Caught in the Crossfire
Garrick stared down at the drink in his hand and felt his body loosen with the beginning of a buzz. It did little to relieve his headache, but the burn of scotch running down his throat felt so good. Already, the pounding of music and the myriad of smells in the nightclub were fading into the background of his mind. The ever-present consequences of a heightened sense of smell and hearing would never disappear entirely, but he had gotten good at discarding the information that wasn't important to him or to his survival. At that moment, the only thing his self-conscious was centered upon was his drink and the problem at hand.
A nightclub hadn't been his first choice of places to go to think, but it did offer a certain amount anonymity that relaxed the wolf inside of him. The bar on the main floor of the hotel he was staying at had been too welcoming to prying eyes. He couldn't go unnoticed there. A man like him rarely went unnoticed anywhere, something he'd been forced to concede to long ago, but privacy was still vital to him. His lifestyle demanded it, as did the simple fact of what he was.
Being a werewolf meant many things. First among them was protecting his identity against those that wouldn't understand or accept what he was. He found comfort only within the territorial boundaries of his pack. That was how it had always been meant to be. Without a pack, the wolf lost its ability to think in human terms. It was only concerned with base desires, the hunt and the satisfaction of the kill. A pack safeguarded those desires, allowed the wolf to know where the line of violation stood. Living without a pack drove a wolf mad.
These rogue werewolves cared little about the laws of society, both of man and wolf. They craved a level of freedom that was impossible to obtain. The more they killed, the more they ran the risk of boxing themselves in a corner, because werewolves like Garrick didn't tolerate Rogues. They were dangerous and careless of the humanity of others. Rogues were the reason he was in Boston.
Unfortunately, he was a man who'd spent little time in cities in the past. It was wearing down on him, the constant pressure of people and the lack of room to breath. The wolf inside him paced within the confines of his mind, eager for a run, a hunt, the smell of grass and forests in its nostrils. He didn't know how any wolf could survive in a city.
The historical port town of Boston shouldn't have been a haven for one of his kind, and yet a small pack of werewolves called it their home. They were mostly outsiders, wolves who hadn't felt comfortable in other packs or with the temptation of hunting in lands devoid of immediate consequences. Not all had the strength to kill and be satisfied with what prey could be found in animals.
Garrick didn't condemn these wolves for choosing to live more human than werewolf. Every pack lived under the same rules no matter which bodily form they preferred. It was what they did that dictated how they were treated by the Coalition.
Right now, all the packs were in danger, regardless of their status or way of life. Outsider packs like this one had more to lose than most. It was his job to warn them, to negotiate terms of compliance that would protect their packs. That was what he would do if he could simply find them. For the first time in his life, he was prepared to hunt something other than prey or Rogues. He had to hunt one of his own, if for the only reason of making them listen to him. This was the job designated to him by his Alpha. He couldn't let this pack fend for themselves without knowledge of what could be facing them.
As important as this task was, he was eager to get back to his own life. Spending any more time boxed in a hotel room would drive him crazy. He'd been in Boston already for three days, and finding the pack had been much harder than he'd anticipated. They'd clearly moved their base of operations since the last time the packs had been in contact. They were making a very clear statement that they wanted to be left alone.
They might choose to be ignorant of pack business, but he wouldn't let it go on any longer. By dawn, he would have an audience with the Alpha even if he had to force it. Isolation wasn't acceptable. Not now.
Screams erupted from the dance floor as the DJ played a popular song. Momentarily distracted, he shifted his body so that he could watch the dancers groove indecently to the music. It wasn't one of the racier clubs that he had been to in his life, but it was still a place in which people could forget about their inhibitions for a few hours.
He was about to turn back around and mind his own business when something caught his attention. A scent, one that he would have recognized anywhere no matter how diluted.
Another wolf was in the club with him that night and not too far way. In fact, the werewolf would have had to be relatively close in order for him to smell it all. The crowd of people around him had made him instinctively dull his senses so that he wouldn't be overwhelmed with cologne and sweat. Even concentrating on the scent made him cringe as other smells inevitably invaded along with it.
It was a werewolf, he discovered, but not one from any pack he'd ever come across. After a while, it was natural for a wolf's scent to infuse with others from his or her pack. It came from the strong bond they shared with one another. It was stronger than friendship, perhaps stronger than even family. Lord knows, his own family had never been as important to him as his pack was. The wolf should have shared a similar scent as the Boston pack, but it was different. That made the werewolf dangerous.
Only Rogues smelled of no pack.
The wolf inside of him narrowed on the scent, it's pacing increased. Back and forth, it traveled across his consciousness, making his heart beat fast and hard. Excitement coursed through his veins with every breath he took in of the scent.
He could tell the wolf was a woman. She smelled young and strong. It was a twenty-one and over club, so he guessed that she was in her mid twenties. The scent, especially one as individualistic as hers, told a lot about her. It was warm and flowery with a hint of spice. It went beyond perfume or shampoo. It was a smell that every wolf would identify her with. Names meant little to werewolves; a scent was more telling. It declared the position in a pack, whether alpha or beta, submissive or aggressive.
Her scent was so faint that he couldn't quite distinguish her status from it, but he doubted that any scent that individualistic could ever be beta. He forced himself to concentrate on it closer, and he found the trail buried within the heart of the writhing dancers. Taking a last gulp of scotch, he hissed slightly from the kick in his chest before warmth settled in. Leaving the glass for the bartender to claim, he abandoned his seat at the bar and began moving through the throngs of people standing around the dance floor.
Making his point of entry, he became swallowed by the dancers. Women he passed smiled at him in invitation or clung to him if they were bold enough. As gently as possible, he removed himself from their limbs and continued on. None of them was the woman he was looking for.
A small group of women that danced to his right caught his attention. There were three of them, all attractive and flushed from the exertion of dancing. One in particular made his wolf growl with appreciation, and he knew instinctively that she was his werewolf.
He watched her laugh as one of her friends, a petite and curvy blonde, grabbed a random guy from the crowd and started to imitate what looked like a lap dance with him, which the man responded to enthusiastically. The wolf turned to her other friend and must have joked about the blonde's dancing, because her friend instantly threw her head back and laughed emphatically.
In all appearances, it looked just like any other night at the club, but he knew the truth. There was a lone werewolf in the midst of the three friends, and her connection to the other two was worth questioning, indeed.
The woman briefly glanced his way as he studied her, meeting eye contact with him for only a moment before looking away. She'd grinned, having noticed him watching her, but she did nothing else to claim his attention. She had it anyways. He was powerless to prevent his eyes from roaming down her body.
She wore some kind of sparkly, black tank top that clung to her breasts and ribs and a dark pair of jeans that swayed in time to the fast paced music. She was tall and beautiful. Her long brown hair was falling out of the ponytail she wore to contain it. Her skin was a soft cream that glowed under the flashing lights. She looked disheveled and sexy, like a woman who knew how to have fun in the dark of the night.
His body stiffened when her eyes came back to him. She motioned towards him with a quick movement of her shoulder, a message meant for the friend at her side. A thin black woman with striking eyes looked his way and giggled youthfully. She turned his werewolf so that her back faced him.
Even though they were no longer looking at him, he knew that they were just as much aware of him as he was of them. He decided it was time to find out what pack this woman belonged to, and why his inner wolf growled every time he looked at her.
Her bottom claimed his gaze as he approached her from behind. It was round and plump when the rest of her was more straight than curvy. Her breasts were small, he'd noticed, but they were enticing enough to make him fantasize momentarily about pulling down that black clingy fabric to reveal more of her modest cleavage. Even so, it was really her behind that was playing the predominant role in his fantasies now.
He'd planned on turning her around so that he could talk to her and let her smell the wolf on him, but he changed his mind and grabbed her hips instead. He brought her back against his chest and that beautiful behind against his growing arousal.
He expected her to stiffen and pull away when she finally smelled him, but he was powerless against the temptation of feeling those hips against his hands and her body resting upon his. She surprised him instead.
Straining her neck, she smiled and yelled, "Hi!"
"Hey!" he responded.
Moving her body back in sync with the music, she pushed against him and encouraged him to move along with her. He was sucked into the sexy sway of her body, and his plans changed entirely. The need to feel her against him only grew stronger as the song faded into another one with a slower, steamy beat. The bulge in his pants singed with excitement for the feel of her against him. Although it was enticing to forget about everything and imagine her naked and resting on all fours beneath him, reason told him to be careful.
She clearly had no idea of what he was, and that alarmed him.
Werewolves were by nature extremely protective. They didn't like to be around wolves that weren't of their pack. It was a defense mechanism. To trust was to be pack; any other alliance was simply for the gain of one party or another. The Coalition consisted of every major Alpha in the United States. They made the laws and were the backing behind enforcement. Some Alphas cared about the safety of the other packs. Some did it only for personal gain. The Coalition meant recognition and consideration for their pack; without it was to be Rogue.
She should have been able to recognize the wolf in him. He was at her back, his body plastered to hers in the most basic way possible without being naked. She hadn't stiffened, hadn't pulled away from him. She'd treated him like a woman treated a man she was attracted to. For her to have no fear of him or his instinctive aggressive nature, meant that she didn't know what he was.
Perhaps, she was so new to being a wolf that she didn't recognize it in others. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he knew it wasn't true. She didn't have the scent of someone who had recently recovered from an injury caused by another werewolf, one of only two ways to become one of their kind. It was just her scent that enticed him. There was no other wolf scent on her to confuse him.
Brushing her ponytail aside, he let his hand rest against the bare skin of her nape. She was so soft, even with the perspiration on her skin. Bringing his mouth down upon her shoulder, he kissed her slowly, almost reverently. The barely there brush of his lips against her was enough to make her quiver slightly, and he felt it down his entire body. This desire for her was a distraction that he didn't need or understand; it was taking his every effort to keep his wolf in check, to not change then and there on the dance floor. It would be against every law the werewolves had, but his wolf didn't care. It was trying to tell him something, something that he didn't have the inclination to listen to with her body moving so rhythmically with his.
Moving his lips further upon the distance of her neck, he slowed her dancing so that he could pay attention to every movement of her body and not just the grinding of her ass against his arousal.
The music pounded against the speakers, the dancers around them jumping and moving frantically, but they simply swayed to a more instinctual tune. He ignored everything else but this, her scent against his tongue. He breathed it in deeply, so deeply that he imagined it swirling along his lungs caressing every boundary he had inside of him. His wolf seemed to sigh with it, drunk on an emotion he couldn't yet identify.
Abruptly, before he even knew what he was doing, he twisted her around in his arms so that she would face him. It was a fast movement that brought unwanted distance between their bodies.
Garrick craved the feel of her breasts smashed against his chest, her hips pressed to his, legs entwined, now that her back was no longer to him. He didn't make the move to fulfill his body's desires, though. He just stared down at her startled expression.
What he'd discovered in that long breath against her nape had shocked him down to his very core. He'd found something so rare, something that he'd never thought he would ever come across in his lifetime. She was so much more than the woman she masqueraded as. She was a Hybrid, born from a single werewolf gene that was carried down through one parent and not two.
She didn't know what she was. Even worse, she didn't know what she would someday be capable of.
"What's your name?" The man staring so deeply at her asked, his voice husky even as he raised the pitch to be heard over the music.
"I'm Julianna." She responded, closing the distance between them so that they wouldn't have to compete with the crowd to hear each other. "And you?"
She nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing his face close to hers. They began to move again with the music, though neither was paying that much attention to whether their movements matched that of the beat to the music.
She shifted her head slightly so that she could see her friend, Shayna, dancing with a man close beside them. Her friend gave her a quick thumbs up in approval before bringing her gaze back to her own partner. With a grin, Julianna Fairholm brought her body closer to Garrick's, feeling the muscles in his abdomen shift against her stomach. It was a provocative movement that made her body tingle and shift her attention to lower places in her body than her stomach.
Dancing in front of him, feeling his hands on her hips, she knew that he had a good body. It was nothing compared to his face though. His jawbone was broad in that sexy way that had always affected her the most, and a slight growth of facial hair gave him an attractively scruffy look. His lips weren't full, but they looked soft and masculine. All of this dimmed in comparison to the bright green eyes that burned as they scoured her own features.
"Do you live in Boston?" he asked her finally, breaking the momentary silence, as they felt their bodies become reacquainted with one another.
He shook his head with denial. "Just visiting."
"Oh, okay." Julianna let her hands fall a little lower on his shoulders as the pace of their dancing increased.
She shouldn't have felt disappointed that he didn't live in the city. He was just another man, one she would never see again regardless of where he lived. Still, it was tempting to wonder about him and the life he led. There was something rough about him, like he'd seen a lot in his life that she could never have fathomed, but he held her so tenderly that it betrayed the preconceived notion. His hands brushed her sides as though they were eager to explore more of her body. A flash of imagination blinded her for a second as she pictured those large, callused hands cupping her breasts.
Her nipples, soft from the heat of her body, suddenly went hard at the image of his fingertips brushing them to life. He must have noticed. How could he not have? Her chest grazed his with every movement she made. When he let his hands drift to the small of her back, and suddenly grip her to him so that her nipples were flustered against him, she'd known she was right.
His glance continually flickered down toward her lips, though he never made the final move. It was just a dance between two strangers, not an intimate moment between lovers. Even so, it felt that intimate. Her face was so close to his, their breaths merging with each other's. His breath smelled of scotch and mint, and wasn't the slightest bit unpleasant.
It was a temptation that rang over and over again in her mind. It told her to just forget that he was a stranger, to get lost in the feel of him against her so appealingly, and just kiss him. She'd already fantasized about rubbing herself against him with no clothes to hinder the friction of bare skin against skin. What was a kiss compared to that?
It was irresponsible to desire something that would make him expect more from her. The second her lips touched his, it would be an invitation for much more intimate things, kisses in even more intimate places. The idea didn't make her feel calm or collected, or anything else that she usually was, but hadn't that been the point of tonight?
She was only twenty-four, but already the expectation was for her to act much older. Julianna had always lived under high expectations, by her grandmother, by her heritage. By leaving college, she not only left homework and tests behind, but she was supposed to leave her youth behind with it.
She worked hard for what she had, something that her grandmother's money and input didn't affect. She may have had that money to start off with, but it certainly hadn't won any battles for her. She had to win them herself. It was one of the reasons why she went into law. You couldn't cheat intellect with the law, couldn't make arguments convincingly without education and a creative mind. She was smart, and she proved everyday with her icy facade and collected mannerisms that she could win any battle placed in front of her. She'd grown a reputation at work for being an ice queen, but she didn't care. That was the only way she knew how to live her life and gain respect from lawyers greatly more experienced than she.
Either way, her grandmother may have paid the bills, but she'd earned every A herself. She'd graduated with honors because of her own ambitions, and not those of the woman who'd raised her to be the way she was today. As a junior associate to the prestigious law firm she worked at, she was still too inexperienced to make her way up the ladder she'd been born to climb, but she did her job well. More and more of the senior partners had been requesting her to work on their cases, to research the precedent and any connected cases. She was working her way up through back doors that other people would only dream about.
Even so, she'd craved nights like this one. Nights in which she'd had so few in the past, ones in which she could forget her inhibitions for just a short time and enjoy being alive and still young. Where she could dance the night away and comfort herself in the hands of a gorgeous guy and not have to worry about him being there the next day to complain about the lack of time that she could give him.
Tonight had sounded so perfect when her friends had first suggested it to her. Two of them, college buddies from the days in which she actually had done things like go to clubs and bars, had suggested they catch up and be nostalgic for the good old days with no bills, mortgages, or eight-hour work days – more like ten or more for her. She didn't even get a paid lunch break. It was pathetic that they'd lived in the same city for a year now, and she hadn't seen either of them for months. She was just busy, and so were they. Still, tonight was more fun than she'd had in a very long time.
Her grandmother wouldn't approve, she knew. Growing up, she'd learned everything there was to know about propriety and displaying a respectable image. She was never allowed to get angry or cry in public. She'd been taught that being calm in the face of opposition was a sign of strength and grace, of a proper upbringing. She couldn't resented it, not when she used those techniques every day at work, but free nights were few and far in between. She could never just act her age, have fun, and not guard every emotion she had from others. It was refreshing to be able to simply show desire for another and not wait for the proper moment or for him to make the first move. A kiss was a temptation that she simply couldn't resist, not that night.
Hooking her hand behind his neck, she pulled his mouth down to hers surprising the hell out of him if the tensing of his body was any sign. Their lips had barely touched though, when her friend Lauren grabbed her arm.
"Those guys over there know a bar that sells two dollar pitchers. I think we should check it out." The blonde glanced up at Garrick with a flirtatious smile. "You can come too."
Julianna sighed and glanced toward the men Lauren was pointing out. They were dancing with Shayna, grinding more like, one behind her and the other in the front. They looked like they were having a good old time. It was bordering on a threesome, an orgy if it included Lauren in the mix.
"I don't know Laur…are you sure that you want to go off with a couple of guys you don't know?"
Lauren just shrugged the question off. "We'll each have a car. If anything fishy happens, we'll just drive away. It's just a bar, Julie."
Julianna looked back up to Garrick, still standing so close to her, grabbing her hips like he refused to let her go. "It doesn't sound like a smart thing to do," he murmured quietly.
"Common, Julie…you said you wanted tonight to be fun! We don't want to go without you." Lauren pleaded with her.
"I'm actually ready to head home," she responded, not intentionally conceding to Garrick's judgment, but doing it anyway. "It's been a long day."
"Are you sure? We don't get to do this nearly enough."
Julianna laughed throatily. "I know. Tonight was fun." She glanced to Garrick, then back to her blonde friend. "We should definitely do it again."
"Well, we can give you a ride home if you want."
"Sounds great. Give me a moment, okay," she asked, motioning with her head towards him. Lauren smiled and with a nod went to do a foursome grind dance with her new pals.
"It was nice meeting you," Julianna looked up to his face, wishing deeply that this wasn't the end between them. He stared down at her lips so intently that she wondered if he would kiss her again, just once to remember her by. He was holding her against him so tight that she thought he might.
"Do you want to get coffee or something?" he asked instead of giving her the kiss she craved and expected. "We could get to know each other a little better."
"I can't…" she paused with yearning as she considered his offer. It was so appealing, so tempting. The night was over though, and so was her boldness. She needed to get home and get some sleep. "I need to go with my friends." She pulled away finally, slipping from his fingers.
He held onto her arm, the last thing he had of her in his grasp. "Are you sure?"
"Yea," she straightened her clothing a little awkwardly as he stared down at her in a look she had never before seen in a man. It was a burning, desperate look that said so many things she didn't understand. "Have a great stay in Boston."
With a last smile, she followed her friends out of the club. He watched one of them grab and hook Julianna's arm with her own. She left without looking back, barely without saying goodbye. He was just another man to her, just another faceless dance partner that she would never see again.
"Shit," he muttered, running a hand through his short black hair. What the hell was he going to do now? She didn't know what she was or who would soon be hunting her. It wasn't simply about the Boston pack anymore. He had a new mission now. He had to warn her before things got out of hand, before they came looking for her. It all depended upon it now. She was in so much danger, and she didn't even know it. He knew one thing was certain. He was going to see her again, and her life would never be the same again. He wasn't so sure that his would be the same either.
A Hybrid threatened everything. If only she knew.
Author's Note: Hey, everyone. I was so excited to post this. I've been reading paranormal romance for so long now, much longer than when it became popular, that I decided I had to try writing one myself. Having said that, I just wanted you to know that in writing this, my goal isn't necessarily to be original. I just want to tell the most entertaining story I can, and since this is the first story of this kind that I've ever written, I'm naturally going to borrow concepts from other stuff I've read. Still, I think I have some cool new ideas in here that I think you will find interesting. The Hybrid concept will be talked about in more detail in the next chapter, so you guys will get to see why it is such a big deal. I hope you will stick around to find out. Please read and review. I love hearing from you guys.