Reddened eyes opened with the intensity of a subdued fever. The stench churned her stomach.
She couldn’t remember what had happened.
Cold settled on the back of her hand as something warm and soft snuggled against her, hot air curling into the back of her neck. Her lashes fluttered.
It was snowing.
She tried to remember where she was, how she’d gotten there and why she ached. The dog bite resurfaced in her mind with a strange hazy intensity. She looked at her hand where it lay across the paved floor. The bite had healed with only a dark purple mark under her skin. How could it have healed that quickly?
Another snowflake settled on her outstretched fingers, stark against her bloodied nails. Her breath poured out in cold condensation. She was aching. All of her muscles ached and screamed as if they’d been put through some kind of torture.
Something shifted behind her back, all fur and heat. Cold snuffled the back of her neck. She tensed her shoulders.
This place looked like an alleyway. It stank like an alleyway, too.
There was something curled over her, keeping her warm. It was thick and heavy like an old sack. But where were her clothes?
She shivered and turned. The sacking shifted awkwardly with her body. Her eyes lit upon the warm bodied creature beside her.
She snapped her gaze away, heart pounding in her chest.
It was all coming back to her now. Shaking fingers brushed her lips where bloodstains dripped like rusted sips. Her teeth hurt and her jaw ached with the fevered memories of teeth tearing flesh. And the dog…
The dog that had bitten her and sank its teeth into her flesh, made her sick, made her into this…
It was lying beside her.
The flex of teeth and jaws near her throat made her pulse skip up a notch. Wet tongue flicked against her skin as the creature yawned. She felt it stretch and change…
The body beside her grew, fur dissolving, skin softening. She didn’t dare to move. The creature settled down again, pressing close, male and strong. Warm skin burned cold. Her breath burned like ice in her lungs.
His arm circled her. An intimate kiss brushed her ear. She didn’t move.
Her throat was stuck, constricted with fear and the feverish need to devour flesh. His hand ran down her arm in a soothing attempt.
“I didn’t mean it to happen so soon.”
“I was waiting until our honeymoon.”
Words finally choked out. “I… I haven’t even agreed to marry you…”
She turned on her side to face him; eyes wide, stretched with fear, scorched by fever.
“What have you done to me?!”
“It was just a bite…”
“Just a bite?!”
“Shh, my love,” he crooned, pulling her into his arms to stop her struggling. “I thought you’d be… pleased. It’s nothing horrible. It’s just different–”
“You’ve made me into a monster!” she sobbed. “You made me want to hurt people!”
“No… You’re not a monster. It just takes some time to control it, love…”
“What… What am I?”
He pulled back and looked her deep in the eyes. “You’re like me… You’re a werewolf now. Isn’t that okay with you? Isn’t it exciting?”
Isn’t it exciting…?
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