Clifford and Claire, Scene 2

   Yeah, keeping up a regular blog is kind of a pain, especially when you really want to spend your time writing. (Not that blogging isn’t a form of writing. It’s just not the kind of writing I’d prefer to be doing.) Anyway, as I promised in my last post, I’ve decided to cheat for a few weeks and post a series of scenes from Red Wolf Rising. That way I won’t have to come up with a new idea each time, avoiding the increasing probability it will be a lame one.

  So, picking up where we left off last time, here’s how Clifford Crane and Claire Deerfoot first met…

The image of his eyes swam before her vision as she darted through the trees. Even through the thick lenses of the glasses he wore she could see they were a soft brown, kind and intelligent, with a pervasive sadness that she had expected. And now she knew the source of the sadness.

There was a wolf trapped inside him, with no way to get out. And it was a special kind of wolf, like no other she’d encountered throughout her nearly one thousand years. She could feel it. She stopped, sat on her haunches, and looked back over her shoulder. He was far behind her now and hidden from view by the dense woods. She stood, turned, raised her nose to the breeze and pricked her ears.

He hadn’t moved from where she’d left him. She imagined him standing in the pathway, perplexed and perhaps a bit frightened at the encounter. She took a half step back in his direction, but stopped as she heard the sound of his footsteps start up, quickly resume their jogging pace and begin to fade away down the trail. She sat back down.

No wonder she was drawn to him. He was a werewolf. Or would be if…

Before she even realized she’d made the decision, she loped off in a different direction, towards another section of the jogging trail a ways ahead of him. The inevitable flurry of justifiable doubts rose in her mind.

She ignored them.

She emerged from the woods at another section of the jogging trail where an open, grassy area had been created as a rest and exercise stop. Chinning and push-up bars were scattered about as well as benches for sit-ups, stretching, or just resting. She trotted over to one of the benches where her clothes lay folded in a neat pile on top of a small blanket. She stretched out in the damp grass in front of the bench, closed her eyes, and willed the change.

It took longer than she expected. She tried not to be impatient, to accept the consequences of taxing her ancient body with constant changing and not enough food, but she didn’t have much time. The man would arrive in moments. She had to be changed and dressed by then.

But when the change was complete exhaustion overcame her, and she lay naked in the wet grass, unable to find the energy to get up and put on her clothes. Her body needed food and rest. Sleep beckoned and her eyes tried to close.

The sound of approaching footsteps sent a wave of panic-induced energy through her. Her eyes popped wide. She had fallen asleep. Crap! She lifted herself up, got her feet underneath her, and stood shakily. She felt dizzy and disoriented as she stumbled towards the bench where her clothes were. Shivering in the cold, she grabbed her shirt.

The man jogged into the clearing, stopped short, and stared.

Claire dropped the shirt, jerked the blanket from under the pile of clothes, and hurriedly threw it around her shoulders. She turned and faced the man across the clearing. Embarrassment and exhaustion made her light-headed, and her knees buckled. Luckily, the bench was under her. She felt her bony rear end hit it, hard. She sat there for a moment, swaying, clutching the blanket around her and trying to focus her senses.

Suddenly the man was kneeling in front of her, holding a hand out to steady her and asking if she was okay. “Oh,” she said, startled. Some moments had passed from her awareness. She felt her balance going again, and the man was sitting beside her on the bench, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder. He was pungent, solid, and warm. She allowed herself to settle against him while she collected herself.

What now? Moments passed. She could feel his discomfort, but he continued to hold her, not saying anything. Awkward. Very awkward. What am I going to do, now? How in the world am I going to explain myself? She shifted against him, involuntarily. She kept her head on his shoulder, fearing to look at him and thus start a conversation for which she wasn’t yet ready.

He adjusted his arm to support her new position. “Are you okay, ma’am?” he asked.

His voice was so gentle and kind. She had to respond in some manner. “I think so,” she replied softly. “Weak,” she added. “Sorry.” He squeezed her gently and a sigh escaped before she could stop it. “Thank you,” she whispered. Okay, that was at least an appropriate thing to say. He was helping, after all.

Clifford let his eyes roam about the scene, looking for telltale clues to explain this old woman now in his arms. “It’s okay,” he said. “Have you been sleeping out here?” Some of the homeless in the area used the greenway for a place to sleep in warm weather, and Clifford had surprised a few during his early morning jogs. But they usually found sheltered spots hidden along the trail, not out in the open like this, nor at this time of year. “You know they’ll arrest you if they find you, right? When’s the last time you had something to eat?”

He thinks I’m a derelict! At the realization, she started to defend herself, but thought better of it. Maybe that’s a piece of luck. Just answer the questions you can answer. “I ate something yesterday,” she said. That was the truth.

“I ate something yesterday,” she said, louder.
“No,” he chuckled, “I meant, what did you eat?”
“Oh,” she said. Great, now he thinks I’m a stupid derelict.”Uh, I had grapes, some cheese… and a doughnut,” she added.
“That doesn’t sound like much,” he said.

No, it doesn’t, does it? She was beginning to regret sacrificing the hunt this morning. She had fantasized about meeting the man for months now. The current scenario hadn’t been part of the fantasy. “It was enough,” she said. Or would have been had I hunted this morning.

“Look,” he said. “I was thinking about going to IHOP from here. Let me buy you some breakfast.” Oh, god, why did I offer that? It had just slipped out. True, he’d been thinking about going out for breakfast, but he couldn’t really afford it. And Kathryn would shit if she knew, especially after the fight they’d had the night before over the budget.
Claire’s mouth began to water at the thought of pancakes. With sausage, and maybe an egg and some grits. And spend some time with this man, she thought guiltily. Again with wanton disregard for the consequences, she said, “Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.”

   Well, that’s it for now. I’ll have a couple more scenes to share next week. If you haven’t read the first two books, there are links below to sites where you can purchase them in various formats. The ebooks are only $2.99! Check ‘em out, and see what the hoopla is all about.

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback    in Charlotte

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback   in Charlotte Smashwords
Until next time, happy reading!


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