Holy fuck. This was erotic. I had seen my… girlfriend... in a variety of carnal positions. Under me, in front on her knees, pinned up against a wall, threatening dangerous men, but this blew them all away. Kelly revved the motorcycle and sped along the dirt road in front of my truck. That bike. An old Harley Davidson Roadster. It was sleek and low and Kelly had to bend at the hips to hold the handles, curving her long body down and laying over the tank.
When we had opened up her cousin’s barn and she hauled a tarp off the bike, I looked at her quizzically and asked,
“Do you want me to ride it back?”
But Kelly had given me a small, mischievous grin instead.
“Oh, please, I was a teenager who was pointedly asked to leave coven meetings and rituals because I was literally a reject. I had way too much time on my hands and was unsupervised, how else do you think I rebelled?”
She laughed at my shock and straddled the bike like it was an old lover.
“Franny haaaaated it. She was always trying to scare me with the story of how my dad ended up at the commune, riding a bike and into an accident. It didn’t work of course, it just made me feel closer to him.”
I leaned into her on the bike and grabbed the back of her head for a deep, penetrating kiss. Every day there was something new with this woman. Now she was a teenage Harley rider? I watched her ass as well as the road while we made the drive back to the Ring. I was definitely going to fuck her on that bike one day.
We arrived at the family house just as the sun set, it’s last neon orange rays hitting the front door as we opened it to hear laughter coming from the kitchen. Hand in hand, we found dinner set out with Penny, Diana, and Smith already eating. Smith and Penny were laughing at something while Diana gave them a small smile.
I eyed Smith, who in turn was eyeing Penny appreciatively. Reliable Smith, if there was a cute, unattached female within spitting distance, he would find her and keep her company. Looking the girl over, she was maybe a little younger than Kelly, but the same age as him. I hoped that she wasn’t looking for anything, it wasn’t exactly in Smith’s DNA to take anything too seriously, let alone an overnight excursion.
“Room for two more?” Kelly asked while pulling up seats and grabbing cutlery. I moved over to the stack of plates and spooned us both a bowl of whatever Diana had made. We joined the others at the table and found that they had been discussing baby names.
I listened in while the ladies chatted animatedly over what to call Diana’s third child. Three kids. The cousin seemed roughly the same age as Kelly, it was hard to imagine that my mate could be a mother of three by now. If she hadn’t been discarded by her Coven at an early age, it could very well have been the case. My chest contracted at the thought. Jesus, I had never even had that notion. One day meeting my love, only to find she already had a husband and family. What the hell would I do if someone had already claimed her? Kept to my morals and ignored her, slowly going insane, or hurt her and her family by having an affair, or worse, killing the man?
In our tribe, there were only a few of us who had been lucky enough to meet their mate. Alpha’s seemed to have a higher percentage of such as we traveled, met more Weres from neighboring packs. So most Weres just fell in love, but not ‘Mated’. When I described Kelly’s heritage revelation as lady luck stepping in, I hadn’t been exaggerating. If you found your mate, you were considered blessed.
I felt her hand squeeze mine as I had finished dinner and was twirling the stem of a wine glass while lost in my thoughts.
I nodded. She leaned in and spoke low, allowing the other side of the table to continue with their conversation that had progressed to tribal names.
“You’re being awfully quiet.”
I gave her a grin.
“I usually am. You have been getting the hyper-talkative version of me the last few days.” She raised her eyebrows.
“Stoic leader and chief, huh?”
“Of course. I find listening is easier, but there has been a lot going on. I am now a... boyfriend.”
Kelly had the grace to look guilty. Good. A boyfriend. A boy. A thirty year old Native American Chief and leader of a wolfpack described as a boy. I pressed my lips together to make it extra clear how I felt about the term.
“Sorry, I... it’s the first thing that came to mind. In fact, I think it’s the only thing I can think to call you, really.” I turned my whole body to her and kept my stoic face. Boyfriend.
“You just earned a doctorate and probably know more words than the average person, and the best you can do is boyfriend?”
She burst out laughing and cupped my face, leaning over and in to kiss me.
“Tell you what, you come up with something better and I’ll use it. Mate will not suffice for this crowd though, even I’m still not sure what that means yet. And I’m not ready to be a ...Luna. Till then, you’re my boyfriend.”
Shaking my head at her, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
In the culture of the Wenatchi tribe, as soon as she allowed me to touch her as a man touches a woman, she was mine. We had left many of the old practices behind since colonization, but this still held true, especially in our tribe. We had acquired things like marriage and the white man ceremonies for it, but this was usually as a means of integrating with the local towns for their laws and other conveniences. Perhaps no word would suffice until we were married, we just belonged to each other.
Across the table, Smith rose and grabbed Diana and Penny’s empty bowls.
“Diana, thank you for the dinner, men will wash and dry if you ladies want to do whatever ladies do in the living room.”
Penny stood up and pronounced theatrically, “Retire. Ladies retire to the drawing room. To play cards and gossip about the men.”
Seeing Diana struggle to get to her feet, Kelly jumped to hers and helped her cousin up and together they moved to the door, Kelly adding,
“Or in this case, watch a newbie get schooled in all things beginner magic.” Her cousin guffawed, and I followed Smith’s lead and cleared the table, letting him wash while I dried.
We cleaned in silence while listening to the women in the other room over the clatter of the dishes. They had clearly forgotten that Weres had sensitive hearing, even when in human form, that, or they didn’t really care because after a few minutes of settling in next to the fire and watching Kelly try to light it, Penny asked Diana in what was supposed to be a hushed voice.
“Would you be okay here if I spent the night in the guest cabin? Kelly, could you be on baby duty till morning?”
Diana replied back just as low.
“Really? I mean, I’ll be fine. But Smith, really? He’s sooo…”
“Big.” Penny finished. “I know,” you could practically hear her smile.
Smith and I locked eyes, his eyebrows wiggling, while mine rolled back into my head. I stared ahead out of the kitchen window.
“Whatever man, just remember, she could probably kill you with herbs she keeps on her bedside dresser. Do not give anyone a reason to be angry at the pack. Got it?”
He gave a lazy grin before nodding and looking back down at the dish he was washing.
“Oh trust me, no one will be walking away angry. If she can still walk, that is.”
Grabbing the last dish from him, I nearly scoffed. Angry, spurned Witches were not on my list of things I wanted to deal after all the shit of today.
“Just remember you’re still on duty. If something happens on one of the patrols, they are calling you.”
He shrugged it off,
“Nothing is going to happen, those assholes wouldn’t be dumb enough to try another go when we are expecting them. Especially when we got lightning in a bottle in the living room studying up.”
I turned to him in anger, stiffening my stance.
“Don’t rely on her to do your fucking job. This is what the whole goddamn treaty was about, they can’t defend themselves like that.” I paused, surprised at my anger over such a simple idea as Kelly having to protect herself.
“You didn’t see this dude this morning, he knew her...or he wanted to. The way he spoke to her...” I thought about the way Arawan looked Kelly up and down, saying her name like it had passed his lips a hundred times before, calling her names dear to the heart like he meant it.
I focused on Smith, who had a worried face now at my words, “Just don’t forget why you’re here,” I reiterated harshly to make the point stick. Smith could take a dip in the bachelorette pool, but if anyone died from it, so would he.
He shook dishwater off his hands and wiped the counter down and nodded in acquiescence before moving into the living room to join the girls.
Putting the last of the dishes away, I came in to see Kelly on the floor leaning up against the leather chaise, a thick green book in her lap. Diana was in a lazy chair, a few feet away and Smith and Penny had taken up residence on the opposite couch, sitting close. The wide fireplace was the only source of light but was enough to heat and illuminate the large room.
I stared at the group from the doorway, Kelly was reading something out loud and her friends were interjecting themselves every other moment to correct her, Smith’s arm had snaked around Penny and she instinctively curled into it. Today had been two fuck tons of craziness, but this, this seemed almost normal. Like we were all old friends hanging out after a long week at work, enjoying each other’s company next to a fire.
Coming in and laying down on the chaise behind Kelly, I went to touch her shoulder from behind, but my hand seemed to slip down and back onto my lap, as if it had been pushed away. What?
I lifted my hand to her neck again, but it was again slapped away by something invisible and landed back on the couch. Kelly turned her head around, a sly grin on her face.
“You like my personal ward spell?”
“As a man protective of his woman, yes. As a man who wants to touch his woman, no.” She let out a big exhale and I suddenly felt a loss of tension next to me. Shaking her head, she leaned into my hand as I cupped her neck.
“Don’t worry, it seems to take a lot of concentration to maintain. I don’t think I could hold it for more than a minute or two.” She turned back around and flipped the page to a new spell, starting to murmur something my ears couldn’t make out.
I looked at her profile in the firelight, her hair had grown in the two months since I met her and was a little longer than her shoulders. Dark roots were starting to peek through at the top of her head, showing a much darker color with tinges of red being lit up by the fire. A redhead. Figures, daughter of a warrior’s son from the old land would have red hair and I vaguely recalled from his picture that Ewan Jones was a dark red haired man. As I laid back on the chaise, my fingers toyed with it, twirling it between my fingers. Listening to the group banter and the fire crackle, it was easy to forget the events of earlier today. This was almost enjoyable, being around friends.
But how was this going to end? Probably with deaths. Hopefully the Hunters’, but there were always bound to be losses on both sides. The Blue Moon pack hadn’t been involved in any serious hostilities since my grandfather’s time. When the Hunters had slaughtered the six wolves at the treaty signing, it was the first time we had a violent death in sixty years, the collective memory of the pack couldn’t remember such an incident. It was a signal to a new era. Just my fucking luck.
I thought back over our confrontation today. The boy Kelly knew was obviously a fresh recruit, but the man, he was seasoned. Why the hell were they so interested in Kelly? Was it because of her family power? Why not be interested in Margaret as well then? It had to be that, otherwise why not approach her before her change? The ceiling above showed Kelly’s shadow, flicking around as she was reading and speaking with her friends.
Shit, Dad. I had texted Jesse earlier in the day, asking him to go to the house for dinner, but it looked like I would be here for a while if not a few days. Smith had brought over a bag of clothes for me, now sitting in Kelly’s room, but it may not be enough depending on what the elders decided to do.
I pulled the phone out.
Can you stay with Dad for the next few days? I’ll know more in the morning when Kelly and I will be back on the Res.
After a few moments of listening to the fire and Kelly whispering something that didn’t make it past her lips, my phone pinged.
Ok. Dad is having a bad day. I think he got used to Kelly. Come home soon.
Fuck, of course, he got used to Kelly. His brain was misfiring memories, times, dates, and faces, but naturally, he would remember her. The irony. I laid back, thinking over scenarios for whatever route the witches would decide to do, wait and plan for the Hunters’ next move, or take the offensive? Whatever they thought, Blue Moon would be the muscle behind it.
Goddamn, that vaguely worded treaty. But at the same time, with Kelly as the new foundation of my life, I would have been wherever she was anyway. Suddenly, the hair I was playing with in my hands vanished and Kelly stood up and crossed the room, coming back to resume her sitting position on the floor, now placing a lit candle in front of her.
Looking over to the others, Diana had fallen asleep on the lazy boy, and Smith and Penny had progressed to what would be called canoodling on one corner of the couch. Kelly continued to read through her book and bend over the candle.
Abruptly, every muscle in my body locked as it was as if I was in some sort of sleep paralysis and couldn’t move. Straining against my own muscles for a moment, I realized I couldn’t even move my eyes from the direction they had been pointed, at the back of Kelly’s head. Fuck, I couldn’t even blink. I could apparently still breath, but they were shallow, my lungs not being able to further inflate. Across the room, Smith and Penny also looked locked in a lovers’ embrace. Together, but still unable to shift out of it. Kelly leaned back against the couch, unaware of my dilemma and I saw the candle in front of her. The flame was lit, but not moving, like it was stuck in time. Goddammit, Kel. Whatever she was trying to do affected the people as well as the candle.
She leaned over the candle again, and from her profile I could see her give it a big smile. Looking to the book again, she continued reading, not noticing that the room was silent, even the crackle of the fireplace now absent, presumably it was also 'frozen'. Jesus, my legs were getting stiff and I could feel my brain starting to slowly shut down, my thinking was starting to lag, just so tired.
A noise from the front of the house jolted my brain a little, and Margaret Wardwell came into view. Her eyes moved around the room and down to Kelly, still occupied with her reading.
Her head snapped up at the sound of her name, and my muscles promptly gave way and were able to move. I quickly sat up and took a deep breath, as did Penny and Smith.
“Dammit, Kelly!” Penny angrily exclaimed and she jumped up and over to Diana, giving her a small shake awake. Diana roused easily, apparently unharmed and only feeling like she was out of breath. Rubbing Kelly’s shoulders, I told her,
“Baby, please do not do that again.” She looked to the others then back to me, eyes widening before turning guilty. Before she could answer, Margaret came over, looking nonplussed, and bent down for the book.
“There was a reason I said the first three chapters, Kelly. Offensive magic needs guidance. You could have hurt Diana or the baby.” Picking up the page Kelly had been using, her face hardened slightly at seeing the spell Kelly was using.
“Never again without me, clear?”
“Yes, Gran,” Kelly’s voice came out, embarrassed.
Happy to be free, I stood up and stretched my legs, craning my neck to each side. Margaret suddenly gave a sharp inhale and I looked over to her, her eyes on my neck. She sharply looked down to Kelly, the edge of her shirt now showing my mark. Oh fuck.
Without warning, Margaret strode the two steps over to me and I felt a sharp crack against my face, twisting it to the side. Teeth cut the skin on the inside of my cheek and I tasted blood. The elder had a strong swing, I’ll give her that, and was fast. I let my head hang to the side, where the smack of her hand had left it. I let out a long, deep exhale.
Across the room, Smith stood and I subtly shook my head at him, eyeing the front door instead. He took the hint, and grabbed Penny’s hand, both of them making a hasty exit. Beside me I felt Kelly jump to her feet and exclaim.
Margaret cut her off,
“Diana, I assume you are staying here while the girls are at Vonda’s and Morris is out of town?”
From her seat, Diana, wide eyed and now very much awake from the unexpected violence, muttered,
“Then I suggest it’s time for bed, no?”
Wordlessly, Diana stood up and left the room, heading to a bedroom in the North wing of the house. A log snapped in the hearth and I let a few moments pass before turning my head back to look at the two remaining women who were staring hard at each other, almost ignoring my presence. Kelly spoke first,
“Will, can I have a moment with my grandmother?”
I looked between the two, having a silent battle of willpower. Kelly could fight this one out, I personally had had enough of Margaret Wardwell in my life.
“I’ll be outside on the porch,” I told her, and exited the house, finding a rocking chair down the other end.
I rocked back and forth, listening to the two in the living room.
“I can’t believe you just smacked him.”
“He had no right to do that to you,” Margaret proclaimed, the hatred in her voice clear.
“Gran, whatever is happening in my relationship does not need a third person to weigh in. Thank you for your concern, but I am not the teenager who comes home crying with boy troubles anymore.”
Her Gran scoffed, “Do you even know what it means? Did he explain it to you? Did he tell you it was forever, like getting married, except once you complete it, there is never a way out?”
Inside the room, Kelly was silent for a few moments,
“I am still learning everything. Gran…”
“Please Kelly, I wanted so much more for you. You could be great, look at what you just did! A frozen time spell and you caught the whole room, on your first try! Your mother could have been great, but she lost all aspirations after that Were came into her life. Please don’t do this, wolves are not good for our kind, darling.”
Margaret was pleading now, just like at my house, desperate to sway Kelly’s mind. Kelly’s voice was firm, but not angry at the old lady who cared for her well being.
“That Were was my father, Gran, and having Will in my life will not compromise my….”
“It’s not too late, Kelly.” My body stiffened at the older lady’s words.
“What?” Kelly asked, confused.
“You haven’t transformed yet, correct? You can still undo what he did to you. You can refuse this...connection.” My hackles rose and for a moment I had the thought to storm back in and let the wolf eat Margaret Wardwell. How the hell did they have a spell to break a Were connection? It was true, our connection hadn’t and wouldn’t be completed until Kelly had transformed with me. But advising her own granddaughter to reject something that Weres felt treasured to receive, it was almost sacrilegious to even suggest it. She would be condemning us both to a life of misery.
Inside, Kelly was clearly thinking over Margaret’s words.
“It’s only new Gran, but I know I want him.”
Margaret scoffed again.
“Wolf hormones. Animal behavior, Kelly. Literally. It will pass, and there are ways to control those feelings.”
Holy shit, it might have been lucky that Ewan Jones died in a fire. Putting up with this from his mother-in-law for the rest of his life might have driven him to an early grave anyway. The room inside was quiet, and I couldn’t hear anything besides Kelly’s feet pacing back and forth in the room. Fuck, was she actually thinking about this?
My wolf inside grew angry and wanted to be let out. Fine. Absolutely fucking fine. It did no good to be here. I stood and started to undress, remembering that I had just eaten and hadn’t taken any painkillers. This was not going to be pleasant. To hell with it though, just like the mindlessness of letting him take over was an escape, sometimes the pain of it was as well.
I stood naked on the porch and started to make my way to the forest behind the house. Closing my eyes, I willed him to come out, feeling him starting to grow and take over my brain, my body following.