Aura

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20/Scent Trail

The leather shoes had no traction, and the first two times I failed to jump high enough. After failure under pressure I used one of the chairs stacked on the table; the moldy wood crumbled under my weight. I persisted though, something was up there. The draw grew in intensity the longer I stood apart from it. It dawned on me that maybe it was my survival instincts telling me to get to high ground before Brandon broke the door down; but the more I focused the more familiar my pull felt. Whenever Nash was near I felt it. He clearly wasn’t in the cabin, but his presence had been.

Finally, my chin and elbows cleared the loft flooring. My legs kicked out aimlessly. I scrambled and pulled until I could bend forward and lift my legs onto the floor. My body rolled until stopped by something foreign. The firelight didn’t reach the loft, but a small window covered by a single board became my next target. The wood splintered when tugged upon, one sliver dug deep into my palm.

“Son of a-” Thump! “Oh shut up already and go bother someone else!” I needlessly screamed at the door. Moonlight cascaded down in a pillar of light. My shoulders slumped at the sight. A broken down bed, smaller but similar to the one below. Scratches littered the ground, mostly by the edge. The only difference was the wood was stained a different color than the rest of the cabin. Was that the equivalence of someone painting their bedroom to make it unique and homey? It had a pink tinge. My mind wondered to why I needed to see a girl’s loft bedroom? Why did I feel the need to be here? But it felt like Nash.

Deaf to the racket Brandon made, my eyes peeked over the edge and focused on the oddly shaped walking stick with a curve on the top. Something clicked at seeing the crutch-like stick. When Seth talked about Nash he mentioned something I still couldn’t believe. Nash’s raw anger for humans was shared by his parents. Before werewolves became a myth to humans, a fight between the two ensued. Tragically Nash’s father lost a limb, and his mother became deformed. I looked to the pink stain. Nash became Alpha Davis’s pupil just in time for both of his parents to take their own lives to end their suffering.

I blinked back the tears and rubbed away the ache stabbing in my chest. It was just my imagination running wild, it had to be. Running for my life I chose this one to hide in. Coincidence, right? The same dusty cabin I dreamt Thia giving birth in. No, they couldn’t be. Jealousy, rage, and betrayal pumped in my veins. Logic attempted to break through only to be gnashed between my teeth. Nash was a stranger, but somehow I thought I...we...

Boards snapped under the repeated pressure. Brandon barreled through. Four paws padded around the room, his tongue drooped out the side of his mouth. The meager fire was no use to the chilling night. His breath misted in pants.

My hands locked firmly over my mouth concealing the scream that wanted to spill. He lifted his textured nose to the air and sniffed. A waterfall of white poured steadily from his open mouth. My chest stilled as air captured in my lungs. Could he jump up here? He seemed so large in the small cabin.

The wolf’s eyes snapped open rolling to exactly where I was. Neither of us moved, transfixed by the other. His hind legs stretched as his front ones bent in a crouch. A silent prayer weaved in my exhale. I could do this. The splintered door had a gap in it now, large enough for me to jump through. Large enough for Brandon to jump through also. I positioned my feet, ready to jump down, as he readied himself to jump up. Timing was everything. Brandon’s speed caught me off guard. By the time I realized his paws left the ground, I knew I was already too late.

I stumbled forward scrambling to the edge and rolled off. An awkward landing jammed my shoulder and chin into the floor. Head first, I rolled out the crack in the door and only looked back when I noticed Brandon wasn’t coming after me. I wasn’t stupid enough to stop and find out why. Had someone finally noticed I was gone and come to help? My focus was solely on Brandon would I have noticed someone else come in? Maybe the Kool-Aid Man, but anyone less subtle probably not.

“Crap!” Distracted by my thoughts I blindly ran into the creek. The water was deeper with a stronger current than that morning. The stones beneath my feet were slick and smooth. I attempted to cautiously step in the shallower spots with raised sand and rocks. A snarl from far beyond drew my attention over my shoulder. Sand gave under my weight and the current knocked my feet out from under me. I screamed in fright before going under. Icy water filled my mouth and nose, a sharp pain stemmed from my sensitive teeth and sinuses. My arms flailed useless at my sides while my feet dug deep into the sand. I coughed and sputtered the precious seconds I could break the water’s horizon. The creek bottom grew shallow again and I crawled my way to the other bank. My body trembled violently and I could hear my teeth click together. What I could feel was numb which was a better feeling than the icy pin pricks of pain.

If I went back to the cabins I could change clothes, start a fire, get eaten. I looked to the darkness before me, a thick canopy strangled the moonlight. The icy fire made it hard to think logically. Even if I decided to go back, that meant wading through the creek. I gauged how far I’d been swept away, the distance was longer than I expected. A howl quickened me to my feet. I hope the water helped lose my scent at least.

The further I got from the pack territory the greater need I had to go further still. Tingles jumped up my leg each step, but that didn’t deter me. My goal was clear, I could feel the familiarity of it. Nash, my strength. Heel first I sprinted faster knowing soon I would be safe. It almost felt second nature to feel his aura. Where he had been, where he was, it was safety and warmth.

The night slipped away under the wild hasten of my footsteps. A beautiful sunrise threatened to erupt in purple and red. I sighed in relief to survive at least one more night. My feet pulsed from exertion and I bent at the waist heaving breaths by the lungful. My palm felt the roughness of the bark beneath. Dull pains from the creek were easier to ignore now. A trail of blood stained my knee whether from diving out the door or the dip in the water, I wasn’t sure.

A twig snapped my head to attention. Two red dots grew closer, another two flashed like high beams before disappearing. Curious but not enough to kill me like the cat, I grabbed the first pointy stick within reach. The two pairs were swiftly approaching. One looked almost like wolf eyes but the second was too inhuman to tell. I hid partially behind a thick trunk in case it was Seth and Brandon. An all too familiar wolf overshot his landing and backpedaled with a grin. Painstakingly, the shift transformed him back into my Nash.

Nude or not I had to do what I’d been holding back since three days ago. Our lips met with craving, bordering on obsession. Our hands suffocated under the vice grip like pressure to hold one another tighter. He was more essential than air.

Nash broke away first and cleared his throat. Had it been five minutes already? “Maybe...drop...stick?” His words were guttural.

Michael’s lips twitched indignantly until he couldn’t hold back the vociferous laugh any longer. His eyes returned to their human counterpart.

“I thought you were Brandon and Seth! I’ve never seen red eyes before but I figured rabid wolves probably had it!” I threw my arms up accidentally throwing the stick as well.

“What?!” I cringed at their echoed question.

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