Authors: Susan G. Charles
The Reluctant Wolf: A Paranormal Romance
By SusanG. Charles
©2013 SusanG. Charles
The one thing humans, shape shifters, werewolves, vampires and animals have in common is a never ending search for love, companionship and family as well as a place to feel a part of something. So this book is dedicated to each and every one of us, the world over, and to the many animals, 2 legged, or 4 legged, that constantly yearn for this most universal of emotions – love!
©2013 by Susan G. Charles
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including scanning, photocopying or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
It was a cold and windy February Georgia night. The kind everyone was warned to stay inside out of. It was just after dark and the snow was starting back again but at least it was nice and warm here inside the mission center, filled to the brim with people with no other place to go. This particular mission center worked specifically with the very old or those getting away from an abusive situation of some sort so it had a very different vibe than most. There were some kids here tonight too but no healthy men under the age of fifty – except for staff members.
Bailey straightened up from bending over the gray haired old lady she had been talking to for the past half hour, who happened to be lying on the cot next to the wall. She pulled the cover up over the woman, tucked it in a bit and then stretched her long arms above her head. Her back popped and it actually felt good.
She smiled, looked at her watch and then bent down again, whispering slowly to her new friend to explain that it was time for her to get off. The old lady smiled absently at her, reached out to grasp her hand and say a quick “Thank You”, and with that Bailey waved goodbye, then turned to leave.
She’d been helping out at this particular mission center, speaking to the people here and getting to know them all, for a few years now. Her main mission in being here was really simple – she was looking to help those people that were very sick, but couldn’t afford medical care of any kind. As a single woman who had long ago been in an abusive relationship of her own, she vowed to help others when she finally got out.
After years of abuse herself, she found herself hidden from her captor’s grasp one day and took that opportunity to escape. She had to leave family and friends behind but she never looked back. She was her own number one caretaker she had come to realize over all that time and thanked the Lord everyday that she had no children to share her abuse with.
Now that she finally had made it out alive and in one piece for the most part, she made it her mission to repay all those who had helped her in the past, by helping others like her – and especially those in worse situations. Pay it forward was her motto. But payback was right up there too!
There was a little more to it than that, but when it came right down to it, Bailey just felt it was her duty to help the unfortunate. She had always loved helping others and was a great people person. Turns out, she possessed an unusual gift too that she loved to share, yet needed to keep secret from everyone. In fact, not even her family knew about her ability – but she could heal the sick or injured.
Her special gift made her feel like her life had a purpose when she healed the less fortunate. As it was, her “patients” didn’t even know it was her who made them feel better, which was exactly how she wanted to keep it. She felt if anyone knew of her ability that she would have been lifted up as some sort of angel, or perhaps even a devil of some sort, and she didn’t seek that kind of attention. In fact, she wanted just the opposite. She liked flying under the radar, nice and low key. And she wanted to keep it just that way, for fear of her past finding her present.
No, her mission was not to gain fame or fortune – all she wanted to do was sit with the sick, holding their hands, or stroking their arms, talking to the old or abused while her powers had time to work their magic. She enjoyed the anonymity of her current position and healing those that had been forgotten or simply tossed aside. Her payment came in the form of smiles, interesting conversations and returned health to the ill. And that was exactly the way she hoped to keep it.
Tonight, though, her shift was over. As she wiggled into her favorite warm, down filled coat and flipped her dark brown curls over the collar, she pulled a scarf tightly around her neck and put on her favorite winter hat as she got ready to leave. It was starting to snow a little harder outside – and snow, as a general rule in Georgia, was just not a normal thing. Plus, most people did not know the right way to drive in it down here so she made it her mission to get home as fast and as safely as she could before it got any worse.
Just as she put her gloved hand on the handle of the missions front door, it swung open and knocked her backwards a few steps, bringing a tall man into the room, followed by a strong burst of icy wind and a whirl of snowflakes.
“Sorry,” he absently muttered to her while pushing the front door closed, “didn’t see you standing back there.” He was wearing an old flannel button down over a t-shirt, well worn jeans and a pair of brown work boots. He was sporting a five day old growth of beard and had wavy brown hair, mussed from the wintry, windy weather outside.
Bailey looked him up and down, a little taken aback by the near collision and a little pissed off at his rudeness and cavalier attitude about nearly knocking her down. Then, taking in his broad shoulders and the muscular physique that was visible through his clothes, she smiled at him as soon as he muttered his pitiful attempt at an apology. When her eyes found his again she blushed at him catching her staring at his physique. She loved a scruffy man.
The man then held out his hand to her. “I’m Morgan,” he said, as he introduced himself.
“Bailey”, she said as she shook his oversized, outstretched hand.
He began to take off his weathered army jacket and leather gloves as he continued his conversation with her. “It’s a shame you’re on your way out now. I would have offered to walk you home or to your car if I wasn’t already late for my shift tonight.”
“Oh, I’ll be around later,” she said to him shyly as she walked out the door.
Bailey and Morgan finally got the opportunity to work together a couple of days later, talking to the homeless people in the shelter, helping out with food distribution throughout the day and finally, doing blanket runs. The pair got along well, really well. It was as if they had known each other for years. By the end of the day they knew they were well on their way to forming a special and long lasting friendship.
A few weeks later everyone at the mission knew that they were officially dating. The pair was inseparable – wherever you saw one of them, you knew the other was close by. Morgan was everything Bailey could have wanted in a man; he was sweet, caring, considerate, manly and thought of others before himself. He took good care of her, and made her feel comfortable enough to share her life, her art, and her passion for helping others with him. Months went by for the pair, and they only grew closer. Bailey had never known happiness and comfort quite like this.
One night, several months after they started living together, Bailey awoke from a turbulent nights sleep upon hearing an eerie howl somewhere outside that pierced the night air like a sharp knife on bread. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing up when she awoke. She lay there silently listening – a few seconds of silence came and went, and then another howl followed, sounding even closer to her house this time.
She quietly got up and walked carefully to her nearest window, chills running up and down her spine as a third howl could now be heard, but way too close for comfort. She slowly peeked through the curtains, and then she saw a figure! On the grass in her front yard stood a weird looking, hairy, large figure – for some reason she instantly thought werewolf! His large red eyes glowed in the night and the moonlight reflecting off the sharp teeth lined up in his half open mouth made him look that much more fearsome.
Suddenly she realized that she couldn’t scream! She had no voice at all. Fear gripped her by the throat. Still, fear compelled her to move too. She grabbed her cell from atop the night stand and ran down the hallway to her dark kitchen. She ran straight to her sink, stuck her hands into the icy dishwater, looking for her sharpest knife, retrieving a large butcher knife, as she speed dialed Morgan’s number with her other hand.
His phone kept ringing and ringing – but no answer. Just then she noticed the wolf’s big head had popped up right in front of her kitchen window, his red eyes closed as he sniffed the air. He knew she was there but still hadn’t seen her directly – yet. But she did get a much more detailed look at him – he was covered in thick dark brown fur, red eyes, loads of sharp teeth, large claws – definitely not a dream. And she was scared!
But she was also very distracted. Why wasn’t Morgan answering his stupid cell phone? But she didn’t know who else to call. And even with all her first responder training, 9-1-1 never even occurred to her. So, she ran to her spare bedroom, quickly pulled down the stairs to the attic, climbed them as quickly as possible, then closed the foldable stairs up right behind her, hiding her from the intruder outside. She hoped against hope that the wolf, or whatever that thing was, wouldn’t be able to reach her up there.
She held the knife ready in front of her just in case the monster did find her, listening intently by the trap door and holding the ladder string as if that would make a big difference. She set her phone to silent mode as soon as she entered the attic. Seconds later Bailey heard glass break in one of her windows followed by another, much closer, howl. Then she heard other noises as the wolf followed her trail straight into the bedroom, and started tearing it apart because he couldn’t reach her.
She fought off tears knowing all her favorite antiques in that room were being ripped to shreds. She didn’t have a lot of belongings but those were among the first she had bought once she got away from her ex. She did her best to remain silent because she didn’t want to encourage the beast to double it’s efforts at getting in to her. Hours passed as she sat in the dank, dark attic all alone, hoping that Morgan would call but too afraid to risk the noise of pushing the buttons to dial herself.
By the time sunset rolled round, Bailey ached from sitting in one tiny, dark spot for hours. Her hands, legs and back especially ached. The sounds of growls, howls, and breaking objects could still be heard but no where nearly as often as before. She heard another window break – the crash of broken glass let her know it was from her other bedroom window. Taking care to not be found, she continued to stay hidden for another hour or so after the last window broke. Finally, hours later still, she dared open the attic door to peek out.
The wolf, at least that’s what she thought it was, appeared to be gone. She sat there from the safety of her hiding place and listened intently to see if she might hear anything else as she surveyed her second bedroom. The walls were ripped, the carpeting shredded, her bed in splinters – the floor was covered with hair, splinters, feathers from pillows, bedding, curtains – you name it. The entire bedroom was broken. Scratch and bite marks covered several things – it was a total and absolute mess. She had no idea what the rest of the house looked like.
So she decided it was safe enough to come down. She stood and stretched her tight muscles, still holding the knife in one had and the cell in the other and carefully climbed down the folding ladder. She left it down just in case… first things first, she carefully made her way to the bathroom to relieve herself and then put her cell in her pocket deciding to hold the knife in both hands just in case she needed to use it. Then she left the sanctity of the second bedroom to see how the rest of her house looked.
Hours passed and still no Morgan! Bailey was super worried by now but kept herself busy by cleaning up most of the mess the wolf had left. Eventually she got to a point where she was calmed down enough to make another call – not to Morgan this time, but to another number she only used in cases of extreme danger. She calmly dialed the number from memory – on the other end an old man’s voice answered – he grumbled something to her. She quickly made an appointment for an hour later and immediately grabbed her keys, ran out to her car and left.
Just over a half hour later Bailey arrived at her destination still carrying the butcher knife in her hand. She decided to leave it in her car hoping she wouldn’t need to use it now. The business complex she had parked in front of was a part of an old strip mall. She parked right beside an old smoke shop and directly in front of a tanning salon. The office she was visiting was right next door to the tanning salon. There was no one in the parking lot other than her.
She tried Morgan’s number again – no answer. So she got out of her car, made sure she hid the knife under the drivers seat, locked her doors, double checked the locks, walked to the door of an unmarked business and rang the buzzer. Seconds later she was buzzed in. Once inside the dimly lit office that smelled of smoke, she sat down right in front of an old desk and told the old man seated behind it everything that had happened to her the night before.