Chapter one: Boogie Woogie
Eleanor tugged at her way too short dress feeling extremely uncomfortable at the looks she was getting; she cursed herself for allowing Rosie to drag her away from her studies. She had so many lesson plans to organise before her final placement started and as if that wasn't enough she absolutely despised clubs – she didn't see why anyone enjoyed such a cramped space, music blasting from every corner preventing one from thinking let alone conversing with others!
'Isn't this great?' Rosie screamed in her ear as she dragged her to the bar 'And Oh my god! Have you seen all the hot guys?? Look at that guy – he is so checking you out? I can't believe we've never come here before!' Eleanor followed the direction of Rosie's turned head to a very largely built guy sitting at the corner of the bar. His sandy hair was shaggy and in need of a good cut, his eyes were baby blue and they seemed to twinkle as if he was enjoying a private joke at her expense she frowned tugging at her dress confident that his interest in her was achieved solely through the efforts of the dress Rosie forced her to wear.
Suddenly one of those baby blues winked at her – Oh God she thought now he thinks I'm interested! She flushed and quickly broke eye contact, out of the corner of her eye she saw him lean towards the bar tender, who, despite the crowds of waiting customers turned towards him without hesitation. Of course she didn't hear what he said but the bar tender nodded and the man grinned in their direction. Eleanor pinched Rosie's arm to get her attention 'Rosie!' – she hissed in her ear – 'I really don't think this is a good idea, you know what they say about this club? I think we should go to another bar or something – please!' or lets go home she thought silently longing for the comfort of her pyjamas and the long awaited instalment of her favourite author's fifth book. She was a romance junkie and despite her staid and sensible outlook she longed for the day that the man of her dreams would sweep her off her feet. 'Oh come on Elle!' she rolled her eyes at her friend 'Tell me you of all people do not believe all that rubbish about werewolves!' Eleanor frowned 'Of course not but-' she bit her lip and lowered her voice ' – I've heard rumours about organised crime I mean it explains why there are all these massive guys all over the place and you saw how they deal with troublemakers? It doesn't bear thinking about what they'll do to that drunk guy who they dragged out earlier!' before Rosie could respond the guy in the corner burst out laughing – 'I wonder what's so funny?' Rosie mused 'Anyway! – she grabbed Eleanor's hands getting back to the point – you promised me a night out and as your best friend I have a duty to drag you out of your sensible little shoes and like a fairy godmother slip you into a towering pair of stilettos that your feet will not thank me for!' Eleanor laughed and conceded that her friend was probably right; living vicariously through her fictional heroines was not healthy for a twenty-one year old woman. 'Ok – rolling her eyes and sighing in mock defeat – you win! But no alcohol; I still have to get up in the morning!'
Rosie grinned wickedly 'Fine, on one condition – she stipulated – you have to go over there and talk to that guy' Eleanor eyes widened as a resolute refusal rose instinctively to her lips, but Rose silenced it with a quelling look 'I mean it Elles! It pains me to see how little you think of yourself – you are gorgeous! I mean I would kill to have hair like yours!' Eleanor smiled at the compliment, her hair was her secret vanity, having spurned her father's dominant dark haired gene like her brothers and inherited her mother's blonde hair – blonde hair she triumphed secretly that did not ever have to be enhanced by a bottle. As tribute to her dead mother she kept it long like her mom had always insisted. Although she rarely wore it down always opting for a sensible bun but tonight was an exception or rather Rosie had insisted she leave it down. She nibbled at her lower lip 'Rosie I can't – I just – I mean I wouldn't know what to say. Don't make me!' she pleaded, Rosie folded her arms unyieldingly 'No he clearly has the hots for you sweetie and I know that you need a little fun in your life – I've seen the books stashed in the bookcase behind your text books. You wont find Mr. Right in the world of regency London, he'll be here in the big bad world and I cannot think of anyone better to start with than that great hulking specimen over there' Rosie gave her a little encouraging push in his direction as she shimmied up to another guy waiting to be served.
Not quite sure what to do, Eleanor rubbed her arms self-consciously, she glanced at the guy who was now smiling at her. The amusement on his face made her almost certain that he had heard everything they had said. But that was impossible she reasoned after all she had strained to hear every word Rosie had said and he had been at least ten feet away! Giving herself a mental shake she straightened up and walked towards the man. His grin widened significantly as she approached, she looked at him defiantly as he looked her up and down, and she noticed that his nostrils flared – strange she thought. Holding out her hand she said 'Hi I'm Eleanor', the man set down his beer and enveloped her hand in his massive one 'Nice to meet you Eleanor – he replied smoothly- let me get you a drink' a slight raise of his hand brought the bartender to his side, he turned to Eleanor enquiringly, 'I'll have a diet coke please' she mumbled, well done she congratulated herself not the most charming introduction, he'll think I'm really weird for shaking his hand. A soft chuckle broke her reverie as she glanced at him 'What's so funny?' suddenly overcome with panic –was something wrong? Oh God was her dress tucked into her underwear – she smoothed the back of her dress trying to sooth her frayed nerves. He shook his head, 'You're just so cute honey that's all' he answered, Eleanor blushed despite her misgivings 'Thank-you I guess', the bartender set the coke down in front of her and her companion watched her take a sip, 'You don't talk to guys much do you? Pity really, you're beautiful but I suppose then without your innocence you're scent wouldn't be half so tempting' Eleanor frowned sure she had misheard him because what she heard didn't really make sense 'Sorry excuse me?' she asked, he pushed her drink towards her 'Have another drink Eleanor – tell me is this your first time here?' Eleanor chose not to pursue the thread of conversation that he so blatantly wished to ignore and took a sip of her drink 'Yes, my friend really wanted to come – actually you should meet her' Eleanor turned to signal her friend but Rosie had disappeared somewhere 'I should find her' she thought out loud unable to keep the worry from her voice. To her surprise the man beside her smiled reassuringly 'don't worry, she's safe here. I want to talk – tell me about yourself; what interests you?' Eleanor smiled warming to the guy – it was rare to find a man with manners and a genuine interest in what you had to say 'First – she spoke playfully – you have to tell me your name'
He laughed a rich baritone laugh that made her stomach do a little flip – maybe she thought just maybe being a little more daring had paid off. He leaned towards her and Eleanor felt her heart quicken a little – he really was gorgeous she thought and silently praised her best friend 'My name is Finn and I think I'm going to kiss you honey' Eleanor's eyes fluttered closed as his hand cupped the side of her face holding her in place, he was very gentle but she was in no doubt of the strength that was contained within those well muscled arms. This was so unlike her but what the hell! She threw caution to the wind and leaned towards his already approaching lips.
Eleanor wasn't quite sure at what point in the evening her life changed for ever, but this moment was sure to be in the running for top position
'Hunter' looking up at the mention of his name, Hunter looked questioningly at his beta who was regarding him earnestly 'You should go home; you don't need to be here. I'm more than capable of keeping things running smoothly and Finn is on the floor'
Hunter smiled ruefully, he knew that he didn't give Gabriel enough responsibility and he knew that his old friend was more than capable of taking care of business but if he was honest he thought wryly it was nothing to do with Gabriel's abilities but more to do with his inability to let go. He liked to be in control and he knew he was good at it. After all one didn't become the Alpha of the largest territory in the North without ruling with an iron fist. And he was reluctant even more so with the pack of rogue shifters moving through his territory at present. Normally not a problem most rogue shifters passed through marked territory quite peacefully but his instinct was telling him that the recent spate of attacks on humans was a lot more than just a chilling co-incidence. 'Ok - he conceded quietly – you're right, I don't need to be here. Have the car brought around to the front in five minutes. I need to finish this paperwork.' Gabriel smiled, pleased that he had been able to persuade his friend to go home 'No problem' was his reply as he left the office.
Sighing, Hunter checked over the last of his accounts before he passed it over to his accountant and filed them away. He wasn't looking forward to an evening of solitude; recently he had become restless and his wolf was clawing incessantly at his already frayed nerves. Its request was simple find our mate the psychological torment was almost too much to bear especially when he was in total agreement with him. He had been alive for over 400 years and although he was by no means deprived of female company, he had yet to find that one person he knew would make sense of everything and essentially complete his half lived existence.
Shrugging in to his jacket Hunter turned off the lights and locked the door. The club as per usual was filled to the maximum capacity as it should be he thought. He had opened it with his young shifters in mind; although he did not disapprove of his young weres mixing with humans he preferred the less experienced ones to mix with its own kind. At least he could guarantee their safety here and those humans that did come here which seemed to be a steadily increasing number; he could protect them from raging uncontrolled hormones that appeared to be a big problem with the younger members of his pack. Not that it bothered him in the slightest he was that young once he mused and he had 370 years of experience to understand that controlling your wolf was no easy task.
He smiled at his two men flanking the doors to the VIP area, greeting them both 'Demetri – he turned to the dark haired man first, shaking his hand warmly – congratulations on your new arrival, I promise that I will come to see Lena and the baby when they are ready for visitors' pleased that his alpha remembered, Demetri returned the smiled unable to contain his beam of pride 'Thank you Hunter, we will be pleased to have you, thank-you again for the gifts Lena is tired and still weak – a frown marred his once happy features – but Dr. Clark assures me that she will mend fast' Hunter smiled reassuringly hoping to ease the man's concerns but he knew that when a mate was concerned no amount of words could alleviate the worry – especially when the mate was human. Turning to his other guard he smiled wryly 'Need I ask?' he queried, the sandy haired man grinned broadly 'Of course not! There is plenty of time to find a mate I am young' he announced proudly 'And – he added – there are too many tempting females for me to settle for just one' Demetri growled in response 'If you found your mate – he bit out – then you would not say such things!' Hunter looked amused 'Peace gentlemen – he reproached them before frowning – Seth where is your brother?' Seth rolled his eyes and gestured towards the bar 'He is there with the prettiest human I have seen tonight.' Hunter turned around and fixed his eyes on his Gamma.
Running such a large territory required an immediate council – his council consisted of himself along with his six top ranking males that he trusted with his life. It was with them that he managed to keep such a large territory in order, they were separate from his council of elders and were more concerned with the daily running of the pack and less interested in pack politics which his council of elders seemed all too fond of discussing at every opportunity.
Yet at that precise moment it was not his gamma that caught his attention but the young human that he was about to kiss. His nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply taking in her scent – a scent that had his wolf throwing itself against the carefully constructed barriers in his mind mine it snarled mine, mine, mine!
A snarl caused Eleanor's eyes to flutter open; a snarl that sounded as if it had been ripped from the depths of hell. Startled she jumped back from Finn – they both turned towards the source. There by the doors of the VIP suite was a man he was being restrained by the two security men and if it was possible they were having difficulty restraining him. It wasn't just the sheer size of the man that had her staring in horror at the scene but his eyes – maybe she thought that noise had come from hell – his eyes were flashing as if involved in an internal war for dominance. A ferocious blazing green was clashing with a cool grey; whatever colour they were she was certain of one thing they were directed at her. She shivered and stepped closer to Finn not quite sure why but this seemed to anger the man even more as he thrashed against the two men gunning for them both. Eleanor glanced up at her companion who was –well she wasn't quite sure what he was doing –growling? Maybe, that was the only word to describe the noise coming from his throat and his eyes – she had been sure they had been blue but now…well she wasn't so sure. They reflected the green now fully blazing at her from the other man. Finn tensed beside her as if ready for battle – she touched his arm trying to communicate with him, this man was like an animal there was no way Finn would stand a chance – but he didn't even see her anymore, he was fixated on the other man.
…Gabriel eyes widened as he took in the scene, Hunter reduced to nothing more than a wild animal intent on a frenzied maiming of his closest friend. And to Gabriel's horror Finn was preparing for the attack instead of trying to prevent it – something was wrong, never in the 200 years that he had known Hunter had he ever seen him lose so spectacularly to his wolf. Hunter's wolf scared even the most hardened shifter and he was grateful every day that Hunter was able to control him but tonight something had allowed that wolf to over power Hunter and break out of his prison. There was only one thing – he thought – that could do that to Hunter's barriers. He glanced at the young girl standing close to Finn and realised with a heavy heart that he was looking at his Alpha's mate.
Eleanor watched in horror as another man –whom she could only assume had a death wish – threw himself on the restrained man. He turned and glared at Finn 'Get out now – he hissed – get out!' Eleanor saw the nerve in Finn's tense jaw twitch as he considered his options, without a word he turned on his heel and stalked out of the club almost taking the doors of their hinges. The man on the floor – she was relieved to note – became a little calmer, but that didn't stop the three men who had a hold of him dragging him through the doors of the VIP area. She could still hear his snarling as it made her skin crawl…she had been sure that if that man hadn't come then she would have been witness to a blood bath or – she shuddered – a victim of it. Human did not even come close to describing the scene that had just unfolded but she was reluctant to let such an absurd notion enter her already ordered existence.
'Elle! – Rosie was bearing down on her at an alarming speed – Oh my God what the hell happened? Where is - Eleanor didn't let her finish as she grabbed her arm and yanked her towards the exit 'Rosie we have to go! I don't know what's going on here but we have to go' – Rosie opened her mouth to protest but seeing the genuine distress in her friends eyes thought better of it and shut it again. 'Ok sweetie – she nodded – we can go, just let me get our jackets'. Eleanor waited in foyer rubbing her arms, ignoring the speculative gaze she was getting from the security on the front door. Rosie appeared 2 minutes later with their coats. Eleanor was only too grateful to disappear into the night.
As long as she lived she would never understand what had just happened. She had never given much thought to evolution before but tonight she had seen that no matter how sophisticated man claimed to be – his animal instincts was not far behind.