Trees flashed by on either side as the black wolf drove. Tall pines, dark and damp from earlier rain. The water muddied all the smells from the forest, stirred up the oil in the road. It couldn’t fool his nose. Even in the shape of a man, he caught the faint scents that always stirred his blood. He was almost home.
The short time away had been to fill up his truck with enough firewood to last the rest of winter. A chore he had done many times before, but impatience itched at him as he turned onto a dirt road and caught sight of window light glimmering between the trees. His house, breathing chimney smoke and warmth. And inside it, his beloved Alice and their newborn.
Unloading the firewood could wait until he’d seen them. He covered the load with a tarp and then kept his steps quiet up the porch, using his hunter-silence for a very different reason. One of them might be sleeping.
When he unlocked the door, Alice’s scent washed over him, drowsy and content and calm. His eagerness deepened until his heart ached like it had been bitten as he found her on the couch near the fire, arms protective against a bundle of blankets.
Her instincts were as good as his, and her gaze found his without surprise. It drew him in as much as her smile, and he took in the nuances of her scent while they kissed. The sweetness of her hair and skin. Her happiness at seeing him. The clean milk heavy in her tits.
She read the silent question in his glance down at the little face visible in the soft fabric and murmured, “She’s already back asleep. I fed her again about ten minutes ago.”
He nodded and settled beside them, once more feeling that near-pain while he studied their daughter. “Greedy like me.”
Alice laughed. A quiet sound, but it still drew the start of plaintive fussing. As tiny fists waved free of the blankets, she soothed their baby with wordless humming. The black wolf reached out for one hand, amazed at its smallness. Then those little fingers found one of his and grasped tight. His heart clenched.
After their daughter fell quiet again, Alice sighed, turning her face into the hollow of his throat to doze in his warmth. “We’re glad you’re home.”
Home. The black wolf simply nuzzled her, not trusting to words what he felt in that moment. He’d never thought his life could lead to this. As he remained awake, every instinct fixed on watching over them, it was easy to think back on what had changed. On how the impossible had become reality…