By Whitney Gibbons
“…and after she took the knife out of his chest there was only one heartbeat! We’ve been searching for a cure for hundreds of years and it shows up in Minnesota a week ago.”
Hope sighed in envy as she stared up into the afternoon sunlight filtering through the forest canopy. Fingering the moonstone beads on her bracelet she tried to ignore the proximity of her families’ mansion behind her, instead pretending that she was deep in the mountains that surrounded it. Far away from her pack and her curse, being alone with Chance was worth the isolation.
“Grace Divine.” Hope said. She caught the stone Chance had dropped to her and tossed it back up with a powerful flick of her wrist. “I bet she’s blonde.”
“I thought Brother Mooney said her hair was black?” Chance said from his perch high in the oak above her.
“She’s the Divine One, her hair is probably whatever color she wants.” Hope pointed out.
With a slight rush of wind Chance jumped out of the tree, the superhuman strength in his legs steadying him after his twenty-foot drop. Hope jumped to escape the burst of leaf litter heralding his decent.
“Do you know how long it takes to get this stuff out of my hair?” Hope said in mock indignation. Smiling, Chance delicately picked a leaf from her brown tresses.
“You look beautiful with or without leaves.” He said, taking her hand in his. A shivery warmth spread up Hope’s arm as she looked into his green eyes.
A snapping sound killed the moment. Chance’s head jerked up in the direction of the disturbance, away from the house.
“You hear that?” he whispered.
“Yeah, it’s coming from the edge of the property.” Hope said, reluctantly taking her eyes off Chance to listen as the shuffling noises grew closer.
“Want to check it out?” Chance asked, cocking an eyebrow playfully.
“We aren’t really supposed to, it’s probably just a deer.” Hope said hesitantly.
The noise suddenly resolved into human muttering, like a radio dial had been nudged. Chance’s playfulness disappeared and Hope’s muscles tensed.
“Still think it’s a deer?”
“No, let’s go.”
Yes, go punish the trespasser.
Hope gritted her teeth as she and Chance silently sprinted through the woods at an inhuman pace. Just shut up. She thought fiercely, this was no time for the wolf to distract her.
Hope saw the source of the noise and skidded to a halt, holding a hand out behind her to stop Chance as she realized what they were up against; a man with shockingly blonde hair, a cleft chin, and a perfectly malicious smile.
Hope desperately tried to back up but she just ran into Chance. The man looked up and his grin grew wider.
“A couple of Sirhan’s flea-bitten pups I presume?” he sneered.
Chance stepped in front of Hope, between her and the lunatic pack-reject. It had been a while since anyone had seen Caleb Kalbi, but his name was still spoken with disgust.
Kill him. Do it now! You and Chance together. The wolf screamed. Hope tried to stifle the furious indignation simmering in her chest, the fumes were drifting up and stifling her mind. She could practically see the hair on the back of Chance’s neck prickling with hostility.
“What are you doing on our land? This is private property!” Chance growled, taking a step forward.
“I don’t have to justify myself to you.” Caleb snarled back. Hope didn’t see a speck of moonstone on him, nothing to prevent him from going wolf and ripping them to shreds. She suspected the only thing keeping Chance from going ballistic was the moonstone stud in his ear, she hoped it would be enough.
Hope heard thundering footsteps from the house, others had heard Caleb too.
“Come and get me, or are you a Gabriel pacifist poodle? Are you wolf enough?” Caleb jeered.
Chance roared and leapt at Caleb, Hope screamed and vaulted against him, throwing him off-course and into a bush, she wasn’t going to lose him to the wolf! She heard crashing underbrush as the cavalry arrived, but she only had eyes for Chance.
“Are you okay?” she asked, checking to make sure his stud was in, his eyes were horrified.
“It was so easy to give in.”
“Not on my watch.” Hope said, helping him to his feet, Caleb was gone, the others in pursuit.
“Who needs Grace when I have you?” Chance smiled and pulled her into a hug.