Moonstruck: Awakening

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Chapter 2

Thankfully, we moved to the lounge I’d seen earlier, just off the main hallway of the house. It contained a large picture window that looked out onto the same lawn as the bedroom did, as well as what I was guessing was the front door. Sinking down onto one of the sofas, I tucked my legs up under me, past the point of caring if I was being rude by doing it. Surely we were beyond familiarity with the furniture being an issue.

Gabe came over and plonked himself on the lounge beside me, draping his arm over my leg in an intimate fashion. His casual action assured me I hadn’t horrified anyone by making myself at home. It also caused a kick of excitement in my stomach at him being so close, but I pushed it down, determined to play it cool.

Laura sat on the lounge opposite us and laid her head back as if she were tired. Most likely she was. Something told me these two hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep since I fell into their laps. That thought led to another, which got me to thinking, prompting my next question.

“How exactly did I end up here with you guys anyway?”

“Jared brought you to us,” answered Gabe, and I turned my head and looked at him. He stared back.

“Well that was supremely unhelpful,” I replied when he didn’t add anything further.

Laura was giving her brother a look as if he’d grown a second head. “You know, I’m not sure I’m liking the new you, Gabe,” she said.

“Deal with it,” he said and continued to watch me.

Sighing, I rolled my eyes. “Okay,” I said, turning to face Laura. “From now on, I’m going to direct all my questions to you, because I might have a better chance of getting a decent answer.”

Still giving her brother a weird look which he was blatantly ignoring, she slowly nodded her head. “Yeah, that might be a good idea.”

“Okay then, same question applies. How did I come to be with you guys?”

Finally dragging her eyes off her brother, she explained. “One of our pack mates, Jared, was driving through some backwoods and you apparently ran out in front of him. He could smell the same scent that we do, so brought you here to us. Actually, you’re incredibly lucky he was there at all. Apparently, he took a wrong turn on the way back from some appointment he’d been to and was completely lost. The downside is, with you in the truck, he wasn’t really paying attention to how he got back here and now can’t tell us where he found you. I suppose it’s pretty lucky that he managed to find his way out without direction, considering how distracted he was.”

A fuzzy image came to mind. “Yeah, I think I remember him. Older guy? With a scraggly beard?”

“Yeah, that’s him.” Laura nodded. “Looks like a hillbilly Santa.”

I snorted at the description. “I’ll take your word for it. So that explains how I physically got here, but not why he brought me here. Wouldn’t the logical place to take me have been a hospital, or even the police?”

“Normally, yes. But in this case, as I mentioned, there was your scent. Given your condition, Jared thought he’d defer to Gabe, let him decide what to do.” Laura nodded her head towards Gabe, who still sat there gazing at me. Really, it should be kind of creepy, with him still leaning his arm on my leg, simply looking at me, but I didn’t mind. I’d given up on keeping track of the crazy. I decided to just go with the flow. Besides, I liked being close to him, so hey, why not enjoy it.

Since I was already looking at Gabe, I figured I’d try getting a proper response from him.

“What makes you so special then, that you get to make the decisions, hmm?”

He grinned at me, and I got the impression that he was going to make some lewd reply, but his sister cleared her throat in a pointed manner and Gabe seemed to change his mind. Clearing his throat, he tried to appear serious.

“I’m an enforcer. It’s my job in the pack to make sure that our laws are followed and our secrets are kept,” he answered.

“What, like a cop?” I asked.

“More like a stern parent,” he replied with a shrug.

“Gabe’s our Alpha. Well, the packs Alpha anyway. He only really has true control over the furries, but the humans do tend to give him a certain amount of respect.”

Which brought my attention back to Laura. “So where do you fall in all this? Sorry, that’s probably a rude question, but I can’t tell. Do you shift or not?”

Laura looked sad for a second but then schooled her face. “No, I don’t shift, it seems I lost that genetic lottery. Instead, I got Gabe, as the booby prize.”

Without shifting his gaze from me, Gabe lifted the arm not resting on my leg and gave his sister a one finger salute, which made me laugh. Again, the levity felt good, so I went with it.

“Gee, dinner time in your family must’ve been fun.”

“You have no idea,” Laura’s pained voice told the whole story.

“So if you’re Alpha of the furries, which I’m going out on a limb here and assume refers to the Werewolves, I guess that means you do shift?” I asked Gabe.

Gabe nodded slowly, watching my reaction, no doubt waiting for me to freak out at the news. Nodding back thoughtfully, I processed the information, and my thoughts went to James, Gabes best friend and all around pain in the ass. James had been the one to tell me shifters existed and had done so in a pretty ham-handed fashion. “Something tells me James shifts as well, doesn’t he? There has to be something makes him so cocky.”

Laura laughed. “Got it in one.”

The fabric of the lounge captured my attention, made of suede, it was soft and cushy, inviting my fingers to draw random patterns while I thought things through. Sucking in a breath to ask a question I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted the answer too, I forced myself to speak.

“Can I see?” My voice was small, but I think they’d been waiting for me to ask the question. It’s only natural, isn’t it? Someone tells you, ‘hey I can turn into a wolf,’ most people’s first response is going to be ‘cool, can I see?’

“Anytime,” Gabe answered with a fake leer, and in one smooth movement stood up and whisked his t-shirt over his head.

My brain froze and instant lust roared through me. His broad shoulders, tapered waist, washboard abs and lightly haired, well-developed chest were a smorgasbord for my eyes and it was all I could do not to sit there drooling.

Somehow I dredged up enough moral fortitude to put out my hand and weakly exclaim, “Your wolf! I meant I want to see your wolf!”

Gabe threw back his head and laughed while Laura rolled her eyes and muttered something under her breath.

“I knew what you meant, Em,” he chuckled. “Just trying to lighten the mood. Although I do have to take my clothes off. Contrary to pop culture, they don’t just rip to pieces during the transition and it’s really annoying to be caught up in clothes after you’ve shifted.”

“Although it can be hilarious for onlookers,” said Laura as she stood. “Kind of like watching a cat with sticky tape on its feet.” She mimed a cat rapidly trying to shake something off its paw, a look of disgust on her face and I couldn’t help but laugh at the image. “But that’s my cue to leave because I really don’t want to see my brother’s junk. I’d never be able to sleep again. Not enough brain bleach in the world for that image!”

Gabe merely slanted a sardonic glance her way and motioned with his hand. “Run along then.”

“You know, I liked you better when you had a stick up your ass. You were just as painful, but at least you were predictable.”

Grabbing his sister as she walked past him, he ignored her squeal and drew her into a big bear hug, loudly kissing her on the top of the head. Then, letting her go with a condescending ruffle of her hair, he dropped his hands to the button of his jeans, his expression daring his sister to hang around.

“I’m outta here.” Laura bolted from the room towards the kitchen.

Turning back to me, Gabe gave me such a sinful smile, it made me shiver in anticipation and swallow loudly. Holding my eyes, he undid the button on his jeans and started lowering the zip. It was such a personal and erotic movement; as if he were doing a striptease just for me and it was getting me way hotter than it should, given the situation. He was definitely taking advantage of the fact that I’d asked to see him change.

“Wait,” I said more strongly this time. He paused, looking at me with a raised eyebrow, almost as if were daring me to protest.

The way his arms were positioned, holding the front of his jeans, his torso bent forward slightly, had tightened his abs and showed his entire torso off to perfection. For a moment I couldn’t remember what I’d been about to say. I wanted nothing more than to push him back on the lounge, straddle his lap and run my hands up and down his chest. Then I’d reach down to finish undoing his jeans myself.

Shaking my head to banish the image, I fought to reign in my hormones. No, this was not the time, definitely not the place, and I wasn’t entirely certain he was the man, either. That was an internal debate for another time.

“Um, this seems a bit personal, don’t you think? I mean, I don’t know you and now you’re going to strip down naked in front of me? Doesn’t that make you the least bit uncomfortable?”

Dropping his hands from his jeans, Gabe leaned down, bracing himself on the back of the lounge with a hand on either side of my head, caging me in. His cologne or shampoo, or whatever scent he used, rose from his heated body and the spicy fragrance made my head spin with lust. How could I want this man so much?

Lowering his head, he brought his eyes level with mine. “Nothing I could ever do with you would make me feel uncomfortable, as long as you were enjoying it.” I swallowed loudly again, overwhelmed by the images those words evoked.

“But if you’re not quite there yet,” he continued, his rough voice scraping deliciously over my senses, “then I’ll slow down till you catch up. But I do need to be naked for this. So what do you suggest?”

“God, I don’t know.” Looking around for inspiration, I noticed that the lounges had quite a high back on them, maybe even high enough to shield my delicate eyes and constitution from his nudity. Following my gaze, Gabe nodded, understanding my idea without me having to say a word.

Hauling himself back upright, Gabe walked behind the couch, the one Laura had been sitting on only moments before. With his back still to me, he quickly shucked his jeans and straightened again. “You ready?” As he was still facing away from me, he didn’t see me nod my head, yes, but maybe it was a rhetorical question because without waiting any further, he nodded himself and then was… gone.

It was like he’d fallen through a trapdoor; one second he was there, the next he wasn’t. What was there, however, was a great hulking timber wolf, slowly stalking around the other side of the sofa, watching me warily.

Against my will, my heart started beating faster and I tensed in anticipation of being attacked. Logically, I knew I was supposed to be looking at Gabe and that he was in full control of his faculties. But when a massive predator comes walking towards you, I dare anyone with a functioning adrenal gland not to react with a healthy dose of self-preserving fear.

The wolf in front of me was beautiful, stunning really. His glossy coat was a variegated light grey around his face and back, with white fur on his belly and legs. His eyes, a striking ice blue, continued to observe me with caution as he edged closer. Once he was a foot away from me, he stopped and waited, leaving the next move to me.

Jesus, he was huge. From where I sat on the couch, he had to lower his head be eye level with me. The size of a small pony, he’d probably come up to my ribs if I’d been standing up. I struggled for calm, to slow my breathing so I wouldn’t panic.

Tentatively, I reached my hand out to him, longing to feel if his coat was as soft as it looked. The wolf met me halfway, taking a step towards my outstretched hand and tilting his head a little so I cupped the back of his neck, just behind his ear. My fingers sunk into his plush fur and I automatically clenched my fingers, giving him a small scratch. He chuffed in apparent appreciation and pushed forward even more, till he was standing between my legs, his chest leaning into the lounge, and me, crowding me back, burying his head between my breasts and snorting a bit in what I’d guess was happiness.

“Whoa,” I squeaked, quickly bringing my other hand up to hold him off, but all that meant was I was now embracing him as he leaned against my chest. Any second now I was expecting him to climb up on the lounge and squish me with his immense weight like some kind of overgrown lap dog. My fingers clenched again into his pelt, this time in a futile attempt to try and push him away, to gain some distance. I wasn’t scared, not really, but this was a hell of a lot to take in all at once.

Laura walked back into the room, obviously figuring it was safe to do so. Seeing the wolf practically on top of me, a look of exasperation crossed her face and she rolled her eyes.

“Jeez Gabe, give her some room. Or are you trying to get her to take you walkies,” she taunted in a snide tone.

Gabe’s reaction was instantaneous, as was mine. Massive canine head whipping to the side, he growled at his sister, a low feral sound. My reaction to his response was just as instinctive. Shoving him away from me with a cry and superhuman strength, I bolted over the back of the couch, landing on my butt, scrambling until I felt my shoulder hit the wall. Laura had frozen at my movement, but my gaze was solely for the wolf which now stood with his front two paws braced on the sofa, looking at me over the headrest.

My breathing ripped in and out of my lungs as I was locked in a flashback that I’d somehow managed to suppress.

At some stage, back in that awful cement box, before I’d escaped, they’d sent in a wolf. Gabe’s snarl had jogged my memory, bring forth one I’d buried in the deepest pit in my mind, of the great hulking beast stalking me when I’d had nowhere to run. Seeing Gabe now, his head above mine, I was having trouble separating reality from memory, I kept waiting for him to start snarling, darting forward to nip at me with those deadly fangs, drawing blood and pain and screams of terror from me.

Gabe moved, just slightly, easing back a bit, probably going to get down off the lounge, but through my panic-filled brain, I saw the move as the precursor to an attack. Back in that little room, I’d not had the option of fighting, had nothing but my bare hands to defend myself, but that wasn’t the case any longer. Vowing I wasn’t going to be the victim anymore, I scanned the room, desperately looking for a weapon. To my left was a stack of wood, stored by the fireplace that was framed by the lounges. But it wasn’t the wood I was interested in. No, right next to the wood was a set of brass fireplace tools, hanging nicely and beckoning me to use them.

Lunging to the side, pushing to my feet as I went, I grabbed the poker, blinded to the cliché of it all, brandishing it in front of me, daring the wolf to come closer.

But the wolf wasn’t there anymore. In its place was a totally naked Gabe, arms out at his side to show he was unarmed, staring at me, but not moving a muscle, waiting for me to accept him.

My eyes darted around the room, looking for a threat. I’d been conditioned to expect an attack and so far I’d never been proven wrong.

Laura had disappeared, so I was alone in the room with Gabe once more. The poker was still held in front of me, ready to be used in a second if I needed it.

“Don’t do that again,” my voice was low and gravelly. I struggled to get my breathing under control. God, I hated feeling like a frightened rabbit, startling at every little thing. But it was instinctive, and if that reaction kept me alive, then I’d damned well live with the embarrassment of being as highly strung as a thoroughbred racehorse.

“Okay,” Gabe nodded, but otherwise didn’t move a muscle. It was a sign of my agitation that I couldn’t even enjoy the sight of the gorgeous naked male in front of me, but the adrenaline was riding me hard and I was still prepared for an attack.

Scanning the room, pressing my back against the wall, I struggled to calm down, telling myself I was safe. If I did that enough, maybe one day I’d believe it.

Authors Note:

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