The Better to Bite(3)By: Cynthia Eden
Do all the guys here look like you? I bit the question back. So not the time or place. I have a tendency to blurt things out. I’m working on that tendency. Really. Kind of.
And I’m also supposed to be working on my attitude. The teachers at my old school had pretty much thought that my attitude sucked. Because, you know, it did.
My hand covered the marks. “The dog clawed me.”
“So you ran up a tree?”
I blinked. Where was the flaw in my plan? Oh, yeah, the breaking limb. “It seemed like a better idea than just standing still and letting him bite me.”
His gaze came back to mine. “You sure it was a dog?”
But just then, a new sound filled the forest. A long, mournful howl.
He laughed then, and his white teeth flashed in a grin that made me think again—trouble. “Chicago, you don’t know much about animals do you?”
Chicago. So he knew who I was. I cleared my throat. “You’re saying it was…a wolf?” I’d just been nearly eaten by a wolf? I could never do anything half-way.
He stepped forward then, and his hand lifted toward my red hair. I flinched because I wasn’t expecting that move.
“Easy.” He seemed to barely breathe the word. Then he pulled a twig out of my hair.
The ground could have just opened up and swallowed me then. That would have been merciful. But, no such luck.
Bloody, dirty, and with twigs in my hair. Normally, I presented much better than this. I had style—I just didn’t have it right then.
I swallowed and tried to calm my racing heart. I’d been in situations much, much worse than this before.
I took another step away from him. Not because I was nervous. Or maybe because I was. “My name’s Anna Lambert.” Not Chicago. I waited just a beat. “Who are you?” My eyes darted behind him. That howl hadn’t sounded close. A good thing.
A wolf? Guess I sure wasn’t in Chicago anymore.
Another howl filled the air, and I rocked back on my heels.
His face hardened. “You shouldn’t be out here,” he told me. “You don’t know this area. You’ll get lost—”
“I never get lost.” Now there I went—blurting. And except for one bad confession to an ex-boyfriend, I’d kept that secret for over three years, ever since I first developed my little gift on my thirteenth birthday. But give me a wolf, a claw mark, and a hot guy, and suddenly I’m over-sharing.
His brows snapped together at my words. “What?”
“I know my way home,” I mumbled, aware that my cheeks had to be flushing. I could feel the heat on my face.
“Good.” Though he didn’t sound particularly convinced.
I straightened my shoulders. Sure, I might only be hitting about five foot five and Mr. Strong easily topped six feet, but I wasn’t a pushover.
Despite my screaming run through the woods—had he seen any of that?—I knew how to handle myself. Correction—in the city, I did. Out here, maybe I was just fresh meat.
Note to self…get country tough, ASAP. I cleared my throat, “Who are you?” I asked again, but this time, I made my voice stronger, harder.
He stared at me a moment, and I hoped I didn’t look as bad as I felt. Probably a wasted hope. “Be careful walking in the woods,” he told me, so not giving me his name as he turned and sauntered away. “You never know what’s waiting out here.”
Okay. That had sounded all darkly menacing and dangerous. I brushed off my hands, and blood stained my shorts as I pressed my palms over the material. The guy had saved me from more bruises, possibly even from a broken leg, and he was hot.
So, of course, I just watched him walk away.
I admired the view.
Then, when he was gone, I turned and started jogging back for home. And with every move I made, I felt like I was being watched.
The woods weren’t as interesting anymore. No, now they just seemed dark and dangerous and for once, I was very, very glad to be different as I took the shortest route to my new home.
My dad was late coming home. I had time to shower, wash the blood out of my shorts, and bandage my arm before I saw the Dawson County Sheriff’s car pull into our graveled drive.