Wonder: A Soul Savers Collection of Holiday Short Stories & Recipes
and her gaze followed it down to a chimney on a small house at the base of the mountain. She sniffed the air and inhaled the wonderful scent of burning leaves and wood—a scent of memories, of happiness, of coziness and warmth. The scent of a lifetime long gone. The wolf looked back toward the sky and, unable to help herself, let out a long howl.
    She turned back for the woods, skirting its edges as she returned to her hunt for a safe place to sleep. Her eyes kept darting back to the little house, and her heart ached to go nearer. But that would be stupid. Unsafe. Normans were there, and she’d spent half the day running away from them. Why on Earth did she so badly want to run for them? She knew that answer deep in her heart, but she ignored it.
    Just as she eyed what appeared to be a hollow log big enough for her to curl up inside, a snapping sound tore through the quiet and pain clawed at her back paw. The wolf yelped and turned. A steel trap! She remembered her brothers setting such contraptions many years ago. And now one had her. The thing’s teeth dug into her flesh, and she couldn’t help the whimper. The animal lay down on her side, stared at the sky, and whined. But she’d only allow such self-pity for a minute. Then she’d suck it up, knowing the one thing she had to do to free herself from the trap. With a sigh—the air was cold and she’d soon be freezing—the beautiful black beast closed her eyes and forced the change.
    “What the hell?” a low voice demanded. A Norman jogged into the woods, coming to a full stop when he saw Rissa lying on the ground, completely naked, the trap enclosing her ankle. “I thought ... good thing I heard that wolf and came running. He could be anywhere. How the hell did you get caught in this?”
    Rissa ignored the man, not able to even bring her eyes up to his face. She tried to curl into a ball, hiding what she could of her girl bits, but the trap dragged at her ankle, the steel teeth still gnawing at her skin. She bit back another cry. The man knelt down beside her. Rissa tried to spring away and let out a gasp with the pain.
    “Relax, sweetheart,” the man said. “Let me help you before you make it worse.”
    She peered at him, but couldn’t see his face. He kept it turned to the side, toward her feet, averted from her nakedness. All she could see was dark hair curling over the edges of a gray beanie, dark scruff on his jaw, and a tall body clad in an orange winter vest, a black hoodie underneath, and jeans. His large hands grasped at the metal jaws of the trap, and the golden words Georgia Tech that decorated his hoodie’s sleeves rippled as the fabric strained against his bulging muscles. As soon as her ankle was released, Rissa quickly pulled her leg away. She curled into a ball, trying to hide her most private parts. Her body shivered from both cold and fear. This man would have questions. All kinds of questions. She needed to get away and fast.
    Gentle fingers skimmed over her foot, and she looked down with terrified eyes. The man—who was about her age, barely more than a boy—wiped away the blood trickling down her ankle. She jumped back at his touch. Pain shot through her leg.
    “I’m so sorry,” he said. “I thought I’d cleaned up all the traps, but it’s not like there are usually people traipsing around these woods. What were you doing out here, sweetheart? And if you don’t mind me asking, where the hell are your clothes?”
    And there were the questions. They were only the beginning, she was sure. His eyes skimmed over her shins and her arms—the only parts he could really see, thankfully the light was dimming as the sun fell further behind the mountain—and to her face. Something flickered in his dark eyes, but Rissa nearly missed it, too busy staring at his mesmerizing face. Especially his lips—full, kissable lips. She wondered what they tasted like. She licked her own lips and moved her gaze to his eyes, a dark brown like her own. The

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