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Meet Olivia Wilde. A young, 23 year old woman with a personality big enough for two people, a happy-go-lucky character, and who recently got out of a three year relationship with a cheater. But her life completely changes in one night as she's exposed to a world of supernatural creatures. Xanthus Hughes is a loner by choice. Ever since his bloody past caught up with him, he swore to isolate himself away to keep himself controlled. But when Xanthus saves Olivia from an estranged bear attack, things only blossom between the two. His struggle to keep the beast inside and Olivia's exposure to the unknown world become the testament to their story. And when external factors threaten to upend their newfound relationship, how wiling are they to accept their past, present, and future?

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Chapter 1 - Terrible Idea

Disclaimer: This book is actually the precursor of my other ongoing book, In Disguise. That's why the main characters in both novels share the same name and personality. Once I fully flesh out this story, then I'll change their names but right now, it's going to be the same. But if you've read the other book - just pretend these are two completely different characters. Or don't. Pretend they're the same characters, but in a parallel universe 😏. Anyway, onto the story. 👇


It was a bad idea - no, it was a terrible idea.

How in the world did I ever think that spending a night in the forest, alone, would be a good idea?

You know, I’m not usually one for irrational ideas but lately, I needed an escape. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend of three years and I split. My now ex-boyfriend, Stan, asked me out junior year of college and as I approached my one year at my working company since graduation, I found out that he had been cheating with one of his colleagues. It turned out to be a woman named Sheryl who worked in the financial department at Stan’s legal firm and just so happened to be a gorgeous bombshell. I would know because I walked in on them with Stan balls deep in Sheryl behind his working desk.

I still remember that day I found out. I wanted to surprise him at his work for his recent promotion. I baked his favorite cookies - oatmeal raisin with melted salted butter drizzling - the night before and headed to his office just before his work day ended. I even made reservations at his favorite French restaurant - Darcia, with its crazy two week waiting list (one of those presumptuous restaurants - I had to pay to reserve our spot!), made my hair and makeup, and put on my most attractive dress. I bite back tears as I reminisce our relationship. I truly cared for that man and I thought he felt the same for me too.

On that day, I happily strolled over to his desk, oatmeal raisin cookie bag in hand, and opened the door with a stupid grin on my face. But my smile and excitement quickly faltered. My eyes widened at the gruesome scene. There was no mistake - it was my Stan on top of that woman. Their faces were twisted in pleasure and their voices groaned in unison. But Stan noticed my presence. Stan and I locked eyes and I could faintly see his face contort in panic. I dropped my cookie bag and quickly ran out, tears threatening to stream down my face. I felt nauseous, gross and dirty. I desperately needed to leave this building, this street - this town! The last thing I remember hearing was Stan’s voice calling for me as I ran down the stairs.

Even after that debacle, I still had to make face at Darcia, not wanting to waste the money I spent to get a reservation at this uptown-snobby-small-portioned French restaurant. My sad steak-frite (with one singular fry - seriously, the portions were ridiculously minuscule) and I were each other’s company. Well, until I ate it, then I was bitterly alone.

Since that day, I’ve been in a sad spiral. I think word had got around, somehow, to my workplace what had happened. I showed up to the publishing company with red, puffy eyes and a dark gray cloud seemed to follow me as I meandered the office, begrudgingly doing work and participating in meetings. I’m usually a happy-go-lucky person around the office, but it was hard to keep an optimistic mood when I felt betrayed, angry, embarrassed, and heartbroken. Just last week, my boss pulled me to the side and questioned my change of demeaner. I told her what happened and she told me I could take a week off to gather myself. I refused but she was adamant that I take leave. And so I did.

I don't even want to confess what I did after the first three days. There was a lot of tears, sappy romantic films, and a whole lot of sleeping on my bed. I couldn't get out of bed and refused to do the basic things like showering. I started to smell after the third day. I started to hate myself for my current state of self and decided I needed to touch grass, literally. I remember the call from my mother,

"You're still in bed?" She questioned, with an air of disappointment in her voice.

"I didn't think you'd be still heartbroken over that good-for-nothing boy. I knew he was bad news the moment he made excuses to stay late at work!" She rushed, seeming to always make a point about her intuition.

"I need to get out of here, mom. I can't use my week off from work stuck at home. I need fresh air..." I paused as I looked down briefly at the old camping trail advertisement at Rocarres Forest Reserve. They send me these brochures in the mailbox time to time. I usually just throw those away along with the other junk mail, but got too lazy to even do that. A whisper of a smile crawled on my face.

"Hey mom, I think I'm gonna go to the Roccares forest. Do some sightseeing for a little bit. Maybe even spend the night." I say as I hastily get up from bed, grabbing the Roccares brochure, and get ready for the outdoor adventure - starting with a much needed shower.

"Why, good idea sweetheart. But if you're gonna stay the night, you better bring someone with you. Dangerous to spend the night alone." Mom said, her pitch rising at the end which instantly took me back to my teenage years during her reign of discipline.

"It'll be fine. I'm looking at the brochure now and they have some awesome amenities - wood cabin lodgings, paved trails, full restrooms, and even night security!" I say with confidence aimed at seeking the approval of mom. I suppose some things never change from my teenage years.

"Well, alright then. But call me when you get there!"

"Of course. K, talk to you later. Love you."

"Olivia, be safe. I love you too."

I ended the call and quickly packed a backpack.


My head looked out of the car window as I saw the steep mountain ranges of Rocarres. Its deep green forestry and high trees hugged the highway as I barreled down towards the Rocarres Forest Reserve Camping Trails.

It didn't take long to see the entrance of the camping trail. It was a modest looking camping trail and it seemed to have all of the amenities it advertised. I easily found a parking space and headed over to the registration office.

The bells chimed as I entered the small, but homey office. There was a man behind the front desk and his eyes were quickly on me. A smile was on his face.

"Hi, I'd like to spend the night." I said with my chirpiest of voices.

"Perfect, lemme just get you set up right here..." He said, looking down at his computer.

"What's your name dear?"

"Olivia Wilde."

"Is that all the bags you have on you?"

I looked down at my small backpack, boasting only the toiletries, simpleton snacks, and a blanket with pillow.

"Yes, sir." I said, sheepishly with a shy grin.

"Perfect. You're all set. Here are the keys to your cabin. Restrooms are just outside, just follow the posted signs along the trail. We ask that you observe the quiet times and the curfew." He states with a friendly grin.

"Curfew?" I question with a sly smile. Feels like college all over again.

"Yes," his demeanor drops and his eyes hood just slightly.

"It is very important that you stay in your cabin before midnight. Even the night creatures in the forest like to come out and play." His tone is low and cold, as if there's an underlying meaning to his words. It honestly strikes me as odd.

"We just don't want our guests to disturb the endangered nocturnal animals we have in our reserve." He interjects, reverting to his once again friendly tone.

I nodded and paid for my night's stay, then quickly reached my cabin.

Over the next several hours, I dipped my feet into the iconic and beautiful Rocarres Lake, did some light jogging, and sun bathed with a book in hand. It was honestly the most amount of fun I'd had in a while. Laying in the sun with a book in the secluded woods by the lake after all the sudden exercise was bliss. I swear I closed my eyes for a moment but I felt myself pull deeper into sleep.


The cold air woke me up. Drowsiness clogged my eyes and the overbearing night sounds of crickets and cicadas filled my senses. The sun was gone and panic crept into my skin as I quickly got up and scanned the darkened surroundings. I looked at the time on my phone.

11:30 P.M.

Shit! The curfew.

I scrambled to find the nearest trail and followed the lamp lights.

It was about a 30 minute walk on trail to the cabin. On my journey back to the cabin, I couldn't help but notice how unwelcoming the woods looked at night. The sounds of insects, birds, and small critters clashed together as I hastily continued to walk the worn out trail.

The distance between the street lamps were growing and I could tell that the difference between the trail and pure forest ground was blurring. Suddenly, the lights of the trails buzzed out, leaving me in complete darkness, with only the pale full moon as my only light source. I squint my eyes as I tried to distinguish the trail between the thick wooden ground and used my phone's flashlight to find my way. When I shone my light, the trail was nowhere to be found. I stopped in my tracks, assessing the situation as I frantically tried to make my way back to the safety of the cabin. I didn't feel safe alone in the forest. The hushed forest sounds were eerily quiet, not a sound could be heard. Using my gut instincts I started to take my first steps, until I heard a faint roar and heavy footsteps behind me. With a squint in my eyes, I slowly turned around. My heart dropped. About 50 feet away was a bear.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! Why in the world is there a bear in Rocarres? It's not even known for bears!! I groaned inwardly at my sore luck. I always run into things I shouldn't be running into.

"Calm down, Olivia. Panic will not do you good." I quickly said to myself.

What was the saying again? If its brown, stay down. If its black, fight back. What color's the bear? I tried to stealthily check the bear out, but the downcast of the moonlight heavily impaired my color matching abilities. Oh Gosh . . . it's a blackish-brown?

Panic slowly overtook my senses and I decided that I would play dead; there was no way I could fight a freaking bear! Slowly laying myself on the ground, I prayed to the Man above, promising that I would start going to church again. I didn't dare look at it but I started to internally scream when I heard its heavy footsteps approaching. Oh gosh, I'm gonna be a Jackson Pollock on the trail . . . and on my week off no less! Looking up at my doomed fate closing in, I closed my eyes as I embraced the impact. But there was nothing. Only the sounds of slashing and disgruntled roars. I quickly opened my eyes and saw a gigantic - and I mean, HUGE - wolf stand its ground between me and the bear. With a deafening roar, it started to lunge at the bear, leaving a nasty bite mark on the bear's left shoulder. The grisly yelped in pain and fled the scene. My relief was imminent but was quickly replaced with fear as I saw the wolf turn to face me.

Its face was unlike anything I'd seen before. The snout was covered with blood and it bore its razor sharp teeth in a nasty snarl. I shuffled backwards in defense, keeping my eyes focused on one thing that stood out - its eyes. The wolf's eyes were glowing with a deep, crimson hue. A familiar lump in my throat started to form and tears were streaming down my face as I cried towards the wolf, as if it could hear my pleas.

I frantically shuffled backwards as it approached me like prey, until my back hit against the trunk of a tree. Dread dropped in my stomach. I called out my final cry of mercy and saw the wolf's expression contort - it showed guilt. It's angry, red eyes dimmed down to the normal, darkened eyes of a canine and its entire body convulsed.

Then it did something peculiar, it lowered itself on the floor, almost into a crouch position and with the crunch of bones and shedding of fur, it did the impossible - it morphed into a man. A naked man. I felt myself grow dizzy. My eyes, once wide in shock, were now drifting with black spots as my body fainted on the ground.

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