Chapter 13: The Werewolf Next Door
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There was just one thing I could do: shoot.

Taking a deep breath, I raised my crossbow and took aim at the she-wolf. My finger squeezed the trigger and the arrow flew, cutting through the air with a deadly precision.

But the damn werewolf was faster than I'd anticipated. She whipped her head around, catching sight of the incoming projectile and deflecting it with her powerful arm. The arrow veered off course, embedding itself into the trunk of a nearby tree.

"Shit," I muttered under my breath, but I quickly realized that my shot had served another purpose. Her momentary distraction allowed Silver to surge forward, taking advantage of her exposed flank.

He lunged at the werewolf girl, his fangs bared and claws extended. He tackled her to the ground, his claws digging into her fur.

"Submit!" he roared, his voice a mix of man and beast. To my surprise, the she-wolf did just that. Her body shifted and contorted, fur receding as she transformed back into a human. Silver followed suit, his silvery fur giving way to smooth, glistening skin.

The sight of them, both sweaty and panting on the forest floor, made jealousy claw at my insides. Why did she have to be so damn attractive? I clenched my jaw and climbed down from the tree, crossbow still firmly in hand.

As I drew closer, Silver tied the woman's hands and feet with expert precision, ensuring she wouldn't escape or transform again. My heart raced, caught between relief at our victory and the inexplicable envy that clawed at my insides.

"Did you kill the Matriarch of the Hoods?" I demanded, leveling my weapon at the captive woman, my voice dripping with venom. "You're a silver werewolf. We found your fur at the crime scene."

Her eyes widened in surprise, and she shook her head vehemently. "I didn't even know the Matriarch of the Hoods was dead," she protested, her voice a mixture of fear and sincerity. "I swear, I had nothing to do with it."

But I wasn't convinced, not yet. I continued to interrogate her, prodding for any cracks in her story or signs of guilt. However, the more questions I asked, the more frustrated I became. It seemed like we'd reached a stalemate, and my patience was wearing thin.

"Fine," I huffed, lowering the crossbow just slightly. "If you're not going to tell us anything useful about who killed my grandmother, at least tell me your name."

The woman remained silent, her lips pressed together tightly. Her gaze shifted between me and Silver, as if unsure who to trust – or fear – more.

"Tell her," Silver stepped in, his voice calm and authoritative as he placed a hand on my shoulder. His touch sent an involuntary shudder down my spine, stirring up feelings I didn't want to acknowledge right now.

"Ylfa," she finally replied, meeting Silver's intense yellow eyes. "You're Kjartan's son, aren't you?"

I could see the surprise on Silver's face, his eyes widening and muscles tensing. "How do you know who I am?" he asked, suspicion lacing his words.

Ylfa's lips curved into a charming, innocent smile that made me feel guilty for treating her so harshly. "My mom knew your parents," she explained. "They were nice people."

Silver seemed taken aback by Ylfa's words, his eyes searching her face for any sign of deception. "Is that true?" he asked, his voice barely a whisper.

"Of course," Ylfa replied confidently. "Your parents used to live with the Nightshade Clan, along with my own parents, in this forest, before... Well, before they were kicked out." She tilted her head, studying Silver's reaction. "Didn't your parents tell you?"

"They... They died," Silver admitted, his voice cracking with emotion. "I don't remember them."

Shit. So that's why he wouldn't talk about his parents? Because they both died when he was a child?

Ylfa's expression softened, and she said, "I'm sorry." Slowly, she reached her tied hands out to touch Silver, but I couldn't stand it any longer.

"Stop," I ordered, my voice firm. I didn't want this woman touching Silver, not now, not ever.

Ylfa shot a venomous glance at me, her eyes narrowing. She shifted her focus from Silver to me and addressed me directly. "If you're looking for a Silver werewolf, there are only two in this forest besides Silver: myself and my mom. None of us killed your grandmother."

I crossed my arms, skeptical. "How do I know that?"

"Because," Ylfa explained, her voice laced with irritation, "my mother is sick and can barely move. And I spend most of my time taking care of her."

As much as I hated to admit it, something inside me told me that maybe Ylfa was telling the truth. Besides the fact that she was a silver werewolf, I had nothing on her. I needed to find out more.

"Please" Ylfa implored, turning to face Silver, her eyes wide and brimming with innocence. "Let me take the boar to my mom. We can all have a nice dinner together, and she can tell you more about your parents... if you want that." Her words were gentle, her body language soft and unthreatening. I couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for her, even if I suspected that she might be trying to trick us.

"Silver, can we talk for a minute?" I asked, pulling him aside to discuss Ylfa's proposal.

"Sure, what's up?" he said, his eyes flicking between me and the she-wolf.

"I don't trust her," I whispered, glancing nervously at Ylfa. "I think she's lying and leading us into a trap."

Silver raised an eyebrow, his intense yellow eyes studying my face. "And this is coming from the one who didn't want to hurt her because she might not be dangerous?"

I blushed, angry at Silver for wanting to trust Ylfa and feeling jealous of her at the same time. "That was before she started playing innocent and batting her eyelashes at you!"

"Red, I think we should follow her and talk to her mother. See where this takes us," Silver insisted, his voice firm.

I scoffed, crossing my arms. "Oh, so Adriano was a killer and this woman you just met is not? Why, because she is a silver werewolf or because she's attractive?"

Silver's face fell, and for a moment, I saw a vulnerability in him that I hadn't seen before. "What the hell are you talking about? You don't understand, I... I just... want to know about my parents," he mumbled, looking away.

My anger dissipated, replaced by guilt. I had let my jealousy cloud my judgment, and now I had hurt Silver. As much as I hated to admit it, Ylfa might have information about his past that he deserved to know.

"I'm sorry, I was being unreasonable," I began, my voice soft. "I didn't know about your parents," I continued, chancing a glance in his direction. He was as stoic as ever, his expression betraying nothing. But his eyes... There was a depth of pain in them that made my heart clench. His nod was curt, the only indication that he had heard me.

"Okay," I relented, forcing a smile. "Let's give her a chance." I sighed, looking at Silver's downcast eyes. "We'll untie her, but I'm keeping an eye on her."

"Thank you, Red," Silver murmured, his eyes softening.

We walked back to Ylfa, who was waiting with a mix of impatience and apprehension.

"Alright, Ylfa. We'll help you take the boar to your mom," I announced, trying to keep my voice steady. "But if you're lying to us, I swear..."

"Thank you," she interrupted, her gentle manners and innocent expression making it difficult for me to stay angry. "I promise, you can trust me."

Silver approached Ylfa and carefully untied the ropes binding her wrists and ankles. As he helped her up, she gave him a grateful, seductive look that made my blood boil. What did she think she was doing? I clenched my fists, trying to push down the unwelcome surge of envy.

"Are you okay?" Silver asked Ylfa gently, his voice laced with concern.

"I'm fine, thank you," she replied, her cheeks flushed as she continued to throw come-hither glances his way.

"Alright, let's get going," I said through gritted teeth, not wanting to give them any more time for their little flirtation.

With a huff, I turned away and watched as Silver hoisted the massive boar onto his shoulders. We followed Ylfa into the forest, the trees casting long shadows as the sun dipped below the horizon. Leaves crunched beneath our feet and the air grew cooler with each step.

As we began following Ylfa, I couldn't help but stew in my jealousy. Why the hell did this bother me so much? I tried to focus on our mission, but my thoughts kept drifting to Silver and Ylfa. Were they attracted to each other? Was it just because they were both silver werewolves?

"Red, are you okay?" Silver's voice broke through my internal tirade, startling me.

"Of course," I snapped, perhaps a bit too harshly. "Why wouldn't I be?"

His golden eyes searched my face, filled with confusion. "I just... You seem upset. Is everything alright?"

"Everything's peachy," I lied, forcing a smile. "Let's just focus on getting to Ylfa's mother, alright?"

"Okay," he agreed hesitantly, clearly not convinced by my act.

Ylfa led the way into the forest, her lithe form moving gracefully between the trees. As we continued trekking through the woods, she began to talk with Silver. "My mom and I have been living in this forest for years. It's just the two of us since my father died when I was ten" she said, her voice barely audible above the rustling leaves. "Last winter, she got really sick and hasn't recovered since then. So now, I have to hunt alone."

I couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for her, despite my lingering mistrust. She and her mother had faced adversity together, something I could relate to. But that didn't mean I would let my guard down.

"Must be tough, doing everything on your own," Silver replied, his tone gentle and understanding. I gritted my teeth, trying not to let my jealousy show. Why did he have to be so damn caring towards her?

The deeper we ventured into the forest, the darker and more mysterious it became. A distant howl echoed through the trees, sending shivers down my spine. I glanced at Silver, who seemed unfazed by the eerie atmosphere.

With the encroaching darkness, my vision deteriorated rapidly. I stumbled over a protruding root, crashing against Silver's strong frame. His arm snaked around my waist, steadying me.

"Red, are you alright?" His concern was evident in his voice.

"Fine," I muttered, embarrassed by my clumsiness. I couldn't see shit in this gloom. Soon enough, I stumbled again, catching myself against Silver's strong arm.

"Okay, that's it," he said, his voice deep. Realizing that I couldn't see as well as he and Ylfa could, he took my hand in his, gently guiding me through the darkening woods. The warmth of his touch sent shivers down my spine, causing my heart to race despite my conflicting emotions.

"Thanks," I mumbled, trying to focus on my footing rather than the intoxicating sensation of his hand in mine. Why did I have to feel this way about him? And why couldn't I shake the nagging suspicion that Ylfa's intentions weren't as innocent as she claimed?

As we continued our journey, the gloom enveloped us completely, leaving me utterly reliant on Silver's guidance. His assurance and tenderness stirred something within me, making it even harder to keep my emotions in check.

Finally, we reached Ylfa's home - a sad hovel nestled amongst the trees. It looked as if it had been cobbled together from whatever materials could be scavenged from the forest; moss-covered logs formed the walls, and a patchwork of leaves and branches served as a makeshift roof. In the moonlight, it appeared cold and desolate.

"Welcome to our humble abode," Ylfa said, her voice tinged with sadness.

She stepped forward and took Silver's hand, leading him toward the door. As his fingers slipped from mine, I felt an icy chill creep down my spine. My heart shattered into a million pieces, jealousy clawing at my insides like a wild beast.