On top of Millman's Bluff, you could see all of town stretching off into the distance. It was a beautiful sight, especially at nighttime, which was why I went up there at least once a month. Currently there was a slight May breeze blowing, carrying with it the scents of fresh blooms, earth, and ancient trees.
I was lying on an old blanket right at the summit of Millman's Bluff, looking down at all the small glowing lights from Bakersfield, Idaho. It was where I lived and went to school; A quintessential college town-in-the-woods if there ever was one.
I did most of my thinking and relaxing here, because under the nearly full moon and surrounded by the night symphony, I felt more alive than anywhere else.
Letting out a sigh, I checked my cell phone and decided it was time to go. Nearly two hours had passed since I'd arrived, and midnight was well on its way. There would be more time for meditation later.
I stood up and fished the keys from my back jeans' pocket, hearing the familiar chimes of all my key chains. Thumbing through them to get to my truck key, the one charm that stood out was my name made out of glass. Amber. It had been part of a graduation gift from my friend, and I cherished it more than ever now that we were apart.
As I came back to the present and went to fold my blanket, a loud branch snapping from the woods in front of me had my guard up immediately. My head snapped to attention to look towards the noise, and all the breath disappeared from my lungs. A giant wolf stood right at the edge of the forest, where the trees and grass met. It was gorgeous, with dark auburn fur, but seemed unnaturally large. From where I was standing, it had to be about five feet tall at the shoulder. Wolves weren't unheard of in these parts, but a wolf that big was something rarely spoken of.
Fear seized me as I slowly rose to my feet, and try as I might, I couldn't get my racing heart or adrenaline level to abate, and the wolf knew it.
It was roughly 200 feet away, but it's bright gold eyes unmistakably narrowed.
I backed up slowly, frantically trying to calm down. Wolves could sense fear in a heartbeat, but if I could be cool long enough to get back to my truck, maybe it would leave me alone.
I went to take a small step back, but the wolf had other plans. It crouched down low to the ground, dipped its head, bared it's teeth and let out a deafening snarl while giving me a venomous look and raising its hackles. I froze, knowing the wolf could outrun me in a second, then slowly brought my hands to my sides. The wolf snapped ferociously, spittle flying from its large jaws, and lunged forward a few feet; Almost as if in warning.
It took everything I had not to jump back or run, but finally I swallowed heavily and did the only thing that seemed sensible. Inch by inch I sank to the ground, my knees finally making contact with it before I rolled over on my back. Both hands went on either side of my head, palm-up, while I showed most of my neck off. I couldn't see the wolf anymore, only the forest to the left, but the growling, snapping and snarling immediately ceased. I closed my eyes and gulped again as the soft crunch of the wolf's paws on grass neared me, and I had enough sense left to enjoy the cool, soft feel of the green carpet underneath me while I could.
A statue couldn't have stayed more still as the wolf noisily sniffed every inch of my body, especially my bared stomach and neck. As petrified as I was, I still tried to calm down by squeezing my eyes shut and praying for the wolf to leave. Being an animal lover, I absorbed every TV show, article or web page dedicated to wildlife, and all made it very clear that in confrontational situations, a lesser wolf was supposed to roll on their back and expose their throat and belly to the dominant wolf in submission. Hopefully this little trick worked, and even more so that the wolf wasn't rabid.
After what seemed like an eternity of being sniffed, silence filled the air so I hesitantly opened my eyes. I hadn't heard it leave...
Suddenly, jaws clamped down on the bottom of my right jean leg like an iron vice, and I couldn't help the short squeal of surprised terror that escaped my mouth. The wolf's teeth hadn't broken skin but it was violently shaking the pant leg back and forth, tearing at the fabric with its fangs and claws, almost as if to rip my pants off. Hot tears ran down my cheeks as I silently pleaded for it to leave me alone. Fighting briefly elected itself as an option, but the only weapons available were my car keys, which didn't seem like they could do much damage against a 300-pound pissed off wolf.
By this time both pant legs had been reduced to strips of blue denim, but my skin was still unscathed. I kept my soaked face turned to the side as the wolf moved up to my red tank-top, then made short work of that too. Now the night air chilled my naked arms and legs, but that was the least of my worries when it gave a final tug on my shirt, then crawled on top of me.
Another light shriek was released upon feeling a cold nose connect to my bellybutton, and my back arched involuntarily. The wet, smooth nose tickled, yet was nothing compared to the weight of the beast pressing down on me. It's giant paws pinned my biceps, and I knew it only had to be a matter of seconds before the sharp claws pierced my light skin.
The frantic whimpers coming from my throat sounded like that of a scared kitten while the wolf nuzzled and licked my exposed neck. Was it going to deliver the final bite now?
Just as quickly as it began, the wolf stopped it's cold assault on my skin, so I gathered what little wits I had left and glanced up to see what was happening.
Big mistake. I only saw a flash of its golden eyes before it let out a sharp bark and snapped those giant jaws mere centimeters from my face, in effect making me immediately turn to the side again, crying harder than ever and hyperventilating with short, pathetic noises. The wolf snarled right near my ear, and I prepared to die.
How long would it take for someone to find my remains? I didn't have to work until Sunday, so no one would even miss me for two days! My life was never particularly exciting, but I was only twenty! College wasn't even close to being over with, and although I may not have had a lot to offer this world, I still wanted to experience it!
I cried silently to myself while thinking of the most mundane, random things: Coffee, my parents, the feeling of first waking up after a peaceful nap, and my favorite music all paraded through my mind, along with what I'd miss. I didn't even notice at first that the coarse fur and rough pads of the wolf's paws on my arms had been replaced with something much more smooth, while the weight on my biceps and stomach had eased up a bit. The wolf was also oddly still and silent, so I flicked my watery hazel eyes down to my legs. There was no longer a wolf crouching over me, and my eyes widened as they traveled up pale, smooth skin.
My mouth fell open of its own accord at seeing the face of a man only inches away from my own. His lips curled back over his pristinely white teeth while a terrifying look marred his attractive face, and a loud growl worked its way up from his chest. I actually felt it vibrating from above this time, but that hardly mattered when the man snarled and made to bite my face, again forcing me to turn my head with a sharp scream.
I shook like an earthquake while my stomach did somersaults. The guy was still growling as I frantically searched everywhere but his face, trying to locate the wolf or anyone else.
"I thought you would know not to look a wolf directly in the eyes, seeing as you submitted to me. It's viewed as a direct challenge."
All my movement ceased upon hearing the man's deep, dark voice sound right above my ear, followed by a throaty chuckle. Glancing down once more, I saw the man was stark naked and in the same position as the wolf. His knees straddled my sides, he was crouched on top of me, and his large hands pinned me down. I hadn't felt the wolf move either...
Oh no. No, no, no, no! A frenzied panic suddenly took hold as I put two and two together, then started struggling harder than ever to get away.
"Oh my god, oh my god! You're a wolf! Let me go!"
The man snarled loudly again, unlike any human noise I had ever heard. Fast as a whip, he clamped a giant hand over my throat and leaned in close, sharp teeth bared and still growling. I froze, because five razor sharp points dug into the soft flesh on either side of my neck, threatening in break in.
"Be quiet or I will have to make you." The man growled menacingly, and by the look in his unnatural eyes, I knew he meant it.
"Now, yeah, I'm the wolf. A werewolf I guess you could call it."
Just hearing the word elicited a terrified whine, and the man readjusted his naked body so he was now sitting on my chest.
"Stop it. I haven't hurt you yet and if you keep behaving I won't have a reason to. But your little display back there has me curious." He tilted his head to the side and his thick mop of burnt orange curls fell over his eyes as he regarded me with an unreadable expression.
"How did you know about the submission pose? Most people would have run, in which case," He scoffed and a knowing smile spread on his face before he planted his free hand next to my head and leaned down. "I would have had to kill you."
I wanted to faint, but some cruel force wouldn't allow it. I swallowed thickly, the man's hand moving with it.
"Oh god..." I moaned while glancing up at the clear night sky, trying to gain some composure. The man's perfect, naturally arched eyebrows rose in anticipation of an answer, and I spoke while looking out over the city.
"I- I've watched TV shows and read that it's what subordinate wolves do in a pack if they're challenged by one higher up in rank than they are." I tried to breathe calmly, but it only resulted in more frantic heaves. The supernatural was never something I gave a lot of thought to, as opposed to the present. I preferred to dwell on the here and now, even though I never discredited the latter.
"Hmm... Well, they're right. And I'm equally surprised that you didn't run. After all, I've been watching you come on my territory for several months now. But oh well."
My arms stayed by my head, but I permitted myself a look around some more. I wasn't calm yet by any means, although the hiccups and heaves had become further apart.
The man's chest was right in front of me, so I tried to not focus on it too much. His skin was milky white, almost to the point of being transparent, and every inch of him seemed to be pure muscle. His stomach and chest even looked as hard as a brick wall.
Time ticked by at a seemingly impossible rate, and I waited painfully for the moment when this man would freak out and snap my neck with his bare hands. It never came. Instead, he released my throat and pushed a piece of straight brown hair that had come out of my ponytail away from my face. It still wasn't enough to stop me from keeping my terrified gaze averted.
"What to do, what to do with you." He mused softly, and my panic came back like a tsunami as I tried to squeeze out from under the naked wolf-man, horrible squeaks leaving my throat. His hand flew back to its previous position and tightened while his other grabbed my arm forcefully. I immediately stopped struggling even though I could still breathe, and thought I was going to die from fear as the man lowered his sneering face close to mine.
"I didn't mean kill you!" He hissed, his hot breath tickling my lips. As the man studied every aspect of my face from less than an inch away, my chest rose up and down so quickly it could have been a seismograph needle.
"What's your name?" His deep voice mumbled so fast I barely saw his pouty lips move. It took several breaths to steady myself, and I thanked the gods of embarrassment that I had already gone to the bathroom before coming out here tonight.
"Amber." I choked out, and the man's eyes traveled down to my quavering lips.
"What do you want to do with your life, Amber?" He asked with the same mumbled words after a pause.
Preferably living it out for a long time and never seeing another werewolf would be a good start. I thought wryly as he searched my face again.
"Just have a career as a wildlife photographer." My words came out a whisper, too afraid to form anything else. The man raised his perfect eyebrows again and a different look crossed his ruggedly defined features. His scowl all at once vanished and he seemed almost amused.
"You like animals?"
I nodded as best I could with his hand still wrapped around my throat.
"I love them."
He really did smile this time, then inhaled deeply and looked up at the sky while closing his eyes. The hand on my neck moved down to my shoulder, and I involuntarily shivered as his cold fingers trailed over bare skin.
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
I shook my head, wondering why he would ask such a question at a time like this. Eyes still shut, the man leaned down again and started sniffing my throat, then moved onto other seemingly random areas. I didn't budge an inch as he did this, utterly confised and scared out of my mind.
"Alright, Amber. I'm going to let you go now, but I want you to do something for me. Don't ever speak of this night to anyone, or write it down. You are to live your life like nothing happened; Changing no part of your daily routine. And if you do, I will know and that will make me very unhappy." He growled low, and I nodded vehemently as his face came down on my own once again.
After a short stare-down, the man resumed his sniffing, apparently satisfied with the verity of my answer. He smelled my hair, clothes, face, chest, legs, and with a sharp gasp on my part, my inner thighs. And just when I thought he was done, having smelled practically every part of my body, my tormentor began rubbing his head, face and entire self against me in the same fashion as before. It took a little bit longer this time, and I was extremely embarrassed that this handsome, naked man was nuzzling every part of my body, but I still refused to move.
When he had finished, he finally lifted himself off me and stood to the side, prompting me to look away quickly so I didn't see ALL of him.
"Remember what I said, Amber." The tone of his voice made it clear that he was smiling, and when I finally peeked back, the man was bent over on the ground, staring right at me.
"See you later." Those three loaded words carried so much meaning that I almost didn't notice a change. Then the cracking of bones and stretching of limbs got louder, and the air took on a life of its own as the man's body changed shape. His face stretched and formed a snout at the same time his nails and teeth lengthened. Everything looked so painful and grotesque that I had to cover my mouth with my hand to force food back down into my stomach.
The whole process took an eternal minute, and where the naked man just stood was a dark auburn wolf with a bushy tail. His shiny golden eyes were the same, and he turned to give me what seemed like one last cheeky smirk over his shoulder before bounding back into the woods. Emotion of all sorts flooded into me, the most prevalent being relief, and I hit the soft grass with a solid 'thump' before my whole world swirled into darkness.