Welcome to the final installment of Phases of Moon.
Part 87 – Chapter 41
continued from part 86…
Once the funerals were complete, Maddie and Doris began tutoring Jimmy. Being older than anyone expected, they filled in the gaps of his wolf education cut short by his pack’s untimely end. He was too strong of an alpha to do otherwise. Their teachings had an immediate effect. Jimmy walked taller with an easy confidence, no longer shaken by moments of doubt. Normally, Sawyer found it infectious, calming his worries, but the closer the moon came, the less he shared Jimmy’s convictions.
Taking his hand, Jimmy led him through the kitchen, following Jada’s path to the back door. The bundle inside Sawyer had lost its jagged edges, but it still pulsed, keeping his anxieties alive. Last moon, he had looked forward to greeting his other side. After the fiasco it became, he couldn’t muster anything close to enthusiasm. A growing sense of dread clouded his day, and now night.
Signs of last moon’s bloodbath didn’t show across the backyard’s square footage. Amazing what a few weeks, hard work, and the right amount of weather could do. Nature’s ability to reclaim itself would always astound him.
Jada stood in the yard next to Doris, talking politely. Everyone seemed to court her for conversation, looking for bits of history she doled out in tiny doses, like it was a precious commodity. Having lived so long under Fergus’ rule, Sawyer imagined she had a difficult time divulging secrets and not being mysterious. Doris was a stranger, but a welcome one. Their family had been so small until now, and he looked forward to the opportunity to known her better.
Under Doris’ watchful eye, the twins squealed, giggled, and stumbled in circles like miniature naked drunks in the frozen grass, oblivious to the cold. Thank god they’d been renamed Andy and Matt. Sawyer wasn’t sure he could have dealt with their birth names for much longer. Seriously, how pretentious did Fergus have to be to name his boys, Regis and Royal? Better to erase his taint on their lives and move on.
A shawl around her shoulders, the house backlit Doris’ slender frame, and classic hairstyle. Old Hollywood glamour, alive and well in Michigan.
“Are you coming with us tonight?” Jimmy asked.
Doris beamed, keeping one eye on the twins. “Oh no, dear. My wolf has slept since the day Roger died, and I have no interest in disturbing her. I’m perfectly content to stay back and leave the light on, so you find your way home. But thank you for asking, Alpha.”
“Another night then.”
Barefoot and dressed in a bathrobe, Maddie stepped outside with a blanket draped over one arm. The robe kept her decent, but revealed enough skin to show she wore nothing underneath. The realization scandalized Sawyer.
“You decided to shift tonight too?” Thankfully, Jimmy asked the question, because Sawyer was too weirded out to speak.
“My first full moon in my new pack with my son? I wouldn’t miss it.” Maddie kissed Sawyer’s cheek and handed the blanket off to Jada. “Here, dear. Let’s not give the boys too much of a show. We may be wolves, but we’re not whores.”
The flat stare Jada tossed at Sawyer made him want to apologize. One of the benefits of divorcing you was supposed to be not having to talk to your mother, she’d said to him outside the restaurant after the proceedings, and now Maddie was linked to them both in unbreakable ways. On the rare times Sawyer could make the whole magick-seeing thing work, the connections between the pack members had only brightened over the last few weeks. They were bound together.
However, Jada knew when to pick her battles, and tonight was not the night. “Thank you, Maddie. I was wondering how to maintain some modesty since we need to undress.”
“No matter what the movies say, bursting out of your clothes can be a messy affair that’s best to avoid.”
“My skin’s itching strangely. Is that normal?”
Maddie smiled like an expectant grandmother. “Very. It won’t be much longer now.”
Turning her back to Jimmy and Sawyer, Jada unbuttoned her blouse, slid the garment off her shoulders, and handed it to Doris. A neat ring of teeth scars dotted Jada’s shoulder blade, a tidy and demure beauty mark. Granger’s bite on her forearm had long since vanished. Jada threw the blanket around herself and continued undressing.
“I can smell your wolf on the surface. You should do the same.” Leaning in close, Jimmy hooked a finger in Sawyer’s collar and gave it a little tug, before he stripped off his own t-shirt. Everyone other than Doris wore simple, easy to remove clothing, which made sense. Jimmy had warned him more than once how confining a wolf during the change could panic it and cause trouble. Personally, Sawyer figured Jimmy was looking for yet another excuse to get him out of his clothes.
The presence stirred, setting off a full body shiver. Sawyer hesitated to lift his shirt as his mind raced.
Jimmy unfastened his jeans and paused, giving Sawyer a curious stare. “What are you waiting for?”
Sawyer didn’t know how to answer.
Other than Jada, they were all born as wolves. They had no inkling as to how excruciating the process was for a turned human. Jimmy had witnessed it, but living through it—barely—left him on the brink of panic as the moment approached. Irrationality kept bubbling out of his mouth.
“I don’t want to get naked in front of my mother.”
Head cocked and eyes rolling, Maddie raised her hands to her hips. Sawyer raised a finger before she could speak. “If you say anything about wiping my butt as a child, I’m walking out of here.”
“Stop being a baby and get ready.” Jada made a tidy pile out of her clothes on the grass while keeping herself covered with the blanket. “The twins are making less of a fuss.”
Andy and Matt playfully shrieked in unison and the ladies laughed at their antics.
They were being so blasé. Didn’t they grasp how awful this could be? Were they simply putting on a brave face? Without restraints, he or Jada could turn rabid. No one was prepared for the eventuality except him.
“You don’t understand.” Sawyer’s vision blurred as his heart raced. “No one understands.”
He’d been through this before: the blood, the flesh tearing when it pulled too far. The endless suffering trapped between man and wolf. A ripple raced over his skin which didn’t fit on his body anymore. What if it was the same as before? What if it was worse?
Jimmy clamped his palms on either side of Sawyer’s head, meeting his gaze. “I understand. Your first shift was hard. This won’t be like that.”
An elusive scent filled the night, unlike anything he’d ever known. Tracing it into the sky, Sawyer found himself staring into the moon. Silvery and haunting, he swore it pulsed, and his teeth twitched in kind. If he closed his eyes, he could almost see the mists—less of a scent and more of energy—feathering outward, ever outward. Weaving in and out of his body, it set off shivers which itched enough he wanted to scratch himself bloody.
It was happening.
Scents became potent. His night vision turned clear as daylight. Hearing sharpened to the point Sawyer only heard the frantic beating of his heart.
Jimmy still held his head, mouthing the same unheard words over and over.
“Stop fighting it. Let it happen. Trust me.”
Fear of torture bred resistance. Sawyer was terrified of hurting so much again, of doing others harm. But, Jimmy had earned his rank of alpha through blood, trials, and honor. He would never encourage Sawyer, if he honestly believed in the risk.
So Sawyer exhaled and gave in.
The presence inside him grew, pushing through his chest and head, out through his limbs. Sawyer’s body numbed, sparing him the pain of bone and muscle pulling like taffy. Hair sprouted from every pore into a sheen of fur. His face distorting into something new should have left him screaming instead of the bizarre sensation of an aching stretch. He rolled forward onto his hands and knees as the length of his back changing altered his balance. Becoming a rabid had been a jarring purgatory of never ending pain. This shift flowed like silk running between his fingers.
And as quickly as it began, the process ended, except this time Sawyer somehow knew it hadn’t frozen somewhere in the middle.
Looking down, his fingers had shrunk into the wide paws capping a set of furry legs. He took a careful step forward. No one had told him how to walk on four feet. Apparently, it wasn’t necessary, because Sawyer wasn’t alone.
The presence surrounded him, overlapping each other, except he couldn’t call it that anymore. It was wild, canine, and awake. His wolf was born and their souls were melded. Feral instinct took over, and they trotted in a circle, taking in the smells and sounds, yipping as they went because Sawyer didn’t know how else to vent his surprise and happiness. Strength coursed through his veins, fed by the moon’s ethereal kiss. Until this moment, he hadn’t connected to the reverence Jimmy and the others used when speaking of Her.
Now he knew. She was grace. She was beauty. She was magick unseen by mortal men.
Sawyer howled into the sky, thanking Her for the gift.
A familiar laugh drew their attention. It took a moment to recognize, because the wolf’s inclinations were dominating their thinking. Sawyer spun, following the sound and they stopped. He didn’t have to hear the word to know his wolf knew its meaning.
Jimmy-mate grinned, glowing with unrestrained praise. “I knew you could do it, Sawyer. You’re amazing.”
Tail wagging like mad, he called out to Jimmy-mate, but it came out as a bark, the most natural thing in the world.
Jimmy-mate tore away the garment covering his legs and let out his wolf.
They danced and ran around each other, knowing the scent, yet aware they were meeting for the first time. Jimmy-mate licked their snout and rubbed against Sawyer’s flanks, merging scents further than they were already entwined. If only wolves could weep with joy, it might never end.
How excited he…it…they… yes they plural, because two of them filled this form. Wild abandon freed Sawyer’s cautious nature. He could run in the night, feel the grass under his paws, let the wind run through his hair. Finally, he understood how Maddie had found everything was so vibrant and distracting when she let her wolf out.
A pair of female wolves were nearby. One sat, chest out and regal. Mother. The other took tentative steps like a newborn. Jada. Two fluffy pups—Andy and Matt—bounded their way, falling into an uncoordinated pile as they bumped into each other, only to bounce up and do it again.
The pack was complete. A charge of exuberance flew through them all with Jimmy-mate taking the lead. Raising his head, he howled, and the pack followed, sharing his song into the night.
As they romped and got properly acquainted, Doris watched over them all. giggling and smiling bright enough to bring back the dawn.
Late morning light stirred Sawyer awake. He blinked in the brightness, letting his eyes adjust. Through his teen years, this room had been his, and it looked the same as the day he left for college. Maddie had left it intact, just in case “he ever needed a place to stay.” So far, needing his old bedroom involved wolves.
Like the one currently in bed watching him.
“Morning.” Propped on one elbow, Jimmy’s sultry grin and mussed locks made Sawyer’s heart swell. Amber highlights twinkled in his dark eyes. Waking up to this man was the greatest gift he’d ever received, and he’d never regret hoarding his attention. The kiss Jimmy placed on Sawyer’s lips tasted better, noticeably sharper than yesterday.
Contemplating the difference tempered the confusion miring his brain. “How did I get here?”
“Carried you in. Wasn’t leaving your naked ass crashed on the lawn. About time too, I was getting tired of chasing after your wolf. He didn’t want to come in because he was having a good time.”
Bits and pieces of the night on four legs became clearer, but imperfect. The night seemed amazing, but Sawyer’s memories had been filtered through the lens of his own eyes. Up until then, he’d been turned into something horrible, not a creature of the night. A second opinion was in order. “My wolf. How was he?”
“He was gorgeous. You are gorgeous.” Jimmy eyes glossed, pairing well with his awestruck whisper.
A joyous burst of pride echoed in Sawyer’s mind, overlapping his own, slightly out of sync. “Oh.”
“What is it?”
A rolling, happy yip filled the back of his thoughts, although instead of being mindless noise, there was a sense to the vocalization, a purity of intent. Communication with impulses and ideas rather than language. The feral presence didn’t overwhelm and wasn’t bundled inside him. They shared his skin like it had always been this way. It struck Sawyer as being much like last night, only reversed on who was in the driver’s seat.
“I can hear him in my head. Understand what he’s thinking. Is it supposed to be like this?”
“Completely. It’ll probably be a little weird at first, but you’ll learn to work together. It just takes some time, which is fine, because Maddie and Doris think both you and Jada are going to live a lot longer now.”
Sawyer’s breath stalled as he found the nerve to ask, “So he’s healthy? Normal?”
“You’re both everything I could ask for.”
The happiness radiating from Sawyer’s wolf was near-overwhelming. “I’m not going to be a monster?”
Jimmy reached up and wiped a tear from Sawyer’s cheek. “No, you’re not. But you and Jada are going to turn every full moon for a while until you get the hang of it. A few years at least. You’ll have to make some changes. Work. Living arrangements.”
Quieting the wolf down took some effort as Sawyer parsed Jimmy’s carefully chosen words. “Did my mom ask us to move in?”
“She did suggest we make this the pack house.”
Jimmy’s baritone laugh was warm and hearty. “That’s what I said, more or less. It’s a good, private place for full moon runs, so we’ll be around plenty. I haven’t decided on what to do with the old pack’s property yet, and there’s too many bad memories attached to use it right now. She accepted that.”
“Don’t trust her. She’ll move every one of us in if you’re not careful.”
“I’ll keep a close eye out. We need space for ourselves, but we’ll find something nearby, better than Fergus’ old cabin. That way, the pack bonds can settle and stay strong for all of us. We have family to take care of now.”
“I like the sound of that.”
That was the understatement of the century. Sawyer loved the idea. His tiny family had expanded in unexpected ways, and he had someone in his life he knew he could love forever.
Years of denial had quashed his ability to hope beyond wishful thinking. During college, curbing his self-destructive tendencies made him think the natural ones needed to be smothered as well. Hiding himself had been slowly killing him, and he didn’t see it before Jada did. Sawyer would always be grateful to her for cutting him loose. Their friendship would be stronger for it.
Now her secret was out, Maddie had relaxed around them although restraining her more manipulative side was a lost cause. Better to be suspicious of her motives and work to maintain boundaries than cutting her out of their lives. Being honest with each other was easier with the main crisis past. Sawyer could see the potential for the future, and it filled him with sunshine and moonlight in equal measure. A recipe for happiness if there ever was one.
Their world was good.
Speaking of good things, Jimmy climbed out of bed. Scars from the Fergus’ attack had become little more than faint marks on the luscious skin framing acres of formidable muscle. Sculptural lines ran down Jimmy’s furry torso to meet the sleeping yet lovely piece of meat nestled between his thighs. It shifted as he reached for the ceiling to stretch and groaned in relief.
Yes, it was nice. Very nice. And all for Sawyer.
Dropping his arms, Jimmy rolled his neck. “C’mon. You must be hungry.”
Sawyer couldn’t take his eyes off the perfect man standing before him. “I am, but not for food. Get your ass back in bed, stalker.”
The filthy grin he received in reply made his heart flutter. Jimmy’s woodsy musk deepened, and it called to Sawyer’s wolf, who perked up and wagged its tail in his thoughts. Sawyer agreed with his wolf one hundred percent. Throwing back the covers, Jimmy climbed in, running his nose and lips over Sawyer from his ankles to his collarbone, taking in every scent on the path. He took his sweet time at Sawyer’s cock, licking and breathing him in like an addict. Jimmy continued until he blanketed Sawyer’s body with his own.
Rich husky whispers flowed out of Jimmy, tickling Sawyer’s neck. “I will never regret finding you.”
Arching, Sawyer ground into the delicious weight pinning him down. “I was yours forever before I was bitten.”
Content, possessive growls vibrated Sawyer’s flesh as Jimmy clamped his teeth over the mating scar. Wrapping their arms around each other, both men found an easy pace, neither rushing to feed their appetites.
Food would wait.
They had all the time in the world.
Sadly, this is the end of Sawyer and Jimmy’s story.
Thank you all for bearing with me for so many weeks. Not having this to work on will be a little weird, but give me the chance to work on something new. I have ideas…
Thank you all for reading.