Months ago, former model Reed Emerson was nearly killed in a car accident. While on a trip to celebrate his recovery, he gets lost in the woods and meets an unusual wolf. When the animal turns out to be more than just a wolf, Reed is astonished and a little afraid.
Werewolf Ethan Amhurst has been alone a long time. Finding Reed lost on his property seems to be a stroke of luck. He wants to show Reed that his scars don’t matter, but can there be any future for a werewolf and a scarred ex-model?
God, it’s cold. Reed tried to quiet his chattering teeth as he trudged through the forest, trying to get his bearings. He looked around, praying to see some trail markers or anything else leading back to civilization. Unfortunately, he saw nothing remotely familiar or helpful. All the rocks and trees looked the same in the oncoming dusk. At least the hard, icy rain from earlier had tapered off into a slightly less icy mist, but since he’d gotten pretty well soaked already he couldn’t really count his blessings.
Damn! How could I have gotten so lost? I could have sworn I was following the trail markers… A sharp twinge of pain in his leg brought him up short. Oh, come on! Not now. Please, not now.
“Fuck!” He’d already been walking too long and on bad terrain, and the rain probably hadn’t helped. He stopped and massaged his left thigh carefully, praying the pain would pass.
Reed almost laughed at the horrible irony of his situation. What else could go wrong? I’m cold, I’m tired, my leg hurts like a bitch, and I’m completely lost. Some celebration trip this is turning out to be.
The urge to laugh fled the second he glanced up, however. He could actually feel the blood drain from his face as he caught sight of two large, green eyes glinting from the shelter of the trees. Something big stood in the forest, staring at him. A low, menacing growl rumbled from the animal’s throat. The hair on the back of his neck stood up in reaction.
Well, I guess I just found out what else could go wrong.
Reed’s first thought was to run like hell, but he forced himself to stay put. If he ran, he might scare the creature. Or piss it off. Either way, he didn’t want to upset something big and probably toothy. Besides, he wouldn’t get far with his leg hurting this much. Whatever hid in the woods could easily catch him if he fell on his face.
Maybe if I talk to it…
Desperate, he decided to try. “Hey there, big guy,” he choked out, trying to keep his voice soft and non-threatening. His voice cracked a bit, but at least he wasn’t too scared to speak. Somehow the sound actually made him feel a little better, in a weird sort of way.
The growling stopped. The creature’s green eyes narrowed, and the undergrowth rustled as it began to move closer.
He started talking again, praying the animal wasn’t preparing to attack. “I’m sorry about getting lost in your forest. I’d, uh, really appreciate it if you didn’t rip my throat out or anything.”
His fear surged full-force as the animal drew nearer and nearer. Reed cringed, holding his ground as best he could. He couldn’t help gaping when the creature finally emerged from the brush. It was a wolf—a huge, black wolf with striking, unusually dark green eyes.
I think I read somewhere that wolves almost never attack people. Please, please be true.
The wolf closed the distance between them cautiously, sniffing the air. Reed tried desperately not to make eye contact. He’d read something else about wolves and dogs seeing eye contact as a challenge. He had no idea if the article was accurate, but better safe than sorry, right?
To keep his mind off his fear, he began to speak softly to the wolf again. “You’re beautiful, you know. And I’m not just saying so because I don’t want to be dinner. Although I have to admit, you’re kind of freaking me out here. I guess this is what I get for thinking nothing could be worse than being cold, wet, and lost.”
The wolf cocked its head, eyeing Reed as if it understood his words.
Reed shook his head at his own ridiculous thoughts. Of course it can’t understand me. Still, talking to the wolf seemed to be working, so he kept going. “I don’t suppose you know of a place around here where I could rest awhile and get warm? I don’t think anyone’s going to find me tonight, and my leg’s hurting pretty bad.”
To his utter shock, the wolf came right over to him. Not flinching away or running took pretty much all his courage, especially when the big creature’s sharp teeth hovered near his arm. Rather than biting, though, the wolf grasped his sleeve almost delicately and tugged the material. Confused, Reed didn’t move. The wolf tugged again, insistently, and then let go.
Either I’ve gone insane or I’m really stupid. Or both! Then again, I don’t have a lot of options here. With a shrug and a sigh, Reed trailed after the wolf. Anytime he stumbled or fell too far behind, the wolf came back and waited for him. In the back of his mind he knew this situation was bizarre and unnatural. A wolf shouldn’t be interacting with a human like this, and its behavior seemed to show an abnormal degree of intelligence. He was just tired, cold, and scared enough not to care about logic, however, so he continued following his furry new friend.
After what felt like an eternity but was probably only ten or fifteen minutes, he spotted the wolf standing before the entrance to what appeared to be a small cave. The wolf whined at him, shook some of the water off its coat, and disappeared into the dark opening. He hesitated. Do I really want to go into a cave with a wild animal?
A loud clap of thunder and the rapidly darkening sky made his decision for him. Crouching down low, he followed the wolf into the cave.