For Good Measure
I had to stay away from her. I told myself that a hundred times a day. And a hundred times a day, it was just as hard as the last time to keep from seeking her out. My muscles ached from the constant tension in my body.
I turned up a beer, letting the cold liquid slide down my throat. It did nothing to quench my thirst for the one thing I couldn’t have—Brinley.
Daylight was waning. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows followed the sun over the horizon, fading away into the dusk of night.
Another day without her.
My Wolf whimpered in my head.
She should be returning from work right about now. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to see her from a distance…
…I just wanted to smell her sweet scent. That was all. I told myself. And then I would leave.
I pushed up from my chair and stealthily made my way toward Lena’s, careful to stay in the line of trees, covered in shadows. I didn’t want to catch that old bitty’s attention.
When Brinley came into sight, I sucked in a deep breath, my gaze transfixed on her every movement. She undressed and set her clothing on the steps, her chest heaving a little from exertion.
I had planned to stay in the trees, out of sight, but I couldn’t stop myself. Not when I was this close to her. My feet moved forward as if they had a mind of their own. She was oblivious to my presence until I stopped right behind her.
She took in a small breath through her nose and then whirled around, her eyes wide. She wrapped one arm around her breasts and her other shot down to cover her lower region. It didn’t stop me from examining every inch of her flesh. I frowned. She was too thin.
She gasped, “What are you doing here?!”
I didn’t have an answer for her. How could I explain my undeniable compulsion to see her? I shook my head, trying to clear my chaotic thoughts and muttered, “I don’t know. I—”
But then I froze, my words cutting off as every fiber of my being, rejected the fact that a very distinct scent was missing from her innocent flesh—her purity.
My Wolf howled his rage. He pushed to the front, looking at her through my eyes, and growled furiously, “You no longer have your purity.”
“What?! How do you kn—”
So it was true. She had given herself to another. In my head, I couldn’t fault her. I’d rejected her. She had every right to seek comfort in the arms of another male. But I hated it. With every ounce of my being, I hated it.
My Wolf was worse.
He wasn’t listening to logic at all.
…and he didn’t give a shit about reason.
His mate gave what belonged to him to another wolf. He cut her off, my voice dropping into a snarl, “Because a male can scent purity in his female.”
A hard shudder went through my body as I worked to keep the beast under control. My shape was blurring, his anger out of control.
And then she made the worst move possible.
She backed away from him.
Growls reverberated through my chest. He pushed harder. I was losing this battle, and she was going to pay the price.
He would overcome me in seconds.
I could only ground out a warning through my teeth, “I can’t stop him. Run!”
She heeded my warning, leaping into action, fur replacing flesh before she even took her next step, and bolted into the forest.
But it wouldn’t be enough.
We would catch her.
Another fierce shudder racked through my body, fabric tearing as muscles and tendons and bones grew, reformed and reshaped, skin gone. My Wolf’s ears lay flat, teeth presenting, his intent evident as we charged after her. His dominance wouldn’t be denied.
Trees and forest brush whipped past at amazing speed. She’d gone much farther than expected. Even in his fury, the beast took note of her speed and agility, a hint of pride in his thoughts. Still, it didn’t stop him from surging forward, faster, the thrill of the chase coursing through our veins. He licked his lips as we drew closer to her lithe Wolf, her paws barely touching the earth as they propelled her forward. But she was wrong to think she could ever outmaneuver us.
Three more steps.
And the beast leaped into the air, landing on her flank. She yelped and rolled, kicking up dirt and debris from the forest floor. She twisted and turned violently to regain her footing so that she could flee once again.
That wasn’t happening.
Furious growls ripped from my Wolf’s chest. Our little mate needed to understand who he was. She would never run from us again.
He landed on her back again, sinking his canines into her shoulder to keep her where he wanted her. She cried out.
I expected his display of dominance, but I didn’t realize his full intent to claim her until he brushed her tail out of the way with a paw and repositioned our flanks closer.
Fuck no!!! I growled loudly at him, fighting his hold over our body. He couldn’t do this to her. I wouldn’t allow this!
She fought beneath him as well, her animalistic whimpers of pain becoming human cries of agony, as she shifted back into skin.
I was shocked she had shifted.
His hold on her shoulder had to feel like torture in her human form. I struggled to understand what she was doing and saying, her words coming out fast and jumbled. “No...please! Not again...not again!”
And then I understood.
My wolf also understood. It was one thing to deny his dominance, but this was different. She was in pain. Instantly, we stilled.
Something was wrong with what she said.
So wrong that my heart pounded in my chest, fear running through me for what she meant.
My wolf tried to pull his teeth from her shoulder as gently as possible, but she still cried out in pain. The sound of her hurt was worse than any agony or heartache I’d ever felt. It tore through my chest, leaving a hole behind.
She was crying and shaking uncontrollably beneath us. My wolf crouched low to the ground, covering her entirely in his fur, wrapping her in our warmth.
He whined in my head, her cries hurting him as much as they did me. But I couldn’t ignore the ugly truth…
…we were the cause of her pain.
She continued to cry, my heart breaking with every wail from her tiny body. His tongue lapped at the wound in her shoulder, soothing the skin and accelerating her healing.
Slowly, her cries began to lessen, and her breathing slowed. We waited patiently, my Wolf content to caress her cheek and shoulders with his big head, tasting the sweetness of her skin.
Even in her sorrow, she was extraordinarily beautiful. The moonlight reflected off of her smooth skin, giving her a pale sheen. Her auburn hair splayed around her head in soft waves.
Her tears finally ended. Still, we didn’t move. She lay completely relaxed beneath us. After several minutes, he began to lift. She whined and rolled onto her back to face him, her fingers twining into his fur to keep him close to her.
He froze, entranced by both of them as her Wolf surged to the surface, mossy green eyes darkening into deep pine.
She slid her fingers through his thick fur.
He’d never been touched by a female in skin.
He shuddered, deeply affected by her tender ministrations. He tolerated other females when we were in my skin, but he had no use for them when he was in control. But not so with Brinley. With her, he craved her skin side to touch every part of him.
She continued to stroke his face gently, gazing up at him. The transparent love in both her and her Wolf’s eyes tore through me.
Because she loved him...
I would never get to see her gaze at me with the same softness. She would never show me the vulnerability she gave to him, laying beneath him naked, utterly calm at peace, not just content, but demanding he stay there.
The pain of my loss was too much. I couldn’t take it anymore. I pulled back and shifted into my skin. She quickly scrambled away from me and gathered her legs and arms in front of her body to cover herself.
I swallowed and tried to speak past the lump in my throat, my voice gruff, “What did you mean when you said ‘not again’?”
Her calm shattered. She began to shake again.
I knew it.
She whimpered, “I can’t...please don’t.”
Not telling me was simply not negotiable. My Wolf was in complete agreement as we both stared at her. I had to clench my jaw shut to keep the furious roar from ripping from my chest. “Tell me what happened.”
She hesitated, testing my reserve, tasting my emotions to see if there was any leniency in my request.
She would tell me every detail.
After another moment, her shoulders slumped in resignation, and her head dropped, her eyes avoiding mine. She walked me through the story, her voice monotone, as though she were reading from a book. With every word she spoke and every revelation she shared, my rage boiled inside of me. When she finished, she continued to stare at the ground, and the silence loomed between us.
I couldn’t speak. Not yet.
After another slow moment, she peeked up at me through her eyelashes and gasped. I could only imagine what my expression revealed. There was no hiding the murderous lust that coiled through me, holding me tightly in its grip.
He would die!
Whoever he was...he would die. Soon.
“Who...who was the bastard that did this to you?”
More tears streaked down her cheeks, her resolve to remain emotionless broken. “I don’t know...by the time I woke, he had...cleaned his scent off of me.”
My claws dug into the palms of my hands. I could smell the scent of my blood as they pierced my skin. I gritted, “Did he release inside of you?”
Her brows furrowed in confusion. I understood my question didn’t seem relevant to her. She wasn’t in heat, so couldn’t get pregnant, and wolves did not get sexually transmitted diseases.
But her answer was extremely relevant.
I repeated the question, my voice lowering to that of command, “Did he release inside of you?”
A tear rolled down her cheek. She nodded.
I hated her answer, but with it, I might be able to catch the bastard. “Then it’s possible I will still be able to catch his scent.”
She looked even more confused. I explained, “An alpha Wolf has very powerful scent glands. He would have to be very close to you, but there is a good chance he could pick up the scent.”
Her eyes widened. “Very close to me...as in, how?” She stuttered. “Do you mean...down there?”
I nodded. It was the only way. I held back my cringe. Hell, as if it wasn’t already hard enough to stay away from her, now we were going to be nose deep in her pussy.
This was going to kill me, but it was going to happen.
That fucker would not live, if I had anything to say about it. I replied through clenched teeth, “Yes, he will have to be as close as possible. I doubt the male thought to clean inside of you. The scent may be completely gone, but there is an equal possibility my Wolf will still be able to pick it up.”
“But, what does it matter?” Her face fell. “Even if we know who it is, your father would never punish someone for hurting me.”
I couldn’t control the hard cringe that went through me. As much as I hoped my father wouldn’t stoop so low as to protect a rapist, he’d never dealt rationally or fairly with Brinley. I didn’t respond to her statement. My father’s opinion didn’t matter. My Wolf and I were in complete agreement. I growled, “It matters to me.”
She stared at me for a long time, weighing her options and my determination. She must have recognized the truth. I would not relent. Not on this. She finally nodded silently.
I let my wolf take control, shifting as smoothly as breathing.
She laid back, her movements jerky and stiff. She covered her eyes with her hands and opened her legs.
Easing forward slowly, trying not to startle her, my Wolf gently touched his nose to her folds.
His plan not to startle her didn’t work because she jumped and pulled away from him. He caught her leg with a big paw, halting her movement, and growled a warning for her to sit still.
Her chest heaved, her eyes wild. I knew why. Not only had she been shocked, but I caught her scent—his intimate touch aroused her.
I groaned internally.
I’d been right. This was going to kill me. Even still, we wouldn’t stop until finished.
Brinley panted short breaths, her chest rising and falling but laid back down, little hands curled into fists as they covered her eyes.
My Wolf started again, pressing his nose into her folds and then paused to inhale deeply. The scent was faint but discernible. We wouldn’t forget it.
He growled in the back of his throat, a low rumble of displeasure at having another male’s scent on her body, particularly there, even as faint as it was. That problem had to be rectified. Now.
Before I could stop him, his tongue came out and swept along her folds!
Fuck me. My head was in chaos!
But his thoughts were clear. The lick was a good start, but he would have to go deeper to get rid of it altogether. And when he finished, he contemplated running his tongue along her ass, for good measure.
Fucking hell! I shook my head, trying to break him out of it.
Now was not the time to be pushing his tongue down her pussy. I didn’t care how primal he was feeling about it. I was already hanging on by a thread as it was.
She must have felt the same way, because she yelped and scrambled away from us, green eyes wide in shock, her cheeks flushed red with embarrassment.
I forced him to let her go. This could not continue. We’d probably already confused the heck out of her.
If the insane rate of her heart was any indication, then yes, we had confused the shit out of her. It wasn’t fair to her. I needed to calm her down, but at the moment my body was still reeling just from her proximity. My nostrils flared as I sucked in deep breaths to clear my head.
The silence continued as we both stared at each other. Finally, Brinley mumbled, “Did you...did you get it?”
I just nodded, my jaw still clenched.
Her next question confirmed my suspicions. “Why did you...lick me?” Her cheeks flared again, a beautiful pink blush.
I couldn’t give her hope. It wasn’t right. So I kept my tone cool as I replied, “I didn’t. The Wolf did. Nothing has changed between us, except we will not allow this assault against you to go unpunished.”
Her face fell, resignation once again spreading across her beautiful features. Her voice was barely a whisper, “Who did this to me?”
I didn’t have that answer. Not yet. “It isn’t a scent I recognize. But I can promise you. I will find out.”