Well, it took me a few weeks or months… I don't know. I've written five chapters so far, about 4-5 pages per a chapter. YAY! Believe me, I'm jumping around and doing a victory dance right now in my head as I type this! Anyway, thanks for giving this story a chance and thanks to everyone who had added Of Apples and Wolves (A&W) to their favorites/story alerts and thanks to those added me to their favorite author/author alert lists! I am so happy with the support you all have given me and I hope do myself and you, my readers, all proud by doing better with my chapters! Anyway, enough chit-chat! On with the story!

Clash of Claws: Chapter 1

I did my best to keep to the bearly-there shadows of the tall buildings and quickly ducked into an alley. I held my breath. The sound of heavy boots hitting concrete past by a second later. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the blue uniforms pass, continuing down 5th Avenue and turned at the corner, heading down East 116 Street. I breathed again.

"Damn cops," I muttered as I pulled my parcel from inside my faded hoodie and unwrapped a hotdog I stole from a street vender. It had gotten cold while I was dodging pedestrians, cars, and cops but I didn't care. I ate it as slowly as possible, relishing the taste and the feeling of food in my stomach. It was the first thing I've eaten since last week and I probably wouldn't eat for another few days or even another week. I licked my fingers clean and wiped them on my tattered jeans.

"Mmmm, that was a good dog," licking my chapped lips.

I then calmly strolled out of the alley and allowed myself to be swept away into the river of pedestrians walking the streets of Harlem. I decided to walk through Central Park, only a block or two from where I was, and then head to Time Square that night. It was a warm April day and the Cherry trees were blooming, giving the park its festive color. I tied my hoodie around my waist as I strolled through the park while joggers, bikers, and dog walkers passed by in a rush. I smiled a small smile at the families all grouped together in the grass and near the pond and the couples on the benches, all wrapped up in their own happy bubbles and not once taking in what nature gave. I couldn't see why they'd just ignore the beauty that would die so quickly even before the season ended.

I for one wasn't going to pass it up. I found a large cherry tree and tilted my head in thought, trying to find the best solution to a critical question: to sit or climb? After some though I decided to climb the tree. Looking around to make sure no cop was near I grabbed the nearest branch and climbed a short way but enough so that I was amongst the blossoms. Taking deep breaths, smelling the calming fragrance of the blossoms and the warmth of the sun made me doze slightly.

The gentle tap of water on my head woke me to a typical April night. A thunder storm had rolled in, pouring buckets of water on the city, drenching the park and made the once happy utopia a muddy mess with no one in sight. I can't stay here long or else I'll be seen. I jumped down from my perch and ran out of the park and across the street, the rain seeping through my sweatshirt, t-shirt, and jeans, drenching me to the bone while the flash of lightning and dim street lights lit my way. I quickly ducked under tent a closed restaurant had set up for such days for customers; I quickly glanced at the street sign, noting my location and decided to make the treck to Time Square, a few blocks away from Central Park. With this weather I'm gonna have to be more careful. Cops might get suspicious if they see me out in this storm. It wasn't uncommon for cops to be 'helping' a homeless person and take them to a shelter. All that sounds good and dandy but I didn't need their help. I've been surviving on the streets for nine years now and I'm damn well proud of it! With that in mind I started my run through the rain to the shiny heart of the city, sprinting as fast as my legs would carry me to the Big Apple.

My legs burned as I walked into Time Square and my stomach growled in hunger like an angry wolf. The place was practically deserted except from a few hobos and other street kids. I recognized a few that I saw at other places of the city but I didn't know they well. I mostly kept to myself instead of in a group like other kids my age, finding some comfort knowing that I wasn't likely to get caught if one of the my colleges got 'helped' as well. I tried my best not to pick-pocket until I had no other way of getting food. I mostly stole out of garbage cans or stole from the unsuspecting street vender, a few of hundreds that scattered the city.

Digging through a trash can I found a half eaten burger that was still in its wrapper. Wow! What my luck; two meals in one day! It looked pretty good and clean since it had the paper to protect it from the other waste in the can. My stomach growled louder. I quickly glanced around to protect my meal. Seeing no one gazing hungrily at my catch I ducked into an empty alley and ate my feast. Now, I know what you're thinking: Ew! It came out of the trash! But, hey, I do what I can to survive.

Quickly finishing my dinner I began to search for shelter from the pouring rain, even if I was thoroughly soaked already. Teeth chattering, arms around myself and my body tired, I ventured out into the storm filled night. I walked aimlessly around for a while, wandering the famous part of the city, not paying attention to all the lights, and found myself in the center of Time Square looking up at the giant, digital clock. 2:00 AM it read.

"So, *yawn* tired." I could barely keep my eyes open. Dragging my feet, I went to the nearest doorstep of some random business and plopped myself down. The door way was covered so I curled myself into it the best I could to keep out of the rain. I rested my head against the doorway and fell asleep.

"Ashley! Ashley, Ollie Ollie oxen-free!...Come on Ashley," Katie wined as she pushed apart the bush right next to where my eight-year-old self was. I couldn't resist the temptation and grabbed her ankle, causing my neighbor and friend to let loose a startled scream.

"Ahahahaha! Got you," I yelled, holding my sides as I laughed hard enough I started crying.

"Ashley! You scared me half to death," she yelled back, crossing her arms and pouting while I continued to laugh.

"I-haha-I'm so-haha-sorry-haha. I-haha- couldn't-hahaha- resist," I laughed through my apology, eventually falling over laughing, clutching my stomach and pounding the grass in my laughing fit.

Katie "humphed" and angrily stomped into my house, knowing it would be a while until I stopped. And it did. After a while I followed after her, finally calm enough to hold a conversation.

"Oh, hello honey, would you like some cookies? Their on the counter in the kitchen with Katie," Mommy said, giving me a knowing smile. "Did you scare Katie again playing hide-and-seek?" I gave her a mischievous grin and nodded as I went to the kitchen. I climbed onto a stool and grabbed a cookie from the plate as Katie took the cookie out of her glass of milk she had dunked it in, shoving it into her mouth.

"Sorry, again, that I scared you Katie," I said, giving her my most apologetic face. She just shook her head as she swallowed her cookie. "It's okay, Ashley. I'm just mad that you won at hide-and-seek, again! Is she always this good at hide-and-seek, Mr. Brooks," she asked Daddy as he walked into the kitchen still dressed in his business suit from work.

"Why, yes she is Katie. Ash is the best hider in the whole world," he said, smiling as he ruffled my hair as he passed on his way to the fridge. I beamed at his complement. I always was a Daddy's Girl.

The dream dissolved into another one of when I was five years old. Mommy and Daddy would set up these 'Tests' for me. One would come home early from work and knock three times on the door, calling for me to unlock the door and complaining that they couldn't find the house keys. I was then to hide somewhere in the house, close to where I was but not in the same room, that wouldn't be so predictable and stay there until they either found me or opened the fridge.

I had to remain completely still and not make a sound in my hiding place. If they couldn't find me I was rewarded with a cookie, the opening of the fridge was my signal to come out. If they did find me they would give me a teasing smile and say, "That was too easy, Ash. You can do better than that!" To me it was a game we played, a game that I was determined to win and I did as I learned to be a better hider and playing with the other neighborhood kids helped a lot.

Over time I became such a good hider that the others would think I sneaked home when really I was hiding close to where they would be talking. It wasn't until they would say that they were leaving that I'd jump out of the hiding place, scaring them so bad some peed their pants. It wasn't until I was seven that they told me why we played our 'game'.

My dream faded into another memory of when I was seven. It was during the winter and we were huddled together on the couch. I was nursing a cup of hot Cocoa, wrapped in my favorite red blanket and my parents each had an arm around me. It was late on a Saturday night and the movie Balto was on. When the movie was over and my Cocoa gone, Daddy carried me to bed with Mommy close behind. He tucked me into bed with my stuffed Wolf who I named Balto after my favorite character and I hugged him close, warm and comfortable.

Mommy kissed my head and Daddy gave her a nod. She gave him a comforting squeeze in return on his shoulder and left for their room down the hall. I was too drowsy to really focus on what was happening.

"Ash, sweetie, I need to tell you something," my father's tone turned serious. I tried my best to listen but I was too tired, warm, and comfortable to really hear him. He stroked my hair gently as I propped my head on my arm on my pillow, holding Balto under my other arm and peered through tired eyes.

"Ashley, do you know why Mommy and Daddy play our game with the hiding," he asked gently. I shook my heavy head. "Well, it's to protect you." I nodded my head in understanding. Of course they wanted to protect me, I was their little girl. "Ashley, look at me," Daddy said in a coaxing voice. I hadn't realized that while I nodded my head my eyes had shut themselves. I opened my heavy lids and looked up at him. My eyes widened a bit in shock. Why are Daddy's eyes yellow, I wondered? I cocked my head to the side a bit in confusion and reached to touch his face. Daddy took hold of my small hand gently and held it against his cheek, his nails slightly longer and pointed a bit at the ends. "Ashley, don't be afraid. It's Daddy. Your daddy's just a bit different from other daddies. Okay," he looked at me with eyes hoping I'd understand. I nodded a bit; I could see my daddy was different.

But, why?

"Why Daddy," I asked, yawning a bit at the end. He gave me a gentle smile."Sweetie, I have a secret but no one else can know okay?" I nodded. I knew how to keep secrets, but did I have to keep it from Katie? "Not even Katie?" "No, sweetie, not even Katie can know this." I gave a stern nod in understanding, my eyes grew heavier by the second. "Ashley, I'm a werewolf. This makes you half werewolf. Do you understand this?" "Mhmm," I was too tired to really answer or take in what he was telling me, my eyes were getting too heavy for me to hold up anymore. "Ash, listen. Wake up," he said, gentle shaking me to get my attention. "If anything bad happens to Daddy or Mommy you must run. Stay away from Alphas, if you can. Can you do that for me," he asked. I nodded, seeing the slight fear in his eyes. "Good. Now, go to sleep."He gave me a gentle kiss on my head and left.


Please R&R! I hoped you liked this story so far! I'm going to try to update O.A&W (Of Apples and Wolves) when I can. I will also upload 1-2 chapters a week. But until then please enjoy my new story and tell me what you think! I'm open to structured criticism.