Rowan and the Wolf
“Oh, my stars, boy, are you all right?” Gran got up from her rocking chair, pulling her shawl around her. “Where’s Shadow,” she asked, peering around him. “I felt for sure he’d be with you. In fact, I didn’t expect to see you at all tonight. But seeing as you’re here, I’ll make some tea.”
She shuffled towards the kitchen and Rowan followed her. “You sent that big guy after me? Why?”
“Shadow? Of course, I sent him to look for you.” Gran filled the kettle and set it on the stove. “You were late, and you know how I hate you walking around here at night.” She reached up into the cupboard and pulled down one of her baking tins, setting it on the table.
Flopping into the nearest chair, Rowan stared at his gran, still trying to make sense of all that’d happened. “Who is that guy? I’ve never met him before.”
“Of course, you have,” Gran set his cup on the table and then moved over to the stove, filling her ancient teapot with the boiling water. Covering the teapot with a tea towel, she carried it over to the table. “That’s Shadow, the alpha’s oldest son. When you were a wee tot, you used to follow him around all over the place.”
“I’m sure I’d remember someone like that,” Rowan said, feeling his cheeks flush. “He’s built like a giant tree.”
“I have to admit that boy has grown,” Gran lowered herself into the chair opposite him and pushed the baking tin towards him. “Of course, he wasn’t known as Shadow back then either. You’d remember him as Gray.”
“Gray?” Rowan was caught between opening the tin and watching his Gran. “There’s no way that’s Gray.” Pulling open the tin, he saw butterscotch muffins, his favorite. “I mean, Gray was tall, yeah, and of course I noticed him. He was the alpha’s son. But there’s no way the guy I saw tonight was him. He had to be three times Gray’s size and besides everyone said when Gray left there was no way he was coming back.”
Rowan didn’t mention that Gray’s departure had broken his heart. He’d been fourteen at the time, on the verge of his first shift. That was back in the day when he, Saul, and Beau were inseparable. Gray was the elusive, sexy adult that starred in all of Rowan’s sex dreams, and in hindsight Rowan recognized he had a king-sized crush on the man. He used to spend hours practicing what he’d say to the man if he ever got the gumption to talk to him. He wrote letters he just as swiftly deleted from his computer and couldn’t take his eyes off the man every time he saw him.
He remembered Gray leaving like it was yesterday. His crush had a bag slung over his shoulder, and he was already looking towards the bus. “Stay strong, kid,” he said, and Rowan remembered Gray’s hand in his hair. Rowan spent six months fantasizing about Gray coming back, sweeping him off his feet and declaring his love for him in front of the pack. But then he shifted for the first time, his parents died, and his life officially got flushed down the toilet.
“Shadow is Gray or was Gray. I think he picked up his new name in the army,” Gran said happily pouring the tea, “and there was never any question of whether he’d come back or not. He did his time in the army, while he was waiting for you to grow up. And now he’s back. Things are going to change around here and it’s about time.”
Rowan was just about to ask what the heck his Gran meant by her cryptic comments, when an unearthly shriek rang through the air sending shivers down Rowan’s spine. “What the hell was that?” Even in the rough neighborhood, screams like that didn’t happen unless someone was losing his balls to a claw.
“Language, boy,” Gran reproved as she stirred sugar into her tea. “I imagine Shadow’s found out just how badly Percy and his cronies hurt you and is dispensing some old-fashioned wolf justice. It’s about time they got their comeuppance.”
“How can you be so calm about this?” Rowan wasn’t capable of hating anyone. It went against his nature as an omega and while Percy and the others had made his life hell, he accepted it as his lot in life.
Gran sighed. “There’s some things I should’ve told you long before this, but with Percy in charge, I didn’t want you to be more of a target. The fact of the matter is, Gray, or Shadow as he’s known now, knew you two were mates before he left. You were ready for your first shift, and his older wolf could scent who you were to him. That’s why he left, because you were too young to claim, and he wasn’t sure he could control his urges. He told me and your parents. He even asked permission from your father to claim you when you were ready, which your dear father was happy to give. But Gray knew teenage years were hard enough for a wolf as it is, and if you’d scented him after you’d shifted, then it would’ve been impossible for you two to stay away from each other.”
“But…but…that’s when everything went to crap for me and the pack.” Rowan was horrified. Before Gray left, life at the pack was relatively calm and while the alpha could be harsh, things were a lot better. Rowan didn’t notice how badly things in the pack deteriorated at the time. First, he was moping over Gray leaving and then his parents died…and yeah, by the time he finally shook free his fog of grief the pack was under Percy’s rule and life went downhill from there. “If Gray had stayed….”
“The alpha would’ve still got sick and Percy would’ve still been an ass. What happened to the pack in the last ten years isn’t Gray’s fault or yours. Now, eat your muffin.”
When his Gran put her foot down, Rowan knew better than to argue. Another shriek tore through the air and Rowan quickly stuffed his muffin in his mouth. He only hoped that the ten years Shadow spent in the army meant he knew how to incapacitate a man quickly.
Peering through Gran’s kitchen window on the side of the house, Shadow smiled at the homely scene. Gran was just as he remembered; a little older, her shoulders stooped under her shawl and the spark slightly dimmer in her eyes but the love for her grandson showed in every wrinkle and smile line. She was never a big woman and now it seemed she and Rowan were similar in height and build. Rowan, his little-red, lived up to his name. His bright red curls hung around his face like he’d never heard of haircuts. He was currently stuffing a muffin between his bright red lips. Shadow was sure Rowan was a true redhead and he was keen to find out. But even if he wasn’t, that milky white skin, bright green eyes and sensuous full lips had fueled Shadow’s fantasies for ten long years.
And this is it. The moment I’ve waited for every minute for the longest ten years in history. The bad guys were dead – at least the worst of them. Shadow was under no illusions more would crawl out of the woodwork before long, but they’d go the same way as Percy and his cronies. His father was installed in a shifter hospital. Unfortunately, canine dementia was a thing and while he’d never heal, Shadow could relax knowing his father’s last days would be comfortable. Three of his good friends, who’d all left the army the same time he did, were currently setting up the pack house for his new mate.
Shadow inhaled slowly and then quickly checked his shirt for blood splatter. He didn’t want to make a bad first impression, or second, but whatever. This was it. The moment he walked through Gran’s door, his life would change forever. Slipping around to the back of the house, Shadow strode up the tiny back porch and knocked loudly on the door.
“That’ll be the new alpha calling for you,” Gran smiled as she stood up, clutching her shawl around her.
“Me,” Rowan’s voice squeaked. “Where are you going? Don’t you want to talk to him?” Gran was heading down the hallway.
“I’m going to bed,” Gran called out. “Don’t worry about the dishes. Lock the door when you leave.”
Leave. That sounded like a great idea. Rowan peered through the house to the front door. He even took a step towards it. But then a second knock sounded behind him and he knew he couldn’t do it. For one thing, he’d never be fast enough to get away from the huge alpha and for another…Rowan was really keen to see if this Shadow person was Gray, just like his gran said he was.
Making his way to the back door, Rowan opened it cautiously, leaving the chain on. In this neighborhood you could never be too careful. “Hello,” he said, peering around the door. He’d recognize those eyes anywhere, although the heat in them was something new.
“Are you going to let me in, little-red?”
Rowan gulped. “The name is Rowan not that I expect you to remember,” he said, closing the door enough to slip the chain off and then opening it wider.
“I’ve never forgotten you.”
Rowan’s whole body tingled under the caress in that voice. Even his toes tingled. But he wasn’t about to forget his place. “Please, come in, Alpha. Welcome to my grandmother’s home.”
“I was hoping you’d come back to the pack house with me,” Shadow smiled as he stayed on the back porch. “There’s so much we need to catch up on.”
Biting the corner of his lip, Rowan looked down at his leg. Covered with his pants, he looked like anyone else, but the moment he went to move, the alpha was going to know something was wrong with him. “Alpha, Gray, or Shadow, or whatever you prefer. I heard what you said back in the alley. You believe I’m your mate.”
“I know you’re my mate. I’ve known about it for ten long years.”
“Yes, well.” Shit. Rowan didn’t know what to say. “I got hurt a while back and now I’m permanently defective. Being with me will weaken your position. I release you from any claim you thought you might have to go through with.” The words came out in a rush, but Rowan knew the alpha got the gist because he scowled and pushed through the door.
“Alpha?” Rowan felt like he was going to swoon. Not that he’d ever swooned before, but damn. His wolf was all excited someone so big and strong was paying attention to him and he felt his knees go weak.
“I saw you had a limp. I want to see how bad it is.” Shadow made his request sound as though it was the most common thing in the world. But Rowan wasn’t the type to drop his pants for just anyone. Even if his wolf thought it was a good idea.
“Can’t you just take my word for it?” The only reason Rowan was a twenty-four year old virgin was because he couldn’t bear the pity or disgust from people seeing his leg. “It’s not pretty.”
“Do I look like someone who has a lot to do with pretty? I’ve seen stuff that will make your hair curl.” Shadow ran his fingers through Rowan’s curls. “Although you’ve already got them, and they are pretty. Please, little-red. If you are so damn sure the damage to your leg is going to turn me away, then show me. You’re not giving me a chance to prove you wrong.”
Rowan was sure his face was as red as his hair, but he rested his fingers on the waistband of his pants. He was torn and a huge part of him wanted to admit it. He had the man of his dreams standing in front of him – bigger, stronger and better able to protect him than ever before. And there was a part of Rowan that wanted to hang onto that just a little bit longer.
But the other part – the one forged after he’d been hurt, that was determined to go his own way and never be a burden on anyone, knew he had to face his responsibilities. Shadow spent ten years believing they were mates, but that stemmed from seeing him slim and whole. Rowan wasn’t that person anymore.
Closing his eyes, Rowan quickly undid the button on his pants and pushed them down his legs.
Such a brave boy, Shadow thought as he dropped to his knees, gently tugging Rowan’s pants lower. Oh, he couldn’t help but notice the sweet bulge now sitting at eye level, but he needed to put Rowan’s fears to rest before they went any further.
Swallowing hard, Shadow ran his hand down Rowan’s right leg. His mate was lean and strong, just as Shadow envisaged. The left leg? Shadow closed his eyes for a moment as the scarring appeared and then he forced himself to open them. If Rowan thought for a second he wasn’t respected, or cherished, despite his wounds, then Shadow would never get his dream claiming.
“Hmm,” he said, his finger tracing over the worst of it. “Beau mentioned Percy held you for a week in silver cuffs to stop you from shifting, is that right?”
“Yes. By the time Gran got me to the pack doctor, he said there was nothing he could do. The bones had already set wrong. It was broken in three places. As you can see, one of the breaks came through the skin which is why that lump is there. He offered to amputate from the knee down, but I said no. I was walking by that stage. I’ve learned to live with it.”
“That is amazing,” Shadow stroked over the mutilated skin. It felt different, but it wasn’t any worse than some of the other things he’d seen. Ten years in the army made him immune to most of life’s horrors. Although, if he could resurrect Percy he would, just so he could break every bone in his brother’s body and leave him to suffer, just as Rowan clearly had.
“There’s nothing amazing about being hurt in a shifter world,” Rowan said angrily, trying to pull away, but Shadow didn’t let go. “It’s a sign of weakness. People assume there’s something wrong with your wolf when there isn’t. But then they always thought the worst of me anyway and having a permanent limp didn’t help matters.”
“Does all the pack treat you as badly as Percy?” Shadow wondered if he might have to rethink his decision about taking over. He’d leave and take Rowan with him if he had to.
Rowan was giving it some thought, which was good. His omega didn’t know it yet, but his answer would reflect on the future of the entire pack. “No,” Rowan said at last, his voice strong despite standing with his pants around his ankles. “They weren’t so bad. They just knew better than to interfere. Most of the pack are decent hard-working people who just want to live their lives in peace. Percy and his cronies didn’t make that easy. But none of them were cruel unless they were pushed into it.”
Relieved, Shadow allowed himself another caress as he gently pulled Rowan’s pants up. Rowan bit his lip, so Shadow stroked that too. “I still want you as my true mate,” he said quietly, leaning into the scent he’d dreamed of for so long. “I still plan on claiming you, the way I dreamed of doing all those lonely nights we spent apart.”
“I never knew about what we could be together and even then I used to dream about you, long after you left me that day.” Rowan’s hand on his face was hesitant, but Shadow’s wolf howled in victory. “Did anyone tell you what amazingly big eyes you have?”
Shadow grinned. “Are you making a little red riding hood reference, little red? Because I have to tell you, you have the most beautiful curls I’ve ever seen and if you’re looking for a big wolf to bite you, then you’ve come to the right place.”
“Well, you have got big teeth, and I imagine your ears are impressive when you’re in your shifted form.” Rowan chuckled. “But I’m not wearing a cape for anyone. It’ll clash with my hair.”
Levering himself to his feet, Shadow held out his hand. “Are you ready to come back to the pack house with me? I promise to eat you all up and tomorrow I’ll do exactly the same thing all over again.”
“Just let me lock the door.” Rowan led them outside and made sure the lock was down and his Gran’s door was secured. “My car’s over on West and Durham. You fancy a ride?”
“With you? Anytime.”
And as the two men made their way to Rowan’s car, the neighborhood breathed a sigh of relief. And in the house she’d shared with her loving husband for more than fifty years, Gran smiled at the picture of her long dead mate. “He finally came home,” she said, as she rolled over and closed her eyes.
To Be Continued as part of the Alpha and Omega series sometime in the Summer of 2018.
City Dragon's Book 1
Jon Erskine had made a good life for himself as one of the top Forensic Accounts and Systems Analysts in the country. He doesn't mind working with paranormal clients - after all, he's a shifter himself. However, he could do without all the slurs and derogatory comments. Not all shifters are wolves, bears and other predators. Still, his expertise and reputation is solid and Jon is more than capable of holding his own. That is until Dirk Hollingsworth runs from his office.
Dirk is running out of time. He has to find out who's been stealing from his company before his father turns up for his wedding in three weeks' time. Acting on the recommendation of a friend, Dirk turns to Jon, or at least thinks about it. That is, until he catches the man's scent in the doorway of his office and does a runner. Not the proudest moment for one of the proudest of all shifters, but Dirk has a responsibility to his clan and catching the tantalizing scent of a dog isn't going to change anything. Or so he thinks.
Family betrayals, a strong-willed dragon spirit; all things collide as Jon and Dirk struggle to find common ground. Calling off the wedding is easy; staying alive might be that much harder.
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About the Author
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