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Authors: Shauna Aura Knight

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BOOK: Werewolves In The Kitchen
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“Have the two of you…done that…with a woman before?”

“No.”

“At least I wasn’t going nuts,” she muttered.

“Hmmm?”

“I thought you two were together.”

Kyle shrugged. “A few times. We both prefer women.”

She massaged her temples. “I see.”

“I’m sorry. I seem to keep giving you more strange crap to think about.”

“Yeah.” She gave him a wry smile.

“I like it when you smile.” He took her hand, his thumb caressing her palm in an incredibly distracting way. “You don’t smile enough.”

“I guess I frown when I think.”

“Have you had some time to think about us?” He nuzzled her hair. “Will you join us again tonight? I’d like to apologize for landing this on you. I think you’ll like the apology.”

Ellie blushed. “I don’t know. I was thinking maybe a summer fling would be nice, but you’re talking about me being married to…I mean, you’re not human. I don’t even know where you guys live. What you plan to do with your lives. I have to finish school, I want to study black holes and dark matter and even sit in frosty telescopes in remote places to understand the universe. How are our lives even compatible?”

“We can make it work. It’s all right.” He drew closer to her. “Jake and I can do cities, and we can do remote areas near telescopes too.”

By that time he was flush up against her, she could feel how hard he was. She wanted to climb on top of him right there in the dining room. Shaking, she took a step back. “I need more time, Kyle. I want you, but it’s all too much. I need us to be able to talk without wanting to…pounce you.”

She felt the bass rumble of his growl even with the space between them. “That will prove difficult. Now that we’ve bonded, we want each other all the more. But we’ll try.” Kyle took a step back and tried to calm his lust down, taking deep, slow breaths. “I’ve contacted someone who is mated to a human, I’ve asked them to come here to answer your questions.”

“Oh. Thank you. That would be good. I feel a little lost in the woods here.”

Kyle groaned. “If you dress up as Red Riding Hood, Jake and I are completely not responsible for our behavior.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Agreed.”

“I’ll see you later.”

 

~* * *~

 

Kyle brought his disappointing news to Jake. “We’re going to have to tell her soon that she doesn’t have months to make a decision. That we’re going to go crazed with lust the longer this drags on, the longer we don’t have contact with her.”

“How about you broach that one? I barely kept from taking her right there on the dining table. You’re better at leashing your wolf than I am.”

Jake grunted. He sought her out after dinner. “Ellie?”

“Oh, Jake.”

“I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you.”

“It’s ok. Thanks for my laundry.”

“My pleasure. Can we talk?” He gestured her over to a shrine in an alcove of trees. 

“I need time to—”

“I know. I just wanted to…I had to see you.” He took her hand, and Ellie started to understand a little more about the two men. They seemed to need to touch her, smell her. Not that she was immune—she’d been dying for their touch all day. She could scent them nearby and was starting to worry that she was becoming addicted to them. “Ellie? I’m sorry this got all weird.”

She blew out her breath. “Yeah, it has. I’m sorry, Jake. I have no idea what to do.”

“Are there any questions I can answer?”

“I don’t know. Um. Full moon? Eating people?”

“Naw, none of that. Well, the full moon can inspire us to change, as can any rising energy tide. And if someone’s hurting us, we’d defend ourselves. But we retain enough of our morality in animal form to make choices. We do bring down the occasional deer, but it’s no different than hunting.”

She nodded. “I wouldn’t need to worry about you changing and hurting me?”

“Never,” he took her hand. “We could never hurt you. Arguments, disagreements, sure. But we can’t hurt you. For that matter, as the bond grows, we feel each other’s pain, each other’s needs.”

“You feel my pain?”

“I feel your worry, the stress. And I feel that you want me. I can only imagine how conflicted you are.”

“How do you feel it?”

“It’s hard to describe. It’s like an echo of your worry is living inside my skin.” He caressed her palm with his thumb. “What do you feel from me?”

“Lust. Anxiety. I don’t know.”

Jake nodded. “What we haven’t told you is that, with the mating bond, our lust for you will continue to grow if we can’t be with you. In a few days, we’ll have to go into seclusion to let the madness run its course. We won’t be able to stand not being with you if you reject us.”

“Oh. That’s what you meant when you said it wasn’t binding.”

“Yes.”

“And me? Will I go mad?”

“No, but it won’t be comfortable. You’ll be horny as hell with no relief. It’ll pass.”

“Fuck.”

Jake laughed. “Sorry. I’ve never heard you swear before. Are we corrupting you?”

“That would be an understatement.” She stood up and moved away. “I had been thinking that maybe we could try things out for the summer and see if we were all compatible, before I made any decisions. But this kind of blows that.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.” Jake tried to move closer to her, nuzzle her ear.

“Jake, I can’t think with you touching me.”

He groaned. “I can’t think if I don’t.”

She turned to him. “Can you shift shape at will? Does it hurt?”

“Do you want me to show you?”

She nodded before she lost her nerve. “Unless it hurts.”

Jake grimaced. “It’s not usually a pleasant sensation. It’s intense. Just don’t scream.” She shivered at the hot gold in his eyes. Before she could nod, his face shifted, grew more wolf-like, and he let out a low groan, closed his eyes, and crouched to the ground.

As his body began to shiver, his body blurred, and then a massive black timber wolf stood before her, larger than any dog she’d seen. He whined a bit and ducked his head under her hand.

She bit off a yelp and pulled her hand back instinctively. The wolf sat and let out a plaintive, low sound, and she gave in, tentatively petting his head. He leaned into her, and she gave herself over to petting him. Finally he shuddered and shifted back, taking her into his arms. She found her pulse was still racing.

“Did I frighten you?”

“A little.”

“Not much, I think.” He stroked her hair back. “We’re not so different. You couldn’t bond with us if you didn’t possess some small magic of your own. I don’t know what your magic is, but that’s what my people say when humans mate with us.” He dipped his lips to hers and she leaned into his touch until she shuddered.

“Stop, please.”

He released her. “I’m sorry, did I—”

“I feel like an addict. Out of control. Jake, I don’t know what to do. I think I need more time than we have.”

He felt her anxiety increase. “I’m sorry I’ve added more stress to your decision.” He walked a few steps away. “Kyle hasn’t yet heard back from his friend, but when he does—”

“When he does let me know. Until then, please. I need to think.” Tears filled her eyes—she was overwhelmed.

“We’ll do our best, sweetheart.” And Ellie wasn’t sure, but she thought she heard that plaintive wolf sound from him again.

 

~* * *~

 

 Jake and Kyle tried giving her space, avoided her at meals. By the end of the second day they both found themselves running the hills as wolves. “This is not going well.” Kyle had his head submerged under the cold water of the hose once again.

“I used to laugh when our pack spoke of the mating heat. I’m not going to be laughing anymore.” Jake beat his head against the tree beside him. The two of them had torn apart several pieces of old furniture to ease the fury in their blood.

“We have to give her room to think. Right? That’s the mantra.”

“That’s the mantra. Or she may bolt entirely.”

“That would be very bad.” Kyle stuck his head back under the hose.

 

Ellie spent her days lost in thought. She made pro and con lists. She thought about what she wanted for her life, her degree, her career, her family. Would she need to exile herself from her family? It wasn’t as though she liked being around her mother or stepfather. Years watching Stan emotionally abuse her mother, as well as herself and her siblings, and she had sworn to not be around that. Her mother refused to leave her stepfather. “I married him. I love him. I can’t leave him.”

Was that what she’d be resigning herself to if she married—mated—Jake and Kyle? Compromising all of her dreams and goals for them, even just because they were shapeshifters? And what would they give up being with her, a human? Would they come to resent her?

 

Unable to touch her, and made more anxious by her worry, Kyle and Jake were agitated beyond their ability to bear it. Shifting again, they brought down a deer that night.

The third day, Jake and Kyle were growling, their eyes half gold, ready to split their skins at the slightest irritation. They tried to keep themselves to the kitchen, though they could smell her, feel her worry.

Sweating, shaking, Kyle and Jake finally knocked on the office door. “Come in.” Moira turned around, offering them a sympathetic smile. “I was wondering when you two would show up. Sit down before you fall down.” Kyle collapsed onto the couch and Jake followed suit. “How bad is it?”

Kyle wiped the sweat off his forehead. “Bad. Bad as in, we’ll have to leave SpiralStone in a couple days and detox out in the woods for a month.”

She folded her arms. “When I gave you permission to court the girl, I didn’t tell you to
bite
her.”

“Yeah, you tell a mating wolf he can’t bite his love.”

She bit back a harsh laugh. “I’m sure. Does she have any idea what’s going on?”

“Some. We can’t answer all her questions.” Jake lay with his arm over his eyes. “We invited a wolf who mated a human.”

Kyle glared at him, and she arched an eyebrow. “And?”

“It’s, uh, Kara and her human mate. They’ll be here in two days.” Kyle flushed.

Moira swore. “I knew you two would bring trouble to my doorstep. At least we enjoy the status of neutral territory. Nobody should attack you here. I’ll make myself available as a mediator.”

Jake leaned in, his eyes bloodshot. “Priestess, would you talk with Ellie? Please?”

“Now you want me to play matchmaker?”

“Ellie is overwhelmed.”

“She’s worried about a lot of things. I don’t even understand it. Maybe it would help her to talk it out?” Kyle made a futile gesture.

She quirked a grin. “What don’t you understand?”

“I’m in love with her. She smells right, she makes my heart beat faster. That’s all I need to know. I know I smell right to her. I don’t understand how she doesn’t just know. She smells like she loves us.”

“I didn’t know love had a smell. But yes. She’s probably a bit more conflicted than that. And I imagine neither of you is much for conversation at the moment.” They both growled in unison. “All right, I will talk with her. Anything you can do to—”

“Not really. Running the woods we’ve tried. If she refuses us, we’ll need to leave.”

“And if you leave these lands, you’ll be fair game for the Hagalaz. I never thought my wolves in the kitchen would be such troublemakers.” She shook her head. “I will do my best.”

“Thank you, priestess.”

She rolled her eyes. “Just Moira. Go on, take a cold shower or something.”

 

~* * *~

 

Ellie felt like she’d barely slept when her alarm went off. Groggy, she dragged herself to the house. “Ellie, can I see you a moment?” Moira took her into the office. “I’m going to cut right to it. I know about Jake and Kyle, and shapeshifting and mating. You’re in an incredibly stressful and challenging situation. I wanted to see if it might help you to talk things out. Also to let you know that the wolf and human mated pair Kyle invited will be here tomorrow, so I wanted to give you some time off to prepare for that.”

Ellie sat down across from the old priestess. “Oh.”

“A lot to take in, I know. I don’t pretend to have answers, and I can imagine you have a lot of questions. Perhaps I can help.”

Ellie struggled to find words. “Three days ago I had no idea shapeshifters existed. Now I need to figure out what my life would be like married…
mated
…to them. Both of them. They want me to make a decision in the next days. But I’m not even sure what a summer fling would look like, much less a lifelong thing.”

“For them it’s easy. Their instincts are clear. They’re in love with you. You…ah. In their elegant words, you smell ‘right’ to them. There is no conflict.”

“But how can they know they are in love with me?”

“They are certain. For what it’s worth, in my experience, shapeshifter matings tend to be good pairings. It’s rare when a mated pairing doesn’t work out. For whatever reason, the biology seems to work out in preternatural affairs of this sort. However,
you
need to be sure. Because if you find out you don’t want to be with them later on, it’s going to be very rough on all of you. It’s not impossible to undo a long-term mating, but it is difficult.”

“I don’t know how I can be sure. I haven’t had any time to get to know them. The past six weeks I’ve learned a little bit about them but…not enough to get married. Maybe enough to give them a drawer in my apartment.”

Moira laughed. “I’ve performed many weddings, and usually I’m an advocate of a people living together for at least a year before getting married to see how things work out. Though this isn’t a normal situation.” She sighed. “How do you feel about them?”

“Honestly, I’m completely conflicted. Before we…that is…before the other night, I had a huge crush on them. I was even fantasizing about setting up house with them, marrying them. It seemed absurd. And now that the option is before me…now that they want me…how do I know it’s love? How do I know it’s real?”

“Normally I wouldn’t be this forthright, and gods know I try to stay out of matchmaking here. But you are thinking about this too much.”

BOOK: Werewolves In The Kitchen
3.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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