Freya woke up with a start, “I want to go running today,” she said, slipping out of bed and walking to the shower. “I haven’t shifted in two months! That’s not healthy.”
“It’s not?” Riley asking, shooting into a sitting position under the bedcovers.
“No!” Freya answered from the bathroom. “How often do you guys shift?”
Riley and I exchanged looks. Should we tell the truth, or lie to make ourselves look competent?
“Four months, five months,” Riley said. It was the truth.
“When we get bored,” I added. Also the truth.
Her head appeared in the doorway. “You’re joking,” she stated, deadpan.
“Uhhhhh,” Riley went on, looking uncomfortable.
“Well, out, out, out!” She shooed us out of bed. “We need to shower and head out.”
We all crammed into the small bathroom and I, not for the first time, thought about us getting our own house with a way bigger shower and bathroom.
Freya grabbed her shampoo and conditioner, and knelt at the foot of the bathtub.
Riley saw and stared at her from the door of the shower.
“Wouldn’t that be easier in here?”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “But Dustin has to get to work and we’re burning daylight.”
“Freya, my mom owns the company, I can go in whenever I want.
Or not at all,” I joked. I walked over to her, picked up the hair products, then held her arm and pulled her up onto her feet.
“Come here, I’ve been dying to do this.”
I pulled her in the shower and sat her down.
Riley got the gist and grinned. “Ohhh, we’re washing hair now.
Who knew Dust was such a big softie?”
“Shut up, Riles.”
We wet the burgundy tresses, combing our fingers through them as Freya leaned back, passive and relaxed. The act calmed us too.
It felt nice to have this moment. Wolves and coyotes bonded with their packs through touch. It felt just like that. We were bonding with Freya.
Deep down we really knew she kept it long for just us. We also knew that nothing we could say, save for lying and saying we hated and wanted her to cut it, would get her to decide otherwise.
When it got drenched in water, the hair got really heavy and I had to cup my hand behind her neck to offer support.
Riley went crazy with the bubbles. He formed a thick massive foam blob in Freya’s hair and spent years massaging the shampoo into her scalp. It smelled like strawberries.
We rinsed it. Wrung It. Then conditioned and wrung again.
Somehow Freya showered last. We waited for her and when she came back we sat her down at the dressing table.
We picked up brushes and combs, and whatever else could comb the knots out of this mass of sweet, sweet madness.
Damn, I loved her hair.
In the mirror Riley wore the same reverent expression as me.
“Punk princess,” he murmured to himself, but we were shifters and of course we heard.
Freya pursed her lips. “I like the sound of that.”
“Nickname?” he asked.
“No. I love my name. One of you should stick to it.”
Freya valued family. I swore internally to build that for her.
One look at Riley and I knew he was in it too.
He also wanted a family.
We were it for him.
We skipped breakfast and went straight for the woods. We went deep inside, keeping our senses on alert for humans that may wander into the woods.
Freya suggested we shift in the trees instead of the clearing Riley and I usually used.
Riley and I had seen each other naked. I was pretty sure Riley had seen Freya naked. A moment passed as we stood there, unsure of how to proceed. Should we turn around? Give each other privacy?
“I’m not shy,” Freya announced. “I don’t even understand the concept.” She stripped methodically, and swiftly. For a second, all I id was stare at her tanned expanse of skin. “Okay,” she breathed, heavily. “I haven’t done this in a while, so bear with me.”
She closed her eyes.
The air around her seemed to change. I realised a few things when she shifted. One, Sirens shifted a little differently from the rest of us shifters. Their entire bodies glowed deep pulsing silver. It was elegant, beautiful, fluid.
There was the same crunching of bones and emerging fur, but she just eased into her second form as gracefully as a swan takes to water. No grunts, no jerking of muscle, no arching back, nothing like Riley and all the shifters I had observed over the years.
Soon, standing in front of us and shaking out her pristine white coat of fur, was the most beautiful wolf I had ever seen. All the wolves I had ever seen had been black or brown or assortments of those two colours. Maybe lighter or darker shades. Boring in the face of what Freya was.
She was larger than Riley and I. Riley of course, being a coyote was smaller than my wolf which was almost as tall as a horse. She had a huge fluffy tail that she kept hitting Riley with....on purpose.
He batted it away with a huff.
“My turn then,” he announced. He peeled off his clothes, exposing pale, creamy skin.
He shifted into a smaller canine. Brown and red furs harmonising in his thick coat. He too was beautiful. I especially loved the toothy grin he spotted.
Now two sets of predatory eyes watched me. I quickly undressed then shifted.
They immediately approached me. Low growly contented rumblings vibrating through them as they rubbed their bodies against mine. Freya who had never seen us before, licked our faces before we licked hers, our creatures acknowledging themselves.
A rabbit scurried nearby. We stiffened, our hunting instincts kicking in.
Freya prowled forward. She would lead the hunt. It made much more sense.
For now, it was her instincts to provide for her mates, and maybe show off a little.
The little rabbit gave us a run for our money, but eventually we caught it.
When Freya opened wide to sink her jaws into it, Riley whined.
She made a little sound, much like the one I made when Riley was being particularly exasperating. He wanted us to set it free. I could almost here him ranting about cute baby bunnies, and how we had perfectly good food at home.
Freya howled and flopped onto her back, inadvertently setting the rabbit loose. The coyote prodded her fuzzy white neck with his nose to appease her.
In a second she shifted back. She looked like a woodland creature. Long pink hair draped over her chest, amazing just like I had known it would look. She lay in overgrown wild flowers. Sticks and grass sticking out of her hair. I walked over and nuzzled her neck as Riley’s coyote settled in next to her.
She run her hand through the red fur at Riley’s neck, looking at him like he was a precious dream, not a coyote at all.
My mates. There was nothing I was more thankful for than being a part of this strange bond. I loved them both so much. They meant the world to me.
Not for the first time, I felt my wolf fangs elongate with the need to claim Riley and Freya for my own. But what if I hurt them in the mating.
What my wolf had done to her. What I had let my wolf do to her. I would never forgive myself. The awful rage I had felt in that moment was something
she had not deserved from my wolf and I. She had loved us. I was going to marry her.
But therein lay the problem.
She was not my mate. She the girl who my wolf did not want to bond with and I had forced him to. And finally he had snapped, and Diana had paid the price.
“Dustin?” Riley? When had he shifted had shifted back? He now knelt beside me. He cupped my chin and turned me to look him in the eye.
“Shift, baby. You’re not okay.”
I did and collapsed hard on the grass, my breathing harsh and heavy.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” It was all I could say.
Freya was her hands and knees and hovered over me. She frowned at me. “Hurt us?”
“He’s thinking about Diana again," Riley growled, scrambling to his feet.
“Riley?” Why was he so angry? I sat up.
“Five years, Dustin. Five long years of her being thrown in my face. Coming in between us. And now, even when she’s gone you somehow manage to put her ahead of me! When will I ever come first for you? When will you ever. Put. Me. First.” his voice cracked.
“The only reason you even realised I was your mate was because Freya showed up.”
Freya flinched next to me.
“I just want you to think of us. How long will Diana be the fourth wheel in our relationship? You say you loved her. That you were stalling!” he spat. “Pretty soon Cole will be able to smell Freya all the way in New York and yet here we are.” He walked away, but stopped at the edge of the tree line. “Pick me for once. Just pick me.”
“Riley!” Freya called, rising to her feet. She paused, looked between me and the path Riley had taken.
“No. Go to him. He needs you.”
She smiled kindly. “He needs both of us. He just loves you so much, sometimes he feels like you don’t love him back.” She helped me up. “And on top of that, he’s always sharing your affection. First with Diana, then Minnie, now me.”
“I never dated Minnie...”
“I know. But she was always there, was she not?”
We went back to the large tree we had left out clothes under.
Riley’s were gone. We put ours on and followed his scent back to the house.
“If it helps, I’m positive your wolf won’t hurt us. Trust us. It takes more than one person to mate. We will take care of