|Wild at Heart
Author: Rose Marie Wolf PM
When Raegan announced to her family she would no longer be a hunter, she hoped that would be the end of it. Five years later, that's about to change when she meets a Were and is thrown into the midst of a pack war--and a forbidden love. Ongoing novel.Rated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 14 - Words: 36,742 - Reviews: 51 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 34 - Updated: 12-31-10 - Published: 07-23-10 - id: 2831574
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Are you sure this is the place?" She leaned further back in her seat, pulling her left leg up so she could place her chin on her knee as she looked out the window. Though it was still night, the few lights along the freeway offered enough illumination that she could see they were in some quiet little suburb. "It doesn't seem…right."
There was a sharp silence from the front seat before her brother, Luke, looked over his shoulder at her. There was a tiny smirk on his lips. "You really don't get out much, do you, Raegan?"
He knew very well she didn't "get out". She rolled her eyes at him and focused her attention to her father in the driver's seat. Her brother's words would no doubt garner the usual reaction from the man.
Sure enough, her father's steely gaze met her own and she could plainly see the disappointment in them.
Blowing a strand of hair from her face, Raegan sank down further into her seat. "Not this again," she muttered, regretting having ever opened her mouth. It was always the same old thing—and a record at that. They hadn't even pulled into the driveway of their new house before they were already on her case.
It had been crazy for her to even think moving to a new town would change the way her family scrutinized her unorthodox views, but there had been that faint little glimmer of hope.
Not any more.
Immediately, Raegan was on the defensive, cutting her father off before he had a chance to berate her. "Look, Dad…we've been over this probably a hundred times. You know how I feel about the whole situation. Can we just drop it until I've at least unpacked?"
Her father grunted once, his eyes narrowing at her briefly before turning to gaze at the road again. Flicking on his right turn signal, he pulled off freeway exit and eased his way into the residential suburb. Luke stifled a chuckle.
Resisting the urge to smack him hard in the back of the head, Raegan closed her eyes. It wasn't like she wanted her family to be upset and disappointed in her, but she really couldn't help it. Hunting werewolves had always been their main focus in life. They had done so generation after generation—or so she had been told numerous times over.
And for some reason, Raegan had never really warmed up to the "family business". It wasn't a matter in disbelieving the existence of werewolves—she had seen proof enough of that growing up. She knew the signs of how to spot one, their weaknesses and strengths. She had practically cut her gums on all the information her family gathered over the years—and yet the enthusiasm for wiping out their kind had never really settled.
On her eighteenth birthday—the day when she was considered an adult and therefore ready to participate in an active hunt—Raegan had announced her decision to step away from their cause. The idea of senseless killing bothered her. The werewolves had never done anything to her family—other than attack them when provoked, but that was only natural.
To her it was a pointless, unnecessary war—and she wanted no part of it.
And five years later, her father still liked to give her that disappointed, angry glare whenever the subject was breached—and sometimes even when it wasn't. She had known the risks when she had made her decision and she stood by it.
And as she predicted, the matter wasn't dropped.
Luke rolled the passenger window down a crack and lit another cigarette. The acrid smoke filled the car and Raegan flashed him an annoyed look. He caught it in the rearview mirror and smirked. Unlike their father, Luke seemed more amused by the whole situation than disappointed.
"It seems right to me," he began, taking a long draw from the cigarette and exhaling slowly. "I mean, we move into a normal house and stake them out. Incognito. Right? There've been reports of Were activity around these parts. Shit. Makes perfect sense to me."
"I never said it didn't make sense. I only said it didn't seem right." She let out a breath as her father pulled their car into the driveway of their new two-story house. It was a nice place, but she knew she wouldn't really call it her home. She wasn't really planning on living with her family much longer. It was bad enough she had spent the last five years with them.
But that was another, long story and she didn't even want to think on it at the moment.
Her father shot her another glance in the mirror as he shut off the engine. Raegan was certain he was going to say something to her, but to her surprise, he didn't. Instead, he opened the car door and stepped out, slamming it shut with a loud bang.
She blew out a breath, ruffling her long bangs. "I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut."
Once again, Luke chuckled. "You said it; I didn't." He suddenly seemed serious. Taking one last draw from his cigarette, he turned to look at her. "Dad takes it personally, you know." He flicked the still lit cigarette butt out the window.
"Yeah, I know." Raegan opened the door and stepped out. Her father had already walked the stone path to the front porch. The porch light was on and the front door open. A second later, a light came on in one of the downstairs windows. "But you know how I feel."
She walked to the back of the car. Her father had at least popped the trunk for her. She opened it, pulling out Luke's crutches. By the time she had returned to the passenger side of the car, Luke had already opened the door and was supporting himself in a semi-standing position.
His leg didn't appear damaged, at least not with his baggy jeans on, but underneath his clothes it was a lot worse. The fact he was even somewhat standing on his own was a miracle. The last time they had gone after a werewolf had ended badly. Luke was lucky he hadn't been killed.
Raegan hoped the close call would've changed her father's mind on the subject, but if anything it only cemented his desire to take the creatures out. It had the opposite effect on her. It made her resolve stronger.
"Take it easy," she told him as she passed the crutches to him.
"Yeah, yeah," he muttered, stepping forward on them. Raegan closed the door behind him and walked beside him toward the front porch.
Though she had gotten enough courage up to tell her family her true feelings on the subject of hunting, it had taken nearly five years to finally get up the nerve to venture out on her own. Of course, she had been in college then, living at home to avoid horrendous housing fees.
A couple weeks ago, she had already made up her mind to move out. There was an apartment she had been eyeing for some time. When she finally had the money to pay a month's rent in advance, she filled out the application—but that was all before the attack.
While Luke bled all over the floor, having been dragged back from wherever it was they had been fighting, Raegan and her father had argued heatedly. He wasn't going to take his son to the emergency room. It didn't concern them and it would risk exposure. The werewolves would find them, easily. It was the kind of move they would be waiting for them to make.
When Raegan grabbed the car keys from the bowl on the table and started to help her brother up with the intent to keep him from dying right there in the living room, her father had lost it. She had never seen him so angry, destructive. It was her fear that he would hurt them—or himself—that she had relented.
It had been the very last straw.
That night, she cleansed her brother's wounds and bandaged him as best she could. When their father had calmed down enough, she told him as simply as she could that she would live with them until Luke was better, but she was gone after that.
For a long while, he had said nothing, merely staring at her from across the kitchen table. "Fine," had been his only answer.
Raegan couldn't help but feel a stab of pain at the finality of his words.
Luke was healing better than she had hoped. His leg still looked really bad, but at least it wasn't infected. Makeshift stitches held the slashes closed. Now, if she could just get him to stay off his leg he'd be a hell of a lot better.
Luke made it up the steps with little help, muttering "shit" with each step. When they got inside, he immediately went for the couch in the living room, to their right. Most of their things had been brought here the day before, though a lot of the furniture wasn't in the right place. That didn't matter right now. They could always rearrange things later.
Their father was nowhere in sight. After a minute, Raegan could hear him shuffling around in the kitchen, presumably unpacking some of the household stuff. Wanting to avoid him for a while, Raegan turned her attention to Luke. "Need anything that doesn't involve me going into the kitchen?"
He smirked at her, flashing a sharp look with his green eyes. "Afraid to face him alone?"
"Ass." She rolled her eyes. "I'm serious. Will you be okay if I just grab my shit and go upstairs?"
"I'll be fine—as soon as Dad gets the TV hooked up to the cable." Luke seemed pretty settled there, his injured leg stretched out on the couch.
"All right then." Hefting a large, unwieldy box with Raegan's Shit written in black magic marker along the side, she started up the staircase.
It had always been an unwritten rule that when moving into a new place, whoever got to the bedrooms first had dibs on whatever room they wanted. Raegan took advantage of this to choose the largest room near the back of the house.
She flicked on the light, suddenly surprised to see how spacious the room was. The walls were painted a creamy white and the carpet was a deep crimson. There was one large window overlooking the backyard. Quickly, Raegan peeled off her hoodie and tossed it aside as she crossed the room to the window.
As she stood there, staring out into the darkness, she realized their backyard was cut off by a section of trees. Not quite large enough to call a forest, it was still a nice piece of vegetation. She wasn't used to that. Every place they had ever lived in had been smack dab in the middle of a bustling city landscape.
It would take some getting used to.
Quickly, Raegan reminded herself that she wouldn't be here long enough to get used to it. After Luke was better, she would be back in the city.
Living here was only temporary, after all. She didn't agree with the fact that her father and brother were changing tactics on hunting. Now, they were going to blend in rather than risk head on confrontation.
It made her wonder if Luke's attack has anything to do with that. Was her father trying to play it safe now? It didn't seem like him to do that, but it didn't matter to her. She wasn't a part of this.
There was no bed in the room—her room—just yet, but she had a sleeping bag that would serve for tonight until she could lug the frame, box springs and mattress up here. Just thinking of it made her weary.
Opening her box, she began to unpack a few items, finding her sleeping bag rolled up near the bottom. She was just unrolling it on the floor when she heard footsteps behind her. Tensing, she turned to see her father standing in the doorway.
For a few moments, they stared at each other, neither of them saying a word. Finally, it was her father that spoke.
"I thought you would pick this one," he said, his voice gruff.
Raegan couldn't be sure if he meant it sarcastically or if he was serious. With her father's voice, it was hard to tell.
"Well, you know me," she answered, returning to unpack her box. "I like a room with a view."
The comment hung in the air between them. She didn't look at him, afraid for a moment to meet his gaze. When she finally did look up, her father was still staring at her.
"We need to talk."
It was never good when he said that.
Raegan sucked in a breath. "If this is about the comment I made in the car, it can wait. I'm tired and I don't want to get into this bullshit tonight."
A look of anger flashed in her father's eyes and she was tempted to step back, but it soon passed and she stood her ground.
"Not entirely," he answered coolly. "This is a new town for us. We don't know any of the locals yet and until we do, I don't want you roaming around. There have been numerous reports of werewolf activity in this town and the surrounding areas. I have my suspicions, but I want you to steer clear of the residents until we get some concrete evidence."
Raegan blinked a few times. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I am not kidding, Raegan. I want you to stay home."
"Wait, what? No way." She shook her head. "There is no way in hell I am going to stay confined in this house. What am I? Sixteen again?"
"Raegan, it's for your own protection. I can't have you wandering around until we know exactly what we are up against." He spoke through clenched teeth, fighting to contain his anger. She could tell by the tone he used.
"I can take care of myself." She was fighting her own anger. Her fists were clenched tight at her sides.
"No, Raegan, you can't. That's the problem." He looked down at her, his grey eyes fierce and deadly serious. "The day you told me you no longer wanted to take part in the hunt was the day you turned your back on your training. What little skills you learned before then will not be enough to fend off a werewolf. You've never encountered one before. You would be ripped to shreds."
"Oh, you mean like Luke nearly was? How many years of training has he had? Ten?" She glared at her father, unable to believe him. He wasn't going to let her out because of something that might happen. "It didn't help him any."
Her father's face grew red in his anger. "At least he stood some sort of chance. Not you. That little attack made me realize just how close I came to losing one of my children. I will be damned if I am going to let it happen again. It was a stupid mistake—one I will not be repeating again. As long as you are in my house, you are going to follow my rules. I will not have you endangering yourself, or us. It's for our protection. Is that understood?"
Raegan fought hard to control her tongue. "I am not a child," she answered, never leaving her father's gaze. "I can make my own choices."
"Not when it comes to this."
"The hell it isn't!"
"That's enough, Raegan!"
His outburst made her flinch. He was serious, she knew, but she couldn't stand to abide by his rules. What was wrong with exploring their new town and get a feel for the place? Were werewolves going to attack her if she went strolling down the street? If she didn't provoke them, and if they didn't know of her ties to the hunters, she would be fine. Sure, Luke had been attacked but his cover had been blown as well. This was entirely different.
Really, there was nothing she should be concerned of.
"I mean it, Raegan. It's enough. Do you understand me? It's for your own good."
"Yeah." She exhaled without knowing she had been holding the breath. Her father continued to stare at her for a long moment.
"Okay," he said. His voice was quieter now, calmer. "Try to get some sleep."
"Yeah, I will."
With that, he turned and went back down the hall. Once he was gone, Raegan went to the door and pushed it closed, leaning against it.
He was treating her like a child and that was something that had always irked her. She was twenty-three—plenty old enough to make her own choices.
And right now, she made the choice to leave the house. Mostly, she knew it was to prove to her father she could go out and return unscathed and part of it was to get out and release a little steam. A long run would do that just nicely.
But walking out the front door would be tricky. Glancing toward the window, she quickly dismissed the idea of sneaking out. After all, the point was to show her father she was old enough to take care of herself, not revert back to her teenage state by climbing out her bedroom window.
Raegan checked that her sneakers were laced tightly, then grabbed her black hoodie from the floor and slipped it on over her tank top. With any luck, her father would be busy elsewhere in the house and wouldn't see her leave.
Sure enough, she could see a sliver of light under the crack of the door closest to the staircase. Listening, she could hear her father's heavy footfalls as he moved back and forth across the floor, moving things and unpacking no doubt.
Creeping past, she took the steps down to the living room quickly and quietly.
Luke was still on the couch, watching TV. He looked up when he heard her descend. One dark eyebrow rose slowly. "And where do you think you're going?"
"Isn't that against Dad's new rules?"
Raegan pulled the hoodie over her hair and smirked. "He gave you the lecture, too?"
Luke shrugged, then gestured to his leg. "It's not like I'm really going anywhere anyway."
"I'll be back in an hour…maybe two." She narrowed her eyes. "And you better not tell dad."
"He's going to know you went out."
"Not unless he thinks I'm asleep. What are the odds he's going to check?"
Luke rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine. But if you're not back in two hours, I will tell him."
"Deal." Raegan grinned. "Later."
Then she was out the door, stepping into the darkness. She hit the lawn at a run, headed down the sidewalk toward town, never looking back.