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Every inch of me felt alive with energy from my interaction with Luna, and my blood hummed with rage at the details she’d revealed about her previous Pack. My Wolf roared inside me, begging me to go after her to the soft bed just a ladder away. My instincts fought against my calm outward demeanor as I settled in on the couch, the blanket Luna had draped over her lap stretched across my body. I tugged it up over my shoulders, leaving my feet exposed, and inhaled the scent of her off the fabric as it pressed close to my face. It was faint, but a hint of honey and her was there between the folds. It took everything in me not to groan and roll over to bury my head in her scent, knowing it would only drive me crazier.

I could hear her getting settled in the loft, the soft noises of her moving around a comfort in the space that was usually empty when I completed the run. Sometimes Janus came with me, but he snored at an insane volume when we stopped to rest and was always dragging ass by the third night. Mira was shit company on the run, too distracted by everything else she managed for the Pack to keep up with my pace or to make decent conversation during breaks. I didn’t mind, usually, enjoying the solitude of the desert and the exertion of the run as I renewed the magic of my territory’s perimeter.

But knowing she was right there, only a few steps away…I shuttered my eyes, attempting to concentrate on my breathing and trying to peel the hold she had on me off my skin. This reaction was ridiculous, reminding me of my younger days as a randy and wild male as I fought the urge to grip my straining cock in my hand. I couldn’t, not with her so close, not as I could hear her twisting in the sheets as she fought the haze I could smell on her the moment I entered the diner.

It’s just biology, I convinced myself, and she’s fighting it. Keep it together. But even as I told myself not to think of her any longer, to let myself sleep instead of obsessing over this stranger Wolf, I could feel my mind drifting out to find hers. I knew she might be dreaming of him, might be reliving that strong memory laced in pain I had seen in her mind despite omitting it from her story. She might be dreaming of it, because I could still clearly see it against my eyelids, the image of that new Alpha as he left bites and marks on her perfect skin, as he turned his anger to her flesh in a way I could never imagine. But I let my mind drift anyway.

It wasn’t him she was dreaming of, but me. Her essence drew me in, until I couldn’t tell where my mind ended and hers began. I was both viewing from a distance and draped over her, moving on top of her. She bunched the sheets pressed between her thighs in her fist, rolling her hips to create friction. My knee - she dreamt it was my knee wedged between her legs, giving her a taste of pleasure as we moved together. Her teeth bit against her lower lip, and a whimper escaped her. Fire raged through me, my Wolf panted, and with all the strength I could muster I ripped my mind away.

I released my power into the room, commanding her to sleep. Her soft pants from the loft subsided, and I could hear her sigh as she settled. My chest was slick with sweat but I remained frozen in place as her breathing slowed and quieted. Fuck, I thought, maybe keeping her close for the run was a bad idea. But that was the thing about ideas - when it came to the red-headed Wolf sleeping upstairs, I seemed to have a difficult time distinguishing between the bad and good ones.

Because she was so good…so how could anything involving her be bad?

Those are dangerous thoughts, I grumbled to myself. Remember your duties and stop sniffing her tail. Trying to distract myself, I ran through the list of updates I had left with Janus and Mira, the possible repercussions of changing things up when the Wraiths were likely to appear even earlier this year, the amount of focus I would need to divert from my usual preparations to ensure the protection of Luna…

Luna. Sleeping peacefully in my loft, the memory of her haze-filled fantasy fresh in my mind despite my efforts. She wanted me between her legs, wanted me thrusting against her and massaging her clit, wanted me to grant her the pleasure and release she so desperately needed. Stop. I interrupted that line of thinking, running through every possible distraction I could come up with to prevent my mind from wandering back to her.

She had been so beautiful in her Wolf form, her flaming fur vibrant even in the dark of night. I’d had to keep my eyes focused forward, concentrating on my task, so I wouldn’t turn and tackle her to the ground. And when she ran ahead, teasing and pretending to snap at me…my cock twitched at the memory. She had looked so free, finally unencumbered from the sorrow she always wore around her, even if just for a little while.

I craved that side of her, craved the energy she radiated as she fought me outside the diner. I wanted to release whatever it was about her that she kept restrained, teach her how to be as free as she allowed herself to be during the run. Everything about her drew me in, the way she smelled, the green of her eyes, the delicious way her cheeks blushed when I teased her.

Focus. I centered myself with a deep breath, releasing another wave of my sleep command to ensure she wouldn’t rouse. I tried everything, from counting Wraiths to reciting poetry to changing my position a hundred times on the couch, but sleep evaded me. Finally, I gave in with a groan, moving my hand to fist around my cock as images of Luna flooded my mind.

She’d imagined me over her, knee between her thighs, rubbing against her and pressing that bundle of nerves that made her groan. In my mind, I claimed that torturous bottom lip of hers with my teeth, kissing her with a ferocious intensity burning with all the want behind her eyes. Her hands were all over me, her fingers teasing and touching my shoulders, my neck, my chest. I rolled her over on top of me, her knees straddling my waist, and canted her hips to grind against mine. Growling against her lips, I twisted my hands into her waves and she moved her mouth to my neck, sucking and nipping with those greedy lips. A flash of her teeth against my skin had me panting against her shoulder, pressing my lips to her soft skin before piercing her with my fangs, claiming her…

I came with a grunt and a jerk against my cock, my shoulders lifting off the couch cushions. It was dangerous, taking myself in my hand with her so close, but I couldn’t help myself. I needed to stay focused, I rationalized, pay attention to the run and my territory. I certainly couldn’t do that if my hand kept drifting to my waist every time I thought of her.

Laying frozen, I waited until my skin cooled before cleaning my spend off my stomach with a wave of my hand. Another shower sounded great, but I didn’t trust myself not to let my mind wander to hers if I knew she slept right above me.

Instead I shoved off the couch and paced around the house, insisting to myself that I was simply verifying that nothing was out of place from my last visit, not counting her breaths while she slept. Finally I left out the front door, shucking off my sweats and shifting with a leap from the porch. I couldn’t be in such a small space with her without driving myself crazy. My Wolf was hanging by a thread, pleased to be out running over the sand but furious to be leaving Luna behind.

I gave in to my inner animal, turning off my churning mind and focusing only on the burn in my muscles, the breath in my lungs. I always loved running free like this, abandoning all paths and following where my instincts led. This was freedom, this was power, and this was what it was to be an Alpha.

If I wanted, I could run straight through for days on end, completing my entire perimeter run before stopping for rest. I could do it, and had many times as a new Alpha, but those runs always left me drained and exhausted until it was almost time to run again. As an Alpha, I prided myself on the vast expanse of my territory and the feat of strength it required to traverse my lands. No other Alpha in the country had a larger perimeter to maintain, much less the drive to run it personally with the same frequency I required of myself. I refreshed my boundaries on a monthly basis, only occasionally sending Pack runners if my duties required me elsewhere.

But this land was mine to protect, the people living within my borders mine to shelter from the truths they weren’t ready to see. I took the mantle of Alpha knowing the pressures of the position, and I would fight until my dying breath to serve my Pack.

I wound my way up to the top of the tallest hill near the perimeter house, a peak I had climbed countless times to survey the land. My mother brought me up here for the first time before I was even old enough to walk, and when I was growing up she would visit with me from time to time to look at the stars.

The dull pain in my chest that usually laid dormant flared at the thought of her, the way she would smile as we pointed out constellations. I missed everything about her, even the things I never understood, and I missed her more now knowing she would never have the chance to meet Luna.

“You are Knox,” my mother would tell me as we laid on our backs, stretched out over a blanket, “named for your rightful place at the top of the hill. You belong here - at the highest point - so you may be closest to the Moon.”

Mother always spoke in riddles, but enough years of reading between the lines she repeated and the ones she did not made her meanings clearer. “You belong here -“ she would whisper in the night, over and over as my eyes grew heavy and I drifted off into sleep. “- and you belong to the Moon.”

I cast one last glance around at the desert before my eyes fell to the adobe structure where Luna slept. With a huff, I began my descent back towards her, trotting along slowly to prolong my time away from her scent. I knew she was safe, protected by the magic wards built into the foundation of the home, but I still didn’t like the idea of her waking up all alone. My Wolf agreed, eager to pick up the steady pace I set and race back to her side.

It was ridiculous, really, how easily she wormed her way into my mind. Luna was everything I didn’t need right now - there were enough responsibilities for me to maintain as Alpha without adding on her complicated situation. But I couldn’t shake that feeling I had the first moment we touched…the feeling that I would destroy the world to have her skin against mine again. It wasn’t rational, not in the slightest, likely heightened by the impending haze, but my mother’s voice in my mind left me oddly at peace.

As I approached the house and shifted back into my human form, I pondered over the meaning behind her words. Creeping in quietly, I shut the door without a sound and settled myself back on the couch. I’d learned over the years that everything mother spoke of held some truth, if only you knew where to look for it. As rest finally settled over me, my breathing timed with the soft sighs coming from the loft, I wondered if maybe my mother was more right then she knew.

I was Knox, and even now I knew I belonged to the Moon.
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