Phases of Moon — Part 43 – Chapter 21 — 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 Thursday.

More of Sawyer after waking…

Moon Phases banner

Part 43 – Chapter 21

continued from part 36…

“Hey, hey, slow down. There’s plenty more. I don’t want you getting sick.”

“Sorry. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was.”

“It’s not your fault.” Jimmy brushed his fingers through Sawyer’s hair, an act soothing and piquing the ongoing mystery.

“Did something bad happen last night?”

Jimmy tried to hide it, but fine creases formed between his eyebrows. “There’s a lot to tell, but I’ll explain everything. I promise. But, let’s get some food in you first. You’ve gotta be pretty hungry.”

“Starving, now that you mention it.”

As soon as it was said, hunger flared in his gut strong enough to put his worries aside. A deep inhale drew a line to the aromatic pot simmering on the stove. Inside the fragrant stew, he could smell chicken and shrimp and a healthy batch of spices. Every ingredient called out, allowing Sawyer to recognize the entire recipe without tasting. He had to swallow before he drooled on the floor.

Or in the pot as he leaned over it.

Jimmy took a scoop of rice from a second pot and centered it in a bowl. To serve the stew he had to nudge Sawyer back, who made a weird noise which sounded suspiciously like a growl. Jimmy didn’t seem to mind. He ladled a healthy portion over the rice and walked it to the table. Sawyer nearly tripped over a chair, his gaze fixated on the bowl. Before Sawyer followed through with the urge to dive in face first, Jimmy plunked a spoon into his hand.


Sawyer tried to play off how amazing the dish was due to being ravenous, but past the craving, he knew champion comfort food. Wow, it was probably better than his mother’s beef stew. Those words would never be uttered aloud in any circumstance. For whatever reason, everything smells better and tasted better today. The bottom of the bowl appeared in record time. Another one of those embarrassing growls came out of Sawyer when Jimmy reached for the bowl.

“There’s plenty. I’m getting you more,” he said.

The second bowl calmed the hunger pains, but didn’t slow Sawyer down. He was halfway through when he stopped, spoon still in his mouth, as he noticed Jimmy’s rapt stare, looking far too pleased with himself. 

“What?” Sawyer’s teeth rattled against the spoon, but he wasn’t giving up the mouthful.

Jimmy shook his head, tired yet grinning. I like feeding you.”

“It’s really good. You should have been cooking for me a long time ago.” Two more spoonfuls bit the dust as he responded without pausing. His mother would be aghast to see Sawyer’s manners vanish over one—make that, two bowls of gumbo that were most certainly not better than her beef stew. Nope.

A warm chuckle rose out of Jimmy, a dissonance to his weariness. “I probably should have. This house isn’t supposed to be permanent.” 

“You’re renting?”

“No. More like housesitting for a client so it isn’t sitting vacant.”

“Makes sense.”

Cocking his head, Jimmy’s focus on Sawyer tightened. “You’re squinting.”

“It’s too bright in here.”

Jimmy’s enthusiasm dimmed with a nod. “Right. That’ll probably pass.”

This time Sawyer didn’t react out loud when Jimmy took the bowl for a third helping, but he fought the urge to defend his food. He couldn’t believe he wanted more. Whatever had gone on last night must have burned more calories than he’d ever managed with his most brutal workouts. He couldn’t imagine what kind of exercise warranted it. His appetite may have been stable, but last night continued to be shrouded from him. 

At the stove, Jimmy’s back formed a wall as he gathered another serving of rice.

“How did I get here?” Sawyer asked.

Jimmy’s shoulder went rigid and he stalled, the rice short of entering the bowl.“You had a rough night.”

“Did I get drunk or high or something?”

The lid closing the pot of rice seemed abnormally loud. “No! No. I wouldn’t have let anything like that happen.” 

Sawyer breathed a sigh of relief. His sobriety was a badge of honor he wore with great pride. Breaking it and not remembering would have crushed him. “Okay. These are your clothes. What happened to mine?”

“They couldn’t be salvaged.” Jimmy’s voice softened as he took his time spooning the gumbo over the rice. Stalling?

“Was I sick or something?”

“You had a fever. I’ve been watching over you all night.”

“Looks like I’m doing fine okay, now.”

Jimmy returned to the table and set the filled dish in front of Sawyer, urging him to eat. “Looks like it.”

Disquiet colored every inch of Jimmy’s substantial frame and the smell of the food distracted Sawyer again. “Okay, I stil have lots of questions, but that gumbo is calling me name.” Licking his lips, Sawyer prepared to tuck in, but he saw dark stains on his cuffs from his sloppy eating. Yes, he’d set his etiquette to the side for the first two bowls, but he wasn’t an animal. To keep from making more of a mess, he pushed up his sleeves to his elbows, exposing red scars lining his forearms.

“What the hell?”

“Sawyer, I can explain.”

Deep and half-healed, the slashes didn’t bleed but gave a slight ache when he flexed his forearms. When he pulled at his sleeves, they continued. How far did they go? The cuts ran in groups like the marks from a handheld garden rake in fresh soil. 

Or claw marks…

Sawyer jerked upright, flipping his chair and jarring the table. The bowl of gumbo bounced, splashing and crashing to the floor, splintering in wet shards on the linoleum tile. His bare feet slapped with erratic steps as he scrambled out of the kitchen, dashing for the bathroom. He needed to see.

Perched over the chipped porcelain sink, the mirrored face of the medicine cabinet shined like a beacon, a door into a world Sawyer wasn’t sure he wanted to be part of. He yanked the collar to one side, exposing more slashes over his shoulder. Air sawed in and out of his lungs at inconsistent speeds. 

Jimmy appeared behind him. “Sawyer, wait.” 

He pleaded but didn’t stop him from frantically tugging the shirt over his head. Sawyer’s hands were still bound in the gathered sleeves when he could see himself in the mirror again. It didn’t help. 

Twisting at the waist made his back’s raked flesh visible. A haphazard lattice of anguish marred it worse than the damage to his arms, accented by the arc of jagged marks wrapping from front to back over shoulder. He stepped closer to his reflection, leaning over the sink. He reached out, stopping his fingertips short of the glass and drawing them into a fist as if the mirror could prevent the marks from being real. Perfect rows of punctures mocked him, the kind made by an animal’s teeth, but the area was too wide, too deep. He winced in pain when he touched the bruised area over his collarbone.

“You’re healing fast. It looks much better.”

Sawyer knew he meant the comment to be reassuring, but all it did was strike fuel to the kindling. “It was worse than this? How?”

The ache from his arms could be felt down his backside and legs, hidden from view. Years of work, perfecting his vanity, one of the few things which had always been his to groom, undone and ruined. A spoiled canvas he didn’t want to look at, but couldn’t tear his eyes away from the spectacle. Tears clouded his vision, but the fog in his head parted, and last night’s events stormed into the present, unrestrained like lightning.

Claws. Bite. Jimmy. Agony. Terror.

Sawyer believed in the real world and rejected the fantastic. Religion and the paranormal held no sway over him since he’d fought so hard against his own inner demons to give credibility to things he couldn’t see or touch. He was too rational to be a storyteller, and even though his memories shouldn’t be possible, he saw, he smelled, he felt the horrors of the night. They kicked their way into the real world and there was no denying it.

“Oh god…” Sawyer stepped backward, away from the mirror and the unraveling of everything he knew, only to collide with Jimmy, the man at the center. He clutched Sawyer’s shoulders with a light touch, obiovusly well aware of the damage. 

“What do you remember?” Jimmy’s whisper choked and barely made a sound.

In rehab, Sawyer had been forced to confront his issues, to say them out loud and take away their power. He’d hated the exercise, because deep down he hid who he was, and never gave it voice, hobbling himself for years in a sham marriage. When he’d finally been shoved out of the closet, he promised he wouldn’t keep secrets from himself. He wouldn’t hide reality and use lies to cloud the truth.

It didn’t make it easier.

Pushing these first words into the open was harder than admitting Jada had been right a thousand fold. They came out in halting surges laced between trying to contain the sobs.

“I was running in the forest like I do all the time. A huge wolf appeared. Cornered me. When I tried to leave, it attacked me. Clawed me up. Used me like a chew toy.”

Jimmy dropped his head forward, placing his forehead against the back of Sawyer’s tousled hair. His shuddering breath heated Sawyer’s neck as his hands squeezed. It stung Sawyer’s shoulders but the ache kept him from creating an argument against the proof lining his body as he continued.

“Then you showed up.”

A stifled sob puffed across Sawyer’s nape.

“You turned into a wolf.” This time Sawyer waited for a response, waited to be told he was wrong. Silence only increased the dread.

Jimmy finally spoke, his voice coarse and defeated. “Yes.”

Oxygen rushed out of his lungs, and the world changed forever.

“You killed the other wolf.”

Snapping his head up, Jimmy’s reddened eyes red were full of fury as they stared into Sawyer’s through the reflection. “To save you, yes.”

“It turned back into a man.”



Jimmy hesitated. “Yes.”

Sawyer stepped forward and scrubbed the salty streaks from his cheeks. The borrowed shirt was still bundled around his arms, so he tucked his head inside and tugged it down his arms and body, until he’d covered himself again. The sight upset him too much to gather his thoughts.

And he had many.

He turned around and faced Jimmy. The mirror couldn’t shelter him from unpleasant memories anymore. It wasn’t actually a doorway into another world, it could only show him what he didn’t want ot see.

“I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in your bed.”

No one deserved the ability to be so handsome while simultaneously wrecked, but Jimmy pulled it off effortlessly. Sawyer wanted to angry with him, wanted to blame him, but he recalled Jimmy’s ferocity, the ruthless way he defended him. Jimmy had every right to feel proud of saving Sawyer’s life, but he looked beaten. Crushed.

“You fell unconscious. I brought you here and took care of you.”

“You didn’t take me to a hospital?”

“I couldn’t.”


“You know why.”

Sawyer nodded in agreement, because he knew the answer. People never liked the “other” in their midst. They never had, regardless of which minority showed its face. Things were better but not great. And this was way too new, too outside the norm to trust anyone. It would have been too risky for Jimmy to explain the cuts and slashes to anyone. Sawyer found himself unconsciously tracing his wounds through the shirt with his fingers. “It bit me. Am I going to turn into a wolf?”

“Something like that.”

A sad keen spilled into the little room, echoing off the tile as Sawyer’s eyes burned and his sight blurred. How was he supposed to handle this? What life lesson prepared a man to become something else? He wrapped his arms around himself and dug his fingers into the chasms he could feel under his sleeves, letting the searing points punish him for whatever sin he’d committed.

Jimmy rushed forward and pried Sawyer’s hands away, holding them in his. “Don’t. We’ll get through this.” 

The determination in Jimmy’s eyes matched the strength he used to keep Sawyer from hurting himself further. A scream built inside Sawyer, and he lurched forward, and smothered it into Jimmy broad chest. Jimmy released his hands and closed his arms around Sawyer, kissing his temple until the howling finally subsided.

Gasping and worn out, Sawyer pulled back, dragging his cheek against Jimmy’s until he found his waiting lips. Sawyer pushed for more contact and Jimmy returned his fervor. His solid body served as an anchor, tethering Sawyer, lashing him to a sliver of hope. Clumsy and desperate, they clutched at one another making unspoken promises, because it was all they had in the tiny bathroom with chipped tile.

Kisses slowed and heartbeats calmed. The urge to cry and rant became buried under his battered skin. They slowly parted and Sawyer took Jimmy’s hand and led him out of the bathroom and back to the kitchen. If he had any chance to salvage his situation, he’d have to clean up the messes he’d made along the way.

He started with the gumbo. God, what a mess. The spatters reached the far wall and Sawyer felt horrible at the waste of something so good. Jimmy grabbed a rag and cleaned up the spill while Sawyer picked up the broken shards, in spite of Jimmy worrying he’d cut himself on the sharp pieces. He didn’t. Once the kitchen had been set to right, Jimmy gathered a fresh serving, only this time he spooned a bowl for himself as well, and they ate together. The revelation of Sawyer’s future hadn’t dulled the gumbo’s awesomeness.

Sawyer’s spoon scraped the bottom of the bowl, the noise pulling him back to unanswered thoughts. “Why me?”

With a haggard sigh, Jimmy pushed his half-eaten bowl aside. He’d spent more time watching Sawyer eat than helping himself. He stalled for a moment as if deciding how much he should say. “Best answer I have is: you fit the profile. The area pack hired me to hunt down a rogue wolf serial-attacking regular people. I was tracking him and figured out you could be a target. I got lucky I found you when I did.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

Jimmy dipped his head and stared at the table, painting lazy circles on its surface with his index finger. “I’ve been running with you as a wolf for the last few weeks. Stalker, remember?”

Reaching across the table, Sawyer stopped Jimmy’s hand. The nervous movement was frustrating him. “Thank you for saving me. Not the stalking part.”

“A lot of that’s my wolf side. He wants to protect you at all costs and dials my instincts up to eleven. Now that you’ve been hurt… maybe higher. I’ll try to keep it under control.” 

Stress lines crinkled the areas around Jimmy’s eyes as he confessed. Admitting his faults couldn’t be easy for a confident man who always seemed in control except for days he had to have awkward conversations with Sawyer. This was miles beyond awkward, but Sawyer appreciated his efforts even if it didn’t completely calm his nerves. Nothing could do that.

“You talked about an area pack. There’s more out there?”

“Yes, but I’ve only met the alpha. Wolves need packs. Being alone, being a stray is hard on us. It goes against our nature. This was my petition to joining.”

“How long have you been alone?”

“Too long.”

Still holding Jimmy’s hand, Sawyer gave it a squeeze, sending whatever support he could in his own fragile state. Here he was, bitten by a werewolf—oh man, that sounded so ridiculous when he used those words—and he was more relieved his blackout hadn’t been a break in his sobriety than the fact he was turning into a movie monster. His dubious priorities made him wonder if he’d be needing a straitjacket and padded cell before long, because he was pretty sure he should he drooling on the floor in a fetal position by this point.

He could feel every crease in Jimmy’s hand and could almost pick out the ridges of his fingerprints. The dingy kitchen appeared more vibrant than it should regardless of the afternoon light spilling in the window.

“This is why everything feels so sharp. So bright.”

Jimmy nodded, but his tone lacked any excitement. “You’re changing. Healing. Getting ready for your first shift.”

“How much time do I have?”

He winced. “Until the next full moon. A few weeks.”

For a mysterious stranger with a dark secret, Jimmy’s poker face would leave him penniless. He had yet to stop finding the table fascinating and look up. Being bitten must not have been anything to celebrate. Jimmy’s replies had been cryptic and vague—a sign of something dangerous lurking around the corner. One more needle into Sawyer’s worries, keeping them constantly in front.

“Will you help me?” Sawyer hated sounding so feeble and needy, but he wasn’t standing on firm ground.

Jimmy’s head snapped up and his eyes flashed amber for a split second. “I’m not going anywhere.”

A simple declaration, but it went a long ways to settling Sawyer’s apprehension since he suspected it came from both Jimmy and his wolf. He wondered how often that might happen.

“Good. I’m going to have lots of questions.”

“I’ll answer what I can. While we figure this out, I’m going to be watching over you. Closer than before. My wolf—I need to know you’re safe.”

“Stalker. Got it. Right now, I’m okay with that.”

Jimmy’s eyes watered but no tear fell. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want this for you.”

“Me either. Is this how you became a wolf?”

“No. I was born like this.” Clearing his throat, Jimmy rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes.

“I think I would have preferred that route.”

He let out a sad chuckle. “Me too.”

Not much more was said. The pervading sense of uncertain future hung over them and Sawyer was too busy processing what he’d learned so far to ask for more information. Stress stifled his appetite and even Jimmy only ate one bowl before they declared the meal finished.

They put away the remaining gumbo—despite the amount already eaten, there was a fair amount to store because Jimmy said he didn’t know how to cook for small groups. They washed the dishes together, Sawyer drying and placing them in the cupboards where Jimmy told him. The furnishings came with the place, provided by the local pack alpha. Sawyer didn’t know what to think of that. Despite the unbelievable circumstances, the whole scene felt strangely domestic.

Sawyer closed the cabinet to find Jimmy wavering. The man hadn’t likely slept all night watching over him. When Sawyer took his hand, Jimmy’s weary gaze focused on how their fingers intertwined.

“Come on. You’re about to fall out. Time for a nap.”

The barest tug had Jimmy following Sawyer out of the kitchen. “I have an errand to run tonight. Put this to rest.”

“I won’t let you oversleep.”

Weaving his way back to the bedroom, he towed Jimmy with no resistance. The covers were still pulled back and Jimmy climbed in when prompted. Before Sawyer could cover him with the blankets, Jimmy reached out and clasped Sawyer’s wrist.

“Need you close. Please.”

Sawyer checked to make sure his borrowed shirt continued to cover his wounds and climbed in next to Jimmy. At once, Jimmy pulled Sawyer close like a favorite stuffed animal, burying his face in the crook of his neck and inhaling deep over and over. The comforting heat of Jimmy’s body blanketing him tied into the woodsy, gentle musk without cologne. His wounds burned at the pressure, but not enough to to ask him to move. It wasn’t how Sawyer pictured their first time in bed together, but it wasn’t horrible. Not at all.

He should have let Jimmy drift away, but a few nagging thoughts refused to be silent.

“Who was he? What did you call him? The rogue?”

Jimmy didn’t raise his head, talking into Sawyer’s neck with a rumbling voice softening by the second. “Don’t know. Just he was part of the local pack.”

“Did he go after me to get to you?” Sawyer stroked Jimmy’s head enjoying the wild locks between his fingers.

“Don’t think so. You look similar to other victims. Alpha said a number of the pack use your bank.”

“I don’t need to know that.” The thought multiple werewolves had been his customers over the years wasn’t easing his nerves. Thankfully, Jimmy was doing a pretty good impression of a weighted blanket and it was working. 

“It’s okay. None of them really know me, and there’s no reason anyone knows your my mate.”

Sawyer’s hand stilled in Jimmy’s hair.

“Your what?”

Jimmy shifted, drawing Sawyer deeper into his embrace sounding all too groggy and pleased with himself. “My mate.”

“Don’t explain. I think I can figure that out for myself better than other part of this crazy nonsense.”

Hands flexing, Jimmy gripped and released Sawyer’s shirt, showcasing the frustration he didn’t have the energy to explain. “This isn’t how I wanted you to find out.”

“Would you have told me if this hadn’t happened?”

The barest nod brushed into Sawyer’s neck. “Planned to before we could get more serious.” 

Sawyer laughed, trying to keep his volume low. “More serious?”

“My wolf would have bent you over and taken you the day we met at the bank. I want you so bad, but I have to take it slow. Make sure you’re the right one. Once a wolf mate-bonds, we’re all in. There’s no going back. Until then, we both have a choice. I wouldn’t take yours from you.”

The more Jimmy spoke, the more his words slurred, and the further he floated out of wakefulness. Sawyer almost felt guilty slowing his journey into sleep, but the moment was oddly special in spite of the tension hanging over them both. Honest and intimate, it made Sawyer feel safe, and reinforced his trust in Jimmy. He never wanted it to end.

“I believe you. You’d let me choose, but you’d influence me every step of the way, wouldn’t you?”

“Did it work?”

Jimmy’s breathing leveled out as he let go of the world and his body became a dead weight. It was the first time he’d seen Jimmy at peace all afternoon. The fierce protector slept like an angel. Sawyer shuddered as he dropped a kiss to Jimmy’s head.


Stay tuned … Chapter 22 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 42 – Chapter 21 — 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

Will Sawyer survive?

Moon Phases banner

Part 42 – Chapter 21

Groggy thoughts dipped in sludge clogged Sawyer’s brain. He hadn’t the slightest inkling how he got here, or why his memories were absent. Jimmy had surprised him at the bank, he made it through work, and spent the evening trying to read with no luck, then it all faded out. Blackouts like these usually required a lot of alcohol, yet his stomach was solid and his head didn’t hurt, only dulled.

Although, he did feel a little weird. Oddly energized, but somehow sleepy. As if a fine electric current ran through his skin, making him want to involuntarily twitch and nod off at the same time. An unusual sensation.

Did he do some designer drug last night and didn’t know it? Because something was different, but when he tried to tune into the source, it flitted out of reach.

Sawyer had no idea where he was. Unease held his tongue, keeping him from calling out, afraid of who might call back. The bedroom wasn’t his. Off-white paint cracked and peeled on unfamiliar walls and around the window sill. The furniture was older, reminding him of hand-me-down resale shop bargains. Functional, but nothing pretty. He pulled back the quilt and blanket covering him and found himself wearing clothing he didn’t recognize.

Where did this shirt come from? The sleeves reached his fingertips, so he scrunched them down to his wrist, and the sweat pants curling over his heels weren’t much better. If he wasn’t careful, he’d be walking on the cuffs. For no reason he could fathom, Sawyer had the sudden urge to sniff the shirt. Between the woven threads, he discovered traces of the woodsy, gentle musk without cologne associated with a certain attractive biker-type guy Sawyer couldn’t go an hour without thinking of these days.

Some of the apprehension of waking in a strange place melted when he realized this had to be Jimmy’s place, but not all. He carefully shifted in bed until his feet could touch the floor, trying hard to be quiet. Everything sounded louder than normal, including the scrape of fabric on fabric. Maybe he was hungover after all.

Steadying himself on the mattress, he rose to his feet, prepared to fall. For some reason, he sensed he should be weak and disabled. However, he stood up tall and didn’t waver for a moment. Why would he think that?

Old floorboards creaked under his feet as he slipped through the wide open door into a small hallway. Ahead of him was a small linen closet and to the right was a bathroom of white tile and faded wallpaper which stank of bleach. It bothered him enough, he stepped through the open doorway to the left and into a living room filled with mismatched furniture.

Without thinking why, Sawyer took an instinctive inhale, to clear the fumes out of his nose, only to find himself immersed in more of the qualities he knew to be Jimmy. His presence filled the house, but hadn’t seeped into its bones. Not a home, more of a place to stay. The mark of a nomadic existence.

Before Sawyer could delve deeper into the mystery of Jimmy’s history, a fantastic aroma hooked into him and reeled a growl out of his stomach. He practically floated following the spices taunting him. They drew an inexorable line into a simple kitchen. The pots and pans might have been secondhand, but the food cooking smelled anything but. His back to Sawyer, Jimmy stood in front of the stove, completely engrossed in stirring a simmering stock pot.

A loose pair of heather-grey lounging pants slung low on his hips, the thin fabric moulding itself around the firm shape of his lower half. Paired with a steel blue t-shirt stretched across his broad back, the sight was unmistakably Jimmy. A statue of effortless allure and charisma. Seeing Jimmy this way made left Sawyer more comforted than aroused, as if his mere presence calmed an unseen storm inside him. It went a long way to stifle the grey clouds swirling in his cotton-stuffed head.

“That smells really good,” Sawyer whispered, because everything was still too loud.

Jimmy startled and spun around, nearly losing the spoon in the pot. Weariness saturated every inch of bulk, an invisible yoke around his neck. Red-rimmed eyes of the sleep-deprived opened wide as relief brightened his haunted face. He wasted no time rounding the kitchen table and sweeping Sawyer into his arms. Jimmy clutched him tight, inhaling along his neck while squeezing the air from his lungs. Sawyer didn’t mind. Despite all the confusion, some inner voice responded to the desperate embrace, the heat of Jimmy’s body against him, and told him this was right, this was where he needed to be. Sawyer knew how crazy it sounded. He’d woken in a place he’d never been after a night he couldn’t remember, but being in Jimmy’s here, like this, made him not care.

“You’re awake.” Even muffled against Sawyer’s shoulder. Jimmy’s voice rasped with emotional fatigue. He reared back enough to cup Sawyer head in both hands and plastered their lips together, tasting Sawyer like a thankful prayer. A shudder ran under Sawyer’s hands pressed into Jimmy’s back. The man was seconds away from breaking down, yet somehow he held his composure.

“I’m okay.” A murmur rolling in the back of his mind said reassuring Jimmy was somehow backwards, but anything leaving the powerful man shaken to his core was a thing to be concerned over. His memory had yet to clear, but this dampened the urgency for answers. He could wait to know. Sawyer leaned back until he looked Jimmy square in the eyes. “Seriously. I’m all right.”

With a nod and a brittle smile, Jimmy released him. He opened the fridge and tossed Sawyer a bottle of water. “Drink this. You’re probably dehydrated.”

Sawyer cracked the top at once, and the moment cold liquid touched his tongue, he found himself draining half the bottle at once in greedy swallows.

chapter 19 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) with a new chapter next Wednesday!

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


Phases of Moon — Part 41 – Chapter 20 — 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 Thursday.

Sawyer hangs by a thread…

Moon Phases banner

Part 41 – Chapter 20

continued from part 36…

The rogue’s scent had hit him in the face the moment he got out of the truck. His wolf went mad. He grabbed his gun and tracked it as fast as he could. If only he’d been quicker.

He raced to his truck and tore open the door for access to his rabid hunting gear. Pushing the empty rifle case aside, he pulled out a set of spare clothing and a warming blanket he’d stocked since the last time he’d been stuck for days as a wolf. He unwrapped the warming blanket and cocooned Sawyer with it in the front seat. He may have been feverish, but staying warm would be critical. Bitten humans didn’t always survive, and Jimmy didn’t know if it would be a mercy or not.

Shaking the thought out of his head, he pulled on the spare pair of jeans and t-shirt, wishing he could wash himself first. The clamminess of drying sweat and blood had yet to pass. He checked on Sawyer again, noticing how the cuts he could see weren’t seeping anymore. The bite worked quickly once it spread. Shivers still wracked his body, but he was seized anymore, so Jimmy took a chance. He grabbed the spare keys and locked Sawyer inside after he pulled a tarp and twine out of his kit.

His wolf growled as he ran back into the woods, but it knew they couldn’t leave the rogue behind. Their kind would be at risk, including the pack they needed so badly. The last thing anyone needed was someone to stumble across a man they’d practically decapitated or wandering animals searching for a meal to use him as a source. The moon should have removed her gift at his death, but he couldn’t take the chance.

Normally, he would bury a rabid, but this wasn’t a victim. This was the villain.

Both he and his wolf broke into uncontrollable snarls at the scent of Sawyer’s blood coating the area. Pure satisfaction sang through their bond at the sight of the rogue’s carcass. Like Jimmy, his wolf wasn’t a mindless killer, but if dragged into a fight, he intended to win at all costs. If circumstances were different, he would leave the bastard to rot, but he had a job to do. He had promises to keep. The threat was over and Fergus would need the proof. Once that promise was done, he would be in a position to join the pack and satisfy another.

But the situation being what it was, he unfurled the tarp and bundled the dead none too gently using the twine. When he was sure the body had been secured, he threw it over his shoulder, gathered his rifle, and ran full speed back to the truck. He dumped the mummified rogue into the bed with an ungraceful slam. The need for being gentle had long since passed. He slid the cover into place and locked it up, hiding the dead from prying eyes.

Once back inside the driver’s seat, he leaned across and petted his unconscious mate. “You still with me? I’m right here.” 

Sawyer continued to tremble and his face was heated. Jimmy had never been present after a human had been bitten. Only his papa’s stories of the moon and the wolf and how they came to be could guide him now. They needed someplace safe to rest, so Sawyer could settle before they decided what would come next.

A ridiculous idea. He knew what would come next. Sawyer had been given the moon’s gift in the most proscribed way, and she rarely gave lenience. At least, Jimmy had never known it to happen, because turning humans always ended poorly from what he’d been told and seen. In the end, it didn’t matter. He’d promised to save their mate, and he wasn’t about to debate between good and bad choices now. Sawyer’s life teetered.

They were so close to Sawyer’s home, which would be Jimmy’s first choice of a comfortable place, but Jada could be there and he wouldn’t be able to answer her questions. She’d likely see Sawyer’s condition and demand to take him to the hospital and Jimmy couldn’t allow him to be under a human microscope under any circumstances. Greater risks than his mate’s survival had to be considered even if Jimmy wanted to piss on them all.

There were other safe places to take him.

Starting the engine, Jimmy put the truck in gear and drove to his own place where he could care for his mate in total privacy. He chose the off-roads to the expediency of the highway to keep them under the radar. If they were pulled over by an eager sherriff, he’d never be able to explain Sawyer’s condition. Or his own, to be honest. Few cars passed his way as he sped along, every sense dialed up high to see into the night. It also allowed him to hear Sawyer’s heartbeat, and confirmed he still breathed as they made each backwoods turn through town. The entire ride he kept one hand on Sawyer’s slumbering form.

“Stay with me, Sawyer. It’s not far now.”

The cabin Fergus put him in had never felt like home, but he’d never been so happy to see it appear in the distance, although it couldn’t stave off the constant buzz of panic keeping him wide awake. Rocks spit out from under the tires as he braked hard and swerved into the driveway. He barely remembered parking, shutting off the truck, or racing around to the other side and opening Sawyer’s door.

He lifted Sawyer out of the seat with the lightest touch he could mange and held him close.

“We’re here at my place. I’m going to take care of you now.”

The shivers had abated, but Sawyer didn’t respond, even when Jimmy shifted him to free a hand to open the door and turn on lights. Being able to see Sawyer in proper light nearly enraged his wolf once more, and Jimmy wouldn’t blame him. Their mate had been flayed alive. The only thing keeping his wolf in line was him carrying Sawyer in his arms, and the wolf wouldn’t risk him any further harm. The mix of blood, dirt, and other scents soaking into Sawyer made Jimmy head straight to the bathroom. He couldn’t tend to him in this condition. 

Without setting Sawyer down, he started the shower, letting the steam rise before he tempered it. While the room warmed, he tore apart his spare clothing so he wouldn’t have to let go of his mate and dumped the remnants on the tile floor. He left what was left of Sawyer’s clothes on him, too caked in blood to remove safely. Arms around Sawyer’s torso, Jimmy held him upright against his body, furious over losing the thrill of being skin-to-skin with his mate for the first time.

“This isn’t what I wanted for us. I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

Hopefully, he could keep this promise too.

Jimmy carried them in, keeping his back to the shower head to protect Sawyer’s wounds. The overspray dotted the tiles in shades of abattoir red. Water sliding down their bodies turned to instant rust, washing down the foulness. Trying not to weep, he took his time gently stroking, letting Sawyer’s natural skintone emerge from underneath the grunge. Slowly he soaked Sawyer’s clothing until they fell off of their own accord, in ruined clumps.

Angry slashes marred every inch of Sawyer, especially his back, yet every cut was sealed and no longer seeping blood. The bite knitted him back together, making him stronger to hold the gift. Jimmy prayed it was a sign he would survive the night. Unfortunately, even if Sawyer healed fully, he would always bear the rogue’s bite scar of the rogue. Not Jimmy’s. It was enough to make him want to dismember the corpse and burn the pieces in separate cities.

Keeping to his task at hand held his anger in check, but just barely. Once the water ran clear again, Jimmy picked up the soap bar and carefully washed Sawyer until he was confident his man was as clear of the night’s evidence as possible.

Sawyer’s eyes never opened once and Jimmy couldn’t be sure if he should be happy or not. There was plenty to be grateful not to witness.

Giving them both a final scrubbing to be sure, Jimmy shut off the water and carried Sawyer out. He dried his mate carefully, pleased no blood stains came off him in the process. Satisfied, Jimmy put an arm under Sawyer’s legs and lifted him, cradling him against his chest once more. He dropped a soft kiss to the top of Sawyer’s damp hair.

“I’ll protect you. I swear. Just stay with me.” He choked and caught his breath. “Please.”

The house was small, so the trip to the bedroom was short. Still covered in bath towels, Jimmy laid Sawyer on the bed. Bitter tears simmered in his eyes. Another first stolen from them. They were planning their first night together. Sawyer made his intentions clear at the bank. Having Sawyer in his bed should have been nights and days filled with hedonistic joy. Becoming one and bonding until they left their mark in every room, not this helpless nursemaiding. Jimmy was a hunter, a warrior. He saved his mate from the enemy, but now he faltered on what came next. All his skills had neen reduced to nothing. The best he could do was make Sawyer comfortable and pray he woke in the morning.

It’s all the hope he had to cling to.

Pulling open the dresser, he collected a long-sleeved henley and a pair of sweat pants. They would be too big on Sawyer, but they would help keep him warm and cover his injuries. He dressed Sawyer as modestly as he could, believing Sawyer would prefer not to feel ogled under his care. Doing so also kept him from staring at the healing claw marks. The rogue was beyond any opportunity of additional vengeance. The dead don’t scream, after all. Jimmy arranged Sawyer un der the covers. He brushed his hair back from his forehead and planted another kiss there, willing his thoughts into Sawyer’s sleepy mind.

“You need to wake up for me. I don’t know how I’ll survive without you.”

His wolf whined in agreement.

Without getting dressed, Jimmy turned off the light and walked out of the room. He collected his ruined spare clothing and the stained shreds of Sawyer’s after ringing out the excess water and rinsing the bathtub.

Out the back door he gathered some scraps of dry wood from the pile near the door and the bottle of lighter fluid and matches. He dropped the kindling into the steel barrel behind the house and soaked it with fluid. He struck a match and lit the fire. Gathering more wood he stoked the flames until the back yard had a halo of summer surrounding it. One by one, the soiled clothing went into the blaze. The warming blanket would go next. He could clean his truck and the bathroom in the morning.

Calling Fergus could wait. There were more important things to tend to now. With the job done, he had time to decide how to handfe the rest.

Riotous licks of orange and yellow destroyed the evidence of three men’s blood and the scent which still burned inside Jimmy’s nostrils never to be forgotten. He stood close enough to feel the heat singe his battered skin. Lights flickered against the side of the house, cast shadows which haunted him. The cellar doors were closed and locked and he had every intention of keeping them that way.

When he first caught Sawyer’s sweet, enticing scent, he never once imagined he would drag him into this level of hell. He wouldn’t have believed their lives would take such a turn. Sawyer didn’t deserve any of it, and now it was too late. Their feet were firmly sunk into the earth of a place no one ever walks away from. Somehow, this was Jimmy’s fault. He’d never given any thought to how Sawyer would fit into his life. He hadn’t planned to bite him, but he hadn’t given a shred of thought to whether he would be ready to watch Sawyer grow old and die long before him. All he did was follow his and his wolf’s desires, even if he took far too long to begin. Now, Sawyer was in his world deeper than he ever expected or wanted.

What was he going to do now?

Jimmy strained his hearing over the fire and past the house’s walls. Sawyer’s pulse and breathing hadn’t changed. Until he woke, Jimmy doubted he could sleep no matter how exhausted he was. It was going to be a long night.

“Please let him wake up,” he whispered.

Stay tuned … Chapter 21 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 40 – Chapter 20 — 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

Sawyer’s been bitten. What will Jimmy do now?

Moon Phases banner

Part 40 – Chapter 20

The transgressor’s blood dripped between his teeth, an unsavory yet necessary tang in his mouth.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy,” Sawyer-mate said. His eyes drifted closed and his body relaxed.

The wolf whined, unsure. Saving the Sawyer-mate meant everything, but one sniff confirmed the hurt-oozing was as bad as it looked. Nudging him snout to snout didn’t wake him. Not gone, but not here. Frustration ripped a howl from deep within as a warning to any who might be near. 

Behind his wolf’s eyes, Jimmy watched helplessly, more coherent within the wolf than ever before. Their pronounced division worried him. They weren’t working as one for the same goal. He pleaded to be in charge, but the wolf bombarded him with its unhappiness. So many years had passed, and still they ran alone without pack. Grief, the wolf understood, but not wallowing in it to the point of ignoring their needs. Jimmy could read the Sawyer-mate gave them hints of completion, and how he faded before their eyes. All the wolf knew was they’d defended their mate from evil and now he lay broken in wound-sleep and he had no idea how to bring him back. The wolf’s confusion and rage built a wall Jimmy pounded against, trying to come back into the world.

The wolf refused, blaming Jimmy for everything. Its distrust a palpable force.

He’s too fragile. He has no fur to warm him.

The wolf crawled in close and lay against their fallen mate. Sawyer didn’t react to the new weight against him. So much blood coated the tattered rags covering his body. They wanted to cover him, make him warmer, but there were so many injuries they didn’t want to make worse. Breathing wet and shallow, Sawyer started to shiver.

It’s not enough! Let me out! I know how to help him!

If Jimmy could cry buried underneath the wolf’s skin, he would wail. Instead the wolf howled and whimpered. Before Jimmy’s guidance could give him direction, but it refused to listen. Sawyer plight consumed him, and Jimmy’s voice was of no interest.

You have to let me save him.

The wolf continued to ignore Jimmy.

I’m saving our mate whether you like it or not!

Unwilling to submit, his wolf fought every step of the way, but Jimmy’s determination held strong. He would not be trapped under the wolf’s skin for days again and risk their mate dying. Like natural wolves, his was a being of instinct and pure emotion. It felt the world and reacted without discussion. He loved his wolf for its unerring connection to Sawyer, but its lack of rational thought could undermine their intentions. It’s why they were bound to their human side, to find their balance. For all his wolf’s strength and devotion, Jimmy needed two legs to ensure Sawyer’s survival, not four.

And that argument was non-negotiable.

His wolf clawed and railed against his efforts, but he demanded control and forced his animal side down.

STOP FIGHTING ME! If you let me out, I will do what we both need. I will pack bond. Our mate will live, but you have to let me out. I promise.

Eyes bright and fury sharp, the wolf stopped resisting. Promises were sacred to Jimmy, and if he broke this one, the wolf would stuff into the deepest corners of their bond and leave him behind in the dark.

To make its point, the wolf didn’t make the change easy. This shift was more painful than any he’d even experienced. It happened hard and fast, moonfire searing his flesh and soul, a penance for mistakes made and the signing of the pact to fulfill the wolf’s neglected needs. Hissing through clenched teeth, Jimmy dug trenches in the dirt with his fingers, waiting for his skin to stop rippling. When it was finally done, he collapsed, tasting the underbrush and soil as he gasped for air.

His whole body shook as he struggled to get an arm under himself to push up into a crouch. Wounds from the fight has been reduced to multitudes of fresh scars, and they burned under the surface. Healing would come from time and more shifts, but there wasn’t time or energy to squander now. The weakness retreated, but Jimmy knew he’d suffer for this last change for days. As soon as he was strong enough to crawl he returned to Sawyer having rolled away while the wolf had sculpted him back into human form.

His eyes watered at the sight. So much cuts and slashes, Sawyer was slathered in blood, some not his own. He cradled Sawyer cheek, taking care to disturb him as little as possible.

“Sawyer, can you hear me?” 

The skin under Jimmy’s palm grew hot and Sawyer’s shivers rolled into full blown seizing. Jimmy’s gaze flashed to the sordid row of teeth marks in Sawyer’s shoulder. The ones which had stopped bleeding.

“No no no no no…”

Tears steamed off Jimmy face in the chill as he scooped Sawyer into his arms, trying not to notice the sticky wetness coating his back. Any internal damage he might have had didn’t matter now. The bite had passed its magic along.

“I got you. I’ll take care of you, I swear.”

Adrenaline gave him new power and Jimmy ran with Sawyer in his arms, following the path back to his truck. He ran possessed, barely seeing the trees, but knowing the way. His cargo was too precious to leave to chance. Thankfully, he scented no one near when they cleared the tree line, only a few yards from his truck. He’d parked down the road from Sawyer’s home, not far from where he would enter the forest for his run, but not close enough Sawyer might have seen him if he’d come out on his own. 

No chance of that now. 

chapter 19 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) with a new chapter next Wednesday!

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


Phases of Moon — Part 39 – Chapter 19 — 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 Thursday.

More of Sawyer’s evening…

Moon Phases banner

Part 39 – Chapter 19

continued from part 36…

Now at home in the silent house, he missed Jimmy terribly. The more time they spent together, the more he ached for the broad shouldered man with dark hair whose jeans fit in near indecent ways. Bent over changing a tire had been a sight burned permanent into Sawyer’s happy memories. They’d danced around each other long enough. Sawyer wanted to be the pirate instead of reading about one. Or be ravished by one.

Why did Jimmy have to work? He warned Sawyer he might be out of touch, and his visit had left the big man on his mind all day. It didn’t make him feel any better, only anxious for Jimmy to call.

His phone hadn’t rang all day. What if he’d missed the call and Jimmy thought he wasn’t interested anymore? That would be a disaster. Rushing into the kitchen, Sawyer snatched up his phone to check for messages. The battery was dead.

“Oh my god! Are you really so lovestruck you’re not paying attention to anything? C’mon Sawyer! You’re not a tween!”

If he wasn’t careful, he’d be absentmindedly drawing little hearts in his notebook.

Disgusted with himself, he set the phone down and put it out of his mind. This wait was making him crazy. He needed to do something physical to vent this nervous energy.

He needed to go out on a night run. Pushing himself to exhaustion and communing outdoors would bring his random thoughts into line. It always did. Plugging the phone into the charger, he headed for the bedroom to change.

“Whoo, it’s brisk. Let’s do this.”

Despite the chill, he only dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. It would motivate him to move fast and stay warm. If he worked harder than normal, the exercise would do him good and sort his head.

Bouncing in place on the back patio to limber up, he peered up at the sky. The full moon had passed, but they were barely into the next phase. What was that called again? Waning gibbous? No clouds obscured it, allowing the icy glow to cast everything into hard shadow, fitting the weather. 

Before the cold could set into his bones, he took off for the street, looking for the entrance to his favorite trails. The moonlight was doing a great job of showing the way, beckoning him out into the night.

He ran hard, letting the effort warm him through. Smells of the impending season teased him, telling him it wasn’t far away. The forest whispered to him as the trees whirled past. The leaves wanted to leap free and gather into rusty blankets to protect the earth from the coming winter. Animals were silent, resting to continue preparing for hibernation.

Nature’s sad melody suffused his heart, as if each year it would end only to rise up again the following spring. A lovely cycle Sawyer had always found himself attuned. It’s why he loved the outdoors, even though he spent so little time doing so.

Feeling freer now than any other time in his life, that would change.

Pumping his legs, he ran harder, relishing the way the sweat cooled off in the crisp air.  Running in the night held a special place in his heart. Without people, he could stretch out his senses and take it all in. He knew this forest. It was his. No one’s rules mattered here. He whooped in joy as the stress evaporated. The only thing better than this would be Jimmy at his side, running with him under the moonlight.

That would be magical.

A curious sound had Sawyer slowing to hear better. Branches behind him swayed, but the clear sky lacked a decent breeze. He turned to see better and the movement and sound stopped.

Sawyer’s pulse, already heavy, took a hard spike. He couldn’t shake the sensation he wasn’t alone out here. Squinting, he tried to peer between the shadows. Was someone following him? It better not be Jimmy. He’d already told him to stop the creepy stuff. If he scared him out here in the dark, the man would be waiting a long time for his sleepover, assuming he ever got one.

Just off the path, the underbrush shifted and the evening glow reflected back at him from a pair of big animal eyes.

Definitely not Jimmy.

“Oh shit.”

Bushes parted as a giant canine head slid through, its steps careful and stealthy. A lethal ghost in shades of gray fur, ethereal and dangerous in the same breath. Its size alone put Sawyer in the category of prey. The instinct to flee raised its head. Where did this monster come from? A wolf should be like a big dog, its head maybe above waist high, right? Why could this one nearly stare him in the eye? What kind of freak animal experiment was this and why was it in the forest near his house?

Unhealthy stutters made their presence known under his ribcage.

“Oh god, you’re huge.”

Without making any sudden moves, Sawyer looked around for a weapon, wishing he had Jada’s pistol even though he hated the thing. Nothing worthwhile sat in reach. He side-stepped as slowly as possible in the direction of home, but the wolf sprung into his path, and made him move the opposite way. Panting mouth open and tongue lolling out the side, it bounced and huffed like it wanted to play. Its tail wagged, slow and deliberate. The sight of abnormally sharp teeth catching the moonlight didn’t encourage Sawyer to want to participate.

“I’d love to play, but I need to get home.”

The wolf made a series of eerie woofs which sounded sounded far too much like slow, sinister laughter.

A tear ran down Sawyer cheek as wintry tendrils of dread slithered over his soul. His heavy breathing had nothing to do with the run. 

The wolf loped around to his left and head butted Sawyer into a nearby tree. He only spared a second to the sharp pain down his side before he sprinted for a cluster of trees, but the wolf caught his foot in its mouth. It dragged his shoe off and spit it aside. Then the wolf strode off in an easy arc, keeping Sawyer in view.

Intelligence shone from behind the animal’s eyes and Sawyer struggled to wrangle his fear. It could think, it was toying with him, and it was herding him off the trail and further into the forest. None of this should be possible.

Frantic thoughts raced through Sawyer’s mind. Confront? Don’t confront? Run? Stay your ground? Play dead? He couldn’t remember what to do around wolves because there weren’t supposed to be any around here.

The jumped close and snapped, startling Sawyer. He was running before he’d even registered the idea. Branches and wild foliage whipped his arms and face. He didn’t know where he was, but he could hear the wolf trotting behind him. He could barely feel the rocks stabbing his shoeless foot.


He broke into a small clearing, and the wolf dashed past, side-swiping him with its superior bulk. Sawyer lost his footing and skidded along the ground. Panic fueled him enough to rise, yet the wolf came around and pounced, knocking him face first into the dirt. Unable to do much more than react, Sawyer scrambled to get out from under the wolf only to have it stomp his back, knocking the wind out of him. 

Fabric ripped under the wolf’s claws as it raked through his shirt to the skin beneath, exposing it to the night air, again and again drawing lines of fire deep into the flesh. Not content with his back, the beast shredded his shorts as it continued, flaying his legs as well. Sad choked noises came out of him until his lungs unlocked. Then he started screaming, knowing no one could hear him.

In a desperate move, he rose his arm and elbowed the wolf in the face. It growled in displeasure.

Rows of sharp teeth clamped over Sawyer’s shoulder, piercing deep into the meat. He heard and felt his collarbone snap under the creature’s jaws. The guttural scream tore at his throat, inadequate to convey the agony. He scratched at the dirt to somehow get away, to escape, but the wolf shook him hard and showed him there was nowhere to go. Wet sobs burst free as hope bled out on the forest floor. Tears clouded his vision as his body went limp in shock, resisting the urge to fight. It would only make matters worse now. 

In that moment, he realized he’d never see his mother again. He’d never get to say goodbye to Jada. He’d never share another dinner with Jimmy. He never know the feeling of Jimmy’s bare skin against his. All the things he looked forward to were gone.

His looked up at the moon and said a short prayer. Please let it be quick.


Blinking his eyes clear, he doubted his eyesight. Jimmy stood between a pair of trees, pointing a rifle at them, feet solid and stock braced into his shoulder. The fury glinting in Jimmy’s eyes could have set fire to the woods and his jaw didn’t twitch as he spoke. 

“Don’t move.” 

Jimmy curled his finger around the trigger.

The wolf jerked Sawyer upward, putting him between the wolf and the barrel, causing Sawyer to yelp and Jimmy to curse. Each time he adjusted his aim, the wolf shifted, purposely using Sawyer as a human shield. Every move dragged more pained sounds out of Sawyer, and Jimmy’s composure frayed.

After less than a minute, he lost his mind.

With a feral wail, Jimmy threw the rifle to the ground. Thrashing and growling, he tore off his shirt, writhing and rolling his spine as if resisting some sort of demonic possession. Jimmy fell forward to his hands, and howled into the dark while his face lengthened and additional teeth sprouted, filling the extra room in his mouth. The deep timbre of his voice lost its humanity. Sawyer coughed, tasting blood, as Jimmy’s body swelled, and his muscles distorted. Bones grinding could be heard over the wolf’s frantic huffs heating his neck. Moaning in disbelief, he watched Jimmy’s skin stretch and darken with fur. His hind quarters split his pants down the seams to accommodate the bulk and shape of canine legs.

Before he could understand, the man was gone. Where the first wolf was a spectre of violence, this one was a beast straight from hell larger than anything nature intended. The new wolf—Jimmy—bared it fangs at them and let loose a series of fearsome snarls which made the wolf holding him growl a challenge in response.

Air stalled in Sawyer’s trembling lungs as the world slowed, waiting to snap forward.

Tearing up the ground with its huge paws, the dark gray wolf leapt over them with a deafening snarl, tattered remnants of his pants still hanging from his legs. Sawyer cried out as the impact jarred the other wolf’s teeth out of his shoulder and spun him around. He landed on his back, which forced more noise out of him, and his sight blurred in and out of focus. It hurt too much to move, but if he squinted he could see enough.

The two wolves circled, growling and barking at each other as their bodies tensed to strike.

When Sawyer was a teenager, he remembered when one of his mother’s dogs got into a fight with a feral stray. They fought like mindless beasts, and he wanted to break them apart, but Maddie stopped him. Never get in the middle of a mad dog fight. It didn’t end until one of them was dead and the other had to be put down from its injuries. It was the most horrible thing he’d ever witnessed.

The wolves fighting in front of him was much, much worse.

More than a mindless brawl, the two raged like dragon over a stolen hoard. Claw and rang wielded like knifes slashed into both, raising the stakes. They spun in a tangle of fur and sinew so close by, Sawyer found himself being spattered with fresh blood. Dust kicked up by the struggle caked into his wounds, turning to bloody mud. For every second which passed, the wilder the carnage became. The other wolf’s hind leg kicked out and scraped more ragged lines into Sawyer’s arm. His fading strength wasn’t enough to push his leaden body out of the way, but he tried regardless while keeping an eye on the fight.

The darker wolf bit the other’s face, taking a chunk with it. The lighter wolf kept on despite the growing number of wounds, and Sawyer winced at the sight. Its attacks became more and more feeble as its life stained the earth under them. As it weakened, the darker wolf pressed on, too angry to care about its own torn flesh while its savagery increased. Lightning fast, it maneuvering behind the other wolf, and clamped its jaws on its neck. Blood dripped as the other spun and snapped, unable to reach the darker wolf. In response, it shook the lighter wolf with a fearsome growl until the lighter wolf whimpered and stopped fighting.

Limp on the ground, the lighter wolf whined and the darker wolf—Jimmy—never stopped his assault. It tried to skitter away, much like Sawyer had before, only to have Jimmy grab its leg in his powerful teeth and jerk like a madman until the bone snapped and the tissue split. The lighter wolf yelped in horrific anguish, but didn’t try to retaliate, submitting to the more powerful wolf.

Jimmy didn’t stop.

Muzzle a glossy black in the night, he went after the lighter wolf’s throat again, holding it in place with his greater weight. The outcries it made would haunt Sawyer forever. The horror only stopped once its body slumped and its head barely held on to the neck by a single strip of mangled gristle.

Chest heaving and tattered remnants of his pants still hanging from his legs, Jimmy stood sentinel over the body, biting it few more times for good measure as it shrank and lost its wolf-like features. Fur receded into human skin coated in sanguine splashes, but broken bones and flayed skin remained. Even in death, the almost severed head couldn’t release its terrified stare through vacant, unfocused eyes.

Breathing drove spears into Sawyer’s lungs, so his brief, rapid inhales were icepicks under his ribcage. Every inch of Sawyer’s fiery body felt wet, and he didn’t have to look to know how badly his injuries seeped. The shoulder bite burned white hot above the rest. He’d never experience more than a sprained ankle before, and now, he could feel so many things damaged inside. It didn’t begin to compare. He wanted to vomit, to cry, to fall asleep, and wake up in his bed. The best he could manage was a new wave of tears.

The autumn evening would kill him as likely as his injuries. A cold shiver racked his body and he managed a weak groan. Jimmy’s gargantuan wolf head turned in his direction.

It padded close, using careful steps, as if it hadn’t mauled another wolf, man, werewolf to death, a moment ago. Gaping slashes and blood, both his and the other’s, littered his body and fur. His entire face was a crime scene. Unable to disconnect the terror, Sawyer cringed when he pressed his fat nose close and sniffed him. Jimmy whimpered softly and took a step backwards.

Sawyer was freezing and didn’t know what to think. People were wolves, wolves were people. A dead man lay not ten feet away and he was sure he was dying. Bursting into hysterics seemed like the proper response, but his spirit was fading. The urge to sleep grew deeper by the second. So stark in the beginning, the moonlight was doing a poor job to prevent everything from graying out. It was too hard to tie down his consciousness in the mist. Too hard to decide what was real. He didn’t have it in him to figure it out.

The raspy whisper came out in halting syllables. “I’m sorry, Jimmy.”

He closed his eyes, not caring whether he’d wake up again.

Stay tuned … Chapter 20 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 38 – Chapter 19 — 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

What’s Sawyer doing while Jimmy investigates the rogue?

Moon Phases banner

Part 38 – Chapter 19

“I can’t read this tonight.”

With a beleaguered sigh, Sawyer tossed the paperback on the end table. The prose was questionable, the plot barely existent, and he only purchased it because the swarthy pirate on the cover reminded him of Jimmy.

“You’re so sad, Sawyer.” He didn’t usually talk to himself, but the empty house felt abnormally hollow this evening.

Jada had left for her pottery class over an hour ago. Or was it her yoga class night? For the life of him, he couldn’t remember her schedule. Ugh, he’d been such a lousy husband. No wonder she’d wanted out. They’d settled into an easy routine after the divorce, their lives running smoother without the additional attachments of marriage, and learned to enjoy each other’s company as good friends. Her absence left him pacing the house with no one to talk to, so he decided to indulge in a trashy, random bodice-ripper he’d picked up along with the deli sandwich from the grocery store. Thanks to a self-checkout lane, he could purchase without anyone judging his choices. Some habits would take time to shake.

Romance novels had been a guilty pleasure Sawyer would read on occasion as some twisted sort of primer for proper straight behavior. It hadn’t been entirely successful. Descriptions of the heroines rarely appealed to him and he wasn’t trying to emulate the men. Looking back, he thought he might have been subconsciously replacing the women with himself, not because he saw himself as innately female, but rather he envied their access to the heroic demigods he idolized.

Of course, before he came out, he’d blinded himself to any amount of self awareness. It would undermine his attempt to keep the closet door locked tight. Stepping across the threshold still scared him, but he was happy he could.

Maybe in the future, he’d check to see if there were any of these stories available with only male protagonists. That might be exciting.

Climbing out of his chair, Sawyer paced between the living room and kitchen, idly touching random items, but refraining from picking anything up. Normally, a new book would be the highlight of his evening, but tonight the overstuffed bookshelves faded into the background. The quiet in the house fed his restlessness. Even the outdoors was becoming limited. He stood at the window listening to the autumn breeze rustle the trees outside. They would be turning soon and his lawn would be a sea of leaves.

He hated fall. Give him a warm climate where men didn’t need an excess of clothing to get through day. Was that a gay thing?

If the internet could be believed, gays were obsessed with physical fitness and attractive men. Okay, Sawyer might be somewhat guilty on that front. He loved the gym and his “look, but don’t touch” policy was still in full force. The parts where gay men were supposed to be hypersexual and champion bedhoppers didn’t connect with him. Sure, during his college days, he’d had more than his fair share of sketchy encounters and self-destructive behavior, but it had been more rebellious acting out than a lifestyle preference. Maybe his years trying to be something else and stifling his urges had actually changed him, because sampling the myriad flavors men had to offer wasn’t so appealing.

Yes, other guys were attractive and fun to look at, but only Jimmy took a main character spot in his fantasies. Did that make him bad at being gay?

Was he supposed to be good at it?

Maybe it didn’t matter. Nothing catastrophic happened during or after the lunch at his mother’s, although it looked like it wouldn’t have taken much in the beginning. Jimmy refused to tell him what they’d talked about when Maddie sent him off in her unsubtle way to stage lunch, claiming it was only small talk. Big liar. His mother didn’t do small talk. Either way, she hadn’t called since and lunch finished on a pleasant note. Perhaps it turned out they really liked each other or they called a truce.

Man, he hoped she wasn’t regrouping for another round.

He didn’t want Jimmy to go away. Even imagining it for a mere second made his pulse sour.

Thinking of the surprise visit at work this morning left him feeling exactly the opposite. When Jimmy walked through the door, Sawyer had become almost giddy. The mere sight of him made Sawyer want things he’d never longed for before. Things he’d never admitted to himself. 

Jimmy had made it clear where he stood. Whether they stayed together or not was completely in Sawyer’s hands. He was committed no matter what. Devoted, caring, and honest. True, he was a bit mysterious, but it added to his appeal. He was willing to wait until Sawyer was ready. Who says those things? He had no doubt Jimmy would be there every day and night and all Sawyer had to say was yes.

That power over him was why Sawyer made him wait. Not out of control, but because he didn’t know what to do with an offer so tempting. He wanted it, but getting what he wanted wasn’t typical for him. His desires were rarely considered in the planning of his life, so faced with a choice which would make him truly happy, Sawyer wasn’t sure how to give himself permission.

He was learning, however.

Staging an overnight date may not have been a tame proposal compared to his sordid past, but it felt more real, more healthy, more empowering. He almost let Jimmy kiss him in the lobby. Almost. His closet door wasn’t open wide enough for that. After he left, Betty, one of the tellers, complimented him on Jimmy and gave her support. Sawyer told her he didn’t know what she was talking about, but thanked her anyways. Wiping the stupid grin off his face was impossible.

chapter 19 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) with a new chapter next Wednesday!

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


Phases of Moon — Part 37 – Chapter 18 — 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 Thursday.

Jimmy investigates…

Moon Phases banner

Part 37 – Chapter 18

continued from part 36…

Now with an open case which couldn’t be hidden, a real risk existed someone might weave the other buried cases together into a bigger tapestry. A decent detective might be able to ask the right questions and be drawn to the rogue, which could then generate connections to Fergus’s pack. If enough evidence could float to the surface, more than the pack would be at risk. Proving his kind’s existence had broader ramifications than one wolf being bad.

Their kind outnumber us and can’t be trusted. They fear what they don’t understand, and what they fear, they burn and then they salt the earth for good measure.

The rogue needed to be found and brought to heel. Enough time had been wasted.

Once he knew what he had been given, Jimmy drove home.

He gathered all of the case paperwork, new and old, and began sorting everything on the dining room table by location, victim stats, hospital documentation, or any other relevant details he could find. There were even copies of the forensic files of the most recent kill, which should be restricted given the ongoing case, so Deputy Figgs wasn’t kidding about possibly going to jail for aiding their efforts. All of it would have to be gone before Sawyer came home with him. There was no way he was letting Sawyer see any of this.

Since they hadn’t gotten far to date, Jimmy decided to start over, reading every scrap of information to make sure nothing had been missed.

The autopsy and forensic reports were the most helpful. They allowed Jimmy to compare them to the other rabids and confirm the types of wounds and circumstances between them. One rogue wolf had done all of this damage. Now it was a matter of figuring out how to track him down.

Jimmy ran out to his truck and pulled out the state map he had stashed in his glovebox since he didn’t completely trust GPS electronics. He’d found himself in enough areas without a signal in the past, and his papa had always taught him to keep a backup. He spread the map out on the table inside and started marking locations based on the stacks of evidence paperwork.

Each of the attacks occurred near or at the same highway rest area Eddie had mentioned before the moon twisted him into a horror Jimmy had been forced to put down. Before he made any more assertions, he needed to check out the place. If the rogue was using the site as a potential hunting ground, his scent should be more prominent. The lead was thin, but he should have followed it there before this. Sawyer’s arrival had affected his focus. He was willing to admit it. Not to Fergus, of course.

Already into the late afternoon, Jimmy grabbed his keys and drove north up the highway.

Another hour and a half of daylight had burned away before he pulled into the rest area. Standard for Michigan, it was little more than a small building with overpriced vending machines and restrooms lining either side. A large “You are here” map was posted at either entrance inside a Plexiglas display. Cars parked on one side of the greenspace, trucks on the other. Picnic table were scattered for use, but looked mostly untouched.

People came and went as expected in small doses. Parking, using the facilities, stretching their legs, then heading back out on their way.

Nothing unusual about that.

Jimmy started his tour of the ground as daylight began it fade. His whole day had been eaten by this investigation. Traces of visitors were more sparse over the grassy areas as he expected. The more recent stood stronger than older ones layered infinitely over years of people and animals leaving parts of themselves behind. The sheer volume muddied the waters, but Jimmy had decades of experience parsing out what he needed if it was indeed there.

It wasn’t easy or quick. A public space such as this always created challenges for tracking, but hints of the rogue kept appearing as if he’d killed time watching people come and go. Hunting. Coveting. The scent became stronger the closer Jimmy came to the structure.

He avoided the regular humans who gave him odd stares as he wandered around in random directions following the ephemeral traces, a medium calling on long gone spirits. Their reactions weren’t important. If they stayed out of his way, so much the better.

Multiple invisible breadcrumbs laid over each other made their way into the mens restrooms. The facilities had been recently cleaned but to his wolfen senses, the place stank of shit and stewed urine, churning his stomach. If the job wasn’t so important, he would have saved his nose and left, but braved the burn inside his nostrils because they brought him to something more significant.

Months may have passed, but no amount of disinfectant could completely wash away the amount of blood and fear sweat which would have soaked between the floor tiles when the rogue trapped Eddie in this back corner stall. Eddie’s horrors would forever be a part of this place and Jimmy’s memories, sending icy discomfort skittered down his spine. Cruising the park, Eddie had met the rogue here and been beaten and clawed within an inch of his life. The sex may have been consensual to begin with, but it hadn’t stayed that way. Losing the struggle, having no way to protect himself was a nightmare no one should ever have to endure.

Late at night, nobody heard, nobody came to help.

A dull pain drilled into Jimmy’s chest. His thoughts drifted to the cellar under the house where he’d had to watch the frightened man become a mindless force of bloodlust through no fault of his own. The moon didn’t appreciate perversions of her gift and punished anyone who received her magic without her permission. Some goddesses lacked compassion, only demanded the laws be upheld. Transgressors of any sort had to be dealt with, innocent of their crime or not.

Jimmy pushed aside the guilt of putting Eddie down so he could focus on finding a solution to the problem, so no one else would suffer. Currently, the rogue wasn’t here. His reports pointed to the rogue using the rest area in the wee hours of the night for this game, and he hadn’t seen anyone who fit the victim profile since he’d arrived: young male, dark hair, dark eyes. If anyone fitting the description was here, Jimmy would make an extra effort to ensure their safety.

A urinal flushed and a haggard white man in a flannel jacket and dirty jeans gave Jimmy a disapproving look before walking out without washing his hands. Jimmy rolled his eyes. He wasn’t trolling the place for sex. Asshole.

Jimmy stared into the mirror mounted over the wall length counter on sinks. Something was here. He could sense he had more pieces to the puzzle than he’d ever had before. He simply needed to assemble them in the right order. 

Or maybe not so simply.

The rogue had been here recently, within days—some scent trails he would mark as weeks old—but the full moon had passed and there weren’t any signs or reports of another victim. Deputy Figgs was keeping an eye out and would have included them in the packet if anything had shown up. Hopefully. If no new rabids, why? Perhaps he hadn’t found what he was looking for.

Jimmy could stake out the rest area, but there’s no reason to think the rogue wouldn’t change venues if he thought he was being seen. There was no reason to believe he hadn’t already moved on after the last killing.

What was he missing?

Something familiar about the scent bugged Jimmy. More than simply been tagged as part of Fergus’s pack. He’d smelled it before, he was sure of it. But where? 

Jimmy was backtracking everywhere he’d found Fergus’s pack scents when it clicked.

It was one of the wolves he smelled at Franklin James. Sawyer’s bank. 

Shit. Shit. Shit.

The rogue’s scent must have changed enough between its human and wolf forms to keep him from fully recognizing it at the bank. But now that he’d been able to compare the differences between the kill site and on today’s reconnaissance, he was convinced.

All the rogue’s targets had similar traits. Young, dark hair, dark eyes. Descriptions he would use for Sawyer.

Jimmy’s wolf threw a tantrum so fierce, he had to steady himself against the sink. His wolf didn’t understand the specifics, but knew a threat on their mate was a high risk. Unacceptable. It demanded something be done. Immediately. His wolf wanted to find their mate and destroy anything endangering him. Protect him at all costs. Jimmy’s teeth sharpened and his skin itched as if his wolf was about to force a change.

Sonofabitch!” He spun and kicked, giving voice to his temper. The stall door tore off its hinges and cracked a chunk of porcelain out of the toilet inside. Dirty water splashed out onto the tile and flowed under the barriers separating one user from the next. The one person about to enter the mens room turned around and left.

Heart pounding and hyperventilating, Jimmy wrestled control from his wolf. Now was not the time for unfocused rage. Short, steady breaths helped him think and keep his human side in charge. The rogue might know Sawyer. Might be choosing him this minute. There were far too many potential connections to be drawn between everything. If the rogue saw Sawyer at the bank and found an interest, how hard would it be to follow him home? Jimmy had tracked him easily enough. Maybe he’d been following this case too long, and maybe paranoia was eating him alive, but every instinct he had told him something was wrong.

Jimmy pulled out his phone and called Sawyer. The sound of Sawyer’s voice mail message sent a dagger through his heart. 

“Hey, it’s me. Just checking to see how your day went. I might be done for the night. Call me when you get a chance.” 

Sounding steady and calm had never been more difficult. Air rushed out of his lungs as he ended the call.

He needed eyes on his mate. Now

Jimmy bolted out of the mens room, shouldering more than one person out of the way in his haste. Others were smart enough to move aside. Climbing into his truck, he revved the engine and squealed tires on the asphalt. He raced to the next exit so he could turn around and get on the southbound and head back the way he came. It would be well past dark by the time he could get back to Sawyer. 

Suddenly, stallking Sawyer Thomas didn’t sound like such a bad idea after all.

Stay tuned … Chapter 19 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 36 – Chapter 18 — 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

I feel like we’re missing out on Jimmy and Sawyer….

Moon Phases banner

Part 36 – Chapter 18

“You didn’t have to come all this way just to say hello.” 

The gleam in Sawyer’s eyes told Jimmy he wasn’t complaining about the surprise visit. The bank’s lobby was currently devoid of customers, but he knew that wouldn’t last, so his time was limited. The other employees, however, were present, and a few were taking a vested interest in their conversation. It kept Jimmy from ravishing Sawyer in public. While he might not have cared what others thought, his mate would not appreciate being mauled into a breathless mess in front of his coworkers. The few kisses he’d stolen since meeting Sawyer’s mother before the full moon had hardly quenched his thirst.

If he couldn’t have his way with Sawyer, he’d settle for invading his personal space so he could smell him better. Coworkers be damned.

“I wanted to see you. I have a lot of work to do for my client and I don’t know when I’ll be done. I might not get to talk to you tonight.”

Sawyer nodded. “That’s a really good reason. We should get together after you get a free evening.”

“You want to go out to eat?”

“We can do that. I thought that since you already know where I live, it would be a good excuse to show me your place.” Sawyer’s cheeks flushed as he stuffed his hands in his pockets, and stared at the ground. His scent sharpened and Jimmy’s wolf perked up.

Notes of anxiety and excitement twined with Sawyer’s musk, leaving a wishful impulse behind in Jimmy’s thoughts. 

“I’d like that. Are you bringing an overnight bag?”

Clearing his throat, Sawyer looked up at Jimmy through his brow line without raising his chin. “Why else would I go to your place?”

Pride and other dormant feelings surged through Jimmy’s chest. He may have displayed a wave of confidence while confronting Maddie Thomas before, but a small part of him feared Sawyer wouldn’t be ready for what he had to offer. That he wouldn’t want it. Being wrong never felt so right. A torrent of carnal ideas flooded his brain, courtesy of his wolf, heightening his already overactive imagination.

He leaned closer to whisper in Sawyer’s ear. “If there weren’t so many of your coworkers watching, I’d kiss you right now.”

Sawyer took one step back, the widest grin on his face. “Don’t you dare.”

So, so tempting to test. Jimmy debated his next move, but an older man in a navy suit came out of the bank’s cubicle zone and heading directly for them. Short, stout, and balding, the gentleman looked positively put out as he stopped several feet away from them.

“Um…I’m sorry to interrupt, Sawyer, but there’s a call on line one for you.”

“Thanks. I’ll be right there, Fred.” Sawyer gave Jimmy’s chest a few heavy pats. “Anticipation, good sir. Anticipation. Call me soon.”

“I sure will.”

Jimmy took in a few deep breaths to calm his wolf down—and if he was being honest, himself—as Sawyer went back to work, and noted the mix of residual scents throughout the lobby. So many random people mixed in the space, but he could spot Sawyer’s in the middle of the soup with ease. There were even traces of Fergus’s tinted pack scents. No surprise since he’d said his members used this particular branch. He wasn’t thrilled to have them with relative easy access to Sawyer, but they knew nothing about him. He was safe. Some days it was difficult to curb his hyper-protective instincts since he told Maddie to back off.

Despite Sawyer’s grilling, Jimmy didn’t tell him the details of his time alone with Maddie. It would only fuel discord between him and his mother, and Jimmy wasn’t trying to drive a wedge between them. He couldn’t purposely break up a mother and son. If she became a problem, he’d tell Sawyer every detail. Until then, he’d stay quiet and give Sawyer some independence. A little bit.

It would be best if Jimmy stopped that kind of thinking. Maddie didn’t need to know how on the nose her comment about him stalking her son really was. Nothing else she’d said bothered him. Only that.

Not seeing Sawyer during the full moon was hard, but he couldn’t trust his wolf for those three days. His bestial urges sharpened during that phase, and his self-control had already worn thin. The only reason he could risk shifting then was if he kept watch on his mate from afar. Sawyer continued to take his evening runs which allowed Jimmy to run nearby in the shadows, keeping him safe.

It’s what he told himself to control the shame, because the word stalker didn’t paint a romantic picture.

It wasn’t much in the scheme of things, but it had been enough to hold his sanity together. And now, if Sawyer meant it, their bond would grow and help tether Jimmy’s wolf. It wouldn’t solve his core problem. Nothing could stop the fact he’d still need a pack, but he was only willing to deal with one major thing at a time.

A customer entered and Jimmy took it as his cue to leave.

Out of habit, he scanned the area for potential threats, including checking Sawyer’s car—because he couldn’t drown all of his paranoias—before he got in his truck and drove out of downtown and into a local park.

Once he’d shut down the engine, he took the envelope he’d picked up from Fergus on his way to see Sawyer. Agitation shined off the alpha in hues ugly enough Jimmy knew better than to ask. Whatever problems Fergus was dealing with had nothing to do with him, and he preferred it stay that way. Inside the envelope, Jimmy found a stack of papers, copied police documents over the mauling cases. Somehow, Fergus’s contact had managed to provide details on the last poor soul who’d been killed in the forest.

chapter 18 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) with a new chapter next Wednesday!

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


Phases of Moon — Part 35 – Chapter 17 — 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 Thursday.

More of Alice during the full moon…

Moon Phases banner

Part 35 – Chapter 17

continued from part 34…

“How did you?”

Shayna’s smiled looked positively devious. “I asked permission in front of the whole pack on the full moon, instead of asking privately. I bet he wouldn’t say no without a decent reason in front of everyone. He never forgave me for doing it, but I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”

Oh how Alice envied Shayna’s natural defiance. Her own father had beaten it out of her and her mother long before he died. Abusive men targeted her since saying no brought back horrible memories and automatic responses. It allowed Fergus’s charms to convince her to walk away from her job and life in less than a few weeks, because a man treated her well for once in her life. What kind of person allowed did that?

A damaged person, that’s who.

Someday she hoped to be like Shayna, free-willed and courageous. Alice had thought she’d found a fantasy world married to a magical king until reality set in and the magic turned dark like her tea. Day and night escorts reinforced Alice’s lack of importance, her vulnerabilities. Deep down she knew she deserved better, and since her father was dead, there wasn’t any reason it couldn’t happen before she wound up here. To be the person she wanted to be, some real changes would have to be made in her life.

Shayna lifted her cup to drink and paused. “You sure you got the dosage right?”

Alice nodded. “I’ve been practicing with Fergus’s tea before bed every so often for the past few weeks. He goes right to sleep and hasn’t noticed.”

“Good. It can’t look staged. I need to be out, but not dead from an overdose. I want to wake up to see his face after.” Tossing the tea bag onto the table, Shayna tipped back the mug and took a deep swallow.

Reaching into her pocket, Alice drew out her curent bottle of anti-anxiety medication.  There wasn’t much left in the bottle since she’d been grinding the pills into powder and adding them to tea. Fergus had insisted on them after the twins’s first transformations had been so harrowing, it gave Alice nightmares. When she asked Fergus why the container lacked a proper doctor’s label, he promised her they were safe, leaving her with no choice but to trust him. Whatever back alley avenue he’d taken to collect the drugs gave her misgivings, but he’d told Alice keeping the pack a secret required a few legal shortcuts. Back then, it was enough to ignored her worries. The pronounced drowsy side effects mad her lose hours of consciousness when taking them. In the beginning, she didn’t mind, but the escape didn’t last. Not long after her first night overseeing Alice, Shayna suggested a better use for them.

Alice agreed.

“Why are you doing this for me again?”

Shayna took another deep drink ignoring the wafting steam. “Because your husband is the worst thing to happen to this pack. I don’t like how weak you are, but I figured you’re a prisoner here, so it’s not all your fault. I don’t like how he treats you and the rest of the women here while spouting his brotherly wolves crap. I don’t like how he pushes old school man and woman as the only acceptable pairing while he’s out banging his beta boys in the moonlight for shits and giggles.”

“I can’t picture that.” Alice shook her head at the conflicting images.

“It’s how he picks them. The sturdiest, younger guys become his betas. The ones that don’t make the cut—I assume that means they don’t like dick—vanish under mysterious circumstances. Fergus grooms them, or he dumps them.”

“How can you be sure?”

“I’m still a wolf. I know the smell of sex. Irwin tries to hide it after their Boys Night’s Out, but he’s not as good at it as he thinks.”

“That doesn’t bother you?”

“If Irwin has needs I can’t fulfill, I’m not going to punish him for it. He always comes back to me. I can’t trust Fergus’s motives. He’ll ruin us all if he gets the chance.”

It made sense in a twisted way. For the two years prior, Fergus had watched Alice’s cycle closely and romanced her often during her most fertile week. His excitement would be high until her period and then he’d be sullen and withdrawn. Every month would be a repeat. Eventually, Alice became pregnant, and he hadn’t touched her since. In the beginning, he claimed it was for the safety of the unborn child, to prevent complications since she was human and he was not. Something else to highlight her less than status in the pack. Alice went along with his request, because she didn’t find herself particularly smart and Fergus wouldn’t teach her anything about being a wolf. The lack of attention continued after the twins were born. The rejection hurt at first, but once the boys turned into little monstrous wolf cubs, Alice took it as a blessing. It became painfully clear Fergus didn’t love her, and she’d been used to bear him children. 

Alice also hadn’t missed the irony of her savior coming in the form of a woman who didn’t like her in the first place. Shayna’s motives were her own, and helping her was a means to an end. The hostility she wielded at Alice hadn’t lessened, and Alice almost found it attractive. Another reason to leave. The cycle of abusive realtionships would end tonight.

“Fergus’s stuck on the idea that being the strongest makes him a good leader, but he’s wrong. I want the whole pack to reject him, like they should. And I can’t trust Irwin to be strong enough to protect me if Fergus decided to put me down for screwing with him.” Shayna placed her empty mug on the table. “How long does it usually take for this stuff to kick in?”

“You should start feeling a little sleepy any time now.”

It didn’t take long. Shayna didn’t resist the meds as they took hold and tumbled to the floor, taking the chair with her. Alice peered close, making sure she still breathed, shallow but steady, Shayna’s chest thrust outward in the contorted position she’d landed in. Alice wanted to make her comfortable, but Shayna had prompted her to let everything happen naturally. Nothing could look like collusion.

Instead, Alice reached into Shayna’s pocket and took her keys and wallet. Once the cash was in her grasp, she dumped the wallet next to her as instructed.

The pack was out and would be for hours, but see needed to use the time well. She sprinted up the stairs to the bedroom and dragged out the small duffel bag she’d hidden at the bottom of the laundry hamper, knowing Fergus would never look inside and find it there. She went through her drawers and collected a few more essentials and exited, only to stop at the sounds coming from the nursery.

A pair of wolf cubs rolled and prowled within the crib, their little furry legs barely holding their weight. She stepped closer and they both let out a sad whine as they caught sight of her.

“I’m sorry, boys. I can’t stay. He loves you, so he’ll protect you. Once I’m not useful anymore, I don’t see it ending well for me.”

Alice hadn’t used their names since they changed over the summer. The moment they lost their humanity to her, the fantasy of her life with Fergus lost its luster. They were the shackles holding her here and their care is what kept her alive. It broke her heart to leave them behind, but she couldn’t care for a pair of wolf children. Mothers were supposed to love their children no matter what, and while she regretted her choice, it wasn’t potent enough to risk her life further.

The instinct to kiss them goodbye had to be quashed as well. As wolves, they might bite her.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she spun and left. “Be kind to your next nanny.”

Rushing down the stairs with packed bag in hand, she checked Shayna again before running out the door. Shayna’s truck sat parked out front, having used the excuse of shopping before coming over rather than walking from her nearby home.

It took a minute to figure out which key did what, but Alice managed to start the engine. Thankfully, the pack was running in the forest and didn’t watch her attempts to remember how to use a stick shift. The truck lurched as she backed up, knocking down a mailbox and smashing into a parked car across the street, shattering its window. 

Shayna had told her to do that too.

The panicked laugh which escaped her bordered on insanity. Freedom was only a few moments away. A few bumps wouldn’t impair the truck any worse than the way she ground the gears shifting. She sped down the road, intending to get some distance from this place, go into the next town and buy an untraceable bus ticket with the cash she’d lifted from Shayna.

It didn’t matter where she went. Her time in this town was over.

Go to hell, you phony wolf prince.

* * *

Dawn was only an hour away, and Fergus stretched as he stepped out of the forest’s edge. He carried his clothes in one hand, too tired from the run to bother dressing. Hours had been spent hunting and their quarry had gotten away. No deer for feasting tonight.

Getting the pack to work as a unit required more work and more fighting than he expected tonight, their cohesion having frayed more and more since he’d ordered Shayna to run on her own. Their loyalty to a beta’s wife chaffed. He was alpha. He deserved their fealty. It was his right by rank alone. This pack had been allowed to emulate human social constructs for far too long. They continued to expect equality in all things which was at odds with a properly functioning pack. No, that line of thinking would only create chaos. 

The old ways needed a proper return to bring this pack into line.

Granger, Patton, and Irwin walked a few steps behind, as they should. At least they knew their place. He’d spent so much time managing the crowd tonight, he hadn’t even had to chance to pull any of them aside and release some pent up tension on their asses. The night was an exercise in fighting, no feasting, and no fucking. A shit night at best.

Maybe later he’d take Alice for a ride to sate his urges. She’d probably appreciate it. It’d been a while.

The rest of the pack weren’t far behind as everyone headed for their homes with weary steps. He’d never been so happy the forest butted up against their community. If they had to travel much farther, he would have slept between a cluster of trees he found tonight. Fergus was so exhausted he barely registered rising voices among the pack members until Irwin spoke up. 

“What the hell happened here?”

Skid marks in Fergus’s driveway led to a downed mailbox and a cracked up car from where Shayna’s truck had been. Other pack members changed direction to inspect the commotion. Whispers broke out instantly, filtering through the growing crowd. Something was horribly wrong.

Fergus spun, assessing the mess, trying to understand as Granger came close and directed him home.

“Your front door’s wide open.”

Adrenaline shoved his exhaustion to the side, making every sound and smell on the evening shine bright. He ignored the chorus of hushed talk as he rushed indoors, his betas on his heels. No damage to the lock or casing, the house hadn’t been broken into. Someone had left in a hurry. He was about to curse Shayna when he found he sprawled out unconscious on the kitchen floor.

“Shayna!” Irwin shouted as he rushed to her side.

Fergus spun to Granger. “Check upstairs on my boys!”

Granger sprinted upstairs as Fergus returned to the kitchen. What happened to Shayna? Irwin shook his wife, but all she would do is groan and slur a few nonsensical words. Alice’s tranquilizers sat on the table, the bottle empty next to a pair of mugs and tea bags. This couldn’t possibly be what it looked like.

Granger hurried back to the main floor. “Your boys are fine. The bedroom’s a little ransacked. Half the drawers are left open.”

“Alice?” Fergus asked.

“She’s nowhere upstairs.”

“Holy shit. Did she drug Shayna and run away?” Patton asked.

Fergus’s annoyance erupted and his wolf pushed against his skin wanted to tear into something new. “Shut the fuck up!”

Gasps and hushed conversation drifted to Fergus’s ears. A group of neighbors stood in his doorway, watching and listening to everything. 

“The alpha’s wife knocked Shayna out and escaped.”

“Slaves do that.”

One of them actually snickered.

Fergus stormed the doorway, but they fled into the curious crowd outside. The entire pack must have been out there standing on his lawn, pointing at the damage outside, then to him. So many gazes aimed his way. Mocking stares bored into his chest, and the hardwood floor under his feet felt soft and pliable. The chain of rumors might have well been a physical thing snaking its way between each member. It slipped from one to another, binding them more fully than his orders during the run, and he didn’t have a grasp on the beginning or end.

Ungrateful, pieces of shit. Fergus’s wolf howled, demanding fresh blood.

Before he went on a murder spree, he stepped back and slammed the door shut, cracking its ornamental window. Now was not the time to make an example out of anyone. His rule didn’t need additional challenges to climb over, even if killing a few dissenters would be oh so satisfying. He couldn’t even punish Shayna, since by all accounts Alice doped her and took advantage of the situation. No one would forgive him for taking his frustrations out on an obvious victim.

“What do you want us to do, boss?” Granger bowed his head like a good follower who knew how precarious everyone’s lives sat in this moment.

“Find out where Alice went and get Shayna’s truck back.”

“You want us to bring her back?”

Fergus mulled the question. He still needed someone to care for his boys, but their mother had enough gall to abandon her children. Could she actually be trusted? Keeping her in line would require even more constant supervision. His wife had fled, and the pack were laughing at him over it.

Turning away from everyone inside, he headed for the stairs and his children.

“Get Shayna out of here and go home. I don’t need a wife anymore.”

He hadn’t made three steps before Granger caught up to him. “Do you need anything?”

Devotion shone through his second’s eyes, and Fergus could read the unasked question. The offer was clear. It wasn’t the first time he’d vented his needs on Granger, and it wouldn’t be the last either. In his current mood, he would take the man hard and make him the scapegoat for all this chaos. Granger wouldn’t tell him to be gentle. Granger wouldn’t complain. 

Perhaps some part of the night could be salvaged.

“Fuck it. Get upstairs.”

Stay tuned … Chapter 17 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 34 – Chapter 17 — 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

During the full moon runs, what is Fergus’s wife, Alice doing?

Moon Phases banner

Part 34 – Chapter 17

Alice stared out the kitchen window at the disk of pale brightness in the night sky. She’d never paid much attention to the moon before, dismissing it as a meaningless icon, but living here, married to the pack alpha had changed her vantage point. She understood it’s significance, even if she still had questions. There were two full moons this month, one at the beginning and one at the end, and she had learned to hate them all.

She rinsed the last dinner plate and set it in the strainer to dry with the rest. Another mundane evening like every other.

Her husband, Fergus, was running in the night with his people—his pack—and she had been relegated to waiting at home. The same as she did every day under supervision. Since it was the full moon, she was tasked with an additional job of making sure her twin sons didn’t fall out of their crib after they transformed into animals upstairs. She enjoyed that job as much as the full moon.

Pulling the stopper to let the sink drain, Alice dried her hands on the nearby towel and checked the kettle heating on the stove. It gurgled and hissed, still short of boiling, so she setup a pair of mugs with teabags on the kitchen table under the watchful eye of her minder.

“You’re a good cook.” Still sitting at the table, Shayna hadn’t helped Alice clean up after dinner.

Alice ducked her head and lowered her voice as expected. “Thank you.”

A growl came out of Shayna and she pounded a fist on the table making the mugs jump. 

What? You think I’m lying?” Shayna caught herself. Closing her eyes, she took a breath and held up her hand. “I’m sorry. My wolf wants out to run, but I can’t, because I’m here with you.”

The first lesson Alice had been taught after Fergus brought her home was never run away. Wolves love to chase. It kept her in the house most days, and sheer habit prevented her from fleeing at Shayna’s outburst. She’d seen enough variations in Fergus’s behavior from the phases of the moon to know she wasn’t lying.

It didn’t make her feel any better as she pried her nervous hands from the kitchen counter’s edge.

Alice made an effort not to look Shayna directly in the eye, like anyone else in the pack. No matter how polite they might have been, all of them were creatures that hunted and killed the weak. Staring might provoke their inner animal. Alice had been many things in her scared, weak, and timid life, but not suicidal.

“It’s okay. I’m not used to you being nice to me. I’m not used to anyone here being nice to me. The men are afraid to be around me because I’m the alpha’s wife, and the women here don’t really like me.”

The kettle’s shrill whistle interrupted her from saying more. Alice used to tell herself living in near isolation was better than the life she had before, but these days she knew better. Anything would be an improvement.

She turned off the stove and filled both mugs with steaming water, watching the first hints of tea seep from the bags nestled inside. Lifting each by the tag, she bobbed the packets as the liquid darkened. Convinced they would brew as intended, she made sure which cup was which and slid one over to Shayna.

“They think you don’t belong here. It wasn’t perfect here before, but when you showed up everything changed.” Shayna swirled the tea using the bag as if it could speed up the process. “It was like one day the strongest and most eligible bachelor in the pack went out on vacation for a few weeks, and the next came back with a wife. They can’t even forgive that you’re human and he’s a prick who locks you away like a house slave. He keeps them all under his heel and all they can do in return is spent their time being spiteful bitches instead of figuring out how to make our pack better. You’re a breeding mare and a nanny. None of the women here would allow themselves to be walked all over like you have. Maybe that’s why he chose you in the first place. I should be out there running with the rest of them. Instead, I’m babysitting you so he can punish me for being an uppity female.”

“That’s not my fault.” Alice stared into her cup, wishing the tea would brew faster.

“Doesn’t matter. All anyone could say was: any number of women in the pack would make a better alpha mate. She can’t be a wolf. He can’t even mate you properly.”

Alice cringed. She didn’t need to hear the things the other women said, she had enough insecurities to guess. The pack females were all curvaceous and appealing as were the men, a trait common to their kind she guessed. Being around them each day only emphasized her own failings.

“Did you want to be his wife?”

Scoffing, Shayna swept the blond hair which wasn’t part of the thick braid running down her back, behind her ear. “When I was a teenager, I thought he was hot. Fergus knew how to work it. He flirted, had a rocking body, but didn’t sleep with anyone in the pack. Told us he was waiting for his proper mate. It was very romantic.” She rolled her yes. “Then one night I overheard him talking to Granger about the bitches in the pack and realized he was just a dick. So I grew up and found a better option.”

“You married Irwin?”

“Fergus wasn’t happy. I usually kept a distance from the betas, but Irwin turned out to be a decent guy. When we decided to get married, I knew we needed Fergus’s permission, because… rules… and I didn’t think I would get it.”

chapter 17 continues on Thursday…

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow (Thursday) with a new chapter next Wednesday!

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