Terry Spear is always one of my “go-to” authors when I’m in the mood for a shifter story. Today, she’s offering a wolf shifter short for our second Halloween Flash Fiction story. I hope you love all our stories this week, and be sure to check at the end of each one for the contests/giveaways!!
SHADOW OF THE WOLF
Juliet Wolfe knew she couldn’t trust her brother to meet her in the woods at the appropriate time. Gary was always running late. She looked around at the autumn leaves floating to the ground covered in a tapestry of fall colors of oranges, reds, yellows, and purples. Beautiful. They’d just moved here from Central Texas, and she wasn’t used to seeing the fall colors like here in Minnesota. Oh, sure, once in a blue moon they’d have beautiful colors, but it was so rare that when it happened, she wondered why she hadn’t noticed it before.
The disadvantage to her would be during the winter. As a gray wolf with a black coat, she would stand out against the snow. At least her brother was gray, so he could blend in with the bark of the trees better. Then she saw movement off in the woods. Her brother would have smelled her scent, woofed to her to let her know he had nearly reached her, or something. Which had her worried. Whatever it was out there was being cautious, wary, making her feel anxious.
It was illegal to hunt or trap wolves in Minnesota, but that didn’t mean that someone might not shoot or catch a wolf in a trap…by accident. She stayed put, not moving, trying not to catch someone’s eye. If it was a human, he would probably shout out that he’d seen a wolf.
Then she saw three large, male wolves, all in various gray coats, black masks, darker saddles, one with white fur covering his throat and chest, another more blond, the last one darker, his fur coloration patchier with blonds, browns, and blacks. All three of them were watching her, waiting to see how she reacted to the sight of them.
Were they wild wolves? Or shifters like her? She suspected that this was their territory. They were sniffing the air, smelling her scent. She couldn’t smell theirs because of the direction of the chilly breeze. They probably were trying to determine if she was a lupus garou, if they were one, or if they were all wolf, whether they should chase her off or let her join the pack.
Then she heard someone coming from a different direction and the other wolves looked that way, before she turned her head to see what it was. Her brother. Finally!
Gary saw the other wolves and quickly joined her in big brother protective mode. When the other wolves saw her brother join her, they tore off toward them and she and her brother raced off in the opposite direction. She still didn’t know if they were some of her kind or not, but she wasn’t waiting to find out. They were telling them to get out of their territory, which meant she and her brother had to find somewhere else to run that wasn’t in a wolf pack’s territory—lupus garou or otherwise.
That night, Spencer Thomas and his triplet brothers, Mace, and Austin took seats at the bar of the McConnell Brew Pub and Grill run by bear shifters. They still didn’t know if the wolf couple they’d seen in the woods were of their kind or not, but they didn’t want to take a chance on them being wild wolves and wanting to set up their territory there.
Bran McConnell, the bartender, who owned the joint, came to take their orders. “Were they shifters or not?” he asked as if he were supposed to take part in the conversation.
“Who?” Spencer asked, frowning at the bear. They were too curious for their own good.
“The male and female wolves out in the woods today. You three were so busy trying to chase them off that you didn’t see me and my brother nearby, watching the whole scene.”
“Hell if we know. I’ll get a beer,” Spencer said.
His brothers asked for the same.
“I thought it was interesting that you didn’t chase the female off, not until the male showed up,” Bran said. He poured them their beers and set them on the bar.
Yeah, that was a part of their wolf condition. Well, any shifter actually. When they saw one of their kind of the opposite sex, they took notice. Not that they decided right then or there that the shifter was the one for them. But they did consider it. So seeing a couple, that put the female off their radar and it was time to chase them off.
Bran smiled like he knew something that was funny that they didn’t know, and Spencer frowned at him. “What?”
“And you know this how?” Spencer asked. That’s when Spencer—and his brothers—all turned their heads in the direction of the door as he smelled the two wolves they’d encountered earlier in the woods. Only they were not in their wolf coats now.
The woman was tall and black haired, her golden eyes smiling as she talked to the male with her. He had dark brown hair, but his eyes were just as golden. He laughed and they headed for a booth, but it was past where Spencer and his brothers were sitting, and they both cast a look their way.
“Looks like they recognize you for what you are.” Bran set a bowl of salsa and chips on the bar for them to snack from.
It was time to check out the new wolves and set the ground rules if they thought to stay in their territory.
“Those three men are wolves, and the bartender is a black bear,” Juliet told her brother. And they were all staring at her and her brother—a little unnerving—as if this was their territory and that she and her brother shouldn’t be here. She was ready to vacate the premise, but she was starving, and their hotel didn’t have a restaurant. This place had quite a crowd so she figured the food would be good.
“Yeah, and it appears the wolves are going to join us. They don’t look welcoming,” her brother warned.
The three wolves approached them and didn’t say anything but two moved into the booth on the side her brother was sitting, and the other moved in next to her. Luckily, the booth was large, but still…
“Do you mind? My brother and I are dining alone,” Juliet said, irritated with the wolves. Then she raised her brows. “Don’t tell me you’re the wolves we saw in the forest.”
“Brother?” the guy asked, sitting next to her.
He was a blond with beautiful blue eyes, not half as chilling as when he and the others had been staring at her and her brother in the woods. “I’m Spencer Thomas and these are my brothers—”
“Mace,” the one quickly offered and gave her a smile.
“Austin,” the other said.
“So you are the ones that chased us off earlier in the woods,” Juliet said to them.
“We…were trying to greet you. You ran off before we could…welcome you,” Spencer said.
A server came with menus for all five of them as if Juliet and her brother had invited the wolves to dine with them.
“They don’t need menus. They’re just leaving,” Juliet said to the bear server.
The bear looked at the wolves to see their take on it.
Spencer said, “I’ll have the grilled steak, baked potato, and broccoli.”
His brothers ordered meals off the menu, and she looked at Gary to see what he wanted to do. She thought he’d leave with her, and they’d try to find someplace else to eat. Like at a pizza parlor down the street. Instead, he smiled at her! What did he think? That if she was friendly with one of the wolves, he would be welcome too? She wanted nothing to do with the brothers.
But she was starving. “Fine. I’ll get the seafood platter and a glass of chardonnay.”
“Steak and lobster for me, and a beer,” Gary said.
“Are you passing through or are you moving here?” Spencer asked.
“We’re passing—” she said.
“Moving here—” her brother said.
Spencer and his brothers smiled. “So tell us where you’re from and what you plan to do here,” Spencer said.
She folded her arms. “First you chase us off and now you question us to death. It’s. None. Of. Your. Business.”
“Juliet’s a nurse and she’s going to work at that shifter clinic here,” Gary said.
She could clobber her brother. She had no intention of making friends with these guys.
“I’m into building construction,” Gary said. “What about you guys?”
As if she cared what they did!
“We’re landscape architects,” Spencer said. “When you get settled, if you need some work on redesigning your yard, we can give you a deal.”
“No, thank you,” Juliet said. She wasn’t usually one to hold grudges, but she’d make an exception in their case.
The food was served, and everyone got busy eating. Her brother was his usual talkative self and was telling them a million stories about their misadventures—running as wolves and getting into it with a skunk, finding the bones of a murder victim in the Texas Panhandle and having to explain how they had gone that far on foot and discovered them, being chased by some rednecks in a pickup once, that had nearly gotten them killed.
“So that’s why you moved here? Where we have protection for wolves and forested lands?” Spencer asked, then took another bite of his steak. He was asking her, when she hadn’t joined in on the conversation once she had gotten her meal.
When she didn’t answer, her brother quickly did for her. “Uh, yeah, that was part of it. But also, she got this really good job offer as a nurse for a shifter clinic and we thought it would be a good change for us,” Gary said.
The brothers didn’t share about themselves, which also annoyed her. When someone shared something about themselves, the other person, as a common courtesy, should have revealed in equal parts about themselves.
Then it was time to finally pay the bill, but Spencer took care of it.
She waited for him to move out of her way so she and her brother could leave. He finally did. He was way too alpha—showing he wouldn’t move until he was good and ready to.
Then her brother thanked them for the meal, and they started to leave.
“Which hotel are you staying at?” Spencer asked her.
She wasn’t saying, but Gary told them. “Westmoreland Inn.”
She gave her brother an annoyed look, then she hurried out of the pub with her brother saying goodbye to the brothers. She nearly slammed the door in her brother’s face he was taking so much time. “You shouldn’t have encouraged them so much.”
“We need friends here and they were trying to win us over.”
She scoffed. “They sure won you over.”
“They were trying to get on your good side.” Gary laughed. “They don’t know you like I do.”
Never had Spencer ever met such a disagreeable she-wolf. She irked him to the nth degree with her silence at the meal, and her outward dislike of him and his brothers. That should have been totally off putting.
Mace said to him as they were leaving the pub, “He has set his sights on the she-wolf.”
“She’s not my type,” Spencer said.
His brothers laughed. Austin said, “You noticed how he made sure he sat next to her in the booth? She is his. She just doesn’t know it yet.”
Spencer gave them a half smile. Maybe. Only time would tell.
Today’s offering from Terry Spear for one winner — if they are international: one of her Cougar Shifter ebooks… and if they are in the US: a Wolf Shifter print book.
For a chance to win — Terry would like to know, “Have you read any of my shifter books, and if so, what is your favorite?”
If you haven’t, which shifter animal do you prefer?
Contest starts today, and our winner will be chosen from all eligible commenters at the end of our event. Winner will be chosen, then announced in our wrap-up post on November 1st.
Check out the Kick-off post HERE to see the full list of authors participating in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event. Links will be added to the main post each day when that author’s story goes live. Each post will include the inspiration image from a DeviantArt creator, the story, and the contest/giveaway info.