The smell drifted along on the breeze. The heady scent overpowered the other odors here. So rich and musky, it teased both the man and his inner beast. The streets were barren, no one was out walking or driving at this late hour. Yet, the scent lingered there. Kash peered out from the lip of the alley. She was here, somewhere and he would find her. The need pulled at him, for so long he had been waiting to find her and now she was near. He gingerly stepped out and looked up and down the vacant street.
Crystal Springs was a small place, a tiny community with a population of a few hundred souls. It was new territory for him and his rogue pack. The outskirts of the village were home to an immense forest for them to build a den. He had purchased the property up in the hills only four months ago. It was a great spot, and now all that was left to acquire would be her.
He trotted down the sidewalk of Main Street. A few shops and serve buildings lined the area, a restaurant sat on the corner, right beside a pharmacy and then there was a small bank. It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Denver. So tranquil and tiny the place was, one could walk it in its entirety in a half a day. The scent trail he was following led him to the front of a small trinket shop. The fragrance was strong there and it drifted out via an open window into the night air. The tug of need grew. She was inside. Kash looked to the sign. Emma’s Memorabilia Emporium.
He perched his paws on the ledge and peered into the window. A solitary light was still on. It cast a soft glow over the incredible stacks of junk that littered the store floor. An array of small statues, musical instruments, dishes, books, and other things were haphazardly lining the shelves. There seemed to be no rhythm or reason to the set up inside. He flicked his ears, a soft hum was coming from within the store. A woman’s soft voice began to sing. It was in a language he didn’t understand. The words unknown to him yet the sadness in the tone pulled at his soul.
The songstress stepped out from behind a cluttered shelf and he whined softly. The long red hair and emerald green eyes stirred him. She was pretty, tall and curvy, her body moved with a seductive sway. The tight white tank top clung to her breasts, dipping low in the front showing her plump cleavage. The long white cotton skirt she wore twirled about her as she danced while she sang. He was transfixed on her graceful movements.
Her feet were bare, silver bracelets adorned her ankles and as she moved the soft tinkle of bells rang in tone with her voice. He watched her every movement, memorizing it. She seemed to be closing the place up, in a very relaxed and entertaining way. As she sang and danced, she put things away, covered over a few crystal balls, emptied the drawer of the cash register and locked a glass cabinet behind the counter.
When she grabbed a long lace shawl and slipped on a pair of sandals, he ducked down and raced to hide behind a set of metal newsstands. He waited and listened. The door opened, he heard her soft foots steps and the bells. She was still humming along as she walked down the opposite end of the street. Kash listened until he could no longer hear her, then he crept out. He sniffed the air. A shiver of excitement ran over him. The hunt was on.
The shadows of the buildings and old trees that lined the street helped to hide his large black form. If he was seen it would be a big deal, it might even make the small seaside village paper again. Wolves were rare in this area. It’s but one of the reasons he had chosen it. His prey was nowhere’s in sight, but it did not matter to his sense of smell. He would find her.
After fifteen minutes of trailing her, he finally came to a small Victorian style home. It was the last house on a dead-end lane. The white picket fence, well-maintained flower beds, and short lawn were much like all the other houses here. But the building he cautiously stepped up to was not. The purple colored house, with its dusty rose color trim, stood out. There was no vehicle in the driveway and the smell of his prize trailed into the building.
He canvassed the entire property, sniffing out the small shed, the garage as well as around the back step. A few old scents of animals were all he could pick up on other than the girls. He crept up onto the steps and listened at the door. A radio played from somewhere within, and a shower was running. Other than that there were no other sounds. She seemed to live alone.
Now that he knew where she lived it would be easy. Kash dashed off into the nearby trees. Tonight he would inform his pack they would have a den mother, he would have a mate and soon they would be able to grow. The hard part would be getting her back to his den. Humans were strange creatures, their ways alien to him and his. He knew their laws, rules, and etiquette, but didn’t fully understand it. To him, it made no sense. He was an animal, he took what he needed to stay alive, fought to defend what was his and sated his hunger as he saw fit.
His future mate of course would have no idea of their ways, would most likely not be very willing either. But it didn’t matter to him. She was the one. It was his responsibility to ensure the renewed lineage. Lone wolves had sex with whomever they wanted whenever they wanted, as did the rest of the wolves within his own pack, but none could birth alpha werewolf. That only happened with the Alpha and his mate.
As he made his way deeper into the forest, Kash thought of the things he would need in order to bring her home. The den, which they had purchased, was an old abandoned farm in the rougher area of the forest. It was miles from anyone and with no power or plumbing, it needed some major work. All of that would come in time. For now, he was content to build onto what they had. The few small workshops and the barn were nearing completion and then they would work on the main Den, his home and the place where they would live.
By this time next week, she would be there too. It would be rough for the first week until the moon came and she went through her first shift. Then it would be alright, at least he hoped it would be. The girl might not want this, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. She would be like them, the beast he would imprint onto her soul would eventually take over and she would give in to him.
She never understood why folks didn’t rise with the sun. The early morning walk to work was breathtaking. The first rays had cast the most brilliant reds and pinks across the cloud dusted sky. Walking down the lane towards her business, she marveled at mother natures brush strokes across the horizon. As she crested the small knoll that overlooked the quaint sleepy town, she breathed in deep. The fresh smell of salty air filled her lungs and it felt revitalizing. It had been a lovely sight to see. As the seagulls glided along on the breeze they called out to one another. She stepped into her shop with a smile on her face.
As she flipped the sign on the door to read ‘open’ she began singing Scarborough Fair. She loved the way it rolled off her tongue in Gaelic, so whimsical and heartwarming to her soul. Emma slipped her sandals off her feet and walked over to the counter and tossed her shawl on it.
Today was going to be slow, she already knew that. That being her track record so far since opening the place. Not too many of the people here liked her store, or her for that matter. It bothered her at times, but in the end that was not why she had moved here. With a sigh, she abruptly stopped singing. The glory of the beautiful morning shattered as memories flowed into her mind. Lost in her thoughts, she set about making a pot of tea in the small office behind the counter.
As the kettle whistled she stared at the steam shooting out from the spout. She clicked the burner off on the tabletop heating element and poured the hot water into the china pot. It reminded her of days gone by. She used to love making tea for her and her Pops. They would sit by the fireplace and she would listen to his tales. It was only the two of them, her mom had died in childbirth and she had never known her. Her Pops would tell her of her mother, how they met and fell in love. How she missed those stories.
That was before the war broke out between the families and she had to move here. Ryan could come for her someday; she knew that as well as she knew her own name. When he did she would be ready and she would kill him. If not what he could do to her would be unimaginable. She could not be able to bear to live with it, and he would be sure her Pops knew what he had done.
The clang of the bell at the front door snapped her from her worries. She turned to look out and was pleasantly surprised to see customers had walked in. Emma straightened her loose peasant blouse and ruffled out her skirt before she stepped out of the office.
“Well met!” she said in a cheery tone. All three of the lads looked at her, but only one smiled.
“Good morning,” he said. The deep rumble of his voice took her by surprise. She looked them over more appraisingly.
All three were large strapping lads, with ruggedly handsome features. They wore jeans, t-shirts and work boots. None wore any jewelry, not even a watch. Their dark brown hair was a bit long, and all three had odd brown colored eyes. She found herself staring at the one smiling at her. He was a bit larger than the other two and appeared to be a bit older.
“Is there anything I can help you find?” she asked.
“Yes, we were told that you might have something we are looking for,” the older one said. He spoke with a bit more of a southern accent to his voice. She tried to place it but couldn’t.
“Well I do have an eclectic collection of things.”
“I see that.”
“You’re not from around here are you?”
“No ma’am, you don’t sound like you’re from Maine yourself.”
His gaze never left her and he stepped in closer. The other two stayed near the door and she felt uneasy suddenly. It was as if they were guarding it and she didn’t like the sudden feeling of being isolated, nor the fact he had picked up on her own accent.
“What is it you’re looking for?” she asked in an attempt to change the topic.
“A post hole digger and an ice auger,” He explained. He stood about three feet from her and a feeling of being judged washed over her as he looked her up and down.
“Yeah, um, think I have an auger,” she said and skirted around to try and get a bit of distance between them.
As she made her way into the cluttered aisle, she could sense him close on her heels. His large shadow loomed out over the floor in front of her. Emma stopped and turned to look at him, she caught his eyes glancing quickly up from her behind. His smile widened as their eyes met. He moved a step closer, Emma stepped back. With a small squeal of surprise, she went over as her bare foot tripped on a fly fishing pole she hadn’t put away.
She never hit the floor. She stared face to face with the man as he held her. He had caught her before she landed and now she was cradled close to him. The heat grew in her cheeks. The nearness of his strong body and the intenseness in his gaze sent a buzz of pleasure coursing over her. He tilted his head to the left, leaning in closer. He scrutinized her face over, his gaze drifted to her mouth and then lazily back up to her eyes. For a moment her heart stopped in her chest, as she believed he may kiss her.
He seemed reluctant to release his hold around her waist and as he did she wished he hadn’t. Emma knew her embarrassment showed on her face as he righted her onto her feet and let go of her. It was a strange feeling. He was the first lad to hold her in his arms in three years. It made her yearn for a more intimate touch.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m so sorry, so terribly clumsy. I must look like an oft,” she mumbled.
“You look beautiful.”
Her face grew intensely hot from his words. She was left speechless.
“You should really clear the walkways in here.”
“Ah yeah, I know.” They stood there for a long drawn out moment. The awkward silence grew and she tried to think of something to say.
“How much?” he asked. His sudden question caused her to blink.
“The auger,” he nodded his head to something behind her and she turned to see the old ice auger leaning within a disarray of assorted items.
The three lads had been her only customers until after lunchtime. Their purchases were all old junk she had collected at yard sales. Things that people really didn’t use a whole lot of anymore. As Emma sat at her counter, nursing her now purple ankle her mind wandered again. Maybe a second hand shop had been a bad idea. Then again a seaside village in the middle of nowhere might also not be the best place for such an enterprise.
She wasn’t in it for the money. The store, her home and everything was bought and paid for. Her allowance from her father covered her living expenses and the shop was just something to pass the time. Money had never been an issue for her. However, boredom was. Things could be different she reminded herself. Things could be so much worse, Ryan could find her.