Winter Dreams, A Short Story

13988215_531082923758143_4992556343135664676_oThis short story was written in 2008 as an assignment for a Creative Writing course while I was still in high school. This was my first piece that I explored writing a shapeshifter/werewolf story.

My current project was initially born from this story, which was lost for a few years until I found it again hiding on a fiction sharing site.

I have loved this story for many years, and I hope that you will enjoy reading one of my early pieces of writing. There are a few spots that feel a little rushed, and I’m sure it could benefit from a healthy dose of editing, but let me know what you think at the end!


The sun was like a dull light reflecting down from above through holey clouds. There had been a heavy snowfall two nights previous, and drifts covered the trails. In a field located a few miles from the main road of Nikolai, in a pile of powdery snow lay a clean white wolf, belly up and head tilted back.
Tessa Winter missed her father more than she ever thought she would. She laid in the snow remembering the late evening when David Alcourt had busted through the front door, breathing heavily and voice raspy as he reported the incident. Three quarters of the pack dead Canadian hunters at fault.
She remembered the blank look on her mother’s face as she heard the report, and than demanded that no one return attack. Tessa still couldn’t believe that her mother had ordered no retaliation; her father would have in a heartbeat.
Looking up at the orange tinged sky, a groan escaped from the beautiful wolf’s muzzle. She stood up and stretched out her muscular legs and howled once, quickly, at the setting sun.
Powerful muscles working under a soft furred skin worked as Tessa sped through snow drifts and pure untouched snow in field after field. Since her father’s death little over a month before, there had been a curfew set on all pups in the remainder of the pack.
The wind came at Tessa slower as she slowed her pace as she came closer to the clothes line that dried the clothes of the Winter House. She stood up on her hind legs and tore down a summer dress meant for a place such as California, and dragged it behind the bush that grew behind the garage.
She stretched out her hind legs and groaned in the beastly manor that all canines did, as her muscles rippled and bones cracked, reshaping and withdrawing, lengthening and smoothing. One last howl escaped her muzzle before her body finished the transformation from wild beast to human.
“Tessa? Is that you?” A small child’s voice called from the side door of the house, almost fearfully.
“Yeah Shelby! What’s up?” Tessa called from within her bush as she pulled the dark summer dress over her head.
“When you get inside, Mumma wants to talk to you!” the screen door slammed shut followed by the thicker wood door before Tessa could respond to her little sister; she sighed loudly as she ran barefoot through the well traveled snow in the yard.
“Ma? Where ya at?” Tessa slammed the thick wooden door before the screen door had enough time to close. The heat automatically hit her in the face with enough force to knock the breath out of her, and she was forced to stand and catch her breath momentarily.
“Sorry dear.” Alexandra came walking breathlessly from the bedroom she shared with the four youngest pups of the pack. “What did you want?” she opened the refrigerator and pulled out a paper plate covered with tin foil and handed it to her daughter. “Leftovers from dinner. You’re really lucky you’re getting any, the way they eat.”
“Thanks mom.” Tessa took the plate and sat at the round table on the booth lining the corner of the kitchen. “Shelby said you wanted to talk to me. What about?”
Alexandra stood with her back to her daughter, her hands submerged in scolding dish water. “The pack.” was her only response.
“What about the pack?” she removed the tinfoil from the plate and left it upturned on the table and ignored the rare steak in front of her, her pulse had nearly come to a complete halt.
“Well,” she paused, “since we’re short a leader, and all crammed in one little house, and not to mention mostly jobless, we can’t survive here any longer.” She picked up the dish towel from the counter, turned to her daughter and spoke as she dried her pruned hands. “The adults of the pack have all agreed to do it.”
“To do what?” Tessa’s face paled as she stared at her mother in pure horror, fearing of what she’d hear next.
“We’ve decided to move.” She looked down at her bare feet, folding the dish towel and putting it back on the counter. “To Florida.” She cleared her throat, knowing what would occur when the words processed in Tessa’s mind.
“Florida?” her beautiful voice was hollow, devoid of any and all emotion. With a blink, tears fell from her eyes, breaking the silent spell. “Why Florida!” she yelled in outrage. “Are you freakin’ insane?”
“Tessa! Quite down! The children are in bed.” Alexandra forced her words out menacingly calm. “Take a deep breath.”
Tessa closed her eyes and pulled her knees to her chest, taking deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself down. “Why Florida, mother?” she didn’t look at her mother as she spoke to her.
“Charlie, David and Caitlyn did some looking and they found that they could get a deal on housing in West Palm Beach. These houses are right on the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll have a great view, beach access, and we’ll be within walking distance of a huge mall. She looked over at her daughter to gage her reaction.
“But it’s hot. There won’t be any snow.” Her voice was dull, and she spoke to the steak that sat on the table in front of her. What about father, she asked herself silently.
“No, there wont. But right now that’s the best deal on housing that we can afford. We leave in a week and I need you to pack quickly. As you are older, you need to help the puppies pack. Charlie and Nina will pack Erik, but when we get to Florida, I’m gonna have to get a job, so I’m gonna need you to watch and take care of Shelby. And you’ll have to go to school, of course. And I really hope that this move will help you and the other pups adjust to a new life and hopefully soon a new leader.” As Tessa listened she picked up her steak and took tiny bites, chewing slowly. “Tessa, dear. They did create forks and knives for a reason.” Alexandra went to a drawer, pulled out a fork and grabbed a knife out of the knife block. “Here honey.” She set them down next to Tessa’s plate.
“Thanks mom.” Tessa ate in silence.
“Remember to wash your dishes before you go to bed.” She paused as she looked tiredly at her daughter. “Sleep well.” Alexandra kissed her daughter’s forehead before walking across the living room to her bedroom, turning lights off as she passed them.
“Florida.” She sighed as she lay on the top bunk in her dark bedroom that she shared with the three other older females, two of which were already married mated. Tessa had, before the slaying of the other pack members, been engaged to be wed herself, to a beautiful bronze wolf named Julian Richardson, who had been at the ripe bachelor age of twenty-one.
– – –
Looking out the plane’s window as the aircraft lowered to the earth’s surface a short week later, a tear escaped from Tessa’s eye; she quickly wiped it away before it could be seen by any other members of the pack. Below the aircraft were buildings and large barren concrete deserts surrounded by a larger concrete maze.
She didn’t want to think about all of the things from Alaska that she’d miss, but they flooded her mind nonetheless. The days when she was young and played in the snow with the other pups, her mother and father watching nearby; the day when Julian had proposed to her out in the snowy field that was behind his house… He would be the one thing she missed most from Alaska, though this way she had fewer reminders of him when she sat at home or ran down the snowy bank of the old river. This place where she was going was completely clean of his touch and memories.
Shaking her head, she turned to her mother in the seat next to her and whispered, “How much longer do we have to be on this thing?” Alexandra gave her daughter a look of pity.
“You’re as bad as the kids.”
Turning back to the window, Tessa let out an exasperated sigh.
A series of bells chimed and a red light flashed moments later, followed by a timid female voice over the intercom.
“Please be seated and buckle your seat belts. We will be landing soon. Thank you.”
– – –
The fourteen pack members walked out of the sunny foyer and into the muggy heat, which caused the youngest pups to cry almost instantaneously and the parents to give a collected sigh.
“The houses that the realtor was telling me about are just off the beach and are rather close to one another.” She flagged down a taxi bus and they all loaded on, filling it.
“Where to?” the man behind the wheel asked as he turned to look behind himself at the large group of people crowded in his bus.
Alexandra rattled off the addresses she was given over the phone nearly a week before and the taxi was on its way. An hour passed before the airport bus came to a slow stop in front of the middle of the three one floor beach houses.
– – –
Three nights passed while the pack, now living in separate homes, unpacked their belongings and got comfortable. Living in separate homes was a relief for the adults, but the pups were constantly running from one front door to another looking for someone to play with them.
Tessa lay half asleep on her still-made bed on this particular moonlit night while the bright quarter moon shone down on her from above; her last two nights had been spent the same way. Only the very first night had been a soundless uninterrupted slumber, though this was the fault of sheer exhaustion, and not to that of comfort. She was quickly getting tired of just lying in bed thinking of the things she missed from home, and she really wished they would just stay forgotten and be done with her.
Climbing out of bed, Tessa put on a pair of shorts and tip-toed past Monica’s bed and past her mother’s and Shelby’s room and Jack’s and Sean’s room as well. The glass door wall was left open, which allowed the cool breeze to drift from the ocean’s surface and into the house through the screen; the fresh ocean air was a welcomed reprieve for Tessa.
Barefoot, Tessa walked through the rocky sand to where the low tide washed the sand away and a wild breeze swept through her hair. The night was beautiful, even with the absence of snow and she thought she would rather not waste its beauty by sulking over its location.
Tessa took off her clothes and folded them neatly on the beach. Standing motionless, her arms cracked, enlarged, and popped as fur spread their length. Her torso followed, then her head and finally as she stood hunched over, her legs. Large furred paws took the place of her bare feet and her joints popped and reversed their movements.
A splendid white wolf clearly a member of the Alaska Winter pack stood proudly on the quiet moonlit beach. Far away from home and lonely, the only comfort she could manage was from her familiar friend in the moon.
She put a paw in the calm ocean water, hesitating only for a second before following through with her whole furred body. The words her father had once said to her in her youth came to mind, causing a tear to fall to the salt water she waded through.
“Tessa,” he had said many years before, “never forget this. When ever you are unsure of a place or the people there, never let them see you in your fur soaking wet.” She had always known that it was about vulnerability, but she had never really taken it to heart until after the invasion by the Tetra pack on Winter territory when she was fifteen.
She laughed silently as she held her breath and submerged her head. The soothing pressure of the surrounding water comforted her and she swam deeper into the dark abyss that was the Atlantic Ocean.
As the moon moved across the sky slowly, Tessa the wolf floated with the tide, her belly facing the moon and an ear pointed skyward.
The sound of footsteps on gravel carried its way to the water’s edge where the beautiful white wolf floated just beyond the shoreline. Her ear perked up slightly, catching the sound and alerting her of an approaching human; just one.
Submerging her furred body, she quickly shifted her form from that of the wolf back to that of a human girl, knowing all too well that that would leave her naked; her clothes being neatly folded on the sandy shore, far too out of her reach and doing her absolutely no good.
“Hello?” a male voice called from the shore as Tessa’s dark blonde hair floated to the water’s surface preceding her head and shoulders. “Miss? Are you okay?”
With a splash she disappeared from the water’s surface.
“Hey! Wait!” the male dropped his messenger bag in the sand and ran to the water’s edge, but stopped short when Tessa resurfaced and stood tall. “Uh, miss…” he looked her up and down quickly.
“¿Qué tal?” Tessa thanked the moon that her mother had forced her to take a foreign language. Water dripped from various places on her body as she slowly approached the shell-shocked male just beyond the water’s edge.
“W-what?” he cocked his head like a confused dog and it made her giggle, which confused him even more. “I don’t understand you. Do you speak English?” she stopped a foot away from him and ringed her hair out.
“I do.”
“Great. Take my shirt.” Tessa giggled while the male unbuttoned his shirt and handed it to her. “Put it on please. You are very naked.” His voice was shaky and nervous as he avoided looking at her while she put the shirt on and its soft material clung to her damp skin.
She outright laughed as he spoke. “Does it bother you mister?”
“A little, yes.” He looked down at the wet sand on the beach as Tessa pulled her hair from the collar of the shirt, which came down to the middle of her thigh.
“Yes. What are you doing out here? It’s getting pretty late, don’t ya think?” Tessa walked hastily away from the male and in the direction of her beach house. The male spoke fairly innocently, but Tessa felt he was a bit too demanding to a total stranger.
“Why does it matter? You don’t even know me. I could be a bloody serial killer. Right?” she laughed quietly as she knelt down and picked up her folded clothes.
“Matt. Berent.” He said it quickly, and awkwardly; it had taken her by surprise and she burst out laughing.
“My name’s Tessa Winter.” She looked down at her sandy bare feet and he looked out at the dark horizon of the sea. Then it hit her. “Wanna go to the museum with me?”
“What?” he was hit off guard this time by her calm tone of voice and the fact that she was asking him to the museum, of all places. Who went to the museum for a date? “Yeah, sure. When?” She’s hot, he thought, why not?
“How about a week from today?” she looked into his eyes, seeing that he was okay with it before he actually said so.
Laughing, Matt replied. “Sure, okay.”
A long boring week later Tessa met Matt on the sandy shore of the Atlantic near her house. Fully dressed this time, Tessa was wearing a yellow sun dress but not much else.
They walked the two blocks to the museum, talking quietly and laughing as they went.
Walking into the air conditioned atmosphere of the museum a half hour later, Tessa held Matt’s hand and nearly bounced on the balls of her feet in excitement. The cool air as they entered was a great relief from the high temperatures outside under the blazing Florida sun.
“Oh! Look! They’re having a speaker today!” Tessa couldn’t remember a day in the recent weeks when she had been so happy, let alone in the hot hell known as West Palm Beach, though the water was the area’s best perk when it was nice and cool at night.
“Loup-garou?” Matt read from the sign that sat to the right of the door to the lecture hall where the speaker was hosted. “What’s loup-garou? And how does it relate to the museum?” he turned to Tessa who was openly staring at him in utter disbelief, a deformed smile defiling her face.
“You’ve never heard of a loup-garou?” her smile was gone now, replaced by a look of astonishment. “Then we’ll just have to sit in on this lecture.”
Tessa led him by the hand into the hall where an older female sat in a straight-backed chair on a raised platform at the front of the hall. The remaining portion of the room was full of metal folding chairs lined up in rows reaching to the back wall.
Upon seeing Tessa, the female stood up and silently approached her and Matt with her hands clasped in front of her..
“Tessa Winter of Nikolai, I presume?” she spoke with a haughty tone in a quiet volume. “I’d heard of your family’s arrival here in Florida, but forgive that I was doubtful of the rumor’s credibility. I’d always thought that the Winter family stayed north.” She held her hands against her lower stomach and moved them as she spoke.
“Yes, well. Desperate times do call for desperate measures Sasha.” Any happiness or joy that had once been present in the previous minutes was now gone and replaced by a diplomatic control.
“Ah. So losing a leader is a desperate situation? For you perhaps, but not to all of us. However, to come to such a drastically opposite climate… Tsk tsk. Why would Alexandra punish her only remaining family in such a way? I wonder.” She turned away from Tessa and Matt as Tessa’s face reddened with anger.
“Come on Tess, let’s take a seat.” He was clueless right then, but he was sure that if he asked her about it later, she’d most likely tell him the background story. The couple sat in the front row, nearly a foot and a half from the raised platform.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to A Frozen History, The Werewolf’s Tale.” Sasha looked down at Tessa and acknowledged the pure hatred in her eyes with a grin; she knew well enough that every shape shifter in the Winter line despised the term ‘werewolf.’
“Many thousands of years ago in a frozen world, there were the humans and the wolves. These humans worshiped the wolves and they lived happily in peace.
“Years passed in peace until one night when a young wolf mortally injured a human baby in a neighboring village of his own. The humans were so angry and hurt that they banished the wolves from their land. It was at this point that all relations between the two were halted.
“Years passed and there came to be a leader of the humans who held such anger and hatred for the wolves that he gathered a war party and began an onslaught of murder and torture against the wolves who would have been the grandchildren to the one wolf who had mistakenly killed the human baby.
“But these wolves, the smart creatures that they are, bred with the canines that the humans kept as pets. Thus creating the half breeds, but saving the wolves. For, you see, the pups of the canine/wolf breeding acted like the canines but looked the same as the wolves. The humans came to realize that the wolves, which they had shunned their entire lives, really weren’t as bad as their relatives had made them out to be.
“It was around the time of the melting ice that there was a woman that gave birth to the most unusual of babies. The baby, which she and her husband had created, was a wolf pup and not really a human baby at all! However, three weeks into this young pup’s life he took the form of a human and was then able to see; as we all know, the wolves and canines are all born blind, like many other animals are.
“This baby thrived and grew up to be a very strong and athletic young man. In his teenage years, it’s debated whether he was fifteen or eighteen, but we know he was indeed in his teenage years when he shifted his form for the first time since he’d been a baby. The people of his town claimed he was a God and praised him and prayed to him and gave him offerings.
“Every child, consequently, born from his line is said to carry the wolf gene and are known as a wolf-child, or Lunar Child. It is said, but has yet to be proven, that the Lunar People still exist today. Perhaps one may even be here, in this very room under all of our noses. Perhaps. But perhaps not.”
“What an awful woman…” Tessa huffed as she pushed through the double doors and out into the stifling heat.
“What are you talking about? I thought it was kind-a cool.” Matt was confused by Tessa’s reaction to the woman’s lecture. He thought that it had been rather informative and ludicrous.
“Cool? The woman’s insane! How could she just label the poor animals as ‘werewolves’ and then call them that so nonchalantly? The gull of the woman!” Tessa was obviously pissed off, and this only added to his confusion as to why.
“Do you hold a grudge against her or something? I remember the comment she made before the lecture. It seemed otherwise unprofessional if she didn’t know you. Do you know her?” Matt waited for Tessa to respond while they stood at a crosswalk waiting for the traffic signal to turn red.
“Sasha Tetra. She’s the wife of the leader of my family’s political rival. Her husband and my father fought often before he died.” She spoke to her sandaled feet. She crossed the street as the signal was changing and didn’t speak again until she reached the other side. “My father, of course, is the one that died.”
“I’m sorry.” He opened the door to the ice cream parlor and waited for Tessa to enter as the air conditioner froze the sweat drops on his skin. “How long has it been, if I can ask?”
“Almost three months now.”
– – –
Walking down the sun baked street the next afternoon, Matt was dressed in his usual white wife beater and plaid shorts. His over weight messenger bag sagged his shoulder low and the sweat soaked shoulder strap chaffed the bare skin on his sun dried shoulder. Across and down the street he looked up and noticed Tessa carrying a toddler and walking with a young male who was pushing a stroller. When he looked closer he noticed that there was a young baby shaking a rattle around wildly. He stopped to watch as the two progressed towards him when they turned into an alley between two buildings and disappeared from view.
Looking around at the clueless pedestrians walking and rushing down the crowded sidewalk around him, he jogged across the slightly congested road and stopped in front of the mouth of the alleyway where he had seen them disappear.
“Tessa, really, it was for the best.” The male’s deep voice sounded distant, but Matt could understand every word perfectly.
“I know, my mother says that all the time. But I still miss it all! The cold, the never ending abundance of snow drifts to dive in with the children! I hate all of this heat! I just can’t stand it!” The thump of the two bodies hitting against one another was the loudest thing Matt heard, followed by the sobs from Tessa.
“Shhh, don’t worry. Anyway, if you think about it, we are safer here than in Alaska.” The male’s voice lowered to a growl, like there was deeply felt hatred at the heart of his words when he spoke again. “There are many packs in Alaska that have been trying to take over our land since long before you were born.”
“Yeah, but Alaska is home. Nothing here is nearly as comfortable.” The longer Tessa whined, the louder two babies to cries became.
“Home is no longer safe for the pack. Change was necessary.” He said, followed by a moment of silence.
“Thank you Charlie. I love you.”
“You know I care about you. You and the other wolves are my biggest concern.” This made Matt look down the alleyway at the small group nearly at the street on the other end of the alleyway.
“You’d be a great leader Charlie.” Tessa wiped her tear stained cheeks with her bare arm as she looked up at the older male.
They talk like they are the wolves, Matt thought as he turned away from the alley’s mouth; footsteps and the wheels of the stroller became clearer as the two walked back to the sidewalk. Pushing away from the brick building, Matt darted across the street and was lost in the crowd on the opposite sidewalk by the time Tessa and Charlie surfaced on the sidewalk.
Walking down the seaside sidewalk only hours before sundown, Tessa’s phone rang; Monica was calling.
“Tessa! Oh my god, seriously!” Monica’s panicked voice alarmed Tessa when Monica didn’t immediately share more information.
“Monica! What’s going on?” Tessa stopped walking down the sidewalk, forcing the other passersby to move around her as if she were an island and they were the shifting ocean tide.
“Tess, I just did a… Promise not to tell anyone?” she felt anxious, knowing how quickly gossip could spread through the pack if it was juicy enough, just as hers was.
“Well, if it’s something that serious Monica, Alexandra may need to be informed. Tell me what’s going on.”
Monica knew that Tessa only said what she did because she has the best interest of the pack at heart, and Monica knew well enough that Tessa was loyal. “I did a self pregnancy test, and it was positive.” She waited.
“That’s good, right?” Tessa asked unsure. “Who’s the father?”
“Louis.” The line went quiet. Tessa remembered when, back in Alaska, Monica had been engaged to marry Louis. They were the two happiest people she had ever seen. How am I supposed to respond to this Monica? “My mother will need to know, at least. You should be happy Monica. Babies are wonderful.” Her voice was calm, but she was fearful to show joy or even horror, for she knew that that would really scare Monica.
“I know, I just wish he could be here to raise our child with me.” Her tears pulled through the line and alerted Tessa that she was crying. “There’s no way I’d ever get rid of the only thing left in the world to remind me of him.”
“I know, I know.” Sympathy was the only thing she could give her sister-figure other than her love.
– – –
Later in that week while Matt was temporarily enjoying the free air conditioning of the public library, he decided to look up Tessa’s full name, ‘Tessa Winter,’ in the Yahoo! Search engine. When there were no other results than a MySpace, he typed in ‘Tessa Winter of Nikolai’ instead. There were thirty-seven results for this, one being the MySpace, which he clicked knowing that people tended to over share their information on the site.
The large background picture of a sleeping white wolf greeted Matt as the page loaded, followed by text and the default picture, which was also incidentally the white wolf. Matt clicked on the ‘Pics’ link under the default picture and waited as picture after picture loaded; he noticed that for every picture of Tessa there were five of the wolf; from puppy to full grown, older pictures to newer ones and even a few from West Palm Beach. Most of the pictures were from a snow covered land unfamiliar to Matt, but then there were also pictures from the very same beach were he had met Tessa only too recently. He did notice, however, that no matter how many pictures there were of Tessa and the wolf individually, there never seemed to be one with both of them.
Back on her main page Matt read Tessa’s ‘About Me’ section, which read:
“Hey, I’m Tessa, your average Alaskan girl. My father is the mayor of Nikolai, which is where I live, and my mother is the best stay-at-home mom there ever could have been. I have a really big family, and we get along most of the time…”
Matt glanced down the section and read more:
“My father was killed last week, as well as most of my family. I hate those people that killed my people. And I hate my mother most for not doing anything about it!”
Clicking the back button on the Safari browser, he returned to the Yahoo! results page thinking of how awful her life must have been at that time; he remembered that her last log in date was the Thursday of the previous week, meaning she had ample opportunity to update when she wanted to.
A second page caught his attention as the Yahoo! results page loaded. The preview paragraph read:
“Tessa Winter of Nikolai, Alaska… The oldest daughter of the slain pack leader morns her father’s passing… Death of a leader leaves pack lost… Remaining pack members are said to be suffering in Florida…”
He clicked on the link and waited for the browser to load once again, which turned out to be a Wikipedia page titled ‘The Winters of Nikolai.’
“What the hell?” The more he read the more confused he became. The article suggested that the Winter family and their relatives changed forms from human to that of wolves, calling them loup-garou. There were even pictures of half changed people, which the picture caption called a Demi form. As he continued reading the page he saw a video link, which he clicked on and watched as a human, unfamiliar to him, silently screamed out in pain and changed form to that of a shaggy grey wolf.
“No way.” He clicked out of the browser, logged off the computer, and ran out into the heat of the Florida afternoon.
About a week later Matt and Tessa were laying on the beach for the fourth consecutive day just enjoying each other’s company.
“Matt, what do you think about wolves?” Tessa asked as they lay under the setting sun.
“Wolves?” he looked over at her and she nodded. “Well, I guess they’re really beautiful, and sort of misunderstood.”
“Really? You think they’re beautiful?” a smile lit her face as she turned her head to smile at him. “What’s your favorite thing about them?”
Stars reflected in Matt’s eyes as she gazed up at the now dark sky. “Favorite?” He pondered quietly for a minute. “Well, I’d have to say the eyes.”
“Eyes? Why the eyes?”
“Well, I guess because the only wolf I’ve ever seen in person had the most beautiful light blue eyes. They were nearly human actually. They just looked so intelligent and I just couldn’t believe it. They just looked so strong.” His voice quieted to a whisper.
“You’ve seen one before?” the false awe covered the shock she felt as she sat up and looked down into his dark eyes; her whole body was covered in sand and her clothes were caked with drying mud.
“Yeah, it was actually here on this beach. That one night when I’d first met you.” He sat up and looked out over the water. “It was floating in the water just over there with its belly up. She looked so comfortable; when I first saw her I wasn’t completely sure what it was. I doubted it was even there after it just disappeared.”
“What color was she?” Tessa’s voice was a quiet whisper.
“White. The purest white I’ve ever seen.” He looked into her eyes and noticed something there that looked a lot like fear. “What’s wrong?” he reached his hand out and touched her shoulder.
“I think you saw me.” Her eyes stared wide and unseeing into his while she sat dumbfounded.
“How is that possible? It’s not.” Answering his own question in an anxious tone, he stood up and lifted her with him.
“Matt, let me go.” Matt’s grip on her shoulder loosened and his arm fell to his side. “I’ll show you the infamous Winter Wolf. The white color is a family trait, like your hair color.” Tessa stepped away from him and gathered her hair together in a hair tie; she turned to face him. “Do you trust me Matt?”
“What?” he took a half step away.
“I wouldn’t tell you if I didn’t trust you. I wouldn’t even bring this up.” She took off her sky blue tank top and her short black shorts.
Matt nodded his head nervously as Tessa’s last article of clothing dropped to the sandy beach.
“Promise me you won’t scream.” He continued to nod which in turn made her giggle.
She turned her face skyward and her body went motionless. With a disgusting crack her skull enlarged and her spine popped, forcing her to bend her body at the waist; Matt stood frozen, afraid to move or touch her. Her arms popped and fur grew at a miraculous rate while the limbs extended. Her legs were the last to crack and sprout fur, completing the transformation.
She shook her body and stretched her powerful legs and followed it all up with a toothy yawn.
“T-Tessa?” Matt wiped his sweaty palms on his khaki shorts and stared at the pearly white wolf that sat before him. It was the same wolf that he had seen in the water short weeks before.
Tessa looked into Matt’s eyes as she lay on the sand and put her muzzle between her paws. She sat still for a minute and then rolled over onto her back, exposing her furless belly to him.
He stood still, unsure what move to make. Slowly he approached her and she never moved. He came down to his knees and Tessa licked her nose, making Matt laugh nervously.
Reaching out a careful hand he caressed the soft fur on Tessa’s chest; cautiously at first and gradually becoming comfortable. He scratched a spot on her belly and found that she kicked her approval. He laughed when she stretched out her head and licked his hand.
“Tessa, you really are beautiful.” He laughed while she lay on her side and watched him watch her.

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