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In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that one of my favorite childhood Halloween costumes was Witch, and the other was Little Red Riding Hood, so when I set out to write a fairy tale romance, Red was my first thought.
In Ilona’s Wolf, I opened with a twist. Instead of Red, in this case Ilona, being rescued from the wolf by a woodsman, I reversed their roles. Now she’s rescued from a predatory woodsman by a werewolf knight.
“Yes,” she insisted. In her mind she saw the wolf racing through the forest, sensed its blood lust. She fought down the fear, knowing it weakened her. Gods, was she destined to be ravished and devoured on the same day?
Then she heard the creature approaching. It bounded out of the woods and stood, snarling, lifted its head and let out a blood-curdling howl. The woodsman took one look at the fierce creature and ran off down the path. The wolf chased after him, then wheeled and trotted back toward her.
She sat frozen, her back to the tree. Oh, gods, don’t let it see me. She tried to cast an invisibility spell, but to no avail. The wolf looked at her, golden eyes gleaming, mouth open, showing off large, sharp teeth. She closed her eyes and gripped her throat with both hands. Quaking with terror, she listened as the animal padded toward her. She felt its hot breath on her cheek.
Opening her eyes a slit, she stared into the face of the wolf. Sad eyes stared at her, and her fears receded. Perhaps he’d been tamed. She reached out with what was left of her powers, but sensed no immediate danger. “Good wolf,” she stammered.
She held out one shaking fist, and the wolf sniffed it before licking her knuckles. It moved closer, sniffing her clothing. To her surprise, the animal hunkered down beside her and laid its head on her leg. Carefully, she touched it, stroking the soft fur.
Relief flooded through her. Saved by a wolf, of all creatures. “Thank the gods you showed up when you did. I’d no wish to be ravished by the likes of him.”
The wolf lifted its head and seemed to smile up at her, mouth open, tongue lolling.
She smiled at the canine as she continued to pet it. “Grateful I am for you rescuing me, but ’tis not exactly what a girl dreams of. Where’s my knight on a white steed? ’Tis he who is supposed to do the rescuing.”
When the wolf lowered his head, sniffing between her legs, she laughed and pushed it away. “Rude creature.”
The animal responded by sitting up and resting its head on her breast. She put both arms around it and hugged it close, dropping a kiss on its head. “Do not misunderstand, Sir Wolf, but I still wish you were a knight. A strong, handsome knight like my Werner.”
The familiar sadness filled her at the memory of her husband. “I miss him so much, you know. Dagmar says another knight will come for me, a handsome knight to protect us and make sweet, passionate love to me.”
The wolf whined and raised his head to lick her cheek. Laughing, she tried to push him away, but he licked her full on the mouth. She closed her eyes, stunned when her powers came rushing back, like a flood of magic coursing around her.
Turning aside, she summoned her basket to her side. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the wolf jump up, staring at the basket. Her vision seemed to blur as the wolf’s face slowly became humanlike, then shifted back. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought if she was seeing things. She closed her eyes and shook her head, but the aching had receded.
When she peeked again, the wolf was gone, and a naked man crouched in front of her. A handsome, well-built man with shaggy brown hair and golden brown eyes.
“Who are you?” she gasped.
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