Her mouth was bone dry, the gag didn’t help things. The inside of her throat felt like it was caked with a grimy layer of dust. Something was tied around her eyes making it impossible to see. Not a situation she was used to being in. Not even on a new moon night. Stephany didn’t panic easily, so she took a deep breath and then another until she felt her heart rate even out.
Soon after the wolf had grabbed her, he’d surprised her with a hard blow to the face rendering her unconscious. Her species may not be perfect, but a male would never think of hitting a female. Not ever. At least her lip no longer bled even though it still stung. The throb in her skull had also dulled to a light ache. Thank blood for her advanced healing properties. Being a vampire had its serious advantages. Unfortunately, it also had one or two disadvantages. Stephany fought against the rope that bit into her wrists. It bound her tightly to the back of the beast. No matter how hard she squirmed and pulled, she couldn’t free herself. The sinewy twine was silver infused. There would be no give. It would be better if she saved her energy for when she really needed it.
The alpha would be waiting.
The reason behind her abduction made no sense. This had to be a mistake.
The constant motion on the beast’s back was starting to make her feel dizzy. It loped, keeping up the same rhythm with broad strides that took her further and further away from potential rescue. Light, agile, she knew it wouldn’t leave much of a trail. She’d awoken earlier to the sounds of splashing water. The beast bounded along the shallow edge of Sweetwater River for what felt like an eternity, any traces of its scent would be swept away. The shifters were known for their ability to disappear. Only this time, she would disappear right along with them. Again, she took in deep breaths through her nose. Its musky scent still strong in her nostrils. It didn’t help that her face was buried into its surprisingly soft fur.
Just when she thought she might vomit; not such a great idea with a gag in her mouth, it slowed to a brisk walk. Turning first in tight circles, it tensed beneath her and then released a deafening howl.
It howled again. The ache behind her temples increased. This time there was an answering howl in the distance and the beast immediately bound forward. Within minutes Stephany could hear movement coming towards them. One set of soft padded footfalls, distinctly on four legs and definitely panting. After another minute of all out sprinting, they slid to a halt. Stephany was breathing hard. The sound of movement grew steadily closer until what was no doubt another wolf, yipped in welcome. The other beast moved nearer making mewling noises, the sounds turned to a menacing growl as she felt it sniff at her back and neck. She cringed as its hot breath fanned against her. The scent of musk grew stronger. Another low growl had her skin crawling and her breath hitching. If it decided to attack her now, she was helpless and although she would most likely eventually heal from her wounds, the pain would be excruciating.
The wolf finally moved away and she closed her eyes behind the bind around her head. The wolves picked up pace again in a steady lope reminding her of a ship on a stormy yet rhythmic sea. Her stomach churned. Her head ached. The air grew even cooler.
It felt like an eternity before she picked up sounds in the distance of both voices and wolves. The smell of smoke caught her nostrils. The laughter of a child followed by a warning to be quiet. It seemed as if everyone heeded the warning because an eerie quiet descended. Stephany could hear more movement and breathing. Could scent that many wolves congregated here.
There was a crackle of a fire. Warmth blanketed her. It sounded like they’d entered a shelter by the way noises reverberated back.