Authors: Aurelia Thorn
“Several hours. I’ve cooked meat for you and brought nuts, in case you get hungry during the trip.” Beorn told me, holding up a small bag that wafted the smell of smoky, juicy steaks.
What a darling!
“What about you?” I asked concerned, then eyed the other, much larger bag in his other hand.
“I ate while you were asleep, but I’ve brought this in case I don’t find food along the way,” he motioned at the bag, which was filled to the brim with berries. I decided not to mention it; it’s his life, his body, his business. If he wants to do an all-berry diet, that’s fine.
Deciding that the journey to my sister would be better spent getting to know each other, I decided to make the first move, looking up at Beorn through my lashes. “What do you do all alone in the middle of the woods, anyhow? Do you have a job? A family?” Biting my tongue, embarrassed that I might be stepping on his toes, I quickly looked away. Scanning our surroundings to see if there was any hint as to where we were heading.
He didn’t seem to mind, though. His face thoughtful, he kept his steady pace that almost looked like a prowl, his dark hair getting into his eyes. “No family. My father left after impregnating my mother, and she left, too, when I was very young.” Beorn stopped walking and perked his ears, hearing something that I clearly couldn’t. He swung his head to the right and I could see his nostrils flair as he sniffed the air. Not knowing what to do, I just stood there watching him, slightly alarmed. There was only one other time I’d encountered someone who behaved this oddly, and I’m pretty sure he was crazy. He’d come into my work and would mutter in gibberish every few minutes while trying to finish a sentence, then flash me a smile. I didn’t know what to do then, either; as I’m rather bad at confrontations and awkward situations, I just asked the customer to excuse me as I felt my boss would be able to better assist him. He didn’t seem to mind. Now, though, I didn’t have a boss to turn to, and all I could do was stare because there was nothing I could think of that seemed to be a suitable reaction. To my relief, Beorn continued in the direction we were going and began talking as if he’d never paused. “I built the cabin and work as a lumberjack. Every month I go into town to provide them with wood, except for the winter, where I just give them one big delivery.”
With widened eyes, I glanced over at him to see if he was joking. He obviously wasn’t; the man doesn’t seem to know what a joke is. “Wait, so you raised yourself and… built the house you live in?”
That would explain a lot. Poor guy, he never even had anyone to love him.
Beorn nodded but didn’t seem to see this as an issue, not noticing the sympathy in my voice. Trying to console him, I reached over to stroke his back comfortingly, but he leapt away from me and looked almost rabid. “Don’t touch me.”
My jaw dropped at the sudden change in attitude and my hand jerked back as swiftly as a snake’s retreat. “I-I’m sorry. I was just trying to…”
He dropped his eyes apologetically and looked at me with a sheepish smile. “I apologize, Nicole. I’m just not used to people. I mean, I don’t get to interact with anyone very often,” he hurried to correct himself.
I opened my mouth to say something but quickly discovered that we’d come to a stop. Looking up to see where we were, I gaped at the realization that we were at the mouth of a den. A wolf den.
“There are two of these, except the other one is bigger,” Beorn’s deep voice snapped me back into focus. “They might have gone to the other den if they suspected us. And they probably do since they saw you,” he added while gesturing at me to step into the den.
Bewildered, my head turned from the den back to this strange man. “We can’t go in there, it could be dangerous! And I didn’t bring my flashlight. And we don’t have weapons, what if they attack again? We should go find some branches or rocks or something.” I was blabbing and I knew it, but the nervousness had completely taken over me. The riskiest thing in my lifetime was when I went on a field trip to Greece with my class for two weeks without my parents. Really riding the edge, there! One time, I even went skinny dipping. But this? This is way out of my comfort zone.
Mary, what are you putting me through?
At the thought of my baby sister’s name, grief took over me again. If the wolves were that rough with me when they only had ten or so minutes with me, god knows what they’re doing with Mary.
Setting my jaw and straightening my back, I grabbed the nearest two stones I could find and held one out to Beorn, who just looked at it blankly. “For protection,” I explained. Nodding that I’m ready to head into the cave.
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll protect you.” He batted at the rock in my hand, knocking it to the floor and grinned at my light gasp in response. “You’ll slow us down if you’re holding rocks,” Beorn told me gently.
Whatever, maybe you’re the one slowing us down with how burly you are. I’m lithe and can run fast,
I thought annoyed, pursing my lips. When his grin grew even wider, I wondered if I’d thought aloud and shot him a puzzled look. My new friend didn’t offer me an explanation but instead ducked his head down as he entered the den. Following suit, my voice hissed through the crackling silence, “I can’t see anything.”
After a moment, his response came, “They’re not here. It looks like they were here before, so they might come back. But we’re the only ones in here.”
Disappointment washed over me. “Fuck,” I swore. “What do we do now? Is the other den far?”
“Their other spot is a cave,” he explained calmly. “It will be half a day’s trek to reach it from here. No use going now because you’ll be too tired to return to the cabin when we retrieve your sister.”
Why won’t you be tired?
But I let the thought linger in my mind, not daring to actually ask him.
Instead of responding, I felt around the den with my hands. It was a small, confined space, but large enough for me to walk around in; Beorn was too tall so it appeared that he was hunched over in the dark. After a few moments of silence, scraping broke the stillness in the air, forcing me to whip around in the dark to try to figure out what it was. “Did you-” I started, but then noticed the small spark in Beorn’s direction where he’d started the tiniest of fires.
“Oh. I always carry tinder with me,” he said apologetically as his intention wasn’t to startle me. The small fire was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, in the way that it contained such a very unexpected element of surprise and reflected off of Beorn’s defined cheekbones, the flames dancing in his dark eyes. He was crouched next to it, quickly circling the heat with rocks and stones while simultaneously strategically feeding the flames twigs or dry leaves.
Knowing that I’d be of no help, I plopped down cross-legged on the ground, holding my hands above the flames. The sounds of my grumbling stomach, though they were extremely faint and only alerted me because they were inside my body, somehow informed Beorn that I was hungry. With lightning speed, he sharpened a stick with his… nails?
How is he doing that?!
Then stuck it inside the bag of food he’d brought me, spearing the steak. He held it over the flames as he handed me the small bag that now only contained nuts shyly, making it rather obvious that he’s not used to doing favors for anyone.
“Thank you,” my voice was just above a whisper and I gingerly took the bag from his hands.
What’s it about confined, dark spaces that make you want to talk quietly?
Chewing on some nuts, Beorn returned me my steak, and the bite I took from it was the most savory, mouth-watering bite I’d ever taken of anything. It certainly deserved my appreciative moans.
This man can cook!
In spite of how unladylike it was, I scarfed down the entire steak, letting out small sounds of approval while doing a small happy-dance with my shoulders. When my voice found itself, all I could manage was a “wow.”
All he could do was laugh, and it was the richest sound I’d ever heard. It warmed my body in a way the heat from the fire couldn’t, and, contagious like love for chocolate, it made me laugh too. What was it about this man that made me feel warm and giddy? As we sat there munching on nuts and berries with me wondering how I could break the ice with this reserved man, it dawned on me that there was some vodka left over in my bag. Pulling it out and presenting it to him, the light gleaming against the clear liquid, my voice sounded like more of an invitation than I’d intended, “Care for a drink?”
Beorn eyed the bottle suspiciously before admitting, “I’ve never… drank anything other than water,” he finished flatly.
I swear my eyes almost exploded out of my skull. “What!?” I wasn’t sure why I was so surprised, seeing as how he lived in the wild and all. There were just some things you really took for granted. “Well, it’s not going to taste good,” I regretfully informed him. “But it has some cool qualities to it. It’ll make you feel good. Sometimes really good.”
He shrugged and then proceeded to take the bottle from my hands, his fingertips brushing along my knuckles as he did, sending shivers down my spine. “You only live once,” he grinned, and it made me wonder just how much I’d made him leave his comfort zone since accidentally entering his life. As he took a swig, I noted that he didn’t grimace at all. As if the flavor had no impact on him.
Several moments of passing the bottle back and forth went by with small talk about our hobbies in between, and I knew I was beginning to reach my limit and needed to slow down. Beorn, on the other hand, seemed totally unfazed. Though he was much larger than me and most probably made entirely of muscle judging from his posture, his walk, and the areas his clothes hugged his body.
I wonder what he looks like with them off?
When he tried passing the bottle back to me, I shook my head with an appreciative smile, “I’m good for now.” Then it suddenly occurred to me that he’d told me earlier that he’d grown up by himself, without a family. Did he know any people other than the ones he saw in town once a month?
Feeling bold from the liquid confidence booster, I cooed, “Do you have a girlfriend, Beeeorn?” Scooting over to sit closer to him next to the fire as I did.
He looked away from me; I wasn’t sure if it was because he was embarrassed at my behavior or ashamed of the response he was about to give. “No,” the soft reply came. When Beorn’s smoldering, black eyes met mine again, they were hungry, desire over wanting the girlfriend he’d been missing showing clearly in them. He quickly regained his composure and added, “The only women who ever pass the forest are taken by the tribesmen. You were lucky you got away.” The words were tight and his smile was pained as he spoke, as if he wanted to tell me something but didn’t know how.
My drunken state was oblivious to all of this, though—all I heard was that he didn’t have a girlfriend and, judging from the way he spoke of the tribesmen, he never had. That must mean…
“So… Does that mean you’ve never physically been with a woman, either?” My voice was just above a whisper now, and I’d gotten so close that my breast was pressed into his firm chest, my legs casually draped over his, subtly brushing my feet against his cock from over his jeans.
“We shouldn’t do this,” his husky voice responded, pulling away from me but not wanting to push away. He kept his eyes fixed to the flames. “I’m not who you think I am.”
Laughing light-heartedly, I swung my body around his, straddling him with my thighs. My arms casually draped around his neck as I leaned in to whisper in his ear, my nostrils filling with his aroma of smoke and leaves. “Don’t pretend you’re not curious,” I moved my hips back and forth, grinding against his growing, aroused cock. “I’ll even cut you a break and give you the ride of your life,” my breathless voice added. I trailed my hands down his chest, reveling in his muscular build, and looped under his belt buckle, slowly unfastening it.
Beorn grabbed my wrists before the belt came off, “Nicole,” his voice warned me.
“Stop worrying,” I soothed him, pulling the belt off in one swift motion and tugging down his jeans. I was presented with a thick, long cock that was already throbbing, pre-cum glistening at its head, waiting to be licked. Glancing up at him mischievously, I grinned, “See, you want this as badly as I do. Now come on, help me get these off.” Reluctantly, pulled his jeans all the way off. “This, too,” I pointed at his shirt, and that came off, as well.
All I could do was stare at him in awe; his body was perfectly sculpted, his figure one of a runner who liked to lift heavy things, too. As my eyes slowly studied every inch of him as well as they could in the dark, something puzzled me about his legs. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I leaned closer to identify it as he tried to put his clothes back on. “This was a mistake,” he said angrily, grabbing his jeans.
Then I realized what it was. His legs were covered in what looked like fur. Before he could put his pants back on, I let my hands wander over his athletic thighs, they clenched onto a thick pelt. I let them roam all over, filling my fists with the silkiness of it, “What, is this genetic or something?” My voice came out in awe.
“Nicole, that’s what I wanted to tell you. I’m not…” His voice broke and I knew whatever he was going to tell me was important, because he was no longer aroused, either. “I wasn’t born like you or your sister. I’m sort of like those tribesmen.”
Coiling back as if stricken, I looked at him in horror. “You’re part of that tribe?!”