Right in the middle of my conversation with Ever, I knew something was drastically wrong when he glanced over my shoulder and sucked in a sharp breath, his eyes widening larger than I’d ever seen them.
Spinning around, it only took me a second to identify the problem.
Hycinth wasn’t where I left her.
Nope. Not only was she gone from Gwen’s side, but my little mouse had taken it upon herself to sidle up to two unmated males and stare them down as though they were beef selections on a platter for her choosing.
“Oh, fuck, no,” I snarled.
Ever wisely remained silent as he followed me across the training center.
Reaching Hycinth, I wrapped a hand around her elbow. “The fuck are you doing?”
If I wasn’t already shocked enough by Hycinth’s behavior before I reached her, I was outright stunned when she jerked out of my grip, Wolf in her eyes, and bared her teeth at me!
She gave no answer. Just stared....expectantly.
My Wolf was a little bit quicker on the uptake, snarling, “She thinks one of them might be more worthy than us.”
What the hell??
Hycinth couldn’t possibly think one of these measly wolves to be more powerful, more deserving. I was the fucking Alpha for fuck’s sake!
But yet...the predatory gleam in her naughty eyes made me believe my Wolf just might be correct.
And with that abrupt realization...
...feral dominance exploded inside of me.
In one mighty heave, the air was sucked out of my body. But I wasn’t left breathless for long. A wave of oxygen snapped back like a rubber band, saturating my lungs beyond capacity and expanding my chest to the fullest. The force of it almost knocked me off my feet.
Primal instincts blazing, my Wolf surged forward as close to the surface as possible without breaking through my skin, filling the spaces inside of me.
We held an exquisitely painful state of mid-shift between his body and mine. Organs merged and became one, heart, lungs, liver. Red blood cells and bodily fluid amalgamated into stasis. Neither mine nor his—but ours. I couldn’t tell where he ended and I began. I’d never felt so in sync...so symbiotic with my Wolf’s consciousness and flesh.
The air vibrated, tangible and alive, crackling with energy and anticipation. My voice dropped an octave, “What is it that you want, little mouse?”
Still no response...
I surveyed the two males in the ring, only to find two more had come up behind them. All four damn near twitched with anticipation, preening under Hycinth’s attention, more than ready and willing to sink themselves into her tight little body.
My Wolf and I were in agreement.
Bring that shit on.
Returning my attention to Hycinth, I purred, “Do you see something here you like?”
Again, all I was rewarded with was her Wolf’s defiant stare.
All right. We wouldn’t talk then. Without another word, I slowly peeled my T-shirt from my body and dropped it to the side.
Lake blue orbs fixated on my every move. Her little pink tongue flicked out and swept along her plump lips.
Indulging...in my flesh.
The male’s attention also riveted to me, eyeing me warily...
...but not backing down.
I may have been their Alpha, but this was different. This was no contest for power. Oh, no. Hycinth’s overt attention made a clear statement she was interested in what they had to offer—an invitation to show her they might be worthy—and they were more than happy to fight for the tantalizing female.
We never should have let her leave our bedroom! My Wolf growled furiously.
Well, that was pretty fucking clear now.
Oh well, too late to avoid the conflict. My Wolf was pissed, and now he had every intention of showing our little mate precisely who he was. If Hycinth needed a demonstration of what we were capable of, so be it.
Fully engaged, my Wolf glared at his competitors while I crouched to remove my boots. A fight against four wolves wouldn’t be easy. All wanted the same prize, but the battle would be far from equal. Before they turned on each other, the unmated males would first work as a cohesive unit to take out the most significant threat—me.
Returning to my full height, feral neurons fired and sizzled through my brain. My chest expanded of its own accord, puffing out to its fullest extent, nature ripping a growl of intent from my throat.
All four sunk into a crouch, ready for the fight.
My lips curled into a wicked grin. There was no way they were prepared for what we were about to throw at them.
My skin itched. My Wolf wanted out. A crimson hue colored his vision. He wanted blood. Eager images of tearing flesh from bones played in my head.
I held him back. They were assholes, but I understood the impossible-to-deny allure of Hycinth’s unbelievably enticing scent. Nature propelled them as much as it did me.
Even as I thought the words, my Wolf’s opinion never wavered—He’d be happily picking their flesh from his canines very soon...
Stepping inside the ring, silence loomed absolute. We had the rapt attention of every Wolf in the room.
As a collective, all four wolves took a step back and spread out.
I eyed Oliver, the biggest motherfucker of the group. I would take him out first. He was an Enforcer with several kills under his belt and had significantly more body mass compared to the smallest in the group, Ethan. However, Ethan was no ‘little’ Wolf by any stretch of the imagination, six feet, two hundred and forty pounds of wiry muscle. The other two, Heath and Noah, were somewhere in between in stature and bulk.
Oliver’s Wolf radiated aggression as he vibrated with excitement.
Keeping my hard gaze trained on him, I took a calculated step to the side. “Planning on getting your dick wet inside of my female?”
Hycinth sucked in a sharp breath.
I didn’t even try to contain my toothy smirk. Guess my little mouse didn’t plan on my lewdness. Well, I didn’t plan on proving my physical prowess today, but here we were.
Oliver grinned, “It seems like your Wolf is in need of some male...attention.”
His dig was perfectly clear. But he had another thing coming if he presumed I was lacking...in any way. “And you think you can give her what she needs, Buttercup?”
Wolves snickered around us.
I had no idea how he planned to finish that sentence because I abruptly cut him off...with the heel of my foot to his throat, crushing his larynx.
And that was all it took to get the party started...
Oliver lurched back and landed on his ass with a heavy thud, coughing and sputtering. He struggled to his feet, spitting blood, but I could no longer focus on him because all of my senses warned me of more imminent danger. Air displaced behind me, a soft whoosh, not really audible, more like a sensation tickling my hyperaware senses.
One Wolf behind…another in front…
Losing myself to instinct, my body reacted with automatic muscle response. I spun to accelerate my momentum and kicked Noah in the ribs while punching Ethan in the shoulder at the same time.
With a grunt and a curse, they fell back. But Oliver and Heath instantly took their place, both surging forward from opposite directions.
I didn’t have the luxury of focusing on just one opponent, so every strike and every movement was maximized to do as much damage as possible to multiple wolves at once.
Ducking beneath Heath’s arm as he swung, I came up behind him and jabbed my fist into the back of his neck. His head snapped forward directly into the punch Oliver meant for me. Oliver struck Heath’s cheek, sending him spinning off to the side.
My senses were on overload.
A heartbeat, just outside of my field of vision to the left...
Without turning around, my fist went back in a lightning-fast strike. A delicious crunch. The sound easily identifiable as Ethan’s nasal bone cracking beneath my force. He released a pained whine.
A soft grunt of exertion to my side...
I rotated and released without conscious thought, my sensitive Wolf nose identifying Noah even before my foot came in contact with his knee.
A series of sharp snaps...Noah went down, moaning in pain, bone protruding through flesh. He wasn’t getting up.
Fists flew, a flurry of impacts, growls, and curses.
Testosterone consumed the air. Every Wolf puffed up, antsy for the fight they weren’t even a part of. Bystanders quiet, lacking the usual cheering that sparring engaged because they knew the potential cost of this match...Wolves could die.
But each of the four contenders understood the risk going in. Hycinth’s scent was addictive, but they still chose to engage in this battle.
And so they will die. My Wolf added commentary with a snarl. From his peripheral vision, he eyed Noah who was incapacitated on the ground. Salivating to tear out his throat, my Wolf plotted. We just needed to get a little bit closer...
My Wolf’s split moment of distraction cost us. Oliver landed a brutal punch to my kidney.
“Fuck!” I stumbled back, struggling to breathe...right into the arms of Heath. I snapped my head back, my target his face, but the cagey little fucker kept low, out of my reach.
Oliver and Ethan took full advantage. Punches landed, hit after hit to my gut, chest, and face.
With a roar, I threw them off of me.
I radiated animosity. The atmosphere changed.
That was it...My Wolf had had enough.
He’d played their games. Now it was time to play his.
Eyes blazing, fur exploded through my skin. Clothes shredded away.
Instantly, the other three shifted.
Twisting and turning at an obscene speed, my Wolf’s claws slashed through Ethan’s shoulder and chest, throwing his body to the side. He lay on the ground, panting, tongue hanging out of his mouth. Blood flowed from his chest cavity.
Not even a second had gone by before my Wolf’s powerful jaws clamped onto Heath’s hind leg. Viciously shaking his head side to side, my Wolf tore out his tendon. Heath howled and crashed to the ground.
Oliver’s Wolf didn’t stand a chance...
Snarling and salivating at the mouth, we lunged, graceful and deadly. The force rolled Oliver off his feet. Head twisting, Oliver’s jaws snapped wildly, trying to find purchase. The sound was cut off when my Wolf’s canines sank deep into his neck.
Warm thick blood spurted into our mouth. My Wolf growled his approval at the taste.
Oliver went limp.
Just one more shake of his head and...
“Wait!!” Hycinth called out frantically.
My Wolf froze.
Canines still embedded deep in his prey and the elixir of life of Oliver’s Wolf still trickling down his throat, my Wolf cut his feral gaze to Hycinth.
Hycinth took a step forward, hands trembling as she held them out. “Please! I’m begging you. Don’t...kill them.”
My Wolf didn’t release his death-grip. A deep growl of disagreement rumbled from his throat.
Hycinth shortened the distance between us with another shuddering step. “I’m sorry. Please don’t do this.”
I’d told him the same thing. The assholes didn’t deserve to die. He hadn’t listened to me, but our mate affected him, deeply. Instinct and bloodlust warred against his ingrained craving to make her happy and give her everything she desired.
Hycinth didn’t say another word, just stared.
Still holding onto Oliver’s neck, my Wolf issued a command into her mind, "Kneel.”
Instantly, she dropped to her knees, hands still extended toward him. No hesitation. No disobedience.
The moment lingered while my Wolf continued to growl his discontent. But finally, he let Oliver go.
Licking the remainder of Oliver’s blood from his jaws, my Wolf stalked over to Hycinth. Her trembling became more pronounced with every step he took. When he reached her, her head dropped, unable to hold his gaze.
She held perfectly still and waited.
The wolves had been silent during the fight.
Now, none of them dared even breathe.
Poking his nose under her chin, My Wolf’s snout found the tender spot between her shoulder and neck.
Hycinth inhaled sharply. Eyes still glued down to the floor, her chin went up, her neck extending to the fullest. It was the ultimate gesture of submission, a promise her life was in his paws, he could do with it whatever he chose.
My heart raced in my chest because now I suspected his next move. He was going to take what belonged to him. He was going to mark her!
I tried to slow him down, make him see reason. We still had no idea if Hycinth even planned to stay after the next three days.
But he wasn’t listening.
...and now he would have his prize.
I tried to contain my panic. My Wolf marking her was not previously agreed-upon. Hycinth had never explicitly said she was okay with it. But her posture radiated consent. She was too smart not to realize the potential. Did this me she’d changed her mind?!
Fuck, my nerves were shot.
My anxiety wasn’t restricted to only her response. If Hycinth allowed him to mark her, our bond would grow...his attachment to her would substantially increase. It was already going to kill him if Hycinth decided to leave after the ceremony, but if she walked out the door, bearing his mark on her neck, there wouldn’t be any pieces left for me to put back together.
Again, I shoved against his influence, trying to take back control.
But he wasn’t having it...
Tongue flickering out, he tasted her flesh and nuzzled in closer.
I held my breath.
Desire and want radiated through his body.
And then it was too late...
Powerful jaws clamped down, slicing through her skin like butter.
Hycinth cried out in pain.
My Wolf didn’t relent. It wasn’t a gentle claiming. He held tight, canines buried deep, taking ownership of her and letting her know how very displeased he was with her behavior.
The salty scent of her tears wafted into the air. With his teeth embedded in neck, I felt her throat constrict and swallow a silent sob. Hurt and discomfort whimpered through the bond. But she didn’t try to pull away, didn’t make a sound.
After a long moment, his irritation and anger subsided finally, sated by her obedience and submission. Gently, he extracted his teeth from her flesh. Hycinth bit down but couldn’t contain her small cry of pain.
My Wolf laved his tongue over the wound, licking, soothing the pain away as it closed, letting her know all was made right. More than right.
...we were drunk on it.
And now, Hycinth felt it as well. Warmth swirled through her belly. Little hands burrowed into the fur at my Wolf’s neck, fingers pulling his hair to hold tight. He didn’t mind. And she apparently, wasn’t bothered by the blood of the other wolves he’d gotten on her skin and clothing.
Speaking of the other wolves...
My Wolf lifted his head and turned slowly, making eye contact with every Wolf in the room. Without warning, he unleashed his Alpha dominance. Stance wide, stiff-legged and tail high, he positioned himself directly in front of our mate. With a loud growl, he roared, “MINE!”
Power rumbled from his chest, hitting the group of wolves like a tidal wave, dropping every single one of them to their knees and some to their backs, unable to even kneel before him. A few whined.
He held his position, defiant and proud of what belonged to us.
After, I’m sure what felt like an unbearable length of time, but was probably only less than a minute, my Wolf released his stance, gathering his power back into his chest.
A collective sigh of relief radiated through the crowd. Wolves began to pick themselves up from the floor.
My Wolf was no longer at all concerned with them. He turned to Hycinth. “Come.”
Hycinth scrambled to her feet and without another word, followed him out the door.
The walk back to the packhouse wasn’t long.
My Wolf strutted the entire way, now feeling quite pleased with himself.
And...all of the blood in his body had gone south…tickling his groin.
I bit back a groan.
Thankfully, we were in his body and not mine. His erection didn’t occur until after penetration, but mine...well, let’s just say, had we been in my skin, I’d be sporting a ridiculously stiff hard-on right about now.
When we reached our room, he was finally ready to relinquish control and shift.
That was great and all...
...but shifting with a hard cock was sort of like trying to pee with a hard cock. I needed a minute.
Deep breath in...let it out...
My Wolf snorted at my distress and swaggered his way right into the bathroom.
Without even a command or instruction, Hycinth followed along behind him.
I squirmed uncomfortably in his head.
Maybe if I crossed my legs...
Standing next to the large shower, my Wolf faced her expectantly.
Hycinth’s eyebrows pulled together. She glanced around the bathroom and then back at him. “Um...?”
He nodded toward the shower.
Lake blue eyes opened wide. “You want me to turn on the water so you can, uh, take a shower...like that?”
Staring at her as if taking a shower in his Wolf form was the most natural task he’d ever done, he nodded his big head.
“Ah...okay.” She opened the clear glass door and reached inside, mumbling to herself, “You know...it’d be easier if you’d just told me what you wanted.”
Laughter rumbled through his chest. True. But the look of bewilderment on her face was adorable and far too much fun.
My predicament just added to his good humor.
Getting back to that.
I tried to picture every gross and nonsexual thing I could.
I could do this. I had control over my own cock, damnit!
Until…my Wolf finally mustered up some instructions for our mate, “Strip.”
Mother. Of. Fuck.
Hycinth’s already rounded eyes got bigger. Her heart-shaped lips stuck in an ‘o’ as a beautiful blush crept up her neck and blossomed pink on her cheeks.
But, shockingly, just like their first meeting before going on a run, she gave him absolutely no argument. Docile as a lamb. Take her clothes off? He asks. Suuuure, no problem. Not so much for me...
I gritted my teeth and tried to force him to look away.
Nope...he just eye-balled the fuck out of her while she carefully unbuttoned her shirt, little fingers playing with each button, more and more of her creamy white skin revealed as she went.
Could she do it any slower??
It was like a fucking striptease.
And why was it so damn hot in here anyway?
Oh yeah...the steam from the shower. Sure. That’s the story I told myself.
Topless now, Hycinth unbuttoned her pants and lowered the zip. Hooking her thumbs into the waistband, she gave a little hip wiggle as she pushed the garment down over her hips.
He gave her an approving nod and growl.
I wanted to chew one of his paws off.
The last thing to go where her pretty lace panties.
Even he couldn’t stop the full body shudder that coursed through him as he drank in the shewolf in front of him.
Hycinth stared shyly, unsure what to do next.
With another dip of his head toward the shower, he made his instructions known.
Biting her lip, Hycinth opened the door and stepped inside. She moved to the left so he could join her.
So, we were really doing this?? It appeared so. I really needed to get a grip on my hard-on. Shit, maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it. Now, all I could picture was fisting my cock.
My Wolf chuckled and stepped under the hot spray. A satisfied hum rumbled through his chest. It felt nice. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. His thoughts drifted my direction, Why hadn’t we ever done this before??
I didn’t even dignify that nonsense question with an answer. Not that I could have if I wanted to. My brain still wasn’t functioning properly.
Letting the water soak through his thick fur, he swung his hindquarters into Hycinth’s hip, knocking her a step to the side.
“Oh!” she startled, “Yes...ah...what do you want me to do?”
Even I understood by this point. In addition to the mating bite, the little Princess wanted to be pampered. He looked at the shampoo pointedly.
“Um...okay.” Hycinth grabbed the bottle of peaches and cream shampoo—excellent choice, by the way, very manly—opened the top with a snick and poured a generous amount in both palms.
He stepped to the side, outside of the direct spray, forcing her to move right along with him, positioning her so that the hot water trailed down her back. That way she’d stay warm.
With no further reservation or delay, Hycinth got to work. Digging her hands deep into his fur, little fingers untangled all of the knots and kneaded his sore muscles. She might have been small, but she could put some force behind her massage.
No other word couldn’t quite describe it.
Eyes rolling back into his head, the fucker damn near purred.
From the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail, Hycinth rubbed and lathered every inch of him. I mean everywhere. She left no spot undone. His snout twitched. He snorted and bubbles came out his nose.
Hycinth giggled. The sound echoed beautifully in the small space like little tinkling bells and sunshine. Dipping a hand under the water to rinse it, Hycinth smoothed the bubbles off of his snout. But it wasn’t quite enough to keep him from sneezing. More bubbles shot out, spraying the wall.
Hycinth nearly doubled over in laughter.
I shook my head at him and snorted, “Princess.”
Preening for her attention, tail swishing this way and that, he was enjoying himself immensely and didn’t give a shit what I had to say.
At this point, even I had to admit it was comical. Never in a million years, did I picture my Wolf all suds up in the shower. And thankfully, my hard-on was gone. Still, I had no intention of shifting now and interrupting our fun. The shower had been an excellent idea.
After several more minutes and a thorough rinsing, Hycinth pointed toward the corner and ordered firmly, “Stay.”
Well, all right...
My Wolf tilted his head to the side, curious to see what she had planned. She gave him another shy smile and proceeded to wash herself. He thoroughly enjoyed the show.
It wasn’t lost on me that Hycinth was doing quite a bit of preening herself, giggling as she turned and checking over her shoulder to see if he was still watching.
Oh yeah, he was still watching...
...not even a herd of wild elephants could have torn his attention away from her sweetness.
Finally, they were both clean. Just in time, too, because the water had begun to cool. I think it was the longest shower I’d ever taken. Then again, he did have a lot of fur.
Hycinth cut off the water and opened the door. He followed her out and patiently waited while she grabbed a towel and quickly dried off. When she finished patting herself dry, Hycinth tossed the damp towel over the towel bar and stared at him, not even a bit concerned about her own nakedness.
He still hadn’t moved.
Hycinth blinked. I guess she’d expected him to shift as soon as they exited the shower.
But no...Princess wanted her to dry him off as well.
Understanding lit her expression. Hycinth shook her head and giggled at his antics, perfectly willing to follow through. She grabbed a fresh towel.
Right before it happened, I caught a hint of his mischievous intent.
And he did what dogs do…He shook himself dry.
Water flew everywhere.
“Hey!” she squealed, hands coming up to shield her face as she spun around.
Not a surface was left dry, including Hycinth’s recently toweled-dry naked body. Not that it mattered to her. Hycinth let out peals of laughter, thoroughly entertained.
I shifted back into my skin.
When Hycinth glanced over her shoulder to see if any more water would be sprayed her direction, her eyes went round to find me standing naked behind her. Her laughter cut off in a little strangled chirp.
I didn’t want her to pull away.
Not now. Not when we were having so much fun.
Before she could resist, I pulled her into my arms...