Fuckkkkk. I was so fucking fucked. With a straight back, I sat up to face my grandmother. Will, on the other side, now eyed her warily.
“Well, Kelly, you certainly had an eventful first twelve hours home, wouldn’t you say?” She flicked stern eyes across to my one night stand. Oh god, my conservative grandmother knew about my hook up and had interrogated him.
But ...wait... why was I in the healing house? I leaned back against the wall and looked down at my hands. Something happened after Will and I...
“Kelly. Stop right there,” she commanded, stealing my attention from returning memories.
“You will remain calm, otherwise I will put you to sleep. Got it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied promptly from years of practice. She had never done that technique on me, but I had seen her do it to the Goode’s teenage son after he had started a fist fight with Diana’s boyfriend from a neighboring farm. It was terrifying when he dropped like a box of rocks.
When he woke, he said that it felt like someone had pinched something inside his brain to make the lights go out. It was enough to see her use her fingers like that to know you did not want to try it on with matriarch Wardwell.
I looked down at my hands, they were clean, but there was something like dirt underneath the nails. I brought them closer to examine and the memory of pressing the same hand into the place where Franny’s throat used to be flashed in my eyes. My throat closed up at the imagery and I began to hyperventilate when Gran’s sharp voice commanded again.
Remembering her threat, I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. A hand grabbed mine and stroked the top of it. Focusing on the sensation to keep my breathing normal, I opened my eyes to see Will holding my hand, concern in his face.
“Will here says he saw you speaking to one of them before... it happened. Do you remember?”
I nodded. I unfortunately now remembered everything, even if I didn’t understand the ending. Recapping my short conversation with the murderer, I skipped over the painful words pertinent to Franny. When I ended with him calling for his friends, I looked to Gran, who’s grim look told me all I needed to know. This was bad. Of course it was. They knew me. Me. I wasn’t even magic born and they knew me, my schedule, where I lived.
Will, still holding my hand, remained silent.
“Do you have enough to go off?” She asked him. He looked over to her questioningly.
“To hunt them down, of course.”
He let go of my hand and placed his on his hips in a defiant manner.
“Elder, I don’t think...”
She cut him off, “Stop calling me that, pup, I am not much older than your own father. You may call me Margaret.”
Will stared at her, pursing his lips at being spoken down to. He was Alpha of a werewolf pack and if rumors I heard prior to meeting him were true, he was usually stern and forceful in getting his own way. He was about to reply when one of the Witches of healing arts came into the room. She t’sked Will away from my side and he and Gran moved to the doorway to speak in much lower tones where I struggled to hear.
Cold hands were placed on my neck, prodding themselves. I looked at the woman for the first time, recognizing my neighbor and childhood friend.
She met my eyes and smiled.
“Hey stranger. Seems you’ve been through something mysterious and dangerous since we last saw you here,” I ignored her prodding for information and opened my arms out for a hug, wincing at the movement for my lower back. She pulled away and gave me a reproachful stare.
“And that’s why you are here. How do you feel?”
I looked down to my body and focused now on tensing and testing my muscles. My mouth was dry and I felt like maybe I had been out in the sun too long and had just come in with a sunburn, stiff and raw. Before I could answer, Penny, prodded a place in my torso and I ‘uhmped’ a breath out.
I winced. “No, someone just poked me in the gut with a terrible bedside manner. Honestly, do they not teach the art of kindness in the healers’ classes?” She snorted and then moved to my feet, lifting up the sheet covering me. One of my toes had a bandage around it, and when Penny unwrapped it, I gasped to see a large burn mark covering my big toe down to my arch.
“I don’t even feel that,” I asked worried.
She mumbled an agreement and took a jar of salve out of her pocket.
“Don’t fret, I’ve been keeping it numb with this for a while until it scabs over.” And she reapplied the oily cream and re-bandaged it. Handing me a glass of water, she told me to drink it and watched me as I downed the entire glass.
My Gran reappeared at my side while Will stood at the doorway, arms crossed in front of him, looking like murder was on his mind. Yep, Gran hadn’t changed her strongarm tactics.
“She looks fine, Margaret. No signs of internal bleeding, or head trauma. The foot is going to have an ugly scar, but that can be fixed if she wants it. I’d say she just needs to eat, drink and sleep.”
“Thank you, Penny. Would you please go and ask the others to prepare the bodies for the ceremony.” Penny gave me a final smirk and hand squeeze before passing Will out the door.
The ceremony. The burning ritual. For the bodies.
I swallowed the lump rising in my throat. I looked to my Gran, tears welling. She placed a firm hand on my shoulder, as if I would float up and drift away. She was trying to keep me grounded.
“Franny’s dead. So are many others you knew. Some wolves too.” Tears spilled over my cheeks, but I made a point to keep my breathing going. She continued with her commanding voice.
“We are going to have the death pyre and subsequent rituals tonight and you are not coming.” Her eyes flicked to Will, quietly assessing us from his lean. Subsequent rituals, oh man, I should not go.
“You are going to sleep the rest of the day and night and then report yourself to the council at noon tomorrow for assessment.”
I sat up straight in alarm, pushing against her hand.
“Assessment? Are you kidding? I already did that Gran, you yourself failed me, I recall,” I was poking a bear and giving her sass, but the hypocrisy of it was not lost to me. Was this a fucking joke?
“Obviously something has changed Kelly, you will be trialed again.”
“Yeah, something has changed! I went out and got a life, got friends, I have a job. I do not want to be reassessed by your judgy friends, Gran.”
Her lips pressed together in her trademark resting bitch face.
“And what happens when you kill the next boy who breaks up with you?” She did it, she called out the giant neon pink elephant in the room and I leaned back on the bed.
She was right, I had changed inside. On the two occasions when it had happened, I had been angry. More than I knew was possible, and this lightning, or electricity thing, had something to do with it. Anger was something I never really felt since my early years, when my father had impressed upon me that anger was never good. He even probably shaped my outlook to just relax, nothing was worth so much as to be angry about. I recall he even taught me techniques to remain calm, though I long ago forgot them once I simply didn’t need them.
I stared across at Will, looking at me with a facial expression I couldn’t read. Probably regret, choosing the crazy woman for the night. Gran said he saw me talking to the man. Did he see everything then? Should I be mortified? I was definitely mortified.
Gran was still waiting for my response. She would not let this go, she might figure she knew me inside out, but I knew her equally. A dog with a bone was her best analogy, she would not give up. Trying to show meekness and placate her, I lowered my head and acquiesced. I was going to fight this tooth and nail, but do it my own way. Peaceful resistance worked for Gandhi, it might work for me if I do nothing in the test.
“You’re right. I’ll be there.” She grabbed my hand and squeezed it to then say,
“Now get some sleep,” and raised her free hand to my brow when I flinched. She looked puzzled at me, then gave a small grin.
“You still remember the Goode boy, huh?”
“Who could forget?” I exclaimed. “Please, Gran, I have some sleeping aids in my suitcase at the house if you really want me to sleep.” Her hand softly wiped my bangs from my forehead in a soothing motion and I felt druggy.
“Shhh, Kel, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
My eyes closed on Will leaving my room, his face indifferent.
A faint orange light streamed through the window in my room. I rubbed my eyes open and looked at the clock on the wall. A small night light near the doorway gave enough glow to show it was nearly midnight. I edge out of the bed, stretching my body after the long sleep, and hobbled over to the window to look out. A few hundred meters away, the large death pyre, with a platform for the bodies had burned through most of its wood and was now running through the last stages of its life.
The bodies would have been nearly gone now, Franny’s included. The crackle of wood popping could still be heard over the great distance and I searched around for people still watching the fire burn, but couldn’t see any. The life ritual must have been well started by now. After an unnatural death, or much loss of life, the ‘life’ ritual, as we called it, took its place in the cycle of mourning. Which pretty much meant that after a funeral, anyone who wanted to go off and have sex could do so without judgment.
I smiled at how Witches and wiccans played into the stereotypes of themselves sometimes. Shrugging off responsibilities and natural sadness to have sex, sometimes with multiple people. Witch orgies. The irony was that it was pretty much the opposite.
People who participated were usually married couples with kids who just went back to their beds in their own homes. It was the single people who usually took the opportunity to approach those they had feelings for or lusted after, who had the wild nights. I wondered how many had died, were there any wolves in that number, were they on the pyre right now?
A throat cleared behind me at the doorway and I turned to find Will.
“Looking for me out there?” An unmistakable smirk forming on his lips.
“No, but it’s clear you’re looking for me. This is my room,” and he lost the smirk and looked conflicted as he scanned me up and down. I had been dressed in a shapeless nightgown that wasn’t my own, with only a pair of hip hugging underwear underneath. I couldn’t bring myself to be embarrassed with this man. One who had seen me in so many stages of dishabille in both sex and distraught.
God, he looked good. His jeans hung low on his hips and the long sleeve black tee he wore was so plain, it was like he wanted me to remember what was underneath. Temptation. That was what he was, temptation itself. At the time of a life ritual. His arms were crossed in front of him, like he knew what I was thinking and guarding himself against me.
“You seem... angry.”
“A little,” he replied
“I don’t like feeling like this.”
“How is that?” I asked with a tilt of my head, intrigued by his vagueness.
He looked me up and down with again something I didn’t recognize and shifted his weight against the door.
“How do you feel?”
I followed suit and ignored the question. Shaking my head, I turned back to the window.
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out doing something canine?”
He came up behind me and the hair at my neck was pulled aside as his lips caressed my nape, and I unconsciously leaned back into him, arching into his body. He took advantage of my curve and brought his hands around to grab my free breasts, caressing and kneading them in familiarity. My brain flashed with the realization of why he was here, and I gasped out.
“Taking part of a Witch ritual, huh?”
“We have something similar in our own customs,” he breathed between kisses.
“Couldn’t find any willing participants out there?”
He nipped my ear with chastisement.
“You know it’s not that. There's no one else here for me, not after last night.”
As if he threw gas on my fire, I spun in his clasp and we kissed desperately. Without hesitation, I walked him back to the bed and started to unbuckle his belt. His jeans and boots were shuffled off until the back of his thighs hit the bed and he clutched his body to mine and wrapped me down underneath.
Refusing to allow an inch between us, I pulled the length of my body up to his and felt his erection poking my hip. A hand snaked up underneath my nightgown to touch me and found my borrowed underwear. He pushed them aside with his fingers and brought his thumb to my clit, his mouth devouring the moans I would have let everyone hear. His tongue plundered my mouth and I marveled at how he already seemed to know how to work my body to a fervor for him.
He broke our mouths apart to roughly whisper,
I nodded slowly.
He moved from my side to directly on top of me, lifting my nightgown up while pulling himself out of his briefs. I gripped his shoulders, still covered by his shirt and found his mouth again. My underwear was shifted to the side and he slid into me like no time had passed since last night. Like it was as natural as breathing.
He groaned into my mouth as he slid his length in all the way. With one arm braced around my head to hold himself up and the other hand holding my face still to kiss, Will really started to move as he pounded our bare skin together. I wrapped my legs around his back to give him more access and he moaned in reply. God, I felt so full, he made me feel so... complete. I opened my eyes to see him staring at my lips in the low lighting of fire from outside.
He looked almost feral, like the wolf inside him was shining through his own eyes. I closed mine again in an effort to not come so fast, to enjoy him for longer. But he was too beautiful, too wild, and he was moving in a way that made my body scream. His base was brushing my clit every time, and it quickly sent me over.
I pressed my mouth into his shoulder, still covered by his shirt and bit down a muffled scream into it. Understanding that I had climaxed, he mumbled into my ear to hold on and then clamped his hand over my mouth while he drove into me. This was not loving. This was not kind, or personal. It was raw and primal. He was something very primal, taking and giving something we both needed. I squeezed my eyes shut in an effort to not scream from his pounding, but found it was useless as I moaned loudly into his hand.
He finally came and removed his hand from my face to quickly replace it with his mouth, his tongue delving deep as he filled me everywhere.
After a minute, the kiss turned from rough and demanding to soft and caring. He slipped out of me and to my side, wrapping an arm behind my head so I was forced onto his chest. We remained silent for some time, waiting for our breathing to return to normal and I listened to his strong heartbeat, thinking how nice it would be to have constant access to this.
“I’ll be there tomorrow,” he stated after a few minutes.
I leaned up to look at him, confused.
“Why? Only coven members are usually allowed at these things.”
“I have a feeling I’m going to get my wrists slapped. Probably also to plan a way ahead.”
I nodded but remained quiet, laying my head back onto his chest.
“Gran said something about you seeing me last night?”
“Who do you think carried you all the way down here?” My eyebrows peaked with interest. I should feel vulnerable, I know what I had felt, but nothing else.
“What...what did it look like?”
“You don’t remember?”
I shook my head on his chest, “No, I do remember, but for me, it was just... pain, burning pain. Like I was blind with anger and rage, then... like... white fire. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.” He stared down at me for a moment before answering up to the ceiling.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. When you started to walk towards that man, it’s like you... were a tempest in human form. You had so much energy inside you, your body was stiff as it walked. I’ll certainly never pick a fight with you,” he added for levity.
I stayed silent, trying to imagine the scene he was describing.
“What does assessment mean?”
He was talking about tomorrow and I sighed.
“You know the point of sex is to take my mind off my problems, right?”
“So, it’s bad?”
“Basically, when a coven child turns 12, they do a test in front of the council. Based on how they do, it determines which branch of magic they will primarily study and who will be their mentor for the next decade or so.”
“And you don’t want to do this because...?”
“I already did it. When I was twelve. They failed me. No one has actually failed in like, fifty years. Yet Margaret Adeline Wardwell failed her own granddaughter. It was humiliating, even for a preteen, I knew that. Suddenly I was asked to leave meetings and not participate in commune wide events. Now they want me back? After spending fifteen years living without them. Nope”
I looked back up at him after my soliloquy, smirking at me.
“You’re kind of bitter, huh?”
I grimaced. It was the truth and he was calling me out.
“Maybe a little, but it’s justified. Whatever outcome, I’m still returning to Seattle. I’m so close to finishing my doctorate and proving to those bunch of old crones that I’m worth something. And if I end up saving Mother Earth as a result, that would be good too.”
He stayed silent and I looked back up again, a puzzled look on his face.
“We really don’t know anything about each other, huh?” He asked.
“One... two night stands don’t need to, do they?”
He grinned, “I guess not. And on that cue...” He started to rise out of the bed and went for his jeans. I sat up and arranged the sheets to cover me.
“Well, thanks for the booty call. Service to your door with a smile,” I stated. He shimmied his jeans on. Looking pleased with himself, he reached down for his boots, sitting on the bed to put them on.
“Wham, bam, thank you ma’am?” He asked before pulling something out of his jean’s pocket.
“Uhh, here.” I looked down at the bottle of sleeping aids I had described to my Gran. Anxiousness swelled, he went into my room? Oh lord, seventeen year old Kelly was cringing with all the nik naks she still had on her dresser.
“I didn’t know if you were having problems sleeping, so I went to your house and found them.”
“Well thank you. That was...thoughtful” I didn’t know what else to say.
He looked uncomfortable with the gesture as well and leaned down to give me a final kiss goodbye. It was unnaturally sweet and not one would give a one night stand.
“Good bye, Kelly Jones,” he stated, and walked out the door without looking back.