Phases of Moon — Part 20 – Chapter 10 — 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.

Now that’s settled, let’s see how Jimmy’s been faring since he got a good sniff of Sawyer recetnly…


 

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Part 20 – Chapter 10

Tonight would be the new moon and Jimmy should have been at his most calm, but the sight of the young banker perked up his wolf. He didn’t like the way the trees had been chopped out to make room for the house on this land. It had been stripped back far enough, he couldn’t sneak in close even with the lack of moonlight. A wolf his size needed more than darkness to hide. Instead, he had to settle for a distant view through the window, while the underbrush dug into his underbelly.

Shifting was risky territory these days after the last time his wolf almost didn’t give him back. If he hadn’t felt pressed to follow the source of that glorious scent, he might not have tried. Far more of Jimmy was present as a wolf than usual, almost as if tracking the source of the smell weighed equally on them both. Where he began and the wolf ended lacked distinction. His thoughts were more primal, but his consciousness hadn’t been buried by the animal. It might have been the only thing keeping him from smashing his wet nose against the glass to get another whiff of the man.

He was still tempted.

“What if my mate is a man?” Jimmy didn’t know why he asked his maman. He’d only been able to control his shift for a few years. Mates were something for older people, like teenagers.

She stared at him in that all-knowing way, as if nothing could surprise her. “Then you accept the moon’s blessing with grace.”

Not exactly the answer he expected, but he couldn’t hold her gaze and stared at the wall. The striped wallpaper had silver stars embedded in fields of blue and grey. “But then I wouldn’t have pups.”

“Perhaps not. Our clan may be small, but it’s strong and we live very long lives. There are more ways than one to be happy.”

Jimmy leaned into his maman as she rubbed a variety of spices into a batch of chicken intended for dinner. The kitchen was her home, the center of her pride after her pack. Everything she did within its walls inspired a certain reverence. And happiness. Pure, unadulterated happiness.

How he missed those days.

“If I find my mate, will I have a choice?”

She stopped in the middle of the chicken’s underside to peer down at him. He was so small back then and it made her seem ten feet tall. Now, only memories of her kept their scale.

“Of course, child. The moon may show us a path, but we have every right to walk our own. The choice is yours. The scent may urge you to choose, but you can say no. If your mate is unsuitable, you have time to wait for another. She only shows you one at any given time, but no one is cursed to the possibility of only one choice in life.

“So if you find a mate, you must learn about them. Make sure they are the one for you. Because once you bite and make the bond, it will be for as long as you live. The choice may be yours, but you can still make a mistake.”

Jimmy understood mistakes all too well. He’d lived with the consequences for a long time.

The banker sat in a living room armchair turning pages in the book he was reading, until he restlessly closed it and set it aside. He fidgeted, his whole body vibrating with distraction. The disquiet disturbed Jimmy. From what he’d seen, the banker was kind, honestly attempting to help others that day at the bank. Even fogged through the arousing scent, Jimmy heard the sincerity. 

His instinct to protect was already rising and he didn’t remember his name—wait! The name tag. Sawyer. Sawyer… Thomas. Yes! He was named Sawyer Thomas. Sharing thoughts with the wolf muddied his memories. Normally, he recalled those types of details with sharp clarity. Knowing his name, the wolf wanted to dance, but opted to maintain its stealthy observation.

A woman walked into the room and Jimmy’s hackles rose. He hadn’t given thought to the possibility of a previous claim. His breathing quickened and growl rolled out from deep in his chest.

Now he had to get another smell to see if she was part of him. He needed to know if he should walk away. The wolf whined at the thought, and Jimmy couldn’t blame him. The idea troubled him as well. Sixty years to find a possible mate was a long time. To reject him, or be rejected… he wasn’t ready to make that choice. Not yet.

The woman left and Sawyer stood and went into another room. The light sparked on, bright and visible in the night. A bedroom perhaps. Jimmy edged between a few trees for a better angle, and froze when Sawyer took off his shirt. It didn’t last long as he threw on a t-shirt, but the glimpse he got was firm and well-formed. His mate was fit.

Wait… he’s not the mate. Not yet.

The wolf whined.

Maman slammed the oven door shut, rattling the pots resting on top. She hadn’t started cooking yet. The fields of blue and grey on the wall seemed faded and the stars lacked luster. “Stay away from that boy, Jimmy.”

“What’s wrong with Mitchell?” He was twenty-two now. Old enough to decide for himself.

“He’s human.”

“That doesn’t make him a bad person.” Now taller than his maman, Jimmy deliberately stood over her as he made his point, but his size didn’t matter to her. It never did. 

“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.”

“How do you know?”

Sadness weathered her lovely face in an instant. “Years and years of horrible experience.”

chapter 9 continues on Thursday…


 

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

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

cropped-wedbriefs-badge

Phases of Moon — Part 19 – Chapter 9 — 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.

Now that Fergus has been a total shit to Alice, what happens next?


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 19 – Chapter 9

Eyes averted, Alice’s head bobbed in submission as she exited up the stairs. “I…I’ll go check on the boys.”

Shit. 

Fergus rubbed his temples. After this was finished, he’d have to bring her flowers or something to cheer her up. Otherwise, she’d haunt the house for days with an attitude, and he didn’t want her sullen mood to rub off on the children. No matter how young there were, they would not grow up to be like their mother. 

For now, he put her out of his mind. There were rabids to cull, a rogue to catch, and a wolf to promote. Tonight, he planned to only focus on one of these.

Without moving, Fergus raised his voice at the door to alleviate any doubts to the waiting wolves outside. He could hear them both whispering to each other. “Come in.”

The door opened and Shayna crossed the threshold first with Irwin trailing behind, which didn’t please Fergus in the least. She wasn’t as tarted up as usual wearing comfortable jeans and t-shirt, and less makeup, but he still wanted to slap the subtle smirk off her face.

“Trouble in paradise?”

“Not at all. Because my wife understands I have no use for people who don’t know their place. Do you understand?” Fergus coated his voice in the alpha tone, half command, half growl. He was done dealing with females for the night. Shayna knew why she was here and any more taunting would be seen as a challenge.

Irwin placed a hand on Shayna’s shoulder and pulled her behind him. “Yes, sir.”

Shayna smartly stayed silent. For a change.

“Alice is upstairs with the boys. We’ll be back late. Early morning at best. Let’s go, Irwin.”

Excitement built again as they left the house behind. They climbed in Irwin’s truck, and headed off, stopping in front of Granger’s and honking the horn. Granger bounded out with Patton following, jumping in Granger’s beat up grey Chevy. Irwin sped off, knowing the way with the others keeping close.

Fergus tapped his fingers along the open window, catching the breeze as the evidence of civilization disappeared and the forest thickened. The truck rumbled on the gravel as they turned off the paved road. The poorly maintained path cut a mangy path through the wilderness. 

They parked their trucks off the old road and walked into the adjacent tree line. Sprawling oaks, thick with age, stood sentry daring any to cross into their territory or disturb the natural habitat. Fergus respected the sanctity of unsullied earth, but wasn’t cowed by it either. He went where he pleased, when he pleased. Before long, the forest opened into a wide clearing. Fergus peeled off his shirt to allow the moonlight to kiss his skin, a glorious sensation. The property was his, acquired through his winning of the pack and its assets, including the house Jimmy lived in, a few miles west of here. The land was special to him, its privacy being a chief requirement.

Fergus inhaled deep through his nose, taking in the scent of what was his. Running with the pack under the full moon was different. He’d been away from this secluded area longer than he’d liked. It was good to be back with his men. Adding one more to his inner circle would make the evening even better.  

While the moon’s pull wasn’t at its strongest, enough remained under its three quarter shine to bring out his boys’s rowdier sides. They’d already started rough housing, shirts off and chests’s bare, playfully shoving, taking each other’s measure. Nothing wrong with that, Fergus encouraged it, but this retreat had an agenda, a rhythm to follow. Traditions had to be upheld.

“Fall in, men.” Fergus’s voice was firm yet quiet, but the alpha’s tenor brought them into line. All three of his subordinates quickly stripped down and stood facing him, the lunar glow highlighting the solemn occasion and their nudity. Unbuckling his jeans but leaving them on and open, he surveyed his soldiers with pride. The lunar goddess gifted them eager, sculpted bodies, further proof Fergus’s choices in his men was just and right.

He gestured to Patton. “Come forward.”

The young wolf took two confident steps and stopped with his arms behind him at ease. The pose thrust his broad chest out, emphasizing his aesthetic proportions. Hard muscle, narrow waist, Patton’s body was dusted in an appropriate amount of blond hair. Fergus noted he hadn’t shaved himself smooth into a plastic mannequin. Another point in Patton’s favor. Stepping close, Fergus took in his scent, committing it to memory as he had with all his close confidants. No cologne, no lingering traces of another person. All him. Another point.

The trio stared out at a fixed point in the distance, yet their attention stayed here and now. Anticipation grew thick and heady, rolling out like mist on the lake. Warmth filled his chest, recognizing the trust they placed in him. The urge to rush ahead tempted him, but he held fast and repeated the speech he’d learned so long ago as if it were only yesterday.

“Brother wolves, we’re here tonight under Her shining moon to bring Patton Mendelson into the fold, so he can be part of the ruling class of our pack. Only the strongest and most noblest of wolves can be chosen, to be granted such an honor. Under your alpha, you must be devoted to his cause, willing to do his bidding without question, to know his pleasures are yours, his successes are yours. Are you willing to take on this duty, Patton?”

Patton’s chest flexed as he barked out his reply. “Yes, Alpha.”

“And before us all and Her moonlight, you do this without coercion, knowing that what you see and do here and later between us is confidential? A silent, unbreakable brotherhood.” 

“Yes, Alpha.”

Fergus reached up and took firm hold of Patton by the balls. “You do this knowing betrayal of our secrets will be punished, even so far if your alpha wishes it, could cost you your life?”

“Yes, Alpha.”

The tick of Patton’s pulse drummed in Fergus’s ears. His new wolf wanted this, more than his clipped answers would give away. Letting go of his groin, Fergus reached and up and gripped Patton by the back of the neck.

“Memorize my scent. Let it mark you, so all wolves will know your place in the pack and that you belong to me, first and foremost.”

Patton bent at the waist as Fergus pulled him forward, pressing his face to his alpha’s neck and shoulder. He didn’t resist as Fergus dragged his head to his armpit, holding Patton there until he took multiple deep inhales. The scrap of his wet tongue into the deep crevasse made Fergus proud. Fergus pulled Patton across his head, scrubbing the dense hair over every inch of his cheeks nose and mouth. When he lifted Patton to an upright position once again, his new beta stared at him through lidded eyes, his chest heaving as the bond began to take hold.

Patton shuddered as Fergus watched the first tremors were drawn forth. His earthy scent took on notes of Fergus’s, forever marking him as a disciple, a permanent member of their Illuminati. Glorious. Granger and Irwin stood guard, grins sprouting as they recognized the scent of their new brother.

“Before the night’s over, we will howl through the woods as one, as family in the night. But even together, someone must come first, no one is truly equal and you earn your place in line. There’s already an order to the existing group. What we need now, is to know where our new wolf fits in. Irwin, Patton… show me who wants to lead who. Show me who wants it more.”

Granger broke ranks and came to Fergus’s side as Patton shook off the ritual’s effects. He turned to Irwin to find him backing away, urging Patton to come at him, the gesture aggressive. Patton glanced back at Fergus, unsure. Fergus nodded, giving his full permission. With a knowing smile, Patton took Irwin’s lead. 

The pair circled each other as they shifted away a comfortable distance, waiting for the bell to ring.

“Make me proud, boys,” Fergus said.

Heat rose, solely from the wolves in the clearing. Irwin and Patton swiped at each other, checking limits. They clashed in a wrestler’s embrace, and sprung away time and again as they assessed strength. Bodies slammed together, shining with growing sweat. As expected between healthy males, their dicks hardened, rising between their thighs, growing as taut as their straining muscles. A normal reaction when the blood runs hot.

Fergus didn’t take his eyes off the display, fixated over how the bout might end. Irwin had been with him for a few years now and deserved to be positioned higher—a hierarchy within the ranks had to be established—but he married Shayna which could be considered a giant vote for Patton. At first glance, both males appeared well matched in size and skill. Not wanting to miss anything, he tapped Granger’s arm and then his open jeans. His second dropped to his knees and helped his alpha shed his pants. Fergus reveled in the feel of his prick springing free as fingers brushed his tightening skin all the way down to his ankles. He stepped out of the garment, leaving his sandals behind for Granger to arrange neatly in the clothing pile.

The match had gone to ground, Irwin and Patton rolling in the moss and grass, eager cocks and bodies sliding over one another in a bid to be best. Inarticulate snarls filled the air. Skin grew slippery, and grips became tenuous. Patton took advantage of a poor grip, got an arm under Irwin’s leg and ass, and flipped him onto his stomach. He pounced on Irwin’s back, kicking his thrashing legs apart as he wrapped a solid choke hold around Irwin’s throat.

Irwin didn’t have a prayer to stop Patton from settling into place and mounting him.

A manly yelp tore out of Irwin as Patton’s rump flexed. From the noise and the tilt of Patton’s hips, he’d speared Irwin hard between the buttocks, giving him the whole piece of meat. Irwin went limp, conceding to his loss as he should, and let Patton take his prize. He humped Irwin hard and fast, letting lose a triumphant howl into the dark.

Fergus’s cock swelled to full mast at the sight. Damn, there was nothing better in life than men being men, feasting, fighting, and fucking in the outdoors. It’s what wolves were meant for.

“All right, that’s enough. The night’s still young,” Fergus said.

Climbing off with a swat to Irwin’s ass, Patton bounced to his feet. It was good to see he responded to commands without stalling. A good trait. His unmoving prick jutted out from a sweaty thatch of blond curls, still primed and unfired. Every inch of the man looked ready to spring and take his next prey. A cocky grin matched the glint in his eye. Irwin climbed to his feet and slunk off to the side, grousing and cursing as he went. Fergus couldn’t feel sorry. If he’d won the advantage, he’d have topped Patton in a heartbeat. As hard as he’d fought, he’d been hoping for it. Unfortunately for Irwin, in the scheme of things someone always had to be on the bottom. The sooner Irwin accepted the role, the happier he’d be.

“You’re up.” Fergus smacked Granger’s bare ass, drawing a cherry mark on the meaty flesh. Granger didn’t flinch. He’d long been indoctrinated into discipline and man-on-man play. Along with his physical prowess, it’s why he was second. Hard, fat dick leading the way, Granger cracked his knuckles and rolled his neck as he approached the new beta.

Crouching low, Patton bared his teeth in a predatory smile, ready to take on a new threat. Fergus wet his lips, tasting the spice of battle-charged arousal. It always signalled the strike of thunder before the storm.

Their clash was epic.

He had to give Patton serious credit. True, Granger was fresh and unchallenged, while Patton had already fought Irwin and won, but his second had earned the right. No, Patton jumped in and gave his best effort without complaint. Another point. 

The outcome was never in doubt. Patton may have been a scraper, but Granger was a massive brute. Faithful to the core, but a brute. Holding Patton down, he positioned himself to take the winner’s spoils. 

Fergus spit in his hand and slicked his cock even as he stepped in and ushered Granger to the side. It was only appropriate for the alpha to break in the new recruits. With one quick move, he buried himself to the root. Patton grunted and inhaled as a single reaction. His corded back danced and tensed, and his choked hole spasmed as it struggled to accommodate the sudden intrusion. Fergus chuckled to himself. It usually took some practice to handle the gift of his size and girth. That had to hurt.

Hot, soft, and clenching inside. He rolled his head back and relished the newness of the moment. God damn, dominating a man never ceased to be the most fantastic experience in creation. 

This wasn’t about sex no matter what anyone might say. It wasn’t about love or any of that other queer bullshit. It was about men being men and doing what came naturally. Competition and power. Earning the pecking order through strength and knowing their place. The old alpha didn’t understand, didn’t approve. It’s part of why he had to go.

Carrying an old bloodline, Fergus’s family had birthed more than one alpha over the generations. However, having more than one within a pack would be chaos as they fought for control, so when an alpha was born, they raised them, showed them the path, and sent them out to find a pack of their own. 

When Fergus came of age, his father taught him the same way his father had before him. At the remote cottage in the hidden grove, their small group of menfolk spent frequent night teaching how men interacted with men. Other than the moon Herself, no females were allowed, because they couldn’t be alphas, and the fraternity kept its secrets close. They took turns demonstrating how to groom his future crew on their youngest members. Tears were for the weak. 

An alpha couldn’t lead alone. Strong wolves would enforce his rule, underscore his authority. Bonding in the wild, teaching submission, binding other males to you through a firm hand, these were gifts to be shared to the wolves best suited to the role. The play between men was a sacred rite to pass on. It was tradition. Tradition was well understood and could be trusted. The truth in that tradition was about establishing rank. 

Rolling his hips back, Fergus snapped forward at full force to make sure Patton understood it as well. By the stifled cry he gave out, he did. 

It was time to get what was his right as alpha. He grabbed Granger by the back of his shaved head and held him against his chest. Granger opened his mouth wide, laving and chewing the sensitive nipple while Fergus built up a rhythm plundering his new wolf.

Patton held himself upright on stiff arms, the waning gibbous’s light shimmering off the perspiration glossing his back. Muscles twitched as he braced under each thrust, taking every substantial inch like a man. Fergus has never been so proud of a new recruit. Occasionally in the past, Fergus overestimated a wolf’s ability to handle this treatment. That never ended well for anyone concerned.

Someday, a certain Creole wolf from Louisiana would be in Patton’s place. They would expose the rogue and Fergus would reward Jimmy as promised. Nothing would please him more than having the massive bull submitting on his dick under a new moon. 

“Yeah… take it, Jimmy.”

Granger’s head whipped up, brandishing a look which reminded Fergus far too much of Alice’s wounded stare. So without losing his pace, he slapped his second across the back of his head. 

“Get down there next to him.”

Without protest, Granger got down on all fours, his ass and Patton’s lined up in a sweet offering. He was a brute that took orders well, after all. Pulling out, Fergus cracked a hand across Patton’s left butt cheek. The flesh reddened instantly. “Stay.”

And like a good soldier, Patton did. 

Not one to waste an opportunity, Fergus plunged into Granger and shifted into high gear. His second was loyal, but fucked up often enough he needed a brutal pounding as a reminder. He stuffed two fingers in Patton’s hole to remind him they weren’t finished, while Irwin knelt nearby out of reach, but stroking himself to the show. 

Sweat and heat built up Fergus’s spine, while a soft wind kept it under control. If the woods listened to the sounds of skin slapping against skin, it gave no sign. The wildlife stayed mute as it did with dangerous animals in their midst. Fergus basked in the night and the lunar glow, redefining the hierarchy of his beta wolves. Forging bonds in a ceremony of holy decadence. It should always be this much of a rush. 

Once he dropped a load in both of these prime wolves, he might go after Irwin, just because he was being such a little bitch about it again. Maybe even let Granger have a turn on him too. After that, they would shed their human forms and run together as brothers under the moon and stars, united under his steadfast leadership. 

Damn, it was good to be alpha.

Yeah, that Creole cunt was going to be his bitch.

continued from part 16…

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 10 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 18 – Chapter 9 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

I’m back up and running after the power outage and resulting drama. Getting a new refrigerator these days is a nightmare. I don’t recommend.

Let’s see what Fergus is up to…


 

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Part 18 – Chapter 9

A few strategic tugs, and Fergus’s black shirt fell the way he liked. Just tight enough through the shoulders and upper torso to accent them without being obvious, while the v-neck exposed the top of the furry crease running down his chest. He stepped back from the full-length mirror for a complete view. Paired up with a comfortable pair of jeans, it was a simple look but flattering. Tonight may not be anything close to a dress occasion, but he had standards to maintain.

Once again he checked the wall clock for the time. Sundown approached, leaving a flavor of anticipation over the impending evening. Pleasurable shivers made the dark hairs on his arms stand upright. It was hard to stand still, reminding him of the restless surge he got during the full moon, but this time had little to do with lunar mood swings. He looked forward to it, because he hadn’t had a special night like this for a while.

A shuffling movement in the reflection caught his attention, and he found Alice creeping in the doorway. “You’re leaving?” she asked.

“Yes. Pack business.”

“What kind of pack business?”

“Nothing you need to worry your pretty head over.” Fergus smiled out of politeness to placate her whine rather than bristle over it. His patience wore thin when she came off this needy. He had better things to do than spend the night bolstering Alice’s weak confidence. Wolf females didn’t display such a distasteful amount of weakness, but he’d chosen a human wife for less opposition. In moments like these, he began to regret that decision.

Turning to the closet, he stooped and pulled out a pair of old, ratty sandals barely fit for the beach. He slid his feet in to them, feeling the floor through the thin soles.No need for anything more substantial tonight. 

The whole time he could feel her gaze on him as she inched into the room, no doubt unwilling to drop the conversation.

“Are you going to be out late?”

“Yes. So don’t wait up. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You really have to?” Allice pinched her face unhappily in a way Fergus didn’t find attractive in the least.

“Yes.”

“When?”

Ready to leave, Fergus closed the closet door. He shifted past his wife and into the hallway. “As soon as Irwin drops off Shayna to sit with you, we’ll be heading out.”

“Shayna? She’s not going with you?” Alice followed him down the stairs, and it aggravated him. If only she would stop talking. Pack affairs had nothing to do with her. She was only human after all.

“No. This isn’t for the whole pack. Only high ranking members.”

“Oh… okay.”

Stopping in the living room, he took in a lungful of air through his nose. He knew that tone. “Why do you say it like that?” 

“I know you said it’s too dangerous for me to go out with all the wolves around, and I know I need protection. But Shayna doesn’t like me. Why does it have to be her?”

“Because she’s available. I can’t have one of my betas watch over you when I need them with me. Besides, it’s not about what Shayna likes or not. She’ll do as she’s told.”

Fergus had no love for Shayna. Loud, manipulative, and unwilling to wait her turn to speak, she dabbled in every quality Fergus loathed in a female. In fact, she announced the request for her and Irwin to marry during a full moon run in front of the entire pack, leaving him no choice but to grant permission or risk generating dissension in the ranks. He hadn’t appreciated being publicly ambushed. Keeping his lieutenants as bachelors made for better betas. Wives with agendas were never ending distractions. Irwin had been part of his team for a number of years beforehand, so the lack of foreknowledge left a bitter taste on Fergus’s tongue. 

He would prefer to keep her out of all pack business, but the potential for pillow talk was there and Fergus needed to be able to mitigate any slipups by Irwin becoming public knowledge. In the meantime, he could give Shayna occasional tasks, like keeping watch over Alice, to collar her troublemaking impulses.

“You really have to go?”

“Yes, I do. Why do you keep asking?”

“I thought you might like to spend some time with your sons.”

Fergus scoffed at her suggestion. “Royal and Regis can’t even walk yet. I could use them to prop a door open.”

“They started crawling about a week after they first time they changed into wolf cubs.”

Really? He hadn’t noticed, but being alpha, he didn’t waste precious hours hovering over babies. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll have plenty to teach them when they’re older. It’s your job until then.”

“You’ve been gone so much lately. Can’t you stay home for a change?” Alice took a step forward, and Fergus told himself not to take her advance as aggression. The increasing pitch of her whine needled him in all the wrong ways.

“My pack is important.”

“And we’re not?”

Mouth tight, he rubbed his temples as another inhale and exhale rushed through his nose. The clock over the fireplace mantle told him they wouldn’t be alone for much longer. 

“I didn’t say that. Without me, there is no pack and they’re just a bunch of strays. The pack needs me to keep them pointed in the right direction.”

“We need you too.”

A heavy knock at the door. Irwin and Shayna were here and their talk needed an abrupt end. Like most wolves, listening through the door wouldn’t require any extra effort. It would just happen. Feral hearing at its finest. Fucking wonderful.

Christ! For once in your life could be you stop being so fucking worthless and do what you’re told?”

Alice jolted like she’d been slapped, yet Fergus would never raise his hand to her. Humans were too fragile. Visible bruises would only lead to more gossip.

chapter 9 continues on Thursday…


 

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

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

cropped-wedbriefs-badge

Phases of Moon — Part 17 – Chapter 8 — 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.

And Jimmy’s struggles continue…


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 17 – Chapter 8

continued from part 16…

Taking the steps was harder than Jimmy expected, but he took them without wincing. Fergus held the door open as he crossed the threshold. He was far too tired to care when Fergus placed a hand on his back to usher him inside, because he was too relieved to finally be indoors. His wolf, however, perked up at the contact, but didn’t react much more.

“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to contact you since the full moon ended two days ago.”

Jimmy ambled ahead into the kitchen, keeping Fergus behind him, so he couldn’t see his pained grimace. If that was right, he’d been stuck as a wolf for four days with no recollection of those days. He’d never gone so long before, and never without awareness of the time spent. He jerked open the fridge door a little too hard, causing the contents to rattle.

The generic, black and white clock over the stove said it wasn’t even close to noon yet. Awfully early, but it didn’t stop him from grabbing a bottle of beer, popping off the cap with his thumb, and slugging the entire contents down in greedy swallows. 

“Let my wolf stretch his legs. Must have lost track of time.” Jimmy set the empty bottle on the kitchen table and picked up his phone. The screen was flooded with a list of call notifications from Fergus and barely had a useable charge left.

“Lost track of time? I had to tend to pack runs during the phase, but after, I called to check in and see how thing went after you caught the last rabid. When you didn’t return any of my calls, I came out to see for myself. From what I smelled in the cellar, I’d say you were successful?”

Jimmy let out a sad laugh. “Yeah. Successful.” When he caught a growing frown from Fergus, he reined in his maudlin impulses. “Needed some time to clear my head. I should have called and gave you a heads up.”

“Yes, you should have. I cleaned up the cell. Left the doors open so the bleach could air out.”

“Thanks.”

Fergus leaned against the counter, keeping a close eye on Jimmy. Given his unsteady stance, it stood to reason. If only his posture read more comfort and less dominance in the way his arms and chest flexed in the tight t-shirt and how his hips seemed angled forward to display his groin. He could also swear Fergus’s gaze roamed over his body, which may have been grungy and rank, but still naked as the day he was born. Modesty tended to be a forgone conclusion when you had to undress to shift in a group under the moon. It was impossible to be discreet under those circumstances, so wolves tended not to be shy. Even so, Jimmy found himself wishing for a pair of pants.

Of course, in his fragile, paranoid state, Jimmy’s brain could be fabricating all sorts of nonsense.

“Part of being in a pack is keeping your alpha up to speed over pack business. Especially with something this important. I can’t have you running rogue on me.” The muscles in Fergus’s arms tightened and relaxed as he gripped the counter.

“I’m not. I promise.”

Pushing himself off the counter, Fergus leaned in close and clasped his hand to Jimmy’s waist. “Are you okay, Jimmy?”

Despite the concern in his voice, Jimmy froze at Fergus’s possessive touch. A soft growl rumbled in his head as he imagined Fergus slipping that hand around and grabbing a handful of his ass. He wasn’t sure where the thought came from, but it wasn’t a welcome idea.  Physical contact among wolves was fairly standard, and pretty normal for alphas, but he couldn’t say why this put him—and his otherwise slumbering wolf—on edge.

“I’m fine. This one was a little rough, that’s all.”

Fergus leaned back with a grateful smile and dropped his hand to his side without copping a feel. “Good. I need my wolves strong and healthy. Once we settle this mess once and for all, I’ll bring you in. Just like I said.”

“I know you will.” Jimmy hated the crazy theories running through his head. It only added to his general confusion. Fergus hadn’t done anything threatening or inappropriate. He needed to calm down and get himself right. Hopefully his wolf would do the same.

They needed this pack. For both of their sakes. Period. Anything that would risk their chances to join would be disastrous.

Stepping into the living room for a moment, Fergus returned with a familiar fat envelope in his hand. He tossed it onto the table where it landed with a thud.

“Here’s the other half of your payment. I don’t ever want you to think I don’t appreciate the good work you do for me.” With a playful grin, Fergus lowered his voice as if they were sharing a secret between friends instead of employer and employee. “From what I’ve seen, you’re not a big spender and your bills are small. What are you doing with all this cash? Tell me you’re not stuffing it under your mattress.”

Jimmy snorted. “I have a bank account under my family’s name. Is there a Franklin James Bank near here? I’ve been trying to keep a low profile, but I don’t have it in me today to ride a few towns over to stay out of sight. If you don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t mind. There’s actually a branch downtown on Main and Fletcher. Most of the pack uses that one. You should probably get used to the same. It’s good to keep us all close together. But you might want to shower first. You’re trashed. Clothes would be a good idea too. Can’t have you running around town with your dick hanging out.” 

“You’re probably right.” Jimmy smiled at the joke, but having his nudity pointed out rekindled his unease.

Fergus patted Jimmy on the shoulder as he headed back into the living room, stopped at the front door.

“Before you go, make sure you burn any of the rabid’s personal effects. This is enough of a shitshow without it any of this getting out. I’ll let you know if anything more comes up. Until then, get cleaned up and put your money away. You did a good job, Jimmy. I won’t forget that.”

“Thanks.”

Jimmy stood watching the front door, listening to Fergus’s footsteps leave the porch, unable to fully relax until the sound of his truck rolling down the driveway faded into nothing. Once sure he alone, he walked past the fat envelope filled with blood money and headed for the bathroom. If he didn’t shower off the last four days of roaming the forest, he was going to scream. He needed to feel human again.

The inventor of air conditioning deserved a medal. Once he’d seen himself in the mirror, he’d gone outside and hosed the worst of his unplanned trek off himself before showering, Jimmy had spent two hours making sure any remaining evidence of Eddie’s presence was burned to ash in the steel drum behind the house. A ritual which was becoming far too frequent. Between the steady flames, the midday summer sun, and his weary flesh, Jimmy was feeling too broiled to dress in more than a tank top and a weathered pair of jeans. The chilly air hitting his overheated skin inside the bank was a godsend.

It was the only way the bank’s employees could possibly survive in the summer with the stiff shirts and jackets obviously required of all of them. Otherwise, wearing a suit every day to work at this time of the year would be unthinkable. Jimmy couldn’t help but laugh to himself knowing how they thought dressing a certain way made it right for them to manage other people’s money, while he had plenty of money and he dressed like a bum half the time. The idea of being wealthy by brandishing other people’s money was a tad ironic.

A constant line of customers filed through the corral of chains directing them to the tellers. One by one, they herded forward, snaking between the miniature maze of posts and gates, often sighing with defeated shoulders as they saw the lengthy queue. Given the amount of customer demands, Jimmy guessed the were running short-handed, and the remaining employees struggled to keep up. Even the most efficient of them bounced between the drive-thru and the main teller stations trying to attend to the impatient masses.

Too much of Jimmy’s recent life had been spent on the outskirts of humanity, staying out of other’s business. It hadn’t reduced his loneliness or wish to belong. Being in such close quarters, as he was now, he fell back into his standard practice of people watching. It made him part of the world he didn’t belong in, but craved all the same. If Fergus were to ask, he would call it threat assessment. However, there was no one here to impress.

Two customers were in front of him waiting their turn. First, an elderly woman with grey hair and kind features. He pictured as a trembling grandmother depositing her social security check by hand because she didn’t trust computers and automatic banking, preferring to have real human beings preform the transaction. At least that’s what he envisioned.

Next was Berle, the loud man who owned the coffee shop down the street. He was short, wide around the middle and his belly peeked out from the bottom of his ill-fitting uniform polo. Jimmy shouldn’t know his name or profession, but he’d been on his phone from the moment Jimmy had followed him inside and into the line, and he hadn’t stopped talking. Everyone became familiar with Berle’s conversation whether they were interested or not. Jimmy pitied the ear drums of the person on the other end. 

At least four more people stood behind Jimmy as he stood one thumb hooked in his pocket, with the other hanging at his side while keeping a solid grip on the cash-filled envelope. He wanted to turn and get a closer look behind him, but decided to settle with standing casually.

The grandmother and Berle both moved forward to available tellers as Jimmy noticed five more people added to the end of the line. This was getting out of hand. Was it payday? Good thing Jimmy was next, because if he was at the end of this line, he might kill someone out of spite.

From the corner of his eye, Jimmy noticed one of the bankers come out of the cubicles off to the side. The handsome man took a look at the teller situation, took a deep breath, and straightened his jacket. He walked up and stopped next to Jimmy, his polite voice cutting through the lobby tension.

“Since the ladies are full up, are there any services I can perform for you?”

The loaded question made Jimmy pause, but before he could react, the juiciest scent drifted under his nose. Animal and cloying, it reached in, tickling through his nostrils and hooked him behind his eyes like the sharpest drug. He’d never smelled anything like it. It was the most amazing thing he’d ever known.

Eyes drifting closed, he took another easy inhale, letting his chest swell and take as much of the fragrance in as possible. Even his wolf took notice and demanded more. Jimmy shuddered as his nipples hardened in a way which had nothing to do with the artificially cool air. The pleasurable scrape of his shirt sent fine charges down his body so far he cupped his groin with his free hand to contain them.

A growl rumbled out of him, all raunch and decadence. “Don’t think that kind of job is on the bank’s services.” 

Oh God, that scent. Jimmy’s eyes fluttered shut as he took another long inhale through his nose. The air conditioning suddenly lacked the power to stave off the sweat flashing down his spine.

“Or do those services come with fees?”  

He needed to know how to get more. Rub it into his skin so it could linger forever. Leaning closer to the source, his eyes creeped open to find an engraved name tag perched high on a firm chest. SAWYER THOMAS, Assistant Manager. His name is Sawyer. Sawyer, Sawyer, Sawyer. Delicious. Drifting closer to the source, Jimmy caught sight of the attractive banker with his five o’clock shadow and perfect dark hair. The scent came from here at the base of his neck and shoulder. His canines sharpened at the prospect of sinking his teeth—

Holy shit! What the fuck am I doing?

Jimmy jerked back, stunned at his reaction, while Sawyer—yes, his name is Sawyer —stood still like a spotlighted deer. Prey. The image only heightened Jimmy’s craving. Sawyer’s face flushed scarlet while Jimmy could feel the color draining from his own. The shock in Sawyer eyes as he glanced at the line of people behind him sobered Jimmy instantly. The line of people. They were watching, and he was acting like… what was he acting like?

“I… I mean… Excuse me.” Stammering, Jimmy turned away to face the tellers, his embarrassment impossible to disguise. 

He nearly bolted out of the building when the grandmother finished her business and the next teller became free. Rushing forward, he shoved the fat envelope under the safety glass onto the teller’s workspace.

“Deposit this,” he grunted. The teller nodded and started counting the bills.

Reflected in the glass, Sawyer still gaped at him with an indecipherable expression. The sight gnawed at Jimmy for reasons he didn’t understand. He didn’t know how to respond, or if he should, as his rapid pulse drummed in his ears.

Despite that, his all too keen hearing picked up the voice of the man who had been standing behind him in line.

“I just need to make out a cashier’s check.”

The comment snapped Sawyer out of his daze and he slapping on his working smile. “Follow me to my desk and we’ll take care of you.”

Sawyer led the man back to his cubicle and Jimmy had to quash the urge to race after them. Instead, he waited as the teller completed his transaction, fidgeting in place the whole time. It didn’t take long, but it might have well been a century.

The line in the lobby continued to grow as fast as it could be served. The moment Sawyer finished with the previous man, he collected another customer to keep the workflow manageable. Jimmy wanted to wait. He wanted Sawyer to explain this sensation, as if a human could know a wolf in any reasonable way. 

Since he couldn’t explain any part of this lovely twisted energy coursing through him, Jimmy left before he did or said something stupid. Or more stupid.

Hiking back to his truck he jumped inside and thumped his head on the steering wheel multiple times for good measure. He shoved his keys in the ignition. A realization popped into his head that wasn’t filled with carnal disquiet, telling him he needed to get out of here.

For the first time in days, weeks, months? His wolf was calm, quiet, and oddly enough…content.

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 9 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 16 – Chapter 8 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

What’s Jimmy been up to since he dealt with Eddie?


 

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Part 16 – Chapter 8

The fiery ache in every muscle dragged a moan out of Jimmy, making him nearly gag on the gritty taste across his tongue. He spit out a mouth full of dirt in a vain attempt to clear the taste. Finding himself lying face first on the ground surrounded by trees, he pushed his hair back, ignoring the grass tangled in the dark, unwashed tresses. Eventually, he rolled over into a seated position. A sharp rock bit into his bare ass and he had to sweep it out from under him. A quick glance told him what he’d suspected. No nearby clothing to be found. 

Filthy soil littered his skin in random smears, some dry and caked in his body hair, some mixed with blood. A quick sniff eased his conscience somewhat: it wasn’t his, and it wasn’t human. The ripe scent clung to his beard, heavy under his nose and strong enough to leave a coppery leftover on his tongue. At some point he’d hunted and fed on some kind of game.

“Holy shit. Where the fuck am I?’

Head full of cotton, he squinted to keep the tree-filtered daylight from scorching his already sensitive brain. Week old roadkill looked better than he felt. He couldn’t smell alcohol, so this hangover wasn’t man-made.

He recalled putting down Eddie—no, the last rabid, and burying the body in a remote area where he wouldn’t be found. The whole time, his wolf clawed and dug at the back of his mind, unsettled by the growing piles of lives he’d been forced to end. A necessary evil his wolf couldn’t understand. When he came back to clean the cell, the sight and scent of the blood on the pavement triggered his inner animal into a frenzy.

Jimmy couldn’t say what happened next. Everything from that point on was a fog of rage and pain. Normally, he was present in some capacity under the wolf’s mind when shifted, but not this time. Whatever happened up until waking in the dirt, his wolf wasn’t sharing. 

It was like the stories his maman told of men losing themselves to the wolf, becoming the beast. He’d known the risk after so many years untethered as a stray. It’s why he was willing to court Fergus and his den. He needed it before he turned, ran out into the forest, and never came back.

“That wolf is a part of you, child. Take care of him, give him what he needs, or he’ll drag you to madness.”

He never thought his maman was being literal.

Now here he was, naked and confused in the middle of the woods. His wolf slept, sated and exhausted, but its presence lingered stronger than it ever had as a man. No telling when or if this would happen again.

Standing proved to be a chore. His whole body screamed out, yet he had little choice. Staying out indefinitely wasn’t t really an option. The real trick would be getting back without running into another person because he could only imagine what anyone who saw him would think. He supported himself with an outstretched hand until his legs finally stopped shaking.

Following the scent trail back would be easier as a wolf, but even if he had the energy to change, he wouldn’t risk it. Not until he knew he’d come back afterwards. He’d never been afraid of giving in to his wolf before.

It took longer than expected, but he managed to spot the hints of his trail and began the arduous task of backtracking his path. Not far from where he woke, he found the carcass of a deer, obviously his earlier prey. At least there wasn’t any human body parts in the vicinity. That kind of guilt he wasn’t prepared for.

Time dragged as he followed where he had been, losing and finding the scent more than once. He guessed at least two hours had passed when he recognized the markers defining the pack’s territory. Since his trail crossed the border, this had to be the wilderness outside his house.

He hoped.

The trees ahead eventually thinned, and Jimmy took cautious steps to the edge. No need to scare anyone who might be wandering by. Sure enough, his path led him to the open yard outside his place. A quick scan of the property told him he was alone, so he left the shelter of the forest and followed the corridor of trampled grass which would otherwise be tall enough to keep him modest. Clearly the way he left in the night.

The first inklings of relief began to rise as he closed in on the house. The cellar doors were still open. He’d take care of that later once he’d had a chance to scrub himself clean and regroup. Rounding the corner he froze, recognizing the red Chevy truck in the driveway next his.

Fergus.

“Shit.”

He considered heading back to the tree line when the front door banged open and Fergus burst out onto the porch, practically skidding to a halt right before the steps leading to the broken concrete pads which drew a fractured line to the driveway.

“Christ, man. What the hell happened to you?” Equal parts shock and worry spilled out of Fergus as he looked Jimmy over with wide eyes.

The scrutiny was disconcerting at best. Jimmy wasn’t sure how to answer him. Losing control of his wolf wouldn’t do him any favors on getting into the pack. No one would want to be near a wolf about to go feral. So he kept it simple with a half-truth. “Did a walkabout.”

“Walkabout? You look like you were fucking dragged behind a truck for miles. Get the fuck in here.”

chapter 8 continues on Thursday…


 

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

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

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Phases of Moon — Part 15 – Chapter 7 — 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.

And Jimmy’s struggles continue…


 

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Part 15 – Chapter 7

continued from part 14…

The whole house had a presence, a byproduct of the woman who owned it. Two floor-to-ceiling glass doors took up one entire wall, letting daylight filter indoors. Maddie slid one doors open and stepped out into the all-season screen porch which she’d had converted into a space for her dogs.

A steamer trunk overloaded with dog toys sat in one corner, and food and water dishes lined the opposite wall. Six kennels neatly made up the perimeter, engraved name tags adorning each one. Zoomer, Beetle, Patch, Vice, Comet, and Rafael. Where did she come up with these names? Sawyer stopped in the middle of the room waiting for his mother.

Holding open the patio door to the yard, Maddie blew a shrill whistle into the air, loud enough to jar Sawyer’s spine. “Come on! Meal time!”

Only a few seconds passed before Sawyer could hear the coming wave. With a flurry of paws, six dogs scrambled inside, bouncing and circling around Maddie in a frenzy of excitement as she closed the door behind them, holding her bowl out of reach.

“Line up.” Maddie managed to raise her voice over the commotion.

All six dogs stopping vocalizing and immediately rushed into position and sat, forming a line, evenly spaced apart. For a moment, Sawyer had the urge to file in alongside them. Each one eagerly focused on Maddie, awaiting her next command like good little soldiers. 

Sawyer didn’t recognize the German Sheppard on the end. He must have been a new acquisition. The other five had become part of Maddie’s home over the years after he went away to college, each one a different breed. He didn’t know which one was which, and he’d be damned if he would burn his time trying to remember the names of her substitute children. Maddie preferred homing rescues or strays, snubbing breeders as a general rule. Professional dog obedience circles may have been a niche, but his mother was well known as a savant expert. She watched that Cesar guy on tv once, and all she said was, “that’s cute” before she turned the channel. On rare occasions, she would help people with difficult animals, but since the people were the problem more often then not, she usually convinced them the dog would be better off with her than with their humans. 

This approach didn’t win her any popularity contests within the community, because the point was to train the people and dogs to work together, but Maddie didn’t tolerate stupid. When questioned, she simply told them the dogs were smarter and needed a better environment.

This meant her own home.

Maddie waved Sawyer closer. Six big dogs, two bowls of meat bones. What could go wrong? Starting from Sawyer’s bowl, she gave a command, took out a bone, and put it in the mouth of one dog, who dutifully sat holding the bone in its jaws without moving. Then she went to the next dog who waited patiently. And repeated.

Once she’d finished distributing the bones, Maddie stepped in front of the line and paused briefly, giving them one word with a short nod. “Okay.”

The line broke and the dogs went into their kennels and began eating.

An easy smile filled with contentment graced Maddie’s lips. She left the enclosure, closing the sliding door behind them. She collected the empty bowls from Sawyer and headed back to the kitchen.

“When did you start feeding them bones?” Sawyer asked.

“I always have. You’ve just never been around to see it.”

“Isn’t that expensive?”

Maddie dumped both bowels into the left kitchen sink and ran the water while she dug out the dish washing liquid from underneath. She’d never trusted dishwashers. “The butcher gives me good prices. They’re carnivores. It’s what’s best for them.”

“How long have you had the new Sheppard?”

“Zoomer? About six months. Collected him from some inbred yokels the next town over. They bought him because they thought it would be cool. Idiots had no idea how to train him. Left him chained outside.” A unladylike growl rolled out of her as she scrubbed the bowls.

“They gave him to you?”

“I persuaded them to relinquish ownership. Best for everyone really.”

Sawyer wasn’t sure he wanted to know what lengths she would go to “persuade” someone to give up their dog. Getting her way tended to be the status quo and she had no tolerance for abusers. Thankfully, he was sure whatever method she used, it was legal. 

Well, mostly sure.

“I can’t believe he’s only been here six months. It’s like he’s been part of the group from the start.”

“I knew he’d do well. He just needed a guiding hand.”

“And you’ve always had that.”

After rinsing both bowls in the right side sink, Maddie placed them into the strainer and dried her hands on the nearby towel.

“So, tell me what was so important you couldn’t tell me over the phone.”

Sawyer found himself mimicking Maddie, wringing his hands in a non-existent towel, wishing the clamminess in his palms would go away. It worsened the more he thought about which line his speech was supposed to start on. If he didn’t say something soon, he’d probably vomit all over the tile floor.

“Mom, Jada and I are getting a divorce.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah.”

Maddie shook her head with a disapproving chuckle as she dropped the towel on the counter. “No, you’re not.”

“I’m pretty sure we are. Plus, I’m telling you, not asking for permission.”

Those dark eyes flashed. “Who’s idea was this?”

“It started with Jada—”

“Why am I not surprised…”

“And I agreed. She had good reason.”

Crossing her arms over her chest accentuated her natural curves and somehow amplified her power. “What possible good reason could there be to end a marriage?”

Sawyer cringed as he struggled to remember his script. “We’re not in love with each other. We both want different things in life.”

“And you can’t find those things together.”

The things they really wanted? Finding them together? “Oh no. Not going there.”

Maddie huffed. “You’re not making any sense.”

A horrible thought of explaining in detail how he and Jada were no longer sexually compatible—assuming they ever really were—raced through Sawyer’s head. He could tell her how the two of them sat up the other night comparing the type of men they found attractive. As if that hadn’t been incredibly weird, but somewhat freeing. Heat blossomed in his face instantly.

“God, Mom. I’m skipping ahead before this gets really awkward.” Sawyer gritted his teeth and took a harsh inhale. There had been a whole lead in to this part, but now he had no choice. Time to spill it. “This is my coming out speech.”

The firm line of Maddie’s shoulders sank as she dropped her arms to her sides. Her eyes drifted closed at the same speed as the long, audible exhale. Dramatic scenes were not Maddie’s forte, but no one would mistake the abject disappointment flooding every inch of her body. Without a word, she walked past Sawyer, who followed their earlier path back into the living room. Maddie took a seat in her favorite leather armchair which faced the fireplace. A grand silence stilled the air.

Sawyer kept quiet, unsure why to go from here. He glanced out the sliding doors, half expecting to find the dogs pressed against the glass, judging him. They weren’t. Was he doing the right thing? He saw the satisfaction on his mother’s face when she feed the dogs, none of them eating until given the word. Their loyalty and obedience were awe-inspiring, and here he was undermining his relationship, making her unhappy.

No, wait. Living his life to please his mother is what got him in this mess in the first place. His wishes needed to come before hers. In fact, this was her classic move to take control of an unplanned conversation: walking away until she could plan her next move and gain the upper hand.

The realization turned a portion of his doubts into annoyance. It was time to put the narrative into his own hands for a change.

Maddie beat him to the punch. “We’ve been through this before. You went through rehab—”

“I didn’t need rehab for being with men. I started using to deal with disappointing you.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

Sawyer ignored the dismissive wave, and focused on the words he’d practiced on the drive over. Hammering Maddie would get him nowhere. When backed in a corner, she ate people alive. Persuasion was the only way to keep her from getting defensive and make her understand. Thank you Jada for that insight.

“Mom, I’ve always done whatever you told me to. You picked out my clothes, approved my dates, and chose my college. I grew up having all my choices made for me or directed by you, and for most of that I was fine.

“But when I got to college, I met some of the men on campus, and things changed. I didn’t know how to handle it, because I knew you’d never approve. Since I was a little kid, you’ve always made it very clear I was getting married, having 2.3 children, and a house with a white picket fence. And by the time I’d finished my freshman year, I knew I couldn’t do it.

“So I pretended. And I let everything get out of hand.”

Sawyer wanted to explain in greater detail, but he remembered how the confessions during group therapy wrecked him. Admitting out loud how the occasional drug use at a party turned into multiple day benders, waking up naked with strange men, dirty and sore. Coming home with stained jeans from the floor of whatever mens room or other seedy place closeted men gathered.  

The anonymous encounters left him aching for something more substantial, but since he didn’t know what that was or how to find it, he simply did more of the same until it escalated beyond his ability to cope. His world spun out of control as he tried to hide it all. If he hadn’t ended up on academic probation for regularly disappearing for days on end, his mother might not have found out until it was too late. Since she paid for it all, she’d arranged for copies of all university correspondence to be sent to her.

“I do not control your life.” 

Control, direct, guide: pick any synonym. 

“After I got out of rehab, you talked me into marrying Jada to keep me from having a relapse. You implied being straight would keep me sober, and I was so desperate to get well and win your approval back, I believed you.”

Maddie averted her eyes, giving the rare sign which erased his doubts. He was right and she knew it.

Standing on his own was a new experience. Walking away wasn’t an option. Whatever their past held, he still wanted her in his life. Having her as an adversary? No, he didn’t want that either, even if he was entitled. Being right didn’t make him happy or angry. It made him sad that he might have to choose between her and his happiness.

It wasn’t some grand epiphany. He’d always knew his mother had involved herself in his life and ushered things along. When he benefitted, why complain? But people grow up and things change. He stopped pretending he always agreed with her. Now, openly acknowledged her influence, Sawyer could see her methods, the subtle guidance when she didn’t outright manipulate him. While her motives may have been well-intentioned, it didn’t absolve her of taking advantage of his fragile state and moving him on the game board without rolling the dice first.

To her credit, Maddie didn’t simply roll over and concede. “I can’t believe you’re going to throw away a perfectly good marriage and the chance to have kids over… this. Why would you do such a foolish thing?”

Tenacity, thy name is Mother.

Maddie’s steadfast resolve lacked potency, but she dug in her heels regardless. Once again, Sawyer managed not to give in to mad frustration. Instead, he softened his tone to make his point.

“Jada told me she wanted to end things before she learned how to hate me.” His eyes watered as he laughed. “Joke’s on her. I already hated myself. I still kind of do, but it’s getting better.”

“I don’t understand. You liked Jada. You’re not a homosexual. You didn’t stay married this many years and not sleep together.”

Sawyer rubbed his eyes, refusing to cry. “Of course we did. That’s not the point. It’s not who I am. Look, I don’t know what word to use to describe me—just not straight. For now, we’ll go with queer until I figure it out.”

“Oh Sawyer. This is so… you don’t understand how dangerous it is out there for you. The world is not a kind place.”

For the first time in Sawyer’s life, he saw a glimpse of fear in his mother’s eyes. It slipped through the veneer of strength she wore like armor, something only he might see. He suspected there might be more to it, but if the worry had enough power to bypass her defenses, it was worth treating as valid, even if it might be misplaced or blown out of proportion.

With a hard sign, Sawyer dropped to his knees in front of her. “I’m not an idiot. I might have some idea. Would you rather I was safe or happy?”

“I want you to be both.”

“So do I. But I can’t be when I punish myself every day for lying to every person in my life. You always told me to be honest with myself. Here we are.”

Maddie rubbed her fingers together, the closest thing to fidgeting she was capable of. She wasn’t arguing form a position of authority, but it didn’t stop her from pitching a Hail Mary.

“Did she cheat on you?”

A growl rolled out of Sawyer. “No, and I didn’t cheat on her either.”

“Then it’s not too late. You go back and tell Jada you made a mistake—”

Sawyer snatched both her hands in his to get her full attention. “Mom. Stop. It’s too late. The papers are already signed. It’s done. I didn’t come here to discuss my options. I came to let you know. I thought this was too big to do by phone, but I seriously considered it anyway.” Taking a deep breath, he reined in the growing urge to yell. “Jada and I decided a few weeks ago to an amicable split. I know it’s the right choice. It makes me sad, but I don’t regret it. So this one time, just this once, I need you to accept what’s happening, not try to change my mind about the divorce or my preferences, and support me, because I still need you in my life.”

“But the wasted years…”

“They weren’t wasted. They helped us realize what we need. It’s just a new chapter.”

Maddie exhaled, her animosity seeming to evaporate with it. He wouldn’t say she caved, because there was just as much a change she was formulating new strategies, but for now, Sawyer was glad she regarded him with a faint smile, perhaps even a sense of pride.

“Your thoughts aren’t usually this well organized. How long have you been rehearsing that speech?”

Sawyer snorted and ducked his head. “Since before I signed the paperwork. I was afraid you’d shred my argument otherwise.”

“You’re damn right I would have. I also noticed you sprung this on me so I wouldn’t be prepared.”

“I’m not stupid. I’d like to think I know you as well as you know me. This isn’t about winning. It’s about being real with you, probably for the first time in my life. I love you, Mom, but right now, I need to learn to love me too.”

The tightness in his chest and stomach lost their grip, leaving the first hints of relief in their wake. A few tears trickled over his cheeks. Maddie reached up and wiped them away, lines darkening her face. She’d always hated to see him upset, and this time she didn’t seem to have an easy solution to solve the problem.

Sawyer felt so much better, yet his voice shuddered, giving away his continual insecurities. “Do you hate me? I know this isn’t what you wanted.”

“No, it’s not.” Honesty with a lack of manipulation. A good start. “I’m not happy, but I could never hate you. You’re my only son.”

Sawyer leaned forward and gripped his mother in a firm embrace which she promptly returned. “I’m glad to hear the dogs don’t qualify.”

“The competition is high. They do what they’re told.”

“Then they can make up where I fall short.”

A genuine titter escaped Maddie. The fight was over for now. Hopefully, the detente would last and Sawyer wouldn’t have to treat her as an adversary as he learned how to be… He knew the word. It just wouldn’t tie itself to him quite yet. He could see it coming. Soon. There was time to find peace in it.

The embrace broke and Maddie cupped his face. Her own reflected a mix of sadness and respect bound in her over for her child. Sawyer had learned to read her well over the years.

“So, what happens now?” she asked.

Sawyer shrugged. “I have no idea. Do you mind helping me figure some of it out?”

“Of course I will. Keep in mind, this isn’t the end of this conversation.”

Standing, Sawyer offered his mother a hand out of her chair. 

“No, it isn’t.”

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 8 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 14 – Chapter 7 — 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.

Did Sawyer tell his mom about the divorce?


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 14 – Chapter 7

“Thank you for signing the papers.” Jada’s voice came through crystal clear despite the noise of gravel crunching under the tires. Sawyer’s phone sat in a neat holder attached to the dashboard so he could keep both hands on the wheel.

“Of course. I’m not going to fight you on this. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Sorry. I got a little worried because they sat on the kitchen table for three days.”

“It was the full moon.” Did Sawyer really need to explain in detail? Completing projects under the full moon, on Friday the thirteenth, or right at midnight was loaded with bad juju. This was important to both of them. He wasn’t about to curse the whole thing by being thoughtless.

“Jesus. There was a time when I thought your superstitions were cute.”

“Times have changed.”

“Yes they have.” For a brief moment, nostalgia tinted her response, but it vanished as quickly. “You sound like you’re driving. Where are you off to?”

“I’m heading to my mom’s.”

A brief silence followed as rows of trees passed the car on both sides. Paved roads had long since been abandoned on the way to Maddie’s secluded home.

“Wait a minute. Are you telling me you haven’t told her about this yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Sawyer, you’ve never kept Maddie in the dark for any serious event in your life. It’s been at least two weeks since we agreed to divorce. What were you waiting for?”

The world to open up and swallow him so he wouldn’t have to make this trip.

“I’m allowed to pick the right moment, aren’t I?” Sawyer didn’t mean to snap, but his stomach was already in knots.

“All right. I’m not judging. It’s just a little out of character.”

“A lot’s different these days. She’s not going to be happy.”

No she was not. Maddie was a good woman, but preferred to be at the helm of Sawyer’s life. Now he was about to announce he’d changed direction without consulting her and he imagined her response would likely be… unpleasant.

“I can only imagine. Tell you what, I’m going to let you go so you can spend the rest of your drive practicing your speech.”

“You know, you could meet me there and we could tell her together.”

The only good thing about the call abruptly ending was how it cut off Jada’s hysterical laughter. If his mother hadn’t taught him to be respectful to women he’d be calling her an ungrateful bitch right now. But he didn’t do things like that. 

Instead, he went back to his thoughts, repeating the speech once again, so he might get through this in one piece. 

Sawyer knew he was doing the right thing. His marriage was over, but he didn’t have any sense of grief in its passing. Instead, he mourned the loss of time spend hiding the truth and potentially ruining their lives. The step to publicly out himself stood taller than he was willing to climb, but it didn’t seem so daunting as it did even two short weeks ago. Eventually, he would find comfort in his skin. Until then, a little private research wouldn’t hurt, and this time he didn’t need to make a project of hiding evidence. He was a free man now. More or less.

Taking a left onto a private drive, it didn’t take long until the forest parted into a clearing into a modest, two-story, coral brick house. He followed the concrete drive around the landscaped trees until he reached the two-door garage and parked in his usual spot. Sounds of dogs playing could be heard in the distance within the boundaries of the massive fenced in back yard which butted up against the surrounding woodlands. 

“You can do this.” Taking a deep breath, he used his key to enter the side door, bringing him into the mudroom.

“Mom?” Sawyer called out.

A firm voice projected without shouting. “I’m in the kitchen. Stop yelling.”

A lovely beginning. Five seconds and he was already being scolded. His stomach thanked him by twisting itself a little tighter.

Taking a right out of the mudroom, Sawyer found himself in the kitchen, decorated in earth tones and  stainless steel appliances to kill for. Maddie didn’t skimp on the essentials. Barefoot in comfortable jeans and a lightweight, short sleeved blouse, Maddie stood bent over, head practically in the refrigerator.

“I didn’t come over so you could make me lunch”

“That’s good, because I’m not. Make yourself useful. Hold this.” Maddie shoved a bowl into Sawyer’s hands filled with three or four raw soup bones still containing a fair amount of meat. Bloody juices pooled in the bottom, making his stomach want to lurch.

“Why am I holding this?”

“It’s not my fault you chose to stop in during feeding time, so you can help.” Without missing a beat, she closed the fridge brandishing a second, smaller bowl of more bones. She stood up straight, only a touch shorter than Sawyer, but her line of her stance screamed of a casual royalty which made everyone take notice. Immaculate waves of grey reached her shoulders, because no one could shame Maddie into disguising her natural color. She wore no makeup—never did—yet her dark brows and thick lashes gave her eyes a natural intensity which matched her self-assurance. No one told Maddie Thomas what to do. She was always, without a doubt, in charge.

Maddie dropped a kiss on his cheek, patted his shoulder, and exited the kitchen with a confident stride. Sawyer followed without instruction.

Passing through the dining room, he noticed the dust collecting on the table and hutch through disuse. Having one’s way all the time played havoc on social opportunities he guessed. The house always seemed so much bigger on the inside and the living room was no exception. Cathedral ceilings, a fireplace, and oversized furniture made visitors feel small, like in a gothic church.

chapter 7 continues on Thursday…


 

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

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

cropped-wedbriefs-badge

Phases of Moon — Part 13 – Chapter 6 — 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.

And Jimmy’s struggles continue…


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 13 – Chapter 6

continued from part 12…

Jimmy didn’t respond. The man on the other side of the bars sounded hoarse, like he’d been screaming for the last few hours. Cowering along the far wall, he shivered in the harsh light, wearing a black t-shirt with a graphic logo Jimmy didn’t recognize and a pair of orange casual shorts unsuitable for camping. Short dark hair matted with sweat sat atop a face with the widest brown eyes he’d ever seen. A human scent mixed with an unknown wolf filled the cage, made stronger with man’s anxious perspiration. 

Twenty-four year old Eddie Brooks, 5 foot 9 inches tall, 145 pounds, looked out of place living in this blue collar county. In spite of his frantic appearance, he matched the photos from the copied police files Fergus had given Jimmy. The claw marks from the medical photos were nearly absent other than the conspicuous rows of teeth scarring at his neck and shoulder. Those would never fully disappear, even if his body ever figured out how to reconcile the changes happening inside him. 

And that was a mighty big if.

With a stack of personal information at hand, Jimmy had been able to track him closely enough to pull him from the campground he’d run off too without notice in the middle of the night without alerting any other campers. A well applied chokehold allowed Jimmy to move an unconscious Eddie off the site without notice. If he’d been able to stay until the full moon, the carnage would have been disastrous. Injections of ketamine—stolen from a local veterinarian—kept Eddie subdued until they made it back to the cellar. From there, he’d been able to lock Eddie safely away without incident, which only appeased the smallest amount of his growing guilt. 

Since petitioning Fergus’s clan, he’d committed theft, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and depending on whose point of view he asked, murder. Jimmy hated using the cellar this way, but there was no question what it had been constructed for when Fergus gave him the key. Caging a wild beast.

The cell had seen its fair share of tragedy. No amount of bleach would ever wash the smell completely out of the foundation. It was soaked into the bones.

“Who are you?” Eddie asked.

“I’m nobody.”

Jimmy didn’t want to talk to him. The tremor in Eddie’s voice—no, he was the camper, not Eddie—made it harder to calm his wolf. It raked him from the inside, trying to claw its way out and reach the threat in front of them. Sweat which had nothing to do with humidity left a clammy patch down Jimmy’s back.

Needing a distraction, he stepped over to the gun wall and pulled down a .45 revolver from its perch. Shifting open the cylinder and peering down the barrel, he checked to make sure it was unloaded.

“Why did you grab me?”

Jimmy shrugged, not looking. “Just a job. Nothing personal.” Opening the cabinet, he pulled out the oil and a rag and began cleaning his firearm. The monotony might settle his thistles dragging across his nerves. Jimmy tried to ignore the man until he heard him rush forward and grasp the cage bars.

“I can get you money.” The camper—not Eddie—begged, pressing his face between the gaps.

“Not about money.” 

“Then what?”

Setting down the rag, Jimmy pointed. “That bite mark on your neck.”

“It’s nothing.” The camper’s eyes widened in a fashion disconnected with his fear. He clutched his shirt, gathering the neck tight.

Even if it had been a random occurence, the young man was well aware of what had happened to him, what it meant. Intelligence sparked under those fearful eyes. All his movements and expressions gave it all away. He would be a shit poker player.

“Who was he?” Jimmy asked.

“What do you mean he?”

Jimmy resisted rolling his eyes, but the matching sigh came out anyways. “The guy who bit you. Who was he?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” In spite of his fear, the camper blanked his expression with practiced ease. In this part of rural America, how often had he had to do that?

“Your boyfriend is dangerous.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” His snort was more reflex than intentional, and he gasped when he realized he’d given more away than intended.

“Then why defend him? Why run from the hospital?”

“How did you know about that?”

“Who was he? I don’t care if it was a date gone wrong. He needs to be found before he hurts someone else. You’re not the first.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, the camper rustled up a final amount of defiance. “I have no idea.”

The moon’s pull grew with each passing second. There wasn’t time for these games, so Jimmy had to up the ante.

“Then I don’t need you.”

Jimmy stood, reached up, and pulled the chain, plunging the room in darkness.

Eddie shrieked. “Don’t leave me here! I don’t know who he was.”

Not Eddie, the camper, damn it.

Trying to focus on the necessity of the job, Jimmy gathered himself before he turned the light back on. He wanted to leave and pretend none of this was happening, but there were details he couldn’t go without. His wolf wasn’t helping. It prowled in his head, waiting for a chance to strike and chew out the rabid’s throat.

“How do you not know?”

The camper grimaced as he forced out an answer. “He was a trick, okay? Rest stop on I-75, north of Gaylord. I didn’t catch his name. Didn’t ask.”

“What did he look like?”

“I don’t know. A fucking redneck? My size, maybe a little bigger.” A shaky exhale echoed in the stone room. “He was a lot stronger than I expected.”

“He attacked you. He changed.”

He began to tremble and his wide eyes watered. “I… I don’t remember a lot of what happened.” 

“I think you remember enough. He hurt you.”

“I thought I was going to die. Blood was everywhere. I crawled to my car—literally crawled, praying I didn’t bleed to death—and even with all the noise, those truckers in the parking lot didn’t do shit. I know those fuckers heard it.”

It had been a long time since Jimmy had heard shame, fear, and anger wound so tightly in one man’s voice. At least since Louisiana.

“You made it to the clinic.”

“Somehow. I’m lucky I didn’t kill someone on the road. I guess it was late. Nurses patched me up. Told them I got attacked by an animal.” His voice choked, punctuated by a series of tears. “I guess they didn’t believe me. I overheard them talking about calling the cops, so I took off.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t trust the good ol’ boys around here to care much about the guys who cruise rest stops.” Words spoken from experience.

Jimmy could piece the scene well enough. Random encounter with a wolf prowling the rest stop, either acting out or looking for something. He might have to call Fergus to have his police contact to check into any incidents on the rest stop. Anything would help the search. Until then, he had a potential rabid on his hands.

And he really hoped it wasn’t the case.

“So you went to the campground.”

“Yeah, where you kidnapped me. My car’s still there.”

Jimmy flinched at the word kidnapped. “You don’t strike me as the camping type.” 

“Fuck you too.”

“You had the urge to be out in the woods. Sudden urge.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The blanked expression made a reappearance, yet this time with less confidence.

“Wolves always want to be out in the woods.”

“That… That makes no sense.” A new wave of tremors washed over him. The boy had pieced enough together, even if he couldn’t admit it. Attacked by a monster. Initial wounds healed faster than they should. An attempt to escape the public. 

“You know what I mean.”

The camper screamed as he lurched forward and grabbed the unmovable bars in a sad attempt to shake them loose. They didn’t shift even a fraction of an inch. “You can’t do this to me!”

“Don’t have a choice.” Jimmy turned back his work and pulled the ammunition from the cabinet. He could feel the terrified gaze on him.

“Why not?”

“Gotta make sure.”

“Of what?”

“Either you’re one of us, or you’re not.”

“What do you mean, one of us?”

Jimmy sighed. “You know what I mean.”

“And if I’m not?”

The last of six bullets loaded the chamber, and Jimmy closed the cylinder. “Let’s not talk about that.”

It was a saving grace when the camper slumped back down along the far wall. It gave Jimmy an opportunity to hammer the reasons this job was necessary into his skull. Protect the den. Protect the people. Rabids threatened everyone and everything. He couldn’t risk making it personal. However, he couldn’t be cold enough to simply ignore the man either.

Dragging a chair into the middle of the room, Jimmy dropped himself into it, pistol in hand. Each little whimper coming from the cage made him cringe. Why he wanted to burn the memory of this moment into his skull, he had no idea. 

Up until now, Jimmy hadn’t had to face his target. At least not before he’d been forced to pull the trigger. The least he could do was look the man in the eye if the whole thing went south. And it was most likely it would.

He kept praying to the moon that she would grant a miracle, but he wondered if his sins were too great to be heard.

“Are you going to kill me?” The question sounded so pathetic, it wounded him.

“Hope I don’t have to.”

“My name’s Eddie.”

Jimmy crushed his eyes closed and turned his head. “Don’t. Don’t do that. Won’t matter in the end if it comes to that.” He didn’t want to know the man if he’d have to dispose of him in the night.

“Why not?”

Marshaling his nerve, he looked Eddie—and yes, now he couldn’t see him as anything but Eddie—in the eye. “Won’t have a choice.”

Eddie jumped up and paced the cage in frustration. Jimmy could smell the fear and aggravation wafting off Eddie’s skin and every twitching motion made Jimmy’s spine prickle. The wolf half of Eddie’s mixed scent thickened, smothering the human.

Jimmy could feel the moon about to sign its song into the night. “Shouldn’t be much longer now.” 

The pistol was an unwanted weight in his hand. If only he could drop it and walk away from it all. His fingernails were drawing themselves into claws and he dug them into the palm of his free hand to punish himself, to quiet the wolf thrashing inside.

Eddie’s frantic speech grew louder. “I need to get out of here. I won’t tell anyone I saw anything. I promise!”

“Too dangerous.”

“Let me out!” Eddie yelled.

Jimmy’s brow creased deep as he shook his head. “Can’t.”

Eddie leapt forward and threw himself at the iron door. He lurched at the ungiving metal, each pull punctuated with a grunt of raging madness, making Jimmy cringe. The gate ignored Eddie’s efforts. The structure was meant to contain crazed wolves, so Eddie had no real chance of freeing himself. In spite of the obvious futility, he refused to quit, becoming more manic with each second.

Until it was time.

“Oh God!” Eddie seized and fell to the floor, curling in a ball.

A bloody shriek filled the room. The concrete walls amplified the horrific noise into a deafening wail. Jimmy shuddered at the first ripple in Eddie’s flesh, his body doing something it had never been designed to do. The sound of bones fracturing as they moved out of position soured Jimmy’s stomach. Eddie arched helpless on the floor, howling in agony.

“Kill me! Kill me now!”

The first shift was always hard, and not being born wolf, Eddie’s pain would only be magnified. He screamed as his body rebelled against the violation of his nature, and Jimmy sat still and watched. Someone needed to witness.

Eddie’s skin split in deep welts as it swelled and deformed. His arms and legs slapped the concrete floor as he lost control of his body. The sound of cloth tearing could barely be heard over the harried cries as his skeleton stretched and reformed.

This was why they didn’t try to turn humans.

Slowly, the human wails became something else. Not howls, but not screams. Definitely not human.

Jimmy shook. Squeezing the gun in his hand, he prayed Eddie would be a proper wolf once this was over. Deep down though, he knew in this case, hope was long gone and gods didn’t care about the wishes of the fallen.

An inhuman growl rolled out of the cage. A hand with long extended fingers tipped with claws slammed to the floor. With a painful effort, the thing that was once Eddie tried to lift itself. His limbs were uneven and fur grew in mangy patches on his torn skin. The spine was curved and the ribcage misshapen, forcing his posture into a twisted hunch. Misshapen teeth jutted out of a mouth that couldn’t decide if it should be a jaw or a muzzle, his face a mangled mess between the two. The shift had stopped with Eddie stuck, his body trying to continue but lacking the ability to finish. Every huff and snarl coming out of him was edged with suffering.

Jimmy’s wolf gnashed and scratched inside his chest, reacting to the unnatural shifter before him. It could feel the rape of the natural order and demanded justice. His teeth lengthened into fangs without his intention. If he didn’t do something soon, his wolf would force his way out. He stood, trying to assess the situation, looking for the last glimmer of hope as the creature crouched on the floor.

“Eddie?”

The beast sprang forward, slamming against the iron. It trashed and howled, trying to claw its way out in a mindless fury. Torment and anguish fueled its rage as it threw itself forward over and over.

It wasn’t fair. Eddie didn’t deserve this. No man would ever choose this.

Grinding his teeth, Jimmy hissed, the escaping air drowned out by Eddie’s labored breathing. His wolf howled, scratching and snarling at the twisted man-creature before him. A decision had to made before Jimmy lost the ability to make it. Brow slick with cold perspiration, he raised the gun, aiming between Eddie’s uneven eyes. 

“I’m sorry, Eddie. I really am.”

Jimmy pulled the trigger and said goodbye to another piece of his soul.

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 7 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 12 – Chapter 6 — 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.

This week, it’s Jimmy’s turn…


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 12 – Chapter 6

Dusk approached, bridging the sky into the first night of the full moon. Jimmy stood on the front porch, watching as forest shadows began the gradual reach forward to eventually plunge the whole house into darkness.

Wood peeked through the blistered white paint, giving away years of neglect. Fergus had told him to spruce things up as he saw fit, but Jimmy only cleaned the hidden farmhouse enough to make it livable. Sitting on the edge of the den’s boundaries, it wasn’t home. The goal wasn’t to stay here on his own outside of the pack. He needed to be part of a greater whole.

The moon hadn’t risen yet, but she was close. Her sensual influence called to Jimmy’s wolf, bringing him closer to the surface. It prowled deep in his head and chest, feeling caged and restless. The urge to set him free and run through the forest was powerful. Being one with nature and seeing through the eyes of the animal was a joy normal humans could only dream about. It was the anticipation of wanting—needing—to hunt, run, or fuck, and being forced into an endless wait while charged and ready for the opportunity. Some submitted easily to the moon’s seduction, but Jimmy was born a wolf and learned long ago to control the animal side, even if that control was slipping these days.

The full moon brought out their worst inclinations, although Jimmy wished it was the only reason for his unease.

“That wolf is a part of you, child. Take care of him, give him what he needs, or he’ll drag you to madness.”

He could still picture his maman, stirring a roux from blond to rich chocolate with generations of practice guiding her hand. Tall and regal, she led their family, taught them the ways of their kind and the history of the Creole. Each word from her lips carried wisdom and love, and they honored her with every breath. Their numbers were small, but their bonds were well forged.

It made their loss a pain he nearly didn’t survive.

The wolf growled so fiercely in his head, he winced, nearly falling forward. His skin itched, pulled too tight over his flesh.

Fergus and his clan were out there somewhere, probably in the wilderness near the den’s condominiums, preparing to let lose their wolves and run in the night. Too many years had passed since Jimmy’s knew the bonds of a pack, being one under the moon. His wolf hungered for the connection. It clawed at his soul, devouring his thoughts, becoming more feral with each passing month. Chaining the wolf’s fury for decades was a testament to his strength, but over the past year or so, the links were breaking. Each time he changed, there was less and less of him under the wolf’s presence. It held a pillow over his face in the dark.

Eventually the wolf would win, roaming the forest, running on mindless instinct with no more restraint than a rabid. The man would be gone. Forever. And like a rabid, a wild wolf was too dangerous to be left alone in the world.

The wolf never forgave the loss of its pack and if he didn’t acquire a new one, and soon, he might as well put a bullet in his own head, because at some point, someone would have to. Even if he deserved it, he didn’t want to die.

So he searched and hunted. Used what he’d heard as a boy to give him direction, only to find nothing and start on a new trail. It took almost a year to find his way into Michigan, following a series of rumors until he caught the scent marking the pack’s territory.

His last chance.

He wondered if Fergus understood how desperate Jimmy was becoming. If he was using that to convince him to do the dirty work? It didn’t matter. Rabids couldn’t be left to their own devices. The threat to exposing the pack to the humans was too high.

And he knew what damage they could do.

It was nearly time. Jimmy shook himself and took a deep breath, trying not to damage the porch railing with the claws trying to extend from his fingers.

The wooden steps creaked as he stepped off the porch and onto the grass. Looking around, he sniffed the air to insure his privacy. Convinced he was alone, Jimmy walked around the house to the cellar doors around the back.

The twin thicknesses of heavy metal were strong enough to resist a tornado, and the hinges squealed as he opened them. A normal man wouldn’t be able. Stepping down the short expanse of concrete steps, he allowed the doors to slam shut behind him. The cellar was deep and well insulated. No one could hear anything inside or out. At the bottom of the stairs, he reached up and found the suspended chain in the dark. One pull filled the concrete room with the light of a single uncovered incandescent bulb hanging from the ceiling.

Several rifles and handguns covered the wall just inside the entrance, with a cabinet mounted to the wall filled with ammunition and other weapons. A metal staging table and chairs sat below the small armory beneath the earth. Otherwise, this half of the space was bare. It was the other half drawing a greater interest.

A series of iron bars, firmly embedded in the concrete, divided the large room in two. A door broke up the perfect grid with a giant lock holding it closed. The enclosure was already here long before Fergus offered the house to Jimmy. It was part of the dirty jobs the alpha required. No one could escape this cell if they found themselves inside.

“Why am I here?” 

chapter 6 continues on Thursday…


 

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

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

cropped-wedbriefs-badge

Phases of Moon — Part 11 – Chapter 5 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Sawyer and Jada have issues…


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 11 – Chapter 5

continued from part 10…

Before they’d married, Sawyer’s life had spun out of control. He’d been forced to leave school and landed in rehab. In front of others, he’d had to relive his failures and inability to cope. Admit out loud how he’d fallen into a hole of alcohol and designer drugs. The shame he felt then was nothing compared to hearing Jada spill his secrets now.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I felt so, so stupid. I was no secret you were into guys back in college. It didn’t matter. Then you left school, and when you came back, you proposed. Told me you were straight.” Jada tipped her head back, searching the ceiling. “And I thought, ‘okay, he’s bi. This time it’s your turn.’”

“You didn’t say yes.”

“No. I made you work for it. I wanted to make sure I was what you wanted, so I could convince myself, you’d changed just for me. How deluded was that?”

Sawyer’s chest grew tight, and part of him wished it would burst. “When I told you I loved you, I meant it.”

Jada lowered her head to face him. Her eyes were red, but she still didn’t cry. “I know you did. But that night, made me really sad, and put our relationship under a microscope. Since we’ve been married, you’ve become more methodical. Stuffier. And looking at that catalog made me wonder if our relationship was falling apart because you were trying too hard not to be yourself. I would be fine if you were bisexual or pansexual and you still had eyes for me. But you don’t, and it makes me feel like a placeholder, something you’re clinging to so you don’t have to be honest with yourself. It’s not healthy to surpress these kinds of things, and it’s not fair to either one of us.”

He wished she would rush to the kitchen and plunge a butcher knife in his chest. It would be kinder than the sadness pouring off her in razor sharp waves. The last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt her, and look what he had done, denying her while finding his own release more than once. She’d walked in on him the one time, but did she know or guess about all the others?

“You must hate me.” Sawyer didn’t think highly of himself right now. How could she?

“No, I don’t. I’m disappointed. In both of us for letting it go this far.”

The tremors in his voice grew with every word and he didn’t know how to stifle it. “And you think getting a divorce is the answer?”

“I’m not going to share my husband, and you’re too honorable to get what you need behind my back. I can already see us getting here somewhere down the line. I’d rather do it before we learn to despise each other.”

Seeing them as the core of all his problems, Sawyer taught himself to ignore those impulses, put them in a box and bury them in the back of the closet. He prided himself on his ability to be the man he was supposed to be rather than the one he wanted. Except his past had been seeping out more and more, and Jada was becoming swept up in the chaos. The whole point was to protect her. Having self-control was supposed to be harmless.

“You know I’m right.”

The first tears spilled over, only they weren’t Jada’s. Her bold truth kicked in his fragile wall of denial and for once, he couldn’t explain it away. They started small, thready streaks dampening his cheeks. Then the streaks widened into creeks, and then into raging rivers. He fought to hold back the wracking sobs, to salvage some shred of his dignity, but like his marriage, he failed that too. So he rolled forward to hide the ugly weeping, and to her credit, Jada was there wrapping his head and shoulder in her arms, and they mourned the ending.

He felt so awkward being the one held. Shouldn’t he be the one comforting her, not the other way around? He’d been raised to be strong, to do the right thing, but now he didn’t know what that was anymore. It didn’t take long to realize the damage he carried weighed him down and he needed to be lifted. 

The living room darkened as the sun slowly dipped behind the trees as they grieved. 

Jada only let him go when he could breathe normally once again. Her skin was flushed and her eyes puffy, but her makeup had held together as if she hadn’t cried at all, and she was as lovely as the day they met. He envied her strength while he spent however long releasing tides of frustration bottled inside. But in all fairness, she’d probably been preparing for this moment for months, hoping she somehow wouldn’t have to.

He’d thought today was the worst day ever, and it was. Yet it paled in comparison to the life crafted to cover this flimsy lie. One touch, one wrong move, and the foundation crumbled.

Sawyer attempted to scrub the salt and wetness from his eyes, noticing the dark wet spot staining her jacket shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

Moving his hands aside, Jada cupped his face and wiped under his eyes with her thumbs. “Don’t. We were bound to end up here at some point.”

An exhausted sigh bled out of him, but it didn’t shake with trapped emotions looking for escape. Perhaps finally setting this free could do him some good. Eventually. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”

“I’m not running away. We’re changing how our relationship functions. I’m hoping we can be a part of each other’s lives for a long time, just in a different way.”

“My mother is going to be so unhappy when she finds out.”

Dropping her hands, she gave him an affectionate swat to his forehead. “The fact you’re concerned about what your mom thinks about us getting a divorce should be a giant clue we’re doing the right thing.”

Leaning back in the seat, Sawyer frowned. “You make her sound like a manipulative serial villain.”

“For Christ’s sake, Sawyer, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maddie convinced you to propose to me after you got out of rehab.”

“She wouldn’t do that.”

Hands on her hips, Jada tilted her head. “Are you trying to tell me you didn’t discuss the whole thing with her and she came up with the idea?”

Sawyer fell silent. Jada missed her calling. She should have become a trial lawyer.

“That’s what I thought.”

“You knew and you married me anyways.”

“Yep. I’ve always had a blind spot for you.”

“I love you, Jada.”

Standing over him, she stroked his hair. “I love you too. But we’re not happy.”

“What do we do next?”

“We keep it simple. I’ll look into the papers so we can do it all ourselves and save us the hassle. From what I understand, it’s pretty straightforward in Michigan. While we sort out the details, we go back to being the friends we used to be.”

Sawyer reached out and grasped her hands in his. “I don’t want to pretend we didn’t happen.”

“I don’t either.”

There it was. Pure honesty. The kind she couldn’t hide from him when he looked deep into her eyes. Erasing him wasn’t her goal, rather a new beginning for both of them. It didn’t wash away his guilt or sorrow, but it blunted the pain enough he caught a glimpse how he might survive this after all.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m not sure yet. Once we get everything sorted, maybe I’ll find a place of my own.”

“You’re leaving?”

“Not right away. This is really more your house than mine. I’m not going to strand you, but eventually I’ll need a place of my own.”

“You can stay as long as you need.”

Her smile shined in relief. “Thank you. I was worried I might finally find your bitter vindictive side. I’m glad I didn’t.”

“I don’t think I could do that to you. So…we get…divorced. What am I supposed to do after that?”

“You become the man you know you are. The man you’ve ignored. I’m sorry I helped you with that.”

“I don’t know how to be…”

“Gay?”

Sawyer winced at the word.

“It’s okay to say it, Sawyer. It doesn’t make you a bad person.”

“I didn’t say I agreed with you.” Sawyer cringed. Apparently, even with the new epiphany, he wasn’t ready to shout it out to the world. Denial would be a hard habit to unlearn.

“That doesn’t make me wrong. You are the most genuine person I’ve ever met. It’s one of your best qualities. Not enough people share it. You don’t tolerate dishonesty in anyone around you, but you’ve spent years lying to yourself. It’s time to stop.”

“I never wanted any of this to happen. I thought I was doing the right thing.”

“I know. But if you’re ever going to have a chance to be happy, you have to be honest with yourself.”

He hated to admit it, but like always, Jada was right.

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 6 begins next Wednesday!