Forgotten Wolf

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24 Let Loose

Summer carnival is the biggest event around here all year. People flood in from all of the surrounding towns and cities, swelling our town to the point of bursting in capacity.

Day time is more for the kids, while evenings are for the adults. The scene basically turns into a giant party with drinking, live music and entertainment in the form of games, rides, and shopping.

Typically, I skip the carnival since it’s far too crowded for my taste, but Jude begged me to go.

He sure seems to be able to talk me into going and doing a lot of things I would have avoided otherwise.

Speaking of which, he’ll be here at five to pick me up, so I’d better focus on getting ready.

The day is hot, so I dress in a thin black lace up tank top and blue skinny jeans. I’d bought this top on a whim, instantly drawn to the lace work tied across the back and chest, with delicate silver feather designs but have yet to wear it.

As much as I liked the shirt, when I got it home, my ex Matt made sure to point out how whorish it would make me look, and no one needed to see ′that.’ I still remember the disgust in his voice; it was one of the first incidents that should have sent me running. What man would be disappointed to see his woman dressed up for him? So it stayed buried in the back of my closet with the tags still on it.

I frown, studying my reflection in the mirror one last time. I have my hair in a simple braided updo, trying to stay cool while containing my frizz and curls. My eyes scan my reflection, tracing the lace cutout and the barely visible swell of my cleavage.

Does this top look trashy?

The cut out on the chest is laced shut so nothing can really be seen, much like the back. It just hints at skin and adds to the air flow.

Screw it, I’ll change.

“Wow,” Jude exclaims. He leans casually in the doorway, checking me out from head to toe. “That looks -” He pauses, looking for the right word, but changes direction, “Nice to see you coming out of your shell.”

“I’m changing, give me a minute.” I head for the closet, but he reaches past me, shutting it.

“No, it’s perfect. Stop over thinking it.” His smile sets my nerves back a step.

I know he wouldn’t lie to me.

“Let’s go. I want to check things out a bit before we meet up with everyone,” Jude says as the excitement dances in his blue eyes. His happiness is infectious but can’t quite smother this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Why do I feel like something’s going to happen tonight?

Before long, we’re parked and making our way to the midway. Already the place is packed with people. By the second time someone bumps into me, I’m seriously regretting this. My anxiety has been on the rise all afternoon and getting bumped and crowded by strangers is not helping.

“Come on,” Jude says, wrapping a protective arm around me. “We can go somewhere less crowded.”

“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” I say, giving him a small smile. “What do you want to do first? Shopping? Games? Food?”

“We should probably wait for the others for food. Let’s just check out the booths on the way to the grandstand.” He sets us off in a direction, his arm still in place. His size and presence are enough to keep the crowd at bay, to which I’m thankful for.

You never know what you’ll find at carnival booths; it’s part flea market, part thrift store and nick nack central. The current booth we are checking out has all kinds of weird jewelry, crazy hats, and tie dye everything. Jude has a particularly hideous hat on, reducing me to tears as I’m bent over laughing.

“There you guys are,” Jace says as he steps out of the crowd. “Damn Jude, that’s totally you. You should buy it.” He breaks out in infectious laughter that has me back in tears.

“Looks more your style than mine,” Jude counters with a smirk. He offers it to Jace who acts like it’s infectious, backing away and turning his attention to me.

“Well don’t you just look beautiful, lil elf,” Jace says as his eyes land on me. My face flushes scarlet when his eyes linger longer than I expected. “Aww, you’re so cute when you blush,” he teases.

“Really?” I groan, smacking him in the gut.

“Lets go,” he says with a chuckle. “I left everyone at the pavilion to get dinner, they should have it by the time we get there.” Jace looks far away and pauses a moment, like he’s lost in thought.

“Claire’s asking for a real drink,” he clarifies to my quizzical look.

We make our way towards the pavilion, stopping at the lemonade hut to pick up three fishbowl looking lemonade drinks with enough booze to drop a grown man.

The ladies’ eyes light up as we set the giant drinks down, while the guys frown, looking at the small bottles of beer. I can’t help but laugh. Sara snatches up the pink lemonade and Claire goes for the blue raspberry, which leaves me the black cherry.

“I can see these not lasting long,” Claire giggles as she drinks deeply.

“Pace yourself dude, we got the super strength ones,” I laugh while they just shrug.

“You got somewhere to be?” Claire asks, flashing me a grin. “I fully intend to let loose and have a great night!”

“Cheers,” I say as we clink cups and drink; the guys are looking a bit concerned.

The rock music booms into existence behind us as the band starts on the main stage.

“Where’s Chris?” I ask Claire.

“He went to checkout the grandstand area while we waited for everyone and the food to get here.” She nods to the left side where the grassy hill is. “I was gonna link him when the food arrived, but maybe you could go grab him?” she suggests.

Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

I take one last gulp from my drink before setting it down and head off to where Claire pointed. The crowd is dense and my short height makes looking for someone next to impossible. I just kept walking letting my feet pick their own way. Before long I can feel him near, but I still can’t see him. I press on and see him sitting on the edge of the hill.

He’s facing the stage but looks a million miles away. Chris is dressed simply in a black button up shirt that’s open at the chest and dark jeans. He’s handsome as ever even with his face in a frown.

Wordlessly, I sit down nudging him with my shoulder. He freezes at the contact before relaxing, keeping his hazel gaze on the stage.

“You smell like him,” Chris says quietly, his voice a mixture of sad and annoyed.

“Is that what we’re doing? Fighting tonight? Christopher, I’m not in the mood to fight tonight,” I blurt out in a huff of annoyance and frustration.

“Did you just Christopher me?” The confusion is clear in his voice as he scrunches up his face.

“Suppose I did,” I giggle. “But seriously Chris, you need to let this thing with you and Jude go. I promise there is nothing going on between us and there will be nothing either, he’s like a brother to me.”

Chris only grumbles in response as I continue, “He will always be in my life, but I want you in it too,” I trail off.

“What did you say?!” Chris whispers as his eyes lock with mine.

“I don’t want you guys fighting anymore, I-”

He cuts me off, hazel eyes boring into mine, “Not that, the other part.”

I chew on my lip, suddenly feeling very self conscious, and lower my gaze. “I don’t understand all this matebond stuff, but I can’t pretend you aren’t important to me. I’m not promising anything, but I’m going to try and stop running.” I’m practically whispering but he hears everything.

He gently lifts my chin to look at him, relief in his eyes. “Thank you, I don’t think you know what this means to me. I’ll try and keep my temper in check with Jude, but he provokes my wolf,” he admits with a frown.

“I guess all we can do is try, right?” I say as he nods.

His hazel eyes gloss over for a moment as he wears a far away look. “Claire says the food’s there, let’s go eat.” Chris stands, holds out a hand for me, and smiles.

Once I’m up, he wraps me up in his big arms, pulling me tight to his chest. My body melts into him. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed his embrace. He drops his nose to my neck breathing deeply, lips grazing my sweet spot, sending delightful shivers down my spine.

“Chris,” I whisper breathlessly.

I feel his lips smirk against my neck as he kisses it before pulling back. “Stop distracting me, everyone’s waiting and I’m starving,” Chris teases. I open my mouth to protest and he just chuckles.

“Now you smell better,” he says with a triumphant grin.

I grab my shirt sniffing it, confused. “I smell like you,” I reply, scrunching up my nose in confusion.

“Exactly.” His tone is deep and seductive, causing a tightening in my core.

I smack his chest and head back to the pavilion. I don’t get more than two steps before he wraps an arm around me, drawing me tight to his side.

The table is roaring with laughter by the time we get there. My face falls when I see my empty drink. “Really guys?! I was looking forward to that,” I whine, only to be met with more laughter.

“Relax, we sent the guys to get more,” Sara pipes up. “Also blame Jace, he killed yours.” As if on cue Jude and Jace show up with several drinks, I guess the beers aren’t cutting it. I gladly take the drink Jude offers, guarding it this time.

“Jude,” Chris greets with a nod. Jude returns the nod and smiles. “Listen I-”

“Don’t worry, I get it,” he cuts Chris off. With a final nod, they drop it.

Men are so weird, wolves are just ridiculous.

The rest of dinner goes by lightly, everyone’s laughing and stuffing their faces. I’m sure the spiked lemonade helped. The music is good, though loud enough that we decide to stay at the pavilion. After a couple hours of this, the guys decided it’s time for games.

Claire and Sara drag me off to the booths to shop. They are on the far side fawning over shoes and purses while I look aimlessly through the table of tops. I feel a familiar presence behind me that causes my heart to flutter in excitement.

“Did I mention you look beautiful tonight?” Chris asks, placing a kiss on my back at the cut out on my shirt. The contact sets of sparks, sending shivers down my spine. His hands slide onto my hips pulling me tightly to him. My heart races in excitement when his hands tighten on my hips.

“Thanks, you clean up nice yourself,” I say breathlessly as I keep myself occupied with the clothes. My skin dances under his touch, setting goosebumps off in its wake.

His lips land on my neck and instinctively I bare my neck to him. Pleased with my reaction, he wraps his arms around my chest, shamelessly brushing both breasts in the process.

“Chris,” I gasp as I scan the tent to see if anyone is looking. My heart is fluttering as I blush.

I feel him chuckle as he presses me against the table. “Let them look,” he says in a husky voice. “I’m just enjoying what’s mine.”

“Chris,” my voice comes out shaky. “I’m not -”

He silences my protest with a light bite to my sweet spot. My mind empties as waves of pleasure cause my knees to buckle. His attention feeds the flames heating my core. I bite down on my lip to stifle a moan as he continues kissing and sucking the spot.

“Chris,” I mumble as I fight to clear my mind. I reach up and run a hand over the back of his neck, tangling my fingers in his hair. He growls deeply in approval.

“I’m not keen to give anyone a show,” I complain.

He chuckles against my neck but slowly releases me. “What can I say, you drive me wild. I just can’t get enough of you.”

“If you were off playing games with the guys I wouldn’t be driving you nuts,” I tease.

“Baby, you’re on my mind even when you aren’t with me,” Chris retorts.

“Go play some games and distract yourself! We’re having girl time,” Claire cuts in. He throws his arms up in surrender and heads off towards the guys. “I swear they’d lock us up in the bedroom and never leave if they could,” she laughs as I blush.

After a couple more booths I’m over shopping and tell the girls I’m heading over to the games. I wave and split before they can guilt me into staying.

The fairgrounds are even more packed than earlier. The flashing lights and noise from games, rides and crowd are a bit disorienting. Suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck start to stand. I scan my surroundings trying to find the source of this unease.

‘Someone’s watching.’ ‘I know, I feel their eyes on me but I don’t see anyone.’ ‘Get back to Chris, he’ll take care of it.’

Can’t argue with sound logic

I pick up my pace and look for any of the guys. I come to the end of the aisle still no guys but that just means they have to be in the next one. My heart is really racing now.

‘Hurry up, it’s getting closer.’ ‘I’m trying, I can’t find them.’

Suddenly the way is blocked by a familiar dark cloud, sending my panic into overdrive.

Shit!

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