Chapter 1

I lay on the warm, soft grass. Summer breezes filled my lungs with sweetness. I watched as the leaves above me swayed softly underneath the sunlight's warm rays. A cool breeze played with my long, curly, brown hair. I heard bird's singing to each other like there was no tomorrow. I wished this moment lasted forever; I could forget my past, everything.

I ran away from home in Colorado a couple of months ago. I am only seventeen, but I just couldn't take my father anymore. My dad would come home every night very drunk and hit my mother and me. I still remember the pain he left on my cheeks and my stomach. My mother would try to protect me, but he would always leave a bruise on me. My mother died from cancer last year, and I missed her very much. She was the only reason I put up with my dad's brutal beatings. We didn't have a close relationship, but it was close to whatever love is. I don't know if love even exists because of how my dad treated me. I remember guys would ask me out on dates, but I wouldn't accept them. I was too scared, and I trust no one except myself.

I don't know why my father drinks. I don't know if he realizes he beats us when he is in one of his rages. I don't know if that's the animal side in him, but all I know is that it hurts. Most of my dreams are nightmares of my father beating me until my skin turns raw and bloody. I would sometimes wake up screaming as warm tears coursed down my cheek.

I am now in a national park; I don't know which one, but all I know is that it keeps me isolated from the world. I think I am on the border of Canada and the United States. I could live in the forest because of my animal that lurks within me. I also heard there were Shifters in these woods. I hope they're like me; white tigers. My species is on the brink of extinction, and I'm trying to find whose left. If some are here, I know I am different from any of them because I have the ability to heal people. I don't know how I got this extra power, but it comes in handy sometimes, especially after my father beats me and my mother. I never showed my dad my extra ability, only my mother. No one else knows about my special power.

I was wondering where I should camp for the night, when suddenly I heard some bushes rustle in front of me. I froze as I listened intently to the strange sounds coming my way. I heard whimpering and panting. I was about to shift when an injured black wolf limped into my view. I cocked my head to the side as the wolf gazed at me with painful blue eyes. As I gazed in them, I noticed green specks in them. They looked like the Atlantic Ocean on a bright, sunny day. I was considering if this was a Shifter when it collapsed in front of me.

I gasped, and I lurched forward to its aid. The wolf was badly injured. I saw multiple bite wounds and lacerations; some wounds were pretty deep too. The wolf gazed at me cautiously and stirred as I kneeled beside it. It whimpered as I examined the wounds. As I examined them, I noticed the wounds were slowly healing. I tilted my head to the side because my kind doesn't have the ability to heal. I concluded that it had to be a Shifter. I glanced at the wolf and it was gasping for air. Hmm, seems like the wounds are not healing fast enough for it. I felt my lips tighten into a hard line because I wasn't sure if I should go ahead and heal it. My stomach coiled painfully as I watched the beautiful Shifter struggle for air. I let out a heavy sigh as I placed my hands on its hindquarters. The wolf gave a low, weak growl.

"Do you want me to help you? Or would you rather bleed to death?" I whispered harshly.

I heard it give a weak snort, and then it closed its eyes. I had to act fast if I want to help it. I felt warmth surge from my very core as my hands glowed dimly in the sun's light. The wolf's body began to glow like I was touching a shining star. My hands grew hotter and they burned underneath the heat, but I ignored it. The glowing light faded, and I knew my work was done. I glanced at my hands and they were red, but they always are when I heal. They will heal themselves. I glanced at the wolf, but I heard myself gasp.

Now, instead of a black wolf, I saw a naked young man lay before me. He was asleep, and I desperately wanted to wake him up to put some clothes on. Thankfully, I covered my eyes before my eyes could venture on their own. I rushed to my backpack and hastily pulled out a blanket. Without looking at him, I covered him with the blanket. I opened my eyes when I knew he was decent. I tilted my head to the side as I watched the young man sleep. He was about my age maybe older, I wasn't so sure. He had stunning features: high cheek bones, a strong, square jaw, and a little nose. His untamed, long hair was thick and wavy, and I saw a little stubble developing on his chin.

He shifted and mumbled something. I frowned. Great, he's a talker. I cringed because my father always talked in his sleep. I felt unwelcome shivers flow down my spine. I convinced myself that he should be alright, and I should put as much distance away from him as I can. I was looking for Shifters that shift into white tigers, not Shifters shifting into wolves. While I gathered my stuff together, I wondered where he got those wounds. I shook the thought out of my mind; it doesn't matter. He's fine now and that's what matters. I glanced at him again, and I realized he has my blanket. I shrugged my shoulders; he can keep it.

I slung my backpack over my shoulder. I glanced up and the blue sky was turning into a creamy orange. My frowned deepened. I don't have much time if I want to put distance between this young man and me. I charged forward and started running. I heard myself growl in annoyance as I felt my backpack bang uncomfortably against my shoulder. I wish I could shift; it would save time.

Well, I could carry it in my mouth.

My pace faltered as I thought about the idea. I shook my head and kept running forward. I know my jaws would ache after a while and my backpack isn't a light carrier. But you're trying to put distance between you and the boy. My subconscious argued while raising an eyebrow. It's not like you're running ten miles.

I stopped, and bit my bottom lip in deep thought. I gave a defeated sigh as I stripped my clothing and folded them neatly in my backpack. My tiger was eagerly ready for a nice run as I shifted. I heard my chest rumble as I felt the cool breeze skim my fur; it felt good. It has to be a quick run because a white tiger in a green coniferous forest isn't a good idea. I stick out like a sore thumb. I quickly picked up my backpack gently between my teeth and continued on.

Yes, running in animal form does save time. I let my four-legs carry me across the darkening forest. My backpack was a little heavy, but I can manage. It was dark when I came across a cave. I stopped and stared at it. I dropped my backpack on the ground to investigate the cave. I sniffed in the air for unusual scents; I didn't smell anything unusual. I crept forward to it and peeked inside. It seemed clear to me. I jogged to my backpack to grab it, and I rushed inside. Once I was inside, I set my backpack down and looked around.

The cave wasn't big, but it was big enough for two people. I sniffed in the air again; nothing abnormal. I'm only staying here for the night. I shifted and walked back to my backpack. Once I put my clothes on again, I started a small fire; a small fire that wouldn't attract any unwelcome attention, but keep me warm. I laid my sleeping bag out and pulled out my dinner: some strawberry granola bars and two bottles of water. Not much of a dinner, but it would satisfy me for now.

I was getting comfortable when I heard something peculiar outside the cave. I listened as I heard branches breaking and laughing. They sounded young and a little tipsy. I splashed water on the fire and let the dark cave hide me.

"Dude, what are you doing," a man slurred.

I heard someone laugh freely. "Dude, I'm going to check out that cave. You think Whiney the Pooh would share some honey with me," another man joked.

Uh, no you are not. I stripped quickly and shifted. I waited patiently for the stupid, drunk teens creep forward toward to my cave. I could see them from where I was hiding. They were two teenage boys, and they were carrying beer bottles in their hands. I growled as I watched them stumble and laugh mockingly at each other. I didn't like them since they were drinking; it brought horrible memories for my like. If I could, I would banish drinking.

My muscles quivered as they approached my cave. The man that suggested entering my cave tried put his index finger on his lips, but instead he touched his nose. I shook my head. His friend laughed and nodded his head frantically and motioned his friend forward. When his friend stepped inside the cave, I gave a low, warning growl.

"Dude, did you hear that? I think Whiney the Pooh needs a hug," the boy slurred as he glanced back at his friend outside.

Men are so stupid. I gave a louder growl as the man stepped closer. He had a stupid grin on his face. He stepped closer, and I roared loudly. My animal instincts were screaming at me to pounce on him, but I controlled them. My human instincts just wanted to scare him out of the cave.

"Dude, I don't think that is a bear," his friend from outside warned.

His friend turned toward his friend. Now's my chance to get him out of here. "Nah man, I got this." I lunged for him while I roared again. I crouched low a couple of feet away from him; my hair on my back rising. He turned toward me and screamed; it sounded high pitch, like a girl. He threw his beer bottle at me, but he missed miserably. His brown eyes widened as he scrambled outside. He fell a couple of times, and struggled to get up, but he made it out under his condition.

"Let's get out of here," he cried and ran. His friend looked confused; I inwardly groaned. Do I have to make myself clear? I stormed outside the cave and gave a threatening growl to his confused friend. When he saw me, he fell backwards, his eyes wide, and scrambled up to follow his friend.

I snorted as they ran off screaming their high pitch screams. I shifted back to myself while shaking my head. Let's see if they drink again. I put my clothes back on and sat on my sleeping blanket. I winced when my hand brushed against a sharp object. I looked and realized my hand brushed against broken glass; broken glass from the beer bottle. I shivered and it wasn't because the cool air. As my hand healed, I picked up the broken glass. I crinkled my nose when I smelled the aroma of alcohol. I placed them in a corner in the cave; I placed them as far away from me as possible. The shards of glass scratched me a couple of times, but my wounds were healing as soon as the glass touched me.

I sighed; suddenly feeling very tired. I crawled into my plush sleeping bag. I was starting to get comfortable when I heard another peculiar noise outside my cave. It sounded like something sniffing and jogging toward me. What now? I wanted to shriek. I reluctantly shifted out of my comfortable sleeping bag and stood at the edge of the cave. My eyes scanned the dark woods; I heard the noise again. This time I could hear its heavy breathing and fast heartbeat ring in my ears. I knew that it was an animal just by the fast stepping and low grunting. I relaxed. I knew that the animal was lurking in the woods not far from the cave. I shrugged my shoulders, as long as the animal doesn't enter my cave.

I got comfortable in my sleeping bag again, and I drifted off to sleep.