Taken by Moonlight

By: Violette Dubrinsky


The sound of a lone howl pierced the night and she almost fainted. She was being chased by a wolf. She was being chased by a big, hungry wolf that would probably kill her by holding on to her neck and suffocating her! Or was that lions?

Branches slapped her face and arms as she flew past trees, but she felt no pain, just fear. She’d been tiring until she heard the howl, and now she felt as if she could run forever. Adrenaline was a beautiful thing. Vivienne saw a clearing in the distance, and looked over her shoulder. The one law of track was “Never look back” but most athletes weren’t being chased by something out to kill them, damn it! She saw nothing, just the black night, trees, branches—no scary animal chasing after her.

Feeling a smidgen better that the wolf wasn’t making a running leap for her, Vivienne was contemplating slowing down when the decision was taken out of her hands. She collided with a tree and pitched backward, landing hard on her bottom. Being long, slender, and fit, Vivienne didn’t have the cushion that would have broken that fall, and she winced as pain shot from her tailbone up her spine, and seemed to vibrate through her entire body.

“Ah God, damn it,” she whimpered slightly, looking back to see if the wolf had been waiting for her to fall so that he could pounce. As a child, she’d watched the Discovery Channel enough with Cassie to know that predators always struck when they saw weakness. No wolf was leaping or circling her. Vivienne slowly began to relax and was gingerly pushing herself up when hands wrapped around her waist, and an ear-splitting scream rent the air.

Her eyes remained open, so she saw the look of pain that crossed the man’s features as he suffered through that assault on his ears. Vivienne cut her scream short and stared up at him in confusion.

“Are you hurt?”

His voice was deep and driven, like someone accustomed to getting his way. Vivienne’s vocal chords were paralyzed. It was too much. First, she was being chased by a wolf, and now some really large guy who hadn’t been there a few minutes ago was holding her and asking her about injuries. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to have a mellow night camping with her sister.

Her last thought before her eyes rolled back in her head was “Please God, don’t let me die camping.” And then her legs turned to jelly, and she would have fallen if not for the arms keeping her steady.





***




Conall Athelwulf stared down at the senseless female in his arms and shook his head. Humans, he thought with a hint of disgust, his nostrils filling with the scent of sunlight and peaches, of her mortality. Where did she belong, anyway? There were no campsites for miles, and yet a human female was in marked territory. Where were his betas? Why had she been allowed through? He had many questions, and no answers.

The snapping of twigs notified him of his nephew’s presence before he smelled the boy. Eli’s naked and lanky body rushed into the clearing. He was breathing hard and looking around, obviously searching for the woman slumped in Conall’s arms. His eyes widened when he noticed her, and he forced a smile that did nothing to alleviate the look of guilt on his face.

The young whelp, Conall thought, glaring at his nephew. The main reason the pack was in this state park for the week was to teach the younger werewolves the skills needed for hunting and fighting, something that could not be done in a city or even the makeshift forest in their gated community, due to its lack of wild prey, unless one counted humans. Since that type of hunting was strictly forbidden, this was the next best thing.

Unable to keep her in her current position, Conall hoisted her into his arms. She weighed less than the average bitch in his pack, so it was no great task. Her head slumped back and he shifted her so that she rested against his chest.

“Was she followed?” he demanded.

Eli flinched, but shook his blond head and blinked quickly. Although he looked the part of a high school athlete, fresh-faced with some muscle tone, Eli was almost three decades old. Their breed was not the immortal of vampires, who could not die of “natural” causes, but of age. Werewolves lived for thousands of years before growing older and succumbing to death.

“I didn’t mean—I didn’t know she’d run this way and I only wanted to play with her and she was so fast but…”

Conall turned with the woman in his arms and set a brisk pace for the boy to match. Eli was silent as they made their way back to the pack. They were a ways down the mountain, next to the lake on the other side of the park, sheltered from the prying eyes of nosy humans, until now. They would have to change location after this night.

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