For the second time that day, German found himself gazing after the backside of the rogue. What the hell did he think he was doing when he’d stared at her while they’d worked? That was likely to scare her off slicker than shit, and there he was sucking in her image like his eyes were straws.
Half the time, she was pissed. He could smell it, even though the fumes from the chicken coop nearly knocked him sideways. Damn, but those birds stank, and they were a food supply for humans. Figured.
Yet, despite the stench, he’d caught whiffs of the female and got that tugging in his guts he had the first time he’d smelled her. Never mind she had yet to say a single word to him. But, he liked how she was stand-offish. The fact that she didn’t warm up to people hinted at her inner wolf, which boded well for the both of them.
Except he’d need to talk to her at some point, and soon, because he was smelling her in spite of the chicken shit. Her wolf scent was strong, and would only get stronger the closer she got to her transition.
At the moment, though, she and her dog were trundling off toward the far fields and wouldn’t be back for a while. Which was just as well. He’d gotten his proverbial foot in the door and hoped with a little time, and some subtle pressure, she’d soften a bit in his favor. Plus, her dog liked him, and he was betting that would get him farther with the woman than anything else.
German lifted his nose toward the farmhouse, where the odor of cooking food wafted. He’d have to go in there since Charlie had invited him to “break bread with the rest of the team.” Hooray. Just what a wolf wanted to do: sit at a crowded table surrounded by Homo sapiens.
He consoled himself with the idea the assignment would be over soon enough, and if it meant saving his own skin, he could endure whatever he had to. But he still took a deep breath to steady himself, and rested his hand on his lower back, his fingers finding the familiar, puckered scar.
Hemming himself into close quarters with humans was always a gamble, and despite the steadying breath he took to calm himself, he still felt the sparks in his spine tingle to life, the precursor to his transition into wolf.
Yeah, well, dinner Gramma?
“Your back botherin’ ya after all the shovelin’?”
German pulled his eyes from the shrinking tractor and turned his attention to the man addressing him.
He filled his lungs with another deep breath. “Nope, the back’s fine.” He didn’t lie, either. The twinges of fire he’d felt a few moments before had cooled with his second deep breath.
“She’s quite something’, eh?” The farmer tossed his chin toward the hill where Sofia and her dog crested then disappeared.
“Yeah. A tough nut, no doubt.”
“Pfft, yeah. A tough nut, all right. She don’t like no one around her, don’t talk much except to her dog.” Charlie lifted and resettled his baseball cap onto his head, crushing his flattened hair. “But she’s a hard enough worker. Tougher than some of my guys I got here.” His smirk told German her boss liked Sofia’s brass.
“I bet. She wasn’t exactly Chatty Patty while we were cleaning the coop.”
“Sounds about right.” Charlie’s smirk stayed put. “Count yourself lucky she let you work beside her. Usually, she sends anyone packin’ with that weird stare of hers.”
A satisfied grin tugged at German’s mouth. So, she didn’t send him away like she did the others. A promising development on a couple of fronts. First, because she must have liked something about him to at least tolerate his presence. Second, not socializing with the humans meant she was more in touch with who she really was than any of the other rogues he’d known.
But just as his chest puffed with pride, another thought shuffled in to kick the air out of him.
Was her aversion to humans earned, like maybe she’d been knocked around?
The wolf-man’s spine tingled and the fine hairs at his nape lifted.
Shit. German pulled a third deep breath to quell his rising emotions. He couldn’t figure out what bothered him more. The fact his odds at redemption had just tumbled, or that Sofia had been violated.
Grip it, wolf. He had to. Charlie was still standing right next to him for one thing. Second, if he was feeling some kind of sympathy for the rogue then he was losing it.
He mustered every ounce of self-discipline he’d honed over the years, and changed tack before his body bested him. He lifted his nose again to sniff the aroma of cooking food drifting out of the farmhouse. “Dinner,” he observed aloud, because to say anything more would be too revealing. He couldn’t very well screw his face into a snarl at the smell of overcooked meat any more than he could admit it had a decidedly disgusting stink about it.
“Oh, yeah,” Charlie rubbed his palms together, “Rosie’s fixin’ chicken.” He clapped a calloused hand to German’s shoulder. “Still got an appetite for the bird after shovelin’ its’ shit?” Coughing a laugh, he headed for the farmhouse without waiting for German’s reply.
“No,” German growled anyway, shooting a frustrated glance back up to the hill where the rogue had disappeared. Resigned, he dropped his head to follow the farmer into the house for a meal that was going to be anything but appetizing. His only hope of enjoying it would be if the woman returned in time to join them. Which he highly doubted. If Sofia didn’t like the company of people, she sure as hell wouldn’t be rushing to get back to the farmhouse, where she’d be squeezing herself in with every living soul on the property.
No, he thought with a twinge of regret, she’d avoid this situation like a plague, and wished like hell he’d done the same.
Installment #6 coming Saturday, November 30, 2013.