Turns out, luck was on my side and I didn’t have to work today. I didn’t write as much as I do normally (I’ve been sleeping…), but here’s a little tid bit. I want to remind people that this is supposed to be Romance, lol. Granted, it’s not my forte, 😛 But I’m trying. 😉
Bitten – Part 5
Not just the story that Francis was telling her but what happened after she had told her that first time. She styed over at the woman – more out of necessity than anything else because it had become too late to travel down the mountain. They radioed ahead to Antonio’s and told her boss of her predicament. It didn’t bother him as he was also aware of the dangers of attempting to come back with poor visibility.
The night had been tense at first, made awkward by their moment on the couch and Francis’s realization that she had never had to accommodate anybody in her personal space. For the first half of the night they seemed to dance around each other like ants on a hot tile. But then – as the night went on and they settled down for a meal, their rhythms slowed and the awkwardness flowed away until finally, it was brought together by one sound.
What has come before…
“Oh my gosh,” Vaughn said as the sound rose up from the dark night and filtered into the kitchen. “What’s that?”
Francis looked up from her meal, a spicy chick pea and sweet potato stew, and blinked at her surprised. “I…” She hesitated and thought for a few moments. “You mean the howl?”
When Vaughn nodded she smiled.
“Listen carefully,” she said softly. “Doesn’t it sound familiar?” When Vaughn shook her head, trying hard not to have her bewilderment show, Francis sighed patiently and sat back, turning her face to the window.
“It’s Romi,” she said, her tone not unkind. “He’s reaching out.”
Vaughn’s eyes widened in surprise, not at the statement but at the quiet note of longing that entered her friend’s voice. Swallowing, she listened to the sound as it started up again, the long eerie howl that sliced through the night, trying to place it with the mostly quiet wolf that she knew.
“I didn’t know that he howled,” she said softly, making Francis laugh.
“He’s a wolf Siobhan,” she said. “Not a pet.”
Feeling a little bit embarrassed, Vaughn blushed and shrugged. “I’ve only ever seen him do dog things,” she pointed out. “I never thought…” She trailed off, realizing that she was mistaken. Romulus had never been like a dog. He was more like Francis’s shadow, operating not on her voice but on her body language and unspoken wishes. The only clear command she had ever heard him receive was the day she met Francis and somehow – she suspected that that had been spoken more for her benefit than his. She looked towards the window, then at Francis who was sitting very still, hardly breathing as if her whole body was focused on the sound. She didn’t react when Vaughn cleared her throat and only seemed to come to her senses when she finally spoke up.
“Where did you find him?” Vaughn queried, feeling slightly guilty when she saw how much her voice startled Francis. The older woman blinked at her then blushed, standing up abruptly.
“I ah…” She faltered. “Need some water. Excuse me.”
She disappeared quickly, leaving Vaughn alone in the kitchen. The younger woman looked in the wake of her retreating host, then at the jug of cold water that stood on the table next to the lamp. Francis didn’t have electricity as she did most of her cooking on the old Aga or a small gas stove that she had. Her refrigerator was connected to an intricate device powered by a car battery, the same kind of device that she used to power her computer when she needed to do some work. She never asked Francis how she made her living, as it didn’t really matter.
Wondering if she had done something wrong, Vaughn shifted awkwardly and stood up to look out of the kitchen window. She could still hear Romulus’s howl, but now he wasn’t alone. Although it wasn’t difficult to tell, it sounded as if there were four other voices that had joined his. She stared out into the cold night until she heard Francis return. Vaughn turned to look at her and immediately noticed that she had regained her composure, her face almost sad as she regarded her.
“I’m sorry,” Francis said softly before she could say anything. “I haven’t had company for this long in years. I’ve been… alone – save for Romulus, for a very long time.”
Vaughn nodded slowly, accepting her apology even though it wasn’t needed. When she turned back to the window Francis joined her, carefully resting her hand in her back as she followed Vaughn’s gaze.
“I wanted to see if I could see him,” Vaughn explained. “I… It sounds as if there’s more.”
Francis nodded, the pressure in her back increasing ever so slightly. “My cabin’s in the middle of a pack’s territory,” she explained. “That’s them that you’re hearing. They’re close. They don’t like to be because of the town, but… Winter’s hard for everybody.”
Vaughn carefully allowed herself to rest against Francis’s touch, keeping her gaze fixed on the world outside. “You study them?” she queried softly to which Francis shook her head with a soft chuckle.
“No,” she said. “I just know them. We are neighbours after all.” She hesitated. “Would you like to see Romulus? We might even see some of the others if I go out. That is, if you want to take a hike through the snow?”
As she looked at her, Vaughn realized suddenly that her answer would be very important to the woman. She didn’t begin to pretend that she understood Francis Mosse, but strangely enough – her relationship with her wolf and the others might prove to be a vital key in moving closer to her.
“Okay,” she said softly. “I’ll go. I want to see him.”
And you, I want to see you.
To Be Continued…