Authors: Rebecca A. Rogers
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban
Rebecca A. Rogers
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2013 Rebecca A. Rogers
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
First Edition: February 1, 2013
“Now the hungry lion roars, and the wolf behowls the moon.”
To be honest, I’m tired of stepping in chicken poop. The crap is everywhere, this place stinks, and this is definitely
what I had in mind when I once said I wanted to visit England. Of course, Ben and I aren’t in the twenty-first century; we’re stuck in fifteen sixty-nine. I don’t even know what month it is, but judging by the bitter air and how the citizens are dressed in warmer clothing, I can only guess we’ve arrived smack dab in the midst of autumn, or the early beginnings of winter.
“My nose burns,” I grumble, hugging myself to stay warm. Apparently the cold weather has no effect on Ben whatsoever. He’s as relaxed as he would be on a lazy summer day.
He shrugs. “We need to find a place to camp out, someplace cozy. I mean, we have no clue how long we’ll be staying here, or if we’ll ever return to Hartford.”
I stop walking and face him with a defiant glare. “We’re getting back to Hartford one way or another. Probably not today, but after we figure out how to stop Alaric.” Ben doesn’t respond, so we both continue trekking to God-knows-where. At this point, we might amble until we reach Antarctica. Who knows? “And in case you haven’t noticed, these people are eyeing us like we’re their next meal.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” he says. “Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
“It should, but it’s not.”
Ben wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me snugly against his side as he whispers against my hair, “Don’t worry, Princess. I won’t let them eat you.”
“Well, that makes me feel
much better knowing the only way you can protect me is if you transform. And if that happens, we’re screwed. They’ll come after us with pitchforks and torches, you know.”
Ben chuckles, and the rumbling sound vibrates my ear. I smile at the thought of having Ben all to myself while we’re on this . . . vacation. I’m glad I won’t be doing this alone. Even if it was just me, I’d find a way to break the curse, but it wouldn’t be easy. I need all the eyes and ears I can get. Oh, and magic. Our magic combined might come in handy.
We pass through the middle of the market, and all eyes are focused on us. I’m sure these people think we’re the oddest couple to ever roam these streets. I can’t say I blame them. I mean, look at us! We’re decked out in jeans and T-shirts, for crying out loud. These poor, sixteenth-century people don’t know what hit them.
As we near the end of the road out of town, Ben and I halt in the middle of the muddy lane. There’s really no place for us to go. We obviously don’t have any money, or coins, or whatever it is these people used way back when, to buy a room at the inn. We can’t exactly ask around for Alaric, Ulric, or Daciana and tell them we’re their long-lost family. Our options are thin, like melted butter spread across toast. We have to think of a plan rather quickly; otherwise, Ben and I will be sleeping in the forest.
This is, without a doubt,
how I pictured this trip.
“So, what are our choices?” I ask. “We don’t have money, food, or a place to stay. That leaves us with . . . nothing.”
Ben squishes me against his chest, resting his chin atop my head. “Always the optimist,” he jests. “We’ll figure something out. Look over there,” he says, pointing to open fields ahead. “See that barn? What if we slept there at night?”
I pull back from his tight grasp and glower up at him. “You’re joking, right? We can’t sleep in a barn like animals.”
Ben playfully narrows his eyes, and a smile spreads across his lips. “Candra, think about what you just said.”
“What? Oh.” Yeah, animals. Really cute. Us being werewolves and all. “Okay, then. A barn it is.”
He pulls me back to his chest and teasingly rocks me from side to side. “See, I knew you’d see it my way.”
Past him, I acquire a straight view of our curious onlookers. They don’t seem too pleased with our presence, or the fact that we’re practically PDA-ing in the middle of their crappy street. I’m waiting for one person to get everybody else riled up so they can find a reason to come after us, but so far, nothing of that nature has happened. I think they’re both confused and inquisitive about where we came from, and why we’re dressed this way.
“So, what are we going to do until tonight?” I ask, extracting myself from Ben’s arms.
His eyes stare off into the distance, where the farmland is wide open. “There,” he says, motioning toward the area in front of us.
“Where?” I don’t see anything except the countryside.
“The forest. We can stay hidden until this evening, and then search for food and pass out in the barn.”
Well, it’s certainly better than nothing. I guess he and I will work out the kinks of our plan later on. I’m more worried about how we’ll survive this era without basic necessities. No running water, no bathrooms, no cell phones, and the currency is completely different. We better think of a fantastic arrangement by tonight, and I don’t mean an oh-this-might-work plan—I mean a this-will-work-and-we’re-going-to-stick-with-it plan.
By the time we leave the city, there aren’t any persons around us, which is a nice change; we won’t have to worry about explaining ourselves, or deal with rigid stares. Want to know what else is a nice change? The fact that the countryside is wide open and ours for the taking. Seriously, we can change and roam freely. Of course, that’ll require an extra set of clothes we don’t exactly have at the moment, but my intuition tells me they won’t be hard to come by. Maybe with a little help from our ancient family members, we’ll be situated in no time. The only issue is finding them and hoping they don’t freak out when we explain who we are and where we come from. That’s something I’ll have to discuss with Ben after sundown.
“Maybe we can forage for food,” I blurt, not sure exactly where that came from, other than the idea of the dark forest looming ahead might hold berries and various edible plants.
Ben shrugs. “It’s not like we have many options at this point. We could try.”
“Please tell me you at least know the difference between edible plants and the poisonous ones.”
“Uhh . . . no, I don’t. Sorry.” Ben frowns, as if he’s contemplating a serious idea. “What’s that old saying? Leaves of three, let it be? That’s all I’ve got.”
“What if we find berries, though, and they’re the bad kind? Wild berries aren’t always safe to eat.”
Ben cuts me a sidelong glance. “I guess we’ll find out.”
“You better not die. I need you to get me back to the future.”
Teasingly pinching my arm, Ben displays a wide grin. “Actually, all you need is a flux capacitor, then you’ll be set.”
funny! I’m serious. I’ll be stuck here forever.”
special,” he says dryly. “Since, you know, that’s all I am to you—a free ride back home.”
I halt, and Ben nearly trips over his feet at the sudden change. “That’s not what I meant. You mean everything to me. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be here with you now.”
“Oh, yeah? Prove it.” He crosses his arms rebelliously, with a fixed smirk on his face.
Hopping onto him, his hands latch onto my thighs, which are firmly squeezing his hips. I place a hand on either side of his face, my fingers lightly tracing the outline of his features, up to his hairline, where I run them through his disheveled, black tresses. As rapidly as his smirk appeared, it then vanishes. Now he’s wholly focused on me, on what I’m doing to him. Not seduction, but maybe something close to it. He relaxes, allowing his eyelids to shut, as he enjoys the moment. And that’s when I lean in, softly placing my lips on his. Lingering only for a fraction of a second, I pull back, tracing the outline of his mouth with my fingertip. So supple and curvy. And his lips are all mine, reserved only for me.
His eyelids flutter open, his eyes possessing me. They’re not their usual black—they’re a golden yellow. Feral. Untamed.
. I’ve tapped into his animalistic side, the side he tends to keep hidden from me so we can focus all our efforts on staying alive during our families’ feud. Now it’s just the two of us, alone, in a different century. With no bad blood to worry about.
He growls under his breath. “Okay, I believe you.” He lowers me to the dirt road, lying on top of me, our bodies joining together. The sun showers our faces with as many warm kisses as Ben’s showering on my skin. Can this be my own personal heaven? It’s pretty close to what I’ve always imagined.
But then reality sets in when I realize we have some serious work to do, and playtime shouldn’t be at this exact moment.
“Ben,” I murmur, barely a whisper off my tongue. “Ben, we can’t do this right now. We have to find food and fresh water and figure out—”
“Mmm . . .” he hums against my neck, sending an involuntary shiver up my entire body, from toes to scalp. Goosebumps raise my skin, as if they’re saying,
We weren’t expecting that.
“You’re distracting me,” I say, making a half-assed attempt at sliding out from underneath his body, but his weight is too heavy, and he purposely presses me harder against the dirt.
“That’s kind of the point,” he replies. Tongue tracing my mouth, he uses it then to part my lips and explore the inside languorously. Each new probe and touch ignites a slow burn in my stomach. My heart’s steady beat has now been replaced with rapid throbbing, and it’s all I can do not to tear his shirt off completely. But when he begins steadily rocking back and forth, I almost explode.
He jerks his head back in response. “What’s wrong?”
“We have to keep our heads on straight, Ben. We can’t do this, not until we have a plan and are comfortably situated.”
Ben rises to his knees. “You’re killing me, Candra. You really are. We
have some alone time and all you can think about is our next plan of action. We’ll have plenty of instances to work on it. Trust me.” He pushes himself off the ground and stands. Offering me his hand, he tugs me up alongside him.
I brush myself off and reply, “I know, but this is serious business. We have to find Alaric, Ulric, and Daciana. Who knows if anyone else is involved? I mean, we have to think about the bigger picture here.”
Ben, obviously annoyed by my awesome sexual-avoidance skills, waves my statement off like it’s no big deal. “Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”
“Fine.” I stomp off in the direction we were originally headed, toward the forest. Ben or no Ben, I’m going to locate some food. My stomach hurts just thinking about Beth’s cooking, and how I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chance to eat it again.
“So, you’re just going to leave me here?” Ben calls from behind me.
“Yeah. Sure. Whatever,” I mimic. He snarls and catches up to me before I’ve taken five more steps.
“You are the most stubborn woman I’ve ever met, you know that?”
“And you are the most . . . the most . . . ugh! I don’t know. Something.”
“I’m glad you think this is funny. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I want a shower. But guess what? I can’t have any of the above because we’re stuck in a time warp.”
“Candra,” he says, “relax. You worry too much. We’ll figure this out.”
The road curves in front of a small cottage on the edge of the farmland, but Ben and I press onward toward the trees—and there are so many of them. More, I’ll say, than what we have back in Hartford. It’ll be a lovely place to run freely, if we can ever find extra sets of clothing. Maybe we should just go naked instead.
Proud of my newly-formed idea, I smile. “I have a surprise for you later tonight.”
Ben’s eyebrows rise sky-high. “Oh, yeah?”
“Will I like this surprise?” He cautiously observes me.
“But you have to promise me one thing,” I say, holding up one finger.
He snorts. “I don’t like where this is going.”
“It’s not bad.”
“Okay, then. What is it?”
“Find a safe place to keep our clothes.”
He reaches over and snags me around the waist, pulling me against his chest. Our noses almost touch. “What is brewing in that pretty little head of yours?”
“I told you,” I say, “it’s a surprise. You’ll just have to patiently wait and see.”
Once I’m freed from his clutch, we venture farther and farther into the woods. At this point, I have no clue if we’ll ever find our way out again. It doesn’t matter, though, as long as we rely on our heightened senses.
Not long after our search begins, Ben finds a bush with non-poisonous berries. Honestly, I’m surprised there are any left in this cold weather. But it’ll be enough to sustain us through the night. We eat until our stomachs are satisfied, and bundle the remainder in the scooped-up bottom of our T-shirts.