Chapter 4: Michael
Michael was sitting at a table on the boardwalk. He was nursing his third triple espresso coffee at four o’clock in the evening. After his encounter with Elizabeth last night, he could not go back to sleep. His meeting with the contractors this morning had fueled his adrenaline until about an hour ago; the meeting had ended, and fatigue crashed upon him. He took another drink of his coffee and rubbed a hand over his face.
I need to re-pay Vincent somehow, he thought as he closed his eyes. Michael could not believe the cost of a well, the plumbing, and electricity. The contractors thought that he was delusional when he said that fifty homes needed to be constructed and fully functional in two months. He had paid the contractors extra as incentive, but humans could only work so fast. Construction would begin tomorrow, and Michael was going to bring the first batch of his wolves to help. Thankfully, Mountain life had required a lot of exercise for survival; with the male wolves as toned as they were, the humans would not question their strength. He had briefly considered recruiting she-wolves as well, but their physique would make their strength much harder to explain. Using only half the pack may take longer, but at least we won’t raise suspicions, he thought.
Michael had wanted to observe the co-mingling of humans and werewolves on the boardwalk, but it all began to give him a headache. Voices, seagulls, the occasional sound of a car passing by. He missed the peace of Mountain, the tranquility. He did enjoy some of the human food, but the aromas coupled with the ocean’s potent scent made him nauseous. I have to get used to it, we have to get used to it, he thought. At least it is not like City, where the world keeps spinning indefinitely at a deafening level. Oceanside ceases at night.
Michael’s lips twitched into a light smile as he remembered last night’s tranquility. Elizabeth. When he had seen her initially, he was overcome with the desire to bend her over the railing and fuck her right then and there. She was one of the most attractive females that he had ever seen. Her little mouth had insulted him, and he wanted to devour her lips to taste the fire that expelled the insults. He could not explain what it was about her, but he had a need, a burning desire, to be around her. He knew that her concern of him harming her was authentic, he had killed his own people for less. But she did not fear me, he thought. She was concerned for my pack at the realization of the insult, not concerned for my retaliation toward her. Learning that she was the Beta’s sister had allowed the pieces to fall into place; her resistance to the Alpha aura, her lack of fear of him, the spark in her. He smirked as he remembered the sounds of her heartbeat and her breathing. She may be able to fight the Alpha aura, but she was still affected by it.
Michael opened his eyes and took another drink of his coffee. He rolled his shoulders as he people-watched. He had worn a blue button up shirt with a pair of jeans for the meeting with the contractors, and he was fighting the urge to rip his clothing off beneath the sun. His own anxiety with the development, and his remembrance of Elizabeth, was stirring his wolf’s anxiety that was coupled with the heat of the sun. He felt like he was swelling beneath his clothing, that he was constricted by the fabric. He longed for a run, just to breathe and clear his head. He stood up and tossed his coffee in the trash. I need a fucking nap, he thought bitterly.
Michael walked along the beach to return to Vincent’s home when he spotted Elizabeth. She was wearing a black bikini top with a pair of jean shorts, the black strings of the bottoms poking out of her shorts. Her blonde hair flowed freely down her back, which drew Michael’s attention to her ass. Her perfectly sculpted ass that was cupped beautifully in those shorts. He noticed a human man standing in front of her with a smug grin on his face. Michael’s wolf growled in response, which surprised Michael. What the hell is this? He thought. The man seemed harmless enough, but something about him triggered Michael’s wolf. Michael tensed and walked over to Elizabeth.
“Be careful with this one,” Michael said to the man as he approached. “Her bite is worse than her bark.”
“I’m counting on it,” the man grinned.
“Michael,” Elizabeth smiled lightly. He fought against the arousal that swirled in him when she said his name. She nodded to the human. “This is Kent, a fellow beach go-er. Kent, this is my friend, Michael.”
“Nice to meet you,” Kent nodded to Michael. His attention then shifted back to Elizabeth. “Liz, I’ve got to run. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Sounds good,” she said. Michael nodded in response to the human’s departure and watched him leave. Michael’s wolf finally calmed down after the man reached the boardwalk, a significant distance away.
“Tomorrow?” Michael asked curiously.
“He wants to surf with me,” Elizabeth shrugged.
“You surf?” he asked in surprise.
Seriously? Michael, I am one-hundred-year-old werewolf who lives next to the ocean,” she quipped. “Swimming gets boring after a while. That’s like saying that you’ve never gone hiking in the mountains.”
“Very true,” he grinned. He had lasted about ten years before he began exploring the territory of Mountain. “Do you often play with humans, little wolf?”
Elizabeth laughed and began walking down the beach toward Vincent’s house. Michael fell in step beside her, his eyes fixated on her. “Michael, they are more than just toys and food. They are people. After living among them for so long, you learn to appreciate them even more. Besides,” she added, “With the two main men in my life, it’s nice to be around men that don’t actually know who I am. That is how I play.”
“Elizabeth,” Michael said slowly.
“Relax, I don’t sleep with them,” she snapped. “I’m the Beta’s sister, for fuck’s sake. I can’t randomly get pregnant. I know boundaries and make sure that men follow them.”
Michael clenched his jaw and simply nodded. The thought of another male, let alone a human male, touching the wolf before angered his own wolf further. He could not deny how impressed that he was at her for her control and discipline, though. He had never met a she-wolf that was so calculated. She is basically the Beta’s runner up, he thought. She cannot put herself in a compromising position without potentially compromising her Alpha. Like randomly getting pregnant, he thought. “Alpha Vincent is lucky to have a second Beta like you.”
“I’m not his second Beta, just the Beta’s sister,” she shrugged. “They just treat me as if I was the Beta.”
“How did it go with the contractors?” she asked suddenly. Michael sighed in frustration. She wanted to change the topic. She’s probably sick of talking about all of this, he thought. To constantly battle with Beta responsibilities and duties without actually being the Beta. The knowledge of this increased his curiosity and interest in her.
“Construction starts tomorrow,” Michael said. He stopped walking and faced the ocean. “I am bringing some of my men in the morning to help with it. We need fifty homes built and move-in ready in two months.”
“Seriously? Can I help at all?”
“I think not, little wolf,” he smiled as his eyes shifted to hers. “I do not doubt your strength, but we have appearances to keep up.”
“And you’re afraid that I’ll outshine you,” she teased.
“You could help me with something else, though. I have a horrible headache,” he grumbled and rubbed a hand over his face. “All of these sounds and smells, after decades of isolation in the Mountain, it’s a lot to adjust to. I need to know how to relieve this for when my people experience it, so that I can aid them.”
Elizabeth bit her lip and looked out at the ocean. Michael repressed a growl of approval that his wolf tried to release. She was sexy as hell when she bit her lip when she was nervous, and she did not even know it. “The water itself cancels out the noise. It is its own barrier,” she said softly. “Strip.”
“What?” Michael asked in disbelief.
“I’m not trying to jump your bones on the beach,” she smiled as she looked at him. “But I don’t imagine that lying in the ocean in jeans is very comfortable.”
“Right here? On the beach? Just strip?”
“We’re on a beach in California, Michael. People see it all the time,” Elizabeth shrugged.
Michael growled lowly as Elizabeth unbuttoned her jean shorts and shimmied out of them. He was damn certain that she had heard his growl, but, if she did, she chose to ignore it. Her bikini bottoms had ridden up her ass slightly, making her ass cheeks hang out of it. She faced him fully, hiding her sculpted ass from his sight. The muscles in his arms grew painful with restraint as he tensed. He wanted to wrap his hands in her hair, crush her body to his, and ravage her. She was stunning. The sun appeared to make her tan skin and blonde hair glow beneath it. Her blue eyes sparked as she looked into his emerald ones. “Water has a sound barrier of sorts. Lie in the shallow end with me, with your ears beneath the water. All of the noise just dulls away,” she said.
“I can’t swim,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Strip,” she repeated.
Michael growled again and noticed Elizabeth smirk. He unbuttoned his shirt and placed it on top of his discarded socks and shoes. As he worked on his jeans, his wolf purred at the knowledge that her eyes were surveying his body. He looked at her and found blue eyes quickly extinguishing a gold fire. He slipped out of his jeans, a pair of black boxers beneath them. He was positive that his erection could cast its own shadow, but her eyes never drifted past the tattoos on his chest, at least that he noticed. “Bossy, little wolf,” he said, his voice husky.
“Apparently, it works,” she quirked. She took his hand and led him into the shallow part of the ocean.
Michael hissed as the ice water submerged his feet, and then his ankles. “I was serious, Elizabeth. I cannot swim.”
“Michael, if I was going to kill you, it would be more poetic than drowning you. Now,” she turned around and placed a hand on his chest softly. He willed his body to not react. Her touch was much better than the sight of her; she looked like perfection, and her touch felt like silk. “Lie on your back. I won’t let you float away.” Michael’s eyes flashed gold defensively but he nodded. Mountain Pack had never needed to swim before. We’ll need to correct that, he thought. He hesitated for a moment. He hated relying on someone else for help; in this instance, to prevent him from drowning. He slowly lowered his body into the water. The soft sand of the ocean caressed his back as his weight settled on it. The frigid water blanketed his body. He kept his head elevated to watch Elizabeth. He suddenly wished that he could drown to rid himself of his erection that began to pulsate.
Elizabeth had dropped to her knees between Michael’s legs. He felt the muscles in her legs tense as she became a wall for his body to prevent him from floating past her. Once her knees had locked into the sand, she bent forward and cupped his wrists at his sides with her hands. He smiled lightly as her grip tightened when a waive hit her back. Water dripped down her shoulders and trailed along her breasts. His gold eyes brightened as his growled, and still, she did not acknowledge his reaction. If she was not the Beta’s sister, he would have been offended at her lack of appreciation for his response to her. “Rest your head,” she whispered.
Michael leaned his head back into the water. He flinched as the water swirled against his face. He felt Elizabeth squeeze his wrists reassuringly, and breathed in deeply. His gold eyes burned into her blue ones as the water invaded his ears. Suddenly, silence. All of the sounds around him had vanished. He closed his eyes and sighed as the calm washed over him. Elizabeth’s face flashed into his mind. The sun illuminating her, the water a vibrant cocoon that she flourished from. His eyes shot open as her body crashed into his.
A large wave had attempted to break the barrier that Elizabeth had created with her body. She released his wrists to push herself back up when his hands cupped her face softly. He smiled as he saw her inhale sharply, as he felt her heart hammering against his chest through her own. “Thank you,” he whispered. She bit her lip nervously and nodded. His thumb stroked her cheek softly as he studied her. Emotions crossed through her eyes that he could not read. He did not even understand what he was feeling for her, what this sudden need was for her. Decades of women pleasing him, and none of them had ever made him feel like this. “Let’s go home, little wolf.”