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Taylor's Time!

Ooh, a new story by Taylor!

And this is a shifter story!


I can't wait to dive in!

But brace yourself - this is a LONG one.

- Kendra

For You Only

Scene One

Inspired by moments with my best friend.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. There he was, my sweet Akela, curled up in bed, eyes squeezed shut. Immediately, my eyes spotted the deep wound on his face, a clotted gash slicing through his eye and eyebrow. I swallowed, closing the door softly behind me. Akela's other eye fluttered open. He winced.

God, had his body temperature burned off the morphine already?

It must have. In the dim light, I could see a thin sheen of sweat shining against his bronzed skin. His expression changed from pain to surprise as I approached, sitting on the stool that the doctors used. I could feel the heat of his body, even without touching him. Akela's voice held something akin to shock.

"You're here."

I forced a smile, trying to hide my anxiety. Akela sighed and spoke again, his words breathy.

"Thank God you're alright."

This took me aback. He had been worried for me. He was the injured one. I'd escaped the attack without so much as a scratch. He was the one suffering now. Yet, he was worried about my safety. His brow furrowed. He could smell my nervousness, sense my anxiety. My fake smile wilted. I should've known there was no point in trying to hide my emotions from his wolf senses.

"I'm okay," he assured me. He winced again, pulling his arm from under the blanket. His fingers clutched mine, his skin comfortingly hot. There was another deep cut on the back of his hand. I tried, with little success, to keep my voice steady.

"You have such deep wounds."

He ran his thumb over my skin. The gesture soothed me in a way that his words couldn't.

"My wounds will close up soon."

With his hair pulled back, I could see the smaller, less lethal wounds near his hair and jawline. My best friend, so strong and fierce as a wolf, seemed so frail and fragile in his human form. I swallowed hard and asked the question that had been on my mind as I sat, waiting for the doctors to bandage his wounds.

"Are you in great pain?"

He lowered his eyes for a moment, considering his answer, before raising them with his expression soft.

"I can push through it."

In my head, a black wolf lept between me and a rival wolf pack. The wolf, Akela, had no pack of his own, living up to his name as a loner. I stood frozen as they ripped him to shreds. There was nothing else I could do. I was no match for a pack of that size. Akela knew this. He'd risked life to save mine.

"What's on your mind?" asked Akela.

I looked at him. I hadn't realized I'd let go of his hand. "You didn't have to do what you did."

His mouth became hard, his voice serious. "Yes I did."

I exhaled angrily. "Akela, you could've died trying to save me."

He didn't say anything. He took my hand again, lightly squeezing my fingers and closed his eyes. Slowly, his wounds began to heal. One by one, they closed, leaving ugly pinkish-brown scars in their wake. Almost immediately, his body relaxed. Together, Akela and I sighed in relief - no more pain.

He sat up, letting the blankets fall. I half-expected him to be bare chested, as his shirt had been hung on one of the bed posts. His entire upper body was bandaged up to his right shoulder. A surge of guilt washed over me. It was my fault he'd been hurt like this. If I hadn't been walking in the woods, he would've never -

Akela wiped a tear from my cheek. He took my face in his hands and rested his forehead against mine. The warmth of his breath, of his skin, grounded me. It steadied me. He pulled back, looking me in the eyes.

"It's not your fault."

This was all too serious. Where was the laughter, the playfulness that had become such a huge part of our friendship?

I composed myself. My voice was light and teasing, just like old times.

"So, wolves can read minds now, too huh?" I knew they couldn't, of course. He knew me. He understood me better than anyone else. He let out a small laugh and kissed my forehead. He kissed my temple, then my eyebrow, my nose, the curve of my cheekbone, until I giggled and pushed him away. He took me into his arms and held me close, his body was so warm that I seemed to melt into his embrace. He rested his cheek into my hair. His voice was soft.

"I'm so sorry you had to see me like that."

I tensed in his arms. I couldn't think about that anymore, didn't want to think about it anymore. I swallowed. My words seemed to stick to the roof of my mouth. "Could we not talk about that anymore? Please?"

He stayed quiet. His fingers stroked my arm. "As you wish, love," he whispered. “As you wish.”

I squeezed him tight.

"We should get some sleep," he said.

My body tensed again. Not because of what he said, but the distant howling a few yards outside the window. It was a beautiful, frightening chorus, evidence that the pack was still near. "Could I - would you mind if I slept in here tonight?" I asked, hesitantly. I felt him smile.

"Not at all."

He kissed my hair and stood up, walking to the closet to get some extra blankets. He moved the stool out of the way and spread the blankets on the floor. He was giving up his bed for me. I couldn't remember how I'd ended up in his bed. Had he lifted me there? The floor was hard and cold. I couldn't let him sleep there.

"Don't you wanna sleep in your own bed?" I asked. "You don't even have a pillow."

He crouched to straighten up his makeshift bed. "A true gentleman is always willing to sacrifice his own comfort for the women in his life."

My cheeks flushed. I pulled one of the two pillows from the bed and handed it out to him.

"I'm alright." He laid down, pulling a blanket over him. "You keep it."

I groaned.

"Just take it, Akela!" I swung the pillow at his head. He laughed and grabbed it roughly from me in mock anger before snuggling down in his nest of blankets. I sank into his bed, the soft mattress, the smooth sheets, the wolf-scented blankets. For a moment, I had the soothing sensation of sinking into a bubble bath. Akela sounded far away.

"I love you."

My gut clenched. I loved him too, but not in the same way he loved me. No, my love was deeper. I loved the human boy who showered me with love and affection, and I loved the part of him he hated most. I loved the wolf.


I was thirteen.

A black wolf circled me as I lay in the snow. I couldn't move. I don't know why, I just knew I couldn't. He stared at me and I at him. He was beautiful, beautiful and graceful and dark. His nostrils flared, and something like recognition dawned in his eyes. He stopped at my side, and there he lay down. He rested his massive head on my chest. I wasn't afraid. I knew I should've been, but I wasn't. I couldn't be afraid of him.

I lifted my hand to touch the top of his head and saw the blood between my fingers. In a flash, I remembered skiing with my parents, going off the trail and falling several feet off a mountain side. I couldn't find the source of the blood, but I knew then that I was too injured to move. Akela's actions, his calm demeanor, told me everything I needed to hear.

"I'm not leaving you here alone."

And he didn't. For days, he stayed with me. He guarded me from predators, snarling and snapping when they dared to approach. He kept me warm. He kept me alive, moving only after he heard the voices of my parents from miles away. As a wolf, Akela was a slave to instinct. Yet, he somehow remained human enough to show me unwavering loyalty and mercy, despite the temptation my blood must've held for him. It was the scent of blood that drew him near. It had to be. Still, I wasn't afraid of him. I would never be afraid.


Now, as I lay in his room, in his bed, my stomach squeezed again. I said the words I meant more now than ever before. “I love you, more.”

I wanted him closer. I wanted him to lay beside me as he'd done as a wolf. I didn't voice my request. Sleeping in the same bed was not how friends behaved. Instead, I rolled over, facing the window and closed my eyes.

Not long after he'd fallen asleep, Akela had a nightmare. I was half-asleep when I heard a sound caught between a snore and a whimper. I shot up, wide awake, and crouched swiftly beside Akela. His breathing was harder now, faster, like he wasn't getting enough air, gasping and choking. I took his hand in both of my own. He half whimpered, half-moaned in distress. His hand, his fingers, his entire body was completely limp.

I knew what this was. I stroked his arm with one hand and rubbed his palm and fingers with the other.

Wake up, Akela. Wake up!

I did the only thing I could. I held his hand and waited. The seconds it took him to finally wake felt like minutes. My breaths were like bricks.

Finally, finally, he grabbed my hand, seizing it tightly as if it were his lifeline. He inhaled sharply, staring at the ceiling, struggling to regain his bearings. He sighed and ran his hand over one side of his face. I gave his hand a gentle squeeze.

“You're okay, Akela,” I soothed. “You're safe.”

He sat up, still holding my hand, and said, “Thank you.” His words, laced with the memory of panic and suffocation, were slow and meaningful. He said it again. “Thank you.”

Though I knew I would be crossing our boundary of friendship, I lifted my fingers to his face. His eyes found mine and he smiled.

“You're so comforting.”

His voice was soft and tired. I smiled back at him.

“You saved me, so I saved you.”

I knew I hadn't truly saved him, of course. Aside from the terror, the hallucinations, and the exhaustion that came afterwards, I knew that Akela's condition, this sleep paralysis, was relatively harmless. Still, the episodes felt all too real to Akela, so real he felt like he was slowly dying.

With a twinge of pain, I remembered the day I freed him from a bear trap that a careless hunter had laid out.


A sharp cry, a wolf's cry, rang from the woods behind my parents’ house. What started out as an animal's screech grew into a human scream. I bolted into the forest and found the boy. He shivered in the frigid air, his wolf's ruff gone. His naked body was smeared with blood and dirt. His leg was broken. He looked at me, his dark eyes filled with agony and recognition. Weakly, he whispered, “It's you.”

As he curled into himself to fight the pain and keep warm, I saw his thick black hair, black like the snow dusted fur of the wolf that protected me a year ago. He had the animal's scent too, this boy, musky and feral. He was beautiful and dark.

It was him!

This boy was the wolf who had guarded me as I lay injured, who saved me from frostbite and predators until I was found. Now he was slowly dying, inches before my eyes. He was losing strength and blood. I was wasting time.

I took off my coat and threw it over him. Cold stabbed into my exposed skin. I pressed the small button on the side of the bear trap. It released the boy.

We weren't far from my home, so I half-carried, half-dragged him to the storage shed in the backyard. My parents hadn't used it for years, making it the perfect hiding spot. Grabbing a first-aid kit from a shelf, I hurriedly set the bone and dressed the wound in the dying daylight, thankful for the classes I'd taken earlier that summer. There was a bin stuffed with extra winter blankets. I took them out and wrapped them rightly around the trembling boy. Back in the house, I informed my parents that I would be staying the night at a friend's. I went into the bathroom to gather the strongest painkillers I could find, then to the hall closet to get out a space heater that ran off its own battery. Downstairs, I retrieved some water and prepared a bowl of leftover stew from the stove.

In the shed, I made the boy eat as much as he could stomach and gave him the water. He reluctantly accepted the painkillers, claiming he didn't take them often out of some strange personal belief. Not long after taking them, he gradually fell asleep. I sat back, finally able to relax, and blew into my hands. The tiny heater didn't do much for me, but I didn't care. As long as it kept him warm, I was fine with the cold.

Through the night, I stayed awake. I watched over him. I fought the urge to sleep to ensure that this boy, my wolf, would pull through. I stayed by his side until the early morning hours.


I saved Akela's life that night, like he saved mine today. I saved him like he saved me all those years ago by the mountain side. That's when it hit me. When Akela saved me, when he put himself between me and danger, he was simply returning the favor out of compassion and love.

You save me, I save you. My eyes and nose burned. No, you can't cry in front of him. He needs you to be strong. Without thinking, I embraced him. I held him so tightly that I was sure I was hurting him, but I didn't care, and he didn't complain. He hugged me back and asked gently, “What's the matter?’

I didn't look at him. “I'm just so glad you're okay.”

He rested his cheek on my hair for several long moments. His grip around me tightened when I tried to pull away. His words were muffled by my shoulder.

“I don't wanna let you go.”

He didn't. Together, we stayed wrapped in each other's arms until time lost all meaning. Nothing else mattered now. Not the attack that nearly took Akela's life. Not the howling of the bloodthirsty wolves outside. Not even the scars that those same wolves left on Akela's body. We, Akela and I, our unbreakable and beautiful bond, was all that mattered now.

I closed my eyes, soaking in his warmth and listening to his heartbeat. And I didn't break away until the frigid night had fallen silent.

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