Scent of a Mate(6)By: Milly Taiden
“Yes. Don’t forget to put your video cameras on their tripods in the best location we can get a clear image so I can review all the memory cards later on.” Jordan glanced around the darkened vicinity. A shudder crawled up her spine. She’d swear someone was watching her, but it was impossible. She’d done a full scouting of the area and had not seen anyone.
“Did you all remember your backup batteries?” Funny that they were all middle school teachers and Emma was the only one all kids referred to as drill sergeant.
“Yes. I got ‘em. Over.”
Jordan rubbed her temple. She would end up with a headache before the mission ever started.
A prickling at the back of her neck made her glance around. Thick trees surrounded her in the dark forest. The hairs on her arms stood on end in warning. Her sole focus turned to every sound she heard. The soft whistling of the crickets tried to soothe her mind. But then something shuffled in the trees. What the hell? She wasn’t a person to be easily scared, but she knew something or someone was out there. The sound of her heartbeats turned louder in her head. Still, no other noise could be heard. Then, howling from the ceremony location made her turn to stare at the area. A crowd had gathered. A big crowd. They were surrounding the clearing, but far back enough where she and the others could see from the higher elevation.
Everyone was in human shape. They chatted animatedly. Hugs and kisses were shared. A massive fire roared in the center. Torches and lanterns hung from chains draped over branches, illuminating the clearing and allowing for a great visual.
She dropped down to her knees and dug the legs to her tripod deep into the earth for stability. Then she locked her video camera on to it and set it to record.
“Don’t forget to set the recorders to mute, per Ellie’s instructions.” Emma ordered.
“Got it.” Jordan eased back to her feet.
Moments later, her eyes locked on him.
Her heart raced at her first sight of Aric. He and the others marched to the center of the clearing. They said something to his father. His mother pointed into the woods surrounding them. The guys spread out, each taking a different direction into the trees.
“You all saw that?” Emma’s voice broke into her intense staring of the clearing.
“Yes. Remember we can’t move from our spots or the sexy four might catch us as they do their rounds,” Jordan reminded them.
A burst of wind shook the trees and kissed her skin. Electricity danced in the air, turning it thick with anticipation. Something cracked behind her. She swirled so fast her earpiece fell. Slowly taking in every dark crevice between the tree limbs, she looked for the noisemaker. Nothing. But she knew there was something out there. She could feel eyes watching her. No matter how hard she searched, nothing came out from the darkness. Dammit. She should have brought her mace, or her stun gun, or hell, even her bat. Something. But in her excitement she’d left all of her precautionary ass-kicking-survival-kit in her SUV.
She crouched down, quietly cursing the darkness, hunting for her ear piece. A quick move from her left grabbed her attention. One very large, very angry looking brown wolf stood there, baring his teeth at her. She shot up to her feet, her hands immediately going into fists. She knew all the Wolfe’s in their wolf shape. With a white wolf for a mother and a black one for a father, all the men had some combination of black and white on them. She knew Aric’s by heart from secretly watching him all those times in her youth while he tore from his shorts to run with his brothers and friends. This was not one of the wolves she knew.
“Now you stay right over there and nobody gets hurt,” she whispered. Her mind ran a million miles per hour. She tried to figure out how to defend herself if it came down to a fight with the big wolf. Something poked her from behind. She grasped around, until she had her hands wrapped tight on the branch behind her, tugging until she broke a limb off.
A low growl was the animal’s only response. Heartbeats pounded hard in her chest, spreading the fear she was trying to tamp. He took a menacing step toward her. She didn’t know what the animal’s plan was, but her gut said it wasn’t a good one.
“Listen to me carefully, fur ball. You’re not going to turn me into puppy chow. Now go back to the party down there,” she cocked her head to the side, “and forget I’m up here. Got it?”