Coming to Grips
I mentally kicked myself, I had revealed too much too fast and she hadn’t taken it well. I got out, reaching under back seat and used the blankets from there to make a place for her to rest. She was shivering, probably a result of shock and the adrenaline crash from everything that had happened. I laid her down on the back seat and tucked her in, then got in and turned around to go back to the main highway.
I wanted to get off the main road as quickly as I could, so at Little Marais I headed west on Highway 1 through the Finland State Forest. The road curved through the pine and birch forests, and traffic was light. I could tell she was awake, but she pretended to sleep a bit longer. She opened her eyes an hour after sundown, yawning and stretching. “Where are we,” she said.
“About an hour west of Little Marais,” I said. “We’ve got another few hours to get to any town of size, but…”
“What are you thinking?”
“We could stay in a hotel, but none of the chain ones- they require identification and a credit card. If they are looking for us, they will have alerts set. Who knows, we might even have the cops after us if the rest of the Coven blames us. Their High Priestess is missing, after all.”
She crawled into the front seat, sitting and buckling herself in. “We need to get far away.”
“We keep driving, keeping to small roads and towns through the night. I’d like to get a few hundred miles away before we stop.” I looked over at her, she was looking out the window and I could sense her emotions. “We’re going to be all right, Jessie. What happened wasn’t your fault. You can’t feel guilty about surviving.”
“That’s not what is bothering me,” she said.
“Is it the werewolf thing? I’m sorry. I needed to tell you about our kind, about your heritage, but I really messed that up.”
She laughed a little. “Trust me, finding out I’m a werewolf wasn’t as big a shock as finding out I was adopted, or the heir to a fortune of more money than I can imagine. I should have known there was a catch.” She looked over at me. “My dreams have been trying to tell me for a while now, I just didn’t know what they meant.”
She looked down at her hands. “I’d be running through a forest, or over hills. I’d look down and see paws instead of legs. Sometimes I was being chased, I would look back and there was this huge silver-grey wolf chasing me. He catches me, grabs my neck and forces me to the ground, but he doesn’t kill me.” Her arousal starts to spike again. “He… mounts me. And I liked it. I don’t know what was freaking me out more, being a wolf or enjoying being taken as one.”
“Like I said, your wolf is inside you, buried deep somewhere. She is trying to get out, even if it’s only through your dreams.” I rolled the window down, needing to clear the smell, and she blushed even more as she figured out why.
“How do I get my wolf out?”
I ran my hand over my face. “I don’t know. Werewolves can shift about the time a baby starts to crawl. I’ve never heard of a wolf that didn’t emerge. A child who can’t shift is called a null.”
“Some don’t shift?”
“Two werewolves always have werewolf children. When a human and werewolf have a child, it may or may not inherit the werewolf gene. If it doesn’t, the child is 100% human. We call that a null.” I didn’t want to tell him this part. “Nulls are looked down upon, they have no wolf, can gain no rank, they can never really join the Pack. Weaker, unable to link or fight, they are considered a burden. Many are given up for adoption, even killed in the more remote Packs.”
Tears started to form in her eyes. “I’m a null?”
“No. A null has no wolf. You do; it just hasn’t emerged.” I took her hand. “Close your eyes. Do you feel her? A voice in your head?”
She closed her eyes, then opened them. “Nothing.”
I kissed her hand. “It’s all right. We’ll figure it out.” We had driven back out of the forest and there were a few towns coming up. “So, what was really bothering you if finding out a werewolf wasn’t it?”
She got a scared look on her face. “Don’t hate me for this,” she said.
“I could never hate you, love.”
“Back in the clearing, when that man was about to kill you, you saw what I did.” I nodded, remembering how she had hit him with fireballs then levitated him away before the fire turned him to ash. “I killed a man. I didn’t hesitate.” She did now. “And I felt good about it.”
I picked up her hand and held it. “The man needed killing, and you saved my life. He was coming over to put a bullet in my head, just like he did with Miriam.”
“I know that, but I killed him. I looked into his eyes as he suffered and died, and I felt GOOD about it.” She looked down at out hands. “Am I a monster?”
I squeezed her hand. “Humans react differently to having to kill; it is part of their instinct that killing another human is wrong, and if you enjoy it, there is something wrong with you. Our wolf part is more primal than that; it sees a mate or Pack member in danger, and it acts to kill the threat. No right or wrong, no morality plays, no second guessing. The wolf just acts and moves on. There is no right or wrong, only alive and dead.” I rubbed my thumb along her hand. “Remember when that asshole touched you at the bar?”
“I didn’t beat him half to death because he pinched your ass. Oh, I was furious, he touched what was MINE and caused you pain, I would have hit him for that, but I wouldn’t have unleashed my wolf nature. No, I saw what was in his eyes after you poured the beer on him. He was furious, he was losing control, and he was going to HURT you for embarrassing him in front of his friends. My wolf nature took over. He acted not because of what he did, but what he was GOING to do to a woman he already considered his. I spent over two months in jail, and I never once regretted beating him up because my wolf and I agreed he deserved it. What I DID regret was hurting you; the fear in your eyes after I pulled you aside tore me apart.” I pulled her hand up to my lips. “You saved my life, Jessie. When I was in danger, you used your powers to eliminate the threat and then you healed me. You kept your wits about you as we cleaned up the evidence and left. You are so strong, Jessie, I’m so proud of you I could burst.”
“You saved my life too,” she said with tears in her eyes. “He was aiming for me until you jumped at him. You took the bullets meant for me.”
“I didn’t get him, though. You were shot, and I almost lost you. I can’t lose you, Jessie. I couldn’t handle losing you now.”
“I’m right here,” she said as she leaned into my shoulder. She let the tears out as I held her close with my right arm, driving with my left. Ten minutes later she sat up. “I need to go to the bathroom, and I’m hungry,” she said.
“We’re coming up on a town,” I said. A few minutes later, we were on the edge of the small resort town of Babbit, population 1483. There was a bar and grill attached to a hotel, the Junction Inn. “Stay put, I’m going to see if I can get us a room.”
I got out of the car, the wads of cash in my pocket. I entered the lobby, it was empty, as it was too early in the season for hunting and too late for fishing. I walked over to the reception desk, an older lady smiled at me. “Welcome to the Junction Inn and Conference Center, may I help you?”
“I’d like a room for the night, please. Double queen if you have it.” I didn’t want to pressure Jessie into sleeping in bed with me.
“That will be $92 a night, wifi is free, and there is a Continental breakfast here in the lobby from six to eight in the morning. I’ll need identification and a major credit card.”
I smiled at her, turning on the charm. “That’s my problem… it was my girlfriend’s first time on a canoe, and she leaned over too far and rolled us. My identification was in my pack, and that didn’t come back up. Is there any way I can just pay cash? I’m so glad I kept some in the truck for emergencies.”
“Oh, my, that’s terrible.” She looked around. “Is she all right?”
“She was wet and cold and since our tent went down too, she insisted I take her to a hotel instead. Please, she’s tired and I’ll never hear the end of it for not tying stuff to the canoe if I don’t get her a shower and a bed.” I pulled out pair of hundred-dollar bills. “I’ll leave the extra as a deposit.”
She pushed one bill back to me. “No need, honey, you just take care of your girl.” She took down the fake name I gave her, then handed me two room keys. “The bar and grill next door is still open, there’s a menu in the room and room service is available for another hour. I’d get some hot soup and dinner into her, a cold woman is no fun to sleep with.”
“Thank you.” I took the keys and went out, opening the back I grabbed her suitcase and the one I’d packed with Brian’s stuff. I took out the Vikings stocking cap and brought it around. “I don’t want the cameras or anyone else getting a good look at you. I told the woman at the desk you got dunked in the water and we lost all our gear, so tuck your hair under this, stay close and don’t look at her.”
She put the hat on and I took both bags in my right hand as she took my left. The woman looked up and smiled, then when back to watching TV as we headed down the hallway to the ground floor room. I opened the door and she sat on the bed as I set the bags down. “Two beds?”
I shrugged. “I didn’t want to assume anything.”
“I’m going to take a shower. You promised me something to eat?” I handed her the menu, she wanted a burger and fries, I ordered the steak. She was still in the bathroom when the order arrived; the delivery guy was a werewolf. He looked at me in shock, I stared him down, letting my dominance come out until he lowered his eyes. I paid him, including a good tip. “I was never here,” I said with a growl, and he nodded.
I set our food on the table and Jessie came out, wearing cotton sleep shorts and a loose T-shirt with no bra. I tried to keep my eyes on her face, but it was like two bulldogs fighting under a rug and I couldn’t help it. I sat down, hoping she didn’t notice my erection, and we ate our late dinner. She moaned when she bit into the burger, and I almost came undone right there. “Jessie, please, you’re killing me here.”
She looked up from her burger, all innocent. “What?”
I just smiled at her. “You have no idea what you do to me, love.” I cut into my rare steak. “If you don’t plan on mating with me tonight, I’d keep the little moans of pleasure to a minimum.” Her eyes widened as she took in my meaning, and she blushed hard and went back to eating her fries. I finished quickly, then told her I was going to take a shower.
A cold shower.
It was almost ten when I came out, dressed in shorts and a Vikings T-shirt. Jessie was sitting in the bed by the window, thankfully under the covers and reading a book. She smiled at me as I came out, looking me over as her arousal spiked again. I leaned over and kissed her, then grabbed the remote as I turned back the sheets of the other bed. I turned on the local news; I had to know if there was anything on us or the shootings at the Coven. There was nothing, and Jessie was tired. She put her page marker in and set the book on the table. “John?”
She turned down the covers. “Hold me?”
I practically jumped out of my bed and slid into hers; laying on my back, she curled into my side, her head on my shoulder. I turned out the light and turned the television off. “Goodnight, my love.”
“Goodnight, Cuddles,” she said with a giggle.
“Cheeky wench,” I said as I kissed her goodnight. We fell asleep quickly.
We woke around seven, and Jessie was getting dressed in the bathroom when the knock came on the door. I grabbed the pistol that I’d taken from one of the men and held it behind my back as I went to the door. I took a sniff; werewolves. Four of them. I moved the chain aside and opened the door.
“Can I help you?” The one in front was a big guy, not as big as me, but clearly a Beta. The three behind him looked like normal pack warriors.
“You’re in our territory, rogue. The Alpha wants to see you.”
“I’m no rogue,” I said. “I’m passing through, I’ll be gone soon.”
The man sniffed, his eyes widening. “You brought a witch onto our territory?”
“She’s mine,” I said.
He was obviously linking. “Come with me,” he said, “Or we’ll descend on you and destroy you both.”
I just smirked. “No need for that. We need to finish packing, then we’re having some breakfast. We’ll meet you in the parking lot when we’re done.” I closed the door, hearing him rant.
I’m pretty sure he hadn’t had a reaction like that before. I called for room service, ordering two large breakfast specials, then went to change.