He brought her in from the cold and fed her bread and water. It was all he had to offer. She took it, head down, eyes lit with diminished fire. Yellow and tawny.
Rain slicked her coat, black and grey. She’d paddled it all in. Shining prints patterned the ground. He didn’t mind. The mop swished back and forth, watched by her guarded eyes as if afraid that he would strike.
She pushed the food around her plate, daring to look full. Crinkly eyes simply smiled back. He brought her milk as if that was better, trying to please her in a way she couldn’t understand.
“My wife died, you know…”
Her ears pricked up as he spoke. Golden eyes watched wary on his face. The cabin reeked of loneliness in its shadowed embrace, heartache pooling in corners of blue sadness that stained the warmth of the wood.
“She wouldn’t have wanted me to leave you outside. Not in this weather.”
His gaze flicked up to her face. Faded china blue. A crooked smile that tipped with melancholy.
Her stomach turned. She chewed the bread slower, not daring to look down at her meal. The heat of the fire soothed her bones, but she could not relax now. The old man noticed and continued, settling back in his chair. Khaki, stained, creaking.
“My wife was a very kind woman. She would have laid in preparation for your coming.”
The scent of salt tinged the air. A sign of tears. Her shoulders stiffened.
“She was very good at knowing, my wife.” He smiled. “Always had an idea when one of you was coming. Could always tell what type you were too.”
She glanced at the door. Somewhere over the old man’s shoulder it hung in the darkness. Beyond it lay the hurried footsteps of the rain, but somehow it seemed better to be out there than inside with a man who knew too much.
“Except the last time…”
Sad words. The human patter brought golden eyes to his face. He looked troubled.
“She wanted to see the last one so much. I don’t know why. She must have known that he was dangerous. She always knew which ones were dangerous.”
He withdrew further into the slouch of his chair, half-buried beneath moth-eaten cushions and a frayed blanket.
“I guess she wanted to see him very much…”
The scent of blood lingered near the armchair. It was still soaked into the flooring, upholstery and walls. The old man didn’t know or he might not have let her in. The smell was too stale to cause much more than a passing interest, though.
As if to comfort him that she only wanted his shelter, she stretched forward and gingerly nuzzled his hand. China eyes smiled, flecked with sadness. She yawned and unfolded before the fire, tail flicking over her paws. The wolf understood his agony at losing his mate.
The old woman was another to avenge when she caught up with the grey brute.
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