I pulled off the headphones. "Hi, boy. Where'd you come from?"
He raised his head to look at me and scooted forward a few inches on his belly. He stopped and whined.
"Well, come on," I laughed, giving him permission to approach.
He bounded to my side in an instant, butting me with his head, demanding to be scratched.
I obliged, cooing and talking to him as his tail thumped happily on the ground. He didn't have tags, but that didn't mean much. In small towns like Beebe, seeing dogs with tags tended to be more notable than seeing them running around untagged.
The dog flipped onto his back, and I dutifully scratched his stomach. Almost instantly, he jumped to his feet with a sharp whimper.
I jerked my hand back, thinking I'd injured him somehow.
"What's wrong, boy?"
He spun away from me and growled low in his throat, his eyes trained on a point in the shadows on the other side of the trail. I tried to look around him to see what had his attention, but I couldn't see anything but shadows and undergrowth from my seat on the ground.
"What is it, boy?" I climbed to my feet.
My gaze landed on a solid gray wolf, half obscured by a massive tree on the other side of the trail. Unlike the animal I'd seen on the day of Mom's funeral, this wasn't the domesticated kind of wolf. This was the real deal. Big, gray, wild, and ferocious.
My heart stopped, then started racing.
The wolf stared in our direction, snarling at us. The warning sound coming from his throat screamed "I'm going to eat you" loud and clear. I suddenly understood what Little Red Riding Hood must have felt when she figured out her grandma wasn't her grandma.
I was shaking in my boots.
I looked around for something, anything, to defend myself with as the dog alternated between excited barks and low, warning growls. A menacing enough sound so far as it went, but I kind of doubted the wolf thought so. He looked curiously un-intimidated as he snarled. As per Murphy's Law of animal attacks, not a loose brick, rock, branch, or stick lay anywhere within grabbing distance.
I was so screwed.
The wolf paced forward.
The lab lowered his head and growled one long, continuous growl.
I held my breath.
The wolf looked at me and then at the dog and growled back. Unlike the dog’s, though, the wolf's growl actually caused real fear. Warning bells sounded in the far reaches of my mind, but they started too late. Of course.
Between one quick, panicked breath in and one sharp exhalation out, the wolf charged toward us. Bits of leaves and mud flew up to where his paws hit the ground.
The dog dove in front of me, snarling protectively.
I knew the wolf would rip right through him and land on me any minute. I'd been in town a whole week, and I was going to be eaten by a wolf.
Life really wasn't fair.
ABOUT THE BOOK
What do you do when you realize nothing in your life is what you’ve believed it to be?
When Arionna Jacobs loses her mother in a tragic accident, her world is turned upside down. She’s forced to leave her old life behind and move in with her father. Dace Matthews, a teaching assistant at her new college, is torn in two, unable to communicate with the feral wolf caged inside him.
When they meet, everything they thought they knew about life unravels. Dace has intimate access to Arionna’s mind, and something deep within her fights to rise to the surface. They don't understand what's happening to them or why, and they're running out of time to sort out the strange occurrences around them.
Their meeting sets an ancient Norse prophesy of destruction in motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined. Unless they learn to trust themselves and one another, they may never resolve the mystery surrounding who they are to one another, and what that means for the world.