In the Shadows of Dryden

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Chapter 28 - Evil mother-in-law

Clarisse stumbled through branches and bushes, trying to put as much distance as she could between them. The beautiful dress she had spent a fortune on, was now ready for the trash. Its long mermaid skirt was ripped open all the way up to her knees, it was torn in her abdomen and it’s already open back now went all the way to her buns. Last night had rained hard and she found out that high heels and muddy forests don’t go well together. She quickly removed her shoes, letting them fall to the ground so she could keep on running.

She didn’t know where to go to get out of the forest, she had no phone, purse, or coat. In the midst of her despair, she had forgotten everything at his house. Even though it was spring, it was still quite chilly outside. Especially in the middle of the forest and at night.

Clarisse had good stamina and resistance from her daily running and mountain bike trips she was used to doing with her sister. Still, she found her breathing getting heavier by the second and soon she would have to stop to rest.

*Crack* A noise from her side startled her and she found herself tumbling over the ground with intense pain on her left ankle. She looked over in the direction of the sound, seen a deer running away.

“Great! That’s all I needed to complete my day.” She thought, squinting her eyes in pain as she tried to get up, in vain.

*AWOOOOOOoooo*

Clarisse looked up from her wounded ankle, fearful to find yet another wolf. She had had enough of those creatures for one day. Looking in the direction of the howl, she was met with a pair of shining blue eyes staring at her. It looked like the same wolf she once met by the lake when she and her family had moved into town. He was huge, beautiful but for some unknown reason, she was not the slightest afraid of him.

She watched him come closer. It seemed to hesitate, looking back as if unsure if this was the right move. Its eyes reflected such sadness that made her heart throbbed in pain. Walking a few steps forward, the wolf smelled the air, lowering his head down as in submission. Slowly, the creature approached her in a crouched position, laying down right next to her.

Once more, it puzzled her how such an enormous wolf didn’t inspire the slightest bit of fear in her, on the contrary, she felt safe near it. Was she bonding with a wolf? A creature she came to fear so dearly in her childhood. This thought kept on running in her mind.

The grey wolf carefully crouched nearer her, enough so he could smell her wounded ankle and… lick it.

“It was you back there in the lake, right? I remember you from a few months ago. Are you worried about me?” She asked him, taking her hand to stroke his strong neck. The wolf paused to regard her, his eyes shining sadly.

“You know, I fear your kind but not without a reason. When I was a kid, I used to have nightmares every night. Every night, those nightmares repeated themselves. I would get lost in a forest and out of nowhere, got chased by wolves until they surrounded me. I always woke up from those nightmares screaming.” The grey wolf was calmly listening to her, his pointy ears standing like parabolic antennas directed to her.

They seemed to immerse into each other’s eyes for a bit.

‘His eyes are so mysterious, so profoundly beautiful, just like Richard’s.’

The cold breeze made her shiver as she rubbed her arms.

“Tell me mister wolf, would you help me find my way through this forest before I freeze to death?” A light smile appeared on her face. ‘I must be getting crazy to think that this wolf would understand me.’ She thought.

The wolf suddenly stood up beside her, looking around before turning his gaze back on her and licking her face. He turned around and she saw him walking a bit away, behind some bushes, and then return with something on his mouth. Getting back next to her, he dropped what he was carrying on the ground and gave a step back.

She found his action quite puzzling, reaching a hand to the item he had dropped on the ground. Suddenly, her hand froze mid-way, while her gaze followed the symphony of bone popping and cracking as they readjusted to another skeletal anatomy. His big sharp teeth and snout shortening in a chiseled triangular shape face, his arms and legs elongated into human limbs and his tail shortened until it totally disappeared. Soon, there was no longer a wolf in front of her but an impressively well-shaped tall man she knew very well.

“Rick… you…” She started saying but just stopped halfway, looking into his sad eyes.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had this much fear for wolves.” He averted his eyes as Clarisse observed him, unable to get mad with him. She was just too surprised to see him transforming from a wolf and… well, the fact that he was very much naked in front of her got her shameless eyes wondering over his body like a kid in a candy store.

“Issa, let me help you, I beg you. I won’t ever look for you or bother you again if you don’t want me to but please, let me take you home.” His pleading eyes made butterflies flutter in her belly. Did he even know how much he could affect her just with his eyes alone?

She shook her head, trying to straighten her thoughts.

“What ARE you, Rick? A shapeshifter?”

“Something like that, yes. Shapeshifters can actually shift into several animals, my kind only shifts into wolves so we’re called werewolves.” Turning his gaze back on her as he began explaining.

She wiggled over the ground, trying to get a more comfortable position for her hurting ankle before looking up at him again. His hair was disheveled but it didn’t look bad, just made him look more of a bad boy, which she kinda liked. Inevitably, her vision went down over his sculpted God-like body, and she felt her cheeks flush, taking in every detail of this amazing man.

Richard watched her eyes wander over him as her cheeks turned red and she bit her lips. The corner of his lips curving up, glad that he could still provoke those feelings in her.

“Sorry, Issa. Wolves don’t wear clothes so I’m usually naked when I turn back. Do you… want me to turn back into a wolf?” He asked, his smile vanishing into a sad expression again but Clarisse promptly shook her head.

“No need. It looked… painful to turn back. Why… why didn’t you tell me all this before?”

“Would you have believed me if I had?”

“Probably not…” She looked away but still glancing every now and then back at him. “Would you have ever told me though?” She added.

“Yes! I wanted to take things slowly with you. Tell you a little bit at a time. I wasn’t expecting my parents to break it to you like that. I apologize on their behalf.”

Clarisse didn’t say anything else but he saw her squinting her eyes in pain every time she had to move her ankle. Without thinking, he approached her, kneeling in front of her to check her injuries.

“We need to get this treated soon before it gets infected.”

Before she realized it, he had grabbed the item from the ground and unfold it, covering her up with it and swiping her off the ground with his strong arms like she was a feather, making her automatically wrap her arms around his strong neck in surprise.

“I will take you back to my place so I can take care of your injury. I can drive you home after that if you want.” Clarisse immediately looked up at him, worry on her face.

“Back to your house where those wolves… I mean… no!”

“Clarisse, I understand that you’re afraid but I can’t take you home the way I’m dressed. I truly don’t believe your parents would be very pleased with me showing up naked while carrying you in my arms. If that’s not enough, the state you’re in would definitely aggravate things.”

Her eyes suddenly widened, she hadn’t thought things through as he did. Blushing like a tomato, she lowered her face, burying it on his masculine hairy chest with a shy nod of reluctant approval.

It didn’t take too long for them to be back at the house with his fast long strides and it gave her time to realize that he had covered her with a thick woolen blanket. Once back at the house, he carried her straight to his room, carefully placing her seated on his bed. Turning toward a dresser, he grabbed a pair of sweater pants to put on before going inside of the bathroom to get the first aid kit.

“I will be applying some pressure in certain places. Tell me where it hurts, ok?” Gently, he grabbed her ankle, moving it around while pressing in certain places. She winced with pain, followed with a “There!” or an “Ouch!” as he skillfully checked her injury. “Ok. Let’s disinfect those cuts and wash the area so I can apply the medicine and bandage it. You will need to take an x-ray as soon as possible.”

*Knock, knock, knock!* The door creaked open slightly, his mom poking her head in.

“I just wanted to apologize for earlier. I wasn’t aware that you… would be visiting us. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Clarisse glanced from Seret to Richard, unsure of how to act or what to say. She was under the belief that he had mentioned to his parents that they would be dining with her today. Was she wrong? She wasn’t sure what to believe anymore. When Richard didn’t seem to object, Seret came into the room carrying a dress over her arm and closed the door behind.

“We seem to have the same size so I brought one of my dresses for you to change into.” Seret’s piercing blue eyes made a shiver run up Clarisse’s spine even if she had a beautiful smile on. Seret placed the dress neatly over the bed under Clarisse’s watchful gaze.

It was a beautiful red and white long mermaid dress with a fully open back. It must have cost a fortune.

“Rickie, better wait with medicine and bandaging for a bit. She will need a shower first.” Said Seret, stepping a bit away to give them some space.

Richard nodded, having already noticed the several twigs, and leaves stuck on her hair and the mud all over her body.

“Yeah, better for you to take a shower first. I can continue the treatment afterward. Come, you can lean on me. I will help you to the bathroom.” Said Richard, getting up to help when his mom stopped him.

“If you don’t mind it, I will take over from here. You can go help your father with dinner.”

“No! Mom, wait!” Clarisse watched as Seret shushed Richard of the room before calmly pacing over to her.

“Come, I will help you out of that dress.”

Clarisse started to carefully wiggle out of her dress when Seret finished ripping the back of the dress.

“I’m sorry for your dress, sweetie, but it was beyond repair anyway.” Shrugged Seret, noticing Clarisse’s upset gaze.

Seret offered a hand, helping Clarisse to stand up on her good leg and walk with a heavy limp towards the bathroom. Seret let Clarisse hold onto the door frame and went into the bathroom first, placing a wooden stool inside the huge shower for her. She grabbed a clean towel and placed it over the bathroom sink so it would be in easy reach for Clarisse.

Richard’s bathroom was really spacious. Right by the entrance was a long marbled sink with a big mirror over it. A big shower stood next to it and a bit further away was a really big spa bathtub. On the end of the bathroom, was a door to a smaller room where there were a toilet and a mirrored sink.

Clarisse entered the shower as Seret went to sit over the side of the spa. Her hands held onto the spa sides as her fingers tapped over it. She had a long white summer dress on and her feet were bare with light pink toenails.

“What do you think of my son Rickie?” She asked suddenly.

Clarisse let the warm water ran over her face and body with closed eyes, thinking what to say. Her thoughts were in shambles and she was having difficulty in taking everything in. A few minutes went by before she finally said something.

“I’ve liked your son from the first time I met him. I… you must think I’m a scared little girl…” She couldn’t see Seret from inside the shower, but she could tell that she was sitting on the border of the spa.

“You were quite scared, yes. But I understand that it must have been frightening for you.”

Another moment went by in silence.

“I will be honest with you. It’s not optional for us that Rickie imprints on you. We would have preferred if he had another werewolf as his mate. That being said, there is nothing we can do about it.” Just like Clarisse, Seret couldn’t see her reaction through the shower glass but her wolf ears could hear her increased heartbeat. Truth was, Clarisse felt sorrowful and tried to hide her tears by letting the warm water fall on her face.

“Sweetie, I’m not saying we don’t like you or that we don’t approve of you. I’m just explaining our side. Rickie is the pack alpha and he’s expected to marry and have puppies of his own.” Seret paused to let her assimilate it.

“Don’t worry. I will leave your son alone so he can “imprint”, or whatever that is, on the right person… wolf.” Clarisse had moved the seat to the corner and stood with her back to Seret. Her face slumped forward as the water ran over her. An immense pain throbbing her heart.

“That would have been nice but unfortunately, when a werewolf imprints, he or she will only mate with that person, for the rest of their lives. You’re a human so we’re not sure if the imprint was mutual.”

“Mutual meaning?” Clarisse asked, lifting her head a bit.

“Meaning that, if it wasn’t mutual for you and you turn him down, he will never mate in his life. A pack without a luna is considered a provisory weakness until the alpha finds its mate. If there are no chances for a luna to emerge, it becomes a weakness that other packs will certainly be quick to take advantage of. He will forever want to protect you, love you but never be able to have you.” Seret walked towards the shower door, letting her dress fall over to the floor as she moved with amazing quietness. She slowly opened the shower door, quietly slipping inside, and pushing Clarisse against the wall tiles, covering her mouth.

“I need to know how you reacted when you saw him in his wolf form.” Seret cautiously removed her hand from Clarisse’s mouth to let her speak. Her eyes were open wide with fear and surprise but she tried to explain anyways.

“I… wasn’t really scared of him and it really surprised me. It was the first and only time I didn’t feel fear near a wolf. I felt like I could trust him.” Their eyes locked on each other as Seret seemed to dissect Clarisse’s feelings.

“Good!” A grin formed on Seret’s face. “Rickie will never approve of what I’m about to do and I want to apologize to you in advance. I’m not an evil mother-in-law.”

“What… what are you gonna do?” Asked a scarred Clarisse.

Seret’s bones started to pop, turn, reshape, pure white hair grew from her skin, her tail and snout elongated as she completed her transformation. Clarisse tried to scream but she had no voice, petrified under Seret’s piercing gaze. She thought about running but again, she found that wolf’s eyes draining all strength out of her. Her eyelids closed in fear and she suddenly felt a stream of warm water run down between her legs, burning over her injured leg. Clarisse slumped down grimacing as the white wolf issued a low growl, prowling forward as Clarisse held her ankle.

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