Adrianna has always felt at one with nature. From the time she was a child she's been drawn to the majestic pack of wolves that have laid claim on the land around her modest house. On her nineteenth birthday, she meets a dark and mysterious man, who goes by the name of Ian Boyce that she finds eerily familiar to her, but she can't figure out why. And for the first time in her life she feels a desire so deep and feral that she's powerless to fight it.
Ian has spent the past decade waiting for her. He and his pack have protected her and her lands until the day that he can claim her completely; mind, body and soul. At long last the time has arrived, and he plans to take what is his.
The snarl of a cougar sounding in the distance stopped the wolf from his own pursuit. As he skidded to a halt, his ears perked up and he listened again and faintly heard the sound of a girl's soft whimpers.
Damn it! He knew who the girl was and deep down inside he felt the burning desire to save her. Without further hesitation he sprang into action, moving faster than his legs had ever taken him, towards the girl, fearing he may arrive too late to save her.
He seemed to have been running for an eternity, when the girl and cougar came into his view just as the cougar was preparing to lunge on its tiny, dark-haired prey. With his heart thudding in his chest he reached the pair just as the cougar lunged.
Leaping, the wolf's body collided with the cougar's in mid-air and the two went toppling to the forest floor; the cougar landing on its back, with the wolf atop him. The wolf snarled and bit for the cougar's throat, but missed and pain immediately followed, like hot stakes being driven into his shoulder blade.
Like a hurt puppy, the wolf whimpered, squirming off the cougar, in an attempt to break free of its painful hold, while making another attempt at its throat. This time he succeeded, his teeth latching onto the cougar, as he sank them deep into its tender flesh, drawing blood.
The two animals' bodies rolled and tumbled across the forest floor, in a bundle of fur, teeth and claws. The cougar's jaw holding the wolf went slack as it cried out in pain, frantically clawing at the wolf, attempting to free itself.
Nine year old Adrianna stood rooted in the spot, her green eyes wide in terror, shock and amazement as the two magnificent creatures battled several yards from her. Her mother had warned her not to stray far from their house, but she hadn't listened. She'd wandered, loving the feel of being deep in the wilderness. The forest was the only place in the world that she felt truly at ease - until today.
The sound of the cougar's cry broke her from her trance and she began to slowly back away from the battling pair as the wolf released the cougar and they both got to their feet and backed away from each other, the wolf placing himself between her and the snarling cat.
The cougar shifted its focus to her and then back to the wolf - as though it were trying to decide if she was worth the additional fight. With a huff, it turned and rushed off into the forest quickly disappearing from her line of sight.
She continued to back away as the wolf turned its focus onto her. The fur around its face and chest was covered in mud and an abundance of blood - whether it was his or the cougars she was unsure. She was about to turn and run, but something in its eyes stopped her. Instead she cautiously approached him and touched his neck around what appeared to be the source of his bleeding.
"Thank you. You saved me."
He whined and lowered his head allowing her to stroke his coat. After a minute of allowing her to pat him, he raised his ice blue eyes to meet hers and an understanding passed between them. From that moment on, he was and will ever be her protector.
Adrianna made her way through the woods towards a clearing where she knew they'd be waiting for her. She'd been making this daily trip - just before dusk - to the forest clearing for roughly ten years now, since she was nine. When she first spotted them, she'd been alarmed and tempted to run back into the woods, towards the small house she had once shared with her mother. However, her wolf had led her to this very place ten years ago and she knew he'd never allow anything to hurt her, not even his own pack.
There had been something about the wolves. Instead of regarding her with suspicion and aggression, they'd been more curious than anything else. As the years progressed the wolves became more brazen to the point where they'd come up to her and allow her to actually touch them.
Over the years, it had felt like they'd become her friends. She'd sit for hours, her back against a large oak tree which overlooked a stream, with the pack at her side. On some occasions, and more frequently as of late, a single lone wolf would appear without the pack - her wolf.
The wind picked up and blew a lock of her long dark hair into her eyes, which she quickly pushed back. Approaching the clearing today, she noticed the lone wolf, sitting patiently by the tree she'd claimed as hers - as if waiting for her. A smile touched her lips as she made her way towards the oak tree. The wolf's large, light blue eyes followed her every movement with intense interest.
"Hey," she greeted him as she sank down to the ground and leaned her back against the base.
The massive wolf stalked towards her and lay down. Resting its head across her jean clad thighs, it looked up at her.
"I can't stay long today. The girls are taking me out to The Vibe for my birthday."
The wolf cocked its head at her and its eyes narrowed.
"Jessica scored us some fake ID's so we could get in."
Its eyes narrowed further as if scolding her. Giggling Adrianna gave him a pat on the head. "Oh stop looking at me like that. I am an adult now, you know. I can take care of myself, I'm pretty sure there won't be any wild cougars there."
The wolf's body relaxed slightly as if defeated by her argument, but its eyes still stared up at her intently.
"I went to mom's grave today." she swiped at the tears welling up in her eyes with the back of her hand. "It's been six months since her funeral and that was the first time." She sniffed. "I miss her. You know?"
The wolf edged closer and nudged her hand with its large head. Smiling softly she took the hint and stroke his thick coat and tickled it behind the ears. "And, I'm alone, you know..." The wolf huffed at her as if reminding her he was there. She began to relax slowly. "I know. I have you." On impulse, Adrianna wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him behind the ear.
The wolf jerked backwards and stared up at her, shocked by her sudden bout of affection. They stared into each others eyes for a long moment. Feeling a blush creep onto her cheeks, she was the first to look away and turned her focus to the river flowing beside them. The droplets of water gleamed under the final rays of sunlight of the day.
What was it about these wolves that kept her coming back to the clearing each and every day? Rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures, it didn't matter; she'd wrap herself up snugly and make her way to meet them. And they'd always be there - like an extended part of her family. After her mother's passing, they were her only family.
She turned her head to look over at the wolf, and frowned. "I wish you could answer me." Adrianna sighed. "Well, at least I you're a good listener."
The wolf groaned and lay back down, resting its head back down on her lap and watched the sun dip down and out of sight behind the mountains.