Orphaned young and passed from foster home to foster home, Adeline has spent the last nine years alone and harboring a secret: she is a werewolf. When she unknowingly takes a run in pack territory, she is labeled a rogue and soon discovers that finding her own kind is not all she hoped it would be. When she meets the alpha holding her against her will, sparks fly. But can he see her as anything other than a rogue? Or will she always be his prisoner?
Age Rating: 18+
Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.
Fit for Fire by Vera Harlow is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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Orphaned young and passed from foster home to foster home, Adeline has spent the last nine years alone and harboring a secret: she is a werewolf. When she unknowingly takes a run in pack territory, she is captured and soon discovers that finding her own kind is not all she hoped it would be. When she meets the alpha holding her against her will, sparks fly. But can he see her as anything other than a rogue? Or will she always be his prisoner?
Age Rating: 18+
Original Author: Vera Harlow
The wind whistled through my ears, the irresistible scent of damp earth and rain flooding my senses. Trees, bushes, and rocks all blurred past me as I ran. My lungs burned, and my legs ached.
The crisp night air invaded my lungs and flooded my senses, driving me forward. I needed to run faster. I had to push harder.
The feel of dirt shifting under my paws was my new addiction as, digging my claws in, I kept my body low and launched myself faster still.
A rabbit ran out from under a nearby bush. Giving an excited yip, I chased the bushy-tailed beast back to its burrow.
Moonlight shifted through the trees, causing the shadows of the forest to leap out at me in the dim light.
I continued to run, imagining shadowy hands stretching across damp earth, bony fingers extended and reaching for my tail.
I twisted my lithe body between the trees, enjoying the agility and prowess this form held. I jumped over a fallen log, and then raced the pale golden glow of the moon to a small clearing.
Reaching the clearing, I slowed to a brisk walk before sitting in the soft grass.
I panted, trying to catch my breath while staring up at the celestial body that often seeded my already flourishing imagination.
There was always something about the moon that I felt drawn to. Although I had been taught my whole life that it held no supernatural power of its own, I always believed it did.
I liked to think that there was a celestial goddess staring down at me right now. Guiding me.
Besides, the same people who taught me that believing in magic and goddesses was wrong would be the same people who would adamantly deny my very existence.
If they could only see me now.
Lying down, I continued to look up, studying the stars. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a chance to enjoy a night like this.
You couldn’t see this many stars in town, and the numerous lights stunted their brilliance.
To be honest, even if they hadn’t, I doubted I would have seen much of them. I was often guilty of what most of us were. I was usually too busy looking forward to stop and look up.
My mind wandered, and I marveled at where the day had brought me. I should be home right now.
I had gone shopping today, and on the way home, I had been stopped at a stop sign. A large green sign sat in front of me.
I could turn right and go home or head toward the tree-hidden valley roads to the left.
In that moment this irresistible urge to turn left, to drive away and never stop, overtook me, and in a split second, I had pointed my wheel toward the forest and had my foot on the gas.
It had been amusing to imagine that I was just going to leave it all behind and start out on my own adventure. That nothing behind me mattered as much as what was in front of me.
It had been fun, but I had known it was a lie. I had worked too hard to get where I had to just abandon it. That, and no matter how hard I wanted to believe otherwise, I knew there was nothing out there for me.
Nothing I couldn’t have where I was.
Still I kept up the ruse. I drove farther, not caring that I had never ventured this way before.
Not worried about the setting sun I had put in my rearview mirror. The monsters in the night didn’t scare you as much when you were one. At least that was what I told myself.
Something deep inside me had this insatiable urge to break free. I was scared by the strength of it. I hadn’t run in months, and my inner monster had remained dormant. Until now.
She wanted to take over. She whispered promises to me, in her moment of overwhelming need. She whispered of power. Of the strength to no longer have to be afraid.
She promised her wisdom, her intuition and connection, which only her paws biting into the soft earth could bring.
Then she promised me the dirtiest of all her covenants.
Acceptance. The opportunity to be whole in myself.
I had been a vessel half full for too long. She would pour into me, complete me and urge forth the beautiful being I was, the woman I deserved to be. I held tight to her whispers.
Though they were wisps, they felt heavy in my hands. Pulling off the road I did something I almost never did: I let my guard down in a strange place.
I stripped, tucking my car keys in my back passenger wheel well, and I changed.
I let the woman fall away and the wolf emerge. Thick hair sprouted where skin once was, nails became claws, as hands and feet became paws.
The dull roar of bills, chores, and never-ending schedules exploded into frenzied heartbeats, scurrying feet, the whistling of birds.
I heard the music the wind made when it maneuvered through the leaves and slithered through the blades of grass underfoot.
Could I really have forgotten how wonderful this feeling was? Could I really have been oblivious to how truly beautiful the world was? Or had I lied to myself?
Telling myself it wasn’t this magnificent to hide the fact that having this side of myself made me abnormal.
To punish myself for not fitting into the role I was supposed to play.
For being supernatural in a world that only worshipped nature when it was locked behind bars and when it was safely behind glass.
A sudden breeze had me rising to my feet. The wind tickled my fur, and my body grew stiff.
I raised my nose into the sky to verify that I had indeed smelled the presence of another. Not just one other presence, but many.
They all smelled different but kind of the same. My nose crinkled. It confused me. I had never encountered anything like this before.
Part of me was curious. I wanted to know what I was smelling; the other part of me was on edge. I wasn’t prepared to face an unknown threat in unfamiliar territory.
The scent got stronger, and I knew it was time to run again.
Leaving the clearing, I ducked through the brush of a newly fallen tree. The green glow of the eyes of small animals peered out at me from the bushes on either side of me.
Their nocturnal gaze reminded me of ghost lights, leading me deeper into the trees. Shaking off the eerie chill that crept up my spine, I ran quickly.
I tried to dismiss the way the headwind now felt like ghostly fingers winding their way around the fur of my neck.
Heading away from the scent, I tried to veer off toward the west, hoping to get out of their path.
Perhaps they were just hunting. If I didn’t interrupt their hunt, and if I didn’t take from the area, perhaps they would leave me be.
I tried to look for landmarks as I ran. I would need to remember how to get back to my car.
So far all I had was tree, tree, bush, tree, tree. At this point I was worried that I would get lost out here and end up spending days trying to find my way out.
Jumping over a rock, I marveled at the graceful stealth I possessed. God how I missed this.
I continued to run for a few minutes, but I still wasn’t free of the scent. Continuing west, I kept up my pace, not wanting to have to deal with a run-in with a territorial animal.
I definitely hadn’t missed that.
Somehow it was still getting closer. Soon I picked up on another scent. This one was coming from the woods in front of me.
It was similar to the scent I smelled before. I was positive I was smelling wolves, although their scent was strange.
What was this? A pack? I didn’t know wild wolf packs could be so big.
Usually a lone wolf would never dream of approaching me. I was much bigger and a lot stronger than they were.
They got a lot braver in a pack though. Normally, they avoided me, and I avoided them.
Wolves were incredibly territorial, so when I smelled them, I tried to leave the area quickly, not wanting to aggravate them.
This tactic, which ordinarily would have worked for me, was failing.
The smell was everywhere now. Feeling surrounded, I took a sharp left. My powerful legs ached with the strain being placed on them.
Faster. I needed to go faster. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep running at this speed.
My ears twitched as the soft thud of running paws and breaking twigs was heard. Crap. A growl cut through the darkness behind me.
They’re hunting me! I mentally screamed before my instincts kicked in. My thoughts became distant and my emotions numbed as the animal inside me took over.
I hated when this happened. It made me feel like I was driving while a stranger held a gun to my head.
I was still driving but had no real control. I had become the narrator in my own story, and although
I was participating, I felt like I was watching the event from somewhere else.
As I heard the thunderous thud of running paws and seeing the shifting forms in the trees around me, my heart sank.
There would be no more running. I slid to a stop. The hair on my body stood straight up, and my lips raised to bare my teeth.
Lowering my head and growling fiercely, I made my message clear. Do not mess with me. They needed to understand that if they chose to fight me, only pain would await them.
A large gray wolf launched himself at me from the trees. I dodged.
Straightening himself from the attack, he made a few steps toward me, his hair standing on end and his razor-like teeth glistening with saliva.
Another wolf hit me from the side, knocking me on my back. Not wanting my belly exposed, I bit into the side of his neck, ripping into him viciously before using my legs to push him off me.
With my head down low, I snarled and growled. Blood dripped from my mouth as I shook a piece of the last wolf that attacked me out of my open jaws.
The large wolf attacked again, latching onto my back leg. I yelped out and twisted, catching him off guard as I latched myself onto his shoulder with my teeth.
A surge of adrenaline had me throwing him away from my body. It was in that moment I was glad my wolf was in control.
A voice rang out over me from deeper in the trees.
“Take her down but don’t kill her. We want her brought in alive.”
A human? Bring me in? Where? Was I being hunted by humans? Were these wolves taking orders from them?
Looking around I noticed these wolves were much larger than your average wolf. Could they be…
Suddenly a stabbing pain erupted from my left shoulder, stopping my train of thought. A wolf had pounced on my back, his weight and my shock bringing me to the ground.
I whipped my head to the side, jaws snapping as I tried to get a chunk of my attacker. His muzzle stayed just out of my reach.
He pulled his head back sharply, latching his teeth deeper into my shoulder muscle.
When I tried to stand up, the wolf warningly put pressure on my shoulder and put his paw on my back, growling his intent.
Other wolves surrounded me, their heads down and their teeth bared.
A dark-haired man walked through them. As he stood over me, I noticed his scent was masked by the wolves surrounding me.
He was huge, all muscle. He leaned over me, something shiny in his hand. The human part of me noticed it for what it was.
A syringe. He leaned down, and panicked, I started to struggle, trying to break free.
What would they do to me? Kill me? Dissect me for their studies? My heart was going to burst out of my chest as fear flooded through me.
My wolf was slowly retreating. I was slowly gaining control, which also meant that my emotions were coming back at full force.
The pain in my shoulder was becoming numbed by the fear of discovery. Another pain, a pinching sensation in my neck, came and went, and I felt myself growing weak.
I fought until an odd sensation came over me. I could feel my fur give way to flesh, the wolf’s teeth now sinking farther and deeper into my shoulder.
I yelled out, and he adjusted his grip to fit my smaller form, but he did not release me.
Next, I could hear the cracking of my bones moving back into place. I tried out in my panic, on the verge of hysteria.
The pain from my forced shift was too intense. I tried to curl in toward myself as another surge of pain rocked my body.
My paws shook before my balled fists burst forth. My fingers unfurled and twitched over the earth, searching for anything to hold on to.
My feet dug into the ground as the bones broke, desperately burying themselves as if my foothold could ground me.
My claws receded back under the delicate skin on my fingers and toes, shortening to their normal human length.
My spine snapped as my back straightened and my vertebrae shifted. The sudden jerky movement almost ripped me from the wolf’s jaws.
My shift was tearing the wound on my shoulder wide open. I screamed as the combined sensation started to become unbearable.
The wolf choked up on my shoulder and clamped down again in an attempt to hold me still.
Please let go! I screamed internally .
The wolf whimpered.
“Release her until she’s finished her shift,” the man commanded as if he had heard me, running up beside me.
He knew what I was doing. I was shifting back in front of them, and I was powerless to stop it.
The wolf was holding my upper body up by his hold on my shoulder, so when he released me, I fell to the hard forest floor.
I could feel the dirt and pine needles stick to my blood-coated back and abdomen as my shoulder continued to freely bleed.
The smell of my own blood was so strong that I gagged back a wave of bile that fought for release.
When I swallowed, my mouth suddenly felt empty as my teeth became small and blunt. I whimpered as my snout contorted and became my human nose and mouth.
My jaw painfully snapped into place last.
I panted and tried to push myself up, but I fell, no longer able to move.
The cold night air felt good on my feverish body, and aware of the eyes on me, I tried to curl into myself.
The wolves all growled around me and moved closer. I could make out feet as they stopped in front of my face.
“Stand down. She’s no longer a threat,” the man said.
I tried to move my head to see him better, but I could only move it forward an inch.
Dirt and small pebbles made my face feel grimy as they stuck to my face, which was wet from my endless stream of tears.
“Jeremy, do you recognize this rogue?” the man called out.
Another man moved toward me out of the darkness. My breathing picked up, as the first man bent down next to me.
I winced as his hand neared my face and whimpered.
The man grabbed my cheeks firmly without hurting me and turned my face so the man, Jeremy, could see it better.
Jeremy towered over me. Shadows fell over his face, making his features indecipherable. He knelt down on the other side of me to get a closer look.
I tried to curl tighter into myself, but I only managed to twitch. The ground underneath me had been biting into my flesh, but the feeling had started to fade.
“Relax, little rogue. No one’s hurting you tonight,” Jeremy said as he pushed the hair out of my face. “I don’t recognize her. I don’t think she’s in our records.”
Records? Rogue? The world around me was fading away, and it was getting harder and harder to understand things.
I was starting to care less and less about being captured.
“How is that possible? We have every rogue in the area on record,” the other man said.
“This one could just be passing through, Patrick.”
“Guess we’ll find out,” the man called Patrick responded. “We may never know unless we get her to medical soon. She’s bleeding all over the place.”
Patrick stood up, and I was relieved.
I thought he was going to walk away when he came into view again. He pressed something to my gushing wound and applied pressure trying to staunch the blood.
I hissed at the sudden pressure, but as everything was growing numb, it didn’t bother me for long.
“Hold this,” Patrick said, and I saw Jeremy’s dark face swim back into view as he pressed the fabric against me.
Something draped over my trembling form. It smelled like the man who stood over me. Large, warm hands slid under me.
“Brace yourself,” Patrick whispered as he lifted me into his arms.
Stars flashed in front of my eyes at the sudden movement.
My body settled against Patrick’s bare chest, and I realized that he had covered me with his jacket and used his shirt to stop my bleeding.
I remembered that I was naked, but I couldn’t even bring myself to care anymore. My vision started to fail me as darkness moved like storm clouds over my eyes.
I could feel it when Patrick started walking, and I could hear the men talk, but soon their voices became nothing but static.
I could keep my eyes open no longer. The last thing I saw before my eyes finally closed was the moon.
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When I woke up, I was surrounded by strange faces. Faces that swam in and out of view. I was on my back, and the bright white light overhead blinded me.
I tried turning my whole body away, as I felt like I was burning, and those white lights must have been the cause.
“She’s waking up! Hold her!” a woman yelled out.
Arms grabbed me from all directions, holding me down.
“Ugh. She’s not healing! She’s losing a lot of blood!” the same woman’s voice rang out in frustration.
An annoying beeping started up next to me. That was strange. It seemed to be in time with my heart. Part of me felt like I should know why that was.
I felt like only half of me was here in this moment. The other part of me had gone away. Perturbed, I tried to struggle against the arms holding me.
Part of me was missing, and I didn’t know if these people had taken her or if they were trying to bring her back.
“Jeremy! I need you to help hold her!” that woman yelled again.
A bowl filled with bloody rags was lifted up and over me.
I watched it until it went out of view, which was only a couple inches from me, as my head had decided it no longer wanted to move.
“What did you give her? She should be healing already! You know some rogues aren’t as strong,” the woman asked.
A familiar voice answered, “This one is. You should have seen her fight.”
That voice. I had heard it before, hadn’t I? I couldn’t be sure because there was an unnatural ringing in my ears.
Someone from behind me had taken a warm rag and started to clean my face off. The same person cleaned my neck and chest. They moved to my uninjured shoulder.
“She’s unmated,” someone announced.
That voice again. What did that mean?
Why couldn’t I remember where I was? Something bad had happened, and now I was here.
“Hey! Hold in there, little rogue! Hey, Doc, I think we’re losing her.”
Losing me? Didn’t he know that part of me was already lost? He should know. He helped take her. The light got dimmer, and my eyes started to close.
The ringing faded away just as I did.
My eyes slowly opened. The lights were dim overhead, and for some reason, I believed they should be brighter.
They had been earlier. Earlier? Had I been here before? My whole body felt heavy. I tried to move my arms, but I couldn’t.
My fingers wiggled, but I couldn’t lift my arms.
Turning my head. I looked over at my arm. It was held out at an awkward angle, strapped to a re-positional arm rest.
Tubes were taped to my wrist. Following the tubes, I saw an IV bag hanging overhead. It took tremendous effort to flip my head to the other side.
My opposite arm was similarly strapped down, my arms stuck out like wings on either side of me.
Trying to move my legs, I felt the same thing. I could wiggle my toes, but I could not move my legs.
I should have been concerned, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to care. I knew this was bad, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything.
“How is she?” I heard from somewhere in the room. A man’s voice.
“Her deltoid muscle was torn and her cephalic vein nicked. The bite was pretty close to the radial nerve, so she may have nerve damage if she doesn’t heal correctly.
“She wasn’t healing. Her tissues slowly started fusing together a few hours ago. Other than that, her condition seems steady,” a woman answered, sounding angry.
Were they talking about me? I wasn’t healing?
“You never should have used that drug. It’s still in its experimental stages,” the woman said, not giving the man a chance to answer back.
Someone, the man I think, sighed.
“I thought it would be a good way to minimize damage. She was not about to just come with us quietly. Girl’s a fighter. We had her pinned, and she was still going,” the man responded.
They must have been talking about me.
“We’ve recovered her vehicle,” a different voice interjected from somewhere in the room. “It looks like she lives an hour east of here.
“How did we miss her?” the first man asked.
“I don’t know. It looks like she’s been there a couple years,” the second voice stated.
“A couple of years?” replied the first. “I find it hard to believe she hasn’t been noticed by anyone until now.”
I heard footsteps approach. I tried to turn my head to see who was coming, but I couldn’t tell what direction they were coming from. Everything was echoing.
“She’s awake, but she is still very out of it. I doubt you gentlemen will get your answers tonight,” the woman’s voice announced.
A warm hand stroked my head.
“You’re looking a lot better,“ she whispered to me as she walked toward my arm.
I turned my head toward my hand with the IV in it. I saw an older woman in a white jacket and blue scrubs, her salt and pepper braid hanging down her back.
A blue gloved hand raised to my IV tube, a syringe in hand. She inserted the syringe and then opened the tube of the IV.
A few seconds later, I felt a cold burning sensation rush through my veins. A warm hand went back to stroking my head as I fell into a deep sleep.
I was cold. Really, really, cold.
My body ached, and the cold made it hurt more. I squeezed my eyes shut tight to block out the light that was beginning to filter into my unconsciousness.
Clutching at my covering, I pulled it up to my chin, trying to trap the retreating warmth. A loud metallic banging snapped me out of my drowsiness and into full-blown consciousness.
When I opened my eyes, I was blinded by bright white lights. It hurt my head and my eyes.
I tried to cover my eyes with my hand, but as I lifted my arm, a pain traveled down my shoulder and into my arm, stopping me short.
The pain brought back the realization of what had happened. I had been captured, but how did I end up here?
I only remembered bits and pieces of the night before. I definitely remembered being taken though. Sitting up, I pushed myself backward as far as I could go.
My back hit something cold and hard, and looking around, I realized I was in a small concrete cell with a large metal door.
The door had a small rectangular window in it . The cell was well lit with large florescent lights. I was on a small metal bed with an incredibly thin mattress on it.
I was also completely naked.
My breathing sped up as I clutched the thin blanket to myself. I attempted to cover as much of myself as I could, but the thin sheet did nothing to ease my nerves.
It also did next to nothing to protect me from the cold. Timidly, I attempted to lift my arm again. I could only extend my arm out so far before my shoulder began to hurt.
Turning to inspect my injury, I noticed that someone had cleaned and bandaged it. While I had been naked. Naked and unconscious.
My cheeks burned. I felt violated and terrified, and I just wanted to go home. Was that even an option anymore?
These people had to know what I was. They had seen me change back. They must have known the whole time if they had been after me.
What were they going to do with me?
The sudden sound of footsteps broke me out of my thoughts. Pulling the blanket around myself tighter, a million scenarios popped into my head, none of them good.
To my horror, the footsteps stopped outside my door and a man looked in at me through the window. I tried not to look as scared as I felt.
Look scary, I thought. Look vicious.
The door started to open, and a small scream escaped my lips. I groaned internally. So much for that plan.
I pulled the blanket up to my chin as a very large, very tan man entered.
He was all muscle, and I knew if I was anywhere else but here, he would have elicited an extremely different reaction from the one I was having now.
My eyes looked to the door as he shut it behind him. I saw nothing but concrete walls and more fluorescent lights behind him.
Mentally, I tried to come up with some kind of game plan as he turned to face me. Some kind of excuse that would somehow make sense.
I imagined myself trying to explain to this man that he hadn’t just seen me transform from a wolf into a woman.
That I was perfectly normal and that this was incredibly illegal so we should all laugh this off and go home.
Judging by the hardened expression on his face, though, I could tell that wasn’t going to happen.
The man looked me over, and a look of both disgust and pity crossed his face. I looked him over, his face triggering a memory.
Was he one of the men from the forest? Leaning against the metal door, he flexed his arms menacingly. Even though I was terrified, I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes.
Okay. You’re huge, and scary, and probably eat baby bunnies for breakfast. We get it.
Finally, after his mini gun show was over, he said, “You shifted and were running on pack territory. What were you doing, and where are the others?”
I blinked a few times, slightly surprised, and also slightly screwed. He definitely knew I could change.
“Ex-excuse me, what?” I asked as politely and evenly as I could. I swear even my vocal cords were shaking.
“You changed on our land, and you were up to something. What is your mission, who are you with, and where are the others?” the guy asked sharply, already sounding irritated.
I felt like I was in one of those dreams when you are suddenly back in high school, you go to class, and you are taking a test you’ve never studied for.
“P-please. I have no mission. Shifted? Others? I was alone when I was abducted,” I answered, fighting back the sudden anger that had started to burn within me.
The man pushed himself off the back wall and was almost yelling as he walked toward me.
“We watched you take wolf from and run on our territory. We shifted and chased after you. You know what you did. Now you are going to tell me what you are doing here, or I will rip it out of you!”
His voice bounced off the cool concrete walls. I flinched at every word. He sounded serious, but for some reason, I could only focus on one thing. He had said “we shifted.”
Did that mean…?
The man’s teeth elongated, and I stared at them in fear and wonder. I stood up and reached a tentative hand toward his mouth.
I stopped myself when the man growled. The man had a shocked look on his face, clearly surprised by my reaction.
“You can do it too? Shift?” I crinkled my nose slightly at using his phrase.
Taking a step back, he looked me over again. “Yes,” he replied softly, not sure what to make of the situation.
“What were you doing here?” he asked again, still using a soft voice.
“I just wanted to run,” I answered truthfully.
He shook his head, trying to clear it. “You’re a rogue. Are you alone, or do you usually run with others?”
It was I who took a step backward this time. The hands clutching my blanket to me were shaking with the rest of me as the sudden swell of desperation and anger hit.
Emotionally I was raging, my wolf lashing out inside me, wanting to fight her way out of this cell, wanting to survive.
It made everything I was already feeling so much more confusing.
“Listen. I don’t know what a rogue is. I’m sorry I was trespassing or whatever, but that doesn’t give you the right to take whoever the fuck you feel like.”
I started shaking harder, and I silently prayed that I didn’t anger this man, but I was only partially in control by this point.
“I don’t run with anyone. I’m alone. It’s just me. I’ve never met anyone else like me.”
After looking me up and down, the man turned to leave.
“Wait!” I cried out, desperate. “Please, what is this place? If it’s some laboratory or something, I don’t belong here. I’ve never hurt anyone. Please. I won’t tell anyone. Just let me go home.”
Small tears filled my eyes. My wolf was furious. To her, this wasn’t the time to submit. The man just looked me over with soft eyes and walked out the door.
I stood and stared at the door for a moment before I collapsed back on my bed, silent tears streaming down my face. It was over. They knew what I was.
That guy probably worked for the human who was in the clearing. If he were human. I didn’t know what to make of this situation anymore.
Who knew what they would do to me. What if they didn’t believe me? What if they wanted to find others and I couldn’t give them that?
Would I be worthless to them? What would they do if I had no value to them?
I curled up back into my original position, my legs pulled to my chest as I shivered. It was still freezing, and I was still naked.
How hard would it have been to throw me a shirt? The whole time I had been sitting here, I kept bouncing back and forth between being terrified and excited that I had discovered someone else like me.
The thought had crossed my mind that there had to be others. I couldn’t be the only one, I wasn’t arrogant enough to think that.
I just never thought I would come across them. Especially not a whole group of them.
Being in the system and in and out of foster homes since I was baby meant that not only did I lack long-term relationships in my life but also the necessary skills to build them.
I was used to people being temporary. Used to people saying nice things they didn’t mean and making promises they didn’t intend to keep.
So at sixteen, when I first changed, no one really noticed a difference in me. No one recognized that I was struggling to make sense of this newfound part of myself.
I saw this as another reason to put distance between myself and others.
Even if I was somewhere long enough to make friends, it never felt real. I had this secret to keep.
Since I never truly opened up to anyone, I didn’t really expect anyone to open up to me. That meant no one would know my secret and I wouldn’t know theirs.
I would run alone for the rest of my life. If I ever did find myself with someone, I had promised myself that I could never tell them.
I didn’t know what they would do or what this secret would mean for my, or anyone else’s, future. For their safety, I would have to stay quiet.
Meeting someone else who could change, who knew that I could as well, was a welcome and unexpected surprise. That meant I could be myself with someone.
Too bad this discovery came at the cost of my safety, my freedom, and my damn clothes! Getting up, I wrapped the blanket around me and started pacing.
I couldn’t stop the shivering that racked my worn form. Moving should help me warm up. I could not remember ever being so cold. I usually stayed pretty warm.
While others were dressing in heavy layers to fight the cold, I would normally need just my coat. Sometimes I added a layer to look normal to the people around me.
Although that was uncomfortable, I gathered I would rather be warm than cold.
The other women at work bundled up, bemoaning the cold in the winter, and then complained about “women’s winter” all through the summer.
At this point I believed that being a human woman meant you were always cold. I had been thankful I didn’t have to experience that.
Until now. I had a feeling that my heightened body heat had something to do with my inner she-wolf. I had been injected with something last night.
Perhaps it was messing with my wolf? Was that why I was so cold? Thinking of my wolf made me think of changing into one.
I would be a lot warmer, and a lot less naked covered in fur.
Stopping my pacing, I seriously contemplated making the shift. Everyone here already knew what I was capable of.
They had seen me change already. The damage had already been done. I didn’t need to freeze while I waited to find out what would become of me.
I probably had a better chance of fighting them off and making it out the next time the door opened if I was in my wolf form.
Would they even open the door if they looked in and saw that I was a wolf, or would they wait for me to shift back?
There was only one way to find out. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I closed my eyes, urging the shift to come. Then I stopped.
Remembering how painful changing back had been scared me. I hadn’t experienced pain like that since the first time I changed back.
Last night’s change had been violent and unpredictable. I hadn’t initiated it, and I couldn’t stop it. I had felt so out of control.
The sound of my spine snapping made me grimace all over again.
Closing my eyes, I calmed my breathing. I was in control now. I chanted that mantra in my head until I believed it.
After I had become relaxed I could start to connect with the wolf that lay dormant just under my skin.
After a few minutes, I felt…nothing. I shook my head in frustration and tried harder, but still nothing happened.
The most frustrating part was that my wolf was not gone. She was clawing at the surface, begging me to free her, but I couldn’t.
Opening my eyes, I realized I couldn’t change. A new kind of fear washed over me. I was completely helpless.
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