So, I’m posting three parts this weekend as part of a full moon weekend–partly because I didn’t want it to take so long to get through the entire story but, also, this part ends on a bit of a pissy note. *shrugs* We’ll see how this goes. This whole thing feels like an experiment, so if this is a big “meh” I can switch back to one part every full moon. Let me know what you think.
If you missed the first part: The Cold and Lovely Moon I
The second part: The Cold and Lovely Moon II
The Cold and Lovely Moon III
Cool air against my body startled me, and I jerked awake, clutching a blanket tight around me.
“You’ll turn back faster each time,” Tiberius said from where he sat nearby cooking fish on a spit over a fire.
It was morning. The day after that crazy, insane night.
It all seemed like a bizarre dream today. I pulled the itchy blanket closer to cover my naked skin. I was naked. I held my hand out in front of me. I was human. I was a naked human in the middle of the woods.
The only thing in this whole scenario that made sense was the man in front of me, crouching beside a fire—dressed. He was dressed. How come he was dressed? He had on a flannel shirt and jeans. The flannel shirt looked…nothing like him. I don’t know what I’d pictured him in outside the orange scrubs of the research lab, but the red flannel shirt, even mostly unbuttoned, looked too civilized and a little granola.
He looked over his shoulder at me. “You have got to be the most stubborn she-beast in the history of our kind.”
I tugged the blanket closer and sent him a look that should have withered him dead on the spot. The rub of the blanket’s fabric against my neck made me wince. “Ow.” I rubbed at the flesh there. My neck felt scraped, but also scabbed over. I sent him another glare. He’d done that. I’d been running somewhere…random, and he’d pushed me to the ground and bit my neck until I’d followed him.
Tiberius had been stirring the fire with a stick, but he pointed at me with its glowing tip. “If I ever save your life again…no, wait, you were headed straight toward a cliff—you have the instincts of a lemming. Next time I save your life, just do me a favor and follow me, okay?”
“How come you get clothes?” I asked, ignoring his question. I nodded at his jeans. Was there some magical way I could have got clothes after I changed back from being that thing? Conjured them like magic? That would have been cool. I’d pick something better than flannel.
It’d been so long since I’d worn anything other than prison crap, I didn’t even know what was in style anymore. Not that leather was ever out of style, not the way I wore it.
“I swiped some when I grabbed you that blanket.”
“Why didn’t you get me clothes?”
His eyes travelled along all the flesh I’d left exposed outside the blanket. One of my legs and shoulders were out for his inspection. I tucked everything out of sight quickly.
“I didn’t know your size.”
I narrowed my eyes to slits. Right. And guessing wouldn’t have worked.
He grinned. “Woman, you are a pain. There should be some perks to dealing with you. You kicked me in the ribs at least a dozen times last night.”
“Don’t call me woman. I have a name. I call you by your name, Tiberius. See, I did it again.” Actually, now that I thought on it, he’d never called me by my name. Never. In the entire two weeks I’d been there. He knew my name. I’d told him in between screaming profanity and pounding on the glass walls.
“We don’t use names. We don’t need to. We acknowledge each other by gender, rank, and relationship. Names are useless trappings like clothing that we use for the sakes of humans.”
“You say that but I notice you got clothes for yourself pretty quick this morning,” I said, pushing to my feet. At least the blanket was long. It hit me mid-calf when I was standing up with it wrapped around me. But it was itchy. It was as if I’d wrapped myself in straw.
“Maybe I didn’t want you ogling me when we should be getting on our way.” He’d turned back to the fire and tossed another log on.
“You’re an ass.”
“No, you may not call me that. You may call me mate and sire and master…and, if you must, Tiberius.”
“Oh, I’m thinking of a whole lot of names…don’t you worry.” Had I ever found his arrogance to be sexy? Well, it was a whole lot less sexy after I’d spent the night as a monster only to wake up back in the flesh—a little too much flesh.
“Or you won’t have to call me anything at all because I can tell when you’re speaking to me.”
“Yeah, because we’re alone.” Duh. I looked around. We were alone, right? It seemed like the white coats or whoever would come looking for us—especially since Tiberius had killed so many of them.
“Even if we were in a crowd, I’d be able to tell when you are speaking to me now. Your tone changes.”
“It becomes more hostile.”
“No, we’re mates. It gets deeper and softer.”
“I seriously doubt that.” Maybe I could run away and find some nice humans to take me to a hospital. I was back to normal today. Well, normalish. My hearing was still better, and I could smell a campsite that didn’t seem to be anywhere close. Last night felt like a strange dream. Especially with all the strobing and the pounding of my heart.
Then again, I’d been involved in the murders of a whole lot of humans—and, clearly, I wasn’t quite…myself.
“You doubt that we’re mates or that your voice changes?” He didn’t even turn, and his tone sounded almost unconcerned.
He looked at me over his shoulder, and his smile was predatory. Without thinking, my hand went to my neck to the bite there. He’d done that. Whatever he was—he’d done that. “If you’re waiting for an apology, it’s not coming.” He stared pointedly at my neck. “We both know you enjoyed that.”
“I did not.” I might have a little. Okay, a lot, but there was no way he could know that.
“Mmm. Your scent gives you away. Besides it was necessary for me to establish dominance.”
“Because that’s always the first thing you do when you break out of some freakish Dr. Frankenstein lab after becoming a creepy creature. What am I? I had fur…and teeth…and talons.”
“You’re a dark beast. The first manmade one as far as I know. We always choose our females and turn them. They used my blood to turn you.”
“So, I’m a werewolf?”
He raised his eyebrows. “You read too many books.”
“And you’re still an ass, and I’m not your mate.” Maybe I should get out of here—away from him—away from whatever I’d become. If the white coats made me like this, they could unmake me. Or, considering last night’s little…episode, they’d probably make me into a pelt to hang on their walls. Still, I might be better off on my own.
Okay, options…. There were several ways out of this small clearing, but he’d already explored, and I had no idea where we were. I might be screwed. Out of one bad situation into another. Still, the view wasn’t bad. I kept upgrading in that department.
“What do you smell?” he asked.
“Inhale and tell me what you smell.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Do it.” His jaw was clenched as if I’d run out of wiggle room on his patience.
“Okay. Okay.” Geez, keep your shirt on. Or, better yet, take off your shirt and give it to me so I’m not wandering around wearing a blanket. I closed my eyes and inhaled.
Mmm. Fish. I hadn’t thought I was a big fan of fish, but that smelled freaking amazing. “Uhh. Fish.”
Then, there were other people around. “Humans. Adults. Wow, someone got lucky last night. Oh!” I opened my eyes. That’s how he was taunting the white coats about their personal lives.
He raised his eyebrows again. “Don’t look at me. I had to pin you down so you wouldn’t run clear to the Pacific, and you sleep like you’re in the middle of a prize fight. I didn’t get lucky—that’s for damn sure.”
I narrowed my eyes before closing them again. Hopefully one of those nearby humans was my size, and I could swipe some clothes to replace this itchy, itchy toga.
“Mmm.” There was another scent. I tipped my head as I considered it. Sort of earthy—like a forest after a hard rain. It smelled wild like an animal, but not all disgusting and pet-like. Just wild and powerful and dangerous. I didn’t even know those things had a smell, but that’s definitely how it smelled. It was…really nice. “What is that smell? It smells…uhh good.” Like a good time.
“Me,” he said.
I opened my eyes and stared at him. Really? “Well, we’re feeling rather full of ourselves, aren’t we?” So, he’d broken me out of there before they’d probed me, so what? They’d shot me full of his blood and now I grew fur. The trade-off was sort of even in my opinion. “Your ego might be overcompensating for other smaller portions of you.”
He laughed, and it made me shiver. “No, that’s the smell of your mate. You’ve chosen me as your mate.”
“You’re not my mate.”
“I am. I’d established my courtship by giving you gifts of food—which you accepted. You’ve been watching me and determining my adequacy as a mating partner.”
“When did I do that? And if I did, you just assumed I found you to be adequate.”
With one arm, he reached around to the back of his neck, grabbed the partly unbuttoned flannel shirt and pulled it off. He tilted his head, watching me, and raised his eyebrows.
Ohhhh right. The shirtless chin-ups. Yeah, he was pretty adequate.
“Still,” I said, acknowledging his point. I couldn’t really contest that. Now that I realized I was part slobbery weird creature, I might have even salivated when he’d been doing the shirtless chin-ups.
“I killed that white coat for you. Then, that one show of dominance last night, and you were mine. You recognized it and, in your mind, we’re now mates.”
“I’m yours?” Something new inched across me—a sort of realization. What he was saying didn’t feel…wrong. It should, right? I mean, nothing at all today made sense, but that was extra nuts.
“Yep, you’re mine.”
“After one show of dominance?”
“What is that? The creepy creature version of being easy?” I wandered slowly toward the fire. It looked warm, and my skin had felt so cold since I’d woken up. I hadn’t felt cold at all when I was running…or trotting…or I didn’t know what the hell to call it.
“Basically,” he said.
I was close enough to kick him so I did…hard…in the shin. One minute, I was kicking him with enough force to hurt my foot. The next minute, he’d grabbed my far ankle and swept me off my feet. I landed with a whump on my back. I lay there, staring up at the blue sky. He’d knocked the breath right out of me. I was some freakish creature, and he’d just knocked me flat on my back. We were so not mates. In fact, I might kill him in his sleep.
“Don’t challenge the alpha,” he said calmly, going back to tending the fire.
I coughed out a breath. It felt like I’d broken my lungs. I didn’t even want to get up. I rolled onto my side, away from him. I was part creature, part naked, and I felt part dead. Apparently, I was also part of a mated pair because now that I was closer—I could tell, he was right, he smelled delicious.
Copyright © 2013 by Wendy Sparrow