Rose

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Chapter 3: Changes

My mind was in chaos as Gunny walked me back to my room. Meeting the Pack, learning about it and mates, it would have been a lot to take on its own.

Charlotte finding a mate put it right over the top.

I flopped onto the king-sized bed in Gunny’s room, sneaking a peek at his back as he took his shirt off and tossed it in the hamper. I found myself wondering where the scars on his back came from as he walked into the bathroom, I’d never taken the time to ask. Every time I got him naked, all I could think about was sex.

I heard the water going and he came back out gloriously naked. I sat up, allowing him to remove the blouse and my bra, then I flopped back and he got my shorts and panties. He scooped me up and carried me into the bathroom, stepping down into the sunken tub with me still in his arms. “Oh, Gunny, this is nice,” I said as my body got used to the water.

He had moved me until I was sitting between his legs, leaning back against his chest. He turned on the jets and we both just relaxed, letting the water take away all the stress. His strong hands were busy on my shoulders and neck, massaging them until I was completely relaxed. “What did you think about today,” he asked me quietly as he pressed some buttons; the air jets stopped but the water was still nice and warm.

“You should have called first,” I said. “I almost grabbed Charlotte and turned around to leave when those kids came out of the pool naked.”

“It’s normal for us,” he said. “When you shift, clothes get destroyed. We swim in both forms, wolves like it but panthers LOVE the water. We bought swimsuits so we would have them for human guests, but we don’t use them normally since this place is so isolated.”

I smacked his arm. “Hello? Human guests?”

“Not for long,” he laughed, and I had to laugh a little with him. I had to admit, the little kids running around and playing in human, cat and wolf forms were cute as hell. “Charlotte seemed to handle it all right.”

“Better than I expected. I can’t believe she ran back out to the pool naked with them.”

“I asked her to keep an open mind and experience life here, I’m glad she is. I think she and Jane will become good friends, and you know how Josh feels about her.”

“Well, he better wait for her. She just turned 17 three weeks ago, and you said he can’t mate her until she’s 18, right?”

“Yes, our law is you can’t change or mate her until she is an adult. It doesn’t apply to family, though, so if you and I mate, we could change her if we all agreed. He also needs permission from the Alpha to change her, just like I need for you.”

“You need my permission first,” I teased him as I wiggled my backside into his groin. He moaned, pulling me tight to his chest. “Now come on, I’m going to bed.” I stood up and reached for the nearby towel.

“Great idea, baby!”

“To sleep.” I stepped out and did my business while he sat in the tub, horny and wanting. “Take a cold shower or something, I need to rest.” He was mumbling his displeasure as I closed the door on him, and I was asleep before he came out.

I woke to a knock on the door, the bright morning sun had almost made it to our bed. “Mom, can we talk?”

“Sure honey, just a minute.” I rolled out of bed and grabbed some clothes from my bag, quickly dressing I left Gunny asleep and went into the hall. “Everything all right?”

“I think so.” She led me out the back of the house, finding a seat at the table by the waterfall. She was smart, the noise of the water would cover our talk from the sensitive ears around. “Mom, is Josh my mate?”

My mouth fell open, that was the last question I expected from her. “He is,” I said as I reached for her hand. “He knew it as soon as he saw you.” She was quiet, thinking back with a little smile. “Why did you think so?”

“He looks at me like Gunny looks at you. Like I’m the center of his universe. And when we touch, I get all tingly.” She moved a hand to her cheek, tracing where his hand had been.

“How does he make you feel, Charlotte?”

“Safe. Loved. It’s weird, I’ve known him for a couple hours and all I want to do is kiss him and bear his children.” She laughed at the face I made. “I’m KIDDING, mom! Well, kind of.”

“You have time, honey. He cannot mate you without your consent, and not until you are eighteen. This is a good thing, the others were very excited and happy for you two. Finding your mate is a big thing for a werewolf, especially at such an early age.”

“Can I trust him?”

“Of course. He’s your mate, he’d never hurt you. Plus, Gunny and I are going to put the fear of God into him.”

“MOM!”

I saw the activity in the kitchen, the buffet line was open. “Go get me a plate of breakfast, you know what I like, then we can talk some more.” She saw Josh and a few of the others coming out of the men’s dorm area, and I shooed her away before he got close. His eyes were following her as she disappeared inside, he was intent on following her until I called him over. “YOU,” I called with the same voice I used when arresting someone.

“Yes Ma’am?” He stopped and looked at me nervously.

“Come over here, we need to talk.”

He walked over, gathering his courage as he held his hand out in greeting. “Good morning, I’m…”

“You’re Josh Spencer. Hacker, cyberterrorist, former #6 on the FBI most wanted list and the man who was staring at my underage daughter’s naked body all last night.” He gulped. “I’m Senior Agent Rose Conspeill, Federal Bureau of Investigation, former Cyberterrorism Task Force member and Charlotte’s overprotective mother.” I shook his hand firmly, enjoying the look of terror in his eyes.

“I was pardoned…” he said as he looked at me. “We were at war, I was fifteen when it started. I watched Ella’s relatives being killed live on television. I did what I could, I did it for my Pack, and I won’t apologize for it.” I was secretly pleased he didn’t, it told me a lot about his character. “As for your daughter, she’s my mate, I can’t NOT look at her. I’ll never hurt her, and I’ll protect her with my life.”

I smiled, breaking the tension. “I know you will, I just had to bust your balls a little. Now run and get some breakfast, we’re eating out here this morning.” He ran off quickly, earning a stare from Gunny as he walked out with a large tray with a couple plates and a pitcher of juice, plus glasses and silverware. He was laughing as he sat down. “So you two talked?”

“It was more staking out our positions,” I said. “He didn’t back down at all.”

“I didn’t expect he would.”

“Well, Charlotte won’t either. She knows they are mates, she figured it out last night even if he hasn’t told her.” Gunny froze, he looked at me questioningly. “She’s not mad about it or anything, she’s just figuring things out in her head. I think she likes him too.”

A few minutes later, Charlotte came out with a couple plates and was followed by Josh and Jane. She looked a little miffed that Gunny had gotten my breakfast, but Josh grabbed it and put the food on his plate. “Mom, do we have any plans today?”

I looked at Gunny, who looked at them all. “I was hoping to spend some time showing you two around the territory. I was going to borrow a jeep, but if Josh is game we can do it in animal form.” Josh smiled as he figured out what I was talking about.

Charlotte looked at Josh, who took her hand. “We can shift and give you a ride, it’s the closest thing I can show you to what being a wolf is like,” he said. “I’m sure some of the Pack wouldn’t mind a little early morning run. We usually run in the morning or after sunset when it isn’t too hot.”

“You know, you’ve never shown me your panther,” I said.

“He’s been patient, but he wants to meet his mate as well,” Gunny said. The rest of the tables filled quickly, the other families filling in the tables. We talked to Craig and Ella, and they suggested two groups- one of all wolves to do a hard perimeter run, and another of cats and young ones for a shorter circuit. “Cats like to stalk, we don’t like running for hours like wolves do,” he said. “There are some rocky crags we like to climb and lay out in the sun on, you’ll love the views,” he said.

When breakfast was done, people started to strip and leave their folded clothes on their chairs before shifting to their animal forms. Charlotte and I looked around in wonder, they were much bigger than regular wolves and cats, and they were very affectionate. I squealed as Gunny’s tongue snuck under my shorts to lick at my inner thigh, I smacked his nose and told him to behave. Josh had a handsome wolf, sleek and grey with black tips to his ears. He was rubbing his sides on Charlotte as she ran her fingers through his fur. He laid on his stomach and she climbed on board, riding him like a small horse that he was nearly the size of. She lay with her head by his neck, her arms reaching around the front of his chest, while her legs were crossed at the ankles near his tail. Craig howled to call the wolves to him, and as they took off I could hear her screaming with joy.

Ella roared, calling all the cats and young ones to her. I watched in amusement as the cubs climbed over her, their paws were so big for their young bodies! Tom Harris moved next to me while I was watching. “So, Ella is the large panther, she’s big because she’s an Alpha. The big tan spotted one behind her is Olivia, she’s the first person Ella turned; like her, she lost her wolf during the war. The two pups running under her are Ella’s oldest, Mitchell and Darryl. They’re six, we aren’t letting those under five run with them just yet.” I watched the two black wolves wrestle. Two spotted panthers started play fighting with Olivia. “That’s Tony and Tina, they lost their wolves with Olivia so Ella changed them to panthers. The big panther is Al, his mate Marge is the wolf he’s grooming. Our triplets are the ones running up- Sharon, Sara and Sally.”

“How do you tell the difference?”

“Their wolves have slightly different patterns with the black and white spots.” Looking down, I could see Gunny on his belly looking at me. “Time to get on,” Tom said. “Just hold on with your arms, and use your knees behind his chest. Don’t bring them too far forward, if you squeeze his ribs he’ll have difficulty breathing.” I got on, and squealed a little as he stood up. His panther was huge, heavily muscled just like him, and since his back was up to my boobs when he was standing, I was fairly high up. He purred, the rumbling setting off all kinds of pleasurable sensations in me as we moved over to the others. I watched as Ella got up and set off out the gate, setting an easy pace all the young ones could follow.

The group was excited, the wolves yipping and running around smelling things, the boys lifting their legs on trees and shrubs as we went. The cats were curious and playful, pouncing on each other before racing to catch up. Ella stayed up front, Al and Marge watched the bunch in the middle, and Olivia stayed at the back with us.

Riding Gunny this way was now my second favorite way to ride him. It was much more comfortable than I thought, the big cats almost glided as they moved. We picked our way up the hill, watching the young ones jump from rock to rock. It took a while to herd them up, but when we got up there it was worth it. The hill was only a couple hundred feet above the Pack House, but it had a great view. We could see the pond, where the adults and children who hadn’t gone on the runs were playing. I got off and sat on the edge, Gunny plopping down around my back so I could lean into him as I scratched his ears.

“This is the life,” I told him as he purred for me.

Just then a shot rang out, the noise echoing from the surrounding mountains. A pained yelp was heard, followed by a howl of warning. The adults in my group jumped up, herding the children and me to the center as they howled back.

One look in Gunny’s eyes and I knew something terrible had happened.

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