Pawn Among Wolves Ch. 12bySmileWhenYouMeanIt©
"You're saying this was me?" asked Gemma incredulously, stroking her finger gently along the white crescent of a fresh scar on Mac's forearm. She shivered lightly in distaste, sitting on his lap. Her mate tightened his arm around her waist, pulling her closer against him and kissed her temple gently, lips smiling while he lazily steered the yacht one-handed.
"You're a feisty little madam when you want something: last night you wanted me." The deep voice resonated with smugness. Then he sighed mournfully before adding, "Whereas I just wanted a romantic, starlit cruise."
Gemma's heart lightened and she snorted indignantly. "Yes, well, you obviously need sparring practice - you must be getting slow if I can catch you." Then she soothed her fingertip a second time along the curve of the slightly raised white line, stroking gently, and guilt roiled again in her chest.
"You didn't want to fight me; you wanted to pin me down and ravish me," her mate corrected her. And then added in an undertone, "I don't think you were in a rage at all, you were just pretending."
Right. Her stomach was churning at the knowledge of the new blank gap in her life, but her lips were twitching.
"So the poor little Alpha got hurt trying to protect his virtue?" she drawled sarcastically.
"No, I got hurt because I let a delightfully enthusiastic werewolf have her wicked way with me," he grinned against her hair, before turning his head to nibble on her ear. "Couldn't resist."
Wait a sec. "I thought you, um, restrained me when we - when I'm in the rage and we're. Um. You and I," Gemma spluttered to a halt, a flush rising in her cheek. Blushing again, dammit.
She'd experienced the restraints a couple of times over the four days at Rainbow Falls - surfacing from the blankness to find herself bound and gagged, limbs immobilised. And usually being very thoroughly, lusciously adored with tongue, teeth, and hands. The whole of him. Damn the blank patches in her memory. She was missing so much.
Mac leaned closer and whispered the missing words in her ear, "When we're making love?" Her skin shivered to his breath. And his words. She'd noticed that the wolves tended to call a spade a spade, and a little glow lit inside now as he described how their sexual relationship was changing, too. Changing from less frantic to long, slow savouring of each other. Well, sometimes.
Her mate sat back again and shrugged. "You lost control last night because you hung down in the cabin too long, making us tea. Wolves get badly travel sick, partially from the confined feeling in most vehicles - I wasn't going to add to the torment. And no-one could hear you. Besides, you weren't really aggressive, just - uncontrolled." Mac's eyes were gleaming at the memory.
He had had to tie her up when she was insane over the last four days. The hotel had indicated that they were decidedly concerned about the loud shrieks and howls which sometimes emanated from their suite. And you couldn't effectually gag a wolf - or werewolf - without immobilising the claws also. Gemma had been the one who had insisted that they stay at Rainbow Falls as long as possible, not wanting the blissful escape to end. Not yet. Despite what Mac had said about it irritating the wolf in her, Gemma's secretly believed that her real annoyance with being tied up was that she couldn't remember.
He didn't agree. So could she persuade her mate to tie her up when she was compos mentis? No.
Damn stubborn wolf.
"You should restrain me: I bit you!" she murmured sadly, tracing the marks of her teeth.
She could feel his lips smiling as he kissed her again, right over his original bite on her neck, lips lingering.
"Yes, finally - thank-you." Her mate sighed happily. His voice deepened with feeling. "My picchu, you carry enough of my marks that no wolf could ever be in any doubt as to whom you belong. Now I finally carry yours. I thought you were never going to claim me."
Her blush deepened on the ripple of pride which welled up this time, and Gemma traced the mark again, this time with a hint of possessiveness, "So you let me bite you?"
"You should see the one on my left buttock," he whispered into her ear.
She'd claimed his butt? The blush fused up her neck, and she spluttered on her reply. Which failed to manifest as words. Or thoughts. Except one indignant wisp: He was making it up. Although actually, it sounded pretty likely. Very likely.
You can check if you like, he offered. Please do.
She ignored that.
Her brain was flickering through images of other places she'd like to bite him; claim him. He only had the two marks, on his arm and his buttock - plus the old tear on his chest where she'd bitten him the night after she was turned, but that wasn't as clear. Whereas she has dozens of his marks on her neck and shoulder - she obviously needed to catch up. Fair's fair. Her flush grew and insides squirmed. Why didn't she remember? she thought crossly.
You can do it again, any time you like, picchu. Please, oh please.
Gemma swallowed against the heat in his tone, and concentrated on her mind shield, pulling together some privacy to indulge in a bit of lustful fantasy. About maybe biting a delicate little trail down across his belly one day. Marking out her own personal track, the road to delight. Mmmm. She smiled to herself.
Mac shifted underneath her, unsettled, and his arousal growing. "Why're you hiding what you're thinking? I'm obviously participating in your head, why not share?" her mate growled grouchily.
Her smile grew, and Gemma pulled the shroud of her mind-shield closer. Her doft was thickening as she absorbed his amazing scent, and her nipples tingled into alertness, a ripple of awareness shivering over her skin.
Mac shuddered in echo, nipping her neck, his aroused musk thickening. "Dammit," he cursed into her skin in a muffled undertone, "Last time I teach you anything. You can hide your thoughts, Gem, but not your scent. Tell me what you're thinking."
Gemma chuckled internally at his insistence, and determinedly kept her thoughts shielded. She'd noticed that her wolf became a lot more excited when he had to guess what she was dreaming about, with her increasingly rich doft perfuming the air around them. A lot more excited.
A very, very good reason to learn to shield her thoughts properly.
Mac slid his right arm up her torso, his hand gliding up between her breasts, and Gemma twitched violently, feeling her control flicker. Cheat! She thought at him, and quickly lifted her head and looked out across the estuary, the shimmering water calming her, taking deep breaths.
Who invented any rules? he retorted, his fingertips tracing her delicate skin, making the nipples pucker and harden into bullets.
The suddenly blare of a warning siren sounded from close by across the water, and Mac suddenly lifted his head, focussed on a large metal marker poking out of the water, and cussed as he swiftly swung the boat around to pass to the right of it.
"Stop distracting me, picchu," he complained unfairly. "We're getting too close to shore - why don't you keep a lookout instead of playing silly games?"
"I win," Gemma whispered very quietly, hugging the arm that was back around her waist hard.
She heard his snort in her ear. "You mean you get a reprieve," Mac retorted, also sotto voce.
Gemma smiled again, while slowly her eyes and mind re-focussed on their surroundings.
The night had been clouded, and the dawn air was warm, the breeze a gentle brush on the skin while the yacht skimmed the last, long reach up the narrowing inlet toward the glittering lights of an awakening city sprawled across the river mouth they were approaching. Tiers upon tiers of houses rose, and the faint orange haloes of the streetlights outlining the surrounding hills were dimmed under the blinding blaze of the rising sun reflected on the multitude of windows.
Gemma sighed as the lips nibbling possessively over her neck lifted, and Mac adjusted their course again slightly to make way for a large containership heading out of the port. She blinked her dreamy eyes wider, taking in their destination, and snuggled her head back into the crook of his shoulder, tracing her fingers over the light hairs on his bare forearm.
"A city?" she asked softly, amazed. "You're planning on hiding a werewolf in a city?"
She wasn't sure what city this was, and didn't want to ask. She was even wary of focusing too keenly at the large, ostentatious buildings lining the majority of the central shoreline, in case she recognised a national monument.
She enjoyed the rumble of his chest behind and beneath her as he replied, "There was a house available here with a private laboratory."
"Work. Working for wolves. When your stupid senshal have condemned me - and you by association," she growled. Why was she doing this again?
She felt her mate tense under her. He was possibly more angry about her sentence than she was.
She knew the answer to why work really. It was simple. For Mac. And for Ada, Anne, the other victims of Grey. Herself. But that didn't mean she wasn't irritated that the idiot senshal would gain too.
Mac forced his slightly trembling frame to relax. As far as possible. His lips brushed her skin again, and he murmured, "I'll make it up to you, picchu."
A sudden hope exploded, "You mean you'll finally tie me up when I'm compos mentis?" she pleaded.
He growled, half a groan. "Not when it'll drive you into rage, Gemma. Please don't ask me again."
"No, I mean, once I'm better? You threatened to once. I'm still waiting," her voice was an almost breathless pant by the end of the sentence, and she was trembling, finding it hard not to squirm on his lap.
Mac stilled suddenly under her, and she smelt a sudden pulse of something in his scent, something pungent, calling, unrecognised. It tingled down her spine, seeming to melt her bones.
Mac was trembling.
She turned on his thighs, and looked up into his face. His eyes were closed, but reopened on a scorching, yearning look which made her heart burn with aching fire, melting into feeling that had her leaning forwards to brush his lips with hers, over and over again.
His voice was a whisper when she retreated. "You have never, ever mentioned, "when I'm better" before, picchu."
Holding his eyes, the tremble became contagious, and Gemma sank against him, wrapping her arms around his wide shoulders and holding on fiercely.
Just - Mac.
"So?" she whispered eventually, and felt his chuckle shake his frame.
"Yes, I promise. When you're better I'll tie you up and indulge myself," he replied softly, voice rich layers of meaning.
"Yippee!" Gemma rejoiced quietly, the sound muffled against his skin, enjoying his laughter in response.
When she eventually turned her head back to see where they were, her eyes meandered over the mishmash of criss-crossing streets rising up over the low hills on either side of the inlet, roads disappearing behind the hilltops, and appearing again further away. Spires dotted the horizon, and a castle was perched on a low, solitary hill to their left. Beautiful. Crowded. Human.
This was the end of their little honeymoon. But even returning to reality couldn't quell the deep, satisfying melt of happiness which seemed to have grown inside her over the four days spent indulging her wolf and herself. She felt as though she was floating through life in a warm, steady glow.
Another flicker of memory of the hours lost to blank insanity flashed in the corner of her contentment, but Gemma pushed it away before it really registered. They had begun to treat her "lapses" as a slightly unfortunate commonplace, a tiresome inevitability which came and went a bit like a rainstorm. She might regret the lost time, and be secretly irritated at her own lack of control, but it made it easier on both of them, treating the rage irreverently, as an inconvenient misfortune.
She knew it was much easier on Mac, that when she was with him, sane, she wasn't despairing, angry, or sad. And it wasn't even an act. She defied anyone to remain sad with such a gorgeous mate. She hugged his warm, muscular arm to herself, feeling the reluctant revving up of Mac's own internal network, his skin beginning to exude the tingle of controlled power and enhanced alertness of the Alpha returning to full throttle as they skimmed under the light breeze toward the multitude of tall masts marking the marina.
Besides, she felt it was only fair that she do her best to make it easier for him - her mate made accepting the rage so much easier for her. Because she did trust him to control her, keep her from becoming a danger to others. She lifted his hand to kiss the palm, holding it open to admire the strong fingers and work-roughened palm. Kissed it again. So she would look after him in return, by being as normal, loving and cheeky as possible, while she was sane.
Suddenly her nose wrinkled as a waft of the smell of the streets they were approaching hit her nose.
"Why in a city?" she asked.
"More minds muffle conveyance, Gem, even humans' thoughts. The brat would have to be well within the metropolis, and in the right suburb, for you to come within his range," Mac replied.
Her petty little malevolent mordeur. Gemma shivered lightly.
"Besides, it's highly doubtful that they would even try to look here, as this is the last type of place any wolf with any sense would take an insane werewolf," he added.
Gemma smiled, and turned on his lap to nibble kisses on the lips of the senseless wolf she was perching on.
That evening, Gemma was nervous. It was a silly reaction: half of Mac's pack, well, more like the vast majority of all wolves she had met, blatantly distrusted werewolves and were deeply suspicious of her, yet here she was worrying that his human friends wouldn't like her. They were walking into the old town from the old wooden house close to the centre which Mac had arranged for them, to share a meal with Jonathan and Lianna. Mac's old friends had come out on the train to retrieve their yacht, and were going to take a long weekend holiday sailing it back. Mac had offered them dinner in thanks for the loan.
Gemma fiddled slightly nervously with her necklace as she walked down the road toward the harbour hand in hand with her wolf, glancing down at the flare of her new rose-patterned sundress, the soft fabric clinging to her possibly a bit too closely, frowning as she worried about it, biting her lip.
Then she smiled at the pattern of the artwork on her toes, peeping out of the end of her delicate sandals. Mac had hated her painting her toenails, choking hoarse breaths, pretending to retch, then disappearing in a huff around the corner of the old white-painted wooden house when she had continued to ignore him, leaving her sitting on the back porch in the dappled shade of the apple tree, indulging herself. Yes, she'd had to turn her head away to take a breath too, but they had come out very prettily, and the smell didn't bother her now that they were dry.
Mac half-growled. "I still prefer them natural," he grumped.
"You have no taste," she returned, "They are much prettier like this." Gemma stood on one leg and held out her left foot, wiggling the toes in the warm evening light, balancing with a hand on Mac's arm to demonstrate. "See?"
"Very pretty," agreed a man who was emerging from the side street to their left, and he grinned down at Gemma as he halted beside them, ready to cross the busy road too.
"Thanks," she replied, smiling back happily. The human was much taller than her own height, although possibly not much older than her own age, despite the creased, weather-beaten, slightly peaked-looking face under his mop of dark hair and the tanned lines which made him seem older. Worldly. His scent had a peculiar, fresh-yet-musty edge to it - something that set him apart as different to the detergent-and-cosmetic steeped humans back at the hotel. He was smiling at her gently, and the smile deepened as he looked into the soft brown, bright smiling eyes turned up to his.
"Hi, I'm Gemma, this is Mac," she introduced herself sunnily, putting out a hand, "We've just moved here."
There was an infinitesimal pause before the man reached out his own tanned, cracked hand, and gently shook hers, a strange light at the back of his eyes, smile twisting slightly. He shot a look at Mac.
"Her fiancé," her wolf augmented her introduction succinctly, his left hand closing lightly yet firmly around the bare skin of Gemma's upper arm, the arm closest to her new acquaintance, steadying and also enclosing her, while he held out his own right palm to shake.
"Samuel," replied the man, releasing Gemma's hand, his eyes lifting to the hand encircling her arm, then passing on to stare expressionlessly into Mac's face. He made no move to shake the Alpha's hand.
Gemma felt a light tingle up her spine, a warning at the slight edge of insolence staining the air, but she ignored the undertones and shot a teasing glance up at her mate, "See? My toes are pretty." She turned her gaze back to the human and added, "You have good taste."
"I'm not the only one," he agreed pointedly, and shot a second slightly envious, slightly challenging glance as her mate, the double meaning obvious.
Gemma felt the ever-present tingle of power shimmering off Mac's skin increase almost imperceptibly, while he courteously, non-confrontationally nodded to the human, dropping his hand. Her mate commented dryly, "I don't think he was complimenting you on your toes, picchu."
Samuel's lips twisted slightly in acknowledgement, his eyes drooping cynically, and both males eyed each other for further silent seconds, the lips of the human straightening into a hard line. There was a feeling of measuring in the air before abruptly Samuel breathed out harshly and twitched his eyes back to Gemma. Then he smiled again, sparkling, his eyes crinkling at the edges in accustomed creases. His gaze lingered a little too long looking into her face, softly lit with her joy in life, then he took in a long breath and muttered, "Enjoy your evening," and brushed past them.
Gemma's mouth opened to call after Samuel, draw him to relax into a little more chat, but Mac's hand closed around her elbow and he began to tug her across the road while he replied shortly, "Thanks. You too." Then he sighed quietly and added under his breath, "What is it with you and strays, Gem?" slightly exasperated.
"Stray? How do you call a human a stray?" Gemma objected in a low tone, glancing back over her shoulder again after the tall, retreating figure as she was towed away. Although her mate was right, she did think the guy needed - cheering up. Friendship. Companionship. Whatever you wanted to call it. He needed reasons to smile. Like Mac had once.
"He was homeless, Gem. Couldn't you scent it?" Mac replied. "And he's been in a fight very recently, and is on something. He was only noticing a beautiful girl, meant no harm initially, but he's naturally aggressive and started burning for a reason to pick a fight with me and prove how strong he is to you, prove himself."
Gemma watched Samuel's erect back disappearing around the corner. Her stomach quivered doubtfully, but she wanted to chase after him even more now, look after him. Somehow. Without offending him. Or Mac. Why were males so proud?
"Maybe I could offer him a snack in return for the compliment?"
"Maybe you could not insult him with handouts, and treat him as you would anyone else."