Chapter 1: Unexpected Meetings
Thunder clapped in the distance. A flash of lightening lit the sky. And the rain began to pour, cold and heavy. Most were smart and had stayed indoors, but one girl had not. She was using her arms as a shield against the rain.
"Of all the days…" she cursed mother nature for her poor timing.
The girl was immersed in her determination to return home before she became completely soaked. She didn't notice how the tree's roots seemed to slither on the sidewalk and tripped, falling into a huge puddle.
The girl heaved her body from the ground. She tried to wipe off the mud, but managed to smear it over clean spots. She gave up with cry of frustration and started walking. No point in running now, she was already wet to the bone. With each step, her shoes leaked muddy water, having reached their capacity of absorption. Squishy and slimy, what an uncomfortable mix.
She passed her favorite grove of trees and treaded through her secret path in the forest. Leaves stopped some of the rain, but it was better than the complete downpour. She came to a small clearing, pushing her way through the bushes. In the middle of the clearing lay a bundle of fur. The girl cautiously inched closer to get a better look. Up close, it was hardly the repulsive lump of hair she saw before. A wolf now lay at her feet, wounded. Its fur was so clumped together by mud that she couldn't tell what color it was. She thought about the texture of the fur and how it would feel when dry and clean. Her eyes strayed to the wound on its left leg. She sympathized the poor creature.
"You poor thing." she muttered, bending down to take a closer look.
The wolf's eyes snapped open immediately. They were a curious bright cobalt, sparking like the deepest seas. It let out a menacing growl and bared its teeth, but that was all it could do. The wolf barely had any energy left. Her hand froze, but she didn't budge.
"Shh… it's alright. I won't hurt you. I just want to look at your wound." she cooed the wild canine.
She took off her coat and proceeded to take off her shirt. She glanced at the wolf before ripping the shirt in strips. The rain was cold on her skin; goose bumps rose on her arms. She took her coat and put it on; better than shirtless. Picking up the strips of cloth, she wrapped them around the wound, hesitating a bit beforehand. The wolf made no protests except for a weak growl that sounded more like a whine. After she finished tying off the last makeshift bandage, she began to pick up the wolf. The wolf growled in response, warning her of its discontent.
"I need to take you home so you can get better medical attention. I can't just leave you here wounded. You'll probably catch cold and die."
The wolf's eyes turned cynical, nearly scoffing. She must be out of her mind! He was threatening to tear her throat open and she was worried about a trival cold? The girl began to pick up the wolf again. The wolf made no response except a piercing glare. Ignoring the stare, the girl happily picked up the wolf and almost fell from its weight.
"Damn, you weigh a ton!" she stumbled to get her footing.
She walked through the forest slowly, careful not to trip. Her arms were heavy with the burden, but she didn't mind. If she thought of other things, he would suddenly be weightless. As she neared the edge of the forest, she stopped in sudden surprise. She couldn't just waltz out of the forest carrying a wild animal! What if her neighbors saw her? What would her parents think? A thousand answers came to her mind and they didn't have very happy endings. She ran across the street, making sure no live person was to be seen.
Yellow light spilled from the windows of her house. She could see her parents inside. She heard the screen door swing open and panicked. What if they saw her? Where could she hide him? She knew her parents wouldn't like the idea of a wild pet… but she couldn't just leave him outside!
An idea struck her. The shed near the vines! A perfect placer considering her parents rarely used it. She kicked the door open with one foot and closed it with the other. She laid the wolf down gently, but hastily. She muttered something like 'I'll be back later' and rushed out of the shed, abruptly closing the door.
"Kaya! What are you doing out in this rain? You're soaking wet! Come inside before you catch a cold!" her mother yelled from the back door.
She felt a breeze of warmth seep from the house. Before stepping into the house, Kaya sent a worried glance over her shoulder.
"Look at you! You're sopping wet and muddy! How did this happen?" her mother demanded.
"I—uh—tripped while running...?"
"Let's get you washed up then." her mother heaved a sigh.
When Kaya made no attempt to remove her muddy clothing, her mother stopped climbing the stairs.
"Go on. I'll be there in a minute." Kaya urged her mother up the stairs.
As soon as her mother disappeared up the stairs, Kaya started to strip. She happily threw off her muddy shoes and socks, not caring if they made a mess. She took off her dripping jeans. Her face twisted to a grimace, the wet cloth rubbing against her skin. She unzipped her coat, which was disturbingly stuck to her skin; she had to peel it off like an octopus.
Kaya skipped up the stairs in nothing but a bra and underwear. She was too cold and too wet to care. She eagerly rushed into the bathroom, surprising her mother with splash of sudsy water. With a laugh, Kaya told her mother her thanks. Her mother exited with a loving ruffle to her wet hair.
It felt so good! Kaya savored the warmth from the hot water. Her gaze slid towards the window. She felt a pang of guilt when she saw the shed. Poor thing. Kaya decided that once she was done with her bath, she'd bring some food and a blanket for the wolf. She grabbed the shampoo and started scrubbing, her interest lost from the bath.
She snatched her robe from the hook, sloppily tying the cord around her waist. She ran out of the door, one slipper on, the other half off. While running down the stairs, she nearly bowled over her father over.
"Kaya! How'd you bathe so quickly? Why rush?" He smiled, observing her strange behavior.
"I left something outside. I've gotta get it before it's completely soaked!" she lied.
She rushed down the rest of the stairs, pretending go towards the door. She waited a few moments then crept the other way, towards the linen closet. She grabbed a brown blanket and went to the kitchen. She pilfered a slice of leftover ham, an empty bowl, and a bottle of water. She took off her slippers and put on dry sneakers.
She opened the door as quietly as she could, hoping the wolf wouldn't hear. She saw him spread comfortably on the ground, sleeping soundly. It looked cute when it was sleeping. A soft smile crept onto her face. She put the meat and bowl a little ways away from the wolf. She uncapped the bottle and filled the bowl with cool water.
The sound of water reached the wolf's ears. He opened his eyes and lifted his head with sleepy effort. He stood up and shook his fur to wake up completely. Kaya turned around unconcerned she'd woken the wolf; she knew they had sharp hearing. The wolf looked at her with intent eyes, his gaze occasionally switching to the food near her foot. Kaya moved away from the food and grabbed the blanket.
"Can you move so I can lay this down?" she felt silly talking to the animal.
Surprisingly enough, the wolf obeyed her command and moved to the side of the shed. She smiled and laid down the sheet. The wolf padded back to his place as soon as the blanket was down. He sat on his haunches and switched his gaze to hers again, occasionally flickering to the food.
"What!? You can eat it if you want." Kaya indicated the food.
The wolf made no move towards the food. His cobalt stare was relentless. Kaya gave a sigh.
"Alright, I'll serve you…But only because of that leg of yours!" she picked up the meat and bowl, watching the wolf's ear prick with interest.
After setting down the bowl and meat, she bent back up until her cord got stuck underneath the bowl and pulled the knot loose. Her robe fell open. She was wearing nothing underneath. The wolf's eyes widened with surprise. He immediately closed his eyes flattening his ears against his skull. He lowered his head enough to put a paw over his snout.
Kaya fumbled for the cord and quickly tied the robe closed. "S-sorry."
Her face was beet red. Why was she so embarrassed? He's just an animal! The wolf opened his eyes carefully. His cobalt gaze flickered to hers, an amused twinkle hidden in his eyes, holding her captive. He dropped his head, breaking the stare. He proceeded to eat his meal.
"I'd better be going. My parents are probably wondering where I am. I'll come back tomorrow morning to give you breakfast and check on your leg. Kay?" Kaya looked for any indication the wolf understood. She received a quick pause in his eating with a glance at her face.
Kaya shut the shed door, and ran through the house, kicking off her sneakers and changing into her slippers as quickly as possible. "Did you get what you needed from outside?" her father's voice came from the living room.
"Yeah." she replied. "I'm going to bed. Don't stay up too late, dad. You and mom are going somewhere tomorrow; remember?"
"You're right, I should probably get some rest."
Kaya heard her father shut off the television. He got up from the couch and stretched with a groan. His footsteps became louder as her neared the stairs. He reached Kaya and patted her head affectionately.
"Want me to tuck you in?"
Kaya raced her father up the stairs, the racket practically waking up her mother. She jumped in her bed, laughing at her father's shortness of breath. Her father kissed her on the forehead, bringing the covers up to her chin.
"Sleep tight, Kaya."
"Don't let the bedbugs bite." Kaya finished enthusiastically, snuggling into her covers and closing her eyes.
The wolf watched Kaya leave with a sense of sudden loneliness. He saw her through the window. The space between them was so small, yet it felt like a vast ocean. He felt his solitude grow. Shocked, he growled at himself, ashamed for feeling such things. It's not as if he hasn't been alone before!
His gaze switched to the second story window as a bright light projected from it. He saw the shadows of Kaya and her father. He could hear her laughs and longed to be by her side. It suddenly struck him that he enjoyed her company, no matter how short a time he knew her. She was comforting and caring, that much he knew.
His eyes glazed over as he remembered the more recent memory. Her robe fell open quite unexpectedly. He saw her perfect curves and could easily predict why men would want her. She had creamy skin, smooth and flawless. She was slim and petite, yet fit. A head full of golden brown hair flattered her pretty face. She had full lips and a set of gleaming green eyes that were filled with happiness.
He saw the lights flash off in her bedroom. He tried to sleep, but thoughts of her continued to tease his mind. He fell into a fitful doze and dreamt of nothing but her.