Artemis stepped out into the low morning sunrise with her beside him. The mid morning dew shimmered across the land and he had to stifle a shudder as the chilly air touched the bare flesh of his chest and torso.
He ran a hand through his hair and gave Angel a side glance. He should have thought this through, it was fall, which meant it was getting chillier by the day and he’d only given her a sweatshirt to wear.
She caught his look and shook her head, “I’m fine. I’ll be warmer once we shift”
He nodded but continued to worry as they descended the steps towards the vast open driveway.
Just before she slipped her small, delicate feet onto the cold wet grass he moved behind her and swooped her into his arms.
“Artemis!” She cried as her arms came around his neck, she held on tight with a firm grip.
“Yes?” He said as he stepped into the grass, the wet slippery greens slipping between his bare toes.
“I can walk,” she protested.
“You’ll get sick” he said.
“So will you”
He shrugged, “I’m more worried about you” he said simply.
She didn’t reply and instead laid her head upon his bare shoulder, her hair dipping down, swinging back and forth as they walked around the pack house towards the back.
He missed this feeling. The feeling of someone in your arms. Someone to protect.
He set her on her feet as they stepped into the thick tree line. The scent of the earth and the trees called him, they called to his wolf. He inhaled deeply as his body shuddered. His wolf was pawing at the edges of his mind, he wanted out. Now.
He walked deeper into the woods before looking over his shoulder, “Change” he said before unbuttoning his jeans and dropping them to the ground. The cold air nipped at the exposed skin.
He let the flow of the change wash over him. His wolf sauntered forward, pushing his bones to break as dark grey fur broke through his skin. His face contorted, his ears lengthens into sharp peaks before swiftly being covered by fur. He dropped to his knees as his back broke and reshaped. Artemis felt nothing, not anymore.
His ears twitched as soft female whimpers called out from behind him. She was hurting, the change usually did to those who felt pain. He didn’t.
His soul, the piece of him that really mattered and felt anything was gone.
The messed up part of it all? He wanted to feel the pain, he wanted to feel the anguish of his bones breaking and shifting, he felt less of a wolf, less of a man for not being able to.
He stood tall on four paws and glanced around. The soft whimpers had vanished and she was nowhere to be seen.
He huffed. She wanted to play.
He trotted forward with his ears swiveling to pick up any and all sounds. His nose twitched as it searched for her scent.
The sharp crack of the fall leaves gave her away. He hung low to the ground, the hairs on his underbelly hovering just above the ground. Each step he took was light and careful as he slunk into a large flower bush. The sweet smell of the flowers helping to hide his distinctive scent.
He watched in the shadows of the bush as her head peeked out, she hesitated before stepping out into the small open area where he had just vacated.
Artemis admired the small golden wolf, her small paws were a lighter shade than her body, almost a mixture of gold and white. Her tail swished back and forth across the forest floor and her ears twitched, waiting and listening, trying to find him.
Falling to the back of his mind, he let his wolf pull forward.
He watched as he sprang from the bush, his body colliding with hers. They tumbled to the ground in a heap of fur. Artemis huffed as his mood lifted. That peaceful feeling he’d been searching for was back and he breathed in deep taking it in.
His wolf dove to his feet. He turned, hiked his hindquarters in the air and swished his tail back and forth.
Angels green eyes shimmered, the magnificent green holding specks of gold. They stared back at him with hope and happiness lingering in their depths.
Her wolf took in his playful stance and let out an excited bark as she mirrored his stance.
His wolf swiped a paw at her, growling playfully.
Angel gave an impressive growl back before leaping forward. Her paws connected with his chest, pushing him back. His wolf was quick to react as he side stepped huffing with laughter as she tumbled to the ground.
He stilled when the soft sound of her whimpers reached his ears. His wolf retreated to the back of his mind, soft guiltily whimpers fell from him as he let Artemis have full control.
He padded over to her. Her golden body was curled into a ball of fur, she lifted her head at his approach and whimpered shifting slightly. She bent her head back down and licked her paw.
He let out a whimper of his own, immediately feeling bad. He hadn’t played with someone in a long time, he’d been way to rough with her.
He cursed himself.
Ducking his head down he sniffed wounded paw. As quick as a bullet, her paw came up swiftly locking around his head to hold him down. Her teeth pierced his ears as she bit down and pulled.
Anger and disbelief coursed through him. She’d played him, she’d tricked him into thinking she was hurt. He growled and snapped at her. His sharp teeth inches away from her throat.
Immediately her eyes fell to the ground and she loosened her hold on him, letting her body sink into the forest floor. She bared her neck, her wolf hoping to satisfy him.
Grunting at her, he stood and bolted from the small clearing disappearing into the thick forest.
He was so angry with her. How could she have thought that, that was funny? He’d felt guilt over what he’d thought he’d done. Guilt!
Artemis Steele didn’t feel guilt, he made constructive decisions and never looked back simply uncaring as to the repercussions of his actions.
Two days, he’d been in the presence of this female for only a grand total of two days and between those two days there had been three weeks to stop caring, and yet he hadn’t and this female was already bringing out emotions that had left with his soul.
He shook his head and continued to bound through the forest, his paws picking up loose dirt as he went.
He continued to run, he could hear her behind him crashing through the bushes, her paws crunching down on the autumn leaves.
By the time he started to slow to a trot, the afternoon sun was high in the sky and the air had gotten a few degrees warmer.
Nearing the familiar clearing he stopped dead in his tracks.
He lifted his nose and inhaled the familiar scent that would lead him home.
Just as he was about to turn back, a golden blur of fur sped past him, heading for the place he didn’t want anyone to be.
He let out a bark of warning as he sprinted off after her. Her golden body moved through the trees easily, the sound of their paws hitting the floor echoed through the forest.
As she drew closer, the scent of his mate, his pup and the dark hint of death became stronger.
He nearly collided with her as she stopped suddenly turning to look at him. He knew she smelt the dark scent.
He nudged her side towards the way they’d come. She tried to side step him, to investigate, but Artemis blocked her path, his ears lay flat against his head as he snapped at her, letting out a deep growl in warning. He’d hate to nip at her but if that’s what it took to get her away from here then that’s what he’d do.
She eyed him wearily before turning around. He let out a relieved sigh and padded after her. He was a few steps behind her when she turned sharply, flying by him.
He turned after her.
Her tail brushed across his face as he caught up to her. Her paws hit the trail that would lead them back to his family’s home.
He could see the opening of the trees and the light blue siding of the home.
He couldn’t let her near there.
He snapped at her tail twice, when she didn’t yield to the warning he grabbed her tail between his teeth and bit down hard. She let out a startled yelp and stopped, quickly swinging around, her paw came out attempting to swipe at him.
Artemis held firm on her fur, she tried to tug away and he bit down harder. She whimpered, her eyes flashing dangerously.
Angel was pissed off, she had a right to be but he didn’t want anyone at the house. This had been a bad idea, bringing her here, suggesting they go for a run. Hell even just having her stay with him was a bad idea, his desire for her had clouded his judgment. He’d jumped into this way too quickly.
She snapped at him, her canines flashing in front of his face.
He growled and used force to push her back.
He let go of her tail and nudged her belly towards the way they’d come.
Obviously furious with him she lowered her eyes but huffed at him and took off towards the pack house at a sprint.
Artemis looked back at the clearing and scowled before going after her.
As he reached the opening in the trees, the opening that faced the back of the pack house, he stepped forward spotting her as she finished shifting. Her skin appeared red and raw, a few seconds later the blemishes had vanished and she covered herself with his sweatshirt. Her arms came around her waist, hugging herself.
“I-I think I should go home,” she said.
He gave a curt nod before letting the shift run across his form. She watched him before looking away, her teeth biting down on her plush lower lip. He was the cause of the sudden fear and sadness that covered her like a shield.
Shifting back was always the most difficult. Artemis’s skin was raw and red as Angels had been, if he was quick to throw on clothes it would hurt like a hot brand.
He waited until he healed and then threw on the jeans he’d left behind.
“Lets go” he said striding past her.