Breanna Vincent contributed to this story
Aadi’s breath came out in panicked gasps as she ran, her stomach tied into knots as she heard them behind her, taunting her as they followed her trail of snapped twigs and broken branches. Why had she wandered so far from the campground? The two hunters followed her with ease, gaining on her even as she tried to lose them in the dark forest. She felt a weight hit her back and the ground came up to meet her, the air forced from her lungs as she hit the damp earth. She was flipped over and she began punching and scratching at the man straddling her hips, tears burning in her eyes as she screamed. The other came up behind them, grabbing her ankles while the one on top of her slammed her wrists to the ground.
“Gotcha.” One hand held her wrists while the other pulled a knife from his boot. “Now don’t move or I might nick that perfect skin.” He hooked it in her shirt and she squeezed her eyes shut.
The growling startled her and her eyes flew open, looking up to see the man on top of her staring into the darkness. She tilted her head back, a shiver running up her spine at the two glowing orbs shining there in the darkest shadows. “What the…” the man holding her legs didn’t even finish his sentence as the wolf launched from the darkness, sharp canines wrapping around his friend’s throat. Blood gushed from the wound as he was driven back and on top of him, the weight of the dead body pinning him there. He screamed, terror freezing him to the spot as the wolf’s teeth descended on him. Aadi sat there in shock, her eyes wide, her body stock still as the beast turned to her, the glowing haze of yellow fading to reveal blue orbs. It moved closer and she squeezed her eyes shut, sure she was next and not wanting to see death coming for her. Something stroked her cheek and she slowly opened her eyes, her breath catching in her lungs as she looked into the face of a man. It was the eyes that gave him away.
“Are you alright?” He finally asked and all she could do was nod. His fingers moved to a scrape on her cheek.
“Let me take you to my home so I can be sure you’re alright” She could tell it was more of a question. It crossed her mind someone might steal her stuff if she just left it there but she knew she wouldn’t be comfortable there tonight. She didn’t think he was offering her a place for the night but even just a little while to calm down after being so terrified would be something she greatly appreciated. She swallowed then said “okay” Remus lifted her off the ground and began walking with her. The walk was silent, she was too shaken to say anything and he assumed as much so he just let her calm down.
He brought her inside and sat her down on the nearby couch where she finally found her voice again “thank you” it was so soft. Remus wondered how anybody could be so self centered and monstrous to even attempt to do what those men had been trying to do. He had no remorse for killing them, he was glad to wipe out such scum from the earth. He had never been anything but used by women but he still didn’t think any of them deserved something like that.
“Did they hurt you before I got there?” He asked as he got her a glass of water.
“Not really. My wrists a little and when I hit the ground, but other than that I’m fine.”
He walked over and handed her the glass then sat down next to her. “What were you doing out there?”
“Camping, I just went for a little walk and those two were out there. I didn’t expect to stumble upon a couple of hunters, I’m so glad they didn’t shoot me.” She started shaking and Remus gently took her cup and sat it down on the table. “Are…are they really dead?”
She swallowed. “And you’re a…werewolf?”
“That’s what I’ve been told you humans call us.”
“I won’t hurt you.”
“I know, this is just all so much to take in. I was almost…and you…” Her eyes filled with tears.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Remus didn’t know what to do to make her feel better. Her tears made his heart twist with anger and sadness. He wished he could go back and punish them again. “Why don’t you shower, I have some clothes you can sleep in until tomorrow, or I can get your things from your campground.”
Aadi looked around the small cabin. “Do you have room for me?”
“You can take my bed, I’ll stay out here.”
She thought about declining the polite gesture so that she could sleep on the couch closest to the door in case anything happened. She looked up from her hands and caught his eyes. There was nothing in those eyes that said he would ever hurt her. They were pure and seemed to pierce right through her. She shivered, not from the cold but from the feeling that she had looked into those eyes before, a dream maybe? That was impossible, how could she have dreamed about this..man.. or werewolf… or whatever he was? She went to stand and stumbled a little, still shaken up. He was by her side in an instant, ready to catch her if she fell.
“I’m alright, really. I’m just still in shock I think, those men.. I didn’t know if I was ever going to live to see another day and if I did I didn’t know how I would be able to bare what was about to happen. Thank you. I owe you my life and I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is Remus. I’m just glad I got to you in time. Please, go wash off the night and relax, you are safe here.”
Aadi didn’t know why, even though he HAD saved her, but she trusted him. Remus retrieved a towel for her and she went to wash of the horrors of the night, which was easier said than done.
Remus found her a pair of draw string sweats and a t-shirt then scribbled down a quick note on a piece of paper for her, letting her know he was gone, but would return. He grabbed his key, looped it around his neck and locked up then moved back out into the night, shifting his shape. He wouldn’t bother with any evidence that he or the human had been there, he could smell rain and knew he didn’t have to worry. Her footprints would be washed away and the authorities would simply think the men had been killed by a wild animal. He followed her scent back to the corpses then veered off to her campsite. He shifted back when he was sure there was no one around see him and quickly grabbed her backpack and the book sitting in the corner of the tent. He stuffed the book inside then slipped his arms through the loops and took on the shape of the wolf once more. It was so much easier to travel this way. No one gave a wild animal a second glance.
Aadi felt a little better now that she was clean and peeked out the bathroom door before exiting. She noticed the note and clothes sitting on the bed and crossed over, giving it a quick read before pulling his clothes on. It was the sound of the lock turning that heralded his return and she stepped out to greet him, not wanting to be rude to her savior. His eyes rested on her and she actually took a small step back. He cocked his head to the side, reminding her of the wolf. “I thought you would already be in bed.” He said as he closed the door and shrugged the backpack off, holding it out to her.
“I just got dressed.” She reached out, her fingers wrapping around the strap and he held onto it for a moment.
“You’re safe here and they won’t be coming back, I made sure.”
She swallowed and he let the bag go. “So, what do you plan on doing about them?”
“It’s going to rain tonight. In the morning I’ll head out and call the authorities, make it seem like I stumbled across them. You should stay here until their bodies have been carted off.”
“Thank you, really. I’m sorry you had to kill them.”
He huffed. “I’m not, they are fortunate I didn’t do worse. I couldn’t with you there, I did not wish to traumatize you further.” He moved a little closer, his hand coming up so he could brush her hair away from her face. “I have ointment for this if you need it.” He said indicating the scrape on her cheek.
“It’s okay, thank you.” She unzipped the bag and a small smile flitted across her lips. “You grabbed my book.”
“I thought it would help bring you some comfort.”
That small, sweet gesture meant a lot to Aadi. She felt bad for letting the fear those men stir in her make her question her safety with him tonight earlier. Remus was obviously a truly good hearted person who was only trying to help her. “It will, thank you so much. I can’t believe you’re doing all this for me. You save me, give me your bed then went back out into the night to get my things, even grabbing this book for me.”
“I can sleep anywhere comfortably, really. Even if I can’t get comfortable in my human form I can shift into the wolf and get comfortable. Grabbing your book only took me an extra minute and saving you, well no decent person could have just allowed that scene to happen, especially when they could easily wipe out those horrible men and possibly save countless men and women from being hurt by them in the future. Just rest and don’t feel like you owe me anything.”
He held up a hand. “Please rest, you need it, you deserve it. If you need anything, come to me.”
“Thank you again.”
He nodded and watched as she left him. A whine slipped out of his throat, shocking him and he quickly reprimanded the wolf. He didn’t understand this feeling stirring in him, the warmth that spread through him upon seeing her. He shook his head. Centuries had proven to him that women only wanted to use him and nothing more. The only exception had been his brother’s mate, Isobel. He let out a huff as he made himself comfortable on the couch. Everything would be better in the morning, he was sure.
Aadi had trouble sleeping that night and wound up staying up until three in the morning reading. She didn’t even remember falling asleep, only that one moment she was wide awake and the next, her book was resting on her chest and her eyes were closed. Remus woke before the sun rose, the wolf rousing him from his slumber. He sat up, yawning and stretching, tuning his ears into the sleeping woman. She sounded peaceful, her heart beat and breathing steady. He realized he had not even asked her her name. He wondered what his brother would think of him.
He sighed, wanting to know more about Aadi. It was a deep desire that even his wolf had. Following his animal instinct he began to think about her scent. A beings scent could tell you a lot about them. Her scent was definitely one of nature. She had to be out and away from the cities quite a bit. Her scent also told him she liked old things, like maybe she knew an older couple who had things from their youth or she worked near older items. He wasn’t sure but it was something he could learn more about when she woke if he was right. His nose had never been off but his entire being seemed to be off.
He was actually thinking of a woman. His wolf had even whined for her last night. There was something that set her out from the rest for him so he had no idea what to expect from himself. He thought of her scent more, inhaling it gently to try and learn more about the woman he had saved. While nature and antiques were more dominant scents he also smelled books. Maybe she liked to read or maybe she was in school for something. If she stayed resting too much longer it seemed he would have an entire days worth of questions for her.
Aadi woke with and exhausted grown, her head hurting from staying up so late. She sat up, her book sliding down and she picked it up and put it on the bedside table. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stood up, stretching. She wondered if Remus was awake yet and she slowly went out, not wanting to wake him if he was still sleeping. She was happy to see that he was up and had just started a pot of coffee. His eyes were immediately drawn to her and her heart skipped a beat at how intently he studied her. “Uh, good morning.”
“Good morning. Please come and sit, I’ll make you breakfast.” Remus felt awkward, not sure how to act around her. Isobel was the only woman he would give the time of day to, so he hoped he was acting normal.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Please, I want to, you need to eat, even if you don’t feel like it. You can’t live on an empty stomach, so please, for me, will you sit.”
She could see that he was really trying and didn’t know why she thought that was so endearing. “Alright, thank you.”
Aadi took a seat and he asked “is scrambled eggs okay?”
“That would be great” He made them the way he liked them, hoping she’d enjoy it. He paid attention when she took her first bite so he’d know if he needed to throw it out and make her plain scrambled eggs but to his relief she seemed to love them the same way he did. It wasn’t until she was done and they were just sipping coffee together he asked “so you go camping a lot?” It was his curiosity about how much nature lingered in her scent “yeah, I love being outdoors. When I take vacation from work it’s normally to go hiking somewhere and I spend most of my weekends camping”
“I don;t know how much you know about wolves but we have strong noses. One thing I pick up in your scent is an antique like smell, like you work with old items”
“That is so cool, I heard wolves could pick up things like that easily. I work in an antique shop”
“Oh and this may be a bit late, but may I know your name?”
Her smile and subsequent laughter brightened up the room and had his wolf perking up its ears. “Aadi, my name’s Aadi.”
He nodded. “It’s nice to meet you, Aadi.”
“Nice to meet you too, Remus.” She took another bite of her food. “So, what else can you smell?”
“Books.” He reached across the table, took her hand and lifted her fingers to his nose. “You touch them a lot, some old, some new.” She blushed and he let her go, murmuring an apology.
“I’m a college student.”
“What are you studying?”
“Ancient history, stuff like that. I love old things, they’re just so beautiful and wonderful.”
“You’re like my brother’s mate, Isobel. She’s an archaeologist.”
“You have a brother?”
He nodded. “Romulus, my twin.”
She looked perplexed for a moment and he actually found the brief confusion adorable. “Wait, as in the Romulus and Remus? Like Rome?”
“Wow, that’s amazing.”
“I guess you could call us living, breathing antiques.” He inwardly groaned, thinking he sounded really stupid.
Her face lit in amusement, almost causing him to blush. Lightly giggling she said “I guess it does.” It was nice how easy going Aadi seemed to be. She had such a positive attitude which especially said a lot about her this morning. Last night she had nearly been raped and today she acted as if it hadn’t even happened, at least, you couldn’t tell by her demeanor she had been in any danger the night before. Think about that reminded Remus he needed to stumble upon those bodies and call the cops. He could smell the rain had come, just as he knew it would so there shouldn’t be anything connecting him and Aadi.
“Listen, I need to go out for a bit.” He said as he finished his breakfast and took his plate to the sink.
“The bodies?” She looked down at her plate and he heard her heart give a little jump.
He went back to her, squatting down and gently tipping her head up so she was looking into his eyes. “Did I scare you last night?”
“Everything was a bit of a shock.”
He let his fingers move gently over her cheek, careful of the healing scrape. “I would never hurt you, Aadi. I acted quickly to spare you anymore pain.”
“I know, thank you.”
“You don’t have to keep thanking me, I was happy to defend you.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met a sweeter stranger.” Her hand came up, gripping his for just a moment and he couldn’t help bringing it to his lips to brush a kiss over her knuckles. The action shocked him and he pulled back, standing, his heart slamming against his chest.
“It’s not, not after what happened to you. I’ll be back soon, please stay here and make yourself at home.”
Her light green eyes were focused on his, filled with understanding and to his relief they didn’t hold fear of him. He could see the memories of last night in there but she seemed to be chasing away those uncomfortable feelings again. Remus walked away, satisfied she was okay. When he was gone Aadi looked at the hand he kissed, it still tingling from the contact. “he really is such a sweetheart” she said softly to herself. She decided to pass time on her own she’d give herself a tour of his place and then read if he still hadn’t returned. She didn’t know if he was going to wait and actually talk to the cops. If he did it could be hours until he came back.
Remus walked at a leisurely pace, not wanting to seem rushed as he took an old deer trail into the woods. If there was one group of hunters then there were probably more and he didn’t want to seem like he was heading directly for the two bodies if he was spotted. It had to look like he had found them by accident. He made his way to them in a round about way and took a deep breath before pulling out his phone and dialing 911. He made himself sound shocked and panicked, pitching his voice just right, making it shake as he described the condition of the bodies. He was asked to stay on the phone which annoyed him, but he did, not wanting to arouse suspicion. When the police showed up, he let the dispatcher know they had arrived and hung up. He didn’t want to stand through being questioned, but he kept the irritation out of his voice as he played the horrified hiker. He was glad when they finally took down his number and let him go, his act convincing them that he couldn’t stomach the gruesome sight. He wanted to get back to Aadi. He shook his head, stamping down those thoughts. He felt confused at his sudden need for this woman and he reprimanded the wolf, refusing to let the animal dictate his actions.
The smile she gave him when he walked in made his heart skip a beat and she put down her book, giving him all of her attention. “How’d it go?” She asked as he sat down next to her.
“As well as can be expected.” He sighed. “Must they be so thorough? I nearly broke character trying to get away from there.”
“You don’t like people?”
He shrugged. “Not much, the only exceptions are my brother’s mate and you. I had some trouble with them back then and about a year ago. People, especially women, liked to use my brother and I and then I was tortured by some men.”
She rested a hand on his arm and he felt a warm tingle move over his skin. “I’m so sorry.”
He shrugged again. “It’s nothing, I don’t even know why I told you really.” He glanced at her, taking in her concerned face. She really was beautiful. “So, once the police are gone, I can take you back to your tent.”
“Am I imposing?”
“No, you can stay as long as you like.”
“Then you can just help me break it down and I’ll come back here.”
He knew these feelings should stop surprising him since many feelings he had never felt had already stirred but feeling excited she wanted to stay still shocked Remus. He didn’t know if he was more prone to trust her because she was a lot like his brothers mate or what. She was an exquisitely beautiful woman but he had seen hundreds of beautiful women in his lifetime so it couldn’t be her beauty. Consciously it still wasn’t crossing his mind that she could be his mate, he had long since felt he would never meet a woman truly meant to be his but the wolf that lived within him knew and thats why it was pushing him to her. The animal within worried she’d go before he realized what he had found.
“So can I ask you a few questions while we wait?” She was curious about him, about his life.
“Well, I’ve read about you and your brother in history books. The story goes…”
“We were two children, abandoned and taken in by a she wolf. The first part is true. We have no idea who our parents were, not that we care, their loss. The second part is not. She was a woman of the wilds, not a wolf. She was our adopted mother. My brother and I are the first of our kind.”
“Wow, so what does that mean exactly? I mean there are other werewolves right?”
“We’re kings pretty much, we can control those of our species. We made them by breeding with human women and performing rituals to change others. We were special. Unfortunately that also meant we were used quite often by human women. They believed carrying our children was some sort of blessing, that we were gods. My brother took it all in stride, it was different for me. It caused a bit of friction between Isobel and I at first. I thought she was using him, I jumped to conclusions.”
“Anyway, after awhile the Gods came and my brother decided to sleep while I went my own way. Isobel found him and then they rescued me.”
“How are you adapting to new technology?”
He shrugged. “I spent more time awake than Romulus so I already had a better grasp of it. It was strange, the passing of time, each era bringing something new and strange. I tried to avoid people when I could, it’s how I was tricked and captured.”
“Does being captured plague you at all, do you need to talk about it?”
“No, I’m fine, it’s one of the things that makes it hard to get close to anybody but I don’t have nightmares or anything like that. My brother and I are resilient, my brother more so than me but we both are.” He didn’t want to burden her with the whole story and it wasn’t something he needed off his chest. “did you sleep well last night after what happened?” He scolded himself in his head again, what was wrong with him? First he didn’t ask her name before she went to bed but now he realized he didn’t ask really ask her if she was okay that morning or if the night was hard. He was completely off and he hoped he shaped up soon before she got tired of his rudeness.
“I had a hard time so I just read until I was exhausted.”
“I’m sorry, you should have told me.”
“You had already helped me enough. I guess I didn’t want to be a bother.”
He took her hand, letting his thumb brush back and forth over her knuckles. “Don’t think that, I rescued you, that makes you my responsibility so please tell me if something’s wrong.”
Aadi found her heart melting at how sweet he was. She had never met anyone like him. “I will, thank you for being so kind. You didn’t have to rescue me, but you did and I’ll never be able to thank you enough for it.”
“Of course I did, I mean, I heard you screaming and could smell your fear, I would never have just walked by.” It wasn’t the first time he had rescued someone like that, he and his brother had done it many times, but there had been far more rage at seeing her being harmed. His wolf had become suddenly territorial, something he had not expected. “Just know I would do it again without a thought.”
They continued talking until they felt they could leave to collect her tent. Even though Remus had killed those horrible men he still kept a watchful eye out, ready to protect her if anything or anybody else was stupid enough to threaten his mate. He stopped in his tracks at the realization “Remus?” she stopped walking only a few paces ahead of him, concerned about him. “sss…sorry” his brief stutter concerning her all the more. He started walking again, thinking about how in his mind he called her his mate. It made sense, it explained so much about what he had started to feel but at this point he didn’t know if he’d make a good mate. He hadn’t had a real relationship in countless years, he hadn’t had any sort of relationship aside from the one with his sibling in what was lifetimes to a mortal.
Inner turmoil sunk in. He didn’t know what to do and he couldn’t stop thinking that even if he could accept his mate..could she deal with him. Was he ready to be a good mate? His mind focused on this as he helped her break down teh tent and carried it back to his home “Remus” Aadi said, grabbing his hand once he set it down inside “yes?”
“Nothing, it’s nothing. I’m a bit tired I think.”
“Remus, please don’t lie to me. You’ve been nothing but open with me. What’s going on?”
He made a sound somewhere between a whine and a growl, not knowing how to explain things without sounding like he was losing his mind. “Aadi, you are a wonderful person and I really enjoy having you here.”
“I really enjoy being here.”
“So I don’t want to say anything that might scare you and mess that up.”
He tried to pull away, but she held onto him, tugging him gently back until he was facing her. He looked up at her with those big green eyes, so trusting and vulnerable. He wanted to kiss her, to mark her so no other would dare get close to her. “Remus, please tell me, I want to help.”
“I” there was a short pause as he worked up his nerve. He was scared of not being good enough for her. He was scared that maybe all those women had used him because he wasn’t good enough for anything serious but he knew she was his mate and he had to say something or live his life regretting it “You’re my mate…I know that sounds crazy…I’m not even sure you understand what that means for a wolf but..I want to be with you…please don’t be frightened or upset. I’d never hurt you and I’d still rip the throat out of anything that even thought of laying a finger on you in an aggressive way” HIs heart was pounding, he even felt beads of sweat starting to form.
“What does that mean, being mates?”
His eyes flicked nervously to her and then away. “It…it’s like being married. I will want to be with you always, kissing you, making love to you, marking you. You would be my everything.” He swallowed, his heart about ready to burst. “But I’m not good at any of this, at interacting with others. I probably won’t make a good mate, but…I…”
Aadi could see his frustration and fear and she couldn’t stop herself from hugging him. His entire body jerked and then his arms were around her, holding her crushingly tight. He was shaking and with her ear pressed against his chest, she could heart how fast his heart was beating. “Please calm down.”
“How can I? You’re here, really here and I don’t know what to do. I never expected to find you. I avoided falling in love, but my wolf knows and I need you.” He pulled back, his eyes searching hers. “I…I need you, Aadi more than I’ve needed anything.”
She didn’t know what to say but she could see he was sincere. Here was this handsome, incredibly sweet man in front of her telling her he wanted to be by her side forever. She had only just met him but even she felt a connection. Anybody would probably think she was insane for saying what she was about to say but she didn’t care, it was her life and if she wanted to commit it to a handsome stranger that was obviously crazy about her that was her choice. “Okay..I’ll be your mate but this marking stuff and sex..I want us to wait on that to get to know eachother better. I will be with you though. You are so sweet and honestly, incredibly handsome so I’m willing to try this if you are fine with it being slow”
“can I kiss you?” he asked nervously “yes” He slowly moved in for a kiss, his body going wild with sensations and emotion when their lips finally met. Slow was fine, slow was what he needed anyway since he was so rusty when it came to being with a woman. He didn’t care how long it took to get her in bed with him. All he needed was for her to stay.
~ The End