Dierdre was still beside him, her hands brushing Sean's arm. He jerked back, but not before the female offered a grin.
"Keep your hands off my mate, you bitch."
"He's mine," snarled the shewolf.
Caden shrugged, moving onto the balls of her feet. She considered dumping her heels, but decided they may just give her the advantage. The wolven female wore sensible, soft-soled shoes. The bitch's kicks would be soft, though solid. Caden's would hurt more, but might not knock her as far. But most never understood the power of a well-made stiletto. A well-placed heel could be as painful as a bullet.
"I don't know what you think you're getting out of this, but you're going down. Here and now," Caden taunted her, waiting for the first strike. Caden knew Dierdre was measuring her weaknesses, just as she watched Dierdre's. Someone tossed the shewolf a branch. The wood was a foot longer than Caden's cane, but was made of pine. Pine was one of the weakest woods there was. One good hit, and it would break.
Dierdre charged. She swung her branch, and Caden countered. The thrust was powerful, and Caden's arms shuddered beneath the power of the strike. Bark flew from the female's staff, showering Caden, with bits falling toward her eyes. She grunted, blinking away the debris, and holding the shewolf back.
The female spun and swung again, letting her weight swing the branch toward Caden. Caden countered, the snap of wood on wood echoed through the forest, and the limb shuddered, cracks forming in the center.
"Is that the best you have? Because if so, this is going to be a short fight," Caden mocked. It would be easier if she made the bitch so angry she didn't concentrate.
Dierdre screamed in rage and charged, knocking Caden to the ground. She rolled with the blow, bouncing back to her feet, wincing at the sharp stab of pain in her knee. Okay, maybe anger wasn't the best option. Caden swung her own weapon for the first time. It connected with her opponent's arm, and she dropped her tree branch. Of course, the anger also made Dierdre stronger.
Freed of her weapon, Dierdre grinned.
With every passing second, the woman before her changed. Dark hair grew long and silky over the shewolf's arms and beneath that silly netted top she wore. Her nails grew into claws, and her teeth elongated into fangs.
Caden controlled her breathing. She would not let what she saw drive her to fear.
"So you can't fight a battle within the rules." Caden spun her cane, her hands twirling it at the center. "Don't worry, I'm not going to run."
Dierdre charged and slammed into Caden, driving them both to the ground. Caden managed to meet the onslaught, her knees raised. Just as sharp fangs snapped at her throat, she thrust upward. Her heels dug into the shewolf's soft belly while the balls of her feet shoved upward, driving the woman from her body. Dierdre screamed in pain, landing on her back.
Caden rolled, searching for her cane. She managed to scamper away and looked up to see Sean's eyes on her face.
Give up, Caden.