Pawn Among Wolves Ch. 09bySmileWhenYouMeanIt©
Gemma sank down onto one of the newly vacated battered leather sofas by the window of the upstairs coffee bar, listening to her mother on the phone. Her eyes drifted appreciatively over the green stretch of the campus playing fields, shimmering under the warm afternoon sun outside the huge panes of glass.
Somehow the glossy, beautifully manicured grass just wasn't the same since she'd been rolled repeatedly in meadows of its coarse, wild relative.
Wild was how she liked it.
A little smile gleamed in her eyes as she lazed her head against the seat back and stretched her legs out under the short coffee table, straightening out the kinks of a tense post-lunch session working in the fume cabinet. Usually these prime seats were nearly impossible to get hold of, but never with her current escort. Jeremy and Gus had just sauntered over and loomed, chatting nonchalantly beside the group of laughing students clustered on the chairs, and for no apparent reason the five humans had each suddenly remembered something they were planning on doing elsewhere and quickly disappeared.
Kate found it hilarious, as usual. "Muy machos," she murmured appreciatively, dropping her shoulder bag beside Gemma and disappearing off towards the bathroom.
Gemma sighed into the handset, "Yes, it's pretty frustrating." What an understatement. "I don't seem to be getting anywhere, but all I can do is keep trying."
Jasmine seated herself with effortless, unconscious elegance on the opposite sofa, and Gus shot off to join the queue of males waiting in turn to flirt with the pretty redhead working behind the counter. They called it ordering drinks.
"Why don't I get them today," his brother spun to call to his rapidly retreating back. Despite being a wolf, and therefore able to listen in to a conversation downstairs if he concentrated, Gus apparently didn't hear the generous offer, so Jeremy bounded off after him to insist on getting the afternoon coffee for once. Judging by the look of resigned amusement on Jasmine's face, the wolf girl could still hear the daily tease carrying on in the furtive scuffle that was now the end of the queue.
"Yeah, Mom, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to make it for Dad's birthday, especially if Jamie's driving down and Adam will be back from his hiking trip by then, I wouldn't miss -." Gemma broke off as her breath suddenly hitched, caught in her throat when her mind idly interpreted the title of the shiny new paperback lying facing her on the coffee table. She felt her skin flush scarlet, and her brain seethed.
Damn the wolf. Wasn't he supposed to be taking life seriously right now?
"-wouldn't miss it for the world," she choked the end of the sentence out of her suddenly tight throat.
Why did he always have to retaliate? Reciprocate. Whatever you call it when someone keeps giving you gifts in return for the ones that you send them. And they're so pig-headedly stubborn that they won't let you get away with the last one. In fact, he was now way, way over his quota. And he was rubbish at taking turns.
Moreover, some of his gifts were getting increasingly shameless.
A smile was pulling at the corners of her mouth. Maybe she shouldn't have arranged that delivery of duck a l'orange.
Gemma could feel her blood beginning to purr, and kept hauling her mind back, trying to point it toward indignation, when all it wanted was to dive into playback mode. Or into fast forward - to the next time he had her underneath him and was nibbling his way down -.
Jasmine's gaze was piercingly steady, boring into her friend across the table, the elegantly peaked brows raised interrogatively. Gemma avoided the black eyes, glaring down at the book, struggling to hold her lips in a firm line of disapproval.
No, I don't mean disapproval that Mr Sex-on-Legs is so damn far away and busy.
"Mac would be welcome too," her mother's voice sounded tentative in the long pause, and Gemma's lips twitched in a brief grimace while her skin flushed again at the connection her clever relative had obviously made.
This wasn't the first time that Gemma had broken off mid sentence while chatting to her Mom on the phone, not after that week in the forest. Mac had appeared one morning with his BlackBerry, asking Gemma to call her Mom and reassure her that she was alright, explaining that Mrs. Smith had grown so frantic because her daughter was not answering calls that she'd rung him to ask whether he knew where his flatmate was.
It had hardly been her fault that an officious Madam had taken her phone.
Despite Gemma's protestations that there would be no signal in the middle on nowhere, Mac had urged her to try and place a call, and then smugly pounced on his mate when the line had connected and her mother had picked up on the second ring. Gemma had had to struggle, largely ineffectually, to string together coherent sentences with her inordinately pleased with himself mate flattening her to the soft turf and whispering into her skin what he was going to demand as remuneration for the use of his phone as soon as she hung up.
The long, breathless, squirming conversation that had followed seemed to have etched little pleasure memories down her spine, and then that urgent, hard fuck as soon as she'd rung off - mmmm. Afterwards, while she'd been lying panting in a haze of boneless pleasure on her rug, Mac had sat up cross-legged beside her, his face concerned, and stroked a fingertip gently over her nose while he'd insisted virtuously that she use his phone all week to keep in touch with her Mom so that she wouldn't get worried. He'd appeared the next day with a solar charger.
Concerned - yeah, right. Well, probably that too, but primarily her wolf had loved distracting her while she was trying to speak, especially with her mother. Not that she'd minded. Her breasts were aching hard now in memory - of the way he'd manoeuvred her "into a comfortable position" for the second call, and each subsequent one, after she'd admitted that she liked the torture. Dress pulled down to her waist she would lie on her back on her bower, his arms hugging the sides of her torso and hands cupping her shoulders as he'd rested braced on his elbows over her, hips tucked on the ground between her legs. Then he'd swirled the tip of his tongue gently around each nipple in turn, each time the dialling tone had sounded. Until she'd been silently begging her mother to pick up. Not Adam. Definitely not her Dad. Pick up soon. Well. No, not yet. Actually, not at all. Please be out. Please be out. Please - aw.
Mac had busied himself elsewhere and left her alone for the majority of each call after the first, but it had been easy to tell when her wolf thought she'd had long enough and it was time to play. Suddenly her voice would break off in a squeak as a wet tongue glided lightly up her inner thigh or delved into her ear, or simply a rock-hard erection had been pressed against her buttocks. She had been able to just feel the compelling need in him, urgency in the air, pulling at her, and had combusted every time, speechless. A bit like now.
Correct identification of the culprit, both past and present, well done Mom.
I wish he was present.
Jasmine was now eyeing the book speculatively. 'Firm and Flexible - Yoga for Beginners.' Not anything that should make a girl blush. Not unless she also had damn, hot, aching memories of her mate protesting innocently that he was only stretching her legs this wide to keep her supple and look after her joints. This wide, then a bit wider. Oh, the vulnerable, stretched, open, welcoming feeling - and the weight of him leaning his hips against hers, pressing down, nudging the tip of his straining cock against her oh-so-swollen labia as he laughingly explained that he was just helping her stretch. Oh. Mmmm. Nudging again, so that her tart response was swallowed on a groan. Damn, damn smug wolf.
Her eyes were shut, Gemma realised. She had to keep them shut to hide the X-rated images recorded during that long, heated, teasing, and definitely one-sided conversation - illustrated by practical demonstration - about the joys of the flexibility of the female form. Mac had even introduced "comfort breaks" into his yoga lecture, when he had fallen silent, apart from the harshness of his breath as he pounded into her. Deliciously. Hours and hours and hours of being thoroughly stretched open, kissed, nibbled, suckled, licked and fucked. Oh so thoroughly, deliciously fucked. She had, admittedly, begged for another yoga class later in the week.
And a third.
Delicious. Delicious. God, she missed him. Her frame was trembling lightly, longing aching through her blood, and she could feel the wetness between her legs.
But oh, was she going to make sure he paid for this too. Somehow. A half-indignant smile curled the corner of her mouth. Mac would be so excessively proud of himself if he knew that he had once again made her catch her breath when talking to her Mom. And that her mother had automatically assumed that he was to blame.
The back of her neck tingled, the small hairs lifting in realisation. She often received a phone call from her mother during the afternoon coffee break. And her wolf seemed to know a hell of a lot about her movements. Hence the book awaiting her innocently on their table. They always sat here, Gus saw to that.
Damn him, damn him, damn smug wolf. He had known.
What kind of guards were these, not to be able to protect her from this kind of yoga harassment? She could feel her cheeks burning. Her skin was tingling, blood seething and pussy aching with emptiness as they ecstatically re-lived Mac vigorously demonstrating his approval of her dog-stretch pose - no, never mind, she dragged her thoughts away, feeling her frame trembling.
I said never mind.
Shut up. No, I don't remember. I don't.
Her Mom was still waiting, and Gemma could sense amusement down the line as Mrs Smith listened to her daughter's ragged breathing. Mom liked Mac.
"I doubt that he can make it." So what if her voice was breathless? "But I'll definitely let you know whether I can by next weekend."
"OK, good. Bye then, honey, nice to talk to you."
"Bye Mom, thanks for calling."
A moment later, Gemma opened her slightly glazed eyes to see Jasmine putting the book back on the table, shrugging lightly. "I don't know how he does it, Gem. That book smells of nothing but human. And don't tell me it wasn't from Mac, you're not exactly adept at hiding your responses. What does the yoga signify?"
"Nothing," Gemma growled back swiftly, slamming down an anchor to stop herself from slithering back into memory heaven. Well, the word actually came out as more of a squeak, but it left her mind with 'to be growled' instructions.
The dusky-skinned wolf opposite rolled her eyes, a little smile playing around her mouth, and she lifted her head to admire Jeremy's smooth, swift pace back towards the pair of them.
"You're lucky I'm not an official bodyguard, the boys swore to the Wolflord that they would report any attempted contact."
"So that Mac doesn't sully himself further with a human when he's betrothed to Vanilchov's sister?" Gemma growled for real this time.
Jasmine raised an eyebrow, a bit surprised at how much her human friend knew. "The Koschuk got really restive over his interest in you, even though you were on heat, which made it acceptable," she responded mildly. "Fealden's trying to avoid an international incident and them withdrawing the Russian fighters while we're in the middle of a war. They've been getting more tense anyway as Tasha still hasn't reappeared from changpao."
"Running loup. As well as living with humans for a while, many young adult wolves go off and spend a year or so learning their way among the packs. I think Tash went across the straits to Russia, then headed on toward Europe. Last postcard was from somewhere in the Urals, Vanil said."
Jasmine sighed, and changed tack, her eyes clear as they held Gemma's. "And a betrothal's a serious contract, Gem - the Mackeld pack is one of the top, and the Koschuk are very proud that their cousin is to ally into it, that's why there are so many of the K-warriors over supporting the Aster. He can't just walk out on it without causing a serious rift."
Especially to mate with a human or wereem.
Apparently no-one blamed him for fucking her while she'd been on heat - any wolf worth his salt would have done the same had he been able. But now.
"Well then, it's a good job we haven't had any contact, as you'd be honour bound to report it," sniped Gemma.
The Marsh wolf snorted, her voice dropping. "Gemma, I'm here as your friend - I didn't swear anything. And I'm not an idiot. Two weeks ago, overnight, you switch from Little Miss Miserable to a mixture of mischief and nervous determination - and whatever the obtuse twins may believe, it wasn't because of any damn rug, or because you've miraculously gotten over him. And then you also started getting that naughty little look on your face about twice a day -."
Gemma's phone beeped with an incoming message where it lay on the coffee table, and "Bethan: Mission accomplished!" flashed up on the screen with a smiley.
A naughty little look crossed Gemma's face.
Hah, Mr. Wolf. Enjoy your gift.
"Dammit!" growled Jasmine in frustration.
"What's up?" Jeremy pricked up his ears eagerly at the tension in the air, dropping down beside his preferred sjeste on the opposite sofa. Then he looked from Jasmine's expression to Gemma's, and scowled.
"That look again," he growled.
Just reassuring my mate that I'm in fine spirits, thought Gemma, gazing blandly back at the fuming wolves on the opposite sofa. They were dying to know what the humans were up to. Oh what a shiny halo I have.
Bethan was just finishing a week on tour upstate, and she and her troupe-mates had been delighted to dress up as workmen and divert on their drive back to deliver a large framed print to 'The Manor' up in McIntyre.
This was actually one of her more innocent gifts. The view had been spectacular, and the print of the photo from his phone had come out amazingly well. Only Mac knew how affronted he'd been by her teasing that she preferred to look at the view than at him that evening. And how he'd retaliated.
"Time to shop," growled Jasmine, frustrated that she still didn't know what brought that gleam to Gemma's eyes.
Gemma scowled at her. Some wolves just couldn't take a joke. When they weren't in on it. This shopping was going to be such a pointless waste of time.
"I should be trying to find a way to combat the Grey's scent-masking drug, not messing about," she growled, knowing the argument wouldn't work. She and Jasmine had had this out before. And before that. And again before that.
"I hardly think upholding my pack honour is messing about," retorted Jasmine.
Gemma snorted angrily and turned her head to glower out of the window as Jeremy chuckled.
But a sharp intake of breath drew her attention back to the Marsh sjeste. There was very little outward sign of change in Jasmine, just the vivid sparkle in her eye, the suddenly ramrod-straight back, and the barely discernable quiver of her frame. But she was exuding excited tension.
Jeremy dropped his hand over her small, brown one and lifted it to place on his thigh, squeezing it reassuringly.
"What is it?" he murmured almost soundlessly.
Since Jasmine's natál had returned from India the week before last with a pack of their kin to join the war, they had had front-line news from the fighting, as she was linked with Karim even when he was in full battle focus. And despite the slightly worried disapproval of their male companions, Jasmine made no attempt to hide any news from her human flatmate.
"He's crashed him." Jasmine's breathless phrase was meaningless to Gemma, but the desperate, incredulous look in the wide black eyes, the way Jeremy suddenly went dangerously still and the hulking figure in the queue by the coffee counter lifted his head sharply and swung in their direction made fear roil suddenly in her stomach.
She bit her lip ferociously. She always got more information if she kept quiet.
"Who crashed?" Jeremy hissed urgently, "Crashed who?"
Out of the corner of her eye, Gemma could see the huge, dark figure of his brother loping back toward them. Must be really important, a corner of her mind noted incongruously, Gus had had only one person ahead of him in the line.
"The Mackeld," Jasmine whispered the words, jerking Gemma's full attention back to her. Her voice was reverberating in quiet shock, "He's crashed Jian-Xi."
"He's insane," breathed Jeremy harshly, then stopped, his mouth open in shock as he just stared into the distance. Then he breathed in abruptly again ,as his brother dropped down into the armchair between Gemma and the tense pair of wolves on the opposite sofa.
"Jian-Xi Tzo?" Jeremy clarified softly, voice sharp with disbelief.
His brother whistled soundlessly in awe at Jasmine's distracted nod.
"And Mackeld? Insane?" Jeremy pressed.
"No, he's succeeded," murmured the girl beside him, her dazed eyes focussed far, far away. Both males drew in a sharp breath.
Gemma felt a sickening shock bound in an instant from her heart to her mouth and back to lodge heavily in her belly as she realised that Jeremy had meant really insane. As in, insane. Mac.
What the hell had he been up to? Her wolf? She felt nauseous with the sudden cramp in her stomach; violently, physically sick, but was pulled back by the black eyes which half re-focussed onto her, sinking into her skin.
Glowing, fierce black eyes, pride radiating from them. "They're routed," Jasmine whispered, a flush growing in her cheeks.
"How many?" asked Gus, but the sjeste shook her head in silent frustration at a question she had no way of knowing the answer to.
"Scattering, running, focusless. We're driving them back." The flush, the glow in her eyes were deepening, and the Marsh girl was quivering in her seat, her body straining to be up and fighting with the wolf in her mind.
"Regaining the first valley," she added, breathless. "They're still running, we're hounding, keeping them from turning, scattering them wider, back up, out, over Mount Cahanee. They're still lost."
"How many?" repeated Jeremy, his voice hoarse with awe. Jasmine shook her head again, impatiently, and her eyes suddenly snapped back into full focus at the scent of Kate approaching.
"Hundreds," she murmured the reply, turning her eyes toward the approaching human, unable to keep the beaming grin from her face.
Kate grinned back.
"He. Is. Insane," Jeremy breathed for a third time, but this time a quiet, resonant tribute, before he too turned and flashed a radiant smile at Gemma's friend. All three wolves were shuddering with the urge to bound victoriously around the room, to tussle, leap, howl their pride at the tops of their voices and bounce off the walls in glee.
Kate looked bemusedly around the three of them. "I know you said they loved shopping, Gem, but this is ridiculous."
Gemma smiled weakly. He is alright, she assured herself. He was alright. He had succeeded in whatever insane venture he had just attempted. Something that had the wolves around her shimmering in incredulous awe.
He was victorious. She shut her eyes and the smile softened. No surprise.
But she wished he wouldn't scare her half to death.
The cold, cold knowledge was a permanent ache in her stomach.