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Chapter Three

Maizie found the spare key right where it had been when she was a kid, in the front window box. The primrose and babys breath helped hide the three-inch I love bingo key chain, but anyone who took the time to look would find it.

Her grandmother had hid it from the animals more than people. Shed tell Maizie that anybody desperate enough to break in probably needed whatever theyd find more than she did. The animals though, theyd just make a mess.

The philosophy wasnt exactly one Maizie agreed with and she hesitated a minute before leaving the key among the flowers. Seventy some years in the cottage and Gran had never lost anything she valued. She must have known what she was doing.

She slipped the key in the lock. The door creaked open, already unlocked. The key was one thing, but leaving the door unlocked was just asking for trouble.

Maizie peeked through the opening. Hello? Anyone here? Its just meLittle Redwith a loaded three-fifty-seven magnum in her demure little hand. It wouldve been a much better threat if shed actually had a three-fifty-seven magnum.

She listened. Nothing. Well then clearly no ones here, cause a thief would answer back. Maizie rolled her eyes at her stupidity and slipped inside.

Gawd, this place never changes. Maizie scanned the small living room to her right, tossed her backpack on the plump white sofa, almost knocking the lamp off the end table beside her.

On the far wall, next to the stone fireplace, one side of the French doors to the all-season room was ajar. She could see the corner of the outer room. The warm rays of the evening sun gave the terracotta floor tiles a fiery hue and set off the colors in the brick walls under the windows.

The living room, despite the buttercup-yellow walls and white airy curtains, was already cast in evening shadows. She reached down and flicked on the lamp next to her.

Light filtered through the curtained window at the top of the narrow staircase in front of her. The dark wood steps gleamed against white walls. To her left the kitchen windows behind the sink and counters stretched the full length of the room. She leaned forward, noticing the small vase of fresh violets on the sill behind the sink. No one had been here in months. Weird.

The kitchen was the size of a shoebox, a straight narrow room with the sink, an old-style gas stove and oven on one side and a shallow pantry next to the refrigerator on the other. Staring into it brought back warm childhood memories. Itd been more than big enough for her and Gran.

Maizie turned from the kitchen and the memories, and crossed the living room to the open door of the all-season room. Before she reached the fireplace, a familiar scent tickled her nose. Smelled likelike mens cologne. An icy chill shook across her shoulders, her heart picked up pace and her muscles tensed.

The aroma was fading, but she recognized it. She knew who wore that cologne. Who was it? She tried to click through the faces of possibilities in her mind, but her brain was too freaked on the fact that someone had been in her home. They might still be there.

Something moved in the all-season room, a scuffling noise against the tile floor, and Maizies heart was in her throat. She froze, her mind flashing all sorts of horrific images of what couldve made the sound.

Every slasher movie shed ever seen flickered through her head in high-definition. Images of aliens eating their way out of peoples stomachs, leather-faced men wielding chainsaws, hockey masks glowing in the dark, her twisted imagination kept her rooted to the spot.

Minutes ticked by with only the chirps of birds and the rustle of wind through the trees to listen to. Sanity began to seep back into her petrified brain. Clearly someone had been there and left the flowers. Nothing looked out of place, so they hadnt robbed her. If Gran did have someone checking on the cottage, maybe theyd left the back door open like theyd done to the front and some woodland critters had decided to check out the new digs.

Idiot. Its just a raccoon or a mouse or something. She kept her voice to a whisper though, in case it was a big scary guy with a hockey mask and chainsaw.

The cushy carpeting made her stealthy advance toward the French doors all the more silent. She grabbed the fire poker from the cast-iron set by the fireplace and slowly opened the door far enough that shed be able to slip through.

One, twothree. Maizie jumped over the threshold, turning to land facing the far wall to the left, feet spread wide, knees bent, poker double fisted and cocked over her shoulder like a baseball bat.

Ah-ha! Oh crap. Not a mouse. Nice doggy.

A flash of silvery fur and a low growl caught Maizies attention. Her gaze zeroed in on the large wolf just as he flinched, crouching, ready to bolt. The two of them froze, taking the others measure.

The thing was huge, its big ears twitching, listening to more than her words. Cool blue eyes watched her as though waiting for the right moment to attack or run. A rumbling growl filled the space between them, though its face remained deceptively calm and curious. Its head low, eyes peering up beneath the shelf of its furry brow, it watched Maizie tentatively.

Shoo, go away, she said, though she was still whispering. No sense upsetting the great big huge enormous wolf.

It tilted its head, ears pivoting forward, and straightened. Whatever fear itd felt a second before seemed to vanish, bold curiosity taking its place. The wolf sniffed the air, its shiny black nose twitching.

Go on. Out the door. Maizie wiggled the poker at the animal, edged forward, hoping it would back out the open screen door behind it.

A hard snort and shake of its head seemed a firm answer before the wolf moved toward her. Maizie backed up as many steps, keeping the distance equal. At this rate, the wolf would be shooing her out of the house instead of the other way around.

It was a beautiful animal though, hypnotic pale blue eyes and thick silvery fur.

A proverbial light went on in Maizies brain. Are you Grans big silver wolf?

The big animal perked its ears, head up. No wonder it was acting so bold. I cant believe youre real. Whats she been doing, feeding you?

Maizie exhaled, finally, and lowered the poker. Poor thing. Probably miss her, huh?

The wolf stepped closer, nose out, sniffing. She lifted her hand, the rest of her body still tight with caution. Just because Gran had gotten close enough to this thing to make it feel comfortable strolling into her house didnt make it less wild.

Please dont eat me.

Hot breath washed over her skin, as the animal took in her scent. Then it licked her.

Maizie jumped at the sensation, which gave the poor wolf a start. She laughed, the animal staring up at her, crouched, waiting for a clue to her next move.

Sorry. Your tongue tickles. Not that she thought it could understand, although clearly Granny believed it could.

The wolf straightened, startled fear melting into cool fire in its eyes. He stretched toward her and licked along her knuckles. Its rough tongue massaged against her skin, made her breath catch. He stepped closer. Licked again, and the sensation set loose a wave of goose bumps up her arm, spilling out all over her body.

The big animal lowered its head and a warm snort of breath touched her knee followed by the hot rasp of his tongue. He sniffed her, then licked, catching her below the knee and pressing up and over to the bottom of her thigh. God, she hoped he wasnt hungry.

The rough pulling sensation on her flesh felt nice in a weird way. He did it again, this time his long tongue wrapped around her knee and caught the sensitive little dimple behind. Maizie gasped, her breath shuddered, not sure if she was being tasted or titillated.

Exactly what had Granny been teaching this thing?

Emboldened or hungry, the wolf stepped closer. Maizies fingers brushed the silky fur on his neck and head as he sniffed the hem of her dress. He raised his head, pressing his nose against her groin.

She flinched away. Bad dog-I mean, wolf. At least buy me dinner first.

His cool nose nudged under the hem of her dress, lifting it as his tongue lapped at her inner thigh. The feel of it was a mix of embarrassment, fear and pleasure. The first two emotions far outweighed the last.

Right. Thats enough of that. Maizie dropped the poker to push both hands against the wolfs massive head, trying to hold him back and scoot away at the same time. But the wolf followed her step for step, licking when it could, until her back hit the wall. Trapped, his long tongue lapped at her inner thigh, skin tingling, muscles stiff. She closed her eyes, praying he wouldnt take a bite.

The long teasing licks moved higher, the wolfs big head raising her dress as he went. Oh shit.

This wasnt happening. What kind of wild animal does this? With her hands fisting his ears and thick clumps of fur around them she pulled at his head, tried to raise a knee, push it into his neck. The wolf paid her efforts little mind.

His zeal for her taste intensified, his big body pressing in more and more. What was going through its mind, hunger or sex? She didnt like either possibility.

Her heart hammered against her chest, her breaths little more than frantic pants. Her knees trembled, elbows locked, pushing against the animals head with every ounce of her strength. Another lick brought his tongue so high on her inner thigh, she gasped at the quick conflict of pleasure and disgust.

No. Stop it, you stupid mutt. She pushed at him but his tongue darted out anyway, tracing the crease of flesh between her leg and her sex. Fuck.

His cool nose nudged against her panties and the wolfs whole body trembled with a sound like a low feral purr.

No. Maizie twisted her leg, angled the heel of her shoe and stomped.

The wolf yelped and jumped away. It held its front paw off the ground, favoring it. The pain in its eyes was almosthuman. Regret knotted through Maizies belly. Dumb wolf didnt know any better. Sorry, but Im just not that kind of girl.

The silvery furred wolf shook his head, the twist traveling down his back and up his tail. His pool-water blue eyes swung up to her. He blinked. Barked once, loud enough to make her flinch, then turned and trotted out the open screen door.

Hey. Wait. Let me check your paw at least. She jogged after it and nearly fell on her face when her shoe caught on a pile of rags near the door. She looked. Shredded pants, a shirt, even a pair of shoes poking out underneath the mess.

Why shoes? Maizie kept moving. Shed figure it out later.

Beyond the brick patio, the vine-covered arbor and the stepping-stone path winding through Grannys flower garden, a space of about fifteen feet separated the backyard from the acres and acres of forest. Maizie stopped at the very edge of dark woods. No sign of her nosey wolf.

Shed played in these woods most of her life, knew them like her own bedroom, though shed never, in all her years, followed the path to its end.

The dirt trail wound and twisted for several miles through the woods, branching off at crucial sections to lead one way or another.

In one direction the narrow path led off to the local coal mines, with industrial-type buildings, and the hum of machinery and trucks rumbling day and night. Another section deep, deep into the woods branched off toward the game preserve. Beyond that another led to a crystal-clear quarry lake where teens were rumored to go skinny-dip. But the main path trailed through to a housing plan on the far side of the forest.

She hadnt traveled that path in years. The beautiful little housing development it led to was her old neighborhood. Where shed lived before the accident, before her world had changed.

Granny had forbidden her from wandering that deep into the forest, frightening her into obedience with tales of vicious, hungry wolves. But she hadnt needed Grannys warnings to obey. Nothing but painful memories were at the other end of the overgrown route. A perfect life stripped away on a rainy night by a beast.

She had no desire to trudge through those memories. Besides, it was more likely that Grannys big silver wolf had headed back to the game preserve. There were supposed to be fences to keep the preserve animals in and humans out. If the wolf was part of the preserve, there was probably a problem with the fence. Shed check it out, maybe find the not-so-scary silver wolf and the hole hed squeezed through to get out.

Maizie started on her way. Three steps in, and thick foliage gobbled up the last twinkles of sunlight. A cool blue-black illumination was the only sign full night had not yet fallen. She kept walking, finding her way almost on reflex. These woods were home for her, no matter how citified shed become.

Within seconds Grannys backyard haven disappeared from sight and the forest sank in around her. She kept walking.

Minutes passed, five, twelve, before she found the faint remnants of the old trail to the game preserve. With her first step off the main path the thrum of invisible fingers tickled up her back. Instincts trembled. She wasnt alone. Her belly fluttered, leg muscles twitched, eager to take flight.

She kept walking, scanning the forest on either side. The high canopy of trees kept the undergrowth low. She could see for some distance although the dwindling light was making it increasingly difficult.

Between the trees, the highs and lows of small hills, the odd thicket of briers and clumps of vegetation over fallen trees, there were plenty of places to hide.

Maizie fought her instinct and came to a stop. Someone was near. She could feel it. Was it the wolf or something worse? Her pulse raced, hands fisting at her sides. Shed never been frightened of these woods before. But then shed never wandered this far in.

The hairs at her nape tickled, her belly quivered. She narrowed her eyes, trying to see clearly. A flash of movement at the corner of her vision made her look. Maizie snapped her attention to her left. Nothing there. Another stir a little farther to the right.

She looked, but a half second too late. Again, several yards deeper, something stirred the low branches of a bush. She didnt see what it was. And then she caught a glimpse. Fur, brown, a shade lighter than dirt.

She squinted, tried to narrow her vision on a patch of briers where she thought whatever it was had hidden. Growls rumbled along the forest floor, vibrating through her chest. The sound sent ice chilling through her veins.

Darkness was falling fast. She couldnt see anything clearly and the shadows were growing thicker, closing in. The low rumble surrounded her, changing pitch, altering cadence until it was less like a growl and more likea moan.

Curiosity and the fast rush of adrenaline that replaced her fear pushed her forward. A smacking noise echoed off the trees, accompanied by a stranger, wetter-sounding slosh, softer, but there. The sounds coming from just ahead of her, on the other side of a cluster of tree trunks, were too out of place to ignore.

She moved closer, careful to tread softly. Her hands on the nearest of the tree trunks, Maizie peered around and everything shed been hearing made sense. And didnt.

Right there in the middle of the dense forest was a man, maybe late forties, on his knees, naked, his face tense with restraint and effort. Muscles defined across his flat belly, his thick upper thighs flexing, his hands clamped on the hips of a stunning woman. The mans hips rocked a hard, steady rhythm, his legs smacking against the ass of the woman on all fours in front of him, driving his sex deep again and again.

Maizie stood, mesmerized, watching the two lost in the sensations of their bodies. The womans long curling blonde hair parted at her neck, revealing the smooth line of her back. Her eyes were closed, her body rocking, driving herself harder, faster against her lovers cock.

The woman spread her knees wider, taking more of the long hard cock into her body. Maizie caught glimpses of the mans shaft glistening each time he drew back. His powerful muscles tensed his ass, firm and round, thrusting himself so hard his lovers supple body jerked with the impact.

The sound of their sex thundered through Maizies ears, her body suddenly warm, muscles low inside her going slick, flexing with a growing need. She should look away. Give them their privacy. But the instant the decision to turn entered her mind, the man glanced over his shoulder at her.

Maizie gasped, surprised hed known she was there, embarrassed at having been caught watching, and horrified at how strong the urge to join them gripped her. She held her breath, waiting for him to scream at her, to curse her for her rudeness. The sound of her heart was so loud in her ears she couldnt hear the smack of their flesh.

A strange smile trembled at the corners of the mans mouth. He licked his lips, turned his head a fraction of an inch and a flash of color on his neck caught her attention. There was something there, red and lumpy. Maizie concentrated, fighting the luring distraction of love-making.

It took a moment, but she finally realized what it was-torn flesh. Something had bitten him. Blood had dried around the wound, crusting into dark, nearly black chunks and trailing in a long messy flow down his chest. Raw meat and blood glistened in the dim moonlight, but it looked as though the wound was healing. It certainly hadnt stopped him from indulging his carnal needs with this woman.

The mans position shifted, drawing Maizies attention at the exact moment he, still staring at her, dropped his hand. She could see his cock perfectly now, wet and hard driving in and out of the womans slick pussy. The sounds of their sex echoed in her head.

Maizie swallowed the thick ball of lust in her throat, her face hot, her thighs moist, her sex flooding with need. A sudden cry cracked through the hazy fog of her brain. The womans rhythmic motions became frantic, ruthless with need.

Her ass tensed, toes curling, wrapping her ankles around her lovers calves, locking their bodies together as she rode her orgasm. He drove a counter rhythm, working his body with hers, pushing himself over the edge of orgasm a second later.

Maizie stepped away, sensing the time to flee was quickly escaping her. Her heel caught against an exposed root and she stumbled, suddenly drawing the attention of the woman. There was no hint of a smile from her.

What the fuck?

Maizie ran-because shed been caught watching a private moment, because the look in the womans eyes was both surprised and murderous, because too much of Maizie still wanted to find a way to join them. She ran. And they chased her.

Maizie knew the way, even in a blind panic she could find her way back to Grannys house. But she was so far from home and the sound of footfalls behind her was growing closer. In the back of her head, she heard every step, every long stride and then the strides changed, the rhythm doubled, lightened.

She glanced over her shoulder and realized the couple wasnt chasing her. A wolf was. Not the wolf from Grannys house. Another wolf mustve escaped the preserve. God, how many of them were out here?

Its long powerful body gained on her easily, chocolate-brown fur tipped with blonde rolling over its muscles. In a blur it passed her, spun and blocked her path. Itd moved so quickly, Maizie hadnt had time to change course. She slid to a stop, staring down the long trembling muzzle of the snarling wolf.

Easy, boy, she said, though her voice was almost too shaky to understand. Just let me get past. Ill be out of your woods in a few minutes. Good, boy. Gooood, boy.

The wolfs snarls grew louder. This close Maizie realized it wasnt a boy. It was female. The wolf edged closer and everything inside Maizie screamed for her to run. She didnt. Despite there being no love lost between her and furry four-legged canines, Maizie knew enough not to run and trigger their chase instinct.

She stood her ground, fear boiling into resentment, anger. She didnt have a weapon and couldnt outrun it. If the beast decided it wanted her dead, there was nothing she could do about it, just like her parents.

Shed had enough. Fine. Whatever. Kill me or leave me the fuck alone. Im done with wolves haunting my dreams, haunting my life. Get it over with already. It was an animal. She knew it couldnt possibly understand, but yet it backed away.

And then she heard it. A distant howl. Another wolfs call. After a hard snort, her pursuer turned and darted back the way itd come.

Maizie didnt even pause to think about it. She just turned and ran home.

His body stretched and contoured, pulling muscle and meat, reforming bones. The shift was painful as hell, but it let him know he was alive. Gray lay for several seconds staring up through the green needles of the pine tree. Above was the ink black of the night sky, the moon barely a slit of yellow, the stars few enough to count.

Old needles, brown and decaying, cushioned beneath him. He breathed deep, taking the cool air into his lungs, washing away her scent. Jeezus, he could still taste her, sweet and salty. The smell of her pussy so maddening his cock had gone from wolf to man without losing the rock-hard erection for a second.

Maizie. What was it about her that made him lose all control? Hell, he couldnt remember the last time a woman made him so damn hot the retractable wall between the seats in his limo constituted enough privacy for him to jack off. But never had this kind of crazed need transcended forms so even the beast in him craved her scent, her taste.

He couldnt believe what hed thought about doing tonight, what hed almost done. As wolf, some things became more complicated, almost impossible to understand, and other things crystallized with the sharpness of black and white. She was female to his male. He smelled her, the sweet musk of her sex. He tasted her. He wanted her. There was nothing else that mattered.

Two more seconds and he would have had her on her knees, humping over her back, ramming his dick into her juicy pussy. Gray licked his lips, tasted the hint of her there. He wanted more. As a wolf his tongue was so long he couldve fucked her with it. He almost had.

He shook his head, tried to banish the thought and only then noticed his hand stroking the hard shaft of his cock. Fuck, he was losing his mind.

Gray didnt know how long hed lain there, thirty minutes, an hour. Who knew? Thoughts of Maizie both relaxed and excited him but it was time to get back to reality. He pushed to his feet and strode toward the edge of the forest, his dick bouncing back and forth, practically pointing the way. This thing with Maizie was scaring the hell out of him and still his cock wanted what it wanted.

He wasnt a damn animal. He could control himself, choose when hed give in to carnal demands and when he wouldnt. Unfortunately if he didnt give in soon, he risked doing something really stupid like screwing the first female who offered.

Mmmm, need help with that? His sister-in-law, the precise something stupid he worried about. She lounged naked on the chaise patio chair, eyeing his bouncing dick. One leg stretched straight, she bent the other and let it fall to the side so he could see the wet glimmer of her sex.

Get dressed, Lynn. He may not have known how long hed lain under the trees thinking of Maizie. But he knew itd been at least an hour since hed called his sister-in-law back to the house from her private run.

What the hell had she been doing out there so late on her own anyway? His human brain told him it wasnt any of his business, but the alpha in him growled, wanting to know the goings-on of his pack members. He pushed the overbearing urge from his thoughts.

Gray stomped up the stone steps onto the patio, his gaze glancing over her svelte body, he was a man after all and horny as hell. She looked damn good too, breasts high and firm, small waist and a gentle curve of womanly hips. She was a brunette, despite the sandy blonde hair curling over her shoulders. Her little pussy thatch didnt lie.

Not till you tell me why youre playing cat and mouse with a human when youve got this nice piece of ass waiting for you. She grabbed his wrist as he passed, yanking his hand to her breast.

She arched into his palm, her hard nipple poking between his fingers. The strong flowery fragrance of her perfume filled his nose so he could barely smell anything else. His fingers squeezed before he could stop himself, feeling the supple flesh mold to his hand. Her little nipple pinched between his fingers, the feel of it sending a quick jolt through his veins to his cock. Self-disgust rolled over him like cold lead and he pulled away.

Youre my wifes sister. Its never gonna happen. Accept it. And get dressed.

Your dead wife, you mean. Youre pack, Gray. Not human. Their moral rules dont apply to us. She swiveled her hips around, moving her feet to the floor and stood. She stepped up beside him, pressing her naked body into his side so his arm nestled between her soft breasts, pressed down her belly and his fingers brushed the moist hair of her sex.

Before Donna turned you she told you what we were, what youd become. You knew being her mate would make you our alpha. You knew what that meant, what it still means.

Gray let his head fall forward, hating how much he liked the feel of her feminine curves against him. Itd been too long. Too damn long. His fingers curled, fondling through her hairs without him realizing hed made them. She pushed her hips forward, gave him free access.

I know what it means, he said.

The lips of her pussy were swollen, wet, like shed just had sex. He knew she hadnt. Lynn didnt have a mate, hadnt since hed refused to allow her to turn the father of her children. For that reason alone hed be responsible to see to her needs, being alpha only obligated him more. He pressed a finger between her outer lips, found her clit engorged.

Lynn s hand clamped around his forearm, held him to her, she pumped her hips. His finger was drenched in seconds, slipping in and out of her pussy so easy he added another, then another.

Lynn threw her head back. Yes. Oh God. Dont stop. Please, Grayjustdont stop.

She slid her free arm under his, over his tight stomach to his stiff cock, her wild gyrations making it bounce all the more. Her hand clamped on, stroked the sensitive flesh. It felt good. Too good. Dammit.

He grabbed her hand on his dick. Held it still. Shed make him come. To hell with pack code, pack obligations, he didnt want that. He couldnt let his late wifes sister get him off. What little he did for Lynn was pity, guilt, not desire. The next time she found a suitable mate, human or otherwise, he wouldnt stop her. So said his human-half, his wolf-half wasnt so sure.

Fuck yes! She pressed into him, and Gray pushed his fingers deep into her, held them there, feeling her soft wet walls squeeze and release with her orgasm. He waited for her hold on his arm to relax, then he pulled away.

Mmmm. Will you still do that after youve tasted your new little bitch? She gripped her hand around his wet fingers, stroking them like shed tried to stroke his cock, using her cream to lube the way. His dick twitched, a bead of come pearling at the tip.

He clenched his jaw. Resolute. No. Find a mate, Lynn. Its time.

I did. You wouldnt let me have him. She practically threw his hand away, her voice a wicked hiss.

He was married. Hes still married. You broke it off with him before the twins were born and he never left her.

Shawn wouldve left her for me. He wouldnt have had a choice if you had let me turn him.

Thats how you wanted him? By taking away all other options? He was cheating on his wife, Lynn. He wouldve cheated on you. Gray cupped her face. She tried to pull away but he snagged her around the waist. Their bellies pressed together, his dick finally softening against her.

I want you to be happy, he said. You and the kids deserve a good man. Someone your mom wont worry about. As your brother-in-law its the most I can hope for. As your alpha its the least I can demand.

She snorted and pushed from his embrace. Shelly and Ricky are twenty-nine. They know who their father is and they dont need him. Mom wants her alpha to be part of a mating pair, like it should be. If its not going to be me and you, then Ill find a man wholl fight for me, and the pack. Mark my words, Gray, youll lose us all.

Chapter Two | Little Red and the Wolf | Chapter Four