Playing with the Wolf

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Chapter 2

_____________ Deklan _____________

When the witch up and disappears on me, I let out a growl of frustration.

I’m supremely annoyed that I didn’t get to finish blasting her until it hits me. I have her scent. If we’re ever in the same vicinity again, if I ever catch the tiniest whiff of her, I’ll be in her face so fast she won’t know what hit her.

Since my night is now a bust - thanks to her - I decide to go home. I shift shape and start heading out of the city.

I’m not shy about nudity, but traipsing about the city in my altogether would draw unwanted attention if I were to cross paths with anyone.

A wolf in the city will catch attention too, but people are more likely to shrug off seeing a wolf. They’ll tell themselves I’m a dog. A fucking big-ass dog.

My transformation always starts with my canines lengthening, then my ears extend, then fur sprouts, my tail appears, and bones and tissue reform themselves.

It’s a quick process. It only takes a few seconds. But those seconds contain a buttload of pain. After my first change, which happened when I was five, I had no desire to change again, but obviously, I had no choice in the matter.

Loping through familiar shortcuts and side streets, all ghost-town quiet at this time of night, I make my way out of downtown.

Nudity isn’t the only reason I returned to wolf form. The trip home will take me less time as a wolf than it would have as a human.

I’ve got a house a few miles outside of the city. It’s a two-story with a wrap-around porch and lots of windows. (My wolf handles being indoors better when he can see outside.)

For a werewolf, windows are important, as is proximity to a wooded area and privacy. As soon as I was able to afford it, I started the hunt for a place that included the trifecta and after only a couple of months, I hit the jackpot. My nearest neighbor is four miles of thick forest away, so I can answer my wolf’s need to run any time, day or night.

I’ve marked practically every tree, sniffed pretty much every rock, and beaten more than one path into the forest’s dirt floor. And yes, I’ve howled at the moon on more than one occasion.

Half an hour after I start home, I’m trotting up the steps to my back porch and shifting shape at my back door.

If I had close neighbors, and they were the nosy kind, they’d be getting an eyeful of my ass right now.

Honestly, I don’t think they’d mind. I have a nice ass.

I enter the code into the keypad installed above the door handle and let myself into my kitchen.

I had the keypad installed for those times I went demon hunting. It’s highly likely I’ll have to change shape those nights and that means carrying things like keys, or a wallet in my pockets is not a smart idea. It’s not like I can ask demons to wait while I drop trou, change shape and then start fighting. It’d be a lot easier on my wardrobe and finances if demons would be so accommodating but being courteous isn’t their forte.

The house is dark and I leave it that way. With my night vision - courtesy of my wolf - I don’t need to light things up to see. I head through the kitchen, bypass the living room and go upstairs. In my room, I pull on a pair of grey jogging pants and get into bed. For over an hour I lay there and try to fall asleep. The longer I lie awake, the more frustrated I get. Sleep seems to slip further and further away.

I’m just too frustrated to relax. After months of searching for the demon that killed my best friend, I finally got a lead tonight. I smelled Malek on the lower-level demons I was fighting in the alley. I’d only needed one of them alive to interrogate. I’d been deciding which one was more likely to spill beans, and which one was expendable when my two adversaries had become four. I hadn’t been too concerned with the addition. I’d just shifted shape to take them on. I hadn’t anticipated it would take me long to reduce the quartet down to a trio, then a duo, and ultimately a single. But I hadn’t anticipated little miss witch showing up and taking everybody out.

Fucking Rambo.

I don’t care if she thought she was helping. Thanks to her, I lost a possible lead and I’m no closer to exacting my revenge.

Apparently, my dick doesn’t care that little miss witch is on my shit list. It twitches with interest at the thought of her.

Well, I don’t care if the idiot thing likes her. That witch is a bitch. She may ring all my bells, with her smart mouth, her bulletproof confidence, and her smoking body, but I don’t want to play between the sheets with her. I want to blast her.

My dick twitches again and I shake my head.

Forget it, pinhead.

As sleep continues to evade me, my thoughts travel back to the night I lost my best friend.

The whine my wolf lets out breaks my heart.

I know, bud.

I miss Tuk, too.

It’s soon going to be a year since I lost Tuk but the pain of losing him has not eased over time.

The way I lost him was fucking brutal.

Malek drained the life out of him. Literally.

Who’s Malek?

Malek is a demon. A Jogon demon. Jogons feed off the energy of others to survive. They can feed on anyone. Humans, witches, other demon species, even their own kind. They aren’t picky eaters, but they prefer witches and magical creatures because when they feed on them, they not only get stronger life energy, they sometimes get powers too.

I tried to save Tuk. I tried so hard. But there were too many of Malek’s minions around me. I couldn’t get through them fast enough to get to Malek and stop him.

Malek drained Tuk and then laughed as he ripped his lifeless body apart. And I completely lost my shit. My wolf took full control. He started ripping apart demon after demon.

Despite hulking out, I probably would have been killed like Tuk if the cavalry hadn’t finally shown up.

A few members of our pack had been nearby in the city and heard my howls of distress and rage and came to help. They’d been too late to save Tuk, but they’d joined me in spreading carnage.

By the time I was done, blood had been dripping from my teeth and coating my fur. I’d been a sticky, snarling mess and I hadn’t given a shit.

Only one demon escaped my wrath that night. Malek. The bastard.

The higher-level demon retreated that night. He abandoned his minions to die for him.

Fucking coward.

I can’t wait to get my hands on him.

I don’t care how long it takes, I will get my revenge. Malek will pay for what he did to Tuk.

Painfully.

Lucy

Thursday morning, I get up at the regular time of whenever the hell my eyes open.

I never set an alarm. I don’t need to. Thanks to what I do for a living (I sing) and the hobby I enjoy (killing demons), I never have to get up early. And that’s great because I am not a morning person.

I have a pretty regular routine. Three nights a week, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I sing at local bars and clubs. Gigging has been paying my bills for a couple of years now which is lucky for me because I love performing. (And I have no other lucrative talents.)

On the four nights I’m not performing, I’m busy making the world a safer place, one demon-slaying at a time.

So, since my nights are busy, my days are for sleeping and chilling.

Crusty-eyed, I reach over to my bedside table and check the time on my iPhone.

11:00 AM.

Jinx is no longer warming my back. He’s probably sunning himself somewhere in the apartment near one of the few small windows.

Throwing off the blanket I pulled over myself sometime in the night, I sit up. A yawn cracks my jaw wide as I stretch. I remind myself what day it is with another look at my phone.

Thursday. Thursdays I perform at Elixir, one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. The place is always packed. Tonight will be a good time. Better than last night, for sure.

I go grab a quick shower then return to my room to get dressed. When I open my panty drawer, I see that I’m down to my last clean pair.

That makes today laundry day.

I could magically clean my clothes but using magic for personal reasons is frowned upon in witch society.

The concern is that using magic for personal use could lead to using magic for more and more selfish reasons, eventually leading a witch to the dark side.

Cue the ‘dun, dun, dun’.

I think that concern is utter rot and I don’t fully adhere to the witching society’s pressures.

Sorry, not sorry.

When it comes to cleaning weapons or clothes after a fight, I use my powers, and I feel no guilt about doing so. (Demon gunk is gross.) But, when it comes to everyday chores, I do them the manual, boring way. (Most of the time.)

Sound fair? I think so.

I drop the towel I wrapped around myself after my shower and slip on my panties.

Besides getting laundry done, I have to tidy up my apartment and go grocery shopping today. Last night, before I hit the streets, I opened the fridge to grab the last bit of my Chinese takeout from the other day and smelled that it had reached its expiration date.

Which reminds me, I need to take the garbage out too.

I pick up the bra I wore yesterday off the floor, strap in the ladies, then throw on black leggings and a forest green sweatshirt.

Once I’m dressed, I move into action.

It’s time to get shit done.

***

Thursday evening rolls around and with it, a wardrobe change.

A girl can’t go on stage in sweats.

Tonight’s gig outfit? Black leather pants and a dark blue bustier.

This outfit necessitates dramatic makeup.

I give myself a dark smokey eye and red lips. I straighten my long brown hair and pull it back into a high ponytail. The updo exposes the star tattoos that trail around the sides and back of my neck.

I got those stars when I was nineteen, but that wasn’t my first time getting inked. The first tattoo I got was the mandala design decorating the skin below the curves of my breasts.

Once my makeup and hair are done I leave the bathroom and go back to my bedroom for my boots. After searching for them for a minute, I remember I set them out in the front hall when I was tidying up earlier.

On my way out of my room, I grab my iPhone off its charging dock on my bedside table. It gets tucked snug against my bum in the back pocket of my pants. In my entranceway, I slip on my boots then let myself out and lock things up. An extra, magical lock is part of my security system. A woman living alone can never be too careful. Especially if said woman dallies with demons.

After a quick elevator ride down eight floors, I exit my building and head down the street.

I could teleport myself to my gig, but I don’t mind the walk. Elixir is less than ten minutes away from my place by foot.

The brick exterior of the building is black and the windows are tinted dark so I can’t see into Elixir as I come upon it and anyone inside can’t see me.

Mick, who’s one of Elixir’s bouncers and a six-and-a-half-foot bodybuilder, greets me when I walk up. He holds the door open for me with one of his meaty hands.

The guy is a behemoth. He can throw down when he needs to, ejecting assholes out of Elixir with aplomb. But with me, he’s a sweetheart.

I share a little small talk with them before entering the bar.

The place is lit up brighter than it will be in less than half an hour when customers start being admitted. I look over the familiar surroundings. There are employees setting up on the stage to my right and at each of the four bars staggered through the sprawling, one-floor club. I head over to the largest bar which is the one on the dancefloor.

If you come to Elixir, you come to dance. Once the night is in full swing, the largest bar in the joint accommodates a sea of gyrating people getting their buzz on.

One of the bartenders, Justin, raises a hand in greeting when he sees me.

“Hey, Luce.”

“Hey Justin, how’s it going?” I say and hitch my derriere up on a barstool.

“It’s going,” Justin replies. “How’s it going with you?”

Justin rests his hands on the bar top between us and my gaze takes the journey up his corded forearms. I lose sight of muscle and sinew when I reach his rolled-up sleeves.

He’s wearing a white turtleneck sweater and black dress slacks.

I don’t know why, but turtlenecks on this guy turn me on.

When I first met Justin, everything about him turned me on. His dark hair, his solid build, his charismatic smile, his kind eyes, and his sense of humor. But I’ve never made a move on him. For two reasons.

The first reason?

We’re coworkers. If we hooked up and things turned sour? Awkward.

I have a good thing going here. I don’t want to ruin that with drama.

The second reason?

I’m a witch. I feel like getting involved with someone that isn’t part of the magical world is asking for trouble. I’d tell him what I am and that all the creatures he believes are fantasy are real. He’d be shocked and horrified and want nothing to do with me.

No thanks.

Or, he’d think the magic stuff is cool. Maybe we’d make a go of it for a while. Maybe we’d even be lucky enough to fall in love and then, one day, tragedy would strike and he’d be demon-kill.

Again, no thanks.

Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t think so. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

I rest my forearms on the bar top and answer Justin’s question of how things are going.

“Oh, you know, same old, same old,” I say.

I killed a handful of demons last night. Pissed off a werewolf. You know...same old, same old.

“Can I get a water?” I request.

“Coming up.”

While Justin gets my water, I glance around.

The place always looks different when the lights are up. The context is wrong. It’s like seeing someone you recognize but not knowing where you know them from.

“Check one, two...check one, two.”

At the familiar voice coming over the speakers, I look over at the stage. Ethan, the drummer of Elixir’s house band, is doing a soundcheck. He adjusts the height of the mic standing front and center on the stage, then goes over and does a test on the other microphones.

When he disappears backstage I return my gaze to Justin. I lift the glass he’s set in front of me and take a sip of water. For the next little while, he and I chat and wait for the place to open up.

At ten, the music that’s been playing quietly in the background goes up in volume and the lights dim.

Now the place has the proper context.

Patrons start trickling into the venue and head straight for the bars. While Justin gets busy taking orders and mixing drinks I stay where I am and people-watch.

Alcohol and horniness were clearly in the driver’s seat with a lot of the wardrobe choices. There are a lot of tight pants, even more tighter skirts, and plenty of skin on display.

Before I have to get up on stage, I make a quick trip to the ladies’ room. I empty my bladder and then check my reflection in the mirror. Seeing that my cleavage needs a little readjusting, I bend forward and shimmy the ladies until they’re plumped up nicely.

When I’m done in the bathroom, I don’t head back to the bar, I head backstage. The band is already there getting ready and I join them and do a few warm-up exercises.

Soon, I hear the owner of Elixir, Jack, speaking to the crowd.

The band and I walk out on stage while he gives his usual ramble. I stay off to the side until he introduces me.

“Please welcome to the stage,” he says. “A favorite here at Elixir, Lucy Carmichael.”

I smile and wave to the crowd as the place erupts with cheers.

Jack steps back from the mic as I approach.

“How’s everybody doing tonight?” I ask.

The crowd cheers again.

“This first song is a new one. I hope y’all like it.”

***

Deklan

As soon as it’s dark Thursday night, I head into the city to hunt demons. It’s a while before I come across any, but I finally do.

I don’t smell Malek on the two Fire demons I spot but I start following them anyways. My hope is that these guys will lead me to some pals of theirs and that those pals are friends of Malek.

I know the chances of that aren’t high, but I don’t have any better options at the moment.

The two are oblivious to me. They keep a quick, steady pace. After a few minutes, they glamour themselves so they appear human. Their skin is no longer red. Horns no longer protrude from their heads, and their claws are now hands. Dressed all in black as they are, they fit right in with the nighttime crowd.

Their change in appearance doesn’t fool my nose. Even if I’d come across them after they glamoured themselves, I would have known what they are.

I watch from a block or so back as my targets join a line to enter a bar. The lit sign above the door says Elixir.

I wait until a few people join the line behind the demons then join the line myself.

After a few minutes, they’re let in by the bouncer. Ten or fifteen people later and it’s my turn at the front of the line. The big, burly bouncer sticks a hand out.

“How much?” I ask.

“Cover charge is ten bucks,” he informs me.

I pay the guy and head for the door. The second I yank it open, I stutter to a stop.

A grin slowly spreads across my face.

I can’t believe it.

The witch is here. I can smell her.

I didn’t expect to cross paths with her again so soon. I hoped I might get lucky and bump into her again sooner rather than later, but I didn’t think I’d get this lucky.

I forget all about the demons I followed here. I was willing to waste time on the slim chance that the pair would lead me to anyone with connections to Malek when I had nothing else better to do.

Now?

I have something else better to do.

Kicking back into motion, I enter the dark interior of the bar. As I go deeper, I’m bombarded by a pungent aroma made up of various perfumes, colognes, body odor, alcohol, and sweat.

Shit. That cacophony of smells ups my appreciation for fresh air and the simple, clean scent of pine.

I move through the crowd of humans, absorbing their bumps and jostles, and slowly swivel my head left and right, sniffing for the witch.

Her scent seems to be coming from the bar in the middle of the dance floor so I head that way.

I want to snarl at those that knock into me as I make my way through the horde, but I’m a good boy and I don’t. At the bar, I claim a stool, just beating another guy to it. From my seat, I start browsing faces, looking for hers.

Where are you, little miss witch?

When I don’t see her after a few minutes of looking, I sniff for her again. I suck in a deep breath. Then another.

Finally, I pinpoint her location.

She’s to my right.

I look that way and there she is. She’s standing at the edge of the stage looking over at the guy introducing the night’s entertainment. As I watch her, she walks over and takes the mic.

“This first song is a new one. I hope y’all like it,” she says.

The band starts playing and the witch, whose name I just learned is Lucy Carmichael, starts singing.

Now that she’s front and center on the stage, I get a better look at her and her outfit. Tight, black leather pants hug her long legs. A dark blue bustier shows off her slim waist and generous breasts. Her lips are a bold, glossy red, and her eyes are heavily shaded.

Damn her, she looks good.

Pressure blooms in my canines and fingernails.

That sensation has my brows furrowing because it usually doesn’t come on unless I’m shifting shape.

I guess my wolf is a fan of Lucy in that outfit too.

He and I both need to keep our heads on straight.

My plan for the witch is to wait until she heads home then follow her, confront her, and finish blasting her for her interference last night. My plan for her does not include anything that would fall under a sexual heading.

My wolf huffs at my plan.

What? You don’t like my plan, bud?

That’s just too damn bad for him. I’m sticking with it.

Lucy finishes her opening song and goes immediately into her second. I hate to admit it, but she has that ‘it’ factor. She’s reeled the audience in. She’s reeled me in - despite my annoyance with her.

She hasn’t seen me yet, but her eyes are traveling the crowd. When her eyes start sliding my way, a part of me hopes she sees me. When she doesn’t, disappointment fills me.

I immediately shake off that disappointment and point out to myself that it’s a good thing she didn’t see me. If she had, she would’ve disappeared on me the first chance she got. And if she disappears on me again, I’ll have to stake out Elixir until the next night she performs at the bar. Assuming she performs here again.

As Lucy continues singing I slip to the far corner of the bar where she’ll be less likely to spot me.

I order a drink, a rum and coke, once I catch the bartender’s eye. I’m not surprised when I take my first sip, to discover that he’s gone light with the rum. It’s known among werewolves that overpriced, watered-down drinks are common in human bars.

I sip at my drink until only ice cubes remain, then wait for the bartender to make his way over to my corner of the bar again and order a regular coke.

As I wait for Lucy to wrap up her set, several beautiful women hit on me, as do a couple of handsome men. I politely turn them all down.

I’m not here to get laid. I’m here for little miss witch.

Finally, Lucy announces the next song is going to be her last. For her closer, she does a cover of Sia’s Cheap Thrills.

She finishes and heads off stage, and I track her movements as she heads my way.

Before she gets too close and spots me, I slip off my stool and retreat to one of the booths lining the back wall. From there I watch as she enjoys herself. She has a couple of drinks, has a few laughs with some friends, and eventually gets out on the dance floor.

My wait becomes less of a chore when she starts dancing.

She has some sexy moves and an even sexier body. The bustier she’s wearing pushes her breasts up and together. With her every bump and sway, the overflow jiggles nicely.

Watching her dance, I feel pressure once more in my canines and fingernails. I also feel a stirring in my groin.

Shit.

Before my pants get too tight, I shift my gaze off the witch.

Willing my dick to chill, I idly scan my gaze across the nightclub.

Everywhere, humans are having a good time and dancing to music now being pumped out of speakers. Some are there with friends, others are obviously there looking to hook up.

My gaze coasts over to the booths along the wall on my right and two faces catch my attention. The demons I followed into Elixir and dismissed once I scented the witch are still here and they’re watching someone intently.

Who are they staring at?

I follow their line of sight and that line stops on Lucy.

The demons are interested in Lucy? They came to Elixir for her?

I guess I’m not the only one she’s pissed off recently, I think to myself and snort.

Why is that not a surprise?

Knowing the demons are interested in Lucy puts a kink in my plans. No matter how much she annoyed me or fucked up my plans last night, no matter how much I want to rip her a new one, I don’t wish her serious harm. And demons only dish out one kind of harm. The fatal kind.

The little shitheads.

My wolf growls his displeasure.

I’m with you, buddy.

I’m concerned, too.

For the rest of the night, I split my attention between Lucy and her secret admirers.

When she finally leaves Elixir, I discreetly tag along behind the demons that follow her out.

***

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