Wolf Tales Volume I is a collection of short stories of supernatural erotic romance. 


Six stories of erotic romance tell the tales of wild, irresistible men and the women who come to love them.

“The Claiming” introduces us to werewolf pack Beta Shaylee. When her Alpha sends her to meet a human Shaylee finds herself falling for the human, but what secret does Kyle hold that will change the wolves’ lives forever?


The Beginning” shows us the origin of all werewolves when a simple hunter Jon is changed forever by the exotic Fatik.

 

“The Legacy” brings us the next generation of wolves in the tale of Lars and Alexia, destined to meet by a legacy forever binding their parents.

 

“The Curse” tells of the darkest hour of wolf history when Jon touches true love in a single moment with Duana.

 

“The Magic” is the story of lost lovers Elizabeth and Koray, brought together after centuries when a mad killer begins stalking the wolves.

 

“The Lost” illustrates life for non-dominant pack wolves as new wolf Alejandro chases Omega wolf Valentina around the world on a desperate manhunt for the greatest threat the wolves may ever face. 


Preview

August 1979, Chicago, USA


Shaylee had come to the little bar in search of an ancient mystery. There were only twenty-one known werewolves in the entire world assembled into a pack, but now there was a possible outsider. She had no idea the reasons her Alpha Jon suspected the man or just what he was supposed to be, but when she sniffed the air the only creature of magic she scented was herself. She’d been restless as of late, and this was exactly the challenge she needed for a distraction.


She wasn’t sure what to expect, but Kyle Anderson had a resume that read like the index of Geek Quarterly. He’d gotten into MIT as a fifteen year old math genius and was a computer demigod. In the emerging science he was the master she conveniently needed. He could hack anything he wanted to, and by day his name was on over 100 patents used by Microsoft and the other big boys. Like most hackers he was good at forging and other things, but it was the forging she truly needed.


On paper he was twenty seven; in person he looked close to the age she appeared to be, twenty three. He was as pale as she’d guessed which matched the shoulder-length blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, but he didn’t have the beer gut or rail frame of most geeks. Instead he was somewhere between regular swimmer and gym rat, built well enough he turned quite a few heads as he scanned the dimly lit bar. He was also tall enough to duck under hanging lamps in faux-tiffany shades, looking far more like a man with a Viking surname than any other Anderson she’d ever met.


In here, on the south side, the staff was all Mexican, and the clientele mostly black. Anderson and “Lisa,” the name she’d lived under since 1960, would stick out here, she could only be thankful it was dark. 


His eyes settled on her and did not give the start she was used to in humans. There were many gifts along with the curse she bore, and a borderline unnatural attractiveness was one. Lisa was tall, athletic, and her long strawberry-blonde hair was thick and shiny. When she’d walked in even the women had taken a second glance, something she was aware of, but immune to. It made tracking mortals much easier, but he seemed immune.


“Kyle? Have a seat.” She kicked out the chair opposite her, still slouching over her beer. He took it and sat, folding his arms and flexing a surprising amount of muscle. Strangely he looked at home against the dingy wood of the bar and the ratty pool table. She knew from his background check he’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and it wasn’t just her allergy to the metal that kept Lisa from regularly mixing with people like him; she fit into places like this, rich boys shouldn’t.


“You must be…Ms. Smith,” he said knowingly.


“Yes.” 


He placed a single, large hand on the table in the practiced, patient manner of a man who was all business. She opened her leather jacket and pulled out an envelope. “Three thousand, cash.” She slid it across the table and his fingertips darted out to take it, but his eyes remained on her even as their skin touched.


To her shock she felt a tingle similar to the electric shock she felt when touching pack. Lisa took a quick sniff of the air and almost gagged. Over the mélange of old nastiness of the bar getting a direct scent on him was hard. Jon was onto something, but Anderson wasn’t a wolf. She just couldn’t say what he truly was.


She jerked her hand back and grabbed her beer to cover the grimace, but his eyes had never wavered.


“What are you?”


She winced again and tried not to show it, instead she pretended to misunderstand. “My name is Lisa Smith,” she calmly said, using the alias she had lived under for nineteen years. “In there is my social, all the info you need.”


He shook his head, silky blond strands flying across strong, prominent bones. “Not who, but what?”


She finished her beer in a strong pull and stood. Lisa was quite tall, those days not huge but once she had been a giant at just under six feet. Usually she combined her height with a jutting of her collarbone which intimidated most people, but Anderson stood and topped her by a good four inches, and fifty pounds of pure muscle.


“I’m just a person who needs her existence erased, and a new one. Good day, Anderson.”  One trick she had learned over nine hundred years of life was that being mysterious made others open up. She pushed past him and outside into the blaring sun and quickly slid on her helmet and gloves, covering every inch of skin from the damaging rays.


She burned in her human skin much more quickly than any human. Fur was her best protection, but out amongst mortals biker leather would do. Being a Beta and ancient allowed her to handle the sun with a helmet and leather, lesser wolves would burn too quickly.


Parked next to her bike was another one. Her bike was a sweet classic, a ’53 Indian she’d bought new and babied ever since. The one next to it was a much showier Harley, the kind real riders knew belonged to weekend warriors, but it was a Wednesday afternoon.


A bike was an odd choice for a creature of night, but like her canine cousins, she loved the feeling of wind rushing in her hair, even if she could only feel the full effect at night. She’d always ridden her horses hard and fast, and once humans had traded in the blacksmith for the mechanic she’d been a biker. In modern times it was much nicer, at the start, riding one while having breasts was more than difficult.


It was slightly jarring when Anderson emerged into the sunlight squinting, and headed for the Harley. He fit it all too well; the only odd thing was the paleness. Most bikers were sun-worn and wind-burnt. She too would have seemed odd, if not for her leather.


“I’ll have this done by tomorrow night,” he called over the roar of her engine. “I’ll call you with a place to meet and check everything over. I don’t like this bar.”


He cut off her reply with the rattle of his engine, and darted off, leaving her in his dust to stare, head cocked to one side, feeling the first stirrings of puzzled curiosity roused by a human in centuries.


***


The pack preferred living in large cities; it was easier to hide amongst the sheep. She drove to Hyde Park where they had a large house with enough bedrooms; as long as everyone slept two to a room save for the Alpha and Beta. 


Francois was on the gate and unlocked it, letting her roar in to park in the garage. Working on his caddy was Koray, one of the eldest wolves. For two hundred years it had been Shaylee and Jon, and then he had added Marta, who added Ajax and Koray. After another hundred years more came, but those four felt the most like family to her.


“Hey, K. Any word from Jon?”


He slid out from under the car, a gorgeous man with a short beard and long, curly black hair. His face was covered with motor oil and despite the fact he held three PhDs, he looked like some lonely housewife’s sexual fantasy mechanic. “Naw. He left Ireland but said he’s taking his time coming back.”


He pulled all the way out and stood, wiping his hands and face with a rag. Shaylee leaned against a bench and toyed with a carburetor sitting out, waiting to be rebuilt. “I don’t get it. Normally he sends you out to check on his phantom werewolves.”


“Well, I lost the only one we ever found,” he said jokingly, but it was bittersweet.


Once he’d been alone in Germany and fallen in love. He’d turned his ladylove when a rogue werewolf attacked. Koray had tracked him far, killed him, and brought the pack to see. The body had disappeared and when he’d returned to Germany his love had been killed by the ol’ villagers-with-torches. All these years later he still pined, howling mournfully alone in the night for a lost love on the full moon.


To keep him busy Jon sent him out whenever a rumor came of a werewolf. Thanks to modern technology they came less and less, but it was strange Jon had sent his Beta. “I think this guy Anderson is…I don’t know.”


“What do you mean?”


“He’s not a wolf, but he smells like pack. He could pass for a wolf, but he’s not. And he asked me what I was, not who.”


“So what are you thinking?”


She set the carburetor down. “You know how Jon is always on about the first pack, and how some of them might have had children?”


“We might be real, but that doesn’t mean wolves don’t have their own superstitions. I’ve never met anyone like that, and the wolf I killed, Constantine? Marta probably just miscalculated.”


She smiled and patted him on the shoulder. Marta, third in the pack, was becoming more of a Beta every day. It would end in a contest between the two women as only one Beta could exist in the pack, and it was good to know she had supportive friends.


“Jon usually waits until after we move to go to Ireland on his little spiritual sojourn. Here were are, just a few months off, we don’t even know where we’re moving, he sends me instead of you to investigate a possible wolf, all while Marta is making snarling challenges every day.”


Koray came over and hugged her, pack was always close. “It’ll be all right. He probably invented Anderson as a wolf to get you out of the house. He’s likely scoping out both Moscow and Oslo to decide where we move. It’ll be all right, it always works out.”


“If he wanted me out of the house he could have just told me to spend more time at the office.”


Koray smiled and patted her back. “You said this Anderson could pass for a wolf, so you think he’s hot? Maybe Jon wants another wolf in the pack, or maybe he just wants you to get laid.”


She said nothing as he got back down onto the board and slid beneath the car, whistling. Jon playing matchmaker…it wouldn’t be the first time, but this was certainly the strangest.


Chapter Two


She hated human eating establishments. When one had the metabolism of an Olympic runner carbo-loading before a marathon yet appeared as what old ladies called skinny, eating out was awkward.


He’d chosen a buffet. Odd, but nicely practical for her.  Oh, god, she thought with a groan as she entered. Was she supposed to seduce him? Did she really want to?


One romp in the sack with a human could turn him into a wolf, and the pack was awfully choosy about who they turned. Back in the late ‘50’s they’d had a wolf, Dahlia, who had indiscriminately turned men at every chance. The good ones they kept, the bad ones had to die. As Beta it had been her job to do the latter. After so much killing she had sworn off bedding human men, unable to stomach killing any longer. 


She found him waiting for her at the register. “I paid for you already, the least I can do. Here.”


He proffered a red plastic glass and turned away, backpack swinging. Her eyes flickered to it and of their own accord roved over to his ass. It was, as the rest of him, mouthwatering. Okay, she wanted to seduce him, but she was rusty as hell.


It had to be something in the restaurant making her juices flow. Hesitantly she opened her senses and sniffed the air again to see just what it was. She nearly gagged on the collections of perfumes, sweat, shower soaps, the indefinably messy-yet-sweet smell of children, and the staggering soggy yet crispy smell of ages of grease.


She coughed loudly and closed her nose as she’d been trained to do centuries before to protect herself. For this small, wasted trick her eyes would lighten with a tinge of bright, unnatural blue. Luckily they were a normal human blue normally, so it would go unnoticed so long as she kept her sunglasses on.


Anderson stopped and turned around. “You okay?”


“I’m fine,” she croaked out roughly, her normally husky voice bordering on a growl.


His brow furrowed but with a little shrug he turned and wound around crowded tables to an open one. She followed sedately and sat down, expecting him to sit as well, but he just turned towards the buffet. Here too amongst the quasi-country kitchen décor he looked out of place, yet strangely comfortable.


“What about business?” she asked before he was out of earshot.


He turned back with a raised brow. “I’m hungry. You should eat too. I can tell you’re hungry.”


Betraying her, her stomach growled and she felt herself blush. “Oh, fuck it,” Shaylee muttered.


She marched behind him stiffly and made her way to the buffet.  It was classic American grease with food, and didn’t smell bad over the scent of old grease. She dug in, carefully snatching small bits and pieces from every tray as she went, making sure no one watched. 


There were four islands and she hit them all doing this, moving with the unnaturally fast speed of her kind. It was a good appetizer, and she almost smiled when she left to head back. Food always made her feel better, and something felt off. Something about Anderson kept her off-kilter, a feeling an ancient was not used to.


Then she caught Anderson staring at her as if he had spotted a unicorn.


Just what did he know? Jon was as secretive as she was, as secretive as everyone in the pack. They had to be secretive to survive. No humans knew what they were, and her Alpha wouldn’t have told a human anything, not even this singularly strange mortal. He had met with Anderson, used him for a new ID, ending the rest of the pack to someone else. Now he had sent her. No one was smart enough to divine what they were from meeting just two of them.


Hell, she was getting suspicious in her old age. But Dahlia was out there in the world, untraceable, and the gods only knew how many wolves she had turned. Jon might be off about the first pack having descendants, but there was that wild card. She sniffed but Anderson was no wolf. He smelled fresh, clean, and human, but not like prey at all. She froze at the booth smelling him, puzzled, trying to figure Anderson out. Calmly he watched her with a raised brow, waiting for her to sit.


At last she slid in and he sat across from her, his plate piled as high as hers, though she noticed he favored vegetables where as she had almost every kind of meat known to man. Well, humans had to worry about their health, her kind just needed protein, as much as they could get.


He glanced over it all, and then dug in. She bit into some juicy prime rib dripping with bloody juices and moaned softly. It was much better than expected, and her teeth began to grow slightly, sharpening. It took a long, silent minute of fighting her nature to pull them back. It was a strange reaction, she could alter one body part at a time by will, but they usually obeyed her. Her body seemed to have a mind of its own that night.


“Your records are completely clean. I can show you after we eat.”


“But?” She guessed.


“The last person you paid to do this wasn’t nearly as good.”


Shaylee was taken aback. The last time she’d done this, computers took up entire rooms and records were on punch cards. There was no way anyone could figure it out, even a genius like him. “I don’t know what you mean,” she said at last.


“Yes you do.” His voice was steady though he was regarding her carefully. “Any other questions I have would probably not be best asked or answered here.” 


She set her fork down and sat back. “Is it money you’re after?”


The look he gave her was arguably disappointment. “I already have your money. I want answers.”


She glanced around and his gaze followed her over the large families and tired elderly patrons. “Fine. Hurry up then.”


The food suddenly tasted bland. So that was it then. Whether or not Jon had set her up to turn him, she had to in order to keep the pack safe. How was she going to do this? The last…person she’d had sex with had been Jon, and it was in 1959. They were highly sexual creatures, but sex with a mortal had dire consequences. She had always refused to turn a mortal, which meant she’d always kept her needs to pack. She had never once in her life had sex with a mortal.


If she took this human, he too would bear the curse. It was an awful yet beautiful thing, a terrible gift. That w as how it was passed. The thought was terrifying and exciting, and she felt her beast growl with the sudden urge to claim him.


They left without speaking and she walked to her bike, looking around for his, but found no sign of his Harley. Anderson strode to the sleek car that resembled a small Firebird to her untrained eye. It was bright red and sporty.  


“Leave your bike, get in. We’ll talk on the way. I’ll bring you back to it soon enough.”


A normal woman would have hesitated, but Shaylee could bench-press his car. Since her change she’d never had to fear anything more than discovery by mortal men. So she hopped in, her black, worn leather squeaking on the tan lather seat.


There was enough on the dashboard it resembled a cockpit; most of the devices looked foreign to her. “Nice gadgetry,” she said to break the silence.


“It’s a Mazda, the RX-7,” he said, and lapsed into silence after. 


Shaylee’s mind was racing. How did human women seduce men? With a wolf all she had to do was ask if he wanted a roll in the hay or sniff their haunches on a run. 


These days human women wore revealing clothes, made catcalls, did any number of things in movies and on the street that puzzled her. She was strong and capable, but woefully un-practiced. Worse, something about Anderson almost intimidated her. As far as she knew she was the second strongest biped on earth, and yet he made her doubt herself.


He guided the car through twists and turns, heading northwest. Finally, stopped at a red light, he spoke. “So, what’s going on? Your birth date makes you twenty three. You’re linked to another identity that terminated the day you were ‘born’ and she was twenty three. So you’re what…forty six?” His eyes slid sideways and scanned her up and down. “Not bad.”


She blushed. “Not exactly. Where are we going?”


“Someplace secure. My office.”


“In some kind of building downtown with a guard and cameras? I don’t think so.”


 “No, my office is my home, where I live. I do work there like this, and it would be against my best interest to record anything. We’ll both be safe there.”


She bit back a laugh, and for a moment lost her hold on her senses. The car smelled of leather, cleanser, and the faint mingling of warmed metals that was technology. Kyle Anderson smelled almost like pack; a warm meeting of moist earth, dry wind, sticky trees, and wild fur. She got her first clear taste of him and it was familiar, but deeply foreign and intriguing. That was the smell that had suddenly aroused her in the restaurant. It was Kyle Anderson.


Shaylee gasped and he jerked the steering wheel, bringing them close to an SUV that honked. “What’s wrong?”


“Almost sneezed,” she said mechanically but she could smell he thought she was lying.


She wanted to lean into him, snuffle him with her nose the way she did in pack when they walked on four legs and not two. She doubted he would take it well; he just wasn’t the right kind of animal. Yet.


“So how old are you?”


She thought back to when Jon had come into her life and changed her. She had known nothing, and that was the usual way of it. But Shaylee had never been one to follow the crowd, if she changed Anderson, he would know what to expect.


“I was born in eleven twenty seven.”


This time the car screeched over to the side of the road, cutting off all traffic and earning horns as he slammed on the brakes and they skidded to a halt. Hands gripped knuckled-white on the wheel, he turned to her slowly though almost panting as if the movement was taxing. “What are you?” he ground out slowly.


“Nothing you need fear. I don’t hurt people unless I have to, and that pretty much means when my life is threatened. I’m just trying to make it in this world, like everyone else, but sadly I was born before the damn social security administration was even a daydream. That’s why people like me need people like you.”


Again he looked her up and down, more evaluating, less flattering. “You’re not people, you can’t be.”


Horns rang out behind them so she pulled out a cigarette and sighed gently, hoping to relax him. “You’d better move before the cops get here. I doubt either of us wants that.”


He shifted into first and pulled out, quickly accelerating away from the metal wolf pack behind them. This was strangely freeing, she thought. Never in all her years had she ever come this close to confessing her nature to a human. In the old days, humans had guessed, and there had been torch-lit processions of angry villagers in the woods, but through it all they had always denied what they were.


In the ensuing silence she thought back to the night she was turned. Back then she’d been a spinster, and meeting a man from Russia in the twelfth century was similar to meeting a space alien today. Perhaps Paul Bunyan would be a better metaphor, she mused.


Jon, calling himself Gregor, had been tall, very tall. She was born in the highlands, her people had intermingled with Vikings long enough to be giants in their own right, but when Jon came to town he put the brawniest of her clan to shame.


He was pale but dusky, his eyes a strange mix of light brown and bright piercing blue she now knew was the mark of the wolf. Whenever their nature, their beast was close to the surface, their eyes glowed blue. Exerting small power gave him golden rims around the irises, she didn’t know it then, thought it was just beauty. He was rough hewn from years of manual labor, though he appeared to be no more than twenty, even with his short beard and long hair. He’d wandered into town with a tale of a job translating, a shipwreck, and hostile clans. He spoke Gaelic like he’d been born to it and wore his hair as long as her brethren. 


Jon was intelligent and educated. She didn’t know it then but in 1150 when they’d met he was already millennia old and had seen every corner of the world. She’d never thought she’d been in love; love was nothing in those days like it was in modern times, but she had been in lust.


One night he’d come to call and she sat by the fire in the little crofter’s thatched-roof hut she had taken over. She’d been sewing, freshly bathed, and feeling the sharp pang of loneliness when this educated, gorgeous man had come in and seduced her.


She had known him for all of four days and had never felt familiar with him, so she couldn’t bring herself to speak. He wore the plaid of her clan, exposing his chest and sinewy muscles. He grabbed her and raised her up. She was tall but he was huge and her neck had creaked as he bent her head back and gave her the first kiss of her life. It had taken every thought from her head; the cloth and needle slipped from her hand and fell to the pounded earth floor.


It had been a slow seduction, a gentle winding of hands on angles and curves, clothing removed carefully as in those days, it was stitched together and had to be pulled apart gently. The revealing of her body was methodic whereas with him she removed the pin and unwound the plaid and he was quickly gloriously naked.


Lost in the memory, she tried not to think of how impressive his erection had been, or the gnawing fear she’d felt, or the inevitable, inescapable pain that came with the first time. She preferred to think of his strong, powerful hands on her body, smoothing and cupping, teasing and stroking. Every nerve had been burning like an ember and her breathing had become shallow panting by the time his mouth joined his fingertips.


After he finally withdrew from her body a look had come over him that was so sad, it was breath-taking. In the years since she had found that look only on statues in Florence created four hundred years after she first held Jon in her arms. In those ensuing travels she had often wondered if he had ever unwisely posed for an artist. It had been regret of the deepest kind, she knew now.


For the next two days she had floated in and out of consciousness. She had died a mortal death and been reborn. Immediately after waking she had changed to a wolf as had he, and when he spoke in her mind it began to calm her. They hunted together, left her village, and finally a year later she had found a mirror and saw how the change had completely changed her. Her scars were gone, her hair shinier, healthier, her skin paler, her entire visage more beautiful.


Still, she supposed she’d never forgiven Jon for the curse he’d given her. She was not going to do the same to Anderson.


“We’re here.”


She shook off the reverie as Anderson pulled the sleek vehicle up to a carport masquerading as a garage. He hopped out to unlock and raise the door, and then returned to pull in. Sandwiched between two buildings it had a full door, a tin roof, and the front was open to the back of a three story condo building.


He parked in the middle between the bike she’d seen earlier and what appeared to be a sleek Italian car she couldn’t specifically identify beyond a glossy black. She stepped out and sighed. “Neighbors?”


“The place is mine. Actually it belongs to a company owned by a company I sit on the board of.”


“Neat trick,” she said, a little too breathy. Damn it, the promise of what was to come was terrifying and strangely arousing. With a shake of her head she realized she wanted this man. For the first time something outside of pack life interested her.


“And on the sides?”


He pulled the garage door down and locked it, and she licked her lips at the show of muscle. “I own those too. I like my privacy.”


She raised her eyebrows as he opened the car to pull his bags out.


The pack was twenty-one strong, they hadn’t added a new member since 1959, but there was no reason they couldn’t. They jointly owned A&O, a company that had started in imports/exports between Africa and the rest of the world and had long ago grown into medical research, land development, and security. They had money, and as they preferred to live together as a true pack they had large houses the world over. Sure, they were packing up to leave, but they would find room for him.


A sudden image of Kyle Anderson in her bed filled Shaylee’s mind. His hair wild and loose, his green eyes sleepy. His body so warm, so tan, so human. His tight t-shirt gave her a hint, but she imagined how he looked naked, his muscles defined. 


Desire like she’d never known soared through her and a blush exploded. Kyle brushed past her to open the door to the yard and his arm brushed her nipples. A low moan escaped Shaylee’s throat and he stopped. 


“You’re scared of me, aren’t you?”


Her eyes widened when she realized this human actually did. “You started me, is all.”


“Follow me, we’ll talk inside.” He led her onto a short path and up the back steps. Again her eyes were drawn to his ass. She really, really appreciated the modern invention of jeans.


At the door he undid more locks than most military forts had, and inside had to shut the door behind her. They were between doors in pitch black and pressed close. She held her breath at the feel of his warm body, so hard and firm against her. Something low and deep inside her turned over and her beast snarled at the end of its chain in her mind.


He moved his arm and she stiffened, expecting an embrace but he merely reached behind her, flipped open a panel hiding a keypad, and punched in what sounded like a sixteen digit pass code.


She thought he smiled in the dark, heard his facial muscles shift, and she was curious what it would look like. The only expression she’d so far seen could only be described as “game face.” His heartbeat was nice and steady, but her pulse was racing.


Suddenly the interior door opened and he slid past, leading her in. He flipped switches on what looked like an FAA panel and the space burst into dramatic lights. Spotlights on rows of servers, workstations, even spotlights on couches backed by massively full bookshelves burst to life. The effect was nice, cozying up the giant space with no walls, only exposed brick support beams.


He set his bags down on a desk crammed with papers and then headed to the short span of outer wall that comprised the kitchen behind an island. “Want anything to drink?”


“Sure,” she said quickly, surveying the open space. There were fans everywhere, cooling the huge servers. The upstairs was a loft accessed by spiral stairs and all she could see was a messy bed and nightstand.


Down below the half of the room not filed with servers had two couches and a long desk running the length between the front door and wall. There were several small personal computers there along with a million loose papers. If this was a workspace, it was quite lived in.


From the fridge he pulled two beers. Her metabolism was too fast for most liquor to have any effect and she really wanted food, but beer was liquid bread, so she took it from him and pried off the top with her bare hand. He watched, brow raised and she shrugged as she took a pull.


“Again, what are you?”


She sat on one of the two couches, the black leather one, and her pants and jacket squeaked. She set the beer down on a side table stacked with books and shrugged out of her jacket. Even inside in air conditioning she was still hot. 


“I was born human, fully human. At the age of twenty-three it changed. I have never regretted it, I have a family of people just like me, a job steadier than most governments, and I’ve traveled the world. I’m extremely hard to kill but I can die, and I frankly don’t look forward to it. This means every twenty years or so I have to disappear, and start new. That’s where people like you come in.”


He leaned against the island on his hip and she had to admit, the effect was pure sexuality. The spotlight behind him lit his hair and defined the muscles showing beneath a tight blue t-shirt tucked into those snug jeans, finished off with true, old, dusty motorcycle boots. He looked young, fresh, strong, something that deeply excited her.


“Why are you telling me?”


“Because you need to know.”


“So what are you?”


She wasn’t ready to speak the word. “Just a woman with a very important job.”


“What kind of a job?”


She stopped the bottle halfway to her lips. That was not the question she’d been expecting. “Security, mentoring, whatever my…group needs. And I’m good at it.”


He looked her up and down again and in her black tank top and black leather pants she knew looked like a tall, fairly slight biker chick. She wished she could pull off skirts like Gabriela, or trashy outfits like Marta, but at heart she was a warrior, and dressed accordingly. “How many other ‘people’ are in your group?”


“Twenty-one. You’ve met our leader.”


He took a swig of beer. “I won’t ask who. I’m paid to keep silent and I will. But I want to know what risks I’m facing working with you.”


She shifted on the couch and he flinched very slightly. “Oh, for chrissakes, quit thinking I’m going to attack you. I don’t eat humans, and wouldn’t even if I could!”


He stared steadily for a moment, and then re-crossed his ankles. “You’re pale, ancient, and frankly scary as all hell. Are you a vampire?”


“Fucking Anne Rice,” she muttered under her breath. “No, I doubt they even exist. And did you see how much I ate at the buffet? Frankly, I love garlic.”


“Maybe vampires can eat. You really are pale. Beautiful, but pale.”


Shaylee blushed slightly. It pleased hr greatly to hear that word on his lips. “I don’t like the sun. I’ve always been more of a night person.” Suddenly she began to wonder of his strange scent. “You’re pale, are you a vampire?”


He smiled at that, and it was amazing. She could only blink as he began to chuckle. “Hardly, I spend most of my waking hours in here, in front of a computer screen. Makes it hard to tan.”


She felt her secondary senses come alive. Her blood pumped slowly as her vision sharpened. Normally she knew this signaled a threat, but the only threat here was her reaction to this human. She drained the beer and felt awkward in a way a woman her age should not. Silence hung heavily in the air.


“So I guess you should show me that my records are clean. It’ll relax you. I’m mostly harmless.”


He snorted at that, but crossed to the desk, firing up a workstation as he sat down. She came to stand over his shoulder, aware that he showered with Irish Spring soap, his deodorant was meant to smell like the ocean, and his cologne was subtle, rich, and incredibly expensive.


“You knew when I asked about risks, I meant whoever you’re hiding from.”


She raised a brow, staring at his broad shoulders. “Interesting. We do have enemies, few and far between; it’s more the threat of discovery. Imagine if the FBI knew I’d once had tea with Benjamin Franklin.”


He turned then, and leaning down as she was, their faces were close. He’d slipped on a pair of glasses and she hadn’t noticed. They should have made him look intellectual, but all he resembled now was a doctor who ran with the Hell’s Angels.


“What was he like?” Anderson asked simply.


“Flirtatious as hell, but quite charming. And damn smart.”


“Hmm,” he turned away and typed in a password into the computer that seemed to be pi to the hundredth digit. 


He pulled up some programs, all the while she drank her beer and somewhat wished she could get drunk. From what mortals said that made things easier. However if she remembered it was easier for the seducer to get their intended to agree to be seduced when drunk. 


Gah, she was fretting. Standing straight, Shaylee sighed, blowing her bangs away from her face. She didn’t fret. For nearly a thousand years she had been Jon’s second, training new wolves in the hunt and blending into society. Since A&O had been founded in the twenties she had worked for the corporation, now with nearly twenty years of security behind her. She was comfortable in the boardroom presiding over unruly executives, or at home with a pack of snarling man-beasts arguing over the last piece of bacon. And now she was fretting over a human because she thought he filled out a t-shirt nicely.


 “Here you are. You said pick any name, so I picked Shay for you.” she stiffened before she could stop herself and he turned. “Something wrong?”


“Not at all, continue.” Some girls were stuck with the name Shaylee in modern times, but Shay was a much more common variant. How had he picked something so close to her given name?


For twenty long minutes he took her through various databases and showed her the old identity was gone. She was now Shay Douglas, and he ended the presentation by producing a passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card.


“Thank you,” she said evenly, trying not to show how impressed she was.


“They’ll pass, anywhere.”


She tucked it all inside her jacket and sat on the back of the couch. He swiveled on the chair and removed his glasses, only needing them for up-close work apparently. 


“So…I believe I’ve shown you that I’m not out to get you, or sell you out. I am still curious. What exactly are you?”


It was now or never. She steeled herself with a deep breath and met his eyes. “I’m a werewolf.”


***


"It is a curse, but not the way movies portray it. I do not kill humans in wolf form; I prefer to hunt deer and rabbits. I follow the moon and answer her call every twenty-nine and a half days when she is full. The gifts I get in return are numerous, but there are drawbacks.”


Kyle’s green eyes widened almost comically and his beer slipped from his fingers. Out of habit she dove for it, crossed the room faster than his eyes could see and straightened, holding it out to him, blushing at his shocked expression. “You dropped this.”


“Shit.” He shrank back, nearly flinching.


For some strange reason that hurt her feelings, and Shaylee covered it with a sneer. “You really should be careful with the questions you ask. I know people like you are not good with boundaries, but sometimes they’re there for a reason.” She tried to ignore the way his heartbeat had sped up, thundering in her ears over the whine of the computers and fans.


“D-do you eat p-people?”


She snorted, feeling defensive. “Only little girls in red hoods who piss me off in the woods!” It took him a second but the joke seemed to calm him. He took a swig of beer and she backed up. “Look, all those stories about us, especially what Hollywood says, are not true. They are so outrageous that it’s actually the perfect distraction from their reality. The Navy calls it dazzle camouflage, and it works.


“I eat to survive, but like you, I prefer cooked meat, prepared foods. I just need more of it to get by. I run at a higher temperature, I heal faster, can move, think, do everything faster, and I am stronger. The only things I have to worry about are sunlight, which I heal from at the rate of an Irish alcoholic, silver poisoning, intense and prolonged fire, and decapitation.”


She sat back on the couch consciously letting him loom over her and hold the superior position. It would relax him, make him feel safe. One skill that did not come naturally but through experience and time was the ability to blend in and relax humans around her. Indeed he did draw closer, peering at her as if she would sprout a muzzle and tail at any moment.


“Why are you telling me this?” His voice was deeper, more gruff than usual.


She folded her arms, suddenly aware of how it hefted her breasts higher, and more aware that his eyes flicked down to them and back up to her face with surprising speed. “You’re smart, damn smart, and you’ll figure it out on your own.”


“So?”


She took a deep breath and tried to keep her own voice from getting dramatic. “You’re going to have to become one of us.”


He gaped. “And if I don’t want to be like you?”


Those words struck her deeply, and she felt her mind shutter. “Then you will be choosing death.”


The air seemed to take on weight, and she wondered if he could feel it. There was magic in her, in her kind, and the weight of a promise meant something. Magic was dying in the face of the modern world, and Jon said it was collecting in small pools such as her kind and granting us greater strength. Vows that could not be broken were only one small part of the large price this commanded.


It wasn’t true: they could bribe him, but now she had put such emotion into the statement it was a vow, and she was bound. Through it all she could hear his heartbeat speed up, could see his breaths pushing out rapidly, and smell the creeping unease that fell upon him. She found her chin dipping in a canine position of shame. Why had she said that threat? This was all going wrong.


“Do I have to decide right now?”


She stood and grabbed her coat just as her mind grabbed onto the excuse to leave and regroup. “I will give you the night to think it over. I have to get back to my pack. Don’t leave town. I am the best tracker there is, and I’ll find you. If you join us you will be immortal, forever young, and forever beautiful. Like me you will be stronger, faster, so much…more.


“Look, I spoke rashly,” she sighed out, smoothing her strawberry blonde hair back. “Only my alpha can decide what happens to you if you don’t join us. I can make no promises.”


“What if I do run? What if I need more time?”


She felt sad at the rejection, and tried desperately to remember it was a rejection of what she was, not who she was. Okay, damn it, that felt worse. “I can’t give you more time. I am offering you a gift. You will never have to worry about aging or disease. You will be strong, beautiful, and capable of so much good in this world.”


His eyes were sad. “What if I’m scared?”


“We all are, but fear profits the man nothing.”


“This is just so much to take in.”


As a Beta, the urge to comfort him was strong, but she resisted. He was not pack, not yet, and she scared him. Never in her long life had being a wolf felt like such a curse. She could take anger and disdain, but never fear.


“And that is why I am giving you the night to think it over. You know too much, and that knowledge risks the entire pack. It’s my job to guard them. I’d rather have you with us than against us.”


“No middle ground?”


She shook her head and turned to walk to the door.


He beat her and pressed it closed. “Let me drive you back to your bike.”


It took her a moment to speak. He smelled less of fear and more of sadness and confusion. Were she any other wolf she would pounce, seduce him, make his mind up for him, but it was not her way. “I’ll be fine.”


“Let me call you a cab, at least.”


Shaylee offered him a small smile. “I could use a run. Think about it, Kyle. Joining us has many advantages.”


She twisted the knob but it didn’t move, locked by that system. To underscore her point she jerked and the entire door frame swung. Leaving him puzzled and gaping, she went out into the night into an entirely uncertain future.