Disguise

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Ketchup

Without another word he closed the gap between us and I was crushed - very literally - in his hug. His arms were so strong, so tight, so snug around me that I could have stayed there forever. He nuzzled his nose in my hair and I let out a happy giggle. I wish I could continue to relish this feeling for long but the vulnerable side of me danced around flashing warning signs. How could I agree to see someone I didn’t completely trust yet?

I guess we would find out.

“You’re going to choke me to death, Reece.” I managed to say and he immediately loosened his grip on me, but I was engulfed just the same. His lips were near my ear and his breath kept tickling me while he held me close and despite my initial resistance, I began to laugh.

“Ree-ce! Stop it let go!” I said between chortles as he nuzzled his nose to my neck making me jump from the sudden electricity. I could feel myself relax and give into his touch, my guard was coming down.

“Reeeeceee” I yelled again but he didn’t listen.

And then I felt something wet on my neck as a thousand sparks jolted me out of giggling into a more darker desire.

He licked my neck! Without warning I let out a low moan. Reece stiffened slightly and then very slowly, he pulled away.

My face was a sheet of red as my sight averted his.

One minute in his arms and I’d lost control. May caution go to hell.

“Just how we like it, Flo.” Reece whispered softly and my eyes, which had been avoiding his, had swiftly corrected their sight.

“W-hat?” I stuttered, reddening by the second.

“Oh I think you heard me, ketchup.” He said shamelessly and I felt my face flame even further.

The nerve of this man! He couldn’t have actually read my mind, right?

Werewolves. Check.

Soulmates. Check.

Mind reading?

“Y-You can’t read my mind right?” I asked him cautiously, my face still slightly red.

Reece’s lips tilted into his famous one-sided smirk.

“Reece?” I asked again, biting my lip.

“Well...” He stretched it further.

Oh god oh god oh god.

“Reece! Answer me!” I put a little more desperation into my voice and shook him with each syllable.

He let out a short laugh, I could see his eyes twinkling as he eyed me again, making me flush.

“Not yet.”

“Oh thank god!” I sputtered immediately, feeling myself relax. Reece gave me a sly smile and I froze.

“Not yet?! What does that mean?” His words sank in.

“It means that eventually I will.”

“WHAT?”

“Relax, it’s not such a bad thing!” He almost sounded hurt. Almost.

But I knew that he was enjoying my discomfort more.

Asshole.

“You see, when I mark you, I’m going to start being able to hear your thoughts among other things-”

“Back up, back up, ‘mark’?”

At this he froze, his expression like the one of a deer caught in the headlights. My muscles tightened at his expression. Good god, what was this now?

“It’s nothing to be concerned about right now.”

“Reece-”

“Honest.” He said, still avoiding my eyes. What was it? Would it freak me out?

“Reece.”

“It’s like a bite.”

“A bite?!” My voice shook.

“On your neck.”

“Huh?!”

“It makes you mine.”

“Wha- huh? But- You-My neck?!”

“It’s normal.” He sighed, pushing his head into his hands again. This was normal?!

“Why?”

“So that people everywhere around you recognize you as mine.”

“Stop talking like I’m your property!”

“And I am yours.” He said quietly, almost submissively but not quite. His wolf would never allow that. It made me stop for a moment. He moved closer to me again and put his arms around my waist. I didn’t fight the motion, but then his hands tightened further and he lifted me as easily as if I were a kitten and deposited me onto his lap. My face immediately burned at his actions. It had been so long since we had been this close and content. I closed my eyes with a sigh.

“I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.” Reece murmured into my ear, jolting me out of my contention. “That is not happening!” I repeated firmly, twisting in his lap to face him better. Reece held an amused grin on his face, “Why? What could be so horrifying in that?” His expression changed into one of mock surprise as he continued, “Oh! Or is it because you finally can’t hide how much you want me.” At that I flushed, turning my eyes away from him in obvious embarrassment. “There is no such thing!” Why was my voice all squeaky?

“You were always shy. Even before. It took me so long to get you out of that shell.” he had a small smile on his face and I had no doubt he was replaying some of our earlier memories. But then the smile gave way to a frown and his eyebrows furrowed. “It’ll be twice as hard this time.” He spoke silently and I froze. Did I hear that correctly? Did he already know that I didn’t trust him completely, like before?

I decided not to speak anything and relaxed back into him, silently praying that he couldn’t hear my thoughts.

“So, when is this done?” I asked him, not twisting to face him.

“Whenever you feel comfortable.” He said, raising a finger to stroke the side of my face. A new thought occurred to me. “You said ‘among other things’ what are those?” I felt him turn to look towards me and heard him groan.

“What is it now?” I asked while simultaneously getting out of his lap - enough for a day. Reece frowned but let me move regardless.

“Well, you join the pack. I know where you are all the time, I can feel what you feel. The last one works both ways though.” He spoke quickly, as though if he hurried through it then I would miss the alarming information.

“What kind of sorcery is this?!” So unfair!

“Is a human mate common?” I shot the next question and his face set into a grim line, “No, it is incredibly rare. It makes me worry.”

“Oh.” Was all I managed to say, my mood dropping with his.

“But don’t worry, we will figure something out. I have already asked for the old texts and scriptures to be brought back to my office for inspection.” He provided some comfort, but even I could sense how dangerous this might be. A lone human girl among ferocious wolves? It was a recipe for disaster.

“There is something else.” I pressed, knowing the look in his eyes. I waited in silence, unwilling to give in.

“The marking, I don’t know how you might react to it. Since you aren’t a werewolf it might hurt you a lot more. It hurts the common wolves if their mates are royals, so this sounds even worse.” The thought of being bit into by those canines of his was off the charts scary. I felt myself shiver at this information.

“You’ll figure it out,” I offered half heartedly and then decided to change the topic. “Dani and Grey, they’re-”

“Mates, yes. It’s why we always told you that those two would never break up.” To my teenage mind it made no sense, people dated and broke up every so often that it was no surprise that they didn’t last forever. But now, I could understand. If they had a pull similar to the one I had then it would certainly seal the deal. My mind went to Reece again, how come he split us apart?

A dull pain formed in the pit of my stomach and my hand went to touch it. How long would it take for me to completely get over this? It still felt so tender to even think about. Reece noticed my sudden silence and put his hand over mine. The familiar sparks flowed into me, easing away the pain. “I will make it up to you.” He promised firmly, taking my hand in his.

We had been too emotional all day now. I needed some fun! And I knew just where it would come from.

“Don’t worry about all this, let’s get going now!” I said cheerfully, hoisting myself up and grabbing my jacket.

-----------------

I saw her before she saw me. She was standing on the pavement with a humongous beach hat on her head even though it was nowhere near sunny. I let out a short laugh at that. Xena was a rebel at heart. She didn’t appear to be looking for me, instead, her gaze was fixed at something else. I followed her line of sight to a rather handsome man who was walking towards a prospective cab. A slow smirk settled on my face - the crazy girl was shamelessly checking out his behind.

I walked closer to her with Reece trailing behind him slightly. We spoke of trivial things - largely to allow me the breathing space I needed in the car.

“Isn’t one cheek smaller than the other?” I whispered into her ear and she let out a startled scream. I burst out laughing as I watched her turn completely red at being caught.

“Why would you put that in my mind! It was perfect!” she yelled, her voice slightly higher than usual.

Then she dropped her bags and jumped into me, her hat narrowly missing my eye. “Hi! Hi! Hi!” she sang, into my ear as she crushed me, and I crushed her back for a minute before I pulled away and scanned her attire.

Her long blonde hair had been tied up into a messy bun which was made just below the hat. Her face was completely free of make up- something we both shared a common dislike for - and her fit figure was evident in the tight black pants and fitted black top. She was a true beauty.

“Hey, Xen.” I gave her a big smile.

Finally our vacation could start!

Xena’s brown eyes went to a shadow behind me and I spun around. Reece was standing close by, talking to another man who was slightly shorter to him.

“Is that-”

“Yes.”

“I see you guys made up.”

I didn’t say anything but only nodded. My attention shifted to the man he was talking to. Who was he? Reece didn’t mention meeting anyone, nor did I over hear any conversation about it. Did they just bump into each other?

“He looks much hotter in real life.” Xena commented and I let out a laugh.

“Yeah.”

Reece’s head turned to me as soon as I said that and he gave me a one sided smirk. My face heated up in horror as I realized that he probably heard that. Stupid werewolf senses.

The entire ride here I held myself back from the million questions I wanted to ask. The reason was obvious, I didn’t want to know something that would scare me already. Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answers to.

I knew that this logic wouldn’t work for long and that at some point I was going to have to face everything that came along with Reece and his world of werewolves but for now I was on vacation, and the tired adult in me wanted to be a kid again and be excited about spending time with her best friend! Besides, the car ride here had been fun. The King had nothing but the best and it was all very flattering.

Needless to say, I was too busy trying not to feel overwhelmed to ask him questions. And the fact that his hands kept wandering throughout the journey made it incredibly difficult to focus my thoughts on anything else. Seemingly innocent touches here and there from the annoyingly handsome Alpha who thought I wouldn’t understand what he was doing. My face started to heat up at the illicit thoughts in my head. Good god, if Reece saw them..

“Hello? Flora?” Xena waved a hand in front of my face and I snapped out of my inner musings. Reece was still talking to the stranger and I turned to give her a sheepish look, trying not to blush at getting caught.

Xena scanned me from top to bottom with curious eyes before she let out a loud, resigned sigh, “Well then, I guess I’m third-wheeling.” She said rather dramatically causing me to slap the back of her hand with a giggle. “That’s not going to happen and you know it!” I protested, trying to sound offended but my suddenly high tone was betraying me.

“Oh sure sure. You know Flo, if you had told me you’re making such ...fine arrangements ” she scanned Reece appreciatively, “I would have postponed my flight a bit more.” she sneered, enjoying watching me squirm. Gosh this girl! Reece would be able to hear everything!

“Xen, this vacation is you and me. Don’t worry.” I told her seriously after a moment, on the off chance she really was worried. Xena met my eyes with a sincere smile, “I know.” She said simply. “You love me most.” She stated, completely confident and I let out a laugh. I loved this girl.

Reece finished his conversation with the mysterious man and then glided over to us with the grace of a silent predator, and I couldn’t help but appreciate his muscular body. Xena stepped forward before me and raised a hand forward. “Xena Marin. Pleasure to meet you.” She introduced herself before I could. Reece looked at her politely before looking at me and I nodded, feeling like he was waiting for permission.

He raised his hand to clasp hers in a tight, dominant grip and said, “I’m Reece Wolf. Nice to meet you as well.” His words were velvet and I could see Xena appreciate him even further. I hoped that they got along because then it would make this vacation much easier.

“So, where’s the car? Or did you cab it? Should we look for a cab back?” Xena asked as she turned to me which made me laugh. Boy was she going to flip when she saw how we came. Reece was holding a smirk as he pointed to an approaching car. When had he called the driver to come around?

Xena’s eyes widened as she realized that he was pointing at a shiny black Mercedes - Benz approached us. It matched the owner - silent, mysterious but incredibly royal and intimidating. The driver - who’s name I had learned as Sean pulled around and angled the car so that the door was beside us.

“This is your car?” She asked without looking at Reece and he let out a grunt of a yes. Xena didn’t get in but instead walked around the car, circling the metal beauty in awe. She raised her hand to touch the car’s hood, mumbling things with the words ‘cc’ and ‘horsepower’ and I was lost already.

“She knows her cars.” Reece said into my ear and I nodded. I was sure he could hear exactly what she was saying. “Xena’s dad was an automobile engineer. She spent a lot of time with him and cars.” I provided and Reece’s expression morphed into one of understanding.

“Makes more sense now.” He whispered back as he opened the car door for me to get in. Sean was eyeing Xena curiously, who was still standing at the hood of the car and mumbling to herself. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Oye! Xen. You coming? Or do you just want to see the exteriors?”

She immediately stiffened before turning a dark shade of red. Looks like I’m not the only one who seems lost around here. Her eyes met Sean’s and she realized that she had better get inside before anyone else finds out how weird she was.

In the back of the car, my phone beeped and I swiped it open.

It was a message from my best friend : I approve.

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