Perfect Mate (Book Two: A Werewolf BBW Shifter Romance) (2 page)

BOOK: Perfect Mate (Book Two: A Werewolf BBW Shifter Romance)
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Katherine stood up, her slim frame moving gracefully across the room with Kyle following. Both blond, they resembled each other so much that they could have been brother and sister. Katherine held out her hand boldly.

"I'm sorry about the way we met," she said. "I didn't realize you were Damien's mate."

"That's alright," Julia said, although she still bristled at the way the girl seemed to expect forgiveness as her due. Katherine had been promised to Damien as the only female in their pack, and Julia still felt threatened by how beautiful she was.

"This is my mate, Kyle," Katherine said. Kyle shook Julia's hand, his eyes averted. Julia thought that perhaps he felt worse about their initial encounter than Katherine did. As he returned to the couch, she noticed that he had a slight limp.

"How's he doing?" Damien asked Jordan, moving over to the wolf lying on the table. The wolf's chest rose and fell shallowly. Damien had a guilty expression on his face, and Julia wanted to throw her arms around him and comfort him.
It's not your fault,
she wanted to say.
He attacked us!

"I've done my best to patch him up," Jordan said. "But it's still touch and go. I'd say he can probably survive if he's allowed to rest for a while."

"Do we have the time?" Damien asked, raising his eyebrows.

The wolf growled, and Julia jumped back, startled. Then the animal on the table began to... stretch. Grow. His arms and legs unfolded, and his face moved, morphing into something entirely different. Julia only realized what she was seeing once his fur had retreated. A naked man lay where the wolf had been before.

"Jesus," Jordan said. He grabbed bandages from the side table and pressed them to the man's side to staunch the newly torn wounds. "Katherine, hand me the sutures. Why would he
shift
now? I'd just finished the stitching—"

The man lifted his head and turned to look at Julia. His bloodshot eyes flashed gold, and he lifted his upper lip in what could only be described as a snarl. He raised his hand and pointed straight at Julia. All of the people in the room turned to look at her, all except for Damien, who reached out to take her hand. He could feel her fright, Julia was sure. There was something in his eyes that made her feel like he was the ultimate predator. And she was the prey. As he stretched his arm out to point at her, he spoke one low, growling word that chilled her to the bone.

"
You.
"

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

As the wolf shifted into human form, Damien felt a blast of fear radiate outward from Julia, and he knew before being told that the shifter had spoken to her.

"You
."

He instinctively stepped between the two of them. The words of the wolf echoed in his mind from before they had been attacked.
You don't know what you're dealing with.

Jordan swallowed hard, and Damien heard the surgical instruments clatter to the floor. Every sense of his was on high alert, even with Julia's fear pumping through him.

"Who are you?" Damien asked.

"Who am I?" The shifter laughed, then coughed wetly, his voice thick with blood. "Who are
you
? What kind of mangled pack has a blind leader?"

"Where's your pack?" Damien asked. He could hear the hair of the shifter bristling as he shook his head.

"No pack. Not here anyway. They'll be coming."

"A loner?" Damien pressed.

"A scout."

"Scout? Scouting for what?" Damien asked.

The shifter coughed again, his breath ragged.

"I did the best I could, but I think a rib tore into his lungs," Jordan said, turning his attention from Damien to the shifter. "Do you want us to take you to the hospital? Now that you're in human form—"

"No!"

Damien stepped forward.

"You said before that you were here for Julia. Why?"

The shifter chuckled, a low, growling sound that set Damien's teeth on edge. He felt the wolf inside of him straining to come out. He wanted to rip the man's throat out. He could have spoken as a wolf, but he had shifted, making himself weaker than ever, just to speak with Julia.
Why?

"She's not... she's not what you think she is," the shifter said. His voice now was barely a whisper.

"You need more help than I can give you," Jordan said. "Damien, if we can get him to the emergency room—"

"What do you mean?" Damien asked. He would not let the shifter away that easily. "Why were you after her?"

"You'll find out soon enough," the shifter said. "It's been... it's been too long. Let me die as a wolf. Bury me... bury me as a wolf."

Damien heard him shift before he felt Julia's shock, the bones crackling in low pops as he moved back to his wolf form.

"No!" Jordan cried. "You're too weak to shift! You'll—"

Damien heard the rattling breath of the shifter, the low snarl and final exhale as the shifter died on the table in front of him. Standing beside him, Julia was aghast with terror.

"He didn't even make it all the way back to wolf form," Katherine said softly. They were the first words she had spoken since the shifter had changed.

Damien was shaken. He'd never killed another shifter before. Animals, sure. He'd even taken down a small grizzly bear once when it had threatened the pack. But this was different. He turned to Kyle and Katherine, setting his face in what he hoped was an expression of solemn resolve. He could not afford to let any of them see him unsure of himself.

"Go back to where we found him, by the lake," Damien said. "Follow his trail. I want both of you to stick together. There could be others."

"No way. Why didn't we scent them before?" Kyle asked. "We scouted the whole territory around the town here!"

"How did this one sneak up on you?" Katherine asked.

"He must have been in human form. Possibly downwind." Damien thought back, and remembered that his mind had been elsewhere. Specifically, focused on kissing Julia, his hands moving over her body. He had let himself become distracted, and it had almost killed them.

"Don't lose focus," Damien said. "Follow the trail until you find where he came from, then come straight back. Don't fight any wolves if you find them."

"We won't," Katherine said bravely. Damien was proud of her. She was loyal, even now that Damien had found another mate. It helped that she and Kyle had taken to each other, but still, he had been worried that she might want to leave his pack. It was comforting to know that he still had their trust.

"What are you going to do?" Kyle asked.

Damien motioned to the body on the table and spoke grimly.

"We're going to bury him as a wolf."

CHAPTER THREE

Julia watched as Jordan and Damien cleaned up the body, wrapping it in sheets. Julia was glad to see it covered. The shifter had changed only part of the way back from man to wolf, and his body was a strange hybrid thing. His arms and legs had changed almost completely back to wolf form, hair and claws included. The face, though, had only partially morphed into a snout, and his nose bulged grotesquely out of his face.

"Think the hotel will be mad at us for stealing their linen?" Jordan asked.

"I'd say they've probably seen worse. It smells like blood in here. Have we cleaned it all up from the floor and table?"

"The floor's fine," Jordan said, with more than a hint of pride in his voice. "I run a clean operating room."

"I'll wipe down the table," Julia said, moving to the bathroom to find a washcloth. Anything to get away from that body. When she came back with the cloth dampened, they had put the shifter's corpse into a bag. It seemed smaller to her than before now that it had partially shifted into wolf form.

"You don't have to do this," Damien said. "You can wait for us outside. Just don't go far."

His voice was worried, and for the first time Julia realized the full importance of the shifter's words. She wrung the cloth in her hands.

"Damien, what he said—that I wasn't what you think I am. What did he mean?"

"I'm not sure. He might have thought I considered you my mate, and he knew you were human. Maybe he thought I didn't know. I can't think of anything else."

From the look on his face, though, Julia knew that Damien was concerned that something else was going on. She clamped down on all of the questions running through her head. Surely Damien could sense that she was nervous, and they had a body to bury. No need to make him more upset.

"Should we wait until dark to do this?" Jordan asked. "If anybody sees us..."

"If anybody sees us, we're burying a pet in the woods," Damien said. "We'd attract more notice sneaking out at night here."

"A pet?" Jordan raised one eyebrow. "Hell of a German Shepherd."

"Let's not let anybody see us, then," Damien said. He lifted the bag in his arms, carrying it in front of him like a child.

Julia followed the two of them through the parking lot to the woods, glancing all around her to make sure they weren't seen. Damien was right, though—everybody was at work or school during the day, and the lot was empty of anyone who might be suspicious of them.

Damien maneuvered deftly around the trees, slowing to walk behind Jordan only when there was a particularly dense cluster of brush ahead of them. Overhead, the chickadees and jays chirped to each other, and squirrels shook the branches as they leapt from tree to tree.

"How do you walk so easily?" Julia asked, after stumbling over yet another tree root.

"The branches move. I hear them," Damien said. "And I could follow Jordan through anything; his footsteps sound like an elephant rampaging through the woods."

"I don't have an alpha male figure to maintain," Jordan sniffed, patting his stomach. "And I weigh less than you do, anyway."

"Skinny-fat," Damien teased. "You're just not as graceful as me."

"That's what I think of when I think of my alpha," Jordan said, chin tilted up in the air. "A graceful ballerina prancing through the forest."

"Just don't make me wear a tutu."

Julia got the sense that they'd been teasing each other their whole lives, but as soon as they reached a small clearing the jokes stopped. Jordan looked over his shoulder toward the forest they'd trampled through.

"Is this far enough away, you think?" he asked.

In response, Damien knelt and lay the body of the shifter on the ground. He touched the forest floor, scraping away the leaves and letting his fingers dig into the loam underneath.

"This is a good spot," he said.

"Oh!" Julia said. "We didn't bring shovels. Should I go back?"

Damien shook his head.

"He asked to be buried as a wolf. Part of that is digging the grave."

"I can help," Jordan said.

"No," Damien said. He paused, his head bent. "I killed him. It's my job." He tore off his shirt and threw his glasses aside as well. Julia didn't realize what he was going to do until his form began to change. She gasped as his body shifted into that of a wolf.

The first time he'd changed in front of her, she had been too scared to look at what exactly was happening in front of her. Now, she watched with a keen curiosity as his face morphed outward. Hair sprouted first on his face, back, and shoulders, turning his skin dark with fur. His chest was the strangest part of him to change, for the altered bone structure made his ribs pop as they realigned, the muscles underneath snapping into place one by one, rippling under his skin. Then fur grew over his chest and that, too, was covered. He turned toward Julia, and his eyes shone golden. He seemed to be asking her a question.

"I'm alright," Julia said. She realized that she'd been holding her breath the entire time, and she inhaled deeply. "It's just strange." Damien stepped out of his pants, which had fallen away as soon as his legs shrunk, and sniffed the forest floor.

"You get used to it," Jordan said, shrugging.

"He... he said that it uses energy to shift," Julia said.

"It does. You should rest a minute," he called over to Damien, who had already started digging into the earth. If Damien heard him, he didn't show it. His claws raked the soft earth, tearing a hollow in the ground.

"Let's leave him alone for a while," Jordan said. "It shouldn't take too long."

Julia looked back over her shoulder at Damien as they walked away. Dirt flew from his paws and he was already sunk into the ground, his jaw open and panting. A wolf. That was who she was in love with.

He stopped digging and looked over at her, his eyes wild, almost seeing. He was reading her doubt. Julia turned and followed Jordan away through the brush.

CHAPTER FOUR

It was hard work, but Damien found himself enjoying the exertions as he got deeper and deeper into the ground. A long time had passed since he had dug so much. The last grave he'd made had been for his grandfather, a shifter who had lived nearly a hundred years after changing permanently into his wolf form. Damien wondered idly if he would live that long. He would have to live without Julia, and the thought of it made him cringe.

The earth was colder now under his paws, and he was almost entirely submerged in the ground. Roots tangled through the stony earth so far down, and it was harder to dig. The smell of the earth was nutty, deep and rich, and Damien rested for a moment, leaning against the side of the hole he had dug. His chest swelled, pressing against the earthen wall. There were worms down here, beetles, grubs. The scent of a fungus, the vein of its growth squirming its way in slow curves through the ground. Other dead things, too, and not just plants. The earth would take back the bodies of whatever lay down and did not get up.

Would he live as long as his grandfather? Long enough to shift permanently into wolf form? Or would he die in a fight, as his father had?

Damien remembered the fight that had taken his sight away from him. It had been a mistake. He had never meant to offend the alpha male by eating his portion of deer; he'd only been hungry and had taken what he thought was the pack's meat. But such an offense had led directly to a challenge, and he was forced to battle the leader of the pack.

BOOK: Perfect Mate (Book Two: A Werewolf BBW Shifter Romance)
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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