Content Advisory: Graphic violence
Cassie’s not having a good week. She’s tired of dealing with the mixed signals from her boyfriend and she’s attacked by a large dog. Then it gets worse. Said boyfriend is keeping secrets and possibly using her for his own ends and the dog that attacked her? Yeah, that was a werewolf and now she’s going to be howling at the next full moon.
Not only does she have to deal with a deranged werewolf, intent on killing her but she’s got her boyfriend’s father pushing them to mate. Did she mention her boyfriend was a werewolf too? It’s going to take all she’s got to handle these alpha men and get what she wants too. Things can only get better. Right?
If you missed Chapter One, you can find it here.
Cameron Park was her favorite place to think. The winding trails through the woods were the perfect place to run and work out problems. Cassie had been doing so for years. Her date, or rather non-date, last night with Alex drove her to run today. She couldn’t wrap her mind around it. He seemed interested in her, asked her out on several dates, but didn’t try to advance the romance. He’d never even been inside her apartment, for goodness sake. She should probably just forget him and move on, see other people. She really liked him though. He was sweet and gentlemanly and cared about what she thought. Not to mention he was hot! Her heart ached at what could be, but didn’t seem meant to be.
A lonely howl split the silence and pulled Cassie from her thoughts. The sun had set and alone on the trail in the woods that had felt so peaceful before now took on a spooky note. Off to her right, she thought she heard brush snap, like someone walking through the trees. She turned her head and glanced into the area where she’d heard the sound, but could see nothing. Probably her imagination. She sped up anyway.
Another howl, closer this time, ricocheted through the trees. It sounded like a wolf, but she didn’t think there were wolves in central Texas. A shudder worked its way down her spine. Now she was being silly. Probably a dog or something. She giggled, nervous though not sure why.
Adrenaline flooded her system and her heart pounded in her chest, from fear instead of her run. That was not her mind playing tricks on her. Someone was behind her. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and goosebumps raced across her skin. She picked up her speed as she continued jogging.
The trees surrounding her on either side covered the path with shadows, pushing menacingly toward her. The broken light she passed a few moments ago now took on a more ominous significance. She glanced back and though she couldn’t see anyone, she knew someone was there. Cursing her stupidity, she felt like one of those too-stupid-to-live heroines in her romance novels. She hated those characters, sure no one could really be that clueless. Yet, here she was, alone, in a wooded area at night. If she got out of this unscathed, she swore to herself that she would be more safety-conscious.
A little farther and she would again be in the main area of the park where there were sure to be more people. How stupid to go deeper into the park this close to dark. If she hadn’t needed to clear her head, she never would have run so long, but Alex had her all tied up in knots. Her muscles burned, but the swish of foliage behind her had her digging deep to go faster still, trying to put more distance between her and the unknown person behind her.
Just as she glimpsed the lights illuminating the parking area, someone knocked her flat on her face. Her breath whooshed from her lungs and her chin struck the hard ground, sending a shaft of pain through her neck. She glanced over her shoulder. It wasn’t someone, but something.
A large dog of indeterminate breed sat on her back, growling. His eyes glowed yellow and his teeth were bared, showing long, sharp canines that could easily rip through her delicate flesh. Her heart stuttered and she had a hard time catching the breath that had been knocked from her. As much as she wanted to do something, anything to get away, she sat frozen beneath his substantial weight.
His fur looked black in the shadow of the trees, but could have been a dark gray, coarse and bristled. The dog got off her back and circled around her, continuing to growl. She sat up, but stopped moving when the growling got louder.
“Uh, nice doggie. Good dog. I won’t hurt you. I’m going to go home, okay?” She couldn’t believe she was talking to it. Yeah, that’ll work.
At that, the dog growled again. As she moved to get up, it snapped at her. Oh, crap. She sat against a nearby tree, trying not to make any sudden moves. The dog sat growling at her, yet wasn’t making any moves toward her. After what felt like a few hours, but was probably only a minute or two, she put her feet under her and slowly stood. The dog lunged for her throat and she threw up her arm. His teeth snapped around her forearm with such force, she heard the bone crack over her scream.
Pain cut through her fear and adrenaline pumped through her body. The dog used his grip on her arm to pull her back to the ground. She kicked at the dog, trying to get him off her arm. Pain knifed through her. He let go, but lunged toward her neck. Teeth penetrated the skin around her throat, hot fetid breath against her skin, saliva dripping from its teeth; the dog appeared to be more intent on holding her in place than ripping her throat out…for now.
She pushed against the dog. God, it was so big. He didn’t let go, but readjusted his mouth around her neck, putting more pressure on her throat. The pain and adrenaline gave her extra strength and she jabbed the dog again. This time she dislodged him from her throat, his teeth taking a large chunk of skin with him. Fiery pain lashed through her abused body as she let out a hoarse scream. Intent on escaping, she pushed past the pain and she ran on her hands and feet as best she could with a broken forearm. Once she was safe, she could give into the agony.
The dog hit her in the side, knocking her over onto her back, exposing her stomach. He growled at her in warning. She kicked at the dog again. He dodged her feet and his teeth tore into her stomach, ripping through her muscles to the softness underneath. Fangs so sharp, at first she didn’t feel anything. Then like razors, the pain whipped through her, each nerve ending screaming. She couldn’t breathe for the pain. She saw the dog’s head raise and cock to the side as blood, her blood, dripped from his muzzle.
The dog cocked his head further and then as quickly as he had appeared, he ran off. She lay there for a minute, trying to wrap her mind around the attack and that she was dying. Before the pain took her under, she heard someone coming up the path from the direction she had come. Please, please help. The world went black.
Pain woke her. Fire enveloped her entire body, eating away her insides like acid. Cassie tried to move as little as possible, every shift in position sent another shaft of screaming agony through her. What had happened?
She inhaled through her nose and out her mouth in slow, steady breaths. The pain eased with each exhalation and after several moments, she was able to think clearly. She remembered running through Cameron Park, thinking about Alex, then….
The dog. A huge dog had knocked her down, bitten her arm, tore into her stomach. So why did her entire body hurt? Her arm and torso didn’t hurt anymore than anything else. It didn’t make sense. As the throbbing in her body lessened and her mind cleared the fog of unconsciousness away, she noticed her senses had gone haywire.
A plopping sound so loud that her head ached, boomed on her right ear. What was that? The sting of antiseptic burned her nostrils. The smell reminded her of a hospital, but she didn’t remember it ever being so strong that nausea roiled in her belly.
The rustle of clothing directed her attention to the left side of her bed. Alex sat there as if he had every right, as if he hadn’t blown her off on their last date.
“Alex, what are you doing here?”
He jumped up and approached the bed. “How do you feel?” Leaning over her, he pressed the call button for the nurse.
“Like I was run over by a semi truck. Why are you here?”
“The nurses went through your phone to contact someone and I was at the top of the list.”
“I’m sorry you felt obligated to come. You can go now. I’ll be fine.”
The door swung open and a petite brunette in pink scrubs bustled in. “Good to see you up and alert, Miss March. Any pain?”
“All over. My hearing and nose seem to be off too.”
“Oh, well...” The nurse glanced at Alex before turning back to Cass. “Let me give you something for the pain. When you wake up again, you’ll feel like a new person.”
Grabbing the I.V. line, the nurse plunged a syringe into a port and depressed the plunger. Within moments, lethargy weighed down her limbs and pulled her lids shut.
Alex grabbed her hand. “I’ll be here when you wake.”
Darkness tugged her under, in a cloud of drugs this time instead of pain.
Please return on August 3rd for Chapter 3 of Power Play.
If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Volume I anthology as an ebook for only $.99!
Copyright © 2011 Riley Quinn
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.