Happy Release Day!! Ansariland by J. Alan Veerkamp

It’s February 23rd and I have a new sci-fi MM romance book out through NineStar Press!


Adrift in a dead spacecraft, Arad discovers what—or rather who—the former crew were hiding on board.

Corporations control every sector of society from law enforcement to automated manufacturing. The economic and social divides are chasms.

Jobs are scarce for an undocumented slug like Arad Ansari, and life on Earth’s Grey District A-5 colony is even harder. With no other options, he plies his youthful looks to hustle enough money to stay fed even without a roof over his head. So when Captain Torrins of the Midas Ascending offers him employment as his personal cabin boy, Arad takes the opportunity despite his reservations. Because what other choice does a desperate, poverty-stricken man with no prospects have?

When corporate military forces demand payment for Torrin’s and the crew’s sins, Arad is left alone and adrift in unknown space. After years of smothering on the crowded streets of Grey District, a ship of his own should be an unexpected windfall, but it doesn’t take long to discover what—or rather, who—were originally being smuggled on board.

More than human, more than an animal, Roku is a blend of both, a marvel of genetics and highly illegal. His past is a mystery, even to himself, a story told only through his nightmares. Despite a dubious introduction, an unspoken bond forms between him and Arad while they try to repair the ship before supplies run dry or corporate forces track them down.

Time is not on their side.

Overcoming their pasts and learning to trust one another are the keys to Arad and Roku’s survival, and they have to succeed to find their place together in the universe.

#scifi #mmromance #readingcommunity #WritingCommunity #writeLGBTQ

buy links

NineStar Press: https://bit.ly/3m9ivnr

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3D16rdO

Phases of Moon — Part 87 – Chapter 41 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Welcome to the final installment of Phases of Moon.

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Part 87 – Chapter 41

continued from part 86…

Once the funerals were complete, Maddie and Doris began tutoring Jimmy. Being older than anyone expected, they filled in the gaps of his wolf education cut short by his pack’s untimely end. He was too strong of an alpha to do otherwise. Their teachings had an immediate effect. Jimmy walked taller with an easy confidence, no longer shaken by moments of doubt. Normally, Sawyer found it infectious, calming his worries, but the closer the moon came, the less he shared Jimmy’s convictions.

Taking his hand, Jimmy led him through the kitchen, following Jada’s path to the back door. The bundle inside Sawyer had lost its jagged edges, but it still pulsed, keeping his anxieties alive. Last moon, he had looked forward to greeting his other side. After the fiasco it became, he couldn’t muster anything close to enthusiasm. A growing sense of dread clouded his day, and now night.

Signs of last moon’s bloodbath didn’t show across the backyard’s square footage. Amazing what a few weeks, hard work, and the right amount of weather could do. Nature’s ability to reclaim itself would always astound him.

Jada stood in the yard next to Doris, talking politely. Everyone seemed to court her for conversation, looking for bits of history she doled out in tiny doses, like it was a precious commodity. Having lived so long under Fergus’ rule, Sawyer imagined she had a difficult time divulging secrets and not being mysterious. Doris was a stranger, but a welcome one. Their family had been so small until now, and he looked forward to the opportunity to known her better.

Under Doris’ watchful eye, the twins squealed, giggled, and stumbled in circles like miniature naked drunks in the frozen grass, oblivious to the cold. Thank god they’d been renamed Andy and Matt. Sawyer wasn’t sure he could have dealt with their birth names for much longer. Seriously, how pretentious did Fergus have to be to name his boys, Regis and Royal? Better to erase his taint on their lives and move on.

A shawl around her shoulders, the house backlit Doris’ slender frame, and classic hairstyle. Old Hollywood glamour, alive and well in Michigan. 

“Are you coming with us tonight?” Jimmy asked.

Doris beamed, keeping one eye on the twins. “Oh no, dear. My wolf has slept since the day Roger died, and I have no interest in disturbing her. I’m perfectly content to stay back and leave the light on, so you find your way home. But thank you for asking, Alpha.”

“Another night then.”

Barefoot and dressed in a bathrobe, Maddie stepped outside with a blanket draped over one arm. The robe kept her decent, but revealed enough skin to show she wore nothing underneath. The realization scandalized Sawyer.

“You decided to shift tonight too?” Thankfully, Jimmy asked the question, because Sawyer was too weirded out to speak.

“My first full moon in my new pack with my son? I wouldn’t miss it.” Maddie kissed Sawyer’s cheek and handed the blanket off to Jada. “Here, dear. Let’s not give the boys too much of a show. We may be wolves, but we’re not whores.”

The flat stare Jada tossed at Sawyer made him want to apologize. One of the benefits of divorcing you was supposed to be not having to talk to your mother, she’d said to him outside the restaurant after the proceedings, and now Maddie was linked to them both in unbreakable ways. On the rare times Sawyer could make the whole magick-seeing thing work, the connections between the pack members had only brightened over the last few weeks. They were bound together.

However, Jada knew when to pick her battles, and tonight was not the night. “Thank you, Maddie. I was wondering how to maintain some modesty since we need to undress.”

“No matter what the movies say, bursting out of your clothes can be a messy affair that’s best to avoid.”

“My skin’s itching strangely. Is that normal?”

Maddie smiled like an expectant grandmother. “Very. It won’t be much longer now.”

Turning her back to Jimmy and Sawyer, Jada unbuttoned her blouse, slid the garment off her shoulders, and handed it to Doris. A neat ring of teeth scars dotted Jada’s shoulder blade, a tidy and demure beauty mark. Granger’s bite on her forearm had long since vanished. Jada threw the blanket around herself and continued undressing.

“I can smell your wolf on the surface. You should do the same.” Leaning in close, Jimmy hooked a finger in Sawyer’s collar and gave it a little tug, before he stripped off his own t-shirt. Everyone other than Doris wore simple, easy to remove clothing, which made sense. Jimmy had warned him more than once how confining a wolf during the change could panic it and cause trouble. Personally, Sawyer figured Jimmy was looking for yet another excuse to get him out of his clothes.

The presence stirred, setting off a full body shiver. Sawyer hesitated to lift his shirt as his mind raced. 

Jimmy unfastened his jeans and paused, giving Sawyer a curious stare. “What are you waiting for?”

Sawyer didn’t know how to answer. 

Other than Jada, they were all born as wolves. They had no inkling as to how excruciating the process was for a turned human. Jimmy had witnessed it, but living through it—barely—left him on the brink of panic as the moment approached. Irrationality kept bubbling out of his mouth.

“I don’t want to get naked in front of my mother.”

Head cocked and eyes rolling, Maddie raised her hands to her hips. Sawyer raised a finger before she could speak. “If you say anything about wiping my butt as a child, I’m walking out of here.”

“Stop being a baby and get ready.” Jada made a tidy pile out of her clothes on the grass while keeping herself covered with the blanket. “The twins are making less of a fuss.”

Andy and Matt playfully shrieked in unison and the ladies laughed at their antics.

They were being so blasé. Didn’t they grasp how awful this could be? Were they simply putting on a brave face? Without restraints, he or Jada could turn rabid. No one was prepared for the eventuality except him.

“You don’t understand.” Sawyer’s vision blurred as his heart raced. “No one understands.”

He’d been through this before: the blood, the flesh tearing when it pulled too far. The endless suffering trapped between man and wolf. A ripple raced over his skin which didn’t fit on his body anymore. What if it was the same as before? What if it was worse?

Jimmy clamped his palms on either side of Sawyer’s head, meeting his gaze. “I understand. Your first shift was hard. This won’t be like that.”

An elusive scent filled the night, unlike anything he’d ever known. Tracing it into the sky, Sawyer found himself staring into the moon. Silvery and haunting, he swore it pulsed, and his teeth twitched in kind. If he closed his eyes, he could almost see the mists—less of a scent and more of energy—feathering outward, ever outward. Weaving in and out of his body, it set off shivers which itched enough he wanted to scratch himself bloody.

It was happening.

Scents became potent. His night vision turned clear as daylight. Hearing sharpened to the point Sawyer only heard the frantic beating of his heart.

Jimmy still held his head, mouthing the same unheard words over and over.

“Stop fighting it. Let it happen. Trust me.”

Fear of torture bred resistance. Sawyer was terrified of hurting so much again, of doing others harm. But, Jimmy had earned his rank of alpha through blood, trials, and honor. He would never encourage Sawyer, if he honestly believed in the risk.

So Sawyer exhaled and gave in.

The presence inside him grew, pushing through his chest and head, out through his limbs. Sawyer’s body numbed, sparing him the pain of bone and muscle pulling like taffy. Hair sprouted from every pore into a sheen of fur. His face distorting into something new should have left him screaming instead of the bizarre sensation of an aching stretch. He rolled forward onto his hands and knees as the length of his back changing altered his balance. Becoming a rabid had been a jarring purgatory of never ending pain. This shift flowed like silk running between his fingers.

And as quickly as it began, the process ended, except this time Sawyer somehow knew it hadn’t frozen somewhere in the middle.

Looking down, his fingers had shrunk into the wide paws capping a set of furry legs. He took a careful step forward. No one had told him how to walk on four feet. Apparently, it wasn’t necessary, because Sawyer wasn’t alone. 

The presence surrounded him, overlapping each other, except he couldn’t call it that anymore. It was wild, canine, and awake. His wolf was born and their souls were melded. Feral instinct took over, and they trotted in a circle, taking in the smells and sounds, yipping as they went because Sawyer didn’t know how else to vent his surprise and happiness. Strength coursed through his veins, fed by the moon’s ethereal kiss. Until this moment, he hadn’t connected to the reverence Jimmy and the others used when speaking of Her.

Now he knew. She was grace. She was beauty. She was magick unseen by mortal men.

Sawyer howled into the sky, thanking Her for the gift.

A familiar laugh drew their attention. It took a moment to recognize, because the wolf’s inclinations were dominating their thinking. Sawyer spun, following the sound and they stopped. He didn’t have to hear the word to know his wolf knew its meaning. 




Jimmy-mate grinned, glowing with unrestrained praise. “I knew you could do it, Sawyer. You’re amazing.”

  Tail wagging like mad, he called out to Jimmy-mate, but it came out as a bark, the most natural thing in the world.

Jimmy-mate tore away the garment covering his legs and let out his wolf.


They danced and ran around each other, knowing the scent, yet aware they were meeting for the first time. Jimmy-mate licked their snout and rubbed against Sawyer’s flanks, merging scents further than they were already entwined. If only wolves could weep with joy, it might never end.

How excited he…it…they… yes they plural, because two of them filled this form. Wild abandon freed Sawyer’s cautious nature. He could run in the night, feel the grass under his paws, let the wind run through his hair. Finally, he understood how Maddie had found everything was so vibrant and distracting when she let her wolf out.


A pair of female wolves were nearby. One sat, chest out and regal. Mother. The other took tentative steps like a newborn. Jada. Two fluffy pups—Andy and Matt—bounded their way, falling into an uncoordinated pile as they bumped into each other, only to bounce up and do it again.

The pack was complete. A charge of exuberance flew through them all with Jimmy-mate taking the lead. Raising his head, he howled, and the pack followed, sharing his song into the night.

As they romped and got properly acquainted, Doris watched over them all. giggling and smiling bright enough to bring back the dawn.

Late morning light stirred Sawyer awake. He blinked in the brightness, letting his eyes adjust. Through his teen years, this room had been his, and it looked the same as the day he left for college. Maddie had left it intact, just in case “he ever needed a place to stay.” So far, needing his old bedroom involved wolves.

Like the one currently in bed watching him.

“Morning.” Propped on one elbow, Jimmy’s sultry grin and mussed locks made Sawyer’s heart swell. Amber highlights twinkled in his dark eyes. Waking up to this man was the greatest gift he’d ever received, and he’d never regret hoarding his attention. The kiss Jimmy placed on Sawyer’s lips tasted better, noticeably sharper than yesterday.

Contemplating the difference tempered the confusion miring his brain. “How did I get here?”

“Carried you in. Wasn’t leaving your naked ass crashed on the lawn. About time too, I was getting tired of chasing after your wolf. He didn’t want to come in because he was having a good time.”

Bits and pieces of the night on four legs became clearer, but imperfect. The night seemed amazing, but Sawyer’s memories had been filtered through the lens of his own eyes. Up until then, he’d been turned into something horrible, not a creature of the night. A second opinion was in order. “My wolf. How was he?”

“He was gorgeous. You are gorgeous.” Jimmy eyes glossed, pairing well with his awestruck whisper.

A joyous burst of pride echoed in Sawyer’s mind, overlapping his own, slightly out of sync. “Oh.”

“What is it?”

A rolling, happy yip filled the back of his thoughts, although instead of being mindless noise, there was a sense to the vocalization, a purity of intent. Communication with impulses and ideas rather than language. The feral presence didn’t overwhelm and wasn’t bundled inside him. They shared his skin like it had always been this way. It struck Sawyer as being much like last night, only reversed on who was in the driver’s seat.

“I can hear him in my head. Understand what he’s thinking. Is it supposed to be like this?”

“Completely. It’ll probably be a little weird at first, but you’ll learn to work together. It just takes some time, which is fine, because Maddie and Doris think both you and Jada are going to live a lot longer now.”

Sawyer’s breath stalled as he found the nerve to ask, “So he’s healthy? Normal?”

“You’re both everything I could ask for.”

The happiness radiating from Sawyer’s wolf was near-overwhelming. “I’m not going to be a monster?”

Jimmy reached up and wiped a tear from Sawyer’s cheek. “No, you’re not. But you and Jada are going to turn every full moon for a while until you get the hang of it. A few years at least. You’ll have to make some changes. Work. Living arrangements.”

Quieting the wolf down took some effort as Sawyer parsed Jimmy’s carefully chosen words. “Did my mom ask us to move in?”

“She did suggest we make this the pack house.”

“Absolutely not.”

Jimmy’s baritone laugh was warm and hearty. “That’s what I said, more or less. It’s a good, private place for full moon runs, so we’ll be around plenty. I haven’t decided on what to do with the old pack’s property yet, and there’s too many bad memories attached to use it right now. She accepted that.”

“Don’t trust her. She’ll move every one of us in if you’re not careful.”

“I’ll keep a close eye out. We need space for ourselves, but we’ll find something nearby, better than Fergus’ old cabin. That way, the pack bonds can settle and stay strong for all of us. We have family to take care of now.”

“I like the sound of that.”

That was the understatement of the century. Sawyer loved the idea. His tiny family had expanded in unexpected ways, and he had someone in his life he knew he could love forever. 

Years of denial had quashed his ability to hope beyond wishful thinking. During college, curbing his self-destructive tendencies made him think the natural ones needed to be smothered as well. Hiding himself had been slowly killing him, and he didn’t see it before Jada did. Sawyer would always be grateful to her for cutting him loose. Their friendship would be stronger for it.

Now her secret was out, Maddie had relaxed around them although restraining her more manipulative side was a lost cause. Better to be suspicious of her motives and work to maintain boundaries than cutting her out of their lives. Being honest with each other was easier with the main crisis past. Sawyer could see the potential for the future, and it filled him with sunshine and moonlight in equal measure. A recipe for happiness if there ever was one.

Their world was good.

Speaking of good things, Jimmy climbed out of bed. Scars from the Fergus’ attack had become little more than faint marks on the luscious skin framing acres of formidable muscle. Sculptural lines ran down Jimmy’s furry torso to meet the sleeping yet lovely piece of meat nestled between his thighs. It shifted as he reached for the ceiling to stretch and groaned in relief.

Yes, it was nice. Very nice. And all for Sawyer.

Dropping his arms, Jimmy rolled his neck. “C’mon. You must be hungry.”

Sawyer couldn’t take his eyes off the perfect man standing before him. “I am, but not for food. Get your ass back in bed, stalker.”

The filthy grin he received in reply made his heart flutter. Jimmy’s woodsy musk deepened, and it called to Sawyer’s wolf, who perked up and wagged its tail in his thoughts. Sawyer agreed with his wolf one hundred percent. Throwing back the covers, Jimmy climbed in, running his nose and lips over Sawyer from his ankles to his collarbone, taking in every scent on the path. He took his sweet time at Sawyer’s cock, licking and breathing him in like an addict. Jimmy continued until he blanketed Sawyer’s body with his own.

Rich husky whispers flowed out of Jimmy, tickling Sawyer’s neck. “I will never regret finding you.”

Arching, Sawyer ground into the delicious weight pinning him down. “I was yours forever before I was bitten.”

Content, possessive growls vibrated Sawyer’s flesh as Jimmy clamped his teeth over the mating scar. Wrapping their arms around each other, both men found an easy pace, neither rushing to feed their appetites.

Food would wait. 

They had all the time in the world.

Sadly, this is the end of Sawyer and Jimmy’s story.

Thank you all for bearing with me for so many weeks. Not having this to work on will be a little weird, but give me the chance to work on something new. I have ideas…

Thank you all for reading.

Phases of Moon — Part 86 – Chapter 41 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to the final chapter of Phases of Moon. It’s been a labor of love and devotion to keep writing a chapter per week until finished, and I’m a little giddy and sad.

The first part of the chapter will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers for a maximum of 1000 words, and the final part will post on Thursday as usual. I will miss this story and the feedback from readers.

Final chapter on the next full moon…

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Part 86 – Chapter 41

Sawyer didn’t remember which local craft fair Maddie had acquired the handmade calendar. Engraved designs of forest and wolves topped the hardwood plaque filled with rows of changeable tiles marking the months and days. Frivolous and purely decorative, he’d all but ignored it during his teen years.

Now with his new knowledge, it took on so much more meaning.

The twenty-fifth had been replaced. Between the twenty-four and twenty-six sat a stylized pine tree topped with a star. Sawyer always used to look forward to December and the Christmas season. They were never a religious family, but the spirit of giving gifts and Peace on Earth was a worthwhile endeavor.

This year, the twenty-nine had been swapped out with a moon symbol.

He’d found it hard to enjoy the holiday with the full moon riding right behind it. They spent the day at his mother’s with Jimmy, Jada, Doris, and the twins. Gifts were traded in the kitchen so they could ignore the unfinished repairs to the living room floor and the memories associated with it.

Jimmy pressed himself against Sawyer’s back and whispered in his ear. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s normal to be uncomfortable. Is your skin itching?”

Sawyer scratched at his arm. “No…”

Jimmy pulled Sawyer’s hand away and brought it to his lips to kiss. “Being agitated comes with the first night of the full moon. You remember what that was like, right?”

“Yes. Yes, I do.” Everyone was tiptoeing around the fact he’d starred in this movie before, and it didn’t win any awards the first time around. “There’s not much time left, we’re at my mom’s, and there’s no cage to put me in.”

Turning Sawyer around to face him, the confidence in Jimmy’s eyes was unshakable. “We don’t need one.”

Sawyer wished he had such faith. “You keep saying that. How can you be so sure?”

Jimmy pulled him into a warm embrace, smothering Sawyer in the woodsy musk without cologne. The anxiety retreated but didn’t vanish as he used his alpha for aromatherapy.

“I’m sorry. This has been a hard month of adjustments. It’ll get better. You’ll see.”

Sawyer closed his eyes. A hard month was an understatement.

Fergus was gone and they were safe, but the fallout of his assault left a terrible wake. Secrets had to be kept and the dead maintained. A mountain of corpses had to be disposed of with discretion, because how could anyone explain a massacre or reconcile it within themselves? The violence of the night had left scars beyond physical, leaving Sawyer edgy and gun shy. He’d always seen fine in the dark, but now he jumped at shadows, expecting new dangers that never came.

The nightmares’ frequency had eased over the weeks. 

Jimmy asked him to stay inside while they cleansed Fergus’ pack, but Sawyer refused. The alpha’s mate couldn’t stay weak forever, so he insisted on being involved. Thankfully, he and Jada had been tasked to collect firewood while Jimmy and Maddie organized the pyres. Jimmy insisted on handling the bodies as he worked through his guilt.

No one came through the night completely unscathed.

According to Jimmy, the pack was cremated in the old ways. Solemn and disturbing in equal measure, fire and prayers reached high above the moonlit treetops, consuming the dead. Once their remains turned to dust, they were scattered throughout the forest and returned to the earth. What was left of Fergus, Jimmy buried deep during midday, never to be absolved by the lunar kiss. A dishonorable funeral for their kind.

Sawyer had to keep correcting himself from saying “their” to “our” kind. He was a wolf now. Part of a pack.

Jada called in from the door leading into the garage as she took off her shoes. “Am I late?” 

The police had accepted Jada’s statement. Lying hadn’t been necessary. The men who broke into the house were strangers and she had shot one, but they had run off, nowhere to be found. No suspects and no leads, the police said they’d contact her if they learned more. They never would. Clive and Darlene had been texted it was safe to come home. The police wrote Clive’s version of events off as marijuana-induced hysteria. The truth wouldn’t help anyone.

Lifting his head, Sawyer glared at his ex-wife. “It would be nice if you were freaking out about this a little.”

“I am freaking out. I just handle stress better than you.” Jada planted a kiss on each of their cheeks as she walked through the kitchen and out of the room.

Sawyer envied her confidence. Since Jada hadn’t experience the hard side of the full moon, she was more curious than worried. More than once she’d spoken about the excitement of entering into a new world. Nervous anticipation moderated her mood over the emergence of her wolf, her first child of sorts. He knew her well enough to realize she wanted to jump for joy. Unfortunately, Sawyer remembered looking forward to the same. 

He’d been horribly disappointed.

The bundle inside him became more restless with each passing phase of the moon, ramping Sawyer’s worries into near-hysterics in the past few days. The last full moon had turned him into a mindless monster. Memories of being torn apart by its mad attempt to be born had seeped into his restless dreams.

He couldn’t share her enthusiasm.

“Maddie and Doris have been explaining some things to me. Filling in some gaps. You’re going to be fine.”

“I wish I had your faith.”

“This time will be better. Trust me.”

Doubting a man who could be so earnest proved impossible. Sawyer let down his guard, clinging to the hope everything would be okay because Jimmy said so. It was all he had. If he continued to listen to his own errant thoughts, he’d meltdown before the night began. No one wanted to see that.

“I’ll try.”

Jimmy placed a soft kiss on Sawyer’s lips. “That’s all I ask.”

chapter 41 completes the story on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) !

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs


Phases of Moon — Part 85 – Chapter 40 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 word installments, while the remainder of the chapter will post on the following Thursday. 

Who’s in the kitchen?

Moon Phases banner

Part 85 – Chapter 40

continued from part 84…

Sitting at the kitchen island with a teapot, cream and sugar in the center, Maddie looked up over her steaming mug. Potent smelling from a distance, it showed Sawyer’s love of caffeine hadn’t spawned from the ether. Hair up and freshly dressed, her appearance had been restored to the mature woman he’d first met rather than the perpetual youth she exhibited under her wolf’s influence. Fine tuning a shift enough to artificially alter one’s appearance like this required an unheard of amount of skill, making him question Maddie’s age. Hiding their long lives was a prime reason for their kind’s seclusion.

Had the perfume still been active, Jimmy wouldn’t have recognized the other woman as a wolf. Grey-haired yet poised, she held her cup with a steady surety which belied her frail physique. In contrast to Maddie’s stoneware mug, she drank her tea in a delicate cup and saucer. Her face held enough similarities to Maddie’s they could be related. The visible age gap between the women made Jimmy question their resemblance, but that conflicted with what he knew, and Maddie was already proof of a misleading facade.

A pair of toddlers strapped into a stroller went silent the moment he entered the room, eyes wide, chew toys paused in their open mouths. More wolves. Twins, no less. Given their proximity to the second woman, they were in her charge. A caretaker or grandmother? Their scents weren’t close enough to be their mother.

Setting down her drink, Maddie poured the second woman a fresh cup. “Good afternoon. I wondered when you’d be up. You’re swimming in Sawyer and sex. I see you took my advice and formalized your relationship with Sawyer. About time.”

Sensing no threat, Jimmy relaxed and leaned against the island. “I see you’re back to your usual self. I think I liked your more euphoric nature when you let your wolf out.”

The second woman let out the tiniest giggle, but covered it immediately. Maddie’s dirty look didn’t seem to faze her. 

“Don’t judge. She hadn’t been woken in decades. I hadn’t expected her… enthusiasm.” Maddie motioned to the other woman. “Jimmy, this is my sister, Doris. I called her this morning for advice. And help.”

Setting down her cup, Doris gave Jimmy a gentile nod. “A pleasure to meet you, Jimmy. Maddie has said nice things about you. It sounds like you’re quite an impressive alpha. Care for a cup?”

Doris may have looked old, but her sharp gaze made Jimmy squirm despite being the more dominant wolf. While knowing it was true, calling himself an alpha still didn’t ring right to his ears. He would need to learn to accept it soon.

“No, thank you. You’re Maddie’s sister? I can see it, but Sawyer said he didn’t have any living relatives.”

Glancing at Maddie, Doris returned to her freshened tea. “We don’t see each other very often.”

“For Sawyer’s safety, he wasn’t told. I didn’t want him to know about wolves.” Maddie set the teapot down and picked up her mug, eyes averted. There was more to the story, and Jimmy expected to hear it, but he had other things on his mind. One of which let out a startling, high-pitched screech before bursting into giggles.

Jimmy rubbed a finger in his ear from the volume. “And the children?”

“My charges,” Doris said.

Minimal answer, more deflection. Since the sisters were evading, he paid more attention to the twins. Due to their age, the boys’ scents were weak yet familiar enough to disturb Jimmy’s wolf. “Who’s their papa?”

Maddie dragged out an endless sip. “Fergus.”

Jimmy’s heart sank. “He had children?”

“I’m afraid so.” Sadness and a bit of derision slipped through Doris’ veneer. “They were the first children born to the pack in over a decade and the blessing couldn’t have happened to a more undeserving man.”

Kneeling closer, Jimmy was entranced by their large blue eyes. Both boys had fixated on him since he’d arrived between gnawing on their toys and exploring their voices. They smelled enough of wolf to tell him they’d already begun changing with the moon. There was so much for them to learn and experience, and Jimmy had killed their father.

“Their mother?” he asked.

“Human. In the wind. Married or not, Fergus used her as breeding stock and kept her captive. I may have encouraged another pack member to help her run away.”

“And now that Fergus is dead?”

Doris sighed. “Alice is too fragile to care for wolf pups. She would have likely been bitten before they were old enough to know better, and Fergus would have had an excuse to put her down. I imagine that was his plan from the start. I’ll search for their mother, but for now, it’s safer for her to be out of the picture.”

One of the boys grunted and held out his toy for Jimmy. Threads hung in all directions off the fat braid of knotted rope, the result of gnawing little teeth. Jimmy carefully reached out and the boy dropped it in his outstretched hand. The brightest smile was paired with the sharpest chirp of glee. Innocence in its purest form. Under Fergus’ influence, they would likely have been twisted into monsters, callous, overprivileged and unrepentant. With their father gone, they had a second chance. 

Jimmy held the knotted rope tight, the best gift he’d received in ages. “The pack will care for them. Or I will if need be. I don’t have any experience with children. I may need help.”

“Claiming the pups when an alpha falls and another rises is a very old and honored tradition.”

Rising, Jimmy scuffed his feet on the floor. “Not sure I like how that sounds. I’m an alpha, not a king.”

Doris’ smile was nearly equal to the boy’s. “Then you’re already miles ahead of Fergus. Undermining him was a full time occupation. I’m pleased to see I can retire.”

“So you’re Maddie’s sister, and part of Fergus’ pack—”

“Fergus doesn’t have a pack anymore. What’s left of it is yours.”

Jimmy waved the comment off. After a lifetime of holding secrets, getting answers from both women would require tenacity. “We’ll get back to that. How did you end up with him?”

Doris seemed pleased Jimmy didn’t follow her evasion. “Maddie and I married into different packs around the same time. I always felt she was jealous I ended up with an alpha.”

Scoffing, Maddie appeared unimpressed. “Spare me. Shephard was a good man, but an idiot. He managed to get himself killed by a hunting party barely a year after we mated.”

“Was he Sawyer’s father?” Jimmy asked.

“No. About ten years after it happened, my alpha wanted to increase the pack’s population, and it wasn’t happening fast enough to suit him. In his infinite wisdom, he decided to stage breeding parties on the full moon of unmated wolves.”

“So Sawyer’s father…”

“Wasn’t anyone that mattered.” Maddie’s motherly tone made it clear the subject was final.

Clearly, Doris didn’t take orders from her sister. “As if you knew which one he was.”

Aghast, Maddie set her mug down with a rattle. “You’re not helping. It doesn’t matter who he was. When Sawyer was born fully human, no one was willing to step up and claim him. As far as I’m concerned, whoever he was ceased to exist at that point. I had my son. That’s all that mattered.”

Since Doris reopened the topic, Jimmy wasn’t going to stop asking. “If his father was a wolf, how did Sawyer end up human?”

“Luck of the draw? Punishment by the moon? Divine intervention? Who’s to say? It’s rare, but it happens. It wasn’t important to me. I didn’t love him any less, even when others looked at him and called him a damaged wolf. Disabled.” Maddie went to take a sip and found the mug empty. Frowning, she grabbed the pot and poured a refill.

“Did you leave the pack?”

“Not at that point. The alpha felt sorry for me and put me to work as his secretary. At first, everything was fine. We had shelter, money, food, and the alpha didn’t ask me for inappropriate favors. He even announced his personal protection of Sawyer to the rest of the pack. We couldn’t have asked for better. After Sawyer turned one year old, the alpha paid him more attention than usual. I shook it off as a well-meaning man treating Sawyer as a surrogate child.”

Maddie paused, cradling the mug in both hands as if warming them. Her tone roughened and she stared forward at nothing.

“The alpha was watching Sawyer while I worked late one night. Inventory filings… I don’t remember exactly. I finished early and came home and found them. That dirty bastard was naked, sniffing Sawyer like cocaine. And… touching him.”

The mug in Maddie’s hand shattered.

Without alarm or criticism, Doris stood and collected two hand towels hanging nearby. One she placed in Maddie’s bleeding palm, and the other she used to sop up the hot tea pooling on the table. 

Holding the towel in a fist, Maddie leaned back while Doris picked up the broken shards. “He kept saying how good Sawyer smelled. How he’d never give him up.”

Jimmy’s wolf woke, growling under the surface. “What did you do?”

Maddie pursed her lips as if debating to answer. When she did, her eyes had turned amber. 

“I proved you don’t have to be an alpha to kill one.”

Sensing no hostility aimed at them, Jimmy’s wolf quieted, basking in satisfaction. Ending Sawyer’s tormentors brought him peace, apparently even through someone else’s efforts. Something he had in common with Maddie.

Closing her eyes, Maddie took a deep breath. When she opened them again, they were fully human. “Then I emptied his bank accounts. I was his assistant after all.”

“Sawyer never mentioned this.”

“Why would he? He was too young to remember, and I didn’t tell him.”

While Doris finished with the tabletop mess, Maddie opened her fist and wiped her bloody palm. The cut was sealed, leaving the stained towel as the only evidence. Jimmy marveled at her precision in healing wounds without trading places with her wolf. A useful skill, she must have practiced for decades to perfect.

Maddie stood long enough to collect a new mug and refresh her drink. “Times were different then. Killing a pedophile and stealing his fortune was easier, but good reason or not, I’d still murdered my alpha over a human child. I couldn’t trust the packs to understand. Even Doris had difficulty with the whole thing.”

Doris shook out the towel in the garbage and rinsed it in the sink, somehow not getting the slightest drop on her dress. Jimmy suspected he was watching their dynamic play out in front of him. Maddie, the bolder of the two, would command her world until it grew beyond her control, then call in her sister, the only one she would allow to help her. Doris would come to her aid without question, the familial bond unbroken between packs.

However, helping without question did not mean meek subservience.

“You called me in the middle of the night to tell me the whole sordid story. What did you expect? A parade? I had to sneak out without anyone knowing, help you destroy the evidence, and hide you, even after I recognized Sawyer’s alpha mate scent.”

“Alpha mate scent?” Jimmy asked.

Eyebrow arched, Doris stilled. Jimmy found the examination unnerving. She obviously believed he should know this, but schooled her reaction over yet another thing he’d never learned before his maman and pack died.

“Yes… it’s rare in a male. Alphas have a difficult time resisting it. That’s why I was married off to Roger so suddenly. To prevent the possibility of more than one alpha fighting over me. I imagine you found him irresistible as well.”

“My wolf chose him the moment we met, but I was confused. Sawyer was human. I didn’t know how it was possible. Even then, I didn’t abuse him. I wouldn’t.” The last sentences were especially for Maddie. He didn’t fear her, but he respected her.

Maddie gave him a little nod of acceptance. “I don’t know if the alpha was already inclined or the scent drove him over the edge. I didn’t care. It wasn’t happening again. It’s why I didn’t want him part of the wolf clans. If another alpha went feral over him, he’d want to bite him, and Sawyer might have died.”

A slow inhale and exhale settled Jimmy as he remembered Sawyer’s first full moon. “He almost did.”

Doris straightened her dress and resumed her seat. “And I couldn’t bring him into my pack. By that point, Fergus had already taken the pack from Roger and was unmated. Given his distaste for humans, Sawyer wouldn’t have been safe. Thankfully, I convinced Maddie to stay close outside of the pack’s borders. I wanted her nearby in case she started going feral after breaking from her pack.”

“How didn’t you?” Guilt and rage had held Jimmy together for too many years, but he’d pushed to the edge of his limits. Maddie had survived far better than he had, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it made him jealous.

A glowing pride filled Doris’ smile. “Mothers tend to be more resistant. They have their children.”

The other part Jimmy had seen live last night, executing Fergus’ beta. “And your dogs.”

Necessity being the mother of invention had spared Maddie’s mind. Between bonding with domestic animals to create a surrogate pack and submerging her wolf, she’d managed well, and likely would have for many years to come if Fergus hadn’t followed them here. Successful or not, the whole plan astounded Jimmy.

“Your wolf was sleeping until last night. Why would she agree to that?”

Maddie’s brow furrowed as if it should be obvious. “To protect Sawyer, of course. Keeping him hidden from the wolves became my mission, and I couldn’t risk him knowing they existed at all, so my wolf hibernated to make my scent human enough perfume would cover it. I homeschooled Sawyer, then pushed him to date once he started to venture out. I hoped a woman’s scent all over him would confuse things enough a casual sniff wouldn’t make him a target. For a while, it worked. Then he went to college and all my efforts unraveled.”

“It fell apart because you didn’t let him make his own choices. Sawyer wasn’t straight, and you pressured him so hard, he dealt with his denial and fear of disappointing you with drugs and alcohol until he couldn’t say no to them. You can’t bottle a person and not expect the glass to crack.” 

Jimmy took a breath. Berating Maddie wasn’t the goal, and the conversation was already making her fidget. She did what she thought was right at the time, and had she done things differently, his path and Sawyer’s might never have crossed. For allowing that, he could forgive and grant her some sympathy. “I imagine him bringing a man home to meet you brought back a few bad memories.”

Maddie dipped her head and bared her neck, a sign of submission and fealty to her new alpha. “Perhaps. But I’m willing to admit he might have chosen well this time.”

The last twenty-four hours had been dizzying. Before yesterday, Jimmy hadn’t known or thought of himself as an alpha, and now he had his mate and a nascent pack. So much to learn, but he was surrounded with people containing the knowledge he’d missed out on. This new pack may have been smaller than the one he’d grown up in, but he sensed its strength and determination to survive and flourish.

It was also suddenly quiet.

The twins had fallen asleep in their stroller, leaning against each other. They would be connected in ways beyond the pack, a gift of their birth. Their upbringing would be unconventional, but Jimmy would make sure they would be honorable wolves, unlike their father. Kneeling to return the chewed hunk of rope, Jimmy winced at the residual weak points along his flanks where Fergus had dug in his claws.

Standing, he turned to Maddie. “Why didn’t you wake your wolf sooner? You could have helped me with Fergus the whole time.”

“My priority was Sawyer. At the time, you were expendable.”

“But then you saved me.”

Maddie shrugged. “Things change. You took a bullet for my son. I knew I could trust you then.”

“Did you know I was a wolf from the start?”

“I suspected—”

Doris broke in. “You would suspect any man who came close to Sawyer.”

“Quiet.” Maddie gave her sister a withering glare to little effect. “I wasn’t sure, but I respected you for defending him and his choices the day we met, even though I considered putting a bullet in you and hiding the body in the backyard. Besides, if you’d hurt him, I’d have made you pay later.”

The mention of bodies in the backyard kept Jimmy from finding any humor in her statement. Doris’ people were piled under tarps, a macabre testament to Fergus’ insanity. It was a day of mourning and paying respects where they were due. 

Squaring his shoulders, Jimmy bowed to Doris. “I’m sorry about your pack. They didn’t deserve what happened.”

Doris accepted the condolence with a graceful nod, staring down at her clasped hands as she squeezed them together. “No, they did not, but thank you for saying so. I think I felt the moment they passed. This sudden sense of loss as the pack dissolved. So many years spent shepherding the generations only to see them massacred. With my pack gone, I hope you might find mercy in your heart for me and my sister to be together again.”

Jimmy didn’t hide his surprise. “Of course. I hadn’t expected you to ask under the circumstances.”

“I don’t blame you. Maddie explained what happened. The fault lies firmly with Fergus. Don’t dwell on the what-might-have-beens.”

Easier said than done. Dozens of nameless men and women of all ages lay dead by his hand, and whether accident or design, would haunt him for the rest of his life. He’d killed more than once in his travels, but death always cost a piece of his soul. Hopefully, this atrocity wouldn’t bankrupt him.

“Are there any others left besides you and the twins?”

Doris shook her head. “No.”

“What do we do with the dead now?” As the near-sole survivor, it was only right to ask Doris how best to proceed. The awe in her eyes told Jimmy he’d chosen well.

“I hope my alpha would be kind enough for proper wolf funeral rites and send them back to Her under the moonlight.”

“It’s the least I can do for them.”

We can do for them,” Maddie said.

Dabbing at her with a knuckle, Doris exhaled, the rigid line of her shoulders relaxing for the first time. “One of the few things Fergus did right was minimizing the pack’s contact with common people. Their disappearance won’t be noticed until we can erase any trace of them in the world.”

“How can you do that?” Jimmy asked.

“Our kind hasn’t survived this long without having people in the right places. It’s not the first time a wolf has vanished. There will be legal documents to create as well. You won a rightful challenge. The pack territory, Fergus’ assets, and remaining members are yours to assimilate as you choose.”

Images of mortgages and bank transfers and putting down roots left Jimmy lightheaded. “It sounds… complicated.”

Doris reached out and patted his arm. “Don’t worry, Alpha. We’ll help you through it. That’s what we’re here for.”

Although he’d inherited from his maman, years off the grid hadn’t prepared him for living so solidly in the real world. As Maddie said, things change. Now, Jimmy had a pack to care for, and a mate to lavish affection on. It was a shame Sawyer had missed out on so much information this afternoon, but he would wake when he was ready. 

Speaking of waking… 

Jimmy realized who was still missing. “I’m surprised Jada’s not up. She’d been pretty shaken. I didn’t picture her sleeping late.”

Maddie finished her tea and set down the mug without refilling. “She didn’t. I found her roaming the kitchen this morning around dawn. We talked about what her future held, and she had me bite her so she didn’t turn into a rabid. I imagine she’s still sleeping off the change.”

“You bit her? You turned Jada into your mate?”

Coughing, Maddie had to steady herself. “Of course not! What a horrible thought. She’s my son’s ex-wife even if I was attracted to women.”

Delicately placing her empty cup in the saucer, Doris chimed in. “Well, there was that one girl in school—”

“Doris, please. I’m trying to make a point here.”

Jimmy waved both hands in front of him to bring the topic back. “So I just needed to bite Sawyer to fix his wolf?”

Maddie nodded. “Yes.”

Jaw slack, Jimmy stared agog at Maddie. While Maddie had saved his life, and he wasn’t about to complain about finalizing things between himself and Sawyer, she had made the entire situation sound so urgent last night.

“Then why make such a big deal out of sex and a bite?”

Hands folded in her lap, Doris blinked innocently. “That would be to complete the mating. Once he was properly bonded to an alpha, Sawyer’s scent would change, and he’d no longer attract other suitors.”

Maddie collected the teapot and accessories and moved them next to the sink. “Two birds, one stone. Plus, I don’t like the idea of Sawyer running around with an alpha unmarried. It’s unseemly.”

“You did not just say that out loud.” Doris passed her cup and saucer to her sister.


Without asking, Maddie went to the fridge and pulled out a few items as well as a plate from the upper cabinet. She assembled a hearty roast beef sandwich and placed it in front of Jimmy. 

“Eat. You probably need this more than any of us.”

“You’re probably right.” Stomach growling louder than his wolf, Jimmy dove into the food as Maddie retrieved him a bottle of water.

“Don’t expect me to start calling you alpha.”

Jimmy barely swallowed between bites. “Whatever.”

Doris chuckled. “When your young wolves wake, they’re going to be famished.”

The afternoon sunshine wouldn’t last long this time of year, but he guessed Sawyer and Jada would be up by sundown. “We have a few hours at least. Should be enough time for a proper jambalaya.”

Head titled, Maddie gave Jimmy an incredulous look. “Now you’re seriously telling me my son mated an alpha that can cook too? This I have to see.”

Stuffing the last corner of his sandwich in his mouth, Jimmy smiled and patted the countertop. “Let’s see what’s in the pantry.”

Stay tuned … Chapter 41 begins next Wednesday!

It’s the final chapter. I can’t believe we’re here. See you soon!

Phases of Moon — Part 84 – Chapter 40 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 maximum word installments and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

Jimmy and Sawyer are officially mated. (Finally…) What do they do now?

Moon Phases banner

Part 84 – Chapter 40

Daylight breaking through the tree canopy teased Jimmy out of a solid sleep. Blinking, he forced out the grogginess as the world came into focus. The room was unfamiliar, but the man in Jimmy’s arms was not.

Blankets up to his nose, Sawyer slept like the dead, not even registering Jimmy’s movements. He hadn’t recalled Sawyer dozing so soundly since the night of Irwin’s attack. Jimmy drew the covers down, exposing Sawyer’s shoulder. Pink and freshly healed, a bite scar left a neat ring in the meat of the muscle. The garish rows left behind by Irwin’s jaws had been wiped clean from Sawyer’s skin.

Swelling with pride and satisfaction, Jimmy and his wolf loved the sight as much as their mate.

Subtle changes in Sawyer’s scent had occurred as well. A woodsy musk had woven itself into Sawyer’s, marking him as Jimmy’s mate, now and forever. He was also warm to the touch, as his body adapted to Jimmy’s more powerful bite, making him into a proper mate for an alpha. Air sawed in and out of Sawyer, just shy of snoring. He wouldn’t be waking for hours.

Next to the door, Jimmy noticed his boots resting beside a small pile of clothing with his phone, keys, and wallet resting on top. The shirt and jeans came from Jimmy’s emergency stash kept in the truck while hunting rabids. He was thankful for the effort, yet unnerved Maddie had gone through his truck and been able to enter the bedroom while they slept without him knowing.

No matter how much he would have preferred lying in bed with Sawyer, too much work had been left behind after last night. A great deal of the mess had been by his hands, so it was only fair he be involved. His wolf whined as he tucked Sawyer in and got dressed.

“I know. I’d rather stay here too.”

He stretched, trying to stay quiet. Aches and pains riddled every inch of him, but they would fade. The wounds from Fergus’ assault were mostly healed. Like the rest of his scars, food and rest would reduce them to barely visible memories he’d have to search to find.

The bedroom door closed with barely a noise. Once he convinced himself and his wolf the area was secure and Sawyer was safe—which took several minutes—he carefully padded down the hall, not sure what to expect.

Soundproofing in the house was ridiculously well done, the mark of an owner with sensitive ears looking for peace. If anything was happening, he didn’t hear a peep. That’s how Fergus had managed to go unnoticed for so long and why Jimmy had charged upstairs when he couldn’t find Sawyer. Too many strange things were attributed to Maddie’s home.

Descending the stairs, Jimmy noticed another difference. No cloying perfume burning his nose. Since she’d been outed, Maddie must not have felt a need for pretenses anymore.


The crater in the living room floor was empty. Ganger’s body was gone, and the site had been scrubbed thoroughly enough Jimmy couldn’t even smell hints of what went on. No whiff of gunpowder. No blood stench. Crime scene cleaners could learn a few tips from Maddie.

Thinking of what nearly happened bristled him and his wolf. As weak as he’d been, if he’d been a second slower, Granger would have had his revenge. Sawyer wouldn’t be asleep upstairs. What remaining years Jimmy had would have been unbearable. Killing Fergus didn’t dredge up the slightest bit of regret, and Granger—deluded cult member or not—could rot in hell.

Their pack, however, deserved to die with more honor than this. Fergus used them as a weapon, and Jimmy had no choice. He’d acted instinctually, found the connection to their alpha, and shattered it. Their resulting deaths were unintentional. If he’d known more, been taught more, he might have been better prepared. Maybe he could have spared them.

Through the living room windows he could see the back yard. The bodies had been moved, clearing the grass of the killing field. Blue tarps had been secured in the outer corner near the forest line, covering orderly, human-sized piles. Maddie had been busy all night. At least in the near-freezing cold, the bodies would keep until they decided what came next. Normally, wolves were cremated to prevent forensic discovery. He cringed to think what furnace existed large enough to accommodate the entire pack of corpses.

The moon may have been hiding from the late morning sun, but Jimmy whispered a prayer regardless.

“Forgive me for stealing so many of your children in one night. I never wanted war, but it came for us anyways. Thank you for granting me the power to save me and my family. I’ll strive to be worthy of you and them from now on.”

A few of the invisible arrows in his soul evaporated and lightened his heart. He would never be free of them completely, but could see their presence being less and less obtrusive as time went on. Given the shadows of his past, it was all he could ask for. An acceptable price.

Muffled by the damned walls, the faintest bits of conversation caught Jimmy’s ear. More than one voice? A child’s squeal? Jimmy said another prayer for no ghosts, because this house had the right to be haunted after last night, and followed the murmurs and the aroma of delicate tea.

chapter 40 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) !

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs


Phases of Moon — Part 83 – Chapter 39 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 word installments, while the remainder of the chapter will post on the following Thursday. 

The aftermath continues…

Moon Phases banner

Part 83 – Chapter 39

continued from part 82…

Sawyer braced for the disappointment he knew came next. The day Maddie walked him into rehab, its keen bite taught him a level of shame he’d never known before. She had been Sawyer’s world, and when he’d gone off to college without the constant oversight, indulging excesses became common place. In a rapid descent, he lost control, and lost himself. Not wanting to experience it again—to win her approval—Sawyer had reinvented himself into a man his mother would be proud of.

And look what that cost him.

Jimmy said wolves couldn’t read each other’s minds, but you wouldn’t know it by the way Maddie turned to Sawyer and took his hand. Unlike her usual stoic guise, unabashed guilt furrowed her worried brow. 

“No, no, Sawyer. None of this is your fault. I may be scared for you, but you’ll never stop being the single most important person in my world. Protecting you has always been highest priority, for better or worse. I hope you’ll forgive me someday for smothering you, and making you ever doubt yourself.”

Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears, which nearly broke Sawyer. Regret was not an emotion he’d attribute to his mother and his own spirit had taken such a beating. Imagine what these words would have meant if he’d heard them years ago, the path his life might have taken. It wasn’t fair to have her like this now.

Speaking to Maddie was too bizarre. Connecting to her wolf purified her personality, stealing the nuances and bitterness, leaving behind the extremes. This Maddie was lovely, but out of character. Now that she had the potential to be the quintessential mother figure, could the old one come back? The mother he could anticipate? The one he knew?

Given the amount of upheaval thrown into Sawyer’s life, acceptance might be the only option. If this was yet another permanent change, he’d learn to embrace it… eventually.

Sawyer clasped Maddie’s hand in return. “Thank you for saying it.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner.”

Eventually might not take forever.

A frustrated groan seeped out of Jimmy as he worked to sit upright, and Maddie’s whiplash attentions were on him again. Jimmy’s whole body tensed when she grabbed ahold of his jaw, but somehow he didn’t resist.

Maddie turned his head back and forth as she took a closer look. “This pack was a bunch of weak-blooded mongrels. Their line isn’t strong enough to make wolves, but yours… yours most definitely is.”

“What do you mean?” Jimmy asked.

“It isn’t proper to leave a weaker wolf’s bite on a mate. The stronger wolf needs to take what’s his and erase what doesn’t belong.”

Nostrils flaring, Jimmy huffed his defiance. “Not without Sawyer’s consent.”

Releasing her hold on Jimmy, Maddie’s whole body straightened as tall as her beatific smile shined. “Then I approve.”

Jada’s skin had paled and she fidgeted. The night’s events had clearly taken their toll, but didn’t stop her from giving Sawyer her trademark incredulous stare. “Did your mother just offer your hand in marriage to the big, bad wolf like some weird Victorian romance novel?”

Sawyer was as equally stunned as Jada. “Oh good, it’s not just me noticing that.”

Maddie’s countenance sobered—for however long that would last—and gave them both a withering glare. “Hush. Both of you. It’s been a long night. You three go upstairs and get some rest. You boys can take Sawyer’s old bedroom and can clean up in the main bathroom. Jada, why don’t you take the guest room? Use my en suite if you need it.”

“What about you?” Sawyer asked as they helped each other to their feet.

“I’m going to take care of some of this mess. It’s been a while since my wolf and I have spoken to each other. I don’t expect to fall asleep anytime soon.”

“You’re sure?”

Maddie’s smile was gorgeous perfection. “Go. I love you, Sawyer.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

The trek upstairs took a long time with everyone’s stamina reduced from vibrant to elderly. Jimmy coaxed them to the second floor, leaving Maddie humming a pleasant tune behind them.

Unable to stand still, Jada pressed her arm in the sling against her stomach, the closest thing to wrapping arms around herself she’d be able to manage. “Are we really going to go to bed with the morgue downstairs? I can’t believe I’m not totally freaking out right now.”

Sawyer recognized her borderline shock. When his memory reasserted itself the day he woke after his mauling, he’d fallen apart. Fortunately, he’d had Jimmy to fall back on, to get him through, and he wanted Jada to know she wasn’t alone. The fact she was handling this train wreck of an evening better than he did his own introduction to wolves almost left him bitter.


Carefully, Sawyer placed a hand on Jada’s arm, hoping it might soothe her. “Give it time. Once it sinks in, we’re all going to be a mess, but we can’t keep running on fumes. We’re not regular folks anymore. Our bodies are going to heal faster than normal, but we need to take the time. Besides, at this hour where else would we go?”

Fretting, Jada picked at a thread on the sling’s seam. “I can’t go home. The house is a crime scene. Who knows what to say to the police.”

“We’ll deal with all of it. One thing at a time.”

“When you were bitten… was it like this?”

“No. Sawyer was hurt a lot worse.” The unhappy rumble in Jimmy’s voice was pronounced.

Jada flashed a curious glance at Jimmy and took a step back, detaching Sawyer’s touch. “That would explain a lot of your weirdness lately.”

“If I can get through it, you can too.” Sawyer really believed it too. Jada had always been the more resilient one. He’d adapted, she had the skills to do the same. It might not be easy, but he wanted to make things right, even though their lives had been altered forever.

Nodding while taking a deep breath, the anxious edge framing Jada’s body dissipated. “Okay. I can do this.”

Unable to see the destruction downstairs, Sawyer was ready to embrace a bit of denial. His side ached too much to deal with anything else. Cocooning himself and Jimmy under the sheets sounded like a much better plan. At least it did until his brain registered the amount of dried blood smeared over Jimmy’s body. Even his hair was saturated.

Sawyer touched a particularly greasy spot on Jimmy’s chest. It was tacky. “Gross. We’re not getting into bed without a shower.”

Jada snorted. “Nice excuse to share. God, are you guys going to have sex in the shower?”

“Why would we waste time doing that, when up against the wall next to your room will make it easier for you to hear?”

If there had been anything within Jada’s reach, she would have hurled it at Sawyer’s head. Instead, she gave him her most unimpressed look.

“You know, I liked it better when you didn’t care about sex.”

Sawyer didn’t quip back. Any response would dig up old wounds, and it would be unfair to rub her face in the fact his disinterest in sex during their marriage was a matter of incompatible preferences. And that wasn’t her fault.

“Is it crazy to say I’m sorry this happened to you, but I’m glad you’re here with us too?”

Jada rolled her eyes and almost grinned. “Yes, you’re crazy. But it is nice not to be dealing with all this on my own.”

“I’d give you a hug, but I’m really gross right now.”

He’d said he wouldn’t, but Jada raised a hand as if Sawyer was about to have second thoughts. “Yeah, don’t touch me like that. Plus, I know the look of a jealous boyfriend, and I don’t think your man will be happy letting me touch you.” 

Jimmy reached out, taking Sawyer by the wrist. “No, he will not. Not right now.”

Possessive displays were nothing new, but Sawyer couldn’t imagine how the chaos had unsettled Jimmy and his wolf given the unexpected direction the night had. That explained his tone. Mates or not, his wolf didn’t like Sawyer touching his ex-wife, or likely anyone for that matter. Jimmy’s free hand kept bunching and releasing a fist to the rhythm of his deep breathing.

Jada didn’t press the issue. “At least he’s honest. Go get cleaned up. I plan to sleep for at least three days. No wake up calls.”

“Good night.” Sawyer waved as she disappeared through the guest room door.

At the sound of the lock, Sawyer turned to Jimmy. “Are you all right?”

Jimmy looked uncomfortable and embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I know Jada isn’t a threat, but you’ve been in danger so much, and Maddie’s perfume has kept me from smelling you since we got here, and my wolf needs reassurance—”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. I want all these extra scents off both of us.”

Nodding, Jimmy pulled Sawyer across the open bathroom’s threshold and shut the door behind them.

Between Jimmy’s fatigue and Sawyer’s injuries, they managed to take a shower. Not exactly an easy feat when Jimmy required constant physical contact at all times as if he were scared to let Sawyer go. Getting undressed was a task, given Sawyer couldn’t raise the arm over his cracked ribs, but they maneuvered him through the gaping tears in the fabric. The shower itself was an exercise in one-handed cleaning.

Piping hot spray stung his tender flesh, but Sawyer saw it as a small price for the desire to rid the foulness from both their bodies. Firm and gentle scrubbing made thorough work of them both, without the undercurrent of play. This was about tending for one’s mate, and it continued until the water ran clear, every foreign scent had gone done the drain, and the shower’s temperature cooled.

They toweled off as carefully as they washed. Getting dressed was more effort than it was worth, so they left Sawyer’s clothes and the afghan Jimmy had been wearing on the floor. Both would likely end up in the fireplace by the next night. 

Jimmy was visibly calmer by the time Sawyer led him to his old room.

Everything was as he’d left it before he and Jada moved in together after their original engagement. Furniture and forgotten trophies of his youth sat undisturbed for years. No dust covered even the smallest notebook, a testament to his mother’s devotion. The room had been left as is in case he ever needed it. The only item out of place was the open window letting in a cool breeze.

Sawyer closed and locked the sash, trying not to think how this window had likely been Fergus’ entry point. He could have easily climbed or jumped to the sill. There was no way of knowing if he’d been inside before they’d arrived, or if he’d used the cover of Granger setting off the dogs. It didn’t matter.

Jimmy was already pulling back the covers and urging Sawyer to join him. A much better option than recreating the steps of a dead man.

Warm bodies made quick work of the sheet’s chill, Jimmy spooned behind Sawyer so he could lay on his undamaged side. Head resting on Jimmy’s arm, Sawyer luxuriated in the close embrace. Curling his arm around Sawyer’s head, Jimmy gripped Sawyer’s hip with his other hand, anchoring them together in multiple places. Held so firm, Sawyer couldn’t have left the bed if he wanted. But he didn’t want to.

This was where he needed to be.

Jimmy’s nose sat in the crook of Sawyer’s neck and shoulder. Hot air singed his skin as ragged inhales rushed over him.

“I came so close to losing you tonight,” Jimmy said, his voice barely a whisper. “When I saw Fergus had you, I was so angry and so scared.”

Sawyer kissed the arm he was using as a pillow. “You saved me. That’s all that matters.”

“You saved me too. If you hadn’t said you could see the magick, my wolf wouldn’t have reached for the power to win. We would have all died. When did you start seeing it?”

The ache in his side kept Sawyer from shrugging. “A little while after I was bitten here and there. It’s not reliable. I can’t see it unless I’m not trying to see it, if that makes any sense. I only saw Fergus’ because I almost passed out. Is it normal for wolves?”

“No. From what I’ve heard, it’s rare. No one could in my pack.”

“Do you think it’s because my mom’s a wolf?”

“Maybe. She’s strong. Old strong. Maybe some of that was hidden in you.”

“It didn’t stop me from becoming a rabid.”

Jimmy sighed. “No, it didn’t.”

Closing his eyes, Sawyer tried to sleep. He didn’t want to think of wolves and alphas and monsters, or the blood and gore associated with their more violent traits. Forgetting it all for one night, would be a godsend, but he found himself overtired to the point of restlessness. Given the continuous sniffing along his neck, Jimmy wasn’t fairing much better.

“You’ve seen and been through so much, I worry about you. Are you okay?”

Wasn’t that a loaded question? Sawyer knew what Jimmy meant. He’d asked himself the same thing every day for weeks. Physically, he would be fine within days. Mentally? How could he say yes?

Who weathered this much upheaval in their lives and came out whole? He’d become part of a paranormal species which normally only existed as mythos and fables. In a matter of months, Sawyer had seen, done, and witnessed horrors. True horrors. He would never stop seeing the eyes of the dead in his lifetime.

Sawyer wiped away a tear. “I don’t know. So many people died. How do we live with that?”

Hugging carefully, but firmly, Jimmy kissed Sawyer’s temple. “You remind yourself, if there had been any other choice, we would have taken it. We didn’t seek this out. You can’t blame yourself for protecting what’s yours.”

How would he weather it? With this man at his side is how. Jimmy’s pragmatic approach was life as a wolf made into a man. Eat, sleep, and mate. Guard those closest to you with zealous fervor. A simple ethic, but one with a few drawbacks.

“Will our lives be like this, always looking over our shoulders from now on?”

“I hope not. But there’s risks in being wolves. Seems to draw danger to us, and we don’t always deal with it with subtlety.”

“Then I want you to bite me.”

Jimmy’s hold stiffened. “What?”

“Now. Before we lose our chance.”

“Sawyer…Just because Maddie—”

“I don’t care if my mother approves or not. This isn’t about her. I don’t want to go another day without being your mate.”

“We should wait until you’re healed.”

“I’m tired of waiting. I know you are too.” Fresh from showering and trapped by the blankets, the woodsy, gentle musk without cologne hit Sawyer’s nose and took on feral notes. Jimmy’s wolf awakened. The dark bundle inside Sawyer stirred in kind. “I need the wolf I love’s mark on me. Don’t make me beg.”

Jimmy kissed Sawyer’s shoulder, over the ring of scars. A scarlet letter. Marked by the wrong wolf. Jimmy’s tongue snaked out, wetting the flesh. Sawyer shivered. Wishing. Waiting.

Despite the lethargy, Jimmy’s cock rose. Sawyer shifted his hips, allowing it to spring up to full mast and wedge between his buttocks, aimed for the entrance. He never needed it more. With a sultry growl, Jimmy ground the slippery knob at the tender ring, spreading its sap as he tried to nudge its way inside. Unfortunately, no matter how much practice Sawyer had sexing Jimmy over the last few months, it wouldn’t be enough. Sawyer spit heavily into his hand, reached between them, and slathered Jimmy’s rigid meat.

Jimmy hissed against Sawyer’s skin. “God, I love you. I should have done this our first night together.”

Fangs and cock breached Sawyer as one, forcing his body to relax through the initial intrusions. Neither pain was a new experience, but thankfully, the bite lacked the savagery he associated with being mauled and allowed him to settle. Sawyer struggled to stay quiet as Jimmy’s teeth held him in place, sinking deeper until the entire shaft was buried. Jimmy’s free hand drifted from hip to groin, circling Sawyer’s hardness, the foreskin already rolled back. Squeezing the base, Jimmy dragged his fist to the tip and spread the slick he dredged up with his thumb. 

Sawyer shuddered, accepting it all.

With no urgency, they found an easy motion, rocking into one another, while Jimmy kept his teeth embedded in the muscle. Sawyer should have been scared, but the dark bundle accepted the intrusion, reinforcing the rightness. Its spiny surface relaxed and reached out. Not to overtake Sawyer’s body and let loose the beast, but rather to blend and become one. Flesh shivered around Jimmy’s bite, became clay-like and smudged away the scars of Irwin’s trespass, smoothing under Sawyer’s touch.

Quiet and without fanfare, they came, Sawyer in Jimmy’s hand, Jimmy’s inside Sawyer, leaving a river of peaceful energy flowing between them, cool and silvery as moonlight. Sawyer could feel his mate’s soul connecting to him, warming him, loving him, giving him strength. The links between them wasn’t singular. He felt other thin strands reaching out, and he sensed Jada and his mother at the other ends with Jimmy at the center.

Intentional or not, they’d become a pack. Jimmy’s pack.

For a moment, Sawyer saw the dark presence inside him brighten and solidify. It’s razored edges smoothed. Sawyer took that bliss with him into slumber, still entwined in Jimmy’s arms.

Stay tuned … Chapter 40 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 82 – Chapter 39 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 maximum word installments and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

Maddie saved the day. What now?

Moon Phases banner

Part 82 – Chapter 39

When Jimmy’s condition stabilized, Maddie’s gaze flitted to the ceiling, a child-like joy on her face. Sawyer knew this woman was his mother, but her behavior made her practically a stranger. In a matter of minutes, she’d gone from ruthless avenger, to focused elder, to flower child. Her eyes retained their wolfen amber, and the rest of her appearance continued to be youthful and pristine. 


Maddie’s every motion floated, reactions delayed a touch. Her focus drifted as if mildly distracted from her usually sober reality. Pausing, she rubbed his shirt collar between her fingers, the texture drawing a peculiar fascination for several moments before shaking herself back into the here and now.

“I’m sorry, Sawyer. I forgot how vibrant everything can be.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

The delight in her eyes faded as she discovered the tears exposing the wounds Fergus inflicted on Sawyer’s chest as if she’d never seen them before. “What is this?”

In true motherly fashion, Maddie reached inside the ruined garment and roamed her hand over his exposed skin, examining his injuries. Sawyer wanted to jump back as she crossed his personal boundaries, but decided not to test the weird haze behind her eyes. Maddie had just crushed and killed a man, after all. Fingers grazing over the claw marks on his chest, her expression became perplexed as she noticed they were closed and no longer bleeding.

“Uh… I can explain,” Sawyer said.

Pushing the opening in Sawyer’s shirt aside, Maddie gasped when she found the ring of teeth scars looping over his shoulder. 

“Sawyer…” Maddie’s eyes watered as she cupped Sawyer’s face between her hands. Tortured sadness flooded Sawyer’s heart, because he knew the explanation wouldn’t be necessary.

“You’re a wolf. Can’t you smell he’s not human anymore?” Jimmy sounded oddly confused.

“No… My perfume…”

“Hides your scent from everyone, but you’ve used it so long it’s burned your sense of smell.”

Maddie’s whole torso and head pivoted as one to face Jimmy. She wasn’t pleased. “Did you bite my son?”

Jimmy was cautious, yet firm. “No. Not me.”

A warning growl rolled out of Maddie from deep within. “Tell me who. Now.”

Everyone paused. Touching her wolf seemed to have made Maddie a bit mad. In a few short minutes, he’d witnessed a feral warrior defending her family, and the maternal, doting woman he’d always wished for. Except she had amber wolf eyes. Her actions were exaggerated enough to question her self-control, and she was far too aggressively locked onto Jimmy for Sawyer’s comfort. They’d been through enough for one night.

Gambling she’d never harm him, Sawyer grabbed Maddie by the shoulder and gave it a good shake. “Mom! Jimmy already took care of him.”

Spinning back to Sawyer, Maddie stared into his eyes for several seconds before responding. “Was he one of this unfortunate pack?”

“Yes, but not anymore.” Jimmy may have been beaten and tired, but his fierce spirit shone like sunlight. Killing Irwin was a mark of pride and justifiable violence to him. Sawyer knew no one would ever convince Jimmy otherwise.

“Would you be willing to die for Sawyer?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitation.

“You said Sawyer was your mate. Is this true?”


“Then why haven’t you claimed him?”

“What?” Jimmy looked honestly taken aback.

Maddie pointed at Sawyer. “These teeth marks aren’t yours, and I’m not naive enough to believe you haven’t slept together.”

Horrified, Sawyer tried to interrupt as he pulled his tattered shirt together. “Can we stop talking about my sex life with my mother?”

Jimmy answered Maddie as if Sawyer hadn’t said a word. “What does that matter?”

Brow creased, Maddie tilted her head. “Surely you know a mating bond has to be cemented with sex and a bite.”

“He’d already been bitten. My wolf wanted to mark him, but we didn’t want to hurt him more or make matters worse.”

“You’ll still need to finish the job.”

“Um… I’m right here.” Sawyer looked back and forth between them both and neither acknowledged him. No help whatsoever, Jada continued to watch, fascinated by the exchange.

Despite it all, Sawyer couldn’t help being enthralled by Maddie. Young and vibrant again, he wondered if this was the woman she once was before giving up her wolf. Did that choice leave her bitter and unforgiving of the world? She’d always been maternal, holding him close—sometimes too close—but Maddie’s motives had always been to provide the best for Sawyer while not drawing an excessive amount of attention to herself. She wanted her way, yet pursued it with discretion. This look into the woman she might have once been left Sawyer with so many questions.

Comparing his memories with what he’d learned from Jimmy, Sawyer couldn’t find any real trace of Maddie’s heritage. There was no way she could have hidden such a huge secret without somehow rejecting its existence. Denial was a powerful force. Sawyer understood it well. He’d spent years telling himself he wasn’t an addict. Did she teach him that behavior without intending? Knowing she’d sacrificed a part of herself saddened him.

Maddie frowned as if Sawyer’s thoughts were visible writings in the air, yet her softened conversation was still for Jimmy. “Tell me. Does he become a wolf?”

Jimmy’s mouth formed a grim line. “No.”

An excruciating tension strangled Sawyer’s heart. He sensed the second layer woven into Maddie’s question. When her eyes widened, and she raised a hand to cover her open mouth, Sawyer didn’t need to ask whether his mother understood the unspoken word.


chapter 39 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) !

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs


Phases of Moon — Part 81 – Chapter 38 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 word installments, while the remainder of the chapter will post on the following Thursday. 

The aftermath continues…

Moon Phases banner

Part 81 – Chapter 38

continued from part 80…

Nodding, Sawyer left Maddie to her thoughts while letting Jimmy tug him away. He’d had enough of the outdoors for one night. Jada held open the door as they shuffled into the house. 

“I hope you boys know a good therapist, because I’m thinking we’re going to make someone rich.” Humor was another option Jada used for emotional armor. Sawyer imagined the sarcasm and jokes would be plentiful, and a much better reaction than her wrath. After what they’d been through, she had a right to her anger, but there would be time later to unpack the baggage. Now was the time to breathe. Time to heal. 

Under his mother’s roof, they could shut out the night’s events for a little while. Avoidance may not have been the healthiest coping mechanism, but it was the right one for the moment.

As Jimmy passed, Jada made an obvious effort to keep her head tipped upwards. He may have been covered and grungy, but he was still stark naked. Knowing Jimmy’s comfort level with nudity, Sawyer found it amusing.

Back in the living room, Jimmy dropped his effect on a side table, looked himself over, then the furniture, as he ushered Sawyer to the couch. “I’ll need to get cleaned up soon. You sit down. You need to rest.”

Holding his breath, Sawyer sat with Jimmy’s help. Carefully. Oh, so carefully. Settling into the couch was a relief, but the execution left him a little woozy.

“Me? I’m not the one who got skewered by a movie monster after turning into a movie monster. What was up with that?”

“I’m not sure. I think alphas can do things other wolves can’t.”

“Will you turn into that again?”

Deep furrows of concern marred Jimmy’s face as he took Sawyer’s hand. “I hope not. It’s too dangerous. Too wild to let loose.”

“Well, his timing was good, but I prefer your wolf. Turning into it didn’t hurt you, did it?”

Jimmy replied with a head shake and shrug. “I feel like me. Just beat.”

Sighing in disgust, Jada grabbed the afghan hanging over the armchair and threw it at Jimmy while continuing to avert her eyes. “Ugh. Here. Take this and cover yourself up. I’ve already had to watch two werewolves duke it out, and I’m tired of the macho bragging.”

“I’m not bragging.” Holding the blanket in one hand, Jimmy appeared confused.

Jada waved, aimed at Jimmy’s hips. “Any man running around with it all hanging out like that definitely is.”

Sawyer wasn’t complaining. Handsome, chiseled, and big in all the right places, Jimmy’s attractiveness shone through the layers of sweat and dirt. Heroes should be sexy, and this one was Sawyer’s, and he was proud of it.

“Oh, sorry.” Jimmy’s brows threatened to meet his hairline when the light in his head turned on. Suddenly embarrassed, he swung the knitted fabric around his waist, and tied it off at his hips. 

Sawyer snickered. “She’s just jealous.”

If one of Jada’s arms wasn’t in a sling, she would have crossed them to emphasize her point. Instead, she slumped into the chair like a petulant teenager. “Yes, I am. Figures, we get divorced, and you snag yourself a superhero.” 

Jimmy’s cheeks darkened. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

“I would.” Pain wouldn’t keep Sawyer from smiling. Movie monster, superhero, or whatever, Jimmy was the best thing to come into Sawyer’s life. He would never regret that.

Movement entering the living room caught his eye, and the good feeling plummeted.


A broad shouldered man with a shaved head choked Maddie with one arm as he walked them into the room. In his other hand, he held Maddie’s discarded revolver to her temple.

“Stay right there, or I’ll blow her brains out.” 

Jada shifted out of her seat and froze. A band of thorns wrapped itself around Sawyer’s heart. He’d made it through Fergus’ taunts and terrorizing, the sight of Jimmy being nearly killed, and the deaths of a horde of people in front of him, but seeing Maddie at gunpoint eclipsed all of it. His mother was being threatened and he was helpless.

Jimmy shifted his weight, sliding forward a half-step. “Granger, put it down.”

I said don’t move!” Granger’s shout halted Jimmy’s progress. 

Maddie hissed as Granger’s solid arm tightened. “Could someone please listen to the naked man with the gun?”

“Don’t hurt her. Please,” Sawyer said.

Eyes wide open, tremors shook Granger’s whole body. A sickly sheen of perspiration only highlighted the desperation radiating from him. He spoke through gritted teeth. “You killed Fergus.”

Jimmy raised his hands, palms out. “It was a challenge. I had no choice.”

Shaking his head so quickly, Sawyer worried Granger might pull the trigger by accident. “I will not be your beta. He was my alpha. My… my… you killed him.”

“He almost killed me first.”

Tears spilled down Granger’s cheeks, streaking the dirt on his face. “You took him away from me. He was all I had.”

“He came here. He could have left us alone. We were happy to walk away. None of this had to happen.” Jimmy tensed, but weariness laced every muscle. He spoke with authority, yet kept his tone compassionate.

“No. You didn’t do what you were told. If you did, he’d still be here.”

“Fergus made his own choices.”

Sobbing, Granger pressed harder, puckering Maddie’s skin around the muzzle. “He’s gone. You took him away from me.”

A strange sense of sympathy came over Sawyer. He hated the man, but could hear the devastation, the heartbreak with every crazed syllable. Fergus meant more to Granger than simply being his alpha and that single truth terrified Sawyer more than anything. Vengeance motivated men to commit horrors beyond belief. 

Fergus died for the very thing.

“I defended myself and my mate.” Tension coiled in Jimmy’s exhausted body, readying himself.

Barely restrained venom darkened Granger’s weeping eyes. “You took him away. Only fair I return the favor.”

Granger aimed the gun at Sawyer.



All at once, Maddie reached for Granger’s arm as the gun roared. Jimmy leapt in front of Sawyer and dropped. Granger cried out as Maddie twisted his arm, the bones breaking with an audible snap. The gun hit the floor with a thunk, and Jada had the presence of mind to scoop it up and aim left-handed at the intruder.

Ignoring the pain in his side, Sawyer rolled off the couch next to Jimmy, and pressed his hand over the gaping bullet wound in his mate’s chest. Sawyer held as tight as he dared, while Jimmy’s shocked gaze couldn’t be moved away from Maddie.

When Sawyer dared to look, he understood why.

Maddie’s hair lengthened, her skin smoothed, and her body tightened, thirty years erased in an instant. Somehow, she stood taller as well. From one petite, outstretched arm, the massive, shaven-headed brute dangled, toes barely brushing the floor. Maddie’s fingers clutched him by the throat. She shook him as he kicked, punched, and scratched, trying to break free, but she ignored his efforts. Red-faced, Granger choked and sputtered as she drew him close, staring him down with the amber eyes of a wolf.

“Filthy inbred bastard. You come into my home, threaten me, and try to murder my child? All my wolf and I ever asked for was to be left alone. But you dull-witted, arrogant mutts couldn’t leave me be. An entire pack’s lives… wasted… because of your alpha’s stupidity.”

Jada’s voice was almost a whisper. “Oh god, he’s the one who bit me.”

Age lines may have disappeared from her face, but glancing back to Jada, Maddie’s fury was plain to see, as it magnified hot enough to immolate the whole house. Her grip tightened, forcing Granger’s tongue out of his gagging mouth.

“I’ve seen this all before. You think yourself killers. Believe yourselves to be pure breeds, while forgetting you’re nothing but trash. Your kind never learns. Your alpha deserved to die just for crossing my territory without permission. And so do you for following him like an idiot lapdog. Thank you for reminding me not to leave enemies at my back.”

Growling, Maddie swung Granger over her head and slammed him down. Boards splintered and punched through the carpet as she slammed him through the floor. Furniture jumped with the impact.

Laying in the new pit, Granger wheezed, broken and barely moving.

Maddie gave him a cold glare, turned, and slid open the sliding glass doors. Six dogs on high alert bounded out, surrounding her, eyes on Granger.

“You shouldn’t have come here. You shouldn’t have threatened my family.”

Maddie pointed at Granger. 


The dogs pounced at Granger’s throat.

Jada gasped, and Sawyer turned his head, unable to watch. 

Unfortunately, the sounds of snarling, chewing, and Granger’s feeble cries dwindling to nothing painted a vivid enough picture.

“Heel,” Maddie said, and the dogs returned to her side, jaws and snouts wet and red. The perfect, obedient pack. With a gestured command, they returned to their enclosure with barely a sound, and Maddie closed the doors behind them.

“Maddie, are you all right?” Jada asked. “You don’t seem yourself.”

Rolling her neck, Maddie stretched tall, a look of pure indulgent pleasure gracing her face. “I’ll be fine, dear. I just haven’t woken my wolf in a long time.”


Catching Sawyer’s eye, Maddie’s expression faded. A lifetime secret was out, and the guilt was obvious. “I’ll explain later, sweetheart.”

Maddie glided around Granger’s body, granting it little importance. What was one more corpse in the wake of a bloodbath? Sawyer wanted to ask questions—oh so many questions—but there were more important issues to deal with first.

“Jimmy, can you hear me?” Blood seeped between Sawyer’s fingers no matter how much pressure he placed over the bullet wound. 

“Yes.” Skin cool and paling, Jimmy’s response was weak. Listless in Sawyer’s arms, his eyes drifted shut.

The band of thorns snugged a couple notches.

Maddie knelt in front of them, sitting on her heels, hands on her thighs, upright and poised. Grey missing from the hair tumbling over her shoulders, she appeared no older than any of them. “Listen to me, Jimmy. Shift. Heal yourself.”

“Wolf’s too weak.”

A tiny frown curled Maddie’s lips as she snatched Jimmy by the chin and shook it until his eyes opened. “You are an alpha. If the dire wolf form is any indication, you are far more than your wolf. This flesh is yours. Shape it, make it what you need. You took a bullet for my child. I will not allow you to die and break my son’s heart, are we clear?”

Sawyer’s swallowed. He didn’t understand what his mother was saying. All he knew was they had faced a monster and survived it, and now Jimmy was dying for real in his arms. Where was the magick now? Jimmy had been granted power to save them and now he was fading away. Didn’t they deserve a little happiness after all of this? 

Stroking Jimmy’s cheek, it took everything Sawyer had not to cry and make matters worse. “Jimmy, please. I need you.”

With a slow nod, Jimmy closed his eyes. Jaw clenched and face contorted, every muscle flexed and shivered under Sawyer’s hands.  If Sawyer had to guess, he’d think Jimmy was changing into his wolf, but not fur sprouted, or mass shifted.

“That’s it. You can do it.” Calm and supportive, Maddie urged Jimmy on.

A spasm under his hand startled Sawyer, and he pulled it away in reflex. Jimmy’s pectoral swelled and the gaping wound rose like a tiny volcano. The spent bullet spit out of the hole and the volcano flattened as it sealed itself shut.

Air burst out of Jimmy, in deep, cleansing exhales. Color returned to his skin, and his eyes fluttered open. His gaze sought out Sawyer at once.

“There you are.”

Sawyer burst out into teary laughter. “Here I am.”

Jada set the revolver on the end table and fell back onto the couch. “Oh my god, don’t scare me like that again!”

“Yeah. What she said.”

Jimmy chuckled. The sound was thready, but already improved. “I’ll do my best.”

They found enough strength to split the distance between them and fused their lips together. The movement still strained his ribs, but Sawyer saw it as the price of a slow, promising kiss, full of a future together.

When they broke, Jimmy narrowed his eyes at Maddie. “When this is over, we’re going to have words.”

Maddie didn’t seem overly concerned. “That’s fair.”

Stay tuned … Chapter 39 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 80 – Chapter 38 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 maximum word installments and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

That’s may be calming down for our cast…

Moon Phases banner

Part 80 – Chapter 38

Had Sawyer grown up a religious man, he’d pray to have his night vision stricken and block the sight of the hellish carnage strewn across his mother’s backyard. Sweat rolled over his injured body, soaking his clothing as he stepped carefully, avoiding the fresh corpses. He’d never seen a dead person up close before, and now there were so many, he wished he could forget the horrors he’d seen. The smell… he worried it would be tattooed inside his nostrils forever.

His and his family’s survival was nothing short of a miracle. And that’s how he saw Jimmy, Maddie, and Jada: as family, inseparable, for good or bad.

Broken ribs grated with each step. They were healing at an unnatural speed he couldn’t explain to his mother, but he was far from whole, and it couldn’t keep him from pushing on. An unwelcome guest in his life lately, pain couldn’t frighten him anymore. For now, he moved as quickly as he dared—yet faster than he should—to reach the man he couldn’t live without.

Covered in layers of various foulness, Jimmy’s chest rose and fell as he lay in the abattoir’s epicenter.

Sawyer edged around one last dead pack member before kneeling close. The scorching stress across several ribs nearly made him faint. Thankfully, he settled and kept conscious. Chewed meat formerly known as Fergus’ skull nearly made him vomit. Averting his eyes, he focused on Jimmy.

Barely visible through the soil caked with blood, fresh scars slashed and dotted Jimmy’s skin. Becoming human again might have staunched the wounds, but the tender flesh looked like it could tear open again with little effort. Afraid to hurt him more, Sawyer touched Jimmy as lightly as he could. Jimmy’s whole body flinched at the gossamer contact.

Sawyer jerked his hand back as his eyes watered. “Jimmy, it’s me.”

Jimmy’s eyes creaked open. Depths of exhaustion lay in his dark gaze, fully human without a hint of his wolf. Blinking, he noticed how Sawyer hesitated to touch him, hands hovering shy of contact. Jimmy reached up and twined their fingers together. It went a long way to easing Sawyer’s fears. 

“Are you okay?” Jimmy asked.

Seeing him battered and bruised tore at Sawyer’s chest. They had been through so much in such a short period, and Jimmy had always been a rock Sawyer could shelter beneath when the world tested his sanity. The least he could do was be the same. 

“I will be. All of us will be because of you. I was so afraid he’d kill you.”

“It was close.”

Sawyer choked. A tear he tried to hold back escaped and rolled over his cheek. “I know.”

“Hey, don’t worry. I’m pretty fucked up, but I’ll survive. Both of us will.”

Squeezing Jimmy’s hand tighter, Sawyer surveyed the carnage surrounding them. “Does this mean we’re free?”

“Yeah, I think so. I love you, Sawyer.”

Leaning over to kiss Jimmy hurt more than it should, but Sawyer needed to prove to himself this wasn’t some teasing dream about to be spoiled by reality. They’d come too close to losing their lives and each other. He didn’t even care when Jimmy ran a dirty hand through Sawyer’s hair.

“Yes, I love you too. Now, get your ass up. I don’t want to be out here anymore, and I’m not strong enough to carry you.”

They both creaked like old men, taking long minutes to stand once again. Neither was truly strong enough to help the other up, but somehow they managed the graceless task. Once on their feet, they leaned against one another to catch their breath, using their weights to hold themselves upright. Sawyer appreciated Jada and Maddie keeping their distance and allowing them a private moment.

“You started saying ass a lot tonight. Should I be concerned?” Jimmy said with a weary snicker.

“Shut up.”

They worked back towards the house, using each other as a makeshift crutch. There was no telling when the adrenaline high would wear off and they’d sleep for days. Sawyer’s shirt was slashed open. Jimmy was nude. Both were covered in healing scars, dirt, and blood.

“Fergus wounded you. How bad?” Jimmy asked.

“I’m doing better. I can breathe better, but I think it’ll be a while before it stops hurting. I think he broke a few ribs.”

Stopping unexpectedly, Jimmy bent down, finding the rags with were once his clothes. The jeans’ pocket was intact despite the tattered strips of denim, and he fished out his phone, money clip, and keys. Swiping the cracked screen on his phone, Jimmy appeared content to find it still working.

“I’m not sorry I killed him.” Turning his head to the side, Jimmy spit on the ground.

Sawyer couldn’t stop looking at the bodies. “Me either. I just wish it wasn’t on my mother’s lawn. Oh god, Jimmy. What are we going to do about this?”

Taking Sawyer’s hand, Jimmy stood but didn’t use him for leverage. “We’ll take care of it. Just right now, we need to rest a bit.”

“It’s been a long night.”

“Yes it has.”

Before long they reached Maddie standing at the edge of the aftermath. The bun she normally wore had shaken loose, barely held together at her back. Ignoring the stray lock of hair in her face, she stared at the field of dead people, eyes wet and haunted. Sawyer hadn’t seen his mother this distressed since he’d needed rehab. He wasn’t sure what to do.

“Mom, I’m sorry. We can explain.” 

Maddie’s whole body shivered in recognition of Sawyer’s voice, but didn’t face him. “Thank you. That would be nice.”

“Don’t look at this. Come on.” Sawyer palmed her arm, hoping to coax Maddie inside and out of the awfulness. Instead, she reached over and patted his hand.

“Go on. Both of you. I’ll be inside in a minute.”

Knowing better than to argue, Sawyer kissed his mother’s cheek. “Okay. Don’t be long.”

“I won’t.”

chapter 38 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) !

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs


Phases of Moon — Part 79 – Chapter 37 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.

This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!

Wednesdays will be set for 1000 word installments, while the remainder of the chapter will post on the following Thursday. 

I repeat: Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod…

Moon Phases banner

Part 79 – Chapter 37

continued from part 78…

The back door swung open and Maddie stomped out into the yard. Stern and imposing, the untucked edges of his blouse flowed behind her like a cape.

“Jimmy, what the hell is going on? Who is this man, and what’s wrong with him?” A glint of metal in Maddie’s hand left Jimmy feeling better, knowing she’d taken his warning seriously, and armed herself. The real question: Would it be enough?

“Stay back, Maddie. This is between Fergus and me.”

“Dammit, Sawyer, do what your mother told you and stay inside.” With one arm in a sling, Jada couldn’t hold Sawyer inside while brandishing a fireplace poker in the other. The night’s events wore on Jada, but she hadn’t given up. Jimmy could respect that.

“No. I have to be here.”

The short gasps as Sawyer struggled to speak alarmed Jimmy almost as much as how every movement made his pale mate wince. The smell of blood wafting Jimmy’s way nearly threw his wolf into a frenzy, but Jimmy leashed his anger. Mindless aggression led to sloppiness when forced into a fight. An unreliable strategy, which ended more than one life in the past. 

“Sawyer, are you okay?”

A pained grimace faded as he settled behind Jada. “I’ll be fine. Kick his mangy ass.”

Grabbing his collar, Fergus tore the shirt off his body with a twist of his hand and tossed the rags aside. The move was intended to intimidate. It may have worked wonders with the locals, but Jimmy wasn’t so easily impressed.

“After I win, I’m going to butcher them into pieces and feed them to my wolves.”

“Who is this guy?” Jada stiffened, tightening her grip on the poker.

Sawyer barely gathered enough air to respond. “He’s the crappy boss of the guy who went after you.”

“For that crack, I’m going to save you for last, pussy boy.” Fergus’s malevolent grin was solely for Jimmy. “After I have that ass, of course. I’m betting it’s pretty sweet. Am I right, Jimmy?”

Jimmy circled again to place himself between Fergus and the others. “That’s enough, Fergus. What are you waiting for? I’m right here. Or are you afraid of me?”

Fury and sadness flashed in Fergus’ eyes. “You could have been part of my pack. I would have taken good care of you. Given you everything you needed. Your life would have been good. Prosperous. But you threw my offer in my face. Rejected my generosity.” Fergus waved at Sawyer and the rest in disgust. “For this. It’s insulting. You’re building a pack in my backyard, and then you want to steal mine as well?”

Maddie was not happy with Fergus’ attitude. “I don’t care who you are. I don’t like strange people on my property. Get off my lawn. Now.”

“He won’t be here long,” Jimmy said.

The sneer of Fergus’ face deepened. “Fine. You want my pack? Here’s the pack.”

Tipping his head back to the overcast sky, Fergus let out a guttural howl. Jimmy stilled. The last time he’d heard anything like it was the night his maman died. When she faced the fire-wielding mob and called her pack to war…

From all directions, Jimmy heard the approaching heartbeats, too many to count.

Downwind, he’d missed the scents, but now, as they breached the tree line, it threatened to swamp him. All of them smelled faintly of Fergus, marking them as his pack. Fifty, sixty, or more men and women of various ages emerged. Vacant amber eyes stared back at him in unison, and their fingertips looked sharp. The entire pack was stuck somewhere between man and wolf, neither fully one, nor the other. Sluggish movements matched blank faces, as if the minds inside were smothered, their wills not their own.

This was Fergus’ doing.

Sawyer and Jada appeared disturbed, but unaffected by Fergus’ howl. The power must have had limits with this many targets, having to focus on his pack alone, but the thought of Sawyer falling under his command terrified Jimmy. He’d never heard stories of any wolf—let alone an alpha—capable of slaving a pack into service. His maman had called their wolves out to join the fight the night she died, but she’d led the charge, not imposed her will on them to protect herself. Were there other skills she kept hidden, exclusive to the rank of alpha alone? 

What else was Fergus capable of?

Jimmy’s confidence fractured as the pack flowed around them, walling Fergus out of their reach, and leaving nowhere to run.

Surrounding the house in the dark, their numbers were few to Fergus’ many. A suicidal stand against an aggressor who wanted something he couldn’t have. Did his maman understand the futility when faced with impossible odds? Did she have any idea the pack would be wiped out that night? Just like Mitchell, the alpha used the group as a shield for his own purposes, and Jimmy wanted nothing more than Fergus’ end to be as bloody.

But he could see the carnage repeating itself.

Being only a beta, what chance did Jimmy have in winning? His wolf flattened its ears at the doubt creeping into their chest. If they didn’t bolster their courage, they were done. And if Jimmy fell, Sawyer and the rest would follow without question.

No. No matter what, Jimmy had to end this and Fergus.

Outnumbered or not, there was no going back now.

Jimmy stood proud, feeling the telltale itch heralding his shift. He let his gaze travel from one end of the pack to the other. They wavered, near drooling. Waiting.

“They’re not part of this challenge. Keep them to the side and away from my pack. It’s you and me. Period.”

“Your pack? You don’t have a pack. All I see is a bunch of raggedy strays. Besides, who’s going to tell me no?”

Unsurprised, Jimmy huffed. “Of course you’ll cheat. For someone who spouts on about the old ways so much, your bloodline’s a bunch of bottom feeders.”

“And your bloodline is about to end.”

Ignoring Sawyer’s feeble attempt to hold her back, Maddie stepped further forward, her hand flexing and squeezing the revolver. Her normally stoic expression twitched with barely restrained outrage. “Jimmy, is he the one who hurt my son?”

The smirk Fergus threw at Maddie was nothing short of taunting. “Only a little bit, sweetheart. Wait your turn.”

Dark creases defined Maddie’s face as she stepped in range and raised the pistol.

“Defend me,” Fergus growled.

The pack clustered in front of their alpha as Maddie pulled the trigger. Fire and thunder struck, and a pack member’s head snapped back instead of Fergus’.

Without another thought, Jimmy shed his human form faster than ever before. For the first time in his life, the pain of shifting didn’t bury Jimmy’s mind into the background and beneath his wolf. They acted as one, thoughts and motives meshed together. Unable to contain the larger mass, his clothing burst into tatters, and he shook them off as he leaped to Maddie’s aid. 

Maddie’s gun went off again as the pack advanced on her in a sluggish wave. Holding them off was impossible. There were too many of them and too few bullets in her gun. Frightened but refusing to yield, Jada defended Sawyer from the growing mob with awkward left-handed swings of the fireplace poker. Jimmy bulled through the pack as they reached Maddie, stripped the weapon out of her hand, and tossed it away.

Now a dark furred wolf, Fergus paced on four feet, staying well back out of the fray.

Solely protecting Sawyer wasn’t enough. He’d brought this madness to these people’s lives. Defending them was his responsibility as well. The pack may have been Fergus’ slaves, but the lines had been drawn.

Charging into the thick of them, Jimmy attacked with all the savagery at his command. Innocent or not, the pack threatened his, and he would do his duty. Killing two about to overwhelm Maddie gave him no pleasure, no thrill of the hunt. Pure aggression, and the need for him and his people to survive, drove him on.

The pack’s minds may have been dulled, but there was enough inside to react, as he rent flesh and bone of men and women who didn’t deserve it. He slashed through a cluster that disarmed Jada, crowding her and Sawyer. Each one Jimmy clawed or bit turned their attention on him, redirecting the pack as a whole. Making himself the target was easy. Leaping over the swarm, he drew them away from the house and the others. The pack followed. Fergus watched.

There were still far too many of them. Sheer numbers alone would drown Jimmy, and they were already surrounding him, giving him nowhere to run. He wasn’t sure he had the stomach for wholesale slaughter, but Fergus gave him little choice.

Jimmy attacked the oncoming tide, but they piled on, enough wolf in their eyes to make them more than human. They snatched handfuls of his fur as the load of bodies increased, burying him under the volume of mindless wolves. 

Fergus let out a series of vocalizations, and a section of the pack broke away, heading back for Sawyer and the others. Their weight held him down. Jimmy couldn’t shake them loose and defend the others while keeping them from tearing out his eyes. He needed to do something. Maddie and Jada fell back to form a wall between the pack and Sawyer, but it wouldn’t hold. It couldn’t.

They were losing.

Even in the chaos, Jimmy’s wolf refused to stop listening for his mate, to keep him safe. Sawyer’s words were faint from lack of breath, but they still travelled far enough to catch his ear.

“I don’t know if you can hear me, Jimmy, but I should’ve said something sooner. Sometimes I can see the wolf’s magick inside us. Mine’s weak and deformed, but yours is big and blinding, and Fergus’ looks the same. He’s not stronger than you. You have to believe it. Don’t let him win!”

It was hard to think through the half-wolves tearing at him, but Jimmy heard.

He’d always known his kind were physically larger than the world should have allowed. Breaking the laws of nature required magick, he understood that. Sawyer’s being weak and deformed made sense as a rabid, but saying he and Fergus were the same? Fergus was an alpha like Jimmy’s maman. He was born with power.

Smothering hands tried to pry his jaws apart. Rip them in half.

Born with power.

Something connected. Jimmy didn’t completely understand, but his wolf did. In its rage and refusal to submit, it reached out to the moon behind the cloud and pulled. For a split-second, the word stilled. A relentless wave of unseen moonlight filled his core, overcharging him with a restless energy they had to release and risk combusting.

Jimmy lurched to his feet, shaking the pack off him with a surge of strength. He embraced his calling as a creature of the night. The moon’s grace filled him, making him stronger than he’d ever known.

Since the night his maman died, Jimmy never forgot the sound of her call. The cry which brought all the wolves out under her command. Grief kept it in his mind, a final tribute to the leadership of a true alpha. He would do her proud.

So Jimmy drew a deep breath and howled, pouring the newfound magick into the wolf song.

The pack halted, trembling, as if someone plucked the guitar string connecting them together as a group. The palpable vibration created a new note, shocking their harmony out of sync. Pitching his voice, he found their chord, and the pack turned to face Fergus.

“Oh my god. I think Jimmy’s an alpha,” Sawyer whispered.

Back arched and head down, Fergus’ feral noises telegraphed his unhappiness. The pack drifted closer to its alpha, and Fergus let out another howl, louder than before.

The pack froze, shivering and whimpering, and Jimmy felt his hold on them shatter. One by one, they turned, and shuffled back at Jimmy and the rest once again.

So Jimmy howled.

They stopped again, looking even more distressed.

Fergus refused to stop, determined to use the pack against them all.

Doubling his efforts, Jimmy struggled. He had no ties to the pack, and turning them required brute force. Their submission felt wrong in so many ways. Deep down, he and his wolf could feel the dark edge staining the howl, sensing how easy it could be corrupted, how damning. They knew the baying shouldn’t be used this way, but he couldn’t stop. Too many relied on him not to fail. Fergus’ weapon needed to be disarmed, so Jimmy prayed for forgiveness, and sang louder still.

An icy wind rose, blowing through the trees. Empty branches rattled, nature protesting the abuse of their gifts. At any moment, he expected the moon to blaze bright as the sun, burn away the clouds, and reduce them to cinders.

Sawyer and Jada covered their ears as best they could. Maddie watched, face etched in disbelief, as the wind whipped stray hairs from her loose bun.

The discordant songs clashed, and the pack quaked. Their skins reddened in pain. Jimmy didn’t want to hurt them, but his mate—his pack—was at risk, and he couldn’t fail them. 

So he drew on the magick, deeper than before.

His wolf had always made him feel one with nature, but this made him part of its bloodstream, its raging heart. It roared through him, a mighty river capable of powering cities and wearing down mountains. Inside the rapids, something lived. A feral promise of more. It suffused Jimmy’s flesh and reshaped his body.

“Oh my god,” Sawyer whispered.

Paws stretched into claw-tipped fingers, and front legs stretched into muscular arms. His torso swelled and lengthened, and before he realized it, Jimmy became something he never imagined possible, a werewolf of legend. A nightmare standing on two legs.

To make matters worse, Fergus’ wolf was doing the same, a dark-furred mirror as furious as Jimmy, teeth barred, and howling without stopping.

So Jimmy had no choice.

Taking another breath, Jimmy howled once more, attacking the sound. He wanted to stop, but if Fergus regained control, they could slaughter Sawyer, Jada, and Maddie while he dealt with Fergus. 

Pack members seized, unable to accept the dueling songs. Dark rivulets flowed from their noses and ears. Tortured moans fell from their frothing mouths in a haunting chorus. Jimmy could feel what the clashing howls were doing to them. Fergus had to know too, but was too intent on winning to care.

Jimmy made another silent prayer as he pushed harder, hoping to end it sooner rather than later.

The weakest ones fell first, blood gushing out of their nostrils. Tension left the fallen bodies, finally at peace. The rest fell in quick succession until the yard was a morbid field of corpses.

The wild wind died to a soft breeze.

Fergus continued to howl after the last wolf collapsed, as if he could raise the dead. Some things were beyond the alpha’s power. A string of saliva hung from his mouth as his head swung left and right, surveying his dead flock. The barking, howls, and whining were uncontrolled mourning, yet Jimmy wasn’t convinced whether he cared about losing their lives, or the status of losing his pack. Both were unforgivable sins.

Eyes locking on Jimmy, Fergus coiled in readiness and charged.

Jimmy braced and met Fergus’ savage fury with his own, trading slashes, and slamming into each other. Both wolves were solid, bodies unforgiving, and made to take punishment. Dark stains littered their fur and dripped to the ground. They wounded each other in equal measure, yet neither gave ground.

Fergus dropped low and tackled Jimmy to the ground. They wrestled in the dirt, snarling and clawing. Jimmy howled as Fergus sank teeth into his shoulder, only to have the favor returned with a deep series of claw marks across Fergus’ face. 

Unexpectedly, Fergus hopped backward out of reach. A grey blur charged in, bit Jimmy’s flank, and bounced away. Fergus hovered close while Jimmy bark-howled at Granger, daring the beta to try that again. Noticing the natural gait and defiant snarl, Jimmy guessed Granger’s mind was his own, unaffected by the alpha’s howl. Despite that, he was still pitifully loyal to Fergus.

Putting him out of his misery would be a mercy he should have exercised the first time they met.

If only Jimmy didn’t need to keep an eye on Fergus, who seemed only too happy to use his second as fodder. Granger circled for a second pass and pounced. Jimmy spun and backhanded him hard enough to send him skidding across the yard. This time, he stayed down.

Fergus was already in mid-leap before he even turned back around. He slammed into Jimmy with his considerable mass and stabbed his claws knuckles deep. Ten hot knives impaled Jimmy from both sides, spearing his midsection. Coppery fluid flooded Jimmy’s jaws, spilling between his teeth as he wailing in agony. 

Flexing his sinewed arms, Fergus lifted Jimmy’s off the ground.

“Jimmy! No!” Sawyer’s breathless shout broke Jimmy’s heart, because he couldn’t spare his mate the horror.

Jimmy howled again as he felt Fergus curl his claws. Blunt surgical tools without anesthetic, they dug through unseen meat, so Jimmy clamped his hands around both of Fergus’s wrists to hold them still before he passed out. Every ounce of his strength was being directed to keep Fergus from raking his insides out, and it was bleeding away. Feet dangling, Jimmy had no leverage to overpower Fergus, and he didn’t dare let go to strike, or it would be over before he could howl.

Fergus huffed, snout ridged in satisfaction, showing all his teeth. The smarmy bastard knew the end was near. 

Acrid fear from Sawyer and the others reached Jimmy’s nose as Fergus’s claws cut even deeper. Hot, wet trails soaked his fur, and his muscles seized in protest. If Jimmy didn’t turn the challenge’s course right away, he would be finished, and his mate would suffer. His wolf snarled in rage and protest. Jimmy strength ebbed. Now or never, or all was lost.

He’d already lost one pack.

Renewing his grip on Fergus’ wrists, Jimmy made one last effort and rolled forward, clamping his jaws over the alpha’s head and sinking his teeth until they struck bone.

Fergus went feral, yelping and growling in a frantic cadence, but Jimmy firmed his bite. More agony ripped through his body as Fergus jerked and thrashed, doing even more damage in desperation. If Jimmy didn’t do something soon, Fergus would tear his claws free and leave him in pieces. This wounded, he couldn’t hold the alpha for much longer. Injuries bled away his raw power. It was time to move or die. Jimmy’s wolf scraped the bottom of its reserves and fed him one last burst of might. 

Holding tight as Fergus’ deafening yipes turned to shrieks, Jimmy squeezed his jaws with everything he had. Tighter and tighter, the skull cracked, and the head burst like a rotten egg between his teeth.

A choked gasp, and Fergus went limp and silent.

His claws fell from Jimmy’s body. The sudden withdrawal darkened Jimmy’s vision as they tumbled, landing in a heap on the blood saturated ground turned to mud.

The river of magick dried to the barest trickle, taking with it the additional strength, weakening Jimmy to the point of a newborn pup. Jimmy’s wolf retreated to lick its wounds, and the extra mass and fur receded. He shrank to his normal human self in a rush, wounds closing as his body reformed. It didn’t mean the damage had vanished. He burned inside, and didn’t have the energy to stand. Hopefully, his injuries weren’t too severe to recover from.

The moon pulled back its gift from Fergus as well, leaving his twisted body human once more, but his head remained crushed and unidentifiable. Graced with forbidden power, alpha or not, some wounds no wolf came back from.

Good riddance.

Jimmy stared at the cloudy sky, unmoving. The moon was hidden, but he thanked her anyway. His mate would live. His pack—as mismatched as they were—would live. What more could a new alpha ask for?

He felt so weak…

Stay tuned … Chapter 38 begins next Wednesday!