Madelyn Ch. 02byFaireSansa©
Continued thanks for being patient with me during this revamp of the story. I'm trying to get it all done and write new material for it as well. I'll have it all posted and hopefully a new chapter following soon after. Please bear with me, as while I am off school for a time, I am also getting to see my kids for the first time in several months in a few short days after I submit these revisions and the new chapter. Spending time with them is difficult, at best, right now, while I'm in school, so every moment counts.
Please continue to comment and let me know what you think.
The howls were getting closer. Madelyn's heart beat faster, fear pushing her forward. She wasn't far from the house now, but the sounds behind her told her the wolf wasn't far from her, also. Her legs moved faster and in a moment of curiosity...or perhaps stupidity...she chanced a glance behind her. Seeing nothing behind her, yet still hearing the sound of something chasing her, she turned back forward, but still missed seeing the root.
She hit the ground with a grunt, pain searing through her ankle. The sounds in the underbrush behind her stopped, as well. Turning to look toward the direction from which she'd just ran, she gasped as the wolf she'd seen yesterday stood there. He looked at her a moment before they both heard another howl, this time even closer than before. His head turned toward the direction of the howl and before she knew it, he leaped, turning in midair as he did so, and stood between her and the source of the howl.
Hackles raising, he started growling low a full minute before the second wolf burst from the thick brush.
"Rolf, she's mine," the first wolf said.
Madelyn blinked in surprise, gasping and scrambled backwards from both of them.
"Fight me for her, Connor, and then you can take her," Rolf told the first wolf. "If I win, though, I claim right to mate with her."
Mate? Did he just say mate? Her pulse quickened and she looked from one wolf to the other. She kept moving backwards as best she could, with her ankle in the condition it was in, but found herself blocked by the trunk of a rather large tree.
Connor looked back toward her. She looked into his eyes. In them, she thought she saw a look of apology, but she couldn't tell because before she knew it, his head turned back and lowered. Growling, he crouched low to the ground, waiting for Rolf to make a move. Madelyn watched as Rolf also crouched, and then the two wolves began circling one another.
She screamed as the two slammed into one another, fangs and claws sinking and tearing into one another, fur flying. Going onto all fours, she crawled further back, away from the fight, though had she understood what was happening, she'd have known neither would harm her.
The two separated and circled one another again. Both had blood soaking their muzzles and Connor had a patch of fur missing on his shoulder, blood dripped from a gash there. Madelyn was amazed as she watched what she thought was the gash suddenly stop bleeding and the flesh begin knitting together again.
"Rolf, she's mine to court...I claimed rights to court her before the pack when she returned. You heard me yourself, and you heard Elder Brian agree and support my claim," Connor spoke to his rival as they circled one another. "You are defying the Elders, and you are defying the Alpha by challenging my right of courtship in this way." Rolf wouldn't hear of this.
"I have every right to challenge you for her, Connor," Rolf growled.
"Aye, Rolf," Connor replied. "But not here, not like this, and you know it." Connor glanced at Madelyn, concerned. "Look at her, Rolf. Madelyn is terrified. Do you think she is in any mood to be courted by either of us now?"
Rolf looked over at her and for a moment Madelyn thought she saw contrition in his eyes. But, that only happened for a moment. In the next moment, he lunged at Connor once more, knocking the wind out of his rival.
"I will have rights of courtship, Connor," Rolf growled. "And you will forfeit your life for trying to keep me from courting her. She will be my mate," he cried, then sank his teeth into Connor's thigh.
The other wolf yelped with pain, but he wasn't finished, not yet. He would defend his right to court Madelyn, and he would protect her from Rolf with his own life. The other wolf was dangerous, and too many females had been damaged by his attempts to get them to mate with him. Madelyn was too special to risk that kind of harm. He could not allow it, and if need be, he would kill Rolf to protect her from it.
It was not to be. Just then a pack of 5 wolves burst from the forest and placed themselves between Connor and Rolf. One of the newcomers approached Madelyn slowly. He was a huge sleek wolf with silver and black fur. As he sniffed her ankle, she heard a low growl coming from his throat. He turned abruptly and went to Connor, fur round his head rising in anger.
"She is injured, Connor," the wolf told him angrily. "You were entrusted with her safety, and she is injured."
"Please, Elder, I was attempting to protect her from Rolf, who has challenged me for the right to mate with her," Connor told the black and silver wolf.
"That is no excuse," the Elder said to Connor. Madelyn couldn't believe she was doing this, but she suddenly moved closer and chimed in.
"Wait," she said, and all eyes turned to her in surprise. "He's telling the truth."
The black and silver wolf looked at Connor again before turning to Madelyn. "What happened, Maddy?" he asked her. She looked at him curiously before relating the story of what had just happened. Each of the 5 that had burst upon the scene growled low when she related that Rolf had challenged, even as Connor stated it was not the right time or place, and had pointed out her terror at the scene that had played out before her.
Madelyn was shaking by the time she came to the end of her tale, both from pain and from fear. Six of the seven wolves present began talking amongst themselves. The only one of the seven that noticed her condition was Connor. Slowly, unthreateningly, he made his way over to her. She watched as he winced every time he put even a little weight on the hind leg Rolf had bitten. It wasn't healing like the gash on his shoulder had. When he got to her, he laid next to her, placing his head in her lap. She looked at the group that was talking then back down at Connor.
Still trembling, but not quite shaking like she had been, she reached slowly to rest her hand on his neck. Her hand sank into the thick fur and her fingers began to move gently, feeling the fur. Picking up her hand, she placed it a bit higher on his neck, then slid it down, stroking his fur gently. He sighed softly, enjoying her touch.
"Thank you, Connor," she suddenly said in a soft voice. His head raised and he looked at her.
"For?" he asked.
"Stopping him," she said.
The black and silver, hearing her voice, turned to listen, but she had already gone silent again. He watched as she stroked Connor's fur softly. Turning to the other Elders, he conferred with them before each head raised, ears turned toward nothing Madelyn could see or hear. Connor's head rose and he stared in the same direction as the others. A moment later, a jet black wolf appeared along the path she'd been running.
The appearance of the last wolf wasn't a shock to Madelyn. What shocked her was when four of the five that arrived before he did began changing. When they were finished shifting, a man crouched in the place where a moment ago a wolf stood.
Fear once again rose in her. Sensing it, and seeking to soothe her, Connor started licking her hand reassuringly. He looked up at her, licked her cheek, then said calmly, "Madelyn, there is nothing to fear. These are my people." He nodded to the one on the left, a dark-haired older man with scars on his left shoulder. "That is Elder Raoul."
Elder Raoul nodded to Madelyn with a soft look on his face. The corners of her lips twitched up slightly, as if she was trying to smile politely, but was uncertain at the same time.
"Standing beside Elder Raoul is Elder Connall." The man he referred to had red hair and bright green eyes. His smile was friendly and he lowered himself to sit cross-legged on the ground. She assumed he was hoping that doing that would help her to find him less intimidating, which she did.
"The next two are Elders Aatu and Aatto," he said, indicating the final two men who were shifting themselves to sit cross-legged like Elder Connall. "They are twin brothers." Both of them had dark hair, black eyes, and were the same height. The only difference between them was that one of them had a terrible scar on his left chest, and the other did not.
"They, and Elder Brian, comprise our Council of Elders, which advises the Alpha," Connor told Madelyn.
"And the Alpha is the black one who just appeared," Madelyn stated, it not really being a question, as she could see it plain as day. She noted Rolf had sunk into the shadow of a nearby tree, but had not left the scene. Little did she know that he knew better than to flee in this situation. He was in serious trouble, however he knew he'd be in worse trouble if he were to flee from the consequences of his actions rather than face them.
"Aye," Connor said. She glanced down at him and smiled faintly. He took that as a good sign. Though she was still very uneasy about the other werewolves in present company, she was relaxing toward him. Perhaps this courtship would go more smoothly than he thought it might? Only time would tell.
Just at that moment, the Pack Leader approached. He did so slowly, and while Connor noted Madelyn looked up when the Alpha started moving toward them, he was pleased when she dropped her gaze, her body language showing her to be respectful of his position. He glanced to the Alpha and his head bowed in respect momentarily.
"I apologize for not standing, Ulric," Connor said to the powerful black wolf standing beside them. "I would if I could, but my leg hasn't yet healed."
"Rest easy, Connor," Ulric said quietly, in a powerful, yet gentle voice. "I have heard what has happened here. You acted honorably, with the well-being of the female you intend to court in mind. I will see to it you and she are returned to her home and are attended to until you both recuperate."
"Thank you, Ulric," Connor said, his head again dipping in respect. "We would appreciate that, very much."
"She is very beautiful, Connor," Ulric said to the injured wolf. "You are very lucky to have her. Take very good care of her."
"I will, for certain," Connor replied.
True to his word, Ulric saw to their return to Madelyn's house. Though, it was more along the lines of Madelyn was returned to her house, and Connor was brought along with her.
Madelyn noted that neither Ulric nor Elder Brian shifted to their human form. It puzzled her as to why Elder Brian called her Maddy. He couldn't be her attorney, Brian Hemming, she was almost certain of it. Almost. She did know he was supposed to be somewhere in Northern California today, but...could he be Brian?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sound outside her bedroom door. She stiffened and held her breath as she listened. The doorknob turned slowly before the door swung on quiet hinges, opening to reveal a man she'd never seen before standing on the other side.
Gasping and scrambling further up on the bed, her back pressed tight to the headboard, she started to scream, but stopped when he came in quickly, sat on the bed beside her and looked into her eyes. The steady stare and calm, reassuring smile made her pause, wondering...
"Connor?" she said, hopeful she was right. The smile spread wider, and she knew she was right.
"Yes, Madelyn," he said, his voice similar to how she remembered it from earlier, yet slightly different. She visibly relaxed as he took her hand in his. "How is your ankle feeling?" he asked her after a moment of silence.
"Oh, um, it's feeling a bit better, thank you," she replied to the unexpected question. "Connor?"
"Yes?" "What's going on?" she asked quietly. "The other one, Rolf, he..." she paused, uncertain she really even wanted to know. "He mentioned...mate...with me...that I would be his mate."
Connor sighed. He knew she would ask. That idiot Rolf had just made his task harder, in many ways.
"He was speaking truth. He wanted to take you for his mate," Connor told her plainly, before saying, "I want the same."
She looked up at him, unsure what to say or think.
"No, love," Connor said as he saw the struggle in her face to find something to say. "Don't worry on it just now. You have an ankle that needs mending. I have brought our healer to take a look at it."
"But...what about your thigh?" Madelyn asked.
He stood, showing her that his thigh had already mostly mended.
"How..." she started, but he interrupted her.
"I'm Garou...or, in mainstream terms, I am a Werewolf," he told her. "We heal much faster than humans do." He smiled softly to her and continued, "and that is why I brought the pack Healer here to look at your ankle. You're human and not only do you heal slower, but healing for you is more complicated and needs more attention than Garou healing needs."
Just then, there was a soft knock at the door, and they both turned their attention to the entrance to the room to find a lovely brunette standing there. She was tall, with shoulder-length hair, olive complexion, and the most beautiful hazel eyes Madelyn had ever seen.
"Aha, and speak of the wolf," Connor said as he rose and walked over to the newcomer to invite her into the room. "This is Vela. She is the pack Healer." He motioned Vela to enter the room and invited her to sit on the bed beside Madelyn.
"Hello Vela," Madelyn greeted the...woman?...Madelyn was at a loss as to what to consider the female sitting beside her.
"Hello Madelyn," Vela smiled pleasantly. Her voice was pleasant and slightly exotic. She smelled divine, her perfume a mixture of vanilla, blackberries and spices. Connor could see Madelyn relax even more than before and quietly excused himself from the room to prepare something to eat for Madelyn and himself while the two females conversed.
"So, I understand you had a bit of a shock this morning," Vela said as she reached for Madelyn's ankle. Madelyn just smiled wryly and nodded. "I understand, dear. I really do," she told the young woman as she felt around the ankle. Madelyn winced when Vela's fingers found a sore spot. Reaching into her satchel, Vela brought out a mason jar and opened it. A sweet scent filled the air. The smell was soothing and all at once it invoked a memory from Madelyn's past...
...She was 6 years old. She dropped a toy she'd been carrying with her then stepped on it and tripped down the two steps leading to the lowered den they'd had in their old house in California. Her ankle twisted and she was left crying while Daddy came and scooped her up to soothe her. Mother came with a mason jar of salve. When she opened it, the child's cries slowed, and then stopped altogether. Mother rubbed the salve into her ankle gently and Daddy laid her in her bed. She slept the rest of the afternoon and night and awoke the next morning feeling as if her ankle had never hurt
Vela paused as she rubbed the salve into Madelyn's ankle. She thought she'd heard a sob. Looking up, she saw tears streaming down the young woman's cheeks as she stared at her ankle. As concern crossed her face, she heard a noise behind her and turned to see Connor standing there with a tray of food, his gaze moving between Vela and Madelyn and back again.
Setting the tray aside, he entered the room and pulled Vela from the bed, looking into her face as he spoke in a low voice. "What happened?" he hissed. "I left her in your care and now she's crying." He waited for Vela's answer.
"I don't know," she replied. "We were chatting pleasantly, then I pulled out the salve and began rubbing it into her ankle. She never said anything, she didn't act as though I'd harmed her. She was just fine one moment, then I looked up and she was in tears the next." They both glanced over to Madelyn again and noted she'd fallen asleep.
"Come," Connor said, taking up the tray and leaving the room. Vela gathered up her satchel and followed, closing the door quietly behind her.
Once downstairs, he set the two plates of food he'd prepared on the table and motioned Vela to one of them. Setting the tray aside, he sat with her and they ate in silence. He mulled over the scene he'd come across. Why was Madelyn crying? If it wasn't pain, then what was it? Or was it pain, but of another kind? He had to find out more about this girl and her past. He knew some about her family, but not much.
"What happened back there?" he asked Vela.
"I honestly do not know, Connor," she replied as she finished her last bite. "As I said, one moment I was putting the salve on her ankle, and then I thought I heard a sob, so I looked up and she had tears streaming down her face." She paused, thinking back on the scene. "She didn't give me any indications that what I was doing was causing her any physical pain, or even discomfort, save for one small wince when I pressed on a specific place on her ankle. That is when I brought out the jar of salve and opened it, then rubbed some onto her ankle." Her face took a thoughtful look. "Connor, do you suppose she's had that salve applied to an injury before?" she asked suddenly.
"I don't know, but we can find out." With that, he rose from the table, leaving her watching him curiously as he began his search.
Not one cabinet escaped his search. He rummaged through them all, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets. Finally, he returned with two small mason jars and handed them to Vela.
"I think this might explain her reaction, Vela," Connor said and Vela opened one of the jars. As she smelled the contents, she looked at Connor in surprise.
"They knew?" she asked him. He shook his head. She looked at him curiously. "They knew someone?"
"I think so," he replied. "But, I don't know if they knew their friend was Garou. He either didn't want them to know, or he hadn't yet found an opportunity to tell them before they died."
"Wow," Vela breathed disbelievingly. "I would never have guessed it. Who do you suppose their friend was?" she asked Connor, who was starting to explore the ground floor of the house.
It wasn't long before he returned to the kitchen table, looking through a photo album he'd brought back from the living room.
"Oh, I think I have an idea," he said as he paused and turned the album around to show Vela his discovery.
"No way," Vela said as she looked at the photos of Madelyn sitting on a man's knee. It was Vela's father, Brian Hemming. "This is where he'd go when he'd disappear? And Madelyn? Is she his?" Tears welled up in her eyes as she considered the thought.
"I don't think so, Vela," Connor said soothingly. "He was never one to do anything with another without your mother's knowledge and approval. Had he sired this girl, you and your mother would have known." He paused, thinking. "Also, she'd have undergone the change at puberty. She'd know of us if she were his daughter." He looked back at the photos.
"No, Vela, she's not Garou, not even half. Her parents were human. She's human." He looked back up at Vela. "But not for long," he said with a knowing smile. She smiled back at him, shaking her head softly while murmuring something about unmated males and their mad inner drive to mate when they've found a female they want.
Connor made a face at Vela before leaving the room to continue his explorations of the house. The office was his first stop. He flipped through photo albums, smiling when he'd come across pictures of Madelyn as a child and young teen. He read reports Madelyn's parents made when they'd return from their adventures.