As they drove out to Pioneer Woods again the following evening, Brice’s nerves were strung tighter than a bow string. He had to get his mind off of what he planned to do, so he glanced at Logan asking, “Last night you said you didn’t have a pack any more. Why, if I’m not being too nosy?”
“They were slaughtered,” Logan replied, the anger he still felt after all this time mixed with the pain of his loss.
“By another pack?”
“No. That I could accept as part of the way life is for a wolf, and for a shifter pack. It was the government, our esteemed government.” He sneered as he said that. “They bowed to the will of the ranchers and went on a hunt. Those they didn’t kill, hunters did, and my pack, my family, was wiped out of existence.” Logan pressed his face against the cool window pane as he whispered, “And it wasn’t even wolves that they destroyed.”
Brice frowned. “Wouldn’t they have...?” Then he shook his head as he remembered. “We stay in the form we die in.”
“Exactly,” Logan replied. He turned to look at Brice. “So those bastards celebrated the fact that they’d eliminated a vicious pack of predators. Even if they had been true wolves, that would have been a tragedy based on misconceptions.” With a deep sigh, Logan shook his head. “You don’t need a lecture, and I will start to rant if I continue talking about it.”
Brice reached out to squeeze Logan’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he told him sincerely.
After that, they switched to just talking about inconsequential things. Logan could sense Brice’s tension and tried his best to take his mind off of the reason for this trip. For the most part he succeeded until they pulled into one of the parking lots inside the Woods.
As they got out of the car Brice took a deep breath. “I can do this.”
Logan chuckled. “That’s what we’re hoping.”
“Yeah. Yeah it is.”
When they reached the clearing Brice asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
“I was thinking about that today. I guess the first question is, now that you’ve had time to think about everything we talked about last night, do you really believe you are a shifter.”
“Well, I know for a fact you are. I saw you shift. That goes a long way towards helping me believe it’s possible.”
“For me, yes, but you have to believe it for you. That means you have to find the wolf within you. It’s there, but it’s been buried for so long you may have trouble—even though you finally remembered it exists.”
“Should I…no, you didn’t. I wish I could remember actually shifting, not just me as a wolf.”
“Didn’t what?” Logan asked, curious.
“Undress. In the show every time my character shifts his clothes tear apart. Hard on the wardrobe.” He chuckled.
“But it makes for a more impressive scene I suspect. In reality, and to be honest I don’t know why, when I shift my clothes just vanish and then when I return to human form I can will myself dressed again.”
“Damn, this is complicated, isn’t it?”
“Not really. It just…happens. I think of my wolf and I’m him.”
“Yes, but then I’ve always done it. I never tried to deny to myself what I am—my dual natures.”
Brice nodded. Then he closed his eyes to search for his other nature, his wolf. Seconds later he opened them again. “Does it hurt?”
“Nope, because it’s what we’re supposed to do.”
“Good.” Brice closed his eyes again. For what seemed like forever he felt nothing, no matter how hard he concentrated. Then, suddenly, the wolf was there, enfolding him body and soul with its beauty, its strength, its freedom. And he was the wolf.