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Chapter Twenty Six

I stared at Tyler in shock.
“You- you're coming with me?" I asked when I finally found my voice.
Tyler shrugged.  “Too dangerous to go alone," was his only explanation.
“O… kay," I said, and sidestepped out the door so I wouldn't have to take my eyes off him.  If he was offended, he didn't show it.  His eyes drooped like he was half asleep, but he followed after me and shut the door behind him.
“My house is…" I began, but he cut me off with a wave of his hand.
“That way," he said, pointing towards a nearby grove of trees.
A shiver ran down my spine.  Those trees were just close enough to each other that anyone casually glancing at them wouldn't be able to see us.  But as he lumbered toward them, I found myself going after him.
Once hidden, he turned toward me and pulled his shirt off with one swift motion.  I recoiled, my back striking a tree behind me, all of my fright from earlier instantly coming back to me.  I should have known this was coming.  I should have run the moment he I stepped outside.  I should never have tried to leave in the first place!
In the midst of my panic, it occurred to me that he hadn't advanced on me.  He was just standing there, looking at me expectantly.
“What- what are you doing?" I asked, still not convinced that he was about to… you know.
“We'll get there faster on four feet," he explained calmly.  “But you can't change with your clothes on."
Relief flooded my veins, and I put a hand to my chest to still my pounding heart.  That's all it was.  He wanted us to go across town in our wolf forms.  I almost laughed, knowing that he wasn't planning on, um, YOU KNOW.
“You," I said tentatively, “want me to do it right in front of you?"
This gave Tyler pause.  “You're new to this, aren't you?" he asked after a moment of silence.
I nodded, blushing, even though I couldn't think of any reason I should be embarrassed.  To my relief, he turned and looked the other way.
“No peeking," I said, and immediately wished I hadn't.  I sounded like a six year old!
Not giving myself any more time to think about it, I tore my clothes off and threw them into a pile by my side.  The night air nipped at my skin, chillier than I thought it would be, but I ignored it as I reached deep inside of myself the way I had a couple nights ago.  The fight with the other Silverblood was a bit of a blur now, but I still remembered what I had done to initiate my own change.  You know those gigantic levers mad scientists pull in old monster movies?  Imagine having one of those inside of you.  It's hard to pull the first few times, but the more you do it the easier it gets, like the hinges are loosening.  The main difference is that instead of bringing a monster to life, you turn into the monster.
It took me almost a full minute to do it, not being guided by my primal instincts like before, but I finally felt fur begin to sprout over my body, and a few seconds later I was on all fours again.  I looked up at Tyler and gave a little bark to let him know it was okay to turn around.
Tyler stripped with none of the hesitation I had shown, but I looked away just to be polite.  Still, I couldn't help but notice how his body was absolutely rippled with muscle.  There wasn't a single ounce of fat anywhere on him.  It was no wonder D.K. kept him around- nobody in their right mind would want to go up against that!
Once shifted, his black fur shimmered in the moonlight, and his nostrils flared as he sniffed the air for threats.  He jerked his head to the side, and to my surprise the body language was crystal clear: Take the lead.
The night wasn't getting any younger.  I took off into the forest, with Tyler close behind me.  The cold night air flattened my fur as I ran, invigorating me.  My paws stepped swiftly over the carpet of dead leaves, silent even while running.  Tyler was right behind me, I could hear him as his hot breath fogged the cold air.  He was holding back, of that I was sure.  Such a large and powerful wolf could outrun me easily if he wanted to.  Instead, he stayed a couple of steps behind me the whole time, never once overtaking me.
The scents of the forest overwhelmed my nose, and I couldn't stop my mouth from watering when I smelled a rabbit scurrying for cover twenty feet away.  My stomach growled, reminding me that all I'd had for dinner was half a box of stale crackers, and I stopped running.  Tyler came to a halt by my side, looking at me like he was waiting for instructions.  My tongue lolled from my mouth as I panted from the run.  I felt great, and I wasn't even halfway to my neighborhood yet!  The wolf in me- no, the wolf I was wanted to hunt now.  I growled excitedly, pointing my nose in the direction of the rabbit.  Tyler got the picture, and bobbed his head in approval.  Without a moment's hesitation, I streaked off in pursuit of the delicious, juicy treat.
The rabbit was fast, but I was faster.  I caught up to it before it could get ten feet, and closed my teeth around it.  It writhed and squirmed in my mouth as I lifted it up off the ground and shook my head side to side.  Just like at the funeral home, the taste of blood electrified me, and I didn't stop shaking it until long after it was dead.
Dropping the carcass on the ground, I turned and saw Tyler standing nearby, watching me.  Part of me wanted to bare my teeth and snarl at him, warning him against trying to take my prize, but I knew that would be wrong.  He'd offered to escort me, after all.  With Hendricks out there somewhere, that might prove to be more dangerous than he'd imagined.  The least I could do was offer him a bit of the rabbit.  Facing him, I leaned down and nosed the dead animal in his direction, hoping the massive beast wouldn't take too much of it.  Luckily, he shook his head and turned to look out in the distance, standing guard while I ate.  If I had had a human face, I would have smiled at him.  Since I didn't, though, I proceeded to tear the rabbit apart, savoring the taste of the meat as it slid across my tongue and down my throat.
When I was done, the rabbit nothing more than a pile of red-stained bones, I tilted my ears toward the sound of running water and followed it.  A tiny steam was nearby, and I gratefully sank my snout in it to wash off the blood, and then lapped at it until my thirst was quenched.  Tyler drank too, and I took the opportunity to look him over while his nose was in the water.  His fur was as black as shadow, the perfect disguise for hunting at night.  His massive size as a human had only increased after transforming, and I estimated that he was nearly twice as big as I was.  Even with the muscles that stood out under his pelt, he moved with the calm grace of a dominant predator.
How in the world had D.K. become alpha? I wondered.  Tyler would just have to step on the little twerp's head and he'd be in charge!
Tyler's massive head swung up to look at me, water dripping from his nose, and I averted my gaze as quickly as I could, hoping he hadn't seen me staring.  It was time to get going again.  I looked around to get my bearings, and then took off.
NEXT TIME: Huh, Tyler seems like he might actually be a nice guy.  But... but... He's in the SWAG PAG!  How is that even possible?!

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