Tag Archives: serial

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 21

INSTALLMENT No. 21 #lips #Angel #gargoyle
“Merrick?” Angelia’s voice quavered like the chicken she was, and she silently cursed herself. The Chimera needed someone sturdy, not some quaking ninny, so she’d better stiffen her Ramen noodle spine to be strong for him. Even if she had to fake it.
Her lips had not suddenly gone dry, dang it. But the swiping of her tongue to moisten them was like a slap to the face of her denial. Which she chose to ignore, and stood up, coiling her sweaty fist tighter with Merrick’s hold so he wouldn’t let her go.
Because she saw his agony. Heck, she felt it.
Whatever he did up on that Archway wasn’t good.
She’d seen the bony carcasses, so did she really want to know the gruesome details?
Yes. If it meant she could ease some of that drowning grief from his gray eyes, then yes. She wanted to comfort him so bad the need to do it quivered inside her, her body demanding she open up and take him into herself.
Acting on instinct, she reached out, pulling Merrick’s rough hand around her back and pressing her body to his.
He hissed as his arm drew her in tight. Through the opening of his unbuttoned leather jacket, she could see the hammer-like blows of his heart punching the thick muscles of his chest.
Jiminy, she could smell him, forcing her to remember there was a reason she’d let herself get squashed this close to Merrick, and it wasn’t to bask in that crystalline wildness. She was trying to give him solace.
“You stop souls from entering Hell, don’t you.” It wasn’t a question; she’d seen the evidence. But she wanted to come across as accepting, not as some dang coward.
He growled his answer, and Angelia closed her eyes as the scrape of it dragged delectably across her skin, erupting goosebumps in its wake.
“Yes.”
Ooh, she so, so, so loved his growl. Why didn’t she want to bask? She needed to dredge up every ounce of self-restraint she had to keep herself on track. But she would, for Merrick’s sake. “And humans without souls who wish to pass?” She knew such beings existed. They were the stuff of her nightmares from as far back as she could remember. They were the things the Gargoyles and Chimeras of her dreams protected her from.
They were probably why she idolized the Kynd.
His forehead pressed to her crown, his uneven breaths caressing her hair. “Angel, no more.” When he pulled back to look at her, he somehow plumbed a reassuring grin, and the sight of it made her go all gooey inside. Maybe it was because he seemed to be asking for mercy while his strong teeth reminded her that physically, he wasn’t vulnerable at all. “This Castle is probably the last beautiful thing you’ll see for a few days. You should be paying attention to that instead.”
Pfft. She highly doubted it. Merrick was beautiful, what with his black bangs curling in little spikes across his forehead, like a row of mini scythes, and cupping his smallish ear, which dragged her attention so her gaze followed the cords of his neck to the leather of his collar.
And he’d just called her Angel.
She bet he didn’t even realize it.
Besides, when she pulled her mind out of the sexual gutter, she noticed she was experiencing something far more beautiful than architecture or a sinful body: she was aglow from receiving the compassion of a Chimera.
Now that she knew how well-guarded a secret that was, she felt the privilege of his gift. He was treating her like Kynd.
Which made him irresistibly sexy.
Even to a virgin.
Her core squirmed again, but this time it pulsated, wetting her panties.
The muscles of Merrick’s broad shoulders bulged as he lowered his head to take a deep breath.
Dear God, he was sniffing her! He’d feel, too, the heat of her hand, the heat of her thighs, and she had to struggle not to place his hand where she readied for him, she had to resist the flaming urge to pull it between her legs and ride his rough palm.
His fingers gripped hers so hard she thought maybe he might break her bones. But she couldn’t stop her eyes from wandering low, to watch his manhood thicken, stretching the leather of his leggings. Her tongue stole out to caress her lower lip, for different reasons this time.
“Come on, Angel.” As Merrick tugged at her to resume their march toward the Castle, she caught the glint of thick fangs. Which should have frightened the bee turds out of her. Seriously, what was he going to do with those? Bite her?
Oh, please, yes.
She ought to wash her brain out with soap. She wanted the Chimera to bite her? Maybe it was time to stop living with Vampires.
Kynd didn’t drink blood, she knew that much. But she couldn’t shake visions of Merrick’s sharp teeth pinching her nipples, or sucking her breasts in between them.
Gads. She wasn’t helping the situation here, not when her nipples went rigid with the promise of what Merrick’s mouth could do.
Turning her attention to where her feet were going would be far more helpful. Merrick was dragging her toward the Castle, so she shifted gears to follow willingly, and freed her mind from her breasts to think about the words he’d spoken as he’d pulled her with him.
He’d called her Angel again. Merrick might have spoken to her like his teeth were smashed together, but he had called her Angel.
An endearment, not a curse.
She knew that because he didn’t let go of her hand.
He kept hold of her.
And she took it for the truce it was.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 22 coming Saturday, April 11, 2015.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 18

INSTALLMENT No. 18 #Acheron #Hell #sleeping bag
Angelia stirred as she awakened, snuggling deeper into Merrick’s arms, closer to his chest. The sleeping bag she was cocooned in seemed thicker than a pillow, dulling the delicate feel of her body against his.
Which shouldn’t matter. But still, he found solace in the wafting of that honey-lavender scent billowing from deep inside the warm nylon of the woman’s bedroll.
Not once did he put her down, not even during the crossing of the Acheron. Holding her had replaced his instinctive urge to take Kharon in his arms, to crush the other Kynd to him in a desperate hug to assuage his longing for touch.
To make up for his selfishness, he’d pressed close to Kharon, unabashedly sharing himself without having to put Angelia away from him.
Much to his surprise, the Ferryman peered down at the sleeping woman without saying a word. A strange light suffused the Kynd’s expression instead, and he reached out to caress a stray lock of her golden hair from her forehead.
Merrick’s whole body tensed, as if to lunge.
At what? Kharon, his brotherkynd?
Thankfully, the other Kynd had chosen to ignore the base growl seeping up out of Merrick’s lungs, and for his part, he’d done his damnedest to shove it back down where it boiled up from.
He was not furious that Kharon touched the human he held in his arms.
But the Ferryman curled his rough-tipped finger into his palm just the same, and drew his hand away.
Respecting my possessiveness.
Merrick apologized by clasping that retreating hand in his, holding it tight for the rest of the trip downriver. Angelia slept like a swaddled babe the whole time.
Even now as they traveled on firm ground, she wasn’t fully awake. But he felt her soft gaze on him, and he glanced down to steal a precious glimpse of those twilight eyes, which were lazy with sleep.
The small body he cradled in his arms stiffened under his glancing scrutiny, the woman’s senses firing to full alert. He didn’t relinquish this stolen chance to hold her, but drew her tighter against his chest to still her.
And his thoughts, which kicked like the hobbled horses they were. He refused to delve into his reasons for not setting her down, preferring instead to fall back on the excuse of who he was. Kynd needed touch almost as much they needed air to breathe, so of course he stole physical contact where he could.
Liar.
Ignoring that, too, he squeezed out the hint of a smile.
Which she ignored. But she no longer squirmed to get out of his arms. Now that was a gift. He could enjoy the feel of her a little longer, even if she didn’t care whether he offered her a rare smile or not.
“Where are we?” Angelia craned her neck to get a better view of their surroundings.
“Nearing the Castle of the First Ring.” His attention forcibly returned to the path before them, Merrick thought again of the Scriptum, and how it had made it through Kharon’s scrutiny, too, even though the Ferryman had seen the soulless man with the relic.
Maybe it does have a mind of its own.
What was it about that damned book that another Kynd would let it slip beyond his grasp? Well, Merrick wasn’t going to find out as soon as he hoped, which also meant he hadn’t been able to indulge in the company of his fellow Kynd beyond the length of the boat ride.
He and Kharon parted with longing hugs, and said nothing about Angelia beyond the obvious. Merrick figured Kharon felt bad enough as it was, that if the human woman in Merrick’s arms was the only one to retrieve that book, then the Ferryman wasn’t going to deny her passage.
“The Castle? I missed Kharon?” Angelia’s dismay yanked Merrick into the present. “How could I have missed a whole darned trip down a river?”
Merrick had known she’d be disappointed, but he still hated the sight of it. Wasn’t too fond of how it clenched like a vise on his heart, either.
Exactly where it shouldn’t.
“I figured the river would do its thing as it had done with Dante. It knocks humans out, makes them swoon.” He shrugged. “Or sleep, as it was in your case.” Even with his leather jacket acting as a buffer, he still felt the slide of her sleeping bag in his arms.
“But not you?” God, he didn’t want to see such disheartening failure crowding into those blue-black eyes, but there he was gazing down again just the same.
“No. The river doesn’t have the same effect.” If only she’d leave it at that. But he knew better. She was a scholar, wasn’t she? It was her nature to know, even if she wouldn’t like his answers.
“Go on.”
Merrick stared straight ahead, watching the path in front of him so he wouldn’t have to look down at the woman he pressed close to his chest. He’d been enjoying his hike with her in his arms. While she slept he could indulge his senses, could even pretend she wasn’t human, that she was an angel sent down from Heaven to bestow upon him some quiet moments of peace.
Which she had done. For a little while, the fomenting fury that pressed from the inside out of him, toughening his skin, abated, giving his body a break from its inexorable transition into stone.
Even now, she didn’t fight to get out of his arms, and Merrick savored the feel of her, which unleashed his tongue so it roved like a stray dog.
“The river has a voice—many voices.” He risked another peek down over his cheekbones to view the woman he carried. “Its flowing is like breath passing through the voice box, making sounds. The pitch is too high for human ears, so they can’t hear what’s being said. But on a subconscious level their brains are getting flooded, hypnotized. Which is why you swoon, or pass out.” Could he blabber on just a bit more?
“And you hear these voices?”
He nodded, not daring to look down again. Besides, awake, her body was heating up the sleeping bag she was in, as though the speeding up of her pulse warmed her from the inside out. “They’re mesmerizing, spellbinding.” Shut up, Merrick. “They make me want to stay, to enter into Hell and stay here.”
“But you can’t.”
Merrick snorted. “Yeah, well, it’s easier than you might think.”
At least, it had been easier, until he’d met the woman he now carried in his arms. He set her down, steadying her as she shimmied out of the constricting bedroll.
She clutched his arm as she did so, and the grip of it shot a twinge straight to his balls.
God Almighty.
He’d have to take her back to Acheron just so she’d pass out again, so he could function normally.
“But now that you’re away from the river, surely the urge is gone? I mean, you can’t want to spend the rest of your life in Hell.”
“Why not? It certainly has its advantages.”
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 19 coming Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 16

INSTALLMENT No. 16
Watching Angelia, Merrick felt his heart pinch, then decided to ignore it. She was damned beautiful standing there, her lids growing heavy over eyes that reflected the deep maroon of the water rolling by. “As you should be. Go get some sleep, I’ll wake you when it’s time.”
“You’re not sleeping?”
Merrick suppressed a rueful grin. “No. I’m Kynd, remember? We don’t exactly sleep.”
Angelia shrugged. “I suppose not. But don’t you nap, at least?”
“Yeah, when we need to.” Or wanted to, as Merrick did just then. He wanted to slip into Angelia’s sleeping bag right along with her, feel the weight of her body pressed to his as she drifted off with her dreams, while he lay with her in his arms, protecting her.
“And, you don’t need to,” she said, reminding Merrick all too clearly of who and what he was.
“We aren’t alone along the river. Souls are gathering for the crossing.”
“Right. Forgot.” Angelia stumbled from the riverbank to her bedroll, where Merrick hoped she’d settle in soon.
Because he could feel her eyes on his back, and he thickened with his need for her, the leather of his leggings pulling tight.
Bloody hell.
Just what he needed, another torment to contend with. As it was, he stood mesmerized by the murmuring rustle of voices in the water as it rushed past his boots, beckoning him to follow, to surrender his will and loose his Chimera from its singular Gargoyle form. His heart strained in his chest, rending him in different directions.
Merrick cursed as he turned to follow the woman. Better he risk her seeing his physical need for her than succumb to the invitation of the voices. He was rewarded by a spontaneous smile when she spotted him, and his chest grew tight.
Without undressing or removing her boots, she spread out her sleeping bag and burrowed into it. Merrick leapt onto a larger boulder and crouched, facing her. To his sensitive ears, her held breath seemed as loud as the creaking of his leather coat.
Because the human woman scrutinized him as closely as he did her, and the third of Merrick, his lion, wanted to devour her one sensuous lick of his rasp-like tongue at a time.
“Tell me what you know about Kharon,” he growled, his voice thick with need.
“What I know about Kharon?” She looked like she was trying to reconcile his expression to his words, her feather-light brows pinching over her sleepy eyes.
Merrick rubbed his palm across his mouth and nodded. He hoped talking would get both their minds back on why they were in this predicament in the first place.
Heaven knew, one more minute of watching her watch him and he was going to do something he’d never thought possible of a Kynd. He was going to ask a human woman for the novelty of a kiss.
“Yes. You know he’s the Ferryman,” he said, leading her, his eyes following the dip and rise of her throat as she swallowed.
“Of course. He escorts dead souls to Hades,” she nodded. Wisps of her blond hair, tinted by the red of the sky and the river, framed her face, her braid curving like a tail across her shoulder.
Dear God, help him; Merrick wished it was his tail draped there.
Angelia yawned and rubbed her fingers into her eye.
She was getting sleepier, falling under the spell of the Acheron, as he knew she would.
As it should be.
Merrick turned to stare back out at the river, letting Angelia surrender to the sleep that was fast creeping up on her. He felt the stirrings of unease that he duped her, that she wasn’t aware of what was happening to her, and he almost caved, almost blurted out the deception.
But he recalled her determination to get the Scriptum, and bit down on his urge to confess. She’d be upset if they were refused entry, and that clinched his resolve.
He’d let her fall into a dreamless slumber, exactly where he needed her to be in order to get by Kharon. Because, no matter how refreshed she’d be from a good night’s sleep, she would never be ready for the Ferryman.
She wasn’t supposed to be, that wasn’t how the crossing worked. Besides, Kharon would know she wasn’t destined for The Circles. Angelia, upon her death, would cross a more pleasant plane than this one of fetid, bloodied water and fire.
Which was why Merrick could not give in to his base desires. No matter how bad he wanted to feel and taste every inch of the woman’s bare skin, no matter how he longed to slide his hard, stone-rough body into her soft one, he could not.
Angelia’s destiny was the exact opposite of the Chimera’s. Merrick understood only too well what his future held in store, and it had nothing to do with God and his chosen angels in Heaven.
So he kept to himself while he waited a while longer until he was sure Angelia wouldn’t stir when he moved her. Then he knelt down to lift her so he could carry her across the river.
Yet, as he lowered himself, the scent of honey-lavender spread through him, and he couldn’t resist dragging his face along the skin of her slender neck, where the smell of her lingered strong, pooling where the shorter, gossamer strands of her hair curled along the base of her delicate skull.
So wondrous. He followed his nose along the slender line of her jaw to behind her ear, and it was all he could do not to press his lips to the silk of her skin, to drag his tongue so he could taste her. He thickened at his groin, grew uncomfortable with its urgent, unfamiliar weight.
God in Heaven, he could cast aside his resolve as easily as he could steal a forbidden taste of her, so he backed off, biting down on a frustrated snarl.
He wanted her as desperately as he wanted to stay in Hell.
Merrick took a steadying breath, then crammed his wanting down into the same abyss where his fury swirled. He gathered their things, then gently plucked Angelia off the ground, sleeping bag and all, and started down the path toward the Ferryman.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 17 coming Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 14

INSTALLMENT NO. 14 #humiliation #scent  #crave
Merrick watched the woman’s backside grow smaller for the second time in the same day. Just like before, he was struck dumb.
Was that shame he’d seen flash in those blue-black eyes? The Chimera had lived a solitary existence for millennia, but he recognized humiliation when he saw it. Because he saw it almost every day, perched atop the Archway with damned souls plodding beneath his paws.
That the human woman Angelia should fall victim to such a debilitating emotion cut away at the stone of his heart, something she alone seemed to have the knack for doing.
And Merrick wasn’t sure how to take that.
He didn’t like humans. With God on their side, they were doing a fine job of destroying themselves and the beautiful planet that had been gifted to them.
Their egos acknowledged no bounds. Nothing was too great or too low for them to grasp with their greedy, bloodstained hands.
Yet, Angelia seemed different somehow. As clever as she was, there was a naiveté she emanated, an innocence the Chimera hadn’t encountered since he’d been exiled to the gates of Hell.
Merrick plucked his leather coat off the ground and smacked the dirt and dead insects out of it.
This could have been her.
A rosy thought.
One that made him think of how fragile a human being she was. She offered him nothing but kindness and fair play, and he shoved it back down her throat.
But it was either that or acknowledge how he reacted to her. The scent of her went straight to his groin, so that it thickened and grew painfully heavy.
What was he going to do with that? Mate her?
Not on God’s green toy called Earth. Or in Hell, for that matter.
Except he wanted to, which was the problem. He wanted to taste her, he wanted to know what her softness would feel like as she encased the damned thing hardening between his legs.
She was the opposite of stone, which was the Chimera’s fate, and just once before his body succumbed to its doom he would like to feel the pliability of soft flesh yielding for him.
Merrick scoffed, shoving such nonsense out of his head. He would have to be satisfied with something more platonic, curse his infernal erection, if he wanted to savor the presence of the human woman.
He could cram his rage and the fact of his hardening skin away for the next several days. Hell, if he could do that it would give him something nice to think about while he was perched in immutable stone for the next few centuries. Maybe thinking of her would ease some of his rage so he could endure his granite prison.
“Angelia, wait.” Merrick trotted after the one thing that shined a little like hope, even if he could never touch her.

****
Her feet halted like the booted traitors they were when the Chimera’s growling command caressed her eardrums.
Brilliant.
So much for her shred of dignity. That was about to get tossed to the curb like the paltry thing it was. Angelia took a fortifying breath and turned to face her anguish head on.
“What, Merrick.” Her curt response was all she could muster as she watched him jog toward her. God, he was beautiful. Not pretty in any way, but striking, the way a tiger sliding through the jungle was beautiful. Sublimely powerful, muscles rippling with every self-possessed movement.
Who knew? Maybe one of the animals of his Chimera was tiger.
Oh yeah, the idea of that just stuffed her with confidence.
“Not Mr. Merrick?” He coaxed a chagrined smile to his lips as he pulled up in front of her.
Angelia hadn’t been expecting his grin, and the sight of it stabbed straight for her womb, which wrung taut with raw need.
She bit down on a gasp, and for one horrifying second she thought she gave herself away.
God, she couldn’t even focus on her Indiana Jones adventure without somehow messing it up. Getting moist for her guide would not prove her self-worth. Not to her father, or Aro. Least of all to herself.
Merrick lifted his chin as his nostrils widened. He took a step back.
Angelia’s cheeks warmed, the stings and bites growing sere from the heat rushing to her face.
Oh, she must be gorgeous, all reeking with needy sex and mottled like a toad. So attractive, the Chimera took a step backward.
Angelia stiffened her spine in the face of his revulsion. Then spun on her heel to flee toward the River Acheron with as steady a hiking pace as she could muster.
She wouldn’t let him see her run. She wasn’t a coward, dang it. No, she was not.
Yes, he weakened her.
But she couldn’t deny the soaring of her heart as he fell into a quiet pace behind her.

****

They reached the river Acheron by what would have been nightfall if they hadn’t been traveling beyond the Archway. Time simply didn’t exist in Hell, the sun didn’t rise or set. The sun didn’t appear at all. Instead, a red sky reigned above their heads, a constant part of the scenery Merrick paid no attention to.
Because, as Angelia walked, he followed her like a dog, trying to steal more of her scent whenever the breezes cooperated.
She never looked back at him, so she didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Hell, he didn’t have any idea what he was doing.
Chasing a scent like an animal.
Yes, he was.
But he couldn’t help himself. The smell of her had him hooked, as it had from the second he’d gotten a whiff of her back at the Triumvirate’s gallery. He could follow her scent instinctively, so the rest of the time they walked he turned his mind to the task at hand.
A surprisingly difficult feat given the way he practically salivated as he watched her walking ahead of him. She had a cushy, yet tight ass, one that begged squeezing, and long, lithe legs dropping out from the bottom of that tempting bum.
Merrick kept his hands clenched in fists lest he indulge his urges.
He had more important decisions to make than whether or not to sandwich his phallus between the cheeks of her ass. Besides, the fact that he wanted to should have been fueling his rage.
The Chimera hated humans, who tended to lord it over everything, the world being their God-given domain and all.
Humans were higher up on his list of dislikes than Ghouls. So, why wasn’t she pissing him off the way other humans did?
Well, he could rub that little nugget, too, while he sat frozen in Grotesque form on a window ledge.
Right then, he had more immediate concerns, like how he was going to convince Kharon the Ferryman that the living soul he escorted should be granted passage across Acheron.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 15 coming Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 13

 

INSTALLMENT No. 13
Merrick breathed in the honey lavender of Angelia’s hair, grateful she finally answered him. Her bones felt so fragile in his arms he worried that maybe he’d hurt her, that he’d been too strong.
If she’d been harmed?
Well, there would be hell to pay for it, ironically.
Merrick shunned the real reason for his alarm, refusing to delve into that heretofore non-existent treasure chest. He shifted the woman in his arms, releasing her slowly as he’d done when he’d taken to the air with her. As then, he didn’t want her tipping onto her lovely behind, which had become all the more beautiful since he’d discovered it might be precious to him.
Yeah, right. Forget it, dumb ass.
He was a lost soul, a hopeless cause. It wasn’t going to be long before he abandoned his post at the Archway to Hell and either threw his lot in with Lucifer, or perched his granite-turning butt on the ledge of a building.
Still though, he couldn’t stop looking at her. She was terribly shaken, her eyes almost black and shimmering with tears as she unfurled herself from his embrace to stand up. Her face bore the evidence of his preoccupation with her taunting ass, her cheeks and pert nose were dappled with angry stings.
She swiped at her watering eyes and heaved a breath, yanking Merrick’s attention to her breasts.
Great Christ Almighty. Her chest lifted and dropped repeatedly, and those beautifully bulbous things seemed to fill before his eyes. Two points projected from her shirt, like buttons wanting to be pinched, and Merrick fisted his hands and locked his elbows. He would not touch her like he was driven mad to do.
He’d never touched a female in his long life. He’d probably scare her worse than she already was. What did he know of a woman’s breasts? It wasn’t as if he had instincts in the mating department. It wasn’t like he would know what to do that would make her glad he was fondling them.
Did he?
His tongue certainly thought so. It slid across his fangs, which almost itched with the yearning to nip those points, and his mouth wanted to suckle them in, like a babe to its mother’s teat.
Merrick gave his head a sharp shake, dislodging such notions.
He was no babe, and Angelia no mother.
So, why did he want to cup…
Merrick shook his head harder.
The woman took a step back, her eyes still huge.
He needed to remember how he’d failed her because of his callous attitude over her being just a human. She wasn’t Kynd, or one of the Others, for that matter. She was human, one of the millions who were currently overrunning the earth, who shunned the Grotesques, who forgot to honor them by erecting architectural wonders on which the Kynd could spend their remaining years.
She would shun him as surely as her ilk already did.
God be damned, he shouldn’t care. But he did.
“You should go back. Get another guide.” He wasn’t the one for this mission no matter what the Triumvirate thought. He was too hard, he had been alone too long to interact with something as volatile, and fragile, as a human being.
Especially this one, who reminded him too sharply of all that he used to be.
Of all that he now was, and was soon going to be.

****

Angelia shook her own head, denying Merrick’s suggestion.
Even denying the hunger she’d seen burning in his slate eyes. Because it hadn’t lasted long, and now she wasn’t sure it had been there in the first place. Why would he have gazed on her with wanting?
She was mistaken. She was sure of it; especially when now what she saw in his stare reminded her of flagstone—flat and hard.
Dear God, he just saved my life from—
She swung her arm out as if it could possibly encompass the enormity of what had just trampled passed.
It was that, or open and close her mouth like a fish while she fought for air.
She was in shock and had merely imagined the Chimera’s wanting.
But, she couldn’t go back. She couldn’t look at Aro’s disappointed face and admit she wasn’t the human he should have pegged his hopes on.
Even her guide no longer wanted the responsibility of her, and wasn’t that just the icing on her crap cake.
Oh, she was utterly priceless.
Angelia swirled to face the glowing horizon and put one determined foot in front of the other, her jaw clamped tight with determination.
Fine. If the Chimera wanted to wash his hands of her, then she’d make it easy for him. She didn’t have much in the dignity department, but she had enough to know when she should cut her losses.
Her dream of working with one of the Kynd being one of them.
Never mind that every step she was taking in the opposite direction from Merrick sluiced so much regret down her throat she couldn’t breathe from the pressure of it.
She willed her rubbery legs onward. She would retrieve the Scriptum on her own if it killed her.
What a delusional ninny she’d been. Getting all hot and liquid for a creature Michelangelo would have palavered over. Just as if the Chimera would have welcomed her advances if she gathered the nerve to try.
He was beautiful, mythical, and she was—well, she was nothing special. But she did have one last opportunity to prove her worth. Throwing it away was not an option, not with her future riding on the success of the Scriptum’s retrieval.
Okay. She’d be a little more honest with herself.
She felt a personal connection to that book, and she wanted it safe in her arms. The book sang to her. Its message bypassed her logical brain and speared its truth straight to her heart, which was why she’d come to with Aro’s livid face hovering over her.
She remembered how everything had dissolved around her, including herself, as she’d listened to the strains emanating from the open pages.
The Kynd. They were meant to do something, but she couldn’t recall what. So was she, but she couldn’t remember how she was connected to them or what she was supposed to do about it. She’d passed out. And when she’d fainted, her answers must have dribbled out of her ears and dissolved into the cracks in the stone floor of the study.
I’ll get them back.
With one determined step forward at a time.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 14 coming March 14, 2015

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 9

Installment No. 9
“Wait, I’m coming.” Getting breathless, Angelia turned back around to give her father a quick hug. “I’ve got to go,” she nudged her chin toward an impatient Merrick bounding toward the stairs.
“I could speed you there so you arrived before he did,” Anton lifted a dark brow, accenting the mischief swirling in his silver eyes.
“No,” she grinned, unable to resist his stoic charm. “He’s right. I’ll catch up.”
“It’s good-bye then, chickie. Be careful.”
“I will, Papa. And hold Mom tight, give her my kisses.”
“Of course.”
Angelia spun on her heels and ran for the staircase.
Of course her father would most assuredly hold her mother to him. He was going to have to. Marguerite was going to go berserker. Guilt anyone? She felt bad for leaving her father with her mess to clean up, but she had no choice. Merrick was right about needing to leave as soon as possible. Enough time had been wasted. The Scriptum could already be within the Second Circle and spiraling farther downward by the minute.
As she ran, she shuffled the pack to her back, cinching the belts across her chest and waist to keep it from bouncing. Her heart thumped too hard, but no telling if it was because of the daunting prospect of her mission, or the exhilaration of going on an adventure with a real Chimera.
She couldn’t separate the two things, not when her feet drew her closer to Merrick. Slowing as she neared him, she sized him up until she was standing so close she could smell the smooth leather of the clothes he was folding into the pack at his bare feet. Some other scent teased her senses, too, something crystalline and very male.
Merrick turned when she approached, and Angelia ripped her eyes from his broad, naked chest with its flat nipples, to look up into a tight face. Slate gray eyes hit her so hard she took a physical step backward. Away from him.
“That’s right, chickie. Not too close.” His sneer revealed one long, thick, and very sharp canine. “You wouldn’t want the big, bad Gargoyle to eat you.”
“If that’s to intimidate me, you’d better try harder. I was raised with Vampires.” She was a braggart, an empty windbag in the cruel face of his taunting.
“If you’re not scared, human, then you’re a bigger idiot than I pegged you for.”
Her retort never left her lips. Merrick abruptly yanked her snug against his taut, naked body, and exploded around her with a snap and flutter so thunderous she’d have cowered if he wasn’t holding her so tight.
She understood then, in one terrifying blur of black feathers that swallowed her body whole, that she was indeed an idiot.
And so very beyond her realm as the Chimera engulfed her in his wings and rocketed her toward Hell.

****

They stopped at the Archway, where for the past two thousand years Merrick had perched as Guardian to those passing into Hell. He felt the grass on his bare soles as he alighted, his bones registering the solidity of the earth beneath him.
Yet, his skin and muscles felt so much more as he basked in the warmth of the body he pressed to his. The human woman’s heart pumped fast, priming her blood so it raced beneath her skin. Her unique blend of honey and lavender puffed under his nose.
He wasn’t sorry for the nectar of her, he was chagrined to have caused her fear. He’d done it on purpose, like a lout, in a fit of temper. Because she unnerved him. The confusing part? She did so even in his distilled form.
The human woman wielded a power over him that shouldn’t be possible. He’d gloried in the contrasting silk of her cheek against the thicker skin of his torso, the heat of her breath, the clinging of her delicate, yet strong arms around his waist as he’d vaulted them into the sky.
So help him, he fought not to dig his lion’s claws into her, resisting the urge to press her tighter with his padded palms. God in Heaven, but the ancient Vampyre Anton and his wife had named their foundling correctly.
This human seemed like an angel.
And strike him dead if he harmed her. As it was, he danced on the edge of suffering his demise. Because he was holding her too tight, even with both sets of their feet solidly planted on the ground. He should release her, not stand there gripping onto her like a stricken imbecile.
He was Kynd, dammit, he didn’t do the mating thing. He was not a performer in the carnal arts of creation.
Folding his wings with a powerful ruffle, he slid the rest of the Chimera behind his bare skin. In his shift, he kept the human woman trapped upright in his changing arms, lest she wobble and teeter to the dirt.
He gazed down at her when he was finished, to register her alarm, her vertigo.
Well, wasn’t he the lucky one: his night just brimmed with surprises.
The woman seemed barely fazed, just a little flushed, gazing up at him with those dark blue eyes shining with the thrill of her ride.
Merrick released her as if her skin caught fire and would burn him.
****
Swaying like a lone two by four standing vertical, Angelia glanced straight up into the fierce glint of granite eyes, and clamped her jaw shut. Which did wonders for her balance. Good thing, too, since Merrick scraped her nerves until they sang for him. She didn’t need him knowing it.
But their passage through the sky?
Sheer terrifying exultation, unlike anything she’d ever experienced. The Chimera had gifted her with something wondrous.
Flight.
Scary, yes. But she’d felt incongruously safe in Merrick’s grasp. She’d forgotten all about his tenuously tamped rage as the air ripped over them, across the surface of his feathers, filling her ears with a sound she could only liken to the strains of a choir. A sound which resonated to the core of her, as though it was a deeply buried memory she couldn’t excavate.
But she’d dig later. Right then, she’d rather think about how being wrapped snug in those singing wings, she’d felt none of the frigid night sky. Only the Chimera’s strength, his heat, the rough skin of his chest against her face, as if he was encased within a film of stone.
Immediately, she thought of his eyes, so like slate, too, and stole another glance up at him, steeling herself against the vision.
He moved before her as naked as Adam. Well-built, powerful, his muscles dragging on bone, flexing as he bent over his pack to retrieve his clothing. She watched transfixed as his spine curved, his ribcage expanding masterfully as he drove his hand into the sack. Two symmetrical scars lined his back. Where he kept his wings?
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 10 coming Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wolf-Love, Final Installment #travel #self-discovery #author’s note

Wolf-Love

Final Installment

    Against Sofia’s better judgment, she and German returned to their room to change their clothes. Well, she wouldn’t be changing her clothes because she was still a wolf, the dress she’d been wearing still laying like a shed snakeskin on the floor of the dining room. Now that they were no longer downstairs, her mate was shucking his suit like a bear picking through the garbage: shit was getting tossed.

    Until he stood naked, turning toward her like Adonis. God, he was beautifully handsome, his muscles perfectly formed. Not over-pumped like he worked out in a gym, but well-defined and chiseled because of the lack of body fat. German was lean, built for agility, speed, and strength.

    Like a wolf.

    Huh. Add two and two and you get someone worth drooling over. Literally. Sofia ran her wolf tongue along the ridge of her left lip, and her mate’s verdant eyes caught fire. She smelled his arousal before her gaze picked up on the subtle tightening between his legs. Wolf senses. Nose first—but, oh, how sharp her eyes were!

    German’s smile lit his face, narrowed his green eyes with the lifting of his cheeks. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was dinner.”

    Sofia’s tail swept like a pendulum, heavy and low, side to side.

    As if she’d spoken, he understood. Then again, she guessed she had said something. Reading body language was a finely tuned and innate talent. Now that her wolf had blossomed fully from her, comprehending the nuances of the body didn’t seem so strange. And didn’t get her into trouble, either. No wonder her transition went pretty seamlessly: she was already half-way there, her body just needed to catch up with her brain.

    She loved her wolf self. Hugged it fiercely to her like the long lost twin it was. So, her mate standing in front of her nude tickled her skin beneath her fur. She was anxious for him to join her.

    However. German sat on his heels and opened his arms for her to come to him. He knew she wasn’t just excited, that she’d be asking a hundred questions if she could shift out of her wolf form. But circumstances kept her trapped. She couldn’t regulate her pounding heart, couldn’t cool the heat of her blood.

    “C’mere, Sofe.” His tender name for her. She needed comforting as much as she wanted him inside of her, and he knew that. She hadn’t been wrong to bind herself to this man. Who was a wolf, too. God! She loved him, loved their lives together. Unable to stop herself, Sofia squirmed against him, curling herself around her paws like they were a pedestal and her upper body a swivel chair. To be rubbed against German’s broad chest, inside of his strong arms. She kissed him under the chin repeatedly, her tongue flicking out, her nose nudging him.

    He tugged an ear, let it go, tugged again. Quieting her. Quelling her rising anxiety. It worked, even without the gentle swaying of a moving car beneath them. She felt his chuckle like bubbles fizzing across her fur. “Yeah, we dodged a bullet.” He resumed the tugging as they both grew quiet. “We’re homeless, though, Sofe. I’m your mate without a territory.” She heard his regret, his disappointment. Like he’d expected more from himself.

    How could she tell him he’d already given her more than she’d ever dreamed possible?

    No home? Hell, nothing new from where she was standing. In fact, she’d never been better equipped to be homeless. With her fur, she had portable shelter. Her wolf body was a damned grocery cart. Push it and food could be had.

    Aaaand…door number three? She wasn’t alone in any of it. No matter what the future held, elementally she knew German would always be there. They were bound together, his promise to her going far beyond mere words spoken. He was a living thing moving within her.

    Within her. Those weren’t just pretty words. The gray wolf prowled below her skin, in every cell, through her blood, so she always felt him, always knew he was with her.

    “We could head back to the northeast.” Sofia wiggled deeper into his embrace. Hell, yeah! As much as she’d enjoyed her first trip across the country, she missed Maine. If that was where German wanted to go, then they should be heading there yesterday. She released the whine building up in her chest as her tail thumped. “That’s a yes, huh?” She felt his smile along her fur as he buried his face into her ruff, his arms squeezing tighter.

    He needed her. As much as she needed him.

    After a deep breath, he stood up. “Okay. Just you and me, and our paws beneath us.” Determination hardened his features, pacing like a fierce thing in his eyes. “Wolf, Sofia. We leave here as wolves.” Which meant they would take nothing, so he wouldn’t owe anything to this pack. He would finally be free.

    But, he knew the risks and wouldn’t go if she didn’t dare. Wolves lived together not just for the camaraderie. As pack, they helped one another survive. Which wasn’t some theory discussed while sated and warm, comfortably safe beside a crackling fireplace.

    Survival.

    She’d been surviving on less than she had now. So, no, she wasn’t deterred, she wasn’t frightened. Loping toward the door, she stopped and yipped. If they were going then they’d better get going before the idiots downstairs did something predictably human: like take back their promise that she and German could go in peace.

    Her mate fell to his knees as he succumbed to his wolf.

    Joy swelled, expanding inside her, filling her to overflowing. To stem it, she ran, the Minnesota night enveloping her as she and the gray wolf burst from the manor. Sofia didn’t look back, but up, where the stars were sharp diamonds in a navy sky so wide the constellations were self-evident.

    German brushed her shoulder, matching his stride to hers. Other wolves emerged from the trees silent as ghosts, falling in behind them. Two, then four, five, and still they appeared like wraiths from the landscape to follow.

    German poured on a burst of speed. Not to lose them, but to strive forward, to release the exultation of a born leader overwhelmed by the unexpected show of solidarity, of loyalty. As he slowed then halted, the others circled, tentatively skimming their fur against the gray wolf’s. Against her own. Their tails swishing low. Her mate lifted his muzzle to the night sky to howl his triumph.

    Pack. The red wolf would get her family, after all. A fairy tale ending? Hardly. But it was Sofia’s version of happily ever after.

    ~S.C. Dane

    ~The End.

    ~Author’s note: As Monty Python is famous for saying: “Now it’s time for something completely different.” I’m going to change tack, veer off course, turn left at Dunkin’ Donuts. My next several blogs will be more personal; a little sharing of an author’s life and how I got to be where I am now: traveling across the country with my dog as my co-pilot. Title of the next several blogs? “How to Throw Away a Perfectly Good Husband.”

I’ll post a blog for you in the next several days, once my wheels find their groove. Wish I could give you something a little more concrete date-wise, but I’m traveling. The road has a way of chewing time, and the scenery tends to launch my imagination, so it takes me a little while to dig my toes back into solid earth. I apologize ahead of time for this inconvenience of being a little off the map (pun intended). But losing myself to find myself is kind of the point of my journey. I welcome you to hop aboard and share. I’m sure I’m not the only woman out there who had a dream and pursued it before time ran out. I would love to hear your stories!

Wolf-Love, Installment No. 49 #wild #devotion

Wolf-Love

Installment No. 49

    German moved with Sofia, trailing her while keeping his two feet on the floor, and not on the table as his red she-wolf had done. He had to hand it to her, though. A wolf leaping up then stalking down the center of the long table was impressive, even to those who were the wolf-people. Apparently, they’d been too long out of touch with their beasts because every eye followed the red wolf gliding past them. Some jaws were even a little slack with wonder—despite beliefs to the contrary, that the wolf should be shunned, locked away beneath the skin, repressed.

    Their trailing eyes gave away their respect, as well. Not only had they watched her passing, but they’d averted their gazes ever so slightly. A human would have never noticed. But German had never been human, not even when he walked upright. Sure, he played at it and was good enough no one ever suspected, but his wolf was ever present, pacing just behind his eyes, watching everything with a predator’s keenness.

    He halted halfway down, behind the other Alpha’s chair, which put him directly across from the fourth Alpha and the head of Security. With his position centered, he could divide his attention across the four directions, with Sofia being his lodestar. He wouldn’t, couldn’t veer his focus from her no matter how many angles he was trying to keep track of. Not only was she his mate, the female he was compelled to protect at any cost, but he’d sworn a promise to her.

    He would not be every other person in her life. By some miracle, she trusted him. She had opened her heart to him, trusting that he would not betray her. The evidence? Burned pure in her silvery gray eyes whenever she looked at him. She might have been on her own all those years, amassing emotional injuries, but she’d endured. Courageously she had given him her scarred and sacred heart.

    Him. A wolf-man practically rogue himself. A lone wolf who had spurned his pack in order to stay true to his own heart. A heart which recognized itself in the woman it claimed as its life mate. Who, for the love of Luna, was now standing up for him, risking herself without a thought. Instinctively facing their shared enemy. For him.

    She humbled him with her devotion, with her concern for someone like him. He didn’t feel worthy of her, not until she shook his very soul with her gaze. When she looked at him, he felt like the greatest wolf alive, like he could do anything. For her, he could. The proof stood along the wall holding his collar and chains. He would have worn them for her.

    But not now. Not when his beautiful mate threw away the very thing she’d always wanted in order to protect him. He’d honor the generosity of her great heart, and would not call her back. He would stand to defend her. To defend them.

    So much for going down quietly. So much for going down at all.

    In a move that left no question of his dominance, he dug his fingers into the shoulders of the Alpha seated in front of him, forcing the man deeper into his chair so he couldn’t escape. For all the display, German knew where the real threat came from: Bryce. The wolf-man standing at the other side of the table. The wolf who was ultimately in control of those chains.

    Amber eyes stared back without lowering.

    If German wasn’t so worried about Sofia, he’d appreciate his opponent. During their cub-hood, Bryce had nearly been his equal, had forced German to dig deeper, to fight harder, to plot cannier. In Bryce, German could have had a friend.

    If the wolf didn’t stand on the polar opposite side of German’s beliefs. Where German believed with all his soul that their wild wolves should be nurtured, Bryce believed with as much fervor that their wolves should be tamed.

    Older and at an impasse, they’d parted. German to nourish his wolf, and Bryce to uphold the New Order. As he was now prepared to do. German watched, his spine radiating so much heat as to liquefy his bones, to turn his muscles into rivers of lava. Ever the wary predator, he caught Bryce’s brief glimpse to the head of the table, where he looked to the real power in the room. He looked to Kyrenn.

    Before he’d been mated, German would have followed that look, he would have turned to see what his mother would do. Just as his red wolf had done, German would have turned his back on the other three, on the Alphas who didn’t matter.

    But he was mated, and for inexplicable reasons, he’d been forewarned by the very woman Bryce was looking to for direction. A trickle of unease wormed its way to his stomach, tightening it. Had he misread his mother’s change of heart? He thought she’d been warning him, but was there something he’d missed?

    Sofia trotted toward him, cutting a graceful path down the center of the table, as mesmerizing as a wolf loping along a river’s uneven edge. She was breathtaking, her red fur lifted along her back like the razor peaks of a mountain chain. Wild. Untamed. There was a reason he attributed the natural world to the red wolf when he gazed upon her. His Sofia didn’t belong here any more than he did.

    So, they would leave. But not with their tails tucked.

    As if she harkened to his resolve, the red wolf trained her intimidating gaze on his mother. Protecting his flank. Beautiful wolf. Didn’t she know he’d rather have her a hundred miles from this scene? What if she wound up being the one imprisoned in those chains?

    Well. Blood would fly now, wouldn’t it? Her capture would not be tolerated. It was one thing for him to bear the punishment for his life of disobedience, but it was abhorrent for his mate to do so.

    The thought of the red wolf in chains turned his veins to ice, cooling the blood burning through him. With a calculating eye, he faced the wolf-man across from him, trusting that Sofia watched the other wolf at the head of the table, the one who mattered.

    “Do not do this, Bryce.” German raised his palm, indicating the men lined up along the wall. “It’s truly not necessary.”

    Amber eyes slid back to hold his. “I have my orders.”

    So he did. And Bryce had ever been the one for following orders. “Doesn’t mean you can’t, just this once, ignore them. We’ll go in peace.”

    Bryce’s eyes narrowed, as if he were actually considering German’s proposal. Huh. Maybe the wolf had grown less rigid in his maturity. “Remove your hand from our Alpha.” Or…maybe not.

    German stepped back, hands in the air, fingers aimed for the vaulted ceiling.

    “Farther back.”

    German fought the twitch of his lips. Bryce remembered well their days of play. He knew how quick German could be. Sofia’s tail lifted, her ears laying back, ready to act now that he’d ceded his advantage to the other wolf-man.

    “Your mate, too. Get her off the table or—

    They growled in stereo, cutting off the threat. “Or you’ll what?”

    Bryce looked from one head of the table to the other.

    “Undecided, or is there a tennis match going on I’m not aware of?” Tennis his ass. He and Sofia were in the middle of a showdown and they weren’t the players. Pawns. They were pawns, he realized, his mother’s intentions sparking clear. She’d truly wanted no part in his punishment this time.

    Imagine that. Maybe his mother was growing soft in her maturity, too. Gift horses and their mouths and all that.

    The Alpha he had in his clutches hissed his opinion. “Just let them go, for Luna’s sake.” With the man’s back facing him, German couldn’t catch his expression. Not that he needed it. The man wafted the pungent scent of fear. Those sitting close to the Alpha leaned back or to the side, their bodies subtly shifting away from the nervous wolf-man. As though his cowardice were a thing to catch. Or they were like rats on a sinking ship.

    If only. The New Order had its fans who wouldn’t be quick to abandon the idea just because a figurehead lost his balls in the soup. “Leave us be, and we’ll do the same.” He meant it, too, even though the urge for revenge rode him hard. Finally, he challenged the Alphas. The victory might be small, but it was no less sweet. His wolf wanted the other man flat on his back on the floor. Decisions, decisions.

    But he was being funny, reveling in the rift in leadership. What he really wanted was Sofia off the property and heading wherever it was she wanted to go. If she said Siberia, he’d purchase tickets, no questions asked. No kidding. She’d trusted him and he owed it to her to make sure he didn’t harm that trust any more than he had already.

    “Red?” He didn’t take his eyes off Bryce or his attention from the feuding Alphas. The thugs with their chains remained along the wall like obedient soldiers. “Ready to go?”

    Sofia’s vault off the table conjured gasps, but the attention lasted only until her paws hit the carpet. After that, it was as if she had never existed, as if German had never threatened an Alpha. The greater drama was still unfolding, and like a riveting play, the audience sat enrapt, forgetting the rest of the world existed beyond their seats.

    German and Sofia slipped out of the room.

    ~S.C. Dane

    ~Final Installment coming Saturday, May 3,
2014.

Wolf-Love, Installment No. 48 #freestory #wolf-shifter

Wolf-Love

Installment No. 48

    It was the sight of the chains that did it. Pushed her beyond the point where she couldn’t control her transition. Like an over-full glass with the liquid held along the rim with only surface tension, her wolf hovered. Waiting for that one moment, that last drop, to spill over. Hello, Little Red Riding Hood. In an overwhelming burn, her bones rearranged themselves, her muscles turning into something resembling lava. An eternity of seconds later, she was eye level with the table, peering up to see the rims of plates, the underbellies of goblets. Looking down, she could see the twin rows of feet in the shadows beneath the long table. But it was the voice that arrested her attention as it crawled across her fur like a lover’s caress. Exactly like her lover’s caress.

    German.

    “Hey, Red. That was really good.” His pride was evident in his smile, in the shine of his green eyes as he gazed down at her. Or maybe he was silently laughing? Possible, since the tablecloth was covering the top of her head and her ears like a linen bonnet. She glided out from under the table. Yeah, she glided. How else do you move with four legs? Going horizontal gives a body a level of slinky, a grace that two legs just can’t pull off. She buried her muzzle into German’s chest, curled between his legs because he’d squatted to her level.

    To hold her so he could rub his face into her ruff. She felt the pull of air through her fur as he breathed in her scent. God, she loved that. What she didn’t love was someone trying to take this intimacy away from her. She’d waited a long time for this kind of acceptance and she’d be damned if she was going to let it get snatched from her possessive, little…paws.

    Her lip lifted off her fangs as a growl traveled through her, tickling her entire body. God, she loved that, too. She felt its latent power in her skin, the warning of bad things coming down the pike. Delivered by her personally.

    She pulled from her mate’s embrace. In one fluid motion she rose to her hind legs, placing her paws on either side of what would have been her dinner plate before the meal was interrupted. There. Now she could see what the hell was going on. German’s thighs hovered at her back as he stood behind her.

    “Sofe, wha—” She leapt onto the table, heading straight for the man who instigated this fiasco. Who had intended all along to arrest her mate. Hence the thugs and their chains. She kept them in her periphery as she picked her way through the obstacle course of floral arrangements and dinnerware. With a precision that astonished her, she missed everything, her paws landing on bare patches of table cloth like she was dancing down a stone cobbled garden path.

    Lovely. The expression on her prey’s face was even lovelier. Funny. She hadn’t thought of the Alpha as prey until she’d shifted. He’d been a target before, now her intentions elevated. She was stalking him down the length of the table.

    German muttered, Shit.

    The wolf-people she might have called family before this leaned back in their chairs, as though to give the S.S. Sofia a wide berth. They folded back in behind her like a wake, their bodies rolling inward in one long stream. Except for the guy who had stood moments before the color guard had entered. Him she pierced with a hateful stare as she slinked passed. First things first. Too bad severing the head from this beast wouldn’t render it harmless. There were too many independent parts. Oh. The logic of this New Order German bitched about was evident.

    Taking one out didn’t end the threat. Brilliant. In a disgustingly human sort of way. Yeah, Sofia liked her wolf brain a lot. What she didn’t like was the confidence trying to wiggle its feigned self back onto this Alpha’s mug. Alpha her ass. You could only fake confidence so far. The body gave off its own tells with scent and the oh-so-subtle hold of the spine. A clue she’d picked up on early in her life. Sofia’s lip lifted off her sharp teeth in a feral snarl as her tongue pushed against her incisors. She was salivating for the kill.

    Oh! Oh. The thought excited her while simultaneously flooding her with calm. The wolf she faced had threatened her mate. Yeah, he was a big boy who could hold his own, but she hadn’t missed his surrender. German had only become upset when she did. He didn’t care they intended to chain him like a dog, he cared about what was happening to her.

    Which meant he wasn’t surprised with the Alphas’ intentions of caging him. That he’d expected it. Which went a long way in explaining his turn of heart about coming back to this place. He was going to roll over for her sake.

    Well, screw that. She loved her gray wolf when he threw his face to the sky to sing his love for the pack.

    This was not his pack. Couldn’t be. German was so full of life, of wildness. Even on two legs, he moved like the predator he was. These wolf-people in their fancy clothes, with their ostentatious manor? Ugh. Yuck. And come to fuck on. Really? This was so not what she had in mind when she envisioned her future family.

    Treachery? Lies? She could get that back in Maine. Heck, she could get that anywhere.

    But not here, dammit. And not aimed at her gray wolf, thank you very much. See? She had manners. She halted two feet from her target, her head lower than her shoulders as she stared at the man seated in front of her. As if her body was harmonized with her feelings, her lip once again lifted off her teeth in a menacing snarl.

     “Rogue, back off.” Blah, blah, blah. Which is what he might as well have said, because his command was as sharp as a new pencil—still in the box with its blunt headed friends. She’d come across this type before: authority figures in title only. What had she done then? Oh, yeah.

    Once she’d grown up and was free of their custody, she’d done what anyone, wolf or not, would have done when told what to do by somebody who didn’t matter. She gave him the once over, her eyes traveling the length of the wolf-man from his groomed hair, to his manicured fingertips, down to his napkin covered lap. When her gaze returned to his face, she snuffed the wolf equivalent of a scornful snort. Then turned her back on him, walking away as if he didn’t matter. As if he were no threat at all.

    ~S.C. Dane

    ~Installment No. 49 coming Tuesday, April 30, 2014.

Wolf-Love, Installment No. 47 #shapeshifter #mate

Wolf-Love

Installment No. 47

    Sofia’s scent, ever-present in his nose, intensified as her temperature ratcheted skyward, and German moved to her side without a thought, making his way around their end of the table as neat as a professional waiter in a bustling restaurant. Within seconds, he was behind her, his lips brushing her nape, nuzzling the heat flaring along her flushed skin.

    “Breathe, Red.” Her shoulders lifted as she responded to his whispered command, while he rubbed his palms along her shoulders, his fingertips caressing the silk of her dress. Such a lovely dress, but nowhere as breathtaking as her red fur. He loved his Sofia in her fur, but now wasn’t the time to indulge. Not when shit was just about ready to hit the fan.

    German pinned a hard stare on the Alpha who’d rung the starting bell. Good of you to finally join us. He figured the confrontation would come when there were witnesses present. The fact he had returned with the rogue meant nothing, just as he suspected. His mother’s bizarre behavior had alerted him to that. To the ambush. She’d greeted them, which hadn’t happened in years. She’d supplied a dress for his mate, one chosen with care. Suspicious? A tad. So when he and Sofia entered the dining room, he’d been ready, and had immediately sought out the placement of the other Alphas without letting them know he’d done so.

    It wasn’t hard. The three wolf-men were hardly hunters, so they knew nothing of camouflage. They were like human politicians: wolves with the stink of perversion. Who were so far beneath his mother even the rogue picked up on it. Granted, Sofia wasn’t just any rogue, but still. Like a good wolf, she’d pinned her attention on the one who truly held the power to rule as an alpha wolf: Kyrenn, his mother. Not these pathetic wimps who had helped to make his life a living hell.

    How he would love to settle this matter fang and claw, the way it should be. Which was why he was in this mess in the first place, now wasn’t it? He loved being wolf, a truth he’d never denied. Until now. Dragging his glare off the wolf-man who’d spoken, German made eye contact with the other two Alphas, holding their gazes until they averted their eyes. Like the lesser wolves they were. Bastards. And they were going to mete out his punishment despite the fact he’d returned with a living rogue.

    Not that he was surprised. Nor did it mean he had to like it. However, he would suffer it for Sofia’s sake, since he was the one who had irrevocably bonded to her in the true way of his ancestors. Selfish to do so? Absolutely. Sliding the tip of his tongue across the knobby bones at her nape, he tasted her. Her flavor permeated his every cell, drowning any regrets. He would take his punishment for his past behavior to make this transition into the wolf world easier for his beautiful rogue. For his red wolf.

    “It’s a great day for a zombie apocalypse.”

    Who just asked for mercy from the situation. Once she’d sat down, she’d noticed the other three Alphas, their antagonism sparking her wolf to life. Such bastards. They knew how hard it would be for her to maintain her human form, yet they attacked to force her into breaking their rules.

    He should have known they would. They were cowards, and would strike when German was sure to play nice so others wouldn’t get hurt. They also knew Sofia would make him vulnerable. Bonded in the old way, he would suffer no harm to come to his mate. They would prove before a room full of witnesses that German was a feral beast who needed caging

    Idiots. They could have had him without the fight. He would have suffered the humiliation, the figurative castration. Not gladly by a long shot, but he would have done it for his mate. They could have collared him for the rest of his life, so long as Sofia was happy in her new home, with her new family. Now they’d gone and riled the hornets’ nest, stirring up trouble where there would have been none. Before he could tamp it down, a growl rumbled up through his chest.

    “Zombie apocalypse.”

    “I hear you, Sofe.” He straightened, leaving his hands to cup her shoulders in a silent bid to have her rise with him. Every eye was on the two of them once again, and German scanned every face. Some were his old friends from cub-hood, wolf-men and women he’d left behind when he’d set out on his own. They had stayed to raise families, to lead human-like lives.

    He had never appreciated their need for the safety of the pack before. But now that he was mated, he could see how some would sacrifice their heritage so their pups would be safe. He got it. Even though bonding in the old way was sheer, heart wrenching bliss. He’d snub his nose at the New Order a thousand more times to feel this connection to another wolf. He wanted her pups, because his Sofia was…

    His Sofia was pissed?

    Shit. True to her nature, she homed in on the subtle attack without needing the semantics. Good wolf. But without her control fully mastered, her anger was besting her. “Come on, baby.” He wanted her away from the others before she shifted. Couldn’t have dog hair on the fancy chair cushions, now could they?

    “No.”

    Christ. Call him a masochist, but he loved her brass. He didn’t care if it was going to lodge him in the thick of the shit catapulting toward that fan. What the hell. Her inability to sit quiet while people mind-fucked each other was what he adored about her. Dear Luna, had he really thought she’d want to fit in here?

    Truly, he was the idiot. His wolf shivered through his heating blood, crept to the surface to peer out of his eyes, to see the worry on the faces watching them. “I came in good faith, and this…,” German swallowed to keep his voice from getting too guttural, to keep himself from losing it to his wolf. “…this is my welcome? You intentionally upset the woman I love?” He couldn’t feel her warm skin under his hands, which meant he and Sofia were both burning. He had to cool it. If only to navigate his mate through this mess.

    German took a deep breath.

    Sofia took advantage of the pause. “Upset me? I wouldn’t call what I’m feeling right now upset.”

    “Sofe.”

    “No, German. You’ve given these…people what they wanted. I’m here. Alive and kicking, proof that you’re no monster. They have no right to pull this shit.” Well, she wasn’t eloquent, but she got her point across. Confident sneers faltered from the faces of the Alphas. His mother remained stoic. An iron will could do that.

    Sofia’s muscles were quivering under the smooth sheath of her dress, and the feel of her in distress pissed him off, too. So much for his being civilized. Across the table, Bryce stood up, carefully setting his napkin down beside his plate. Deliberate. Not a good sign from the wolf-man assigned as head of Security. German had grown up with Bryce, knew the wolf-man’s stubbornness intimately. How many times had they clashed, had German finally been forced into pinning the other one down just to win an argument?

    This time there was no sense of fun, just the settling of his guts as he went predator quiet.

    Behind his old friend, six other wolf-men entered the dining room and lined up along the wall. One held an iron collar and two lengths of chain in his muscled arms. Sofia growled.

    Christ on the cross. They were going to mete out his punishment with theatrics.

    Sofia growled. The only warning he had before she dropped from his hold on her.

    ~S. C. Dane

    ~Installment No. 48 coming Saturday, April 26, 2014.