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Saffron

With POW gone, I wonder if I should just make a run for it. This could be the only chance I get before he puts guards on me, locks me in a dungeon, or beats the crap out of me.

I try to remember if POW left the keys in the truck, but I'm pretty sure he took them with him. Since I can't hotwire a car, I guess that option's out. Also, I can't drive. Not that I wouldn't try if I got the chance. I mean, how hard can it be?

I look back at the door longingly. My only other option is to shift and run, but POW is obviously much faster than I am. Plus, this place could have guards or other wolves who would try to stop me. I need to find out what I'm dealing with first, before I make my move.

I'm still trying to decide if I should unbolt the door and run when the faint sound of voices drifts down from the second floor. I tense, just as two teens around my age come down the wide, rounding staircase that POW just disappeared up. The tall, muscular boy has his arm around a pretty, blonde girl. Neither looks anything like POW, but even if they are somehow related to him, their presence is reassuring. It sure beats being here alone with the Pissed Off Wolf.

When the couple's halfway down the stairs, the boy kisses the girl on the cheek and she looks up at him adoringly. They take the rest of the stairs while staring dreamily into each other's eyes and I'm impressed they manage to get to the landing without falling.

The stairs end on the other side of a huge foyer the size of half a football field. The floor is marble, so clean it glistens, almost as much as the huge crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I really hope POW doesn't expect me to keep that clean, because it looks like a lot of work.

I stand very still, and with the entire foyer between us, the couple doesn't seem to notice me. Instead, they turn right and walk into what looks like the living room. I only have a partial view of it, but I can see several brown, leather couches and matching coffee tables. The boy sits down on the nearest couch and pulls the girl onto his lap. She straddles him, and he wraps his arms around her waist and leans in for a kiss. When their lips lock, I turn away, blushing.

I look in the opposite direction at what must be the dining room. The double doors, made of intricately carved wood, are propped open. The room has hardwood floors and a huge wooden table with chairs to match. Again, I can only see part of the room, and only about a dozen chairs, but for all I know the table could stretch on and on, seating hundreds.

There is another door to my right, and it's partially open. Desperate to look anywhere but at the make-out session, I gently set down my bag, take a few steps toward the half-open door, and peek inside.

It's a huge walk-in closet. Waist-high shoe racks line the walls and hold heels, dress-shoes, sneakers and boots in various styles and sizes. Some are old and worn, others brand new, and the rest fall somewhere in between. I don't think I've ever seen this many shoes in one place and that includes shoe stores.

In the center of the room, jackets hang from coat racks and I swear there are thousands. I lean in and take a sniff, thinking this stuff belongs to a few really rich wolves, and it's the perfect opportunity for me to memorize their scents. Instead, various smells assail me, and I estimate that dozens of wolves passed through this room in the last couple of hours alone. Who knows how many of them inhabit this place and are here right now, ready to pounce if I run. For all I know, POW has an entire army.

I can't smell any humans, so my best guess is that I'm at a pack house. I've been to the one back home, the one time I needed the pack doctor to look at my broken leg. Usually, Dad took care of my injuries at home—or just left me to do it myself—but it was a particularly bad break. That pack house was much smaller and less impressive than POW's, but the general setup was the same: a bunch of wolves living together under one roof... and apparently making out in public, if the couple on the couch is anything to go by.

Being at a pack house is way better than being alone with. Obviously! On the other hand, it's going to make escape more difficult. There are too many wolves around. I can smell them, even if so far I haven't seen anyone but POW and that couple.

I wonder if I should have tried to escape the moment POW left and if there is still time to make a break for it. I glance at the tongue-wrestling pair to make sure they haven't noticed me and quietly pick up my duffel bag. The girl is on the guy's lap and heir make-out session is getting hot and heavy. I'm pretty sure his hand is under her shirt! I feel my face burn just as I hear footsteps coming down the stairs.

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Who do you think is coming down the stairs? Are you nervous? Scared? 

What do you think will happen next?


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