When I tumbled, it was into his eyes; a fall so hard it choked the breath from my lungs. I should have known better. He led me into the woods, pulling his red cloaked jacket about my shoulders and tugging up the hood to shield the ebony of my wayward curls from the dampening rain.
Trees whispered on all sides, presaging against the path.
I wondered where he’d come from, melting out of the shadows from the leafy edge. Had he been waiting for me or simply lost? He’d assured me knew the way…
We talked quietly, laughter over spilling lips. His eyes glinted in the gloom. Polished onyx, they burrowed through my soul and dragged me in without a word. I didn’t struggle. Perhaps that was how I was ensnared.
He knew a lot about the undergrowth and the canopy; not to mention the glittering stars high above. Words tumbled out in zealous glory. Images disentangled from too solid speech, curling into full colour in my mind.
He smiled, tucked the red closer about my body and steered me deeper in.
Hours passed until I realised I couldn’t recognise anything any more. We were too far from my home, but still he assured me he knew the way. I followed like a sheep. My eyes stuck on his ravished mane that intertwined across his shoulders, wriggling in the breeze as if it were alive.
He told me to wait for him and I waited.
Noises of animals and pain echoed off the plants as I stood alone, shivering in his crimson offering. The rain poured faster, slanting wet locks into my face. And then he reappeared.
Onyx eyes glinted beneath shaggy brown fur, teeth drawn and snarling with hungered intent.
I should have guessed the moment the cloak fell soft around my shoulders. It caught as I ran, snatched up by trees that begged me to scarper. I didn’t make it. My ankles buckled and I fell.
Moments later he was atop me, snarling.
That was the last thing I saw with living eyes before he took my sight, my throat, my heart…
He’s hunting now. From my spot beneath the dark skies, I can see him. He charms this new girl with the same gentle words and gestures that he used on me, working under her skin with a smile that will soon turn from man to wolf.
Watching him for so long, I understand his pain and his loneliness. He is only trying to survive, but he cannot handle the smell of warm flesh. It calls to him over the comfort of company. But now he has me. I murmur in his ear and beg him for the lives of each new girl, each new Red Riding Hood.
One day I will unlock this centuries old secret to his curse. One day I will cure him from his other form, the beast within.
He hears me. His ears twitch. And when alone, so truly alone, he calls my name and we sit together. Apparition and the attacker. Beauty and the beast.
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