Heart of a Beast

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Chapter 23 - Tiberius (Part 1)

Tiberius buried the remains of the pillow under the tree at the far end of the yard and raked his dirty paws over his head.

Dammit, Cris!

What was she thinking baring her neck to him? Was she trying to snap the thin thread of control he had over himself?

He couldn’t mark her without taking her and mating her as well. That was the lycan way. Did werewolves mark first and mate later?

Her sudden arousal hinted otherwise.

Goddess, what was she thinking? Her mother had just finished telling her to be careful around him because of the new moon.

He clutched his groin and smacked his head on the trunk of the tree until a few small green acorns tumbled on his skull.

He had to get the dreamy-eyed look Crystal gave him out of his head. It was too much. The scent and touch of her were more than he could bear.

He wanted to bend her over and take her like a wolf.

He smacked his head on the trunk again. Stop thinking about it!

His loins ached. He humped that damn pillow until it was a handful of shredded, sticky fabric with wads of cotton below him and it did nothing to curb his need to mate her. He couldn’t get his maleness to slip back into its fold and the more he touched it, the more it stung.

Finally collapsing to the earth, he whimpered in frustration and discomfort.

It had been nearly two weeks since finding Crystal. How in Goddess’ name had his parents fought the matebond for months?

You need help, he told himself. You can’t keep doing this to yourself and Cris.

But how? He couldn’t stop the moon on its course and he couldn’t destroy all of Rhonda’s pillows, either.

And, dammit, if he couldn’t get a handle on his own junk—emotions included.

To take his mind off his mate, he started counting until his discomfort passed and his maleness slipped back into its thick fold.

Dragging himself back into the house, he went to the kitchen sink to wash the dirt from his front paws when Crystal cautiously approached but stayed a few yards back. The scent of her arousal from before still lingered faintly on her but was smothered in embarrassment.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

He huffed as he turned the water off and reached for a hand towel, but she grabbed it first and held it out in both of her hands like she always did. He held his left paw out to her and she carefully dried it between her hands before doing the same with his right.

“Is sealing the matebond part of the cure?” she asked, a note of hesitation in her voice.

He shook his head, no.

“So, neither mating nor marking has any part of it?” Breaking it down now into smaller pieces.

Again, he shook his head no.

She nodded her understanding. “Thank you.”

He cocked his head to the side in question, but she said nothing more and hung the towel back on the handle of the stove.

Still turned away, she asked, “Will you mark me someday?”

Just say the words, Beautiful, he wanted to tell her. Three little words that he was dying to hear. Three little words spoken from her heart that would lift the curse and heal them both.

She turned to him as he lowered himself to four legs and lifted a paw to touch her cheek.

She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. A hint of a smile playing on her lips with a blush on her cheeks.

They went back into the living room and she put a movie on. He tried to pay attention to it, but couldn’t focus on anything but her as she snuggled up against him on the floor. His maleness threatened to spill out and he turned his attention to the movie then to distract him.

Soon, her parents came back and her sister was up.

Crystal went to help her mother prepare dinner while he stared in boredom at the evening news channel.

Alexander wiggled his eyebrows at Tiberius as he sat in his chair. A strange earthy odor ballooned in the air, one that Tiberius couldn’t place.

A grin slowly spread across Alexander’s face as he leaned forward in his chair and said in a low voice, “We picked up something that will help settle ya for the next few nights.”

Tilting his head, Tiberius’ tried to read the mischievous look on his father-in-law’s face. He had to be talking about that earthy scent that seemed to be growing stronger with each passing minute.

Alexander suppressed a chuckle. “We got you a little herb. Rhonda’s sprinkling it on your dinner right now. It has no effect on us werewolves, but it should calm you down nicely.”

A low rumble crept up Tiberius’ throat. He wasn’t sure if he liked the idea of taking drugs, but he had to protect his mate and he couldn’t bear to leave her side at the same time. Besides, she had taken an herbal tonic from the witch to calm herself down last week. Why couldn’t he do the same?

It wasn’t like he had much of a choice. He was going to suffer through this new moon one way or another.

He lowered his head and tilted his neck in a display of gratitude. Crystal’s parents were simply trying to help him.

Rhonda called everyone to the dinner table a few minutes later and set half of the huge roast on a plate for him next to Crystal’s place at the table. She carved the rest of the beef into smaller portions for everyone to help themselves to.

Tiberius’ portion was seasoned with the herb, while the rest of the roast was lightly seasoned with other spices. The smell drifting up wasn’t horrible by any means, but it wasn’t pleasing to his senses. He ate it without protest, his head growing lighter and his eyelids heavier. His sense of taste and smell heightened, while his hearing dimmed and his depth perception swayed when he turned his head. He coughed his throaty chuckle as Crystal eyed him with knotted brows.

“He’ll be okay, right?”

“Yes, hun. He’s just slightly buzzed right now,” her mother replied.

“There are some smaller packets in your room if he needs more during the night,” her father added. “I’m not entirely sure how long they will last before they wear off.”

Tiberius pushed his plate in front of her, moving hers to the side, inviting her to eat from his share.

She needed more. Too skinny. More meat. More muscle to make her strong. More nourishment to support the future he prayed would one day grow in her womb.

A stillness fell over the room as various heartbeats quickened in pace.

Her face turned scarlet as her eyes darted around the table at her parents and Brooke.

When did Brooke join the table? Was she there before or did she slip in after the herb dimmed his senses?

His thoughts were interrupted when Crystal cut a piece of meat from his portion and put it in her mouth, mumbling her thanks.

He licked her elbow and she patted him on the head.

Her father asked her something but Tiberius didn’t catch it. He leaned in and inhaled her scent. Violets on a clear summer day, cut with a sharp metal blade dipped in poison and left to wither and die in the scorching sun.

He wanted to bathe in her scent. Smell more like her than rotting flesh on the end of a silver pike swarmed by flies and covered in maggots.

He swatted at the air before him and rubbed his head against her arm. Rotting flesh on a bed of violets.

She scratched him behind the ears, eliciting a groan of pleasure with all the tingles that sparked under her fingers.

His meal went forgotten as he continued to rub himself up and down her arm. Her scent grew in intensity, mixing with his, and the various emotions that filled the air around them.

“Ugh, I can’t sit here and watch this,” Brooke’s voice grumbled in the foggy haze that tickled the edges of Tiberius’ senses.

The scrape of a chair on the floor was followed by footsteps walking away and the pepper in the air lifted.

He coughed before moving behind Crystal’s chair and curling up on the floor behind her. When she finished eating, she suggested they watch another movie. He didn’t care. Whatever she wanted, as long as he was there to bask in her scent and have her fingers occasionally brush through his fur.

She set everything up on the television and settled down with him curving around her like a pillow. Her fingers played absentmindedly with his fur and he closed his eyes, basking in the sensations she conjured up within him.

He must have fallen asleep because the movie was over in a blink and she urged him to follow her to her room. Still groggy, he lay on the floor while she went into the bathroom and got ready for bed. When she returned, he welcomed her into his embrace as his body curled around hers.

“Tiberius?”

He barely heard her. He pried his eyes open and pushed consciousness to the forefront of his mind as his throat rumbled in response.

Her fingers brushed his arm that draped over her, her back pressed against his chest. He tried to focus on her and what she said, but he struggled over the distracting sparks of her touch.

“I have a packet of the herb in my pocket if you need it, okay?”

He growled softly as he nuzzled his nose into the curve of her neck.

He fell asleep before her and it took some time of wandering in the darkness to find her in his dreams.

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