Zee came awake with no conscious thought of what had disturbed her.
But there was a gut-deep awareness, something went deeper even than instinct.
She clamped down the urge and tried to unlock her muscles, so achingly tight and overused, she hurt everywhere.
Awareness whispered again.
Part of her sat up straight, eager, intent, for just a few seconds.
Then shame shredded her. Carefully, she edged back the way she'd come, waiting for the scent to grow weaker, fainter. It didn't. It just lingered.
Twilight was settling over the coast and she panted, both the wolf and the woman thirsty, but she didn't dare follow the scent of fresh water. It was in the other direction.
To the scent of a hidden, watching Therian.
There was a quiet understanding growing inside, one that belonged to her hungry fae nature she'd worn into submission through physical exertion.
That part of her stretched ... stretched ... seeking the same thing her wolf had first sensed. A Therian male. He smelled of pack. Unfamiliar in a way, yet, not. She didn't know this wolf, but he was from Graylock. From home.
And this thing didn't care about the humiliations she'd experienced in her life. It just hungered.
Panicking, she spun and raced for the water.
There was a sense of confusion, then determination behind her and the Therian's scent grew stronger.
She ran faster, stretching her long, powerful body out, paws tearing into the ground. There was a startled cry when a human caught sight of her but she ignored it, eyes on the pier.
That presence grew stronger, closer.
Whoever it was, he'd see her soon if he hadn't already.
She launched herself from the pier, still wearing the skin of her wolf. When she hit the water, she was human and she went deep as she had earlier, swimming hard and fast until her lungs screamed for air. And then she pushed herself harder, clawing herself to the surface only when it was clear she had to breathe...or drown.
And she felt the eyes of a Therian close by.
* * * * *
The humpbacks appeared not long after she went into the water.
They weren't Atargarian, but she knew they'd been watching for her—and why.
When one of the smaller ones went under her, then gently came up, catching her on its fin before rising to the surface, she didn't fight. Meridia had told her how a few of the family groups let some of her young play with them like this.
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The Wolf's Willow: Chapter OneRomance
Zee had never been one to believe in knights, shining armor or otherwise, but then, at seventeen, she met Niko Lochlann, the nineteen year old Therian shapeshifter who made her own wolf want to sit up and beg...or do other things. Niko charmed he...