Griselda was bored. She had been wandering around a forest she did not know for months as a giant red wolf. Griselda was also lonely. It had been several decades since the last time she had a husband or even been around another Lycean. She was in a self-imposed exile. Hundreds of years of idiot husbands had made her avoid trying to find another one.
The problem wasn’t that they were stupid, it was just that they were not as smart as she was. They were always much younger, and they were fun for a few years. She had dozens of children around the world. There were who knows how many greats grandchildren. Family, she would immediately know if she ever met them. Every single child had been raised by her alone.
The husbands that she attracted took chances. She lost them at the hands of Arcadian hunters, other Lyceans, and plain stupidity. She had lost count of how many. She didn’t want to add to the number, no matter how much she wanted another one.
She heard the Hunter coming on his motorcycle. It was so loud and smelled. Griselda knew he had come for her. She smelled the gunpowder and the oil he used to clean his guns. She heard him speak an Arcadian prayer for the hunt he was about to embark upon.
Then she caught a glimpse of his face and his striking blue eyes. She had never felt a stronger draw to a man than on that day. For a moment, she considered turning and vanishing into the forest. She could flee far away from that pull. Her Lycean blood told her that this man was the one she needed to be with. This one. It had spoken to her many times before, but this one was special. That need to go to him was incredibly strong.
But he was an Arcadian. He was out here to kill her, not looking for a wife. Griselda had growled to herself in frustration, then she decided. Lycean men had failed her. Maybe it was time to try something new with an Arcadian. He didn’t look young. He had the look of someone who had lived a very long life and was done with it all.
The first thing Griselda did was leave a meandering trail for the Hunter to follow. Then she made her way to a little spring she knew about further in the forest. Griselda needed to get cleaned up. She had several equations to speak to get that done.
This was risky and thrilling at the same time. Griselda shifted and went about her business, intending to still be in the water when he arrived. He had to see her as a human woman, not a Lycean. She could do that. Griselda even made up a story about how she had ended up there. She was a local girl who knew about the spring and had come out for some skinny dipping.
Griselda was getting more excited and anxious with each passing moment. This was going to be a completely different start to a relationship than she had ever done. It would be similar, but she was going to have to entice this man to drop his guard and not attempt to kill her. Griselda had to be as harmless and alluring as possible. The Hunter had to be interested . That would depend on what kind of man he was. Was he a hardcore hunter who only saw Lyceans as targets or a man looking for more out of life than he had?
He should be nearby. Griselda listened and could hear someone nearby. The game was about to begin, and the Hunter was about to become the hunted. She laughed at the thought. This was thrilling. She dove into the water and swam, listening for him. He could kill her at any time he chose to. The thought sent shivers through her body.
She could still run. She could shift and be gone in moments. The Hunter would never be able to track her. Minutes passed, and nothing happened. Griselda caught movement out of the corner of her eye. He had stopped in the nearby trees and was quietly watching her. This was a good sign. This Hunter was well concealed, but he was upwind from her, and she could smell him. It was tantalizing because it carried with it a smell of calmness. The smells that usually came from hunters were not there. There was a hint of fear, the strong scent of a mature man, and desire. She could work with what she was detecting.
She swam to the bank and rose out of the water, pretending she hadn’t noticed anyone was watching. She began to wring the water from her hair. She made sure she was turning and tilting her hips and shoulders in just the right way to put on a teasing show.
It was time to face him. Griselda tossed her head back, sending the remaining droplets into the air around her. She took a stance in the moonlight she knew would frame her perfectly . Griselda turned and looked for the man. She found him immediately, his eyes were locked on her, and she smiled as their eyes met.
With a little tremble, she walked toward him. Griselda hid her nervousness with a sway of her hips and an arc in her back. “Are you watching me?” She asked with an innocent smile, folding her arms behind her back and tilting her hip to run her toes into the grass. She kept her brown eyes on him, maintaining eye contact for a reason. He was frozen in place by it.
“Uhm, uhm.” The man stammered. His face flushed pink and he began backing away into the trees. “I didn’t intend ta?”
“You didn’t intend to?” It was so adorable. Lycean men were bold when they found their match. The did not blush or hedge. They knew that love was theirs as much as their woman did. She pouted playfully , keeping her eyes on him. He was still looking at her, even though his face was drawn up in a confused scowl.
Griselda stopped, lifted her arms, and turned a full circle. She rose up on her toes, turning for him. “What do you think? Have you seen it all?” The Hunter’s reactions were telling Griselda a lot of promising things. He stared at her with appreciation, then he did the sweetest thing. He began taking off his coat.
“Are ye cold?” He held the coat out in shaky hands, the blush on his face deepening.
“It’s fairly warm out.” Griselda laughed, gesturing to the pond. She had him. He wasn’t going to harm her. Now she needed to claim him as hers by showing him the best night he had ever had. He kept looking at her in a way that made her wonder if he had ever been with a woman. Given his age, that was unusual. “The water is warm. If you’re cold, why don’t you join me for a swim?” She held out her hand.
She saw the Hunter’s Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed, and a tremble passed through his body. He tossed his coat aside onto a bush and began shakily undressing. Griselda watched him curiously. The majority of Lyceans and Arcadians would be considered classically beautiful. They covered many races and builds, but most had healthy bodies with few flaws.
This Hunter. He defied the standard. He was athletically built, incredibly tall, with broad shoulders and a slender body. This man was one of the least hairy men Griselda had ever seen. It was a nice change because she could see every toned muscle as he moved. His long arms looked strong. He had several scars over his chest. They must have been life-threatening because Arcadians could heal fast. They rarely scarred.
His face was full of sharp, well-defined angles that framed those beautiful blue eyes. They were fixed on her with clear desire. He was still blushing and dropped his hands to cover himself as he took a step out of the trees.
She took a step closer, still holding out her hand. She looked the Hunter up and down, making sure he saw what she was doing, then took a step closer. “I like what I see.”
“Ye do?” The look of disbelief that ran over his face made Griselda’s emotions surge with love for him. Why would he say that? There was nothing wrong with him. She wanted him more now than she had when she first saw him, which was how things usually went for Lyceans. Every passing moment she had with him would bond her to him, and she intended to make the same true for him.
“Oh, I do.” She was close enough to take his hand since he was hesitating to take hers. She began walking backward, tugging him with her. Griselda licked her lips and giggled, “You’re so tall. I can’t kiss you if you’re standing up.” His face went from pink to red. She felt his warm hand tremble. Had this Hunter even kissed a woman in his entire life? He seemed far too shy.
She let go of his hand when they reached the bank, stepping into the water ahead of him with a giggle. She turned around in time to see him slip on a rock and crash into the water. He thrashed about in a panic for a moment, then managed to push himself up on his hands and knees. He had a look on his face like he was expecting to be attacked .
Griselda felt terrible for a moment, then broke into a laugh and waded up to him. She dropped to her knees in front of him, took his head in her hands kissed him. There was an incredible electric charge the moment their lips met. This one. This was the one she wanted. He was worth the chance. He was so awkward and into what she was doing, but following her lead without hesitation.
He sat up in the water, hands running up the back of her neck and into her hair as they kissed. Griselda ran her hands over his body. She began at his face, trailing her fingers over his stubbly features. Then she went to his neck and shoulders, on to his chest and back. Griselda wanted to touch every part of him to let him feel wanted. She wasn’t in a hurry.
For a few minutes, the man was resistant to doing the same to her. He kept his hands up high but gradually began dropping them and doing the same thing she was doing. “I’m going to keep you.” Griselda pulled back from the kiss for a moment, staring into his bewildered eyes. “We’re going to get married and have lots of children. Would you like that, Guy, I don’t know?”
“I would.” He smiled back, running his fingers down her back. He pulled her close enough she could feel his heart beating quickly in his chest. “My name is Arawn, by tha way.”
“Arawn.” Griselda licked her lips. “God of the underworld. It is a good strong name. My name is Griselda, but my friends call me Zelda.”
“Dark battle.” Arawn gazed into her eyes. “Are ye a warrior, Lass?”
“If I have to be, but right now, I’m far more interested in being a lover and having one.” She leaned forward and affectionately kissed Arawn, pressing her body to his. “I need you, Arawn.” She chose her words with care, wanting to impress on him how much she wanted and needed him in her life.
They made love in the moonlit pool, then on the grass, anywhere that was comfortable. Zelda spoke the entire time, telling him how much she loved him and making him feel as loved as she could. She didn’t want him thinking this was a one night stand or only a lustful encounter. She would follow him wherever he led and made sure he understood that.
There were times the look on his face came back to disbelief when she spoke, but it seemed like he accepted it. He was tender and sweet in his reluctance. He was respectful about what they were doing, and if he was doing anything that might be hurting her.
Griselda asked him to marry her multiple times to spend their lives together. The first time he had stared at her with that look of not believing she was real. Every other time he said yes, he would. She believed him more each time she asked.
She wasn’t sure if he knew she was the Lycean he had been hunting. He might be pretending that he didn’t know. He might even think she was a typical human. She knew he was a hunter and assumed he would hide that from her. She saw him discard his pistols into the bushes when he retrieved his coat to wrap it around her.
This was going to be a whole new adventure in life. Zelda would hold her secret as long as he held his. This one might actually make it longer than a few years. She hoped he would. This was the strongest she had ever felt for a man that her Lycean blood had pulled her to. This one was the one she had spent a lifetime looking for. And this was only the beginning.
Arawn was on a mission.
There had been reports of a massive Lycean wolf spotted in the woods of a nearby small town. He had been tasked to see if the reports were true or people seeing things.
Arawn went alone.
Over the years, Arawn had grown weary of his long life. He had begun taking more chances or ‘living a little’ as ordinary humans liked to say. He took risks he shouldn’t have, and right now, he wasn’t thinking about his life. Right now, Arawn was hunting a monster.
The tracks he found were not made by any normal wolf or even a common Lycean. Arawn was after a Rex Regis, a King Lycean. He estimated from the size of the paws and how deep they were in the soft ground that it had to be a massive creature. It was traveling in its more bestial form. Arawn followed the tracks.
He trailed the beast for several miles and only stopped when he heard splashing sounds. Arawn had found the creature! He smiled to himself, thinking he would catch it unaware and take it out before it even knew he was there.
Arawn’s hand dropped to one of the two pistols he preferred for hunting. They were loaded with immobilizing silver-tipped bullets. If he hit in the right place, this would be over fast.
Then he heard laughter.
Arawn blinked as the sound seemed to magically change his mood. Something about it drew him closer and made him forget he was on the hunt. Of course, the beast had shifted into a human form, or was with a human? Arawn wasn’t sure as he stalked through the trees. He crept closer, every part of him wanting to see what the human form that belonged to that laugh looked like.
Arawn saw her.
A young woman was swimming in a moonlit spring, out in the open and completely naked. Arawn stared, fixated on her. She had a mass of soaked coppery red hair, and fair skin sprinkled with freckles. She was flawless, and all he could do was watch. Arawn was old enough to have had many women in his life, but none compared to this one. None of them had ever been naked. She was tiny and petite, around 5 feet in height. She stood up near the bank to wring water from her hair.
Her peaks and valleys would make the Grand Tetons jealous. The water beading on her skin glistened in the moonlight, and Arawn was captivated. The woman paused for a moment, then shook her head. Water droplets sprayed in the moonlight like glitter. She turned around and looked at Arawn.
Arawn froze as her brown eyes met his. Then she immediately stepped out of the pool and onto the rocks. She was on the grass. Her eyes were locked on his, and he felt paralyzed to do anything. She was so beautiful and so, very, very naked.
“Are you watching me?” She called out coyly a few feet away, folding her arms behind her back and tilting her hip to run her toes into the grass. She was smiling and swaying provocatively. Her brown eyes sparkled with curiosity.
“Uhm, uhm,” Arawn stammered in embarrassment, backing away from her. “I didn’t intend ta?”
“You didn’t intend to?” She pouted, thrusting her lower lip out and taking another step closer. She lifted her arms and turned a full circle, dancing lightly on her toes. “What do you think? Have you seen it all?”
Arawn stared, unable to break her spell. He had never seen such a beautiful woman, nor so much of one. He began taking off his coat. “Are ye cold?” Arawn was going to stupidly offer to cover her. It was all he could think of. A little more modesty so he could reclaim his mind.
“It’s fairly warm out.” She laughed and gestured to the pond. “The water is warm. If you’re cold, why don’t you join me for a swim?”
Arawn swallowed hard at the invitation. He knew what she was. She might be luring him into a trap. A trap that Arawn was willing to fall into as he threw all caution to the wind and began undressing. He tossed his clothes aside, assuming that she was going to kill him. Arawn had lived a long life and found it meaningless at this point. He was a good person who had firm convictions. He was respected, but there had been no reward for being who he was. Arawn was a man who was direct with his thoughts and opinions. Women didn’t like him. There had been no lasting relationships for him. No children. Nothing he felt worth living for. Going swimming with this beautiful creature was very much a winning choice right now!
She held out her hand.
Arawn stepped away from the trees, shivering at what he was doing. He self consciously dropped his hands to cover himself. Arawn was a tall, slender man with sharp features. His chest bore a few nasty scars. His bright blue eyes fixed on the girl, enamored by her. She was frightening, and here he was, a man who was a confident hunter of dangerous creatures. But not the most dangerous of all in his eyes. Women. She looked him up and down and took a step closer. “I like what I see.”
“Ye do?” Arawn looked at her in confusion as she walked up to him, still holding out her hand. She was smiling at him. There was no malice in her eyes, only a twinkle of intense mischief and desire. No woman had ever looked at Arawn like that in his entire life, and it made his knees weak. A wave of heat passed over him. He took her hand, so tiny and delicate in his own. It was hard to believe she was the massive creature he had been tracking a short time earlier.
“Oh, I do.” She tugged on Arawn’s hand to lead him to the water. “You’re so tall. I can’t kiss you if you’re standing up.” She giggled.
Arawn’s face burned and turned a considerable shade of red. What had he gotten himself into? He had never even kissed a woman before! She wanted to kiss him? Then she was going to kill him? This was going to be worth it. Arawn was going to die a pleased man tonight. Forget hunting. This is what he wanted. This beautiful red-haired lass. Maybe a few minutes of bliss before she killed him.
The woman let go of Arawn to step into the water, then turned, expecting him to follow. He did so awkwardly , stumbling over slick rock and landing face-first into the pond. Arawn came up, sputtering and looking around for her. Was she going to kill him now?
The woman laughed and waded up to Arawn with a smile. He managed to sit up and stared at her, his eyes wide with fear. She dropped to her knees and took his head in her hands. She kissed him, her soft, warm lips meeting his awkward ones. She knew what she was doing. He did not, but she seemed more than willing and patient to teach him. It was electrifying, and Arawn wanted more. He didn’t want the unusual warmth burning through him to end.
Arawn had no idea how long it went on, but soon the kissing wasn’t all that was happening. Her hands were exploring him, traveling over parts of him in ways that made him forget what he had come here for. He took that as permission to do the same to her.
“I’m going to keep you.” She smiled playfully at one point. “We’re going to get married and have lots of children. Would you like that, Guy I don’t know?”
“I would.” He smiled back, enjoying every moment. He assumed he was going to die shortly in any case. He would die a very happy content man. “My name is Arawn, by tha way.”
“Arawn.” She smiled, licking her lips. “God of the underworld. It’s a good strong name. My name is Griselda, but my friends call me Zelda.”
“Dark battle.” Arawn gazed into her eyes. He still saw no malicious intent, only a warm, passionate light. “Are ye a warrior, Lass?”
“If I have to be, but right now, I’m far more interested in being a lover and having one.” She leaned forward and affectionately kissed Arawn, pressing her body to his. “I need you, Arawn.”
They made love in the moonlit pool, then on the grass, anywhere that was comfortable. Arawn assumed at any point that she was going to kill him, but he didn’t care. For this moment, nothing mattered but the beautiful little lass in his arms. She was cuddling up to him and speaking words of love.
Morning found him sitting in the grass by the pond, half-clothed. The Lycean woman snuggled up against him, with full trust that he would not harm her. His coat was draped over her still naked body. This was the woman that he had come out here to kill because she was a rogue Lycean.
Arawn had already made up his mind that if Zelda didn’t kill him, he would do whatever she wanted him to do. Forget his life as a hunter. Arawn had served his time. He had found no love among his own kind, but this Lycean. She was amazing and a mystery he wanted to explore. He wasn’t sure if she had been serious or not when she asked him to be hers forever. Arawn had no idea how things worked with Lycean relationships. As far as he was concerned , their lovemaking sealed their union. He had never been with a woman, and he would only ever be with one. This one. He would live for Zelda and this love.
Zelda had proposed to Arawn numerous times, something which he felt was baffling. She didn’t know him! Yet her actions and the look in her eyes was one that you would expect from someone who you had known your entire life. Arawn didn’t know her either, but he was more than willing to take her as his own. That was the way he was. Steadfast in his decisions and stubborn about keeping to his word. Anything else would be committing a grave sin in his eyes. He had made his choice, and he would do everything he could to make it work.
Arawn smiled, running a hand through his lass’ thick red hair. Zelda had the most pleased smile on her face. He would play this with care. She could never know Arawn was a hunter, and he assumed that she was going to hide the fact she was a Lycean. She thought he was an ordinary human.
This was going to be a whole new adventure in life. One Arawn needed to keep secret.
Arawn left his pistols where he had tossed them in the bushes and never looked back.