Her Sin, introduction
There once lived a humble wolf pack in the dense Madame Sherri Forest in New Hampshire. This wolf pack was slowly dying, like so many other packs during this time. Magic was dwindling from their blood and receding into the earth. These wolves were growing smaller than their predecessors, living shorter lives, and the rare gifts they were blessed with were weak. The days of potent healing, grand transformations, abundant offspring and fierce warriors seemed to be behind them.
Until this humble wolf pack cared for a stranger in need. Unexpectedly, they were rewarded beyond belief. But some gifts come with strings attached. Ill prepared for conflict, they soon found themselves facing the fight of their lives when others came to reclaim the stranger. That stranger was Leah, a wounded female seeking refuge. This is her story, and the story of the lives she touched.
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Her Sin, part 1
The heat drew me in. I was half frozen. Hurt too, and exhausted. I couldn’t run anymore. I had a bad limp. My body was chilled, aching, where it had been feverishly hot. Low on magic, I couldn’t transform into my wolf. I no longer knew which direction I came from. I wasn’t sure why I was running, but my instincts told me to keep moving. I had a terrible feeling that I hadn’t run far enough. Things were a bit hazy in the memory department. I needed food, rest, and to keep moving.
To keep myself from falling apart, I tired recalling the few facts I knew. They weren’t many. I am human. No. That wasn’t quite right. I am in human form. Too weak to change back into my wolf. My wolf… she wanted to be warm and safe. She wanted me to keep running until I found a secure place to rest. I was relying on her to get me through this endless dash through the forest. She was my primary form, the best part of me. All instinct and magic. In human form, I had too many confusing thoughts and contradicting emotions. In human form, I was vulnerable.
Just as I began to shiver again, I felt the heat of fire in the air. It was faint, somewhere nearby. The sun had set, and I had inferior eyesight in human form, especially at night. I relied on my other senses. When I stopped and concentrated, I could hear people in motion and voices. I dragged myself towards the heat, taking one unsteady step at a time. As I got closer, I heard talking and folksy music, laughter. The sound of people dancing. I got close enough to smell food, roasted pig, and the scent of a campfire, both oak and maple.
I stood at the edge of this large clearing in the forest. I did not know if it was safe, but I had reached my limit. My wolf reminded me: heat, food, shelter, rest. I could no longer do this alone, and so I stepped forward.
I heard the thump of someone dropping something., and the gasp of surprise from a few of the people gathered. The chatter simmered down quickly and the music abruptly came to a stop. I barely had the strength to lift my head. When I managed to look up, it was to find many eyes on me. They took in my nakedness, my cuts and bruises, my half-starved body.
I caught scattered whispers.
“Do you know her?”
“Who is that?
“More like what is that?”
“Poor thing. A runaway …”
“Evening patrol must by slacking. Let’s make sure she keeps moving.”
While the hum of many voices grew louder, the group grew as still as I was. The spell was finally broken by two men, stepping forward. Gray eyes, chestnut colored hair, the physique of someone that spent a lot of time outdoors. He met my gaze when others avoided it. Slow and steady, he walked towards me.
Wary, I growled. It was a visceral sound born from rage and injury, promising to cause both. That halted him about three feet in front of me. The other male did not come closer, but his rugged face morphed before my eyes. His salt and pepper beard began to cover more of his face, his eyebrows took on a more hooded look, and his roman nose, jaw and chin began to elongate. It was a subtle yet terrifying show of strength. I was tempted to step back, to retreat, but I only know how to survive, and that means showing no fear.
“Easy. Easy, now. You are on our land. Interrupting our moon festival,” said the person in front of me.
I could only reply with another growl, this one with less rage and more caution. As much as I wanted to eat and recover, I did not want to fight these people. I didn’t trust myself to hold back. My pain would be their pain. From nowhere, a loud squeal was heard. Too late to stop myself, I realized that it was the squeal of a tired child fighting sleep in his mother’s arms. Spooked, I ran. I ran straight ahead, unthinking in my attempt to cut across the open meadow. The man closest to me was just as swift. He jutted out and blocked my progression with his body. The force of our two bodies colliding caused us to fall. Both of us ended up on our backs with our feet tangled. I should have been up and halfway to the other side, but I was still on the ground reeling from the odd sensation across my abdomen. My exposed skin tingled as if zapped with an electrical charge.
“Rick! Don’t touch her…” someone shouted.
“Stop her,” someone else yelled.
In the few seconds it took me to untangle myself and crouch, I was surrounded by angry men and women. I looked for the older man with the morphed face, thinking of him as my greatest threat. Instead, my gaze landed on the man closest to me. The man called Rick. His gray eyes told me two things. One, whatever I felt when he bumped into me, he felt it too. Two, what he felt was somehow dangerous to acknowledge.
If he was warning me to ignore the sensation, I would. I was in enough trouble. The wind shifted, and although I jerked to the left in an attempt to get away, I was sucker punched by what looked like one pissed off female with brunette hair. Without choice, my eyes closed and my body slumped over.
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[Thank you Olivia W. for beta reading! Thank you Simone S. and Whitney B. for your comments and questions!]