Chapter 16: Beginning Again

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Everything in her body was telling her to stop but she couldn't. As much as her legs burned and chest ached and her mind screamed, Leanna could not let herself stop. She had to get as far away as possible before they realized she'd gone missing.

She'd crossed over two state lines but wasn't sure where she was. All she knew is that her wolf was getting far too tired to run anymore and she would soon be forced to stop and shift back. But shifting back meant feeling the full effect of the injuries Rick had inflicted upon her. 

Leanna knew her wolf had definitely helped her heal some despite how weak she was as her spine no longer felt like it was nearly severed and instead had become just a constant throbbing. She could definitely walk but not for long.  

A hospital was not an option, it'd raise too many suspicions. Her only option right now was to rob a store or attempt to shoplift. She couldn't approach any nearby wolf territories; they would sense she was rogue and they would attack first, ask questions later. No, that was too dangerous. She'd shoplift first, as much as she hated the thought of it.

Once her wolf began to whine, she slowed down. She could hear a noises in the distance, honking, laughter, chatter. 

But she  would definitely attract attention with her disheveled, torn clothing. It was close to sundown so she had to act fast. 

Lifting her nose she sniffed the air in search for a nearby stream and, luckily, found one. Leanna followed the scent about half a mile away and came to a small clearing. She was itching to jump in and clean the grime and blood from her body but she had to check for people nearby. It wasn't summer yet but the heat had already arrived and judging from the cleared path ahead of her filled with bottles, wrappers, and cigarette buds, the area was heavily frequented.

Moving closer, she heard the sound of laughter a bit farther down and hid herself in the tree lines. As she inched closer her wolf continued to weaken. If she didn't shift back soon, her wolf would force it.

When she reached the laughter, a group of about six or seven humans were standing around, the smell of alcohol penetrating her senses. Shaking away the smell, she saw the piles of clothes left behind as they jumped into the water.

She waited until they'd swum a bit farther off before inching forward out of the trees. She noticed a pair of jeans and a shirt and a pair of sandals; It wasn't ideal but she couldn't complain.

Grabbing the clothes and shoes in her mouth, she looked around and noticed a pretty big bag. She double-checked to made sure they hadn't headed back in her direction before moving closer to their bags. One was a rather large beach bag and inside, she could see a few bottles of water, some chips, sunscreen, towels, and extra clothing.

Definitely a woman's bag.

I'm sorry lady, she thought as put the clothes she'd grabbed into the bag and gripped the straps in her mouth, inching back slowly into the trees and then running down the stream, out of view.

Leanna set down the bag a few minutes later and closed her eyes, finally shifting back. Her muscles and bones ached and popped as the pain rippled through her. It should've been painless but she hadn't shifted in six months and her body had forgotten the feeling of it.

She gritted her teeth against the pain and once she was completely back to normal, she clung onto a tree not to fall.

Her back ached the worst. Her wolf had helped heal the whip lashes but only enough to close the wounds. The damage inside was still there and nothing but time would really heal it. Silver prevented the natural healing rate and Rick had doubled up and dipped his silver whips in wolfsbane. 

She was lucky if it healed at all and wasn't left with permanent damage.

Once she had her balance, she moved toward the stream and sat on the ground, slowly slipping in. The water was cool against her heated skin as she closed her eyes, nearly crying from the joy of how it felt to be free again.

She remained in there for several long minutes, running her fingers through her dirty hair several times, sipping the water from the stream that quenched the forgotten fire in her throat.

When she opened her eyes, the water around her had been colored a murky brown from the dirt and blood on her skin. The natural tan she had was all but gone, leaving her as pale as a vampire. She didn't like it but there wasn't much she could do about it.

She climbed out of the water, grabbing a towel from the bag and drying herself completely before slipping on the jeans that were a bit too big and the shirt along with the sandals. It felt weird not to wear any undergarments but the ones she'd been wearing were far too dirty.

Pulling out a water bottle from the bag, she chugged it in seconds. Before she knew it, she'd drank three and was stuffing her face with the bag of chips and a chocolate bar. No food was left and there was only one water bottle left. She rummaged through the bag for anything else and came across a wallet.

It had an actual small lock on it and with a bit of force, she ripped it off. Inside was about two hundred dollars in cash and several credit and debit cards she knew she wouldn't be able to use and tossed it back in the bag. Leaving behind the wet towel and dirty clothes under some shrubbery, she made her way back toward the group of humans.

They hadn't returned yet so she set down the bag in it's rightful place and glanced around. She made sure no one was heading back that way before she knelt down and started going through another bag. She found another wallet and removed fifty dollars. 

About five minutes of rummaging later, Leanna had a total of three hundred and twenty dollars, two more water bottles to a total of three, and she'd exchanged the sandals for a pair of sneakers that were a bit tight but fit nonetheless. 

She grabbed a plastic bag containing some more chips and slipped in the water bottles. She didn't feel good about stealing but didn't see any other option.

Once she was set, she backed up a bit and took a running leap over the stream. When she hit the ground she started running up the cleared path from earlier. About ten minutes later, she came to a parking lot. It was packed with cars and people arriving, bags and towels loaded in their hands.

She reminded herself to look normal and calm which was a bit difficult as my back was pounding with pain. Keeping her head down and wrapping the bag around her wrist, she toward the city.

Hope you enjoyed it! Please review, vote, let me know what you think. 

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