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Authors: Caitlin Ricci

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Moon Chilled

BOOK: Moon Chilled
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Table of Contents

Moon Chilled
Book Details
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
About the Author

Moon Chilled

Caitlin Ricci

When Shae was thirteen she ran away from a sexually and physically abusive alpha but getting to safety meant leaving her mate, Maiki, behind. Now that she's twenty-three Shae has made an isolated life for herself with only the wolf inside of herself for company.

Then Maiki calls her after a decade of silence, asking her to come back, and Shae cannot say no to her mate. Maiki is a seer and she's had a frightening dream of the pack being demolished and the old farmhouse the alpha lives in going up in flames...

Book Details

Moon Chilled

By Caitlin Ricci

Published by Less Than Three Press LLC

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.

Edited by Amanda Jean Cover designed by Aisha Akeju This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.

First Edition April 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Caitlin Ricci Printed in the United States of America ISBN 9781620043493

Chapter One

Shae

My life isn't the conventional type of thing you'd expect from someone my age. The twenty-three-year-old women on TV are nothing like me. I've never been to a party, don't know the first thing about getting an education of any type, and my cell phone is a cheap prepaid thing that has barely enough money on it for one phone call. No, my life may not be the expectation of many, but for a werewolf, it's just fine.

I stepped out of the small hunting cabin I was renting and into a chilly winter morning in the Colorado Mountains. The cabin was barely big enough for the few pieces of furniture I had in it, none of which were mine. The human in me didn't mind the lack of space, and the wolf part of me had no use for material things. She could make do in most situations, and the small cabin was only of benefit to the human. My wolf would likely prefer it if we never stopped long enough to need a cabin in the first place. She was practical like that, often reminding me that clothes and other things humans seemed to hoard were of no importance to the likes of us. After all, we had our life, and anything else was just gravy.

As a human, I walked the mile into town with the night's frost clinging to my boots. They were worn, picked up in a back alley trashcan in one of the many towns I'd been visited during the last ten years of my life. They were a few sizes too big for me and likely belonged to a man at once point, but at least they weren't tight. And since I rarely wore them, or any other clothing for that matter, I figured I could put up with a bit of discomfort for the sake of looking like a human.

Whenever I was out in public, which admittedly wasn't very often, that was what I focused on. Humans, though similar to me, were fundamentally nothing like me. And I'd seen enough movies and read just as many books to know what humans did to something that wasn't like them. My wolf knew too, and it put her on the defensive as soon as we were within range of the town. She didn't like coming down here and protested loudly by bristling up and growling in the back of my mind. I pictured myself stroking my fingers through her fur, trying to calm her as she struggled for control over my body. This was a necessity, and though she couldn't understand why, she took my word for it. This time. I had no doubt that the next time I asked her to come down here wouldn't be so easy. We didn't need supplies; much of what I needed she and I could gather from the woods around us. Instead we had need of something that was purely human in design—money.

I detested the entire principle of it, likely by my wolf's influence, but the cabin we rented needed to be paid for with the flimsy paper bills, and so we did what we needed to in order to survive. As always. I had the distinct impression my wolf resented me for choosing to be human in this of all things. I tried not to let her opinion of the matter bother me. She was stubborn and could be arrogant at times. I liked to think I gave her that.

I walked into the grocery store and took a hard left at the first chance I could, putting me right by the bulletin board that hung beside the bathrooms. As I stood there and shifted my weight, my heavy winter coat was loud, swishing in the wind, I looked through the variety of livestock for sale ads and missing pet fliers to find the ones I wanted. I disliked wearing the coat, with its heavy zippers and other metal pieces that always seemed to make noise. But humans experienced the cold when there was snow on the ground, and I had to blend in. Still, I wasn't human, not even close, and so by the time I'd found a job that I could likely do, I was desperate to shed the jacket and as many other layers of clothing as I could manage.

As a wolf, I held none of the shame or uncertainty that humans seemed to experience when they went without clothing. I had very few pieces of clothing, as when I was alone I simply went without them. And because I was alone most of the time, there was little need for me to have the possessions that the humans I'd seen around me covet as if they were the most important thing in life.

I knew what was important to me, and she lived more than a day away in a town south of where I now stood. Even if she were closer, though, there were reasons we no longer spoke often, if at all. My past was not something that I chose to think about. But thinking of her made me remember it. There was no separating them. They simply existed together, no matter how much I tried to fight that fact.

Back to the matter at hand
, I decided with a shake of my head as I tried to clear my mind. I tore the information for a job off one of the flyers. There were others posted, but only this one had nothing to do with animals, even though I knew they’d likely be in the vicinity. It wasn't that I didn't like the goats, horses, and cows that called the little mountain town home with me. But I was clearly a predator to them, and they seemed to realize this whenever I was close.

I'd considered taking a job housesitting for a person that had chickens once. My wolf barely resisted having one for lunch, but my letting them live hardly seemed to matter to the birds that had nearly hurt themselves in an effort to get away from me while I'd been collecting eggs for their owner.

My wolf didn't understand the need for money, and most of the time I agreed with her because I hardly thought about the stuff except when the rent came due. We ate what we caught, washed ourselves in the river, and slept outside for as many months as possible until the cold made such things impossible—which wasn't often, given how thick my wolf's fur is. My wolf would rather we live in a cave somewhere and never come near humans again. We'd tried that at first, when we were too young to rent a place and living with people had been out of the question. She'd loved the cave. I'd missed people. I suppose that's because, in the deepest parts of my heart, I know I'm not really a wolf and can never be one. Even if I let her have complete control, I'd only ever be a werewolf that was letting my wolf out to play.

But being completely human didn't work for us either, because I wasn't one of them. I thought of myself as special, even unique, in this little town. In the world of werewolves, I was only one in a large number of others. We aren't as rare as people may like to think. But here I was the only one. As far as I knew, anyway. I hadn't put up my own flyer asking to meet others like me. I wasn't that desperate to be called the crazy one and run out of town. Not when I'd made a decent life here for myself over the past few years.

I put the piece of the flyer with a farmer's name on it in my pocket. He was looking for someone to help him restore an old barn. Simple enough, I reasoned. I didn't know much about restoring old buildings, but I was stronger than most and rarely tired out for long. But I had no other options, and was rent coming due. My landlord liked getting his money, though why he insisted on it was beyond me. He gave me a discount for watching the place and keeping it tidy, but even though he'd said that he would be stopping by to use the hunting cabin on occasion, he never had.

A movie I'd watched the summer before suggested that sometimes women traded things for rent. I'd considered it, as trading was a form of commerce that both my wolf and I understood, until I was led to believe from the movie that this thing to trade was the woman's body. Both my wolf and I knew that was never going to happen. Some things were too awful to consider for long and were best left alone to rot in some deep, dark hole in the back of my mind. I preferred them that way.

With the man's number in my pocket, I left the store and instantly had to blink snow off my eyelashes as it came down on top of me. The storm had picked up, flakes coming down faster and dropping the temperature around me. My wolf saw snow and wanted to go play in it, to roll and run until we were cooled down and no longer sweating through this impossibly thick, noisy coat.

As much as I wanted to do just as she had suggested with her various images and gentle but persistent prodding into my thoughts, we had other things to do at the moment. Getting this job happened to be one of them.

Without any form of identification or proof that I'd ever attended school, which I hadn't, getting something that people might consider a real job was impossible. Documents could be forged; the little amount of TV that I was able to get through the antenna attached to the cabin had told me so. But the shows I watched made it seem like that task required money, which I didn't have, and expertise, of which I was sorely lacking. And so I took the jobs I could around town when the rent came due. Work was better in the spring when people had planting to do, or in the fall when someone would be out hunting and needed a bit of help. I wasn't a guide—nothing near that official. But I knew where the deer liked to graze and the trails the elk took.

The barn owner would likely be looking for men to come and offer him their help. Fighting for respect wasn't anything new for me. I knew I looked younger than I was, and as a girl, the men in town underestimated me. It had been that way no matter where I went, and it didn't bother me. Usually, anyway. Sometimes being treated as a stupid little girl without a brain or any sort of thoughts of my own got old. But after being on my own for so long I was nearly used to it. At least it wasn't as bad as it had been.

I would tone it down for the farmer. By 'it,' I meant everything about me. My strength, my speed, my intelligence. I was naturally better than the humans that lived near me because I was a predator. But he didn't need to know that. I'd show him that I wasn't some weak little girl, but I wouldn't give myself away either. It was a delicate process, one that I wasn't all that good at. I'd try my best, though. I had to. Before moving to this forgotten little mountain town, I'd lived a bit further east in a place called Loveland. It had been smaller than Denver, but there were still more people than I was used to being around. This was back when I was still trying to pretend to be completely normal, when I thought that maybe someday I might even get my GED and go to college and have a real job where I had to wear shoes and such, possibly even a badge. Once, years ago, I’d thought that fighting the bad guys would be a fun way to make a living. Like on the cop shows I’d caught on occasion. But I knew myself well enough to figure out I didn’t play well with others or within the rules. There were certain people in this world that I wouldn’t be able to stop my wolf from attacking and I wouldn’t have wanted her to, either.

Anyway, I'd been renting a room in this guy's townhouse, which should have sent off warning bells, but I figured I could handle it. I'd done more than my fair share of handling things by that time. I didn't expect him to consider sex a fair trade for rent, though I guess I should have known something was off, since the interview he had with me had consisted of a bunch of what I realized later on were pretty personal questions. What did I sleep in, was I dating anyone, that sort of thing. Weird, right? Very. But whatever; I was only eighteen, and though I had plenty of experience in the world, not much of it was with other people.

Long story short, I guess I should mention that he spent a week in the hospital, and I broke my lease by being gone before he got out. The cop shows I watch sometimes made it seem like he might have pressed charges or maybe I had a warrant out or something, but I hadn't been in a big town since then, so I really wasn't sure. If the cops were after me, I knew nothing about it, and so I pretended that they weren't. Besides, if they were, I could shift and simply run away from them. Because of my wolf's influence, I had always been much better at hiding in the woods than any humans I have ever met.

BOOK: Moon Chilled
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