A GUARDIAN’S DESIRE

Mya

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A Guardian’s Desire
Mya
This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Published by Loose Id LLC 1802 N Carson Street, Suite 212-2924 Carson City NV 89701-1215 www.loose-id.com

Copyright © July 2008 by Mya All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared in any form, including, but not limited to printing, photocopying, faxing, or emailing without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC.

ISBN 978-1-59632-727-6 Available in Adobe PDF, HTML, MobiPocket, and MS Reader

Printed in the United States of America

Editor: Jana J. Hanson Cover Artist: Croco Designs

Dedication
I would like to thank my close friend Kelci, for helping me in my endeavors to be a writer, Jana, my editor, who makes sense of my ramblings, and all of the matriarchs in my family who inspired this piece.

Prologue
Seven Months Ago, Scottish Highlands
It was warmer than it should have been for a mid-October morning in Scotland. While the sun was on the horizon, its glow paled in comparison to the brilliance of flames. Feasting on the wood and foliage of the forest, the fire ran unchecked and hungry. Those with even the smallest chance of hindering its fury had something more ferocious to deal with. A mile outside the reach of the fire, four naked figures strode toward a dark blue Suburban. Led by a tall, muscular African American female with wild, dark hair, the group looked like warriors. It wasn’t just the muscles, the tattoos, or the blood and dirt that gave them away, but the seriousness of their features, the firm set of their brows, the strategy within their gazes. They had an opponent, a very complex and difficult one. The tallest of the warriors, a red-haired male, rushed to his leader’s side just as she reached the back of the SUV. He watched as she swung the double doors wide open to reveal an arsenal of weapons, from high-tech to medieval. While it should have been enough to instill calm in an unarmed male, the male shook his head in doubt. “Freya, really… I don’t think more guns are the answer. I mean, did you see the size of that fucking thing? He didn’t tell us that it was a…that it was a -- well, I don’t know what the fuck it was.” Coming around to the back of the Suburban, a stocky brunette with a chest the size of a beer keg and a neck to match named Richard spoke with a heavy Swedish accent. “All of us fucking saw it, Johann. I’m sure I’ll be seeing it in my nightmares for months, if not more. And to think that it was once a werewolf…Great Moon!” “A werewolf? That thing was a were ?” Johann couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” “A Luna,” said Freya from inside the SUV, her voice hard and cold. “It’s called a Luna.” “What’s that? How does a werewolf become that?”

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Freya didn’t like the sound of fear in the man’s voice and regretted allowing him to join her team. His apprehension and ignorance would definitely be a weakness in their team. If only it had been a basilisk. Stone was at least reversible -- painful, but an ailment that could possibly be cured. Death was not. “Look,” she said. “You take a were and torture it, drive it insane, and warp it, and what you get is a Luna. It’s a mad, horrible fucker of a beast whose bones can’t remember their shape. They get twisted, become monsters that don’t look shit like us. They’re amped, vicious, and feel no fucking pain -- as you just saw, of course.” “By the moon…” Finding her secret stash of tequila tucked inside a crate of shotguns, Freya popped the cap off and downed a quarter of the golden elixir in one gulp. “Nah, it’s probably by some sorcerer actually, a dumb, wannabe, evil son of a bitch.” The last warrior came around to the back of the truck. Freya capped the bottle and tossed it to the big male known only to his close friends as Cole. Leaning his heavy frame against the door, Cole’s silver-gray hair was a stark contrast to his youthful looks, hanging down past his shoulders in thick tendrils. The man had fought alongside Freya for years. Like his leader, he was unimpressed. “Stop being Chihuahuas,” he exclaimed in a thick Irish brogue. “Fucking thing took Minx, and we will get her back!” Johann didn’t agree with the Irishman in the least. “Fuck that! The pup is dead, and if she isn’t already, then she will be damn soon. This Luna thing is out of control. I’ve never seen anything move that fast, take that much pain. We’re going to need a mage, holy water, something, for crying out loud! For all the bastards that have immunity to silver, it sure as hell doesn’t sneeze at it. Or lead or gold or wolfsbane. We’re out of our league!” Cole took a great swig from the bottle and passed it around. “Stop being such a scared, bloody cunt. If it bleeds, it can go down. Freya and I have faced worse shit than this. You boys are behaving like fairies, so I’ll tell yah that a Luna can be taken down and this one will be.” As Cole rallied the boys, Freya listened with approval. It was just as she would have done. She considered the Irishman as good as her beta. While the rest of the men were not a blood-related pack, Cole was the only one she would even think to call her second. His experience and loyalty in battle were worth more than the others combined. Not about to coddle their nerves, Freya allowed the elder to deal with the novice’s fears and anxiety while she suited up for a hunt. Freya had nothing but curses for the client, some rich sorcerer with far more money than talent. It was his lack of description that had bothered her the most that night. How could one mistake a basilisk for Luna? Sure, the Luna that they were hunting had eight legs; a long, thin tail that split into two; several sets of eyes; and a jaw that closely resembled mandibles, but it had once been a wolf. All Lunas retained something of their canine origins. It still had the snout of one for crying out loud, she thought.

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It was a big error, an unforgivable one. Had she just been properly informed, Minx would have still been alive. The creature would have been dead, and Freya would have already returned to collect the second half of a sixty-thousand-dollar job. “That damned ignorant, fearful, son of a bitch,” she said beneath her breath. He had sounded so afraid for his life on the phone. His voice had been shaky and raspy as he told her that he was being hunted by a basilisk. If only it had been a basilisk. Looking through her arsenal, Freya bypassed the guns, the rifles, and the grenades. She had already tossed both of her handguns, along with her clothes, as soon as she realized bullets had no effect on the creature. Her wolf form had given her more offensive capability. As a werewolf, Freya could take down most beasts with strength, fangs, and claws. Had her prey been a lizardlike basilisk, Freya would be snacking on its tasty remains instead of seeking better weaponry. Lunas were neither easy nor tasty. They were lethal. But then so was she! For a moment, she entertained the thought that the client and the creator were one and the same, and it only added more fuel to her need for destruction.

First things first though, she thought. With her sights set on a large brown chest
toward the back of the cargo area, she grasped it and pulled it forward. For something as archaic as it appeared to be, the chest had a modern keypad lock. She swiftly input a seventeen-digit code, and the click of the lock’s release sounded. The chest opened to reveal what looked like larger thick rolls of black electrical tape. Freya took one before tossing one to each of her men. All but Cole looked at her in confusion. It soon faded as Freya demonstrated how to use the material. She wrapped it around her neck, breasts, and abdomen, forming the tape into a garment, one that ordinary blades could not penetrate and claws could not puncture, one that could withstand transformation. She did not watch as her crew did the same. Instead, she delved inside the chest once more. Beneath tape and the false bottom of the chest were two sets of gleaming claws, nearly three times the size of hers even in wolf form, and three times as deadly. These too had black straps which through the process of winding became wrist and forearm guards. When she leaped down out of the truck, Freya stood before her team, ready to finish their job. “Bullets aren’t going to hurt it, but these blades will take off limbs sure enough. It’s time to go old school.” “At least you’re not totally insane,” muttered Johann. “Do we get some of that metal?” “No. You won’t need it. I’m going in to bring it out. I’ll need you to make sure that it can’t escape. Go on.” Freya gestured toward the truck. “There are swords in the blue case. Go ahead and get some, but I don’t want you getting close if you don’t have to.” Richard and Johann did as she commanded, but Cole made it obvious that he did not agree with his leader’s plan. “Freya, he’s going to come after you with everything he’s got. I will run with you, draw him out.”

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Freya shook her head. While Cole’s concern was noble, it was nothing that she required. Her will, her cunning, and her strength were all she needed. They would be her guards that morning. “I need you to make sure this beast goes down. You’re the only one I trust for the task. This ends today. We will get paid, and we will drink for Minx. It’s just another fucking job.” Cole didn’t seem to think so, but as the other males leaped from the truck with swords in hand, he kept his composure as well as any beta might.

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Chapter One
Present Day, New York State
Freya Daniels didn’t drink scotch to savor the age or the richness of the alcohol’s aroma. She drank it because it brought heat to her limbs. Riding in the back of the limo surrounded by waifs dressed in expensive gowns and spiked heels, Freya clutched the tumbler with covetous fingers. On their way from a ritzy Manhattan hotel to a secluded mansion upstate, she enjoyed the scenery flashing by her window. Excited chatter flew around the car as the girls discussed everything from the soap in the hotel to the fashions on the street. To them, the world had become a luxurious, exciting place. Impervious to the girls’ excitement, the scotch was the only thing Freya could relate to. She had seen extravagant hotels, cars, and things on a regular basis and was not impressed. The girls, on the other hand, had screamed when they got inside the limo, had examined everything from the television to the moonroof. Freya certainly had nothing in common with the she-pups riding with her. “I don’t know if I can go through with this,” spoke the youngest of the girls, a redhead named Hallie McFadden. Dressed in a pink satin shift of a gown, she wrung her hands in her lap. Rebecca Doral, a gorgeous blonde with breasts any movie starlet would envy, laughed. “Why? You could end up on the arm of a delta, maybe even an alpha.” Her eyes widened at the prospect. “Hell, even if you end up with one of the others, the Sohons only accept successful and motivated wolves from good lineages!” Dena Wetzel, the ambidextrous one seated beside Rebecca, grinned as she poured two flutes of champagne. She set the bottle down into the ice bucket before sharing one of the glasses with the eager blonde. “My father said that he had been saving money for me to go

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ever since I was born. He said if I was going to find a real mate then it would be with the Sohons.” “My father found the money after he found out about my human boyfriend. How’s that for incentive?” Rebecca laughed. Dressed in jeans, engineer boots, and a black T-shirt, Freya shared none of the enthusiasm or fashion sense surrounding her inside of the limousine. Her attire was the least of the differences separating Freya from her charges. Freya was a warrior wolf. She would have rather been in a gym than acting as an escort to cubs not long out of puberty. Just hearing the girls’ excited chatter, their daydreams of rogue wolves with barrel chests, hefty bank accounts, cocks the size of baseball bats, and white fangs was enough to drive her to the liquor cabinet for another draught of scotch.

Ten thousand dollars for playing babysitter to three mating-age females. I have got to be losing my damn mind, Freya thought. Rent was rent though. Despite her reservations
about her job, it was not the first pack party she had attended, nor would it be the last. The food was always excellent, and there would be some measure of sport. The she-cub sitting next to Freya was the only one whose mood rivaled hers. Fidgeting, alternating between aloof and nervousness, Hallie kept stealing glances at Freya as if there was a question she wasn’t quite sure if she should voice. She was in the process of tossing back her fourth glass of dark gold liquor when the nervousness finally gave way to a question. “Freya, what if I don’t like the wolves that like me?” Her usually keen hearing was dulled by the copious amounts of alcohol in her system. “Excuse me?” “What if I don’t like the wolf that chooses me?” None of the other girls seemed to have an answer as they hid behind their drinks. “It just all seems so…weird. I mean, I know that it’s an honor to go, but it seems like an auction or something. It’s no way for wolves to really get to know one another.”

Well, here’s a smart one. Freya looked at the redhead and tried not to agree too
heartily. The truth of the matter was that the Sohon clan was among the most ceremonial of wolf packs that she had ever encountered. Some of the more feral clans were a hair’s breadth away from being cavemen with clubs. Still, between the two extremes, Freya found the Sohon to be the lesser evil. Gaudy, pompous, and pretentious as they were, they were still intimidating. Freya understood Hallie’s qualms. One look into the scared eyes of the young wolf beside her, and Freya knew that Hallie would do well. With fiery red hair, a small frame, and almost demure bearing, she would easily find a mate. Just like they invited females from good families, they also invited prime males, for a nominal fee. Freya didn’t doubt that the males would look twice at Rebecca, or Dena either, but Hallie’s naiveté would definitely get some attention. Red wolves were hot commodities.

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“You have nothing to worry about, Hallie. The ball is all in your court. A wolf won’t choose a mate who doesn’t want him, and if he does, you don’t have to accept his offer. Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.” Reaching again for the decanter of scotch, Freya added, “They’re going to love you, woo you, and dazzle you.” Hallie nodded, seeming to find some comfort in Freya’s words. “Have you ever gone -been presented at a pack party?” Freya poured herself another drink before pulling a handful of ice from the champagne pail and dropping it into her glass. She ignored Dena’s cough of doubtful surprise and Rebecca’s sputtered laugh; Freya didn’t even bother to get upset. She was not rail thin; her hair wasn’t straight, billowing silk; but she had never been the type to vie for any wolf’s attention. Her strength, size, and speed were her true endowments, and she valued them far more than being a prize for some bull wolf. There were other ways to win attention among a pack of werewolves. After sending a venomous smile to the two doubtful girls, Freya turned to Hallie and nodded. “My assets are presented differently.”

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Chapter Two
Appetizers held a special place in Freya’s heart, bite-sized ornaments of food that were always cute and sometimes tasty. If one was unsavory, then it could easily be disposed of in a napkin. At a Sohon function, however, the food rarely ever warranted such covert disposal. Standing beside what she deemed to be the table with the best choice in appetizers, Freya ate more from the platters than she did from her laden plate. With the addition of another mushroom stuffed with crabmeat between her lips, she ignored the music and socializing around her. The cheesy classical music, fancy dresses, and the dapper black suits of the werewolves surrounding her meant little. She cast her attention to the mini croissants stuffed with fruit and cheese next. With her jaws full, Freya was about to go for the bacon-wrapped scallops when she detected an approaching male’s footsteps. Her nostrils identified a familiar scent. With a snarl, she turned around to meet the twinkling brown eyes of Damien Castor. “Well, if it isn’t the Norse giantess,” Damien smiled, his eyes perusing the length of Freya’s body. “Reduced to escorting pups again?” Freya reached down and selected a cocktail shrimp from a chilled carousel. She put it into her mouth and savored it, knowing that silence only provoked Damien. “Yeah.” Nodding over to Hallie, Freya noticed that a trio of young suitors surrounded the she-wolf. “One is a favor to an old friend; the other two are from good stock.” Damien frowned. “A favor? Don’t you still owe me a favor? A couple, in fact?” If she considered that Damien was the best snitch, informer, and inside man on the East Coast of the United States, Freya figured that his point was valid. Damien had connections with most of the heavy players in the supernatural world. The good thing was that she rarely had to shake him down for information. A few threats worked just fine. With

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a suspicious glare set upon the grinning man, Freya asked, “Who do you need me to hunt? Guard?” “Myself, of course. You could guard me. I would pay you top dollar.” “Yeah, right.” Freya shook her head. In her youth and before she knew what sort of low-moral scum Damien was, she might have taken such an offer. The thought of taking orders from such a gigolo sickened her. It was bad enough that Damien looked at her like a piece of livestock, or worse still, as if she were one of the bitches he treated like currency. No amount of cash was worth being a minion. For information, no one was worth more. Freya edged past Damien to get to the table. “Excuse me. You’re standing in front of the ribs.” “Is that what it takes to get your attention?” Damien stepped aside as Freya filled her plate with sticky short ribs. Freya knew when a male was staring at her breasts. She had meant to strap the hefty pair down before leaving for the party, but she could thank the impatience born of alcohol for that folly. “You know, Freya, if you ever just wanted a meaningless relation, I could --” With a mouth full of pork rib, Freya grumbled, “You really don’t want to finish that statement.” Damien’s pouty disappointment was evident. “Right. Your name should be Frigid instead.” Freya licked her lips free of barbeque sauce and tried not to laugh. Few men and wolves alike were careless enough with their lives to proposition her. Even fewer were foolish enough to believe such an offer would be taken. “Look here, you scrotum-louse, I’ve been called worse, but because we’re acquaintances, I don’t feel offended enough to give a shit.” Damien looked as if he wanted nothing more than to wipe the condescension from Freya’s features. He may have even told her so had he not been interrupted by a petite redheaded cub. “Freya!” Hallie came to Freya’s side, between Damien and her guardian. The girl seemed to have gotten it into her head between the limo and the mansion that they had a remote chance of being friends. Freya set her plate down just in case Damien thought about using the interruption to his advantage. “We’ll talk again,” Damien spoke, glaring at Hallie with clear disdain. Freya watched the werewolf depart, knowing they would indeed meet and have something to talk about. Her next mission would have to be more exciting than the escorting job. “How’s the night going for you?” Freya picked up her plate. “I see you’ve had more than a few curs swarming around you. I told you everything would be fine, didn’t I?” “Yes, you did. I guess that I was just really nervous. I didn’t know what to expect.”

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Freya figured as much. Hallie’s father had kept her and her sisters secluded from the males of her pack; from males in general. And while Walter McFadden was extremely protective, he was also determined that they should find progressive, wealthy mates within the werewolf underground. Freya supposed his sudden determination had a great deal to do with the fact that his oldest daughter Micky had run away with a human. “You’re young. You’ve never been to a pack party. Your nerves are understandable.” Hallie lowered her head, bashfully. “I just wanted to tell you… Well, I wanted to tell you thanks. It’s been really nice so far, but then I’m a country mutt so everything looks nice and fancy.” Freya didn’t have a little sister and couldn’t remember ever in engaging in bright and gushing behavior. She wasn’t wont to give advice to bright-eyed younglings either. Freya blamed her softening mood on that deficiency as she wondered aloud, “Even the wolves, heh?” With her cheeks turning nearly as red as her fiery hair, Hallie nodded. “Met any you think you might like to have pups with?” “W-what?” “I meant do you like any one in particular? Your father wanted me to make sure you weren’t swept up by some rogue wolf with litters in four dens.” Freya barely contained her laughter as understanding slowly dawned on Hallie. “Oh! My father would say something like that.” Smug, Hallie timidly directed Freya’s attention to one of the smiling gentlemen she had just left. “The one with the black hair and green eyes. Dima. He seems nice. He’s an investment banker in New York. He’s from Moscow, and he speaks three languages! Can you imagine that?” With his gaze already set on Hallie, the dark wolf flicked his chin. Hallie eagerly waved back. Freya gnashed her teeth at the thought of Hallie with such a rogue. The girl would have to choose a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dima Stopanovich. Freya wouldn’t divulge the tales of his gambling, his lechery, and his detestable treatment of human girls. Of course, he could be different with a she-wolf at his side, but Hallie didn’t deserve to have to chance that. “He's a charmer that one, but I wouldn't advise anything more than conversation with that one.” “Really?” Freya scowled before noticing a waitress carrying flutes of champagne. She took two with one swift motion and handed one to Hallie. “Really.” Hallie’s features pinched at the serious statement, but Freya sensed it had more to do with her self-confidence than any serious longing for Dima. She drained her flute in one gulp before setting it down beside an empty plate for a servant to clean. “A good wolf isn’t necessarily the flashiest. He is strong, humble, and loyal. Take Lance over there.”

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Hallie’s gaze followed Freya’s to a tall, husky werewolf. He was standing off to a corner with several other bachelor wolves. He didn’t look as if he radiated money and class, but there was a certain warmness to him. Freya had known the wolf since he was a cub. “He’s a big teddy bear, and he’s next in line to be an alpha. He’s actually related to the Sohons, but you’d never know it. He doesn’t brag or like it. He’s also been checking you out.” The young female smiled as Lance’s large hazel eyes turn toward her. Her cheeks looked like apples as Hallie turned to Freya and then back to Lance. A female’s glance was the first order of invitation, and Lance would never have considered approaching the girl if she hadn’t acknowledged him. As he excused himself and set off to approach them, she bit her lip to hold off with the I-told-you-sos. Hallie sipped her champagne, her nervousness apparent. Freya could smell the interest through Hallie’s rose-tinted perfume. “See anything that interests you ?” Hallie muttered. “I mean, someday you might want to settle down, right?” Freya greeted Lance with a nod as he came to a stop before them. She addressed Hallie’s question with a wink. “Not any time in the near future. Or far, for that matter.” With a wink of encouragement to the young she-wolf, Freya chose to leave the young couple to get to know one another.

*****
Society parties used to be something only vampires did. Consisting of wine, expensive gowns, and attitudes, it was usually just an excuse for distant clans to get together, cull the unwanted, and combine strengths. Occasionally a human or two would be shared by the guests, but as vampires were not as libidinous as werewolves, the affairs could hardly be deemed hell-raising. Werewolves had coined the term, borrowed the format, and given their own feral twists to it. At a werewolf social, four things could usually be counted on: copious amounts of alcohol, food, sex, and combat. Three out of four were nothing for Freya to be concerned about. Her charges were petite girls with small appetites, low tolerances for alcohol, and little skill or aptitude for aggression. Sex was another thing entirely. After a short sightseeing excursion and appraisal to the Sohon’s exercise room, Freya had returned to the hall to find one of her charges missing. She made sure that Hallie and Dena were fine first, and then went on the hunt for Rebecca. It wasn’t a long search, as Freya easily traced the pomegranate-laced perfume down the expansive halls. She found Rebecca in a dark alcove, giggling and sighing. A breeze of a job. Just have to babysit some randy pups. No problem at all. With the strap of her gown down exposing a golden apple of a breast, Rebecca’s senses were much too riled for her to notice Freya’s approach. Too rapt to catch any scent other

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than passion, she allowed her greedy suitor to suckle at her tit. With her legs spread, hands clutching at her lover’s back, the blonde wolf had seemed on the verge of mating. Freya growled, and all notions of rapture fled from the juveniles. Freya grabbed the randy male were by his thick hair and deterred any notion he might have had of challenging her with a cold glare and a show of fangs. The male did not challenge. He took a moment to size Freya up. She was nearly a foot and a half taller than he was. She was definitely wider and more muscular, and more importantly, Freya’s scent was tinged with the possibility of aggression. It was a talent that most animals had, the ability to weigh odds against an opponent. As the male bowed to her and scurried off, Freya was almost glad he had it. He would not have made a good opponent. To Rebecca, she gave a clipped warning. “Let me catch you again, and I’ll pull your ass from the pageant so fast that it will make your head spin.” Shaken from being caught, but defiant from being spoiled, Rebecca countered, “You can’t do that! My father --” “Your father wanted you to procure a good, solid mate, not a traveling salesman with a milk fetish. Now, get your clothes on and get your ass back into the main hall.” The girl had the gall to appear offended, but Freya could have cared less. She had a mission, and returning a girl with a full belly and no mate was not a part of it. When she reentered the hall, Freya scanned the room for her other charges. Both Hallie and Dena were behaving, interviewing each eager male that surrounded them and maintaining some sense of modesty. As pureblood females, they quickly learned their worth among the suitors, who looked at them with reverence. A pureblooded wolf if matched with another could bear a litter of werewolves instead of a litter of humans or a half-and-half litter. Either way, the gene pool was narrow enough to put a price upon. Freya crossed her arms and leaned on the archway to the hall. She watched the elders gather at the front of the hall. All music came to a stop as Hallie and the other girls seeking mates were brought to the front. The pageant was about to begin. Suitors formed a semicircle in the center of the room. The spectators moved past Freya to take their seats in the upper balconies. As a warrior wolf, Freya was expected to remain on the floor. During the pageants, not only were females presented but suitors that showed interest were also allowed to display their capability by engaging in combat. The old wolf laws. No matter how civil the wolf packs pretended to be, Freya could always count on random acts of brutality. Most males just liked to fight, others truly wanted to impress their female, some had to defend a sister or a cousin against an undesired courtier, and some were just bastards. Volunteering to stand as a referee were warrior wolves, deltas, and gammas. All three kinds

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were the most likely to be unbiased about the time and necessity needed when breaking up a fight. With the hall free of everyone but suitors and warrior wolves, there was quite a show of revealing the pit. Four massive, bi-pedal wolves lumbered across the marble floor with crowbars in their fists. Each fitted the tip of his crowbar between a tile in the floor, the four corners of which would be the pit. Each tile revealed a length of heavy chain. With two wolves pulling on each side of the opening the two sections of the floor slid open. Beneath was a dirt-covered pit that mechanically rose to be flush with the rest of the floor. The spectators howled in excitement, whereas Freya wondered why they didn’t have an automated system instead of such an ornate display. The warrior wolves were asked to surround the pit. Freya stepped up. She gazed at her fellow warriors. Standing guard in a circle surrounding the fighting pit, her peers came in every shape, size, and color. Some she knew, others she didn’t. Many of them were hulks with bulging muscles and tree trunks for throats, but there were some that were small and wiry, with speed and Napoleon complexes deadly enough to take down any combatant. All of them looked lethal save one. His hair was shoulder length, pale blond, and his skin almost porcelain. Upon first glance, Freya suspected he might be an albino, and then he turned and met her gaze. Hazel. His eyes were a combination of green, gold, and brown, hardly unusual for a werewolf, but on him, they were stunning. His features gave her the impression that he was from a Nordic pack. Tall and lean and icily handsome, the wolf smiled at her. Freya looked away, shook off the electric shivers that coursed through her. It had been a long time since she felt such stimulation and it unnerved her. Desire was a weakness she could not abide. Just another pretty face, she firmly told herself with a firm jaw. Handsome or no, getting laid was not was not a part of the job. As it was, the job had not required for her to serve as a referee, but combat was too good of a perk for her to deny. The chorus of howls begun on the hall floor spread throughout the building from the lungs of every wolf. Freya looked up to steal another glance. The male was not howling; instead, he was still gazing at her, his pink lips parted. He cocked his head to the side, almost in questioning. Freya was confused as to what the answer or the question might be. She decided that either would be rubbish as she returned her attention to the higher stage. The representative of the Sohon pack waited to begin the festivities. “We of the Sohon bloodline would like to welcome you to our home for a prestigious event. Tonight, we have issued invitations to the fairest, most fertile females far and wide. To keep our numbers strong, to keep our lines strong, we challenge, we battle, and we celebrate what it means to be a child of the splendid moon. Over the next few days, we have much planned for you, extravagances and feral delights as well as opportunity. No more do we have to be scattered orphans or weakened loners. We combine here, reach out from clan to clan to make our blood strong. So present yourself with confidence and power. Let this first display

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speak for you in the following days. Prove yourself to the females, and let new alliances be wrought!” Claps and roars grew to a deafening peak, louder still as the announcer raised a fist to the sky and commanded, “Warrior wolves, suitors, prepare!” The exaltation descended upon everyone at the call. Freya was not immune to it either. She grabbed the hem of her shirt and lifted it above her head. All of the warriors and suitors also stripped as well. Clothes were not trivial enough to be shredded in the transformations that were soon to come, but underwear was. She hated underwear in general. Bare from the waist down, Freya’s breasts were the only part of her body uncovered. That didn’t last long. Along each arm, beige bandages were wrapped. Uncoiling them, Freya used the ample lengths to tie down her breasts. Even with the Ace bandages wrapped tightly around her ample bosom, Freya felt as if they were entirely too large. Throwing punches and wrestling down anxious suitors would be a hell of a lot easier without her breasts in the way. She was more than self-conscious about their size. With more than a few curious glances upon her, Freya flexed her muscles and made it obvious that she was there to do battle. Those that knew her knew better than to stare long. She cracked her neck and her fingers, rolled her shoulders in preparation for battle. She sensed one wolf’s attention firmly directed at her. She glanced from the announcer to the Norse wolf, and she noted the long, lean figure, the broad chest with rouge nipples. He had silver hoops through both nipples. Nude, his cock was just as pink as his nipples, thick and long and nestled in pale blond curls. He looked delicate, like a doll almost with his androgynous beauty, and the dominant within Freya yearned to know if his skin really was as soft as it looked.

Beautiful.

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Chapter Three
Two lycanthropes were in battle in the center circle. A black werewolf nearly seven feet tall was up against a smaller, younger cur with reddish-brown fur. They were fighting for Dena. It was a clear battle of power versus speed. For every blow landed by the black wolf, the red one landed three. The younger, red-furred wolf was too eager, inexperienced, and amped on endorphins to care about being so greatly outmatched. Freya could tell just by looking at Dena that the pup had her hopes on the red wolf. Experience told her that the youth was just plain out flirting with danger. Intently following the battle, Freya waited for the moment when she would have to intervene. The black wolf surprised the red with a burst of speed. Claws backed by muscle connected with a rib cage, and the impact lifted the red wolf into the air with a warbled yelp. Followed swiftly by a vicious left blow across the head, the black wolf caused the red to fall to the floor with a dislocated jaw and obvious disorientation. Two warrior wolves stepped in to intervene. They tried to separate the wolves. Each took a massive black arm and backed the black wolf away from his prey as much as they could. The red wolf had time to reset his jaw and freedom to get to his feet. No one came to restrain him. Pure aggression shone in his eyes as he seemed unwilling to concede. He roared for the warriors to step back, to let the black wolf free, and while it was an honorable thing to do, what he did next was not about honor at all. Charging toward the black wolf, the red wolf saw opportunity and took it. With two large wolves restraining him, the black had no chance of defending himself from a bonecrunching bite to his throat, nor four-inch claws ripping gashes into his collar bone. Blood poured out from all of the wounds, and the hall filled with a loud, agonizing wail.

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The red wolf moved back yipping with glee, condescension in his stance. Neck attacks, no matter how they had been achieved, were looked at as signs of dominance throughout werewolf culture, and sure enough, the crowd erupted with cheers and howls. None was as loud as the black wolf’s cry of rage. Shrugging off his two captors as easily as tossing a dinner jacket aside, the black wolf surpassed anger and moved into insanity. His snout pointed in the direction of the red wolf, and the rest of him followed like a freight train. The wounded black werewolf was in a blood frenzy and spared no mercy in his fury upon the smaller wolf. His rage threatened to do damage not even supernatural biology would be able to recover from. Three of the red wolf’s friends tried to shield their friend from the juggernaut only to be hammered down, kicked aside, and sent to the ground with broken limbs. Their damage was minimal, but with the lack of protectors surrounding him, the red wolf became the target anew. It was then Freya knew she was needed. The black wolf would not be so brief with the red. She closed her eyes and drew in deep, hot breaths. It was like approaching the cage of a lethal creature hidden deep within the catacombs of her soul. Time to come out and play ! She called to it and it came. Amid the cacophony of screams, howls, and growled curses, Freya transformed. Her body produced dark chocolate-colored fur; her bones stretched and lengthened; fingers became massive, elongated paws tipped with five-inch curved claws as black as tar. In a matter of minutes, she was roaring with canines extended. A second later, she was in the fray. Her fighting style was perfect for taking down large beasts. Although her height was impressive enough, Freya’s specialty was maintaining stance low to the ground and stabilizing her weight. While other warriors attacked the black wolf from the waist up, she struck from below. She swept the tall beast off his feet by ramming her shoulder into his hips. He fell backward, free of his captors, snarling and frothing at the mouth. Before he could rise and rage anew, Freya sprang above him and jabbed one knee against his chest and the other down on his windpipe. Claws tore and scratched at her thighs while the wolf flailed, but Freya only pressed harder upon the thick neck. “Calm down, mutt. Calm down! It’s just a fucking challenge.” “Get off me, bitch!” the black werewolf growled, still struggling to lift her off. “Bitch?” The term, while relevant to her, was spoken in derogatory tone, one she couldn’t let slide. She slammed the full weight of her fist into the werewolf’s snout, and felt the malleable bones shift. “You would want to watch that mouth of yours, ass-wipe.” Too much testosterone, maybe ? Freya knew that something a little more authoritative would be necessary to settle the black wolf. She shifted and leveled all of her weight to the knee cutting off his airflow. That ended any further commentary from him.

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The other guardians had secured the red wolf and his gang and were dragging them outside to be dealt the riot act about honor, no doubt. While the Sohons loved the dramatic, they pretended to have some measure of order and rule. Two more warrior wolves were swift to come to Freya’s side. “We’ll take him, Freya,” spoke one of the Sohon werewolves. She looked down to see the black were, exhausted from the lack of air, reverting back to his human form. With a nod she gave them permission to take over. He wouldn’t be as much of a threat for a while at least, especially considering that he was nearly unconscious. She lifted her weight off him and came to her feet as the Sohon warriors carried away the stunned male. The announcer declared the pageant would resume shortly. She was ready for it to begin presently! She’d hardly broken a sweat, but her endorphins were revving up and ready for more. Warrior wolves much burlier and stronger than she gave Freya nods of respect in appreciation of her skill. While some preferred to watch rather than join the scuffle, these warriors were not cowards nor any less skilled than she, just not as hungry for a good battle. Her anxiousness, however, was something that seasoned warriors had learned to tamp down. She would eventually, but after months with little action, Freya was ready for a few good fights. Out of curiosity, she looked over to the space where the Norse wolf had stood. He was still there, and his eyes were like gold and emerald fire, aimed directly at her. Was it flirting? She wondered. It certainly felt like it with his gaze roaming up and down her body. It had been a long time since she had seen any action of that sort too. The thin, almost petite blond was her kind of treat -- absolutely delicious -- but she didn’t have the time for distractions. His type probably liked a strong woman now and then, she figured, but tended to settle with smaller, more feminine wolves than she. Blondie smiled, then nodded with some measure of reverence. She didn’t know whether it was because of her fighting prowess or her looks. She had more important issues to concern herself with. Battle. Crossing her arms across her chest, she gave the blond a cool, unassuming glare. Yes, I am a warrior. Even if she wasn’t in full werewolf form, she wouldn’t be blushing. It was not her thing, she thought, lying to herself.

*****
Another two hours later and Freya was on the ground for the seventh time, a bull of a werewolf in a headlock beneath her. Blood poured from her arm from where the beast had bit down on her, and the brown fur of her forearm was nearly crimson due to the amount of

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blood leaking over it. He’d given her a vicious wound, but she barely registered it because her adrenaline was so heightened. “Bite me, will you?” she snarled, squeezing tighter. “Don’t you know I will snap your fucking spine? I told you to get off of him! But no…” “Freya, easy. Freya!” She felt cool hands upon her shoulders, tugging her backward. Her prisoner turned, and his canines sank into her open wound. She snarled in fury. The suitor and whoever was trying to pull her back would both get theirs. She slammed her knee into the were’s back several times to get him to open his jaws. Then, directing her anger and exhilaration onto her would-be restrainer, Freya jerked her shoulder away. The giant she had successfully debilitated was forgotten as she stood and confronted the brave but stupid wolf who had sought to interrupt her. He had icy blond hair. Stunned, her chest heaving, it took Freya a moment to remember her surroundings and her sensibilities. Just as bad as the suitors, she had been caught up in the fever of battle and could hardly think straight. The blond seemed to understand. He directed the guards beside him to stop admiring the fight and to attend the ailing wolf. “Get him out of here.” The warrior obeyed the order as if it had been given by the alpha of his personal clan. He commanded the two guards to move. Even as they carried him off, she could see that two new suitors were anxious and ready to hit the floor. The crowd was eager as well for more fighting to begin. The only person with any measure of calm stood before her. She clutched her arm, pretending to focus on it rather than the handsome were at her side as she moved back to the outskirts of the battle floor. She expected him to go his own way, but when she stopped, so did he. “Your arm?” the man questioned her, his cool, long fingers moving to touch Freya’s fur- covered limb.

No, he did not just put his hands on me. “It will heal.” Freya jerked her arm back as if
she had been burned. “But I can heal.” Muscles tightened as Freya flexed her arm to prove that it was fine. It really wasn’t. She would definitely have to sit out a few fights. The blond’s touch had only lasted for a few seconds, yet Freya swore the patch of skin was cooler than the rest. A tingling sensation flowed outward from beneath his grasp, and Freya could swear that the throbbing had slowed slightly. That swift of a change in condition wasn’t natural, not even for a werewolf. “What the hell did you do?” He shrugged. “I was offering to heal you.” He held out his hands with the palms up and frowned. “You don’t want to go back out on the floor with fresh blood flowing. Let me finish. It won’t take long.”

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She was sure it wouldn’t. That was what she found alarming. Werewolves were not witches. They could heal themselves within a short time, but actively healing another was not possible. She leaned forward and sniffed the blond. He smelled like a were, of heat and a wild musk, but there was something else. His scent sliced through her battle haze like a cool, sobering wind. After a moment, it dawned on Freya that her mouth was hanging wide open as she tried to form a sentence. “W-what exactly are -- werewolves can’t --” “Most can’t. If a parent is a witch though, it might be possible.” The man shook his head with a knowing smirk before capturing her arm again. Freya didn’t breathe as his hands fully circled the wound. The cool sensation returned stronger, radiating from his touch to her skin. She actually felt the wound healing. It reminded her of an electric current, rhythmic as the waves of his healing magic caused muscle and skin to heal. It wasn’t just her arm that benefited. All over she felt cleansed, unfettered by the booze or the decadent food. Even the thick adrenaline flowing through her veins dissipated. By the time the stranger removed his hands, Freya could see no trace of the wound, no scar. Dried blood flaked away and fell to the floor. As if seemingly pleased by the shade and texture of Freya’s arm, the blond absently ran his fingers up the limb to a muscled shoulder. He was a bold one. Freya jerked her arm out of his grasp. “Easy there, witch-wolf! It’s just fine. I appreciate the arm, but that’s done with, okay?” He dropped his hands back to his sides. Two splotches of color on his cheeks indicated his embarrassment at his own forwardness. “Excuse me, Freya. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. My name is Rayne, Rayne Stratsson.” “I didn’t ask for your name,” Freya responded in as much of her usual aloof manner as she could muster. Inside she was shaking with excitement. Rayne was a beautiful man. Still, she had met beautiful men before. They had the ability to make great warriors into babbling fools. Already, Freya found it hard to concentrate. She didn’t trust them on principle. She certainly didn’t trust Rayne. “And how do you know my name? I haven’t seen you around. What are you? Northern? Scandinavian? Swedish or something?” “I’m Icelandic. Well, half, but I have lived in Iceland all of my life.”

Figures, Freya thought to herself. “Oh, I see, a real Viking.” “You more so than me, Freya.” Rayne gave an amused chuckle, his eyes shimmering
with light and warmth. He looked at the new distance between them and then toward her gaze. “You do realize who you were named after, don’t you? You share the same name as the goddess of lust, fertility, and war. Leader of the Valkyres.” Freya snorted. She’d heard the comment before, usually in the form of a pickup line. It wasn’t her fault that her mother heard a story or two about what a great warrior culture the

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Vikings had had. She responded just as coolly to it from Rayne as she would have from any other suitor. Wolves roared as a new battle began. She needed to be among them, waiting for her next opportunity, not chatting up some tart of man with gorgeous eyes and luscious lips. Freya flexed her arm, testing it, feigning an interest in the challenge. She was just as good as new. With renewed vitality, Freya wanted to be closer to the battle. “It was a family joke. I’m a hundred percent black.” “Eighty-five-point-nine percent actually, but I won’t tell.” She quickened her pace, not wanting to hear what else the witch-wolf knew about her. Witches and sorcerers held unnatural magic. She suspected Rayne’s knowledge might even entail her mating habits, nonexistent as they were. The one thing she didn’t want him to suspect was weakness.

*****
The night finished well. Freya had scrapes and bruises over her arms and legs from the last three battles she had fought. Covered in sweat, she was exhausted by the fighting and the excitement. The last of the pageant brawls had been a free-for-all of fur and limbs that left her sore and panting. She was already formulating plans for a long soak in one of the infamous Sohon Jacuzzis, more of their scrumptious appetizers, and definitely a well-earned nap. Of course, she had to round up the girls and make sure they were safely secured in their adjoining room. Despite their suitors’ wins and losses, an eager werewolf always sought what he felt was his own. Many a female had been spirited away to the winners’ suite after a challenge. Well, there would be no passionate claiming, not on her watch. In the coming days, contracts and agreements would be drawn up, preparations for welcoming the victorious males into the females’ respective packs. Freya would need to be at least half sober and fully rested to negotiate. She checked the platform. There were no other girls waiting for presentation and she took it to mean that the festivities were at an end. She headed toward the stage to retrieve her charges, but halted midstride as the announcer took up the microphone anew. She wouldn’t have thought it odd, after all closing speeches needed to be made, but the witchwolf was on the stage with him. He joined the announcer at his side before fixing Freya with those warm hazel eyes. She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew it wouldn’t be subtle. Her chest tightened as her breath fled her body, and words she had never thought she’d hear carried throughout the hall.

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“And for our final battle, we have a special challenge tonight. Rayne Stratsson of the Modhirsson pack would like to issue an open challenge for the mating of Freya Daniels, our warrior wolf from Pack Daniels!” As gasps and muttering filled the hall, Freya’s mouth fell open. She had never fainted, but she strongly suspected that she might at that moment. It was humiliating. This had to be a joke. Freya’s heart hammered inside of her chest. She was being made a spectacle of. People were looking at her, whispering and wondering. It was not her kind of attention at all. “Never thought I’d see the day,” said one were. Another joked, “He should be challenging her instead.” Freya had no intention of hearing anything else. Oh, I do not think so ! With fists clenched, she stormed up to the stage and confronted the announcer. “There are no grounds for this bullshit. I didn’t agree to this!” The announcer, no friend of hers, stood his ground and smiled. “Whether or not you agree is a moot point, Freya. You know we honor a female’s choice, but a challenge is just that. Should he win, you won’t have to worry about it happening again. That and…well, you wouldn’t deny us a challenge, would you?”

Whatever, you gloating asshole. With teeth grinding, Freya turned her ire on Rayne.
As handsome as he was, Freya was not one to be swayed by looks alone. “What do you want, witch-wolf? Do you think that this is funny? Humiliating me?” His brow wrinkled, and he looked almost apologetic. “This isn’t to humiliate you at all. I just want --” Freya shook her head, not allowing the were to get out another word. “Have you lost your goddamn mind ?” A golden-brown werewolf stepped forward. Nearly seven feet tall and built like a truck, he raised a heavy paw. “I’ll accept the challenge.” Freya tried to get a hold of the rage coursing through her. Sweat formed on her brow, and Freya’s head ached with the vicious thoughts rushing around. She was being made a fool of and it infuriated her to the point of aggression. “No, you won’t, you fucking cur!” She glared at the witch-wolf with nothing less than her full contempt. “Do you see that? Did you see what you fucking started?” “Let the pretty wolf fight!” someone yelled from the crowd. “Freya, I want to prove --” She held up her palm. It was nothing short of the most embarrassing day of her life. She wasn’t some bashful, perfumed girl to be won. She was a warrior, and warriors were supposed to be assets not prizes. Everyone knew she was not submissive to any male. Those who didn’t thought twice about approaching her anyway. “This is so Twilight Zone, I swear,” she muttered under her breath.

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The announcer resumed. “So, we have a battle between Rayne of the North and Sayuki of the Asian steppe. Wolves, please take your places within the circle.” Sayuki winked at Freya, flicking his tongue at her in a suggestive manner. She had a suggestion for him in the form of her middle finger. For Rayne, she actually showed her fangs. Undaunted, he raised his chin high. His shoulders were back, and he reflected Freya’s seriousness back at her with a hard golden stare. “I don’t care if you don’t invite me to your den, but I want other wolves to know I am not afraid to fight for you…and that I’m not afraid of you.” Oddly enough, she believed every word. His tone and his determination spoke too much truth for her to suspect any longer. Rayne was unnerving in his conviction. She just hoped he wasn’t a weakling because she really didn’t plan on snapping the neck of the Asian wolf should he win and decide to come and seek his prize. She left the males on the podium, refusing to bear witness to their machismo, the same display she’d just watched and refereed to all night long. Although she truly wanted Rayne to win, she spared him the encouragement. “I hope that mutt kicks your ass to Hell and back. You can heal yourself, I’m sure.”

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Chapter Four
Up to her shoulders in hot churning water, Freya reached for the bottle of scotch on the rim of the Jacuzzi. Now was her time to relax. Deep within the whirlpool, surrounded by a view of the west lawn, she also had a line of sight to the girls’ room. Since she had locked the front door, the only chance the girls had of sneaking out led straight to the Jacuzzi. When she left, the girls were tucked in, watching television and gushing over the excitement of the opening night of festivities. Freya had heard them talking about which male had approached them, which was the hottest, the richest, and, more interestingly, which one that they felt they should be mated with. “Oh, cubs, if you only knew,” Freya muttered to herself. For her, relying on the whims of a male was something she had never done. There was nothing wrong with dangling off a male’s arm; it just took more submissiveness than she could ever pretend to have. Dresses, makeup, heels… Fighting and drinking and the occasional bath were much simpler concepts. Jacuzzis were about the most lavish thing Freya indulged in. With her first large bounty check, she’d had one installed in her apartment. While it was a girly thing to have, Freya tried to keep the bath oils, bubble baths, and scrubs decorating the rim to a minimum. She lay back against the Jacuzzi wall and looked up at the purple sky. It was so beautiful, almost in the way Rayne had been. Ethereal, simple, magical…Rayne. She closed her eyes and envisioned the male beauty. He had been spirited, a bit bold but not threatening. That was important to her. Rayne looked like just the kind of tasty morsel who would lie back and let Freya have her way, allow her to kiss where she wanted, touch what she wanted. She could hold him down and savor every inch of his body. It was a pleasant thought…

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“Supernatural or no, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to pass out in a hot tub.” Startled from her shallow nap at the sound, Freya snapped to. Seated across from her in the churning waters was the object of her dreams, pale and near glowing even in darkness. She didn’t feign surprise. As tired as she had been, a herd of antelope could have snuck up on her. “Maybe not” -- she yawned -- “but I would pity the poor idiot who tried to bother me while I was in said hot tub.” “Threats again.” Rayne smiled. “Don’t you even want to know if I won or not?” “Not really. All that matters is that you’re alive -- oh, but then you’re a witch, so I’m sure that you would have been hard to kill.” “My mother was a witch. I’m just gifted in the art of healing.” It wasn’t an unheard of union. She had certainly seen stranger unions: a serpentoid and gargoyle, a vampire and a sun spectre, even a lycanthrope and a werecat. A child produced between a witch and a werewolf wasn’t impossible, but still, it wasn’t one she saw often. Witches were tasty, rumor had it. Freya shook her head, pretended to be nonplussed. “Oh, so you’re a mutt.” “And you’re a pure breed?” Freya searched around the lip of the Jacuzzi and found her nearly empty bottle. She drained the last inch. “What I am is a junkyard dog. Did you win?” “I did. I can fight, you know?” “You don’t look like it. Not that I haven’t met rail-thin guys who can kick ass, but Sayuki looked like he could do some damage and you don’t look like the type who would faze him much.” “He couldn’t stand five minutes against me.” A frown formed on Rayne’s face. “But what type do I look like?” Freya decided that she liked the way his pink lips pursed with disappointment. “You look like the pretty type. Like you should either have a cock-diesel boyfriend with broad shoulders or a Japanese girlfriend with a pink lunch box.” Rayne’s eyes narrowed; his nostrils flared. “Well then, where would your lipstick lesbian be?” Freya laughed. Touché, pretty boy. “Don’t have one at the moment. Would you like to be it? All of that smooth skin, pretty pink nipples…” Freya boldly moved her eyes over his hairless chest, specifically noting the tiny silver nipple rings pierced into pink flesh. She couldn’t resist dragging her tongue across her lips, eyeing all of his glistening skin. He lowered his head but she saw the warm coloring in his cheeks, throat, and on his chest. She leaned back against the tub wall, assuming she had won the banter game. Yet, when Rayne finally raised his head, she recognized the look of a coming attack.

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“Actually, I am quite fascinated by the size and beauty of yours. Your nipples are so large and your breasts are…so big. They beg to be worshipped. I thought of them while I fought, of how I wanted to touch them…suckle them.” She sat up and crossed her arms over her nakedness. While his words caused her pussy to ache with interest, her defense was automatic. “Look, cutie, me and my tits are flattered, but I would eat you alive.” “Maybe I might like that.” He was a bold one. The ball was in her court. Freya was interested in playing offense, not defense. She let down her guard and moved across to the seat beside Rayne. She slid an arm behind his slender back and, gripping his shoulder, she leaned in close. With her nose beneath his ear, she inhaled the light musk there. He smelled of evergreen and salt. “You might like that, huh?” He exhaled and nodded. “Yeah…” Freya’s fingernails grew into talons, which she placed upon his chest. She took one of his hard nipples between the tips of her dangerous fingers and scratched the flesh as gently as she could. Rayne’s breath caught as she nicked him but he did not flinch. Not overly much. She wove a talon into the space between the silver ring and the top of his nipple, flicked it back and forth. Rayne’s gasps were too enticing to ignore; the hitching of his Adam’s apple, the shuddering of his jaw drew her lips to explore the place where they joined. She dared only the tip of her tongue at first, wanting to maintain some semblance of restraint, wanting to tease him. Drawing circles beneath his jawline where fine, soft stubble grew in, Freya reveled in his taste. He tasted just as sweet as he smelled and before she knew it, she had to have the flat of her tongue trailing up and over the bobbing apple in his throat, had to have her lips against the heated pulse of his carotid. It had been so long since she had been with a lover that she could barely contain a growl of hunger. And such a tasty morsel Rayne was. She pinched his nipple with her claws. His shudders and gasps caused her to arousal to flare all the more. “You’re a brave cur.” “I-I am.” She placed hundreds of kisses upon his shoulder as she mapped the smoothness of his chest and both pecs before moving down to his abs. A swimmer’s build was under her command. Rayne’s head fell back upon her arm and he gave himself to her. He turned his head, giving her full access to the entirety of his throat, and Freya took it. She latched on to parcels of flesh, upon pulse points; she sucked subtle bruises across his skin. She worked up to the lobe of his ear and took it between her lips. His breathing became more animalistic with every second, deeper, ragged and hot. Rayne gripped her thigh with sharp, heavy paws, a sign of his wavering control over the

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beast within him. He squeezed tensely, his lengthening claws biting into thick thighs. Rayne leaned in closer, moving his hip half onto Freya’s. Freya framed his ear with her tongue, delved into the soft shell, and felt Rayne shudder wildly. He began to shy away from her, to cringe before pushing back against her tongue. It was as if he couldn’t decide whether he wanted more or not. She tightened her claws about his shoulder to keep him still. “So soft,” she purred hotly into his ear. “So responsive and submissive.” Rayne whined. She lifted her head and looked down on the male wolf. If rapture had a visage, surely it would look like him. Absolutely perfect. When Freya moved her hand lower, Rayne turned to her with the eyes of a wolf. His pupils were dilated as his gaze settled on her. Although he said nothing, she could almost hear him pleading for more. She encircled his stiff cock with her hand and drew her palm up and down the impressive length. Sighs pent up in his chest coursed out into the air with her every caress. The sound was music in the night. Despite the waters surrounding her, Freya could feel the creamy moisture pooling between her thighs. She imagined Rayne’s shaft moving into her wetness and gave a moan of her own. “Nice cock, too. Pretty Rayne.” He tried to smile, but his lips formed a wide O instead as Freya gently squeezed the head of his cock between his foreskin. When he could muster up enough air for speech, his words came out broken and raspy. “Um, th-thank you…powerful Freya.”

Thank you, Freya wanted to say. As for power, she was sure Rayne’s cock was just that. Not too long, but very thick and hard. He would fill her pussy and then some, if she allowed it. Just the thought of riding him caused her sex to clench and release. It would be so easy for her to lose herself in alabaster skin, flaxen hair, and gold-rimmed eyes.
She told herself he was not reason enough to let down her guard, that he was a tempestuous trap she was falling for way too easily. The odds of finding such a beautiful, submissive male who melted in her arms so eagerly were beyond slim and not too far from rare. He warmed to her as easily as a stray coming in from the rain. He clung to her, needy. She couldn’t deny she enjoyed that. He pumped his thighs against her hand, thrusting into every long, tight stroke. He bruised her thighs with his claws and bit his lips to suppress odd sounds. Best of all, she’d made him beg. “Kiss me. Please, Freya…just kiss me.” Rayne leaned fully against Freya and met her eyes with a feral desperation. Aroused by the power he gave to her, Freya wasn’t one to be completely cruel. She lowered her head and placed her lips on his and gave a quick peck. “I could devour you.” “Swear it,” Rayne dared her. “Just more…”

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Never one to deny a challenge, Freya moved her lips back to Rayne’s. She did not hesitate as she bruised both his top and bottom lip, sucking and licking with the intensity of the starved. It had been too long for her. She had been without intimacy too long to keep any measure of composure. One gasp from the male wolf was permission enough for her to plunge her tongue inside his mouth. Fearless of his sharp fangs, she dueled with his tongue. The wet pressure of muscle against muscle spoke volumes not only to her body but Rayne’s as well. He moved his hand from her outer thigh to her waist, and Rayne turned fully into Freya’s body, pressed his chest against her heavy breasts. His chest fur grew in thick, the soft blond hairs deepened in color as he took a more hirsute look. Rayne’s growls became deeper, his hands larger. It was the sign of diminished control when the wolf side responded to the rush of arousal. He became more forceful, more demanding with every minute, and her wolf was ready to rise to the challenge. Freya dominated Rayne’s tongue into submission. She pushed and lashed at one muscle while stroking and twisting her hand about the other. She wanted him to know she was the alpha. Muffled though his cries were, it didn’t take long for the pace of Rayne’s thrusts to increase, for him to dig his claws into her side. His trembling body had a staccato rhythm in her arms. Freya freed Rayne’s lips. She smiled down into eyes made nearly black by lust. “You’re going to come.” “Yes.” “That wasn’t a question,” she said, pumping his shaft with a tighter, rougher grip. Rayne nodded weakly, and his head fell down upon Freya’s shoulder. She smelled his sweet defeat even before his cock lurched, before he jerked hard and shuddered in her grasp. He buried his roar and his fangs in her shoulder as his cock gave his seed to the Jacuzzi’s waters. Arms locked tightly around Rayne’s waist, Freya helped him through his ordeal. It took her focus from the hedonistic ache between her own legs. As Rayne fought to find calm breaths, she looked up at the vast purple sky and smiled for her victory. Despite what the next day brought, she would remember rendering the beautiful male to bliss. She would recall how she held him and soothed him while he struggled to breathe normally after his intense release. She slipped out from under Rayne’s weight, anxious to see the look of exasperation upon his features. Rayne moved back, his pale hair damp and hanging half over his eyes. He looked as if he had been ravished, his lips and cheeks glowing with color. With a toothy grin, he pushed his hair back. “Your turn now.” She considered it for only a moment. Being dominant was far easier than giving up her vulnerability to him. She wanted a release in private, where it was safe. Alone, she could slip

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her fingers within her pussy and imagine he had been perfect for her, that he had no agenda, and he didn’t want to see her weak and shuddering. Freya stood up in the water. She climbed up out of the tub and searched the grass for the thick towel she had brought outside with her. “I don’t think so, sweet Rayne.” Rayne stood as well. “Why? What? Where are you going?” “I’m here to work. Got to check on those girls. Scandalous little curs might try to sneak out. You know how shifty females are.” She tied the towel around her body and picked up her empty liquor bottle. Rayne emerged from the Jacuzzi and retrieved a terrycloth robe that lay in the grass. “You’re so valiant.” His mood had definitely soured. While it shouldn’t have bothered her, it did. Submissive and feisty, willing and daring and tempting as hell, everything she desired. The things that I could do to him, she fumed to herself. Still, she couldn’t allow herself to fall too easily for the pale wolf. He was the one that needed to be weak, not her. She had to be the one in control. “Aren’t you the least bit sated?” Rayne tied his robe around his waist, glaring at Freya all the while. “I’m being teased is what I am.” “Teased?” Freya laughed. She had heard different words such as manipulated, used, and dominated before, but teased was something men never said to her. “You’re the one that’s the tease.” “Better a tease than a coward.” Freya balked in surprise. “Excuse me?” Coward was definitely not a word she heard often. It stung her to hear it from Rayne -- who was a delight to hold, who was sensitive, responsive, and splendid in his passion. He made her feel more powerful than she would have defeating a herd of wild boar. “I am staying in the green wing, floor level, the winter suite. If you manage to secure the girls and if you’re really as fearless as your reputation would suggest, then come and get me.” Freya watched Rayne leave, vowing that she would, but only when she decided to. No way is a tart going to bully me with passive-aggressive bullshit. Being a coward was one thing, but being a love-struck weakling willing to open like a blossom in spring was something entirely different.

*****
Freya heard the patter of feet long before she reached the sliding glass door to her room. She entered her room just as the door that joined her room to her charges closed. She heard the snickers.

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Freya pulled the sliding glass door closed, realizing that she must have had an audience. She dried herself before dressing in a black T-shirt, black jeans, and dusty black boots. A half-full beer on the nightstand caught her eye. She downed it. It could only help if the girls had spied upon her. When she opened the door to the adjoining room, Freya noticed the blush of humor on Hallie and Dena’s faces. She also noticed the scent of nervousness about them all. “Spying on me, huh?” “We didn’t mean to,” Dena was swift to reply. Hallie was a little more reserved. “Dena and I wanted to ask you a question, so we were going to come out, but when we saw --” Freya blinked, wondering aloud, “Coming to get me for wha--” Then it dawned on her. Freya looked around the room there was no sight of Rebecca. “Fucking hell! Where is she?” Both girls found sudden interest in the pile and weave of the carpet. “Don’t rush to tell me, either of you.” “She left.” A bubble of laughter erupted from Dena, and the girl nudged Hallie, who grinned but didn’t laugh. She was about two seconds away from growling at both. “And that’s funny because ?” “No, it’s not funny. I mean, you’re not funny, but well, when Rebecca left, she was funny.” Dena explained with more clarity. “She said that if you were getting some action, she thought that it was only fair that she got some too.” Freya took a deep breath, hoping the girl wasn’t so stupid as to seek more than a cop and feel. If the girl wasn’t returned in her virginal state, she didn’t get paid. “I’m not the one being presented for a mate.” “Well, you do kinda have one, though.” Hallie chimed in behind Dena. “He is so handsome, Freya. So very handsome.” “He won the right to court you.” Freya felt as if she was being ganged up on by young, idealistic curs. “Look. I am no prize bitch. You guys are. Your fathers are going to pay me good money to make sure you don’t behave like bitches in heat, and I intend to see to that. I don’t have a dowry. I have a contract.” Dena nodded as if she understood. “Well, she said that she might have found her mate.” “I don’t give a damn if she’s found the Goddess of the Moon and Rawhide treats. If he is her mate, then he will petition and court her as such. It is an honor to find a strong mate, a noble mate, one with morals. Don’t either of you forget it. If you want a rogue wolf, a lone

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wolf, hell, if you want a human, here is not the place that you should be. You are future matrons with packs behind you, for Goddess sakes!” The girls got the message. Clearly. “I’ll be back in a few.” Freya turned to head back into her room. There was some hunting that needed to be done. With Rebecca’s heavy perfume, it wouldn’t be difficult. She left the girls with a warning. “If you should even think about leaving this room, I don’t think that I have to tell you what a bad idea it would be.”

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Chapter Five
Bachelor werewolves, no matter how gentlemanly, shy, or decent, and definitely no matter what rank they were in their packs, could behave like wild dogs at the pageant. There were a few female warrior wolves that joined in the madness but altogether the freedom of food, liquor, and celebration could turn the mildest cur into a partying beast. After the presentation and pageantry had come to a close for the night, the parties began. Males who had not fought for a mate that day were sparring in preparation for their battles the next night. Those who had won their battles were in the height of celebrating and some were busy drowning their sorrows and recouping. Warrior wolves were either on guard for their clan or were facilitating the bad behavior of their pack. As Freya followed Rebecca’s scent through mansion halls, she ignored the growls, laughter, and lewdness of rowdy groupings. She paid no attention to catcalls, invitations, or challenges thrown toward her. She was on the scent, which ended at a door to a pack suite. Music and laughter sounded through the wood indicating a party was in full swing. She didn’t bother to knock. With ease, Freya pushed the double doors wide and stepped inside. She scanned the room, her gaze meeting with a group of young males watching a sparring match. There was a group of wolves throwing dice, and several males in full wolf form were engaged in oral sex. It was exactly the kind of place that Freya didn’t want to find Rebecca cuddled up in a corner with a well-dressed but shameless cur. Naked save for her fur, the girl had her legs spread and her mouth open for his tongue. She had arrived just in time. Freya cleared her throat, crossed her arms over her chest. “Rebecca Doral.” Rebecca sprang apart from her lover. “Freya!” “It’s time to return to your room now.”

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As fierce as a young warrior wolf, Rebecca scrunched up her brow and met Freya with defiance. “I am in my mate’s room.” “Your mate?” “It is a female’s right to choose her mate, and Michael is my choice.” Freya scowled at Rebecca’s choice. She looked at the male, Michael, to see what his particular reaction would be to the decision. “So, cur, you plan on fighting for her tomorrow night?” “Battle or no, the choice is mine,” Rebecca answered for the fearful-looking playboy. Freya kept her attention on the male. While she could have been a brute and ripped him a new asshole, she reserved the benefit of the doubt. “Yes? No? Michael?” Half drunk and looking as if Freya were speaking French, Michael finally muttered, “Yes.” “And you are prepared to pay her dowry? You are prepared to join her father’s clan?” Again, with the look of wonder across his features, Michael nodded. “I guess.” “You can’t guess,” she informed him. “You have to know. Her dowry is a hundred and fifty thousand. Now you may have that, you may be ready to fight, but if you took her virginity before the contract and the formal introduction to her clan, that could be a problem. Even if you were to win, her father’s pack might not be so keen on accepting such a…an impatient wolf.” Finally it appeared that the male was getting the message. “Well, I, um…I uh…” Rebecca went pale. “Michael?” “What?” he snapped. “I don’t have a hundred and fifty grand.” Rebecca huffed in disgust, separating herself from her supposed mate. She grabbed her clothes and immediately began getting dressed. “Wise wolf, Michael.” Freya grinned. To Rebecca, Freya was not as cordial. “Come on, Rebecca.” Rebecca was gnashing her teeth as she fitted her dress over hairless skin. She glared at Freya contemptuously all the while. Once dressed, Rebecca found her heels and slid them onto her feet. After a litany of hissed curse words directed at Michael, she turned to set her ire on Freya. “It’s not fair. You were out with your little girl-boy wolf. What if I told my father that you weren’t watching us like you should have been?”

The little shit can blackmail too. Freya knew Rebecca didn’t have the fighting prowess,
but she certainly had the tongue of a hired cur and the bravery of a warrior. Freya thought it was cute for nearly a minute. “Rebecca, I am a woman and I don’t like fighting other women. Call me strange. I admire your bravery though. Male or female, there’s not a lot of wolves that would invoke my rage.”

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“What are you going to do? Hit me? My father would have your head, bitch. He might yell at me for fucking, but he would have you hunted down if you --” Freya landed a swift jab to the girl’s stomach. Rebecca folded like a lawn chair. It wasn’t a serious blow by any means, but it took the wind out of the spitfire’s belly and the ire right off of her face. When Rebecca recovered and met Freya’s glance anew, it was with a mixture of shock and offense. There was even the gloss of tears in her eyes. Freya felt bad, but had no qualms about finishing what she started. “Look, Rebecca. Your father has a bunch of half-breed mutts that couldn’t turn into full wolves if they closed their eyes and clicked their heels together. They couldn’t come within a mile of me without my knowledge. I’d destroy him and his entire clan. This ain’t my usual line of work. My work is hunting, fighting, and killing. But I happen to like your father, and I hope to see his line stronger in the future, but don’t think I not will fuck you up and advise him to replace you with your cousin. When I tell you again to go to your room, you can think I am playing if you want to.” The look of fury was gone from Rebecca’s face.

Good decision, Freya thought. “Come on.”
With a long, deep sigh, Rebecca started off in front of Freya, her heels hitting the floor with willful determination. Freya followed without a care to the crowd that had gathered. As they left the room, Freya easily caught up with Rebecca. The girl was sniffling, sobbing. Her feelings were actually hurt. For a moment, Freya felt bad. She might have been a bit more aggressive than was needed. She hadn’t meant to clip the pup’s tail, but life was not a rolling green pasture. A woman had to be strong and could not be led by fancy notions and frivolous decisions. As the future matriarchs in a world that had no tolerance for reckless supernaturals, a female had to have sense. At least her mother had always said so. And look at how strong you turned out to be, Ms. Hard-Ass. Freya didn’t want the girl’s experience to be totally bad. Rebecca was not her nor was she of Pack Daniels, and perhaps she didn’t warrant the fist to the stomach. What little sympathy and regret she had rose within Freya’s chest, caused her to sigh. “We aren’t medieval, hon. You can always step aside, allow another alpha female from your pack to take your place. Then you can be as promiscuous as you want. You can even hook up for love. You were chosen because you will make a strong alpha female one day, provide cubs for your pack, but if you don’t want the pack life, there are alternatives.” Rebecca said nothing for a minute; however, the sniffling did lessen. “Is that what you did? You didn’t want the pack life?”

A cub, maybe more, tugging at my leg, a randy mate constantly trying to prove his alpha status, domesticity… Freya laughed. “No way. I would prefer to fight. Not exactly the
nurturing type.”

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Rebecca didn’t try to hide her sarcasm. “I should have guessed.”

*****
The next morning, Freya was near sober and well rested. The luxurious bed might have tempted her to stay within its folds but the spacious shower with its many spigots was a bigger draw. The girls were excited about the breakfast buffet, so she would have had to leave the room eventually. A good nap was one thing, but stuffed sausages did have an appeal. The girls were the first ones out of the room and into the high, brightly lit halls of the Sohon mansion. Freya didn’t mind the bold light shining through the massive windows inside of the mansion. Freya walked behind her charges. She eyed those who had not had as tame of a night as her. She saw plenty of wolves, drunken wolves who had slept in the hallways, some hissing and growling at the rays of light. Superhuman or no, a hangover was still a hangover… Freya sulked at the thought that she could have been one of them. She could have been stretched out beside a slender, warm body, heavy with drink, food, and sex and shielding herself from the sun. Instead, she had been up all night playing big sister to Hallie, Dena, and Rebecca. She hadn’t even anticipated speaking to them after Rebecca’s stunt, but since meeting Rayne was out of the question, she found herself drawn into their conversations. Soon simple questions turned into long explanations. The girls had prodded her for details of missions gone wrong, narrow escapes, and oddities. Their interest was impressive and addictive, and Freya discovered the girls actually held admiration for her deeds. But while the night hadn’t been bad, it hadn’t been nearly as good as she had wanted it to be. The temptation of Rayne haunted her. As she escorted the females to brunch, she hoped that she would run into the pale wolf. The Sohons laid out a bountiful spread of meats, cheeses, and bread. There was a suspicious lack of fruit and juice but champagne and ice water was readily available. The room was filled with mostly females, pageant wolves who had had a peaceful night. Some were seated at the round tables scattered throughout the room while others stood and socialized. Freya led the girls to the end of a lengthy buffet table where they filled their plates before moving to sit at a decorated table. The girls’ appetites were impressive to say the least, for as high as Freya had piled her plate, so had Dena, Rebecca, and Hallie. Halfway into her third plate, Freya was nudged away from her sausage and Brie. Hallie whispered, “Freya, there’s your friend. The cute one.”

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At the drinks table, Rayne, his beautiful platinum hair drawn back into a ponytail, was helping himself to a glass of champagne. Nude from the waist up, he wore only a pair of long white shorts. It was downright angelic. “You’re staring. You should get up and go get him.” Freya turned and looked at her new favorite. Despite their altercation the night before, Rebecca was a strong wolf, and Freya had come to appreciate her fearlessness. The girl reminded her of her younger days, if she was to be honest. Rebellious, hedonistic, and headstrong, Freya had incurred the wrath of her mother more times than she cared to recall. And her mother hadn’t been nearly as nice about punishment. Freya nodded in agreement. She got up from the table. “Rebecca, I’m putting you in charge, eh? Can you handle it?” “We’re not the ones with the problem,” Dena muttered. She squared her shoulders and raised a brow. “There’s no problem right, Rebecca?” “None at all.” Rebecca was swift to reply, and Freya fully believed the girl. Her supposed mate had lost more than respect when he failed to stand up for her; that and Rebecca had already learned that Freya was not the one to play with. With her chin raised high, Rebecca accepted the responsibility just as truly as a beta would to an alpha. It was the very act of having responsibility, Freya was sure, that would keep the girls out of trouble. When she turned around, Rayne was gone. She searched the room for him and his scent and found both leaving the hall.

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Chapter Six
With quick and lengthy strides, Freya caught up to Rayne just as he exited the banquet room. “Morning, Blondie.” “My name is not Blondie.” Rayne did not stop, nor did he turn to look at her. “A greeting is really not necessary for trysts.” She moved in front of him, preventing him from going any further. He looked pissed but damn gorgeous. She couldn’t help but lick her lips at the sight of his pink mouth pursed in anger. “You’re upset because I didn’t show last night?” “Yes, I am. I should have known I was no more than a toy to you.”

You wanna lay it on any thicker ? An apology would not be easy. “I’m sorry, Rayne. I
had a problem with one of my charges. She decided to choose a mate in her own way. Think she’d be better off as a warrior wolf, and, well, actually, she might even be considering it. After our little crisis though, the girls and me actually did a little bonding. With some training, Rebecca might turn out to be a hell of a fighter.” “Yes, bisexuality. I’m sure she was much more fascinating company than I could have been.” His tone reeked of jealousy. While she’d had a few females, Freya only cared for one sex at that moment. She reached out to test the smoothness of Rayne’s left shoulder with thoughts of satin in her mind. “Well, I do like the submissive and feminine.” He glared at Freya’s hand, but he was not easily moved by her words. “Yes and you could have had that last night.” Deciding it was time to break out the big guns, Freya leaned in close and whispered into his ear, “If it makes you feel better, I licked myself and thought of you.” A hiss of surprise escaped Rayne. He swallowed, before exhaling hotly against her shoulder. “Really?”

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“Yeah.” Freya slipped an arm around Rayne’s back. Flush with his body, she felt the heat and vibration within him. “I was thinking of your shoulders and your hair, your eyes, and your tiny nipples.” Freya placed her hands between his legs and massaged the weight of his warm shaft through the cotton fabric. She rolled her palm over the width, feeling it grow harder with every pass. “I especially thought of your cock…” Rayne moaned, relaxing against her. “Freya?” She enfolded his waist with both of her arms, closed her lips around his throat, and savored his taste. He had the flavor of wintergreen upon his clean skin, which she found irresistible. She dropped her hands down to take hold of his tight ass, bringing him close enough for her to feel his sex against the mound of her own. “Yeah?” Rayne’s hands closed around her hips as he met her grinding rhythm. “I…uh…umm.” Freya shuddered with pride as the male stammered beneath her. She had more devious plans than grinding in mind. “Come.” She stepped back from him and grabbed his hand. She pulled him out of the main hallway and led him to a nearby alcove. While it didn’t provide much cover, it wasn’t directly in the view of the dining hall. With a strong hold upon his shoulder, she placed him with his back against the wall. Freya gazed down at the handsome face of her lover. Already, Rayne’s fair skin was flushed; the spot on his neck where she had sucked was a brilliant amethyst and red. Freya was mesmerized. She raised her fingers to his hair and to the tie that held the silken mass back. With the flick of a formed claw, she freed the mass and watched it spill past his shoulders like a white gold veil. “There was something you wanted to say?” It took a moment for Rayne to come out of his lustful trance, and he looked absolutely dazed still. “Yes…I wanted to say that there’s some…someone who wants to meet you.” “I can meet them later.” Focused on Rayne’s lips, Freya could have cared less about anyone other than the male before her. She leaned in, pressed her lips against his, and silenced the wolf with a kiss that was both forceful and reverent. She worshipped his tongue first, his lengthening fangs second, and then the very air from his lungs. Freya moaned her pleasure. Rayne moaned back long and deep. Her hands sought the waist of his shorts, while his hands found the curve of her ass. Freya would have normally taken notice of such a bold action, but with the frenzy Rayne had put her in, such possessive behavior could be excused. All that mattered was that he was the one gasping and needy, yielding. She wanted more. She edged her knee between his legs and felt the full weight of Rayne’s erect cock against her thigh. It would give him something hard to thrust against, she mused wickedly, and sure enough, the action caused Rayne to pull away with a loud gasp. “By the moon,” he swore aloud. “You are a…you’re good.”

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Not one to gloat or revel in accolades, she decided to give Rayne’s lips a break. She transferred her hunger to his nipple, wanting only to hear gasps, moans, and cries. Words didn’t really matter. She sucked his flesh between her lips, flicked wildly against the nub and the silver ring that adorned it. Conversation was the last thing on her mind. “But, Freya. There is someone” -- his claws raked over her cloth-covered back before settling on her sides -- “who wants to meet you.” Freya freed the nub but not without gaining a shrill cry from Rayne from a bite. She made a paltry attempt to contain her impatience. Tried and failed. It had better be the Goddess herself as far as Freya was concerned. “Who? Who the hell is so important that I just have to meet them?” Rayne shook his head, her hastiness seemingly disturbing him. “M-my alpha.” At that moment, Freya didn’t care if it took every dime of hit-guard-hunt money she had sitting in the bank, she wanted the little male. She would give money to Rayne so that he could pay a mock dowry. She would at least consider it for a while before and if her wits ever returned. She gazed at him incredulously, waiting for him to announce that he had been joking. He didn’t and Freya couldn’t help but comment. “And here I thought I was moving fast.” Rayne let out a long, loud sigh. “Trust me, you are, but it is a good thing… R-really.”

And you don’t seem to mind at all, Freya mused. Opportunity spoke louder to her than
caution. So what, he was the type that would cast himself in front of some leading wolf. It didn’t matter at all that he served another; there had to be a reason that he was with her and that was all that she could think of. Boldly she slipped a hand inside of Rayne’s clothing, inside his boxers, and rubbed a finger against the length of Rayne’s bare cock. She coated her forefinger with his precum, wanting him only to stutter more. “Well, I could move a bit faster if you’d like.” His eyes were as big as stoneware saucers. “Freya?’ “What?” She drew out her finger and placed it in her mouth. She drew on it long and slow, savoring the sweet masculine taste of him. “You are tasty, absolutely divine. Do you know that?” “I know.” Freya’s head whipped around toward the deep baritone behind her. She wanted to see the fool brave enough to bother her. He was taller than her by at least a foot. His neck was as thick as a bull and the muscles of his arms were massive. His hair was much paler than Rayne’s -- nearly white -- and he wore it down his shoulders. The stranger’s coal-dark eyes seemed unreal against such pale features. He wasn’t necessarily pretty, but he was far from ugly.

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Freya had little doubt that he was the aforementioned alpha or a pack mate of Rayne’s. Either way, she didn’t like the male or what he had insinuated. She growled a warning, glared daggers up at the tall male. He leaned against the wall with arms crossed and his gaze deeply set upon Rayne. “He’s powerful, beautiful, he has the gift of healing…and he’s wise. Without him, I would be no more than a rude bull of a cur.” Rayne grinned and nodded his head in greeting. “Freya, this is my alpha, Fenris Modhirsson. Fenris, Freya.” Fenris looked at her the way lions looked at antelope. He then turned to Rayne and grinned widely. The familiarity of the two wolves made Freya rigid. Fenris was Rayne’s alpha all right, but something about his praise -- the look between them -- spoke of a deeper connection. Fenris returned his attention to her. “Freya Daniels.” Freya nodded once, lips pressed tightly. Fenris may have been built like a giant, but she had tackled bigger beasts before. She wasn’t intimidated or impressed. She was, however, cautious. She could feel his gaze, heavy upon her flesh like a possession he might claim. It was unnerving. “Well, I heard it from a good source that your matron follows the old ways and you were raised in them as well.” “A good source?” She wondered if Rayne had been the one to talk, and if he knew anything about her mother or her upbringing. Rayne was a witch. He could have known her entire life story with a glance. Witches had mental powers like coercion, suggestion, and mind control. He could know every last detail of her life, she suspected. “Yes, a very good source.” Freya brushed off the haughty response. “That’s good and all, but now would not be the time to discuss my upbringing.” The big wolf smiled, showing perfect white canines. “It would be just the time, in fact. You know full and well that if you choose a pack beta, you choose his alpha as well.” Freya gasped, unable to find any response to the news she had just heard. By old laws, a beta wolf was a possession of an alpha. Betas were the only rank that did not participate in pageants. Alphas, gammas, deltas, omegas even, came to look for mates, but not betas. It had never occurred to Freya that Rayne would be higher than a delta. There was no clue that she had missed but believing it was still difficult. She had to hear it from him. “You’re a beta?” Rayne perked up. “You thought I was an omega?” “Well…” “Just because I like to submit to you?”

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Freya nodded once and then remembered a common statement about assumption being the path to foolishness. She should have realized things were moving along too easily. A prize such as Rayne had to belong to someone. As it was, he belonged to a giant of a werewolf who Freya wasn’t about to ask for permission to bed his property. “So, Freya, how is Geraldine?” “Excuse me?” “Your mother,” said Fenris. “Is she still as beautiful and ferocious as I recall her to be?” How the giant knew her mother was just an added weight on Freya’s chest. His knowledge of her was throwing Freya out of sorts. The only thing that she was certain of was that she needed to get away. She didn’t like witchcraft, games, or mysteries, and she was quickly becoming embroiled in all three. Freya did her best to appear unfazed. She took a deep, calming breath. “You got the ferocious part right.” The big were gave her a doubtful look as if he didn’t believe her. Trust me, big boy, I am not secretly craving domination. Fenris held out an arm, and Rayne moved into his hold. “That’s good. It’s very good. So, would you like to ask me for permission to the most important creature in my life?” Freya opened her mouth, but nothing came out but breath. Together, Fenris and Rayne looked like pale incubi bent on seducing and devouring. Their togetherness spoke of intimacy, far greater than friends or even alpha and beta. Rayne leaned his head upon Fenris’s chest, placed his arm around the great beast’s waist. He was looking at her. It was as apparent as day. Freya understood what they wanted, and she would have no part in it. There was nothing submissive about Fenris. Freya smelled his desire. He would want to dominate her. Whether the game was bait and switch, or lure and catch, Freya knew that was she was being played. Rayne’s brow bent. “Freya?” His voice contained a hint of worry. Fenris tutted. “She does not like me, Rayne. She does not like brutes, and she definitely will not put herself at risk with a wolf she cannot beat.” The insult was just added fuel to Freya’s agitated state. “You’re really fucking arrogant, nosy, and manipulative,” she snapped. “I’ve taken down wolves your size and more, so don’t think that you can intimidate --” “I would welcome a test of your battle prowess,” Fenris calmly interrupted. Unfazed by her deeds, he made his proposition. “What do you say? Your pack is known for the love of battle, the love of a challenge. What I wasn’t aware of was their fear of intimacy, however.” “I don’t…I’m not afraid of sex or of you, you fucking cur!” She flexed her claws, which were growing longer by the second. Freya readied herself for a fight. “What do you want with me? Shouldn’t you be here petitioning for a mate or something?”

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“Oh, I am, and so is my beta. A she-wolf strong enough to bear the union he and I have to offer.” The fact that Fenris had stated the very thing Freya had suspected didn’t make it any easier to hear. She felt faint at the idea of being trapped between the two, willingly or not. It meant letting her guard down and taking a chance that she did not want to take. She didn’t want to know what submission felt like and she had little doubt that Fenris could threaten more than just her body. It was definitely not worth the risk. “I’m not in the pageant.” “The good ones usually aren’t. But if you were, we would have still pursued you. Rayne can’t stop talking about you, about how powerful and forceful you were with him, about what a dominating, beautiful, dark gem you are… and well, I have to agree.”

Beautiful. Gem. The words reminded her of something fragile, something to be
protected. She believed the words described Rayne but not herself. She was rough, sturdy, hard. “Well, I am dominant, but you don’t strike me as the submissive or ass-kissing type.” “That’s because I’m not. I would love to watch you break down my Rayne though, and I would love to break you down beside him. Two dominants can even share at times.” Freya could see that the idea more than pleased Rayne. He shuddered visibly against his alpha, his smile practically radiant. While she was not wholly immune to the carnal picture that Fenris painted, she would not embrace it in her mind. She couldn’t. She had engineered her life to be one of control and self-sufficiency. There was no way she could agree to a situation that could so easily engulf her freedom and her will. While there was the slim possibility that Fenris was all show with no fighting experience, Freya wouldn’t have placed a dime bet on that. “I’m…not interested.” Freya turned her back on the two wolves, headed to the dining hall. Her hunger had returned, and it grew with every heartbeat. It wanted something, everything, but food would have to suffice. She heard Fenris’s loud, deep laughter before he said, “Pussies. They come in every shade and size.” Freya stopped. Calling a werewolf any form of a cat was tantamount to insulting someone’s mother. She turned and snarled at Fenris. “What did the fuck did you say?” He did not hesitate. “I said ‘Pussies. They come in every size and shade.’” In an instant, Freya moved toward the giant, the claws of her right hand extended and sharp. It was a trick move, one of distraction while the knuckles of her left aimed for Fenris’s stomach, intending a vicious punch. The giant dislodged himself from Rayne and caught both of Freya’s wrists with alarming speed. He jerked Freya’s arms down and behind her back and brought her flush against him.

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For all of her strength, she could not break Fenris’s hold. Unbelievably strong, Freya winced at the viselike grip. She tried to wedge her leg between his. A knee to the groin was crude, but as close as she was and with his height, that was impossible. She slammed her heel down upon his foot, but that didn’t bother him much at all. The beast stood firm as stone, grip still like iron, leaving her no escape from his hard body, his hot breath, or his aroused sex. She evoked the change, needing a wider, more dangerous maw. With a rumble for a warning, she fastened her jaws onto the beast’s shoulder. Fenris laughed. “Oh, yes! You do turn me on.” Rayne put an arm between them. He added his other against Fenris, so that he could pry them apart. “Enough, you two. Enough!” he roared. Fenris released his hold, and Freya jumped back. Both were panting though not from exertion. Freya didn’t consider Fenris the victor by any means. It was hardly even a scuffle. She sized him up as she would any opponent, cautious about attacking him high again. His legs, while they were the size of tree trunks, would fail if she grabbed hold of his ankles. She would have to move faster. She would have to get a hold of him and get him or his feet off center -“Freya? Freya!” She darted her eyes toward Rayne, who was flushed and excited, his eyes glistening with expectation. “She’s sizing me up. The next attack will be a real one.” Fenris’s words came across as clearly as her own thoughts. Maybe he’s a witch too ? It wouldn’t have surprised her one bit. “Whatever. You don’t know a damn thing about what I’m likely to do.” Fenris scoffed. “I don’t have to. Your scent grows richer by the second. But, might I suggest that the real fight be somewhere more private? I could save face if you kicked my ass in, say, my suite.”

No fucking way.
Alone with the brute and with that vixen Rayne? Freya didn’t trust herself or them. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to wrestle with him, or at least try to make him submit. She had sampled his strength. It would force her to use every ounce of muscle, speed, and skill. It would be a test, sure enough, but any incursion with Fenris would provide solid proof of -Freya stopped that chain of thought immediately as even she smelled her arousal. “You’re funny.” “And you were made for me.”

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“Don’t flatter yourself. It’s your beta I want.” She didn’t do alphas or betas, truly. If only Rayne had been a damn omega, someone who could be satisfied with being the subject of her appetite… Fenris appeared unfazed by Freya’s choice. “If you want him, claim him. I gave you my permission. You want a night alone with him beneath you, that is fine by me, but I will supervise.” “I don’t do the group thing.” “Okay…I suppose that’s because you like the sweet, delicate side of things. You want there to be lots of pecking kisses and soft caresses. You want roses and lots of long sighs, silk sheets, and perhaps a harp or two. Hmmm, I think that’s called lovemaking, right?” He looked at Rayne. “Is that what it’s called? Lovemaking…” His words and his tone nearly left her speechless. It was worse than being called a coward. It was mockery. “Fuck you. I hope both of you get mange.” Turning her back on them, she stepped toward the hall. Rayne was quick to move in front of her. “Freya. He won’t bother you. All he wants to do is watch. He’s not usually such a bully -- well, not all of the time.” She didn’t have to prove anything to him or his alpha. She did, however, need to find something stronger than champagne. Freya marched to the hall, leaving the happy couple by themselves. “He’s the only dominant you need though; definitely more of a bully than me.”

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Chapter Seven
Freya tried to keep her voice down so that the girls wouldn’t hear her every gripe. With the television on in her room and a stereo playing in their adjoining room, she had some cover from sensitive ears. Hallie danced around in her room, singing a rock song about jilted love. Dena was in the shower, and Rebecca brushed her hair. All three were preparing for the afternoon mating challenges while Freya was thankful to be behind closed doors. She sat down in the bedside chair, cradling a pricey bottle of tequila in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Getting ready to go out was the furthest thing from her mind. She shook her head as the woman on the other end of the phone bickered about how cold Reykjavik was. It wasn’t the topic she was anxious to discuss. “That’s not what I asked, Mom,” she said into the phone. “I asked how do you know the Icelandic wolves. How do they know about me, and why didn’t I know about them?” “Where did you say you were?” “At the Sohon mating pageant.” “Someone there need to be killed?” “No, Mom, I’m getting paid to escort she-wolves.” Her patience was getting shorter by the second. “Ahh, to find mates. Those Sohons are so entrepreneurial. Is Fenris there?”

Finally. “Yeah, he is. And the important question would be, how do you know him?”
“Well, his mother and I were old friends, lovers actually, before your father and maybe once during. Gaea was built like a golem. Oh, but she was an Amazon of a woman. She and I used to have a time, drinking, roughhousing, and teasing the curs…”

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Freya moved the phone away from her mouth so that she could fit the bottle against her lips. She took two great gulps before addressing her mother’s reminiscent tangent. “Why didn’t I know? You never mentioned her before.” “It’s not like you call me unless you need something. And anyway, it was none of your business.” “Well, her bull of a fucking son sure is.” “Excuse me? Who the hell are you cursing at, girl?” At the serious tone, Freya remembered her place. Despite being hundreds of miles away and a damned good hunter and fighter, the ingrained fear of her mother was still very potent. “Sorry, Mom.” “You’re damn right you’re sorry. You’re not too tough for me to grab by the scruff, you hear?” Freya lowered her voice. She had no wish to agitate her alpha. She just needed information. “I know. I know, Ma. It’s just that you could have told me about him, about them.” “Freya, we don’t talk, you and me. We don’t chitchat.” “No, you tell me what needs doing, and I do it, but --” “But what? Don’t tell me that you’re scared of Fenris.” “I’m not scared.” Intimidated, apprehensive, and unnerved were much better descriptions. Just the thought of him pinning her down, lying between her legs, and ruling over her body was disturbing. She wasn’t about to put her façade of strength in jeopardy, not even for Rayne. “I’m also not about to raise my tail for him either.” “I don’t see why not. You like to fight, to get all physical and what not. It doesn’t get any more intense. Hell, if he’s half of the demon dog his mother is…” While there were many things Freya could picture her mother doing, sex was definitely not one of them. “Not everyone wants a beast in the sack, Ma.” “Still playing around with omega boys, are you? I told Gaea you like your males with a low tail.” In the midst of taking another draught of tequila, Freya choked as the liquid stuck in her throat. She coughed for a moment, trying to get air as it dawned on her that she really was the cheese in a mousetrap. “Really? Told her that, did you? What else does she know? My bra size?” “What are you so worried about, Freya? The last thing I heard you were taking on Lunas. Now one big-dicked wolf and his beta have you shaking? I wonder about you sometimes. I really do.”

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And I wonder why you’ll never win the Most Sensitive Mom of the Year award. “Mom,
I usually do the hunting, not the other way around. I usually have the advantage over the prey, you know?” “Oh, I know, all right. You must have met Rayne first; then you met Fenris.” “Yeah. Something like that.” “Well, here’s a little advice, warrior-pup. Don’t you go fighting Fenris. A common cur is one thing, but a Nordic male is hell on earth, nigh as bad as a razor-tailed gargoyle, I swear. I wouldn’t even scrap with one.”

That was news, Freya thought. There was something her balls-of-brimstone-and-steel
mother was intimidated by. While it should have made Freya feel better to know that Geraldine shared her daughter’s apprehension, it didn’t. It simply angered her more to know that there was someone strong enough to draw reverence from her mother. She had certainly never been able to do it. “I have no plans for locking claws with that one, Ma.” “Good. Wise decision. If you want a little growl and scuffle, that’s one thing, but your kind of bounty hunting, to the death, I’m-so-brave-I fight-Lunas-by-myself sort of crap might not fly with him… Then again, it might.” “It might?” “He might like that quality in a female. Set his eyes on you, did he?” Freya moved the phone slightly away from her ear as ringing laughter escaped the earpiece. It took her mother a while to calm down, and Freya brought the bottle once more to her lips. “I’m not his type.” “Bullshit. I bet you are, or else you wouldn’t sound so nervous. If you weren’t his type and he weren’t yours, you be calling me to let to let me know you had gotten your ass handed to you for approaching that tart of his. Instead, you’re calling like a cur panicked about something. You sound like you’ve been drinking and worrying too. I’d say that those were some clear signs.” “You are so insightful.” She wondered why she ever bothered to try and hide anything from the woman. Geraldine’s sixth sense wasn’t that far away from clairvoyance and hadn’t been since she was a child. As always, it forced her to face facts that she’d rather not. Freya looked down at the bottle in her hand and seriously doubted the tequila was having any effect. If anything, she felt more sober. “He’s a bit intense though. Definitely more than I could handle.” “Hmph…Well, I suppose you know your limits. You take after me in that respect at least.” “Yeah, I’m not completely a smaller version of Dad,” Freya muttered sarcastically. Geraldine laughed again, long and hard. Freya didn’t find it funny. She knew her mother thought her a carbon copy of Fred Daniels: bounty hunter, berserker, brute, moody, a loner who loved liquor more than his kids and almost more than his mate. It might have

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been a compliment coming from her father, but from Geraldine’s mouth, it was always a negative. “Tequila or scotch? What are you drinking?” Freya wondered what her mother would say if she told her lemonade but recalled the result of the last lie that she attempted. “Tequila.” “Yeah. That firewater. Don’t let it write a check your ass can’t cash, you hear?” “I won’t, Momma. He can have his boy. I won’t fight him. I’m done with him.” “Sure you are.” Freya shook her head. No matter how many times she went into combat or told herself she was tough enough, her mother was always there to remind her she wasn’t the baddest wolf in the pack. “Well, Mom, the girls are almost ready. I’ve gotta go,” Freya said, lying, but before her mother could even unravel it, she ended the call.

*****
The Sohon hosts were lax in their motivation and seriousness when it came to stopping a fight. They could have cared less if the battle was to the death. It hadn’t even been their idea to bring in warrior wolves as referees. The idea of bringing in warrior wolves had been from an alpha whose gamma had been killed in the challenge circle a few years prior. In truth, the Sohon and many others weren’t opposed to battles to the death; they only pretended to be. On plates of fine porcelain, carved meats and hors d’oeuvres were enjoyed by the proprietors. In fine crystal tumblers, scotch and decadent cordials were sipped. The Sohon council seemed more like they were waiting for the fight to continue than end. Gregory Turinkov, a wiry Bulgarian who had his eye set on Dena, was fighting Marcus Tolliver, an older Canadian gray wolf, and Dena’s choice of the two. Marcus, several years older, was far more powerful than Gregory and did not hesitate to show the younger pup his prowess. The call had been given once to end the fight. While Freya had heard it, she had been busy setting her shoulder back in its socket from the previous battle. She sat down beside the pillar she had used to fix her shoulder, aware of little outside of the bottle in her fist. The potency of the alcohol eased some of the discomfort as well as helped her to relax in the flurry of action surrounding her. Ignoring the noises of combat and spectatorship, she didn’t even bother to watch the battle. With Dena and Rebecca giving a blow by blow, she should have known something was up when the girls suddenly went silent. Dena tapped Freya on the shoulder. “Um, Freya. Nobody’s helping him. Marcus’s pack is trying to keep Gregory’s from helping him, and the warrior wolves can’t get to him.” Rebecca chimed in. “I thought you said you didn’t like Gregory.”

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“Doesn’t mean that I want to watch his head get ripped off. God! Freya, you’re better than those warriors. It’s a street fight…” Hallie, considering herself to be looking out for Freya exertion, didn’t think it was a good idea. “She just dislocated her shoulder, for crying out loud. Let her heal for a sec, Dena! The other warrior wolves should do a better job. Half of them look drunk anyway.” Freya turned to look at the battle going on in the circle and discovered that Dena was right. Young Gregory was getting his ass and tail handed to him by the older wolf. Both were in man-wolf form, but Gregory looked a crumpled heap of fur. One of Gregory’s pack tried to interfere, and Marcus made quick work of him, throwing him aside as easily as a sack of potatoes. It did look kind of bad. Ignoring protests from Hallie and Rebecca, Freya muttered, “I’m fine. Absolutely fine, girls.” She got up from her cushion and stretched, ready for a new incursion, while inside of the room the roars and snarling grew wilder. She heard the shouting and cheering, howls of pain, even whisperings of bets being called. And it was all music to her ears. She arrived in the center of the fighting ring, looking at what would mildly be referred to as attempted murder. One warrior wolf was engaged with two of Gregory’s pack, trying to keep from joining the fight. Another female warrior was growling and clawing at another of the Canadian’s pack. Freya set her attention on Marcus and Gregory only. She moved toward Marcus and caught his upraised arm before he could pummel Gregory once more. Shoving Gregory out of harm’s way, she needed her full attention to be on the more experienced wolf. The burly wolf, his brown fur peppered with gray and black, set his dark brown eyes on Freya. Marcus was in full battle lust, and reasoning would be useless to him. All that he wanted was battle, it seemed. Freya backhanded him. Striking Freya across the face, Marcus returned the blow just as quickly as it had been given. Freya laughed against the pain before deciding to charge the wolf head on. She made the change into a great dark wolf, running on two legs, fast and hard. Freya rammed into the wolf’s chest. He smashed his fist into her back, but she did not flinch. She dropped to the ground, grasped his ankles with her great black paws, and jerked him up off his feet, just the way that she had planned on doing with Fenris the day before. On the floor, sneering and wrestling, Freya proved herself a force to be reckoned with. Marcus was no pushover, but Freya had an edge. She had something to prove. For every blow he landed, she gave him two. When he tried to pin her, she twisted and turned until she was free. She knew holds and positions from both Japanese and Thai martial arts, and he was no match for either of them. He was physically stronger, but she had instinct.

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Spurned on by the fire in her veins, she ignored bone-cracking blows and deep gashes, and then gave as good as she got. It was one hundred percent fun. She managed to get him in a chokehold out of sheer luck and held on for all she was worth. With his loss of oxygen, Marcus began to lose strength. It took some time, but eventually Marcus started to revert back into his human form. So intent on holding on, Freya was caught off guard by a hard, heavy slap to her flank. Releasing the weakened wolf in her hold, Freya turned to confront the next challenge, the fool who would dare to strike her. Before her stood Ivan Setter, a tall, slender wolf with short blond hair and vibrant green eyes. He was a fierce warrior and had aided Freya in more than a few jobs. Reliable and skilled, he had enough of Freya’s respect enough not to tear into him with her claws. She snapped at him, calling him every sort of foul name she could think of. She had been working and how dare he interrupt her, she cursed. Ivan didn’t seem worried in the slightest, grinning wide and wickedly. “It’s okay, Freya. I’ve got him from here. Great work though.” Chest heaving, Freya shifted, her dark fur becoming brown skin. “Where the fuck were you, Ivan? I just get off the floor and they call me back on because you’re not doing your volunteer work, huh.” Freya took a deep breath, smelled the musk of sweat and sex coming off Ivan’s pale skin. “Off fucking, eh?” “You’re damn right. That and…well, I knew you could handle things.” “For a minute there, it was iffy, but yeah, I handled things.” Freya shook her head. She couldn’t hold him accountable. Ivan had escorted at least four females from his pack to the pageant, and while Freya was sure that he was fucking one of them, he was in the ring refereeing more than most. Ivan patted Freya on the shoulder and gave a wink. “Get some water and sober up. Or get some food in you and keep drinking, eh? Me and mine will take it from here.” “Aye.” Both were good ideas as far as she was concerned. With the alcohol thin in her system and her endorphins sinking faster than a Zeppelin on fire, Freya intended to return to her girls and her seat on the sidelines until her glance fell upon Rayne. He stood in the crowd, his bright gaze set on her. Fenris was at his side. He, too, was staring. Freya didn’t know what spurred her on more, the alcohol, the jealousy, or the desire, but she marched over to them with her head held high. Fenris be damned, she thought. He could lord himself over Rayne all he wanted, but the soft wolf had moaned beneath her. She wanted to have his slender body once more in her hold. She walked up to Rayne and took a firm hold of his chin. She tilted it upward and looked into his eyes. Rayne smiled, and Freya smiled back, right before crushing her lips to his. He was a beauty she had to have, to taste, and to plunder. Just as she remembered, he was supple,

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succulent, and oh-so-willing. She tasted his lips, bottom and top, and was pleased by their sweetness and softness. His tongue feigned shyness, but when she coiled hers around his, Rayne boldly moaned in enjoyment. He leaned into her body, not touching her otherwise. She grasped him by the waist while she took the kiss she wanted. When she released him, he was three shades brighter than he had been before. Freya looked over at Fenris, expecting to see a shade of offense on his features. Instead, Fenris stared at her more lasciviously than before. He ran his tongue across his lips as if savoring something sweet. “You are such a fierce warrior. I almost believe you aren’t afraid of anything,” he said. He motioned to the battle floor. “After that little display there and all. Fearless is what one might think of you, but I know different.” “I’m not afraid of you.” He didn’t look convinced, sliding a possessive arm around his beta. Fenris egged her on. “Prove it then. Tonight after you put your charges to bed, I’ll strip Rayne and have him ready for you. I won’t even touch you. I’ll just watch. Will you come? Or will you find some petty excuse?” She had always liked dares, the close cousin of challenges, but despite Fenris’s claim to remain free of her and Rayne, she knew that there was a trap. Physical danger she could handle; it was something much more mental that she was worried about. Part of her wanted to take up the challenge, wanted Fenris to watch and learn the proper treatment of a beta. The other half was livid just at the thought of being in a room with the big male. Then, it dawned on her: a way to fearlessness that Fenris could not mock, that Rayne would enjoy, and that would leave Freya unscathed. “I will be there,” she promised.

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Chapter Eight
Freya brought the girls back to the room after dinner. For dessert, she ordered strawberries and several bottles of champagne as a treat for her charges. Needing to sober up, she ordered only water for herself. Freya sat on her bed, watching the girls through the opening that connected their rooms. They were swift to descend into silliness and laughter from the alcohol as they discussed the battles and their suitors. Almost envious of their carefree behavior, Freya felt no such ease. It didn’t occur to her to expound on suitors because she didn’t have any. She had tricksters, and the last thing she needed was alcohol to encourage her further into Rayne and Fenris’s game than she would already be. “I think I’ve made my decision.” Just as Freya suspected, Hallie had been the belle of the pageant, achieving the attention of two very wealthy and well-formed wolves. “It’s between Lance Sohon and Matthew O’ Shay. I’m thinking Lance might be the one though.” Sitting on the bed with Dena and Rebecca, the girl was giddy with champagne. “Well,” Dena replied, “Marcus says that he’s all ready to sign my contract.” “You gray wolf-chaser you!” Hallie nudged Dena with her foot. Dena shifted, but she did not spill her flute of champagne. “He’s a brute, and he’s old enough to be your father.” “I’d be concerned if we aged like humans do. As it is, I will not knock his experience. He’s a tough one too.” “He sure is. Poor Gregory…” Rebecca slurred, probably woozy from the champagne. “Gregory pissed him off. He told me so after the fight. He told Gregory that I said that I would never want an old cur. Well, Marcus showed him. Besides, Marcus has experience.” Freya listened to the girls as they discussed their prospects. Hallie was probably going to end up with Lance, and Dena would no doubt end up with Marcus, despite his wild behavior. Rebecca, however, was still a wild card. Whether or not the blonde had forgiven

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Freya for the emasculation of her presumed mate or for the blow to the stomach was a slight worry, but the girl seemed fine. “What do you know about experience other than some heavy petting?” Rebecca asked. “I’ve been licked before.” Hallie shrieked as if Dena had mentioned something foul. “You are so crass.” “What? It’s our way. We’ve all been licked at some point.” “I’m not referring to bathing or when we were cubs, Dena.” Rebecca shook her head at both Dena and Rebecca. “Well? What are you talking about? A long, leisurely licking with the flat of male’s tongue all over your belly, your thighs, and your --” “Okay! Okay! I got the message.” Hallie looked as if she couldn’t take another word out of Rebecca’s mouth. She poured herself another glass of champagne with shaking fingers. Dena held out her glass for Hallie to fill, but when she offered to pour a refill for Rebecca, the blonde declined. “So, Rebecca, who are your picks?” asked Hallie. “Are you still interested in Michael? He was staring at you in the challenge hall.” “He can stare all he wants. I won’t be choosing him.” Rebecca stood up from the bed, leaving the two girls alone with their champagne. She walked toward Freya, seemingly amused by the notion.

Yeah, it’s my fault, Freya thought. I was too rough on the child, and now she’s sworn off the pageant and males too. Probably wants to become a warrior wolf so that she can exact revenge over a few centuries. Freya took a long draught from her bottle of water. She shook
her head and told herself not to apologize. The damage had already been done. Rebecca came inside Freya’s room and sat down on her bed. She didn’t seem upset, but then looks could be deceiving. Scents never were. “You’re drinking water?” It was an innocent enough question. “I drink water sometimes.” “I haven’t seen you drinking any.” Freya took another drink. All in all, she had already drunk nearly four pints of water. She finished off her second bottle of water and tossed it into the trash. “You have a point there. Could you hand me another, please?” Rebecca didn’t have to leave the bed. The ice bucket containing a reserve bottle of champagne and several bottles of water was nearby. She handed Freya one of the ice-cold beverages. With a quick twist, she removed the cap, tipped the bottle, and drank half of it. If she couldn’t chug bourbon, she would fill her veins with cold instead, trading one brand of numbness for another. At every sign of warmth rising within, Freya combated it with water.

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“Freya?”

Here it comes, Freya thought, the anger and the guilt trip. “Yeah?”
“When did you know that you wanted to be a warrior wolf?” “Pretty much from birth.” Freya sighed, steeling herself for Rebecca’s sudden interest. At least it would be a distraction from the heat though. “How? How did you know that?” “My mother was a warrior wolf as well as my father. As soon as I was old enough to walk, I was trained in combat.” Rebecca bowed her head as if she expected Freya’s response. “You know, I think all wolves are warriors in some respect.” “All are; some just love the thrill more, and some are just more violent. So they go into the trades of bounty hunters, prize fighters, assassins, bodyguards. Some become killers, and some hunt them down.” “You said there are packs that train warrior wolves?” Freya rolled her eyes and laughed. The girl really was planning on getting revenge, or at least was planning on being able to defend herself. Well, she wouldn’t stand in the way of a good try. “There are. Seriously. Most of them are brutal and primitive. The best live and train in forests. There are some with no bathrooms or televisions, nothing modern. They like to take it old school, sort of. Then there are some who teach combat and restraint. You’re seriously interested?” Rebecca shook her head no, chuckled as well. “I don’t know what I’m interested in, but I know I want it to be exciting.” “Well, the pageant is exciting.” “It is,” Rebecca replied. “Michael was exciting too. He told me that his pack lived in New York. That they had money and luxury apartments and went to the theater, and well, he wouldn’t even stand up for me. There are others, I know, but I was really into him. I really wanted to go to New York. As you said, my pack is pretty rural. I just want to have value.” The humor vanished from Freya as she realized that Rebecca was being open and honest, confiding in her. She had never considered herself a good ear for troubles but her past impatience with the girl made her soft. “You have value, Rebecca.” Rebecca cast a doubtful look. “Yeah, right. I have value as a bitch to mount, as a pushover and fool.” Freya could smell a pity party brewing beside her. She sat up and sought to head it off at the pass. Freya jostled Rebecca with her shoulder, kept her voice low. “Look, cub. I’m sorry that I ruined things with you and that…” She couldn’t bring herself to say that Michael was anything but cowardly so she didn’t. “I’m sorry that I hit you, too.”

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Rebecca turned and looked into Freya’s eyes. She seemed to be searching for something before she broke out in a smile. “It was nothing. I may have even needed that.” “Admit it.” Freya nudged the girl. “You wanted to hit me back though, didn’t you?” “I was too stunned to think about it. I didn’t think you would do it.” Freya finished off the last half of her water bottle and gestured for another. Rebecca gave her one. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, the same thing happened to me. I was twelve and my mother told me to take out the trash. I told her no, and she basically rearranged my jaw.” “I bet you don’t have to worry about that happening now.” “You’d be wrong.” Geraldine was still every bit of the no-nonsense spitfire she had been when Freya was a pup. It didn’t matter how strong or skilled her daughter became. Geraldine held the authority of being Freya’s mother and that within itself was something for Freya to fear. Her left hook was another. Rebecca spoke up with a lighter tone. “So, are you going to see Rayne again? I noticed him with a giant of a wolf, handsome, pale blond. Is it his brother?”

If only, Freya thought, having difficulty twisting the cap off the ice-slippery bottle. She
finally pulled the cap free, the white cap flying up and halfway across the room. “Nope. He’s his alpha.” “It figures. Is he here to find a mate, too? The big one?” “Something like that.” Rebecca wrinkled her nose, sniffing the air. Freya knew that the girl could smell her agitation. “Something like what, Freya?” “It’s nothing.” “Nothing? Come on…” she pressed. “Is he vying for you? Is Rayne not allowed to pursue you because of it? Are you really serious about not liking him, because it was kinda obvious that you did.” Freya said nothing. She had kissed Rayne in the middle of the ballroom, in front of everyone. Good Goddess, the gossip that had no doubt started… “Oh.” Rebecca ceased to smile as it dawned over her. “Rayne isn’t the big guy’s beta, is he?” “I thought he was an omega, a gamma maybe, but no, he’s a beta all right, a loyal servant and blood sworn to serve his alpha.” “So, what’s wrong with that? My father’s beta has a wife, kids even. It’s not so bad. Of course, it means that if he has to choose between taking a bullet for you or his alpha… Then you’d be out of luck, but still, the big guy looks like he could handle himself.”

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Rebecca’s thoughts reflected the more modern concept of betas. Freya wished it were the case. “By old law, the beta shares everything with his alpha and vice versa. In effect, if I want Rayne, I’ll have to go through his alpha.” The gravity of Freya’s admission caused Rebecca to wince. “Ouch. I mean, they’re both hot but…that would be a bit intense. You’d be both of theirs, which isn’t a bad thing --” “Hon, I’m not here to mate. I’m here to --” “To work. I know, I know. ” She made short work of the water, preferring to focus on the cool refreshment rather than address the sarcasm in Rebecca’s voice. There was no need, not when her body kept warming with anxiousness. Just the thought of being with Rayne, even in Fenris’s presence set her ablaze. It was not a mysterious occurrence, despite the fact that she couldn’t control it. It was one thing to unleash her pent up desires on Rayne, to singe him with her needs, but against Fenris, it would be she who would dissolve to wind and ash. He had promised to let her have Rayne without interference, but Freya didn’t trust him. Worst of all, she didn’t trust herself. It had been why she had stopped drinking immediately after accepting their proposal. Fenris was right, she did like a challenge, and the heat between her thighs was proof enough that it would be one. “Are you going to see them tonight?” She rolled her eyes toward Rebecca and for a moment thought of saying no. Instead, she asked for another bottle of water. Rebecca kindly informed her that there was none left.

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Chapter Nine
The northern wolves had the winter-themed suite on the floor level of the green wing. Freya assumed it was a result of some joke about their homeland. She had held off as long as she could, listening to the girls descend into presumptuous fantasies about their consummation nights with mates who had yet to sign contracts. After some internal debate and another six pack of bottled water, Freya couldn’t take another minute of the talk about strapping chests, bites from a lover’s fangs, or the silken down on a lover’s cock. The warmth and tingling of her own pussy wouldn’t allow it. She told the girls that she was leaving, but she didn’t tell them she had found a female warrior to stand guard outside their door. The warrior accepted the bills Freya pressed into her palm with little explanation. It was a worthy payment. She needed to see Rayne, Fenris be damned. He had promised not to touch or bother her. While she didn’t entirely trust him, it was a good risk. I may not be able to beat the alpha, but if he breaks his word, I can defend myself. I just can’t give in to him. The way her body was already betraying her was foreboding enough. The excitement that simmered beneath her flesh was unnatural, and the only thing that would soothe her resided in the winter suite. Freya stood at the door, her hand raised before the wood. She knocked once, not too loud and very briefly. The door opened before she wondered if she had been heard. Fenris stood in the doorframe, his six-ten body nearly as high as the threshold. His dark gaze slid up her body, absorbing details from her feet to the top of her head. “Well, you did show up. You’re brave after all.” Not about to address the alpha, Freya took a step forward. Fenris stepped aside, allowing her to pass. “Where is he?”

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He shut the door but didn’t answer. Freya did her best to look at everything but the Nordic giant, noting the white, silver, and evergreen colors of the room. It really did look like winter with the over abundance of white. This was the sitting room, though the double doors to the right and left got her no closer to the answer she wanted. She steeled herself to meet Fenris’s gaze and asked again. “Rayne? Where is he?” Fenris grinned, gestured to the doors on the left. “He’s showered, lying down, watching television in the bedroom. He’s very anxious to see you, and so am I.” She gritted her teeth, telling herself she would not show weakness or play into his game. She would also prevent a string of curses from spilling forth. “Great, so…” “You can go on in. He’s waiting.” “Thank you.” It was a lot better than “Fuck you.” Freya headed for the doors and pushed them wide. True to Fenris’s words, Rayne was lying across the king-size bed all right. His attention was fixed upon a wide-screen television showing a nature program about caribou. Rayne wore nothing on his peaches-and-cream skin. His pale blond hair shimmered over his back as he lay upon his stomach. He turned toward her and smiled. “You came!” And Freya was damn glad that she had. Excited, curious to touch him, to feel him in her hold, Freya put his alpha out of her mind. Drawn to his bedside, Freya’s focus moved between Rayne’s bare ass and his hazel eyes. “I didn’t want to stand you up again,” she muttered dryly. “Why, thank you. I would have arrived at your door anyway. I would have knocked it down if you hadn’t come.” Rayne turned on his side and patted the bed. Freya accepted the gesture and walked over to join him. She sat down upon the mattress, anxious to be near his perfect flesh. Rayne scooted close to her, making it easy for Freya to run her hands along his side. “That’s some determination.” “You have no idea.” He closed his eyes as Freya’s lengthening claws moved over his hip and down his thigh. He seemed to enjoy every second of her touch. She had only been in the room for barely a minute, but patience had never been Freya’s strong suit. She kicked off her boots before moving fully onto the bed and side by side with Rayne. She gathered him by the waist and pulled him close. It was an easy task and better for her to view his flawless features. Rayne kissed her, breaking her trance. “You’re sober.” “Is that a bad thing?” “No, not at all. I get to feel the real you.”

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And I get to retain half of my senses. She ran her tongue over her lips, hungry and
anxious to taste what fingertips knew would be delightful. Her hands found his ass and she squeezed. “I can be just as dangerous when sober, maybe even more.” “Oh, I’m sure.” Rayne attempted to kiss Freya once again, but she was faster in her attempt, seizing his mouth with her own. Eager to remind his tongue to whom it belonged, Freya cast all thoughts of breathing away. It was more important for her to hold his tongue, to memorize his fangs and the roof of his mouth and the reverberations of his moans. When air finally became an issue, Freya didn’t know which of them was panting louder. She did know that Rayne’s lips were flushed and swollen. She chose a more delicate target, bending down to taste the clean skin of his throat. Freshly showered and smelling of pine and berries, Rayne’s flesh was warm and delicious. Her lips mapped his throat down his collarbone to his shoulders. Guiding him to lay back against the bed, Freya moved her thigh over one of his. She wanted him prone and exposed to her every whim and exploration. While her lips made their way to the small nubs of his nipples, her hands found his thighs -- both inner and outer -- to be soft and heated by the fine furs of transformation spurred by his arousal. Rayne moaned in response to every press of Freya’s lips with tension followed by shudders. He left little question as to who was in charge, as to who was orchestrating his pleasure. Freya’s kisses found Rayne’s navel at the same time her hand found his cock. Freya stroked the length of his flesh, finding it soft and hard, silky and warm. She twirled the tip of her index finger across the head of his cock and felt the wetness already. It was that easy, that perfect with him. “Oh…Freya.” He sighed, placed a hand upon her shoulder. “There’ll be nothing left of me.” Freya gazed down at Rayne. His chest was pink, as were his cheeks, and he did look consumed with arousal. His eyes were half slits and the gold irises were just barely visible. “Get out of those clothes, please.” Convincing in his need, he tugged on the sleeve of her shirt. “I want proper sex. Submissive but proper sex.” Freya chuckled, but the idea of stripping quickly took the humor away. She looked around the room for the voyeur who she was sure would be there, but caught no sight of Fenris. She smelled his presence. “Where is your alpha? Where did he go?” “Who knows?” Rayne quickly replied, much more interested in other things. “Take off something. Please. Your shirt, take that off.”

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Freya paused, wondering what plan the two of them had. Was Fenris watching? Would he continue to watch from some hidden place? Maybe there was a hole in the wall. Maybe he had no plans of entering the room. Rayne groaned with impatience. Steeling herself against her nervousness, Freya sat up on the bed. She reached for the hem of her shirt and lifted it off. She tossed it over the side of the bed. Rayne gestured to her jeans. Not wanting to hear his disappointment again, she unbuttoned and shucked off the denim. In nothing more than black boy shorts and a black bra, she felt more self-conscious in underwear than she did half-naked in the battle circle. His fixed gaze did nothing to ease her. She felt too muscular, too heavy; her breasts were too big for the bra and her hips too wide. “By the moon, you are beautiful,” Rayne whispered, as if in a trance. “Quiet, you.” She climbed on top of him, pinning him flat against the bed. Whether or not his words were true was nothing that she wanted to speculate on. Concerned with only truths she could believe, she exerted her strength to hold him down. She leaned over him, determined to restart her exploration of his body with his throat. Beneath her, with so very little barrier, she felt his erection against her cloth-covered mound. Hard and hot, it teased her body with promises of fullness and pleasure. His palms found the heavy cups of her bra, thumbs pressed hard against her hard nipples. The very act reminded Freya that Rayne was a virile male with similar wants. Rayne kneaded her breasts, slow and firm. The sensation stunned Freya. It always did, being one of her fiercest erogenous zones. He easily found her nipples through the cups and pinched them tightly. The pleasure that pulsed through her was much more intense and radiated from between her thighs up to her head, making her dizzy. She didn’t stop him. Instead, Freya shifted away from his throat to release a sigh that had become trapped in her throat. “Freya?” “Y-yes?” Rayne took hold of her bra straps and slid them down to expose her heavy bosom. She heard him growl softly, felt him moving eagerly beneath her. She braced herself on her hands and knees, more because she felt weak than anything. It was okay, she told herself. A little vulnerability would only flavor the fire of her need. Being on top, she was still in control. Somewhat. She felt the heat of his breath and the moisture of his tongue against her flesh and exhaled in anticipation of what was to come. Rayne fastened his lips onto a nipple, and his interest in her breasts was nothing that she could deny. He drew hard and wet, tortured her with fang and tongue.

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“Damn. Oh…” Freya wanted to swipe him away. Her body shook from the sensory overload. This was vulnerability the likes of which she hadn’t experienced in a long time. She gave in to him wantonly, her nipples’ joy linked directly to her clit. Rayne drew upon her breast greedily. His hand around her waist urged her to come down upon him, and Freya wondered when she had lost control. She wondered when it was that she had begun to moan and Rayne had begun growling. It was as Rayne left one breast to seek the other that Freya saw her chance. “Enough.” She slipped free of his hold. “That’s enough.” Rayne frowned at the sudden refusal. “Cruel. You’re too cruel…”

I’ll show you cruel, Freya thought. She took hold of Rayne’s hips, seeking to suckle him
as he had done to her. With a firm grip around the base of his shaft, she lowered her mouth over the tip. She used her lips to push back his foreskin, taking in both his flavor and his flesh with enhanced senses. Rayne had a perfect length, a perfect width, and his taste made Freya anxious for more than just droplets. Above her, Rayne swore and sighed, pressing to Freya’s mouth greedily. She had to hold his hips with her elbows as she sank upon his cock, determined to stimulate him for more. His cock filled her throat as she buried her nose in his soft blond thatch. Rayne cried out, and Freya was sure she heard the sound of ripping sheets. She grasped his balls, kneading them while she sucked, and although Rayne had lost all capacity for speech, he did not give in to release. Freya put her palms on the insides of Rayne’s thighs and pushed them firmly against the mattress. It didn’t help. Shaking beneath her, Rayne seemed determined to hold back. She released him. She gazed at the sweat-sheen, disheveled sight of her lover. “You’re tough tonight, but I will taste you,” she vowed with a scratch of her claws across his lower abdomen. “Come on, pretty Rayne…” He shook his head. For a moment, she worried something was wrong. His eyes pressed shut, Rayne had a look of sheer determination across his features. He was fighting his own pleasure, trying to keep it at bay. Lips quivered softly, parted as he begged, “F-fen. Oh, please, Fen…” Freya began to wonder if Rayne had mistaken her for his alpha when a familiar baritone sounded from the doorway. She tested the air and found Fenris’s scent thick and near, his arousal heavy. Shock paralyzed her as she realized that she had been watched and that Rayne was indeed asking his alpha for permission. “Yes. You may come,” Fenris said, low and raspy.

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Chapter Ten
Freya had seen plenty of nude males in her days. She had a naked male beneath her, and still Fenris looked different. It wasn’t that he had boulders for muscles, a neck as big as a tree trunk, legs and arms nearly of the average male’s waist. Freya might have even seen a male with a cock as long and a wide as his, but those weren’t what bothered her the most. It was the dark, ravenous look in his eyes that caused the knot in her stomach to twist. His coal dark eyes were set on her and she saw his desire. Freya rolled her eyes. She would submit to no one, and the idea that Rayne submitted to him, to his word even, was more than irritating. Freya moved on top of Rayne. She bent low and looked deeply into his hazel eyes. She wanted him to know who it was pleasuring him. “You have to ask him for permission to come?” “Y-yes,” Rayne stuttered. “But…you can make me.” Freya couldn’t see the bargain. She wanted all or nothing. “He could come over here and fuck you if that’s what you want. Would you like that?” Rayne seemed torn between the pleasure of Freya’s hold on him and frustration. He pushed his hips up and into her palm, closing an arm around her waist. “Freya, I want you.” “Sure.” With an idea in mind, Freya released Rayne’s cock. If it was his alpha’s permission he waited on, perhaps he needed the same stimulation his alpha might have given him. She had to concentrate to withdraw the length of her claws, to bring the nails back to a safe, smooth length. She coated her fingers with saliva and delved once more between his thighs. She moved her fingers, nails sheathed, past his cock and balls, finding the puckered opening to his body and toyed with the soft flesh there. “I bet you howl and yelp when he plunges that big shaft into you.”

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Rayne’s body spoke just as clearly as he did. His legs drew up and parted even more. “Yeah, I do.” Freya dared to press one finger inside of Rayne’s body. The warmth -- and the pressure -- was unbelievable. How, if at all, Fenris managed to fuck him became a question she couldn’t really broach. “You’re so tight. It’s a wonder he even fits. Maybe he hasn’t --” “He has. He does.” His hold on Freya tightening, Rayne turned his head and sought Freya’s lips. One kiss, although sweet, was not enough to make her forget about Fenris’s presence. “You want that? You want him to come and take you?” Rayne frowned. He cupped Freya’s face, his words intently hissing. “You are braver than that. You know what he wants and what you want. You know what I want.” She had an idea, and it made her uneasy. Both of them watching just added to her nervousness, but the biggest issue was her reserve. She would have to be brave to let them see, the two strangers who were both a challenge and temptation. She was no stranger to sex, but what Rayne and Fenris wanted was something entirely different: her total loss of control. “Freya. I want -- I need you. Will you mount me?” With a sudden need for air, she paused. She did want to feel Rayne hot and hard within her. She wanted to shudder atop the wolf and drive him to completion. What she didn’t want was to incite and excite his alpha. “Freya, please.” His cock was rigid against her thigh, and the need in Rayne’s eyes seemed sincere. The temptation was great, but looking over at Fenris, Freya tensed. His cock was every bit as hard and gleaming with precum as Rayne’s. His cock stood upright, and at attention the glistening shaft looked like a weapon, strong and fierce. One that her hand would have fit nicely around…. What would he need, and how could she deny it if she allowed her desires to run wild? While the alpha had kept his part of the bargain, she wasn’t sure that she would mind if he didn’t. “I…Rayne…I don’t know…” Rayne’s hand moved boldly along her side, over her hip, and down between her thighs. Although she still wore her boy shorts, she couldn’t deny the pressure of his fingers upon her mound, rubbing in intimate circles, pressing into the fold against her erect clit. Every motion of his fingers reminded her of how needy she was. “I can smell you,” Rayne said. “So fragrant, intoxicating, wet. Freya, I want to submit to you.” “Pussy,” Fenris goaded. “Take him. You have my permission.” She held her tongue. I don’t need your fucking permission. She wanted to respond to the degrading comment as well, but pride deigned that she show him that she was not weak. That she too was an alpha.

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She sat up and quickly pulled off her underwear. With her focus solely on Rayne, Freya straddled his hips. She took his heated flesh firmly within her grasp and guided his length and width deeply into her body. And while she had called him tight, Freya didn’t have to say anything about her narrow state. It had been too long. Rayne howled. He rammed his cock up within her, his greed more than evident; it was powerful. All of her strength and hardness was on the outside. Inside, Freya was soft, vulnerable, and weak. With a combatant, Freya could be bullish, reckless, and could bruise without care, but with Rayne’s hardness, hot and moving against her walls, Freya could do nothing to brace herself. Her insides were too sensitive to bear lightly even the slightest movement. She quivered and flinched around the spear of his shaft sending jolts of pleasure to every limb. It was a high more powerful than liquor or battle. As she was one to overindulge in both, her thrill in the sensations went from reaction to sheer pursuit. Craving the next surge of ecstasy and the next, she took Rayne by the wrists and pushed down on him, took control back. “Oh! Oh, by the fucking moon,” Rayne swore beneath her, and Freya offered more than a few curses. By being on top, she was in control of her pleasure. She sought it with the resolve of a warrior. Consumed with heat and riveted with wild, unchecked surges of bliss, she rode him, hard and determined to send her excited nerves into shock. It was a perfect fit, a powerful endeavor that she gave her all. With a swivel of her hips, the right angle, and the right amount of tension, it only felt better to be engulfing his cock. She licked her lips, tasting the flavor of sex in the air. It was so potent she swore that it had a physical weight…like cotton candy. Sweet. “Ride him, Freya. Take him and show him your strength,” Fenris said, much closer than he had been before. Freya didn’t care. The only thing that mattered was how hard and fast the waves of intense pleasure came. Focused solely upon Rayne, she didn’t push his claws away when they cupped her breasts or twisted and teased her nipples. She couldn’t. She wanted it, everything that Rayne had to offer, even his attempts to match her pace. But he was no match. “Close…I’m close…” She leaned in and captured his mouth, silencing him with a scalding kiss. She could see proximity in his eyes just as sure as she could feel the clenching in her belly. The coil that tightened and tightened threatened one hell of a release. With her arms tight around Rayne’s shuddering form, Freya welcomed the devastation she could knew was coming. “Fen…Fen…she’s --” “I know. She’s magnificent.”

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Freya looked at Fenris. She had a perfect view of his large endowment, the foreskin back, exposing the ruby head glistening all over. His fingers were wrapped around the base as he slowly dragged them up to the tip. It was far more erotic than she could verbally admit, but her body was not about to deny its interest. The sight of Fenris stroking himself triggered her release. Beneath her, Rayne bucked. His claws went to her hips and drew blood in their desperation to keep her close. “Oh! Oh, Freya!” “Fuck!” As her climax tore through her, Freya roared. The sweetest spike of pleasure struck her like lightning, again and again. While Rayne’s heated seed filled her pussy, she rode the last crests of a divine orgasm. It took her strength, her worries, and left her floating. What had once been a serious concern faded into nothing upon the chest of her lover. Not even the added weight upon the bed fazed her. Freya turned her head and met the coal dark eyes of Fenris, lying on his side. “I won’t tell you how jealous I am.” “Of me or…Rayne?” Fenris placed a hand on Rayne’s sweat-damp forehead and wiped a tendril of hair away. “Rayne, of course.” Rayne moved his cheek lovingly against Fenris’s hand. “You should be jealous. Magnificent doesn’t even begin to describe her.” Fenris growled, and Rayne answered back with one of his own. It was both a challenge and an affirmation, as Fenris finished with the more aggressive series of growls. Freya rolled her eyes at the masculine power display. She slipped off Rayne and lay on the other side of the pale wolves. It wasn’t easy watching Fenris embrace Rayne in the same way she had just done, but it didn’t infuriate her. As Fenris took Rayne’s spent cock in hand, encircling it with ease, Freya felt another thing entirely. Fenris was much more patient but just as firm as she was. Rayne’s submission to his master’s caresses was obvious upon his face and limbs. Freya studied the way that Fenris squeezed and stroked Rayne. It was a mesmerizing sight. It renewed her arousal. Fenris looked down at Rayne’s cock, glistening with the juices of mating. He looked at Freya although he spoke to Rayne. “I want to taste her.” Rayne nodded as if an answer was truly needed. Fenris was between his thighs in an instant, running his tongue from the base of Rayne’s cock to tip and back down again. While she had seen males lick one another, it had never been as intimate and as decadent as this. Fenris took his time, thoroughly cleaning his beta and bringing Rayne to hardness anew.

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The alpha was just as aggressive as she had been and just as skillful. He took Rayne’s cock between his lips and descended easily. It occurred to her that not only was he feasting upon Rayne’s sex but also the elixir of their sex. Fenris was tasting her. The idea was a heady one. In mere moments, Rayne erupted again. When Fenris released his shuddering beta, he too was shaking. Before her eyes, the big male made the change from human to man-wolf. Bigger, stronger, and dangerously magnificent, Freya took in shoulders as broad as an ox’s, massive arms, and enormous legs covered in gorgeous pale fur. He caught her staring and grinned, his teeth lethal and white. His gaze was beyond predatory as he reviewed Freya’s nudity. She lifted her chin, pretending that his gaze didn’t affect her, but the betrayal of her body, moist and hot in most places, wet in one, was undeniable. “Freya?” Defensive and aware, Freya could feel his dominance, heavy within the room just as sure as she could hear it within his voice. She gave her best attempt at defiance with a growl. “What?” Fenris lay down beside Rayne and lowered his hand between massive fury thighs. He took his cock, even larger than before, in hand and began to stroke himself again. She knew the big alpha needed release. She doubted his hand would suffice. “Freya, I don’t bite unless you ask.” Rayne agreed with a combination of a yawn and a nod. “I have the same policy. Teeth and claws,” Freya replied. “I’d like the opportunity to ask for those on some night, when I haven’t sworn to behave. But I would like something from you.” She stiffened with curiosity, trying to keep her gaze focused on Fenris rather than the steady pumping of his fist. She tried to imagine what he would ask. Two things came to mind: that he would ask her to mount him as well, or that he would ask her to lick him. “You just said that you would behave.” Fenris showed his canines in a dangerous wolf smile. “I’m not going to lay a paw on you. But are you fearless enough to take me in yours?” Freya discovered both Fenris and Rayne staring at her, waiting for her response. She, on the other hand, was just trying to focus on her next breath. The request was a simple one. It was the same thing she had done to Rayne and other males in the past. It shouldn’t have caused her to feel so weak and so…afraid. She wanted to touch him, wanted to feel his girth in her hand, test his heat and flesh. Freya even wanted to feel such a beast in the throes of his release. She could have the victory that she so loved to take from battle. The thrill of conquering.

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But the stakes were so high. If she folded to Fenris’s desires even once, he would have every right to claim her as a mate both verbally and physically. Her body would yearn for him. She could shout and bitch and deny all that she wanted, but her body would know. It was a liability that a bounty-hunting, bodyguard of a warrior wolf could not abide. As if escorting females to a pageant hadn’t done enough damage to her reputation, she’d had to deal with two extremely handsome males who’d reminded her of her needs. She suddenly yearned for ice water.

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Chapter Eleven
Freya walked the hallway in long strides, leaving the winter suite behind. What happened within those walls would stay there. In need of a shower and food, she headed back to her suite. It was near ten in the morning when she woke, entangled with Rayne. Fenris was awake and watching the news on the television. He offered to order a hot breakfast, but she hadn’t dared to take him up on it. She had stayed long enough. It was bad enough he’d watched her dress. Freya pulled on her boots, jeans, and shirt in record speed. She had to get back to check on her girls. She left Rayne sleeping and gave Fenris no more than a parting glance. She heard him chuckling as she shut the door. It was a sound that haunted her throughout the mansion’s hallways, one very similar to Fenris’s moans of pleasure. It had the same taunting undertone, the same hint of a growl, the same bass. She shivered in much the same way that she had done the night before.

Damn you, girl. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about him.
Head down, Freya quickened her stride. Yet, no matter how fast she moved, she could not escape images of Fenris, his head tilted back, looking at her with those dark, wolf eyes. Images of Fenris licking his lethal canines as she held his cock in her hand. Images of Rayne, leaning over her to suckle upon her breast… She smacked her forehead as if that could shake the memories loose. Don’t think about Rayne either. As she rounded the corner that led to her suite, Freya noticed a short, compact woman sitting in front of the door. Natalie Perinelli, a warrior wolf and a close friend of Freya’s, stood. Nearly a foot shorter than Freya, Natalie was wider about the shoulders. She had short, spiky brown hair in a boyish style. It matched her androgynous look. Freya nodded a hello as she approached the door. “Thanks, Nat. I appreciate it.”

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“No problem, Freya. Except for an interested cur, that Marcus guy, hoping to see his prize, there was no fuss.” And if there had been, Freya had no doubt that Natalie could have handled it. “They were up half the night watching movies, ordering champagne and cheeseburgers. Hope you have a big expense account on this one.” “They had that much?” “I saw the wait staff with full carts five times last night. I even had a few burgers myself. Other than that, they were angels.” Freya believed her. If that was all that the girls had gotten into, then she had no complaint. As for Marcus, she would have to have a chat with him. “They’re not wild females. Nice girls…” “Nice girls, yeah.” Natalie looked Freya up and down and grimaced at what she saw. Freya knew she didn’t look well but hoped it wasn’t as bad as Natalie’s scowl suggested. “What about you?” Natalie asked. “You don’t look like you were up to anything nice. Did the Vikings conquer?” It didn’t surprise her that news traveled fast; Natalie’s concern, however, did. With an attempt to her fingers through her hair, Freya snagged her hand within its tangled mass. Even she didn’t believe herself as she answered, “No.” “Sure,” Natalie scoffed. “I wouldn’t bother with them. The small one, maybe; he’s pretty enough --” “Thought you only liked females?” “I do, but I’m saying that Fenris is pretty powerful…” Natalie motioned to Freya’s jeans. The zipper was undone. She suddenly wished she had spent more time in the winter suite getting herself together. “But what? I’m a big girl. I’m not some shaky pageant wolf, willing to raise her tail and bear pups at the drop of a hat…” Natalie raised her hands in defense. “Easy there. I’m not ragging on you. I was just wondering, are you ready to settle down? You’re not in heat, are you?” Heat. Just the word caused Freya to feel dizzy. Her attraction to Rayne was strong, but she had been enamored of beautiful males before. Fenris was…not her type. Heat. She didn’t want to think about something she had no experience with. Her mother had never discussed it. She was certain one’s heat was an urban legend. “What do you know about heat? Bitches like us don’t get that.” Natalie burst out in laughter. “You don’t believe that, do you?” She shook a finger in Freya’s direction. “Your mom probably said the same thing. That’s how little cubs are made,

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Freya. The connection is strong and true when you meet your mate. You can’t deny it, as it is a magical occurrence and utterly undeniable. ” She knew that her friend was joking but only in tone, not in truth. “It’s not heat, Nat.” “I don’t know. Fenris is not exactly who I would picture you --” “It ain’t. I would know.” She thought her believability was only enhanced by the misplacement of one word. She should know, would have been more accurate. It couldn’t have been heat though. There had been no fireworks, no cherubs in the background -- she hadn’t been writhing about wanton for sex. She had been far too reserved to be afflicted with the condition and had only done a few things she swore she wouldn’t. Surely, it wasn’t heat. Warmth was a better word. “I haven’t even had my morning beer yet, Nat!” she snapped. “Don’t start with the sex ed.” “Okay. Okay. You don’t have to bite my head off. All I’m saying is that your mother, notorious badass and former hunter extraordinaire, met a wolf she couldn’t handle and all of a sudden there’s you. So, now you have two very virile, crafty, and powerful wolves interested, one of who is definitely not your type… That’s all I’m saying.” Freya moved to the door and grasped the handle. “And all I’m saying is that I need a beer, a steak, a pork chop, and eggs…and another beer. I’m fucking starving.” Natalie laughed. “I bet. You must have worked up some appetite.” She had, but Freya had no intention of letting Natalie know that. She opened the door to her room, ignoring the humor of her friend. It simply wasn’t funny to her. “Hey, Freya. Lemme know if you need me to watch the cubs tonight too, eh?” She shut the door swiftly behind her with no intention of using Natalie’s services, or Rayne’s, and definitely not Fenris’s. She did, however, need the aid of the Sohon’s caterers. Immediately. While food wasn’t the answer, it would definitely make the question a little harder to dwell on. Intent on rounding up the girls and dragging them off to breakfast, she walked through her room to the connecting door. Before she even opened it, she heard the giggling. “Morning, Freya.” Hallie grinned. “Yeah. Good morning.” Dena waved. Rebecca was the only one that looked at her with a measure of seriousness. “You look awful.” Dena harped on. “She looks like she’s been rolling around with an alpha and a beta.” “She smells sweet like when my brother and his girl went out into the woods. They came back smelling like --” “You guys need to get showered and dressed. Talk about smelling,” she said, waving a hand about her nose. “You’re more than a bit ripe yourselves. Now, up. Up! Outta those beds.”

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“You don’t want to order room service?” “No,” Freya told Dena. “I’m hungry now, and I’d like the buffet. Ten minutes. Let’s go.” Hallie pushed the covers off and swung her legs out of the bed. She had a scowl on her face and bags under her eyes as she headed into the bathroom. Rebecca flopped back down on her bed and looked up at the ceiling as if it might give her some respite. Dena pulled the covers over her head. Freya walked over to Dena’s bed and pulled the spread off of the girl. She looked down into foggy blue eyes, not giving a damn that the girl showed fang and growled. She glared back. “But we only have one bathroom,” Dena whined. “Yeah. One bathroom with two sinks and a shower. I have a bathroom one of you can use. You can make it work. If you’re still wiped out after some breakfast, you can come back and nap. The social and run isn’t until four anyway.” Dena muttered beneath her breath, although she did get up. “You didn’t want to have breakfast with your mates?” Freya didn’t need to have superb hearing to get the message. The girl had obviously forgotten whom she was muttering about. Sure, her behavior had been suspect, but she was not a pageant female and would not be talked to like one. “Rebecca, you might want to have a talk with your girl about my patience.” A dark laugh came from Rebecca as she moved up from her bed. “Hit the bathroom, Dena. You can go first.”

*****
Breakfast was good, a bountiful buffet of sausages, eggs, sweet breads, and potatoes. They even had a waffle station with ten different kinds of syrups. Freya made sure to stack her plate high. She even visited the fruit tables in her hunger. Compulsively, she checked the entryway to the hall every few moments, trying to put her concentration within the decadence of early morning cuisine. Instead, the creamy texture of the blintz, stuffed with cheese and berries, made her think of Fenris. His mouth had tasted so sweet. Every time her lips closed around a sausage link, she thought of Rayne and of how she had descended upon his cock. She swallowed a spoonful of yogurt, and it was too similar to Fenris’s seed heavy upon her tongue. Syrup reminded her of how she felt when Fenris had asked her to kiss him. It was all she had given him, that and the handjob, but it was enough for Freya to realize that something needed to be ignored and that food was not helping. The girls, despite their partying the night before, had their fair share of food and drink, but it still didn’t sway their eagerness for a nap. When Freya led the girls back to their room, it was with the intention of having one herself, or at least of having some time to collect her thoughts.

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She had a long, hot soak in her bathtub in mind, followed by maybe something with a lot of gunfire and explosions on the television. She planned on putting the two infectious males out of her mind, at least for a while. She did not plan on getting a present. Hallie was the first to get to it, lifting the box from in front of their suite door into her arms. “Freya, it has your name on it.” Freya took her key out of her pocket and used it on the door. She had known who the package was for the moment she set eyes on it. With its white and silver wrapping paper and green bow, it spoke so loudly of winter. Hallie brought the package inside the room and the other girls gathered around it as if it were for all three of them. They cast curious glances between Freya and the package. More curious about where she had set the remote, Freya tossed aside the pillows on her bed until she found it. It wasn’t difficult to find an espionage thriller on the television. She sat down and pretended to be more intrigued by the tube than in the three girls waiting for her attention. “Aren’t you going to open it?” Dena asked. “I have a lot of enemies. I’d say throw it out. It could be a grenade.” “I don’t know,” Rebecca said. “It’s kinda too big to be a grenade.” “Okay, maybe it’s a C4 bomb pack.” “Wouldn’t it be ticking or something?”

Not necessarily, Freya thought to herself. It could have had a motion sensor or liquid
accelerant. Of course, it would have gone off when Hallie picked it up, but that was beside the point. It wasn’t a bomb. Dena wasn’t convinced either. “It’s not ticking, Freya.” “I think it’s from Rayne, and I don’t think he would want you to explode.” Freya looked away from the television, casting a dubious look at the small redhead. “I think you should leave it alone.” “Come on, Freya,” Dena implored her. “You can’t be mean and surly all of the time. There’s a woman beneath that brawn and gruff.” Hallie brought the package to Freya and sat down beside her. The other two followed suit. “How about I open it for you?” With the distinct impression that she was being ganged up upon, Freya shrugged. “How about you don’t. I thought you were tired, thought you all want a nap or something?” “Come on.” Rebecca sighed, the least excited of the three. “Open it. What’s the worst it could be?”

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Hallie sniffed the package before placing it right next Freya’s hip. “It’s not flowers or chocolate, so you don’t have to worry about being too weirded out by it. I’m sure it’s nothing harmful.” “Come on. Open it.” Freya lifted up the package, spurred on by Dena’s insisting. She dropped it into Hallie’s lap. “Hallie, have at it.” Dena and Rebecca moved off the bed and huddled next to Hallie as she undid both bow and wrapping paper. Freya pretended to be absorbed in the movie. She did admire the design of the .50 caliber Barrett M82 assault rifle and had always wanted to test its weight and power. Perhaps she’d buy one after the assignment from hell, she thought. While close combat was good, maintaining a distance and taking down a foe did have its advantage. Dena was the first one to make a sound. “Um, whoa.” Hallie was the next. “Oh, wow.” “That’s nice…” Rebecca’s sigh was what finally caused Freya to turn around. She could see the box but not what was inside. Whatever it was it held the girls’ attention and began to prick at Freya’s interest. “What is it?” Blatantly lying, Hallie muttered, “Nothing.” “Nothing? Nothing is nice?” “No. It’s just…” Hallie looked back down in the box again before trying a truth. “Well, I don’t think you would like it.” Freya’s curiosity rose. “What is it?” Dena’s eyes were the widest. “She wouldn’t like it at all, but I’d take it.” “You’d have to fight me for it,” said Rebecca. Freya had to know what had the girls dazed and swooning. The box was too big for it to be jewelry, and for the life of her, she couldn’t guess what else would have the girls so rapt. “What the hell? What is --” Rebecca reached inside of the box and pulled out a shimmering white length of fabric. It was a gown. A formal white gown, with a deep V-cut in the front, slits up both sides, and what looked to be silver braids for straps. Freya stared speechless. A gown? A damned evening gown, she thought. Did they actually expect her to wear that? “Hey, there’s something else!” Pulling out a smaller box, Dena opened its top and shrieked. “Now this is stunning!” Feeling lightheaded, she turned her attention from the gown to a truly shimmering onyx and diamond necklace. It wasn’t for her. It couldn’t be. Presents she had received from

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those who knew her consisted of blades. She had gotten tickets to football games, CDs, DVDs, and the occasional free bar tab. If she got clothing as a gift, it tended to be T-shirts. But dresses and jewelry were simply out of the question. Plain silver was all that Freya owned. She wasn’t allergic to it as some werewolves tended to be. She had never owned anything close to a diamond. The way that they glistened upon the necklace, she had no doubt that they were real. It was…beautiful, fascinatingly so. “Are you okay?” Hallie asked. She snapped out of her trance, shaking with the onslaught of an emotion she rarely felt -- embarrassment. “One night, and they start with the gifts like I promised them something. Shit! I’m not accepting that, any of that. The fucking nerve of them…” “Well, today is the social day. The day is for us to get gifts and spend time with our hopeful mates.” Freya looked at Dena as if the child had grown a second head. “The day is for you ! Not for me. I am not in the fucking pageant!” “You keep saying that. Calm down, Freya” “Don’t tell me to calm down. They are fucking pussies, both of them. Gifts? For a little roll in the hay? Fucking gifts…” “I’m trying to decide whether you’re pissed or worried.” Freya glared at Rebecca for having the audacity to even comment. She’d be happy to receive such things, and for a moment Freya considered giving them away. Pussy was what Fenris would call her though. Bitterly resolved, she hissed, “Neither. Damn it. No. Both.” As entranced as a cat with string, Dena held up the necklace and gazed it. “It’s awesome. The way it sparkles… If you really don’t want it --” Freya snatched the necklace from her hand. “Give me that.” She gathered the dress from Hallie and placed everything back inside of the box. Hallie pouted. “Freya, it was a really sweet gesture. I don’t think they meant any harm.” “Well, I think that it’s romantic.” “Do I care what you think?” Heated, Freya turned her ire on Dena. “What? You don’t think that I wear dresses? I have jewelry. I have dresses. What the fuck? I’m supposed to be glad that they gave me a pretty dress?” she ranted, pacing back and forth in her anger. “I ain’t some wide-eyed bitch looking for a husband and cubs. I don’t need this shit! One fucking roll in the hay, and they think I’m just going to lift tail and swoon. Got to be fucking kidding me…” By chance, Freya remembered that she had audience. The girls stared at her as if she had suddenly grown two heads. Hallie’s mouth hung wide, Dena seemed on the verge of tears, and Rebecca had her arms crossed over her chest.

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Rebecca was the brave one. “Freya, you don’t have to insult us because you’re scared of some gift.” She wasn’t scared. She was pissed, and three girls attempting to make her feel bad irritated her. Why couldn’t they see that she wasn’t like them? She wasn’t a pageant wolf. She didn’t need one male, let alone two. Sure, she might have desired them, but she was stronger than that. “Excuse me?” Rebecca dropped her arms to her sides, lifted her chin. It was a confrontational stance. “It’s just a dress. It’s not going to make you any weaker than you already are.” If it was a challenge the blonde wanted, Freya could give her one. She stepped up to meet Rebecca, towering over the smaller female. “You don’t know me, girl.” Rebecca trembled visibly but held her ground nonetheless. “I know you’re freaking out over a fucking dress. So what? They’re harder to fight in. It shouldn’t faze you. Just because you accept their gifts doesn’t mean they own you. You have the right to choose, and you can still beat my ass in a dress, right?” The girl’s words had merit. They sliced through Freya’s defenses with ease. As slender and as delicate as Rebecca seemed, she gave Freya reason to pause. There were no words she could use, no threats either. As much as Freya wanted to, she couldn’t deny Rebecca was right. Her anger was not only erratic but also wrongly directed. While the urge to apologize and explain her insecurities was strong, she said nothing. She moved away from Rebecca, heading back to her bed to lie across it. She listened as the girls left the room. Alone with her present, Freya considered ordering room service. A case of beer, a bottle of Jack, and two bottles of rum would do the trick. It would force her to become numb and carefree. It would make her lower her defenses, maybe even apologize to her girls. It would also send her directly into the imprisoning arms of her mates.

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Chapter Twelve
Freya adjusted the strap of the gown for the umpteenth time. No matter how she tried to tuck them behind the two panels, her breasts just preferred to be free. It wasn’t a bad feeling being in an evening gown, and with a look in the mirror she certainly didn’t look too awkward. Her brown skin shone in contrast with the white material, and muscles and curves were fit to a tee. The gown was loose from the waist down, giving her freedom to move. It was so lightweight that it barely felt as if she were wearing anything. The wide V of the top and the slits along both sides showed some skin but didn’t bother her. If only her breasts stayed put. Freya sat down at a lawn table where she could keep a keen eye on the girls. She had agreed to the gown and even to the necklace. What she had not agreed to was borrowing a pair of Rebecca’s heels or allowing Dena to do her unruly mane. Instead, she wore her hair in a ponytail with steel-toed boots on her feet. It garnered more than a few groans from the girls, but she was comfortable. That was all that mattered. As she escorted the girls from the room to the lawn for the social, she had received more than a few stares, but no one made fun of her. Those who knew her were a bit wideeyed. The majority of the weres were dressed up; Freya didn’t stand out too much. Just one of the many issues that had worked out. The girls had free rein once out on the ornate, manicured lawn. Freya chose one of the tables decorated with pinecones and lavish wildflower bouquets as her mission control center. It gave her the perfect spot to observe the majority of the event, keep an eye on her girls, and it had a good amount of server traffic. Over at the buffet, eating fruit from a sculpture of fruit, Rebecca had no potential mate hovering about her. Hallie was seated on a blanket talking with Lance, and Dena was at a table opening a gift from her choice for mate.

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It was not what Freya had expected in the least. She had felt sure that Rebecca would be accepting gifts and grinning at a suitor, despite her earlier fiasco. Nothing was set in stone just yet. There were some single girls holding court with bands of suitors, girls still making their decisions. Every time a male approached Rebecca, he only remained at her side for a short time before turning away with a look of disparagement. Freya wouldn’t allow herself to regret her decision. The wolf from New York was not a good match, not when he was so eager to have the milk before the cow. Rebecca deserved a proper suitor, even more so as Freya had realized the child’s true bearing. With a mental note to talk to the girl, Freya had a few words of truth she needed to share. She needed to give Rebecca hope, enthusiasm, and even a suggestion. What she didn’t need to give her was courage. Rebecca already had that. As the serving boy approached her table with a tray of champagne, Freya became sidetracked by gold and bubbles. She held up her hand to catch the attention of the handsome redhead. Dressed in the neatest black loincloth, the looker acknowledged her with smile of white fangs and a wink. Before he reached her, he stopped, turned around, and walked away. Freya was about to shout for him to come back, but as she caught the scent behind her she changed her mind. Fenris set a bottle of champagne and two flutes upon Freya’s table before taking up the empty seat. “Would you like some champagne, miss?” Freya ground her teeth. Fenris chuckled as he used a long claw to remove the cork from the bottle. White froth spilled from the side of the bottle. He allowed it drip onto the grass before filling the two flutes with the golden liquid. He handed her one. “Here you are.” She didn’t want to drink around Fenris. Her throat was so dry she that she felt sure tumbleweeds were careening around. Freya slid her hand around the stem. She lifted it and downed the contents with one long swallow. “Thanks.” He refilled her glass the moment she set it down. “You’re welcome.” Freya glared at the big were, sensing his confidence. He looked at her as if she were already his. Think again, Mr. Manners. She lifted the glass and drank her second dose of bubbling joy. It did wonders against her sour mood. She told herself he wasn’t really as handsome as he looked. His dark black eyes gave hints of blue, and the gray shirt he wore showed off every curve and contour of his muscular frame. But his nose was too long, his brows were too thick, and his neck was huge, even for a werewolf. He didn’t have many flaws.

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“The gown looks beautiful on you.” Fenris seemed to be assessing her as well. “The color of it looks good against your skin.” Freya tensed under his observation, her body more impressed than her mind. Her breasts swelled. Freya hunched slightly. “It’s not bad. It’s free-flowing. I could fight in it.” “I bet you could. Want to try it out?” Freya looked at the big wolf, expecting some fleck of humor to appear on Fenris’s features. It didn’t. She had no doubt he would like to battle her, rip her clothes off, and have her beneath him.

No fucking way, bud.
“It wouldn’t be good to ruin such a nice dress. Rayne would be upset. The gifts were selected by him.” It made sense with the extent of easy access the gown provided. It was a shame he wasn’t there to appreciate it, the little pimp. “Where is he?” Fenris finally revealed a smile. “Where you should be. In my bed, recovering.” “Recovering? It’s almost four in the afternoon. What in Hell is he recovering from?” “I was a bit rough with him, but then I get that way. He understands and enjoys it immensely.” It was just the kind of macho, arrogant answer she expected. Fenris had a warm coloring to his skin tone that suggested that he not only took pride in his actions but that he thought it might impress her. Her body was curious as to what the extent of “rough” might have been and perked up at the thought. Not willing to fall prey to the interests of her body, Freya drank the last of her champagne and poured her own refill. She did not doubt Fenris’s prowess. Just because he came, it didn’t necessarily affect his arousal. She had learned that the night before -- how hard he had remained after she had stroked him, how she had to do it twice more. How many times had he sated himself with Rayne, she didn’t dare guess. “See you’re up and about, though.” “Yes. I’m quite rejuvenated.” With a halfhearted chuckle, Freya did a horrible job of disguising her sarcasm. “That’s great. Really. What a libido!” Fenris gave a laugh of his own. “I would say that you have no idea, but I’m sure that you do.” His arrogance infuriated her. One night, and he was making such comments. What would he know about her within a week? A month? “I don’t think you know a damn thing about me. Just because we played in a bed doesn’t mean that you know me. And if you do know anything, it’s hearsay from my fucking mother.” Fenris nodded as if he agreed, but the words that came out of his mouth were not acknowledgements. “She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t realize the moment I met you: That

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you drink entirely too much, that you swear like a sailor, that you are a good fighter, and that you like to be in control. Those things presented themselves pretty quickly.” “So, you know nothing at all.” Freya smiled mockingly. “It’s okay. Iceland isn’t exactly the hub for information.” “Right.”

Damn right, Freya wanted to add. Beside her, Fenris gazed at her intently, his lips
pressed shut with a serious countenance. Had she gone too far, insulting his homeland? Probably, but Freya was not going to back down because of it. With shoulders squared, she savored her small victory just as she savored the champagne. “I know nothing about you, really.” Freya grinned. “What I do know would be how you and three other wolves were sent to Uzbekistan to hunt down a coven of witches enslaving and experimenting on our kind. I know about the job you pulled in Alaska, hunting down a vampire that kidnapped a wolf cub from its pack. Oh, and there was that job that you took seven months ago when you were in Scotland, hunting down a hulk of a rabid Luna. You worked with a team of five, and you were one of two survivors. The wolf ripped into your stomach so badly that you could barely heal. You took him down, of course, and got paid, but the job was not worth the money.” She was floored by Fenris’s knowledge of her work. It was information he could have bought, investigated, or might have even been involved in for all that she knew. Her mother certainly didn’t know about the job in such depth, or about her injuries. Her teammates, however, might have been bribed for details. “How do you know that?” “How would I? Iceland is so dull and not the place where wolves go to relax, find solitude, or visit. We definitely do not talk to outsiders or inquire about certain female bounty hunters because we don’t have friends off the island.” The sarcasm in Fenris’s voice was supposed to make Freya less paranoid, but it did nothing to quell the worry that he knew more about her than she previously thought. “So what? The Luna was a bad job, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to bear cubs, so that should kill my value as a mate.” “Rayne is a healer,” Fenris replied flatly. “He can do wonders.” It was Freya’s turn to evoke seriousness. While she had suspected Rayne and Fenris were weaving a trap, she didn’t know just how intricate it was. “Don’t you want some thin, willowy, submissive woman? Maybe someone who can cook, who’ll be all rose and chipper? I’m not comfortable in this dress, and I wouldn’t be any kind of real mate. I need the excitement. I love the danger. I can’t give that up.” Fenris dropped his head, shrugged. “A real wolf recognizes his mate, rich or poor, clever or foolish. This whole pageant thing is amusing and maybe somewhat necessary these days for the continuation of our species, but I don’t hold much stock in it. Your mother sent

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a picture of you and her to mine. You were barely a teenager, but you had such a feral look in your eyes. You stood next to her as if you were her beta, so strong and beautiful. I knew when she showed me the picture who you were. You were my equal.” “Why now?” “I assumed that I had a choice, that I could define my own destiny, but…I was wrong and there really is no other choice.” Freya wanted to tell him he did have a choice, that he just had to look more, but she couldn’t find the words. Her attraction to Rayne was strong, but her interest in Fenris was unnatural, a bizarre compulsion that had to be questioned for its persistence. Heat? No. “What changed?” “Several things. I found out you’d nearly died, for one. Rayne kept hounding me, for two. He knew the moment I shared the picture with him who you were. And then there was longing. That is worse, especially now.” Freya looked at Fenris, really looked, and wanted him not to sound so sincere. It was then that she realized his eyes were not black but blue. They were not even dark blue, only dilated so much that they seemed to be. It was solid proof of his honesty, just as the warmth between her thighs was proof of her dishonesty. “I am not giving up my life to warm a bed and produce pups.” “No, of course not. You wish to continue with your fulfilling, mercenary ways.” He shook his head in obvious distaste, adding, “I can accept that, but it would be a pity if my mate and Rayne’s were to die in one of her adventures rather than accepting us.”

Oh yeah, a pity, she scoffed inwardly. He was really laying it on, as if she was some
wet-nosed amateur. One dance with death wasn’t an omen by any means. “I’m escorting females. How dangerous is that?” “Yes, you are. After a three-month hiatus, your next job is escorting females to a Sohon social. That tells me that the Luna must have been a real handful.” The implication that she was washed up after one bad mission hit her like a splash of water. He might have known what went on, but he wasn’t there. He didn’t know the circumstances of her near death. He hadn’t had to look out for two rookies that were bolder than their experience warranted. Fenris hadn’t looked into the eyes of that beast, smelled his cologne of blood, shit, and madness. “Fuck you,” she muttered, dealing with the last of the champagne. Fenris leaned forward, and she was sure if he could have pushed the table out of the way to get to her, he would have. “Yes. I am very anxious for that. We should stop the roundabouts.” While her body agreed, she did not. There were only a few days left of the pageant. A few days more and she would be far away from Fenris and Rayne. While the idea of another

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visit to their room had already formed in her head, accepting him was not an urge she wanted to give in to. “It’s not going to happen. Mate or no.” With a sound between a hiss and a growl, Fenris leaned back in his chair and considered Freya. “Well.” He sighed. “At least you know who you belong to. That’s step two; not nearly as pleasant as step one, though.” “Step one?” “Yes. Last night. You stroking me to completion. You licking my cum off your fingers. The smell of your pussy, so curious about how my cock would feel in your warmth. You let down your guard around me somewhat. I suppose it’s just a matter of patience, hmm?” It would be, but with two days to go, patience was not a horse to bet on. Neither was she, for that matter. Freya was certain. She smelled Fenris’s arousal without inhaling. It was a sweet, earthy musk that enticed her to forget pageants and socials, the girls and obligations. Worse, it called for her to challenge him. Submission would never be an option if she could best him, but hand to hand, she doubted if she could. Loss might be, but it was more honorable and explainable than the former if the two were not so entwined. “Hey, Freya.” Dena appeared at the head of the table, grinning wildly. Both Freya and Fenris turned at the noise. Nervously, Dena continued with her greeting. “Hi…um, Fenris.” “Hello, cub.” She leaned over one of two empty chairs, looking Freya over as if she hadn’t been in the room when she’d helped Rebecca and Hallie to get her dressed. “She looks so gorgeous, doesn’t she?” Fenris nodded. “Stunning is a better word.” “See. I told you that you looked good in it.” Whether or not the girl meant to make Freya feel like an unsure ass was not an issue because Freya was relieved someone had interrupted. “Something wrong? Do you need something?” Anxious to have an excuse to leave the table, Freya was concerned. “No. Not at all. I just want to tell you that Marcus asked me to run a bit with him. Is that okay? It would just be to explore the estate.” Freya didn’t hesitate to give her answer. “That’s why there’s a running part of the social. It’s in the program even. And it doesn’t start for at least an hour and a half. When we run, we’ll run together as a group. Tell Marcus thank you for the personal tour invitation, but no. I don’t plan on having to track you two down in the bushes somewhere. It was a good try.” Dena opened her mouth as if she had an explanation that did not involve shrubs but then nodded. It was only with slight disappointment etched upon her features.

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A personal tour, Freya thought. It could have been innocent; it could have been a sly
excuse for an early roll in the hay. Either way, she didn’t want to chance it. She scanned the lawn for her other girls and found Hallie still on her blanket, but after several once-overs, her blonde was nowhere to be spotted. “Where is Rebecca?” Dena turned around and looked for herself. She shrugged. “I don’t know.” Fenris did. “The blonde went back into the mansion with Michael Torrence. Smallish wolf with dark hair lives in the city, for all that’s worth.” “Damn it. The New York cur.” With a damn good excuse, Freya got up from the table. She wasn’t worried about where the wolf chose to live; she was just concerned that Rebecca might have fallen for another of his rash seductions. It was disappointing. She had just started to like the little cur. It was easy to leave Fenris at the table with Dena as Freya remembered her duty and embraced the excuse of it. “I’ll be right back,” she vowed, more so to Dena than to Fenris as she thundered off into the mansion.

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Chapter Thirteen
Freya didn’t have to go far to find Rebecca. Near the kitchen with her arms crossed, Rebecca stood next to her suitor with an air of ice about her. Michael had leaned in close, but it wasn’t an act of passion brewing between them. Rebecca was too guarded, her brow was creased, and her eyes were narrow, critical slits. Freya relaxed somewhat as she approached them, stopped next to Rebecca. “Is there a problem?” she asked, looking directly at Michael. The poor thing seemed distraught. “I just wanted to apologize, to try to do everything properly.” “Really? How properly? You plan on making a bid? Fighting? Maybe asking, for fuck’s sake?” Michael cocked his head. “B-but the fights are over with.” “Well, that’s mighty fucking convenient.” Freya sighed, having no pity for the pleading tone in Michael’s voice. “So bids are tomorrow, if you wish to place one and Rebecca is foolish enough to accept it, then it’s done. You never know, she might accept.” “I will not. I just had this conversation with him, and I’ve been having it with myself ever since you chewed me out.” “And what conclusion did you come to?” Freya asked Rebecca. Rebecca drew in a deep breath before raising her gaze to Freya’s. “I’ve decided that I’m going to withdraw myself from the pageant.” Michael groaned. He made to seize her by the shoulders but Rebecca moved out of his reach. “Rebecca, no. I told you I could make you a good offer. I’ll even fight if you want. I’m sorry that I didn’t do it before but --”

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“It’s okay, Michael. Really. It’s okay. I’m just not ready for this, and it’s not what I want.” “Rebecca, please.” The news was shocking but not wholly unexpected to Freya. The bells and whistles of the pageant had faded for Rebecca. The illusion was gone. Not that it wouldn’t have vanished if Freya had said nothing and allowed Rebecca to shack up with Michael from the word go. Although virginity was not completely required for the pageant, it was definitely mandatory that a female not be pregnant by another male. Michael seemed sincere that he had made a dire mistake. Freya began to sympathize. “You should have come correct in the first place, cur.” Michael cut his eyes at Freya, setting his attention back to Rebecca. “You should at least give me a chance to make things right. I was overanxious before, and -- well, you encouraged me. I mean, a girl like you would be so out of my league. You came up to me, and I was like, ‘Wow!’” For a moment, Rebecca looked as if she was going to apologize, to cave in to Michael’s reasoning, but she held back. “You’re right, I did, and I apologize. Still, I’m giving you the chance to find someone else, because it isn’t me.” Freya waited, looking between Rebecca and Michael. For a moment, neither said a word, simply staring at one another. Rebecca stood obstinate while Michael radiated hope. In the end, Rebecca’s coolness was the victor. Michael gave in begrudgingly, leaving Rebecca and Freya to watch his departure. Freya gestured for them to return outside. She walked beside Rebecca, allowing her to lead the way. Unable to resist the suspicion of good behavior, she wondered aloud. “So, are you really withdrawing or just planning on eloping later?” “Oh, I’m withdrawing all right. I always thought of myself as a delta anyway.” “There is more freedom with that rank.” “Yeah,” Rebecca agreed. “Maybe I could even take a few fighting lessons, ya think?” Freya didn’t want to grin. Being a pageant wolf was a much more important duty than being a warrior. Pageant wolves became pack alphas and mothers to potential alphas. Still, Rebecca’s choice did not disappoint her. “Maybe I might help you out.” “You’d be a hard teacher.” “Damn right. I’d be doing you a disservice if I wasn’t. Besides, whoever ends up kicking your ass won’t be so nice.” Rebecca chuckled as they walked out into the sunlit yard. Freya returned to her table, vacated by both Dena and Fenris, thankfully. Dena had rejoined the company of her intended mate, and Fenris… Freya didn’t know where he went, nor did she want to know.

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When the pretty, red-haired waiter passed by with a new tray of champagne, Freya lifted two flutes from him, one for her and one for Rebecca. Rebecca shuddered as she took a generous sip of the sparkling alcohol. “My father will be so disappointed.” “He’ll get over it. Trust me.” Freya finished her champagne quick enough to catch the waiter before he got far. A grinning little devil of a wolf, he gave her two more flutes and offered to bring her a bottle. She accepted. “So, if my sister comes next year, will you escort her?” “Nope,” Freya said. “Hopefully, by then, you will. It’s not dangerous at all.”

*****
Freya ran hard and strong with Rebecca at her side, all four dark chocolate paws hitting the ground in a rhythm that was as natural as breathing. With the blonde-brown wolf on her right, Freya’s job of keeping track of Dena and Marcus and Hallie and Lance was made all the more easy. In a massive herd of wolves, she kept her eyes on the pairs, corralling them whenever Marcus tried to lead Dena away, inspiring Lance every time he tried to slow down. There would be no dropping off once the run had begun, no sloughing off to sit beside a tree. It was a social event, and Freya intended to keep it that way. The Sohon Run was meant to pay homage to freedom and to heritage. Outside of the battles, it was the simplest event and the most calming. Over miles of Sohon property, beside a natural lake, and into the surrounding forests the procession of wolves ran. She emptied her mind of all but the breeze across her muzzle, unable to deny her natural pleasure in running. It was usually something she did out of necessity, if at all. Her family had certainly never had group runs. Group naps but not group runs. Not one to be mystical or anything, Freya couldn’t deny it made her feel good to run within a pack, over green grass, mossy earth, the downed limbs of trees and rocks, big and small. Her vision was focused ahead upon every turn of both the pack and her charges, but when a massive white wolf, as pale as snow itself came up on her left, she nearly lost her step. On her right, angling between her and Rebecca was another near-albino wolf, half the size of the bigger one, both so close to her she could almost feel their fur. Freya refused to acknowledge Fenris or Rayne as her relaxing run became an exercise in avoiding herding techniques. Fenris charged in front of her, forcing her to the right. Rayne prevented her from maneuvering too far to the right. Fast and synchronized in their efforts, they were trying to cull her from her group. Freya had to run faster to get from between them.

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Rebecca tried to wedge herself between Rayne and Freya, but Rayne was more agile and a better runner. As they advanced deeper into the thicker, darker section of the woods, navigating the fallen limbs of trees and the uneven terrain of the forest floor along with dealing with the two wolves became too much for her. Freya halted out of frustration as the herd of wolves passed her by, the tails of Dena and Hallie having long disappeared into the emerald and chocolate woods. Rebecca stood at her side as the two white wolves came before her, hardly panting. Freya growled, showed her fangs, wanted it known that she wasn’t in the mood for games. Purely unmoved by her display, Rayne dropped to the ground and began cleaning his hind foot. Fenris sat on his haunches. She started toward the direction of the pack, taking a few short steps in the direction she hoped to go. Immediately, Fenris moved and Rayne sprang to his feet. They were not going to allow her to escape. Freya made the transformation from wolf to human, swift and fluid. She stood and stared the wolves down. Her nudity was not an issue as she flexed muscles she was prepared to use. “Can’t you two see that I’m working, damn it?” Fenris was the next one to take human form, his near seven-foot-tall frame made all the more impressive by his nakedness. He looked from Freya to Rebecca, shaking his head at the blonde wolf. “Run along, cub. This doesn’t concern you.” Rebecca didn’t budge. He glanced back at Freya and laughed. “Future warrior or new submissive lover?” “Go on, girl,” Freya snarled, not wanting Rebecca to bear the scent of the jealousy radiating from Fenris. “Keep an eye on Hallie and Dena for me.” Hesitant and confused, the blonde wolf cocked her head. “I’ll deal with them and join you soon. Go!” she snapped. Rebecca padded forward in the direction of the long-gone herd. It took her a moment to truly obey. Proud, she watched Rebecca take off through the trees. The girl had run with her, and Freya had no doubt that should she have wanted to fight. Rebecca would have bared fangs right beside her. Not that she didn’t want to tear both Fenris and Rayne a new one. When she turned around, Freya discovered two nude males standing side by side. Rayne’s narrower frame complemented Fenris’s in that they were as different as they were similar. Where Fenris was wider and taller, Rayne was smaller and thinner. They were both

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unnaturally gorgeous with the same milk-and-strawberry complexion, and for an instant, Freya allowed herself to be flattered by their attentions. For a moment. “I have work to do, Fenris. I don’t have time for you, or you either, Rayne.” “I can smell your interest. Why do you continue to kid yourself?” She couldn’t deny that the sight of two very virile cocks stiffening before her eyes was wreaking havoc with her composure. Her pussy was heated by the recollection of their night in the winter suite. Despite her anger at them, Fenris was right. If there was anyone to be truly upset with, it was herself. It was her heart stammering in her chest, the air which had stalled in her lungs, and worse, it was her scent that was growing thicker by the second. She directed her ire at Rayne, the less aggressive and more rational of the two, she hoped. “I see you’re up and that you’re not bowlegged.” Rayne grinned, his cheeks glowing like apples. If he wasn’t an incubus, Freya didn’t know who was. “Fen told me you looked beautiful in the dress. I can’t wait to see you in it.” “I bet you can’t, you scheming vixen. It was good fun with you guys, but it’s done. I am not going to be tied to you, and I definitely am not some obedient cur who’s going to come whenever you want me to ride your cock” -- directing her attention to Rayne and to Fenris in turn -- “or when you need a fucking handjob.” With the brunt of her anger set upon Fenris, she hoped he felt her sincerity. His smile was gone, and he took on a much more serious look. “Now, if you think this is all valiant and bold or if you think it’s fate, I don’t give a flying fuck. I have a job, an easy one, that you are not allowing me to do.” Rayne seemed to take her rant the hardest. With an apologetic look upon his features, he started, “Freya, you don’t have to --” Fenris held up his hand, and immediately Rayne closed his mouth.

Why do you even need me? You have a pet ! Freya wanted to scream as Fenris opened
an arm to accept Rayne’s frame. Rayne leaned against his alpha, was held tightly by him, and embraced him back. Despite wanting to join their congress, Freya did not move and had no plans to apologize for her words. To see them standing together, looking at her as if she was their lost half, was hard for her. More difficult was her own swiftly fading resolve. She should be with them, she felt. Three. It was that notion that kept her mind reeling, that maintained the guise of anger. It was not what she had pictured for her life. If anything, she had always thought that she would meet a nice omega she would free from the oppression of a reckless alpha. Together, they might have one cub that he would take care of while she was out in the field. It wasn’t right that she wanted to go to them or that her pulse raced at the thought and scent of them. She needed more time to think. Turning her back on the werewolves -- her wolves -- she walked away. “I need to go.” “Freya!”

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Halted by the power and authority in Fenris’s roar, she stood stock-still. She spun around with venomous words upon her lips. How dare he even try to command her? “What? What the fuck do you want?” Fenris released Rayne. He strode toward her, looking every bit as dangerous as his size suggested. More so. “What the fuck do I want ?” “Yeah.” “What the fuck do I want?” Fenris repeated as if the question was too absurd for words. Air already thick with unease and pheromones thickened. His demeanor had changed to something dark and dangerous, and she tensed with expectations of something confrontational. Rayne seemed to feel it as he rushed to Fenris’s side and raised his arm trying to stop the hulk. “Easy, Fen. Easy…” Fenris walked up to Freya unfazed. “Easy, my ass. Let him go.” If Fenris wanted to try something, Freya would not back down. He had proved himself strong and fast, but it hadn’t been a true all-out battle. She wanted one. It was easier to want a fight than admitting that she wanted him. “I told you already it’s not going to happen. You want me to submit? You want me to lie down on the grass and spread my legs for you?” Goading him further, Freya scoffed. “You want me to come all over your cock, telling you that you are my big, bad wolf?” “No.” “No?” “No.” He said it in a long and drawn-out fashion. “I want you to fight me.” Rayne shook his head no. “Fenris, this is not the way. I told you that.” The big wolf looked down at his beta but said nothing. “It is her choice. You can’t just -- well -- you can’t force her, Fen.” “She doesn’t need to be forced. She needs to submit.” “Maybe she doesn’t feel the pull as strongly as we do. She’ll come to us in time.” “In time?” Fenris laughed. “She can’t wait until the pageant is over with, until she’s free of our presence. She assumes she can get by on strength alone just because she can throw around a few flea-bitten, oversized wolves. She nearly died from that Luna in Scotland, but she can’t wait to get back to work, to get back to mortal danger. Her life has no value outside of her strength. Better to fight death than encourage life.” Freya listened to Fenris’s words, riveted stone solid by their cutting accuracy. Every word he said was truth, irrefutable for all of the harshness he delivered them with. Fury was infected with sadness as Freya searched her mind for some curse, any word that she could use as a weapon to defend herself. Numb all over, Freya admitted to herself that there was nothing.

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Rayne frowned as he looked from Fenris to Freya. Both were scowling. “Freya…you should go. Now is a bad time. He’s…he just needs --” Freya’s cracking knuckles drowned out any warning Rayne gave. Fenris’s insults had not just inflamed her; they hurt. She had already acknowledged inwardly that he was right. It was proving to herself that he wasn’t completely correct that worried her. Her only object was to engage him. There was nothing else. To run meant defeat no matter what, and she would not lose. Her vulnerabilities be damned; she would not cower away. “You don’t have to make excuses for him, Rayne. If he wants to fight me, I’ll give him his due, the best I have to fucking offer.” “Uh…no. No,” Rayne muttered. “He’s out of your league, really.” “I’m fucking shaking.” She chuckled, amped for a fight. If nothing more, it would be a damn good practice lesson. Resolved to the challenge, Freya summoned the wolf within her. She transformed her hands into deadly weapons, claws covered in dark brown fur up to her forearms, and her legs and feet took on the same shift. Not quite a she-wolf, but nothing human either, Freya took on a defensive stance and beckoned to the big white wolf. “Come on, Fenris. Bring me what you got.” Fenris assumed a similar change, his claws thick and long. His fangs showed when he smiled. Rayne was muttering for him to back down, but the whole of Fenris’s attention was set upon Freya. Rayne tried to appeal to her, stepping in between them. “Don’t be stupid. You two need to knock it off.” Freya stepped forward and urged Rayne out of the way with her muzzle. She focused her gaze on Fenris and told Rayne to get back. With eyes for only Fenris, Freya padded forward. “If we get hurt, you can heal us.”

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Chapter Fourteen
Freya had fought her share of good fighters and bad ones. Watch for your opponent’s mistakes and learn from yours, her father had told her. Divorce emotion from the battle and remain attentive but also relentless, her mother had told her. Both had advised her to use pain to her advantage and not to consider it a weakness. It became apparent to her that Fenris had been taught the same thing. He was not rash or clumsy. His approach was more like a sledgehammer striking an anvil dead on. She could duck his blows and land three of hers, but just one of his uppercuts staggered her. Staggered but not dropped. Rayne had not lied. Fenris was out of her league. While she threw several punches, Fenris threw lightning-swift jabs one at a time made all the worse by his patience in delivering them. He tried to grab her as she stumbled back, but she recovered quickly. Sidestepping him, she caught him with a roundabout elbow, smashing his nose in with the brunt of her attack. Fenris barely flinched, backhanding her across the face so hard it spun her downward. He raked his vicious claws across her exposed back, leaving little question as to whether or not he was holding back.

Well, at least I don’t have to worry about him going too easy.
The warmth of her own blood irritated the open wounds as they healed. It didn’t matter much to her; in fact, it spurred her on. She rammed the larger wolf with her shoulder, determined to take Fenris off his feet. Her attempt to unsteady him with a shin kick had no effect on his thick, muscular leg. Instead, he shoved her back and hit her with a rib-snapping blow. Freya moved immediately, clutching her side. Fenris stood straight and as arrogant as the moon itself. “Would you like to admit defeat?”

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“Like I’ve never had a broken fucking rib before,” she growled. Every second she remained still was a moment her body had to repair itself. “You’re good, but the Luna was much worse.” Fenris shrugged. “I bet he was. But you managed to bring him down, so why don’t you just bring yourself over here and finish me off.” Freya hesitated, only to catch a glimpse of Rayne and note that the smaller white were was entranced. The air was heavy with the scent of his excitement. Gone were the notions of concern and doubt. His eyes were wide, the pupils huge and dark. She swore he was licking his lips. Freya wanted to take Rayne into her arms, to have an easy victory and a beautiful prize, but a glance at Fenris showed her that he intended the same thing of her. “Really, Freya, I didn’t expect you to call it quits so soon. I thought you would do better.” Oh, she would have if she had her tools, her blades, whips, and guns, Freya thought. He was so lucky. She faked like she was going to swing at him, but when he moved to dodge her attack, she dropped to her knees. She grabbed his legs instead and yanked him to the ground. She didn’t need to hear his gasp of surprise to know that she had a moment of advantage. She twisted him around onto his stomach and quickly sat on his side. The awkward position prevented him from landing anything more than claw wounds to her thighs. She grabbed his left arm and twisted it so violently that it came from its socket. Underestimate me, will you ? Freya beamed as she looked down at him, grinning from ear to ear. “Is that better for you?” she wanted to know. Using his good arm, Fenris shoved upward, and his strength easily made her fall off. He quickly stood. With two stern shakes of his shoulder, his arm was reset. “Yes,” he panted with an almost lustful tone woven into his voice. “Yes, it is.” Drawing her legs under her, Freya tried to get to her feet, but Fenris was too quick, moving with hyper speed. A swift hard kick to her right shin dropped her back to the ground. Before she could even try to get up, Fenris was upon her, pinning her to the ground with a heavy forearm across her throat. She had been in that position before and had managed to get free. She had been born knowing how to grapple. It didn’t bother her that no amount of blows to his head or shoulders had any effect. It did bother her that Fenris’s rampant prick felt so heavy on her chest, so hot, so warm and so fucking wet! Freya reached down, hoping to get hold of his cock. It would certainly give her leverage. As if he had read her mind, Fenris lay flat over her, his arm across her larynx.

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The sensation of being completely beneath such a hot, muscular wolf was too much. Part of her enjoyed his weight. She was more concerned with dueling it than Fenris. “Get the fuck off me,” she panted with what little air she had. “Make me, you alpha wolf!” She squirmed and managed to get one of her legs out from underneath Fenris. Determined, she planted her foot deep and true into the dirt and pushed her entire body hard to the left. The leverage caused them to roll over. Fenris’s hold slipped. She punched him in the nose, breaking anew the healed bones. Deftly, she sprang above him, curling her fist and using her luck to its fullest. From above, she threw punch after punch, breaking his jaw, splitting his lip, and bruising an eye. It hardly fazed the beast. With a thunderous snarl, Fenris diverted one of her blows midstrike. A double slap of his giant paw opened claw-sized marks on both cheeks, the left then the right. “You are my female,” he said, far too raspy to be serious. “Admit it.” Freya slipped to the side of him and threw her arm around his tree trunk throat. Wanting nothing more than to choke the smugness from him, she locked her arm in place by holding her own wrist. With every fiber of her strength, she tightened her hold. If it had been a lesser wolf, she would have snapped his neck. But Fenris twisted as well. He grabbed Freya by the ass and pulled her onto his lap. She dropped her neck hold immediately as the shaft of Fenris’s cock throbbed directly against the sensitive folds of her pussy. He wasn’t inside of her, but he was damn close.

He wants to own me. He wants to change me.
It struck her suddenly that he had not truly fought her. Fenris had held back. If she were to throw another blow, he would counter and the fight would continue for countless hours, but no victor would emerge. Certainly not her. She was too busy fighting her attraction to him, and he…he seemed pleased just to engage her physically. There was little use in continuing further. She stared down in to his lust-dark eyes; she saw the truth quite clearly. Fenris moved his head to her chest and captured one nipple between his lips. She bucked upward and cried out as he sucked the sensitive flesh with nothing akin to gentleness. Greedy and determined, he tortured her with both tongue and fangs. It was painful, pleasurable, and divine. She leaned in for more, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Teeth ground together, Freya fought against moans that tried to escape her lips. It was not an easy task. Fenris’s claws softly raked her back, not enough to break the healed flesh but adequate to make her writhe. She closed her hands around the side of his head, hoping to urge him to switch to the other nipple. Stubbornly, Fenris held on, suckling wetly as if it was all of the sustenance that he required.

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Freya growled at him. He nipped her flesh but withdrew. “What…what is it?” “My other tit, you selfish brute. Since you’re so determined, suck it.” Fenris chuckled. For a moment, she believed they were about to start fighting again. Instead, he moved his attention to other nipple, laving the soft flesh with a rebellious patience. He was divine arrogance at its best, stroking her from back to ass, gripping her cheeks, and pulling her pussy hard over his erection. Freya released a long pent-up moan. Still, she was not ready to be clay in his hands. Hungrily, she lowered her mouth to his shoulder and tasted his flesh for the first time. She ran her tongue across his skin and reveled in a strong, earthy taste mingled with just the slightest tinge of salt. She took it all in, sucking upon his skin. She sank her fangs into his flesh, scratched the muscled contours of his shoulders, and earned a feral, gravelly snarl from him. Fenris tightened his grip. He moved his mouth from her nipple to her arm and bit down.

Tit for tat, huh ? Freya sank her teeth into Fenris’s neck. He raked his claws down her
back. His ferocity fueled hers; it worked in reverse as well. Both sought more than their growls, bites, and bruises could provide. Fenris leaned away from Freya’s teeth. He looked up at her, his voice heavy and enticing as he demanded. “Kiss me. Come on, Freya. Now.” “Are you trying to boss me around?” “Yes, I am. Now, come here.” Fenris grabbed the back of Freya’s head and urged her toward his lips. She hesitated, trying to find some excuse not to give in to his macho demand. His hand wound in her hair might have been one, but it wasn’t a good one. She wanted to feel her lips against his; it was just the matter of motivation that stopped her momentarily. Determined to show her own initiative, Freya took Fenris’s face between her palms, leaned in, and kissed him. She made it clear that it was what she wanted. Despite it being Fenris’s demand, Freya made it very clear it was she who was in control. With her elevation, she battled his tongue then teased and taunted it. It was a rush, dizzying in its essence that filled her from head to toe. The fiercer she kissed him, the more energy she used. Fenris fought back, coiling his tongue about hers. When she sought air, Fenris took over. He claimed her lips as if they should only be his to savor, but even he could not sustain the whirlwind. He released her, one of his hands going to the earth, the other cupping her ass tightly. As he tilted to the side, she knew immediately what he wanted. Freya slipped out of his grasp and pushed him to the ground.

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The big were went down with a look of surprise as Freya straddled him. She closed her thighs around his waist, pinned down his shoulders. She couldn’t help but smile at the scowl upon his face. “I’d like to have you on your back.” “You’d like to have me?” Freya nodded, responding to the impertinence in Fenris’s voice. “Yeah, have you…” To further clarify, she captured his turgid cock, so hot and hard within her grasp. She couldn’t fit her fingers around the full length. Slowly, she guided the slick, satiny length of flesh between her folds, and Freya sank down onto Fenris’s shaft with sheer determination. Fenris thrust hard, and Freya’s heart stuttered inside her chest. The shock of being inhabited by heat and flesh caused her to gasp aloud. When she looked into Fenris’s eyes, she saw her passion reflected. He moved his hands to Freya’s waist, claws teasing at her skin. He shoved his hips upwards, easily lifting them both off of the ground. Despite gnashing her teeth, she howled as her world went from color to monochrome in an instant. The stab of pleasure caused a ripple of sensations, all wild and tumultuous within her body. Full and inhabited by his huge shaft, she was stretched wider than she thought she could be. Weakened from the inside out, Freya panted softly, acclimating to his size. It was his show of strength and command, and she didn’t have to look into his lust-dark eyes to read his resolve. It only fortified her own. If he could bear the pleasure of her body with stern concentration across his features, then so could she. It would have been easy to let Fenris set the pace, to just hold on, while he fucked her from beneath. He could set the rhythm of her cries, of her ecstasy, like a marionette. The warrior in her had other ideas though. Freya grabbed both of his wrists and shoved them to the ground. She leaned forward, tightened her thighs against his, and squeezed her pussy around his shaft. It was his turn to arch and cry out. “I’d like to have you exactly like this,” she said. “Then have me. All of me…” She intended to. Shifting her hips against his, she braced herself for every lift and fall onto his shaft. What started as a slow acclimation quickly changed into a greedy fulfillment. Each downward stroke drew a cry and a shudder; each upward stroke was a massage that threatened to turn her very bones into liquid. Although he was pinned to the ground, Fenris was nowhere near submission. He twisted his hips and thrust upward in short, swift strokes that she could only try to fight against. Fenris was a damn good opponent, inspiring her body with just half of his strength. Too soon, Freya felt the first twinges of an oncoming orgasm. Her pussy was unused to being stretched and to such friction. Even with the flowing of her juices, Fenris’s strokes were

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blunt and jolting. Freya found herself struggling not to cry out as he pounded her sensitive core over and again. As soon as one wave of saccharine-sweet shudders moved through her, she became obsessed with getting the next fix. She squeezed Fenris’s wrists with all of her might and rode him harder and faster. She closed her eyes, consumed with the ratcheting levels of pleasure breaking down her strength in bigger and brighter bursts. Fenris gave one particularly rough shove, and Freya’s eyes snapped back open. Her stomach cramped, and the tendons in her thighs felt like they were on fire. She shook uncontrollably as her orgasm took her over. She set Fenris’s wrists free and arched back upon his shaft as deep, rolling bliss crashed over and through her. With wave after wave of her body’s release, she thought of nothing but bliss, savored it. It was her mistake. Fenris rose and wrapped his arms around her. Still inside her heated folds, he rolled them both over, covering her with his body. It was warm beneath Fenris’s hirsute frame, and she felt too much like a pampered cur to worry over her submissive position. Fenris moved upon her with one slow, easy thrust. Despite Freya’s sated state, her body revived with interest. “Oh, you want to come, huh? My dominant wolf wants to come?” More animal than man, Fenris growled and nodded once. Freya raised her arms, which felt heavy as iron up around Fenris’s back. He moved again, a single casual thrust that caused Freya to shake off even more of her sexual lethargy. Her strength sparked as she drew a great draught of air with Fenris’s next move. He moved slowly but hard, each thrust inspiring her sexual greed. His pace caused her to move her hips, but so imposing was Fenris’s build that she could not take more than what he gave. “Is this your attempt at making love?” she growled. “No. You’re still tired. It wouldn’t be even ground…” he said. “I want to fight fair.”

Fair ? Freya awoke fully at the challenge. She ran her claws over his taut flanks, fully
understanding what he wanted. He wanted to her ask for him, to hear her permission. She gave it with a sigh. “Fuck me then…mate.” It was more of permission than demand. And she thought she was prepared for what was to come. How could she be ready for the full force of Fenris’s lust? He kissed her hard, stealing her breath away while his hips discovered a new rhythm, a more determined one. One of his hands -- no, claws -- went to her hip as he plunged his cock faster.

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There was nothing frilly, fancy, or even shameful in how Freya took her mate’s cock. It was as brutish and as beautiful as he was. It took all of her strength to bear him as she had never borne any opponent or combatant. For unlike any fisticuffs, Fenris was tussling with both her flesh and her soul. She couldn’t lord her pleasure over the beast upon her. She couldn’t ply him with her dominance. He took to her voluptuous body with a comfort and knowledge that she had never allowed a male to learn. Freya screamed. She howled as Fenris fucked her hard against the earth. His claws raked her shoulders; his lips bruised her throat and her mouth. She gave him back everything she got. She marked his legs, his back, his throat, and his arms. She squeezed his broad, long shaft inside of her core, and she cherished every roar that came from him. When her body began to sing anew, Freya could feel it upon her skin, his muscles tightening. Then it happened. He moved off of her and crouched down by her feet. He grabbed her by the ankles and flipped Freya onto her stomach. Disoriented but so hungry for the return of Fenris’s cock, she made decision she knew Fenris was waiting for in seconds. Freya rose up on all fours. She barely had more than a moment before Fenris was back upon her. His claws went to her hips, and he thrust his shaft back inside of her wet, open pussy. Freya dropped her head, more out of gratitude than submission. She slammed back against him, the angle both new and phenomenal. His cock was aimed perfectly into her body. He was relentless, slamming in and out of her. Freya heard a roar, cut short by gasps before she felt the hot splash of Fenris’s seed within her. As he came, he gave short, quick thrusts that sent Freya over once more. It was the combination of her tense, shaking form unwinding with blinding speed as she came. The hot liquid eruption of their combined essence stunned her. Fenris’s cock still throbbed as he rammed home for those last explosive jets, his moans mixing with Freya’s. Together they collapsed to the ground, neither able to do much more than breathe. Weary and aching, Freya merely huffed as Fenris curled up next to her and threw his heavy arm about her waist. Rayne walked over, gloating with observation. He crouched down in front of her and made to wipe the sweat from her brow. Fenris stirred behind her and growled. He tightened his hold around Freya possessively. About to tell Fenris that he didn’t own a damn thing, Freya didn’t have to say a word. “Oh, shut it, Fen. She knows you’re the alpha, so you can butch up later.” Rayne leaned over Freya and kissed Fenris on the nose. Then, he kissed Freya upon the lips. The difference between her two mates was night and day. Rayne kissed her long and slow, playing his lips about hers with subtle, sweet pecks that forced her to demand more.

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Despite her exhaustion, Freya wrapped her arm around Rayne’s back and pulled him on top of her. Rayne made no fuss, laying in her hold and moaning as she savored his mouth and skin. Fenris shifted from behind her. She felt more than heard Rayne’s cry within her mouth. She knew Fenris had done something to him, and her curiosity piqued. As she released Rayne’s mouth, Freya discovered Fenris’s hand on Rayne’s cock, jerking the hard length of it with a casual, sensuous motion. It was her turn to growl, a tinge of jealousy rising up in her. Rayne’s laughter put an end to that. “Freya. You can help him, you know. You’re my alpha now, too.” Freya did help, bringing her free hand to her mouth. Freya retracted her claws. She licked two of her longest fingers before finding the crease of Rayne’s ass. With a gentle invasion, she pushed them into his body and heard him sigh. Behind her, Fenris’s breath was warm on her shoulder. It belonged there, as if his body should be spooned next to hers to maintain warmth. His cock was twitching behind her ass, hinting at renewed interest. Together she and Fenris worked on Rayne, without another shred of jealousy and with much distraction. Rayne put up a battle, the exertion of trying to retain his pleasure written all over his features. It was a battle he could not win.

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Chapter Fifteen
“No, I don’t need company,” Rebecca snapped at a hopeful young were. Seated inside the ballroom at one of many tables for two, she sat behind Hallie, Dena, and their mates. She was doing a damn good job as an escort, Freya thought. Perhaps I need to give her a cut of my pay. God knows I’ve been doing a lousy job of watching them. Freya pulled up the empty chair beside Rebecca and sat down. Grateful for the pitcher of ice water more than fancy silverware and plates on the table, and definitely more than the moon-shaped chocolates sitting upon the plate, she poured herself a glass. Rebecca grinned from ear to ear, pretending to be intrigued by a chocolate. “You know, I’m not going to go into too much detail about how jealous I really am of you.” “You can have two males if you want. Find a beta or an alpha that’s willing to share.” “It’s not that simple, and you know it. Besides, they’re the perfect match.” They were perfect, so much so that she hadn’t wanted to leave their embrace or their grassy bed. They were so perfect Freya couldn’t bear the heat flaring between her thighs at every recollection. She swore that she could feel Fenris’s tongue moving over her skin, Rayne’s mouth moving over Fenris’s body. She licked her lips. The taste of Rayne’s skin was still there and sweet. Although she didn’t want to admit it, Freya had even felt happy. It was a feeling she had never put much stock in and definitely one that didn’t bode well in her profession. “See, you’re thinking about them now.” Rebecca nudged Freya from her trance. “About being all snug in some den, under the moonlight, wrapped up in --” Freya held up her hand, silencing the girl. The last thing she needed was more fuel for fantasizing. “Did you start some combat training already? Ready to spar again? Because I really don’t want to go into it.”

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“Okay, okay. So, are you planning on going to Iceland after you drop us off?” A server stopped at their table with a cart full of breadbaskets. She placed one on the table before moving on to the next. A varied assortment of pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, and others demanded she select one and butter it. If she couldn’t have more hot and sweaty rough sex, she could at least have thigh-fattening carbs. “I haven’t made any plans yet, but maybe a visit or something.” “Why? If they’re your mates, wouldn’t you want to be close to them?” Servers brought around trays of thinly sliced beef crowned with dainty arrangements of wild onions. Appetizers. Freya wondered if the Sohons could get any fancier. It didn’t matter how good the food looked. What it tasted like was more important. And it tasted scrumptious. Not bothering with silverware, she pushed several slices into her mouth and savored the mesquite marinade of the meat. It reminded her of Fenris’s skin. “They’re a good lay, I’ll give them that,” she muttered with a full mouth, “but I’m nowhere near ready to settle down and move to their home on the ice. Even though, with global warming and all, it might be a tropical paradise soon.” She wondered what it would be like on a beach with Fenris and Rayne. Swimsuits would be optional. Rebecca was right. She couldn’t keep them out of her mind. “Why does it concern you anyway? Shouldn’t you start worrying about what your father is going to say when you return home with no mate?” Rebecca paled slightly, all of the humor swiftly draining out of her. “Yeah, guess I should.” “Right, so we both have our own fucking problems. Long as that’s clear.” Freya got another roll, not surprised in the least at her hunger. She was just perturbed that she couldn’t get another plate of the beef appetizers. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. Servers brought bottles of merlot and Pinot Grigio to all of the tables, along with corkscrews. Male suitors got to look impressive as they popped bottles for their females. Freya opened the bottle of merlot for their table and poured herself a glass before offering it to Rebecca. “Are you looking for a trainee?” Freya cast a scrutinizing glare. While Rebecca did show some skill for guarding, the child was nowhere near ready to be trained in combat. It would take years to get her to any serious skill. Jobs, however, were out of the question. There was no training for killing or dying. “Quit playing around, girl. There’s plenty of things you can do if you don’t choose to serve your pack in a motherly way. You could even sign up for a fighting class or two. Hanging with me is something different, and you don’t want that.” “I do. I’m serious, Freya.” She certainly looked serious enough. It was probably an easier option than dealing with her father. Still, Freya had no intention of entertaining wild notions of self-exploration. She looked Rebecca sternly in the eyes and responded, “No, you’re not. You can’t be. What I do

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isn’t training, Rebecca; it’s hunting, it’s killing, and it’s trying not to die. It takes years to be able to do what I do, and in most cases, the best were born to do it. I am not showboatin’ or exaggerating. I’m for real. Some think that just because they’re werewolves, they have a natural affinity for kicking ass. They would be wrong. It’s more than just fighting. It’s knowing how to combat something -- what kind of tools, potions, shields, weapons.” Freya lifted her flute to her lips and discovered nothing. She refilled her glass. “A gargoyle can snap a werewolf in two, if he didn’t disembowel it with his claws or his tail first. A lich can drain the life right out of a living being in the time it takes for bunnies to fuck. A vampire could bleed you dry if you don’t know how to evade its glare, and golems, the big ones, could pull all four of your limbs off at the same time. It ain’t pretty shit at all. Then you have Lunas, warped, monstrous wolves. You think you know everything about our kind? You would be wrong. Some have six limbs, four rows of teeth, and venom; some have tails like razors. Hell, most don’t even look like us, but they are hella-fuckingdangerous, girl.” Mouth agape, the look of uneasiness written across Rebecca’s features reflected her processing of the information. “B-but, I thought a Luna was a crazy wolf…a lone wolf…at least that’s what we called them.” “I wish that a Luna was just crazy and in need of isolation, but that ain’t nowhere near the case. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s not something for the weak of stomach or the apprehensive or those in training. It’s a good life in the pack, Rebecca, a damn good one, and I know that things might look rough, but it ain’t so bad. Really.” Freya hoped that the girl got the message as she took a roll for herself and broke it in two. It was easier to shove into her mouth that way. She caught whiff of the second round of appetizers -- mini rolls of pork loin stuffed with apples, dressing, and nuts. It didn’t take the servers long to set down two gorgeous plates of the pork. She was halfway into her delectable dish, wondering why Rayne and Fenris hadn’t shown up in the hall yet, when Rebecca’s shaking voice sounded. “If it’s so good, then why won’t you take it? I’m sure that’s what Rayne and Fenris want to offer you.” Freya stiffened. While she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to discuss her feelings with Rebecca, she had to discuss it with someone. Either that or eat. There was an emptiness within her that she hoped to fill with food. Maybe talking would soothe it. “Rebecca, what they want to offer me is a spot in their bed and cubs for my belly. Fenris wants to dominate me any way he can, and Rayne is as subversive as a snake. I know what they want. I’m not ready to give it to them. I didn’t ask for it either.” “It would be safer than all that you just mentioned.” Rebecca winced as if she were thinking of monsters. She had barely touched her food. “And as for cubs, they wouldn’t be so

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bad. I’m sure your cubs would be cute and strong. Why would you want to risk your life dealing with dangerous breeds?” “Because it’s my talent, and I’m fucking good at it, to be honest.” Rebecca rolled her eyes. “Have you tried anything else? Baking, teaching, sewing maybe?” Her first inclination was to laugh, but it dawned on her she could hardly do more than boil water and dial for carryout. “No. Not really.” “Well, what will you do when you can’t fight anymore?” Freya did smile as she announced she had always wanted to raise sheep. Rebecca laughed too. “You know, I think they have sheep in Iceland. I remember something from school about Iceland being green and Greenland being ice.” “From school, eh?” Freya mused. “Figures. When did you graduate? Last year.” “Hey, I’m not the one with the intimacy problem.” Freya finished off the last of her appetizers, then reached over and took Rebecca’s. The girl didn’t seem to be too interested in it anyway. “I don’t have a problem with intimacy, not anymore. I have a problem with wanting it.” The loss of her appetizer drew a sour look from Rebecca. “Your mother must have been really hard. She must not have hugged you.” “As a matter of fact, she didn’t, but I’ve come to terms with that. I have moved on.” Lies, all of them. The first thing that she had learned from her mother was never to blame anyone else for your own shit no matter who had caused it. “My inner child is even happy.” “Okay.” Rebecca didn’t seem to buy it. “So having some sort of longer, international, see-you-every-month-but-keep-working arrangement wouldn’t make you happier? Getting to know them, even talking to them on the phone wouldn’t make things easier either? I mean, they probably want things to move fast, but I don’t think that they would up and leave you while you were still out trying to dance with demons.” They probably would. For all of Fenris’s declarations of need, Freya could only hope that they came to their senses and took up with another. The thought of it turned her stomach with jealousy. “You don’t know that they wouldn’t. They would probably just find another plaything. I am not unrealistic. I know that they ain’t gonna hold out just for me.” “If they do turn out to be that impatient, then they wouldn’t be your real mates anyway. You would feel a lot less guilty about prolonging things. They have each other, and I’m sure they won’t feel like they’re missing something that completes them.” Freya went numb at the sting of Rebecca’s words. She finished off the remainder of the pork mulling the likelihood that Rayne and Fenris would do just as Rebecca had suggested. They would dwell on the loss. Without her, Fenris would surely just depend on Rayne. It was a hunch she didn’t want to be correct. Worse, it was definitely something she did not want to discuss with Rebecca.

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Tight-lipped, she pretended to be consumed by just how casually Hallie’s suitor had slipped an arm about her and the proximity of Dena’s knee to her suitor’s. Rebecca made random comments, but Freya barely heard them It wasn’t until the next course arrived at the table that her shredded nerves finally unraveled. A plate of mixed greens, far too colorful to be anything less than stunning and smelling of vinaigrette, was set before her. “Salad? Fucking Salad? Walnuts and strawberries…is this a function for fucking werewolves or what?”

*****
To say that Freya had eaten her share would have been putting it mildly. She had knocked off all six courses of her meal and nearly three of Rebecca’s; her hunger still hadn’t managed to sate her hunger. Back in the suite, she ordered room service, chocolate ice cream and two cheeseburgers with the works. The girls were too busy in their adjoining suite to notice her bingeing, and Rebecca was too sympathetic to comment.

That girl has my number. She knows I want to go to them. She crammed the last of her
second cheeseburger into her mouth. Freya wanted to feel so heavy that she wouldn’t even entertain the possibility of weaving through the mansion’s halls in search of the winter suite and its males. But what hurt would come of seeing them one more time do? It was the last night of the pageant and the last time she might see them. Surely the fever of desire would stop once she was back in Maryland, back in her loft and entertaining the idea of new jobs. Outside of their influence, she could get her bearings and deal with reality rather than thoughts of Fenris’s warmth and Rayne’s taste. Perhaps the heat and sensitivity stirring her loins would even abate. Because it certainly had no such plans while she stayed in the room. A knock on the door was both welcome and suspect as she came out of her inner thoughts. She knew before she opened the door that it was neither of her males but a male nonetheless. Curious, she walked over to the door, hoping that it was the waiter returning to pick up her cart. She could ask him for another cheeseburger. Instead, it was a Sohon representative with a nearly three-inch ream of paper. “Formalized petitions, to be selected and signed for tomorrow, miss.” Freya took the bulk of paper from the man’s arms, doing a poor job of hiding her disappointment. She had had designs on the bleu cheese and bacon burger. Paperwork would be a good distraction. “Girls, come on,” Freya called over her shoulder as she shut the door with her foot. “We’ve got paperwork. Fun fucking paperwork!” Freya took the paperwork to the bed while the girls filed into her room. She didn’t need to sort out whose paperwork was whose as the Sohons had been considerate enough to clip each batch according to the female it was directed to. There were four batches in all. The

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smallest didn’t require a clip, just a staple. Inconspicuously, she shoved the smaller stack underneath her thigh. She handed Hallie the biggest, Dena the smallest, and Rebecca a healthy inch of paper. Dena pulled off the clip on her group of papers and sorted through them. With a loud sigh, she asked, “Why do we have to look at these if we already know who we want to pick? I haven’t even met half of these wolves.” “Me either,” said Hallie, eyes fixed on her pile. She thumbed through each grouping, stopping at one to actually read through it. “Oh, wow, this guy has a boat and a farm too. Hmm, maybe…nahhh…I like Lance.” Rebecca commented before Freya could. “Uh-huh, yeah. That would be why. It’s called weighing your options.” After scanning every page of one proposal, Dena set it aside. Marcus’s, Freya presumed. While she browsed through the others, she seemed to have her mind set already. Everything else was just a source of amusement and wonder. “Look. They even have lineages listed.” “It’s a wonder they don’t have cock sizes and ball circumferences listed as well.” Freya smirked. Dena shook her head. “Nope. There’s nothing about, that but there is something about the amount of cubs born of their mother and how fertile they were.” Rebecca leaned in to Dena to see for herself. “Yeah, this guy’s mother had twelve cubs in all. You should pick him, Dena. He’s probably really fertile. You’d probably have triplets on the first go.” “Uhhh, no.” With a sour look on her face, Dena found the singled-out contract and compared the prior results with Marcus’s. “Marcus’s mother only had four. That’s a good number.” Hallie commented on her singled-out contract as well. “Two. Two’s good enough for me.” Freya thought zero was a good number. Curiosity, however, made her wonder just what was in the document beneath her. She assumed that Fenris was an only child, but she was no surer of that than she was of how many siblings Rayne had. With the blood of a witch in his veins, there was no telling what he was capable of. Probably quintuplets…. She had already had sex with both of them and could be carrying their progeny. If Rayne truly was a healer, the possibilities were many, and if she was pregnant with Fenris’s child her freedom was as good as gone. No alpha in his right mind would allow his pregnant mate to fight, more or less to hunt. They were thoughts she refused to entertain further as she watched the girls laugh and comment on the various details within the proposals. Freya noted that Rebecca hadn’t so much as looked at her offers. “Aren’t you even going to look at your own?”

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Rebecca looked at her stack of papers lying beside her and frowned. “Why should I? I don’t know any of these curs and the one that I do… Well, I told him I wasn’t interested, and I meant it.” Rebecca’s behavior almost seemed believable, but Freya recognized the signs of denial. Whereas the other girls might not have caught the lapses in the new tough girl act, Freya had noted the odd behavior: a forced chuckle at the mention of how Dena would require guests at her wedding to use silverware, a weak grin when Hallie gushed over what she thought her first born cub would like, a sigh here and there… The girl still cared, still wanted to be courted, mated to the wolf of her dreams. “Don’t be so fucking cruel. Here.” Frustrated, Freya snatched up Rebecca’s pile, and pulled the first proposal from the top. It was Michael’s. While not extensive in the assets category, his lineage included wolves known for courage and integrity. They were also a few who were known for being hot-blooded Casanovas as well. “He’s willing to put up some assets and offering to serve your father’s pack from the bottom up. It’s not a wealthy option, but it’s a noble one. He is trying.” “I don’t care. It’s not what I want to do.” “It wasn’t what you wanted to do that first night when I caught you in the hall with him either, remember?” “Well, seeing as how you’re sitting on yours, I don’t think you should talk. And don’t look at me like you’re going to pummel me either.” While shaking and snapping at the blonde would have been good choices, it didn’t change the fact a contract was beneath her leg. Rebecca continued lashing out. “It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. What did Rayne and Fenris offer you? And don’t give me that crap about not being in the pageant. What’s in your contract?” Freya thought about choking her, but then reconsidered. It would definitely make her look like the lesser wolf. With Dena and Hallie staring at her, Freya made the hard choice between the ease of violence and the difficulty of owning up to the truth. She lifted her thigh and pulled out a proposal for Freya E. Daniels. Within it, questions she didn’t even have were answered. Fenris had two siblings, and Rayne had none. Fenris’s line had been native to Iceland for centuries while Rayne’s mother was from Estonia. Rayne had been trained as a mage since the age of five and spoke five languages fluently. Fenris spoke two: English and Icelandic. Fenris’s family owned a popular holistic spa for which Rayne worked. The details were intriguing, but the prospective offers and terms were all the more fascinating. They outlined their offers of providing Freya with a home, a job if she wanted one, and a monetary allowance. She would be required to spend one week a month in Iceland, if she chose to remain at her “current residence” and with her “current employment.” Otherwise, she would be welcome at all times.

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The proposal even touched upon the possibility of cubs, with a request that offspring would be birthed and weaned in Iceland and that they reside in Iceland until which time they turned eighteen and could decide for themselves. A clause was included for visits with their mother and grandmothers. It was more than fair. It was something she could live with. The only stringent aspect of the contract was the requirement of weekly phone calls. “Well?” Rebecca asked. “It’s a fair contract, actually. Freedom, a home, money, a pack, and they don’t require me to quit my job. I might even sign it.” With a deep, defiant sigh, Freya glared back at Rebecca. While it was an easy thing to say, her heart beat a mile a minute. Surely the girls could sense her excitement. “It scares the shit out of me, and no, I did not expect it, but it’s good and fair. So there, hard-ass. Are you going to read yours or not?” Rebecca picked up Michael’s proposal and looked at it.

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Chapter Sixteen
Freya knew she would end up in the winter suite. The girls had known it too and had kidded her so badly that she didn’t even have to look for an excuse. She didn’t have to find a guard to watch the room either, but she had. Determined, she walked through the halls. She found there were hardly any parties, scuffles, or loose behavior in the mansion. She supposed it might have had to do with the delivery and reception of contracts. A distinctive life change is what it had meant to Freya. Freya arrived at the winter suite with second thoughts heavily upon her mind. Turn around, girl, no need to let them know that they’ve got you, she thought to herself. But she knocked anyway. Fenris answered the door for her wearing nothing more than a pair of boxers. The sight of him, looking like a Norse god, his hair hanging loose across his massive shoulders and fur thick upon his chest was enough to take the air from Freya’s lungs. His appearance wouldn’t have affected her so, wouldn’t have caused her to feel so dizzy if she hadn’t clung to those shoulders before, if she hadn’t tested his strength and his desire. Fenris was her mate, her alpha, just as surely as Rayne was her beta, and they both seemed to know it. The bold werewolf straightened his stance, threw back his shoulders, and stood exuding arrogance. He looked her up and down before licking his lips. “Come to rage against the audacity and assumption of the proposal? We could fight some more, if you like.” Freya laughed. It was just what she wanted, but her mother had always told her not to appear needy. “Maybe. I just came by to see you guys before tomorrow. Last day and all. It’s going to be chaos, and I didn’t know when you were leaving.” “Around one,” Fenris replied curtly.

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His massive frame filled most of the door. While it gave Freya a damn good view of his pecs and washboard stomach, it also demanded permission. She hoped patience would be enough to gain entrance, but Fenris stood firm, grinning. Three rowdy juvenile werewolves traipsed down the hallway. They whistled at her as they walked by. She turned her head and snorted. “Carry on, pups, before I turn you over my knee.” One of the boys stopped as if he had something to say, but a low, ferocious growl from Fenris ended that. The show of chivalry was more than she could handle. With her hand against his chest, Freya tried to push the big wolf back. He didn’t move an inch. Instead, he seized her by the waist. Immediately, Freya felt his breath hot upon her throat and his erection against her stomach. She used both hands to shove him back. “Can I come in, or do you just want to fuck me in the hallway?” Without a hint of humor, Fenris replied, “The hallway. There’s carpet and friction…” Did he have to look so fucking serious? Freya wondered. “Move, you fucking giant.” “Yes. Get your ass inside.” Fenris shut the door behind her. Freya rolled her eyes as she edged past him and into the suite. He had been expecting her. That she could tell from the heavy fragrance of his arousal. Freya turned and looked at Fenris. She brushed off his show of bravado despite the tension in her belly. She could barely maintain her own composure. “You need to get a fucking clue. You are not going to be talking to me like that.” “I’m trying to make you upset. Where is the fury?” “Due to arrive any minute.” “We could always fight to see who’s going to be on top tonight. But I have to tell you, I’m already in topping mode.” Freya was too. She knew she would need help to put the gorgeous beast in his place. “Where’s Rayne?” The look on Fenris’s face was pure evil. “He’s tied up right now. Wanna see?” His tone led her to believe something was amiss, but as he walked off towards the master bedroom, she had no idea just what he meant. Curious, she followed behind him, expecting Rayne to be watching a porno, masturbating, something seductive. Yet, the truth of Fenris’s words was much more literal. Tied with what looked like nylon climbing rope, Rayne was bent over on elbows and knees. His ankles were bound as were his wrists. “Rayne?” Completely naked with his hair a ripple of white-gold satin upon the bed, he looked at her and grinned. “Did you read the proposal?”

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Freya didn’t hear a word. She looked at Fenris and then back at Rayne. There was so much she didn’t know about them…or herself. Rayne looked sexy as hell all trussed up. The things that I could do to him… With a deep swallow, Freya found her voice. “Well, at least now I know what you two do when I’m not around.” Rayne groaned. “Did you read it? Or didn’t you? The proposal?” “Yeah, I did.” “And?” Rayne tried to move onto his side, but Fenris stopped that. He came down to the foot of the bed. The alpha snapped, “Back in position.” “Yes, alpha.” Rayne resumed his pose, his ass high in the air. Obedience seemed to be a mood that the lithe werewolf could assume. If it were any more possible, Fenris seemed to take Rayne’s submission with a higher level of arrogance than he had before. What power did to him was more than just an improvement of posture, more than just a shiny darkness within his eyes, and more than the smirk on his face. It seemed to make his skin flush with a glow of supernatural masculine power. Freya was witnessing the very essence of a dominant alpha. She wondered if she took on such features, if dominance made her flush. Curious, she wanted to try her strength against Rayne’s gentleness to see. Sitting down on the mattress, Freya was close enough to touch Rayne if she wanted but as Fenris moved to the dresser, her attention was on him. Upon the tall dresser was a cylindrical basket containing sticks of varying widths. Fenris chose a thick one and swung it in the air. It made a hissing noise and moved with unnatural flexibility. “What in the hell are you going to do with that?” Freya asked, despite having a very good idea. “What I was going to do before you got here.” Fenris moved to the side of the bed. He gave her a devilish wink before raising the cane and striking Rayne’s ass. A flinch and then a shudder preceded Rayne’s exhale of pleasure. “Oohh….yes.” Fenris struck Rayne again from a lower angle, then another. Each one Rayne took like the best of massages, tensing and shuddering. Freya knew that, coming from Fenris, the blows were nothing to be taken lightly, but never once did she get the impression that Rayne was being abused. As Fenris set a faster pace to the blows, Rayne lifted his head and looked at her. Eyes glassy and lips moist, he blushed. Freya was certain of his enjoyment. “He has a beautiful ass. The bruises don’t last long, but they are so nice while they do,” Fenris said, striking Rayne swiftly several times more. Rayne’s cries grew louder and louder, affecting more than just Freya’s ears. The voyeur she wasn’t aware she harbored was intrigued by his pleasure. He wanted it, backed up into every blow. Beneath him, his cock was rigid, jutting out from between his legs and glistening

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with wetness. She reached out and stroked his cock with long, sure stokes, felt him push into her hold. “You want a turn?” Fenris asked. “You’re his alpha too, you know.” She knew, and she did want a turn. She wanted Rayne to squirm for her. Freya welcomed the opportunity, coming to her feet. Releasing Rayne’s shaft, she moved to the foot of the bed, where could see the red crosshatched pattern across Rayne’s flushed bottom. “It’s going to take me a while to get used to the roles.” She took the offered cane as Fenris stepped back. It was a muttered plea and a wiggle of Rayne’s hips that spurred her to lay down the first of her blows. It didn’t elicit the loud moan that Fenris had caused, but it did bring a sigh from Rayne’s lips. The second one brought a louder noise. With added strength and with a series of quick, sharp snaps, Freya quickly brought the lithe were back to ecstasy. “Yes,” Rayne cried, his head snapping up, his hair flailing wildly. “Good! It’s good!” Fenris was all tooth and grin. “Told you that it won’t take long. You’re made for it.” Rather than agree, Freya was determined to keep her concentration on Rayne, on the beautiful patterns she was painting into his flanks with every strike. Even as Fenris moved behind her, Freya kept her arm steady. She concentrated on Rayne’s melodies, while Fenris’s hands came around her waist and unfastened her jeans. He lifted her shirt to unfasten the front closure of her bra. Her breasts fell into his warm hands, and her concentration broke. With Fenris running his thumbs across her nipples, Freya’s strokes grew lighter, slower. “What are you doing to her, Fen?” Rayne panted irritably. “Trying to get her out of these clothes, beloved beta.” Freya lowered the cane as Rayne snapped the sturdy ropes with ease and tossed the frayed cords onto the floor. He used his claws to slit the ropes that held his ankles taut. While he seemed upset at Fenris’s interruption, it didn’t last long. Before her eyes, Rayne turned over onto his back, placed his hands behind his head, and took over the voyeuristic role. “That would be a good idea.” She wanted it to be a good idea but with the force of Fenris’s erection against her back, it wouldn’t necessarily be the best idea for her. The closer she was to being nude, the closer she was to becoming a shuddering, climaxing mess of a woman. “Here, let me get that.” Fenris eased the cane out of her hand and tossed it aside. He stepped in front of her and grasped the hem of her shirt. “I can take my own clothes off, thank you.” Fenris didn’t seem offended in the least. “Well, at least you’re enthusiastic. I love that.”

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She had no plans on admitting it to him as she lifted off her shirt and toed off her boots. Freya pushed her jeans and boy shorts down her hips, trying to ignore her audience, but a sharp smack upon her bare ass was a bit much. She returned Fenris’s slap, only across his strong jaw. “What the fuck? The only time you can do that shit is when I’m riding you, is that understood?” The blow brought nothing but a wider smile to Fenris’s features. “Certainly.” Not buying his agreement for a second, Freya noted the rise and fall of his chest, saw his hand reaching out anew. Quicker, Freya grabbed his erection and squeezed. “I’m serious, Fen. Behave yourself.” Rayne’s laughter rang out, despite the sudden air of tension between Freya and Fenris. Fenris gave her a look that wasn’t so much dangerous as it was voracious. He didn’t have to say a word. She knew he wanted to put her in her place very much, to end the games, and to do something stern. The real battle between them wasn’t one of strength. He could win that easily. It was a battle of compromise. He could break her, and Freya knew it. “You’re so lucky. If I had my way you’d be on the flight into Keflavik within the --” Fenris tilted his head back and glared daggers at Freya. “Within the what? Within the hour?” Freya asked, refusing to be intimidated despite Fenris’s creased brow. “Good thing Rayne wrote that contract.” It was just a guess, but it took less than a moment for the truth to spill forth. “You’re right. He wants you to have your freedom, your inane lifestyle, when you should be by our sides.” “Like this wasn’t sudden enough.” With a glance down at Fenris’s crimson shaft, too big for her brown hand, she felt a shiver of intimidation. Was it too much for her to have such a magnificent mate without destroying all that she was? It wasn’t an easy question but stroking him was. As easy as admiring satin. “If you wanted a submissive, you should have fucking well chose one. You would have crushed her will already. She’d be kowtowing to you right now.” She continued to stroke him. Freya wanting to believe that his closed eyelids, his slowed breathing, and his stillness were indications of Fenris’s acquiescence. It was the rush of having the advantage that kept her speaking. “She’d be on her knees, running her red lips all over your cock, while you grabbed the back of her head trying to get her to take you in her mouth. She’d be licking your heavy balls, yearning for you to --” “Freya!” Rayne interrupted. He scooted off the bed and moved to her side, shaking his head as if it wouldn’t be wise for her to continue. Freya released Fenris’s shaft. When his blue eyes opened, she was more than thankful for Rayne’s presence. Fenris reached out for her, his claws drawn. He seized the straps of Freya’s bra and tried to pull her to him. It happened so quickly that Freya lost her breath.

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Rayne moved between them, grabbing hold of Fenris’s wrists. He managed to get Fenris to let go but calming him seemed to be another story. “Fen, easy…” “She’ll drive me crazy, Rayne. Absolutely insane.” “She’s perfect for us, but you do need to calm a bit.” Rayne chuckled. “If you don’t behave, she’ll never go down on you.” She pulled off her ruined bra and threw it to the floor. “He’s right, Fen.” Fenris scoffed at her renewed confidence. “You wish he was right, don’t you, Freya? You just want to fight me before you do it.” It was true. She wished she didn’t want to know his taste, but the moisture between her thighs betrayed her. Freya shook her head free of any admissions that might spill forth. She lay down on the bed and stretched out, humbled by the sight of her submissive lover and her dominant lover, standing side by side. Freya knew that intimacy was just one aspect of belonging to them. Honesty was another. “Fighting you, submitting to you,” she said, “even needing you it isn’t easy for me, you know? I suspect it’s not easy for you either, but it’s not something that’s going to be immediate, so can we just have a nice fucking night?” Fenris balked at her words and the seriousness of her tone but with a few whispered words and soothing caresses from Rayne, he came around. “I think maybe we can.”

I hope that we can, Freya thought to herself. Regardless of Rayne’s touch, the
dominant in Fenris was evident. Rayne surely noticed it as well, for he captured Fenris’s lips with his own. Fenris pulled Rayne into a tight embrace, dominating their kiss until Rayne’s moans reached her jealous ears. The sight of them together, of how easily Rayne could sooth and calm Fenris only made her curious to try such submissive behavior. Curious but not necessarily willing. When Fenris released Rayne, Freya was anxious to be calmed as well. Patting the bed, she called to the flustered beauty. “Rayne, come. Fen is fine. It’s me that’s feeling needy now.”

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Chapter Seventeen
Freya couldn’t stop shivering. Luscious waves coursed through her veins as she held her two mates. Luck didn’t even begin to describe her lot. With Rayne nibbling on her throat and Fenris at her breast, Freya felt spoiled and luxurious, two words she had used with disdain for so long. She had been wrong. It was not a bad thing at all. It was as easy as turning her head to find Rayne’s gentle, sweet kisses. It was as easy as breathing to enjoy Fenris’s hungry mouth upon her breast. The harsh and the sweet were two extremes she could spend an eternity switching between. Their hands were all over her, pulling at her waist, her shoulders, and her thighs possessively. Fenris had her by the waist, as if he feared the loss of her breast.

He was made for this, she thought, made to worship a woman’s breast like a mad
sycophant. His bites were sudden bursts of pain, but the soothing, leisurely flicking of his tongue was utterly delicious. Her fingers were woven into his silken hair as she muttered a command and a plea all together. “Oh, yeah. You do that so well. Don’t stop.” Against Freya’s wishes, however, Fenris did stop. He raised his head, fixed his eyes intently upon her. She wondered if he would ever do as he was told. He placed his heavy thigh over hers. “So you’re orchestrating things?” Freya opened her mouth, but as Rayne’s lowered down her throat, across her collarbone to discover her other breast, speech became difficult. “Y-yes…yes, I am,” she stuttered. “I’m trying to. And didn’t I tell you not to stop?” “You did.” “But still you insist on being hard-headed. Obey me, and I’ll obey you, maybe.” “Maybe, huh?” “Yes, maybe.”

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Rayne, definitely the more obedient of the pair, eagerly latched onto her nipple as if his actions could make up for Fenris’s rebellion. She turned her attention to him, stroking his hair the way she had been stroking Fenris. She was playing one against the other, she knew. A glance at Fenris’s narrowed eyes and worried bottom lip proved to her that her plot was indeed working. Freya reached up and grabbed Fenris by the back of his neck. She decided not to try his patience, instead guiding him down to her lips. She didn’t allow him any more than one, quick peck. Fenris still looked a bit irritated. “Stop being such a damned hard-ass and relax, would you?” “There you go with the commands again.” He shook his head before stealing another kiss, a much longer one that Freya couldn’t help but indulge him in. His masterful tongue, the warm pressure of his mouth, was a powerful aphrodisiac as well as horribly persuasive. When he released her, she was dizzy. “I can command all I want,” she said. “But you know…you know that I’m already bending to you…for you.” “Bending?” Something akin to a smile brightened Fenris’s mood. He seemed to enjoy her admission. She knew something else that would put the grumpy beast at further ease. She tapped Rayne on his shoulder to get his attention, eased herself away, and then sat up between them. “Don’t pay him any mind, Freya. He’s greedy as all hell,” Rayne spoke up before turning to his alpha. He was truly upset. He slapped Fenris on the shoulder. “Fen, you’re not helping our case, you know? Tomorrow, she could leave us. Tomorrow, she might not want to want to see us again, and you want to pull this bull-wolf shit!” Fenris wasn’t oblivious to the rant, but when he gazed at Freya, what little guilt he had begun to show vanished and was replaced by animalistic hunger. Freya gave in to it. She climbed on top of Fenris, assuring her beta, “It’s okay, Rayne. I can handle him. He just needs a little immediate attention, is all. You got yours. Now, he wants his.” Determined to give Fenris what he wanted, she moved down across the hardened contours of his body. She stopped as her chin brushed against his rigid cock, so eager. On both sides of her shoulders, massive thighs were taut with expectancy. Freya ran her hands over his thighs as if she could calm him slightly. She looked up and into Fenris’s petitioning gaze. “Is this what you want?” Her tongue slid along his shaft. “More,” he uttered in a voice deep and sonorous. The jury was still out regarding the submissiveness of going down on a male. While it was a manipulative action with Rayne, Freya knew it wouldn’t be with Fenris. His beautiful cock stood thick and proud from a bed of soft, pale blond curls. Despite its gorgeous appearance, its length and girth would be a challenge to stretch her lips around, to accept within her throat.

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Being one that enjoyed challenges, Freya took hold of his shaft. She moved his foreskin down and placed her lips around the bulbous head of his prick. The saline taste of his precum fascinated her palate. Combined with the satiny feel of his skin, Freya had all of the motivation that she needed. She heard him gasp above her. Freya released him then noticed his thick digits moving toward her with curved claws. He nearly touched her hair. She had to remind him, “I’m the one in control here, Fen. Right?” “Hell, yes.” Fenris drew his hand back and placed it on the bed. With Rayne wrapped up in his other arm, Freya had nothing to worry about. “But you’re so damned gorgeous down there.” “You’ll behave?” Freya questioned Rayne as well. “You’ll make him behave?” “I’ll try.” Rayne scooted closer to Fenris, half lying upon his chest. He gathered Fenris’s arms and pinned them down before finding his alpha’s lips. The sight of them kissing had to be the sexiest thing she had ever seen. Although Rayne was not as powerful as Fenris, he held the beast down. She could tell Fenris wanted to dominate the kiss. She watched him struggle to do so then succumb to his beta. Not wanting Rayne to have all of the fun of domination, Freya guided the heavy cock to the depths of her throat. It was no easy task. Quick enough to avoid choking, she used her elbows and forearms to press his hips down. She began with slow, strong pulls, flicking her tongue across the small opening. His taste was an aphrodisiac which gave rise to the desire already coursing through her veins. Just the act of suckling him made her pussy throb with envy. There were other places that needed to be wet and stretched wide. Freya wanted to drown her fingers in her own hot wetness. She wanted to sooth her ache but focused on her alpha. It was the hint of victory that drove Freya to move quicker, to use the suction of her mouth to make Fenris shudder. She wanted him to know she was capable, something she had never doubted with submissive men. Hungrily she drew upon him, needing the full essence of his seed. Freya gathered the silky, firm sac of his balls and rolled them. Not as genteel as she had been with Rayne, she used teeth and tongue, suction, and breaths for encouragement. The difference between moans caused by Rayne and moans caused by her were indistinguishable. Feral growls, broken gasps, soft panting, it all mixed like an erotic melody. Still, it didn’t take too long before a particularly sharp cry pierced the air, one Freya was certain was for her alone. Fenris did rise off the bed, despite Freya’s strength. His cock pumped hot seed deep inside of her throat before she drew back in time enough to catch a few splashes of the succulent nectar upon her tongue. She took as much as his quivering body could give, even

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sucking at the eye of his cock until there were no more pearlescent drops. When she finally released Fenris’s cock, Freya found Rayne right beside her anxious for her lips and for a taste. The taste of Fenris’s mouth was within Rayne’s, and she sought it as eagerly as he sought the taste of his alpha’s sperm within hers. She took Rayne into her arms, caressing him with an ease she would not have gotten from Fenris. It wasn’t until claws raked down her back that she turned her attention to the grinning wolf. The dark intensity of his gaze had calmed somewhat. Despite the gleaming white fangs, Fenris seemed relaxed. Not done with him just yet, Freya hugged Rayne to her. “He just needed a bit of his edge taken away. Do you need the same?” Hesitant to speak for all of his panting, Rayne responded more with nods than words. “Y-yes. Just a bit.” “A bit?” Freya took hold of Rayne’s cock, finding him just as aroused and eager as Fenris had been. However, stroking him garnered a totally different reaction. Rayne immediately submitted to her control, his muscles relaxing. “You want me to suck you too?” Rayne closed his hand over hers lightly. “I want you to keep kissing me. I want to…” “What?” Unable to form the words, as if they were too shameful to speak, Rayne’s beautiful face flushed with rosy color born of breathlessness. Fenris spoke for him. “Take his breath away, Freya. When he comes, let him scream into your lungs. Nowhere else. Don’t let him breathe. He can take it.”

Damn. Damn. Damn, that’s hot. Easily, she found the affirmation of Fenris’s words in
Rayne’s dark gold eyes. His taste for submission was just as strong as Fenris’s desire for domination. There would never be a dull moment with them. Their allure had ingrained itself within her. Freya let loose a growl of her own, accepting the part of her that wanted to take Rayne’s breath away. She guided Rayne down to the bed. Freya covered him easily, kissing him lightly at first. Her palm moved slowly yet firmly along his cock, using his fluid as a lubricant. She gauged his breathing as she sped up her pace, playing with his tongue, laving his fangs, and biting his lips while his pleasure grew. It didn’t take much for her to realize what Rayne liked. Attuned to her every move, Rayne loved it when she pinched the head of his cock on the upstroke or squeezed extra tight in the down stroke. As his body began to shake, Freya’s motions became more forceful, tighter, and swifter. Rayne’s breathing began to stagger with the impending throes of powerful orgasm. Freya closed her mouth over Rayne’s one more time, her lips tight to his. She allowed him to breathe but only into her as he grew more and more restless. She heard him, felt his breath catch and stutter hotly as his orgasm hit.

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It was like trying to catch a whirlwind of heat and vibration. Despite his bucking and thrashing, Freya could only concentrate on Rayne’s lips. She antagonized his tongue as Rayne attempted to cry out. While wet heat spilled over onto her hand, Freya took in Rayne’s excitement. For her, it was a simple task to breathe from her nose, but for Rayne, it seemed too complex. As she set him free, she saw the evidence of extreme exhaustion in his reddened face, his sweat-soaked brow. He appeared dizzy and disoriented but managed a smile. Aroused anew, Freya wondered if she could ever get her fill of the two males. The more they gave the more she craved. One look at Fenris and she knew that he must have felt the same. He gestured for her to come to him, and despite the notion she had to take offense at his command, she went to him. She covered his chest with her own, relishing his thicker fur and the sheer girth of his chest. Fenris pulled her close and silenced her with his lips. Just being in his grasp was weakening to her. One of his heavy paws caught the curve of her ass as he pressed his revived erection into her thigh. It didn’t matter that his edge had been taken away, not when it awoke again so soon. Being on top, she knew from experience, that she would have some control. Fenris’s hands were all over her, urging her to come astride but she moved them. She could do it herself, could fit her thighs outside of his, could rest her pussy over his shaft more than enough to tease and torture. “Stop with the games and get on my cock,” Fenris growled. “I want you riding me. I want you to take me into you.”

Like I don’t want the same thing. She wrapped her fingers around his heavy sex,
steeling herself for the initial shock of fitting something so big within her. The stretch and burn, the tenseness and acceptance of joining with him required a long, joyous sigh. As she shuddered with elation, she managed a few words. “Settle down, cur.” Vocabulary proved just as difficult for Fenris. “Mmm…can’t. Not with you so fucking wet for me. Daring to challenge me, fighting with me….” She braced her hands on his chest and bore the first of Fenris’s eager thrusts. She arched back, content enough to let Fenris do all of the work. The way his thick shaft stretched her body and rubbed against her clit upon every shove had made her greedy. It gave her strength. Greedily she drove up and down upon Fenris’s cock, moving her hips in a slow, primal rhythm. She wanted to feel every inch sliding in and sliding out. Although every spike of pleasure seemed more potent than the last, she tightened her muscles around him and demanded stronger sensations. For every shove Fenris gave, she gave it back twofold.

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Fenris was not unmoved. Eyes closed, teeth grinding, he gripped Freya’s hips within a death grip. “Only you…only you can handle me as good as my Rayne.” “You’re a pair. I’ll give ya that.” A kiss on her back let Freya know that Rayne appreciated the comment. Rayne caressed her back and shoulders, his voice filled with renewed arousal. “That we are, well, a trio.”

A trio. A trio indeed ! As Rayne palmed and caressed her ass, she thought he meant to help, to encourage, but when his digits dipped into the crease of her ass, she caught his intent.
On the down stroke, Freya felt both the fulfillment of Fenris’s cock as well as the invasion of a thick digit. Freya shrieked as the dual sensations jolted her to a whole new level of excitement. “Freya? Can I? Could you?” She didn’t know what to say. Two at once was nothing she had ever dreamed of. She had never even had anal sex. To be taken by both of them was a potent image in her head. How thoroughly would it devastate her nerves? Already she was shaking, fighting to savor another of Fenris’s thrusts. Surely it would be too much. “Please?” Fenris spoke up for his beta, grasping Freya by the shoulders and bringing her down to lie upon him. “You are strong enough, Freya. You already have us both.” She looked into Fenris’s eyes. He was always challenging her, and she wasn’t about to decline another. Her body was more than willing; it was just her mind that bothered with notion of vulnerability to not one male but two. The scent of sandalwood permeated the haze of sweat, salt, and musk within the room. Freya turned her head and discovered Rayne coating his shaft, massaging it roughly. Wanting was the color of his aura. “Don’t make me wait, Rayne,” she said boldly. It might have been her last attempt at appearing dominant but as weak as she already was, she gave up on the notion. Held tightly within Fenris’s hold, Freya felt the bed shift and Rayne move behind her. As Rayne eased his cock within her, Freya doubted her strength. An outward stinging pain, an open wound was one thing, but trying to accommodate Rayne within such a tight opening was something wholly different. She breathed deeply and slowly with every inch inserted. It helped that Fenris kept still, that Rayne’s warmth covered her back, and that he gave her a few precious moments to get used to the burning sensation. It helped, but it did not dissolve the feeling that she would always be vulnerable with them, that she would have only as much strength as they would allow. With both of them inside of her body, Freya would never have any secrets. She was truly inhabited by both of her lovers.

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She wasn’t sure if one could feel the other as close as they were inside of her, but as Fenris pushed up, Rayne pressed her down with his cock. It didn’t matter if she wanted to move; Rayne and Fenris set their own rhythm. It was a gentle push and shove that immediately brought forth something so foreign she feared it. It was a whimper, a soft, helpless sound she tried to muffle in the breadth of Fenris’s barrel chest. She’d never whimpered. It wasn’t like her. In any other situation, had she been beaten, pummeled, wounded, she would have fought back. Her adrenaline would have kicked in, and she would have been able to fight on. The old rules didn’t apply anymore. Fenris stroked her sides as Rayne kissed her neck, and they both had a way of moving that trapped her not just between two males, but between pleasure and euphoria. Her body was confused; spikes of ecstasy were peppered with sparkling bursts of bliss. The sensations were so strong that the notion of shrinking away from them entered her mind, entered but never left. “Are you okay? You like…” “Can you take more?” Fenris wondered aloud. “Of course. You’re both mine, and I can handle…you both.” She could take as much as they could give. What little discomfort she had was gone, faded into the most covetous, spoiled pleasure she had ever experienced. She didn’t have to move a muscle, as the impetus of their movements were enough. Even as they sped up and drove for more, she commanded them. “Now move. Faster.” No fuss about it. They moved, Fenris lifting her up so Rayne could press her back down. They gave her no quarter, no room for rest, and definitely no strength for fighting. Her body seized up, tensing before erupting in a bevy of staggering sensations. All over her muscles sighed with release. She dug her elongated claws into Fenris’s thick arms, giving herself and her cries to them freely. Fenris cupped the back of her head, making an attempt to sooth her while he continued to take his own pleasure. “Freya…my mate…” Behind her, claws digging into her hips, Rayne tried to correct him with staggered speech. “Mine as well, you oaf. My alpha female…My alpha male…Ou --” His speech was cut short as he flooded Freya’s body with seed. “Yes…ours.” It took Fenris moments more. His pace, having been slower and more relaxed under the weight of two, eased as Rayne slipped off of Freya and onto the sheets beside them. He was so beautiful in his exhaustion, so beautiful grinning back at her. Between Rayne’s attention and Fenris’s movement, Freya felt her passion reawaken. She took hold of Fenris’s great shoulders, pushing down into his upward thrust. She thought she was calling upon the last reserves of her strength as she came in synchronicity with Fenris. But she was wrong.

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In the coming hours, Freya would realize that her energy could rise even when she felt as if she had nothing more to give. Deep into the night, they gave her no quarter, loving her as if she would never see them again. Two hours before dawn, lying exhausted upon Rayne, her back warmed by Fenris’s chest, Freya wondered if she could ever leave.

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Chapter Eighteen
She stood in a kitchen looking out at the wintry world beyond. The snow was piled so high it blocked half of the window at nearly six feet. Snow was something she could deal with. The six screaming cubs tugging at the hem of her dress was another matter entirely. Toddlers all, they had brown skin and blue eyes. Their hair color ran the gamut from pale blond to midnight brown. Four were males and two were females, and there was no question who their fathers were. One of the girls and all four boys were stout and favored Fenris. The second girl was willowy and had Rayne’s smile. All were hungry and insisting to be fed. Freya didn’t know what to do. Her cooking skills were nonexistent. She tried to walk to the refrigerator, but with every step, she had to drag along the litter. She bent down to dislodge the cubs, feeling hands on her hips and an erection pressing against her ass. She rose to tell Fenris to stop but then noticed Rayne standing beside her. Under the guise of fixing her dress, the sneaky beta found one of her breasts and squeezed. Before she could tell her mates and her cubs to behave, however, a thunderous boom shook the house. The kitchen wall buckled, splintering into thousands of pieces as it revealed snow and beasts. Lunas, three mutated beasts covered in blood from muzzle to tail came before her. With ragged rows of teeth, spines, and extra limbs just as muscular and deadly as if they had been natural, they came into the house. They had murder in their eyes. Her mates and her cubs were oblivious to the terror. Freya looked around for a weapon, for armor, for acknowledgement of the threat…and found nothing. She did, however, spot a platter on a countertop laden with four racks of ribs. A spatula and apron

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were on the counter as well. They had eyes, smiling mouths, and dancing feet. Like something out of a perverse cartoon. They glared at her with sparkling eyes. She awoke from her dream covered in a light sheen of sweat. Relieved to discover the familiar décor of the winter suite, she looked around her. One aspect of the dream proved real: Fenris was beside her, his cock hard and elongated. His hand hung possessively off her thigh. “You looked like you were having a rough sleep. Nightmare?” he asked. She nodded, finding no use in lying or divulging the entire truth either. “I had a nightmare about kitchen stuff.” “Kitchen stuff?” “Yeah.” “Are you that bad of a cook?” His tone was more humorous than she’d expected it to be. “Well, I can barely boil eggs,” she said. “But lucky for me the local rib joint delivers.” Fenris shrugged. “Not to worry. Rayne is truly a mage in the kitchen and incredibly health conscious. He’s the chef and nutritionist at our spa. ” How lucky was she? Even if it wasn’t like the ones filled with scents of honey and jasmine, decorated with white marble and votive candles and laden with white towels, her interest had been sparked. Surely they had to have mud and cucumber slices. Probably beautiful, narrow-waisted nymphs all about the place, too… “I’ve always wanted to go to a spa. Go somewhere and get pampered and stuff. It’s just…it would just be awkward.” “Doesn’t fit your warrior profile, huh?” “Hell no,” Freya answered nervously. With Fenris’s hand on her, Freya began to have second thoughts about swooning women. It wasn’t so bad, shivering in Fenris’s arms. “I have a reputation to protect, you know?” Fenris nodded, gazing down at her with the sort of look that usually indicated a slip in his control. Sure enough, his hand moved to her breast. “Our spa would be perfect for you. There are plenty of warriors, athletes, and supernaturals there. Rayne and I would pamper you from head to toe…” “Would you cover me in mud and put cucumbers on my eyes?” “Oh yeah, and a full deep tissue massage, too. See? I knew you’d open up eventually and give out your secrets. A spa fetishist.” Freya hissed as he rubbed her nipple between his forefinger and thumb. She stifled a moan she knew would only encourage him. With a nervous smile, she tried to pretend that she was humorous and not horny. “Yeah. My mother didn’t tell you everything.” “I don’t know it all, but I can be patient with some things.” Fenris lowered his mouth to her shoulder, kissed the round curvature. His patience did not apply to his passion, it

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seemed. “Tell me something about you, something that does not involve guns, blades, fistfights, or booze.” “That’s pretty much it. My life is on the boring side.” “Oh, I highly doubt that. Your mother says you have a cat. That’s interesting.” Interesting wasn’t quite the word that she would have used to describe the gray hellion. “What’s interesting? That I haven’t eaten it? I should; the little fucker pukes just to spite me.” Overweight, surly, and mischievous, the male cat was as close as Freya could get to sharing a bed with something. Well, until recently. “I mean, he is a warm ball of fur to snuggle with at night, but he walks on my head when I’m trying to sleep and just loves pissing me off.” With his head buried in Freya’s throat, Fenris muttered against her skin, “Why not a dog?” With Fenris warming her, bringing her body back into the flush of passionate heat, Freya looked at the clock. It was nearly eight in the morning, too late for her to entertain more of Fenris’s advances. Next to her, Rayne shifted in his sleep. He would awaken soon, and once he did, it would be hard to escape their hold. She put her hand upon his shoulder, trying to get the big alpha’s attention off of her. “Come on, you know dogs. With as much as I travel, a dog would have a nervous breakdown. No alpha in the house, no one to please. I’d feel bad. I don’t feel bad about leaving Fucker. I just turn the television on to the Discovery Channel, the automatic food dispenser, and put fresh litter in his box, and he’s good for a week. And another thing -- Fucker isn’t afraid of shit. He’ll hiss at anyone who comes in my place. Hell, he hisses at me when I don’t fill his bowl fast enough.” Fenris lifted his head, not taking the comment half as humorously as Freya had delivered it. His brow furrowed in questioning, he said, “Don’t tell me the cat’s name is--” “Fucker. Before I got him fixed, he was quite the stud. Randy little beast.” She wondered if Fenris would mind if she used the same nickname on him. She didn’t take him as being overly fond of cats. “Sometimes, I think he was a were in his former life. He even eats meat. Real meat.” Not impressed in the least, Fenris shook his head. “I can’t wait to meet him.” “That wasn’t in the contract.” The contract spelled out her obligations to spend time with them, but Freya couldn’t recall if her mates would have free and open access to her home as well. She hadn’t read all of the details and chided herself for her haste. “You plan on coming to visit?” “Until you get your wits about you. Until you decide to retire from your line of work and live in my den…or…” Fenris didn’t have to say another word. Freya knew what he was going to say. If she got pregnant, then there was a strong possibility that not even Rayne could soothe his alpha’s

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possessiveness. She didn’t even think that the sire of the child would be a relevant factor. “Did Rayne work his magic?” “No. You’d know it if he did. He insists on that troublesome concept called consent. I should tell you that he suspects your body may sort itself out. He tells me that when you healed from your near-fatality, the organs healed wrongly. They are there, however.” Passion waning swiftly, Freya didn’t like what she heard. How careless had she been already? She had mated with both wolves numerous times, and while she didn’t completely trust her old wound to halt conception, hearing she could be fertile was sobering enough. Freya pulled free of Fenris, trying to surmise a way to climb over Rayne without waking him. Oddly enough, she was wondering if human pregnancy tests would work on her. “Well, it could sort itself out, but for the moment, I’m almost like a Luna. Deformed… and screwed up. You sure you don’t want a nimble, perfect little bitch?” Freya threw the covers off and decided that scooting down to the foot of the bed was her best option. Fenris pulled her into his embrace before she could get far. He nuzzled his nose against her back. “Freya, you already know what I want and what I crave. I thought you had stopped trying to deny it.” His hands easily covered both of her tits, kneading them gently, coaxingly. With his thumbs flicking over her nipples, his palms so warm against her skin, Freya had to lean back against him. The addition of his lips on her throat only encouraged the notion of remaining for a few more moments. “Of course, I could give you another demonstration.” “He doesn’t want to give a demonstration,” Rayne said with a yawn. “He wants to give a four-week course.” Fenris squeezed Freya as he laughed at the comment. “Careful there, she and I could teach that cute little ass of yours a lesson. Couldn’t we, Freya? A few hours more, breakfast maybe…” It would have been a perfect way to spend the morning, but she couldn’t, not once she remembered her obligations. “No, no. I need to go check on my girls and turn in paperwork, remember?” “That is so unfair. Fen got attention.” She slid out Fenris’s hold, climbed atop of Rayne, and placed a kiss upon his lips. “I promise the next one to get attention will be you, my Rayne. Fenris and I both will make sure of it.” Rayne attempted to grab hold of her, but Freya was too quick. Frowning as she evaded his grasp, he truly seemed hurt. “So, you have the tickets, right? You’re going to visit soon?” “Yeah, I am.” “Will you at least visit before you take on your next job?” Fenris asked skeptically. He lay back on the bed. With one great arm, he pulled Rayne into his arms and soothed his beta.

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Freya found herself already missing them. Such longing was dangerous in her line of work. While the easy road led to their arms, she couldn’t bring herself to face it. She was a warrior first and foremost, not a homemaker…not yet. She found her clothes spread across the room after some time, and got dressed. “I’ve got girls to deliver and checks to get and deposit and --” “And you need to change Fucker’s litter box,” Fenris added. Rayne didn’t have a clue. “Change what?” “Her cat’s name is Fucker.” More amused by the fact that she had a cat rather than its name, Rayne broke out in a fit of laughter. “You have a cat? Really? A cat?” Dressed, Freya pulled her boots on. Without another glance, she left the two comedians to their jokes about cats and hors d’oeuvres and headed for the door. “I’ll submit the contract.”

*****
The morning had been too good to be true, Freya thought. The girls were still asleep when she got back to the room. She had been able to get in a shower and call for breakfast all before Dena opened the door joining their rooms and wished her good morning. The girls showered and met Freya for breakfast without so much as a hint of speculation or jokes. Packing had even gone smoothly. It was the checkout circus that nearly caused Freya to lose it. The ballroom, formerly the battle room had been transformed into a series of lines. There were lines for bill settlement and lines for proposal acceptance. As Freya had already charged everything to her business card, she stood in the proposal line in front of Dena, Rebecca, and Hallie. It, of course, was the slowest moving. Her proposal tucked beneath her arm, Freya checked her watch. It had been nearly twenty minutes’ worth of waiting. “All of this for some fucking paperwork.” Formerly engaged in a conversation about what to serve at a mating ceremony, Hallie turned her attention to Freya. “Don’t worry. We’re almost at the front, and they’re very thorough. Plus, they’re giving out gifts!” Freya was nonplussed. With the way Hallie was grinning, Freya would have thought they were giving away sports cars. “Gifts?” “Yeah, pendants!” She didn’t try to mask her sarcasm. “Woo-hoo. Mates and jewelry.” Hallie laughed. “What? I’m not that funny.” “You’ve got paperwork. You’ve got a proposal, and you’ve got --” “A little red-haired pup by the throat maybe?”

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The grin faded off Hallie’s features. “That wasn’t funny.” “Nah. Not at all, Freya,” Rebecca said. “We’re all in the same boat. We’re just as nervous as you are about making it…well, semi-official. I can almost imagine how nervous you must be. It’s almost a complete lifestyle change for you.” The girl wasn’t wrong, but what little pride Freya had left refused to let her admit it. “I’m not ready to go home, yet. This place is so nice, the food and the lawn… Plus, I heard from this girl that they host mating ceremonies and other events here too.” Dena agreed with Hallie. “That would be awesome but expensive. That and I don’t think that my pack is even big enough to fill the smallest of their ballrooms.” Freya listened to the girls discussing their dreams and ideas for the perfect ceremony. It helped to pass the time. “Not to worry, girls. There will be plenty of excitement when your mates meet the families, when you relocate, or whatever it is you intend to do. You’re about to become respectable.” “You, too.” Freya seriously doubted Dena’s opinion. Moving up in the line, Freya only had one female left before it was her turn. “I’ll never be respectable.” “Um, Freya, you should know that you’re in a pool for who will have the first cub or litter, knowing how twins and triplets could happen.” She turned around and looked at Hallie before turning her eyes on the equally guilty faces of Rebecca and Dena. No, they didn’t fear her. With the way she had behaved, she didn’t even bother to feign anger. She had behaved a like a cur in heat. “A pool? A betting pool?” Rebecca nodded firmly. “If it makes you feel any better, Dena’s second. They kinda picked me last because Michael still has a ways to go to get back into my good graces.” “Not that far,” said Dena. “I picked Hallie. That sweet, innocent ruse is gonna get the better of her wolf, and by spring, she’ll be as big as a house. She’s gonna turn into a wild woman once he lays the law down in the bedroom.” Blushing, Hallie wrinkled up her nose. “I will not, you disgusting cow!” The girls’ laughter grew. With all of the noise in the hall, it seemed like everyone was laughing and talking. Freya couldn’t help chuckling herself. “God, I hope there’s scotch in the limo.” Rebecca overheard her comment. “You know, drinking isn’t good for --” “For what?” Cubs ? She wanted to tell the girls they were wrong but feared jinxing herself. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” Cheeks round, the blonde were gestured for Freya to move up. “Your turn.”

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Seated at a table stacked with several piles of envelopes and neatly arranged rows of small, gold gift pages with emerald green ties was a silver-haired woman with an unnaturally cheerful grin. She wore a nametag with silver half moon atop of the name “Helena Sohon.” As she met Freya’s gaze, the woman’s green eyes lit up. If it were possible, she seemed to become more jubilant with recognition. “Freya Daniels. What a surprise,” she chirped with an English accent. “A good one at that. I know your mother would be proud, although she chose not to find her mate through us.” She spoke of it as if it were some unfortunate loss of opportunity. “Anyway, a joining of two such strong packs as yours and Fenris’s is bound to produce phenomenal offspring.” It was the woman’s comment regarding her mother and father that caused Freya to react so coldly. “Really? You Sohons -- you know, it’s not just about breeding. Sometimes it’s just about good fucking sex.” The woman nodded as if she almost understood what Freya was saying. With a look of condescension on her features sweet enough to confuse a judge, Helena smiled. “Good fucking sex…I suppose that is a possible way to have cubs as well, but you won’t have to worry about either. I’m sure you’ll have cubs either way.” She really didn’t like the woman. Freya dropped her contract upon the table and did her best to keep her tongue. Silver-hair was a multitasker, scanning through the document to be sure of every signature and initial, no doubt. Once satisfied, she lifted her head. “Everything seems to be in order.” Freya managed her best grin, while thinking to herself, I’m not a fucking Neanderthal after all, I guess. “We will keep the original document. Copies will be mailed to your matron, to you, to Fenris’s matron and Rayne’s, and Fenris and Rayne as well. If you choose to nullify the contract, you have until ten days after the formal joining ceremony to do so. The contract declares that your joining should be held within a year’s time. Enclosed is your formal declaration, which should be completed, signed, and returned thirty days before the ceremony. And then there’s the joining certificate which requires witness signatures, the signatures of you and your mates, and --” “Excuse me, but last time I checked werewolves weren’t fucking extinct. I mean, all of this damn work…” The silver-haired woman glared at Freya. It took her a moment to recall her place in her seemingly memorized monologue. She lifted a gold bag and held it for Freya to take. “Inside there’s a moonstone and diamond bracelet, a Sohon platinum keychain, and adverts for our Mates Retreat and our Summer Harvest Howling Convention. A fifteen percent discount is included for that as well. All of our contact information is also inside, along with the contact information of our two affiliate resorts in the Ukraine and Canada. Should you choose to stay with them, there is also a fifteen percent discount coupon. For Halloween this

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year, as with every year, accommodations are free. Reservations are first-come-first-serve and fill up fast.” Waiting until the woman finished her sales pitch, Freya cocked a brow curiously. “Can I ask a question? Just one simple, little question?” “Of course.” “Are you really just a vampire disguising yourself as a wolf?” The woman laughed long and cheerfully before digressing into a sarcastic smirk. “No. But thanks to us, vampires are not the only ones with strong bloodlines, money, and connections. Next,” she said, waving at Hallie.

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Chapter Nineteen
The exit from the mansion was far more somber than the arrival had been. Despite being within the comfort of the limousine surrounded by luxury, neither Freya nor her charges took interest in either the minibar or the free snacks laid out for them. All were deep in thought, Freya especially. Overall, it hadn’t been a difficult job, and with the exception of gaining two mates, Freya might have considered herself ready to get back to serious work again. But things were different. They had been ever since that night. Contrary to what her teammates had thought, she hadn’t truly had a death in Scotland. Perhaps she had been irrational, had actually believed that nothing could bear the full force of her might. But she had been wrong. That night, lying in a pool of her own blood, mortality at her heels, Freya had known what loss meant. It didn’t matter that the beast lay dying; the victory was a hollow one. Her stomach had been sliced open three ways, and her healing abilities couldn’t work fast enough. That night she had been ready to die and for what…glory? Before she would have drunk and celebrated after her victory, but it was hard to celebrate anything taped up and bandaged on a bed. A look around the limousine showed faces that had never know the accomplishment of rending a vampire from limb to limb, the pride in having destroyed a haven of murderous succubae, or the thrill of engaging a Luna one on one. They had never seen, and would never see, the dangers and horrors that she had seen and yet they had fear in their eyes. They were about to become adults, to start lives with a mate at their sides and cubs perhaps, and to them, it was a reason to be afraid.

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For Freya, it was absolutely terrifying. That fateful night she had been ready to die, and afterward, some part of her that was not a warrior wanted more, demanded it to the point of recklessness. The warrior in her had recovered, but the damage had been done. More than once, she had laid herself open to her mates and the thought of pregnancy cowered awkwardly behind a fog of denial in her mind. Battle and death were easy opponents. Life was not. “Freya?” Snapping back to the present, Freya met wide, curious eyes. “You will come to my mating ceremony, won’t you?” Hallie asked. As if not to be outdone, Dena spoke up as well. “Mine too! You’ve got to come to mine too. It’ll be wicked.” Freya looked over at Rebecca, expecting to hear a plea from her as well. The blonde smiled and nodded as if she too wanted Freya to attend her ceremony. Where the hell is this coming from, she wondered. Thinking it had to be a joke, some ruse that they planned while she was lost in thought, Freya laughed. All three of them couldn’t be that sentimental. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You really want me there?” Hallie sure looked sincere. “Sure. I mean, if you’re not on a job or something.” Rebecca nodded. “Well, then she might be planning her own mating ceremony.” “Are you going to invite us?” The conversation had already surpassed bizarre to Freya. While she felt that she fairly liked the girls’ company, Freya wasn’t ready to do the chummy, girlfriend bit. “Huh? I ain’t planning shit. That ain’t even my style.” Although she could see Rayne selecting flowers, menus, and decorations, Freya kept her enjoyment of that image to herself. Who needed a ceremony for hooking up? “Still pretending that you’re not one of us, eh?” Freya eyed Rebecca, evenly, without the first hint of condescension. Warrior or not, she was in the same predicament and waiting for the hammers of commitment, responsibility, and possibly motherhood to come crashing down. To make matters worse, Natalie had given her a pregnancy test before they checked out of the mansion. The huntress had thought it was hilarious joke. She hadn’t laughed when Freya broke her nose. With the best semblance of a smile she could muster, Freya replied, “Nope, not anymore. One of the gang is what I am.” “And that’s why you have to come to our ceremonies! I promise mine will be phenomenal. It’s going to be in the woods, with lanterns and chimes. We’re going to have two whole roasted pigs, wine, and music -- and flowers too -- ” Dena’s level of audacity and enthusiasm was infectious, brightening the moods of the other two girls. Rebecca even went into the ice chest and pulled out one of the complimentary bottles of champagne.

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“And of course your mates will be welcome. I just figure that you kind of shepherded us through the whole thing so it’s only right you see us all the way through.” Freya smiled. “I might.” Popping the cork off of the bottle with a curved red nail, Rebecca raised a questioning brow. “Really ?” The old Freya would have never considered doing anything other than running off to a pub, scheduling the next hunt, and reveling in meaningful loneliness. The old Freya would have opened the bottle of complimentary scotch and had the champagne as a chaser. The new Freya was too concerned with a gift from a friend, or rather a gift from two mates. Pink for pregnant. Blue for partaking, Natalie had told her. Oh, yes, she had deserved that punch. “See, she’s not going to come. I told you. Why would she want to --” Freya cut off Rebecca’s declaration with a reason that silenced all of the girls. “Maybe because I like you pups,” she said.

*****
“You have twenty-two new messages,” announced Freya’s answering machine. She had expected as much. In no rush to hear sales pitches, refinancing offers, or worse, job offers, she ignored the machine and the duffle bag sitting by the door. There would be plenty of time for her to be semi-responsible and unpack after she unwound. In order for her to do that, she needed a cold one. Before she could cross the threshold to the kitchen, a large, imposing gray and black cat wove between her legs. “And why didn’t you answer my phone, Fucker? Tuna ain’t free, and you need to earn your keep. I can’t do all of the work, you know?” The cat gave the closest thing it could to a meow. It always sounded like a deep, long growl. She couldn’t quite tell whether it was an ailment or an attitude that gave Fucker the sound of an angry wolverine. She put the needs of her pet over her own, opening a cabinet and looking over the food choices. “Tuna, salmon, or beef?” The cat cocked his head, but he gave no reply. She chose tuna, and the cat mewled with agreement. She found the can opener and got a bowl. Setting it down next to the automatic food dispenser, Freya knew dry food wasn’t Fucker’s preference. She filled the bowl with tuna cutlets and sauce before turning back to the refrigerator to get something for herself. A beer and a pack of beef bologna was her usual. It was nothing like the delicacies served at the Sohons. Her mates would have provided her with something more substantial, she knew, but the simplicity of processed meat and hops would be just fine.

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About to crack open the can, Freya had second thoughts. Responsibility gnawed at her as she grabbed a glass of water instead. And while it wasn’t nearly as tasty, it did go well with the meat. The sight of her international knife collection hanging on the wall over her stove helped as well. Hers was the home of a warrior, not a matron. A massive four-foot spice rack stood in the corner filled with an alchemist’s supply of potions, unguents, and herbs ready for most missions. She kept two semiautomatic pistols, a boomerang, and a grappling hook beneath the stove. Her home was fortified, her doors guarded by runes and dusts, crystals, and even a security alarm. She had weapons ranging from small to large, steel to leather within her apartment. Everything she needed to defend herself from the outside world but nothing more than a cat for company. “It was an exciting trip,” Freya muttered with her jaws full of bologna. She washed it down with water before finishing her tale. “It wasn’t as dangerous as the last trip, but it was definitely more exciting. And you’ll never believe what happened, Fucker!” The cat looked up from his feast. “I have mates. Yeah, plural, if you can believe it. Rayne and Fenris.” With a gravelly meow, the cat returned to his meal. Freya was not deterred by the nonchalance. “They’re hot. Rayne’s a slender cutie with a narrow ass. He has the sweetest mouth. God, he fits so well into my arms. He’s a sub, a damn good and delicious one, and a healer! Fenris, well, he’s an alpha. He’s a big boy, built like a golem and a real brawler type. They’re really fucking nice, too. I can fight with Fenris, and well, he’s a damn good fighter. He’s intense. They’re both…pretty, fucking hot.” The sound of her cat lapping at his paws after a quickly finished meal broke Freya from thoughts that warmed her pussy. She laughed at herself and her wantonness. Fucker padded to his mistress’s feet and nuzzled against them as if he should have been all that she needed, or so she assumed. She reached down and scratched his thick gray and black coat. “Hey, I didn’t plan on it, I swear. I tried to resist them. Really, I did.” The cat fell on his side, not showing any signs of belief, only an interest in being petted. Like a good pet owner, Freya obliged. “Fine, don’t believe me, Fucker, but I deserve some ass, too. You had more than enough in your heyday, so I don’t want to hear another fucking word.” The cat kept silent as Freya lifted him with one hand and grabbed a beer from the fridge with the other. She carried both into her living room and sat down on the sofa in front of the television. Despite finding an intriguing documentary on the pack dynamics of hyenas in Africa, Freya’s attention kept drifting over to her luggage, namely her duffle bag. Inside were the two things she wished she could forget about: her contract and a pregnancy test.

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Test first and, if you’re lucky, beer second. Letting out a pent-up sigh, Freya set her
beverage down upon the coffee table. Why it should have been that the sex was so easy, but a test seemed much harder, Freya didn’t know. Perhaps it had been that she needed the chaperon, someone to guard her from herself more so than the girls. As if she might pick up some clue herself, Freya placed her hand on her stomach. Nothing felt different although she wasn’t wholly sure which signs she needed to be on the lookout for. Considering a call to her mother, Freya quickly scratched that notion for being the pinnacle of idiocy. Fucker took note of her hand and crawled up onto her lap to nestle against her stomach. “Sense anything? A cub, maybe? All clear?” The cat had no reply but a purr. More numb than upset, Freya relaxed back on her sofa with her hand over her cat. There was no need to rush other than the beer before her steadily getting warmer. On the television screen, the matriarchal dynamics of hyena packs were being explained by some eloquent British man. Female hyenas seemed just as vicious when pregnant as when not…maybe she might as well. After fifteen minutes of doubting, Freya moved her cat off her lap. She had been cowardly long enough. Determined, she walked over to her luggage and pulled the small white box out. Intent on pissing over a stick, she headed toward the bathroom. A knock on the door would have come as a relief if she had been expecting anyone. Freya didn’t like the word paranoid. She felt as if it were a skeptic’s excuse, something for lazy folk who didn’t like to entertain too many thoughts. The word prepared was much more to her liking. Quietly, she walked over to her bookcase and set the test on an upper shelf. From a lower shelf, she pulled a handgun from between a stack of National Geographic magazines. A .45 caliber filled with silver hollow-tip rounds wouldn’t just stagger a were or a vamp, it would cause even those immune to both to think about coming to her home uninvited. A revelation sack hung beside the door. Once thrown it would pull any demon from its disguise and into the physical realm with ease. Three deadbolts, a three-and-a-halfinch thick steel door, and sliding lock would keep out anything human. If anything was so lucky as to get inside, she had plenty of other supernatural and natural deterrents. With quiet footsteps, Freya moved to the door and looked through the peephole. A white male about forty stood outside. He had brown hair with wisps of silver and piercing green eyes that looked directly back at hers. A tall man, he wasn’t imposing. She couldn’t detect anything unnatural about his scent. It didn’t put her at ease.

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Unlocking the door, she cracked it open, keeping her gun well hidden behind her back. “What do you want, stranger?” The man looked her up and down. “Freya, yes?” She nodded while releasing the safety on her gun. “That would be me.” “You look just as imposing as he said you did.” Warning bells made her tense. She didn’t like allusions to conversations she didn’t witness. “Do I know you?” The man smiled. He held out his hand. “Forgive me. My name is Ithan. You did a job for a friend of mine.” She looked at the man’s hands. They were covered in blue and green rune tattoos, the clear indication of a sorcerer. “What job was that?” “If I could come inside --” Looking around as if someone might walk down the hallway at any moment, he leaned in close. “I don’t think you would want to discuss this where neighbors could hear.” She wasn’t shy, and her neighbors weren’t nosy or stupid. Two vampires, a few witches and a werecat were the tenants of her exclusive apartment and none were the heroic type. Even if they were, she had the feeling that Ithan was not someone she should invite into her home. “My neighbors know that I’m a bounty hunter.” Well, they thought that she was in law enforcement. “They support the imprisonment of bail jumpers and such. Anyway, I’ve never taken down a beast that didn’t deserve to be taken down. What job?” Obvious displeasure flashed upon Ithan’s features, but he was quick to dispel it. “You slew a Luna a few months ago, a powerful beast of werewolf hell-bent on killing a friend of mine.” She really didn’t like the way that the conversation was heading and did nothing to hide her animosity. “Yup. He was hunting your friend and basically trying to kill everything in its path.” “It was an absolute travesty. Out of all the supernaturals I’ve encountered, I’ve never seen such a more vicious, deadly creature…” Admiration for the beast was clear in his voice, betraying any attempt at concern for his friend. Just as suddenly, his bearing changed to something closer to sympathy. “It would have ripped him to pieces had it reached him. But you took it down. One on one, you defeated it.” “Nearly died in the process, but yeah. What? Did you want to give me a fucking medal?” Ithan held up his hand. “Really, Freya. I am not your enemy. I am just a client with an enormous amount of money that I would like to offer you.” “For what? Hunting down another motherfucking Luna?” “No. Oh, no.” Ithan smiled wickedly. “Just for guarding a few.”

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Her blood went cold at the thought of more. She could barely wrap her head around one hell of a coincidence. It wasn’t like Lunas were bred. They were rare anomalies, not a species unto themselves or so she had been told. Something was definitely not right. “A few? How many is a few?” “Three beautiful, wild beasts of enormous strength. They are not as deadly as the first, but they are young and have potential. They are easy to make. Not so easy to command. For all of their berserker rage, however, they can be broken. That is how you make a Luna in the first place. If only they came with instructions.” Close-lipped and wound as tight as a spring, Freya definitely didn’t like what she heard. “Sounds like you have a problem.” “Well, I wouldn’t want to make it yours, but I do have a generous offer. Money, jewels, property, men or women if you would prefer…” Did she have an advertisement out she didn’t know about? Something to the tune of “Will Work for Dumbasses.” As the situation became clearer, she realized it had been no coincidence to find the sorcerer at her door. “You put a Luna you couldn’t control on your friend and your ignorant fucking ass wants to hire me to keep them in line? Let me remind you that you hired me the first time, as well, for a job that nearly took my life and definitely took the life of one of my team?” Ithan nodded boldly. “I paid generously for that job. It was as much of a test as it was a service. You passed. Besides, I am asking nicely.” Furious, Freya told herself not to be hasty. She looked up and down the hallway, trying to discern if any goons or traps were set. It would have been foolish for her to step out when the advantage lay inside her apartment. She had all sorts of treats for sorcerers on her alchemy rack. Making a sound decision, Freya spat in his face. “You should have asked rudely, you son of a bitch!” Ithan wiped the spit from his face, slow and thoroughly. His demeanor went dark as he hissed a warning. “Careful, Freya. I will have you one way or the other.” “You need to try the fucking other then, asshole!” Grinning from ear to ear, Freya slammed the door in Ithan’s face.

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Chapter Twenty
Freya barely had time to get the door locked before a tremendous thud rattled it. An unnatural bellow sounded, loud and threatening. It had to be a Luna. Another blow created a sickening bulge in the metal front of her door, sending flecks of paint onto the floor. Steel would not keep the beast at bay for long and aiming to be prepared when it burst through, Freya ran for what she felt would defend her best. Despite the fact that her house had been blessed and spellbound by the strongest witches money could buy, she put no trust in her home’s natural boundaries. Beneath her couch was a veritable arsenal. She snatched the two metallic whips from their hooks. Looping them both around her neck, she reached for her fully automatic 9mm Beretta and her beloved 50-caliber Magnum revolver. They fit easily into her belt as the door bulged again, groaned with the assault from the other side. Screws flew off and there was no hope of the door being able to withstand any more. One more hit, and it would fall. It left neither hope for armor, nor a chance for sifting through cabinets for potions that might have been able to slow the beast or its sorcerer master. As the door, one hunk of misshapen metal, crashed down, Freya put her hands on a twelve-inch metal hoop. With one flick of her wrist, tiny porcupine-like spikes erupted from the flat edge of the sphere. Throwing the death sphere with all of her might, she watched as the ring spun swiftly towards the beast. The blade cared little for supernatural flesh, slicing the neck of the beast as easily as it had passed through the air. The Luna shrieked. It only paused for a moment before it returned his attention back upon her.

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There was definitely nothing remotely resembling a wolf in the Luna, but it wasn’t as large as the one she had fought in Scotland. Its snout was pushed back into its face beneath three sets of yellow-green eyes. The creature’s mouth was excessively wide and filled with numerous rows of teeth. Brown and black fur, what little it possessed, hung off it in clumps. Where there was no fur, there were shiny black plates and scales, almost like armor. It was hideous indeed, but Freya thanked the Goddess it only had four limbs. “Come on, you motherfucker,” she roared. “Gonna knock on my fucking door, will ya? Well, waste not, want not.” The beast bounded from the door with lightning speed. Still, she was faster, drawing out the Beretta and unloading a full clip into the beast’s face, neck, and shoulders. It was enough to bring the Luna crashing to the floor at her feet. Pulling the other gun from her belt, Freya aimed and shot it without so much as a glance towards the doorway. She didn’t need to see where the bullets landed. The sudden scream of the shocked sorcerer told her that the bullets had struck home. At her feet, the Luna thrashed. Its sight was impaired but not enough to prevent it from swiping at her left leg, creating a painful gash. Furious more about the audacity of their intrusion than the pain, Freya brought the heel of her boot down on the head of the beast. Pulling on the handle of one of her whips, she released the long coil of flexible metal and lashed it out at the sorcerer. Called Diablo’s Tongue by the alchemist who had made it, the whip caught the sorcerer’s throat and wrapped around it. With a forceful yank, Freya pulled Ithan into the well-enchanted threshold of her apartment. She turned her attention back to the Luna. He bucked beneath her, lifting the both of them off of the ground. Freya jumped back. It caught one of her feet between its massive claws. Freya used the other to swipe at its head. The maneuver called for both feet to be off the floor and for Freya to fall. Kicking upward with her free foot, Freya caught the beast’s head with extreme force. In the same moment that she gained her freedom, Freya hit the floor ass first. It was jarring, but she was back up within an instant. Ithan was still on his feet, the end of the whip tight around his throat. He tried to pull the rope free, but the metal was treacherous and bit into his sensitive flesh with a viciousness that, on human skin, felt like flames. His hands glowed white with the telltale signs of magic. Raising the whip’s twin above her head, Freya released the length in an arch that slashed the sorcerer across the face. “You wanted something, sorcerer, and I aim to fucking deliver, you sorry-ass son of a bitch.” “You bloody cu --” She cut him off with another crack of the whip that opened a gash across his nose and mouth.

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White-hot pain seared her thigh. The Luna had fastened its maw on the meat of her leg, threatening to take a huge chunk out. She had no time to chide herself for her divided attention. Dropping the handle of the whip around the sorcerer’s throat, she transformed. Her clothing didn’t stand a chance as her body grew in mass. Her bones grew thicker, hairs erupted from her pores until she was more wolf than human. The pain of contortion was nothing compared to the rush of adrenaline and power that came with the change. Roaring with glee, Freya didn’t give a damn who heard her. She meant to do damage. Her hands now deadly claw-tipped weapons, Freya scratched the Luna’s eyes, digging one out from its bloody, mangled socket. The beast had to open its mouth to scream, and she used the opportunity to pull her thigh free. She roared at the Luna, letting it know it would find no fear in her. Just as she had battled its predecessor, its only victory -- its master’s only victory -- would be her dying breath. The Luna answered her call swiftly, casting aside any pain it might have felt, and charged. As much as she wanted to battle both it and its master, she could not. The Luna was upon her with all of its brute strength. With no backup, she had to give the creature her full attention. Locked in battle with the beast, Freya found herself in familiar position. Once more, she was lying beneath the insane fury and strength of a Luna, fighting to survive. Determined, she pummeled, slashed, and punched. The Luna did the same. Every time she broke its hold, the Luna was swift to bring her beneath it again. Even half blind and wounded, it was a lethal creature. Worse, it was healing quickly. To kill it meant the theft of its brain entirely from it skull, and for that, Freya would need something sharper than her claws. She just needed to get free. “Heavens, Freya. You will make a magnificent beast!” Ithan gloated. “Just a wolf and still so lethal…” “Fuck if I will,” Freya spat. Twisting onto her stomach, she had to bear a jagged wound across her back as she struggled to get to the couch. There were weapons attached to the underside. Her sights set on a scimitar-like long blade. A flash of red and white light blinded her. She had to close her eyes to avert the pain. When she opened them, her couch was no more. In its places was a mass of material, charred and amalgamated in the heat of a magical flame. Freya prayed she would live long enough to kill the sorcerer, if only she could get the Luna off of her. Another gash opened up her back, and despite the intensity of her battle rage, her body grew weary trying to heal itself. She needed just a few moments to gain her strength back,

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but with the scent of her blood thick in the air, she knew the Luna would give her no quarter. Determined to confront it, she grasped the Luna by the throat. She squeezed, sinking her claws between scale and fur warmed by hot, black blood that spilled all over her. She shook off the mess, tightening her grip through veins and flesh, snarling with her attempt to sever. Then the beast collapsed. Freya blinked, not knowing what was going on. Then the beast was being pulled back by something and was thrown aside as easily as a discarded towel. She looked up to see what had saved her. Surely it wasn’t the sorcerer, she thought. And she was right. It was another Luna!

*****
Freya had never seen a Luna look anything other than the very image of Lovecraftian madness. She had definitely never seen one with bright, sentient eyes. It was much bigger than the one she had just fought, but whereas the other was a hideous, beetlelike creature, the one before her was a wooly mammoth of a wolf with ivory tusks and massive paws. She did not have the energy to take on the beast. She searched the floor, hoping to find something to defend herself with. One of the whip handles was close. She reached out and grabbed it then struggled to her feet. One more time, damn it. Probably my last, she figured, raising the whip. “Freya! Freya, hold!” a familiar voice pleaded. From behind the hulking beast, Rayne appeared. He came to her side and steadied her shaking form. “It’s okay. It’s all right. It’s us. It’s Fen.” The tusked monster nodded. Its bright blue eyes fixated upon her, and Freya knew Rayne’s words to be true. “Holy, fucking… What the fuck do you mean? How the hell is this possible?” “Freya, easy. It’s okay. You’re hurt.” He eased the whip from her hand. Her curiosity dwarfed her pain. “Fenris?” The creature nodded again. He tried to approach her, but as his lengthy tail swung, it caught on what had once been a bookshelf. Fenris shrugged a massive shoulder as the battered mess of wood broke further. Freya could have counted on one hand all of the times in her life that she had been truly surprised. She had been surprised enough when she discovered that Fenris was Rayne’s alpha, but finding out that Fenris was a Luna -- that was something entirely mind-blowing. Her attention snapped back to Rayne, anger and confusion directed solely at him. “Why didn’t you tell me? There was nothing in the fucking contract about…about this. He’s a Luna, a fucking Luna !”

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“He will not harm you, Freya --” “Are you two with the sorcerer?” “H-he’s gone.” Fenris’s vocal chords were strained by transformation into his humanoid shape. It looked far more painful than a were’s and definitely took longer. Freya was amazed. Lunas could not transform; their constant state of madness prevented it. Yet, Fenris could change into a wolf. She had seen it. Apparently, he could change into a Luna as well. Naked and, somehow, strangely vulnerable, Fenris walked over to her. “My Freya.” Stumbling back, Freya didn’t know what to do. It was Fenris, but he had been a Luna before. Fear, as unnatural as it was to her, mixed with confusion. In her weakened state, Freya couldn’t wrap her mind around what had happened, much less what was going on. The room spun. Rayne was at her side as she fell, cushioning her within his strong hold. His smile was a welcome sight of peaceful beauty, Freya thought. “Not to worry. I can heal you, too,” he said. Freya looked up and found Fenris standing behind his beta. He was nodding in agreement. It was the last thing Freya saw before everything around her went dark.

*****
Freya felt snug. It was the only word that she could think of to describe the warmth over her. Soft, thick covers were piled up on top of her naked body. The added weight of someone beside her assured she would not catch any sort of chill. She struggled to open her eyes, task though it was. It was made all the more worthwhile by the sight of Rayne walking through her bedroom door with a bowl of something that smelled delicious. The body next to her stirred, and Freya turned to see Fenris smiling at her. Gone were the tusks, the massive bulk, and the wooly fur. In its place was her impressive male. “You’re well now?” he asked. “A little groggy, but I’m whole and fit.” Rayne sat down on the edge of the bed. He placed the bowl -- smelled like onion broth -- on the nightstand. “Not yet. Not completely. Some soup and more rest are what you need.” While Rayne’s concern was appreciated, she couldn’t help but scoff. “I’ve been through worse than this. At least I didn’t have any organs hanging out.” “No, you didn’t. They were nearly visible from the outside, however, so if you think you’re getting up from that bed, you’d be wrong.”

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Pushing three sets of covers aside, Freya sat up and looked down at her body. There were no traces of the gaping wounds she had received, no signs of the scratches and bruises that she knew she had born. Her brown skin was as flawless as it had been before she had encountered the Luna. “I feel fine. You worked wonders!” “Yes, he did,” Fenris said, cupping her bare breasts. She shuddered. The heat from Fenris’s palm covered her flesh, the sensation a welcome affirmation of her health. She closed her eyes, momentarily placated by his thumb flicking across her nipple. A smack echoed through the room. “She needs her broth, Fen!” Reluctantly, Fenris removed his hand. He fluffed up the pillows behind her back and lifted the covers over her. Rayne handed the bowl to Freya. Had he attempted to spoon feed her, she would have freaked out for sure. The broth was a mixture of beef and onions, though Freya was certain none of the ingredients had been in her refrigerator. It was good, damn good. Spicy and hot, with an almost citruslike aftertaste, the mystery of its preparation grew more complex with every taste. “How long have I been out?” “Six hours,” Fenris said. “It’s nearly dawn. You lost a lot of blood during your fight, and it took Rayne almost an hour just to heal you.” Her mood soured once reminded of the sorcerer. “His fucking ass will pay, I swear it. This shit wouldn’t have happened if I had been prepared.” “That would be why he attacked in the first place. We should have been with you.” Fenris was right. With a Luna and a witch-wolf at her side, the sorcerer would have thought twice about his offer. A Luna, Freya recalled. Glaring at Fenris as her memory came back, Freya had no words. It was more irony than she could take. Almost killed by a monster and yet mated to one. It was impossible. It was also time for the truth. “So, you can transform into a Luna, huh?” “Yes.” “And you didn’t tell me? You didn’t think I should know? I mean, Rayne being a witch is one fucking thing, but you… Is there anything else I should know? Can either of you teleport? Generate fire? Turn to stone?” “No. I can’t do anything else but heal,” Rayne said, “and Fenris can’t do magic at all.” “Freya,” Fenris began, “the pageant was an introduction and a promise to get to know one another. I didn’t want to spoil fate with details. Besides, you might not have been as…understanding.” “Because I was almost killed by one,” she posed. “Yeah, I would have definitely called off the whole thing. You’re damn right about that. Your kind --”

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Fenris was quick to interrupt her. “A Luna is not a breed. I am a were as you are.” “I don’t grow extra limbs, for crying out loud. No extra rows of teeth and no fucking horns.” His head lowered; Fenris had no quick retort for that. She would have never signed the contract or formed even a relationship with either of them if she’d known the truth. Taking another spoonful of her broth, Freya knew it would have been a mistake had she done so. “It’s Rayne, isn’t it? Rayne calms you, prevents you from going berserk, staying berserk.” “He does calm me,” Fenris agreed, “but not all Lunas are made. I was born with the ability to mutate as was my great-grandfather. Rayne, however, keeps me from staying that way, but in my other form or not, I would never harm you.” “What if Rayne wasn’t around?” “Did I hurt you before? I knew you. My transformations do not change who I am and that is why I can tell you that the creatures you fought, the ones driven mad, are not like me.” Unable to ignore the truth of his words and within his eyes, it was Freya’s turn for silence. Whether she liked it or not, she could not fault him. “When I thought you would be harmed, I -- I lost it and… The sorcerer teleported before I could tear his heart out, but I will find him and kill him.” Impressed by his sincerity and his revealed ability, Freya wasn’t about to leave the task to Fenris alone. “Not to worry, I’ll get that son of a bitch myself.” Rayne spoke up finally. “Before you two start on the warpath, Freya, you need to finish healing. You still need rest.” “I could have healed on my own,” she muttered before slurping up another spoonful of the delicious soup. “Yes, you could have, but bones need to be set together to heal correctly. Organs need to be in the right cavities before they grow. It’s not like you just had a bullet wound. You had several displacements.” Freya looked at Rayne and saw that he was not exaggerating. “Fine.” It was apparently Rayne’s turn to grin, and he took it smugly. “I know that I’m right. I have a Luna and a warrior as mates. I’m not impressed by bravado.” It never ceased to amaze her how easily Rayne balanced submission and authority. She was not about to challenge him. “How did you find me, anyway?” she wondered, changing the subject and focus from herself. “You two were supposed to be back in Iceland.” “My sources informed me. The ones who spoke of your first battle,” Fenris said. “They warned us that you could be in trouble and that you would need our help.” “And just who are these sources?”

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“It’s not important.” “It’s damn important. Someone’s watching me and I don’t know who it is. Who watches a battle like that and doesn’t fucking lend a hand?” The answer came to her suddenly. She saw the affirmation on Rayne’s face. “Kompas? Kompas told you?” Fenris shrugged in a so-what attitude even he couldn’t make believable. “Yeah, they did. I once worked for them as hired muscle just like you. They aren’t that bad or wholly neutral.” “I never worked for those neutral, sideline-sitting, ball-less sorcerers. I never lifted a finger for Kompas, just like they never lifted a finger to correct their damn kind. It’s their fault Ithan is running amuck. If they would just take care of their fucking own… Hell, I wouldn’t have had to hunt down the first Luna if it wasn’t -- fuck, it was! A shady representative… ‘We have an offer for you…’ Fucking cowards.” She wanted to throw something. She looked down at her soup bowl, contemplated tossing it for a moment, but Rayne’s hand on her shoulder made her reconsider. “You’re upset it was them?” he asked. “It could have been anyone. Please don’t try to convince us now that you wouldn’t have taken the job just for the thrill of it.” The offer had come with a thrill, and when she’d taken it, the challenge had meant more than the money. Just as she could find fault with Kompas for their inaction, she could find issue with her own recklessness. It was a bitter pill. She had to shy away from such medicine if she was to finish the job. With Ithan on the loose, she would have to do so soon. Freya finished her soup and set the bowl on her nightstand. She lay back on the pillow, not feeling ill but definitely exhausted. “Are you still working for them?” “No,” Fenris replied. “I’m slightly more proactive than they would prefer, but I’ve earned more than enough favors from them.” He cuddled next to her. “I am here for one reason only. Rayne would be inconsolable if anything happened.” “Me?” Rayne chuckled, slapping Fenris on the shoulder. “Freya, I can guarantee you that if anything happens to you, no sorcerer, Ithan or otherwise, will ever be safe. Inconsolable doesn’t even begin to describe it.” Freya gave a sappy grin to both of her males. Her heart felt like something out of a fucking romance novel, fiery and large enough to burst her corset, if she had been one to wear it. She reached out and took hold of Rayne, urging him to her other side. “If it makes you both feel any better, I missed you, my alpha and my beta.” “Exactly how much did you miss us?” Freya got the true meaning of Fenris’s question as his fingers curled around the top of her spread and he pulled the covers down. He moved closer and placed his rough cheek upon her breast. His breath warmed her skin; his hand splayed across her stomach.

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She said nothing. Her breath halted in her throat; the arousal Fenris could provoke within her was such a thick, heavy entity that she could barely steel herself against it. She could pour her desire over Rayne, but with Fenris, it was she who was covered. “Did you miss us a lot?” Fenris asked. There was no admission that sufficed more than the one her body gave to her alpha. The slick, earthy fluid, which Fenris’s fingers swiftly found, was proof enough. Freya turned to Rayne. The only one still dressed, he looked as if he, too, missed her. His gaze moved across her face with an encompassing stare. He parted pink lips to reveal the coral tongue she needed to taste, to feel, and to play with. “And how much did you miss me?” “A lot. I worried --” Silencing him with her lips, she fought one distraction with another. While Fenris nipped at her shoulder and stroked her sensitive folds, she ravished Rayne. Like an amplifier, Freya took the pleasure Fenris gave her and transferred it to Rayne. With Fenris pushing his fingers between her folds, rubbing the tips against the hard nub of her clit, Freya sought to give Rayne something similar. She pushed up his shirt to get her hands upon bare flesh and then dragged her fingers down into the waist of his pants. With nimble fingers, she easily separated the fastenings. She found her way beneath the soft fabric of his boxers and onto bare skin. Freya found Rayne just as damp as she was, if not more. She handled Rayne’s sex with the same amount of greed and dominance that Fenris handled hers. He moved his hips flush against her naked backside as his shaft prodded in between her cheeks mischievously. Freya tried to remain focused on Rayne. Sliding the foreskin of Rayne’s shaft up and down its rigid column, she tried not to pay attention to the baseball bat pressing against her ass. Her stomach clenched as she imagined being stuffed with cock. Just as Fenris sought to prove his dominance over Freya, she did the same to Rayne, stroking him from base to tip, handling the dual globes of his scrotum between clever fingers. He moaned for her, just the way she wanted him to. He gave himself freely to his pleasure and did not hold back. On the other hand, she held back as Fenris ground his wet, hot cock between her legs. She tensed as he found her clit and rubbed it relentlessly. Her body wanted wildness, and she did not have the strength to challenge it. Fenris’s fangs sank into her shoulder, a stinging pain followed by the soothing balm of his tongue. The sudden mix of pleasure and pain stunned her then crashed against her paltry frigidity. Freya cried out. It was a feminine cry, loud and shrill. “Fen. Fenris… Easy on her…” “Sorry.” Fenris’s voice was gravelly in his apology. He lapped at Freya’s wound.

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Weary with the growing needs of her body, Freya would not play the weak role. It was very soon for her to be in between her males, but she could not deny them or herself. “It’s okay, but…the sorcerer…” “This place is spellbound. A lesson I learned in my old days at Kompas,” Fenris whispered in her ear. “He will not intrude. Is that all you fear?” “I’m not afraid.” Turning over onto her back, Freya looked into Fenris’s lust dark eyes. “He’s got to be stopped.” “And we will stop him,” Fenris promised her. “I assure you that I will.” Freya wondered if she could look as serious and as intense as Fenris. She wondered if she could make him believe her as she believed him. “We,” she stressed. “We will.” “Yes, we will.” It was hard to believe Fenris as he kissed a path down her throat and over the curve of her shoulder. His fingers returned to her slit, pressing with the intent to distract. Freya shook her head, mainly to gain focus. His fingers moved harder and faster, eliciting soft groans with every spike of sensation from her loins to her head. She couldn’t help it. She opened her thighs wide, pressing one against Fenris and the other against Rayne. Rayne’s eyes were fully dilated and dark as he gazed at her. His brow was slightly furrowed with concern, the wanting showing much brighter on his beautiful features. “W-what…about you?” Freya asked her beta, convinced that at least he would be the logical one. She was definitely not a reliable source. Her hips eagerly pumped in time to Fenris’s caresses, and her feverish body flared in its heat. “T-together,” she stuttered. “We need to do this…ahh…together.” “Yes.” Rayne kissed her gently upon the lips. Whether it was his version of a promise or no, she wasn’t sure, but it was sweet, and it set her at ease. His hands found her breast, kneading the sensitive flesh with his cool, magical hands. “Don’t worry, my alpha,” he whispered. “Let us worship you. We’ll worry over fighting later.” That was a good advice. No, it was the best fucking idea that Freya had heard in a long time. Stretching her arms out to cover Fenris’s broad back and the other to grasp Rayne’s thin waist, she needed support from them both. Closing her eyes, Freya gave in. It wasn’t a hard thing to do. It didn’t matter whose mouth was at her collarbone or around her nipple. Lips that had at first been as gentle as butterfly wings swept over her mouth and then bruised it with their intensity. Deep inside the molten inferno of her body, fingers that had been thick and blunt were joined by fingers thin and much faster. She didn’t want to open her eyes. She didn’t want to know who was doing what. Together they were marvelous, like a multihanded entity that tended to her every need.

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A torso moved over her legs. She found herself gasping into one mouth. Surely it was Fenris that dominated the kiss, whose claws raked down her shoulders. Then the rough hands cupping the undersides of her thighs could have easily been his as well. She opened her eyes and got all of the answers she needed with one glance. It was Fenris above her. Rayne was below, worshipping her pussy so wonderfully. He proved he could be just as bold and demanding as his alpha male, plunging his tongue into her body, tasting every fold and crease of her sensitive flesh. The combination of the two was overwhelming, especially in her weakened state. The first of her orgasms only made her more pliable. When that rapturous quake radiated from her clit down to her toes and back up to her chest, Fenris was swift to muffle her cries. He held her close, keeping her warm and secure and pinning her to the bed. “Easy, warrior.” Fenris grinned. “I have you.” “I know…” She was sure of it, almost certainly until she felt Rayne’s cock nudge its way into her wet body. The combination of heat, moisture, hardness was definitively intimate. In her current state, she’d discovered a side of helplessness that she had never allowed herself to know. Rayne eased his shaft into her. Although it felt like domination, he moved in a way wholly intent on servicing needs she didn’t even know she had. He seemed to know how rough, which angle, how fast or slow, and how deep her body needed him to be. Fenris moved to her chest, his mouth closing over one of her breasts. He too knew what she wanted. He knew when to move from one mound to another, when to bite, and when to lave her nipples. She could withhold against anyone, save her mates, but not against them. She tried to tell them how thankful she was, but her world became an orb of pleasure, thick and opaque, swirling all around her. Aided by the exhaustion of her healing form, it dampened her consciousness. She closed her eyes and gave in to another longer series of liquefying shudders. When she was able to open her eyes again, it was Rayne at her breasts and the unmistakable girth of Fenris inside her. If Rayne had coaxed her into relaxed bliss, Fenris would keep her there, locked into a state of ecstasy that sorcerers, fiends, and doubts could not penetrate. She found herself falling, succumbing to the loss of her strength and her body’s exhaustion. The soft sweet siren of sleep sang louder than the symphony of flesh, nerves, and bones. Tomorrow would be for war.

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Chapter Twenty-One
Slowly, like wading through water, she woke. The allure of fried apples, ham, and eggs could not be ignored. Freya was hungry. She suspected her mates had gone shopping because she surely didn’t have anything breakfastlike inside her refrigerator. Lingering beneath the covers, Freya knew that the broth she had in her belly was not enough to hold her. A good breakfast and a shower would be just what she needed before beginning her hunt for a reckless sorcerer. Beneath covers that smelled of Fenris, Rayne, and herself, she lingered a few moments more, trying to recall all of the rapturous things they had done together. The thought of spending time with them, setting aside work and danger to be apart of their trinity, was stimulation enough for her to get up. She couldn’t have hoped for two men more suited for her. One to challenge her, one to fill her desire to dominate, and both who respected her for the warrior she was. The thought of seeing them was what finally got Freya to shrug off the covers. She sifted through her dresser for a pair of boy shorts, a bra, and an oversized shirt. She didn’t want to give the boys any excuse or delay other than the necessary ones of food and preparation. There were weapons she needed to get, snares and magical components she required, and the business of locating the sorcerer, but food was the first order of business. Heading into the kitchen, Freya expected to see Fenris over a plate and Rayne at the stove. Instead, the only thing she noticed was the setting on the kitchen table. A plate, heaping with three eggs, sunny-side up, three thick portions of Canadian bacon, fried apples, toast, and jam sat beside a tall glass of orange juice. A knife and fork sat atop a napkin, and there was a red rose in a vase.

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It would have been a perfect sight for any woman in the morning, except for the folded note and the obvious lack of Fenris and Rayne. There was no need to check the living room or the bathroom, no need to check the balcony… Freya knew that her mates had left, and warming with fury, she had a damn good idea why they had gone. It was the where that had her stumped, and breakfast or no, Freya knew what her priority was first and foremost. One slice of bacon, and she would hunt down her chivalrous, impatient, pigheaded mates. Snatching up the note in the other, she shoved the meat into her mouth.

Good morning, Know you want to hunt the sorcerer yourself, but you were sleeping so soundly. Fenris couldn’t sleep. He wants Ithan’s blood, and to be honest, so do I. I would say for you to enjoy your breakfast and have a bubble bath, but I know that you won’t. We are headed to some place called Chaptico to deal with what the Kompas cannot. Ithan has a compound near the Patuxent. If you choose to come, at least eat first. I’m not sure if Fenris will allow anything to live, but please don’t be upset. -R
Near the Patuxent? It could be anywhere. Chaptico was nearly an hour away, and she had no idea how long they had been gone. The food was still warm, so it couldn’t have been long. Fenris could have eliminated the sorcerer already. After his defeat the night before, Ithan had to be either planning another attack or worse, preparing a trap. Neither Fenris nor Rayne knew about the other Lunas. What if Ithan had worse experiments lying in wait? Her anger was not wholly directed at her hasty mates; it was directed at a mark. If Ithan harmed either one of her males, Freya vowed that death would be the last thing the sorcerer received. She crushed the note within her fist and picked up the plate with her food on it. She could eat and dress at the same time.

*****
With one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding her cell phone, Freya kept her eyes on the road. At speeds over seventy miles per hour, she should have been paying attention to the road. Maneuvering the large Suburban through the maze of cars heading south on Route 5, she wasn’t sure she was fully prepared to meet Ithan. Those supplies in the SUV would have to be sufficient.

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She carefully dialed, her gaze shifting from the road to her cell phone keypad, hoping to get in touch with the one person who would know Ithan’s whereabouts. After several rings, he grunted a hello. “Hello, Damien.” “Freya.” His voice sounded like sandpaper, gravelly and thick. “I don’t usually pick up the phone this early, but for my dream girl, I made --” “Whatever.” Not in the mood for factitiousness, Freya got to the point. “I need a favor.” “From me?” “Uh, yeah.” She definitely didn’t have time for humor. “Do tell then. Wait, this wouldn’t be about the Luna maker, would it?” It didn’t surprise her that Damien was spot-on with his assumption. “The one who found himself on my doorstep last night. Yes, that would be him.” “Damn.” “Damned is what you’ll be if I find out you gave him my address.” “I would never ! I’d prefer that you worked for me rather than being Kompas’s cleanup crew. My money is more honorable.” “You’re probably right, but for now, I’m committed to handling this one.” “Freya, you want to be careful of Ithan. He’s not that powerful, but he’s stupid. That’s worse than being powerful. He dabbles in shit he doesn’t understand, dark shit.” “He creates Lunas.” That was enough for Freya. Well, nearly enough. If all Lunas were like Fenris that would have been a different story, she felt. “The Kompas are scared shitless that he’s going to turn his beasts loose on them. So, what? Did they slide some money in your pocket and expect you to take care of it?” “Not really… But that’s not important.” Encountering a slow driver in the fast lane, Freya moved to the right to zoom past the elderly man. She got back into the fast lane. “Where is he? I need to know exactly. He’s down in Chaptico, I know, but where?” “I…uh…one sec. What can you donate for that information?” “I take it the good of the fucking world doesn’t count.” Freya growled. “So how about if I just promise not to make you my next target, you fleabag-licking, sorry-assed, cum dog?” Damien hissed. “I swear, no female I know -- hell, no male I know -- swears as creatively or as often as you.” “Damien…” “Okay. Okay. It’s a tall order, but let me check my sources. I’ll call you right back.” It wasn’t what she wanted to hear. If he was willing to get the information, it was much more believable than if he had come up with a swift excuse not to help. At best, she had another thirty minutes of driving. Maybe Fenris and Rayne weren’t that far ahead of her. “Hurry, Damien. Please.”

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“Is that some form of niceness I hear in your voice?” “No, it isn’t,” she replied with a full measure of honesty. “It’s a plea for your life.” “I appreciate the honesty. I’ll get back to you soon.” Hanging up the phone, she hoped Damien had some idea of her urgency. As she drove farther away from the Washington, D.C., area and into the southern, more rural sprawls of Maryland, her adrenaline rose with every mile. Going into a situation with so little preparation, so little knowledge of the situation, was not the smartest thing to do, no matter how powerful Fenris and Rayne were. Males and their damned chivalry. She wanted to chastise them both, to tell them that it was not great service to her if they got killed, but deep in her heart, she knew that many a time she had acted just as rashly. Foot to the pedal, Freya noticed the state trooper a half mile ahead and slowed her SUV. There were cars on the road that didn’t. One in particular was going much faster than she had been. What his urgency was, Freya couldn’t guess, but with the loud bass of hip-hop music coming from the Mazda, she didn’t think it was anything other than keeping up with the music. The trooper sped off the side of the road to see for himself, and Freya breathed a sigh of relief. She was headed into one of the many havens of the Maryland Amish, a people who were just as good as any supernatural race at hiding their presence in the plain sight of the cell phone-carrying, technology-loving, and otherwise oblivious world. It didn’t take her long to encounter a horse-drawn buggy, easing her speed down significantly so that she could veer around the casual folk, reins in hand. Envying their simplicity, Freya wondered if they ever got riled or acted impulsively. They were probably hellions beneath their overalls and broadcloth. The phone buzzed in the seat beside her. It was Damien. “You have news for me?” she asked. “Yeah. You know where Bud’s Creek is, the racetrack not far from the river? There are some really wild parties there.” “I’m headed that way now on two-thirty-six.” “Okay. You need to hit two-thirty-four and go right. You’ll go about…” Pausing, Damien conferred with a second party to make sure he had the details right. “About eight miles. You’re looking for a big Amish farm, lots of livestock and lumber. There will be a sign off the road for…barbeque? Okay. Deal’s Barbeque… Haggis and Scotch Eggs. Okay, just Deal’s is the name of the place. It’s a cover, of course, looks like a cow farm. What is a Scotch Egg --” “Is that where I’ll find him?” “Yeah, but what is a Scotch Egg?” “A hardboiled egg cooked inside a ball of fucking sausage. Now good-bye.” Freya hung up the phone. She had a location, and she headed toward it. That was all that mattered.

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Chapter Twenty-Two
The dirt road she turned onto looked just as unassuming as all of the other country roads she had passed. Pathways to empires of land farmers held like their personal kingdoms. In the broad blue swath of day, however, nothing seemed amiss. There was indeed a large herd of cattle lazing about in a fenced-in area big enough to hold a small subdivision. They had their own pond and several decent shade trees. Freya drove past a wooden shack that seemed to be the storefront of Deal’s Barbeque. An oil drum barbeque cooker sat in front of several creative signs with pigs in Scottish kilts. A large CLOSED sign was posted on the door. She didn’t really consider the barbeque shack as her destination. Her focus was on the barn. She had seen enough barns to know that something was suspicious about this one. It wasn’t that a structure made of thick concrete, mortar, and steel couldn’t be used to hold livestock, or that barns weren’t half as large as an indoor football complex. Even the runes and warding symbols painted on the trees might have simply indicated a farmer infatuated with the occult. What alerted Freya to the fact that she was in the right place was the smell of death. Blood and gore was so thick and foul in the air she could detect it from inside the SUV. Pulling over to the side of the road just before she got to the makeshift driveway, Freya cut the engine. She noticed it was unusually quiet as she exited the vehicle and walked toward the cargo area. There was no indication of a fight in progress, but that didn’t deter her in the least. All situations were dangerous until thoroughly investigated with firearms. Pulling open the doors, she leaped into the back among cargo that would have impressed any mercenary, supernatural or no. She shed her jacket and tossed it to the floor, needing to be as free of restrictions as possible. A gun belt went around her waist, and two high-powered pistols fit into the back holsters on it. She grabbed two sets of grenades and fit

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them into the pouches of the belt. Around her boots, she strapped on her knife holsters and pushed two short, serrated daggers into each one. Backup clips went into pouches on her belt. Two Diablo’s Tongue whips crisscrossed her chest and wound around her neck. She took six vials of a powdered mixture guaranteed to incinerate anything. It would be perfect for supernatural battles, and if it wasn’t, the globes of alchemist fire she tucked away in belt pouches and the modified AK-47 held in her right hand would be. Freya got ammunition for it before getting out of the SUV feeling far more lethal than she imagined she looked. Intent on finding her mates, she gave herself over to battle lust. Without cover or stealth, she approached the barn’s broadside, walking around until she saw the entrance. Several cars were parked in the front; an eighteen-wheeler was off to the side. Which one had brought Fenris and Rayne? she wondered. The two twelve-foot barn doors were well secured, but tracking the fresher footprints she found the more traveled entrance on the other side of the barn. She also found the first piece of evidence that some avenging force was there. Three heavily bruised human men lay unconscious on the ground. While they had been left alive, Freya didn’t even have to push open the splintered door to know that whatever lay behind it had not been so lucky. Three of Frankenstein’s monsters were behind the door. What remained of them was barely recognizable as humanoid. Their bodies were torn from limb to limb; their heads smashed in by an awesome force. It looked like the work of Fenris. She moved farther into the barn. Paddocks lined the walls with a dirt path between them. Clutching her automatic rifle, Freya checked each of the pens. Some were open, revealing slaughter rooms; others were storerooms holding shelves of jars, unguents, powders, and other components. She continued, her sensitive ears detecting the first indications of something volatile. It was a faint roar, indicating distance and depth. The action was not in the barn. It was beneath it. Freya found the doorway in the back of the barn, past the paddock that held the tractor. Steel and nearly ten inches thick, it had been made to keep things from getting out. The stairway was wide, big enough for large beasts to traverse. It was dark, but her enhanced vision helped. She didn’t know how far down the steps went, but she took them swiftly as the sounds of battle grew. She heard Fenris’s voice, full of aggression and rage. There was something closer just as aggressive and brutal. The sight of a fearsome, magically warped beast lumbering up the stairs meant nothing. Its lethal tentacles with their animated sharp suckers, its many mouths, and orifices didn’t faze her in the slightest. She did note it had skin similar to an amphibian, and that it would burn nicely. Freya released the safety on the rifle and let loose a shower of bullets, enough to stun the beast. She leapt over the fallen creature and continued down the stairwell, tossing a grenade that would burn leathery flesh over her shoulder.

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She encountered two more monstrosities and dealt with them as swiftly as the first. Fleeing creatures told her things underground were chaotic. She didn’t know just how much until she reached the bottom of the stairs. Fenris was pinned down, pummeling one massive beast while several smaller creatures attacked him at the same time. Rayne, her precious Rayne, was barely recognizable. Engulfed in supernatural flames, his clothes were burned and tattered, his skin dark and flaking under the onslaught of Ithan’s relentless flame. The sorcerer was ruthless, concentrating wave after wave of hot blue light on her mate. Freya paused for only a moment, not knowing whom to go to first. Fenris was covered in blood. Even in his impressive Luna form, one of his four arms hung limp and useless. He had several gashes across his back and was swarmed by beasts with limbs and orifices made for death. Rayne was on his knees. He was rebuffing the sorcerer’s concentrated efforts as best he could. She didn’t know how long either would last, but she vowed to do all she could for both. A monster rushed to claim her as part of the fray. She lifted her rifle. With a squeeze of the trigger, bullets roared loudly. She was a warrior, there to do battle. The creature shrieked as bullets ripped into its flesh, but Freya didn’t give a good goddamn. Its rage and its madness dissolved against her brute aggression. It came toward her, ignoring the pain of its wounds, so hungry for her death and destruction. From the time she was born, she had been made to fight. The beast held nothing she couldn’t match. Its eight-inch claws and three sharp tails slashed at her. She never doubted she could rise to the challenge. When bullets didn’t work, she slung her rifle over her shoulder. She unfurled the whips, letting them snap upon the floor before she coiled one around the creature’s throat. With ease, she wrapped the other around one of the beast’s legs to take it off balance and bring it to the ground. Like a turtle upon its back, the beast was useless and vulnerable. Freya didn’t need a grenade. Her rage was enough. “Damn you. Damn you to hell.” She swore at the beast as she tore through its breastbone. Surely domesticity couldn’t be as fearsome. In half-wolf, half-human form, Freya stood up with her solution to the problem of which mate to help first. Pulling two of the glass globes from her belt pouch, she sent them spinning towards the sorcerer. They landed on the ground behind him. Too absorbed with battling Rayne, Ithan turned just in time to catch a blast of the green and white flames full on. It knocked him back, the fire charring his flesh.

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She looked at her lover, already healing in the respite he had been given. He nodded to her and gave a weak smile. It was enough of an assurance, and she turned to her alpha. Fenris would need more than a distraction. The Luna he fought was nearly three times his size. Every gash he made in its flesh became a deadly maw with razor-sharp teeth. Every broken limb splintered off into two. The creature had more parts than Freya could count, a testament to the damage Fenris had already done to it. The belly of the creature had been sliced wide open, and its spilled intestines even coiled and lashed out with deadly intent. The smaller, dog-sized creatures that tore at Fenris’s legs, back, and arms were her first priority. She ran toward them, her serrated blades at the ready. She pulled the one creature away and slammed the blade of her dagger into its throat. Black and green blood spilled onto the floor, but the creature fought with enhanced life. It finally stopped moving when she pressed the knife in farther and separated its head completely. Working diligently, she had four sets of parts strewn about before the beast shoved her and Fenris into a wall. They quickly came to their feet. Standing side by side with Fenris, Freya looked at the creature. Instead of a face, it had a gaping mouth that made up the majority of what could be called its head. It reeked of misery and suffering, and Freya felt sorry for it. “Will not go down,” Fenris panted, his voice broken in his animalistic state. Resuming his attack on the beast, he bolted forward. Even with one heavily damaged arm, he engaged the monster easily with his other three arms. “Need Rayne!” “Rayne!” Freya called and in a moment, he was at her side. Most of the charred skin had flaked away to reveal beautiful, supple flesh beneath. It was one of the most remarkable displays of magic she had ever seen. “Fenris needs you.” “No,” her alpha corrected. “Other beast too sick. Won’t die.” Freya didn’t quite understand. The idea of Rayne having any other power other than defense was a curious one. Tossing aside another head and body of one of the smaller beasts, Freya watched Rayne grab hold of the monster. He closed his eyes. The space where his hands met the beast’s flesh changed from deepest black to a lively peach coloring. Rayne was healing the creature. A bolt of lightning, unnatural by more means than just its trajectory, hit Rayne from behind. Immediately, Freya’s attention snapped to the source. The acidic blast had damaged Ithan’s face and body, but he stood firm. “Away from my pet, you witching cur!” She wondered how well the sorcerer would do against bullets packed with the same acidic powder within them. Unleashing her pistols, she aimed both at the sorcerer and squeezed the triggers simultaneously.

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Ithan threw a force field. The bullets exploded immediately upon contact with the invisible shield. Their impact staggered the sorcerer nonetheless. She tossed the guns aside and charged toward Ithan after the last bullet was expelled. Her mates did not need any distractions; they needed time, and she meant to buy it. Ithan dropped the shield, yet she still felt as if she had run into a wall. A globe of sickly orange light surrounded her. No matter how she pushed or fought to be free of it, she was trapped. It caused a deadly, desperate rage within her. The sorcerer laughed, which did nothing more than increase her anger. Her fangs grew, and her shoulders and neck widened as she changed. Transforming fully, she howled with hatred. The sorcerer’s cage would not hold her. Magic could be beaten with enough will and strength. As long as blood flowed through her veins, she would fight the increasing pressure of atmosphere within the globe. Ithan used both hands to maintain the globe, his eyes wide as he shaped its power. “Freya, such a warrior. You and your beasts, you could have been my lieutenants. You call yourselves civilized, but you are no different from my creations. I am not your enemy. I am with you.” Freya shook her head. The globe pressurized, ton-like weights impacting all points on her body. “No…fucking…monologues! “No words to soothe your transition, eh? How about a few images then?” The environment surrounding her changed from translucent to an opaque, orangey darkness. She saw Rayne and Fenris. They were in each other’s arms, kissing, totally oblivious to her. Her mother appeared looking disappointed. Even Hallie, Rebecca, and Dena flashed in front of her eyes. Then the whispering began. “It’s a damn shame. I didn’t raise you to be weak, girl.” It was her mother’s voice. “We don’t need her,” Rayne said. “She’s not strong enough for us. We really don’t need her.” “Protect us?” Hallie laughed. “She can’t even protect herself.” She knew they were visual and auditory hallucinations and refused to acknowledge them. With every passing second, the images grew worse. She saw Fenris take his Luna shape. It grew out of control, giving him grotesque deformities, making him crazed. Rayne tried to help him, but Fenris turned on his beta, ripping him in half. Her mother tore at her own womb, muttering to herself that it was foul to have produced such a weakling. The girls screamed. Hallie was chased by a Luna. Rebecca was dead, her body limp within the grinning maw of some beast. Dena was being raped and mutilated by another monstrosity. Closing her eyes did nothing to stop what she saw. Her rage was useless. Roars of anger reverberated around her until she couldn’t even be sure she was the one making the sounds.

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No matter how it looked, none of it was real. Freya fell to her knees as the weight of the atmosphere around her pressed harder and harder. She saw images of herself, bloated and nude, her belly swollen to an enormous size. Beneath her flesh, she saw the protrusions of small hands and feet -- her unborn cubs. They were trying to be free of her and with a great tear, one small, furry paw escaped. “How much can you take before your mind bends? Before you give in to the monsters within? Your Luna is no match for mine. Your healer is no match for my sorcery --” The sphere lessened as Ithan moved a hand and split his concentration to send a bolt of magical energy towards the real Rayne. It was enough to separate him from the smaller, mostly flesh-covered Luna. Fenris had been able to hold the creature down, but without Rayne’s healing, the creature began to mutate anew. Freya lunged forward. The sorcerer turned his attention back to her, redoubling the strength of the force field. Hissing with irritation, Ithan replied, “And you are nothing more than an animal, a murderous, crazed beast!” No, Freya thought. It wasn’t true. She saw herself snarling, morphing into a thing with hundreds of eyes, an obscenely gaping mouth. Her enormous belly opened to reveal small demon cubs growling and yipping. The sight was a powerful one. Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes. The image cackled. She tried to lash out at it, but the weight of the sphere slowed her immensely. Losing the energy to maintain her werewolf form, she fell back onto the floor, unable to comprehend the vile scene before her. Her body fluctuated, one arm transforming before another, her foot transforming before her thigh…an indication that she was losing it, slipping into the birth canal that spawned monsters. Freya suddenly understood exactly how Lunas were made. When the pressure vanished suddenly, she thought she had succumbed to the madness. Her ears were ringing. Her body ached from head to toe, and her skin was warm with sweat. But the images and the voices were gone “Freya! Freya, are you all right?” She opened eyes that she hadn’t been aware were closed and gazed up into Rayne’s beautiful eyes. He took her into his arms and held her tightly. “The sorcerer…” she said finally. “Tell me that he didn’t get away.” Rayne shook his head no and gestured to their alpha wolf. Fenris stood behind them, pulling something off his arm. The bloody pulp of what had once been Ithan’s head. Shaking the gore from his huge claw, Fenris might have looked fearsome, but Freya thought he was magnificent. Even as a Luna. “He was too distracted, and Fenris was too fast. The sorcerer will cause no more harm.”

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Fenris lumbered over to Rayne and bowed his head. Rayne placed a hand upon the crown of his lover and worked his healing magic. Before Freya’s eyes, the extra limbs shrank away, the fur vanished, and his fangs and claws shrank. He became the handsome giant that she knew so well. He moved closer to Freya, his gaze narrow. He was inspecting her. Probably looking for bruises or damages, she thought. “You could have stayed at your place. We had things under control.” “Bullshit,” Freya scoffed, grabbing Fenris’s hand to stop it from seeking bruises that were not there. She held his hand tightly to her breast. “It would have taken you all day and half the night.” “Maybe,” he acquiesced. “Still, you did…you did wonderfully.” Wonderfully? It would have been wonderful had she had the proper time to prepare and gather more magic-repelling artifacts and potions. Still, it wasn’t a bad job. It was a testament to how powerful her mates were. They could have taken down the sorcerer themselves; they would have hunted him to the ends of the earth and past. Yet, Freya was glad that it hadn’t come to that. “This is what I do, what I was made to do.” Fenris’s frown made her think he believed otherwise. He leaned down and kissed her forehead. It was a soft, gentle peck, but it made her shiver. “Now that’s bullshit,” he said. “You are formidable, strong as all hell, but you are not just built for war.” Her face warmed. “You don’t have to sweet talk me, Fen.” Rayne’s cheek nuzzled against hers. “Can I?” “Only if you promise that you’ll pamper me as good as you did last night.” “Better.” Fenris nodded his agreement. “We both will.” “You have done well. All three of you, you complement one another so well.” Freya recognized the woman to whom the voice belonged without even so much as a glance. It was Eliza, one of the head custodians of the Kompas. It was ironic that the last time Freya had seen her it had involved a cleanup job. Well, this one was on the house. “We knew you three would be a superb match.” “Yeah. I guess you did.” Kompas always seemed to know things, just not do anything about them. Freya wasn’t willing to dismiss the fact that they might have influenced the meeting between her and her mates in the first place. One look at Fenris, who seemed comfortable in Eliza’s presence, indicated that might be the case. She would ask him later. Even if Kompas were responsible for her fortune, she would not play the appreciative role. Because of their inaction, there had been too much carnage, too much danger. “But what I want to know is did you enjoy the fight? Did you enjoy watching? Did you have some fucking popcorn?”

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The woman stepped into Freya’s line of sight. A willowy young woman in long concealing robes, Eliza did not look as if she should have been old enough to be in charge of anything more than a pep rally. The woman smiled. “Freya, you know our magic would have been no good here.” “It’s no good at all.” Rayne chuckled behind Freya while Fenris remained stoic and attentive, an obvious appreciator of magic and sorcery. Eliza brushed off the snide remark as if she were used to Freya’s moods. “Warriors such as you three are not easy to enlist. You go nobly into battle and with moral motivations. We are blessed to know you and to be able to count on you when times are bad, and so we would like to reward you.” Looking over Freya and her mates, she added, “All of you.” Freya stood up shakily, her head and body still weary from the mental onslaught she had endured. Rayne and Fenris stood at her side. “I don’t need anything from you. As far as I am concerned, you can just chalk this shit up as pro bono because it needed to be done.” She turned to Fenris. “Do you need anything?” “You are my reward.” Certainly his nude body was an ideal sight, not marred in the slightest by the blood covering his frame. When she looked at Rayne, he grinned wickedly. She knew it wasn’t the offer of a reward that had caused his good mood. Eliza’s voice cut into Freya’s admiration of Rayne’s perfect lips. “So sweet,” she said, “the passion between you three is more than magical. If you will not accept a reward, then how about a gift for your joining? Say, one million dollars deposited into an Icelandic bank for the start of your new life?” Turning his head at the revelation of the amount, Rayne spoke up. “A million dollars? Is that the going rate for bounty hunters, Freya? Fen?” Freya looked at Fenris. He had mentioned plying the trade before. “Is it, Fen? I’ve never gotten that much for a mark, Luna, gargoyle, demon, or otherwise?” Fenris shrugged. “The Kompas don’t act on danger, but they do pay well to avoid it.” It was just the answer she didn’t want to hear. Tamping down the small twinge of jealousy, Freya refused to regret not turning a kinder ear to their offer. “Fen, no, we can’t take that money. We take that money and the next time they want something done, they’ll remind you of the donation. Well, fuck that --” “Right.” Eliza held up her hand. “Well, there is no need for you to get upset, Freya. We’ll just deposit the funds in Fenris’s name as not to infringe upon your disdain for us. We are indeed grateful for things you may or may not have done for us, in the past as well as today.” Eliza turned on her heel and walked away to join two robed males waiting patiently for their head sorceress. A bevy of curses built in Freya’s throat.

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Again, the sorceress had a swifter tongue. “Oh, and do not worry about the mess. Our people will clean up. The bodies will all be dissolved. As Fenris killed one of the Lunas and the other was healed by Rayne, there will be no affront to our magic now.” It all seemed ludicrous to Freya. The least that they could have done would have been to provide shields, wards, hell, even directions. It bothered her that the sorceress would even pretend as if clean-up was a necessity. She had things in her truck that could surely level the place. “Are you sure? You know, I have a few chemicals, some potions from third-rate alchemists, and maybe even an energy globe or two from a sorcerer not opposed to helping a motherfucker out. I could just go and get it and have this place looking like a crater. I mean, I wouldn’t want you to get your robes dirty or anything.” Fenris’s arms closed around her, and she found herself silenced by the intimate contact with him. “Easy,” he said so close to her ear. “This is done. It’s over. We need to rest, to heal, and Rayne is as impatient as I to be with you. We have so much time.” It wasn’t a bad idea, more of Fenris and Rayne’s attentive care, without having any obligations or pressing missions. Fenris’s voice hinted at decadence that made her damp with anticipation. Would she ever get used to it? She moved to Rayne’s side and took him by the waist. Squeezing him, Freya whispered to her beta, “He is so sex-crazed.” “You have no idea,” Fenris said. Rayne agreed, nuzzling against Freya’s cheek. “She will, and she’s strong enough to deal with it. I’ll see to that.” No matter what the future held for her -- more battles, more missions, even domesticity -- they would be the perfect mates for all her desires.

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Epilogue
Freya leaned on the doorframe as she watched her beta. Rayne had his arms up to his elbows in a large bowl. Working a creamy, rose-colored mixture with his hands, he looked absolutely divine. He would always be more domestic and feminine than she could ever hope to aspire to. Despite the fact that he was just as lethal as any wolf, Rayne showed her his soft side often, especially in their home. His hair was pulled back, revealing the length of his throat. A sleeveless gray shirt that contrasted well against his pale skin and the flush of his habitually chewed lips gave Freya wild ideas. It didn’t take much for her to consider pulling him into her arms. She had found this was one of the greater benefits of domestic living. There was the bedroom, of course, but she was likely to be the one who was ravished. In the privacy of Rayne’s workshop, however, where he stirred cauldrons, mixed unguents, and ground ingredients, was another thing entirely. Rayne’s healing capacity exceeded touch, to her surprise. It fit hand in hand with Fenris’s trade: the operation of a quaint bathhouse in Borgarnes, Iceland. “You know, you’ll have to make bigger batches if we join with the Sohons,” she advised her mate. Although their small establishment paled beside the enterprise of the Sohons, they never lacked for visitors. “If business keeps growing, you might even need an apprentice or two. After all, I need my supply.” Rayne looked over at her and winked. “Yours is made first. What’s left is what’s bottled for customers. Never doubt that you will have what you need.” She didn’t, but it always felt good to hear. It was an ego boost she had grown used to receiving.

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Freya walked over to investigate further the cream he was mixing for her, one she recognized easily as the revitalizing skin lotion that he and Fenris loved to coat her with after baths. Slipping her arm around his hip, she leaned down and sniffed the contents. The various ingredients mixed well in the air, but she thought to sample it closer to the flesh of Rayne’s shoulder. “Mmm, strawberry, evergreen, and honey. You smell of it.” Upon heated skin, the aroma was far more delightful. Pressing herself against his narrow ass, she decided the cream could have easily doubled as an aphrodisiac. The effect took hold of Rayne as well. He ground against her body. Grinding back against Freya’s body, for a time his hands stopped moving, stopped churning and mixing. He removed his hands from the bowl and turned toward her. Freya was able to get one kiss, slow and tasting of strawberries, before she realized that Rayne was holding back. She pulled back and noticed his upraised arms covered in pink cream. “Give me a few more seconds more and I’ll smell of something else.” “That’s okay. I don’t mind getting sloppy.” “I know you don’t.” He grinned. “Just bring me those bottles; your hands are clean. We should bottle this first.” Bringing the entire crate of bottles from the shelf, Freya set them down on the table. She handed Rayne an empty bottle. He thanked her, and using a funnel he began to transfer the thick liquid of the mixture into the glass. She corked each full bottle and handed Rayne empty ones in turn. It wasn’t a chore she would have done in her past life, but it was one of many new tasks she had come to enjoy. Just as Rayne promised, he set aside three bottles for their personal use and the rest he sorted out for sale and gifts. With recent events and more ingredients sitting in the corner waiting to hit the mixing bowl, Freya got the idea that bottling would become a frequent chore. “I can’t believe that Fen is actually considering the Sohons’s offer,” she said. Rayne nodded, filling another of the bottles that would be shipped to the Sohon corporate office. “Oh, you know you want our own personal brochure in the Sohons selection. They are going to offer Spring Strawberry for their executive conference.” Holding up one of the bottles, Rayne admired the look of the product before passing it off to Freya. “They might even want to distribute it for us. Just think of all the money we’ll make.” Money was not her concern. It was the amount of work Rayne would have to do that would definitely cut into her playtime with him. “We do well enough catering to the locals, to the pack, and to the occasional outside fiend. We don’t need to advertise as a day spa for

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paranormals. What next? Will we be serving mimosas, biscuits and honey, steak tartare, and giving pedicures?” The idea actually enhanced Rayne’s excitement. “Well, since you mentioned steak tartare and mimosas, do you think that the girls would like that? I’m sure I could find someone in town who could give pedicures, and I have a really good recipe for fruit and cheese tarts. Maybe some chocolate éclairs too.” In less than two weeks, Hallie, Dena, and Rebecca would be arriving in Iceland. Freya couldn’t remember how the invitation had been offered and couldn’t blame alcohol as she hadn’t had a drink for weeks. “Fucking hell. I can see it now. You’ll want flower arrangements and a tanning bed and loofahs. You’re such a girl sometimes, Rayne.” “You already told me that last night while you were spanking me. Don’t expect me to be offended. Anyway, with the addition almost done, we will be able to offer more services.” Fenris was just as into the idea as Rayne. He had started construction on the addition to their home and spa. It was the first place he went after he had crawled out of bed, naked and proud. “Yeah, Mr. Industrious…” “I know. Don’t forget I was right beside you this morning while you were screaming like a banshee.” Rayne looked up and over at her before correcting himself. “No, like a girl…” “I was just doing my best impression of you.” That was enough to wipe the smug look off of Rayne’s face for a minute or so. When it did return, Freya was almost unnerved. “So,” he drawled. “Speaking of our virile alpha, when are you going to tell him?” She blinked, feeling numb at the thought of discussing anything too serious. “Tell him what?” Rayne scooped the last of the mixture out of the bowl and took it to the sink to clean it. “You and Fen can’t be rough-housing and grappling, not with you --” “I’m going to tell him!” Sure that if Rayne mentioned the word pregnant, the world would suddenly cave in on itself. Why hadn’t it occurred to her that he of all people would know? He had probably known the second she had conceived With a little suspension of belief and a lot of internal debate, she had gone through several scenarios in which she had confessed to both Fenris and Rayne. In all of them, both males were ecstatic, coddling, and worrisome. It was the last two states that had kept her silent. Well, she thought, it was only a matter of time before someone found out that she was drinking water instead of vodka and put two and two together. Since her secret was blown, Freya found no reason not to ask a question that had long plagued her. “You think it’s yours?” “It’s not.” Rayne answered with certainty in his voice.

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She looked at him as he turned with the clean bowl in hand, bringing it back to the table. He didn’t look upset or bothered by the idea at all. “You know that? Witches senses and all?” He turned to her with his head bowed. Rayne looked guilty, but not due to something cruel, just mischievous. “Freya, you submitted to him. You opened your soul, and you were vulnerable to him. He is the more dominant. He is the one who makes us both shudder and submit. The cub will be his.” Winking at her, Rayne added, “The first one at least. Hand me a tub of lanolin on the shelf behind you.” Situated on a shelf with several jars and tubs, Freya lifted the weighty plastic jug and carried it to the table where Rayne was busy scraping the last remnants out of the old tub. This is going to be all that you can do when you’re swollen, she told herself. There would be no more chopping wood for the stoves, and she really loved to chop wood. Hauling coal, throwing out randy customers who got too bold in the sauna, her weight lifting regimes with Fenris’s mother -- hell, even challenging Fenris in bed -- would be placed on hold. She’d be relegated to mixing lotions. Standing beside Rayne as he sifted and poured, measured, and mixed, she might as well learn the recipe. “I have hundreds of recipes,” Rayne said. “Just wait until I try the lubricants. That will be much more fun. Some of that water, please.” Freya grabbed hold of the water pitcher and poured sparingly until Rayne told her to stop. While they made the second batch of lotion, she did not mention the pregnancy. She had almost gotten her nerves to settle when a familiar scent came to her nostrils. Fenris appeared at the door. Leaning against the frame, he had the look of hard work all over him. He wore nothing but jeans and boots and a tool belt laden with all kinds of sexy hardware. His blond hair was braided in the front, just a tad unraveled from when she had braided it the night before. Another of her recently acquired chic skills. Yup, your life has changed, girlfriend. “Hard at work, you two?” “I’m just helping Rayne to fill the complimentary Sohon order since you want to be one of their destination spas.” “You don’t think it would be a good thing? It’s good, honest money. It’s safe.” “Safe is a relative term. We have enough danger and excitement on our hands with the locals, your pack, your friends, and the occasional friend of a friend who knew you way back in the day. Hell, those guys training for the strongman competition, they were human and they were duking it out with one of your furry cousins and the humans were winning. I don’t know, with the word getting out more about this place…” Fenris stood in between Freya and Rayne and peered into the bowl as if he didn’t know what they were making. “I can hire more staff.” “That’s not what I’m talking about.”

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Cocking his head toward her, he implored, “Enlighten me then.” Freya wasn’t inclined to. She didn’t even want to open her mouth. Fidgeting with Rayne’s mortar and pestle, she put a few sprigs of evergreen needles into the bowl and crushed them the same way she had seen her beta do. “What? What are you talking about?” Do you want to take up a bounty? Do you want to hunt?” She couldn’t ignore him. “Oh, no. I really do want to be bourgeois, and while we’re at it, I think we should get the towels engraved and give away moon-shaped key chains to the customers. Rayne could mix up some protein drinks for those who heard that this is a place for real warriors to relax in a Viking-style hot house with complimentary mead and the occasional sparring competition.” Fenris clapped an arm around Rayne who had been pretending distraction with the strawberries. “I think that once this place is done right and the money rolls in, we’ll be able to enjoy the profit with less work. Besides, more money means that our Rayne can create as he pleases.” Grinning slightly, her beta seemed somewhat embarrassed at the revelation that he, too, was excited about the Sohon offer. “We’ll all be able to take long vacations and --” “We can still do that by keeping the place small and quaint, you know? Rayne can create anything he wants for our business, not for some dainty-fucking-aristocratic curs. If your mother would stop giving away that damn mead and started selling it, we could turn even a bigger profit.” “You’re right.” Fenris didn’t even try to deny it. “We do have money, and we’re comfortable now, but there’s going to be more…of us soon and --” “What?” Both Freya and Rayne spoke at once. “There are going to be cubs.” Freya’s attention went directly to Rayne. It was the only way he would have known so quickly. “So, you did tell him?” “No.” Rayne shook his head adamantly. “I didn’t say a thing. I was hoping you would eventually.” “I was planning on it, but I just had to get the words right.” With the attention of both of her mates fixed upon her, Freya scrambled to explain herself. “Fen, I…uh…the cub thing…I was going to say something, really. It’s just…I can’t get my head around it. It’s kind of scary actually…” “Scary?” Fenris asked. “You’re…afraid?”

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“I don’t want you to see me as being weak. Weird things happen to pregnant women, and I just wanted to get a handle on it before I approached either of you. I mean, I’ve heard stories about hormones, mood swings, swollen ankles, and back pain. I’ve heard about putting on weight. And while I don’t mind the eating, a hundred pounds is a lot, and then there’s the bloating, and then they move and --” Rayne laughed, halting her rant. “Freya, it will be fine. Really, I assure you. You’ll want for nothing.” That was another quandary entirely. Freya didn’t want to whine. She didn’t want to beg for foot rubs and backrubs because she needed them, only because she wanted them. She didn’t want Rayne to dull her pains, to make it easy for her. It would be cowardly. Wouldn’t it? “I don’t need any help, Rayne. I want to experience it all. I’ve done hard things, nothing to do with something growing inside of me, but I can do this. Hell, if I had it easy, my mother would never let me live it down.” The seriousness of her outburst brought an end to Rayne’s humor. Moving past Fenris, he placed his shaking hands on her shoulders. “Fen and I both know that our alpha is strong and really, you don’t need to prove anything to your mother or otherwise. Pregnancy is not a bravado issue. But regardless, we will be with you all of the way. And if you don’t want my help, you’ll still have my support and Fenris’s through it all, right, Fen?” Silence was the only answer that Rayne received. Turning around to face the big male, he repeated himself. “Right, Fen?” Freya looked at Fenris as well. He wasn’t grinning proudly or gloating. He didn’t look upset by her comments or disappointed in her revelations of weakness. In fact, Fenris still looked confused. He hadn’t known about her pregnancy at all. “Uh, what were you going to say?” Fenris shook his head. “I was just going to say that there would be more of us, eventually. It’s not like I really mind that I’m supporting Fucker and his second litter but as the only one breeding like mad is the cat, I didn’t really suspect you.” Feeling Fenris’s gaze hot upon her, Freya lowered her head and not because her cat had gotten a little too comfortable in his new home. Rayne’s mouth was agape. “You really didn’t know?” “No, I didn’t.” Freya was sure he wanted cubs, but he certainly didn’t seem overjoyed at the idea. Maybe he had his own anxieties and doubts. She returned to the business of grinding evergreen into pulp. “Well, Fen?” Rayne began. “You think its good news, don’t you?” “Yeah. It’s damn good news. It really is.” Seizing Freya from behind in his powerful embrace, he easily lifted her off the floor. It was one of his macho expressions that outwardly

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irritated her, because it was an easy show of power for him. Secretly, she liked it. “Put me down, Fen. Stop playing.” Fenris released her then wrapped his arms around her waist again. “I am looking forward to it actually.” “What? Seeing me all fat and helpless?” “No. Seeing how big your tits get, to suckle them, and rub your belly while you sit in my lap. Rayne, just think of her milk --” “Fenris!” Rayne hit him on the arm, but Freya saw the excitement brightening Rayne’s eyes nonetheless. “I can heal bodies and minds, but I can’t do a thing about crassness.” She contemplated a few choice words herself but only for a moment. What mattered was that a new challenge awaited her, one neither she nor her mates doubted her capacity for.

Mya
Heeding her own muses rather than those that belonged to other writers and filmmakers, Mya enjoys crafting erotica and welcomes the opportunity to use her English degree for something other than covering a hole in the wall. She is an avid fan of Godzilla, werewolves and dragons. Mya also enjoys watching the Sci Fi channel while she writes about naughty things, paints, crafts, and plays video games. Visit Mya on the Web at http://www.myaserotica.com/ or send an email to her at blackkoda@yahoo.com.

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