Madelyn

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-9-

Madelyn cursed herself for leaving the house naked, and barefoot. That would slow her down. ‘But, then again,’ she giggled as she thought, ‘it might make it easier for him. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing…’

She knew it wouldn’t take long for him to find her. She was slow, and on two feet. Plus, she was making all kinds of noise as she moved through the brush. Still, she made it to the meadow in record time, stopping there to catch her breath. Looking around, she saw a thick patch of grass and hid in it.

***

Rolf watched as the naked woman ran from the house. Smiling inwardly, he started off in chase. If he could beat Connor to her, she would be his after all, and Connor would have to accept that he was the superior wolf, and Connor was nothing but second-rate.

***

Connor slowed slightly, picking up a scent on the wind. Rolf. ‘Dammit,’ he thought. That one was wishing for an early demise. Somehow, he had to reach Madelyn first. If he didn’t, he knew he’d lose her.

Picking up the pace, he arrived at the meadow, where his nose told him Madelyn had gone. She was nearby. He could smell her. But she’d gone several different directions when she arrived here. Clever woman. But that didn’t help either of them right now. He had to get to her first, before Rolf got here.

Stopping for a moment and standing perfectly still, he listened, turning his ears every which way. After a moment, he pinpointed her, but before he could make a move, Rolf burst into the meadow. Connor swore to himself for taking so much time finding her. It was going to be a fight to the death now, he was certain. Rolf wouldn’t take no from Madelyn if he were to try to court her now. He’d take her, in the literal sense of the word.

So, you arrived here first, did you, Connor?” Rolf said through their link with a laugh. ”No matter. After I kill you, I’ll take Madelyn. She will be my mate, Connor!”

No, Rolf,” Connor replied calmly. ”Madelyn has already accepted me as her mate. You are interrupting in our courtship. Leave now and I will spare your life.”

Rolf laughed, then lunged. He caught Connor in a flurry of fangs and claws. He could smell Madelyn’s arousal turning into cold fear then heard faint sounds of brush moving as she retreated. He hoped Rolf hadn’t heard her. Even if he had, the challenge had been made mid-courtship. All that was left for Rolf now was to die trying to challenge Connor for the right to mate with Madelyn. Connor wouldn’t allow Rolf to win. He couldn’t.

***

Madelyn saw Connor enter the meadow and stifled a giggle. She hadn’t waited long, but it still felt like forever. As she watched, Connor seemed a bit agitated. She wondered what could have caused that. It wasn’t long before she saw the second wolf enter the meadow and she knew exactly what caused it.

She stopped herself from making any sounds, knowing it would just alert Rolf to where she was and he would likely try to get to her first, before Connor could mate with her. She couldn’t let that happen. Madelyn backed out of the grass as quietly as she could as the two wolves came together.

As they fought, she hurried away from the scene, following the stream as best she could, to keep Rolf from being able to track her as well if he realized she’d left the area. She couldn’t let him find her. That was foremost on her mind as she fled from the scene, hoping Connor would come out on top, but not wanting to stay near just in case.

She continued for what seemed forever before stopping to get her bearings. Connor had never told her where the pack lived. Her only hope would be to get back to the house and wait there.

‘Come through this ok and come for me, please, Connor,’ she thought as she picked her way through the thick brush. It was rough going, but she made it back to her yard. When she emerged from the brush, two men stood up. She didn’t even stop to think she was walking out of the woods, bare-ass naked, into the arms of two men, but she knew one of them and instinct told her who the second was. The first was Brian and the second was Ulric, the Alpha of the pack.

Brian ran and met her halfway. She nearly collapsed into his arms. “What the devil is going on here, Madelyn?” he demanded.

“Brian, Ulric, it’s Rolf,” she said. “He’s come back, and is back in the meadow by the stream, fighting Connor to try to take me from him.”

The two shot a look between them before Ulric sprang into motion immediately, shifting and disappearing into the trees. Brian stayed in his human form just long enough to instruct Madelyn to await Connor’s return inside the house before shifting and darting after Ulric.

***

The two wolves fought on, each taking minor shots at the other. Both were bleeding, but not severely...yet.

Come, now, Connor,” Rolf jeered. “I’m going to win and you know it. Just bare your neck to me know and I’ll make it quick.”

Not gonna happen, Rolf,” Connor said calmly. ”She is mine and always has been. It was forseen by Ralla the seer.”

Pfft,” Rolf spat at the statement. ”Ralla was just a crazy woman. She was nothing,” he screamed. ”Madelyn will be mine, Connor, and you’ll be nothing but a corpse rotting on the ground by the time I’m done with you.” With that, he lunged madly, seemingly without thinking.

Connor took this opportunity to catch Rolf by the neck. Sinking his teeth deep inside the other wolf’s fur, he found flesh and clamped down. Yanking hard, he tore out a chunk of the other wolf’s throat.

It was about then that a pair of wolves burst into the meadow.

Connor spat out the furry chunk that polluted his mouth then trotted over to the stream. Lapping at the cool water, he rinsed his mouth out, not particularly enjoying the taste on his tongue.

Stepping into the stream, he rolled around in it, rinsing his entire body clean before shaking the excess water off.

He watched as Ulric and Brian checked Rolf. The foolish creature was already dead. Under normal circumstances, Connor might have savored the victory. Not this time. This time, it was tainted with the poison of jealousy and lust. Rolf’s refusal to back off was evidence enough of his jealous, lustful drive to destroy himself. He’d never been a match for Connor, and now, he was dead. ‘What a waste,’ Connor thought as he watched the Elders.

Brian looked to Connor and nodded almost imperceptibly before saying, ”Go to her. Finish what you started and claim your mate. We will handle this.”

Yes, Elder Brian,” he replied before taking off at a run. He knew where he would find her.

***
Madelyn paced back and forth across her living room floor. She’d returned to her house and nearly threw herself, naked, dirty, and terrified, into Brian’s and Ulric’s arms. They told her to go inside and stay there until Connor returns for her. Then they shifted and took off at a fast run. She went inside as she’d been told. After a moment of waiting at the window, she’d become conscious of exactly how filthy she really was and ran to the bathroom to get a quick shower.

She didn’t stay in the shower long. She was too preoccupied with what might be happening to be able to concentrate on much, but she made certain to wash her hair, then lathered her entire body with body wash, rinsed and stepped out of the shower. Nobody had returned when she came out of the bathroom, so she took to pacing the floor.

A few minutes later, she heard the eerie sound of howling coming from the wood. First two wolves, then another joined the cry. More and more took up the mournful sound. Gasping, she knew one of the two were dead. ‘But...which one?’ she thought. Moving to the window, she stared out toward the edge of the wood, wishing she’d see something -- someone - moving there...wishing she’d see Connor. As she stood waiting, it took her mind back to a time when she was, once before, waiting anxiously while standing in front of these windows.

The phone rang, snapping her out of her thoughts. “Maddy?” the voice on the other end said. It was Brian.

“Yes?” she said, anxious for some news. They’d been gone so long. The weather report told her they would have snow soon. They needed to come home. Why weren’t they home yet?

“I’m sorry, Maddy,” Brian said. “They haven’t been found yet.”

“When will we have some news, Brian?” Tears streamed down her face...again. It seemed like all she’d been doing was crying lately. It was all supposed to have gone just fine. They’d get on the plane, a chartered one since there were no commercial planes that serviced that part of the Rockies, they’d arrive and start searching for the creature. Then they’d come home in time for Christmas, and everything would be normal again.

“Please, darling, please try to stay calm...” he paused. “I’m sending my assistant, David to get you, Maddy. He’s going to bring you here, to my apartment in San Francisco, until we learn more. Now, please don’t be alarmed. I’ve spoken with social services about this. They wanted to take custody of you until we learned more, but I’ve talked them out of it. Madelyn, we must begin planning for the worst case scenario. I pray that we won’t need those plans, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?”

“Yes, Brian,” she replied, unsure of anything anymore. “I’ll be ready to go when David gets here.” She put the receiver down and collapsed onto the sofa. Looking around the room, more tears slid silently down her cheeks as s omething told her everything was going to change...


The memories of standing here at this very spot, staring into the woods so long ago faded again. She watched the edge, thinking. “...begin planning for the worst case scenario...it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Brian had said back then. Nodding, she went to the kitchen and selected a knife. Whatever happened, she’d be ready to do what she felt necessary.

“Please,” she whispered. “Let Connor be alright.” She said this several times as she waited, watching out the window for signs of movement at the edge of the wood. She held the knife in her hand, unsure what she’d do if he hadn’t made it out of the fight.

“I’ll die before I let anyone but Connor take me,” she whispered as she moved away from the window to pace the floor again.

The minutes ticked by, feeling more like hours. After a moment, she noticed the howling seemed to be moving closer. Before long, it ceased altogether. Looking out the window, scanning the edge of the wood frantically, she wondered what it could mean.

Taking a chance, she went to the back door and opened it. Stepping onto the patio, she looked around then stood at the rail of the porch that wrapped around the entire house. She stood there, watching, waiting.
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