"Scarlet Leigh?" I asked. She's such a short little thing! She can't be more than five foot! And she's so thin! I had always been self-continuous when it came to my curves. I tugged my t-shirt down over my hips telling myself I was just straightening it.

"Yeah..." the brunette said it like a sigh. "My mom has a thing for Gone With the Wind," with a moue.

I looked past her at the red Mini Cooper. Oh. Scarlet.

"Let me guess," Jocie raised her eyebrows at me then turned to Scarlet. "Your middle name is Vivien?"

Scarlet sighed. "And you are a film buff, aren't you?"

"Just a bit," Jocie admitted.

I spoke up, "Well, I don't get the reference." They both turned to me. "What? I've never been much of a film buff. Even for my favorites."

"True," Jocie confirmed to Scarlet. To me, "Vivien Leigh is the actress who played Scarlet O'Hara."

"'Nough said." Right then a fat water droplet smacked me in the forehead. I looked up at the darkening clouds wiping the water off. "Let's go into the house." Putting action into words I lead the way.

"By the way," I half turned around to say to Scarlet, "I'm Lynette Brooks. Everyone calls me Ettie though."

"Jocie Stevens," my friend introduced herself.

Keys still in hand I let us in the house kicking off my flip-flops almost as soon as I stepped inside the door. There was already a neat little pile of various types of shoes.

"I don't like to track dirt into my house if I can help it," in way of an explanation for the shoes when I noticed inquiring glance. As the other two took off their shoes I went to my room to dump my stuff. Once there I took a moment to close my window. Now that the storm showed itself I didn't want the rain coming in.

Leaving my room I could hear Jocie showing Scarlet around the house. I joined them at the sliding glass door at the back of the house. It lead to the wrap around porch and the rest of my spacious property. It was mostly the wrap around porch that had drawn me to the house; the spacious property was an added bonus in my eyes. The property was surrounded by a combination of hedge and trees creating a very effective privacy screen. I watched the storm build up as Jocie answered a question I hadn't heard. It's going to be one of those massive summer storms.

"...state auction. The owner's died in a car crash or something and no one could figure out if they even had any relatives."

"I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the pictures. Lucky for me no one else seemed interested in the property. So I got it for pretty cheap," I took up the explanation. Turning to Jocie, "Did you show her which bedroom she would be in?" I received a nod in reply. "The storm is moving pretty fast, we may have to cut this short. That's if you want to get on the road before it really starts to rain." The last I directed to Scarlet.

"Actually, I was wondering...when can I move in?!" Scarlet had said it with so much enthusiasm that I had wanted to grin. Instead I looked to my best friend, she was the one who had interacted with her the most.

Knowing what I was asking she gave a slight nod and stated, "She's really the only one that seems to like the idea of living in what amounts to the middle of nowhere. That, and she didn't once complain about the long drive it took just to get here." Which it really is if all you're used to is the city.

"Well, then. That settles it. Tomorrow soon enough?" Now I could grin. I stopped her with a raised hand before she could answer. "There is just one thing, though. You get a week trial to see if we can all live together. If you can...great. But if not..." I left it hanging. I really didn't want to say she would probably be without a place to live altogether. I hate sounding so cold-hearted!

"You can squeal now," Jocie leaned over to stage whisper in the other woman's ear. We could both tell she wanted to. And she did. Our new roomy squealed and jumped up and down. I glared at my best friend, who grinned back. She knew I didn't mean it.

Almost right after that Scarlet left. I found out that she had grown up in the city, but had always wanted to live in the country. So me renting out a room, here, out in what amounted to the same thing, had been a God send. Her words. I hadn't thought anyone still used that phrase. Minutes after she climbed in her Mini Cooper and took off down the road the sky opened up with a crash.

I took the storm as an opportune time to spend the rest of the day in my art studio, listening to classical music as I painted. Located in the back of the house was the converted room I used for my studio. The room might have been used as an office or a spare bedroom; all I know is that I loved the large wide windows that took up most of one wall.

Between the storm and the music I found myself wondering at the amount of tension that left my shoulders. I hadn't realized I had held so much stress. Having seen the strange Husky watching me like that, first this morning then as we got to the car, had bothered me more than I wanted to admit. Even to myself.

After taking a moment to watch the rain run down the smooth glass in sheets so thick there was no way you could see past the water I put a clean canvas on the easel and started painting. Lost in the paint, the sound of the rainstorm, and the music I lost track of time and forgot about stray dogs.

Until the song I was bobbing and nodding to was turned off did I truly look up and notice that past the rain still pouring there was no light at all.

"When are you going to put a clock in here?"

"You know why. It wouldn't be looked at. So why bother?" As often she asked her question she never had an answer for mine. Same as this time. "What time is it anyways?" My stomached answered before Jocie could. "Oh. Heh heh..." it was a weak laugh. My best friend just shook her head an led the way to the kitchen.

Typically I'm a very sound sleeper. My mother was fond of telling me (and others) that I could sleep through a freight train passing through my bedroom and I would not even stir. Honestly? I believed her. To say the least I slept through the still raging storm, and many predecessors before it.

But tonight something woke me and I could not figure out what. Trying not to worry about it too much I laid still on my bed. Maybe whatever it was would happen again. Minutes past, nothing. Wondering about the time I turned my head to look at the alarm clock on my dresser. Where glowing green digits should have been I only saw more darkness.

The tempest had managed to knock down a power pole somewhere. Sighing, I rolled out of bed to open the window. The rain had left the night air cool. I stood at the window a moment to let the cooled air play along my heated skin. Then to the door to open it a crack to let the air circulate some. Once back in bed I fell asleep with one thought in my head. It wasn't the heat that woke me up.


Ardal came up off his hunches to look back through the window at Her. He could not believe his luck! He had been watching and waiting all day and night through the pouring storm for the right moment to enter the house. And now She opens the window Herself. It was all too perfect!

He had to restrain himself from jumping through the window right then. Just a wait a little time more...wait till She's asleep! Ardal was practically itchy with impatience.

Hoping it would help, he walked back to his hiding spot. The hedge was far enough away that when he felt he had waited long enough it wouldn't be very hard at all to leap through the open window.

Restless, he paced. He was so close to making Her like himself. A lycanthrope. Once She was a werewolf he could then take Her and make her his mate!

With that thought he lost his patience, stopped his pacing and leaped through the window. He must start Her Change now! Without another thought Ardal moved to Her bed.

Absorbed in what he was about to do he never heard the slow sure step approaching Her bedroom door. He crept closer, wanting this instant to be perfect. Right as Ardal was to make a nice, neat bite on the closest piece of flesh, which happened to be her forearm, the door flew open to bang against the wall. Needing to flee he bit down hard on the arm, much harder then he intended, turned and leapt out the window.