I lay on the cool ground, peering out from between the balmy arms that embraced me, and didn’t dare move a single hair on my body. Not that I was in any kind of hurry to relocate. I mean, how often does a guy get cuddled by a wolf-woman? I sure as hell wasn’t going to disturb her, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to piss her off. Or piss off her mate, for that matter. Who, by the way, was curled up on the forest floor with us.
I’d already seen what that wolf-guy was capable of, and if he wanted to, he really could snap my neck like a twig. On his own, he had killed three mature wolves with his bare hands, or paws, whatever. He looked all innocent sleeping beside us, but when he had attacked those wolves to protect his mate and me, Christ, he really could tear someone’s head off to shit down their neck.
So, I was not going to disturb them, and was going to stay snuggled in until they stirred. The sun hadn’t peeked up over the trees yet. It was still pretty dark out, but I could tell it was morning because I could see the tops of the trees against the lightening sky. And if it wasn’t for the heat that she-wolf radiated out of her as if she was some kind of portable oven, I’d be freezing my balls off, because it’s always coldest before the dawn, or something like that.
Our cozy little nest got even cozier because Grane, as if aware I was awake, unfolded himself from his wolf form and sat up as a human being. No shit. My head felt like it would pop off my shoulders whenever I witnessed the miracle of it. I mean, bodies were shifting in front of me. Crumpling, and growing hair, and tails and ears and teeth. Holy Lord, but these wolf-people had big freakin’ teeth. Sharp, strong and long. The wolf, who was now a man, rolled onto his side to muzzle his face into his mate’s neck.
When I say muzzle, that’s exactly what I mean. That wolf-man might have looked human, but he definitely wasn’t. He exuded wild animal. Predator wild animal, too, not some little bunny rabbit that goes hopping through the forest. But pure he-could-turn-me-into-carrion kind of predator.
His mate pulled her arms from around me to reposition herself right into his waiting embrace, as if he was the safest place on earth. Instantly, the cold morning air wrapped around my naked body to chill it. I sat up, hugging myself to keep warm.
Grane pierced me with those hypnotic yellow eyes of his, and I plastered myself to the forest floor, then sure as hell made sure I stared off into the forest. No direct eye contact.
“Good morning, Porcupine,” he whispered gruffly.
I swallowed, then cleared my throat before I answered him. Christ, he was un-nerving, and I tried like hell to always remember to move freakin’ slow and keep my head low. And absolutely not disrespect his mate, Suma.
“Morning, Grane.” My chest tightened as the memory of his attack on me the night before rushed back like a hundred horses trampling me. He had not physically harmed me, just scared the literal piss out of me again. Good Lord, he could strip me down to a blathering two year old in a nanosecond.
“I am truly sorry I scared you so badly yesterday.”
But then he could restore my ego by gobbling a healthy dose of humble pie.
He was beyond remarkable.
I was with wolf-people for jumped-up-criminy’s-sake, beings that could morph from human to wolf, or wolf to human, and they were letting me hang out with them as if they liked me. My heart thumped so hard in my chest I had to gulp for air with the sheer miracle of it.
And the thing is, I liked them right back. In spite of the fact that just being around them kept me teetering on the lip of sanity, I was drawn to them. Yeah, they were living marvels of nature, but my attraction went beyond that. These wolf-people were nice. Suma had cradled me all night long as if I was a baby, for God’s sake. She even sang me a lullaby to comfort me after Grane had caused me to piss my pants. Well, I didn’t technically piss my pants the night before because I wasn’t wearing any. I was as naked as they were, which by the way, I had done to comfort them. Nuts, huh?
But I’m rambling in my head and Grane definitely doesn’t like babbling. What was it he was saying? Oh right. He’d apologized for scaring the crap out of me. I ran my hand through my hair and took a wicked deep breath before I answered him.
“It’s okay. I mean, you had to know if I was telling the truth or not, right? I mean, I see where you guys—” I clamped my jaw shut because those freakin’ yellow eyes leveled. I was rambling.
The white haired wolf-woman turned in her mate’s arms so that they were both facing me. She smiled softly, and man, she was gorgeous looking all dreamy like that. She had these deep brown eyes that reminded me of puddles that hadn’t been disturbed. There were layers in her irises that just stilled me.
A low, nearly imperceptible rumble rubbed across my skin, and the hair on my entire body prickled. I averted my eyes to the tree line again and felt the blood rush to my head. Grane had caught me staring at his mate.
“Holy, I’m sorry.”
He didn’t say anything more because he didn’t have to. These wolf-people communicated like nothing I’d ever seen before, except in the nature programs I grew up watching as a kid. There was no mistaking what their intentions were, and my body reacted. Instinctively.
Suma’s giggle trilled like little birds and I nearly looked straight at her again because of it. I remembered at the last second to lower my eyes. “Grane, the human is fine,” she sang.
Her mate lowered his dark, gray head when she admonished him. Loving hell, the guy had scars covering his body like tattoos, yet he yielded to the woman in his arms as if she had all the power. Like I said, Grane was beyond remarkable.
“Kenrickey, you slept all right?” Suma’s lovely voice warbled again as she directed her question at me.
“Yes,” I practically stammered, the wolf-man’s yellow eyes boring into me no distant memory. “I slept great, thanks.” I nodded, and kept my eyes focused on the ground. By this time, I didn’t think that either one would hurt me much, or kill me, even. But I sure as hell didn’t want to upset them. I was not exaggerating in any way when I said they had teeth.
My two bunkmates rose together, and like some kind of synchronized dance they stiffened and turned their faces away from the rising sun. Suma hopped up and down on her toes, and Grane’s muscular body tensed and vibrated. They both thrust their noses into the air to assess their surroundings.
My goosebumps crawled back with a vengeance. They smelled something, or heard something coming, and if it was more of those wolves like Grane had fought and killed, then holy fuck. I didn’t get up, but I definitely got my feet under me.