Dominic stretched out his sore muscles as he stepped out of the warm shower. For the past ten days he had been doing a lot of work around the farm that he wasn’t normally used to, being a city boy and all. The first few chores had been easy enough-- mucking out horse stalls and laying down fresh hay. John had also taught him how to give a tractor a tune up, and he had fixed a few loose shingles on top of the barn and the farm house.
He was really starting to enjoy his time off the grid-- until this morning.
Sometime before sunrise, John had sent Dominic out to replace some of the rotted fence posts around the perimeter of the farm. With the added bonus of his werewolf strength, Dominic thought it would be an easy task to complete. Replacing the posts wasn’t so hard, but digging holes by hand? That was a completely different story. By about the twentieth-sixth one, Dominic swore he ached in places he didn’t even know were possible.
As he wrapped a towel around his wet, lower half, he studied himself in the mirror for a minute or two more. His fingers tousled the dark curls on top of his head as his eyes crinkled with a frown. With his fifth full moon coming up tonight, Dominic would have thought by now he’d have grown accustomed to the changes.
In just a few days, his hair had grown longer than where he usually liked to keep it and he had grown quite the impressive five o’clock shadow. It wasn’t exactly ideal and the coarser hair itched like hell, but he would deal with it-- especially since it always seemed to correspond with bigger and stronger, well-defined muscles. He couldn’t help but smirk a little as he put on a show, flexing his impressive, pumped muscles.
“Is this a sold out performance or can I still snag a ticket?”
He wondered how long Hailee had been standing there as his head snapped in her direction. His wolf growled at the sight of her fuller breasts and slightly wider hips-- the things he was going to do to her tonight, underneath the moonlight in his most primal form. He couldn’t wait to fuck her all night. The smell of his own arousal grew more potent and thick by the second.
“For the right price, woman, I’ll let you have a VIP pass,” he smirked. He was pleased to see a slight tinge of pink form on her cheeks.
“And what does this pass get me?” A huge, mischievous grin spread across her lips.
As she leaned against the door frame, Dominic let the towel drop. He smiled at her gasp as her eyes trailed down his body.
“What if I said you can look-- and touch.”
“The fence looks good,” John complimented Dominic as the three sat down to an early supper. “I think she’ll hold strong for at least another ten years or so.”
“I don’t understand why you didn’t take out the tractor though,” Hailee remarked before passing the mashed potatoes.
With a confused look, Dominic took the bowl from his mate. “What do you mean?” He asked, looking back and forth between John and Hailee.
“You know you could have just hitched up the digger--”
Hailee trailed off as she suddenly turned towards John. The older man coughed into his glass as he tried to cover up a smirk.
“Pops!” Hailee’s tone was slightly chastising as she playfully slapped the older man across the arm. All week he had been playing pranks on the ‘city slicker’ cop from Chicago. Yesterday the old man had even convinced him that a new well needed to be dug out, that is until Hailee reminded him that there was still running water all over the farm.
John grinned. “I knew he’d do just fine. A big boy like him, with all them muscles.” He gave a nod towards the larger weremale sitting across from him at the table. “Besides, with the full moon comin’ up tonight, I figured it would be a good thing to burn off all that energy.”
“I guess I should be thanking you for that,” Hailee smiled as her gaze flicked back over towards Dom. Both knew he still had plenty of stamina.
With an awkward cough, John looked up from his chicken fried steak-- his eyes sweeping over Dominic’s wide shoulders and chest. “You must be nearly seven feet by now,” he commented with a gleam in his eye. “I imagine you must be huge once fully shifted. That blasted leech better think twice before comin’ after you.”
“Especially since Dominic can shift at will,” Hailee added. She smiled proudly at him before reaching out and squeezing his hand.
“It’s not exactly at will.” Dominic clarified with a shrug before rubbing the back of his neck. “But if Hailee is in danger, or if I get really upset--”
“I always knew nature would find a way,” John muttered. He paused briefly to wipe at the corners of his beard with his napkin. “Bojing killing off all the werewolves, it wasn’t right,” he said. “It upset the balance and now Mother Nature is finding ways to fight back.”
“Ways?” It was Hailee’s turn to voice her concern.
“When Bojing sent his bloodsuckers down here, he was trying to hustle Pamela for all kinds of information. Apparently they caught a shifter up in your neck of the woods-- at the club.”
Dominic’s brows scrunched together as he finished chewing a chunk of steak. “Mingo?” He was pretty sure that was the kid’s name. Or was it Bingo?
At John’s nod, Hailee gasped. “Wait, but Mingo wasn’t a werewolf,” she said before whipping her head back towards Dominic. “And how on earth do you know him?”
“I went to the Atlantis, looking for you when you were staying at Ava’s, remember?” Dominic’s voice was a low rumble as his possessive wolf refused to acknowledge the time when she had left him. “He told me where to find you--”
“That son-of-a-bitch,” Hailee muttered under her breath.
“And, he called me Alpha.” Dominic finally finished, not before giving Hailee a sideways glance. “I know I was in a hurry at the time, but I don’t remember him smelling like one of us.”
“Because he’s not,” John responded. “You see, sometime around the fall of the Mongols, Bojing was created by mistake. He’s referred to as a vampire, but in ancient China, he was known as something different, something they called a jiangshi.”
Dominic watched John sit back in his seat before taking a swig of the clear colored moonshine that he had distilled out back.
“In China it was believed that if a person was not buried in their hometown, the soul of the dead would become homesick and struggle to cross over into the next life. Often times because of this, before modern transportation existed, the deceased’s family would hire a Taoist priest to conduct a ritual to reanimate the body in order to bring them home.”
“So a priest brought Big Dragon’s corpse back to life and then let me guess, something went wrong?” Dominic’s tone oozed with sarcasm as John took another swig from his glass.
The old man nodded. “In part, yes, but it’s much more complicated than that. It all started with his demise when his brother killed him in an attempt to take over the empire. Bojing’s father was disappointed with his younger son, but it was their way-- you keep what you kill. The only request that Bojing’s father made was that his son, Toghon return Bojing’s body. Little did they know, Bojing had made a deal with the Mogwai- the guardians of the underworld, and if Bojing could find a way back to the land of the living, they would grant him untold strength in order to act out his revenge. So, unknowingly, Toghon hired a priest to perform the sacred ritual, but when Bojing returned, his restless soul had no intentions of crossing over. He drained the lifeblood from both the priest and his father, and moved on to stalk his brother. As the days went by, Bojing grew stronger each time he fed. And by the time he found Toghon, he was nearly invincible.”
“So the man has a tragic backstory,” Hailee remarked. “But what does any of this have to do with Mingo? Or us?”
“Once Bojing realized he could create more creatures like him, the balance in the world became disrupted. Humans were no longer at the top of the food chain, they became the prey. So Mother Nature created werewolves in order to protect humans. Our very existence is to hunt vampires,” John stated. “It was forged in our DNA. But then Bojing decided to wipe out entire packs, and disrupted the order again. This time, Mother Nature decided to create other shifters-- bears, panthers, eagles.”
“He wasn’t big enough to be a bear,” Dominic shook his head, though in all honesty, he had no idea what he was looking for. Hailee agreed though.
“The way he could glide through a crowd, I would say he was an eagle,” Hailee guessed. “His vision was impeccable, much better than mine, and I often wondered how he swooped in behind me so quietly.”
“Neither Mel or I had ever met him before, but what you’re describing sounds like an eagle, darlin’,” John confirmed with a nod. “What I have heard of is a motorcycle club in Michigan, whose members shift into large black bears than could easily take down an army. And in South Dakota, there’s a tribe of Native American were-buffalo, or so I’ve been told. But I’d never give that leech any information. And neither would Mel.”
Dominic could see that the old man was getting choked up again.
“She was tough as nails,” John acknowledged. “And I bet she could have given even you a run for your money,” the man nodded towards Dominic with a rueful smile.
“Really?” He could feel a brow lift skeptically on his face. “Was she big or something?” He asked, choosing his words carefully as he talked about another man’s deceased mate.
“She was easily seven in a half feet,” the man answered. “And the muzzle on her--” John commented as he lifted his hand up to his own face for comparison. “--Hell, it even scared the piss outta me,” he laughed.
Dominic pushed back from his plate as his gaze traveled back and forth between the old were and Hailee. “That’s interesting,” he finally remarked. “Since Hailee barely changes at all.”
As John turned towards her, Dominic noted how she refused to make eye contact with either of them.
“I remember that,” John agreed. He seemed to smile in remembrance of happier times as he tipped back his glass again. “She was such a tiny thing, but so much faster and stronger than any were-- and not to mention the first of her kind. Pamela and I had no idea what in the sam-hell we were dealin’ with the first time she shifted.”
He could feel his ears turning red as Hailee lifted a sheepish gaze towards him. His hands balled into giant fists and old securities began creeping in. How many more secrets did this woman have? And why-- why didn’t she ever seem to trust him.
“What exactly do you mean when you say, ‘the first of her kind’.”