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Chapter Twelve

Hed saved her life, knocking her out of the way when her animal instincts froze in the headlights. Normally that should have earned him some points but Gray knew Maizies fevered wolf brain wasnt up to the logic. Once her body manufactured enough antibodies to break her fever, shed shift back to human form. Unfortunately, there was no way for Gray to know how long that would take.

Maizie crouched, ears pinned back, belly nearly touching the grass. She bared her teeth, growled at him, warning shed fight or run if he dared to approach. Protecting her until her fever broke wasnt going to be easy this way. They were animals now. No way to communicate except the way nature intended for the species. At least in that respect, Maizie was capable. She was more wolf than human for the time being.

Gray snorted with a hard shake of his head and stepped from the shadows. Maizie edged back, her brilliant green eyes fixed on him. She snarled, her voice louder.

Gray had the feeling she was more ready to run than fight if the opportunity arose. He couldnt read her mind or her his, but they sensed each other, understood each others wants, desires and needs. A natural phenomenon created by an enhancement of the normal five.

With a small whimper, a submissive sigh, Gray lowered himself to the forest floor. On his belly, he edged closer, head cocked to the side, eyes downcast as much as possible. Im not going to hurt you.

Maizie straightened, not completely but enough he knew she understood. Ears perked, her head twisted one way, then the other before she gave a curious yip. What do you want?

Gray continued the submissive approach, not really answering. Im not going to hurt you. Im not going to hurt you. He was almost to her, but Maizie was becoming antsy.

Her heart beat so hard he could see the subtle vibration of her fur. Her feet shifted, finding the best footing to launch into a run at a moments notice. Fear seasoned her body chemistry, the scent seeping through her pores, a bitter taste on the air. It was a risk for her to let him get too near. Shed know he could overpower her in seconds.

She stepped back, gave another yip, but this one was harder, laced with warning. What the hell do you want? Stay away. I will bring you down.

Another whimper, Gray edged closer. Im not going to hurt you. Just a few more feet and hed be close enough to strike.

Maizie was smart, evolution affording her centuries of knowledge, the instinct that enabled the weaker sex to survive the demands of the stronger. And Maizie was functioning on almost pure instinct.

She barked-sharp, angry-her feet dancing her backward, her tail swished once, quick. She started a low growl. I wont be dominated. I wont be killed. Ill fightif I have to.

Gray didnt buy it. She was so frightened he practically choked on the scent of it. Her feet fidgeted, her muscles rolling tight under her fur. She was ready to bolt, to run at his slightest distraction. He wouldnt be distracted.

In a straight-on foot race, Gray knew he could smoke Maizies smaller stride, but through the twists and turns of a forest run, her smaller size would turn to an advantage. He had to get closer before she took off or he might never catch her.

He called her bluff, throwing up one of his own. Gray rose, not to his full height but enough that he met her eye to eye. He bared his teeth, his growl deeper, louder, more visceral than hers. Move and Ill end you here-now. My forest. My pack. I decide. Dont move. Let me nearer.

Jeezus, she was beautiful. To his wolf-half she was as alluring a female as she was a woman to his human-half. Fear sparked in the jewel green of her eyes, but underneath they still managed to captivate him with their curiosity and intelligence-with her sheer defiance.

She was brave, strong, fast and smart. She was everything a male could want in a mate, in the mother of his offspring. Despite her fear and her angry warnings, she wanted his dominance. He could smell it. She wanted him to take her. He was alpha, bravest, strongest, fastest and smartest, everything a female could want in a mate, in the sire of her brood.

Maizie froze to the spot at his show of dominance, her scent thickening the air. She cowered slightly, despite her arousal, believing his threat even as her heat reached across the cool night and enveloped him.

Her musky aroma, more tangy than normal, tickled his nose, stirred his primal body. It wasnt the scent of the natural estrus that preceded ovulation, but Maizies human-half allowed her sexual excitement without the biological inducement. Combined with everything else she offered, Grays tight leash on his animal instincts pulled hard on his muscles. A mental shake knocked thoughts of mounting her to the darker recesses of his brain.

Gray held his tall crouch and crept closer, his gaze locked with hers, willing her not to move. He got within feet of her. One more step and hed be near enough to lunge, to pin her, assert his authority as alpha and earn her compliance. It was the only way to protect her in her wild state.

Maizie was having none of it. She waited, dancing on her feet, a split second of Grays overconfidence, and she spun, ran. Shed waited too long though, and Gray was able to give chase only seconds behind. In minutes her size, her swift maneuverability, increased the distance between them. Gray thundered on, trusting experience and human strategy would level the field.

The forest was black, the moon and stars no match for the thick canopy of leaves. The air streaked through his fur, the sound of his heart, his steady breaths and the rhythmic beat of his paws echoed around him. Maizie darted toward a barricade of low hanging branches, slipping beneath with ease. Grays taller body scraped through, the stubborn branches digging into his thick fur, a few breaking through, scratching his skin.

Up ahead she scrambled beneath a fallen tree, making it to the other side in seconds. The trunk was too low for Gray to follow her path and the branches were too thick to jump. Without breaking his stride he swerved, running toward the enormous clump of earth and roots. It ate up precious seconds, but Gray drove harder, faster, made it around and caught the swish of blonde fur dashing between the trees in the darkness. He closed the distance.

She was running wild and panicked. Gray kept his head, his human unfevered mind becoming his only advantage. He ran wide to the right, scaring her to turn left. Then a few minutes later he turned and ran close along her left to frighten her to the right. He herded her toward the quarry lake while she was too crazed to realize.

A thick brier patch lay off to the right. Maizie turned and headed straight for it before Gray could cut her off. She barreled through, head low, her smaller body slicing between the prickly branches and thorns to the other side. Too wide to go around, too tall to jump, Gray had no choice.

He kept her in his sight, focused, determined, driving headlong into the scratchy wall of brush. He didnt fit. The tiny thorns couldnt penetrate his thick fur, but his face was vulnerable. He closed his eyes to slits and kept his head as low as he dared without losing sight of Maizie. It wasnt enough.

The sharp pricks cut along his muzzle, tore at the corners of his eyes. He didnt care. For the first time in forty-three years both halves of his soul united, human and wolf, wanting the same thing-Maizie Hood. He wouldnt let her get away and when he broke through on the other side, a heady wash of relief rippled through him.

Gray knew this forest like he knew his backyard. They were almost there, on the high side of the lake where the ground dropped five stories to the water below. His only fear was that Maizie might skirt along the edge before he could come around to stop her and his chance at cornering her would be lost.

He had to drive her straight to the edge and trust her instincts would stop her before she plunged over the bluff, but not warn her before it was too late to change course. Maizie glanced over her shoulder at him. Her fine-tuned muscles pounded her paws into the ground, propelling her faster.

Her eyes widened for a moment, a cloud of panic wafting up from her fur to tell him her thoughts.

She wasnt thinking. She was just running. This would work. The quarry ledge came up on her fast. Gray watched, several strides behind.

She yipped, her weight shifting to her hindquarters, her feet scraping backward as her momentum skidded her to the edge. Paws clawed the dirt, turning her so her ass swung around and slipped over. Back claws dug at the cliff wall, front paws spread her toes wide, desperate to hold on. But she was slipping.

Gray lunged, caught the scruff of her neck. He managed to stop her fall. To pull her up he had to get his feet under him and use brute strength.

He saved heragain. It earned him nothing.

The instant Maizie was back on solid footing she snapped at him, catching him under the jaw, drawing blood. Gray snarled, pain stinging through his mind, trying his already haggard patience. He rammed her, his broad chest colliding into her shoulder, driving her back. She stumbled, a tiny yip squeezing out with her breath.

Lightning fast he jumped at her, his big jaws clamping under her neck, catching her jugular between his teeth. He dropped on her, his heavy body crushing her beneath him, her underbelly exposed. Utterly at his mercy, she stilled.

He held her there, catching his breath, reeling back instinct, reining in his control. Her life coursed between his jaws and he growled low, the sound rumbling through his chest, communicating his conditions for his mercy. I am alpha. My forest. My pack. I decide. You will obey.

Maizie squirmed suddenly, her tail thrashing the ground. I will not be dominated. I will not-

Gray pressed down on her, squeezed his jaw. His tooth broke her skin. A small trickle of blood wet his tongue and sent a zing of primal thoughts storming through his brain: hunt, catch, devour. His eyes rolled back, his jaw tightening ever so slightly. He fought the euphoric reaction and felt Maizie go quiet beneath him.

His growl vibrated off her again, echoing back through his own body. I am alpha. My forest. My pack. I decide. You will obey.

Maizie whimpered, her tail tucking toward her upturned legs. Mercy. I submit.

Minutes ticked by as Gray held her beneath him, forcing her continued submission. She was warm against him, her body gripped by the fever. Still, he liked the feel of her there, chest to chest, her heart pounding so hard the rhythm thumped through his body.

Maizie whimpered, relaxing despite her vulnerable position. She wagged her tail, her long pink tongue lapping out, trying to placate him with kisses. She couldnt reach his face with his mouth on her neck, but the gesture was more than enough.

Gray released his hold, but kept her pinned and Maizie was quick to thank him with long licks to his muzzle, cleaning the wound shed made under his jaw. Her hot tongue warmed through the short hairs of his face, her body radiating heat. He should lead her back to the mansion where she could rest but he liked the feel of her caresses, the wild smell of her fur, the thick aroma of her sex.

No. She needed rest. She needed protection. The last thing she needed was his cock buried deep inside her. Gray got to his feet, careful not to put any further pressure on her smaller body.

Maizie twisted and churned, turning from her back until she got her feet under her. She went to him instantly, lapping at his face, her tail tight between her legs, her body low, submissive.

Her actions spoke volumes. I am with you. I accept you as dominant. I am yours. It was the wolf in her that was so submissive. As a human woman, Maizies sociological beliefs would no doubt bring the abject passivity to a screeching halt. For the moment though, Gray found her eagerness an erotic temptation. The feel of her, the smell of her, the want in her, it was a ruthless tease on his tired wolf brain. His body went tight with need.

As much as he wanted to mount her and ram himself inside, he wouldnt. To take her now would be to take advantage of someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Gray stepped back and snapped at her to stop the toadying. Enough.

Maizie jumped out of reach, her entire demeanor changing. She gave a delicate snort and a hard swish of her tail. Absolutely.

Gray could only blink in surprise-staring. Shed been acting?

Maizie had been doing as she must to assure him she was no threat. Mission accomplished, her natural independent nature stiffened her spine. The fever must have begun to break. He hadnt expected the virus to work through her so quickly. She was stronger than he imagined, in body, mind and spirit. But then he shouldnt have been surprised. It was part of what he loved about her.

Minute by minute, day by day, she showed herself a perfect match for him. Donna, forgive me. It was hard to deny.

Gray shook his head, pushed his shoulder into her as he passed, pointing her body in the right direction. Follow.

Maizie bit his tail when it went by. Not yet.

Gray spun, a twinge of pain itching up his spine. Maizies tongue flopped, her jaw working hard trying to get the tuft of his tail hair out of her mouth. She shook her head, the last of it floating to the ground.

Those green-as-alder eyes focused on him, the look unmistakable. Claim me. A low rumble vibrated from the thick fleece of her chest, a purr so alluring it pulled his cock from the pocket of his fur. Claim me.

No. Not here. Not like this. Gray stiffened. His refusal standing.

Maizie licked his muzzle, her tongue warm, not as hot as before. Her long lapping kisses caressed his cheek, cleaned the blood from the brier scratches at his eyes. She pushed the side of her face into his neck, rubbing her body along his, heading for his tail.

Grays muscles pulled tight, Maizies high tail drawing closer. His heart hammered, his breaths ragged. Damn, she smelled good. She smelled like sex.

She shifted her hips when she knew her ass was at his nose, flicking her tail over his eyes. Claim me.

Without warning his wolf blood rampaged through his body, primal need surging through his brain. Maizie. Take her. Claim her.

The thoughts were stilted, frenzied. Shed pushed him too damn far. Gray spun, sunk his teeth into the thick fur of her ass, his paws clawing at her, drawing her around to his hard waiting cock.

She pressed her tail flat against her side, exposing her sex to him. Pushing against him Maizie wiggled, encouraging him to follow through. Gray closed his eyes, his mouth full of her fur, his nose and mind swimming in her scent, her taste. His breath panted out of him, his heart thundering. He needed a moment to find the ragged thread of control. Not like this.

His hips pressed into her, his cock burrowing deep in her wet fur, but missing her sex. Gray released his hold, pushing off her, jogging a few feet away. He turned back to see her collapse to the ground.

She rolled to her side, curling and stretching, squirming as though trying to find some measure of relief. She came to her belly, those enchanting green eyes focusing on him, hungry, needy. Claim me.

Gray snorted and took another step back. Not like this.

Maizie fell back, resigned, her head resting on the forest floor. Her side rose and fell with several heavy breaths before her fur rolled along her body in a way that could only mean her change had begun.

Gray watched, helpless. Returning to human form wouldnt be as painful as the initial shift, but it would still hurt. It would always hurt a little, but nothing like these first times. There was nothing he could do for her.

He tried to keep a sympathetic thought in his head as he watched the fur recede from her body, her paws return to hands and feet, her tail shrink, her teats reshape to womanly breasts. He tried, but shed pushed him so damn far. Staring at her lying on her belly, panting in the aftermath of her change, he wanted her as much as he had a moment before.

Her long fiery red hair cloaked her back, ass plump and smooth, her pussy thatch wet and glistening. His wolf cock twitched, his mind filled with thoughts of driving it deep between the rounds of her ass. He snorted and stepped closer, he couldnt stay away. Hed tried.

Her fever had broken. The virus had passed through her system and her body had adapted to its effect. Maizies mind was her own again, but he had claim to her body. He felt driven to stake that claim now.

He sniffed her first, the wild scent of her fur was fading, the sweet aroma of her flesh growing strong in its place. The effect on him was the same, pulling the muscles in his body. He licked her, from the back of her upper thigh to the firm round of her ass.

Maizie groaned, her hips rising to meet his caress. Her pussy lips spread, the scent of her arousal hitting him full force. His tail swished, his cock wagged hard and stiff. He raised up to his hind legs, mounted her, pawing along her back with only a passing thought not to mar her tender flesh with his claws.

He could take her this way. He was tall enough, his cock long and thick enough. But the thought of her protesting, forcing him to stop, was more than he could endure.

Gray closed his eyes, forced his beast to recede to the darkness, called up all that was human inside him. His paws reshaped to hands and fingers holding her sides. His back legs lengthened and he had to adjust so he stayed on his knees, holding himself against her.

For the second time in his life, his cock held its erection throughout the shift, its moist head turning velvet smooth, tickling in the wet hairs of her pussy. He shoved his hips forward, plunging deep inside her. He couldnt wait a second longer.

Like a blast of hot air, heat shot up his cock and over his body at the feel of her around him, tingling along his skin and pulling his balls so tight it fisted his toes. He clenched his jaw, bit back on the too-tempting call of release. He wanted more-so much more.

His thighs trembled as Maizie pushed up to her hands and knees, locked her elbows, arched her back. Yessss

Her voice was hoarse, but Gray recognized the low purr of wolf, how the virus had permanently altered the tone, made it richer, sexier. He pulled his hips, drawing his cock back through the rippling tight squeeze of her pussy walls. His skin hummed with the feel of it, that delicious pressure building, tempting him to give in, to tumble into a wash of release. Not yet. He drove himself into her again, so the slap of their bodies vibrated deep in his groin.

She pushed back, forcing him deeper. Her inner walls squeezed, milking every last inch of him, pulling a shuddering tingle from nerve endings all through his body. Gray watched as his hard shaft slid wet and shiny from between her folds, the erotic sight zinging through his mind and body. He slid his hands to her ass cheeks, squeezed, pulled them apart for a better view.

The sweet hole of her anus winked at him as he drove his cock into her pussy again. He licked a finger, wet the opening and shuddered at how easily he slid it inside. The tight squeeze of her ass on his finger made his cock twitch inside her, made her muscles answer with a hard draw of their own that jolted up his cock and seared through his body like lightning.

Maizie gasped. Thats it. Thats it. Like I dreamed you did in the shower.

Gray flicked his gaze to Maizies face, etched with concentrated pleasure. The invisible shower-Maizie had been his dream. Was it possible shed felt him the way hed felt her? Could they be that connected-that destined? Maybe. Possibly. If they were true life mates. But what would that make Donna?

His hard-on softened. He didnt want to think about it. Not now. Gray thrust his hips, pumping his cock until her hungry muscles made him so stiff he nearly came. He didnt want to think about Donna. He had Maizie in his arms, her wet pussy, her sexy ass. He wanted to fuck her senseless, hed wanted to from the start.

He pulled out and bent to her anus. He licked and kissed, thrusting his tongue into the tight opening as his fingers pumped her pussy. Maizie writhed against him, keeping the fast rhythm until her anus was as slick and ready for him as her sex.

Gray drew himself up to her, guided the head of his cock as he held her ass cheek. He pushed, felt the sweet resistance and allowed Maizie to bring him inside her. She pressed back against him and Grays cock slipped through, smooth and easy, muscles so tight he gasped at the surge of pleasure, raising the hairs all over his body.

She moaned loud and the sound reverberated along his cock, made him pump when he wanted to hold still. Jeezus, she drove him wild. He reached around and found her clit. He stroked her, using her own cream to keep his fingers wet. She wiggled against him as he pumped, her muscles squeezing tight, pushing him toward the edge, swelling the need inside him. So close, so close, the coming release pulling his balls, humming through his thighs and tugging his gut.

Not a moment too soon Maizie threw her head back, her body driving hard against him. His balls were drenched in her come. Her clit pulsed with another orgasm, her ass muscles throbbed around his cock with a third. She was coming all at once, her clit, her pussy and her ass.

Maizie There was no holding back. Her orgasm pulled him over the edge so fast he couldnt breathe. His body worked on its own, pounding into her. If shed asked now he couldnt have stopped. He was out of mind, out of body, lost to the whirl of sensation.

Something inside him gave way, heat rumbled over him like a summer storm, rolling through his muscles, massaging his balls, sucking the come from his cock so he felt utterly undone.

He collapsed onto her and she collapsed to the ground.

Maizie winced at Grays soft cock sliding out of her bum, her sex still pulsing and flexing with after-waves. Gawd, shed never come like that in her life.

She pushed up to her elbows and Gray shifted off her, his lips trailing soft kisses across her back. She shuddered, her belly quivering. Everything he did seemed so intense, affecting her mentally and physically. She felt him everywhere, sensed him, more tonight than before. Something had changed. She felt marked by him. The werewolf blood coursing through her veins forged a connection between them. Or strengthened one that had already been there.

He sat up, his leg touching her thigh, and scooped a handful of her hair off her back. She heard him inhale, knew he held her hair to his nose, and then she remembered the way his nostrils had flared when she asked if he blamed her for his wifes death.

Anger burned down her spine, stiffened her shoulders. She twisted, pushing up to sit, not caring how the movement yanked her hair from his grip.

She looked at him.

He smiled.

She slapped him hard, hard enough he nearly fell over. When his head snapped back to her, his glower was set in deep lines across his forehead, his lips tight.

What the hell was that for?

What did you turn me into? Her anger was a bit misdirected, she knew. Gray hadnt done this to her. Hed only blamed her for his wifes death then screwed her senseless anyway. She couldnt really complain since it was obvious shed wanted it as much as he had. That didnt make her any less pissed about it or make the slap any less satisfying.

Im sorry. But I didnt infect you. He rubbed the red handprint shed left on his face. It shouldnt have happened. If I could fix it, I would. Believe me.

Fix it? Yeah. Because youre all about doing whats right. Like blaming me for the accident that killed my parentsand your wife.

Im sorry for that too.

Maizies jaw snapped shut. She blinked. She hadnt expected him to admit to it. Then why did you? I mean, if thats really the way you feel, what was allthis about. She gestured to their naked bodies and the crush of grass where theyd had sex.

He raked a hand through his mop of silvery hair, grunted and pushed to his feet. She tried not to notice the way his muscles rolled under his skin, the tempting bundle between his legs. Would he say tonight was a mistake? She might agree, but it hadnt felt that way. She pulled her knees to her chest, hugging her arms around them, feeling small and vulnerable.

He stared out over the cliff, hands propped on his hips. It was easy blaming your parents and you for Donnas death. They were dead, and you were just a kid.

The moonlight silhouetted his body in a blue-white light, made her breath shudder to look at him.

I dont know why, he said. It didnt bring her back. It didnt change a damn thing. But until you walked into my forest, I didnt really give a shit.

So howd I change things?

His shoulders shook with a silent laugh, though when he spoke there was no sound of it in his voice. He knotted his arms under his chest. By being everything to me that I couldnt be for her. Jeezus, I had no idea. I mean, I knew it was harder for her. She was born a werewolf, her instincts were stronger. She needed to find a life mate, her life mate, and I just wanted to be married to her. After she infected me it was too late. Id made a mistake. But I was just too damn stubborn to admit it.

A lot of people consider honoring your wedding vows a good thing.

I wasnt honoring the damn vows. At least not the spirit of them. Not the way she needed. His head lowered, she couldnt be sure, but she thought hed closed his eyes. Our marriage was killing her. She was dying of loneliness lying right next to me. If I had understood better

He shook his head, raising his gaze. I was just pissed as hell that our marriage was failing. I loved her. I know she loved me, but there was something missing, something she needed. When she tried to find it with another man I He shrugged. I lost it. We had a blowout fight. Damn it, I hated what Id driven her to, hated I couldnt be what she needed. So when she ranI let her go.

That was twenty-one years ago, Gray. Maybe youre remembering it wrong.

He turned his chin to his shoulder, looking back at her. I remember like it was yesterday. I remember because I feel the bond with you I could never forge with her. Your family took my wife from me, but gave me my life mate. So, tell me, should I thank them, or curse themor both?

She swallowed hard not knowing if she wanted to smile or cry. She wanted to go to him but the muscles in her arms and legs still trembled from everything theyd endured.

He came to her on one knee. Dont try to get up. Your body needs to rest. Its still sort of in a state of flux.

Shed protest except she could feel he was right. Whatever you do, Gray, you should start by letting yourself off the hook. It was an accident.

He snorted, a short sardonic laugh. Thats just one explanation, according to your grandmother. An accident, yeah, but predestined too.

You mean like fate?

Like a goddamn fairy tale.

Chapter Eleven | Little Red and the Wolf | Chapter Thirteen