I won’t accept that I will die here.
Not choking on my own blood on the side of a hill with an antler tine buried in my chest.
This wasn’t going to be how my parents would find me. I was strong, I was stubborn, I was a damn Beta in my pack and one hell of a she-wolf. No, I was going to make it. I’m not quitting.
My determination did not change the fact that I had a punctured lung, I was bleeding out my mouth and night would be here soon. I had to drag myself to shelter or I’d never make it through the cold night. My paws stretched forward, my claws digging in to the pine straw and dirt of the forest floor as I headed for a deadfall about fifty feet away. Every move hurt; my breathing was labored, and when I coughed the blood would spray my front legs. I couldn’t stand, but my back legs helped push me forward foot by foot.
I focused on the immediate. Set a target a few feet ahead, crawl through the pain to get there. Get a new target. Lather, rinse, repeat. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.
No one was even looking for me yet. I had told my parents I was going for a long run and would be back by morning. They were fine with it, I was home from college and they knew I needed to let my wolf out for a while.
Our house was on the edge of our Pack lands, which was to the west of Salmon, Idaho. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area was a short run away, and beyond that was the largest remaining roadless area in the Lower 48. It was called that because when Lewis and Clark tried to take the Salmon River west, they couldn’t get past the rapids and couldn’t go back upstream either. It’s a huge playground for us, and now that real wolves have been reintroduced we can run without being in danger. The woods are full of mule deer, antelope and other tasty prey.
The mule deer buck wasn’t supposed to hurt me, but I was sloppy and overconfident. I normally wouldn’t hunt alone, but he was limping and I was hungry. I thought he would bolt and was already in the air before I realized I was wrong. He twisted, his horns slamming into my chest. One tine broke off between my ribs as he flung me aside before leaving.
I thought about all the things I was going to do when I made it home. I was going to take a long, hot shower. Cuddle up in the window seat with a good book. Look out at the moon and dream about the moment I would meet my mate, the one person made just for me, the one who would be with me forever. I’d known his scent since puberty, I’d daydreamed about what he might look like. He smelled like oak, leather and fresh rain. I knew he was going to be strong and kind and handsome.
We would sense each other, our eyes would lock, and we would run to each other like no one else in the world existed. I’d jump up to his broad chest, his strong arms would wrap around me, our lips would meet in an explosion of sensation that would leave me breathless. He’d carry me back to his room and make me a woman, make me his by marking my neck and I would bite him back. We’d have our happily ever after.
Well, not if I don’t get my ass to shelter soon.
It was getting more difficult to move. Every time I moved my front paws forward I would whine with the pain of doing so. I was concentrating so much I didn’t notice the sounds. I smelled him first.
My head snapped up. Oak, leather, fresh rain, it was HIM! My mate! I held my nose up, sampling the wind, while my eyes searched for him. I could hear him but not see him. I whined, I howled, I howled again despite the pain but he didn’t answer. He was coming closer, the smell was stronger and I could hear him moving through the brush. Finally, he broke through.
My first thought was how strong and handsome he looked. My second was HOW CAN HE BE HUMAN?
I whined softly as he approached. He was tall, over six foot. A plaid shirt buttoned half way up gave a hint at the muscles underneath the olive drab t-shirt. His shoulders were broad, his waist flat and narrow, and his legs were lean and powerful. He had a large frame backpack on and a big revolver hanging low from his right hip. His hair was dark brown, and he had a scruff of beard like he hadn’t shaved in a week. I was staring at him, thanking Luna for giving me such a hot mate. He stopped about ten feet from me, lifting his sunglasses up to see me.
I put my head down and whined softly. The last thing I needed was for him to be scared of me. I wished I could change back into my human form, but I didn’t have the energy, and it violated our laws to do so. I tried to keep looking at him, but I was at the end of my energy reserves and I ended up rolling on to my side.
“Damn, girl, that doesn’t look good.” I knew my chest was bloody and had the antler sticking out. I licked the blood off my muzzle while whining again. I looked at him again, and could see his concern for me in his eye.
His right eye was a striking green color. His left eye was gone, the eyelid sewn shut. An angry scar went from just above his nose down to his left ear. I whined softly, trying to get him to come closer. I watched him pull out a bandanna from his back pocket. With one hand on his pistol, he circled around to in front of me while his other held the fabric out. “Easy, girl, I won’t hurt you. I’m going to see if I can help, all right? Just stay calm, it’s OK, and don’t bite me.” His voice soothed me and I laid my head back down as he approached. He looped the fabric and tied it around my muzzle as I looked up at him.
“Good girl, sorry but I have to do this. It might hurt and I don’t want you biting me.”
He set his pack down and started to dig around inside. He pulled out a bag, red with a big red cross on it. “Wilderness first aid kit, don’t leave home without it.” He smiled and stroked my head and neck as he moved closer with it. He was kneeling next to my chest, looking through the bag for something, when I noticed his leg. Where the pant leg rose up, I could see the titanium tube that went down to the artificial foot.
I saw him take out gauze, alcohol, forceps, a packet of Quickclot, a scalpel and a field dressing. He took a powerful headlamp flashlight out and placed it on his forehead. Setting them where they would be handy, he took off his plaid shirt and laid it over my head. “Sorry, girl, you don’t want to see what I have to do here.” I focused on staying still, he was going to help me and he was my mate, he would never hurt me.
I heard the sound of latex gloves snapping over his hands then he was probing the area near the antler. I whined softly as his artificial leg gently draped over my neck and his shirt, holding me down for what was about to happen. “All right, this is going to hurt but I have to do this so please don’t bite me. I’ll help you out. This isn’t the first time I’ve done field aid on a sucking chest wound, you’re lucky I found you.” I whined as he gripped the antler, moving it slightly, and then he pulled.
I passed out from the pain.
I never want to feel that again.
I woke up later, I don’t know how long I had been out, but the tent was now dark except for the light from the campfire. His scent was strong in it, and that helped to calm me. Everything hurt, it hurt to breathe. I noticed I wasn’t laboring in my breathing like before. I looked around without moving; I was warm. I was laid out on his sleeping bag, the soft insulation felt good on my fur.
My head was near the entrance and the flaps were wide open. I’m sure he did that so if I ran off I wouldn’t rip his tent up on the way. The opening faced a small fire which was giving off a lot of heat. On the side was a small metal pan on which a rice and beef dish was simmering. It smelled amazing.
I couldn’t see, hear or smell my mate. I raised my head and looked down, I could see the bandage on my side and the ace bandage surrounding my chest holding it in place. I could also tell he had cleaned the blood from my fur. I decided to risk moving, and rolled until I was on my stomach. It hurt, but I’d been through worse. I would wait for him to come back, I thought, and I put my head down on my paws to sleep again.
I heard him coming up the hill and then I saw his flashlight. He came into the campsite, tossed the pistol on his pack then hung his clothes on the branches to dry. He was totally, gloriously, amazingly naked. My wolf was bouncing around with joy as she looked at his body, while my human side was looking at him with shock. The damage my man’s body had sustained was extensive. His left leg was amputated a few inches below his knee. There were ugly, misshapen scars on his side and chest. And there was his eye. I cried inside for him, for his pain, for his loss.
He heard me whine and looked past the fire to me. “Hey girl. I’m glad you’re up, it was touch and go for a while there. Good news is I was able to tie off the bleeder and get your lung reinflated. It will hurt like hell for a while, but if you take it easy you should recover.” I tilted my head to look at him. “Yeah, I know. I’m talking to a wolf who has no idea what I’m saying, but I like talking to you. I need to give you a name, though. Girl just doesn’t cut it.”
I opened my jaws and let my tongue hang out.
“Any ideas? Wolfie? Fido? Spike?” I growled at that one. “OK, not a fan. Lucky? Gray Eyes?” I tilted my head. “You know, your fur you reminds me of a friend. He had black hair and a beard with just a bit of white mixed in. His nickname was Raven. That work for you?” I gave him a chuff and nodded my head. “Raven it is. You’re a smart one, I see. I didn’t think you would take to being worked on this well. I half expected to need a rabies shot after trying to treat you.”
He moved over to his pack, pulling out boxers and jeans. I let out a soft growl as he covered up his privates. My wolf is overly focused on sex and mating, and he was equipped well for that. I admit that I enjoyed the show too, especially his muscled ass. He grabbed a T-shirt and pulled it on, covering the tattoos on his back and shoulders. “You missed out on a bath, there is a hot spring just a mile or so away. I had a nice warm soak. I love hiking in this area because I can get a hot bath before bed. Nothing like that in the mountains of Afghanistan, I can assure you.”
I kept watching as he moved over to the fire. Using a glove, he pulled the pot off and used a spoon to scoop half onto a plate. He spread it out, my mouth was watering at the smell and my stomach growled loud enough for him to hear. “You have to let it cool first, Raven. I’ll get you some water while we wait.” He came up to the tent and carefully lifted me out, setting me next to him as he sat by the fire. “I’m glad you get along with me, Raven. It’s nice having someone to talk to without having to deal with the pity or the disdain. That’s why I like hiking back here, I can go for days without seeing another person. You accept me as I am, and I take you as you are. Well, that and you can’t walk away from me yet.”
He poured water from his canteen into a bowl and set it down. I was really thirsty, so soon it was gone and he was pouring more. “I think that’s enough for now, I don’t need you waking up to pee five times tonight. How about we get you that food now?” My tongue was hanging out the side of my mouth, water dripping to the ground.
He took the plate and set it down before me. I looked at him for a second, then put my head down and started in on it. He was a great camp cook, I’ll give him that. The rice filled me up, while the beef pieces had absorbed enough water to be chewy. I finished it quickly and after licking the plate was looking at him, my head to the side and tongue hanging out. “Sorry, this is mine.” He finished eating out of the pot then set all the dishes aside. He pulled out a couple chewy granola bars from his pack and fed me one.
In the distance I could hear thunder, and I could tell he did too. “Looks like we’re in for some weather. Go out there and do what you need to do to get ready for bed, I’ve got to get everything put away before this hits.” He walked off with the dishes, headed for the stream below. I took the opportunity to limp to the trees and relieve myself. I was back in the tent and lying down on the sleeping bag before he returned. I watched him toss a rope over a high branch then haul his food bag up out of the way. I knew this and the gun were because we were in bear country, it was just what you did. He put a few more logs on the fire to keep it going, even if it rained good some coals underneath may stay hot enough to refire it quickly in the morning. He covered his pack and some firewood with a small tarp, tucking the edges down so it wouldn’t blow away, and then he tried to come in the tent.
“Geez, Raven, make yourself at home.” I yipped at him as he moved past me. “Move over a little and let me get in.” He unzipped the sleeping bag halfway, then took off his leg and set it in the corner. He pulled off his jeans and slid in. I stuck my head under and wormed my way inside, then turned around until my back was next to his chest and my head was on his pillow. I could feel his breath on the back of my neck as he draped an arm over my stomach. He was asleep within seconds.
I didn’t have such luck. My mate was right here, I loved him and wanted him and I hurt too much to change right now. His bare legs were by my tail and I could feel him twitch as he dreamed. I’d have to wait until I was stronger, then I would shift and show him who I was, and who he was to me.
He woke just as the first glow of dawn was coming over the mountains. He opened up the tent, putting his leg on and grabbing his jeans before he slipped out. I watched him go before I crept out to pee, whining a few times as my wound protested movement. He disappeared down the hill with his canteen while I made my way over to the remains of the fire. We had gotten lucky, the storm had missed us last night and there were still good coals.
He made us breakfast- oatmeal and raisins. He was comfortable enough with me now that he just scooped it with his fingers and let me eat out of his hand. “You’re the tamest wolf I’ve ever heard of, Raven. If you weren’t so big I’d think you were domesticated. You’ve got to go a hundred pounds, and not an ounce of fat.” I chuffed, I was one twenty but on my five foot six frame that was a good human weight. “I’m glad I came out here. Life makes sense in the mountains, you know? You eat, you sleep, you hunt your food. You don’t have rent, or jobs, or appointments with yet another shrink. No red tape, no endless forms, no stupid bosses who think they are all that and a bag of chips. You know what you are, and where you are.”
He scratched my neck. “It’s so peaceful up here, I wish I could stay forever. I’ve been in other places with tall mountains, great scenery, long hikes and rough camping, but this place no one is shooting at me. And no screaming people wanting to blow themselves up because killing me is their ticket to heaven.”
I laid my head in his lap and let him scratch my ears. “I miss my buddies. We came from all over, but we were closer than brothers. We would do anything for each other, and talk about anything. Who the hell can I talk to about it back here? My friends from high school? What are they going to tell me? They’ve never been in a firefight more dangerous than playing Call of Duty. They don’t know what it is like to lose buddies, to watch them die while you fight and fight to save them and you just aren’t enough... To watch the light go from their eyes.”
A tear dripped from his face onto my neck. “Six of us died when that IED went off and blasted that Humvee to kingdom come. I’m working on my Lieutenant, he’s bleeding out from his leg that’s missing and his guts are falling onto the ground. Sarge is on the radio, the rest are trying to pull everyone out. Next thing I know I wake up in Germany because a suicide bomber ran in by me and blew himself up. What kind of sick fucks blow up wounded?”
I can’t cry in wolf form, but my wolf is howling inside at her mate’s pain. “My whole fucking squad, only three of us lived.” Another tear dropped. “Vic’s already killed himself, the pain and the drugs just made it slower. I can’t take much more of this. I can’t function back there. Every time I sleep I see him looking at me, reaching for me, crying ‘Doc, help me.’ And I can’t. I try but I can’t. Last night was the first night without a nightmare I can remember.”
I licked his hand and snuggled my head back down, my heart was breaking with every word. “This place is better therapy for me than going to some VA hack doctor. All he ever does is give me drugs. The drugs don’t stop the nightmares, and I can’t function in school when I am on them. This air, this scenery, it clears my head better than any drug.” He scratched my ears and started to get up. “I have to get back to my truck and go back to the world. I hate being stuck in classes, but I can’t be a Ranger medic any more and I need something I can make money at. Disability isn’t a life for me. Time to break camp, Raven. You sit there and rest for a while, I got this.”
Twenty minutes later he had his backpack ready and was pouring water on the fire. I was whining at him, I didn’t want him to leave and I wasn’t ready to walk out of here, either. Fate had other plans for us, I guess. I heard a wolf howling in the distance. It was my father, he was looking for me, then my brother howled from a different direction. It hurt like a bitch, but I howled in reply.
“Your friends, huh?” He walked over and gently stroked my neck. “That’s good, I’ll get out of the way. I’m glad I found you. You’re a strange wolf, Raven, but I love you. If you ever decide to give up being wild, you come find me.”
He walked off, and didn’t look back even when I whined and howled my grief. I panicked, realizing I didn’t even know his name, I didn’t know where he lived. I tried to get up and follow him but the sharp pain in my chest stopped me. Soon he disappeared around the mountain and I was all alone.
My family found me and carried me home to the Pack doctor. After a surgery and a few weeks of rest I was back to normal. At least, I was as normal as I could be without my mate! His absence left a void in my heart I couldn’t fill with family or friends. My brother had tracked his scent back to a parking lot at the trail head, and then nothing.
My family fully supported my search for my mate. He had saved my life and was my one chance at true happiness. We ran the mountains on weekends until the heavy snows hit, hoping that he would come back, but we never caught his scent again.
I had started fall semester at school a few weeks late due to my injuries. I wanted to drop out and search for him full time, but my parents insisted I keep going. Soon was too busy with that for anything else.
I could never forget him, he was my mate.
My room at home became the center of my detective work. I put every clue I could remember from his talks up on my wall, and hit the internet to figure it out. I knew he was a Ranger medic, and had been injured in an IED and suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan. In February I struck paydirt in an old article from 2012 in the Denver Post.
“A terror attack on a Green Beret unit left nine soldiers dead and three injured in the mountains outside Kandahar. An Army spokesman said most of the dead were victims of an IED attack on their vehicle, followed by a suicide bomber attack. The soldiers killed in action were:
2LT Tom Coronado from Orlando, Florida
SSGT Robert Prentice from Hannibal, Missouri
SGT Don Frandel of Jacksonville, Florida
MSGT Juan Hernandez of San Antonio, Texas
SGT Ricardo Carduzzi of Frederick, Maryland
SGT Dave Kemp of Rochester, Minnesota
SGT Rufus Ray of Chicago, Illinois
SSGT Hassan Mikbar of New York, New York
SGT Alberto Miller of Amarillo, Texas
Also injured in the attack were SGT Marcus Mendez of Colorado Springs, Colorado, SGT Charles Hicks of Los Alamos, New Mexico and SSGT Victor Hammond of Toledo, Ohio. The injured soldiers have been airlifted to Landsduhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment. All were members of the Third Ranger Battalion our of Fort Bragg.”
There were no photos, but at least I had some names. I hit the jackpot on a search for Marcus Mendez. It was an article in Stars and Stripes.
“Green Beret Medic receives Bronze Star, Second Purple Heart in Ceremony
Sargent Marcus Mendez received the awards in a ceremony in his hospital room in Landsduhl. Brigadier General Matthew Moeller presented the award for valor during a firefight in which he crawled to and tended a wounded soldier. Disregarding his own safety, and under constant enemy fire, he carried the man to safety despite being shot twice. General Moeller praised his honor and courage, stating that he was a credit to the Green Berets and the US Army. Sgt Mendez had previously received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in that battle. The second Purple Heart was for severe injuries received in an IED attack that left him with one eye and amputated part of one leg. Sgt Mendez thanked those in attendance but said the real heroes in his unit never made it home. Sgt Mendez is due to be medically retired once he has recovered from his injuries.”
Wow. My mate was a badass, a fighter AND a healer!
With a name and date, I thought I would find him but the trail went cold when he left the Army. I couldn’t find anything on him directly, so I went to Facebook and Green Beret chat boards. I contacted the listed family members of those killed in his unit and asked if he had been in contact. On the long MLK weekend I headed down Colorado Springs, but couldn’t locate any family there. I did everything I could until I got the call. He was going to college in Pocatello, Idaho. This was just a few hours away! I couldn’t find an address for him on the Internet, so I packed my bags and threw them in my old Ford Ranger and headed south.
I knew the school wouldn’t release his address, so I pretended to be a prospective student interested in their nursing program. I said I had been laid off at Christmas, so even though it was the middle of spring semester, I wanted a tour. The ladies at the admissions office were very helpful, they even invited me to audit some of the classes to see what I thought. So with that, I started popping in on classes, and in the third one I hit the jackpot.
I had just taken a seat in the back when Marcus walked in. He looked really good, he had shaved and cleaned up since I last saw him. He didn’t talk to the other students, just walked with his slightly limp over to his seat. He checked me out on the way; he didn’t recognize me, but he noticed the way I looked at him.
It was like how I look at a medium rare steak.
I smiled and flipped my long black hair over my shoulder. He met my smile briefly before sitting down.
He didn’t show any further interest, and I noticed few of the people in class interacted with him. It probably was a combination of his age and injuries that kept people from approaching him. He just took his notes and occasionally asked questions.
I couldn’t concentrate during the class. The professor may as well have been the Swedish chef from the Muppets for all I understood. I was watching my man, studying every line, every emotion, every move. I tried not to make it obvious but he still caught me staring a few times. When the class ended, I made my way over to him.
“Hi, I’m Rachel. I was wondering if you have time get a coffee with me, I’m new at this school and I’d like to get to know you.”
He looked into my gray eyes, I saw the sadness in his as he shut me down. “I’m sorry, Rachel, I’m not ready for friends yet. It’s better if you find someone else.” With that, he turned and walked out.
I followed him from a distance as he went through the rest of his classes. My heart was broken, he was so alone, even in the midst of all these people. He ate lunch by himself in the corner of the cafeteria. He was ignored by all with his nose in a book. Bags and books covered the table so no one would be tempted to sit there. I watched with anger building in me at the looks he got from the younger students. The ones that just recoiled at his facial scars or his artificial leg weren’t so bad, until they walked away making fun of him. He didn’t hear them, but with wolf hearing I certainly could.
It took everything I had not to chase them down and beat the living shit out of them.
The words he said to me on the mountain rang in my head; truly, he would never be at home here. He was stuck on the outside and wasn’t coping. While he was in his last class, I found his beat-up truck in the handicapped spot and parked where I could see him leave. He came out after everyone else, probably making sure no one tried to talk to him. I watched as he tossed his book bag in the seat and drove out. I waited a minute so I wouldn’t follow too close. He led me through the town and out a back road.
He must have rented an apartment in this older house at the edge of a potato field. I watched him park his truck out front, just behind a newer truck at the edge of the driveway. I found a place to park near a treeline, and moving out of sight of everyone, I stripped and shifted into my wolf. I crept closer, alert for movement, and when I got near the window I heard voices.
“Marcus, I left some dinners for you in the freezer. I need you to eat better, I don’t like how you’re losing weight. You can’t exist on microwave food.”
“I’m trying, Mary, I just forget sometimes when I study so hard.”
I started to growl low in my chest, my man was in there with another women and my wolf was seeing red.
“I’ll be in to check on you this weekend. You need to unpack, this apartment looks like you are still living out of a duffle bag.”
“That’s because I am. It’s just another place, I’ll be moving along soon enough.”
“Until when? When do you settle down and get back to normal, Marcus?”
There was silence for a few moments. “This IS my normal. I’m not the same man I was when I left you. I’m damaged, I can’t cope with people, and nothing helps. Not the drugs, not the therapists... I have demons, Mary, and when they come out I don’t want anyone around to get hurt by them.”
“When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep, Marcus? You’re like a zombie sometimes.”
He laughed. “It’s been months. Not since I was camping at the end of last summer. The nightmares haven’t gone away, Mary. They are getting worse, if anything. The only place I feel at home is in the mountains.”
“Well, you can’t live in some remote cabin like the Unabomber. Let me help you, Marcus! I love you and I’ll never turn my back on you.” She gave him a hug. “I better get going.”
I had moved to the front door and my growling was getting louder. When the door opened it surprised both of us.
“AAAAGH! MARCUS THERE’S A HUGE FUCKING WOLF ON YOUR PORCH!” She screamed and ran back into the house, running into his arms as he came out of the kitchen. I growled even louder at this, standing there in the open doorway. He looked at me and smiled.
“It’s all right, Sis, this is Raven.”
Sister? I stopped growling and sat down, my head to the side and tongue out as I took in this change in status. She wasn’t a threat to take away my mate. Marcus put her behind him and walked to me, I wagged my tail and shivered with excitement as he came and stood by me. I leaned my head against his leg while he scratched my ears. “Raven, what in the hell are you doing here?”
Mary was hiding around the corner in the kitchen, peeking out with a carving knife in her hand. She saw Marcus leaning down for a face lick. “You know that thing?”
“Yep. Raven is my friend, we met on a hiking trip last year. Smartest wolf I’ve ever seen, and strangely friendly to me. Of course, I did save her life. She was gored by a deer and part of the antler was stuck in her chest when I found her.” He rubbed my chest, feeling the scar tissue where the wound had been. “She looks to be fully healed. Want to say hi?”
“Uh... no. I’ll just be going. John is taking me to Salt Lake City tomorrow and I need to get packed.” She moved slowly past me, giving him a kiss on the cheek, then walked out the door. “Give me a call tomorrow so I know that dog didn’t eat you.”
“Wolf... she’s all wolf. I’ll be fine, though, it won’t be our first night in bed together.”
Mary shook her head as she walked to the car. “You’re certifiable, Marcus, but I love you. Have a good week.”
We watched her go, then he stepped aside as I walked in. “Come on girl, it’s late and you are all wet. Let’s get you dried off and ready for bed.” I followed him to the small bedroom and he went into the bathroom to get towels.
The whole time I was focused on finding him, I never once figured out a good way to tell him who and what I was. How do you explain that you are a werewolf, much less that you followed him here because Luna had decreed him to be your mate?
Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to just jump in with both feet.
He walked out of the bathroom, having stripped down to his boxers so his clothes wouldn’t get wet. I reared up and put my front paws on his shoulders and looked in his eye. Then I closed my eyes and focused on the change.
The sound of bones cracking and realigning filled the room for a few seconds, and then my naked human form was looking into his eye, my hands behind his neck.
“What. The. Actual. Fuck.” He stared at me, then looked down my body and back up. He touched my face, my hair, my body as if he wasn’t convinced I was real.
“I’m not trying to scare you, Marcus. I’m Rachel. I’m also Raven. I’m a werewolf.” He stepped back from me, I could sense his fear. “I’m not going to hurt you, Marcus. Far from it. I’m here to help you.”
“Because I love you. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you.”
I watched as he walked over to the bed and sat on it, he head in his hands. “Please, don’t say anything. You don’t have to. Just let me be with you tonight.”
It took a few minutes before he sat up and extended a hand to me. I sat down on the bed next to him. “I guess this explains a lot. You were too big and smart to be a real wolf.”
“Oh, I’m real. I’m here. But we don’t have to talk about this until tomorrow, let’s just ignore the whole werewolf thing and just get our rest. You look exhausted.”
“I stink, too. I need a shower.” He stood up and walked over to the bathroom, closing the door on me as he went in. My wolf didn’t appreciate having him out of our sight. I stood up and walked into the bathroom, surprising him as he stood naked with his back to me. I didn’t care, I was already naked and his backside was his best feature. He had just taken off his artificial leg and was about to hop into the shower, using the handrails installed in his bathroom. “I’m sorry you have to see me like this, Rachel. I’m sure I’m not what you expected.”
“I’m not sorry, Marcus. I’m enjoying the view quite a bit.” I walked past him, opening the shower curtain and stepping into the large clawfoot tub. “Grab my shoulder and get in here with me.”
“You can take my weight?”
“You’ll find werewolves are much stronger than humans. Don’t underestimate my strength.” He put his arm on my shoulder then, while holding the bar in his left hand, he hopped over the edge into the tub. I turned on the water while he was staring at me, my wolf was overjoyed; he was in my den, and I could smell his arousal already. “Why don’t I get you clean, then you can help me.” I looked up in his eye, I could see in his face it wasn’t embarrassment, he was waiting for something. “Marcus, what do you think I see when I look at you?”
He sighed. “I don’t know. My sister and my friends from before, they see me as I used to be and I can tell they see loss. Strangers, sometimes it is fear, sometimes it is pity.” I used the portable shower wand to soak his head, then used his shampoo. “I haven’t figured you out. Even as a wolf, there was something else.”
“Werewolves have dual natures, our civilized human half and our more primal wolf half. When we look at someone, we see different things than beauty or imperfection.” I soaped a washcloth and started with his face, I never avoided his missing eye, in fact I traced the scars as I went. “When I look at you, I see many things that both I and my wolf admire.” I squeezed his bicep, I couldn’t get my hand around half of it. “I see your strength.” I moved to his chest, running the cloth and my fingers over the long scars. “I see your courage and toughness.” I washed the end of his stump carefully as I knelt before him. “I see your willingness to sacrifice of yourself, to put the needs of your country, your pack, ahead of your own survival.”
I finished with his foot and then had him turn around, starting at his neck I worked my way past his strong shoulders and down his body. My hands tingled as I played with my mate’s body, tracing his strong shoulders. When I was done, I moved until my firm breasts were smashed against his back and my hips spooned into him. I reached around with the washcloth, cleaning his equipment. I gripped him, my wolf jumping in my head as she imagined what pleasure it would bring us. “And when I see this, I see our future. I see a man who will be a strong mate, a loving father, and will satisfy me in ways no other man could ever do.” I turned him around and hugged his waist while looking into his eye, making sure he could see my thoughts in my eyes. “I see the man I love, the man I want to share my life with.”
His hands moved to my back, pulling me closer. Tingles exploded along my body as he leaned down and captured my lips with a kiss.
It wasn’t just a kiss, though. It was electricity, it was fireworks, it was the orchestra playing in the background as the credits roll kind of kiss. He moved his hands up to cup my face and took possession of my mouth with his. I pulled myself close, no longer able to tell where his body ended and mine began. It was amazing, the kind of kiss little werewolf girls dream of.
When it finally ended, it was like my favorite toy had been taken away. He opened his eye and looked down at me. “What was that... tingling... I’ve never felt that.”
“It’s the start of the mating bond, at some level you are recognizing me. We’ll have to look, maybe there is a werewolf in your ancestry somewhere. I don’t care, you wouldn’t believe how it felt to me. I never wanted to come up for air.” He kissed me again, then pulled away.
“Turn around, it’s my turn to clean you.” My insides were doing backflips and my arousal was in high gear now, I’m sure I was flushed and the feelings were strong. I turned as he got my hair wet, then started to wash my hair. “Do you want to know how I see you?” I nodded, not daring to look back at him. He worked his fingers through my hair and massaged my scalp, and it was turning me into a little puddle of desire. “I see your dark hair, and I see my Raven. I see the strange wolf who understood me, who listened to me and tracked me down hundreds of miles away.”
He rinsed the shampoo out, then got a washcloth and soaped it up. He worked his way down my neck, shoulders and back, then turned me around and got my face. He moved down my neck and shoulders, then my sides. He carefully cleaned the scar from the antler wound. “When I see this, I see your courage and determination. You know, I traced your blood trail back as you were sleeping. I know how far you dragged yourself, and how much pain you must have been in.” I was burning with want when he ran his hands and the cloth over my breasts. “When I see these, I think of the children we will have, how you will nourish them and help them grow strong.” He moved down to my stomach, tracing the lines of the muscles just under the skin. “I see this, I see your inner strength. I see a woman strong enough to stand up to me, and to stand with me.” He lowered himself to his knees.
He skipped past my sex, leaving me panting in frustration as he did my legs and feet. Finally he moved up and gently cleaned me, front and back. “When I see this, I see your eyes closing in pleasure as I do this to you.” He used his mouth and his hands with gentleness and skill, and it wasn’t long before my world exploded in a burst of sensation. He held me up as my legs threatened to give out on me.
When I caught my breath, I looked down at his face with love and appreciation. “Oh Luna, you can do that to me forever. I’ve never felt anything like that.”
“You’ve never had oral sex?”
“I’ve never had any sex.” I helped him stand up. “You and I are going to explore this together. And if you think it is good tonight, just wait until we are fully mated and you are a werewolf as well, you can feel each others emotions, I’m told its ten times better.”
“Then we should finish up here before the hot water is gone.” He rinsed us off then we got out and dried off. He grabbed his artificial leg and carried it as he hopped into the bedroom with his arm on my shoulder. As soon as he was horizontal, he was kissing the life out of me.
“Make a woman out of me, Marcus. I need you.”
“Make a werewolf out of me, Rachel. I need to be with you.”
He did. Then I did.
And it was spectacular.