“Is this safe? Sven keeps railing at me that Hana’s brother is closing in on us,” Nat asked Yeller. They were wandering the alleys of a desecrated downtown neighbourhood, searching for vegetable gardens and houses that didn’t have shattered glass or doors. Their hope was food. Though the wolf within allowed their bodies to consume carrion without ill effect, neither Nat nor Hana could complete a transformation. Nat’s wounds would tear if he allowed Sven to take over and had been banned from shifting. Hana had yet to obtain the entirety of Sven’s life mate.
“I wouldn’t doubt Sven’s senses, but we must find you food of more substance than medicinal teas,” Cashia chaffed. Nat denied a reply, finding the creature more intimidating today than usual. Cashia, though able to speak with Tereza momentarily, had been edgy and grumpy with everyone. He was more keen than usual to keep Yeller in the background today.
They had found a particularly affluent neighbourhood on the west end of downtown. Large backyards and cracked in-ground pools hid behind every fence. “Here, let’s try this one.” Yeller switched out with Cashia. Tightness in Nat’s shoulders loosened at the tone. His friend went about hoisting Nat up and over the mid-height brick wall to a stately mansion with a wraparound verandah.
“Why this one?” Nat asked before he spotted the obvious, yet desolate, raised beds, indicative of a long past vegetable garden. He watched Yeller pick the bolt in the backdoor. The rotting wood gave way with a sharp crack. Inside, it was apparent the house had been hastily abandoned. Many high-end valuables stood in curio cabinets and littered about on tables. Layers of dust and cobwebs spoke levels of how long the property had gone untouched.
They found, to their relief, a fully stocked kitchen and butler’s pantry. “We should move the gang over here,” Nat said in appreciative awe at the grand amassment of non-perishables categorically arranged in the shelves of the pantry.
“Could be nice if we were sticking around for the summer, but it’s easier to keep the other house warm with that wood stove.” Yeller hunted through cabinets in the island of the kitchen.
Nat squatted down next to him, slowly rummaging through drawers before giving up. “What are you after?”
“Basket, bag, something to carry the food back in.” Yeller pulled out varieties of speciality appliances and dishes.
“What Hana said? Is that true?” Nat sprawled out, resting his back against the fridge, his feet tapping away at a cabinet drawer handle. Getting over the garden wall, even with Yeller’s help, had made his shoulders burn.
Yeller tensed at the question, suddenly wary. He ran through the myriad of conversations he had had with Hana. “About what?” Yeller continued with his rummaging.
“I had a fever, so I’m playing the delirious card. She admitted she didn’t love me, which I get. If I was in her position, I wouldn’t know what to make of the situation either.” Nat studied the swirls in the tile floor. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Yeller interrupted, “I guess if she said that, then it’d have to be true.”
“I meant,” Nat sat up to fiddle with a cut-glass bowl Yeller had slid out of the way, “the part after she said that.” He glanced up at the man.
Yeller moved on to another cabinet around the island. “What part?” he asked, knowing exactly where Nat was going, and dwelling on an overwhelming sense of panic.
Why do you feel such embarrassment at these thoughts, child? You’ve admitted them all to but the one you care for most. Cashia asked Yeller.
Not you too. Could you not call me a child? Especially at this exact moment. It feels…wrong and super creepy. Just, no. I am beyond my teenage years, and though I still know little of the world, leaving me feeling less than an adult some days, I am not a kid in daycare. Yeller quelled.
I am sorry. To me, you are. Even if you added all of your ages into one to make a single human, that one human would still be a child to my years. I was several years beyond yours when I left my village with Tereza, and by then, we had been married well on. I forget myself. I would not be surprised if others are treated by the Glendwellers as such. To the other point, though, you were fine with letting him see it as a mutually beneficial relationship. What is so wrong if feelings are involved? Cashia prodded.
Feelings can wound deeper than a knife. As long as I don’t confess it, I don’t admit it to him, then there can be no pain. Yeller snapped.
Wrong, Ruben. He may experience this concept of ‘no pain’, though I reserve my doubts. You are still emotionally involved and liable towards those feelings betraying you, whether you admit them to him or not. Cashia confided. Yeller’s throat ran dry.
“The part that you love me.” Nat wandered back over to the door frame of the butler’s pantry, trying to put distance between Yeller and himself.
Yeller stood up. “I…um…” He placed his hands on the cold tile of the island. “That was her observation.” Yeller gulped.
Nat turned to look at him. “Is it true?”
“Does it matter?”
“It wouldn’t be a friends-with-benefits kind of deal.”
“Is that a problem?”
Yeller breathed for a second, two. He replayed the conversation in his head once, twice. He took a step toward Nat, once, twice. It’s amazing how close a distance can be covered in a kitchen in two steps. “What do you mean ‘no’?” Yeller asked quietly, anxiously. He eased closer.
Nat backed into the door jam. “It’s not a problem for me if you love me.” He analysed the strain in Yeller’s eyes.
“It is for me.” His voice cracked in a whisper.
“Why?” Nat stuffed his fidgeting hands in his back pockets, irritated at his constant need to pick at the seams of his clothes. He waited for Yeller’s reply, though it was a long, painful span of seconds.
“Because you don’t love me, and I don’t want for you to deal with my emotional baggage.” He fingered a glossy strand of the waif’s white hair.
Nat’s heart hammered mercilessly in his chest. His gut twisted and tightened with anticipation. “Who told you I didn’t love you?”
Yeller dropped Nat’s strands of silver hair, startled by the admission. He crowded Nat against the door frame, pulling his body toward him, holding his head still as he savoured his first true kiss. Soft lips parted under his demand, a spark igniting to roil beneath his fingertips.
“Since when?” A wolfish smile spread as he trailed kisses along Nat’s jaw.
“Since the day you taught me ‘grá mo chroí’.” Nat sought out his lips and kissed him back.
That admission sank to Yeller’s toes in a warm wash. He kissed him with every desire to become one with his love, his pushed up the material of Nat’s sweater. His fingers revelled in the silky smoothness of his skin and the hard muscles that lay tensed beneath. His thigh kneaded against Nat’s heaviness ever so gently, warranting a mewling gasp.
“God, I’ve loved you since the day you told me you’d learn Gaelic for me.” He carefully pulled at Nat’s sweater. The man’s shoulders were bound in spica. With a moment of work, he succeeded in easing the offending sweater off. It had taken some work to set both sides correctly. He didn’t need Deck cursing him out later.
“You always got away with cussing at kids in class in Gaelic, and the teacher couldn’t do jack ’bout it, so I figured you needed someone to laugh at your exploits,” whispered Nat. He had some range of motion in his shoulders with all the wraps, but he continued favouring the sore spots, taking his time helping Yeller get him out of the knit cabling.
Yeller nibbled his earlobe, savouring the warmth pressed along his length. His hands trailed Nat’s body, memorising every dip and curve. He thumbed the line of Nat’s jeans, enjoying the separation of textures between his skin and his pants. Spanning Nat’s hips, he found the slight frame intriguing. He pulled him closer, rubbing against him to hear him moan. “May I feel you?” His voice could have been a moth wing. Rhythmically he flicked at the corner of cloth at the edge of Nat’s fly in quiet question. He burned kisses down Nat’s chest, savouring the earthy smell of his skin.
Nat hesitated at the sensation, his fingers fluttering along Ruben’s thumb. “I’d like that if you’re okay with it.” Nat’s voice was the flame to Ruben’s moth. Nat freed himself from the confines of his pants beneath Ruben’s fingers. He shivered, goosebumps rushing up his arms. The house was cold against his naked flesh, but Ruben’s heat seared through him. His breath hitched in his throat as his love eased himself into a form of genuflexion, his lips trailing fire along Nat’s hip.
“Ta tu go halainn,” Yeller whispered, his tongue trailing up Nat’s length.
“Dia, Ruben, you’re going to kill me if you do that.” Nat clenched his jaw as warm heat wrapped around his shaft. “Chan ann leis a’chiad bhuille thuileas a’chraobh,” Yeller chuckled, rolling Nat’s balls in the palm of his hand.
“You’re telling me proverbs, aren’t you?” Nat’s legs shook with the onslaught.
Yeller chuckled, licking Nat’s length like a lollipop. He paused for a second, enjoying the trembling of Nat’s legs, knowing he was pushing him to the edge. “It is not with the first stroke that the tree falls.” He nibbled at Nat’s inner thigh.
Nat gasped, the sensation unexpectedly thrilling. “I – I didn’t…ah…think you wanted to do it like this,” Nat gulped, finding it increasingly more difficult to brace against the door frame.
“Do you not like this? I can stop.” Yeller looked up, nervous he might have put Nat off.
Nat’s eyes were clenched shut, his cheeks flush. His breathing was hissing gulps. “Cac, no. Dia, le do thoil,” Nat grasped at the door frame behind his head, the floor was falling out from underneath him.
Yeller palmed his shaft and with a few expert jerks brought Nat precariously close to the edge. His tongue found every fragile nerve ending, driving Nat to the point of not knowing up from down. He took mercy on him, pulling Nat down to straddle him. Yeller sat back against the door frame, enjoying Nat’s writhing nakedness.
Nat leaned forward, ever aware of Yeller’s persistent, tender rubbing. He trailed desperate fire down Yeller’s neck, curling into himself, so close he trembled with the effort to suppress his impending orgasm. Yeller, having none of it, pushed him up so that he could suck on Nat’s shaft while he lay beneath the pale kneeling man. Nat reached for the door jam above him. Pressure built at the back of his skull and the balls of his feet.
“Taim…taim ag – damn…taim ag teacht,” Nat gasped, trying to pull back. The swell broke, a shuddering point of pleasure-pain. Yeller held tight, drinking him dry. Satisfied, he allowed Nat to sink into the cradle of his hips, spent. Nat laid his head on Yeller’s shoulder, his glistening white hair spilling across Yeller’s chest. Sated and relaxed, he went delving into himself. He found it, the glowing warmth that left him with a gentle smile.
Yeller glanced at the bandaging on Nat’s shoulder. Reassured the spica was still in place and Nat was not in pain, he relaxed into his own content tightness. Rubbing Nat’s back rhythmically, he noted Nat’s breathing slow until it almost stopped. Concerned, he shifted to check Nat’s colour. A warmth that soon turned to a flash-point burn above his heart startled him. Nat’s breathing steadied as the burn faded to a soft, soothing warmth on his chest. He kissed the spot before easing himself off of Yeller to sit cross-legged on the tile floor. “I think I got a bit carried away,” Nat grinned sheepishly.
Yeller looked down at his chest, trying to see what had happened. Above his heart was a deep green Celtic knot of two dogs intertwined to form a circle the size of his hand. “A power mark?” Yeller asked, confused.
“Sorry. I don’t really know how to get rid of it.” Nat traced the outline of the dogs. His smile, though…
It was that tingling warmth on his chest that Yeller grasped what mark Nat had left on him. The wolf may have given Hana his life, but Nat had given Yeller his love. Tears of joy and relief beat behind Yeller eyes. He pulled Nat to him, burying his face in his hair.
Nat turned his face up, returning Yeller’s kiss, tasting his saltiness on the blond’s lips. He nipped at Yeller’s shoulder, amused with the power in commanding the shudder running through Yeller. He slipped into fixation, exploring Yeller’s body, finding the man’s heaviness pressed hard against his jeans. He caressed it through the material, marvelling at the potential.
Yeller’s hand settled over his to still his torment. Nat could feel Yeller’s shaft throbbing with desire. Yeller brought his hand up to rest over the power mark. His breathing was ragged, his eyes dilated.
“You okay?” Nat asked, knowing full well that Yeller was on edge.
Yeller nodded his head, drawing in a deep, steadying breath. “I’m too close.”
“I can help you with that,” Nat teased.
“Dúil mo slat,” Yeller grouched.
“Never done that before, but at the moment, what the hell.” Nat smiled.
“I should have never taught you how to cuss,” Yeller grumbled as he helped Nat shuck him out of his jeans. Nat stalled at the sight, the full hard length larger than he bargained for. He had suspected Yeller to be a bit larger than him, but had not expected his sheer size when hard and was suddenly more than intimidated.
He leaned in, tentative, unsure. He eased himself between Yeller’s legs, spreading them until he was able to suck on his balls comfortably. It took nothing for Yeller’s head to roll back in ecstasy. Nat nibbled along the base of his shaft, feeling the length jump and throb.
Yeller startled out of his reverie when Nat sat up. He looked up into deep green eyes, a slightly worried expression flitting across them. “You okay?” Yeller leaned forward on his elbow, curious, hoping that he hadn’t put Nat off somehow. A blush ran across Nat’s cheeks as he went to speak, and his mouth opened and closed a few times. The more he tried to say anything, the redder his cheeks got. “Did I do something wrong?” Yeller panicked. Nat shook his head but was still having difficulty saying what was on his mind. “That blush of yours is making me want to kiss you more.” Yeller tried to pull Nat closer to him, but Nat eased out of his grasp.
Yeller, afraid of his advance being rebuffed was at a complete loss as Nat lay down, pulling the blond over to blanket him. “What are you…?” Yeller tried to ask before Nat kissed him.
“I’ve never…” Nat glanced away, his cheeks flushing crimson again.
Yeller drew in a breath, realizing where Nat was going with this. “You sure?” Yeller asked, his shaft throbbing with its own demands.
Nat wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Have you ever…?”
“No, but I think I’ve read enough to know it can hurt the receiver if not prepared,” Yeller tried to be honest. Nat’s blushing face paled. He didn’t move away from him, though. Yeller lightly traced Nat’s jawline with his thumb to his lower lip. Nat licked the digit, engulfing it in the heat of his mouth. Yeller battled his will, all his nerve endings firing with that heat. “We’ll wait until your shoulders are healed. I don’t want them to open up by accident.” He withdrew his finger, watching Nat’s variable expressions.
“I don’t think they would,” Nat tried to protest.
“I’m not tempted enough to have Dietrich or Sven tear me apart if they do.” Yeller kissed him again, rubbing his length against Nat’s. “An bhfuil pain ort? Laying there can’t be comfortable,” Yeller paused.
“Tá mé go breá,” Nat answered confidently, though when Yeller shifted him on the tile a flare of pain ran down his spine.
Yeller watched the flash cross Nat’s face, his teeth set on edge. “Bí curamach. Here, there must be something better than a cold floor if you really want this.” He helped Nat up.
“Probably for the better,” mumbled Nat as he followed Yeller through the house. Yeller tried, as they wandered, to figure out a decent position that wouldn’t irritate Nat’s shoulders any more than they already were. In a back room off the den, they found the Master bedroom. Covered in frills and lace, the room swam in floral decor. The French doors lead to a private patio overlooking a sprawling lawn. They both looked at the bed, uneasy with the heavy smell of rose perfume. An ancient bottle had been upended to soak into the carpeting within the last few weeks, along with a stash of makeups at a vanity. Massive swaths of fake floral garlands hung around the four-poster bed and from every curtain rod, leaving the room in deep shadows.
“Wanna look at the other rooms?” Yeller offered, the perfume making Cashia crawl beneath his skin.
“I’m not sure that I see a point in it,” came a rough voice from a darkened corner. Yeller and Nat spun to find Michael and several of his cronies conglomerated around the door of the massive master bathroom.
“How’d you know where we were?” Nat squeaked before being pushed back by Yeller.
“So, you can’t be sated with seducing my sister; you have to keep a pet on the side? Even more reason for me to put you down, you weasel,” Michael spat.
“Ritheann tú, Yeller. Sábháil an grúpa. Beidh mé a fhaigheann tú,” Nat whispered quickly.
“Tá tú a ghortú,” protested Yeller.
“What are you two babbling about here? You know it’s rude to speak a different language than everyone involved.” Michael advanced on them.
“Cashia, déan é!” Nat screamed. Cashia took over, shifting Yeller into the massive golden wolf. He feinted a lung at Michael, but at the last second took off at a fast gallop out the door.
Diabhal! Cashia, stop. We have to go back. Nat won’t be able to take those guys! Yeller demanded freedom from the darkness in which the wolf had sequestered him.
Nat knows that he won’t be able to get back fast enough to save everyone. Cashia reprimanded the man.
All the more reason to stay and protect him. Michael will kill him. He can’t shift right now, not with those wounds. Yeller pounded to be let out.
Sven will shift, whether it’ll open up those wounds again or not. Right now, this is the best method to keep the group alive. We are going to warn them, and leave. Sven will track us. He’s never lost a trail yet. Cashia reassured. The wolf dodged in and out of alleyways, under bridges, and along darkened ledges, ever aware that there were probably more wings up in the sky trying to follow his trail back to the group’s hideout. The group, thankfully, had not kept a fire going too often at the house. They had been aware that the smoke could quickly draw a crowd.
Half an hour and Cashia skittered to the house and threw himself through the door. “Get everything together; we have to get out now,” he commanded the startled group.
“What is it? Where’s Nat?” Deck demanded, looking around Yeller’s shoulders.
“Michael is here. Nat sent me to get us out,” Cashia dragged in a breath.
“Bloody hell, he’s going to get massacred.” Benj scrambled up and dashed into his room to pack everything he could.
“Where is he now?” Sun Hee asked.
“Over in Esterwood where we’ve had a good run of food the last week.” Cashia twisted to look out the door, worried that he would see wings on the horizon.
“Aren’t you supposed to be Nat’s knight in shining armour? Why aren’t you there protecting him?” Hana pressed. Her wings were still not finished off yet, and it was going to be painful for her to run, but it had to be done.
“Don’t ask questions right now. You are lucky that I am the wolf in this relationship and not Yeller. The seething rage I feel from him for you right now would be your death.” Cashia’s hackles rose. She stepped back at the attack. “Run! He’ll find us,” Cashia commanded once more, latching onto Hana’s hand and leading her out the door. The other wolves followed them out, Heinrich and Dietrich packing out the last of the group’s supplies.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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