Johnny could not have been happier. He turned to Bryn and, with uncharacteristic spontaneity, gave her an impulsive hug which lifted her off the ground.
“I love it!”
Bryn was speechless. This was better than she could possibly have hoped. All she could do was beam at him.
Ayers pulled Johnny’s backpack, suitcase, and trunk from the truck and set them on the ground. He smiled at Johnny and offered his hand. “I’ll expect you in class on Monday. Everyone is looking forward to meeting you. Bryn will show you the way; it’s not far.” As Johnny took his hand, Ayers added. “Glad you’re here. Truly.”
Johnny watched as Ayers turned the truck around and headed back into the shadows of the lane. Then he shouldered his backpack, picked up his suitcase and turned back to the house. And froze. The hackles on his neck actually stood on end. Where, a minute before, a sleeping cat had lain, now stood a wolf. A large wolf, shades of gray and mouse brown, old and a little ragged around the edges. The defiant eyes were amber yellow, and they caught the errant sunshine, flashing golden fire. The look in those eyes was anything but friendly.
This is my territory. You are not wanted here!
Johnny’s eyes darted everywhere, while the rest of his body froze instinctively still. His grandmother was not in sight, but the rather indignant cat was safely on the porch. There was no cover, no place to run. Johnny resolutely met the wolf’s gaze. “But I am wanted. My grandmother brought me here.” Where was his grandmother?
You are Bryn’s child?
“I am Bryn’s grandchild.” Johnny searched for words. “Of her bloodline.”
The world-weary wolf considered this information. Their encounter might have to be a draw. But this upstart couldn’t just intrude unchallenged. This is my territory. Mine! Watch yourself. The large, gray wolf turned to leave, but paused. He swung his head back toward Johnny. What are you called?
“Johnny. Johnny Outlander.”
The wolf breathed in and then out, in what sounded for all the world like a sigh. Of course you are.