Red Riding Hood is my favorite fairy tale. This is my version.

No one ever bothered to ask Red how she felt about the whole wolf thing.

There were wolves, she thought, and then there were wolves.

Her Wolf, was one of the latter.

Of course, the entire village had reduced the story to its lowest denominator.

Wolves were bad. Therefore the wolf was to blame.

No one considered that the poor Wolf never stood a chance, once she'd set her sights.

Predator and prey. What happens when those roles reverse?

She saw him as she walked the path that day. Saw him pacing her, watching her.

Wary, cautious. The Wolf would never have made a move.

A sidelong glance, a hint of a smile; and he was hers. It had been too easy, really.

He thought it was all his idea, she let him think it. Let him believe he was in control.

The illusion of control was very important.

She had suitors in the village, boys that flocked behind her like young sheep.

Boys that would never understand her. Her needs, her desires, her dreams.

Red had set her sights on a man in the village. A woodsman, older and strong.

He refused her interest. She was too young, too bright, too wild for his taste.

He wanted a proper wife. Not an exuberant little girl.

Red's heart was bruised, but not broken. She decided that the best way to show her chosen one his mistake, was to tame the Wolf.

Grandmother understood. Grandmother knew.

Because grandmother had a Wolf once.

It had been her suggestion, the walk to the cottage in the woods. She'd seen him lurking about and had decided he was perfect for her granddaughter.

Grandmother knew best.

So she heeded her grandmother's urging and put on her red cloak, walking brazenly into the wood, a basket over one arm.

Red strolled the path towards the cottage. She'd seem him through the trees, fleeting glimpses. She swung her basket and hummed.

The cottage was in a tidy clearing near the heart of the wood. A small stone structure surrounded by cheerful flowers.

Red entered the clearing and paused.

The Wolf stopped a cautious distance away.

She decided to sit in the soft green grass in the clearing, instead of entering the little house.

Outside was safer than the intimacy of that building.

She set her basket down, and unhooked her cloak, laying the crimson wool on the grass to sit on so her dress would not get stained.

She knew the Wolf was watching her.

She sat down on her cloak, on the grass, carefully arranging her skirt around her legs. It wouldn't do to look too eager.

She waited.

The Wolf crept closer.

He knew the games of women. He was a wolf, after all. He let her arrange herself prettily. He let her think she controlled the situation. Because when they thought they were in control, they were easier to win.

He moved closer, slow, careful. Not because he was afraid, but because he wanted her to think that.

Little girls should never play games with wolves, he thought.

But the Wolf didn't know little girls have sharper things than teeth.

When he deemed the moment right, he joined her on that scarlet cloak. Giving her his most innocent toothy grin.

Her responding smile was more sly than innocent. Full red lips, big doe eyes, small white teeth. He never stood a chance.

When she spoke, he was entranced. Enchanted. Captured.

The Wolf listened. Because that was what she wanted.

He encouraged. Because she wanted that, too.

He studied her creamy shoulders, delicate collarbones, and long neck--and decided to nuzzle her just there, below her ear, because that was what he wanted.

She didn't rebuff him.

They met in secret, at the cottage in the woods.

Always in secret. Because aren't things such as that better when they're in secret?

After a time, one of her spurned suitors from the village, Christian, got to thinking. He wondered where it was Red would disappear. She always returned with a strange light in her eyes and a mysterious edge to her smile.

So he followed her one day, and he saw.

Red and her Wolf.

He ran to tell. To tattle to the Elders what that strange and beautiful girl was up to.

The Wolf caught up to him first, snarling and threatening. Cornering the boy and trying to use fear to control him.

So much did Christian want to destroy his current competition, he felt no fear.

But when Red tried her hand, cajoling, flirting and stroking; he was hard pressed to turn against her.

Turn, he did. Running for the village, heart in his throat to report the atrocity he'd seen.

The wolf would have given chase, would have killed the boy to prevent their secret from being told; but Red had other ideas. She convinced him to let Christian go.

The village elders had a meeting, to decide what was to be done about the Wolf. They'd already decided what to do with Red.

She'd be married off, quickly and quietly.

The Wolf, was more troublesome.

In the end, the woodsman was sent for and charged with destroying the beast that had defiled the girl. No one bothered to ask Red her position.

In the early, misty dawn, the Woodsman set out. Armed with righteousness and steel, he had no doubt that his mission would be completed quickly.

In that he was correct. His quest ended swiftly with blood and satisfaction.

When the sun rose high in the sky to fully illuminate the village square, there were screams and gasps of horror.

The woodsman's body was laid out for all to see.

On closer examination, it was found that his heart had been cut out, with his own blade.

Pinned to the body by that blade was a note.

I'd have given him my heart. But he

turned it away. So I took his instead.

It was signed by Red.

Into the woods, went Red and her Wolf. Perfectly matched, because one can never really tame either wolves, or little girls.