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Old 04-30-2007, 02:34 PM
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Okay, folks. I'm writing this story. I've got 70 pg written. so I'll start posting some chapters. I wanna know if you guys like it.

I unlocked the door and walked into my house. All I wanted right then was to be warm again. I slipped off my shoes and padded barefoot downstairs, into the laundry room. After I grabbed dry clothes, I went back upstairs and into the bathroom attached to my forest guest room and stripped off my dripping wet jeans. As I looked back on it now, it probably hadn’t been my brightest idea to head to the library on foot on such a soggy September day in jeans with the knees ripped out and flip-flops. So sue me.
But my brain hadn’t been working too well earlier, and I had soaked my good friend Rage’s hooded sweatshirt, my jeans, and my unruly curly hair. The hair hadn’t been much of a loss, but those were my favorite jeans to wear to work, and they wouldn’t be dry in time for my shift an hour. I loved the old things because it showed my 13-year old niece’s interpretation of my love life. They also featured asterisks, stars, hearts, and smiley faces along with cute, childish cursive and printing. Plus, they fit really well, and I get quite a few offers in them.
My name is Ravyn Alexandria Dominique Kirkland, known as Lex to my friends and to my family. I generally leave the ‘Ravyn’ as a simple, capital ‘R’ in front of Alexandria. I am a bond enforcement officer or agent (BEA), or a runner. Commonly referred to as a bounty hunter. I snagged this job just over four years ago when I was I dire, dire need of rent money. No, it wasn’t a month overdue. I needed rent money so I could move out of my grandparents’ house. Mama and Dad, my grandparent who raised me and my siblings, aren’t bad people. I just hate living with them, because they treat me like I’m 16-years old.
I was married to Benjamin Large. I should have guessed his surname was compensating, if you know what I mean. To steal a phrase from my good friend, Leighton, or even from his twin sister, Lynn, the ‘fuckhead’ went out and ‘fucked’ the cocktail waitress ‘on the night our vows were said’. I was barely 26 when I married and about to turn 27 when our divorce was finalized. Go figure. I moved in with my parents for a while, until I could get back on my feet.
Unfortunately, I filled position after position, but left every one of them for one reason or another. My personal favorite was, ‘the boss made a move on me and I decked him’, considering that was the case nine times out of ten. I was 30, depressed, and scared I would go insane living with Mama and Dad. And then I remembered my sixth cousin, three times removed on my father’s mother’s side.
Doug is an ass, but I owe him for helping me out in a pinch. Okay… not really. Like Doug would help me out of the kindness of his heart. Doug is not much better than Ben was, but he hid it better. He had a mistress two years younger than his youngest sister, a wife two years older than he was, and he slept with them both. I dug up the goods on him and blackmailed my way into a position with his firm.
I managed three cases by the skin of my teeth and manhandled the guys who failed to appear in court before Doug even thought to ‘apprentice’ me to someone. He assigned me to the best bond enforcement officer he had, a free-lancer that worked with the firm. His name is Brandon DuCharm, and he has charm and charisma leaking out of his pores. Brandon is sexy as sin and kisses like the devil. He has long, gorgeous black hair, tan skin, and dark eyes you can get lost in. I understand there’s a bit of Native American heritage on his mother’s side. He seems to seek my affection.
Brandon also happens to have a rival for said affection: my current boyfriend, Cordell Lowe. Cord is only an inch shorter than Brandon, and too damn sexy for his own good and my sanity. He has hair the color of dark chocolate and pale blue eyes. He tends to be rather protective of me, and he’s a homicide cop in Precinct 16, thankfully a different precinct from my brother, Nick.
Cord hates how I put myself in danger, but when I bring up that he does too, he tends to shut up about it. I grew up with Cord, and he got me in some trouble as he had fun with it. Mostly, he had a habit of starting bar brawls over me, and he has a neat little scar on his lower lip to prove it. He also managed to get me suspended from school more than once. That’s what I got for making out with him. He was the hot bad-boy back then.
Since I drive a motorcycle, when I have to use a car on runs, Brandon lets me borrow one of his. He said that it would ‘ruin his image’, having trained a bounty hunter who drives a navy Crown Victoria (it belonged to my grandparents and was a part of my inheritance with the house), or a ‘granny car’ as he calls it. But mostly, I think it’s because he likes to keep tabs on me and make sure I’m safe. I just go along with it so I can drive his car. In fact, I’m his favorite reason to get a new car. It’s not my fault I make runs to not-so-classy areas and the car continually ends up stolen.
I love Cord to death, but I’m not as strongly attracted to him as I am to Brandon. Brandon… oh, God, he could say his favorite word –the one I’m referring to is ‘babe’- in any tone of voice and prep me for foreplay; one real kiss and I’m nearly to orgasm. Cord has to work a little harder to get me to that state, but he manages well enough.
I stripped off the t-shirt I had worn beneath the sweatshirt, my bra and underwear until I stood naked in my bathroom. Then, I turned on the hot water in the tub. I ran it for a while, testing it slightly until it scorched my hand. I climbed in the shower stall and turned the shower massage head on pulse. I stood in the hot spray until I felt my feet again, which took a nice, long thirty-minutes.
Turning off the tap, I climbed out of the tub and wrapped myself in a thick, black towel before wrapping a second one around my hair. Briskly, I dried myself off. Dressing for the second time today, I pulled on clean pair of jeans, a long-sleeved black shirt, and a pair of warm socks. Walking down the hall, I took a quick glance in my study for my tennis shoes. I found them half-hidden by a blanket I threw on the floor when I got up from my comfy desk chair this morning.
Sitting in the chair, I slipped them on and grabbed my holsters and the two guns I usually use. I strapped on my shoulder holster first on my left shoulder so I could reach it with my right hand and slipped a Glock 9mm into it. Then I strapped my ankle holster on my right ankle under my jeans and slipped in a SIG. Pattering into the living room, I grabbed a can of Pepsi from the fridge and a Sherrilyn Kenyon novel off the bookshelf, settled into a comfy chair, and began to read.
I hadn’t read an entire chapter when my phone began to ring. Ignoring it, I continued reading my book and sipping my drink. The answering machine picked up, so I continued reading, but listened closely. I knew the voice that echoed out from the answering machine. It was a familiar voice, Brandon’s voice.
It sends sensual shivers down my spine and sensual thoughts to my brain and to other areas. It makes me think of silk sheets, red roses, hot kisses and hot sex. Brandon has a voice like smoke. It wraps itself around and engulfs you, and makes you wish you had him alone. It makes you do things you’d never do else wise. It made me run to my phone and pick it up.
“Brandon?” I asked as I placed it to my ear.
“Babe. Took you long enough to get to the phone,” he said, teasingly.
“I was in the other end of the house,” I said, faking breathlessness.
“You were reading again, weren’t you,” he said, a smile in his voice.
“I guess you caught me, huh.” I said, a smile tugging at my lips.
“No, I just know you very well,” he replied, his tone tiptoeing toward amusement.
“Well, Brandon, while I do love our little talks, you never call me for nothing. What’s up and/or new?” I replied, glancing out my window.
“Lex… well, I have a job for you tonight. Howie is taking over your little observation job, because this is right up your alley,” he said slowly.
“What are you driving, how many feet are you from my front porch, and what are we doing?” I asked grimly. “If it’s another driving job, you’re so dead.”
Brandon, also sometimes known as Brand or Brant, is known for never taking ‘no’ as an answer. Most of the time, no one ever bothers to say it to him. Other times, he makes your resistance ebb away in steady streams, using whatever resources he may have. Usually, he used his raspy-yet-sexy smoker’s voice, considerable wealth, muscle, or intimidation tactics. And tonight seems to be the latter, and a ‘voice night’ to boot.
“The black Mercedes, your driveway, and it’s a surprise, babe,” he rasped out, following it with a chuckle. “However, I can promise you you’re not driving a spoiled prince –or anyone else, for that matter- anywhere, I’m alive, and I most definitely will not forget it.”
Sometimes you have to look at the big picture, I thought as I hung up the phone. For me, the big picture is my life as I live it. I drive a motorcycle just like the one Cord used to drive in high school. It might even have been his! I wear my fair share of leather, always have a black shirt on, and live in denim. My home, an rambling old house I inherited directly from my grandparents a few months ago, is one of the things that takes away from my bad-girl image, considering the walls are all done in bright colors and the carpet is a off-white. I’m planning on painting, buying new furniture, and painting the walls, but I can’t afford to right now.
My home is the real reason why I’m working part time with Brandon as a Jack-of-all-trades –or would that be a Jane in my case?- on assorted jobs. I can pretty much pay my bills from my usual earnings, and sometimes even throw in an extra job for spending money. But the renovations I was planning to make would not fit into my budget unless I wanted to not do anything else. Since paint doesn’t sound appetizing to me, I deduced I needed another source of income. So after I spent a few weeks looking into any part-time job I could find (no one would hire me), I broke down and asked Brandon for a job.
I can’t begin to tell you how awful it was for me to do that. I am one of those crazy, straight arrow, murder-is-wrong type people –always have been, always will be. I believe in following the law down to the letter: everything’s black and white; there’s no gray areas for me, no sir. But the real kicker is that Brandon’s firms do some things that aren’t exactly legal. So it meant I was going to have to loosen my straight-laced morals and go for Brandon’s morals. I saw Brandon’s firms entirely as last resort.
When I asked him for a job about three weeks ago, his first reaction was sitting up straight on the overstuffed sofa beside me in my living room. He smiled at me, his very sexy, you-are-joking-around smile, and asked, “Babe, what are you taking?”
I smiled an I-know-what-you’re-planning-and-it’s-not-gonna-fly smile. “Oh, a little of this and a little of that. Nothing you wouldn’t do. But I was being serious.”
His second response was to ask, “Why are you asking me for a job, babe? You work for Doug, and he seems to pay you pretty well.”
I gave him a sweet smile and told him, “Answers aren’t that easy to get, honey.”
A few kisses -with the murmured question between them, of course- later, he managed to coax the answer out of me.
“Why don’t you let me cover it, babe?” he asked, his lips brushing my hair scalp. Brandon has money to burn. No one has a clue how he accumulated that much money.
“But Brand, it wouldn’t feel like I achieved any of it. And while this old house is busy ruining my image, I want to feel like I earned the change.” My lips grazed the pulse point on his neck –he tucked my head beneath his chin.
He changed our position a bit, and tilted my chin upward. He gave me another bone-melting kiss. “I’ll think about it,” he replied. Then he walked out the front door. It never stuck when he was here.
He called me two hours later with a job. And that was the beginning of a new working relationship. I’ve worked with him before, with his as master and mentor and me as apprentice. But now, he was my boss and I was his employee. When I come on shift and he’s there –he always is, except when work takes him out of town- I kiss him on the lips. We could stand there in a lip lock for four minutes, and none of his men bat an eye. The wonders of loyal employees.
I always seem to work closely with Brand. A lot of times, he seems to have breathed in all my air before I have. It gets a tad unsettling after a while. Even though he’s my employer, he seems to feel the need to protect me. That is why I always get low-risk, low-paying jobs. Or maybe he just wants me around for a while.
I almost smiled at that thought as I pulled on my leather jacket over my jeans and black t-shirt. I changed my shoes to add black sneakers to the ensemble and turned to go out the door. In that moment, there was a knock on the door. I recalled the old house had no peephole, so I’d have to answer it to know who it was. I strode to the door quickly. I left the chain on, so the door would only open about two inches, and then I pulled it open.
“Hey, Lex,” said a deep voice I’d recognize anywhere.
I unhooked the chain and let the door open freely. Standing in front of me was six-feet, five-inches of rippling muscle, sex appeal and blue eyes with a mane of wild, dark brown hair. Cordell Lowe. My boyfriend. “Hey Cord,” I replied, suddenly wishing I’d taken time to put on my makeup.
“Angel, you headed somewhere?” he asked when he noticed how I was dressed.
“Yep. Cord, I have a job I need to get done. I’ve gotta go,” I said, planting a hard, fast kiss on his lips. He pushed into my house and pressed me against a wall as he gave me a long, very thorough kiss.
“Lex. I don’t want you to go,” he replied two minutes later, his breathing as ragged as mine from the kiss.
“Cord, I’ve gotta go now. I’ll be back. Shouldn’t take long. Why don’t you stay here?” I asked, almost sheepishly.
“Which room is yours?”
I hate having people in my room. It makes me feel almost as if I’m standing naked in front of them. So I sent him to another room. “The navy one. Second door. Can’t miss it,” I replied, kissing him again before trying to get out of his arms. I didn’t want him in my rooms, but if he was in the navy one long enough, he’d discover it wasn’t mine. There’s not one piece of my clothing in that room. It’s where my brother Tony stays when he’s home.
“Stay safe, Lex,” he said, kissing me once more before releasing me.
“Bye, Cord,” I said. “I’ll see you soon.” With that, I made my way out the door and closed it behind me. I took a step out onto the sidewalk from the steps and could see Brand parked in the driveway. Looking at Brand, I knew what I wore wasn’t what I’d need to finish this task. I ran back into my home and took the hall in three strides. I walked into the room at the very end of the hall.
This was, as I called it, my War room. I had weapons galore, some ancient and some recent, and quick bags stored in case of particular needs. I grabbed the crimson backpack and the black one. The crimson one contained a slutty outfit to draw out guys in bars, and the black one was my grab-every-time-you-go-out pack, containing a Glock and several clips and many other useful objects. I got the idea to make these packs when I looked at how Brand would set up his guys for a job: luggage bags pack full of anything and everything they might need.
When I realized these might prove to be useful, I put together some for specific occasions, and discovered I didn’t have everything I’d need in the pack. That’s when I put together the black one. Now, I grabbed the black one every time I go out, rather than a purse, because it has everything I need, from my Glock to a set of handcuffs. Cord likes to tease me about going backpacking rather than going to work. I don’t tell him that Leigh had drug me out into the wilderness once to find an FTA and the pack had proved indeed useful.
Leigh is Leighton Peregrine, my partner in crime. Leigh is a dashing figure, and he’s about two inches taller than I am, measuring in at about 6’5”. He has long, silky, pale blond hair he keeps in a long French braid down his back: it’s long enough that the ends of it brush his very fine butt. And he has the most amazing, silvery blue eyes; I’ve never seen another pair like them, other than his twin sister’s and his mother’s. Leigh loves to help me calm my wild hair by taking a nice dip, whether it be planned –like in a pond, lake, or pool- or unplanned –like in a mud puddle or a mad dash through a car wash after an FTA- and he is unafraid of going with me and working with me.
All the others at the firm call me ‘Ice Queen’, but not Leigh. Leigh calls me ‘Hot Stuff’, usually right before he grabs my arm, kisses my cheek, and drags me out to the car I barrow from Brand. Leigh is such a muscular hunk, and at one point, I found myself attracted to him. He’s not gay or anything, but he wasn’t attracted back, so I never chased it. When we bust our guys, we always share our earnings 50-50 because each of us put out equal effort to catch them.
But Leigh has never really taken a shine to Brand, which was why I was amazed to see him leaning on the hood of Brandon’s car when I walked out of my home again. He wore a bizarre outfit. Black jeans and a black shirt stretched across his muscular form, rather than his preferred worn light blue denim and red shirts.
“Brandon! Leighton!” I cried as I rushed out to the car. I brushed a kiss on Leigh’s cheek, before sticking my head in the driver’s window far enough to kiss Brandon’s lips, keeping the kiss both brief and soft. Pulling back, I walked back over to Leigh, my best friend, and smiled at him.
“Hey, Hot Stuff,” Leigh replied with an easy smile, as he took me into his arms for a hug. His mouth was half an inch from my ear, and I could feel his hot breath whisper over my neck like a lover’s caress. “You gave Brandon a real kiss,” he whispered. “Where’s mine?”
“You’re serious?” I asked softly by his ear. I wanted to kiss him, I really did.
“Only like a heart attack,” he replied wryly.
“Fine.” I pulled back. Here goes nothing, I thought as I set my lips gently on Leigh’s. I probed my tongue out of my mouth and gently against his lips, questing for Leigh’s lips to part. They did and he took possession of the kiss. The kiss was magic and demanding and hard and hopeful. Everything I’d longed for in a kiss from Leigh. I let out a very soft moan only those in very close range could hear. Leigh cursed very softly and I could feel him swelling. He kissed me again, this one hot and demanding and hard.
We pulled back and put a yard between us when Brandon cleared his throat.
“Lex. Leigh. We’re doing a ploy to catch a cheating husband,” Brand said.
“Oh goody! Can I invite Cord?” I asked sarcastically.
“No!” Brand and Leigh replied in unison.
I had dug myself a ditch to fall in when I’d kissed Leigh, I realized. I now had three great men; I didn’t know who to choose, or how to choose them! Cord loved me, Brand was my mentor and the first man I’d trusted after Ben, and Leigh was a very good best friend. How could I force myself to choose between these three great men?
“Fine. Bar scene again?” I asked.
“Of course. My team’s specialty,” Fury Carson replied, walking from the other side of Brandon’s car. He wore an outfit almost identical to mine, except the black leather jacket he wore was in Brand’s car. His hair was as red as his temper was hot, and boy, was it hot! His mother had named him appropriately. The same with his twin brother, Rage, but let’s not get into that.
“Okay. Wire?” I asked Brandon.
“Wire,” he confirmed. Me wearing wires had to be Brandon’s favorite part of me working with him, because he had to tape it down between my breasts. I hadn’t done very many of the charades yet, so I couldn’t wire myself up on my own.
I gritted my teeth, knowing the chances of accidental contact between Band and me was high. I got a little jittery whenever he touched me. “What’s Leigh’s part here?”
“He goes in as your boyfriend. You two fight in the bar in front of the guy I show you, and you turn to him for comfort. When he takes you to a hotel, Fury will be there to get you,” Brand replied.
“Okay. Leigh, where’s your car?” I asked.
“A little down the street. Why?”
“I don’t want Cord to know I haven’t left already. Your car is the most spacious, and I need space to change my clothes,” I replied, holding up the crimson pack. Leigh knew exactly what the pack contained, as did the rest of the males standing in my front yard.
“Go ahead and use it, then, Hot Stuff,” he replied, kissing my lips gently.
I gave a curt nod. Turning, I sprinted for Leigh’s red SUV.
The last thing I heard as I sprinted away was “Why do you call her that?” I really did not want to know who had asked that. Mostly, because it really pissed me off. Jeez, I can’t even have a flattering nickname with out having to deal with derogatory comments in relation to it!

Eight minutes later, I returned to the men. Striding toward them with a sultry movement of my hips, I stood before them in a black leather miniskirt and a crimson halter-top that didn’t meet my skirt with my slut shoes, black heels with about six inches of heel. Leigh took me into his arms and -before even I could think better of it- kissed me long and hard. We pulled back from each other, breathless.
Brandon looked at me. I’d chosen this top out of spite. If they can see the wire, it’s no use. While Brandon’s touch sent sensual shivers down my spine, I didn’t want his hands in my shirt with me before a job. It put me on edge and our UN-SUB usually could tell. Without the ability for the wire to go unseen, Brand wouldn’t risk it. I knew that and he knew that. I winked at Fury while Brand wasn’t looking.
Fury had helped me with that. He noticed how uncomfortable I was with Brand taping the wire, so he suggested this vengeance. Fury smirked at Brand’s response.
“I think this gives us opportunity to try out the wire-less recorder, boss,” he said.
Brand’s eyes narrowed. “How intuitive.”
“I think Fury’s sensitive, Brand. Be nice to him,” I replied.
“Let me get it, and I’ll ride out with Leighton and Lex to help fill in the blanks,” Fury said, grabbing his jacket out of Brand’s car.
“Okay, Fury,” Leigh said, picking up on what Brand hadn’t. “Call me Leigh.”
I slung an arm on Leigh’s shoulder and the other on Fury’s leather-clad one and together we went out to Leigh’s car. Fury dipped out when we got to the car. I kissed his cheek, and he blushed.
“Defying your mentor?” Leigh asked as he slid into the driver’s seat and stuck the key in the ignition. I settled in the back seat.
“Of course. It was Fury’s idea,” I replied.
“What?”
“I noticed how, um, uncomfortable she was with Brandon taping he wire on her, so I suggested that this time, she wore a shirt that didn’t meet the skirt because he doesn’t want to chance the guy knowing,” Fury said softly to Leigh.
“Dammit! You should have just let me pay the renovations. You could pay me back later. But no, you had to be stubborn,” Leigh ranted.
“Well, hell, Leighton Acheron Peregrine! I didn’t know he would stoically tell me to remove my shirt and unclasp my bra to tape a wire between my breasts, and accidentally brush my nipple!” I said, exasperated.
Fury looked at me. “Sweetling, that was a bit too much information for me.”
“He did what?” Leigh roared.
“It was accidental, Leigh. I get a little edgy when a man touches me there, is all,” I told him before hitting myself hard in the face. I was grateful I had not worn my rings today, suddenly.

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Old 04-30-2007, 02:35 PM
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Ever insightful and sensitive to the situation, Fury glanced to me. “Oh, God,” Fury said. Then he turned to Leigh. “She’s had a rough day today. Just ignore whatever babble came from her mouth during the last five minutes.” Fury returned his gaze to me as Leigh’s eyes blazed, his attention on the road straight on out the windshield.
Thank you so much, Fury, I mouthed to him.
He gave me a curt nod. To Leigh, he spoke again. “Why don’t you sit in the back with her and let me take you there.”
“Fine by me,” Leigh replied. He moved back in the graceful manner that was always about him. It took him one minute to maneuver his way back to sit with me. He took the seat beside me, and his thigh brushed mine. He stared down at the floorboard like it was guilty of some awful crime.
“Hot Stuff,” he said softly after a few minutes of silence. He glanced up, and made eye contact with me before continuing. “I’m so sorry I yelled at you. I just… I know you so well. I know you don’t want to be touched before something like that. I was just… trying to protect you. I love you. You’re my friend. And if we ever want that love to change into something else…” He stopped there, realizing he had been babbling. I’d never seen anything make Leighton Peregrine lose his calm and yet annoying cool before.
“I love you, too, Leighton. Brand wouldn’t do that on purpose, though. I love Brand, too, but differently. He was the first man I found myself able to trust after Ben’s betrayal. He taught me to be self-sufficient, to care for myself, and that if I don’t like myself, there’s no way in hell anyone else will like me,” I said. With a sigh, I just leaned out toward the window I sat by.
Leigh gently wrapped me up in the warm strength of his arms. My arms, almost of their own accord, twined around him and pulled us close. I laid my head on his muscled shoulder and let the tears come. The filled my eyes and dripped down my cheeks in steady stream, but no sound was heard except the gasping breathing created by the circumstance. He glanced down and saw my tears.
Swearing he’d ‘get even with the bastard who hurt me’, he pulled me closer to him and brushed a soft kiss on my cheek. My head resting under the shelter of his sturdy chin, he kissed my brow and my hair. I snuggled and nuzzled his neck unintentionally. He was so warm and feeling and so… him.
Leigh was one of the only five men who had ever comforted me. It was like second nature to him, since he grew up in a house full of women. My fingers played awkwardly in the sinewy muscles of his back. He made me feel loved and cared for. Few men had ever made me feel this. I had married Ben because everyone expected me to. Cord needed a woman who could make him feel that, and I had given it my best shot. Brand… well, Brand wanted for no one, needed no one, and cared only from afar.
Fury pulled off into the parking lot of a well-known biker bar. Leigh and I untangled ourselves from each other. It wasn’t awkward at all, like it would have been with Cord or Brand. I kissed his cheek and he kissed mine. And then we were sitting innocently in the seat as if nothing had happened when Fury turned back to look and to talk with us.
“Okay guys. You have to pretend to be a couple. Then, have a big fight and break up in front of this man,” Fury said, fishing a picture from the pocket of his jacket and handing it to me. It showed a man talking to a waitress in a ritzy café. I focused in on the man, knowing he was our UN-SUB.
The man was tall, and had long, oddly white-blond hair braided down his back. There wasn’t a trace of gray in his hair. The photograph was normal, aside from the odd, gray quality of his eyes. His eyes were things of odd beauty amongst themselves. He was built well and he wore a black trench coat, which probably a smart choice for November weather. He dressed smartly; obviously, he wasn’t hurting for money. But what did me in was the dazzling smile he gave to the waitress. That smile was eerily familiar.
I passed the photo to Leigh. He looked at it a minute before he cursed.
“What is it, Leigh?” I asked, locking my gaze with his.
“It’s my cousin. Lex, this is David Blake.” I gave him a blank look. I seriously had no clue who David Blake was. “Stryker,” Leigh clarified for me, knowing the name would ring a bell. Or five.
“You’re kidding,” I blurted. Stryker Blake had married my sister, Mystic.
“Where do you know him from?” Leigh asked, eyes on mine.
“Were you at his wedding, Leigh? He married Mysti,” I whispered. “Fury, I can’t do this,” I said, raising my voice.
“Why in the hell not?” Fury demanded like the arrogant Irishman he was.
“That is my sister’s husband, Fury.”
“Is your sister,” – he reached into his pocket for the paperwork- “Mystic Blake?”
“She is now. She was born Mystic Amélie Kirkland, if you’d like to check her out. Stryker –David- wouldn’t cheat on her. He knows I’m connected, and that if I found out, I’d kick his ass ‘til they were sprinkling salt where hell froze over,” I said.
“Well, that’s what little miss call-me-Mysti Blake hired us to watch for. Now, can we do this?” Fury growled in an almost wolf-like manner.
“Well,” I said slowly, “I have taken off a few pounds over the years since I sent pictures to Mysti. And Mysti’s older than me. I was only 13 when they married, and I hadn’t hit my growth spurt yet. How long has it been since you’ve seen Stryker, Leigh?”
“At least that. I was maybe 14 last time I saw him,” Leigh said.
“He won’t know us, Leigh. I think we can do this,” I breathed. I really needed the money for my renovations, and if this mission could be salvaged, I wanted to do it.
“I think you could be right, Hot Stuff,” Leigh said softly.
“Good. You guys can do this. Now. Go in there and do what you were asked to do,” Fury said, pointing to the bar that was about twenty-five feet off from us.
The sign read “Danger: The Biker’s Sanctuary”. The name fit the Stryker I had known to a ‘t’. I had been 11 when he’d first shown up on our doorstep, mid-back length blond hair tethered back at his neck, dressed in black leather chaps, jeans, a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket and asking for Mystic. I had asked his name –the name he’d given me was Stryker- and I invited him in, telling him to sit on the sofa. He did, and I ran upstairs to get Mysti. Mysti rushed down when she heard who was there. And that was the first time I met Stryker. Two years later, they married. I was Mysti’s Matron of Honor. I will never forgive her for the yellow tea roses in my hair or yellow dress I wore, or the yellow rose petals I picked out of my hair clear up to a month afterward.
At their wedding, what I remember most is kissing Stryker on the cheek –he’d slumped down, wrinkling his tux in the process. I murmured, “Take good care of Mysti. If you cheat on her, I will kick your ass until they’re sprinkling salt where hell froze over. Do you understand?” He had looked shocked to hear me say that, but he knew how I loved Mysti, so he nodded. After kissing him once more, I shooed them out the door.
I opened my door and stepped out of the car. Dressed in these clothes, I looked like a whore. Thinking back briefly to the price I paid for these clothes, I winced. Fine, I looked like an expensive whore. But still a whore.
Leigh followed me out and looked at me. “Hot Stuff, you don’t look like a whore,” he said, almost as if he could read my thoughts.
“You’re right. I look like a call girl: an expensive whore,” I replied.
His arm slithered around me and forced me to a stop. I looked at him. “What are you doing, Leighton?” I demanded. If he kept touching me, I’d lose my mind.
He brought his lips tenderly down on mine. Pulling back barely a centimeter, he asked, “What does it feel like I’m doing, Hot Stuff?”
I pressed my breasts against his chest and he hissed. “It feels like your making me crazy.” Yeah, crazy. Crazy for him. Crazy with wanting, craving needing him, my thoughts whispered. I ignored them and kissed him again.
He touched me gently, as if I was like precious, fragile porcelain entrusted to him. He grazed his hand down my side, touching from my collarbone to my knees in a single, slow swipe. “Lexi, you are the most desirable woman I have ever met,” he whispered in my ear, his breath hot against my neck. “But, you are also one of the most innocent. In fact, that’s part of your charm. It’s almost as if you don’t know you turn me –or other men- on with a single glance.”
I wanted to touch him. But I was so inexperienced in this kind of thing. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I remembered reading novels where she’d touch him, so I guessed I had the gist of what I needed. I just wasn’t sure when, or if he would like it done to him.
Swallowing my feelings of doubt, I reached a hand between us. I skimmed my way down his chest before I hesitantly and gently cupped him through his pants. I could fell him swelling in my hand. I felt …good to have that sort of power over him. He made a growl like sound in the back of his throat.
“Leigh, I’m not that naive. I know I turn you on, I know I turn Cord on, and I know I turn Brand on. I know how to have sex or make love,” I replied, feeing a need to defend myself.
“Hot Stuff, you’re jaded. And yet, you are still so innocent. I’ve never seen you ever very serious about a guy. And you aren’t the one-night-stand type,” Leighton breathed as he swelled against my hand. “Believe me, baby, I –”
I cut off his words by kissing him again. I rubbed my nipples against his chest and delighted in his pleasured hiss. He took a step forward and his leg slipped between mine. I arched my back out a little and pressed my center against his erection. He growled in pleasure. “Leighton, right now, I just pray that I’m your type,” I said, pulling my lips from his. His lips and tongue began to skim my neck and I made a noise in my throat.
“You’ve always been my type. Always have been and always will be,” he breathed as he nibbled at the area where my pulse throbbed in my neck.
“Leigh,” I gasped out as I found myself unable to breathe.
“Don’t you two have a job to do?” interrupted a voice like Fury’s. But it couldn’t be Fury’s. It was a smoker’s voice and Fury didn’t smoke. It had to be Rage.
“Rage, don’t you have something else to do other than plaque my love life?” I asked with out turning to glance at him. I had just realized that, had we not been interrupted by Rage, I would have let Leigh take me right here, in the parking lot of a biker bar. I shivered. Leigh rubbed my arms to get rid of the goose bumps.
“Aw, how did you know it was me and not Fury?” Rage asked, taking a drag off his cigarette between ‘me’ and ‘and’.
“You smoke. Your voice has this raspy quality because the nicotine destroys your voice box. So, although you and Fury may have sounded the same at one point, you don’t even sound close now,” I replied as I turned in Leigh’s arms. He let me, and we repositioned so that my back touched his front and his arms slid under my breasts. I took a brief glance at Rage. He wore jeans and leather chaps with a black t-shirt. He was rugged where Fury was polished, and they were opposites in most things. Actually, all things except parentage and looks.
“Well, don’t you have a job to do?” Rage asked again, taking a long drag off his cigarette again. Reaching the end of it, he dropped it and stomped it out.
“Actually, yes, Leigh and I have a job. However, it feels a little strange –not to mention, awkward- to go in there and try to get my brother-in-law to pick me up in a bar. Even though it’s been nineteen years since I’ve seen him,” I told Rage.
“That’s totally screwy, sweetheart,” Rage said, using his usual endearment for me. I’ve discovered men seem to need to have a different endearment from any of the other guys when it comes to me.
“Also, if you consider the fact I told him I would ‘kick his ass until they’re sprinkling salt where hell froze over’ if he cheated on my sister, it feels even weirder trying to get him to pick me up in a bar,” I told him.
He let out a low whistle. “Do you know if he cheats on her?”
“Nope. That’s what we’re supposed to prove or disprove,” I told Rage.
“Does your sister know your working on this?”
“No. Fury didn’t even know she was my sister until I told him.”
“But you’ll bet that Brand knew.”
“Exactly.” Brand was nothing if not thorough. He would have researched Mysti before taking her on as a client. I knew there was something weird going on when he invited Leigh in on it. I turned to Leigh. “We’d better head in and get this over with.”
“You’re right. Rage, nice to meet you.” Leigh grabbed my hand and pulled me after him.
“Same back at you,” Rage replied with a nod at Leigh. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” Leigh said.
I took the lead and pulled him to the door. “Remember to act like a controlling, coldhearted jerk, okay?”
“Whatever,” he said.
I pushed the door open myself. If Leigh hadn’t been playing a part, he would have held the door for me. I stood just inside and spotted David before making my way to an empty table near his. Leigh slunk after me. The waitress came to us to take our order.
Leigh ordered a beer for each of us, knowing I would argue. True to form, I did. I told the waitress I wanted whiskey. Leigh and I proceeded to fight about it.
“I don’t know what I ever saw in you,” I cried after fighting with him for five minutes and drawing David’s attention to me. “You are a controlling jerk with no heart!”
“You hate me that much, find your own way home,” he roared and stomped off.
The waitress looked sympathetic. “I’ll bring you a whisky on the house, honey. No girl deserves a man like that.”
“Thanks,” I said quietly and did my best to look broken up about it.
The waitress shot me another sympathetic smile before she walked off to place the order. I memorized the pattern on the tabletop and waited for the scenario to work its magic. Like clock work, two minutes later, David came over to my table and sat down.
“I couldn’t help but notice that fight between you and your boyfriend,” he said.
“I bet everyone noticed it,” I said, smiling a sad smile.
“Yeah. Me too. You mind if I stay here and keep you company?”
“Not really. I don’t want to be too alone after that. I’m Maggie, by the way.”
“I’m David. Nice to meet you. What were you doing with a jerk like that?” David asked as the waitress arrived with my whiskey.
“He was so sweet to me in the beginning. Bought me roses, chocolates, the whole shebang. Then he got so… controlling,” I said, taking my whisky and throwing it back all at once. I reveled in the burn in my throat. Whisky is Irish courage. I’m of Irish descent, and I sure felt I needed the courage.
“It’s all right, Maggie. A lot of women end up with men like that. Just be glad you aren’t going to,” he said softly.
“Why would you worry about making me feel better, David? I don’t even know you!” I said, feeling depressed. Rather, acting like I felt depressed. I was rather apathetic toward the situation in all reality.
“I guess I can’t resist my urge to play white-knight to damsels in distress,” David replied. “My wife hates it.”
“You’re married?”
“Yeah. I’m married to a beautiful woman named Mystic. She hates how I’ll go to a bar and generally end up with some damsel tucked away at a motel from a jerk like your ex. She thinks I’m cheating on her,” David said with wry humor. “But I love her. She’s my sun and moon.”
“Why can’t she see that?” I asked, honestly wanting to know. I knew he wouldn’t cheat on her. No one could ever cheat on beautiful Mysti.
“Exactly,” he said, nodding in agreement. After a few minutes, he asked, “Do you have a ride home?”
“No, but I’ll call a friend to come pick me up,” I told him.
“You’ll be okay?”
“I’ll be okay,” I assured. I took out my cell phone as he strode off. I called Fury. “Come and get me, Fury. I’m done. Our recording should be good,” I said when he answered his phone.
“Fine. Wait for me by the door,” he replied and hung up. I left money to cover my whiskey and a tip for the waitress on the table. Sauntering to the door, I stood in the entryway to wait for Fury. I watched as the rain that had been threatened all day pelted the windows.
Two minutes later, he arrived in Leigh’s red SUV. I sauntered out to it with my ‘slut walk’. When I reached the SUV, he rolled down the window closest to me. “Hello,” he said as I stood out in the pouring rain. “My name is Sir Fury, and I will be your knight in shinning armor for the night. Please get into the car in an orderly manner and do not soak the seat.”
I chuckled as I opened the door to the backseat. Before I climbed in, I noticed that Leigh was sitting back where he had been with me earlier. I climbed in with ease. Then Leigh grabbed me and pulled me to him. He crushed me to him and then he kissed me.
My response was instant. My breasts felt fuller. I was getting hot from one little kiss. My hands roamed, finding the muscles of his chest, the sinewy muscles on his back that flexed under my touch, the taunt flat nipples on his chest that responded to any touch. He touched me, too; his hands fondling my breasts and giving me immense pleasure, streaking silken down my back to my bottom and cupping it, branding the skin on my hips as they softly skimmed over them.
Pulling my lips from his, I allowed them to skim the pulse point on his neck, his cheeks and I even nibbled on his ear lobe. I wanted to touch him all over. I craved him like a drug, like the nicotine I craved in stressful situations. He was every dream and wild, sensual fantasy come alive and put into one. Sleek, smooth blond hair hung straight to his waist; his body tawny, sinewy, muscled perfection; his face perfectly sculpted. He was a gentle giant; kind, comforting and all I could ever want. He was a dream that had some-how become an utterly magnificent reality.
I brought my lips back to his again, and he greedily took all I offered him. I drank in his strength and warmth. And we kissed. Oh, how we kissed. I felt almost as if he alone were my life force. And then, I could think of nothing except the kiss, the movement between our bodies, the mating of our mouths.
And then we heard Thousand-Foot Krutch blaring from the car stereo. We jerked apart, startled. Remembering where we were and that we were in the presence of another, we blushed and just snuggled up together with out doing anything. I found that I enjoyed just being with him and going through our familiar snuggling ritual, even though it was a little different since we’d been kissing so much. And…
Suddenly, I felt a rough shaking of my body and heard a low, masculine voice calling my name. My eyes opened to slits. I could see the silhouette of a man moving over me, gently shaking my shoulders. He rasped out my name in an effort to rouse me.
“Come on, Lex, get up,” the man rasped out, shaking my shoulders gently, almost as if he were afraid he’d hurt me.
His raspy pleas made me face the truth: I had fallen asleep. I had dreamed up events based on real people and circumstances. And added quite a few circumstances of my mind’s own creation, too, I thought, feeling as if I should blush. I forced it down. I knew only by the fact that I couldn’t see the man waking me that there were no lights on in the room.
I opened my eyes completely. I still had no clue who woke me, but I knew I knew him and that he couldn’t see my eyes. “Hey,” I said to let him know I was awake.
“Whoa! Hey. You’re up,” he said, sitting back on his heels. I heard his voice, a soft baritone, close to my head. The lamp wasn’t on, so all I knew was a shadow’s movements and voice.
“Yeah. Imagine. It’s what you were trying to do, right?” I asked sarcastically.
“Good point,” the shadow replied.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to turn on a lamp. If you do mind, tough luck,” I said, feeling my lips form a wry smile that the shadow couldn’t see. I sat up in the chair.
“Here,” replied the shadow. “Let me get it.”
“I can get it,” I replied. I reached out for the lamp near my head. My hand hit warm, silken skin. I jerked my stinging palm away as if the touch had burnt me. I pulled my arm to my chest and held it there as I gently examined it. Road burn. Touching it hurt. I couldn’t stop the tiny mew of pain from escaping my mouth.
The shadow cursed. And then I knew who it was. Yeah, I know, I’m kind of a dim bulb when I’m tired, but I can still tell who it is by their choice curse words. And my ‘shadow’ was most definitely my brother, Blaine Nicholas Kirkland. Not to be confused with Ember Zarick Kirkland, Nick’s identical twin.
“Hey, get the light, will ya?”
He turned on the lamp. The light from it illuminated the room. There before me was my brother Nick. Or, at least I think it was. He looked a bit too much like Ember. I sputtered, and he smirked. Either way, I hadn’t seen him in ages, so I hugged him. He winced.
Okay. Now, you get to answer some questions, I thought. Still hugging him, I took my two pairs of handcuffs off the table behind him without a sound. I shoved him hard, into the recliner that was catty-corner from him. Quickly, I handcuffed him to the chair.
My brother gave me a look of shear shock.
“What, you thought I’d learned nothing?” I asked. “I’m a bounty hunter. Trained by the best. You’re trying to confuse me. So, pop quiz: What’s my ex-husband’s name?”
The big test about that is that the only one of the twins has no clue I’ve ever been married at all. Ember had been a freshman –since he waited a year in between high school and college- at UCLA on scholarship. Nick had been away at college up in South Bend. Jake gave me away, because the ceremony had been very hush-hush. Leigh and Lynn Peregrine were my Maids of Honor, even though they’d warned me not to marry Ben. I told Nick when he moved back to town. But Ember had no clue I’d ever married.
But, you know, stupidly, it never occurred to me to smell him.
“You got married?” he asked, shocked and bewildered.
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Old 04-30-2007, 02:36 PM
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“Thanks a bunch, Ember. What are you doing here?” I asked as I knelt before him. He watched as I unlocked the cuff on his left arm with a methodical slowness.
“I’m FBI now, honey. There’s a mess here in Indy. Money laundering. I’m here to root out the problem,” he replied as he watched my hands move.
I undid the other cuff. “Well, Ember, you need to meet Brand. He might be able to help you in an …unofficial and not completely legal way.”
“Brand?” Ember questioned.
“Brandon DuCharm,” I clarified. “My mentor.”
You trained with DuCharm?” Ember asked, clearly stunned at hearing that.
“Yep. Brand’s a legend, isn’t he? Such a sweetheart. Let me call him, Em. I’ll be right back,” I said as I began my walk down the hall. Upon entering my bedroom, I found my cell phone sitting on my bedside table, charging. I went over to the table and unplugged the phone. Sitting on my bed, I flipped open my phone and skimmed the contacts list. I found Brand’s security firm and hit the send button.
I waited as it rang. After the second ring, the call was picked up.
“Hello. DuCharm Security. This is Louise Marshall. How may I direct your call?” asked a sweet young voice. I’ve met Louise. She’s blond, gorgeous, about 27 and going steady with Rage and Fury’s little brother, Writhe.
“Hey, Lou,” I said, dropping the familiar nickname I’d given the girl into the conversation. “This is Lex Kirkland. Is Mr. DuCharm in?”
“Hey chérie. Yes, he’s in. Shall I transfer you?” She asked, dropping easily into the French she took in high school.
“Yes, please,” I replied.
“No problem, Lex,” she replied. “Please hold until he picks up, honey.”
I waited a few minutes before Brand picked up. “DuCharm,” he answered curtly.
While I felt like offering a snide remark like Don’t take that tone with me, babe, I refrained. “Brand. It’s Lex. Look, we have a minor situation in my living room. I would value your help in riding myself of it.”
“Hey babe. Your living room?”
“One of my brothers, involving money laundering. Please get over here,” I begged. I was pretty sure Brand would come, but I wanted to be certain.
“Fine. Five minutes?”
“Fine. Thank you, Brand,” I said softly. He generally can’t stand my brothers, but at least he was coming to help with the latest mess. I had a feeling he’d like Em. Now, if only I could control Em’s urge to drool on Brand’s shoes.
“It’s nothing, Lex. I’ll be there.”
Always was the word that followed in the silence. Brand was getting to be family, and I wouldn’t have it another way. It’s wonderful to finally be able to call someone at two o’clock in the morning, know he’d be up, ready to listen to me, and not too busy with inspiration, like Domi gets at times, or might even call me then. “Bye,” I murmured.
I heard him reply softly, “Bye babe,” before I hung up the phone.
I heard a noise from the living room. Feeling for my shoulder holster, I pulled the gun out smoothly like I had been doing it forever instead of four short years. I walked down the hall with it drawn and in front of me, the safety flicked off. I turned the corner into my living room. There, on my sofa, sat Ember, his hands up in the air, his face a mask of fright. I had forgotten he was here.
I turned the safety back on and slipped it back into my holster. “Relax, will ya, Em. I know how to use it, and I’m careful. Trust me, Brand wouldn’t let me out on the streets with this piece if I couldn’t handle it. I’m just not used to having people in my house,” I told him as I checked the ankle holster for my SIG. It was still there.
“L-Lexi, I wasn’t expecting you to have ch-changed so m-much,” Em sputtered.
“What planet do you live on, Em? I’m a bounty hunter now. I carry a Glock and a SIG generally, but some days, I carry more. Do us both a favor next time and pat me down while I sleep. I understand Cord’s issue with the Feebs now, I swear!” I muttered.
“Cord… You’re not hanging out with that Cordell Lowe again, are you?” Em asked slowly. I knew where this conversation was headed.
“No, I’m not. I’m dating him again.”
“Lex-“ Em began.
“Em, if you get sanctimonious on me, I’ll kill you!” I yelled. I hate it when my brother hampers my social life. Nick, Jayke and Tony have quit doing it, but not Em.
“Well, the reason you never have any meaningful relationships is because you don’t get involved with me who want anymore than a brief affair!” Em chastised.
“Cord’s changed, Em. He’s a homicide cop now. I’ve been involved with him off and on for maybe three years now,” I said, my voice flat. My brothers have a way of making me feel guilty for my bad relationships, even when they’re not my fault.
“All of your boyfriends change, Lexi!” He yelled at me.
“Yeah, but not all of them have asked me to marry them!” I roared back at him, furious for his sanctimonious words. Like he was never in a dead-end relationship.
Em fell silent. I sat down in the crimson chair.
“Yeah, Em, he’s asked me once biweekly for over a year now. And I keep turning him down. Because I’m not sure. Because I can’t be the wife he needs. Because I don’t need a husband who won’t let me do the job I love. Because I want the freedom I have now. But mostly, because I view a husband like most men view a wife: a ball and chain. Someone I love, but someone who can be used to get to me. I make a lot of enemies,” I finished, setting my head in my hands. “Now, shut up until Brand arrives, Em. When he’s here, no hero-worshiping. Listen to what he says, ask for his help, but if you drool at his feet, I’ll have Fury throw you out so fast your head will spin. Clear?” I demanded.
“Clear,” Ember replied, his tone soft. He knew what this tête-à-tête would do to me. He was always the one who made me cry. My other siblings were very wary of it. I have a tendency to lose control when I get upset; I’ll beat the crap out of people I wouldn’t ever want to hurt.
I set my head back in my hands and began to cry. I hate to cry. It makes my head hurt and it gets me nowhere. I hate the feel of hot tears running down my cheeks, mostly because a lot of my younger years were spent crying. The reasons and circumstances changed, but the outcomes did not. It still made my head hurt and it still got me nowhere.
I heard a key turn in the lock. There were only a few people who had a key, outside of my grandparents, and I had a feeling Mama and Da had given it to Em. That pretty much limited the options on who it might be. The front door opened without ceremony and I automatically narrowed down the list to one family. Only one family other than Leigh, who would call before he came over, and Brandon, who would knock before entering, knew not to call out to me or I’d be in the atrium with my Glock in hand when they came in.
I heard him stride into the living room, and I was sure of who it was. I could pick out his footsteps even in a crowd. He walked with long, efficient strides to cover distances fast. And, he worried about stealth, and lack of noise. Plus, he knew I loved this room. I felt his presence as he knelt on the floor before me.
“Aw, crap. What did you do to her?” Fury Carson inquired of my brother. “Not everyone can make her cry. Brand’s going to be PO’d when he sees her like this. You’d better inform your next of ken you might not make it. It’s terrible when she’s like this and Brand’s aware. The last guy who did this ended up in a hospital bed for a week, and then he hid in his house for a month from fear of Brand coming after him again.”
“Fury,” I murmured. I felt like laughing even though I knew I couldn’t make myself do it. I was Ember’s next of ken.
“Hey there, sweetling,” he replied as he wrapped his arms around me even as I held my face in my hands. I moved my hands from my face and rested my head on his warm shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“Uh…” I replied with a sniff, “Nothing. Just something stupid.”
“Uh-huh. Share with your friend Fury,” he replied, his tone wry as I pulled away from him to sit back in the chair. He grabbed a chair from my kitchen and brought in to the living room. He straddled it so he sat in front of me.
“Just stupid stuff only a brother can bring up,” I answered dryly.
“Ah. This is one of the infamous brothers. Which one?”
“Ember.”
“Mmm,” Fury murmured. “The one who knocked out one of your baby teeth?”
What can I say? I loved to fight, even at age eight. “Yep. That’s Ember,” I replied. “Is Brand coming?”
“Oh, yeah, the big boss is comin’. He’ll just be longer than he planned. He said you had a ‘minor situation’,” Fury replied with a wink. “I told him I thought it was a ploy to get him over here.”
“Well, Fury, babe, it wasn’t. The ‘minor situation’ is the guy you chastised for making me cry,” I said with a smile. I wiped my eyes and got ride of the tears, but my eyes would still be red and puffy from crying when Brand arrived.
“Sweetling, you know Brand doesn’t like Feebs,” Fury said, eyeing Ember.
“Well, I asked him to come over. I figured if I asked, he might do it,” I evading the situation I knew was there.
“Sweetling, he’d do anything for you,” Fury responded quietly. “As would my brothers, your partner, your boyfriend, and myself. You are important to us all.”
“That’s sweet, Fury,” I replied, leaning over and kissing his cheek lightly. Briefly. His face colored.
“It’s the truth,” Fury replied gruffly.
“I-,” I started, and then reconsidered what I was saying. “Uh, I need to eat something. Can I fix you anything, Fury? Em?”
“Nah, I’m okay,” Fury replied.
“I’m good,” Em offered.
“Okay. I’ll be in the kitchen if anyone needs me.” I rose to my feet. As I turned to leave, Fury walked over to me, he steps slow and hesitant. He laid his hand on my arm.
“Fury?” I asked softly. I have never known Fury to be hesitant. His brother Torment, yes. But never Fury.
“Lex, I, uh, need to talk to you. In private, if you don’t mind,” Fury answered, his tone as soft or softer than my own.
“Sure, Fury. We can use the War Room,” I replied. Ember looked up, his eyes as big as saucers.
“War Room?” Em squeaked with a glance at me.
“War Room,” I confirmed as I began to walk toward it.
Fury and I sauntered silently down the hall. We passed my small study, painted in the pastels known only to of sunset because I found it soothing, in three long strides. Next we passed the forest guest room, so dubbed because I had painted it forest green and sky blue, the firmament noticeable different from the earth. It was the largest of the guest rooms downstairs. Then came the navy guest room, walls painted navy and trimmed in a lighter shade of blue. The last of the guest rooms was the purple one. The walls painted in a plum tone and then trimmed in lavender was beautiful along with the startling contrast of the lilac ceiling.
At the end of the hall was the War Room. The War Room was so dubbed because my utter fascination with weapons of all kinds led a large, eclectic collection of them. Originally a den of hobbies, the walls were painted in mulberry. The collection outgrew the original War Room, my study, so I moved it here. I stepped in first and lit the eleven candles by the door with the kitchen matches I leave by them.
Then I turned off the overhead lights before I let Fury enter. He stood in the doorway as I moved the candles about the room, to shine a dull glow throughout. I stood up straight and held out my hand to him. He grasp it in his larger one, and I led him to the chairs situated in the middle of the room around a large oak table. I chose a chair and moved it from the table. I dropped his hand and situated two chairs so we could see each other and be near. I straddled one chair and motioned him to have a seat. He complied; straddling his chair in the same manner I had mine.
“Welcome to my War Room,” I told Fury with a smile.
“Wow. Of all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never seen this room,” he said softly.
“I close it off to most people, if you must know. It’s… special. The only room I feel totally comfortable in downstairs,” I said.
“Why is that?”
“I like weapons,” I replied. “More than most. If I had lit more candles or turned on the overhead light, you would see. This room is filled with my weapons. Everything. Heck, I’ve even got a pair of broadswords here. Originally, the War Room was devoted to weapons, but it has lately been a strategy room, as well.”
“I’ve officially seen all the rooms downstairs,” he said with a wry smile. “I’m wondering if I’ll get to see the ones upstairs.” I stiffened at the words.
“All that is upstairs is my suite. You need not see any of it,” I replied stiffly. No one sees my rooms. I’ve had a people over, but I never anyone see the rooms. It is a vulnerable place. One chink in my armor, if you will.
“Aw, hell. I’ve screwed up already,” Fury said, his voice as soft as the finest silk. “You’re as stiff as a board. I know the mention of your suite brought that on. I’m sorry, sweetling. I was being sarcastic.”
My heart stopped at his apology. He understands. “Well, I’m sorry I stiffened. No one but me is permitted into those rooms. That’s why. I don’t like people in my…” Vulnerability. “my rooms. My space. My things.” My territory.
“I get that, sweetling. No one else but you goes up there, huh?”
“No one. They’d have to get past the locks.”
“Locks?” Fury asked, his face showing his bewilderment.
“There are several on the first door to my suite. You see, through that door,” I pointed to the one by the broadswords I had mentioned, “there is a stairway. At the top of the stairway is a locked door. There are three combination locks on it. If you get past those, then there is a corridor. At one end is another locked door. There are three locks on that one, and it leads into a large… sitting room, or den. There’s a door on the opposite side with four more locks, and on the other side of that is my bedroom. And can you please remind me why I am explaining the layout of my rooms –which have been established to be private- to you?”
“I’m not sure, sweetling. You mentioned locks, I questioned it, and there are like nine locks to keep others out. Are you paranoid?” he asked, frowning slightly.
“No. I just hate having someone intrude in my … private rooms.” I said. “Anyway, you said you needed to talk to me about something?”
“Yeah. About that. Brand wanted me to do something for him,” he said. He fiddled restlessly with his long fingers. I had never seen Fury nervous before. And it made me nervous. It happened a lot. When my friends lose their collected calm, I lose mine. They call me hyper-sensitive.
“What?” I asked, looking at him.
“This,” he said softly as he pulled me to him and placed his lips gently on mine. He moved away from me as quickly as he had pulled me to him and kissed me. I breathed in a deep breath of fragrant air. His kiss had been almost… supernatural in sensation. It was merely a brush of his lips to mine, but the feeling felt… magnified.
“He wanted you to do that?” I asked in puzzlement.
“Yeah. I was about to leave his office, and he turned to me and said, ‘Fury, give Lex a kiss for me until I get there’,” Fury said. “And, uh, does he know where the War Room is?”
“Yeah. He’s been in this room before,” I replied, resisting the urge to touch my lips. I had never felt a kiss so entirely tender. It made me feel like kissing him again to see if he would react like that again with me. But I won’t, I swore to myself. I do not need another guy in my life. Just the same, Fury never looked so handsome as he did in the soft, flickering glow of candlelight.
“That’s good,” Fury replied.
Well, hell, I thought as I situated myself in my chair. “Fury?”
“Yes, sweetling?” he replied softly.
“Um… how long will Brand be?” And how long will I have to sit here with you as my own, personal temptation?
“Oh, he should be a few minutes,” Fury replied. “He’ll be here soon, sweetling.”
“Mmkay.” Good, whispered the voice in my head.
Just then, there was a quiet knock on the pine door. I hurried to the doorway before I managed to stop myself from swinging it wide open. The air around Fury and myself had been so tense. I felt like I could have pulled that broadsword off the wall and carved up the air, and that it would have held that shape.
“Yes?” I answered.
“Lex, it’s me,” said a soft baritone from the other side of the door.
It was husky, rich, and so familiar and welcome, I almost didn’t know what to do. I almost kissed the door in my relief. In my haste to pull it open and let Brand in, I also almost hit myself in the head with it.
“Good to know you made it,” I replied dryly. And just in time, too. “Come on in, and don’t hit the lights.”
“Ooo. Are you and Fury gettin’ nice and cozy, since you’ve been all alone and un-chaperoned in the candlelight?” Brand purred as he stepped into the room. He wore his usual black cargo pants, t-shirt, and running shoes. Like always, his mid-back length of heavy, gorgeous black hair hung down his back, restrained only by the strip of leather tied at the base of his neck, gathering it all together neatly.
“Never,” I said, stepping into Brand’s path. “That, Brandon Night DuCharm, I reserve only for you.” I slipped my arms around his neck and pressed my lips to his. He nipped lightly at my lip, so I opened my mouth to him. He explored the territory of my mouth, an area he knew so very well. I broke the kiss before anything more could happen, although I wanted it to go one a while longer. I did not, however, move from my position with my body pressed against his and my arms around his neck.
I tried not to kiss Brand long in front of any of his men. If I do, I’m a distraction. If I don’t kiss him at all, I’m a tease. I hate trying to put a good impression out for his men. It makes me feel like I’m playing a part.
I stared into his eyes until I moved my head so that my mouth was by his ear. “Hi,” I said whispered in his ear before lightly licking the sensitive area behind his ear until he responded to my greeting.
“Hey,” he replied in my ear, his breath teasing my neck.
I slid myself slowly out of his arms, even though I didn’t want to. He was so warm, and I didn’t want to lose the warm feeling of his body pressed against mine. I took in large hand and led him to the strategy table.
Suddenly, a distinctive spicy scent filled my nostrils. I stepped away from the table. Oh, God, when was there a Dresdian here? I inhaled again. One of my brothers, maybe? Once more, I inhaled. That scent belongs to no male in my family!
I felt a sudden animal urge to track the guy down and pounce on him in more than one way. Oh no! I had to get out of here, get to my safe area. Fast! Time was of the essence, or I’d do something I’d regret forever. Like tear my friends apart because they got in my way.
“Basically,” I said, “I just want you to help my younger brother, Ember. You know, that wimpy Feeb in the living room. He’s a quivering mass in that over-stuffed chair right now because I handcuffed him to a chair, pulled a gun on him, cried when he bitched at me like a normal older brother does, and let Fury threaten him. But I’m totally exhausted now. I’m going to go to bed. Deal with Ember as you see fit. But, please, see to it that he knows the forest guest room is his as long as he has need of it. If you need a place to crash, there are the other guest rooms. Em may be only 28, but he’s my little brother, and, by God, we will make sure he is a proper jaded, obsessive-compulsive, control-freak, pain-in-the-ass Feeb.”
I dropped his hand and strode, exhausted, over to the passageway that led up to my rooms. “Goodnight, all.” I swung the panel open and closed it behind me, but not before I heard Fury ask Brand, “Doesn’t Lex have a way of making you feel like an underling?”
I trudged up the stairs and opened the first three locks, number combination locks, each with different combinations to unlock them. I opened the outer door and grabbed the key ring clipped to my waist two unlock those three, too. When that door opened, I closed and locked the first one and then the second one. I stalked silently down the corridor and unfastened another set of three combination locks and then unlocked the other three locks with the keys. Turning, I promptly relocked those, too.
I didn’t want anyone getting into the rooms because I was careless and left the doors open. I was in my sitting room now. Crossing the room quickly, I undid four combination locks, these with letters to names only I remembered. I unlocked the other four locks with their keys and swung the door wide. I stepped inside the door and surveyed the room before I lit it with dim candlelight.
Nothing. I closed the door behind me, but I did not lock it. Next, I reached to the table by my door that I could see quite well, although the room lacked light. I lit the seventeen crimson pillar candles quickly. I made haste of scattering them around the large room so I could use the dim, flickering light they provided.
I stepped to the king-sized bed that dominated the room. It was covered in black linen sheets, a housewarming present from Mysti who loved to enjoy the finer things of life. The walls were painted in deep crimson and the thick carpeting was black. The dresser was full of black clothing. Black was my color. Somehow, I found it soothing.
I flipped on the CD player, and 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” filled the room. Taking a few steps from my stereo, I began to strip off my clothing. Sometimes, clothing irritates my skin, but not today. Although I was happy enough to shuck my clothing, it did not make my skin burn and itch like it would sometimes. I found that on those days, I was more irritable and temperamental.
When I was totally nude, I walked out into my sitting room. On the left side of the room, there was a door. Walking to it, I opened it and stepped inside. The room in which I now stood was my library. I grabbed two Sherrilyn Kenyon novels off the shelf to reread. It was my two favorite books in the series so far. “Unleash the Night,” the one about Wren and Maggie, and “Night Play,” the one about Vane and Bride.
The entire set of rooms upstairs was converted into a single suite that I could lock at will. There are actually seven rooms up here. There’s my bedroom, my bathroom, my sitting room, my library, my second study, an entertainment center, and a good-sized kitchen. On dreadful days, I could live up here without ever having to make a trip downstairs. I haven’t had one of those ‘dreadful days’ in two months.
I pattered back to my room and set “Night Play” on my nightstand to read if I couldn’t sleep. I held “Unleash the Night” for a while longer. I could make out four sets of claw marks that had been made after the purchase of the book. I traced the marks with my fingertips for a minute before putting it with its mate on the nightstand. I sat on the edge of my bed.
Moving the head of my bed, I swiftly but neatly folded the covers most of the way down my bed. I stretched out and lay in the center of my bed after some simple maneuvering. I inhaled deeply. The scent that came to me from my sheets was my own, and oddly sweet, like rich chocolate, but there was no bitter. It is the almost universal scent of the unmated, female Dresdians. I closed the door tightly with the powers of my mind. Then, imagining the form I wanted, I Changed, and exhaled the breath.
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Old 04-30-2007, 02:37 PM
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There’s something magnificent about the Change for a Dresdian. Since our animal is our base form, our human side shows itself around 25 years –puberty for Weres- unless we are affected by the magicks of an older, stronger Were. While in puberty, there is no controlling our magicks. We flicker between forms like candlelight flickers in a dark room. It takes only three months for the slowest learner to control their ability to change.
The telekinesis and other psychic abilities that come with our ability to shift between two forms, however, take longer to dominate. I have two 28-year old brothers (Em and Nick) who still have not mastered those powers, although they have periodic uses for the psychic abilities they did manage to harness. It generally takes at least five years to learn complete control over them, but some Weres never completely learn to harness the gifts. It helps when you have a teacher to help you along, like I did.
But my twin sister, Rowan, and I are different from other Dresdians. Instead of the two forms all the others know, I am a rare mix of species. From what I understand and have been told, my mother had an issue with being very… promiscuous, even after mating with the man who was my father. She slept around quite a bit, and somehow, all of the genes from the other men ended up in Rowan and me, as well as the white tiger from our father and mother. So when I hit puberty, I flickered between human and about 300 other forms, including falcon, hawk, panther, several different shades of wolf, rat, dragon, leopard, lion, antelope, bear, and cobra. So they had to lock me up in a dark, cool room in the basement. So I am more of a shape-shifter than a white tiger, but whatever.
I stretched out in my native form, which is a white tiger Dresdia. It was how I was born. That was all I was, until I hit about 13 and my parents, littermates aside from Rowen, and most of my other siblings’ littermates were slaughtered. My paternal grandparents found us. Then they adopted us and used their powers to control ours and place us in human forms, as to keep us safe from prying eyes and enable us to live as normal lives as humans can lead, although we are not human.
My family is said to be the last of the white tiger Dresdians, which was why I flipped out when I smelled an unrelated male Dresdian that smelled close to the white tigers. Plus, there was the fact the male was Unmated. I’m not Mated, either, so through the natural instincts that flow in our animal blood, I felt the need to track him down. Also –well, I have no way around saying this- fuck him until he screams, or growls, both of which our kind are known to do. And the truly terrific thing: it doesn’t matter what I Mate with, because I am part of almost all of the Dresdian species.
I am remorseful, but I must burst the bubble of those who enjoyed old werewolf tales. Weres are completely aware of what they are doing in any form. They compare pros and cons and make logical decisions, just as they do in their human forms. So, unlike in the novels, there is no blackout period. You can remember what was done, and you still understand the decisions you made. Also, they only way little Weres are made is the old fashioned way: Mate –stake a claim on a Mate-, have sex, get pregnant, give birth. One of the parents must be a Were for that to work, just in case you were unclear on that.
We are resilient to or unaffected by most diseases, and only about four human diseases affect us, three of which being the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia. I am pretty sure we get porphria, too, but I would have to ask Dr. Mick, my uncle. The only animal disease I can really think of off the top off my head that we’re susceptible to is rabies, but I know there are a few more. We are hearty creatures, known to kill the weakest of our children so that the strongest will survive.
We are a very proud people. We are known to kill any who try to dishonor us. We are quick and sharp. We are strong, known to kill those who challenge our might. We are powerful, and we out-number the humans. We are strong, virile, beautiful creatures, known for our great beauty, strength, and sex drive.
The way of my people is proud, hard, and enthralling to some. We dominate and never surrender. The way of my people is known to be littered heavily with dead bodies. Occasionally, the bodies are ours. Most often, however, the bodies are of those who oppose us. Long live the Weres!
Humans who have seen us are thought to be crazy. We walk as men, talk as men, act as men, and think as men. But when in the presence of other like us, our animal works its way lose. We have human allies who protect us and keep any news of us from reaching other humans. Although, it kills my people to work with humans. Most consider themselves above humans, due to superior strength, justice system, and thought process.
My people, specifically feline Dresdians, are known to be very temperamental. We hunt for pleasure or to hone skill, as well as our veracious need to feed. We strike when we are passionate, and then we think about it afterwards, when racked with guilt. We are, as the metaphor goes, as playful as kittens. But then, when a sibling makes us angry, we are liable to rip its throat out rather than simply giving it a scratch its snout.
A lot of them choose to restrain their nature by walking out and thinking over the situation. However, this method of restraint doesn’t work unless we are in human form. We tend to goad the one who walks away when in animal form. Thus, we make them forget of their personal pep talks and attack as their nature tells them to. There are only two real ways to restrain our nature: death and separation.
Obviously, if we are dead, we can’t do much. But if we separate, it eliminates the majority of feline Were corpse count. If there are no other Weres in your territory, there is no need to kill them. If there are no other Weres to bait you, there is no need to kill them. A lonely life, yes, but it keeps others safe. So they often exile parts of our pack in order to keep peace. Very few are allowed to remain together, but my family is allowed because we are very peaceful and settle our squabbles without bodies showing up.
Another way known of our people is Mating. Most hold to beliefs in many different gods –not merely the Greek ones, but most known- but the ones that reign over that part of our life are Cupid and Hera. Cupid and/or Hera are said to bless the union between couples by sending the Mating marks. For a Were, there is only one Mate, unless the first dies before its time and they haven’t bound their life-sources. But anyway, the mark appears like a long-absent birthmark: suddenly, it’s there.
Location of Mating marks vary from species to species, but the white tiger Mating marks are located on our right hands/forepaws. An identical mark shows up on our Mate in almost the same location, where the markings would touch during sex. The mark shows up half an hour after the first time we have sex with that person. The real kicker? The female must accept the male.
Both must speak a simple rhyme while the marks touch to be Mated. However, if the Mating is not completed in one month’s time from the mark’s appearance on their bodies, both parts of the couple are rendered sterile. During a Mating, the couple is only aroused by or attracted to their mate. This eradicates straying Mates and keeps most couples content. They may be Mated to humans or any Were species, even out of their Family.
But often, after sex, my people are known to revert to their native form. We consider it better to be mated to Dresdians and Lanianusians, simply because it rids us of awkward, ‘I did not just see you do that’/‘I had a dream I cuddled with a large cat last night… Oh my God’ moments. We can smell what species they are, and it often influences our choices in sex partners. Lanianusians also share our keen senses, and they understand that we go through the Change involuntarily only when we sleep, are wounded, or are vulnerable in any other way.
In fact, we got through our entire pregnancy in our native form because it makes us stronger. We bare cubs or kittens, not human children. It is rather complicated to tell your mate/spouse that those kittens in the front room are his children and fruit of your womb if he doesn’t understand your world. It’s better to get those awkward moments out of the way at first, according to Mysti, my sister, who is married and Mated to a human male. Me, I’d rather Mate with a Were. I don’t even care if he’s Dresdian.
Oh, and another thing. Every female goes through a Time of Needing. The Needing is a lot more than a very powerful urge to have sex. Basically, when a female comes to the appropriate age –usually around their 35 birthday- they are compelled to have sex. Actually, they leave pheromones wherever they go.
The males pick up these pheromones and end up hornier than hell. The Needing hyper-sensitizes her to everything… sexual, whether it’s a kiss or a caress. The real kicker is that if the female refrains from having sex during the Needing, it causes her great pain, generally in her female organs. Unfortunately, my Time of Needing is coming up fast. And, considering I have refrained from having sex at all for all of my 34 years, it presents a problem unless I find a friend in a male Were who will help me when the Needing hits. Basically, I’m going to arrange to have sex during my Needing as to prevent severe pain. I’ll use him, he’ll know it, and he’ll let me.
Okay, crash course of the Were world over for now. Anyhow, I stretched (do remember, I am in my native form) and curled up to sleep. However, the insomnia that challenges me in human form also challenges me in my other forms. So I laid out on my bed and listened to my music. The song playing at that point was “Life of My Own”, and it always makes me think of Stephanie.
Steph has been one of the only creatures to understand me. I know not why. Steph is a Carlotte, bound to her master or ‘ariki’, Victor Reign. Steph can be called upon by Victor to do anything, even be bound to another ariki at his command. Humans cannot have Carlottes to command, because they cannot control one. But since Vic is a Were (Dresdian anaconda), he can. She is but a child to her people at the human age of 40. She appears (to the human eye) to be about 21-years old.
A crimson glow filled my room. I smiled, Changed and pulled on my black silk dressing gown. When I turned back to look, there stood Steph in all her splendor, almost as if she had been summoned by my thoughts. She was tall and trim, with toned muscles and a shapely body. Wearing skin-tight, black leather pants, spike heels, and a painted on, skimpy red top, she looked like Vic’s wet dream. Which was probably why she was dressed like that. Every now and then, Vic forces her to dress up like his fantasy. She’s never been much of a Buffy, with her hair being red-brown and everything.
“Stephie!” I exclaimed and stepped forward to hug her. As I did, I pictured Steph in worn, comfortable jeans, a lose t-shirt, and comfy shoes in my minds eye. Instantly, she wore that outfit. She smiled her appreciation.
“Domini, darling!” she exclaimed and kissed my cheek. “How have you been?”
“Pretty good. Insomnia’s acting up, through,” I answered as I tied the sash on my dressing gown. I turned off my stereo.
“I felt that you were still up. Listen, serving Vic is becoming unbearable,” she said as she sat down on my bed. I sat beside her.
“What is he doing now?”
“You don’t want to know. Just please, bargain with him. I would rather be owned by you than anyone else!” she exclaimed, a worried look marring the natural beauty of her face.
“I’ll talk to Vic, then. See what I can do,” I said.
“Good. Then now, I’ll sing you a lullaby and put you into a peaceful sleep if you want?” Steph phrased it as a question even though she knew I would accept her offer.
“Sounds good. I haven’t slept well since… well, since last time you sang me to sleep,” I replied.
“Okay then. Lay on your bed. On your stomach, please. Good,” she replied as I followed her directions. She threaded her fingers in my hair and gently pleated it in braids as she sang to me softly in the language of her people.
Their language is soft, fluid, and beautiful coming from their lips, no matter what they are saying. She sang “Greensleeves”, if my translation was correct. I felt sleep draw me to it. I felt myself fall into it. I felt it tangibly as it claimed me.

I awoke as a white tiger with –amazingly- braids in my fur. I know that my fur isn’t supposed to be long enough for that to happen. The truth is, you can’t braid my fur. But when I change from human form with braids in my hair, they follow me to my other forms. Which was why my fur was braided.
I stretched out, Changed into a human, and reached for my dressing gown. When I didn’t reach it, I rolled over and discovered there were two bodies other than mine in my bed. The first was Stephanie, who at some point during the night ended up in a baggy, faded nightshirt. The second body was male, I knew from my brief touch to the body. I sat up and shook my head to clear it.
I looked over once more. The male was, in fact, Torment Carson. Oh, damnation. Tori was unaware of the fact that I was not totally human, and I did not want him to find out this way. He wore jeans and a t-shirt that he had to have been wearing yesterday.
I climbed out of bed and slipped on my dressing gown before leaning over and touching Tori and taking a deep sniff of his scent. Shit. I’ve been hanging out with a family of Lanianusians, I thought as the smell of smooth rum reached my nostrils. No Carson drank, so I knew it was the scent of him. The damn Lanianusian was in my bed!
“Tori!” I exclaimed.
“What?” he replied, groggy. His dazed eyes cleared to astonishment. “Lex?”
“Yep, it’s me. I’ve got a question and I doubt you want Fury –who’s downstairs, by the way- to hear. What in the hell are you doing in my bed?” I asked.
“Uh… Love, I have no clue but to say… You’re Dresdian?” he asked, confused.
“Yeah. You know, you could have told me I was hanging with a bunch of Lanianusians,” I replied. “I don’t have anything against that. Although, I may not speak with your brothers again. Any clue now?”
“Um… the only explanation to my being here without any conscious thought is that you’re in the Needing,” Tori replied, his tone as soft as silk.
“Shit. I’m… I’m not ready for the Needing,” I replied.
“Few are,” he relied slipping an arm around my shoulders.
“No, I mean, I’m not ready at all. I had a plan to deal with it, but I wasn’t prepared,” I replied softly, pulling gently away and beginning to pace.
“What kind of plan?”
“Well, does the Needing cause any pain for Lanianusian females?”
“No.”
“Lucky bitches. If I don’t follow the urgings of the Needing, I get to look to very focused agony in my female organs, if you catch my drift,” I replied, blushing.
“Ow.”
“That’s not the half of it. Sex with any Were takes care of it, but sex with a human doesn’t. My sister’s Mate is human, so she had to find another Were to help her. Her Mate was pissed.”
“Wow. Wait. Maybe I can help you.”
“No. You’re like a brother to me,” I replied. “I would never let my brothers help me with this, and I would never let them help me find someone.”
“Do you know Leighton is Dresdian?” he pressed, ignoring me.
“What? Do all of you people gather to conspire to lie to me?” I asked, as I curled up next to Steph in my bed.
“No, Love, it’s nothing like that. Most of us haven’t realized you’re not totally human. Fury may have, though, since you seem to have hit the Needing,” Tori replied, settling next to me on the bed. He brushed a kiss to my cheek.
“Go, Tori. Get out of here. This has to be hell on you,” I replied.
“Well, pardon the pun, but it has been kind of hard,” he replied wryly.
“Then go. Send one who won’t feel my Needing. Send them to my front room, not my bedroom. Hell, send Lynn. Steph doesn’t need to know you were here,” I said.
“You mean, the woman in bed with you?”
“Yeah. She’s a Carlotte, bound to a friend of mine. She’s my friend, nothing more,” I clarified.
“Ah. Wouldn’t want to find out you’re homosexual or anything,” Tori said with a twinkle in his emerald green eyes.
“Oh, scoot, you big baby,” I replied, pushing him off my bed.
“Fine.” He kissed me lightly on the lips before teleporting out of my bedroom.
Oh yeah. Did I forget to mention we could do that, being a Were? Probably. I drive everywhere to blend in with the humans better, but a lot of Weres teleport. It’s a faster, safer mode of travel. We can also travel in time, but that’s a little different.
I turned and looked over at Steph. I figured she was probably awake. “Here that, Stephie? I’m in my Needing.”
As I knew she would, she sat up, wide-awake. “Well, that gives you a bargaining chip with Vic.”
“No way in hell. I don’t want that ass to be my first,” I replied without thinking.
“Your first? Domini! You didn’t tell me that!”
“I didn’t want you to know, Steph. I need to find a man I find attractive in some way and trust that won’t mind me using him when I’m in my Needing,” I said softly.
“Well, you have a realm of possibilities now. The Carson family is Lanianusian. And you have Leigh. And your friend Tori was able to restrain himself,” Steph replied thoughtfully. “All of your options are easy on the eyes.”
“But they are like brothers to me,” I lied. A sister doesn’t think of her brother in the way you have thought about Leigh lately.
“But they aren’t your brothers. Find out if Jayke has some friends or something if you don’t want to ask one of the Carson brothers or Leigh,” Steph said.
“Ask them what?” asked a new voice from behind us. I whirled.
“Lynn! I’m killing Tori. Soon. I told him not to let you beam into my bedroom,” I told one of my childhood best friend’s twin. She was almost a replica of her brother, except her features were softer and she was female.
“Ask them what?” she asked again.
“Lynn, honey: I’m in my Needing. Guess.”
“Oh. Shit. Leigh was coming over to see you before Tori interrupted our phone call to get me. All he knows is that you have urgent business, and I think he’s coming anyway,” Lynn said. “What was Tori doing over here if you’re Needing?”
“He stumbled upon my pheromones and I awoke with him in my bed, fully clothed. He only found out this morning I’m Dresdian,” I replied, using my mental abilities to dress in the blink of an eye.
“That’s because your scent is confusing. You smell like Dresdian, but like someone jumbled all the species together,” Lynn said.
“I’m officially a white tiger, but I can shift to all 300 forms. Puberty is hell when that happens,” I replied off-handedly.
“Wow,” she breathed. “My family is white tiger Dresdians. Leigh would be perfect for you.” Apparently, she heard only half of what I had said.
“I don’t want him,” I replied.
Her eyes narrowed and I felt her probing around in my mind. “Don’t lie to me, Cara Mia,” she replied.
“I don’t want him to end up with me because I’m a white tiger female,” I whispered in her mind, careful not to say it aloud. “I’d rather never have him than have him because of what I am.”
“I don’t want him,” I said aloud.
Lynn’s smile was sad and her eyes were full of tears as she said, “I understand.”
“Stephie,” I said.
“Hmm?” Stephanie replied.
“You need to go back to Vic. I’ll decide what to do about your circumstance after my Needing,” I told her. “I’m sorry, but this must take precedence over you.”
“I understand, Domini,” She whispered and kissed my cheek before she left the same way she had come.
“What was that about?” Lynn ask.
“Steph is a Carlotte. She wants to become mine, but she already has an ariki,” I replied stiffly. “Do you know any Dresdians other than Leigh who might help me with this? If not, I’ll turn to the Carson brothers. They’ve been good to me.”
“I know no one else who’ll help,” Lynn replied. “I’m sorry about Leigh. I wish he could see what I’ve seen.”
“I don’t want him probing in my head, too, thank you very much,” I snapped.
“He hasn’t seen what has been plastered on your face for over twenty years!” Lynn exclaimed. “I knew you wanted him before I went through your mind because it is all over your face when you speak of him, think of him, or see him.”
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to see a man about a problem,” I replied curtly.
“I do mind,” Lynn screamed at me.
“Well, that’s too damn bad, then, now isn’t it,” I hissed.
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2007, 02:38 PM
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I chose my destination and in an instant, I was there. The house was huge, a mansion almost. I passed through the massive gates and wondered if I had made the right choice on who to see. I smiled as I assured myself he was the right choice. Pain took hold of me. The effects of ignoring the Need, I reminded myself.
“Carson household,” the butler said when I reached the house and paged the house from the outside.
“Hey. This is Lex Kirkland. I need to see Dom.” I said.
“Come on in, Ms. Kirkland. He awaits you in the parlor,” the butler said after a few minutes. I opened the door and stumbled into the foyer and through it to the parlor. As the butler had said, Dom awaited me. However, the pain intensified.
“Lexi? Why did you need to see me?” Dom asked as he rose from his chair. He was dark, intense, quiet, brilliant, and gorgeous. And yet, somehow still blissfully unaware of what was happening in front of him.
“Dom… I need your help,” I gasped out.
“What’s wrong, Lexi? What hurts?” He asked, concerned.
I touched my hand to my groin area in hopes he would get the message. “Dom… I trust you,” I whispered. “I’m Dresdian. I’m in the Needing.”
His eyes widened. “Shit,” he said, and scooped me up in his arms. He hurried with me in his arms to the staircase. He took the stairs two at a time with great speed and ease. I marveled in a daze at his strength, but then I reminded myself that all Weres are unusually strong and fast.
“Are you completely stupid?” he asked me as he carried me up to his room. “You don’t come charging into a house full of males when you’re in your Needing. You’re liable to get raped in any household but ours. I’m calling Mothre. She knows what ways to ease you and make you feel better.”
“Dominance Carson, you listen to me. I’m a Dresdian. I know the Needing differs in Lanianusian females. There is only one way to quell the pain. That’s why I came to you,” I gasped out.
“You are not saying what I think you are saying,” he protested, his eyes widening even more, if it was possible.
“Dom. What do you think I’m saying?”
“Intercourse eliminates the pain?” he questioned.
“Yes. That is why I chose to come to you. You’re gentle. And I’m a virgin. I wanted someone I knew I could trust,” I whispered.
“Oh, God. Lexi, I don’t think I should. You are so… wonderfully different than anyone I’ve known, in this sense or otherwise,” Dom whispered. “You’re pure. Special. Beautiful.”
“Dom, think of it as only medicating pain. I need you to do this for me, okay?” I pled as the pain swept through me in a powerful rush. It was almost unbearable. I remembered hearing tales of females who were driven insane by the pains of the Needing and had to be put down. At the time, I’d thought the stories fanatical. Now that I was in the Needing, they didn’t seem quite so crazy to me. They seemed like more of an imminent danger.
“Not so okay, but you do need this done for that reason, right?” he replied in a question. Just like a man to reply to a question with a new one, I thought, rolling my eyes.
“Yes… help me, Dom,” I whimpered.
And then he kissed me. That what stopped it, I think. His was so very gentle, as if he were afraid he’d hurt me. He was cautioned. Terrified. I pulled away.
“Dom. Please. Don’t be scared of this. I will not want you to commit after this. I just need your help. Let yourself go. Help me. And don’t you ever, ever feel guilty about this,” I pled, reaching out to him and touching his face. I caressed his face even as the pain swept through me.
This time when he kissed me, it was like he wanted me. Wild. Hot. Fast. Frantic. We lost all of our clothing in a hurry after that.
He took his time, mostly because he knew I was inexperienced. He knew just the right places to touch to get me hot, even through the haze of pain I saw the world through. When he entered me, I was ready. For a moment there was a stab of sharper, exquisite pain. And then all of the pain disappeared.
Five minutes after the point of release, I looked to him. He lay beside me, his beautiful hair splayed out on the pillow, looking uncomfortable with what had happened between us. I thought about a way to make him more comfortable around me. I settled on the thing we were most comfortable sitting and doing before this: talking.
“What type are you, Dom? Show me what the Change does to you,” I said softly.
He looked up at me with startled emerald eyes. The he Changed, and he became a snow leopard. Except, he was the size of a tiger, making him way too big to be anything but a Were-leopard. I looked at him and then I Changed also, first choosing the snow leopard instead of my native form. Secondly, I changed to a leopard. Then I became a tiger before once more Changing, this time, back to my native white tiger.
“What are you?” he breathed, with apparent amazement. His eyes were wide in disbelief of my ‘amazing’ ability.
“Basically, I’m a Dresdian shape-shifter. I have all of the genes. But I’m natively a white tiger. Don’t let this –you helping me in my Needing- make things awkward between us, Dom. I needed your help, and you came through for me. I can’t ask for anything better in a friend,” I told him.
He smiled at me, and I felt finally him relax. We curled up together as a reflexive and habitual behavior of our animals.

“You may want to leave. My brothers will kill me if they see us together like this,” Dom said after a while. We’d last track of time. Most of the day was gone now.
“Good point. I’d better go, so they don’t.” I Changed into a human and summoned my clothing to me. By that point, he had also Changed, becoming human once more, although he still laid nude on his bed. I gave Dom a long, lingering kiss, before transporting back to my bedroom.
“So you took care of things,” asked a masculine voice upon my arrival. I caught a glance of a pale blond braid and silver-blue eyes. I caught his scent. Leighton.
“What in the hell is that supposed to mean, Leigh?” I had given up on ‘What in the hell are you doing in my bedroom’ when I found Torment in my bed that morning.
“You were Needing. It’s all over this house. Then, you vanish on Lynn and come back in here reeking of Lanianusian male. You could have at least gone to a Dresdian,” he hissed out as he stared at me.
“And end up married to you, through your family and their decision, not through any choice of ours or their gods. No way in hell,” I hissed back.
“What are you talking about?” he demanded.
“You. Me. And what would have happened if I’d gone to the only Dresdian I trust enough, even though he lied to me: you. I’m a white tiger. According to Lynn, you’re a white tiger. To quote her, ‘Leigh would be perfect for you’,” I replied, whipping the words from my memory and into the room like a sharp blade.
“What?”
“I went to someone I knew I could trust when I was vulnerable. Someone I knew cared enough he’d do it even though he was uncomfortable with it. Someone I knew would not regret being with me, even though he did not quite feel that way about me. And I took care of the problem by myself. It seems I had ignored my Needing for too long, as I was in pain by the time I got to Dom’s place. If I had, say, waited for you to get here, I would have been in pain too long for even the strongest of the creatures to stand it. It would have driven me insane.
“You understand what that means? I did what I had to. I’m not proud of it, but it was necessary if I planned to not stick you with the job of killing a tiger driven insane by the pains of the Needing. A tiger you’ve known most of your life,” I hissed, settling on my bed and stretching. “Do you know what it’s like to kill someone you’ve known and loved, Leighton Acheron Peregrine? It feels like someone stuck a red-hot knife in your heart, moved it around a bit, and even did the pleasure of removing it from your chest. It’s not a life-threatening injury. Unfortunately, that wound never heals. That’s what it feels like.”
“Oh, God,” he choked. “My best friend,” he whispered. “I-I I’m sorry, Lex.”
“For what? What is there for you to feel sorry for, Leigh? You want to know what I’m sorry for? I’m sorry I was alive for the damn Needing. I’m sorry I lived through all of those gunshot wounds. I’m sorry that I survived being knifed last year. I’m sorry that I left my littermates with my sister when the others were slaughtered on my thirteenth birthday. I-I lost something very special –irreplaceable- today. I ask that you to leave me while I mourn it,” I hissed out at him, not caring what knowledge I might impart.
His eyes widened. And then he disappeared, as if he couldn’t stand to deal with me anymore. I put my head in my hands and began to weep quietly. Suddenly, I wanted a friend with me. One who wouldn’t ask stupid questions like, “Why are you crying” where they didn’t need asked, or if he did, be wouldn’t mind if it went unanswered. One who would just hold me close to them and comfort me in my time of immeasurable loss.
“Dominance,” I called softly, my voice echoing in the empty room and in the emptiness of my mind and of my heart. I summoned the best friend I had left to my side with a single word before crying out in agony. I clung to a silk-clad pillow as pain came from my heart and burned through any façade I may have had left. I felt my heart split into two in my chest, and let me tell you, it burned like a mother, if you catch my drift.
“Lexi? Baby?” Dom asked in a whisper as he materialized beside me in the vast, empty-feeling, king-sized bed. He lay down beside me, his lean body pressed against my side. His head was near mine and I felt the quiet whisper of his breath on my ear.
“Just hold me, Domi. Please, hold me,” I whispered. Turning to face him, I reached out for him. I knew he would not refuse; that was just how he was.
I felt him twine his strong arms around me and pull me to him. He stroked my hair and whispered soft comforts. He just held me, and helped me through the loss that left a burning pain in my soul, even though he had no inkling as to why I cried. And then I wept new tears as I realized what I had just done to my friendship with Leigh, and the knowledge I had just imparted to him.
“Lexi, honey. I have to leave you now. I really think you should probably get a friend to come here and be with you. It’s not like you to cry for a solid 45 minutes,” Dom whispered. “I’ll come back and check on you later.” He kissed my lips gently, lightly, briefly. Then, he disappeared from the room.
“I take it he’s the one you went to,” Leigh said as he reappeared in the room and began to pace like a restless animal trapped in a cage.
“Yes. His name is Dominance Carson, and I trust him to keep me safe and to tell me the truth. He’s a good man and a great friend,” I said as if the fact were obvious to all.
“Was he good to you?” Leigh whispered, ceasing his pacing and staring at a wall like he wanted to walk through it instead of being in the same room with or having a conversation with me.
“I beg your pardon? What is that supposed to mean, Leigh?” I asked, staring a hole in the wall opposite of the one he was staring holes in.
“Did he hurt you?” he asked softly.
“No! If you knew Dom, you would know he is too gentle a creature to ever harm me. He’s to gentle to hurt my feelings! He would never hurt me in anyway preventable,” I replied fervently.
“Why did you go to him?” he asked. Emotions I heard in his voice whispered to me that it had somehow hurt him that I hadn’t come to him when I was in my Needing.
“Because he is a wonderful friend. He’s the gentle and meek in a house full of loud, rowdy men. He’s a lady’s man, but a woman can’t ever ask for a better friend than Dominance Carson. However, I have a feeling that’s not what you wanted to know,” I replied. “Care to rephrase your question?”
“Why not come to me?” he asked after a few minutes.
“Several reasons. But mostly, I was pissed at your sister,” I replied straight up, as if I didn’t care what the revelation did to him. For some reason, I wanted him to know it wasn’t his fault, even though I was angry with him. I stretched out flat on my back and stared up at the ceiling.
“What?” he asked, even turning to look at me in his disbelief. He gapped, and I swore I heard him think, This all started because of my stupid sister?
“I said, I was pissed at your sister. She was in the room with me before I left. She went probing in my mind to find out… to get some information from me. And everything she said to me after that made me that much madder. In the beginning, when I first realized I was in Needing, I wasn’t going to go to you or the Carson brothers. I was still looking for another way out. I was with Stephanie, Victor Reign’s Carlotte when someone first decided to enlighten me.
“Steph and I were looking at my options when Lynn showed up. Lynn kept at me like you were my only option because of what I am. She got in my head and I got pissed,” I said. Shrugging, I said, “Don’t take it personally, but I didn’t want to go to you in my Needing.”
“Why?”
“I’m not going to tell you. If you get in my head like your twin did, I’ll kick your ass,” I said, crossing my arms around my chest. I really, really hate it when people decide to probe around in my head. It’s uncomfortable, it’s an invasion of privacy, and it really pisses me off.
“Why not come to me? I’m your oldest friend,” he whispered softly.
“One thing? I was a virgin when I went to him. The second thing? It would have been very… awkward to try to turn around and pretend like nothing happened between us. In the end, it was rather awkward going to Dom, but he understood what it meant that I did go to him from what I explained before he’d help me,” I said.
We were both silent. I had once again brought up my trip to Dom and what we had done in a round about way, and that left nothing to say between us. This day will make the rest of our friendship absolutely miserable, I told myself as I looked at him. His face was empty, but his eyes were full of pain as they avoided mine.
“Who finally let you know you were in Needing?” he asked after a few minutes of silence passed between us like lead.
“Tori,” I said. At his odd look, I elaborated: “Torment Carson, one of the many wonderful Carson brothers. I woke up with him fully clothed, me as a tiger, and Steph curled up with us in my bed. Tori had no memory of getting there, so we looked for an explanation. Oh, and as a side note, Lanianusian females feel no pain during the needing, and I think that’s absolutely not cool! Or fair,” I replied.
Leigh managed to chuckle at that. I smiled a little. I was scared that the light mood between us could –and would- disappear in an instant.
“Life isn’t fair, Hot Stuff,” he said softy. “No matter how you slice it –or who does the slicing- life is never fair.”
And just like that, we were back in the somber silence that made me totally miserable. I closed my eyes for an instant and thought about the long day I had just finished. I woke at ten o’clock to find two other bodies in my bed. The day had mostly… simply… digressed from there.
“I know that life’s not fair. I just figured there might be a little bit of fairness among the Families. You know?” I asked.
“Yeah.”
The silence slipped between us again. I then realized my room was dark. It was past 8:00 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten a dang thing all day. I walked to my dresser and lit a few candles before spreading them around n the room to create a circumstance that would light the entire room. Then I opened the drawer where I hid a supply of protein bars.
“Sorry. If you want to have any further conversation, you’ll wait until the tiger eats,” I told him, pulling out a few of them and settling on my bed. I quickly ate them and laid down on my back. They tasted terrible, but then, do most things that are good for you taste good? I felt a wry smile tug at my lips.
“I just want to say one thing,” Leigh said as he sat on the bed beside me.
“What?”
“I want to do this every time I see you smile,” he whispered as his lips descended on mine and he kissed me. I couldn’t help myself: I kissed him back with all the ardor of a starving beggar who’d come upon a feast. Did I mention I’d wanted him since my sophomore year in high school, when I saw what working out had done to the cute kid I’d known? Yeah. I thought I’d left that part out.
Since I had been supine and stretched out, somewhere in the midst of the kiss, he had ended up stretched out on top of me and pressing into me, his body covering mine like a big, living, Were-tiger blanket. I rolled and pinned him beneath me, like an animal playing with a sibling.
“Why?” I asked after I broke the kiss.
“ ‘Cause you’re smart and beautiful,” he replied, nuzzling my neck with his head. “And loving, kind, and sensitive. And responsive,” he replied, blowing softly on my neck and watching me shiver. He brought his teeth to the spot where he had blown and nibbled on my flesh, causing me to arch my neck.
“The reason you were so pissed I went to Dom during my Needing is because you were… jealous?” I asked, stunned.
“Bingo,” he replied and kissed me again with the same exuberance from before. His tongue was in my mouth so fast I barely knew what was happening. I was getting lost in the sensation, and I wanted to slow it down and savor it a little. I pulled back a little and rolled over once more, positioning him on top of me. Then I kind of pushed him off of me and rolled him over onto his stomach, although I wanted to get a good look at those abs of his later.
I also turned onto my stomach and began to unbraid the pale velvet of his hair. It was so soft, like silk, and I loved the way his hair felt brushing against my flesh. And then, I turned my focus from his hair and I began to touch him. I pictured us nude in my mind, and we were. I touched his back, his arms, and his legs. I loved the power I had with him.
His muscles tightened and quivered under my hand. He was smooth, sleek, hot skin; tight, toned muscle, athletic, flexible, and responsive to every thing. And then I began to press my lips and tongue to every inch of the flesh I had explored with my hands. I kissed and nipped and nibbled all over his body until I felt him tremble beneath my hands and lips.
Then I let him turn over and look at me. I laid face up on the bed beside him, and I held my breath. His hand reached over and brushed my hair from my face. But instead of pulling it to his side, he let his fingertips glide down my cheek and to the hollow of my neck. He brushed my breastbone and I shivered.
Suddenly, I was struck with uncertainty. Would he find me attractive when he found all of the bullet scares, or the many, many other scars? My uncertainty must have showed or I pulled away from him, because Leigh’s gaze locked on mine for an instant. His face was etched with concern. I pulled my gaze from his quickly.
“Lexi? What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing, Leigh,” I lied, looking over at him with a forced smile. “I’m just a little tired. Those protein bars are all I had to eat all day.”
“Honey, I know that look,” he replied, rolling over on top of me and pinning me beneath his strong, warm body. Not that I protested being pinned under that beautiful, muscular body. What sane woman would? “That’s the ‘Someone come over here and shoot me, I’m uncertain’ look. What is it, Hot Stuff? Am I making you nervous or something?” He asked, his voice soft.
I looked away from him.
“Ravyn Alexandria Dominique Kirkland. What’s wrong?” he demanded, turning my head until I looked in his silvery blue eyes.
I refused to say a word, even as I looked him straight in the eye. I heard him sigh softly, as if in defeat. He turned his eyes from mine and rolled off he, moving over to my left side.
“I was just wondering…. Never mind,” I said, staring at the ceiling over my head. “It’s stupid. It’s really dumb.”
“Nothing about you is stupid, Lexi. Never think that,” he said, reaching out and caressing my face. “You are one of the most intelligent people I have ever met.”
“But am I beautiful?” I whispered.
“What?” Leigh asked, locking his gaze with mine. His eyes were full of such intensity that I wanted to look away from his gaze.
“Am I beautiful to you?” I whispered.
“Of course, Lex. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever set eyes one,” Leigh replied fervently, his eye softening.
“You’re not just saying that because you think it will get you laid, are you,” I asked him, pinning him down and smiling at him.
“Of course not,” he interjected, outraged. I don’t think he got the sarcasm at all.
“Good. Because it won’t, you know,” I said, kissing him firmly on the lips. “It’ll take more than that to get you laid. But, not tonight. I really am one tired tiger.”
“Sleep, Lex,” he whispered, moving to my side as he twined his arms around me. “I will watch over you, my lakeem min sarke arem tonight.”
I smiled as I felt the sleep reach out and claim me, almost as if Stephie had sung me her lullaby again. The Old Language term he had used to describe was reverent and commanded respect. One who was called that had the total respect of all Weres. I still smiled when sleep over took me and I laid curled up, warm and comfortable, in the arms of my best friend.
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:42 PM
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sorry---these days i can do about 1K words before my brain fries for online critiques. you may want to consider this in installments- i've seen a serial done for one of the sci-fi comic threads here. also, please, please, please x2 spaces between paragraphs. my poor brain does badly filling in the gaps.

i made it down to the woman sitting down to read at her place. on the plus side, this has a nice flow and a strong narrator voice. you've obviously given this character quite a backstory and a soul. if you hadn't used the word 'werewolf' in the title, i would have no reason to have the eebie-jeebies (this is a compliment, i swear!).

on the you might want to think about it side....

...readers are evil, impatient, easily confused creatures. you care about this character's massive history and the fine details i'm sure you can see in your head.

readers, however, may not have so much patience.

you may want to reconsider your start off point....maybe have her capture somebody, have her fight with a relation, show some fundamental conflict for her. right off the bat, her biggest problem seems to be wet jeans for work...?

history...your characters spends a LONG time thinking about her personal history all in one sitting for the reader's convenience. but let's be realistic. who thinks that way? i mean, i might go into the sob story of my life, but only if you got me very, very drunk first. i would recommend cutting way back here. you might get away with a little sadness at a photograph or a momento that touches a cord for a moment....

i do apologize if this sounds like too much brow-beating....lemme see, i usually detail with the question of 'do i include this detail?' with the following counter-question: 'does this detail advance a plot point?'

for instance, i have my ninja taking a quiet moment to heat rammen on a hotplate. sounds dumb i know, but i left that in because i need to establish that 1: he is really not used to this much peace and quiet 2: world building-they have basic electricity 3: intro the electricity that will influence a big battle at the end of the story.

just a thought....making up a criteron like that for yourself may help weed out unneeded details and show off the strong characters and plot I suspect you have coming underneath.

ennubi

PS: my current story is a 1K segment Chp 9 RPGs living in super secret
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:08 AM
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I'm printing it. It's going to take me a while but I'll have a go because I love werewolves.
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Old 02-05-2008, 05:54 AM
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thank you both for taking the tiime to read it...
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