Pawn Among Wolves Ch. 11bySmileWhenYouMeanIt©
Mac's happiness was contagious. Gemma could feel it welling up inside her, pushing aside the worry while they ran side-by-side down the steep slope covered with straggly short grass, wind-fallen twigs and branches, and an old sprinkling of dry leaves. Then as she turned a sharp corner between the trees, a large shadow suddenly blocked out the light over her head. Her heart jumped. Low snickers of laughter sounded where the shadow had landed beside her - dammit, Mac! and her mate nipped affectionately at her rump as he leapt back over her again effortlessly, his joy bubbling in the air. Gemma skittered sideways instinctively, away from his teeth, and snapped a light reprimand back at him. She missed. Rats.
The white wolf's eyes were sparkling as he put on a burst of speed and bounded smugly around her, twitching out of the way while she kept turning to follow his movements, trying to catch him with a nip as he tauntingly, gracefully circled her. She stumbled over her twisting feet, but managed to roll upright again swiftly, and almost caught him, hearing the hoots of laughter in his mind as her teeth caught in the very tips of his fur.
A huge, wet slurp swiped across her nose and face while she coughed his hairs from her mouth. Eugh.
Damn the wolf!
Furious, but laughing inside, Gemma sprang back onto her four paws and sprinted determinedly after the rapidly retreating back of her mate. His tail was lifted, sweeping his hot musk in wide, teasing circles, and she could also scent his effervescent joy on the air. Then he started rolling his run rhythmically from side to side in the gaps between the trees, keeping just ahead of her sharp muzzle, stretching his tail backwards to tickle her nose teasingly, then sweeping it up out of the way when she lunged for it with her sharp teeth. His smugness was patent. Growing.
Gemma could feel her own laughter bubbling up beneath a cloud of slight bewilderment at this glowing joy. Mac was exuberant.
Her attention flickered while she wondered why, and she felt another wet slurp up the side of her jaw. Her focus snapped back, fuming, to here-and-now and she dove after his disappearing rump while he gave a little cough of laughter.
He was twice her size - this was so unfair!
Gemma saw a blur out of the corner of her eye, and received another wet kiss, tongue delving into her ear on the opposite side, while she turned again, snapping a few of the longer hairs from his disappearing tail and tumbling into another sprint after his excited, bounding, beautiful form.
Deep down, she could feel why. He loved this: the simple freedom to just run in the forest with his mate. Tease her. Play together. No pack. No war. Freedom they had never had together. Gemma could feel the intense control that was so much part of him easing, the strain of the dense, interwoven responsibilities lifting from his mind, releasing this bubbling, joyous mischievousness. She could feel her ears tilting in a smile as she tore after him.
Mac somersaulted forwards over a sharp drop from the top of a rock, turned human in mid-air and blew a smug 'can't catch me' kiss back toward her while he was facing backwards, upside down. Seamlessly he completed the loop to land back on all four paws as a loup, continuing his run. Her heart bounced with his happiness, admiring the strength, the beauty of his graceful, formidable frame.
She knew there was a more serious reason why they were running through this forest, but could no longer be bothered to call it to mind. She was just happy that her mate was so jubilant.
It was contagious.
They tore one after the other down the slope, leaping over rocks and fallen trees, tearing through briars. Mac kept darting sly, smug glances back over his shoulder as he easily kept the lead on his mate. Gemma felt her heart lifting, easing into a gentle peace with the sheer grace of her own run, mingling poise and power. She was made to do this. It was perfect, glorious: the rhythmic, effortless pull and stretch of her muscles a kind of music in her soul.
Glorious is the word, Mac murmured the agreement in her mind, his eyes gleaming appreciatively as he paused to watch her joyous sprint after him.
Then the damn wolf whisked around and dove off further down the hill just as she reached him, keeping a hair's breadth ahead of her teeth.
Dammit! OK, maybe she should have kept that gleam out of her eye while she'd pondered where to nip him in return.
At the bottom of the next long slope her wolf landed feather-light on a flat patch of grass and spun suddenly in front of her, too swiftly for her to stop her momentum into him. A sharp, expert nudge of his muzzle and she was rolling onto her back, brain whirling three steps behind the movements as he leapt on top of her. Perfectly timed, their limbs entangled in a swift, continuing roll, until Gemma ended flustered on her back with the huge white wolf standing astride her, her heart pounding in excitement. His green eyes were sparkling with echoing feeling: joy, smug excitement, and beneath them both that rich, melting pull of deep, powerful emotion. His tongue licked lightly over her nose, and she felt her insides melting at his gentle affection.
A shimmer of tingling prickled down her spine and across her skin, and she was human, naked on her back on the grassy floor of the forest, with a large, happy man squashing her to the ground and kissing her deeply.
He was clothed.
Mac's hands were angling her head, and his tongue started to slide sensuously down her throat, when suddenly he lifted his head and looked back up the steep slope, a flicker of irritation crossing his face. He sighed and rolled off her.
"Persistent idiots," he growled, leaping back to his feet, turning back into the lycan- wolf as he did so, and pausing to scent the air. Gemma's eyes blurred slightly, fire shimmering in her veins at the smooth, glorious ease of his powerful leap, the beautiful shimmer of his tawny pelt. Except for the smooth skin at his groin. That hard, pulsing cock. Mac looked back down at her, a glowing grin beaming across his face.
"Later, picchu. They've started in pursuit. Stop distracting me," he said casually.
She was distracting him?
Gemma rolled her eyes, sighing as she turned onto her front. She wrinkled her nose disappointedly at the change in mood, turning into loup form as she felt her mate drop onto his own four paws beside her.
They're going to catch us, aren't they? I can't run fast enough yet.
Mac snorted in derision and set off at an easy trot ahead of her. Gemma fell in behind. His tail was now just a few inches from her nose.
The hunt is not about speed, picchu. It's about cunning, he replied. Don't you worry your pretty little paws and follow me.
This time, she managed to nip the condescending wolf on the rump, and felt a squirm of pleasure in her stomach as his skin shuddered under her teeth and a cloud of lust thickened his musk. Oops. Gemma's insides churned with recognition, and realisation: a playful nip was a wolf sign of affection; an aphrodisiac. And a powerful one. Wow.
She gulped, her insides trembling with fire, bathed in his liquefying scent.
Steady, picchu. If they get too close, you're going to have to ride me, too. His tone was purring with anticipation.
No idea whose mind that flagrant, delicious image came from - but wow. Her breath spluttered and she stumbled to a halt, a sharp image burning through her - riding her wolf: breasts free, bouncing to his rhythm, feeling the slick, hard force of him sheathed repeatedly, forcefully inside her, his tight grasp on her hips pulling her up and down on his rampant cock.
Gem, if you keep being that distracting, they'll definitely catch us. The warning echoed sternly, and Gemma could feel Mac trembling, fighting hard against the tide of lust rising in his own mind. I don't want to have to kill any of the idiots. He broke into a faster trot at the unsettling thought.
Sweat broke out on Gemma's nose, and she stumbled back into a much more ungainly run, following her disappearing mate at a steep angle further down the mountainside, frustration churning through her.
Why was that sleek tail so enticing? She kept wanting to sidle up and nip him again. Just one little nip. He could control himself. Nose twitching, belly tightening, she ratcheted up her pace sneakily, but he did also, and stayed just out of her reach. Dammit.
A bit faster.
Didn't work. Damn him.
Softly, softly, faster again.
A quick dash of speed!
Aaaaw! Slow down, you damn spoilsport!
Your evil plans would work better if you hid your thoughts from me, Mac replied dryly, still just beyond the reach of her reaching teeth.
Hide them? How? You're my mate and Alpha, aren't you? Can't you just read anything I think? she asked indignantly.
Invading someone's mind is a form of attack, Gem, a nasty thing to do. I can only read your thoughts because you keep broadcasting them. Practically shouting some of them, he chuckled internally. You just have to stop broadcasting.
How? she asked again.
In response, a sharply embarrassing memory of her human face covered with a mess of cheese, nacho crumbs, guacamole and salsa smears pushed into her mind. One of Mac's memories, from that time he had come home to find Gemma, Ruby, Kate and Bethan mid tequila-party, giggling together in a crumb-and cheese festooned heap in the middle of the sitting room floor. There was a smile in his thoughts as he lingered on the red circles on her cheeks - it had seemed like a funny idea at the time to try out salsa as make-up. Blood burning in embarrassment, Gemma quickly shoved the image away.
That's it! That's how you block thoughts, he told her calmly. You can keep them in by just doing the same in reverse.
What? That had been automatic - she had no idea what she'd even done.
Think about it, Mac advised.
Brooding on the impossible, Gemma followed him absently down the steep hillside, not even noticing the effortless, loping run which two weeks earlier had been alien to her.
At the foot of the mountain, the stream that splashed down sharply from Fort Amicable foamed into a wider river which wound across the wooded plain. The fugitives shifted to human and waded thigh-deep along the course of the waterway into a dense thicket of trees. Mac was growing more and more tense at their slow pace, and kept looking around in quick evaluation, assessing their surroundings.
Gemma was more than a little disappointed that after that one, quick glance, he had yanked his gaze away from her naked breasts and breathed deeply, determinedly focussing on the high treetops as he waded ahead of her. Damn his control. Finally, her mate stopped, slipped off his trousers and ...
Gemma lost track of what he was doing.
Just look at that butt. I mean, it had been amazing enough following it around when he had had the wet trousers on, but now. Wow. And he was wearing nothing underneath, which meant there was nothing to spoil the view of that beautiful, taut curve of flesh.
Smooth, too. The warm skin shivered slightly as her fingers traced over the tight muscular outline, and Gemma melted at the shimmer of lust in his scent, leaning lightly against his back from behind. She snuggled against his sleek, wet side and curved a thigh around his hip so that she could nudge that hard, throbbing erection with her own leg.
Her nostrils twitched.
Slowly her dazed eyes lifted, mesmerised by the broad chest stretched under his T-shirt, the strong column of his throat, the pulse beating hard under the tanned flesh. Eventually they reached his face. A light jolt ran through her, and the lust clouding her mind lifted slightly.
His eyes were - worried.
"Picchu, please try to focus, I know it's hard," Mac said quietly. He swallowed, "But I really, really would prefer not to kill, and there's a whole pack of them hunting us now. I won't be able to defend you without doing so, if they catch us."
Gemma struggled to heave her mind out of the cloying pull of desire as she focused on the worry in her mate's eyes, his tone. The want was like thick treacle about her feet, her calves, trying to suck her back down, clinging to her stubbornly while she fought against the mindless, wanton lust. She gasped in a breath and nodded grimly. She really didn't want him to have to kill his allies for her, either. If she could only keep focussing on that worry and not on his arse.
Her blood jumped in her veins, and her eyelids flickered.
Wereem, she taunted herself in snide self-disgust.
"I think I'd better go in front," she replied hoarsely, still struggling not to lick her lips. Look down. Stare pleadingly at that oh-so-proud, welcoming erection that she could scent waving enticingly, bewitchingly under her nose. That one. There. Damn it looked delicious.
Mac sighed shakily and slapped his water-soaked trousers over the branch jutting out over the river above their heads, grabbing both ankle cuffs as they dangled either side of the support, and growled brusquely, "Climb, Gemma." He ducked under the water, hiding his rampant genitals in a blur of rippling water. She blinked and whined, reaching down. As her fingertips touched the surface, her hand was grabbed, lifted, and squeezed tightly around the wet cuffs of the heavy cloth hanging above their heads. The pain of the fist squashing hers around the material cut through her mindless lust.
"Try not to touch anything but the cloth over the first branch, so as not to leave any scent, and leap for the branch above it," Mac instructed, his voice harsh, and slightly hoarse.
Guiltily, Gemma jerked her head up, and after a few seconds the branches above her head swam into focus. She judged the distance.
"I can't jump that," she protested.
"Yes, you can," urged Mac. "As a wolf, you can."
He meant lycan. Gemma's heart was now pounding for a different reason.
"I can't judge things as a wolf," she protested on a slight whine, a panicked feeling growing in her stomach. "I miss - I mess up. I'm worst in wolf form."
Her stomach trembled when she was suddenly swept out of the water and swung around onto his broad back by a muscular arm clamped around her waist. She clutched frantically at his tawny, fur-covered shoulders, legs closing automatically around his hips. The hot, clean scent rising off him melted through her.
What was he doing? This was no way to kill her lust!!
"Then cling tight and keep your thoughts and hands from roaming. Judging the jumps for us both will be hard enough without distraction," her mate replied slightly desperately, his thighs tensing as he lowered himself slightly for the leap.
His abs rippled against the backs of her calves, sending a shudder of lust through her.
Oh god. How was she supposed to restrain herself? He smelt scrumptious. The taut muscles rippling against her skin and the light brush of his fur felt even better. Her mind began to cloud over, lust pooling between her thighs, fingers sliding through his long shoulder fur.
The next second they lurched from the water, his fingers yanking on the cotton-covered branch to power them above it, where his feet landed on the cloth and bent legs snapped instantly to full length against the springy purchase, propelling them through the air not toward the thick branch above, but across at an angle toward a second one, further away in another tree. Mac flipped upside-down in mid-air and Gemma's stomach lurched, arms and legs clinging frantically while he snapped the trousers snagged in his hind claws over a new branch and then grabbed both cuffs with both feet, hauling in a twisting motion so that they ended up upright, much higher above the ground, panting hoarsely, hanging from his left hand clawed tight in the thick fabric.
Gemma's mind was whirling.
What just happened?
Actually, she was the one panting hoarsely. Mac was breathing hard, but easily, swinging to their momentum, looking around for the next move. There was a faint grin on his face.
Gemma's stomach was still recovering from the double back flip, and she drew breath to comment, but choked when Mac abruptly swung to leap out and sideways, launching them into the next hurtle through the air. The ground was flying up to meet them, but then they curved at a sharp angle, swinging from his clothing slapped over another branch, and were catapulted across a wide break in the trees. Gemma's eyes widened and she clutched frantically, a faint squeak escaping. They were flying toward a thin, broken branch pointing like a spear towards their unstoppable trajectory, waiting to prong Mac hard in the belly. His shoulders jerked as he twisted, slapping the wet cloth around the trunk of yet another tree to their left and they curved horizontally this time, before bouncing off a springy branch covered in wet cloth and somersaulting in the air to land with her wolf standing on his trousers half as high in a new tree, looking around for the next. Mac was absently stroking her arm with his free hand, soothing the trembling.
"Tsk tsk," he murmured teasingly. "Such a scaredy mate I have."
Gemma made a half-choked rude raspberry noise in response, breath heaving.
Well, this death-by- exhilaration treetop travel worked at killing libido.
Sort of - it was also a blatant advertisement of how damn strong, gorgeous, skilled her mate was. But the thirty foot drop below them was working as a healthy deterrent against distracting his attention right now. Later. Gemma's stomach was quivering in tension, muscles taut, blood pounding. Partially in excitement.
I hadn't realised that wolves climbed trees.
Most of them don't, she heard his soft reply in his head. That's why this is the safest way to move, when hunted.
His laugh was a little teasing. Don't you trust me, little mate?
She grinned and kissed him under the ear gently, before pressing her chin against his shoulder, peeping out over the thick fur, stomach relaxing slightly. Oh course she did.
So long as your trousers don't tear, she replied.
Double-thickness, and interlined with Kevlar, picchu. I've done this before. Trust me.
Her heart lurched as they swung back into that blur of motion. How come he knew about fabric linings?
I'd never have guessed that sewing is part of Alpha training. Embroidery too? Gemma teased silently.
Mac's chest was reverberating with an internal chuckle as he curled in a lazy somersault toward the next branch. Gemma felt a wistful wish that she could do this Tarzan-type travel herself.
I'll teach you, picchu.
The words were like a soft kiss in her head.
Gemma snuggled closer against him, but she still replied on a slight humph: Stop reading my private thoughts.
An image appeared in her head, of a hard, dry, baked-to-a-crisp wedge of solid brown and dark red shining crust arranged on one of her dinner plates, next to some fresh green salad. She batted the unwelcome image straight back out again, growling slightly, a flicker of the dark berserker anger creasing into her mind.
So she'd left the quiche in the oven way too long, he didn't have to remind her that she'd tried to serve him the damn crisp!
You're getting the hang of this, picchu, he commended her softly. She pushed his unwanted opinion away too, feeling the slight tension in her temples as she did so.