Phases of Moon — Part 64 – Chapter 30 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Our boys made it through the first day of the full moon. How will they fair on day two?

Moon Phases banner

Part 64 – Chapter 30

The full moon had fallen out of sight, marking the phase’s end. Fergus bid it good riddance. With his duties complete, he could hopefully turn his attention to more deserving matters.

“Was that as bad as I think it was?” Granger asked.

Once he yanked his shirt down over his head and body, Fergus clenched his fists against his sides to quell the urge to strike his second. “It was a fucking disaster. Three nights and three pack runs. Each one worse than the last.”

Frozen grass made brittle noises as he stomped a path out of the woods with Granger at his side, snapping dead twigs under his feet. The rest of the pack followed behind in as scattered a group as they were during the run. Fergus worked hard to gather them into a cohesive unit, but this moon’s performance was a disaster. His wolves had meandered on their own or split off into cliques, ignoring their alpha’s call. They refused to follow the simplest commands. Many didn’t even partake of what was left of the deer he hunted down, snubbing what he provided.

Didn’t they understand, without him, they were little better than a pack of strays?

“Good night, Patton,” one of the younger females said behind them. The newest beta had yet to put on his shirt, and the girl practically giggled as she shamelessly ogled him, but Patton did little more than politely smile and nod in return. Patton was a good soldier, and he connected well with the lower ranks, having been a part of them for so long. His wolf had been able to corral the wayward members better than Fergus—or Granger for that matter—but he always remained loyal to his alpha. For that, Fergus wouldn’t punish Patton for undermining his authority.

Fergus could feel his hold on the den crumbling, and he couldn’t risk what few advantages he had.

The younger ones, whose diluted lives lasted no longer than regular people, were the real trouble. They didn’t understand the risk of courting human society. The lunacy of it.  How he wished he could purge them, but fresh blood kept a pack alive, even a pack that used to allow females to breed with humans to diversify the population. Thankfully, Fergus brought the practice to a halt as soon as he killed the stupid old alpha. Sequestering them from the ignorant apes was critical to survival. Of course, pack members bitched when he made an exception for himself and married Alice, but that was different. He needed an heir.

They refused to understand.

Crossing the yard, he found the first sidewalk bordering the condominiums making up their homes. No one outside the pack lived in the community, quashing the need to explain why so many people didn’t require adequate clothing in the November cold.

He turned down the first road and caught sight of the pack splintering further in various directions. Hunched over and grumbling, a general discord hovered over them all. Many glanced his way, whispering amongst each other so low he couldn’t hear. Did that bitch dare roll her eyes at him?

Fergus questioned the prestige of having such a large pack, if they continuously ignored their place in the scheme of things. Their traitorous attitudes undermined the hierarchy and weakened the pack’s integrity. They would ruin everything. All wolves were not created equal. A pack this size should be an honor to lead. Instead he saw it more and more as a troublesome burden.

The only thing more shameful than leading this pack would be to abandon it. No, Fergus would find a way to make it work, even if he had to break them in the process. The pack’s failure would not follow him for the rest of his days.

Granger leaned in close to whisper. “Can you hear what they’re saying?”

“No. They’re working hard to keep the gossip secret.”

Almost as if they were talking about things they weren’t meant to know. Just like last week.

“Fergus, do you know where Irwin is?” Tight fisted with a determined step, Shayna caught Fergus at his truck before he could head to the lumber mill. Granger had returned late from spying on Jimmy and his banker friend and had yet to debrief him. He didn’t have time for her nonsense. She tried to make her question a demand, but her forceful veneer cracked and a tear ran down her cheek.

God, he hated weak females. “Irwin is indisposed.”

“I haven’t seen or heard from him in weeks. I’ve tried to trace his phone, but I’m not getting anywhere.”

Granger had already tracked Irwin’s phone and dismantled it after they’d buried him for exactly this reason. It led them to his truck which took more effort to disappear, but they’d managed.

“He’s undercover, helping me end a potential pack disaster.”

Even upset, Shayna half-laughed in disbelief. “You gave Irwin a what… covert job?”

“He is one of my betas.”

“You never cared enough about Irwin to have him do anything important before.”

Disdain dripped from her lips, and Fergus spat it back at her. “Don’t pretend to know enough about me to know what I think.”

“What kind of job?”

Fergus intended to leave Shayna in the dark until a convenient excuse to explain her husband’s disappearance could be made. As far as he was concerned, if she’d taken better care of Irwin’s needs, he wouldn’t have gone to such extreme lengths to satisfy himself. Unfortunately, Shayna’s popularity would afford her a great deal of sympathy, if he kept her as ignorant as she deserved. Perhaps a small tidbit would tide her over and serve to improve his pack relations.

“Something the pack doesn’t need to hear about. I don’t want to create a panic before there’s a need to worry. I wouldn’t even be telling you now, but I don’t want you gossiping and making up stories you know nothing about.” Fergus let his wolf out a little and growled. “This is not a public conversation. You will not speak of this to others. Are we clear?”

She shivered, recognizing his power and rank. “Yes, Alpha. When will he be back?”

“When his job is done.” Fergus climbed in his truck and left her standing on the sidewalk with no more than that.

It was all she deserved.

chapter 30 continues on Thursday…

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

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


Phases of Moon — Part 63 – Chapter 29 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Full moon day one continues…

Moon Phases banner

Part 63 – Chapter 29

continued from part 62…

Nearly curled in a ball, head touching the brick, Sawyer looked frail despite his impressive physique. The only time he’d seemed weaker was after the rogue mauled him.

“What makes you say that?”

Sawyer held out his hand, steady and unwavering. “Look at me. Last night I couldn’t sit still, and my body itched like crazy.”

“And tonight?”

“My skin feels fine, and the tension is centered in my stomach like I’m stressed out instead of shooting through me in all directions like last night. It doesn’t feel like anything’s happening.” Sawyer’s shoulders shook as his attempt to stay strong crumbled. “I don’t know if I can keep doing this. The not knowing, not understanding, is killing me.”

Jimmy wanted to unlock the door and wipe the tears from Sawyer’s cheeks, but didn’t for all the right reasons. “You can do this. I know you can. It’s not much longer.”

Sawyer’s body deflated with a noisy exhale. “How do you know?”

“I have hope.”

“Is that enough?”

“I can smell how scared you are. I can hear your heart racing. I know how hard this is on you, but it’s just a little longer. You’ve gotten this far. You’ll make it the rest of the way, I know you will.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“My mate isn’t weak.”

Sawyer’s incredulous stare gave way to the first glimmer of a smile since before they’d taken the steps down. He nodded as much to himself as to Jimmy with a determined set to his jaw. Placing a hand on the floor, he uncurled his body, grunting after being in one position for hours. He rose to his feet and dusted off his ass, which was too firm to jiggle under the slaps.

Not that Jimmy was watching or anything.

“You’re right. The longer this goes on the more scared I get. I need to believe I can get through this. That we can get through this. Oh. That felt weird. Wait a minute—”

With a sharp gasp, Sawyer dropped to his knees. Face a rictus of shock, no sound came out of his gaping mouth.


Every muscle in his mate’s body stood out in high relief as every inch of his skin reddened. Fingers curled into trembling hands, he fell over onto his side. Empty gasps lurched out of his throat. Sawyer wasn’t breathing.

“Sawyer, can you hear me?”

He rolled onto his back and arched off the floor. All at once, his lungs unlocked, chest filling like a bellows. 

The exhale was the most horrific shriek Jimmy had ever witnessed. Agony echoed off the walls, ceiling, and floor, battering Jimmy as he covered his ears. His wolf howled in sympathy, smothering Jimmy in a cacophony of suffering he could feed in his bones.

Sawyer wouldn’t stop screaming. It was so hard to think.

Oh god, this was so much worse than Eddie’s change in the cell.

Because it wasn’t Eddie’s first shift.

He never imagined how bad it could really be. If the rogue were still alive, he’d murder him again. Sawyer said the magic had been pooling rather than surging, as if his wolf had been coiled, preparing to pounce.

Clawing its way free.

Tears streamed over Sawyer’s face as he thrashed and wailed, slapping and kicking the concrete. All Jimmy could do was watch and wish with all his might. He tried to remember his own first turn and the advice his maman gave him to coax him through.

“Don’t fight it, Sawyer! Let it happen!”

Random tufts of fur sprouted like short doll hair and his arm swelled. The sound of bone snapping nearly made Jimmy vomit. The limb stretched like wet clay, surface tearing when pulled too far. He slid through the blood dripping on the floor as he kicked and flailed to escape. Somehow coherent words fell out of Sawyer’s mouth when his ribs lengthened his torso.

“Oh god! Kill me, Jimmy! Please!”

Wet sobs tore out of Jimmy as he and his wolf howled in helpless unison. All he could do was watch Sawyer’s torture, trapped on this side of the wall, unable to do anything. Through blurry eyes, he glared over his shoulder. The key was only a few steps away.

No. Opening the door was not an option.

He couldn’t force Sawyer’s wolf. Encouraging words seemed so pointless in the face of such horror, but it was the only tool at his disposal.

When wolves changed, their bodies flowed from one shape to the next in smooth increments, even when they had difficulty in the beginning. Sawyer was proof of why biting humans was forbidden. It mangled him as both sides warred for dominance. The transformation was cruel and inhumane to those who weren’t meant to be touched by her power. Jimmy couldn’t see the moon, but he begged to her. It wasn’t his fault. Sawyer didn’t ask for the bite. Please save his mate, he was all Jimmy had. He repeated the mantra over the  din of Sawyer’s terror, but only received his maman’s words in return.

“They’re not lost souls you can pray back into the fold. The moon only allows a chosen few to pass along her gift. There’s no cure for blasphemy.”

“Shut up, Maman!”

Sawyer’s screams turned into something monstrous when his skull began to bloat like soft wax. More blood streamed from his nose and lips, darkening the mangy coat covering his face.

First shifts were always arduous, but this… this was… Jimmy choked as he and his wolf stood sentinel, pounding the floor until his knuckles bled to somehow share the pain. Their bonds let Jimmy feel the magic aggressively pull his mate’s flesh from one shape to another with its silver tenter hooks. It was like worms crawling through his flesh. Unnatural and profane. Jimmy wanted to run, but Sawyer’s trial eclipsed his own. If enduring this eased any fraction of his mate’s suffering, he would stay. The bite had made Sawyer stronger. He healed faster now. He would survive this. He had to. He had to. He had to.

The harrowing screams calmed down into painful wheezing. Sawyer huffed and huffed, drawing in uneven amounts of air due to his misshapen ribcage. Hooked claws scraped the concrete on the hand still human enough to have fingers. One fully canine leg. His face… oh god his face brought Jimmy to tears. A distorted funhouse mirror’s reflection brought to life. Muscles twitched in constant spasm, but the shift had stopped.

“No! No! No! Come on, Sawyer!”

Stuck between wolf and man.

“Keep going! Don’t stop!”


“You can’t stop! Please!”

Lunging forward, Jimmy gripped the bars as he pleaded to the moon. The metal chill seeped into his palms, leeching the hope with it. She’d made her choice, punishing them both in different ways while forever linked together.

Jimmy’s wolf yelped in alarm, and he leaped backward, stumbled, and fell to the floor, narrowly avoiding Sawyer’s claws to his throat. Sawyer flung himself against the bars in an effort to get to Jimmy, smashing his skull over and over against the iron in his madness. Blood and foam sprayed from rows of jagged teeth as Sawyer barked, snarled, and gnashed. Recognition was lost in both eyes, amber and blue. Only the monster remained.

Too many memories of Papa flooding in. Finding him already dead. A wet rag doll.

The beast was eating him.

Sawyer let out an inhuman, guttural howl-scream that vibrated through the concrete and sent Jimmy scuttling across the floor until his back hit the far wall. There was no chance Sawyer could reach, yet he continued his unhinged attempt to shove between the bars and break free.

The number of invisible arrows skewering Jimmy’s soul doubled then tripled, crushing his chest until he could barely draw oxygen. It was the least he deserved. Jimmy cursed himself for being so recklessly stupid. Fergus’ rogue wolf had only ever created rabids from his victims. Believing Sawyer would be spared because he’d stormed in and saved the day was the height of arrogance. After all the hell he’d been through, how could he have deluded himself enough to hope?

What would his maman say if she could see him now?

“May you never see one of those things again, but if you do, you put it down. Don’t think, just do it. You can’t let one of those creatures run free.”

Head in his hands, he wiped as the never ending flow of hot tears. What was he supposed to do? Sawyer was his mate, but the unthinkable had happened. He’d broken the first wolf’s law by being turned into a mindless, savage monster by someone else’s hand. It wasn’t his fault, yet he bore the judgement all the same.

Sawyer would never be safe again.

If people found out, they’d hunt him down with no more mercy than Mitchell and his hate group. Murdering Sawyer wouldn’t end their campaign. It would only spark the flame of a bigger fire. The existence of wolves couldn’t become public knowledge. It would be war.

“Good or bad, child, it doesn’t matter. 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.”

Jimmy’s wolf became so vocal at the idea of Sawyer being prey, it made his head hurt. They were predators, and they would protect their mate at all costs, humans be damned.So many voices vied for attention, Jimmy covered his ears with his hands and pressed hard. Sawyer’s bloodthirsty growls and his wolf’s demands sliced through his head. 

Layers of chaotic noise gave rise to desperate ideas. The cage was holding. Could he lock Sawyer away during the full moon and save his mate? Shouldn’t he protect a victim? He still remembered when he posed the same question to his maman.

“Nothing lasts forever and if they get out, they either kill indiscriminately or spread their curse.”

“There’s no other way?”

Without shouting, her voice filled the room like a physical force.“No, there’s not.”

Dragging himself to his feet, Jimmy wrenched open the cabinet and drew out the revolver stashed there. The same one he used on Eddie, already loaded as a precaution. Six shots in the cylinder.

Maman was right. If Sawyer ever got free and found an innocent man, woman, or child, the blood would be on his hands.

“Promise me, Jimmy. If you ever see one you put it down. Don’t let anyone else suffer like your papa.”


“I said promise me, child!”

Sawyer renewed his attack, fresh blood dripping down his deformed face from trying to force his head through the too narrow space between the bars. Insatiable, carnivorous appetites coursed through their link. Kill. Eat. Rend. Meat. Jimmy stared into his eyes trying to find the man underneath. If Sawyer could be reached, there was a chance, no matter how infinitesimal, to save him. They would be able to control him during the full moon. They could stil be together.

Eye contact only increased Sawyer’s rage.

“Sawyer, please. Don’t make me.” Jimmy raised the gun, aiming between his mate’s eyes with his blurry vision. The roar-howl-scream from Sawyer was deafening. Bloody strings of drool flew off his chin.

“If you ever see one you put it down. Don’t let anyone else suffer like your papa.”

The beast was eating Papa when he found him. A wet rag doll.

Jimmy’s wolf went into a frenzy, frantically digging behind his eyes in protest.

“Promise me, Jimmy.”

Sawyer slammed mindlessly into the unmoving iron, harder and harder. One bullet would end all the suffering, and he had six to do the job.

“Promise me, Jimmy.”

Jimmy’s finger fluttered on the trigger. Panicked barking filled his mind.

“I said promise me, child!”

His hand trembled.

“I’m sorry, Maman! I can’t!”

Heart breaking along with a list of promises, Jimmy charged up the stairs. From the depths of his heart, he cursed the heavens in one endless, inarticulate shout as he pulled the trigger. Six cracks of fire and thunder into the forest were barely enough to drown out his unrestrained howl.

He was a selfish man condemning his mate to a half-life because he didn’t have the fortitude to do what was right and necessary.

Throat raw and weary to the core, Jimmy tossed the revolver aside and let his wolf out. The pain of transformation shoved him into the recesses of his own mind, but he didn’t care. He’d never hated himself more and didn’t want to be human anymore. He wanted to disappear forever. Knowing it needed its human to save their mate, his wolf refused and didn’t bury him completely.

On four legs, he trotted back into the cellar, flattening his ears to the chaos inside which hadn’t stopped. The scent of pain and blood suffocated the space. Jimmy laid in the center of the room, outside of Monster-Sawyer-Mate’s reach and the swipes of his deadly claws. It tried to shove through the bars to bite him, maim him, kill him, getting angrier and angrier. Monster-Sawyer-Mate acted like he didn’t recognize Jimmy and it made him sad.

So he howled to his mate with all the love and longing possessed by man and wolf.

Monster-Sawyer-Mate went quiet. He stared at Jimmy with his mismatched eyes as if something other than pain and fear consumed its mangled body. Then he began to whimper. Not like a man. Not like a wolf. Like something lost in between. Rabid.

Jimmy’s wolf didn’t know how to cry, so he whined back to Monster-Sawyer-Mate until they both laid down, peering into each other’s eyes. Only the beat of animal hearts and uneasy breathing could be heard for hours.

Exhausted, they eventually fell asleep on the cold, cement floor.

Blinking once, twice, three times, Jimmy woke with a face pressed into the floor. Cement scrubbed his hands and knees as body aches made themselves known as he climbed to his feet. Stiff and achy, he felt hungover while his wolf slumbered. Dazed with a head full of cotton, he tried to gather his wits.

What time was it? How long had be spent as a wolf?

Morning light spilled down the cellar stairs. Just one night? Scents of blood and foulness tainted the air with a haunting familiarity. The cell door was still shut tight with a curled up man lay facing the back wall, chest rising and falling in a natural rhythm. His brain may have been dulled, but his chest was tight. He’d forgotten nothing of the night before.

Collecting the skeleton key in a rush, he turned it in the lock as gently as possible. The door opened with a creak, and Jimmy was kneeling beside his mate in a second.

Covered in dried blood and filth, Sawyer slept in a circle of rusty splatter soaked into the cement. The tears in his skin had seamlessly knitted together. His limbs were equal in size. No bruising or malformed snout twisted his beautiful face. He was dirty, yet human and more or less whole. A small consolation.

As carefully as he could, Jimmy lifted Sawyer into his arms, cradling him close. A steady pulse greeted his ear, easing the vise grip on his heart. It was time to go upstairs. He’d had enough of this dungeon for one night.

Jimmy slid through the cage, not allowing the iron door to touch Sawyer’s skin. He returned the key to its perch, making every effort not to disturb his charge, but still jostled his mate as he stooped to gather Sawyer’s discarded shirt and pants.

Stirring, Sawyer stirred, raising his chin a tiny bit without opening his eyes. “Jimmy?”

Planting a gossamer kiss to his head, Jimmy hugged his mate. “Shh… I have you.”

“Is it morning?”


Sawyer drowsy voice fought ot be heard. “Was my wolf handsome?”

Jimmy didn’t answer.

“Oh,” was all Sawyer said as he tucked his head into Jimmy’s chest.

Weary to his inner depths, Jimmy carried his mate out of the cellar and into the house. Caring for his mate would be the one thing to hold him together. It was time to clean up and get some proper rest, knowing they had one more night of the full moon to get through.

Stay tuned … Chapter 30 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 62 – Chapter 29 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Our boys made it through the first day of the full moon. How will they fair on day two?

Moon Phases banner

Part 62 – Chapter 29

The full moon phase could be hard on a new wolf, so Jimmy did his best to make Sawyer’s transition easier on him. After being up all night, Sawyer’s boundless energy plummeted and he fell into a restless sleep for several hours only to wake mid-afternoon craving mass quantities of food and physical contact through sex.

This part Jimmy and his wolf enjoyed. Providing for his mate gave him a sense of completion—of belonging—missing from his life since the massacre at the pack house. He’d forgotten the peace and happiness other wolves could bring by being near. Sharing food. Sharing space. Sharing time. He spent those wonderful hours branding Sawyer’s scent into his brain, strengthening their ties in lovely, unbreakable chains. With his wolf still waiting to be born and cement his connection, Sawyer had the power to choose between them, but Jimmy’s heart and his wolf would never want any other. Love was a beautiful beast.

Unfortunately, the evening would come, taking the good feelings away and replace them with fear and potential loss. A horrible fate for creatures of the night.

Taking the gaping maw of cellar stairs might as well have led to a new circle of hell given the solemn energy following them down.

“Are you okay?” Jimmy asked.

Sawyer traced his fingers over the open cell door with a listless effort. “Night number two. I guess we should just do this.”

Faint circles darkened his handsome eyes as he stripped with no cheeky banter, no playful teasing. He handed Jimmy his clothes and walked into the cell like a death row inmate. The lock engaging sounded harsher than the night before. Jimmy felt the metal grind into his spine.

Arms hanging limp at his sides, Sawyer’s fingers rolled in a constant motion. His gaze wandered the room with lazy focus, barely acknowledging Jimmy as he placed the skeleton key back on the nail. Jimmy could hear both their heartbeats, loud and erratic, where they usually found a pleasant rhythm together. Sawyer was wide awake but fleetingly lucid. The failed change had wore on him.

Jimmy’s wolf was locked onto his mate, scanning him with all of its senses. Neither had showered to keep the scents strong, hopefully to help ground them both with something familiar. The night had barely begun, but the air of vigilance rode high. Jimmy’s teeth were sharper than normal.

“Do you think it will happen tonight?” Sawyer whispered, touching claw marks in the wall.

“It’s still early.” Jimmy refused to say more.

The atmosphere was denser compared to the first night. Attempts to maintain a stiff upper lip were limited. Naked and afraid, Sawyer’s sullen mood made Jimmy think of Eddie more and more with each passing hour. He wondered what being locked in the cage did to his mental state as time wore on, and hoped the act of prevention wasn’t doing more harm than good. Eddie had been too far along by the time Jimmy found him.

He asked the moon if she would grant his this one wish and spare his mate.

Sawyer’s quiet fascination with the clawed masonry was more disturbing than anything else. He’d slumped to the floor, shoulder against the wall, as he used his index finger to draw each separate line over and over.

“Did a wolf make these marks?” Sawyer asked.

Jimmy glanced over to the closed cabinet mounted next to the key. “I don’t know.”

Eddie hadn’t survived long enough to mar the walls. Others had been put down in the wild. Those marks came long before he’d ever called for Fergus and his clan. Oh, he knew what Sawyer was really asking, but Jimmy pushed the thought away, unwilling to let it simmer and foul the night further.

Unfortunately, his knack for swallowing secrets had become untrustworthy after telling Sawyer about Mitchell and his family. Nothing would stay buried for long. Stuffing down the night’s worries only made his maman’s warning rise to the surface. 

“Monsters are real, child. Don’t forget that.”

He shushed her voice, not wanting to hear her at this time, in this place. With Sawyer being so sedate, there wasn’t enough to fill his mind. The silence made him antsy.

“Do you want me to bring in some music to pass the time?”

Sawyer didn’t look up, only continued to pick at a deep scratch. “No.”

“You sure? I can run up and get my speakers.”


“All right.” Jimmy lifted Sawyer’s clothes and inhaled a lungful. It helped toned down the apprehension growing out of his impatience. Something needed to happen soon before Jimmy was the one who lost his mind and wolfed out in a violent rage. He shifted his weight to ease the ache in his backside from sitting so long on the hard floor. Not bringing in a chair wasn’t the brightest move in hindsight, but he didn’t see the fairness in being any more comfortable than Sawyer.

Leaving his phone behind had been cautiously intentional. Not knowing what to expect, he didn’t want it damaged, but it left him with no clock or link to the outside. Replacing it was a hassle he didn’t want or had time to deal with. Maybe he should have snatched the clock out of the kitchen. Too late now.

Jimmy hazarded a guess it was somewhere around midnight when Sawyer’s raspy voice broke through the monotonous silence.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

chapter 29 continues on Thursday…

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

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


Phases of Moon — Part 61 – Chapter 28 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Full moon day one continues…

Moon Phases banner

Part 61 – Chapter 28

continued from part 60…

Jimmy had to remind himself to close his mouth as he stood slack jawed and dumbfounded. Could his admiration for his mate run deeper? Instead of giving in to despair, Sawyer kept up the light banter even though Jimmy could smell his anxious sweat and hear his racing heartbeat. Sawyer’s bravery shamed him. Jimmy wanted to be the hero and protect his mate, but found himself wanting to scream, rant, and curse the moon at the unfairness of it all. But in the light of Sawyer’s stoic grace, Jimmy would not make his night any more stressful, especially if the unthinkable happened, and it was his last.

And it very well could be. 

“Sawyer, no matter what happens, I want you to know how proud I am to call you my mate, and how much I lo—”

Reaching through the bars, Sawyer clamped his hand over Jimmy’s mouth. “Shh. Tell that to me and my wolf later.”

He didn’t take his hand away until Jimmy nodded.

“So what now?” Sawyer asked.

Jimmy withdrew the key and returned it to its nail to reduce his urge to cut Sawyer free. “We wait.”

“It’s going to be a long night. I should have brought a book.”

Collecting Sawyer’s discarded shirt and pants, Jimmy took the time to fold them nicely for later. He kept telling himself there would be a later until it happened through sheer force of will. “How do you feel?”

“A little naked. You could have let me have a pair of shorts.”

“You can hurt yourself if you get tangled in them.”

Sawyer swept a semi-clean spot on the floor with his hand and sat. “Great. I’m destined to be the klutziest wolf in history.”

“And you’ll destroy your clothes.”

“Well, I don’t want that.” 

They’d talked earlier how it would be better to undress in advance, since Sawyer might not have the presence of mind to remove them right before the change. While Jimmy wouldn’t care if Sawyer never wore clothing again, his mate liked his wardrobe. Clad only in a pair of jeans, Jimmy mimicked his mate and sat on the floor across from him. The least he could do was try to make him feel less alone while they were separated.

Anxious tension flowed from Jimmy’s wolf. It felt the moon’s song and wanted out, but it also knew the stakes and what this moon’s phase meant. Either a new wolf would be born into the world, or they might lose Sawyer forever in one way or another. A fringe of panic began to surface, so Jimmy lifted Sawyer’s clothes to his face and inhaled deep, drowning himself in Sawyer’s scent to drug his nerves. When his wolf’s fear receded enough, he set the clothing in his lap, keeping them nearby.

“How long do you think this will take?”

Jimmy shook his head. “There’s no way of knowing.”

They chatted about nothing and everything for at least an hour, confirming the story. A weekend getaway had already been booked up north and Jimmy had already made the drive to check in and be seen. Sawyer was supposed to meet him there afterwards as far as anyone knew. It gave them a reason to be gone for a few days and an alibi if things went badly. A car accident could be staged easily enough along the way to cover their tracks. These things happen every day. 

Sawyer took the conversation in stride as his fidgeting grew and he scratched his arms. “I’m more than a little disturbed at your skill to fake someone’s death.”

“When you live longer than everyone else, you learn things or get found. How are you feeling?”

Hugging his torso, Sawyer trapped his hands under his arms to stop his scratching. “A little restless.”

“A little?”

“Okay, a lot restless. And my skin’s itching a lot.” Hopping to his feet, Sawyer paced the cell, his stoic calm fraying at the edges.

“That’s normal. Shifts feel like that at first.”

“Okay. That’s good to hear.” Sawyer hopped on the balls of his feet, which made a certain meaty part of his body bounce and slap against his thighs. “Oh my god! You’re staring at my dick at a time like this?”

Busted, Jimmy averted his eyes and sputtered. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!”

“I can’t believe you,” Sawyer said as he used his hands to preserve his modesty. “I might be dying, and you’re totally perving on me. Motherfucker.”

The venom is his final utterance cut through Jimmy’s awkwardness. “Excuse me?”

Sawyer rarely swore, and when he did, never like this, angry and snarling. The pace and volume of his speech increased and he moved from scratching his arms to include his shoulders and chest.

Rolling to his feet, Jimmy approached the cell hands up, palms out. “Sawyer, you need to relax.”

Hunched over, Sawyer’s whole body trembled in agitation as he left vicious, red welts on his skin. “I get through this, you’re never touching me again. You wolves are all the same—”

“Sawyer, you’re getting too worked up.”

“—just a bunch of fucking users—”

“Sawyer, calm down.”

“—turning us all into monsters—”

“Sawyer, listen to me.”

“—eating and fucking us—”

Sawyer! Stop!

The order erupted out of Jimmy with enough force his teeth sharpened. Sawyer jolted like he’d been slapped. Hands dropping his hands to his side, he looked around, his eyes wide and unsettled. “Oh god, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean any of that. I swear.”

“I know you didn’t. It’s not your fault.”

Sawyer rubbed his palms against his bare thighs and gritted his teeth. “I feel like my skin’s too tight and something’s puling at me.”

“It’s the full moon. It can make you a little crazy.”

Before he’d lost his pack, Jimmy had seen his family’s erratic behavior as the full moon reached its zenith and pulled their wolves out to play when they resisted the call. It gave them strength yet risked twisting them like a overwound clockwork mouse. If the tension wasn’t released, it threatened to snap the gears and explode. Letting out their wolves was one of many exercises Jimmy had ignored to keep the bond between he and his wolf healthy. Sawyer’s appearance had improved things, but he still worried about shifting under duress and his wolf refusing to let go again. Like when he put Eddie down. The only thing keeping Jimmy human this night was the overwhelming agreement with his wolf to care for Sawyer above all else. Despite this, there was no guarantee he could resist the demand until the moon passed.

“I don’t know what to do.” Eyes reddening, a world of uncertainty colored Sawyer’s words.

The sight of Sawyer’s distress roused his wolf’s instincts to hold and protect Sawyer. With its purer motives, it prodded the dangerous urge to be inside the cage against Jimmy’s better judgement. Yes, he longed to comfort Sawyer and guide his wolf coming into the world, but he knew why he couldn’t.

It may not be a wolf. Leave the key on the wall.

His wolf whined, but didn’t push harder, understanding the perils. Jimmy reached through the iron bars, beckoning Sawyer close enough to stroke his hair. “Just relax. Don’t fight it. Let whatever’s going to happen, happen.”

“Is it going to hurt?” Sawyer’s beautiful brow crinkled.

Jimmy paused. “Probably.”

“You could have at least lied to me at that part.”

“I’ve never lied to you before.”

“That’s true.”

Pulling him closer, Jimmy managed to stretch enough to kiss Sawyer’s forehead.“We’re going to get through this. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Stepping back from the bars, Sawyer wiped at his dark eyes and took three deep breaths. He shook himself out, and straightened his spine. “Okay. I’m all right. I can do this. I can do this.”

“Yes, you can. I believe in you.”

The manic undercurrent had eased, but Sawyer continued to be in constant motion. An overcharged battery, the only way to expend the power burning under his skin would be his wolf’s emergence or the night coming to an end. 

Both results came with serious drawbacks.

Sawyer rubbed at his skin more than scratched, and the fresh marks he’d made were already fading. Circling the cell, he looked less like a zoo animal prowling a cage too small to exist in. Thankfully, the magic distracted him enough to tone down his modesty, because Jimmy would never tire of watching his sleek muscles and perfect proportions.

He nearly skidded to a halt and flashed Jimmy a cheeky smirk. “I can’t believe you’re still perving on me in my vulnerable state.”

A hearty laugh rolled out of Jimmy. “Shut up. I’ll always watch you.”


“For you.”

With his teeth once again back to normal, Jimmy sat down and waited. The night wasn’t over yet.

Two more times, Sawyer’s outbursts came and went. The scent on his clothing helped keep Jimmy’s wolf in line. Until Sawyer’s wolf appeared, shifting was a bad idea. Hours passed with no change. Sawyer was still human.

Jimmy stepped outside to see an edge of brightness blooming on the horizon. The moon had fallen from its perch and day approached. His wolf napped, finally off high alert. The steps into the cellar sounded less oppressive on the trip back down.

“Dawn’s coming. How do you feel?”

Sawyer hadn’t stopped pacing all night, but his hyperactive sharpness had dulled. “Fine. I mean… I’m still wide awake and a little punchy, but the itching sensation is gone.”

“I think it’s passed.”

“Well, that sucks. As stupid as it sounds, I was looking forward to meeting my wolf. I guess we’ll chalk it up to false labor.”

“There’s two more nights to go.”

“Great. Do I have to wait in the cell until then?”

They may have dodged a bullet, but Sawyer wasn’t free and clear by any means. With three nights to the full moon, his first shift could happen on any one of them. The only thing he was sure of, was that it would happen this phase, period. That certainty didn’t change the fact he was still human and not designed to take the moon’s gift. Coming through the first night unscathed brought a huge relief to Jimmy’s chest. Maybe, just maybe she would hear his prayers and grant Sawyer the blessing he deserved after so much trauma. It had to happen. It would happen. He was sure of it.

Putting the what-ifs out of his mind, he turned his attention to his attractive mate locked behind bars like a prisoner. Memories of Sawyer’s bawdy comments earlier granted Jimmy a little inspiration as he picked the skeleton key off the nail.

“So… You want out?” Spinning the key on one finger, Jimmy approached the cell with a dirty grin. With his free hand, he unfastened the top button of his jeans. “We don’t usually let hardened criminals run wild. What’s in it for me, inmate?”

Sawyer leaned tight against the bars, allowing certain parts of his anatomy to poke between. “They took my clothes when they threw me in here, sir. I’d do anything for a little warmth and to spend the day in a real bed. What can I do to make that happen?”

As the key weilding guard, Jimmy had one or two ideas.

Stay tuned … Chapter 29 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 60 – Chapter 28 — 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.

Our boys made it through the first day of the full moon. How will they fair on day two?

Moon Phases banner

Part 60 – Chapter 28

Darkness loomed, reaching up from the tree line, turning the sky to indigo. The full moon hadn’t made an appearance yet, but its impending rise sent anxious shivers through Jimmy’s soul. Never had he wished for eternal daylight. 

Damned early November sunsets.

“It’s getting dark out. We should get ready,” Jimmy said.

Sawyer’s exhale was loud and hollow. “Yeah. You’re probably right. Clock’s ticking.”

Dormant grass crunched under bare feet as they circled the house. They’d spent most of the day inside feeding Sawyer’s bottomless appetite and burning off nervous energy in bed. Now they found themselves saying goodbye to the sun. Among other things. Jimmy shivered, but not from the outdoor temperature.

The cellar doors screamed of grinding metal as the rusted hinges protested at being opened. When Sawyer hooked a finger through one of his belt loops, Jimmy led the way, descending the short flight of concrete stairs. At the bottom, a quick tug on the hanging pull chain bathed the room in incandescent light. Dull reflections highlighted the iron bars dividing the room in two, embedded in the endless masonry and cement lining the floor, walls, and ceiling. Jimmy refused to look at the cabinet mounted on the wall. As far as he was concerned, it could stay closed. Forever.

Sawyer released his hold and wandered to the room’s center, his head pivoting up down and around, taking in everything with a dubious gaze.

“Wow. I never had a reason to be down here before. I can see why.”

“I didn’t want to scare you.”

“Scare me? What’s to be scared of? Everyone should have a serial killer dungeon in their basement. Why does it smell like old bleach down here?”

Jimmy grimaced. He hadn’t been down here since he put down the rabid kid, Eddie, and he got stuck as a wolf for four days. Fergus had nuked the place to destroy any evidence, but Jimmy doubted he would ever stop smelling blood down here.

“It needed cleaning.”

Wrapping a hand around one of the bars, Sawyer tested its strength. It didn’t budge. Even the door didn’t rattle when he tried. “Shouldn’t these be silver?”

“Silver doesn’t matter. They just have to be strong enough.”

“I suppose I don’t need to ask if they are.”

“No you don’t.”

Over the past few days, Jimmy worked to be more transparent, discussing what they would need to do. First shifts could be erratic and disorienting, so restraints were often necessary until their wolves properly meshed. Usually new wolves were young and this extreme jail option wasn’t needed, which made Jimmy wonder what Fergus had been up to over the years to need such a structure. It was old and enduring, maybe even from before Fergus’ ownership.

He wasn’t about to ask. Dealing with Fergus and the pack would have to wait until they got Sawyer through this. Jimmy and his wolf had higher priorities.

Both hand gripping the bars, Sawyer stared into the cell, clearly fixated on a haphazard lattice of claw marks marring the far wall. His voice was barely a whisper. “It puts the lotion on its skin.”

Walking up behind him, Jimmy squeezed Sawyer shoulders as he dropped a kiss to the back of his head.

“Do you trust me?”

As Sawyer turned to face Jimmy, he blinked and washed the uncertainty on his face into an easy smile. “Of course I do.”

“You should probably get undressed.”

Sawyer snorted. “Didn’t you get enough of me earlier today?”

Jimmy didn’t say anything, because the answer to that question would always be a hard no.

The other source of his silence was watching Sawyer peel his shirt up his torso, giving Jimmy a glorious view of his stomach and the creases from his hips leading to his groin which disappeared under the low-riding waistband of his pants. Eventually, his chest came into view as he raised his arms. Once he pulled the garment over his head, he tossed it at Jimmy’s face with a chuckle.

Jimmy’s wolf growled at the sight of Sawyer’s bite mark, unhappy that another wolf—dead or not—had laid a claim, until Sawyer unzipped his pants. Hands spread wide on his hips, Sawyer turned around and made a deliberate show of slowly, slowly, slowly skimming the fabric down his thighs, nearly bending in half as he reached his ankles and freed his feet. Jimmy and his wolf could both agree there were better ways to spend with their mate, and when this was over, they would take Sawyer back to bed and keep him safe between each night of the next full moon.

 Teasing faded when Sawyer swung open the cell door and stepped inside.

Without laying a solid focus on the wall cabinet, Jimmy plucked a basic skeleton key from a nearby nail in the wall. Larger than type made for standard doors, it weighed in his hand, heavier than ever before. The massive cage door swung shut with a clang, and the key fit easily into the lock welded into the structure. Heavy gears ratcheted into place as he turned the key, snapping into place and making the door one with the wall of iron. The noise reverberated off the cellar walls and faded into nothing in its finality.

He’d done the same thing to Eddie.

Sawyer paced in a lazy circle as he examined the cell’s interior. “Is this going to be like one of those guard takes advantage of guy behind bars porno? Because this seems like a lot of effort just for a little prison-inmate roleplay action.”

An unexpected bark of laughter ripped out of Jimmy’s chest. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

Throwing up his hands in a half-shrug, Sawyer shook his head. “This is as much for my safety as everyone else’s. Getting upset won’t help anything. It is what it is.”

chapter 26 continues on Thursday…

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

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


Phases of Moon — Part 59 – Chapter 27 — 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. This chapter required four postings to complete, but here we are, and due to the Christmas season, the next chapter will post in two weeks. (A retail job is hell on the weekly schedule right now.)

Sawyer continues his time in the trails to conquer his fears.

Moon Phases banner

Part 59 – Chapter 27

continued from part 58…

He’d already begun distancing himself from work, Jada, and his mother. A little disconnect would be less painful if his days were limited. Hopefully they weren’t. Even if he somehow survived and became a full wolf, they might have to leave anyways if Sawyer’s lifespan increased to anywhere in the range of Jimmy’s. Be somewhere in the range of eighty-plus years old and look thirty? That seemed like a decent trade-off.

Sawyer chuckled to himself. The clearing may have spawned unease with its bad history, but it held no outright terror. The one responsible was gone. Jimmy made sure of that.

Sharpened hearing caught the soft rustle of branches scrubbing one another. Sawyer froze, instinctively reaching out with his other senses, and caught a hint of woodsy musk. A slow spin, gaze tight and focused, he found a pair of amber eyes staring at him from underneath a thatch of shrubs.

Arms folded across his chest, Sawyer was not impressed. “You’re doing a crap job of sneaking up on me.”

Busted, the dark grey wolf bounded over the shrubbery into full view, only to stop short and lay on the ground, head down on his outstretched paws. Looking up at Sawyer from ten feet away with his doe-like expression might have worked better if the beast wasn’t so unnaturally large. It occurred to Sawyer this was the first time he’d properly met Jimmy’s wolf since the attack. He could hardly count that night and hadn’t been ready to see another wolf yet. Jimmy must have sensed his trepidation, because he hadn’t pressed, but Sawyer knew he wanted them to meet. It needed to happen soon, and now was as good a time as any, but it wasn’t getting him off the hook. 

“You’re not supposed to be here. I told you I wanted a day on my own.”

Jimmy huffed, the closest he could probably manage to scoffing. The accompanying eye roll was a little too human.

Sawyer sighed. “Right. Stalker.” 

With a big canine smile, Jimmy’s head popped up and he started panting, his tongue lolling out one side of his mouth. He scooted closer on his belly, until he was almost within arm’s reach. Sawyer wanted to be annoyed, but Jimmy was being too damn cute. He reached over and ran his fingers through Jimmy’s ruff and over his ear.

“Well, come on. I suppose I should be happy you managed half a day.”

Jimmy bounced to his feet and ran a wet lick up Sawyer cheek before he could react.

For the first time in the evening, Sawyer wished he’d worn other clothes, so he’d have a sleeve to wipe his face with. Instead, he had to make due. When he raised his shirt to clean off the wolf slobber, Jimmy stuck his wet nose to Sawyer’s abs.

Sawyer yelped and jumped back, jerking his shirt down while pointing a stern finger at Jimmy. “No.”

Trotting in a circle, Jimmy continued to pant with his tongue hanging out. The sorry animal was laughing at Sawyer. Maintaining his indignant stance was proving difficult. There was no reason for a wolf the size of a small horse to be this adorable. Jimmy dashed out a few steps then came back, then did it again. 

He wanted Sawyer to follow.

He wanted to run.

What a great idea.

Without another thought, Sawyer burst down the trail at full speed, with Jimmy at his side. They moved as one, turning and leaping, rounding through the myriad paths. Sawyer took turns he’s never explored before, emboldened by the wolf at his side. He knew they’d never get lost together. Jimmy never left his position, his fur brushing Sawyer’s skin, a welcome caress. They ran hard, they ran fast, and finally Sawyer felt his chest heave in exhilaration. 

Eventually, they stopped at the top of tree covered hill overlooking a shallow valley. Autumn colors had long since vanished, but enough forest remained to make for a stunning view, even in the overcast dark. Sawyer sat, a bit winded, with Jimmy next to him, his ever present sentry.

The moon stayed hidden behind complete cloud cover, but Sawyer relaxed into its siren song. With Jimmy at his side, he felt more daring, like anything was possible. He felt so alive. Yes, he understood the irony, there was plenty to be scared of, and the clock ticked away, but sitting here with him, made it seem so far away. Here he could pause the night into an infinite moment of peace. The moon didn’t have to be a symbol of impending doom.

Jimmy sat—head high, chest out—regal and dignified. His ears were up, and he sniffed the air every so often, keeping watch, keeping Sawyer safe. Dense, dark fur, covered his powerful body, tufts ending in  soft waves, making him appear a touch unkempt and wild. A gentle breeze ruffled Jimmy’s fur along the edges, prompting Sawyer to touch. At first he let his fingertips graze the surface. The silky texture invited more. Before long, he buried his hand into the thick coat, stroking and petting his mate down to the skin. Jimmy made happy grumbles as Sawyer worked. 

Leaning over, Sawyer nuzzled into Jimmy’s side, letting the hairs wash over his face and neck. Closing his eyes, the gold and silver gossamer threads between them avoided direct examination, but ghosted around them either way. Sawyer inhaled deep, noting the woodsy musk he knew, more complex than usual, most likely blended with the wolf’s.

“You know, I almost didn’t notice you tonight. But my eyesight’s sharper, and I caught your scent.” Jimmy’s chest puffed up. “Don’t look so proud at that. Yes, I recognized my mate, but let’s be honest, you were following me when you weren’t supposed to be, Stalker.” 

Sawyer paused for a moment when he caught Jimmy watching him from the corner of his eye. Like he was expecting something…

“Oh man, you’ve been following me on most of my night runs, haven’t you?”

Jimmy looked away.

Laughter bubbled out of Sawyer at the thought. “You know I didn’t totally believe you before when you talked about the whole obsessive wolf thing, but I should have known better. You’ve been spying on me for weeks like some creep.”

Thrusting his nose into the air, Jimmy shuffled his oversized body until his back faced Sawyer. When Sawyer tried to shift around him, Jimmy pivoted to deliberately keep him out of sight. He’d seen his mother’s dogs do this over the years enough times to know when he was being snubbed.

“Oh, stop it, you big baby. You don’t have any right to be mad. If anyone gets to tease anyone about this whole situation, it’s me.”

Jimmy didn’t move, his shunning at full power. Sawyer stroked Jimmy’s back only to have him scoot forward out of reach. Canines could be so petty. Sawyer decided not to be offended, since Jimmy did say being a wolf was a simpler existence. Reactions were purer, less complex than what Sawyer was used to. Would he think and feel the same way if his wolf was properly born next week? He certainly hoped so. Either way, he wasn’t going to let something as trivial as this spoil his evening.

Better to look at the night’s high points.

“You know, I loved running with you tonight. It felt like something we should have been doing our whole lives instead of just tonight. I know you couldn’t tell me everything when we first met, and I’m okay with that. Looking back, I guess following me in the forest was the only way for us to run together back then. I like the sound of that.”

He wondered what Jimmy was thinking when he peeked over his shoulder with a keen wolfen eye. Gauging Sawyer’s honesty, perhaps? Only time would tell for sure. It didn’t take long. Apparently, Jimmy believed him, since he turned in a circle and nudged his big head under Sawyer’s hand. Yes, scratches were in order. Apologies seemed simpler as a wolf too.

Sawyer had both hands in Jimmy’s coat, the contact soothing and innocently intimate. Not letting Sawyer stop, Jimmy twisted and dropped on his side, curling himself around Sawyer while leaving his enormous head in Sawyer’s lap. He turned his head this way and that, teaching Sawyer the best spots to get the best reactions. Jimmy’s eyes drifted half-closed, so Sawyer listened, and Sawyer sniffed the air. It could be his turn to keep watch.

He didn’t mind petting Jimmy one bit.

“You’re a really handsome wolf.” Jimmy lapped at Sawyer’s hand and wrist, but this time without the slobber. “Thank you for coming out tonight. I’m glad we finally met for real.”

Stay tuned … Chapter 28 begins next Wednesday!

Last post of the year! See you in 2021!

Phases of Moon — Part 58 – Chapter 27 — 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.

So how is Sawyer handling the upcoming changes?

Moon Phases banner

Part 58 – Chapter 27

Overcast skies hid the moon from view, but Sawyer could feel its allure. Every day the song became richer, a decadent vibration charging his soul, and calling to the wild thing growing inside him. He could only imagine how intense it would be at its brightest. Vibrant and alive, in the crisp November air, he was full of restless energy he’d taken out over and over on Jimmy’s seemingly limitless libido. His mate had not complained. Not even once.


What a wonderful word. So much more meaningful then the marriage vows he’d exchanged with Jada. Filled with intent, this building connection would not be broken or cancelled. When he closed his eyes, he swore he could see silvery threads tying him to Jimmy, the web denser whenever his mate was nearby. A similar weave of golden filaments flowed from Jimmy to Sawyer, meshing yet not interfering with each other. He tried to see more, squinting through shut eyes, ever eager to find the source, to understand it better, but if he focused too hard, the magic evaded his sight.

He didn’t tell Jimmy what he’d seen.

When he relaxed, and let the flow happen, he could sense more, yet indirectly, like out of the corner of his eye. The delicate bonds’ glow lacked a possessive tone. Rather, he felt the shared energy between them. Nascent and still developing, he knew they would never shackle him. No matter how much he craved Jimmy’s presence, the choice to stay or leave would always be Sawyer’s. Jimmy didn’t control him.

He hadn’t told Jimmy what he’d seen. They may have been mates, but they didn’t have to share everything.

The cloud cover reflected the minimal light, casting a grey glow over the forest. It made no difference to him. Sawyer’s night vision had been excellent in the first place, but now, with the subtle changes in his body, the evening was lit up bright. Monsters with sharp teeth and murderous intent could no longer hide from him in the shadows.

Perhaps that was what brought him to the forest’s edge, skirting the entrance of the trails where he hadn’t taken a night run since he’d been mauled. Sawyer caught himself touching his forearm, still searching for wounds which had long since healed. 

“It’s okay. Jimmy took care of him.”

He’d left his jacket in the house, the animal inside keeping away the cold. Fortunately, Jada was visiting her parents, so he didn’t have to explain why he was comfortable outside in a t-shirt and shorts. Hopefully no one drove by before he rustled up the nerve to enter the path. He could do without the gossip.

“You can do this,” he said, huffing to bolster his nerve. The darkness may have been dialed back into shades of grey, but the trees, brush, and evergreen foliage left plenty of places to hide. Fists clenched tight, Sawyer shook out a chill having nothing to do with the temperature and launched himself into the woods.

Dead leaves and fallen debris crunched under his shoes as his pace built to a jog. Passing trees while following the familiar path, brought a sense of peace to his chaotic life. The outdoors called to him, beckoned him to be one with the hints of hibernating life all around. Crisp air flowed in and out of his lungs with an alarming ease he’d never known. The bite’s effects were becoming more obvious to him each day.

The jog turned into a full-on sprint, weaving between trees on the well-worn trail. His pumping legs refused to burn, so he pushed harder, searching for the limits to his newfound endurance. He’d always been strong, but now he was… more.

Sawyer skidded to a halt. The run may not have shortened his breath, but memories of this small clearing most certainly did. He remembered how the path widened here, large enough to allow an abnormally large wolf to overtake him and knock him to the ground. The wolf had played with him, herded him here. Clawed him alive. Sank its teeth in him. Altered his life forever.

He knew this place. Not because of bloodstains or dug up earth during the fight. Anything left behind from Jimmy cleaning the site had been reclaimed by nature. No, he knew this place because he’d lived and died on this ground, only to be reborn into something else.

A shame a guarantee didn’t come with that something else.

While his anxieties were up, Sawyer questioned why they weren’t running him into hysterics. They should be. Poor coping skills had rewarded him with a drug habit and rehab, and overcompensating for those flaws had landed him in a marriage that shouldn’t have happened. Coming to terms with his mistakes had taken the edge off his problems, but long learned habits didn’t vanish overnight.

Barely a minute had passed and his breathing settled. Was whatever growing inside him leveling his mood, making him saner? Could a blossoming wolf be granting him its stoic grace and streamlining his reactions?

Could he be sure it was a wolf?

The full moon a week away, he couldn’t help thinking of what was likely to happen next. He had more energy, was physically at his peak, but the first turn could be deadly. As Jimmy had told him, humans weren’t supposed to shift. Of course, if he survived, there wasn’t great odds on what he’d come out the other end as.

Would he be a graced animal of the night? Or a mindless beast that needs to be put down? Jimmy wouldn’t directly answer either question, so Sawyer imagined the worst of the two as most likely. 

chapter 26 continues on Thursday…

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

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


Phases of Moon – One week break

Hello all!

The holidays are kicking my butt, and I realized I needed to take a small break. My day job is in retail and all the election drama and the rest of 2020 coming to an end is wearing me thin.

Because of this, there won’t be a new posting this week, but Jimmy, Sawyer, and the rest will be back as usual next Wednesday.

Happy Holidays!!

See you next week! I promise!

Phases of Moon — Part 57 – Chapter 26 — 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. This chapter required four postings to complete, but here we are, and due to the Christmas season, the next chapter will post in two weeks. (A retail job is hell on the weekly schedule right now.)

The last part of Chapter 26 is ready to go…

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Part 57 – Chapter 26

continued from part 56…

“It was the 60s. Civil Rights and Jim Crow laws. Welcome to the South.”

“Wait a minute. How old are you?”

Jimmy continued without answering. “The crowd got a little rowdy and I left.” 

Staying segregated from the human communities wasn’t possible or practical. Their numbers and towns were spreading and coexistence had long been the status quo for the pack. Keeping a professional distance had served them well, but this had been Jimmy’s first look at the sadder side of human nature.

One young man, blond hair and blue eyes, had stepped between Jimmy and parishioners, trying to keep the peace. It didn’t take long to realize the young man would only stall the inevitable hate from boiling over. Leaving the church before the scene escalated into something ugly was more for their safety than his. However, their mindless anger was disappointing. So sad to see them judging one another in such inconsistent ways. As if any shade of skin color other than white made a real difference. Put most of those crackers in the sun long enough, they would’ve passed for one of his family. Ridiculous hypocrites. Even so, he wasn’t trying to attach himself to the perpetually stupid.

Apparently, they weren’t all a lost cause.

Imagine his surprise when he heard the crunch of footfalls over dirt and stone behind him. 

“Halfway down the street, Mitchell chased me down and introduced himself. He spent an hour apologizing for the church. I spent an hour hypnotized by his blond hair and blue eyes.”

“I think it’s safe to assume what happened next. So…how did your pack respond when they found out you two started dating?”

What a clever mate Jimmy had been blessed with, reading the upspoken words. A minute amount of anxiety lifted when he realized Sawyer wasn’t unhappy hearing about his past relationship. Jimmy might not have been so charitable. “Maman didn’t take it well.”

“Did she have a problem it was a guy?”

“No. Maman only saw the human.”

Perhaps part of being a wolf, certain memories, usually poignant or painful, always shined in full recollection for Jimmy. Catalogued in his mind, they sat ready to be called forward whether asked for or not. Her words stung to this day, as much for her bitter disapproval as how prophetic they would one day be. 

“Good or bad, child, it doesn’t matter. 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.”

Shifting to sit side by side, Sawyer pressed their shoulders together. “And when she told you to break it off, you did it behind her back anyway.”

Jimmy let out a sad chuckle. “Of course I did.”

“You wolves are no better than humans for pissing off your parents.”

“Can’t argue that.”

Sawyer cleared his throat in an awkward way, urging Jimmy to continue. “You loved him, didn’t you?”

Hiding the wounded notes in his voice proved impossible. “Of course I did.”

“What happened?”

“Mitchell and I snuck around for over a year. We had to. Blond white boy messing around with a mulatto Creole? Shit. Back then, being an interracial couple was enough to get a man lynched, but queer on top of it? We must have been suicidal. Some nights, we’d stay up late talking about moving to a bigger city in the north where we’d be safer and be together forever.”

Some memories were pleasant. Sneaking into drive-ins. Skinny dipping in secluded ponds. Romantic liaisons sharpened through risky dates, they dared the locals to catch them in a time where they were doubly forbidden. No one ever did. If his maman or other pack members knew, they never said a word.

“That sounds nice.”

“It would have been, but I was young and stupid.”

“What did you do?”

“Showed him my wolf.”


One morose syllable and Jimmy knew Sawyer understood faster than Jimmy had in spite of being involved. It made him feel like an idiot, then and now. Apparently, love and clear sight didn’t go hand in hand. However, the shame involved didn’t tighten his throat into silence, so he kept speaking.  

“Told myself there couldn’t be any secrets between us if we were going to stay together, so I took him out one night, told him all about wolves and my pack. I told him about the phases of the moon, the way packs were organized and where we lived. The hunts under the full moon. I told him about my wolf and mate bonds. He laughed. Didn’t believe a word I said, but I kept on. I should’ve let it go, but I was too stubborn to quit, so I changed in front of him.”

“I think I can guess, but what happened?”

“He ran.” 

When Jimmy took off his clothes, the heat in Mitchell’s eyes almost made Jimmy refuse to change. It wouldn’t have been the first time they’d fooled around in the forest, but he needed Mitchell to see him. Heat turned into terror as Mitchell’s scent went acrid. He scrambled to get away, screams and tears echoing between the trees. The urine trail left in his wake would have been easy to track, but Jimmy didn’t. He curled up at the base of a tree and howled for two days. He’d misjudged, hoping the young man who’d seen past his skin color, defended him and loved him, had the open mind to see more. Understand more. Love more. 

Being wrong had never hurt more. 

Each day, Jimmy would come to their meeting place, the woods behind the church where they first met. He left notes in the usual place—apologies and love letters—hidden in the hollow of a stump, but after three weeks passed, all he found were three weeks worth of unopened messages. The only hints of Mitchell’s scent were old. He hadn’t been there.

Heartbreak turned into desperation and Jimmy finally grew bold enough to track him in town. Once Mitchell saw him again, Jimmy knew he’d see past the wolf and find the man he loved. Of course he would. When he found Mitchell near the hardware store, he knew he’d made a mistake. Eyes wide, frozen in fear, Mitchell might as well have been a panicked fawn searching for escape. Jimmy tried to explain, to apologize, to tell him all the things he’d left behind on folded slips of unread paper, but Mitchell shielded his fear with righteous outrage, and the bible verses and racial slurs poured out of him in a twisted river of hate.

A crowd gathered at the spectacle, aghast at Mitchell’s vulgar fury, but moving to support him all the same. Birds of white feathers. Jimmy had no choice but to back away. There was no fixing this. So he said goodbye without using the words. Jimmy didn’t share Mitchell’s ire, so he would protect him as best he could by disappearing. 

“I tried to talk to him after, but he wouldn’t listen. He was scared and got so angry. So, I gave up and left him be.”

“That must have been really hard.”

“It was.”

Almost as hard as swallowing his pride and going home. He’d barely seen his pack in the past year, tossing them aside when the pretty boy became a more attractive option. He didn’t deserve them, but where else would a wolf go?

Walking with his head hung low, Maman waited from him on the porch, their house set back so far off the road. He braced for a scolding, for her to beat his ass like she should for being a stupid boy thinking with his dick. Instead, she pulled him close and let him cry without saying anything. When he finally ran out of tears, she wiped his eyes and led him inside for a bowl of jambalaya she had waiting on the stove.

It almost made the heartache manageable. Almost.

“Did you ever hear from him again?” Sawyer asked.


A few weeks passed. On the night of the new moon, Marshall announced he and Danielle were planning to mate. While no surprise since they’d been denying their attraction for years, the pack celebrated. Jimmy did his best to be happy for them, but the knife dug deep, making it hard. At least he didn’t cry. They party went late, but Maman eventually called an end to the festivities and sent everyone to bed.

“We were sleeping when they showed up. Our pack was small. We all lived in the house together. It might have been a mercy if no one had smelled the smoke.”

“Oh god.” Sawyer’s hushed reaction was as haunted as Jimmy’s memory.

“The fire had already taken the ground floor. Maman woke me up, yelling at us all to jump out the windows. It was the only way to save ourselves, and they were waiting.”

Jimmy had landed rough, rolling in the grass as he dodged others jumping to safety while keeping enough distance from the blaze scorching his back. Anger and alarm rippled through the pack, but not from the fire. The flames eating the house bathed a host of intruders in its devilish glow.

“There had to be over fifty of them surrounding the house, shouting and laughing, carrying ropes and rifles. Mitchell stepped out, making sure I saw him, carrying a noose. One look in his eyes and I knew he did this. I knew he’d told stories and gathered them up. Brought them to our house in the middle of the night. Some of them I recognized from his church. Bigots weren’t hard to find those days, so it couldn’t have been hard to rile them up. I couldn’t move or speak. A fucking coward wearing a hood riding a horse started giving orders. He called us uppity monkeys and told his men to start with the youngest. Maman shoved me backward and let her wolf free.

“I’d never seen her shift so fast. She let out a war howl, calling out our wolves. Everyone else changed right behind her. The humans screamed.”

Having already lost her mate, her rage exploded and she treated them as the threat they were. Blurring with speed, she leapt, battering the leader off his horse, and gutted him in mid-air. The impact of the ground splashed his innards into the dirt. Teeth bared, muzzle dark with blood, she pounced on the closest human and bit his throat out.

Jimmy was the only one she didn’t force the change on. Either she didn’t want him in the fight, or he was too terrified to find his wolf. 

“I found Mitchell in the crowd as the humans were shitting themselves. He was the only one who wasn’t freaking out. Like he’d left that part out to the rest of them, but knew it would push the whole mess over the edge. Like he was waiting for the right opportunity. While everyone else was panicking over a pack of wolves defending their den, he ran over, picked up the leader’s rifle, and murdered my maman.”

Gore, blood, and grey matter. A distinct memory never to be forgotten. Jimmy’s world shattered as her wolf slumped to the ground, leaving her unrecognizable after her gift went back to the moon and her body melted back to human. He didn’t need the flames to know he was in hell.

“After the first gun went off, everything went insane.”

A chorus of howls split the night, punctuated by gurgling shrieks. Weapon reports flared, attempting to challenge the burning house’s roar through sheer quantity. The grass became tacky with spilled blood. Hot impacts bored wet holes in Jimmy’s chest, and he dropped. Sprawled on the ground, he landed facing his fallen maman, forced to listen to the chaos, the increasing number of gunshots, while feeling the bonds binding the pack as one fray and snap in the night.

“Massacres don’t take long. Men like them aren’t used to victims who fight back, but they were armed and outnumbered us by three times. Maurice was still standing at the end when the last few humans ran off. His fur was so saturated, I couldn’t tell where the wounds started and stopped on him. Once they were out of sight, he fell and shifted back into a man, like the rest of my pack. I was too wounded to move and they’d left me for dead. I had to watch my home burn to the ground, surrounded by the dead: my maman, my family, my pack, and the filthy men who murdered them. I was the last of my bloodline because I didn’t have the decency to die.”

The pack property became an abattoir. Mangled bodies had lain in awkward positions, soaking the soil in blood as the dawn came, shining light over the carnage. Another memory he couldn’t escape.

So much needless loss for no good reason. Marshall and Danielle would never formalize their union. Maurice would never finish the ship-in-a-bottle he’d spent months building. Maman would never make jambalaya again. So many nevers.

Jimmy startled at Sawyer’s touch on his cheeks, wiping at the flood of tears. It had been a long time since the past dragged him into the trap of his memories. Sawyer’s scent, his presence, provided the golden thread showing the way home, anchoring him in the here and now. Having him here made the terrible times less suffocating. They would never go away, but perhaps they wouldn’t have as much of a hold on him. Hopefully.

“Are you okay?” Sawyer asked.

“I think so.” Jimmy still felt like crap, but he wasn’t drowning.

“I hate to ask…Did Mitchell get away?”

Jimmy’s wolf woke, adding his lethal growl to Jimmy’s. “No. He didn’t.”

“Oh.” One syllable. Total understanding.

Nightfall returned before Jimmy had healed enough to stand. Ash caked in the blood coating his body, he could barely get the stench of smoke and rotting flesh out of his nostrils. In the nearby stream, he washed the fear away along with the fouled soot. His wolf rose, demanding retribution. Justice. Rage. Jimmy found no reason to deny him, but he faced one last task.

Only a charred husk of the pack house was left, a dead castle’s embers surrounded by a moat of corpses. With as much dignity as he could, he gathered the remnants of his pack. He may have been all that was left, but he would honor them as they would him had it been the other way around. The better part of a day passed as he built the funeral pyre on the site of their decimated home and the next evening, he prayed to the moon and sent them into the night, just like Papa, leaving nothing behind.

The humans were left to feed the scavengers.

Finding Mitchell was easy. Jimmy knew his scent and all its nuances. It glowed in gaudy neon, a beacon to the source. The trail led him back where it began. No hymns were being sung from the church this time. No parishioners to bar Jimmy entrance. Inside the empty worship hall, Mitchell huddled at the altar, praying for forgiveness while clutching the rifle at his side.

Jimmy let out his wolf. It was the easiest shift he’d ever made.

Their power had never flowed with such purpose, such speed. Mitchell raised the rifle and lost several fingers when Jimmy disarmed him. He chased Mitchell in circles, biting and snapping at him, never letting him leave the building. When Mitchell tired and pleaded for mercy, Jimmy let his rage free, emulating his maman when the rabid had stolen his papa from her. He left pieces on the altar, scattered in the pews, and made sure the organs smeared across the stained glass obscured the designs. 

He never lost his wolf again.

The hard floor and sitting hunched left a stiff ache in his back, so Jimmy appreciated it when Sawyer helped him to his feet. He bent over the sink, and drank cold water from the faucet, not caring when the water streamed over his beard and trickled down his neck.

“I still don’t understand why you think this is your fault.”

Turning his head slowly in disbelief, Jimmy was stunned. Had Sawyer not been listening? “Are you kidding me? I told Mitchell everything. I broke our laws and gave our secrets to an outsider and he used it to kill us all.”

“What I heard is you tried to share who you really were with the man you loved, and he betrayed you.”


“Jimmy, he chose to do that. You didn’t gather the racist mob or put the gun in his hand. He was a coward and a bigot.”

“That doesn’t make them any less dead.” Frustrated, Jimmy tried to walk out the back door, but Sawyer sidestepped and blocked his path.

“No, it doesn’t, but you can’t keep beating yourself up over this.” Sawyer blinked, his eyes wide in new understanding. “Is this why you haven’t had a pack in so long? Your mom and dad found each other so other packs are obviously out there, but after what… I can’t believe I’m saying this… seventy years you didn’t find another pack? Were you even looking? And now when things are getting bad, when you really can’t do without a pack, you’re stuck with this crappy one you don’t respect. Why? To punish yourself? Because you don’t think you deserve anything good for coming out of the ambush alive?”

Jimmy reared back like he’d been slapped. He tried to denounce it, to tell him how wrong he was, but Sawyer’s assessment hit too close to home. Words failed him, as he tried to mount a protest, but his wolf whimpered and flattened his ears. He agreed with Sawyer.

Sawyer obviously took Jimmy’s inability to respond as a cue to continue. “I can’t believe I’m going to quote rehab therapy here, but you are not responsible for the acts of other people. You may have made a mistake and told him secrets you weren’t supposed to tell, but you didn’t make him use it against all of you. He could have walked away instead of plotting like a crazy man. This is called survivor’s guilt. It’s always misplaced.”

Frozen and mute, Jimmy pondered Sawyer’s words. Could he really have been so overcome with grief, he made himself into the guilty instead of the victim? Decades of loneliness had not eased his sorrows. With no one to speak to, had he turned himself into the villain?

It seemed far too simple an explanation.

Jimmy paced around the kitchen table, twitching with disquiet. “You don’t understand what it was like.”

Stepping in front of Jimmy, Sawyer stopped him with both hands on his chest. “No, but I know how destructive it can be to pretend you’re fine when deep down you’re not. I understand how to punish yourself for things you can’t control. Tragic things you blame yourself for. Did you think if you found another pack, you’d be leaving them behind?”

Outrage swelled in Jimmy’s chest. How dare he say such a thing? He wanted to lash out, break something, hurt someone, because he couldn’t face the truth… The wind rushed out of him as the pieces of confusion fell into place and gave him clarity.

“I don’t want to forget them.”

Sawyer’s words were still gentle and non-judgmental. “You shouldn’t, but it sounds like you’ve been avoiding making these pack bonds to save yourself out of guilt. You said your uncle stayed a wolf for weeks because it was easier. What if your wolf’s trying to do the same because you’re not handling it as a man? You’ve shoved this down for over half a century, I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long. If you give in and go feral, would you still remember your family?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“Then you can’t take the risk. You’ll honor their memory more by surviving them, rather than let the last of your line vanish. Mitchell already took too much from you. Don’t let him take everything. Don’t let him win.”

His wolf was being unusually quiet. Not gone, but observing. Jimmy wasn’t sure Sawyer was completely right, but hearing everything said aloud gave him something to think about. His issues weren’t simple, but maybe he didn’t need to lay the whole disaster at his own feet. Maybe. If nothing else, he didn’t regret telling Sawyer about Mitchell and the assault on the pack house, except for how it might have distressed his mate. Letting out his horrible history left him queasy yet oddly lighter. Holding on to this much horror had weighed him down enough he’d forgotten how to live without it.

They might have only been out of bed for a short time, but Jimmy’s weariness went down to the bone. Sawyer took his hand and led him back to the bedroom. Convincing Jimmy to lay down took little effort. None really. 

Curling around each other, Jimmy let Sawyer’s warmth wash away the malaise. It had been an unexpected turn of events, but he suspected it would be healthy in the end. The sense of awe came over him again as he relished the feel of Sawyer in his arms. Bittersweet luck brought them together, and he wished he could spend every day making his mate happy.

Tired, yet wide awake, Jimmy kissed Sawyer’s forehead. “With everything coming up, I should be the one taking care of you.”

Sawyer squeezed Jimmy around the ribs, sounding nearly as beat. “I don’t know about wolves, but regular people have to take care of each other from time to time.”

“You’re very good at this. Seeing through me.”

“Well, I’ve spent a lot of years looking at other people’s problems. Too bad I’m lousy at dealing with my own. Might have saved me a lot of headache.”

Jimmy returned the hug. “I wouldn’t change you for anything.”

“I’ve been thinking. If you’re not supposed to tell humans about the wolves, why were you going to tell me?”

“Because you’re my mate. I’d do anything for you.”

Without moving, Sawyer kissed Jimmy’s chest. “I feel the same way.”

Stay tuned … Chapter 27 begins in two weeks!

Phases of Moon — Part 56 – Chapter 26 — 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.

Chapter 26 continues after Jimmy’s revelation…

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Part 56 – Chapter 26

Jimmy gasped, the wind punching out of his lungs.

His wolf keened, a deafening whimper echoing in his skull. A thundering bass drum in the center of his chest shook his whole frame with its staccato beat. The air thinned and the floor didn’t feel level anymore. The room shrank.

My fault they’re dead.

He’d never said those words—thought them, yes oh god, how he’d thought them—but never out loud to another living soul. Dangerous syllables. Now the curse had been uttered, its profane spell strangled him, leaving his lungs fluttering. Darkness crept into the kitchen from the edges, and he let it come until he stumbled. Slamming his shoulder into the cabinet door and his hip on the linoleum brought him back into some semblance of daylight.

“Are you all right?” Sawyer floated somewhere nearby, hazy and indistinct, but his voice sounded far away at the other end of a long hallway stuffed full of cotton. 

Jimmy tried to answer, but nothing came out. He shivered in the cold, which didn’t make sense, because the furnace was on and his wolf always made sure to keep him warm. The restless chill snaked into his chest, constricting his lungs. Less and less useful air. He was sinking.

While the rest was little more than smoke, a pair of handsome, dark eyes filled his vision. Heat suffused Jimmy’s cheeks, cupped by familiar hands. “Jimmy, relax. Breathe, Jimmy. Breathe with me. C’mon, mate.”

The word mate caught Jimmy’s ear and gave him something to latch onto. It made Sawyer solid and allowed Jimmy to follow his mate’s lead. He listened to the sound of easy breaths and worked to mimic them. Slowly, they synched until the world came back into focus. Jimmy reached out and pulled Sawyer into his arms. With his face at Sawyer’s throat, he inhaled over and over, letting the scent fill his heart and mind, grounding him until his throat unlocked.

“What happened?” Jimmy could speak again, but it felt as raspy as he was shaken.

Sawyer leaned back, his hands once again cradling Jimmy’s head as he tried to catch his gaze. “You had a panic attack. Have you ever had one before?”

Jimmy’s tipped his eyes downward. “No.”

“Sounds like your family history’s pretty painful.”

“More than I thought.”

“It’s okay. You don’t have to talk about it. Maybe this is too big to lance all at once.”

No one had ever inspired awe in Jimmy other than his maman. Yet here Sawyer was, ready only minutes ago to walk out the door, hovering over him with genuine concern. This wonderful man who faced horror and an uncertain future spent his energy bolstering Jimmy’s rather than falling apart. It should have been the other way around. 

Embarrassment was not a familiar feeling for Jimmy. He didn’t like it. Too much like the shame he’d been mired in for so long. All by himself. 

Perhaps that was the problem. Isolating and avoiding his past hadn’t washed away the guilt or the pain. It lived, as potent as ever, hiding and waiting to spring out and cause havoc. He couldn’t go on this way. There was more to his existence than simply him and his wolf. So much more, calendar be damned. With the shock over, perhaps he could do some good for himself, so he could be Sawyer’s strength when he needed it.

Jimmy still felt like shit, but he was determined. “No, I need to tell you. I can’t help you through the next moon if I’m holding back. It’s making me ill.”

“It’s up to you. I’ll listen to whatever you want to tell me.” Sawyer took Jimmy’s hand in his and a tiny flame ignited in Jimmy’s chest. He could do this. For Sawyer.

“I think the deal with Fergus to purge the rabids dug up some garbage.”

“What do the rabids have to do with your family?”

“My papa was murdered by one.” The beginning of the end. 

Taking an achingly slow inhale and exhale, Jimmy steeled himself. Telling the tale would be agony, but he was sure he could share it with Sawyer at his side.

“Papa drifted from the pack during a night run and got ambushed. He was dead when we found them. The pack killed the rabid, but losing him was hard. My uncle, Maurice, and two others stayed a wolf for over a month, because it was easier than being human. Maman slept for days.”

“What did you do?”

“I cooked meals. I cleaned. I took care of everyone while they figured out how to cope. Someone had to.”

“Did they finally wake up?”

“Eventually. But by that time, I couldn’t stand being around them for long. Spending time with the pack just reminded me he was missing, so I wandered out more and more. Avoided the pack. Being a wolf sounded less and less of a birthright and more of a curse. Humans became more interesting. I liked their lives better. They didn’t have to keep so many secrets. They were free to live. One Sunday morning, I wandered over to a local church. Never knew what type, or denomination. I just heard them singing hymns. So I went in.”

“Hymns? You were lured in by bland music? Were they white people?”

Jimmy snorted. “Yes to both. And yes, it was awful. I think I wanted to see it, because it was so different from the pack. Not sure what I was really looking for, but I went in and the music stopped. They weren’t pleased about the colored man in their nice church.”

“Excuse me?”

Of all the indignities he’d endured, Jimmy allowed this one to affect him the least. Stupid human tribalism. Nice church folk were polite enough to avoid using the N-word, but they found enough other colorful phases to throw his way. The favorite being, how his kind wasn’t welcome there. It made Jimmy laugh at the time, because they didn’t really know anything about his kind. 

chapter 26 continues on Thursday…

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

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