Chapter 10: Michael
Michael parked the truck in front of his vacant house on the mountain. The rest of his pack had shifted and began to scower the mountain, but Michael had wanted to show Elizabeth one of his favorite spots on the mountain first. He exited the truck and she followed suit. Her beautiful blue eyes sparkled in fascination as she observed the wilderness. Her blonde hair fell down her back past a red t-shirt and a pair of black sweatpants. His wolf had purred softly at the knowledge that she was not wearing a bra, and he was willing to bet that she was not wearing underwear, either. Wolves did not wear clothing that they liked before a shift because clothing was rather constrictive and would tear apart easily. Michael’s bare torso leaned against the tailgate of his truck as he spread his arms against it, enjoying the look in her eyes. He was wearing a pair of grey sweatpants.
“It’s beautiful here,” Elizabeth said as she leaned her back against the tailgate beside Michael. “The beach and the ocean are magnificent, but this is different.”
“No smell or noise pollutions up here,” Michael said, then sighed. He turned around and leaned his back against the tail gate to stare into the forest. “Well, it was. The humans will ruin that.”
“We’re wolves, remember? They are only going to take the parts of the mountain that they can access. There’s so much more than that that we can explore.”
“Speaking of, we have a bit of a walk ahead of us,” Michael said. He rounded the truck and grabbed a blanket from behind the driver’s seat. “We can either return to the truck and sleep after, or sleep at the spot. We already turned in the keys for the houses.”
“The spot,” Elizabeth nodded.
Michael walked over to a tree and drew the claws on his right hand. He slipped behind the tree and carved a small hole into the dirt with his claws. He tossed the keys to his truck in the hole and quickly filled the hole back in with the dirt. He returned to Elizabeth and brushed the dirt off his claws on to his pants before retracting them back beneath his skin. “I like that truck too much to lose it,” he muttered. “Let’s go.”
Michael began walking down a path that led directly into the forest. He breathed in deeply, relishing in the fresh air that contrasted from the grease and saltwater air below. He loathed the idea of the humans polluting the mountain, but he knew that Elizabeth was right. There are plenty of places that humans cannot build on, plenty of places that will remain pure and untouched by man. He heard a bush shudder behind him, and he smiled. Elizabeth was touching the life of the forest. He was thankful that she had agreed to join him; he wanted to share time on the mountain with her. He knew that she had never been because he would have remembered if she had. “Watch your step,” Michael called back to her.
Michael jumped off a ledge into a small valley below him. He turned around to watch Elizabeth land beside him, then continued on the journey. Weeds with yellow flowers sprouted around their legs, trees encasing the valley around them. Pine cones were scattered around the path, as if outlining the direction that they needed to follow. The only sounds around them were the bugs chittering as nightfall approached, and their footsteps crunching along the dirt path. No cars, no humans, just peace. Rushing water suddenly joined in with nature’s symphony, and he grinned as Elizabeth’s breath hitched.
Carved into the rocks of the mountain was small waterfall that was thriving. The level of the cavern that the water fell into was no more than six feet deep. Wedged behind the waterfall itself was a small cave that the rock formations had allowed to remain open. The perfect spot to sleep after the moon, he thought. He turned to look at Elizabeth and grinned. “I thought you’d like this.”
“It’s amazing,” she whispered.
“There’s a cave just behind it that we can disrobe and sleep in. Even if people do come up here tomorrow, they won’t find us,” Michael said. He led her to the very edge of the cavern and used the mountain to climb along the edge of it, rather than swim across. He jumped down into the cave’s entrance from the side, to avoid the waterfall, and cursed as he slipped slightly. He extended his hand to Elizabeth. She accepted it, and he gripped it tightly as she joined him.
The roar of the waterfall drowned out the chittering of the insects. The cave was rather small but had enough room to nestle against the back wall to avoid the cast off from the waterfall. Michael walked to the back and laid out the blanket. He smiled as he saw Elizabeth extend her arm from the cave into the waterfall itself. Michael kicked off his tennis shoes and approached her. He stood next to her and extended his arm into the cascade of water as well. She smiled and looked at him. “I’m sorry that you’re losing this.”
“Not completely, at least. Vincent will never understand how grateful I am to him,” Michael said.
“I understand,” she whispered as she bit her lip. Her eyes trailed back to the waterfall.
Michael gently placed his index finger under her chin and turned her face to his. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”
“Michael, it doesn’t matter. I’m used to it,” she sighed and withdrew her hand from the water.
“It matters to me. I don’t want to treat you like they do. You’re better than me, you deserve better than me.”
“You made it clear that what you are is not relevant to me, just like how I’m not relevant to everyone else.”
“Stop,” Michael said. His gold eyes hardened, and he cupped her face. “You are relevant to me, so much so that I’ve been doubting myself ever since we fought. You fail to see your value, but I don’t,” he whispered as his thumb stroked her cheek.
He heard her heartbeat spike at his words, and his own heartbeat followed to match. “I will never lie to you, little wolf. To others about you, and for you, I will, in order to protect you. But I will never lie to you. So, please, believe me when I say that I understand that you are different. Stronger, sharper, sexier than any other she-wolf that I have ever met, and I treasure that about you. Those who act like you’re not do not deserve your time.” His eyes snapped to the waterfall suddenly. Howls. “I wanted to clear the air before the moon,” he said as his eyes shifted back to hers. “It’s time.”
Michael walked to the back of the cave and faced his back to her. “When you’re ready, let me know to turn around.” Michael stripped off his pants and rolled his shoulders. He growled as he allowed his wolf to fully gain control. The growl erupted into a howl as his wolf escaped the confines of flesh. His wolf was large, as black as night, his gold eyes the only light in the darkness of himself. His wolf stretched and purred in contempt. It had been too long since he had allowed his wolf to play. A howl shocked the cave from behind him, and he turned around.
Elizabeth’s wolf was smaller than his, her golden fur reminding him of silk. Her gold eyes were bright as she watched him. He approached her and nudged his nose against her cheek softly. She cocked her head at him curiously. He growled playfully, the grin that stretched his lips revealing his canines. Run, little wolf, he thought. As if she could hear him, she grinned and ran out of the cave.