Wolves at the Door (Shapes of Autumn, book 2)

By: Veronica Blade

Chapter One




Trees whizzed by me. I listened for Zack following behind, but couldn’t hear him over the thump-thump of my paws striking the soft dirt. In my cheetah form, I smoked his wolf ass.

Okay, show off, Zack said telepathically. You win.

I eased to a mellow lope and chuckled, which sounded like a cat hissing and coughing.

Hair ball? Zack asked from wherever he was. He might be slower as a wolf, but there was nothing wrong with his superhuman hearing.

The crisp air of the forest tickled my nose as I passed a giant birch tree. When I picked up a different scent, my knees locked into place. My eyes snapped into alert mode as I visually searched the dark woods, inhaling again. A new scent. Another freakin’ werewolf in town? Just great.

Zack, stay where you are. Someone’s here.

Who?

Not sure, but it’s definitely wolf, I answered. We should get the hell out of here.

If you’ve sniffed him out, then he’s definitely already on to you. Run, Autumn!

My heart galloped. Run which way? How could I avoid the wolf if I didn’t even know where he was? A twig snapped, crackling into the night air, and my gaze shot toward where we’d parked my car. Charcoal eyes glinted from just behind a low hanging branch.

The wolf growled and his lip curled up to expose long, white fangs. He stepped forward away from the tree and I got a good look at his dark brown, furry body. This guy was huge, every bit as big as Zack in his wolf form — double the size of an ordinary wolf.

Oh, crap. My chest tightened. Could he tell I was a shape-shifter? Of course he’d know. The wolf couldn’t listen in on my silent conversation with Zack unless he was physically touching one of us, but he’d know that cheetahs weren’t found in the forests of Southern California.

My heart slammed against my ribs as I inched backward and hissed. To warn Zack, I followed up with a feline growl that rivaled nails on a chalkboard. Then I spun, my claws ripping into the ground to give me purchase for flight.

If this wolf was ancient, he’d be stronger and obscenely fast. But maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t catch the fastest animal on land. Except… knowing my overprotective boyfriend, he wouldn’t let me deal with this werewolf alone.

Zack, stay away from us. He can’t know you’re with me.

You’re crazy if you think I’m going to stand by and—

I got this!

I’m not leaving you, he growled into my head.

Please, Zack. You’re going to get yourself killed. As I neared the narrow, winding road and heard a car in the distance, I realized I couldn’t sense the werewolf behind me.

Me get killed? What about you? he asked.

I made a sharp turn, dirt spraying around me. I think I lost him. He’s not nearly as fast as me, but you don’t have that advantage. If he comes after you—

I don’t sense him anywhere, Zack said. No way he isn’t following you though. I’m not going anywhere without you.

He’s nowhere near me. Zack, just go! Damn, why was he being so stubborn? I’m way ahead of him. By the time he gets to this spot, I’ll already have gone in so many circles, he’ll never figure out which way I went. I’ll be fine. I promise. Go to my house and I’ll be there soon.

† † †

I’d run through my neighborhood enough times to know who lived where, who had dogs and how big the yards were. I almost didn’t even need the keen night vision that came along with being a shape-shifter, but the superhuman strength and speed sure were helpful when jumping the neighbors’ fences.

At the edge of the forest, I morphed back into my human form, checked behind me one last time, then made my way toward my house. Three blocks from home, I spotted my silver convertible Mustang parked alongside the curb, which meant Zack had listened and made it safely to my house.

Hiding behind a bush, I slumped in relief and scanned the streets for signs of life. My next door neighbor, Ms. Morales, sat on her front porch. A few houses beyond her, a couple strolled along holding hands as they walked a small, white dog. The street certainly appeared safe enough.

Are you sure you weren’t followed? I asked.

Positive, Zack answered. He was too busy chasing you. You sure you’re in the clear?

Definitely. But just in case I wasn’t, I wanted to avoid the front door where anyone could see me go in and know where I lived. Unlock the back for me, would you?

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