Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising PositionsBy: Selena Kitt
Middle March – near Castle MacFalon
Year of our Lord 1502
If she hadn’t caught scent of the man, she never would have ended up in the trap.
Kirstin cursed the stranger as she struggled, strung halfway up the side of a huge oak tree, the limb holding her weight moving only slightly as she snapped and pawed at the net. She had caught his scent and had followed her nose to the edge of the wood, where it ended in a clearing. In the middle of the clearing was an enormous burial cairn. This was where the man knelt, one bare knee on the ground, his elbow up on the other, forehead pressed to his closed fist.
She had believed him to be praying, too distracted to notice her, so she had crept forward, curious. That had been her mistake. The movement had caught the attention of the man’s horse. The big, black animal had thrown its head and yanked at the reins, tied to a stake on the ground, pawing the grass as it caught her scent. Kirstin’s fur had prickled, standing on end, as the man turned his head to look at her.
He was a Scotsman—his plaid gave that much away. He didn’t call out or move for a weapon when he saw her, as she expected a man might, when faced with a wolf in the early morning light. The man easily could have drawn the bow he had slung over his back, although if he moved, she would have been gone faster than he could nock an arrow. But he stayed still, his gaze meeting hers across the dewy grass.
And there was something about those eyes...
The moment their gaze locked, Kirstin felt it. Something crackled, like lightning flashing through storm clouds. The horse continued to whinny and paw his big hoof at the ground, but the human and the wolf didn’t move. They just looked at each other, sizing each other up. If she had been a regular wolf, she probably would have instantly turned tail and run. But if she had been a regular wolf, she never would have followed the scent of a human this close in the first place.
Her tail twitched and her nose wrinkled when she caught his scent again as the wind shifted. He wasn’t afraid. She would have smelled that—it was a tinny, copper scent, similar to blood, a mixture of sweat and adrenaline. The man whose eyes searched hers across the clearing wasn’t afraid—although he should have been. She wondered at it, cocking her shaggy head and whining softly at her own confusion.
That’s when he spoke.
“Are ye a wulver, then?” he called in a thick, Scottish brogue. He didn’t make a move, didn’t reach for a bow or a sword, but his words frightened her far more than any weapon would have. If this man knew the difference between a wolf and a wulver, and even suspected she was the latter, she was in far more danger than she thought. But then she remembered, she’d tied her own plaid around her neck before she left the den, and it was tied there still.
She had turned tail and run, even though he’d stood, calling after her, “Halt! Come back!”
If only she hadn’t followed his scent. If only the horse hadn’t noticed her and alerted his master. If only she hadn’t taken off running. Or mayhaps if she had run the other direction, through the clearing instead of back into the woods. If she had only stayed home, snug in her den, taking care of her pack the way she always had...
But she couldn’t lament this last.
Because while most of her pack was safe back in the den, their pack leader was at Castle MacFalon, sitting by his brother’s bedside, waiting to see if he’d recover from wounds that would’ve instantly killed any mortal man. The warriors had returned to their den, exhausted, hungry, with a tale so horrifying, Kirstin didn’t even want to imagine it. But it was all she could think of as she took off running through the woods, following their scent on the trail. It would take her to the borderlands, back to Castle MacFalon, where one of her pack lay dying...
Not dying. She twisted in the net, glimpsing the ground below. It was going to be quite a hard drop to the forest floor. He’s not going to die. Not if I have anything to say about it.
But she wasn’t going to be able to do anything if she didn’t get out of this damnable net. Kirstin twisted her big, furry head to see if any hunter was around. Had the man kneeling in the clearing been the one who laid this trap? She wondered. If so, he had seen her. He had watched her turn and run back into the woods. Straight toward the hidden net.