Wolfshadow – read the first two chapters!

So because Kodi is a dummy and let her domain lapse due to a couple of different reasons, I’ve had to register a new domain, which means some footwork on my part BUT it means all of you should now be able to read this. authorkodilynncalhoun.com is my new site and I apologize for any inconveniences lol.

 

That said? I’ve got a little something to share with you 🙂 I know Wolfshadow (Otherside #3) has really taken a LONG time to get out to you and for that I am sorry, but working through grief wasn’t something I handled very well. But things have changed–I’m in a new apartment and I am working and writing again and I have four scenes left to write on Shadow and it will be ready for edits. I still hope to get it released this month, but until then, here’s a couple of (unedited) chapters to hang you guys over.

 

Thank you for being my fans ❤ I hope you love Korr as much as I do 🙂

 

One

 

 

“Korr…”

My name was a whisper on the air, spoken by a barely-there voice on a barely-there breath, but it was beautiful nonetheless. A song all its own, melodies rising like tiny metal chimes cast together by the breeze, tinkling soft. That’s what her voice sounded like in my head. A guy could get lost in a voice like that.

It was a dream. But not just any dream. It was the same damn dream I had every night. She was faceless, a girl veiled by shadows with a voice like liquid silver. Worse was the incessant tugging on my heartstrings, as if they were a physical part of me that she could pluck and grasp to pull me along, pull me through these nightly escapades.

Her laugh didn’t match her voice. Sorrowful. Self-deprecating.

I saw a shimmer in the darkness as she ran. Here, in my dreams, she became a sleek, svelte wolf with a coat of rust-tinged ebony. The only spot of white on her was a small splotch in the center of her chest; a stream of sunlight that broke through the shadows.

I followed her. I always followed her, my bare feet pounding over fresh grass and pine needles, my arms pumping at my sides, but she was fast, faster than a werewolf wearing a boy’s skin could ever be. The forest was calm and still around me. I breathed in deeply, scenting for her, trying to hold onto her, whoever she was.

It was a dream, but she was so real that I could smell her—fresh and damp, a summer rain storm, with a faint undertone of dark brown sugar. She smelled sad. She always smelled sad and every night, upon realizing this, as this dream-memory clicked into place, it made me ache inside. Ache for her.

Ache because at the end of every dream, she was just…gone and I was left standing in the middle of the forest as the rain began to fall, patter down around me to soak both the grass and the boy who was foolish enough to search for a figment in a dreamscape.

I woke up then, not only because I always woke up at that part of the dream, but because the ache in my chest was fierce. It was a dream, just a dream. She wasn’t real. She was a part of me, probably some fragment of my feminine side, and the dream was symbolic. Trying to tell me something, but obviously I didn’t understand.

She’s not real. I wanted her to be real.

It was a dream. I wanted it to be more than a dream.

I rolled onto my back, the mattress dipping under my weight, and grabbed handfuls of the sheets. I gazed up at the ceiling, then let my head lull to the side, finding the window cracked open. Had I left it open? Rain had pebbled on the glass, streaking down in noiseless paths. I breathed in air that smelled like a summer rain storm—air that smelled of her—and that was it.

I threw back the sheets and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. The wooden floor was cool under my bare feet as I dressed as quickly and as quietly as I could. I stuffed my feet into my boots and laced them up, tucking one of my daggers inside. Just in case. I ran both hands through my head of dark curls, taming them back with a single rubber band.

Then, with my heart jumping from beat to beat in such a way that put a smile on my face, I glanced back at the bedroom door and froze. I stilled my breath and put all my effort into listening, to be rewarded by blessed silence. My grin cracked wider as I hoisted up the window and carefully dropped to the dampened ground.

I didn’t need to be a wolf to track like a wolf, so on two feet I darted through the Rashti village, the place where I’d been born and raised, the place that I called home, careful to keep to the shadows, careful to keep my footsteps light. I wasn’t in the mood for a run-in with Zayford tonight and I definitely wasn’t in the mood for a lecture.

I wanted to find her. I wanted to prove that it wasn’t just a dream. My skin buzzed with it, my heart sang with it. I slipped into the woods that surrounded our village, the trees tall and thick with foliage, making the forest itself dark. Raindrops echoed through the trees, bouncing off of leaves one by one before they found the ground.

A roll of thunder sounded, low and distant. The storm was miles from here; I had plenty of time. I made a little circle to put my wandering mind back on track, and I kept going, moving at a quick clip, my breathing short and sharp. I stopped every few minutes to scent the air again. Hoping to smell the faint sweetness of brown sugar, but it evaded me.

There was a soft crack to my right. I stiffened, tipping my head in that direction. A shuffle of leaves. A whuff of breath. My heart picked up speed try as I might to calm it. My senses pricked to high alert as I crouched slowly, putting myself on her level, my eyes finding shapes in the dark, but none of them the shapes I wanted.

Then, in a snapshot made of negatives, lightning arced through the sky, lighting up the forest for one brief, breathless second. Eyes gleamed in the reflection, eyes that had me pinned in their sights, as if I were prey instead of predator, though I wasn’t afraid. I was excited. It swam through me, flooding every sense with truth—she was alive, she was real, she was right there.

They were eyes that belonged to a lean, leggy wolf. I couldn’t tell what color they were, but it didn’t matter. Her coat was dark and damp with water, droplets dripping off of her face. She stood there on stiff legs, tail half-raised and her ears pinned, watching me.

I didn’t move, so neither did she, but neither of us looked away. I was afraid that if I looked away, she would be gone, just another figment of my ragged imagination.

She was real. But then, if she was real… Why was she here? Was she a rogue? Would a rogue dare to come so deep into Rashti territory? And why was she in my dreams to begin with? My fingers, numb from where they were pressed against my thigh, stretched out slowly. I reached my arm towards her.

She flinched, jerking back several steps. Over the thunder was the lowest of growls and a flash of bone-pale fang. A warning. I didn’t back away. I didn’t move. My arm stayed poised in the air between us. Her growling fell away into nothingness, like she was slowly fading away, and all at once I realized I wanted her.

I wanted to know her. My soul throbbed with the realization of it.

“Who are you?” I asked, but my lips never moved. I didn’t speak aloud; instead forming the words in my head, in my voice, as I gently sent them her way. Werewolves could communicate through their thoughts, sharing information back and forth, in words and in images. Normally, one would be in wolf form when thought-speaking to another, but I was far from normal.

I smiled, careful not to show my teeth, and the wolf huffed. She folded back her ears and the whites of her eyes shone brighter than anything else in the night-dark forest. “I won’t hurt you, shadowwolf,” I whispered again, softer, and for one breathless moment, she picked her head up and lifted a dainty paw like she might brave it, like she might move closer.

Then her entire body seemed to ripple, muscles jerking and spasming under her dark pelt, and she let out a sound halfway to panic. Throwing her head back, she spun and fled into the darkness until there was nothing left to prove she was real except for the paw prints pressed into the earth. Paw prints that would wick away into mud as the rain continued to pound the earth.

She became invisible.

I rocked back on my heels, scrubbing my hands over my face, and let out a low breath of disappointment. I waited for her to return, but the storm was growing closer, thunder becoming bone-rattling booms that had me sprinting back for the village. As the rain fell harder, I was soaked to the skin, my wet clothes hanging on me, my boots squelching with each step.

But with each step, excitement swelled to overflow onto my earlier disappointment, pressing that darker emotion against the edges of my mind until it was flattened and I was giddy once more.

Because she was real. I had found her.

“Korr.” The voice in the darkness was sharp, a blast of sound in a silent room, and I jumped. Damn it. I spun around, hands curling into clawed fists, expecting the cool tones of my mentor and pack guardian Zayford. My mind was already twisting and turning to come up with some sort of a plausible excuse for why I was out here.

Instead I came face to face with Perth, who himself was the master of sneaking out of bedrooms late at night, although his escapades were usually to chase a bit of tail with the girl he fancied that week.

“I gotta hand it to ya, Korr. Out of everyone in this damn place, you’re the last person I’d expect to see sneaking around in the wee hours of the morning,” he said, complete with a snarky smile. Unlike me, he was completely dry, hidden below the eve of the Den as the rain poured down.

Charming, sly, and too smart for his own good, Perth Orian was exactly the kind of guy that fathers refused to let their daughters date. Hence the sneaking around bit, I guess.

He also happened to be my best friend.

My tense muscles loosened as I grinned. “Aye, you’re rubbing off on me,” I shot back, keeping my voice pitched low. I ducked under the eve, but there wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t already wet. I was soaked to the bone, my hair plastered against my face.

Perth rolled his eyes, then took a step back so I wouldn’t get him wet. He had a thing about rain, a weird little sort of issue that he kept stuffed under the bed. I stayed an arm’s length away from him so I wouldn’t drip on him accidentally. “So, how was it, oh-saintly-one?” He quirked a brow and looked at me as if I’d grown a pair of devil horns, and he was proud of me because of it.

“What—oh. No! No.” I huffed, half-laughing and half-exasperated. “I wasn’t with anyone, if that’s what you mean.” I kept the truth inside, sealed fast behind my teeth and tongue, swallowing tonight’s adventure before it had the chance to see the light of day. I offered one of my pre-practiced smiles, knowing damn well that wearing it, I looked two years younger and completely innocent of all crimes.

Sometimes, I was an actor in my own life.

Perth snorted. “You’re hopeless. How are you going to pick a future queen if you don’t even sniff around all the options? If I was the son of some long-dead, mighty werewolf king, you could bet your tail that I’d be schmoozing with all the ladies. Exploring the options.” He flashed a wicked grin. I just shook my head. “C’mon, tell me you at least fantasize over someone in this pack.”

The answer was no. I’d dated a few of the girls on and off, but they were more like sisters to me. We’d been in diapers together, schooled together, taught to hunt together, and I just couldn’t see loving them in any other sort of way, much to the chagrin of people like Perth and Zayford, who both seemed to have their own little agendas for hooking me up.

I knew Perth just wanted me to have a bit of fun. “Live a little! Explore your wild side!” is what he’d said, a sinful little twinkle in his brown eyes.

Zayford, on the other hand… I wasn’t in the mood to go there tonight.

“Hey now, you know I’m playing,” Perth said, patting me on the shoulder then immediately wincing as his dry palm connected with my soggy shirt. I laughed. He blinked, flicked his hand free of the wetness, and then shook his head. “So maybe you just aren’t ready to settle down. That’s fair. You shouldn’t settle when it comes to something so…” His expression shifted, becoming sharper. His lips formed the words, almost as if they were diseased. “Permanent.”

Like taking a mate—for better and for worse and all that—and for me, that was the cold, hard truth of it. Whoever I courted and eventually chose would become not only my mate, but the future queen of the Rashti. I was the son of Kanzi Blackthorn, his only male heir, and becoming Alpha was an inevitable thing that had weighed at the back of my mind since I was eight years old. It wasn’t something I could avoid. One day, someday soon, I would become king of the Rashti werewolves.

“Yeah,” I said, feeling a million miles away, my mind zipping back to that dream, that girl and her scared eyes and the tugging at my heart, like my soul knew her soul even though we’d never met. It wasn’t normal, but it felt…right somehow. Like I was on the right path.

Who are you, shadowwolf?

 

 

Two

 

I didn’t dream about her again.

The next few nights my sleep was fitful as I tossed and turned and tried to get comfortable, sheets askew around my legs before I finally kicked them off the bed. When I slept, my mind was a blank canvas without a touch of paint, empty and stretching.

She was just gone, a sudden void that left me reeling every morning. I ran my hands through my hair, burying my face in my palms, trying to remember the details of the dream, details that had once been so perfectly clear in my mind. Now they were beginning to grow fuzzy.

What did it mean? What happened next? I found her—so what now?

They were questions I had no answers to, questions that no one knew.

I lay in bed, on top of the sheets instead of below them, my hands laced behind my head and my knees propped up as I let my mind wander, pondering this strange turn of events. I could feel a vision tugging ever so gently at the corner of my mind, a simple one-two beat that seemed to whisper along the edges of my consciousness.

I ignored it, not because I didn’t want to see what the vision had in store, but because I could. I had the power to pick and choose what I saw; I was the only wolf in the pack that could turn down a vision at a whim. It was a blessing.

My half-sister Scylla also had Hati’s Sight—and the visions that came with having one eye blue while the other was a colorless gray—and hers were uncontrollable. They came upon her at random, surging through her mind unbidden and unwanted, leaving her shaky and startled. I knew she hated them, she always had, but she didn’t have the concentration, the dedication to learn to harness her powers.

It was something I was proud of, a skill that I’d fine-tuned, honed to the point where I used my visions, not the other way around. Hati’s Sight was a gift. It would not be my downfall.

But the things I’d seen? Those very well could be.

The thing about my visions was that they didn’t always come true—they were a possibility of what would happen if I didn’t change what I was doing. A vision was like going down one single path, when there were three others to choose from, and at the end of every path was a different spin on the story that played out in my mind.

What had been playing lately, a future-memory on an endless loop in my head, was this: My muzzle smeared with blood, fangs dripping crimson, sides heaving as I pinned our enemy’s Alpha to the ground. I could feel the sharp bite of pain as his claws raked my underside, his golden eyes fierce with fire. We struggled. He was bigger, but I was younger. Stronger.

Our packmates pressed against us, bodies made of heat and emotion, all of us riled but the reason evaded me. The taste and smell of blood was sharp and pungent. I tightened my grip until my foe wheezed, his anger fast turning to panic as he began to die, his lungs incapable of bringing in enough air to survive on. His eyes, boring into mine, filled with knowing—knowing that he was going to die, right here, right now—mixed with a sort of…betrayal.

And then the gleam faded from his gaze, his body going limp in my grasp, as the pack began to shriek and scream and riot…and then nothingness, a blackness that blocked out everything but their screams.

It was a terrible thing to see when you didn’t know why you were seeing it.

The Rashti were far from the only pack of werewolves living upon Azreiel, the world that we inhibited. There were others, far and wide, but the pack that stayed fresh in all of our minds was Altehrei.

Years ago, there had been war between the Rashti and Altehrei, and on one fateful day, the enemy’s young leader, who was rumored to be only half-werewolf himself, ended our Alpha’s life. He’d killed my father before I was ever born, only to turn around and ask us to give peace a chance. Ask us to set aside our hatred and bias, and we did. We were tired of war and so the war ended, though our differences kept us from ever truly integrating into one pack.

The funny thing was, despite the fact that I was raised in peacetime, I’d grown up being prepped for another war. From a young age I was spoon fed stories, both truths and lies, though you could never tell one from the other, but the truth I could see with my eyes was this: My pack lived in fear of Altehrei.

They said that Kia’la Silverwind was a bloodthirsty leader, one who ruled with an iron fist, a lord who reigned over his followers with anger, using his pack’s fear to his advantage. They said that he slaughtered the pups born with Hati’s Sight; they called them Reapers, demons, devils. They said that Kia was just biding his time in the pretence of peace. That he wouldn’t be happy until the Rashti no longer stood tall.

But if that was the truth, then why would he wait nearly twenty years? Why didn’t he strike us down when we were defenseless and without a leader? Why wouldn’t he kill Kanzi’s heirs while we were mere pups, unable to defend ourselves? And why would he encourage trading between the packs, giving plenty of opportunities for the chance to stab us in the back, and then not act on it?

Why would he wait until Kanzi’s only male heir came of age, soon to be initiated as Alpha of the Rashti? It made no sense to me and in that moment, I started to doubt everything I was ever taught.

Zayford had been my father’s enforcer, his loyal soldier, a wolf who had seen him through life and through death and maybe once upon a time I’d believed every word that came out of his mouth. I’d idolized him, my father’s friend, the one key to the person I never got to meet. He helped my mother raise me. He took my half-sister Scylla in when her mother passed away and raised her as his own. In a young pup’s eyes, he was godlike.

But now? Now I’m not so sure…

Three raps on my door, hard enough to make the oak jump in the doorframe, shook me from my thoughts and from the vision that I’d refused to see. I shoved myself to a sitting position in bed as the door popped open, swung wide, and smacked against the opposite wall and bounced off.

My sister—tall and fair, with thick auburn hair pinned up with ornamental sticks—stood in the doorway, her arms crossed over her chest. “Wake up, sleeping beauty,” Scylla said, her lips twisting into something reminiscent of annoyance. Her gaze, identical to mine in color but two shades colder, pinned me with the opposite of a smile, and I sighed.

“I was thinking,” I told her.

“So was I—thinking you should get your lazy butt out of bed before Zayford kicks both of our asses,” she replied curtly. “Besides, you of all people should know what happens when you sleep in. So. Lessons, training, matches.” She ticked off my to-do-list on her fingers, then tipped her head to one side. Calculating. “Sound familiar? Move it, brother mine.” Then, as if to say she was done with this conversation and all that it entailed, she turned on her heel and strode from the room.

The door shut soundly behind her. I sighed again, but didn’t move. In the time that it took for me to half-convince my body that we had to get up and start the day, my door creaked open once more, very slowly, and I didn’t bother to hide my smile as my favorite little minion poked her head through the open door.

“Hi.” Siri was my younger half-sister. Slender and sprightly, she looked just like me with a head of dark curls that she kept cropped short and boyish, but her eyes were a solid steady blue. She’d been blessed without visions the same as she’d been blessed with the peace in our pack. Siri had a heart of gold and she was the biggest reason I didn’t want to go to war with Altehrei.

Maybe I just wanted things I couldn’t have, I didn’t know, but I wanted peace to be something tangible, something physical I could hold in my hands, to wrap up with a silver bow and hand-deliver to Siri and our mother. I never wanted them to have to worry, to wonder if I’d end up sliced into pieces, bled out on the battlefield. I wanted them to live their lives to the fullest without fear of war, in our lifetime and for future generations. We deserved that, at least.

Siri was the reason that, despite what I saw in my visions—the brutal possibilities that lay ahead of us—I didn’t speak a word of it to Zayford. I kept my mouth closed, my teeth locked tight. Hoping that if I kept it all inside, a secret that I would never share, that maybe that vision of bloodshed would develop a different ending. A more peaceful ending.

A guy could dream…

Siri climbed up onto my bed, her eyes bright. “You gonna get up, Korr?” she asked, head tipped to one side like a curious puppy. “Cuz if you don’t hurry up, breakfast will be over and you’ll have to train on an empty stomach.” Her brows pinched together in concern for me, but the expression was quickly replaced by a smile. “C’mon, Korr! I’ll even give you my biscuit.”

She sprang a hug on me, all arms and legs, then laughed and ran down the hall, her footsteps echoing on the wooden floors and all at once I was smiling, a big grin that cracked and grew, filled with laughter. I loved her. I loved them all, my packmates, my family.

For them, I would choose peace every time.

“Korr!” Siri called, her voice pitched high. “Hurry!”

I leapt off the bed, dressed in two seconds flat, and went bounding down the hall after her.

 

~*~

 

I trained until the sun peaked high in the sky over the forest and, as usual, Zayford put me through the rounds. Hand-to-hand combat training, followed by blade work. I already knew it all by heart, but he was the kind of man to drill his students until they got it, one hundred percent. He strived for perfection. I felt I was damn close.

By the time he dismissed me, my muscles gently sore and sweat beading on my brow, my stomach was rumbling with hunger once more. The scent of a pot roast stew, sweet and savory, was thick in the air as I made my way to the bath house. The kitchen would be closed until dinner, which meant if I wanted to snack on something, it was going to have to be something I caught with my own hands—or fangs, anyway.

I shoved through the double doors of the bath house, slipping into one of the stalls to shed my dirty clothes, dropping them into one of the linen baskets and stripping naked before cranking the metal faucet to high. Warm water sprayed out in a rush, though it wouldn’t stay warm for long. Soaps of all sorts sat on the ledge and I lathered up just as I heard the doors swing open once more.

“You naked in there?” Perth called, his voice echoing in the damp room.

I snorted. “No, I’m washing up with my clothes on. What do you think?”

He laughed low, like our banter amused him to no end, like that was the reason he’d stayed here so long.

I finished up, rinsed, then grabbed a towel off the hook and began to scrub myself dry. Wrapping the length of it around my waist, I padded barefoot across the slick floor, being careful not to slip. Perth stood in the doorway, half-propped up against the door frame, a lop-sided smile on his face. This was a common occurrence—me taking a bath, him waiting outside for me to finish taking said bath.

I’d never once caught him bathing, though knowing Perth, he had an aversion to all water, not just rain. Made me wonder just how he kept so clean. I grabbed a pair of pants and a shirt out of the cubbies and got dressed quickly despite how the fabric fought against my damp skin.

I lifted a brow at him. He just kept smiling.

My stomach chose right then to rumble, loudly.

Perth shook his head. “Ready, sweet cheeks?” he asked, reaching out and patting my shoulder fondly. I shoved into him, knocking him off balance for a moment, but it was long enough to get a head start. With a laugh and a shiver trailing goosebumps down my spine, I shifted forms, my bare feet becoming paw pads used to running miles.

I lurched forward, thankful yet again for the pure power behind the actions of my wolven half. My muscles bunched and loosened as I ran headlong into the forest, a frosted bullet gleaming through the trees. My senses sung, the scents of wild game fresh and clear, and behind me I could hear Perth ambling after me, in no hurry, but that was Perth in a nutshell.

I spun sideways, skidding to a stop and barking a sharp sound. He lifted his big head and huffed, then dropped his nose to the ground. His tail gave a lone wag as I followed suit, and at nearly the same time we picked up the scent of a hare. I could tell by the way his ears tipped forwards, the way his steps became bouncier.

We didn’t speak through our minds because we didn’t really need to. Perth was a man of few words and I wasn’t really one for small talk. Besides, the silence let me think in a straight line, my head not jumbled up with words or meaningless trivia.

Though my body was programmed to hunt, I thought of my shadowwolf, still a smudge on my mind. Would I see her again? Would she brave the midday sun in dangerous territory? Was she that bold, or was last night’s encounter a fluke?

“Korr!” Perth’s voice was sharp enough to cut and I jerked, pulling up short just as I saw the flash of a summer brown hare as it leapt from its hiding spot and into our sights. Perth’s muscular body lunged after it and a moment later I raced after him, my hunger suddenly outweighing all the possibilities of another meeting with my dream-wolf.

Perth got there quicker than me, catching it easily, throwing his head to one side and then the other fast enough to snap the creature’s neck. It dangled limply in his jaws and I could feel the smug smile he wore, even if he didn’t wear it in his wolf form. His brown eyes met mine, almost challengingly, before he said, “Checkmate.”

Then he tossed the hare up in the air playfully, leaping up to catch it again, and flopped down on his side in the dirt, still damp from last night’s storm. Pine needles clung to his fur, but he was already carefully shredding the rabbit. The smell of fresh blood made my stomach rumble once more. Leaving Perth behind to his snack, I continued to track, searching for the burrow.

Out here, away from the pack, I was free to just…belong. To be one with nature, to hunt and stalk and play and scuffle without the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders. In any normal circumstance, I could’ve asserted myself. I was heir, after all, and had I wanted Perth’s rabbit, he would’ve given it up if I’d pressed him. All it would’ve taken was a show of fang, maybe a growl or two.

But out here, it was nice not to care for once. It was nice to let Perth’s inner-dominance override me, the dreamer with his head in the clouds. Out here, I followed his lead. I trusted his judgment. He wouldn’t steer me wrong and I was thankful to be able to let loose and be myself, be just another wolf in the pack.

A jump of movement caught my eye and my thoughts fled. I froze, my body growing still and quiet as my eyes locked onto the shape of a large rabbit, its dark eyes ink black and glossed over with fear. Its nostrils flared—it smelled a predator and it was trying to decide whether or not to make the first move.

I didn’t give it a chance. Haunches tight below me, I leapt. It took flight, powerful legs propelling it forwards and I took chase, relishing the breeze through my fur even as my stomach prepared itself for a meal. The hare zig-zagged, first to the right and then to the left, leading us closer to a thicket. It was hoping to lose me, but I was faster.

My jaws caught a hind leg, swinging it around. My paws grabbed the ground and my claws dug in, jolting me to a stop. I jostled to get a better grip around its torso, readying to end its life in one quick snap, when it let out an ear piercing scream. It shrilled out through the forest, making birds scatter in the trees.

Heart in my throat, startled, I shook my head hard. It fell silent, its cry petering out.

I dropped its corpse to the ground and lifted my head. How far had we come? “Perth?” I probed for his thoughts only to be met with silence. I breathed in the air, which smelled of pine and sap and wild, but not of Zayford’s scent markers. Neutral territory. Lowering my head, I reached for the hare, gathering its body in my jaws before turning around to come back the way I came.

And there, only yards away from me, stood my shadowwolf. She held herself stiffly, legs locked rigid, tail flagging high despite the way her ears were flat against her head. She smelled of anxiety, of fear, with an undertone of anger and confusion. Like she wasn’t sure how she got here—like she wasn’t expecting me.

In broad daylight, I took in all the features I couldn’t see last night. Maybe she wasn’t a rogue, then. She wasn’t underfed or bony and her dark coat was full, not thin or patchy. But it was her eyes that caught my heart and dragged it up into my throat, where it beat mercilessly, a loud drumming in my ears.

Her eyes were like mine.

She had Hati’s Sight.

She was most definitely not from Rashti territory.

“Shadowwolf,” I murmured, keeping my tone low and calm though my chest felt ready to explode. She lowered her head and let out a lingering growl, picking up one paw as if she was readying to flee. “You’re safe. I won’t hurt you.”

I eased forward a step. Her eyes went wide, the whites showing. Her nostrils flared; she smelled the hare that I held in my jaws, fresh and filled with blood, and I saw the way she quivered. I wagged my tail and dropped the hare. It landed on the ground with a meaty thud. Her eyes skidded from me to the hare and back again.

I backed up a step, then two. My tail never stopped its slow, steady wag. I lowered myself to the ground, hoping to ease her closer, but she kept herself tall and rigid, as if letting go meant the end of the world—and it was possible, because her eyes were cloudy with a coming vision, try as she might to blink it away. If she relaxed, would it strike her like it struck Scylla? Hard and fast and painful?

I whined softly, then backed up until there was a large amount of space between us. Her gaze met mine, locking in tight, and in her eyes I saw a world of pain and fear, emotions swirling like a solar storm, and my heart ached for her. Then she pressed her eyes shut and shivered, her body wracked with a quake.

With a sound similar to that dying hare’s shriek, she lunged forwards, snapped up my offering of dinner, then fled deeper into the woods. I stood very still, hoping she’d venture back out, but like a shadow, once again she was gone. I was still hungry, but my drive to catch anything else was lost, so I just followed my trail back to Perth, feeling a mix of anxiety and excitement.

Because she was like me. She had Hati’s Sight, but from the look in her glazed eyes, her visions were running her ragged, stringing her along piece by piece, and it was only a matter of time until she shattered. I knew that the visions drove some to madness, making them damn near feral to even their own families.

She was a beautiful creature, beautiful yet untouchable—and suddenly, I wanted to touch her. I wanted to help her, to take her under my wing and teach her to control the Sight before it ruined her for good. More than anything else, I wanted to earn her trust. To make her eyes go from cold and shuttered to soft and relaxed.

Maybe that was crazy.

Then again, I never claimed to be normal.

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