In The Woods

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Hunting

I woke up and Aaron was gone again. At least he wasn't staring at me when I woke up. I had had another dream once I fell back asleep, one of the same manner.

I was running. Running as fast as I could, I didn't know from what. I just knew that I had to run or else they would catch me. If they caught me I knew something bad would happen, if they killed me it would be mercy. They weren't capable of mercy. They were only capable of ripping you apart and seeing what you're made of, of testing you in ways that you wouldn't even think of…

I shuddered at the memory of the dream. It had felt so real like it had actually happened. Like I had actually been running from something. Yet that couldn't be true because I lived in an apartment on my own. I got out of the orphanage just recently when I had saved up enough for the safety payment. I had a middle paying job as a waitress at the restaurant La nourriture de Dieux, it was a French restaurant. The owners treated me well and were probably the only ones that had worried when I disappeared besides Matt. Matt was my best friend, I had met him when we were in middle school he said he had just moved to Chicago that year from New York. Not only was he my best friend but he was one of my only friends. I missed him so much! What if he was still looking for me? Did he feel as bad about our last fight as I did? I sighed, I would never know now. (Linkin Park Iridescent)

I met with Ray and she made me switch from human to wolf all day. It was excruciating and I only managed to get my change time down to about 10 minutes. At 5:30 she told me that I had done well and to go on inside. But I saw her laughing. I also found out that Ray had a British accent, which meant that Damian, Gale, and Aaron also did. She had changed in under 30 seconds and I took 10 minutes to change and some times more than that. I sighed. I got out of the shower and dried my hair. Ray had told me when dinner was and that I was to show up. I mean seriously? They are going to babysit me so much that I can't even skip a meal? What did they think? I was going to starve myself, yeah that was likely to happen. Shifting took so much energy out of you.

I walked out of the bathroom and literally ran into someone. "Oaf" I grunted and fell down.

"What the hell?" someone yelled as they fell on top of me.

"OKAY OW." I yelled as their full weight rested on top of me. I looked up and I saw those pretty eyes that were so familiar. "Aaron! GOD DAMMIT can you please stop laying on top of me!"

"Why in Hell's name are you down here?" he growled back.

"Because I have been training all day, I'm sweaty, I'm hot and I wanted a shower!" I screamed at him. I wiggled and tried to get out from under him. His eyes darkened.

"Well I was sent to find you! Dinner is ready and you weren't there. Next time tell someone or leave a note. We can NOT have you running off." He growled at me and pushed himself off of me.

"Oh so now I have to tell someone who doesn't even like me and is being forced to baby sit me that I need a shower?" I sneered at him.

"Yes you do! Whether I like it or not I DO have to babysit you." Aaron growled his eyes swirling dangerously.

"Well that's just grand!" I snapped at him. I got up and stalked into the kitchen. I walked into the kitchen and realized everyone else had already sat down. Serrina patted a chair for me that already had a plate on it, it was also next to Damian. I went over and sat down. All the kids looked at me as if I was some interesting specimen in a biology class.

"Hey Lean" Gale said. "Would you mind introducing yourself to the rest of the pack?"

I groaned. This would mean I had to stand back up, and the chicken noodles that were on my plate looked so good… "Hey guys I am Lean and I am 18. I went to Orenville Collage as a freshman before being brought here." I said quickly hoping that I could now turn my attention to the mashed potatoes that smelled so good. I jumped when I felt a hand on my thigh. I looked down to see that the hand belonged to Damian; I moved his hand off of my leg and gave him a look that told him to cut it out. He was flirting way too much.

"Well as you know guys Lean is a shifter or else she wouldn't be here right now. She is a wolf shifter." Gale said barley pausing for the shocked looks that the rest of the table gave him and I. "Lean on your right is Serrina which you have already met, then it is Alex, Karina, and Brent." He said pointing to the two kids and the boy that I had seen with Serrina earlier.

"Then it is Kris and Sarah." Ray said pointing to the blond chick that I had met earlier and a girl that was about 16 with curly black hair down to her shoulders. The girl smiled at me but there was poison underneath.

"And on your left-" Gale continued smacking Ray upside the head playfully so that she would stop mocking him. "is Damian, Cris, Max, Griff, and when Aaron gets here him to…. By the way, where is Aaron?"

"I don't know last time I saw him was last night." I replied, lying, they really did not need to know that he had landed on top of me again. Also I was busy wishing that I could eat. The kids started laughing and Damian's eyes got really big. "Because you guys are making him babysit me! Would you guys shut up?" I asked and smacking Damian on the back of the head.

"I'm sorry, but you got to admit that it sounds dirty!" Damian said still laughing. I sighed. I forgot to watch what I said.

"Fine but if it's okay to ya'll I'm going to eat now!" I said turning my attention solely to my food. I shoveled down my food not even pretending to be all lady like. When I was done I looked up and asked to be excused.

"Yeah fine but could you tell Aaron his food is ready?" Gale asked innocently. I scowled at him.

"If I find him I will." I said and turned on my heels after dumping my plate in the sink. I almost missed Damian winking at me, almost. I scowled and walked back to my room. I didn't see Aaron. I sunk down in my bed and checked the clock. It was only 8:15 but I was exhausted after not being able to sleep well for the past week. Stupid nightmares. In only minutes I fell asleep.

I was running. Just running I couldn't run fast enough. A giant shadow was chasing me. Every once in a while I saw a hound come out with giant teeth and claws. Once Matt's face came out of it, his eyes were hard and mocking. He laughed at my panicked composure, the sweat on my forehead.

*Come join me Lea. We could be great together. You don't have to be afraid Lea. Come here.* Matt's voice whispered at me.

*NO!* I screamed at him.

*Come here pretty Lea. It will be okay. Just join me, and you will be okay.* He said smirking his half smile that I always called his ornery look, like a little kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar.

*Matt stop! Matt please! You don't understand I can't come back!* I sobbed and ran but I was faltering because I was so tired and constricted.

*I understand Lea. It will all be alright if you just come back to me.*

*NO! MATT I SAID NO!* I screamed back at him tears streaming down my face.

*LEA! LEA LEA LEA* Matt said frantically as he reached out his smoky black tendrils of shadow and wrapped them around me. I screamed.

*Lea Lea Lea* I heard again and the tendrils started shaking me.

I woke up screaming and sat up with a shock. I realized I actually had arms around me and that someone was stroking my hair. I screamed again and turned around and punched someone in the face.

"OW. Bloody hell." Aaron said and held my hands down behind my lap. "Princess you really punch hard." He said rubbing his nose. I hid my face in my oversized shirt that I had worn to bed.

"Well what did you think I would do? I woke up with someone in my bed!" I said trying to be snappy. It just came out sort of sad and pathetic.

"Oh so you don't usually have people in your bed?" Aaron asked jokingly.

"WOW. No I am not a slut or a whore!" I said crying harder and struggling to get off his lap.

"Look I am sorry Princess." He said keeping me in his lap. "What was the nightmare about?" he asked brushing my wet hair out of my face. Then continuing to wipe the tears away.

"Look I don't want to talk about it, okay? Especially with a guy that hates me." I said still trying to twist away from him.

"I don't hate you. Do we really have to go over this again? What do I have to do to prove it to you?" Aaron whispered his lips brushing against my ear.

"Why even pretend? You yell at me all the time." I yelled trying to calm down. I was still struggling for him to let go of me. I was uncomfortably aware of him behind me. Aaron's stomach muscles were so hard and distracting….

"Unnggg you are so stubborn." He said flipping so that he was pinning me. "Princess you have NO idea how distracting it is when you are wiggling like that." I looked up and his eyes had turned dark and black. He had let go of my hands and supported himself on his elbows looking down at me. I suddenly realized he was bare-chested and wore only sweat pants.

"Wow, you must hate me." I said coughing and laughing.

"Oh, and why is that?" he asked smiling. I smiled up at him and wiggled again.

"Because of the fact that you're squashing me!" I said and stuck my tongue out at him.

"Fine. Maybe I will just leave you to your nightmares. Your screaming that you do every night." Aaron said mad at something and got off of me. He was just about to jump off the bed when I pulled him back to me.

"I'm sorry." I said giving him the best 'innocent puppy look' I could manage. He just glared at me. I let go of him.

"Fine" he said coldly. "Are you done with the screaming now? Cause I would sure like to get some sleep, even if I do have to sleep on the couch." I couldn't help it, tears welled up in my eyes again. It wasn't fair!

"I don't mean to keep you up! It's just... these stupid nightmares and an- and- I'm sorry!" I cried out. Aaron sighed and came back onto the bed. He pulled up the covers and flipped them over on top of us. He laid behind me and took me in his arms.

"Shush Shush. Lean it's going to be okay. I didn't mean to snap at you. I know it's not your fault." He said petting my hair and whispering in my ear. I shivered against him, which had nothing to do with being cold. "How are you cold?" Aaron asked pulling me even tighter against him. He pulled my head up and laid his arm down so I could use it as a pillow. I was still crying though.

"Lea." I whispered gently, almost inaudibly against his arm. I could feel every part of him. His body was so hot it was like my own personal furnace.

"Well Lea no one is going to hurt you while I'm here. Trust me." His hot breath blew into my hair.

"Mmm why are you so hot?" I asked him and then I instantly regretted it.

"What?" Aaron asked laughing. His chest rocked against my body, it felt so good. His laugh was a very full warm sound.

"Well you know like why is your body so hot? It's like you're a heater." I said hiding my blush in his arm and being thankful that it was so dark in my room.

"All shifters run a little hot princess." He whispered into my hair, his lips brushing my ear ever so slightly.

"Mmm okay." I said swallowing the growl of pleasure that had risen in my throat. I was afraid to move. The only guys I have ever come this close to had been Matt and my dad when I was really little. Before he died in a car accident with my mom. Also those guys that had kidnapped me… but that wasn't really my choice.

"Is this okay with you? I'm just here to comfort you princess. Just give me the word and I'll leave." Aaron said. He had shifted so that one arm was draped over me and his delicious stomach muscles pressed against my back. I turned so that my face was pressed against his chest causing him to growl in pleasure.

"How about this, is it okay with you?" I asked through half lidded eyes because I was so tired.

"More than okay princess." He said softly against the top of my head that was now tucked under his chin. This is how I fell asleep. I only had one more nightmare, and I didn't even wakeup.

When I got up I realized Aaron was gone. I stretched, and looked at the clock. 9:35 WELL CRAP! I had to meet Ray in the kitchen in 25 minutes. That ruled out a shower, I would just have to take one tonight. I rushed to the pile on the ground where I had thrown the bags from two days ago. I grabbed a pair of shorts and a flowy red t-shirt. I shucked off my pajamas and changed cloths. I hurried to brush through my hair and went to brush my teeth in the bathroom. I checked the clock again when I got back to the room 9:45. I sighed. As I headed out to the kitchen I started to think of Matt again. Where was he? Did he even look for me? Did he even care? I shivered remembering last night.

I looked up about 5 minutes later and realized I had made it to the kitchen. There was a note on the table, I went over and read it.

Hey Lean,

Something came up and I can't train with you today. Gale and I decided that you could try your first hunt. Don't try to go out by yourself, go get Aaron when you are ready. I recommend that you wear stretchy cloths because you will be climbing in and out of them for the change. Below is a map to Aaron's room.

Thanks, Ray.

I looked at the map and groaned.

"Is there a reason you are not out training yet?" Aaron asked from behind me.

"Umm yeah actually" I said nervously turning around and handing him the note. His jet black hair was wet and spiky; he must have just gotten a shower.

"Well okay princess, looks like we are going hunting today." He said kind of awkwardly.

"Okay then, let's get going!" I said unsure of what else I could say. I mean just remembering last night. I wondered, not for the first time, if it had just been a dream.

When we got out to the courtyard he told me to go ahead and change. I looked at him waiting for him to say he was kidding.

"Well what are you waiting for?" Aaron asked.

"Well..um… am I just supposed to change out here? Like in the open?" I asked awkwardly. I mean seriously? I was NOT about to get undressed in front of him. Aaron sighed.

"If you want you can go behind those bushes and I will head into the forest to change." He said and you could hear the impatient undertone strong in his voice.

"Okay..." I yelped and ran behind the bushes. I waited for him to go in the forest and then I quickly stripped and willed my body to change shape. I screamed as my body reshaped its muscles and bended its bones to the form of another creature. My scream turned into a howl.

*Come on out when you are done* Aaron thought impatiently at me.

* hold on a fucking second!* I snapped back. *This shit is fucking painful!*

*Well no dip Sherlock. I mean you are only changing your entire molecular structure, how can that be painful?* Aaron asked.

*Stop being a smart Alec.* I growled. My body convulsed one last time before the change was complete. I grabbed my clothes in my teeth. I stretched my new body form and let out a little squeak before I came out from behind the bushes. There was an awkward moment as Aaron took me in, this is the first time he had seen my wolf form and actually looked. When he finally met my eyes I think he felt guilty about being caught checking me out.

*Hmph Mm* I mentally coughed. *Dude are we just going to sit here or are we going to go?*

*Are you ready?* He asked. His wolf form wasn't too bad either. His entire pelt was jet black and he still had the same piercing green eyes with black sunbursts. His form was big and muscular.

*What do you think? I mean it's not like I was going to change for nothing!* I said to him. He gave me a look.

*Well then Princess. We best be going.* and he ran off into the woods at a sprint. I raced after him, trying to keep up. I mean I had only been on four legs for three days! But he was more built than I was so he was heavier. It was no problem to keep his pace… until I didn't see the stump that he jumped over and fell on my face.

*Okay ow.* I thought. It was very embarrassing; I mean I fell on my face in the middle of full out sprinting.

*You okay?* Aaron asked jogging back to me. You could see his puppy grin though.

*Yes I'm fine!* I thought back at him and sneered.

*Well then, maybe you should be more careful Princess. But anyway we are going to stop here to start the hunt. We are about 2 miles away by now, and this is going to be a short hunt unlike the extended ones we usually take.* Aaron said and nudged me so I would get up. I jumped up when I felt his wet nose on my spine.

*What the hell? Your nose is wet!*

*Well Princess all dogs and wolves, unless sick, have wet noses.* he said slowly as if I was a mentally challenged child.

*I know that!* I sad and shivered. *that's just so weird!*

*Whatever* Aaron sighed.

*it's weird!*

*UGG just listen, watch, and learn.* Aaron said. *First thing you have to do is find a good spot where prey will be, which we have already done. Second you have to find a spot to watch and listen for the prey.* Aaron sat and perked his ears.

*Whelp this is kind or boring…* I said sitting next to him.

*Shut up! You're going to make me miss any sounds that might come from the prey.* he said and then he growled out loud.

*Um Aaron…*

*I mean seriously Lean! You have got to pay attention! I came out here today to teach yo-*

*Aaron…*

*Don't interrupt me! I mean I didn't have to come out he-*

*AARON! LOOK BEHIND YOU!* I basically screamed at him, well as much as you can with this whole thought thing. He whipped around.

*HOLY SHIT! Why didn't you tell me?* he asked seeing the huge buck that was coming towards us... *Okay well you are going to have to help me with this one. It's too big for me to handle on my own. Stalk it from the right I'll go left.* he said taking off.

*What? But… but… but…*

*Go!* He said. I sprinted to the right side of the huge buck and flanked it.

*Now we are going to take turns going in. I'll do it first so you see what to do. When I go in you have to distract it somehow. Then it will be your turn.*

*Okay… but I still don't understand.*

*Ready? Go!* He said going in for the left side of the dears throat. *LEAN distract it!* He yelled at me almost getting hit by the antlers. I went in towards the dear and bit at the heel of the hoof. The ecstasy of the hunt was flowing through my body. Aaron swerved back out and I fallowed, falling back to my side.

*Oh my God!* I gasped in pleasure as adrenalin coursed through my body. Aaron smiled.

*Now it's your turn! On three go in and I will distract it!*

*I don't think I'm ready!*

*ONE*

*Aaron I can't do this!*

*TWO*

*Aaron!* tears were sliding out of my eyes. What if the deer didn't go for the distraction? What if I didn't do it right? What if Aaron got hurt?

*THREE* he said and I swerved in. I bit the deer on its windpipe, cutting off its air supply. Aaron had jumped onto the deer's back and was biting its neck and shoulders. The buck fell onto its knees confused and wounded. I held onto its neck still, the blood was gushing into my mouth. In a futile attempt to save its life it bucked its back. Aaron flew off.

*AARON!* I mentally screamed. I let go of the buck's neck and howled.

*Lean no!* Aaron screamed at me. He got up and raced towards me.

*Aaron you’re okay!* I replied giddy with relief. I had on a huge puppy smile with tongue hanging out and everything. Then I felt the antlers as they came in contact with my side. The buck threw me across the forest clearing and I hit a tree with a loud thud. Everything went black.


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