Authors: Sofia Grey
Caging the Wolf
A Snowdonia Wolves Novella
This book is a work of fiction.
While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Sofia Grey
All Rights Reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Jessie has fallen in love with the perfect guy, Levi, but there’s one tiny problem. The blue-eyed hunk only exists in her dreams
“You have got to be kidding me.”
The nearby guy’s voice rose, alarm rippling through his words, and then I heard a yelp. There must be a problem with one of the dogs, but I guessed in a pound this big, it was to be expected.
I shuffled the box in my arms and tried not to fidget. It was bulky rather than heavy, but I’d been waiting nearly ten minutes. If the girl didn’t come back soon, I’d just leave it on the floor.
.” Alarm had risen to panic. What was happening? “No, please don’t. Don’t put me in there.” Ice snaked down my spine at his shout, and I glanced around, wondering why nobody was doing anything.
“Help me. Somebody, please help me.”
Instinct battled with common sense. This was a dog pound, not a torture chamber. It was probably just someone messing around.
As I thought that, a man in a white coat appeared in the doorway. “Sal?” He shouted. “He’s down.” His eyes sharpened when he noticed me. “Can I help you?”
Footsteps pounded down a hallway, approaching us in the tiny front office. I shuffled the box some more. “I’m, uh, Jessie. I’m dropping off some bedding.” His eyebrows dipped and I hastened to explain. “I’m moving out, and I don’t need it any more. The girl I spoke to on the phone said you were always in need of blankets and quilts, you know, for the stray dogs.”
I was babbling, like I always did when I was nervous. And for some reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I felt very uneasy.
“Right.” He nodded, but his attention leapt to the young woman who burst into the room. It felt distinctly crowded now. “We’ve got him, Sal.” A grin broke over his face. “This is the one. Get on the phone. Call everyone.”
I could have been invisible. “Should I just leave my stuff here? I’ve got some more in the car.”
“Yeah, sure.” They were already heading down another corridor, leaving me alone. I could hear the excited rumble of their voices and I puzzled over his words.
This is the one. Call everyone.
None of my business. I dumped the box on the floor, next to a teetering stack of dog food cartons, and pushed out through the door. My car was around the corner, parked in my usual haphazard fashion, and I’d left it unlocked. I grabbed the second cardboard box from the back seat, and straightened up. I’d be back in a minute, so I left the door open. Nobody would steal this piece of junk.
To my right was a side door into the pound. It didn’t say
, it was a lot closer than the main office, and this box was particularly heavy. Fuck it, I’d give it a try.
I tried the door handle and it opened. I peered through the gap. A long, grey-tiled corridor stretched away from me, animal pens on both sides, and most of them empty. It didn’t look as though anything was running free, and so I slipped through the door, box in my arms. It stayed open behind me; I’d have to come back and close it.
The only dog I saw lay on its side in a cage way too small for its size, and I felt outraged on its behalf. It didn’t even have room to stand. Was this really the best place for me to donate my stuff to? I’d left it too late to find anywhere else, and I wished I’d spent more time thinking this over. It’d been a last minute idea, something I excelled at.
I stood there, battling my indecision, and the dog lifted its head. Brilliant, sapphire-blue eyes stared at me.
That voice again, the guy I’d heard earlier. I looked over my shoulder, but the corridor was empty. The only other voices were in the distance, high and excited. My heart thudded against my ribs. Where was he?
“Um, hello?” My voice came out as a squeak, and I cleared my throat. Before I could try again, the dog shook its head and whined.
“You can hear me?” The voice sounded urgent.
Okay, this was weird. The other cages were empty, and there was nobody else in the corridor. “Where are you?” I clutched the box tighter. “What do you need?”
The dog yipped and I glanced down at it. At
. Don’t know why, but I knew it was a
“I’m right here. Locked in this fucking cage.”
The first thought that leapt into my head was, his mouth didn’t move. As if a dog could really be speaking to me.
“Cage?” I repeated, my eyes fixed on the beast behind the bars. It was enormous for a dog, with thick, dark fur, and a lighter splash of colour on its face. And those eyes. I’d never seen anything like them.
“You have to help me. I can’t stay here.”
I took a deep breath. If this was a stunt, if a hidden video camera watched me talking to a dog, I’d feel like a right idiot. A quick glance left and right showed there was a camera above the door. “This is a trick, yeah?” I jerked my chin at the camera. “I find myself on YouTube later?”
“No trick.” The blue eyes beseeched me. “You’re the only one who can hear me. All you have to do is unlock this cage, and let me out.”
“Why are you locked up?” Why was I even replying?
“Because I made a mistake.” He snapped the words out, and I realised I was hearing them inside my head. My spine prickled.
“Please.” I couldn’t miss the urgency in his voice. “In about ten minutes, all hell is going to break loose. There’s going to be a media-fucking-frenzy here, excuse my language, and I really don’t want to be in the middle of it.”
I blew out a breath, and then dumped the box on the floor. Was I going to do this? “Are you talking to me? Is that why they’ve locked you up?”
“Yes. I’m talking to you. We’ve got about nine minutes left, so if you could just open this door, I’d really appreciate it.”
“Where are you going to go?” I peered up at the video camera again. There’s no way it could miss me. “I mean, where does your owner live? And how will you get there?”
“Eight minutes. Please. Just open the fucking cage.” He sounded scared rather than angry, and I made a snap decision.
“My car is right outside, and the back door is hanging open. If you really understand what I’m saying, go and get into my car and I’ll drive you away from here. Okay?”
“Yes. Please hurry.”
The cage was fastened with bolts, top and bottom. They were shiny and new, and stiff to open, and I struggled with the first one. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“I can’t believe you heard me.”
The top bolt squealed when I dragged it back, the noise ringing out in the quiet of the corridor, and I froze. The only thing I could hear was my pulse banging in my ears. I could do this.
“You’re doing great. Don’t stop now.” The second one was easier. The moment it released, the dog shoved against the cage door and tumbled to the floor in a tangle of legs. “Thank fuck. I mean, thank you.”
This was unreal. I shouldn’t even be in this corridor, let alone releasing a dog, and my common sense screamed at me to run. The dog scrambled to its feet, and once standing, it was even larger than I’d expected. It took off, racing toward the door and I followed.
The dog lurched onto the back seat, his legs giving way beneath him, and I slammed the door shut. I’d left the keys in the ignition, and seconds later I started the engine, and spun my aging car to face the exit.
I didn’t need him to urge me on. My foot slammed onto the accelerator and the car shot forward in a flurry of squealing tyres. The dog pound was at the end of a quiet road and it would take a minute to reach the highway. How soon would they realize he was gone? Would they come after me? My heart raced every bit as much as the engine.
I swung around a tight bend, way faster than I’d normally drive, and saw the dog moving in the rear view mirror. “You okay back there?”
“Yeah. Thanks. Really.” His words slurred together and I glanced in the mirror again. Shit. Had he banged his head?
“You sure you’re okay? We’re nearly at the highway. Where do you want me to go?”
“They inj…” His head dipped, and then jerked up again, as if he was trying to stay awake. “Doped. Fuckin’ cat.”
His eyes were closed. “Ketamine.”
No reply. I reached the junction with the highway, and took the turn for home. I’d only gone a short distance when two brightly coloured cars shot past me, garishly logoed with the local TV station decals. I watched in my mirror as they swung onto the road to the pound. Holy fuck, the dog had been right. The
that currently lay unconscious on the back seat of my car.
I tried to figure out a plan as I drove. I’d be home in half an hour, but I was leaving tonight. I had to be at the airport by seven this evening, and it was nearly noon already. Would that be enough time for him to wake up? What did he say?
? It sounded familiar, and I could Google it later.
Parking outside my shared house, I faced another problem. How would I move him inside? He looked heavy. Thankfully, when I opened the back door, he lifted his head and opened his eyes.
“Where are we?” He may have been awake, but his words were still slurred and the sapphire gaze was unfocused.
“My place. Do you think you can walk?”
“Uh huh.” He slithered out of the car, to stand by my side, and I led him slowly to the door. I wasn’t expecting my housemates back for hours. Just as well, really. If they heard me trying to have a conversation with a dog, they’d think me crazy.
The hallway was cool after the blazing sunshine outside, and I wondered how cold it would be back home in England. It’d be strange wrapping up in layers again, after weeks of living in shorts and T-shirts. My trip down under was almost over, down to a matter of hours. Would I come back to New Zealand one day? Maybe.
The dog padded beside me, looking more alert by the second. “Could I have some water, please?” His voice was clearer too.
“Of course.” I pushed open the kitchen door and grabbed a bowl from the draining rack, before filling it with cold water from the tap.
He didn’t speak again until he’d emptied the bowl, and the refill I gave him. Sitting on the floor, he pinned me with his gaze, sharp and alert again. “Thanks. I owe you. What’s your name?”
I swallowed down my laugh at the absurdity of the conversation. “Jessie. My friends call me Jess.”
“I won’t forget your help, Jess. But you know you can’t talk about this.”
I snorted, my giggle escaping. “Like anyone would believe me. What kind of dog are you, anyway? Apart from the talking-variety.”
He huffed a soft laugh. It made me tingle, every nerve ending suddenly aware of the delicious timbre of his voice. “I think it’s time I went.” He stood, stretched his front legs, and then shook his entire body. “Where are we?”
“Plimmerton. Do you, uh, want a ride somewhere?”
“I can run home from here, but thanks anyway.”
Padding up the corridor beside me, he waited until I opened the door, and then paused on the doorstep, and turned to face me. He stepped closer and nuzzled at my hand. “Whoah.” He jerked his head back, and stared at me, eating me up with his gaze.
The air felt charged, as though we were in the middle of a lightning storm and I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. What just happened?
“My name is Levi. I’ll see you again soon, Jess.”
“Um, no. You won’t.”
The dog—Levi—cocked his head to one side. “Why not?”
“I’m leaving in a few hours. Going home. To England.” His stare was unnerving, and I babbled to fill the silence. “I was only here on a work visa, and even though I might come back one day, it won’t be for years. And I’m not sure this isn’t all a hangover-induced dream. I’m probably going to wake on the sofa in a few minutes and forget all this happened. I mean, you’re a talking dog. Either I’m dreaming, or I’m crazy. I think I prefer the sane-but-asleep option.”
“I have to go. But for the record,” he paused, his voice a low and seductive murmur. “I’m a wolf, not a dog. And I’ll find you. I
see you again, Jess.”