The Hungry Wolf Ch. 01bywanderingmindgames©
Hi! So, I write the same way I read -- more than one tale at a time. Have no fear, I am not done with "Bliss", but this one was just clamoring to get out, too. As well as a couple others.
Credit for the story title and teasers go to X -- it is their song "The Hungry Wolf" which lends itself to the tale
Thank you --
"Dammit!" Charlie said as her car slowly came to a shuddering stop on the shoulder. "Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!" she yelled, pounding the steering wheel, trying to spend some of the adrenaline surging through her. She took deep breaths, letting them out slowly. She watched her hands as they slowly stopped shaking. She hit her hazards, unbuckled and got out of her little car, moving to the front passenger side and squatting to look at her now shredded tire.
"Dammit," she sighed, reaching out and slapping at a flap of rubber. She stood up again, wiping her hands on her cut-offs and walking to the back of her hatchback. She sighed again as she eyed the pile of her belongings in the back of her car. She would have to unload everything to get to the spare tire and jack. She looked around, hoping against hope that she would see a big orange '76' globe or giant yellow shell, but no such luck.
"Of course," she muttered to herself, opening the hatchback. "I'll take the scenic byways on my way to Oregon. And while I'm at it, I'll let my cell phone run out of minutes somewhere between Asscrack, Arizona and BFE, Washington. Brilliant fucking idea, Charlie," she grumbled as she started to unload the boxes and Rubbermaid containers, stacking them neatly on the side of the road.
She finally got the back cleared and pulled out the jack. She moved back to the blown tire, stopping to take off her sweatshirt and toss it on the passenger seat, leaving her in a black a-shirt and her shorts. The chill from that morning had left, and the day was already moving towards hot. She cut a curvy picture, full hips and breasts, proportioned waist, not fat but not skinny, giving the impression of softness. The kind of woman men looked at and wondered how it would feel to possess those curves, to fall into her softness one time.
She paused to put her long brown hair into a loose bun and then lay on the ground to seat the jack properly before lifting her car enough to change the tire. She straightened up, dusted herself off and walked back to get the tire iron. She saw a glint in the distance and shielded her eyes, but couldn't tell if it was a car on the road or just some odd heat-mirage.
She went back to the tire and seated the iron on the first lug nut. It came off without too much effort, and she was beginning to think this wouldn't be too bad. The second lug came off even easier, and Charlie believed her day was beginning to change for the better. The third lug decided that there was just no way Charlie was going to have things that easy. Oh no, it wanted Charlie to work for it. She tried using her legs, pushing down with her foot, but the lug wouldn't budge. She laid on the iron, trying to use her whole 160 pounds to loosen the lug nut, grunting so loudly with effort she didn't register the noise of the truck pulling up behind her, but the iron gave before the lug did, and she found herself on all fours in the gravel, with skinned knees and palms.
"Fucking fuckity fuck fucker!" she yelled, jumping up and shaking her stinging hands. She started pacing in front of her car, limping a little, looking at her hands.
"Need some help?" came an impossibly deep voice.
Charlie stopped and turned towards the speaker, her mouth and eyes wide O's of surprise at the sight of a big guy -- a really big guy -- leaning against a really big truck. "Where did you come from?" she asked.
"My home," he said simply. He still leaned on the truck and Charlie took her time looking him over, her face wary. He was tall -- almost a full foot taller than her than her five and half feet -- and broad in his shoulders and hips. He was big, too. Not fat at all, but not overly muscled -- the word that tantalized Charlie's mind was meaty -- with the look of overall fitness that came with regular physical labor. He was in jeans, a crisp looking button down white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, cowboy boots and what looked a lot to Charlie like a straw cowboy hat. "Did you need some help?"
"I can't get the third lug off," she said, indicating the stubborn nut.
"Get the spare and I'll take care of the rest," he said, walking towards her.
"Um, really, cowboy, it's OK," she said, taking a step back. She was a city girl with that deep ingrained fear of strangers that seems to be second nature to all urban people. The fear radiated off her like radio waves.
"Cowboy?" he said, stopping and looking at her. He could smell her fear clearly, it hit him with its full acrid nastiness.
"Well, yeah," she moved her hands in an up and down motion at him, clearly gesturing to his boots and hat.
"I am not a cowboy," he said, sounding offended.
"So you're...what...part of the Village People?"
"I'm a rancher." Charlie looked at him, liking that he didn't get pissy at her teasing.
"And that's different?" she asked, a small smile playing at her lips, making her look shy and sultry at the same time.
"So you don't ride horses and herd cattle?"
"I do. Of course I do."
"So...that's different from a cowboy because..." she teased, hands on her hips and smile widening on her face.
"It just is," he said. He couldn't keep from smiling back at her, and mirrored her stance, doing some friendly teasing himself.
"Alright, alright. I give." She held up her hands in supplication. She took a step back towards him. She didn't get a crazy vibe from him and his voice was oddly alluring to her. "I didn't get your name so I just kinda chose a nickname that seemed suitable."
"And 'cowboy' was the best you could do?"
"Well, yeah, on short knowledge, yeah," Charlie said a little defensively. "I mean, you are in boots and a big hat. If you'd walked up with a chess set I'd have called you chessboy or something."
He was still and quiet for a moment. "It's Damien," he said at last.
"Damien? Like the kid from the Omen?"
"Nice to meet you. I'm Charlotte -- but please call me Charlie," she said, taking another step towards him and holding out her hand.
He seemed to get startled by her offer and stiffened, his nostrils flaring, trying to scent her fear again and surprised to find it gone. He smiled -- white teeth showing through the shadow thrown by his hat -- his nostrils flaring again as he got his first tease of her true scent. Lavender and chamomile washed over him, and he could feel his wolf pushing to the front of his consciousness in glee, wanting to grab her and claim her instantly. He took her hand briefly before throwing it back at her, shocked at his wolf's reaction. Charlie looked at him, her head cocked a bit, a small smile playing on her lips.
"What?" Damien asked.
"You're an odd one, aren't you."
"No more than you."
Charlie seemed to think on that for a moment and gave a slight nod. "I'll get the spare." She moved past him to the back of her car. "Careful with that lug -- it's a bugger," she called to him, loosening the bolts that held the small tire down. She got it out and hefted it over to him, surprised to see the bad tire off the wheel and leaning against the fender.
"How did you get that done so quickly?" she huffed.
"It was easy," Damien replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Hmph," she said, picking up the flat and moving towards the back of her car. "I totally loosened it for you."
"Of course," he said, standing up and taking his hat off. Charlie got the first good look at his face and was happily stunned. His features were rugged. 100% male. He was what the Marlboro Man and Indiana Jones and GI Joe should look like. Dark hair in thick waves pulled back into a short ponytail, dark brows over dark eyes -- almost black eyes -- and high cheek bones. Nose perfectly proportioned. Lips that were full but not feminine. Beautiful, flawless skin made a healthy gold by being outdoors. He wasn't model material. He was better. He was man, gloriously man. "Did you happen to notice your spare is also flat?"
"What?" Charlie said, snapped out of her cataloguing of his face.
"Shit," she said, quietly. "Don't suppose there's a service station nearby?"
"There's Tony's, in town."
"Buck Creek. About 8 miles down the highway."
"8 miles?" she groaned. She looked at him closely. "Don't suppose you have a cell you could use to call them for a tow?"
"No service out here," he said, shaking his head and spreading his arms wide.
"Come on, let's pack up your stuff and I'll take you to town."
"You don't want to leave your stuff on the side of the road, right?"
"Oh. Right." She watched him as he started to load her car back up, watching his ass for a moment before shaking her head and mentally berating herself. "Listen, I appreciate your help, but you don't have to do this."
"I'm heading that way." He stopped loading her car and looked at her.
"Yeah? Well, you could just stop by and send the wrecker out."
"Impossible," he said. He looked at her funny, as if she offended him by suggesting it. "I could not do so in good conscience."
"You're not like some creepy serial killer psychopath, are you?" she asked, moving the stuff in her car for maximum room.
"Will you believe me if I say no?" he asked her, surprised.
"Maybe. Maybe not. But I'd feel better about getting in a big truck with a big cow...sorry -- rancher."
"Well then, no, I'm not a serial killer." He started gathering the boxes and bins again, bringing them to her.
"Creepy serial killer psychopath," she corrected, working on fitting the stuff back in.
"Not one of those, either." He watched her for a minute, trying not to be too obvious in checking out her ass when she bent at the hips to lean in to her car. "What is all this stuff, anyway?"
"Everything I own." He snorted at that and she looked at him, hurt and embarrassment flashing briefly across her face, making Damien's chest constrict briefly. Then she just gave him a dazzling smile and laughed. "I know, right? Want to hear something funny? I was thinking when I loaded my car up before leaving Santa Fe that this is pretty pathetic for a 40 year old. I mean, to be able to get everything I own in to a Yaris? That's just sad. But when I had to dig through it all to get to the spare I was thinking I had way too much stuff." She laughed again, shaking her head, as he brought over the last of the bins. Damien watched her closely, wanting to pull her into his arms at the pain he heard underneath her laugh.
"It's not sad," he said instead, turning and picking up both flats to toss them in the back of his truck. He watched her close up the back of her car and then go sit in the front seat to get her stuff. She had one leg in and one leg out, and Damien let his eyes roam all over her exposed skin greedily, from her hip to her ankle and back again. He fought down an almost desperate urge to lick the back of her knee. He tore his gaze away from her leg and opened the passenger door of his truck, waiting for her.
"One sec," she said, standing back up again. She put her purse and keys on the top of her car and pulled the elastic out of her hair. She shook her hair out before brushing it quickly, and the smell of lavender and chamomile intensified and washed over Damien. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply as she tossed the brush back in her car and closed the door, using her fob to lock it.
She walked over and climbed up in to his truck and buckled up as he shut the door behind her. She couldn't believe she was doing this, getting in to a truck with a strange man, and she didn't feel at all nervous about it. Charlie watched him climb in, noticing again the difference in size between the two of them -- he didn't even need to use the step-up bar to get in -- and thinking she should feel at the very least uneasy. But she didn't. She looked at his hands on the steering wheel, noting the calluses and rough skin as a testament to his work. She wondered what those hands would feel like sliding down her back or cupping her ass. She laughed a little at her train of thought -- as if! -- and settled back in to the seat, turning her attention back out the window.
"What was funny?" he asked, glancing over at her.
"Hmm? Oh...well, I was just thinking I should feel at least uneasy being in a truck with a total stranger, especially one that is big enough to break me over his knee, but I don't."
"I will never hurt you."
"Um...okay." She blinked a bit at his choice of words. "That's kinda the point I was making. I'm not worried. It's not like me."
"So why aren't you worried?"
She thought for a moment and gave a small shrug of her shoulders. "Dunno. Gut feeling. Instinct. Whatever." She cocked her head and leaned toward the dash, a slow smile spreading over her face. "Are you listening to New Order?" she asked, looking at him with wide eyes.
"Yeah." He reached over and turned the CD off.
"So not what I expected," she laughed.
"What did you expect?"
"I dunno. A little 'Achy Breaky Heart'? Maybe 'All My Exes Live In Texas'?" Damien laughed at that, the sound coming out in a bark that surprised him. "No? What about 'Why Do All the Best Looking Women Have Fat Friends'?"
"I'm not a cowboy," he said, his laugh even lower than his voice. He flashed her with his smile again and she laughed.
"You don't laugh much, do you?"
"Why do you say that?"
"It seemed like it surprised you when you did."
He thought for a moment before answering. "No, I guess I don't really." The idea seemed to bother him, and Charlie felt a little guilty.
"I'm sorry, Damien, I was just kidding. I didn't mean to insult you."
"No. You didn't.." He smiled at her again, signaling to turn off the highway, and she relaxed. She looked out the window as he rolled through the small town. One main drag cut by shady residential streets that stretched off out of sight.
"Full Moon Saloon!" she said, delighted at the name.
"It's a restaurant and a bar, actually. Really good burgers and steaks."
"I just love the name."
"It's mysterious and whimsical at the same time." She looked at him and smiled.
"I guess." He pulled in to a gas station with a full service garage attached to it, and turned off the truck. "This is Tony's."
Charlie looked in to the small office at three big men staring out at her. "They're staring at me."
"Yes, they are."
"Because you're new."
"Yeah, well, just make sure they know you've kept the receipt and are returning me," she said. Damien didn't make her nervous. In fact, she felt oddly safe around him considering she'd known him all of 30 minutes. But these men made her nervous. These men made her feel as if she was being evaluated.
"You're safe," Damien said, reaching over and giving her hand a slight squeeze, surprising them both.
"Thank you, Damien. You're my knight in shining cowboy boots," she said quietly, making him laugh again.
They got out of the truck and walked in to the small office. Charlie kept as close to Damien as she could without crawling in to his clothes with him, feeling three sets of eyes crawling all over her.
"Damien," one of the men came over to them and shook Damien's hand. "What's going on here?" he asked, looking behind him at Charlie.
"Tony, this is Charlie," Damien said, putting his hand on her lower back and gently pushing her forward. "She had a blow out on the highway."
"Hi," Charlie said.
"Charlie? You're the prettiest Charlie I've ever seen, " Tony said smoothly, lifting her hand to his lips and placing a light kiss on the back of it.
"Thank you. It's short for Charlotte." She tried to pull her hand out of his but he held hers firm. He turned her hand over and lowered his head again, rubbing his nose on her wrist. Charlie gave a startled gasp as Damien seemed to growl next to her, grabbing Tony's wrist and squeezing until he let her go. He grabbed her hand and held it, chafing her wrist with his other hand, his calluses tingling on her skin. She had a sudden, clear image in her mind of his large hands on her breasts and she blushed.
"Just messing with you, man," Tony said to Damien, chuckling.
"Her tires are in the bed of my truck," Damien said, wincing as Charlie pulled her hand out of his.
"Apparently my spare was flat, too," Charlie said.
"Uh huh. I can see where that would be a problem," Tony said, smiling at her.
"You think? Maybe I'm just doing research on the best ways to pick up brooding giants," Charlie said, looking over at Damien. He was still scowling at Tony. She looked back at Tony and smiled. She didn't think he was a bad guy; in fact, she thought he was friendly, playful. He was about six feet tall, and also broad, with long blondish hair and eyes the color of amber. He was really good looking, but -- to Charlie -- lacked the appeal of Damien. And that whole wrist thing was kind of weird.
Tony laughed, admiring her as she stood, hip cocked and looking at Damien. "What kind of car is it?"
"A light blue Yaris," Damien answered. "About eight miles east on the highway."
"Leo, get the tires out of Damien's truck and get working on them. Carl, get the wrecker out to the highway and bring her car in," Tony said, talking to the other two men in the office. They jumped up and did as they were told. Charlie turned and watched them for a moment before turning back to Tony with a smile.
"Wow! Whoever said you can't find good help these days never looked for it in Buck Creek," she said, making Tony laugh again.
"Why don't you go wash your hands and knees off, Charlie," Damien said, his hand on her back again guiding her towards the women's restroom in the back of the office.
"Didja get hurt?" Tony asked.
"Just some small scrapes," she said, showing him her hands.
"Nothing deep, but you really should clean them," Damien said.
"Going. Going. Sheesh, I'm 40, not 4, cowboy," Charlie said, making her way in to the bathroom and locking the door behind her.
"Don't say it," Damien said, turning to Tony. "I don't want to hear it."
"Don't say what, my friend? Don't say your mate is interesting?"
"I said not to say it," he growled.
"She's lively, Damien. Good for you," Tony said as he stepped up and patted his friend on the shoulder. "You should call Darian. Use the station phone. Tell him the good news." With that he made his way through the side door in to the service bay.
Damien didn't think there was any reason to tell Darian about Charlie -- not willing to believe what Tony said, regardless what his brain and heart and wolf were screaming at him. But he knew he was going to be back late, and should call to let him know. He sat down behind the desk and picked up the phone, dialing his brother's direct line at the ranch.
"This is Darian."
"It's me. I'm going to be a bit late getting back."
"Yeah. No more than an hour or two."
There was silence for a moment, then Damien heard his brother laughing.
"Who is she?"
"Who is who?"
"Don't play stupid, Damien."
"I'm your brother, Damien. I can hear it in your voice."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he mumbled.
Both men were quiet for a moment before Darian spoke again. "What does she smell like?"
"Lavender and chamomile, and it's like smelling moonlight," Damien said dreamily before he knew what he was doing.