Tiger in the Snow
Tessa heard huffing behind her and halted in her tracks. She slowly turned around. As cold, hungry, and tired as she was, slowly was the only speed of which she was capable. A squeak of fear escaped her mouth, which would have hung open were she able to stop chattering and shivering.
The hulking bear walked toward her, its stride purposeful, its gaze focused upon her. The flight or fight instinct froze her muscles, not that she could have fled anyway. Her body just wasn’t capable of it. Perhaps if she crumpled to the ground and curled up as tightly as possible? Might that convince the bear that she wasn’t worth its time or trouble?
Close enough to open the channel for mental communication, Dmitry contacted the bear, using the mind-to-mind path open to all shifters.
You’re frightening her.
He felt a mild sense of surprise from the bear, but the shifter answered without breaking his focus on the woman, She smells ripe. She’s mine.
She’ll die of exposure and be no one’s if we don’t take care of her.
We? There is no “we,” tiger. The woman is mine.
Dmitry paused to deposit his duffle and then emerged from the cover of the winter forest. The woman’s brown eyes widened even more with terror. She groaned as with the realization that she was dead, either from animal attack or hypothermia. Death was certain. Escape was futile.
Just as hungry for a mate as the bear, maybe even hungrier, Dmitry tried for rational control one more time: The woman is terrified and near to death from cold. We must take care of her first before either of us stakes a claim.
She’s dying, you fool!
Indeed, the woman had crumpled to the ground and she lay ominously still.