Forgotten Wolf

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27 Damn it Derek!

The wind on my face is a welcome feeling after losing my cool with Sara.

She’s going to kill me the next time she sees me.

I wasn’t even mad when she said I was nothing but a liability and the Moon Goddess’ mistake. When she brought up my feelings for Chris, I snapped. I don’t even remember throwing the punch but her look as her nose crumpled was well worth the pain I feel now.

I didn’t really want to go home yet. There’s no doubt someone waiting to give me shit so I pull off the road just outside of their territory to check my phone while I decide where to go.

Great six new text messages, three missed calls.

Jace: the fuck Jess, answer your phone!

Jace: seriously, tell me where you are.

Claire: please come back, or at least tell us you’re ok.

Jude: everything good? Jace called looking for you.

Jace: please just call me.

For fuck’s sake, he saw me take off on the bike. If I was heading home I wouldn’t have gotten there for another twenty minutes.

Curtis: hey if you’re not too busy I could use a hand for hay.

Sold! Harvesting hay sucks but he usually just has me drive the tractor so that’s easy enough.

To Curtis: I’m just leaving a friend’s, I can be there in less than an hour, see you then.

Fuck, I should text Chris something so he doesn’t freak out.

To Chris: Borrowed a bike and took off to catch up on work two towns over, will be home later on tonight. Thanks again for everything, heading back on the road, shitty cell service here, don’t work too hard :)

Not suspicious at all.

I put my phone away and head off to their farm.

This will be a good distraction and with no cell service, no one can give me shit.

Curtis’s farm is like my second home. With just two sons, they always needed help at harvest time so our relationship just kind of grew from there. I spent so much time there growing up they gave me my own room.

I spent most of the day there, the weather was perfect so we did all three hay fields. Curtis had hired the local kids to pick up the hay, he just needed me to drive one of the tractors. It’s hot, dirty, and heavy work, the kind of thing you want lots of help with to get done as soon as possible.

I grab a quick dinner before I head out. The thought of a long hot shower sounds fantastic right about now, but unfortunately it will be an hour and a half or more before I get home.

I don’t know whose bike I borrowed, but they have nice taste! It’s a cruising style Indian motorcycle, built for a smooth ride with lots of power. It has a lot of snort too, the throttle just itches to go wide open. I have to take it easy though; it’s been a few years since I’ve ridden and even though I’m feeling a smidge rusty, I’m warming up fast.

By the time I pull back into my driveway, the sun’s already starting to drop in the sky. I park the bike and try to check my phone, but apparently it is dead. Once I see no one is waiting for me, I head inside and straight for the shower.

The shower has me feeling totally refreshed, even the ache in my hand is nearly gone. I pick my phone up off the charger and turn it back on.

Chris: call me as soon as you get this.

‘Busted.’ ‘Fuck off.’

I dial his number but get no answer. “Hey there, just got your message, my phone died, gimme a call later.” No sooner do I hang up that I hear something outside.

He did not just show up like some creeper!

Reluctantly, I make my way to the back door and fling it open, prepared to face the music.

Snaps, snarls and shouts in the distance meet me instead. My body tenses as I try to make sense of what I’m hearing. Instinctively, I grab the bow and quiver that I keep at the back door and head out.

The sun is setting but there’s still enough light to see around. Movement draws my eyes to them before the sound does. Ethan is running from three wolves and a man.

Shit!

I take off running towards them as I pick up on Ethan’s screams. My heart’s racing as I see the one wolf biting and dragging him back by his shirt as the big man drags him forward by his arm. Ethan looks equally terrified of everyone.

I draw an arrow and yell, “Let him go!” No sooner do I say that the second wolf leaps for Ethan’s face, teeth bared.

*Thwack*

The arrow flies true, burying itself in the attacking wolves eye and drops it. From this distance I can easily hit a dime. The man roars and the fight intensifies, I don’t recognize anyone but Ethan. The sheer terrified look in his eyes isn’t giving any indication if any of them are on his side.

Fuck.

My heart’s pounding as I hesitate. The third wolf snaps at both, I draw another arrow aiming for a back leg to get him to back off but not kill him.

The big guy scoops up the flailing Ethan, who is screaming his head off. The first wolf turns his attack on him instantly.

“Drop him!” I shout.

His eyes flash to me a moment before he goes back to the wolf, keeping Ethan. I draw another arrow, aiming at his heart, but doubt fills me. I raise it a few inches and the arrow buries deep into his shoulder.

He snarls, dropping Ethan as he turns to me, his face contorted in rage. In the blink of an eye, he rips the arrow out and snaps it in half. His eyes are ablaze with murderous intentions.

“Run!” I scream at Ethan. I draw another arrow and aim, wolf number three who already took a hit in the back leg is lunging for Ethan.

*Thwack*

The arrow takes him in the chest, causing him to crumple.

Something’s not adding up.

I’m down to my last shot, so it needs to count. I clear my mind and try to calm my racing heart, desperate to get a feel for the last wolf and man.

The man is imposing; power radiates off him as does strength and rage. The wolf is harder to read, anger and a twisted hunger is all I get from him. He feels dirty and wrong, like his essence is covered in oil.

I lose the last arrow at his chest and it buries deep. The wolf turns to it and snaps at it. The man takes this moment of distraction and literally rips the animal’s throat out with his bare hands. The savage act shocks me with it’s sheer gruesome nature.

My quiet back yard has been transformed into a warzone. Blood coats the grass and man, even from this distance I can’t escape its overwhelming stench. My heart races again as he catches a terrified Ethan.

I’m out of arrows but still holding the metal composite bow, I rush him swinging it like a bat. The first hit is sold across the back of his ribs causing him to release Ethan. He snarls and turns on me lunging at me as I swing again. He half catches or deflects it but the force clips his head. He grabs the bow with both hands, snapping it like a twig.

Shit!

I yell for Ethan to run again as he stalks towards me. My eyes are wide as my heart pounds, my mind is reeling desperately searching for the next move. But my luck’s run out and I’m not fast enough.

He grabs my shoulder quickly, his claw like fingers dig deep into my skin. The searing pain has me hiss as the air is sucked out of my lungs. He lifts me off the ground, claws digging deeper into my flesh. In desperation, I scratch at him with my weak fingers having no effect. In a last ditch effort, I bite his wrist as hard as I can, drawing blood. Success comes in how he drops me, and I scoot back in the garden desperate for more distance.

I feel the sticky hot drip as blood runs free from my shoulder. In an instant, he’s on me again, a powerful hand wraps around my throat as he drags me off the ground. His brown eyes are locked on mine, full of rage.

My eyes desperately search for anything to defend myself with and land on a nearby hoe. I reach for it, swinging it with the last of my strength burying it deep in his ribs. He stumbles back snarling at me tightening his grip as everything starts to go black.

A weak howl sounds as a silver grey wolf pup latches onto his arm. In the distance more howls sound. The man flings my limp body to the ground as he shakes the pup off.

The pup rebounds and gets between my crumpled form and the growling man as everything goes black.

-----

My body feels so heavy as I try to wake up. I’m somewhere soft and warm, smells like Chris.

Bed? Was this all a dream?!

I struggle to open my eyes, but as I blink them into focus I see I am indeed in his room. I groan as I try and sit up only to have my body protest loudly.

“Baby, relax,” Chris whispers.

My eyes snap to his, they are full of concern and worry. I reach a hand to cup his cheek. “What’s wrong,” I squeak out, my voice is painful and scratchy. He kisses my palm and smiles, caressing my cheek.

“I should be asking you that. Nothing’s wrong now.” He passes me a bottle of water, I gingerly sip it, but my parched throat wants it all at once.

He just watches me as I drink the whole thing. “Want another?”

I nod. “Actually, can we go to the kitchen or something, I need to move my back is sore.” My voice is still scratchy and squeaky even after the bottle of water. He frowns, clearly wanting me to rest.

“Maybe some soup?” He asks, I nod enthusiastically. He just chuckles and holds a hand out to help me up.

Cautiously I stand up holding his hand. Both legs feel fine, my left shoulder burns but I can see bandages so that’s no shock. The only other thing I notice is my aching throat.

He wraps an arm around me careful of my shoulder and escorts me to the kitchen. Chris motions for me to sit while he grabs me a bowl of soup. I wave at Jace and Claire, who are soon joined by Xavier.

Chris sets a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup down for me. The first sip is like magic, the scratchy feeling begins to melt away. “Thanks,” I whisper. He kisses my head before heading back to the counter.

I hear someone walk up, but can feel it’s not Chris. I look up to see the man from the fight glaring down at me. I gasp and fall off my stool, landing hard on the floor. The impact jars my shoulder, causing a burning sensation. I hiss in pain as I stare wide eyed at him.

“Damn it Derek, what the fuck did I say?” Chris snarls, pulling the man back. “Go sit down you jackass.”

“Sorry baby, I meant to tell you about him before he showed up,” Chris says as he crouches down to help me up.

“What the fuck’s going on?” I whisper angrily, eyes locked on the threatening man across from me.

“You shot me,” Derek growls. Anger and aggravation rolls off of him as he glares at me.

“You punched holes in me too,” I snap back, glaring back and holding my ground.

“You broke my rib with that rusty ass hoe,” he retorts. His eyes darken as he leans forward on the table, inching closer.

“You nearly killed me!” I growl back, trembling in anger.

Is he seriously mad at me for not letting him kill me?!

He grins darkly, eyes locked on mine, “And yet you live.”

“Knock it off Derek,” Chris warns, eyes locked in challenge. After a tense moment ,Derek relents and leans back in his chair, grumbling.

Chris turns his attention to me, eyes softening as he sighs, then explains,. “He’s Ethan’s uncle,” he explains.

My eyes snap to Derek, sure enough the resemblance is there, same eyes, though his are deep brown where Chris are hazel. They share the same nose before they were broken, and have similar height, build, and the same jaw line.

“He’s your brother?” I question, shifting my gaze between them.

“Yeah.” Chris rubs the back of his neck, “Not the kind of introduction I was hoping for.”

“Why was he attacking Ethan?”

“I wasn’t, he was panicking. I was afraid I’d lose him again,” Derek says defensively.

Embarrassment floods me as I realize I nearly killed him.

Thank God something told me to pull up last minute.

“Sorry,” I mumble.

“Yeah, sorry too,” he forces a laugh. “Do over?”

He holds a hand out. “Hi, I’m Derek, Chris’s brother.”

I tentatively shake. “Hi, I’m Jess,” I say as my voice cracks. My nerves have settled some, but I’m nowhere near calm. His energy doesn’t match his actions, he’s very skeptical and still mad.

I can’t help but frown as I notice someone’s missing. “Where’s Sara?” I ask as I scan the area.

She may hate me but that doesn’t usually keep her away.

“Don’t worry about it,” Chris says dismissively.

“Where is she?” Thanks to my injured throat, my words come out a low growl.

“Taken care of,” he replies with a scowl.

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