Thank Christ for that, I thought they’d hover all damn day. As nice as they may be, I don’t need people spying. It’s not like I’m going to run, I don’t have a car and I haven’t found somewhere to go yet. I walk through the orchard, following my nose to a small pier and pontoon on a sparkling lake at the very edge of the orchard, just past the apples. God knows how they manage to grow this many different fruits and veg out here, but it sure is pretty.
I sit on the end of the pontoon, just watching. The fish swim, the frogs croak, the dragonflies are resting on lilies and, for the first time in a long time, I wish I had my camera. This place really is beautiful. I can’t resist the temptation. I pull my boots and socks off, letting my feet slide off the pontoon and sink up to my ankle in the warm, crystal clear water.
And I just sit there.
I hear voices somewhere to the right. I’ve been sitting so long that the sun has set and, for the first time, I notice the log cabin a few hundred yards down the bank. The voices are growing in number and, out of sheer curiosity, I put my boots back on and walk down the bank until I can make out what the voices are saying.
“..strike soon, Julian. They won’t think she escaped on her own and they’ll search her out.”
“They will not leave their compound, Jefferey. They need it, and they have too many there to move in any efficient way. We have time to plan,” says a voice I recognise as Julian.
“We can go now,” says someone I don’t know. “Take them by surprise and wipe them out for they’ve done to the pack!”
To the pack?! To the fucking pack!
Without even the slightest thought, I walk straight through the open door. I know what they’re talking about, but this fucking arse hole thinks it was THE PACK that suffered?!
“For what they did to the pack, huh?”
Even to me, my voice is alien.
“Tell me, complete stranger who I don’t know and has no right to comment,” I interrupt his stuttering. “Were you chained naked to a bed, starved, tortured and repeatedly raped for four months by a man who was supposedly your father?”
The luminescence from my eyes lights up the room and I feel my teeth begin to shift. My nails have already become claws, but I find that my rage has taken me well beyond caring. I feel my power spread through the room and watch in fascination as the other wolves in the cabin drop like flies. Even Daddy Dearest can’t meet my eyes and I can see the slight shake in his legs telling me that he is only just managing not to join the others. But the man still hasn’t spoken.
“Answer the question,” I order.
“Hmm, interesting. Tell me, was the pack held captive by the people they had grown up with and subjected to the near non-existent mercy of every slightly dominant male in the pack?”
My voice is arctic, and I feel a pop in my jaw as it shifts to accommodate my wolf’s teeth.
“Then tell me, how exactly has the pack suffered and what right do you think you have to my vengeance?”
Every wolf here flinches at my words, like I punched them all in the gut with my voice. It’s an intriguing development.
“Willow?” Clayton is nearly face down in the corner, which is why I didn’t notice him until now.
“He will answer.”
“The p-pack,” he is panting hard, but even if I knew how to reign in whatever power I have over them, I wouldn’t. “The pack nearly fell apart. The g-grief.”
“None of you will be going to the Moon Called,” I look directly at Julian as I speak. I think he is looking at my nose, not my eyes. A subtle submission. “Their lives are mine.”
I am growling, my wolf contained by the thinnest skin. Fine, pale fur slowly sprouts from my forearms, a surprising colour considering my damn near anime red hair.
“Stop talking, Clayton.”
I hear a deep groan from the corner as he tries to fight my order, but it seems he can’t. A more diabolical person would use this situation to take over the pack, but I have no intention of putting down roots here.
“We won’t go without you,” says Julian, probably trying to reason with me, but it’s not good enough.
“You will not go at all,” I fire back. “When I go I will not hold back. My wolf has been waiting and she will not take the time to distinguish one from the other. Any of your people there will be taken by my wolf, and I will not apologise after.”
I think the truth in my words hits home with him, and he nods.
“You will give me words, and you will command them,” I say, nodding to, what I’m guessing, is the warrior crew.
“We will not go to the Moon Called,” he says, but it is probably just a platitude. “Leave. Everyone, now!”
There is a mass exodus as what seems like a whole pack practically stampedes out the door.
I am left standing alone with Julian, my wolf still on the offensive.
“Do you know how to control your wolf, baby girl?”
I think there is affection in his voice, but I don’t understand why. I just controlled his pack, this is usually where I get beaten so I’m not sure how to handle this situation.
“She will calm soon enough,” I reply.
“Is it alright if I take that as a no?” He smiles at me. He even seems calm.
“You are not angry,” I say, and I see his smile dim.
“I have no reason to be. You’re my daughter. Any child of mine would be dominant. I’ll admit, you’re far more dominant than I expected you to be, but that doesn’t make me angry.”
“The last time I showed my dominance I wound up with broken bones. After the fact, of course. Cowardice can’t be displayed in public, especially when you’re too busy cowering under a child’s gaze,” I reply.
He takes a moment after that, trying to reign his own wolf in.
“Clayton says that you’ve never changed,” he finally says.
“I never needed to. I hiked a lot and never went more than a few days without being in a forest somewhere. My wolf had her fill of the wilds and she never needed to come forward to save me. We have an understanding.”
“So, you’ve never seen her.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“When you’re ready, will you let me teach you about her? She needs to come out eventually and it will be better for both of you if you know what to expect,” he offers, and I see it for the olive branch that it is.
“You won’t attempt to force her from me. The moment you do, I will leave.”
“I’ll meet you in the garden tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what time you get there.”
“Alright then,” I agree and back out the door. Walking through the crowd gathered on the edge of the orchard and returning to my cottage.
I don’t even bother changing clothes before I crawl under the thick, fluffy blankets and fall asleep.