Tuesday Teaser 1/23/18 Gina’s Wolf Part 1
Hey, I’m sorry. I almost forgot to post this!
I have finally begun Gina’s Wolf. It picks up a week after Victoria’s Cat ends. I am not entirely happy with the beginning, but that’s not unusual. It feels a little stilted, and I’m trying a bit too hard to show what Todd is like. I also need to sprinkle in a little more back story, like why are they still camped in the west edge of Iowa and how much food do they have, and does she ever think of Colby. For me it’s better to spit the words out and then go back later and add what needs to be there. So all that was to say, “Hey, please be kind when you read this. It is very raw.” 🙂
You can expect a scene on most Tuesdays through the end of April. Enjoy!
Daughters of the Wolf Clan 3
© Maddy Barone 2018
The wind that ruffled the wolf’s fur carried the sound of voices to him. They called a word over and over in their human speech. He felt uneasy, as if he should recognize that word. Perhaps he should recognize the voices too. But the voices were of human kind, and though confusion smeared many things in his mind, the wolf knew that humans caused pain and carried death with them. So the wolf eluded the humans, keeping out of their paths until night fell. He trotted away, careful to keep his paws from places that they would sink into snow or mud so that the humans couldn’t track him.
Humans were bad, but somehow he couldn’t bear to leave them entirely. To the north and west there was a large concentration of humans inhabiting solid dens that shut them in completely. The wolf was sometimes drawn to them, but never went too close. To the east, over a wide river, was another, smaller, concentration of humans, who lived in dens that they could take with them when they moved.
The wolf did not have a den. He had made one once, but the human hunters had found it and exclaimed excitedly to one another, saying that almost-familiar word over and over. Cold bee. After that, the wolf only found sheltered places to rest for a few hours.
Cold bee. What did it signify? The wolf didn’t know. The man would know, but the man was still slept, no matter how desperately the wolf tried to wake him. Maybe the man’s head hurt even worse than the wolf’s did. It throbbed with fiery pain when the wolf moved to suddenly or for too long. He cautiously picked his way over the frozen river, ignoring the cold stinging his paws. In the dark, hidden by clumps of dead grass covered with fresh snow, the wolf settled down to watch the humans in the camp of movable dens. The humans here carried the dark sticks that made heads explode. The wolf knew that, and fear crawled through his ruff at the sight of them, but he couldn’t leave these humans for more than a day or two. There was something here, something important. The wolf knew that too, but he didn’t know what. The man would know. Why didn’t he wake?
There had been a time when the wolf had never wanted his human to wake and push him into a small corner of his mind. The man had been only a pup then, and they had waged war to see which of them would be the Alpha and control who was a mere shadow in the mind of the other. The wolf had fought hard, but the human pup had won, forcing compliance to his will. At the pup’s command, the wolf was only a spirit inside the human’s body unless he decided to allow the wolf to come out and run on four paws. Then the pup was a spirit in the wolf’s mind, but even in spirit form the human pup was strong enough to banish the wolf back to a spirit. The wolf respected strength and learned to yield willingly since the pup was wise and strong. The pup grew into a man, and they had forged an alliance that suited them both.
But now, when the wolf wanted him to take control, the man slept. A frustrated growl made the pain in his head flare. He should leave this place and go to where game hadn’t been hunted to almost nothing. He’d eaten only a few rabbits over the past week. Had it been a week? That was a human measurement of time, so the wolf wasn’t sure. He was sure he hadn’t eaten enough.
He got up, intending to go right now. Further south it would be warmer, and the rabbits would be plentiful. His head swung back to the human dens. There was something there. Something more important than even food. Twice, when the wind had been exactly right, he’d caught faint traces of a scent that put him in a frenzy. He didn’t know what it was. And the man wouldn’t come out.
Even now, that scent drifted to his nose, drawing him out from the grass. He had taken several steps before he stopped himself and dropped back down. Wake up, you stupid man! he shouted internally.
For the first time, a sluggish response came. Jee-nah. Then the man was gone again.
Jee-nah. What was Jee-nah? Was that the reason he stayed? Why was Jee-nah so important?
The word came to him so faintly he wasn’t sure if it came from the man or his own fragmented mind. It sent him, belly to the ground, toward the human dens. A sense of danger nagged at him, but the power of the word beat it back. The word sang in his blood and sent fiery elation through every nerve.
“Miss Todd? Your father is asking for you.”
Gina clenched her teeth. Her name wasn’t Todd and President Todd was not her father. By the apologetic look on Janelle’s face, she knew what Gina wanted to say. With great care, Gina pushed back from the rickety camp table and stood. The urge to kick her chair over and scream nearly overwhelmed her. But only one person in the Kansas-Missouri camp was allowed to throw fits, and it wasn’t her.
“Thanks,” she said. “Where is he?”
“In the command center.”
Naturally. Gina brushed through the canvas door flap of her room in the harem tent and walked along the narrow corridor to the entrance. She took a wrap from the line and threw it around her shoulders. The sky was blue, and the sun shone brightly, but it was cold. She walked the twenty yards to the smaller tent her stepfather used for meetings. Two guards there gave her nods. One cleared his throat and angled his head so his voice would carry into the tent..
“Miss Todd has arrived,” he announced.
From inside the tent, a man said, “She may enter.”
Oh, joy. Gina swallowed and stiffened her spine. Such formality didn’t bode well. It had been week since she’d been returned to her stepfather, but she’d barely spoken to him. Was this when he would punish her for running away from Kansas City? Gina swallowed and stepped into the warmth of the command tent. The braziers sitting in each corner of the tent might thaw her toes, but they did nothing for her lungs, which had a bad tendency to freeze up when she was scared.
Gerald Todd, the President of Kansas- Missouri, sat at the head of the command center’s table. At first glance, with his thinning brown hair and cherub’s face, he didn’t look like a power-hungry, absolute ruler. He wore his most cherubic smile now. Gina suppressed her shudder. She glanced at General Atwater sitting at his right hand, but the General was focused on some papers on the table in front of him. No help there. To President Todd’s left and a little behind him—the properly subservient position for a woman– was her mother. Gina almost tripped on the canvas tarp covering the ground. Todd didn’t allow women to attend high level meetings. This was going to be bad.
A movement to her right caught her eye. Major Ellis stood there, boyishly handsome in his perfectly fitted uniform. He wasn’t smiling. His cool eyes were fixed on the other side of the tent. Gina followed his gaze to Brother Saul Allersen, whose ascetic face held a self-righteous smirk. He’d worn that same expression every time she’d seen him, but it seemed just a little more self-righteous today. His anal son, Jon, wore his usual suit, his short brown hair meticulously groomed, and looked even more smug than usual. Tanner, his other son, had made some effort to tame his wild hair, but his denim trousers and flannel shirt looked as if he’d slept in them. His smirk matched his brother’s. Why was that disgusting trio here?
Gina pulled her attention away from them and focused on the biggest threat in the room. Her mother’s husband was still looking sweetly angelic as he stood to welcome her. She was supposed to be honored that the most powerful man in eight hundred square miles stood up for her. She tried to paste an expression of humble appreciation on her face.
He stretched out his arms, making her intensely glad the table was between them to prevent an embrace. “My dear, I am so glad to see you well and safely returned to the bosom of your family.” He gestured. “Major, a chair for my daughter.”
Knowing better than to sit without permission, Gina merely nodded her thanks and stood beside the chair until President Todd beamed approvingly and invited her to sit.
“You are a fine young woman.” He dimmed his smile to something gently aggrieved, folding his hands on the table before him. “But you have been very naughty to worry your mother and me the way you did by running off. You know we live in a dangerous world where not everyone is as protective of women as I am. And some people would take advantage of you and try to use you to hurt me.”
That’s the real issue, Gina thought sourly behind her mild mask. Since he didn’t demand that she reply, she was happy to keep her mouth shut.
“It was very foolish of you to risk yourself like that. Your mother has explained it to me. When you were told of the great plans I had for you, you were overwhelmed with maidenly shyness and ran.”
Gina couldn’t help a quick glance at Major Ellis. He noticed of course.
“Is your mother right, my dear?”
Curse it, she had to answer a direct question. “Yes, sir.”
“Well.” He tapped his fingertips together under his chin. “I have changed my mind. You will not marry Stanton Ellis.”
A gasp of relief almost escaped her.
“He is young and handsome and one of my most promising young officers. I had thought you two would be a good match, but I believe you have made it plain that you are too flighty to be his wife.”
Thank you, thankyou, thankyouthankyou, she chanted silently.
“I have another plan for your future, one that suits me very well. I have allies to whom I owe a great debt. How better to reward them for their loyalty that by marriage into my own family?”
Dread crashed over her. Involuntarily, her gaze slid to the side, to Jon’s self-satisfied face.
Her stepfather beamed again. “You are such a clever girl! You’ve already deduced the plans I’ve made for you. You will be the jewel of the Brotherhood Commune as Mrs. Allersen.”
Gina clenched the edges of her chair to keep from jumping up and screaming, but she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She gazed with horrified eyes at the Allersens. Jon, so prissy, like he had a stick up his butt, round face smug. Tanner, always so sure he was right, and no woman was worth much. “Which one?” she blurted.
Her stepfather’s smile turned sweetly vicious. “Why, all of them, of course.”