Walking Wolf Road (Wolf Road Chronicles Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Walking Wolf Road (Wolf Road Chronicles Book 1)
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“Jus’ settle down and go to sleep,” Fen grumbled out of the darkness and I lifted my head to look toward the sound, not that it did any good.

“I can’t, I’m freezing my ass off here,” I muttered between chattering teeth and let my head thud on the dirt floor.

Loki giggled, “I think I just heard his butt-cheek fall off.”

“You’re a wolf right?” Fen sighed, obviously sleepy, like the cold night had no effect on him.

I growled with irritation, “Workin’ on it; of course
that’s if I don’t die of hypothermia first.”

“Are wolves cold in the snow?” he prompted.

“Of course not, they have fur –
I don’t!

“Then grow fur.” He said, matter-of-factly. I rolled my eyes in the darkness, even though he couldn’t see it.

“Oh! Piece of cake; one furry motherfucker comin’ right up! Dude, not even
you
can shapeshift.”

“Obviously I don’t mean literal fur, use your spirit wolf’s fur to keep you warm. If you’re really as powerful at Loki thinks you are, you should be able to bring enough of your wolf into the physical world to keep you warm. It’s no different than if you feel claws or ears you shouldn’t have. She and I can do it, let’s see if you can…”

As soon as he mentioned the ears, I felt them twitch, as if responding to him. I closed my eyes and focused on my ears.

“Remember,” Fen murmured, “Wolves have two coats. Their inner coat is downy, warm, and gray. The outer guard hairs are longer and coarser, their oils act like a raincoat and they’re what give you your colors.”

I imagined fur flowing over me from the tips of my ears. First a thick beige-gray undercoat and then longer black hairs sprouted up along my spine and washed out to the tip of my tail. I felt my wolf’s shifting energy push through my body and fill me up like a hand filling a glove. I shuddered as my skin prickled, and heat crawled over my body in the wake of the prickling fur. My ears and face had been almost numb, but now they flushed with heat.   I could feel
it,
my wolf, just beneath the surface like it was finally growing comfortable inside me. And it wasn’t trying to take over this time.

Every time I almost fell asleep I lost it and woke up shivering.
I heard somebody move behind me. Warm hands startled me when they touched my back and wrapped around my waist. Loki’s smell grew stronger and the small soft hands didn’t feel at all like Fen’s.

“Get over here, pup,” she mumbled and pulled me closer. Fen’s warm scent grew and I heard him breathing, already deep asleep despite the cold. Loki coaxed me to squirm up closer, and wrapped her arms around my waist and her body touched along the length of my back.

“Just relax and go to sleep,” she whispered, her breath a wash of heat that bloomed where her cheek pressed against my shoulder. I closed my eyes, but still couldn’t sleep.

Too much had happened tonight, too fast; my mind refused to settle and my muscles locked up from trying not to disturb them or touch anything I wasn’t supposed to, despite how much I wanted to.

I sighed with frustration and inhaled a nose-full of their scent. Their smell stirred the wolf, and his fur flowed back over me like flames over a log—I even felt a tail lying on the ground behind me. As the wolf ascended in my mind, it pulled my mind from unfamiliar bodies, to friendly smells.

These were my friends now, this was my Pack.

I felt Loki’s face move into a smile, “Thaz more like’t,” she muttered groggily, and then sighed and fell back asleep. This time, I went with her.

 

 

Chapter 6 – Forbidden

 

The sounds and smells of the nighttime forest surrounded me as I slipped along dark forest paths. The rich scents of alder and pine wove a tapestry in the moist air, while the layer of cedar needles under my paws padded my journey. The place reminded me of the forests my mother took me to near Coeur D’Alene, in a different life, in a different body…

I came into a field and saw a man playing a flute while wolves sang with him. He looked so much like me, but much older; with silvering hair and deep creases around strong dark eyes that seemed to look into my very soul.

When I approached him, he stopped playing and turned toward me. He spoke to me in a strange language I’d never heard before.


Chitskhuy
hnt'lane',
łe e hntsetkhw, kuchnek'we'et
, kwnqheminch
.”

As he spoke, ravens flooded the sky, blotting out the moonlight until the world went as black as their feathers…

The crow’s cawing seeped into my brain and stirred it from warm soft oblivion. Something sighed near me and I cracked one dry eye open. In a rush, the prior night returned to me.

I opened my other eye and struggled to focus as I blinked the bleariness out. Fen, Loki, and I were curled up in a hodgepodge tangle of limbs. Fen used my calf as a pillow while my face rested on Loki’s back. The den glowed a thin blue as the sun filtered through the tarp overhead.

Holy shit, I’d just slept with and girl and a guy, I thought, and immediately winced at the duel meaning. We were all clothed, nothing happened; we were fine.

Still, oddly fitting for a freak like you…

I told the spiteful voice in my head to shut up, and the moment faded. I closed my eyes and relished the soft warmth of Loki’s body on my cheek; I’d never felt anything like it. Their familiar smell was almost intoxicating. I felt my wolf inside, content and comfortable inside my skin, a slight smile on his muzzle.

Cark, cark, cark!

I winced as the cawing continued relentlessly, and moment later Fen’s face shifted against my leg as he mumbled, “I wish he’d shut up…” Loki hummed in agreement, and we unraveled ourselves. The den felt warm, and we all stretched and popped various joints. Everyone’s hair stuck up at odd angles, and we looked more like a trio of anime characters than a pack of werewolves. Loki yawned, long and deep, and Fen and I joined her almost like a howl.

“Oh hey, I forgot to tell you. My folks are going to Colorado Springs this morning. If they’re already gone, do you guys wanna come in?”

“Sure.” I moaned as I stretched, Fen just nodded as he yawned so deeply his tongue curled.

“’Kay, I’ll go check.” She grabbed her coat and grunted as she worked her way out of the den.

Fen and I sat in silence while we dozed and tried to clear away the funk of sleep, until I muttered, “She really is beautiful isn’t she?” more to myself than to him.

I heard Fen shift behind me, “Yeah, she is… But dating within the Pack is forbidden.”

“Huh? Why?”

“The same reason you don’t date coworkers. We’re bound to these people; and if a relationship goes sour, it can hurt the entire Pack… I know what you’re going through though, that girl flirts easier than most folks breathe.”

“Oh… oh well. She’s way out of my league anyway.” It hurt, but it made sense. I couldn’t control my body, or my heart, but at least I knew my limits. I snuck a glance over my shoulder at Fen, stretched out across the ground, facing away from me.  

He’s not exactly hard on the eyes either…

I flinched away from the unwelcome thought. Footsteps crunched at the entrance, and Loki called down to us, “Yeah, they already left. Come on inside, I’ll make you breakfast.” I shoved my insecurity and self-loathing down into the dragon’s hole and caught myself on every damn stick as I followed Fen up the tunnel.

I squinted into the blinding light as I emerged into a dazzling world of white. Everywhere, crystals of ice flashed like a sea of white diamonds, unmarred across the entire field to Loki’s house. The sky was bright blue, and the warm autumn sun had already melted through the snow where it was thin. That first breath of air felt so clean, as if the snow had scrubbed everything foul from it. Fen zipped his jacket up and we followed Loki around the glittering expanse, the big ridge of mountain along the edge of town loomed close by, frosted and bright.

Her house looked like a big ranch, with a tall peaked front that seemed entirely made of windows. We kicked the snow off our shoes as we stepped through the back door, then pulled them off altogether and set them on the tiles by the door. The sun poured in through a huge window over the sink and warmed the tile floor. Loki scratched her mussed hair while she opened the fridge and looked inside. “What do you guys want to eat?”

“Whatever’s easy,” Fen shrugged.

“I’m fine with cereal; I don’t want to be a bother.”

Loki threw her hands up, “What’s the world coming to? A girl offers to make breakfast, and they want to eat cereal…”

Fen and I laughed. “If cereal’s too hard, we could pick something else,” he teased.

“How about we start with some coffee and work from there?”

“Oh damn, I
must
be out of it if I forgot coffee.” She stretched her back while she padded across the room in multi-colored socks and set up the coffeemaker.

We rifled through the fridge until we came up with all the ingredients for biscuits and gravy. I put the biscuits into the oven and sipped coffee while I poked the sausage around, half-awake and yawning, until Loki snatched the spatula out of my hand. “Hey!”

“Don’t make me maul you,” she growled and took over the skillet, “this is my kitchen damnit.”

We dished up our plates and took them with us into the cavernous living room. Raw log rafters met at the peak of the two-story vaulted ceiling, while windows covered the entire front wall and flooded the room with sunlight. A blackened fireplace dominated the back wall and the room was decorated with western ranch décor; it even had a chandelier made out of an old wagon wheel.

We settled into armchairs and dug into our food. I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days, probably from all the energy we’d burned last night. Fen sighed with contentment, “Damn, I wish
every
full moon had a breakfast like that…”

“Hell yeah, that was delicious,” Loki moaned as she stretched over the arm of her chair. “Geri has no idea what he missed.”

“I like the decorations, but it’s weird, they just don’t suit you; it’s like we walked into a stranger’s house.” I said to Loki.

She snorted, “You can thank my mom for that. I try to spend as little time in here as possible. It’s not as stifling as Geri’s house, only a museum could be that cold; you’ll understand when we visit him sometime. This living room isn’t supposed to be
lived
in. It’s to keep my mom busy and keep her mind off the ranch.”

“What ranch?” I asked.

“We used to raise livestock out in Montana, but the market shriveled and we had to sell. My dad got a psychology degree; he does marriage counseling and stuff like that. They still like to pretend this is the old west though; he’ll never give up his rattlesnake boots or his cowboy hats; and mom… well she
decorates
.” She swept a hand across the room. I looked around and noticed the predictability of the decorations; every piece was tilted and tweaked until it was perfect. An image popped into my head, and a grin slowly crawled across my face. When Loki asked what was so funny, I just smiled wider.

“I just can’t get the image of you as a cowgirl out of my head; black eyeliner, combat boots, chaps, and a cowboy hat…” I tried not to laugh, but Fen snorted into his hand and we came undone.

“That mental image is priceless!” Fen howled as he rolled with laughter.

“Y’all suck!” she cried and stomped her foot, then marched over to a door under the stairs and wrenched it open to expose a Cradle of Filth poster tacked up inside. “
Here!
Is
this
better?”

“Yes! Much!” I said, still laughing, “But did you have to say ‘y’all’?”

“You jackass!” She yelled as she charged and tackled me onto the couch. I pinned her arms down and tickled her while she struggled to bite me. Fen jumped out of his seat and pulled me off her a little rougher than necessary.

“Consider that payback for slapping my ass last night,” I panted as I smiled.

Loki glanced at Fen and paused for a moment, then laughed; “Fine… Truce…!” We helped her up off the floor and she inspected her arm, “Ow, you bruised my elbow you asshole.”

“You totally started it.” I laughed and shook my head.

“Sorry Jimmy, but I think it’s time for us to go…” Fen said as he walked back into the kitchen for his shoes. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was already almost noon. Shit, my parents would be worried, and I didn’t want them calling around. Plus I still had homework to finish for both Mr. Heinen and Mr. Decker. I hadn’t told my parents about it so I could go out last night.

Fen and I pulled our shoes back on and Loki walked us out. I hugged her goodbye, and while she hugged Fen, I grabbed a handful of snow and nailed her with it, accidentally catching Fen too. That sparked a brief—but intense—battle, until Loki and I tackled Fen to the ground and stuffed snow down the back of his shirt. While he danced around and tried to shake it all out, Loki shoved a snowball down the back of his pants. He screamed and tried to evict it down a pant leg, while still trying to get the snow out of his shirt, and Loki and I almost hurt ourselves laughing.

He finally gave up and glared at us as a dark wet spot spread out from the inside of his crotch. We were all damp, flushed, and out of breath; and Fen and I waved and trudged through the snow to the street, while in the back acre that damn bird still cawed his head off.

I
really
didn’t want to go home, but I couldn’t afford to miss a single assignment; my grades were finally coming up a little. I fabricated a story for my parents, and waved goodbye to Fen as I walked up the steps.

He called my name, and I turned around just in time to catch a snowball with my face.

My parents were, of course,
quite
curious as to how I got all banged up. I just told them I’d tripped into a bush while we were walking to Geri’s. I’d done it before…

I rubbed at one of the numerous knots in my back as I sat in the art room and pushed my piece of charcoal over the paper with blackened fingers. Overall I felt like I’d been shoved through a meat grinder, but Fen seemed fine, except for the scab on one cheek that didn’t look quite so huge in the daylight. I winced whenever one of the cuts on my hands reopened and the charcoal dust worked its way inside.

Mrs. Ashcroft made her rounds through the room while Hendrix played on a tiny boom box in the corner. She stopped and peeked over my shoulder, the scent of lavender gave her away before her voice did.

“Your composition is really good Jimmy, but you’re so far behind. Are you sure you can finish this by the due date?” she muttered by my ear. “You know I can’t give you points for what you
wanted
to do, only what you
have
completed.”

“I know, I just…” Exasperated, I rubbed my face. “I guess I underestimated
how long this would take, and there’s not enough time left.” I looked down at my desk and felt foolish and deflated as she brought up the very issue that’d been bothering me. “And there’s not enough time to start over now.”

BOOK: Walking Wolf Road (Wolf Road Chronicles Book 1)
5.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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