Bloodling Wolf: Episode 1, Scene 3
“I know why you did it, but it was still stupid,” Chase lectured as we walked into the nearest town. I yawned, ignoring his words since my milk brother’s scent only held a hint of worry nearly hidden beneath the dominant flavor of contented excitement. Chase had asked Tia if we could skip school today to pick up some supplies in town, and my foster mother had agreed, mostly because she was worried about the repercussions of my schoolyard chivalry the day before. But, despite his lecture, Chase wasn’t actually all that concerned about my past actions, so I just rubbed my head up against his trailing hand and broke into a trot as the nearest houses came into view.
It took me a full minute to realize that my brother was yelling after me rather than following in my wake. Chase had often said that one of the worst things about bloodlings is that they had a hard time focusing on human speech. But who really cared about all those words? My brother had already wasted the entire forty-minute walk rambling on about the previous day’s events, when it all boiled down to emotions I could pick up with one sniff. In my opinion, it was the “normal” werewolves who were handicapped, since they required decades to begin understanding the wolf brain, if they ever even made that mental leap. Plus, as Justin knew, a normal werewolf teenager was no match for a bloodling of any age.
“You stupid wolf!” my milk brother finished. I finally squashed my wolf brain enough to parse what Chase was saying, and the words made me laugh, lolling my tongue out the side of my mouth. Despite Chase’s speech, his scent was full of fondness, with just a hint of exasperation underneath. Oh right, I remembered as I wracked my brain to figure out why he would be upset at me this time. The leash law.
“You know, you could just change into human form, and then this farce would be unnecessary,” Chase grumbled, snapping a collar and leash around my neck. The collar itched, and I dropped into a crouch so I could scratch the annoying band of cloth until it lay in a better position atop my ruff. Despite the tickling sensation, though, I ignored my blood brother’s advice and stayed wolf. Even though Chase refused to acknowledge the fact, I did better around people in canine form. A fact that was confirmed by the old lady who greeted us as we walked down Main Street.
“Chase and Wolfie!” Mrs. Tiller exclaimed happily, pulling a dog biscuit out of her purse for me and gracing my brother with a smile. I dropped into a sit and raised one paw, gently tapping it against her knee. The lady responded by laughing merrily, then watched with satisfaction as I chomped down the treat. “I’m so glad you brought your dog instead of your cousin today,” she confided to my milk brother. “That boy was a little odd, don’t you think? Autistic, maybe?”
Chase’s cheeks turned red, and embarrassment rolled off him in an overwhelming wave. My kind-hearted brother was unhappy that I’d heard the lady’s words, but the truth was that I agreed with everything she’d said. Mrs. Tiller and I got along just fine when I was a wolf-pretending-to-be-a-lapdog. Not so much when I was a wolf-pretending-to-be-a-boy.
Before Chase could put his foot in his mouth in a misplaced effort to protect me, though, we heard the clopping of horse hooves on the pavement and turned in tandem to peer behind us. Our werewolf pack used the illusion of being Amish…or maybe a low-key cult—we didn’t specify…to keep outsiders at bay, and the buggy rolling toward us was another aspect of that illusion. My father kept a car in his garage for the rare occasions when long-distance travel was necessary, but for the most part we used horses to get around. Youngsters like us rode shank’s mare.
Rare as it was, you’d think a lift home would have been a treat, but Chase and I eyed each other with worry, knowing that the presence of a buggy meant that one or both of us was in trouble. And Mrs. Tiller agreed with the assessment. “I hope you didn’t do anything terrible,” she said to Chase with a mischievous grin, then simply laughed when my brother assured her that it was Wolfie who was in the virtual dog house. The old woman thought Chase was joking, but my blood brother and I were well aware who the buggy had come for.
As Mrs. Tiller said her farewells, the buggy pulled up to the curb beside us, and I was glad to see that my favorite uncle was the one who would fetch me home. The same man who’d helped save my life years ago still walked the fine line between obeying his alpha and following his heart, and I imagined that Uncle Oscar had volunteered to pick me up today so the truly painful part of the afternoon could be put off until after my arrival. Wordlessly, I shot Chase a goodbye tail wag and jumped into the buggy to face the music.
Wolfie’s accepted by some, but wait until you read about his run-in with his blood brother, Justin, in the next scene…