Without care for her safety, Jayda plunged into the icy waters. The sandy bottom melted away and she was left suspended in the frigid waters. Kicking with her back feet and paddling with her front paws, Jayda tried to stay afloat. But swimming as a wolf proved to be more difficult than she’d imagined. The current that appeared sluggish and without strength, now surged, grabbing and pulling her into its icy depths, covering her nose and eyes, filling her mouth. She swallowed great gulps of water before popping up briefly and being sucked under again.
Stupid. Jayda struggled to turn and find the shore, but the rush of the river disoriented her. The water pummeled her, twisting her in all directions until she no longer knew which direction to find land.
Her wolf legs paddled at a feverish pace. Jayda tried to shift, thinking she could fight the rush of water in human form, but her body wouldn’t respond. Her heart pounded against her ribs, lungs burning without air. Exhaustion quivered over her muscles. As the river pulled her under again, giving in to the strength of the current seemed like such an easy decision. Through the silvery film of the surface Jayda saw the rippling wink of the moon, the only witness to her demise.
No. This night would not end with her death.
With one last Herculean effort of kicking, her head broke the surface, and Jayda yelped, her mouth filling with more water and choking her. She managed another strangled cry. Could he hear her?
Her body slammed into a rock and pain seared through her ribs. Jayda had no idea how long she could continue to fight. Rolling away from the boulder, her body twisted and turned in the current, pulling her into its depths again.
When a muzzle came up under her belly, she knew immediately he had found her. He pushed at her body, and when Jayda’s head broke the surface, she gulped in the sweet night air, filling her lungs, waiting for the water to envelope her once again. But it didn’t. Her feet paddled furiously and she tried desperately not to kick him. But her limbs seemed to have a mind of their own. Her back claws raked his skull and Jayda prayed she wouldn’t drown them both.
The large wolf abandoned that idea and came up beside her. His muscular body pressed to hers, lifting her from the moving water. His powerful shoulder muscles bunched as he swam, redirecting her flailing body toward the shore. Briefly, Jayda slipped below the surface. His muzzle came up under hers, lifting her nose from the water. She churned her paws at twice the speed of his more effective pulls. Her breath whistled with her efforts.
When her paws bumped a rock, Jayda wanted to weep with relief. The marshy grass of the shore swayed placidly in the gentle breeze. It had never looked sweeter. Not until all four feet found purchase on the sandy bottom did the wolf beside her relax. She dragged herself to the grass and lay whimpering. The soft fronds cushioned her belly and Jayda took a moment to enjoy the sturdy feel of the earth beneath her.
Her lungs screamed in agony as Jayda worked to fill them. Relaxing, she willed her body to shift. Muscles rippled and bones warped. Her wolf gave way to her human form. Fur receded, leaving the damp satin of her skin. As her muzzle shortened and she became fully human, she rolled on her back, trying to find him.
The wolf strode over to her, fury sparking in his narrowed eyes. Anger rippled over his lips curled back in a snarl. Moonlight flashed off hungry fangs just above her face. Though his breathing was labored, his chest heaving with the effort, he managed a low growl that rumbled through Jayda’s heart. Fear and relief warred inside her, rendering her unable to apologize.
With ease borne of years of shifting, the wolf before her rippled and shuddered until it too became human. The man towered over her, his fists planted firmly on his narrow hips. The wild mane of dark hair framed the scowl on his face and stuck to his wide shoulders. She couldn’t stop her eyes from traveling down his furred chest and lower still over his flat belly to his sex. A primal need pulled at her womb. Even angry, this man, her lover, was a powerful aphrodisiac.
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