Royce let out a tired huff of relief (he wasn’t used to running this hard this quick) when he heard the truck’s labored engine start to go out. Or at least, it was giving a warning before it did so. The put-put-put was as much of a warning as Charlie was going to get before the truck decided enough was enough and stranded her in the middle of the highway. Royce still had no idea where her final destination was so he couldn’t even say how far away she was from where she was trying to get to. Except that she was really far away from where he wanted to keep her.
Charlie was human. Anywhere outside of New Hope was dangerous and that danger mounted with every minute that passed that she was not in it. Royce wanted to say that he feared very little but the truth of it was, well, he was afraid of a fucking lot. It didn’t matter if he was a werewolf, that he was stronger than humans. Faster then them. That he had fangs and claws and helluva lot more muscle than most human men. No, because they had guns, ropes. Knives. Explosives. Poison. There was no end to the ways they could hurt him. It was impossible to not be afraid of humans. There were hundreds of them to one were. They were the top of the food chain. Not him.
He was the animal. Meant to be controlled. Tamed. Taken care of. Dealt with. Killed.
But as much as he feared for his own safety, he feared for Charlie’s much more. He at least had the means to defend himself. She didn’t. Well, okay, she could probably throw a good punch and kick the crap out of someone if she had to but there was no way she could hold her own against a vampire. If one got it in his mind to take her, he could. She’d put up a fight, give the fang a run for his blood but in the end, she’d lose because she was human. And she was alone.
Or so she thought.
If there were vampires out here, which as he thought about it was a little ridiculous, he hoped he could take them on. As long as Charlie kept the Doc’s truck running, she would be safe. But the damn truck was old and ready to give out so it wasn’t a surprise that she had to stop and let the clunk of metal have a break. His short puff of relief was replaced with a stressful sigh as he slowed to a jog a hundred yards away. He thought of staying in form and resting in the woods while he waited for her to start the car up again but when he saw her get out of the car, he changed his mind. Stepping out on the road, still out of view since he was coming up behind the truck, he took a moment and shook his fur dry. Running through the forest had been easy but he forgot that it had recently rained. Great, he was tired and muddy. Delightful.
Fifty yards away, he changed quickly from four feet to two. He had no idea how he was going to explain his presence. Maybe she’d believe that he had hidden in the bed of the truck? It was quite possible. He’d have to use that because there was no other logical way to explain why he was suddenly coming around the back of the Doc’s truck, seemingly appearing out of thin air. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be pissed at him for being there in the first place. Wherever she was headed, it had been pretty obvious that she had intended to make the journal on her own.
But he wasn’t ready to leave her yet.
Just as he reached the back of the truck, he caught her scent. His nose had been filled with pine trees and the after-smell of rain so it had taken him a minute to get his nose to focus but when he did, he felt his body relax. For all but a second before the next smell that him was werewolf and no, that wasn’t himself he was smelling. Shirtless, shoeless and without any explanation, he sprang up to Charlie’s side. “Hey. Did you call me?” Casual. Like they weren’t in the middle of the highway, twenty miles out of town with three punk-ass weres popping out of the woods and heading towards them.