Authors: Robin Roseau
Robin Roseau (2013)
Michaela Redfur is a were fox living a quiet life in Bayfield, Wisconsin. She has a quiet job that gets her out of doors and avoids the werewolves as if her life depended on it. Which it does.
That all changes early one morning when Lara Burns, the Madison Wolves alpha, introduces herself, much to Michaela's chagrin. Lara explains to Michaela that "we only want to talk", but when a werewolf comes knocking on a tiny, delicate foxes' front door, Michaela knows talking is the last thing in the wolfy mind.
This novel is 93,000 words and is the first in in The Madison Wolves Series.
by Robin Roseau
Table of Contents
Of Fox and Fur
I love my life, most of the time. I was young, in great health, and with a job I loved. I wouldn't mind a good, strong, clever woman to love, but I was happy on my own as well.
Being a were fox comes with difficulties, of course. Every silver lining has a cloud somewhere, right?
As a woman, I was small. Diminutive might be an even better word. I was barely five feet if I stretched my back as straight and tall as I could, with sharp, delicate features and glowing red hair that tumbled over my shoulders and back. My hair turned eyes. I say that with a certain amount of vanity, but it was true.
As a fox, I would be considered large. Quite large, actually, when compared to a North American Red Fox. But compared to the other weres one might encounter, I was tiny. Small, delicate. Lunch.
Not that I needed to be worried about being eaten. First, they would have to catch me. And then they would find me bony and my meat stringy. No wolf would bother making a meal out of me when there was tastier prey to be had. Kill me, yes. Eat me, probably not.
Of the weres, the wolves were the worst. They were pack animals, so you rarely dealt with just a single wolf. A single wolf can be avoided. The tigers and lions were perhaps bigger, but they were far, far less common. The wolves were everywhere.
You probably even know a few, even if you aren't aware of it.
But the wolves were also arrogant and cocky, yet at the same time many of them had self esteem issues. Being hated and feared can do that to you, I suppose.
The number one rule amongst all weres is simple: do not mess with the humans. They outnumber us a thousand to one, and while even a were fox easily outclassed a single human, all the weres on the planet couldn't stand to the humans if they decided to exterminate us.
So if you're big, strong, arrogant, cocky, and have self-esteem issues, what do you do? You find a scapegoat, of course. You find someone to pick on, someone to belittle. You find someone beneath you, and then you make sure that person knows she is beneath you. And then you make sure she stays there.
In other words, you find a diminutive fox.
Like I said, every silver lining comes with a cloud, and for me, it was the wolves.
For the last eight years, the solution for me has been simple: I avoided them. It wasn't usually difficult; I could smell them from a mile away, after all. Usually literally. In town I avoided all the were hangouts. When wearing my fur and running through the forest, I avoided their territory, as much as I could. Prior to eight years ago, things were more complicated. We'll come back to that.
My job sometimes made voidance difficult, unfortunately. I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was based in northern Wisconsin. My offices were a little satellite office in Ashland, but my home was in Bayfield. I had a cute little house with a view of Lake Superior. From the roof. I actually built a deck up there with a patio door from my upstairs bedroom, then a set of stairs to the deck. It looked rather silly, I suppose, but I could sit up there with a glass of wine and watch the boats out on the water.
The nearest wolf pack of any size was in Duluth, but they stayed in Minnesota, and I didn't need to worry much about them. The pack I did worry about was in Madison. They considered most of Wisconsin as theirs, and my normally peaceful Bayfield frequently had wolf tourists strolling down the streets. Conveniently, the sort of wolf who liked to visit Bayfield wasn't the sort of wolf that felt the need to pick on the resident fox. If I encountered a wolf on the street or in the woods, I could usually count on a polite if somewhat arrogant nod hello.
And so, as I said: I love my life. My name is Michaela Redfur, and this is my story.
I did say "most of the time" somewhere, didn't I?
The insistent knock came before seven AM on a Tuesday morning in July. I'd had a late night run in the woods and didn't appreciate an early morning visit. My life was not the sort that typically brought visitors to my house. In fact, other than annoying salespeople offering free estimates on siding and windows or less annoying teenagers selling cookies or magazines, my door never received the attention of visitors.
Especially not visitors that woke me at a far too early hour.
If I ignore him, maybe he'll go away. That was my first thought.
The knocking turned into pounding and doorbell ringing. So much for that theory. I woke the rest of the way, pulled on some clothes, and padded down to the front door. I wasn't awake enough at first to think about it, but when I got to the door, I could smell them.
As a human, my fox is never far from me. She was clever and very, very good at hiding. As a fox, my human was never far, either. I may act fox, but I retained my human memories and intellect. With wolves on my doorstep, Fox tried to assert herself. "Run," she whispered. "Hide."
I glanced out a window, unseen. Two wolves, male, large, were standing on the door. As I watched, one of them pounded on the door again while the other rang the bell. Insistent assholes.
Wolves at the front door meant it was time to go out the back. I crept to the kitchen and took a peek out the window.
"Damn it," I said. There were two more wolves there.
Oh sure, they looked human, if you didn't know better. They weren't.
The pounding at the front door continued, and then I heard a voice, muffled. "Come on, Ms. Redfur. We just need to talk to you."
Silently, I crept back upstairs, considering my choices. I smiled a grim smile. In my fur while they were still on two feet, I was faster than they were, and this was my town. It would take them time to shift, and I could be long gone. I would circle into the hill overlooking my house where I could watch them.
I slipped into my bedroom, shedding my clothing. Quietly I opened the patio door, and then I began my shift. This was another advantage I had over the wolves. Their shifts were slow and painful. Mine was quick, instant really, and quite easy for me.
Once furry, I stretched, reveling in the feel. I loved my fox. She was sleek and cunning, with sharp senses. I sniffed the air and wrinkled my nose. With the patio door open, the air stank with the smell of wolf.
Unseen, I slipped out the door and stepped onto the roof of my house. Most of my house is two stories high, far higher than I would have preferred to jump. There was a roof over the front entry, but I didn't want to jump down that close to the two wolves out front. I may not have planned this as well as I would have liked.
The wolves made up my mind for me, however. From the front of the house I heard the sound of breaking glass. They had grown impatient and were breaking into my house. Breaking and entering. I should have called the police. Just what I needed: a bloodbath between were and human.
But if they were inside the house, that meant the front was safe. Carefully and silently, I slipped down to the edge of the roof then jumped to the lower roof over the entrance. It was still a long jump to the ground, but I dropped and rolled.
I climbed to my feet, bruised from the fall, then shook my fur out and began running silently along the front of the house and turned the corner, my nose to the hills, but ran smack dab into a pair of jeans. Then there was a hand in the scruff of my neck, and I found myself lifted into the air.
As a human, I didn't even reach one hundred pounds. As a fox, I was barely thirty pounds. That made me a very large fox, but picking me up was nothing to the female wolf I found looking at me. She held me at arm's length, facing her.
"Got her," she said, loudly enough for the other wolves to hear.
I immediately lashed out with teeth and claws. I stretched my neck and nipped at her arm. I couldn't reach her hand in my neck, but I drew blood from her arm. I went wild, trying to scratch her with my feet and trying to bite her again. I squirmed and struggled.
In response, she tightened her grip in my neck, and it hurt. I was hanging from the skin of my neck, and it hurt. I wasn't a kit to be carried around like this. And besides, it was embarrassing.
"Stop it," she hissed. "You're just hurting yourself."
I snapped and struggled, finally getting lucky and burying my teeth in her arm again. She growled, a deep feral growl. I had been a long time since I was last growled at by a wolf so close to me, and it scared me, it scared every corner of me. I needed to run. I needed to hide.
I squirmed and struggled.
She shook me roughly. "Stop it," she said again. "We're just here to talk."
It was clear I wasn't going to free myself. Her grip was way too strong, and my bites had done nothing but make her angry. I went limp, pretending to be dead, pretending she had snapped my neck when she shook me.
She began carrying me to the front door of my house. She growled again, and I almost wet myself in fear.
I wouldn't give her that satisfaction.
She turned me around, holding me in front of her, then wrapped her second hand around my chest under my front legs.
"You can stop faking," she said. "I can feel your heartbeat."
I reached down and bit her hand.
"Damn it!" she said, pulling her hand away. She shook me again. "Stop that!"
I yipped in pain and fear. I didn't like being shaken like that.
We got to the front door, and I saw the wolves had broken the window to get in. She carried me up the steps, stepping over the broken glass, and walked into my house. The other four wolves waited for us. One of them closed the door behind us.
My captor maintained her grip, holding me away from her body, and my attempts to bite and scratch weren't getting me anywhere. Frustrated, I fell limp again.
I hate wolves.
One of the males walked up to me. I eyed him carefully but remained passive.
"Careful, she's-" my captor started to say.
I lunged at the male, my teeth grazing his cheek.
"Damn it!" he yelled, jerking back. Then he raised a hand and swung at me. If he had connected, he would certainly have killed me. Even a human his size could kill me with a blow like that, and he had the strength of a wolf.
But the woman snatched me out of his range and held out her other hand. "Eric. No! Stand down."
"The bitch bit me," he said, glaring at me.
"I tried to warn you," the woman said. "She's scared. What would you do?"
"She needs to learn her place," he replied.
"I said stand down," the woman said again, and there was steel in her voice. The male immediately backed off, his proverbial tail between his legs.
The woman, my captor, had shielded me from the male with her own body, pulling me close to her. I thanked her by reaching up and biting her neck, then renewed my squirms and struggles for freedom.