Foliage breaking strides through the undergrowth of the uneven holt floor was barely enough to delay the pounding of clawed feet. Tongue sliding through the side of my mouth and breathing ragged, I tried to outrun them. They were hungry, however, and would not slow down merely to provide me with more time to prepare. Heavy with young, I wanted to quell their lust for larger kill; wanted to tame them before I birthed my own into their hungry midst. There were too many males and I feared there would be bloodshed.
At last I saw the quarry I had been scenting for the last half mile. We had been tiring a herd of deer, many themselves with young, and I wanted the latter for my pack. I chanced a quick glance back for Kuna, my alpha male. He tossed his head at me, a gruff sound emanating from between his long yellow teeth, fluffing out his lips. It was time. As he overtook me and my pace reduced, I brushed his mouth with mine as he leapt ahead. One fleeting look to warm my loins and Kuna dived over a fallen log, the remainder of the pack close behind him.
Moments later I heard the welcome squeals of infant deer as Kuna and the rest of the ‘Alpines’ sought out two who were still suckling their mothers. I sank my backside into the ferns and sat still by a pine trunk. My grey-brown coat merged into the forest and removed me from the eyesight of lesser mammals. I checked my breathing, closing my hot mouth, one last lick of my tongue around dry lips before silence. Blue eyes rested on the sounds and smells emanating from beyond the logs. The Alpines were feeding. The milk in the kill would calm them. My pups would be born tonight.