Chapter 1
The Stranger

Life hadn't been at it's best for Maddy Smith lately. She had just been locked up and threatened, her parents had kicked out her loved one, who then had nothing better to do than lock lips with a wild girl and her best friend had betrayed her.

No, life hadn't been very kind to Maddy Smith lately. Maybe this was why she sat alone in Bertie's cafe sipping cocoa. She didn't really want to sit here, because if the three K's came by, they surely would use the opportunity to mock her for being in the pathetic state as she was. Although not the brightest, they were clearly good at spotting if someone was miserable, and had a talent of rubbing it in. But going home, were she had to confront her parents, was worse.

So when the doorbell rang, and someone entered, she already had a snide remark ready to greet the K's with, but to her surprise, the girl who walked in was a stranger. If you grow up in Stoneybridge, you rarely meet someone you haven't met before. And most of the time, strangers that came through were tourists on their way to the Scottish Borders, who had lost their way. Despite it's beauty, Northumberland was far from being a major tourist attraction, and most of the time Maddy liked it that way.

But this girl didn't look like she was a tourist. She wore the green-grey jacket and trousers of the forest administration, so she was probably a volunteer for the national park. That surprised Maddy, because the park keepers where usually also foresters, and therefore most often men, and rarely this young.

The girl was tall, slender and -although she wore a woolen jacket- Maddy could see that she was extremely athletic. Long dark hair framed the sharp features of her face, and the grave expression she wore, made her look a lot older than she was.

The most confusing thing about her though, was her scent. For Maddy it was always important how people smelled. Her heightened Wolfblood senses allowed her to pick up things, that humans couldn't, even if she was not in wolf form. The girl smelled very different. She was not Wolfblood, but she did not smell entirely human. Although she wore no perfume, there was a bitter-sweet note in the scent, that was so intense, that Maddy felt a little dizzy, after the girl had passed her. Also she noticed some notion of metal in it. She couldn't help but stare at the stranger.

The girl was too involved in a confrontation with Bertie.

"I just asked for a pint!" She just said.

Bertie nodded. "Yes, and I tell you I won't sell alcohol to minors. Who do you think I am?"

The girl sighed, and put a card on the counter. "Here."

"What's that?"

"My drivers license. Look, it says I'm twenty-one."

Bertie stared at the card. "Never seen anything like that."

"It's Canadian! For gods sake! Just give me a coffee!" The girl turned around, and looked directly at Maddy, who was still staring at her.

"What?" She snapped at Maddy.

Maddy blushed. "Um, you don't want Bertie's coffee, trust me. Ask for cocoa!"

She turned back to Bertie. "You heard her."

Bertie grinned, prepared a mug of cocoa and handed it to the girl. "2.25 please."

She flipped a few coins over the counter. "Thanks for nothing."

She grabbed her mug and walked over to Maddy's table. "Is this seat taken?"

Maddy blushed again and pulled her backpack from the neighbouring seat. "Sure. I mean no!"

The girl sat down beside her. Maddy felt the weird sweet-metallic scent engulf her, and became extremely nervous.

The girl nipped on her cocoa and nodded approvingly. "Thanks for the tip. That bloke may be grumpy, but he sure know how to make chocolate. Although I'd prefer a good strong coffee."

Maddy smiled. "You won't find it here. You're in Britain. Are you a volunteer for the park?"

The stranger now smiled for the first time. "Actually, I hope they're going to pay me."

"Aren't you going to school?"

The stranger looked at her in surprise. "I finished high school years ago!" She explained. "Do I look like a school girl to you?"

Maddy just looked back at the girl, the way her mother usually did, when she had stated something obvious. Maddy was unaware of that resemblance to her mother of course.

The girl sighed. "OK, yes I do. That is mostly the problem here, isn't it?" She took another sip of her cocoa.

"Everyone keeps telling me, that I should be happy about looking so young, but truth is, it sucks when everyone treats you like you're just a little kid."

She looked at Maddy. "No offence."

Maddy grinned. More often than not, she had wished to be a few years older herself. Especially in times like these.

"So, what brought you to Stoneybridge all the way from Canada?" She asked.

"I'm not so much a city girl. Been to London and hated it. It's too loud and to crowded. I like the forest more. It's nice and quiet."

"And why Britain?" Maddy asked. "If that's OK to ask?"

"I'm not too good with my folks at home, and I wanted to get away. Europe was the first choice."

For a moment the girl's face darkened, and she fell silent, as if she was haunted by old memories. Then she shook her head and looked back at Maddy. "What about you? You lived here for long?"

"All my life. My family owns an estate here for generations now."

"Mmh, do you like it here?"

Maddy shrugged. "Most of the time. Sometimes I think living in a city might be cooler, but I'll miss the woods, I guess."

The girl smiled. "To that, I can totally relate!"

She finished her chocolate. "By the way, what's your name?"

"Maddy. Maddy Smith."

The girl reached out a hand. "I'm Logan. Logan Howlett."

Maddy laughed, and took the hand. "Nice to meet you Logan. And welcome to Stoneybridge!"