The Secret Sellers

Once upon a time an old woman foretold a world where monsters ruled. And they did. The fairy tales from history seemed to foretell the mutations of the future. Forests grew large and dark and within them, creatures thrived. Avis Eldred is one of the few surviving humans; she should be grateful for that. But she's not grateful for killing in order to survive. Now she faces a choice - take a leap of faith and defy everything she ever knew, or keep being a murderer and a coward.


10. You can't wait for the adventure?



You can’t wait for the adventure?

Avis and Beck crossed a stream and climbed a slope, onto the path. “How do you survive without any tenants, just on your own?”

He glowered, “There are trades made.”

She giggled, “Oh! Do you knit socks?”

He grinned with a bit of mischief. “I can.”

She laughed, “That’s one better than me.” She walked along, considering her next few questions.

“The trade post that I and my sister were going to, what is it like?”

 “It’s called the Sanctuary. The family at the Sanctuary. They’re werewolves. They have lived peacefully there for years. They live almost like humans. They farm, raise sheep, make tools, tan leather and trade goods.”

Avis laughed. “Wolves raising sheep? Do they have a fox run the hen house too?”

“No, the badger does that.” Beck smiled.

“No, Really?” Avis looked suspicious

The set of his eyebrows practically laughed at her gullibility.

“The Sanctuary was established after the fall of the previous social system. The new Governor is a man named Gideon but he also has a companion called Katrine. She is remotely different to Gideon, more of a servant than a wife but strong nevertheless.  His radical ideas of what werewolves are and should be are dangerous for mixed families. He allowed a sanctuary to be established where those that want to live more like humans and let humans live among them can be protected.”

Avis’s heart was racing. She wanted to believe that she was safe but the idea of walking into a community of werewolves that were really humans in disguise made her chest ache and her lungs freeze.

“I’ve heard of a monastery north of the great lake. I’ve heard that they accept all types there. Although I’ve only heard of people there. Do you know that place? Is it like that?”

“I know what you refer to. The Monks there are very private and exclusive. This sanctuary is like a large family gathering. Lots of children, various types of animals, a constant game of tag. Feasts and revelry are common.” He smiled at the thought of being with them again. “I don’t want you to be afraid.”

“I’ll try not to be.” She pushed her breath out. Forcing another. Trusting anyone was almost biologically impossible for her. Beck had never shown her anything but kindness. She couldn’t set her fears aside but she did try to wrap them up a bit.

The afternoon sun was not hot but bright and Avis could feel her cheeks pinking. She took off one of the shirts and twisted it into a hood and pulled the hem down to shade her eyes.

“Does your skin get tan?”

She peeked out at him. “Only in spots.” She scrunched her freckled nose.

He laughed. “Did you have a hat?”

She shook her head. “I did once. Lost it in a river. Mostly I stick to the shade.”

He slowed a step and circled behind her, “A hood compromises your peripheral vision.” He was much closer to her than she expected and she flinched.

She liked to tease at the tension. It was great fun when he played along. She could pretend that it was nothing but banter. She knew better. She could still feel the buzz of something more between them.

She could hardly look at him without her heart reacting, and he could hear it all yet said nothing. She avoided looking at his face but even just catching a glimpse of his shape next to her was enough for her to feel something that she shouldn’t. She was unhappy with herself and sulked for the rest of the evening.

But she had a million questions. The burning one was why she still hadn’t left him and sprinted home. She argued that he had proved himself but she still itched with doubt. There was something about him that kept her edgy.

Beck watched her shoulders as she trudged ahead of him. He wasn’t sure what she was upset about. He thought that maybe she was use to traveling in silence. It made sense for what she did for a living.

He crossed several times close enough to almost taste the scent of her. She had bathed before they left and covered herself in scented oil. The wound was closed but some of the more aggressive beasts could still smell the injury on her. (The last thing he wanted was to fight off a wendigo while she watched.) She was now warm, her underlying scent of sandy beach in the rain mixed with the lavender oil. He wanted to more then what he restrained himself to. She glared at him when he got too close. It was for the best.

They made a small camp in the buttress of a large redwood tree. Beck stomped around for a bit then came back. “Stay here. I’m setting a perimeter.”

She laughed, “Magical or biological?” He rolled his eyes. “Don’t forget to wash your hands”, she called out after him. She pulled the few things they had to cook with from the pack and started water boiling on the small fire.

They finished their meal and Avis made herself a strong black tea, she was glad that even living out in the wild didn’t mean that she had to give up everything she loved. Beck saw it and reached out and took it from her. “You shouldn’t drink this, I have watch first.”

She launched herself after it and reached for the cup with grabby hands, “I have first watch.” She almost spilled it in her haste to snatch it back. Beck relented just to save himself from being doused in hot liquid.

She glared at him. “Don’t take my things.”

He snarled back. “Don’t test my patience.”

She stood and walked to the far edge of the clearing and sat down again. She said, “I had a full night’s sleep. You didn’t. I get first watch.”

He cleared away some of the clutter from around the fire, “You’re healing and need rest. I get first watch.”

She kicked at some sticks and made herself comfortable, “Well, we get to watch each other then.” She sipped her tea.

Beck hadn’t been in the forest as a man for a long time. He made short trips around the mountain but if he were going this far, he would have just gone in wolf form. He was uncomfortable.

He watched as Avis stretched her legs out. She wrapped his clothes against her tighter. He could still smell her from here. He was restless, anxious, his inner beast was enraged. This was going to be a long night. He had imagined her sleeping peacefully while he could relax into his wolf form. Even if he only did a partial shift, letting his claws and teeth out, he would feel better. She glared at him from across the fire. She didn’t look close to tired.

Avis glared at Beck. He was so stubborn. Such a man. Want’s to let the damsel sleep so that he can be the hero who keeps watch. She could take care of herself. Even though she only had Neveah’s smaller knife strapped to her leg and not a bigger weapon.

She was better. Her left arm almost back to normal. Her right hand was at full strength. The familiar air of outdoors and the gentle ached of a long walk was something she knew and took comfort in.

She amused herself by watching him fidget with various bits of wood and grass. He looked like he was going to throw something. “Do you need to go ‘check the perimeter’?” She made finger quotes.

He scowled, “What are you talking about?”

She snickered, “It looks like you are holding your bladder. You don’t need my permission.”

He stood, “No, I don’t.” He skulked off into the trees.

He made it just outside of the firelight before huffing and cracking his neck. He shuddered into a partial shift. His claws out, teeth sharp and eyes brilliant blue. He wanted to badly to howl but he instead gouged a row of claw marks in a tree. He dropped to a crouch and huffed out several breaths. He sensed several smaller animals in the area. Various squirrels and chipmunks. A family of possums. One lone raccoon that quickly changed his intended path.

A small red fox was within his sight line. He launched himself at her and landed softly a few feet away. It stared at him, unafraid. He stood at his full height and withdrew his wolf. The fox sat. He cocked his head, “You’re a long way from home.” It blinked several times but did not move.

“I heard you were looking for me?” A smooth voice escape the fox, male and sarcastic it was both welcome and unwelcome.

“Crevan.” Beck simply said.

“You are correct wolf, but you are not going to have my services tonight. Meet me tomorrow at the tree, I know who know which one I mean.”

With those words the fox in which they were looking for scurried away.

Avis thought that Beck was making a lot of noise for someone used to living in the forest. Maybe in the luxury of his mountain mansion, he forgot how to be stealthy. She stood and looked toward the sound of branches snapping. She thought she saw something. She went back to the fire and lit a small torch, walked around to the trees again.

She definitely saw something crash through the underbrush but when she came through the clearing all she saw was Beck. “Who were you talking to?”

He looked at Avis, surprised. “Huh?”

She held the torch closer to him. “You were just talking to someone.” He turned walked toward camp.

Gripping Avis’s arm and steering her back as well. “There was a fox. Crevan wants to meet us tomorrow.”

Avis pulled her arm out of his grip. “That’s great! But I saw something out there, it was much bigger than a fox.”

He laughed. “Yes. Me.”

Avis pushed him out of her way. “I know what you look like. It wasn’t you.”

 Hours after, the fire burned down to cinders. Avis had won her standoff and Beck dozed on the bedroll. He still flinched at every sound. Peeking out from under his long eyelashes at her every hour or so. She used the opportunity to memorize the whorls in his hair and the texture of his skin. She would count the rise and fall of his chest, work out the formulas of how many breaths he could take in a day just to keep her mind busy. His shoulders were as almost as broad as the length of her arm. She might have measured. She wasn’t focused on just him. It was a long night. She counted trees too. The trees weren’t nearly as interesting as watching his hands twitch in his sleep. It was a very long night.

She fussed with the pants she wore. They were too big. She pulled at the drawstring. Tied them again. Rolled the waistband down and huffed in frustration. She crossed her legs and pushed her hands between her thighs.

Watch rules of watch were clear. No distractions. She knew that. She never breached the rule. Her hands were clearly outside her clothes. She might have fumbled around a bit. She might have shuddered out of relief. The great thing about being a girl is that she could get some without too much exposure.

 Beck knew she was unsettled. So much fidgeting. He could practically hear her counting out loud.  She must be tired and trying to keep herself awake. She was looking at him every time he woke. He dozed off and on.

She woke him again. She made a sound. Such a small sound. She had made that sound before. In bed. It was a held breath, quick gasp, and the smallest hum.  She was sitting not three feet from him. Her back to a tree. Her legs crossed and her hands busy. He lay still and listened. His body reacting to her heightened state. He twitched. He wanted to move. To help. He was also fascinated. He knew women. Some bold enough to talk about their urges. He knew they indulged as boys do. He just didn’t know how. This was so subtle. And beautiful. He watched her as she tipped her head back, biting at her lips. She sighed out a ragged breath as she arched her back and drew her knees close. Several shivers later she sat still for the first time all night. He was more uncomfortable than he might have ever been.

Dawn was so slow. Maybe it was that here at the bottom of the tall trees, you can hide from it longer. He pushed himself up from an uncomfortable couple of hours sleeping on his stomach. He excused himself to “check the fences” as she had worded it. He might have to take care of his erection first. He cursed and grumbled his way through the trees.

She was whistling a responding song to some hidden songbird. It was the third or fourth time she had replied to this poor confused bird.  “For not sleeping last night, you’re pretty chipper.” He grumbled as they climbed up an embankment and back into the bright sun.

She smiled “For someone who snored and drooled all night, you sure are grumpy.”

He shook off a leaf or two. “I don’t snore.”

She laughed. “Not only do you snore, you snore while laying on your stomach. I didn’t think that was possible.” He growled. She pointed. “Just like that. I guess that isn’t snoring so much as growling in your sleep.” She raised her eyebrows. “What were you dreaming about?” She prodded at his shoulder. “You looked like a dog, with a steak for a pillow.”

He fumed and blushed. He regretted even stopping for the night. It would be hard to lead Avis in the pitch black and maybe harder to explain that he can see in the dark.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...