Grandmother was feeling a little poorly, so her granddaughter packed some food in a wicker basket to take to her. Because the day was a little chilly, she put on the white sweater that hugged her curves the way a race-car driver hugs the inside lane. Her jeans accentuated other curves, and she chose her Mary Janes with the one-inch heels. She was a tall girl and rarely wore a higher heel. A bit of lipstick and eyeliner and she was set.
Just before leaving, she donned her red cape and put the hood over her head, pulling her long blonde hair forward so that it flowed down her sweater .
Grandmother’s house was a straight shot to the west, a mere fifteen blocks. But two of those blocks were the tail end of the bad part of the city. It was where the wolves hung out; they liked to prey on girls crossing from one part of town to the other. Also, it was safer for them than the center of the bad part, because a mere wolf couldn’t survive among the strange and dangerous creatures there.
As she walked along the street, she looked to her right and saw Billy sitting on his porch steps.
“Hi, Lorinda,” he called.
“Where are you going?”
“To Grandmother’s house. She’s not feeling well, so I’m taking some food to her. Want to come along?”
Billy weighed this briefly. “I’d like to, but I’d better stay here. My mom said she’s got things for me to do today.” And he hung his head just a little.
“OK,” she said. “See you later.”
Poor Billy. He was afraid of the wolves. The wolves really wanted the girls, of course, but they’d make a snack of anyone who came by. So puppies like Billy kept close to home.
Another block went by and she called to another friend.
“Hello, Mrs. Fardslicer.”
“Hello, Lorinda. Going to your grandmother’s?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Watch out for the wolves.”
“Oh, I’m not afraid of any wolves.”
Mrs. Fardslicer smirked. “Yes, I know. That’s why you need to be told to watch out for them.”
Lorinda laughed and kept walking.
Soon, she came to Wolf Country. She kept her stride brisk, her body straight and tall, her head up, the look on her face one of purpose.
A couple of stringy characters leaned against a utility pole. They came to attention when they saw her, and slouched again at her quick, dismissive look. Some wolves were easy to deal with, although they would have picked on Billy just to feed their egos.
Two other wolves were suddenly on either side of her. They were several steps above the first two.
“Hi, there, Little Red Riding Hood. Where are you going?” the one on the left asked.
Lorinda looked at him briefly, wanting to flash him a warning glare. He was good-looking, though, and the glare became a glance.
“Hmmm?” said the one on the right. “Where are you going on such a bright, cool day?”
She glanced at him and her pulse quickened just a little; he was even better-looking than the one on her left.
“To my grandmother’s house,” she said. You know you’re not supposed to talk to the wolves! she chided herself.
“She must not live too far away if you’re walking,” Left Wolf said.
“No, not far,” she agreed.
“What’s your name, Little Red Riding Hood?” Right Wolf asked.
“Lorinda.” Damn! Why did you tell him that?
“Hi, Lorinda,” he said.
“Hi, Lorinda,” Left Wolf said.
“Hi, Lorinda,” said Center Wolf. He was suddenly in front of her and she had no choice but to stop.
This wolf was gorgeous. He was almost a head taller than she was. He had a beautiful mane, deep gray eyes, a perfectly toned body, and a low, soft voice.
“Hi,” she whispered.
This was the leader of the pack, and the other two were his flanking dogs. They were supposed to push her off her guard so the leader could move in for the kill. They’d get any leftovers.
It was a good strategy, and it was working.
“I’m Zac,” the leader said in his low, soft voice. Lorinda couldn’t recall another wolf who had so quickly given his name. This one was confident, and he had reason to be. “You’re going to your grandmother’s house?”
“Yes. I’m taking this food to her.”
“That’s nice.” Zac stepped aside. “We won’t keep you. See you later, Lorinda.”
“See you,” she managed, and smiled at him just a little. She began walking again. Her head was tipped downward and her shoulders were pulled in. It was a dangerous posture in Wolf Country. Lorinda knew no other wolves would bother her, though; Zac wanted her and he would keep others at bay. Even though he might be new to Wolf Country, he had obviously established his dominance.
He’d let her go, though. That puzzled her all the way to Grandmother’s house.
She took a deep breath at the threshold and walked in.
“It’s me, Grandmother,” she called. “I brought you some food.”
Grandmother was lying on the sofa, watching a talk show which she promptly muted.
“Oh, how nice. Thank you, dear. Were the wolves bad on the way over?”
Lorinda paused. “No, not too bad.”
But Grandmother could hear the blush in her voice.
“One of them got to you,” she said.
“He let me go.”
“That just means he expects you to walk right back to him and bare your neck so he can feed. And you, silly girl, are thinking of doing just that.”
Lorinda sighed. “Why are the best looking boys always wolves?”
“It’s the call of the wild, dear,” Grandmother said. “No matter how society tries to civilize us, the drive is still there. We see a wolf and the blood runs faster in our veins. We sense their power and we want to howl at the moon with them.” She paused. “Among other things.”
Lorinda finished unpacking the basket and sat heavily in a chair across from her grandmother.
“He’s waiting for me,” she said. “What can I do?”
Grandmother smiled. “There’s something that a lot of pretty young things like you don’t understand. It’s a secret that is hidden right out in the open; we’re supposed to be tame and not see it.”
“What is it?” Lorinda pleaded.
Grandmother smiled even bigger, showing rows of reasonably sharp teeth for someone her age.
Lorinda headed home and as she entered Wolf Country, she saw Zac. His flanking dogs were on either side of the sidewalk. The dogs looked eager, but Zac was calm as he watched his intended prey come closer.
Lorinda stopped in front of Zac and smiled at him. She traced a finger across his chest and leaned toward him.
“Another time, Zac.” And she casually moved around him and continued to walk toward home. The little pack was too surprised to go after her. She held her head high and walked with the confidence and poise that immunized her to wolves.
Lorinda waved at Mrs. Fardslicer and kept going.
Billy saw her through the window and came out on his porch.
She walked up the little sidewalk and up the steps. With the low heels, she was slightly taller than Billy, and she invaded as much of his personal space as she could in public.
“Billy, why don’t you come to my house for a little while. There are some things I want you to do.” She spoke quietly and insistently, making it a command rather than a question.
Billy froze briefly. He leaned over just enough to open the door.
“I’m going out for a while, Mom.” He closed the door again before he could get a reply. “Sure, Lorinda. Anything you need.”
Lorinda smiled at him but kept her fangs to herself for the moment. They walked down the steps together and set off for Lorinda’s home. She put her free arm around him possessively and, being a puppy, he misread it as love.
“Girls are wolves, too, dear,” Grandmother had said. “You have to decide how you’re going to live your life: you will either be the hunted … or the hunter.”
After Billy and a few more practice dogs like him, Lorinda planned to find Zac again, and they could howl at the moonlight as equals.