A/N - This is the sequel to Wild Love (obviously, with such an unoriginal name). It can be read on its own but you'll have so much more fun if you read the other one first.

Sorry I took so long. Me and Blue Eyes had a falling out, and I wasn't very motivated for a while. Sigh. Didn't last long fortunately, so here it is.


By Triple Vice

It hurt to breathe. Her muscles were clenching, because the change was like being rent apart, limb from limb, muscle from bone, heart from soul. Her fingers stretched out and her claws dug into the soil, scraping until she gripped a handful of dirt. A snarl was building in her throat as her body writhed, fighting the drug.

She'd been to an underground dog fight once, where two dogs that were trained to be vicious snarled and snapped and tore each other apart. It was like an adult watching babies try to walk. The babies didn't know there was a difference, because they were babies. Infants. She was the adult, and she knew what werewolves were like in comparison.

No. No. Nonononononono. They were going to tear him apart.

After that night in the alleyway, she'd followed him around for a while. The rival pack was making trouble all over the place, and her pack as practically at war. So whether she'd been watching him to make sure he didn't blab, or watching over him to make sure he wasn't killed, she'd never been sure, but she'd been curious. A little desperate, maybe, so she became his shadow, and she observed.

She liked the way his posture seemed so casual. So unconcerned with everyone else's opinion of his self confidence. She liked how he did everything with a lazy sort of grace, like he was just waiting for the next thrill to come along, and in between those moments the world could do whatever it wanted. She'd begun to think like everyone else, that he didn't care. Maybe he was suicidal. Maybe he was certifiable.

Then she caught his scent on the wind one night in the big city and followed it to a night club. She'd been prowling the streets—barely two hours away from their little town—and amidst the chaos of smells she found him. The man at the gate let her in right away. She knew him and a couple of the other bouncers, and despite the frustrated calls of those in line she pushed her way into the club. There were plugs in her ears to protect her sensitive hearing, but she still heard the thundering music, and felt the tremble in the floor through her bones. It was hard to find him with so many smells bombarding her, but she made her way across the dance floor and saw him. He was twisting through the people, watching, occasionally interacting when someone pinned him down. Usually a girl. Chaney weaved through the crowd behind him, watching. Then he spotted her, and right after their eyes met, a group of kids cut between them, and she lost him.

Half an hour later she found herself wandering through the lower level, where the fight was. Well, had been. There was a man standing on the stage, nearing seven feet in height and weighing in at about three hundred plus in solid mass. His opponent was being cleaned off the stage, and he was screaming at someone in the crowd. Someone with very dark hair.

She watched that look cross Alexis' face as he pushed away from the hands grabbing at him in the crowd. The guy on stage was calling him a pussy, a pretty boy, a mamma's girl, but he didn't seem to hear the taunts. Alexis wasn't pissed off. He was eager. He jumped up on stage in his converse sneakers and blue jeans to pull off his sweatshirt and tee-shirt in one go. He dropped them both to the stage, lean muscle contracting as he faced the mammoth fighter.

She'd grinned. In a room full of rabid anticipation, screams for blood and too much liquor, she could smell the razor edge of his excitement. He was lean and tall, too thin to look intimidating next to Jumbo over there, but Alexis' powerful shoulders were bunched, the muscles in his legs loose and ready to spring. It was a silly moment in which to sit back and admire, but dear heavens. Her eyes trailed down his back, and her tongue snaked out to lick her lips. Shirtless in faded blue jeans, lean muscles trailing down into his low-riding waistband, his hard body definitely looked built more for attraction than practicality—and the way he moved, one smooth step at a time, his feet placing themselves with lazy disinterest…

Then the fight started, and the look in Alexis' eyes seemed to intensify. His opponent was massive, powerful, and hit like a mule. Alexis took three hits, one to his jaw, and two to his gut in the first few seconds, but the only reaction he had was to rebound. The harder Jumbo hit him, the more fun he seemed to have.

What the hell? She could smell his adrenaline, almost taste his sweat…but really, what the hell? Was he nuts?

Alexis could not be knocked out. He could not be beaten down. He took every damn blow the monster had, and leapt back in until the cries of the stunned crowd turned in his favor.

Then he won. One massive knee to the face brought the leviathan to the stage floor, and it was over. He looked up and met her gaze. He winked.

He knew she'd been watching.

The fractional memory ended, its split second shelf life gone from one labored breath to another. Chaney opened her mouth to scream into the night, and what started first as a woman's shriek, echoing through the town and leaving the Halloween revelers scared and watchful, then transformed into the thundering, deep throated, snapping snarl of one hell of a pissed off werewolf. Yes. There are dogs, and then there are wolves, and then there are werewolves. Dogs are, for the most part, domesticated. When they snarl, it's freaking scary. Wolves are, almost entirely, wild. Sounding vicious is part of the package. They must fight each other for dominance and survival, even in a pack, and even more outside of a pack, because wolves are not the biggest or baddest of predators.

Werewolves are preternatural, magical freaks. Wolf and human, heavier than both, smarter, stronger, bigger, meaner, and most definitely louder, when they snarl it is enough to stop the heartbeat of a healthy young human. Terrifying is too trite a word for something that surpasses Nature's wildest creatures. Her body rocked and her bones cracked, breaking, reforming, her joints separating to shift and change as her voice rose in fury so flaming hot her vision turned red.

There would be blood tonight. She didn't care that the whole town would hear her, or that a few outdoor parties would probably be cut short, or that in the morning the town newspaper would warn its citizens to remain indoors while animal control tried to find the culprit.

Her damn human was being hunted. HER human was going to be stalked like a mindless deer by monsters like her. They were going to track him, then attack him, and rend him limb from limb with fangs powerful enough to crush stone. The motherfucking bastards were hunting her mate.

Another memory flashed through her. She'd been leaving the fight when she felt a hand on her waist. She smelled its owner, she knew who it was, and when he leaned close to say, "Come on," she let him lead her out the door. His sweatshirt was back in place, minus the tee-shirt, which had probably been stolen by one of his new fans. He pulled her out into an alleyway and around the corner of a building as a few of his former audience spilled out into the night. He put a hand over her mouth—as IF she would talk—and drew her against him.

She pulled his hand away and pushed out of his hold, ready to leave him before something happened. She wasn't sure what…wasn't really sure why she shouldn't stay, but he grabbed her arm before she got too far anyway.

The zipper on his sweatshirt wasn't up all the way, and the hood tugged the material back so that the neck opened wide around his shoulders. She clenched her jaws, her teeth aching to sink into him as her eyes trailed over his skin and up his neck, over his jaw and lips up to his eyes. She hadn't eaten lately, and she was hungry. He looked delicious. He smelled delicious.

He smiled, like he knew exactly what she was thinking. "Come on, let me give you a ride back," he said, and the next thing she knew she was on his bike, zooming down the road.

Then there had been the party.

The memory faded briefly as Chaney's body finished the change, and she pushed up from the dirt onto four legs where once there had been two. A growl was building in her throat. Lust seemed to dominate this night. No longer the lust she'd felt for Alexis, but a dark blood lust that filled her whole body. It was Halloween, and the air tingled with magic. The full moon above her filled her with power and energy, fueling her rage. She tipped her head back, and the air ripped out of her throat harshly, burning as an unearthly call, traveling and growing by magic and wind, tore through the night and sent everything that heard it running for safety. From the humans to the forest dwellers, they all turned aside. Not out of wisdoms so much as an instinctive knowledge that to stick around would likely end in excessive pain and/or fatality. She heard a bear turn aside nearly a mountain's distance away, seeking a less dangerous route for his nightly meal, and heard the stirring of her clan's rivals as their voices rose to answer her challenge.

Bristling, powerful, she gathered her muscles and leapt forward, her feet thundering across the forest floor, never caring who saw her or heard her, because anyone who tried to stop her would learn the measure of the storm in her breast. She was beyond rage. She was terrified.

The pack had been uneasy about whoever she was spending time with. Humans were beyond the call of duty, as they saw it, and then there were the tensions between her pack and their next door neighbors in the big city. It was unwise, for one thing, to hang out with a human. It was stupid, for another thing, to do it in the big city. Her alpha was pissed off. The other werewolves were pissed off, so for a while after the fight she stayed away from Alexis.

Hilarious though, wasn't it, that after that night, Alexis was the one that came looking for her? He dragged her to a party. Well, dragged as in he showed up like he had been doing for months, and she'd ended up going with him wherever he was going. Stupid. Reckless. Too trusting, probably, but she liked it. That night she'd just had a huge meal of elk. She was sated, satisfied, almost lazy. She felt a little sleepy, as she'd felt as a human after a big meal, and she'd been in an easy going mood. Maybe a little giddy. Too carefree to worry about the pack. Alexis just had to slip up behind her and whisper in her ear to drag her along. She found herself at a party not long afterwards, where some rich college student had decided to invite everyone to celebrate the end of classes.

She'd felt content. Usually that was when her wolf slept peacefully at the back of her brain. Usually, it was when she felt the most human. That night, however, her body hummed with the energy of her wolf. She saw everything with crystal clarity, and several of the humans remarked on the unusual color of her eyes. A couple of girls gushed over them, wondering where she'd gotten the contacts, because they were beautiful.

Funny how dense the humans could be. She didn't pay much attention to it, because she was in a mood to dance. The music was good. The beat was strong, and the animal in her liked it, so she walked out onto the floor with the other dancers and moved her body to the rhythm of the music.

It felt good, and she sensed him watching. In a crowd of seventy or so students, she could feel him watching. She knew he was watching when one of the bleach blonde jockeys came up and slipped a hand around her waist and settled his groin against her backside as they danced. The kid moved with her, grinding into her with sensual intention, and she stopped dancing and pulled away. He wasn't the one she wanted to be touched by.

The guy moved up to her, ready to drop a line probably, but he never got to it. Alexis stepped up and took her hand. He spun her away and moved in behind her to slip both arms around her waist.

"Sorry buddy, she's with me," he'd said. Kids in the area knew better than to mess with Alexis. She smelled it on the guy—the sudden tension, the temptation to get into a fight, and the cautious fear. In a pack, he would have already lost the fight. He knew Alexis was the more dominant male, and that he would kick ass if provoked. He just didn't like it. Tough shit, Chaney thought, and stopped paying attention. The guy finally got pulled away by some girl.

In fact, the little bit of attention Chaney'd given the college guy shut down the second she felt that warm touch sliding across her waist. Alexis' palms slid across her stomach, possessive, gentle…firm. He pressed up against her back then, his taller form dwarfing hers, his scent enveloping her along with the heat of his body. He smelled soooooo delicious, she thought again. It was a good thing she'd eaten recently, because though her hunger was sated, she still wanted to taste him. She wanted to run her tongue across his skin, scrape her fangs along his neck. Not hard enough to puncture. Just enough to stimulate the heady sensations that arose in her mouth when she wanted.

She hadn't had such an intimate touch in years. The werewolves tried to take her sometimes…tried to mate with one of their own, but it was always unwelcome. Always invasive. This…this was welcome. His touch was…not so much possessive—though there was an element of that present as well—but more…calming. Protective. She felt him at her back, his face moving to nuzzle against her neck so he could whisper in her ear.

"I have to wonder what you think of us humans," he said softly, and she tensed. Turning, she looked up at him as he raised his head. He was so close. He met her gaze, and reached up with one hand to run his thumb over her upper lip, slowly. She caught her breath, ready to pull away…but for some damned inexplicable reason, she couldn't move. He dipped his thumb under her lip then, to run it gently over her fangs. The soft pressure soaked into her gums, exciting her nerves, making her want to bite down. She didn't…but she did lick his finger…just a little.

"Nice," he said softly, and her muscles finally jump started. She pulled away. He knew. She could tell from the look in his eyes. He knew what she was. How had he found out?

She reached up to touch her lips then, stunned. He just looked at her the same way he'd looked at her in the alley…and then he reached out a hand to slip it around her neck and drew her back for a kiss. He pulled her hand out of the way and stepped in, his lips soft and caressing as he teased her skin. His tongue toyed with hers, taunting, daring her to respond.

Gasping, she pulled away and turned to push through the crowd for the front door, and broke back out into the night with her emotions in chaos. It was a clear night, with a half-moon shining down and a gentle breeze drifting by her. She reached up to touch her lips.

Her whole world had shifted in that moment. Her chest felt strange. Not her breasts…it wasn't…exactly arousal. She felt out of breath, and it felt constricted. Excited. Her heart felt ready to beat right through her chest. It thundered along, skipping every now and then, reveling in the spike of adrenaline her body felt. It was like the night of the full moon, when the magic filled her to bursting with new energy. It was the same feeling. The same wondrous joy, the same feeling that running across the earth or leaping through the air brought her. Pure elation.

In among the elation though, fueling the reckless pace her heart was setting, dread was lacing through her. He knew. Damn it. He shouldn't know. If the pack found out…

The rich kids' home was on top of a hill on the outskirts of town, overlooking the town hall and the courthouse. She stared out at it as she heard the door close behind her. Alexis. He didn't say anything.

"Do you want to do something dangerous?" she asked softly.

"Generally I'd say yes," he said, and she glanced back. He was leaning against the side of the house, but he pushed away to step forward again. "Tonight though…nothing's dangerous. There are no risks. So it doesn't matter what you want to do. I'm in."

"You sound like you're saying you don't care," she whispered. "But what if it really does get ugly?"

He shook his head, his dark locks casting shadows across his expression as he answered. "I'm not in it for the thrill tonight. I'm in because it's you."

That strange feeling in her chest intensified, and as she looked at him she wished she could feel the same. Wished she could say that there was no danger, that she could just deny it, and in denying it make it cease to exist. That wasn't exactly what he meant, but that was her take on things.

The hell with it.

She swallowed. "All right," she said, and started walking away from him. She peeled off her jacket to drop it on the pavement, and glanced back. "Try to keep up with me," she said, and pulled off her shirt. He watched her pull off her fur lined boots, and then her jeans. There was no one else around. All the humans were in the house, and none of her brethren were nearby.

When she started loping down the road, he took a few running steps to his motorcycle and got on. She heard the engine roar to life as she pulled off her bra and dropped it, then her underwear, and let the Change come. Her body shifted, bones rearranging, shrinking in places, growing in others to become canine. Her spine bent. Her teeth grew, and her hands turned to paws that stretched out toward the pavement…

His motorcycle zoomed down after her as she sprinted down the highway. She raced his big machine, darting across the road and dropping back occasionally to nip at his heels playfully. Her lungs were burning through the fresh air like a furnace consuming fuel. Her muscles felt wonderful. It was a glorious, star lit night, and she ran wild and free down the highway, racing him as fast as she could go. On and on and on for miles she kept running, with him bent low over his bike, hot on her heels. She led him to the lake not far outside the town, where one side swept straight up a cliff face and the other side was beach.

He pulled his bike to a stop at the water's edge on the beach side, and she yipped at him before taking a running leap. The water crashed up over her, soaking her fur and sending a chill through her body. What was she doing? She wondered. Alexis was probably the kind of guy that mothers warned their daughters of, but the ironic thing was, she wasn't the one in danger. He just made her feel as though he could handle it. She knew better. Should know better…but she wanted to believe that for once, feeling affection could be allowed. That it wouldn't end because he wasn't strong enough to handle the darkest parts of her life.

Maybe tonight she could test that theory. She came up for air and looked back toward shore, where he was pulling off his jacket. She shook her head, spraying water everywhere. He laughed, stepping out of range before reaching up to pull off his shirt. She liked watching his muscles shift as they stretched, removing the soft material. His dragon tattoo slowly revealed itself as it curled around his hand and up his arm to his shoulder. There were scars on his other arm, some of which, she'd learned, he'd inflicted upon himself. Some of which had not been.

Lean, hard arms gave way to the kind of chest that made professional models look bad. Or at least inferior. Her eyes trailed down his rippled abdomen to the line of his pants, which he shoved down after he kicked off his shoes. Then he started wading into the shallows. Oh, now that was a pretty sight. She'd never seen him naked before…granted, her clothes had been left behind in the driveway, but…dear god. Seeing him stride down into the water, the moon shining down from above, his lithe body slipping into the dark water slowly… It was enough to bring her wolfish lips back, baring teeth in what would have been a smile. Then he dunked under the water and came back up, his hair wet and streaming, droplets of cool water clinging to his skin in her perfect vision. She swam around him and nipped at his neck, and then stood up in the shallows to lift her forelegs onto his back and gnawed at his hair. He laughed and shoved her off, then shook his hair, spraying her with the drops in an ironic twist of characters. She stretched out her neck and licked his tattoo, making him grin.

"Change back," he said, and she decided to pin this reckless mood on dinner. Being full and satisfied made her less cautious. Yes. Definitely dinner.

She dipped her head beneath the cool water to oblige him. It took a little while, but by the time her human head emerged he was right in front of her. Her feet touched the soil below, and as she stood up one of his hands slipped behind her head to pull her into a kiss, catching her by surprise. His tongue pressed into her mouth, scraping over her fangs with fearless ardor, and he pulled her against him. No please and thank you for this guy, she thought…but she liked that. He wasn't afraid of her. He was man enough to handle her. At another time and in another place, that might have been a little scary…but not right now………. Mmmmm. Yum. She could smell his desire. He smelled…ravenous.

He really was delicious. Salty, robust. She smiled against his lips as she recalled the popular opinion among werewolves—human kisses tasted like raw meat, and dogs like meat. A lot. It was a good thing she'd eaten, because she could enjoy the flavor and not have to deal with the craving his kiss would evoke. And ooooooooooh, how she was enjoying the flavor.

He broke the kiss. "So. I was right. You're a werewolf," he said, and she lifted her heavy eyelids to look up at him. He opened his mouth, bit the end of her nose gently. "I think I can handle that," he said, and she snorted.

"Yeah, we'll see," she said, and letting out a low, inhuman growl deep in her throat, she reached up to pull his head down for another kiss. His hands slid down and pulled her legs up around his waist as he slid further into the water, then his palms slid across her lower back and across her hips. Yeah. She liked it when he touched her. Definitely.

She reached out to trail her hand across his shoulder, down over the muscles at the back of his shoulders, and then down further. She liked how soft his mortal flesh was: how soft, and how hard. She eased her palms down his back, and across, savoring the dip of his spine and the smooth swell of toned muscle, and wondered why the vast, powerful expanse of a man's back was so…attractive. Why it made her feel so small, and made her want to trail her nails down his skin…why it made her want to feel like a woman instead of a wolf.

She leaned into to him, then broke the kiss to scrape her teeth along his jaw. She licked his skin as he kissed her shoulder, one hand pushing up into her wet hair, feeling so good against her scalp.


That was the night they first made love.

She'd known then that this day would come……the memories were so vivid, the ache in her chest so acute that she felt she might be split open by them as her four legs propelled her down the highway, trying to catch up with the wolves who were hunting her love.

His scent was all over the asphalt. Chaney powered down it, passing up a car that was heading the other way, and kept going. There was no sign of the pack besides their scent, which was fresh. An eighteen wheeler was running down the side of a small mountain, the driver settled in to survive another overnight haul when she sprinted past. His load was light, and the downhill slant had given him a lot of speed, but he was no match for her. She ran, and the rival alpha hunted her with his wolves.

She caught scent of blood in the air several minutes and a couple dozen miles later. Alexis' blood.

And she thought she'd been pissed off before. A howl broke out of her again, twisted, foul with fury and menace. Hell would be quaint after they met her tonight. No one—no one—messed with a female wolf that had something to protect. Alphas were pretty mean too when they were protecting their pack, but there was no comparison to the viciousness a female could display. Apparently her pack had not had any recent examples to keep their memories up to date. Fools.

Before she could refresh their memories though, she had to catch up. Where were they?

After the night at the lake, Alexis had gotten under her skin. It wasn't supposed to have meant anything, because it rarely worked out well between werewolves and humans. There was the whole beast factor to deal with, and the fact that, unless they were mated, the human just tasted like meat. Really, really, REALLY delicious meat. Cravings developed, temptation soared…it was dangerous, and Chaney's wolf hadn't mated until tonight. It had been getting bad lately. She wanted Alexis so much it was hard not to drool when she saw him. If it hadn't been that she actually liked him, her control might have slipped and she could have ended the agony by eating him. Ahem. It was just their luck that her cravings were rooted in more than her stomach. Just her damn luck that she'd fallen in love with the guy. The idiot. The bullheaded, fearless, masochistic moron. Okay, maybe not really masochistic, but close enough.

GEEZ. She'd been fighting herself so hard and he just kept coming around, defying the danger, careless, reckless, and charming in his indifferent-to-all-else kind of way. Nothing seemed to rate beyond the few moments they could spend together. It was like he'd finally found the ultimate challenge, the biggest adrenaline jack, the craziest romance ever. Most people just thought falling in love was scary. No. That wasn't good enough, the schmuck. He had to think that falling for a werewolf was the greatest battle he could ever find. After all, why settle for natural thrills when you could have supernatural ones? Never mind that he might have gotten eaten by his girlfriend. That was just part of the fun.

Where did she find these guys? Really!

The screech of metal on asphalt raked across her hearing then, followed by the snarl of a wolf. She howled, and the eager answers from behind her ripped through the night. She heard her alpha snarl in reply, and followed the sound right to him. She turned off the highway at a huge bend in the road, and broke through the brush to find herself in the middle of her pack—well, at least four of her twelve pack members.

Her alpha was right in the center, and she didn't bother with anyone else…yet.

He was ready for her. He smelled her intention on her, and he knew he was about to engage in a fight to the death. He had gathered pack magic to bolster his natural strength, but she didn't care about the disadvantages. She threw herself on him and went right for his neck. He twisted out of the way, his wolves gathering around to watch, snarling, waiting for someone to come back up so they could descend.

There is incredible loyalty among pack, and at the same time, none at all. They would kill her, if she was injured enough, for killing their alpha. The dominant males would kill their alpha if he was injured enough, so they could take his place. It was a vicious life. Ruthless—but she could be ruthless too.

Her alpha's snarls mirrored hers, his razor sharp teeth scoring her skin in places. He aimed for her neck, but she was too fast, too pissed to let him win that easy. They twisted, falling over one another, lunging at each other's throats in the wild's version of a cartoon dog-pile…only this one was for real, and every fiber of her being went into it.

There are stories about dogs that died for their masters because they put everything they had into giving EVERYTHING they had. There is no such thing as holding back when there is a reason to give everything. She smelled Alexis' blood on her alpha, and on a couple of the wolves surrounding her. There was no sign of Alexis, or any sense of direction in which he might be, but she was going to find him, even if only to find his corpse.

Corpse. The thought enraged her wolf, pushing her rampaging heart into a faster pace, forcing her muscles to be that much faster, that much more powerful, pushing so far that her fury became as much a danger to herself as to her enemy. The night was filled with the snarls of their battle, and nothing else. That was all she heard. All she smelled was Alexis' blood and her alpha. The foam in his mouth, the sweat on his fur, the taste of his blood in her mouth. She snapped one final time, and her jaws broke past her alpha's defense to close around his neck. Her teeth sank into him and tasted more blood as he snapped at her shoulder, tearing her flesh in an attempt to break loose. She shook her head viciously, rending flesh, breaking through the artery in his neck, cutting off his air…

He hadn't been such a bad alpha. He'd watched out for his wolves, some of the time. He'd been a sandy brown haired man, shorter than her, with a huge scar on one side of his face. Not such a bad guy…but he'd had Alexis' blood on him. She tore away with the chunk of flesh in her mouth as more wolves broke into the clearing and attacked her pack. Her alpha wavered, choking slowly because he couldn't draw air into his lungs, and fell over. She leapt over him and ran past the battles to find Alexis' scent.

She had to skid to a stop in another clearing, where the cliff six feet in front of her dropped off into nothing.

No. She looked over the edge, terrified, because this was where Alexis' scent ended.

She heard him breathing though. She heard the rasping breath, the short bursts of descending shock, and whined. Nononononononono. She barked, once, because it was an unusual sound for a wolf and not the easiest thing to do. He needed to hear a bark instead of the snarls though. Needed to know she wasn't going to attack him.

Nothing. She looked for a ledge big enough for her to jump onto, and started down. She could get herself killed—'immortality' among werewolves is far more limited than its typical dictionary usage—but it didn't matter. Where was he?

She slipped, fell, and yelped in pain when her shoulder hit the jagged boulder on a ledge. It saved her life, because if she hadn't hit it she would have gone toppling down into the ravine…but she could barely see beyond the agony. Why had that hurt so much? She looked up and saw the heavy trail of blood she'd left behind. Ah. The fight. She must have been more injured than she thought…

She heard Alexis' rasping breath not far away. In, rasp. Out, rasp. It was so weak she almost missed it even with her hearing, but then he groaned, and his scent grew stronger. She heard him moving, felt the heat of his body draw near, heard the uneven fall of his steps.


A memory washed over her then, springing on her in an instant flash that overwhelmed her sensory perceptions as Alexis drew near. She gasped, and suddenly it filled her vision.

In the back of her truck, on a pile of blankets, with Alexis's blood overwhelming her senses.

"Asshole," she snarled as she sewed shut the cuts on Alexis's chest. There were two broken ribs too, and Alexis was lying with his jaw clenched in pain and his breathing rapid and harsh. The fingers of one hand were wrapped around her thigh, gripping hard to keep from moving. "I'll kill him this time," she said, thinking of all the things she'd like to do to the perp right then. "I swear I will rip his throat out!"

There were three cuts on Alexis' chest, from a giant wolf whose description closely matched a male that had been making moves on her for months. The man was getting more aggressive, even though his wolf was oddly uninterested. Bastard. He'd caught Alexis in an alleyway when he was walking back to his apartment. Wolves in their town weren't all that unusual, but…

"Before he turned, he said he was tired of smelling me on you," Alexis hissed when she started sewing his wounds together, and reached up to grab her hand. "What did he mean by that?"

Chaney pulled her hand away. "The men don't like for the females to mate with humans. Too big a waste since there are so few of us, and the one that did this is a total sadist. I've made it clear on several occasions that I don't want to play his games, but all his other bedmates keep dying on him."

Alexis gasped. "Sounds like a charmer."

Chaney tied off the last stitch, and tried to ignore the scent of his wounds in the air. It was getting harder the more agitated she became. Calm. She needed calm. It was just so hard to get her head on straight when Alexis was around…she swore.

"I knew this would happen," she said, to distract herself, and pulled the bandages out of her first aid kit. Being a werewolf, she'd learned early to keep a well-stocked kit always at hand. If not for the wolves, then for the humans they ran into. "I told you to stay away."

"Oh and that's why you disappeared for two weeks?" He reached up to grab her hand again. "Is that why you left?"

She yanked her hand away. "Yes! The wolves are getting worse around me. I've been…smelling really good lately, to them, and the more I stick around the worse it gets, so I drove down to New York so they'd cool off, only there were more wolves down there and things were getting worse…" She lifted her hands and pressed her palms against her eyes. "Dammit, I don't know what to do!"

His wounds smelled so good…like a fresh kill. She tried to take little breaths, knew she should get out of the truck, knew she shouldn't have come back. Two weeks wasn't nearly enough time to cool down. Ah, he smelled so good. His scent was like a gas that had soaked into her flesh. It was making her heady, and her muscles were quivering with growing hunger. Damn! This was all so messed up. If she kept seeing Alexis the pack would rip him to shreds for real. No warnings. No broken bones. Just death, bloody, and final.

"Chaney?" He groaned and pushed himself up onto his elbows, then hissed when that hurt. She was straddling him, and it had to hurt with broken ribs, but then she felt his hand sliding across her neck, and she shuddered with the powerful lust that ripped through her. Hunger, anger, lust…it was hard to bite back. His wounds…oh…

She was hyperventilating in her attempt to keep from inhaling too much of his scent, and even that was messing with her mind. She had his hips between her legs, and she could feel every seam of his pants through her jeans. Maybe lust was safer than hunger, but if she let go tonight, it might get bad, and he was hurt…and…

Before she could stop herself, she reached down and caught his hand where it was sliding along her jaw, and turned to drag her tongue across his palm, tasting the salty flesh, the tangy sweat and coppery sweet flavor of crusted blood. She sighed out a moan, knowing she was on dangerous grounds, and slipped her leg off him.

"Here," she said, and dropped the bandages on his lap. "You're going to have to finish. I've reached my limit."

"Why are you so worried about me?"

The idiot! Just because he didn't care how recklessly he lived didn't mean she felt the same.

"Chaney. I'll heal."

She turned to glare at him. "Not if you get yourself killed."

He sat up with a wince and grabbed her hand just before she could climb into the cab. "Get back here," he said, and gave her arm a yank. She lost her balance and ended up on her back, with his arm braced by her shoulder. There wasn't much of a moon out, but the little bit of light that was coming into the covered truck bed was filtering through the side windows. She liked the way his hair fell over his face as he looked down at her, and the way the light shone through the strands.

She shouldn't be looking. Really she shouldn't. And damn it, but he was shirtless again. She hadn't thought much about it when she ripped the thing off to save his life, but now that he was moving around…

"Listen, Chaney," he said softly, and reached down to brush aside a lock of hair. Then he grunted and shifted to put less pressure on his ribs. She opened her mouth to tell him to lie back down, and he reached up to cover her mouth. "No. Shut up for a minute. The problem with having indestructible bodies and ridiculously long lives is that you forget we mortals aren't just a bunch of pussies. No one lives forever. Not even your kind, but for us death is something we have to think about every day. It might come today. Maybe tomorrow, but in the mean time I prefer to live how I please, and not even my werewolf girlfriend is going to tell me which fights are worth shedding a little blood over. I've been around long enough to know the difference."

She sighed, and shut her eyes against his scent. "You sound like Buddha," she complained.

He leaned down to whisper in her ear, his soft breath tickling her skin. "Buddha wouldn't be thinking about the fact that you're not wearing a bra."

Oops…she reached up to cover her tank-top clad chest, and realized that somehow he'd ended up between her jean-clad legs, one arm braced to hold himself up and the other pressed against his lower ribs. Um. "Alexis?"


"You sh-shouldn't be moving around Ale…"



He kissed her neck again, trailing his lips across her skin, up to her jaw where he licked her, just barely, his lips feather light, and then he…

She jumped just a little, taken by surprise by the warm flesh slipping under her tank, then smiled as she felt his fingers slip behind her waistband, his thumb moving out to pop open the button on her jeans.

Hell with it.

She'd just turned her head to kiss him back when he pulled away and moved to the back of the truck.

"What're you doing?" she asked as he popped the back open and slid out. He reached back in to grab her ankle and dragged her toward him. She chuckled as she bumped over the grooved floor and ended up lying on the tailgate with her legs hanging off the end. He stepped in between her knees and reached for a hand to pull her into a sitting position, smiling at her as she laughed.

"It doesn't hurt too much this way," he said, and she leaned forward to kiss him. He chuckled against her lips, then reached down for the hem of her tank. Funny how fast it disappeared, she thought fuzzily, and grinned at him in the moonlight. They were parked next to the lake again, so the view over his shoulder would have been spectacular…if she'd bothered to look.

He leaned his forehead against hers and lifted both hands to slip his fingers into her hair.

"Lexi, dear?" she asked, teasing.

He raised an eyebrow at the name, looking less than pleased. "What?"

"Are you saying that I'm worth living for?"

His thumbs slid along her scalp tenderly, and he leaned in a little to kiss her. There were days when she wished for a kiss that felt like his did right then. It was the kind of kiss that could make a day with cramps, ex-boyfriends, annoying girl friends, possessive pack members, and vicious enemies turn completely on its head. She felt its sweet effect start in the center of her chest, totally erasing all the anxiety she'd been feeling ever since she first came back to town and smelled his blood on the air—no, actually the anxiety went all the way back to the night at the lake, when she'd really started worrying about the pack. If Alexis had been just another human, she wouldn't have cared. The pack wouldn't mind if she had a fling. It was just that…well, she'd fallen in love, and it's easy to tell when someone is in love. For another werewolf.

He kissed her softly, because today being rough would hurt—maybe she should break his ribs again next time she wanted it tender—and she felt like she was being recharged. Except…now her chest ached. The tips of her fingers itched, and her gums hurt where her fangs grew out.

She wanted to say his name… "Alex….s," she whispered into his mouth. She ran her hand up his arm, along his tattoo, and smiled against his lips. He was pushing into her just a little, one arm wrapped around her waist to scoot her hips closer. His chest was pressed against hers, so every time he inhaled his body pressed up against her breasts. Softly, though, because his breathing was shallow and he was being careful.

Mmm, his warm skin felt so good against hers. She could hear his heartbeat next to her, and it sounded so hypnotic. Careful, careful, she thought. Not only did she have to be careful to restrain her strength now, but there was also the fact that he was hurt—evidenced in the way his breaths were so short. It was hard to remember, with her tongue sliding along his. She liked that. Especially when they turned their heads just so, and opened their mouths so their tongues could mesh and slide along one another like lovers saying hello. Mmm, vive le France…she thought, just before she caught his tongue in her lips and sucked on it. Hard.

He liked that. He also liked it when she lifted her legs to hook them around his waist, then crossed her ankles to lock him in place. He pulled away from her just enough to smile, and she winked. Maybe a little too much of her playfulness was the wolf taking over, because her wolf, unlike her human self, had no inhibitions. He reached back for one of her feet, and she heard one of her boots hit the top of the truck, and chuckled breathily.

"Your aim sucks," she said, and leaned back to brace her hands on the truck bed. She was still fighting her wolf for one thing: the hunger that throbbed inside her every time she inhaled. The scent of his fresh wounds had never gone away and, oh, how good he smelled right then.

"Wasn't aiming," he said, and pulled off her other boot. She shrugged, and heard the second boot hit the dirt somewhere behind the truck. He leaned in to kiss her again, and she took deep breaths as they kissed, inhaling as much of him as she could, hoping it was enough to sate the craving building in her, and knowing it wasn't. This was getting really dangerous. As if making love with him weren't enough, she was in love with him too. It was awakening all sorts of strange emotions in her, and giving life to hormones she'd long since thought dead. Her body was alive with all sorts of new cravings, and she was afraid. Of the pack, but even more, of herself.

If she kept this up, she would bite him. Even if she drew blood it wouldn't be enough to change him, but the cravings would get worse after that. If things got too bad, she might get vicious. Her wolf's hunger might get too…uncontrollable.

That night, as they kissed, and as they made love, she felt like she was devouring him.

He growled in pain at one point and pulled away, just to lower his head against her chest and drag in great gulps of air. She lifted her hands to run her fingers through his hair, soothing, trying to ignore the tingle of his locks brushing across the soft skin of her breasts.

"You okay?" she asked, her voice husky with lust and hunger, her mouth watering as she inhaled his scent.

"Yeah. Just give me a minute."

"Is it the cuts? Or your ribs?"


She chuckled at the uncertain tone, and wiggled forward to hop off the tailgate. "Did I ever tell you why wolves lick their wounds?"

He turned obediently when she pushed him up against the tailgate—it was sometimes nice to for them to be wounded or sick, because they got easily malleable in those conditions—and reached back to brace himself on the edge. "Sick obsession with blood?" he asked.

She chuckled. "No. Because there's an agent in their saliva that helps blood clot. Humans transmit too many germs to do it, but they have similar traits." She trailed her lips across his face, liking the feel of just a little stubble growing since his last shave. It tickled her skin just before she trailed down his neck, then his chest.

She shouldn't be doing this. Her lips reached the three cuts along his skin and she paused to suck in as much air as her lungs could hold. So delicious. She really shouldn't be doing this.

Chaney glanced up and smiled at him. "Werewolves, however, are a magical combination of the two. The germs are still there, but they're the good germs. The ones that heal."

She opened her mouth and her tongue came out to lap up the crusted blood along his wound, along with the new blood and the white blood cells oozing out of the wound. It should have been disgusting, but it was him. It tasted like him, and it was positively divine. She'd been right all along. He tasted like heaven.

He shuddered as she dragged her tongue up his chest, her hot mouth soothing his pain.

"Should I be letting you do that?" he asked, his voice rough with pain and lust.

Her tongue moved over a couple of stitches, and she moved back to trail the tip of her tongue around them. "You going to stop me?" she asked as a growl worked its way up her throat. Too late to stop now.

"Hell no."

She smiled. "Good."

"…ney!" A faraway voice called out to her, distracting her from the memory of her tongue running across Alexis' skin. The voice was Alexis', but it didn't sound like him. She had a moment of confusion, trying to figure out how he could sound so distant when he was right in front of her, and then the voice became clearer.


Her mind snapped back to black and pain. The night seemed to consist of nothing more than blood, black, and pain. The black filled her vision, blocking out everything in the night, and the pain filled her head, making it unable to focus on anything but the blood, and the black, and the pain. The blood filled her nose, so overwhelming that even in wolf form it made her sick with its cloying, sick, sweet, coppery scent—and at the same time, it smelled soooooo good. Even though it was her blood.

And Alexis'.


She lifted her muzzle as her vision slowly cleared, and looked up at him. He dropped to his knees next to her, a bloody knife in his hand. She smelled her alpha's blood on that knife. Strange. Had her alpha been wounded when she fought him? She couldn't remember now.

She whined, and Alexis' hand with the knife moved to brace itself against the ground right next to her, and he reached out with the other bloody hand—blood that smelled like his now—to run his fingers through her fur.

"It's fine now. Too late to go back," he said. "You'll pull through."

She whined again, and he smiled softly before shifting to drop to the ground next to her. He rolled onto his back with a groan of pain, and sighed as he looked up at the stars.

"It's fine, Chaney," he said softly. "I never would have lasted long anyway."

What? She pushed to her feet, weakly, and stepped closer to his side. The battle was still raging above them. She could hear wolves tearing each other apart, inhuman, vicious, brutal, their murderous snarls filling the night. Chaney pushed her nose against Alexis' neck, wishing she had the strength to change back and wrap her arms around him. He said nothing for a moment, and his heartbeat was fading. NO! She whined, desperate now, her voice begging, heartbroken.

"Hey," he said, and reached up to touch her face. "Don't be such a drama queen." He sighed and dropped his hand, his voice growing weaker. He pointed at his chest. "Listen. I'm surprised you never noticed before."

Listen to what? She settled down against his side and leaned her head against his chest. He kept breathing, slowly, his heartbeat weak, and every now and then it would make a funny wullump-whump that didn't fit the regular rhythm. She would have just dismissed it as an effect of the distress of his body, but he'd said to listen……

She raised her head again as a thought occurred to her.

No. Surely not.

She looked down at him, and he smiled softly.

"I told you it wasn't just an adrenaline rush," he said with a small smile, and she just stared at him.





Her thoughts were thundering through her head and tripping over one another in a muddled mess, the only coherent one wrapped up in a shield of shock, standing stark and screaming in front of all the others…but it couldn't be right. Then again…She'd met a little boy once with a weak heart. The kid's heartbeat had sounded much like Alexis' did now. The beat was off just a little, every now and then. It hadn't seemed like much, but the kid had never been able to get out, never been able to play sports, his parents terrified of losing him. He died in his teens, never able to live his life the way he'd wanted.

That kid had told her that his dream was to be a soccer star. His physical heart had been weak, but somehow he seemed to have more heart than anyone else she'd ever met. He never gave up until the night his heart just stopped working.

No way Alexis had the same problem. He was always out, doing whatever he could to cheat death, totally fearless…

Alexis drew one leg up and lifted his bloody hand to tuck it behind his head, his face serene behind the blood and the sweat and the pain. "I never wanted to be afraid of dying," he said softly, "so for a long time all I did was try to hunt down the best way to die. I figured since I wasn't going to live long anyway I might as well do all the extreme stuff that people who have a future are too scared to try. Funny how the adrenaline rush was the only thing that made me feel alive. Then I met you." He looked up. "You know you're the first thing in my life that's ever made me want to live forever? I'd been just fine with going out in a blaze of glory before I met you."

His voice trailed off, and she nuzzled him with her nose again.


That night in the back of the truck, their clothes scattered to the four winds, the taste of his skin in her mouth, his seed in her womb and his warmth spreading through her, they lay in the truck bed on her blankets. His head was on her chest, her body at an angle, staring out at the lake. His knuckles were trailing absently up and down her thigh. She was running her fingers through his hair. She liked doing that…it wasn't often she found a guy that could stand it for long. Or whose hair was soft enough to get addicted to even if he was willing to stand for it.

"Is it really worth it?" she asked softly.

He hadn't quite caught it. "What?"

"My pack has threatened your life and is only going to get more pissed off. Shouldn't we just call it quits and go home with a few good memories?" It was the logical way to go, and she was becoming more and more certain that she didn't want to see Alexis hurt…anymore than he already had been.

He didn't answer for a while, and she wondered if maybe she'd accidentally stabbed him in the back with that question—so much for not hurting him.

"Is love worth dismemberment and/or certain death?" he said, and his knuckles pulled away from her skin just enough for him to gently pinch her. "You're a girl, and you're asking me?"

She bent so her body curled around his head and twisted down to look him in the face. "Calling me a girl makes me sound young, and as much as I'd like to think of myself as romantically…appreciative, I'm not ruled by my emotions anymore. I don't believe in happy endings."

He paused, and shrugged. "Just dismemberment and/or certain death."

She laughed. "Touché."

"Yeah. Whatever. So you tell me then. Is it worth it?"

She took a deep breath. "Well, the worst of the pack 'wrath' is yet to come, but so far? Is love worth risking my life over? I can say yes with ease there, but it's my life, and I've had plenty of it. Enough to know I wouldn't be missing much if I didn't see another few hundred years. Is it worth risking the limbs and life of the man I supposedly love? I'd have to say no."

He tipped his head back to look up at her. "Supposedly?"

"That's all you caught?"

"Out of a speech that hinged on the supposedly part, yeah."

She rolled her eyes and gave a sigh of mock exasperation. "If you're asking if I love you, you should just ask."

"If you're suggesting that you do, you should just say it."

She smiled. "Well, if it means anything, I don't know that I'm willing to risk your limbs. There's one in particular that I'm very fond of."

He groaned. "Fine. When that's all that's left of me you can still have your fun."

She laughed again, and they fell silent for a while. She listened to his breathing slow, and then he fell asleep. She leaned forward.

"I won't ever let them lay another hand on you," she whispered in his ear, and ran her fingers through his hair again. She fell asleep with her head on his shoulder.

The memory ended like someone had dropped an ax on it, cutting it off from the rest of her thoughts. Alexis lay on the ledge, rasping for breath, and her heart ached as she watched his chest rise and fall.

She'd said it earlier, but she felt like she needed to say it again—but to speak, she had to make the Change. Did she have enough strength?

Chaney forced the Change to come then, and felt it wash over her. The same old pain came to bombard her, and this time her exhausted restraints almost slipped. The Change paused for a moment, her warping body frozen in a gruesome form as her mind battled with her agony, trying to refocus on making the Change complete. It took everything she had just make it go through the next step, and then somehow she found a little more hidden away somewhere to finish it. By then she was lying naked on the ground, almost too used up to move.

Alexis was right next to her though, and finally she turned, her wounds sending fresh agony through her sinews as she wrapped her arms around Alexis and cried against his neck. Tears leaked from her eyes as she shook with silent sobs, torn apart from a pain more acute than any wound her body had received.

"I love you," she whispered, because it was too late. It was a goodbye. He might have Changed, because he'd been wounded and bitten and ravaged near enough to death that the Change could take hold. She waited for it, hoping for it, but nothing happened. His breathing faded, growing weaker each time, until finally his heart simply wasn't beating anymore, and he drew his last breath. There was no more oxygen pumping around his body though, no where for his breath to go, so it all stopped, and he was gone. She felt him relax slowly, and saw his expression fall flat, his body still, and he was gone. There was nothing of him left.

She cried, cursing herself for not doing something sooner, for letting him make love to her that last time. Stupid girl. If only she'd been smarter about it, he'd still be alive.

Her body was wracked with the pain of her wounds, but the pain of her grief was too much to bear on top of it. She cried out into the night, her scream no longer one of lust or pleasure. The only longing that fed her hoarse, heartbroken cry was for the man that lie next to her, still as the stone beneath him. She sobbed, until her tears were gone with her strength, and blackness took over.

A/N ~ Don't forget the epilogue!