less guilty, she tried to decipher a few pages but the writer had obviously been in a hurry, writing it down in a scrawl he could probably decipher but nobody else. She found one entry that stood out from the rest.

Wolves wolves wolves, the man had written. Wolves in the forest and wolves in my mind. Punishment for death, what have I done. They speak to me, whisper to me but never accusing me. They are here, out of sight but not out of reach. Help me, I must understand… Help them.

Shivering, Vaughn quickly put the notebook down and took a step away from the bookshelf. Frightened suddenly, realizing that it could still be hours before Francis came back, she left the cottage and went back to her truck, her head filled with the image of her lover howling with the wolves.

She went home, but the small garden flat that she rented couldn’t comfort her, so – in a rare moment of indecision, she decided to wander over to the local pub. Although she was no stranger there, she didn’t frequent it often. The people who hanged out there were people like she, who had nothing better to do. It tended to make for a strange mix of topic conversations and activities. She knew that her work colleague John and his mate Benjamin hanged out there quite often and sure enough, when she walked into the pub, she saw them huddled at the bar, the beers in their hands clearly not their firsts. She wanted to avoid them, but the pub was surprisingly full and, loosing the wish to sit down and have a meal, she slid into a vacated stool close to them. It dawned on her that they were in such a deep conversation that they didn’t even notice her.

Feeling more secure, she ordered herself a drink and tried to force herself to relax. A few familiar faces came over to say hi, and she made polite conversation but her heart wasn’t in it. She finished her drink and was getting ready to leave when the two boys close to hers’ conversation caught her attention.

“…and her wolf,” John was saying. “God Benjamin, that think could’ve fucking killed you.”

The afternoon’s trouble maker chuckled as he took a deep swig of his beer and shook his head. “I knew he wouldn’t,” he said confidently. “She’s got him well trained, I’ll give her that. And, if he had hurt me – it had been one problem less. The ranger would’ve shot him and that would’ve been the end of it.”

John sighed as he sipped his own beer. “Still,” he said. “She’s as unpredictable as that wolf. I hated delivering to her, she acted so fucking normal on that mountain. I swear she like, planned something crazy or something.”

It was always interesting how alcohol impaired peoples’ vocabulary.

Simmering on the inside, Vaughn knew that she should just leave, but she remained, repulse bound to carry on listening.

“What I can’t understand,” Benjamin continued the conversation, “is why people don’t just call social services or something to come and pick her up. I mean, jeez, that woman’s not… sane.”

John shifted, though he looked uncomfortable when he shrugged. “Same reason you don’t call social services,” he said. “She’s too fucking normal and smart to be caught out by them. They’ll go up there and see only what they want to see. And, there are people in the town who protect her.”

Benjamin snorted. “People like your boss?” he queried, earning himself a nod.
“Yes,” John continued. “People like my boss. And, honestly, you saw how protective that wolf is of her and you know the rumors. I don’t think anybody would dare touch her when she’s there.”

Benjamin took a deep swallow of his beer and pushed the empty pint glass to the end of the bar. “Then somebody should so something about her when she’s here,” he said. “But – that reminds me. I’ve got something I want to tell you.”

John raised an eyebrow while Vaughn, having heard enough, put her money down for her drink and got up, wishing that she had stayed home so that she could’ve spared herself the conversation that she overheard. She resolved not to listen any further, but Benjamin’s next words stopped her in her tracks.

“I know where the wolves’ den is,” he said. “I stumbled across it by accident when I was working up there with my dad. There’s pups up there, a whole group of filthy, stinking muts who’ll just grow up and become as much a problem as the rest of them are.”

Vaughn’s heart went cold when she saw John’s tense, but feverishly exited smile. “What do you suggest we do?” he queried to which the other boy smiled.

“What our father’s told us to do when we find them…” He said with a smile.

&&&

To Be Continued…