Read Mark of the Wolf Online

Authors: T. L. Shreffler

Tags: #romance, #love, #paranormal, #violence, #werewolf, #werewolves, #wolf, #virgin, #age difference, #erotica abusive relationships, #school age, #erotica adult passion, #porn reads, #lifemate, #rough hardcore, #erotica domination

Mark of the Wolf

 

 

Mark of the Wolf

 

by T. L. Shreffler

www.runawaypen.com

 

 

Copyright (c) 2008 Theresa Shreffler

 

All rights reserved. Unauthorized
redistribution is prohibited. Smashwords edition.

 

 

Check out more of the
Wolves of Black River Series!

 

Mark of the Wolf

Blood of the Wolf

Dawn of the Wolf (available soon)

 

 

 

Prologue

 

It was cold and slick, but she struggled up
the hill anyway, her breath laboring in her lungs, the rocks biting
into her feet. She had left the house without her shoes; there had
been no time to even slip on a pair of sandals. Her heart pounded
as though it would escape from her chest, or perhaps choke her; her
legs were shaking so badly, it was hard to keep them moving.

The night was dark around her. She couldn’t
see where she was going, only that the ground was slanted, so she
knew that it must be up the mountain. She didn’t care. She had to
get away, had to escape that cabin and the horrible man inside of
it.

She was only eleven, but her home had been
hell for a long time.

The rain kept pouring and she kept moving.
Time passed – she wasn’t sure how long, an hour, maybe more, just
struggling through the endless bushes and fallen logs. She fell
only once, twisting her ankle on a slick rock, but even that did
not stop her; the limb felt heavy and swollen, but she couldn’t
bring herself to slow down. She was panicked, running away from a
danger that was as silent and unseen as the night itself. There was
no one behind her, but memory alone was enough to lend wings to her
feet.

Finally she could go no farther. She
collapsed at the base of a tree, her breath heaving, so tired that
she thought she would throw up. She pressed her back against the
rough, wet bark, feeling the rain drip down between the thick pine
trees. She closed her eyes, struggling to regain her breath,
calming herself and the terror that writhed within her. Her face
felt hot – she pressed the back of her hand against her cheek where
the bruise still stung, a blow that had been dealt to her only an
hour before. It was one bruise out of many. The beatings had been
going on for a long time now, ever since her mother had died a few
years ago. At first her stepfather had tried to be patient, only
pinching her and grabbing her hair when he was drunk or angry. But
then his control had slipped, and now she knew him for the monster
he was — not the man who had once loved her mother.

She curled up into a tighter ball, an attempt
to protect herself from the memories. She had to run away, but she
knew she couldn’t go any farther, couldn’t survive outside of her
stepfather’s home. She was only eleven – what could a child do?

Abruptly a sound reached her ears. She
flinched, her heart leaping to her throat again, and pressed
herself even closer to the tree. She looked around, her eyes wide
and sightless in the dark. Where had it come from? There were
mountain lions and wolves this high up, but she was sure they
wouldn’t make any noise if they planned on attacking her. She would
probably already be dead. Had her stepfather followed her? The idea
was ludicrous. She had run for so long, he couldn't possibly be
near.

There it was again – a crunch and rustle,
like something moving through the underbrush, a slight pause and
then another twig snapping. A bear, maybe? She hoped not; she would
be absolutely helpless against an animal so large.

There was silence. It stretched for a long
time until she thought that perhaps the intruder had left, maybe a
deer scared off by her smell… then suddenly a shape moved in the
shadows directly next to her, and she leapt back, a muffled scream
ripping from her throat.

A hand landed on her shoulder out of the
darkness.

She turned and stared upward with wide eyes,
struggling not to scream. The figure moved closer and suddenly she
could make it out; a man or a boy, she couldn’t be sure of the age
in the dark, only that his long black hair was slick with rain and
his white shirt had the grungy look of a hiker.

His green eyes smiled down at her, strangely
visible in the dark, and immediately she felt her chest loosen. Her
breathing became easier. Somehow, though she wasn’t sure why, she
suddenly felt like she was safe.


What is a little thing like you doing
all the way out here?” he asked quietly, his voice rough and
deep.

She opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly
no words would come out. She didn’t know what to say. She thought
back to her stepfather, to the warm cabin in the woods where she
had been struggling with her homework before his drunken tantrum.
How could she tell a stranger about what had really brought her
this deep into the forest? How could she tell him that she didn’t
want to go home?

She couldn’t hide forever, though. Her father
would come looking for her in the morning, as he always did, and
then there would be worse punishment.


I got lost,” she whispered, her
throat closing on the lie; she felt choked.

The young man just smiled and took her hand,
gently pulling her to her feet. Suddenly she wobbled and let out a
small cry; she had forgotten her twisted ankle from her fall in the
woods, and it seemed that the brief rest had brought the pain back
full force. She staggered, but already his arms were around her
knees and picking her up, lifting her high into the air to nestle
her against his strong chest. She hated being touched or carried,
but somehow she could tolerate him. She felt safer being held than
on the ground.


Let’s get you home.” The man’s voice
was soft and warm, deep and soothing. He started walking, and
suddenly exhaustion hit her, making her head swoon against his
shoulder.

The last thing she remembered, other than
the fresh smell of his shirt, was a glimpse at the ground and the
sight of the man’s feet. He wasn’t wearing any shoes.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

School sucked, but work sucked worse.

Maddy hated her school and who wanted to
study with a drunk, abusive stepfather roaring around the house
anyway? Between her chores and doding flying bottles, she didn’t
have any time for homework. And then her job… putting up with
bitchy customers all day at the local hardware store was not her
idea of a fun time, and then her father took all but a small
percentage of her wages. For booze and gambling, of course. No
money for a car or even to take the bus. She was lucky to afford a
sandwich for lunch.

And so she walked home. Her feet hurt from standing at a
cash register all day, but it was a familiar ache. At least
standing at a cash register was better than being around the house.
The streets of Black River were small and homey, with tiny houses
and big yards, most of which were wild and unmowed. This was the
poorer district of town, where most people parked broken down RV’s
in their front yards and the asphalt was cracked and decaying. She
passed down another block now. Half of the yards contained rusty
cars and tire swings hanging from spindly trees, their bare
branches clicking in the wind. Technically this was the scenic
route to her house – she could have cut through the main street of
town and arrived at her cabin in the forest within twenty minutes.
However, she always took this detour… because this was
his
street, and walking
down it made each day a little bit less sucky.

There was his house now. She still didn’t
have the guts to ring his doorbell; other than the times he found
her out on the mountain, cold and usually wet from rain or fog, she
didn’t share many words with him. Sometimes he came by the store,
and then he would smile at her, with those beautiful green eyes and
the long dark hair, and her toes would curl a little. Yes, there
was an age gap, technically eighteen-year-olds shouldn’t be staring
at men who were in their late twenties (or was it thirty already?
She had never had an opportunity to ask), but she couldn’t help it.
He was tall, ripped, tattooed and everything a man should be. If
only she could convince him that she was a woman too, and not the
scared little girl that kept running up mountains at night.

Maddy sighed. His car, a beat up old Camaro,
wasn’t in his driveway. No chance of a casual ‘hello’ today.
Whatever.

She scuffed her dirty tennis shoes on the
sidewalk and kept walking, glancing up at the intersection ahead.
She paused. A small groan escaped her lips. Dammit.

There, standing on the corner, were three
skinny, blond, magazine-type girls flirting around the stop sign,
chewing gum and sticking their hips out at cars. She bit her lip in
distress and glanced around, looking for a detour, but of course
there was none – unless she wanted to cut across someone’s yard,
but that would be too obvious, and she wasn’t about to give them
the satisfaction of seeing her run. Instead she shoved her hands in
the pockets of her old hoodie and walked a little faster. The
quicker she got through the intersection, the quicker she could get
past them… and maybe they’d be so busy flirting with traffic that
they wouldn’t notice her.

It was too much to hope for. One of the
bleached-blond girls turned at the last minute and saw her coming,
and a wide smile split her face, without an ounce of friendliness
in it.


Heeey lookie there!” she crowed,
grabbing her friend by the shoulder. “It’s Muddy Maddy, with her
new jacket and Prada shoes!”


Nice hair, Maddy! Did you wash it
today?” the other girl sneered, then they both screeched with
laughter. Maddy bit the inside of her cheek to stop from
retaliating. She had already been down to the police station twice
this semester for fights in school, and it was only October. One
more strike and she was on probation.


Come on girls,” the third one, Alex,
their ringleader, said. She smiled at Maddy, a look that was colder
than the chill Autumn wind. “We don’t need to get her germs on us.
Where are you off to, Maddy? Home to your daddy? I hear he’s been
up at Art’s Liquor Store again… hear your old man lost his
job.”

If he’d ever had one. But Maddy didn’t say
that part. She just waited for the traffic to stop and started
across the street, not giving them the satisfaction of an answer.
The girls continued laughing, calling names at her back, then more
crude jokes – laughing at her shaggy auburn hair and patched
clothing. She didn’t stop biting her lip until she was well down
the next block; by that time, she had imagined every possible
scenario of her fist flying into Alex Holder’s face.

She turned toward the mountainside; it loomed
above the town of Black River, a constant sentinel. Her cabin was
located right on the fringes of the forest, where it was unclear
whether civilization really continued. It was starting to get dark,
though it was only about 5pm; this time of year it got dark and
stayed dark for a very long time. Maddy liked it that way.
Something about the night always made her feel safer, like she had
a place to hide.

There was snow at the very tiptop of the
mountain, though it hadn't made its way to Black River yet. Soon
the snow would make its way down to the hills, and then the town of
Black River would be all but isolated from the world. It was a time
of year she both enjoyed and dreaded. Enjoyed for the isolation.
Dreaded, because her midnight escapes would be all but impossible,
and suicidal at best. The temperatures dropped to well below
freezing in the winter.

She crossed another street and kept walking.
Nothing else to do.

 

* * * *

 

Her father still wasn’t home.

She was happy, but at the same time, afraid.
Because it wasn’t expected. And when things weren’t expected, they
usually turned out painful. So she sat on the couch with their
analog TV and tried to watch the news; nothing but weather reports.
Then she made dinner, swept up the small living room and kitchen,
straightened out his bedroom, and made up the couch where she
slept. But still he hadn’t arrived. It had been almost two hours,
and full night was upon her. Where could he have gotten to? He
hadn’t mentioned leaving Black River to go to the nearby casino in
Davenport, the next town over. For all of his nasty tendencies, he
usually let her know when he would be gone so she could do whatever
chores he wanted before he got back.

It was another fifteen minutes before she
thought to check the phone messages. The light was on, so
apparently someone had called. She hit play.

Other books
La Tierra permanece by George R. Stewart
Keeping Secrets by Sarah Shankman
Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker
Cody's Varsity Rush by Todd Hafer
Burned by Benedict Jacka
The Body in the River by T. J. Walter