Phases of Moon — Part 10 – 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 and the remainder of the chapter will post on Thursday.

This week, we’re back to Sawyer…


 

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Part 10 – Chapter 5

Yanking on his tie, Sawyer fought with the knot as he opened his front door. What a horrible day which only became progressively worse as it dragged on. Hours would be wasted tomorrow double checking his work to clean out the errors he suspected were left behind. One thing after another went wrong until the end of office hours. He may have been the assistant manager, but the day left him feeling like a new hire with no experience. 

He should have known it would all crash and burn when he overslept and didn’t have time for his morning run. The rushed morning left him arriving five minutes late. Since it was unheard of, his coworkers couldn’t stop teasing him over it.

Then the manager dropped the bomb about wanting all the teller evaluations and branch efficiency reports two weeks early so he could go on a family holiday. The extra workload threw off his meticulously crafted schedule and he spent the entire day scrambling to keep up and making mistake after mistake. Some people had no consideration for careful planning.

At least now he was home and the crappy part of the day could come to an end.

The sun sat high at this time of the summer, so more than enough light streamed through the house without turning on a lamp. Finally freeing his tie and the top buttons of his shirt, he found Jada in the living room, sitting in her favorite armchair. Hands together in her lap, she stared out at nothing, looking pensive and rigid.

“I didn’t expect you to be home” Sawyer said.

Jada’s body was barely moved by her shrug. “My client’s pre-approval went to hell and they cancelled.” A crinkle formed between her eyebrows. Jada’s voice was soft and disconnected, the way she did when the current conversation had nothing to do with her thoughts. He came around beside her and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder, only to feel the twitch under his palm.

“Is something wrong?”

The crinkle between her brows became a deep crease, and she rubbed her hands together. “Sawyer, we need to talk. Sit down.”

“Well, this can’t be good.” He took the seat opposite, trying to keep his voice light in spite of the twisting sensation in his stomach.

“I need to just come out and say it.” Jada took a deep breath and released it with a gentle grace. “I want a divorce.”

The world stopped for a moment before Sawyer could even respond.

“What? You can’t be serious.”

“We’ve grown too far apart to keep this up.”

His pulse quickened in an ugly way. “Is this about the slasher flick I didn’t want to watch? Because I can still do that if you want.”

“I wish it were that simple.”

The seat cushion’s corded seam dug into Sawyer’s palm as he gripped it while rummaging through his memories, hunting for the thing he did wrong. They loved each other, gave each other space to explore their varied interests, what more did they need? In his eyes, their marriage was perfect. Only one thing came to mind which could undermine it, so he blurted it out.

“Is there someone else?”

Jada’s shoulders slumped in disappointment. “No, Sawyer. There isn’t and never was.” Closing her eyes, she exhaled, and the air rolled into a sad chuckle. “In fact, at one point I thought you were having an affair.”

“Why would you think that?” Sawyer bristled. He would never do anything of the sort.

“You’d become so distant. We were spending less and less time together, and our sex life dried up.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, Sawyer huffed. Discussing intimacy always made him sound inadequate. Not all relationships centered around mindless passion. “Maybe my sex drive isn’t that high.”

“I thought of that. I mean, we were never going at it like bunnies from the start, but it turned into next to nothing. And you didn’t seem to care.”

“Of course I care.”

She raised a hand, palm out in defense. “I didn’t say I had any proof. I was just feeling a little insecure, so I projected. Anyways, one night you turned me down, and the next day I had a cancellation and came home early, so I figured I’d show you what you’d missed out on. You know, rock your world and get us back on track.” Pausing, she turned her head away, drumming her nails on the armrest. “I found you in the bedroom… masturbating.”

Sawyer’s arms fell to his sides as the room closed in around him. Heat flushed his skin and sweat burst down his spine, wetting his shirt. He didn’t say a word, because he could picture the scene clearly in his mind, and he could read the unspoken betrayal. He prayed she wouldn’t continue.

Jada cleared her throat, before she ruined his hopes. “You were really into it. The magazine you were looking at. I don’t know that you’d ever been that excited by me.”

“You watched?” His accusation did a poor job of deflecting and Jada didn’t let it stop her.

“It was the most action in this house in months and I wasn’t even involved. Besides, you were so into it, you didn’t even know I was there, which now that I say that out loud, sounds like really horrible justification.” A tiny sniffle escaped, fracturing the bravado she tried to wield. “Anyways, after you finished, you went to shower, so I dug out your magazine. I admit I was a little pissed off. I wanted to see what kind of smut you were into. What kind of skanky whore got you so hot when you wouldn’t even touch me.”

“Jada…”

Her eyes watered, but the first tear didn’t fall. “It was an mens underwear catalog. With all the porn out there, you’d been reduced to using that, probably because you could hide it that way. Or deny it.”

chapter 5 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 9 – Chapter 4 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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

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

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

Jimmy’s meeting with Fergus continues…


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 9 – Chapter 4

continued from part 8…

“Shit. Was this boy queer?”

Fergus’s brow scrunched tight, a sign he didn’t like the topic spoken out loud. “Why do you ask?”

“The one I put down in July… his scent was blended. With another male. Scent of sex was all over the rabid. Wolf who bit him, fucked him too.”

While usually well controlled, fury flashed across Fergus’s eyes, causing them to change color. “Are you shitting me? Do you have any idea if that was before or after he bit him?”

“No way to be sure, but had to be recent.”

Turning left and right, Fergus looked on the verge of mad pacing in the small office. “Fucking wonderful. I have a wolf out there not only attacking, but trying to mate humans? We don’t do that! Ever.” He whirled on Jimmy, giving him his total focus. “Why the hell am I just hearing about this?”

Fergus’s pinpoint anger took Jimmy aback. Having never seen the man lose his temper, it hadn’t been clear Fergus even had one. Jimmy may not have been an alpha, but he never did appreciate being attacked. For any reason. However, angering Fergus more wouldn’t help anyone, so he paused and gathered his thoughts before responding.

“Only just remembered. It didn’t seem important after digging the grave.”

Which was the truth. Over a month had passed since the last one and the guilt crushed him at times. For the good of pack, Jimmy understood questionable things were sometimes needed. He could live with that, but this… He’d put a bullet into a monster who’d been hiding a young man inside, the third in a string of failed turnings. How high would the count be before they closed the streak? How many more would be have to put down before he dug a hole for himself and climbed in?

“I don’t like this, Jimmy. Not one bit. There’s no room in my pack for males mated to males. Could you recognize the scent?”

“Maybe if I came across it again.”

“Is it possible it’s one of the den or an outsider?”

Jimmy paused and averted his eyes. “Don’t know the den members well enough to say.”

A subtle dig, but a dig nonetheless. He’d been held at a distance, outside the community from the day he arrived by Fergus’s insistence. Asking if he might know any of them… Jimmy might have been a touch bitter.

Fergus reined in his attitude, but didn’t cower. He had all the power after all.

“I know I promised to bring you in. You’re a strong wolf and some of them will see it as a challenge. I don’t need that drama. But don’t worry. I’ll make you part of the pack.”

“When?”

“Soon.”

More delays. More promises. 

“Don’t want to be a stray forever. I can do that without you.” The words came out with a snarl Jimmy hadn’t intended. He didn’t apologize for it either.

A growl rolled out of Fergus. His hair thickened and lost its tight grooming. The skin around his eyes darkened, becoming more feral.

“You came to me first. Don’t forget that. You stood on the edge of my territory and howled to the alpha in the old ways. It took me by surprise, because the young wolves in my pack have no idea how. When I answered, you petitioned first for safe passage, and then to become part of the pack. I’m not required to say yes.

“So I tested your loyalty to see how honest you were. If you were a threat. I gave you a house to live in—”

“On the edge of town where no one can find me for months.”

“The pack doesn’t take well to outsiders. No pack does. Introducing you into a closed community is a delicate thing. Then this rabid situation came up. So I asked for your help. The job no one else could do, because none of them had the skills. I want you in my pack, Jimmy. I give you a lot of leeway because of the sacrifices you’ve made lately, but don’t think I’ll tolerate a challenge to my authority. I became alpha for a reason. No one takes what’s mine.”

This time Jimmy didn’t look away. He had no interest in deposing Fergus, and the suspicion annoyed him after all his patience. His goals had nothing to do with ruling a bunch of strangers.

Fergus voice calmed and his features settled. He appeared less threatening as he stepped closer, but it was only a facade. The look in his eyes was more dangerous than his wolf.  “Deep down, I don’t think that’s what you want. I can give you a home. A family you’ve been waiting for. Something you haven’t had since Louisiana, right? I don’t know what happened back home, but it must have been bad enough you’d wait this long to find a new pack. You’ve been roaming for what? Twenty, thirty years now? Most wolves go feral over that kind of solitude. That’s a long time to wait to find what you need.”

Unease skittered over Jimmy’s spine. He ground his teeth trying to keep them from sprouting into fangs while Fergus kept talking.

“If you don’t want what I’m offering, Jimmy, you just say the word. Pack your shit and go. I’m not going to force you to do anything. But if you make me, I’ll take it all away. How long will it take you to find another pack? We’re not everywhere.”

Wolf packs were inherently secretive. Once he’d finally gotten over his guilt enough to search for more of his kind, he spent over twelve years following dead ends and rumors until he heard whispers of this group in Northern Michigan. The thought of starting his search over made his heart race, his lungs quicken. He barely survived to find them this time.

“So… what’s it going to be, Jimmy? Tell me what you want.”

He wasn’t some frightened pup in the dark, scared of monsters and shadows. The thought of being alone again terrified him. Hunting down a new pack and starting over. Oh God, his chest hurt. Inside, his wolf deafened him with its howls, feeling all their work and  time about to be wasted. The life of a stray was no life at all. This new pack may have been lost from the old ways, but it had everything else he needed.

The moon’s call might not keep him sane for much longer.

With all his strength, Jimmy wrapped his mind around his wolf’s worries and fears of isolation, and smothered his frustration into something more useful.

“I want to be pack. I didn’t mean to sound disrespectful.”

Fergus reached up, gripped the back of Jimmy’s neck, and brought their foreheads together. At this range, the mill couldn’t cover Fergus’s scent. Musk and man, crisp with a hint of cedar. Not unpleasant, although not appealing either. Jimmy didn’t resist. Fergus often found excuses to touch him during their meetings. Their closeness felt more possessive than he preferred, like he was trying to bond, but it could simply be Fergus’s way. Familiar physical contact between wolves was normal, and this man would be his alpha. He needed to learn to accept that.

Whispering, Fergus’s words puffed across Jimmy’s mouth. Lips close, yet thankfully not touching, the alpha kneaded Jimmy’s nape all too freely.

“I know. You’ve been through a lot, and I’m asking you for more. Do what you’re told. As soon as we deal with this rogue wolf, it’s a done deal. I’ll introduce you to the pack and we’ll initiate you into the circle. I need you, Jimmy. You’re all I have to fix this and save our people. I can’t have a bunch of rabid wolves running loose because one wolf can’t keep his dick in his pants. There are limits to what we’re allowed to do in this world.”

Carefully, Jimmy nodded, trying not to make their connection anything more.

“Thank you, Alpha. I’ll take care of the rabid. I promise.”

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 5 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 8 – Chapter 4 — 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 I used the prompt: “The odds were against against you. You know that, don’t you?”

Let’s look into what Jimmy’s up to…


 

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Part 8 – Chapter 4

Jimmy waited in his truck, having long since bored of thumbing through his phone. Useless piece of junk. Who did he have to call anyways? Unchecked dust greyed the radio’s controls. The chittering of nature would always be preferable over modern music and DJ babbling. With August’s full moon several days behind him and the waning gibbous tomorrow night, he was calm enough to kill time in silence.

Working through the phases of the moon’s gentle caress could be a mixed blessing. When it was new, he missed its presence but found serenity. When it was full, he craved the sight, yet spent day and night agitated and needy. Strangely enough, he didn’t hate the ebb and flow of lunar tides. It was part of his kind. A matter of fact. 

Her nighttime aria would always call to the wolf, seduce it forward, make it restless while bathing it in silvery love. It made him one with the dark hours, one with the forest. He would never be apart from its haunting melody. Nor did he ever want to. 

But that song was intended to be shared.

All wolves felt the yearning for pack, to be part of something greater than themselves. Unity. Camaraderie. Home. Too many years had passed since he’d known the comfort of belonging. Knowing your life was inexplicably entwined with the rest was… everything. And now he had nothing.

Not since Lousiana.

Sometimes he wished he was human with a shorter lifespan, so he wouldn’t have to see the flames and hear the screams in his dreams for decades and decades. But with his bloodline, it might torment him forever.

Deep down inside, his wolf whimpered, wishing for more. For better.

“It’ll happen. Soon. Don’t you worry.”

It wasn’t right for a wolf to be alone. It wasn’t healthy. Thankfully, he had a plan to fix that. A bit flimsy, but a drowning man would grab any lifeline in his path. The tide lapped at his chin.

It had to work. Too, too many years had passed in solitude.

Tires crunching over the unpaved driveway pulled him out of his thoughts.

Fergus’s red Chevy parked in front of the lumber mill, early enough even the contractors had yet to arrive for supplies. He climbed out of the truck and caught Jimmy’s eye before heading inside.

Jimmy exited and followed, making a point to use the rear entrance Fergus would leave open for him as usual. The pack didn’t know about him, and he needed to be discreet. At least for now.

The short hallway brought him to the functional office, the heavy door unlocked. Based on a practical design rather than comfort, as one would expect from a business mainly constructed from a basic warehouse, Jimmy had become familiar with the room during his early morning meetings. The smell of wood burnt by saws permeated the air, muddying the scents inside enough he doubted any wolf would be able to parse out who or what had been inside. With no windows to the exterior, the metal desk, file cabinets, and chairs could only be seen from the mills interior, and that view has been shuttered closed for privacy. Jimmy found Fergus waiting inside, the man’s cautious eyes taking Jimmy in from top to bottom without even trying to disguise it. As the alpha, Fergus had no reason to be subtle.

Stepping close inside Jimmy’s personal space, Fergus traced the faint scars riding up Jimmy’s arm. “Healing up okay?”

Jimmy nodded, trying not to back away and risk offending Fergus. “Shift patched it up. Doesn’t even hurt anymore after a couple more.”

“If you’d shifted right away, it wouldn’t have left a scar.”

“I earned that scar.”

“Putting that rabid down was a mercy. That kind of madness can’t be contained.”

“Doesn’t make the job any more appealing.”

“I know.” Fergus squeezed Jimmy’s shoulder and moved to the safe imbedded in the outer wall. “I don’t have anyone else I can trust to do the job.” Tumblers spun, and the door opened with a solid thunk. 

“You never said why you wanted me here this morning. There’s another rabid, isn’t there?”

One hand still inside the open safe, Fergus sighed, his shoulders dropping a fraction. “Yeah. Young guy came into the clinic. They called the sheriff’s office. Looked like the guy had been mauled by an animal. And we’re not supposed to have anything up here that can do that.”

“Like the last one.”

“I’m afraid so.”

Fergus handed him a thick mailing envelope. “Copies of police files and victim ID. First half is in there. Last half to be paid after it’s done.”

“You mean after he’s put down.”

“If he’s rabid, he can’t run free. If humans find out, we’re all dead. You know this.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“Our contact will keep this mess off the radar, but we need to handle it in house.”

Jimmy had been sworn to secrecy over how one of the sheriff’s deputies was part of the pack, but born human. It didn’t happen often, but more likely with weak bloodlines. Fergus barely hid his contempt for the deputy’s lineage. Jimmy imagined his usefulness granted him a margin of safety.

Inside the envelope was a stack of hundred dollar bills, assuming Jimmy’s acceptance of the seedy task whether Fergus bothered to ask or not. Duplicates of medical records were pulled free next, including photographic documentation. Mangled flesh scarred the boy’s shoulder as if sharp teeth has gripped the meat before being torn away. Claw marks crisscrossed his arms, legs, and back. Dark bruises littered his skin, especially his buttocks.

“Where’s the victim?”

“Checked himself out before the sheriff could arrive, but his personal info was pulled and is in there too. It’s better info then the last one. Shouldn’t be as hard to track this one down.”

Looking at the photos, Jimmy’s mind wandered back to the poor soul he’d been forced to shoot in July. Things, he’d seen, things he’d smelled. A tiny inspiration clicked into place.

chapter 4 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 7 – Chapter 3 — 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.

What kind of person is Fergus?


 

Moon Phases banner

Part 7 – Chapter 3

continued from part 6…

“Biting humans breaks our strictest law. A wild wolf will hunt or kill anything that crosses its path. It risks revealing us to them, proving all the rumors and stories. I’d have to put you down and I’d prefer my twins were cared for by their mother. Why do you ask?”

“The other women here, I hear how they look at me. How they talk about me. Like I’m a pet. I thought you might want a wife who was more of an equal after the boys were born.”

Compliance was the reason he chose a human wife over a she-wolf. Females in the pack tended to be headstrong and opinionated, but when faced with the truth of being beneath the male hierarchy, they often became devious. More than one had attempted to seduce Fergus into mating to secure a position as alpha-mate, but he would have none of that.

It reminded him of some of the ministers he’d observed while assessing the safety of the local community. He’d been appalled watching their wives manuever themsleves into influential positions, believing their marriage raised their importance. As if who you were fucked by made your opinion more valuable than others. There was nothing worse than while the minister addressed his flock, his scheming wife attempted to influence the congregation from behind the scenes. The parishioners would reinforce the nonsense to keep favor with the minister. A circle of corruption.

He’d seen enough of this happen, he used it as a template of how not to run his pack. Betas to implement his decisions were one thing, but Fergus did not share his rule. There would only be one monarch in this kingdom.

“Even if I turned you, you wouldn’t be my equal.”

Fergus’s bloodline was purer than the pack’s muddied heritage. If Alice survived the change—and with her fragile body, it was a huge if—she might outstrip the rest and create an imbalance in the ranks. It was part of the worries and whispers he’d catch among the pack. No need to create additional unrest.

“Besides, I won’t risk my boys’s mother.You’ll be even more responsible for their care than before. The boys will be homeschooled and they’ll need to stay within the property for safety. My boys will be well cared for.”

It hadn’t taken long for Alice to be chosen as a healthy mate. He’d avoided marrying to keep his life simple, but it was unseemly for an alpha to go unmated for too long, even if the last one had died unexpectedly. 

Alice was pretty enough to produce good looking pups and her penchant to please people fit Fergus’s needs. He’d found her in a bar several towns over, lacking close family or friends. She reacted to him immediately, telling him her life story over two drinks. Since she’d be less likely to be missed, absorbing her into the pack would be less noticed, making her an ideal choice. There were moments where he questioned her fit, such as when she learned he didn’t allow televisions in his house, or how she was rarely left alone in the beginning. She cleared each hurdle, layering her loyalty to the pack. The twins’ first shift had truly tested her. Although visibly shaken, he was sure she would cope. Reading people was a skill Fergus spent many years cultivating.

Alice remained motionless and quiet as he finished his sandwich and drank his milk. He didn’t like the discomfort that permeated her. The last thing he wanted was his children to be disturbed by her unease. Their happiness meant everything.

Stepping close, he patted her head. “Don’t let the last few nights trouble you. It’s perfectly normal. You should stay in today. Get something to eat and rest while they do. The boys are not to be left in anyone else’s care from now on.”

“What if I need to run an errand?”

Pausing, Fergus cocked an eye at her. “There’s nowhere you need to go they can’t come with you. And you will escorted by Granger or another wolf I trust at all times. The boys’s safety comes first. Do you understand?”

Lowering her head, Alice stared at the table and nodded.

“Do you understand?” His voice cracked with command. 

Alice jumped in her chair. “Yes.”

Fergus gave her an approving smile. “Good. I have work to do. I’ll likely be late for dinner, so don’t wait for me.”

Slipping on a pair of boots, Fergus left Alice in the house without another word. 

He stopped at the sidewalk and took a careful turn at the other homes around him. The simple condominiums may not have been luxurious, but they allowed the pack to live close without drawing attention. Keeping every address occupied or gated behind housing applications kept the humans out of their lives. The complex backed up against a forested nature perserve the pack secretly owned, allowing them access to run unhindered in the moonlight.

The lycans of their den lived in close proximity to one another, owning all the land and homes in the area to create a kind of miniature city. It kept the humans at bay and their secrets safe. Their survival depended on it. Consolidating everyone was one of the first edicts Fergus demanded when he became alpha.

Killing the old alpha brought him no pleasure, but it had been necessary. The old fool wanted to preach living openly alongside the humans during the social upheaval of the 1960s. Ridiculous. Human society couldn’t accept one another and he wanted to throw lycans into the mix. It would have been the end of everything they knew.

No. If history had proven nothing else, humans were fearful and destroyed anything they didn’t understand even amongst themselves. Individuals usually weren’t a threat. The species as a whole, however, was dangerous. Wolves could overpower them in small doses, but the humans had sheer numbers on their side. Angry mobs tended to salt the earth first and pine afterwards when nothing would grow. 

Maintaining the segregation had been the right choice and over fifty years later, his command continued to be unchallenged.

Fergus was no despot. He ruled firmly yet brooked no risk to the protection of the den—it came first before all things. Even if it was impossible to maintain complete isolation from the human population, he could minimize its effect on his community. As self-sufficient as they were, for appearances sake, it was necessary to do business with the humans to some extent. If the den completely sequestered itself, it could look like another Jonestown or Waco, Texas, bringing a level of attention none of them wanted.  They would likely lay waste to every wolf in the den if proof of their existence was made known.

No matter what, he would never risk that fate for his children.

A fluttering of drapes caught his eye. His rule may have been mighty, but no pack was under thumb enough to prevent gossip or foster occasional ambition. Once word got out his children has turned, his heirs could be at risk should anyone hold delusions of revolution. None of the pack had the strength to defeat him in a proper fight. If they wanted to challenge his rank, they were welcome to try, but he wouldn’t have them working behind his back.

Pulling out his phone, he thumbed through his contacts and called.

“Yes, Fergus?” Answering before the second ring faded, Granger’s reply was tight with apprehension.

“My boys are cubs. Officially.”

Enthusiastic laughter followed Granger’s relieved exhale. “They turned? That’s fantastic! How are they?”

“Strong. Like their father.” Even though Granger couldn’t see him, Fergus couldn’t help but preen. After so long, he deserved to finally take pride in his children. It smothered the talk they might grow up human.

“Congratulations. I never doubted it.”

If there was one thing Fergus appreciated about Granger was the wolf’s unwavering loyalty. He could be counted on for anything, and obeyed every order like a good soldier. His fearsome size made him an excellent enforcer, furthering Fergus authority. A perfect right hand.

“Today instead of going into the lumber yard, I need you to do something for me.”

“Sure, what do you need?”

“For now, I need you to keep a closer eye on Alice.”

“Is she okay?”

“The whelping upset her. Until she’s herself again, she’s not to leave the premises. Even after that, she is not to leave the property without you or another wolf of my choice driving her and the boys.”

“What about Irwin?”

“Not yet. As a beta I trust him, but not his wife. She schemes too much. Now that the boys have turned, I don’t trust her to interact with my heirs. I may need some additional security. I think an initiation is coming.”

Granger’s gruff voice softened. “Another beta?”

“At our size, three would be appropriate. I want everyone to understand who’s in charge.”

“Who are you thinking?”

“Patton is my first choice. Obedient and a bachelor. Good qualities.”

Granger cleared his throat, but stayed polite. “Whatever you think is best.”

Fergus sighed. Granger’s shitty upbringing had fractured his ability to handle rejection. It was one of the reasons he was perpetually single.

“Don’t worry, Granger. You’re still my number one.” Even so, cultivating his devotion was worth it to have someone this trustworthy under him.

His tone brightened. “Yes, sir.”

“Now, keep an eye on Alice and my pups today while I’m out. I have some business that can’t wait.”

“Yes, sir.” The near salute in Granger’s voice was audible.

A few more words about schedules for Fergus and his family were exchanged before they ended the call. Granger lived on the next block, but he’d start patrolling soon. Hopefully, Alice wouldn’t require babysitting for much longer. He had better uses for his enforcer.

Satisfied everything in his community was in order, Fergus climbed into his Victory Red Chevy Silverado and headed out. He needed to talk to the sheriff before his meeting at the lumber yard.

 


 

Stay tuned … Chapter 4 begins next Wednesday!

Phases of Moon — Part 6 – Chapter 3 — 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 I used the prompt: “The odds were against against you. You know that, don’t you?”

Another cast member appears…


 

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Part 6 – Chapter 3

Two sets of tiny chests swelled and deflated as the twins slept soundly in their crib. Freshly fed, their cherubic faces gave no indication of the chaotic night before. Small puffs of air came through their tiny pursed lips, sweetening their appearance and hiding the duality of their nature. Fergus leaned over the crib, his calloused fingertips ghosting over the wisps of dark hair on their heads, taking care not to disturb them. Royal and Regis hadn’t slept last night, but he couldn’t be prouder.

“The odds were against against you. You know that, don’t you, Roy? Don’t you, Reg?”

Three harrowing nights of the full moon had finally passed. Barely six months old, their first whelping had been successful. Crying, howls, and whining had filled each evening until the dawn. Some infants didn’t survive the moon’s initiation, but his boys were strong pups. Even as the hellish event played itself out, Fergus had been confident. After all, they were the offspring of the alpha.

He took a deep inhale, and noticed the subtle difference in their scents. More wolf and less human, it brought him pride and comfort, making him want to dote on them all day. Unfortunately, other matters always took precedence.

With a last feathering caress on Royal and Regis’s slumbering heads, he stepped back from the crib and exited the nursery. Hair still damp from his shower while the twins were being fed, Fergus strode to the bedroom. Morning light spilled through the windows, illuminating the unmade bed, clear evidence of a sleepless night. A nap would be indulgent and wonderful, but it would have to wait.

He sighed standing in front of the closet, absentmindedly scratching through the pelt covering his chest, down his stomach, and into his groin, even giving a casual tug on his thick, sleeping cock. Wishing he didn’t have to, he pulled a pair of jeans and shirt off the hangers.

Positioning himself squarely in front of the mirror, he stepped into the buttery denim and dragged them up his thick thighs at a snail’s pace so he could admire his own form. He was well aware of the power leashed under his skin. His swarthy looks, firm muscles, and his alpha scent drew people to him, wolves and human alike. They craved him and his authority, wishing for things they couldn’t have or never be. 

Some might call it vanity, but Fergus considered it being honest. There was no harm in accepting your advantages. Being a wolf had given him many. 

Shifting his hips, he hiked the fabric over his ass and buttoned up the front, making sure the bulge thrust forward properly for display. No, that was not a wadded up sock. The short sleeved, button down shirt struggled to contain his chest, so he kept it open enough to release the tension, knowing the furry view it gave. A confident display kept others enticed or off balance and helped cement his position as alpha. Fergus would always be seen as strong and his den would prosper, in spite of occasional whispers.

Having a human wife to bear his offspring made for a ripe target. Thankfully her inferior blood hadn’t damaged his children. They would be wolves after all.

Once he finished dressing, he headed downstairs, admiring the subtle stripe pattern on the dark burgundy wallpaper which butted against the knotty cedar wainscoting. Masculine, woodsy scents filled the hall reminding him of the outdoors at all times. On the ground floor, overstuffed leather furniture graced the cedar floors and thick area rugs. Rich details gave a dense, cabin feel he preferred. 

He found Alice in the breakfast nook off the oversized, granite and rustic wood kitchen, nursing a cup of coffee. Petite, yet attractive with mahogany shoulder-length hair, shadows darkened her features. Her hands strained to hold the drink steady as she stared unfocused at the blank portion of the wall. 

“How are you feeling, Alice?” He dug into the refrigerator for a snack while watching her from the corner of his eye. “The first whelping is always the worst, but the boys did fine.”

“Is it over?”

“For now. Last night was the last day of the full moon.”

“The screaming and noise. It was horrible.” Alice’s mug rattled as it settled to the table. Her brow creased hard as she focused to the bottom. “Is it always so painful for them?” 

“At first. There’s nothing simple about rebirth. But it’ll get easier as they get used to it. Eventually, once they’re older, they won’t even notice it.”

Fergus threw together a roast beef sandwich from a plate of leftovers as the weary lines grew and faded like pulses in Alice face. A pall of silence fell over the room, broken only by the sound of milk as he poured himself a glass. It would be a shame if she failed to accept the reality of their existence. Fergus was halfway through eating before she made another sound.

“Why wouldn’t you let me call a doctor? They could have died.”

“Yes, they could have. But they didn’t. Some things can’t be seen outside the den.” 

“Are they going to go through that every month?”

Fergus’ brow arched with disbelief. What a ridiculous question. “Of course they are.”

The way Alice’s shoulders and face dropped gave Fergus pause. There was something he didn’t care for in her stature, the slight plotting lilt to her head, resolving some grand scheme. 

“Are you planning on turning me?”

“No. Humans aren’t meant to shift. The transition goes against your nature. When it does happen, their bodies don’t know what to do and it’s often incomplete. They can get stuck in between forms. The pain of the shift helps bring our wolf forward, but for a human it usually sends them into a frenzy. Makes them rabid.”

For a moment, her eyes widened and her expression shifted. It was so subtle, Fergus couldn’t be sure if that was relief or disappointment. 

chapter 2 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 4 – Chapter 2 — 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.

Introducing another character…


 

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Part 4 – Chapter 2

Compressed earth crunched under Sawyer Thomas’s shoes as he ran down the path. The rhythm of his footfalls harmonized with his pulse and breathing pattern, creating the closest thing to nirvana he knew. The harder he pushed, the more serene he became.

The paths were well laid out, not overly hardened with wear, bordered with thick foliage, blocking out the rest of the regular world. Sawyer needed the diversion. It gave him focus and at times grounded his sanity.

Fitness had become his daily addiction. He would run in the mornings and spend most evenings at the gym, which was surprisingly well-equipped given how far from a major city they were. The strain and pain of exertion gave him a healthy high. If asked, he’d tell anyone his obsession grew after a high school reunion filled with people who’d let themselves go far too early. It made him sound snobbish when he heard it out loud, but he didn’t like thinking about the truth.

So to avoid it, he exercised.

Today he ran.

Humidity rose swifter than his grueling pace in the July morning air, but, running through the woods in these morning hours was paradise. Sweat soaked his clothing and coated his skin. His legs burned brighter with each stride, and while tempted to continue all day, a quick glance at his sports watch signalled the next step in his schedule. It was time to head back. He’d left plenty of time to shower and get ready for work before the office opened.

Doubling back, he exited the path down the street from his house without losing a single second. Homes in his neighborhood were niched between parcels of woods with no two houses being directly next to each other. They weren’t remotely located, but not on the outskirts of town either. The whole area was a blissful balance somewhere between.

The adrenaline rush from his run dissipated as he approached the modest, white-sided ranch with grey trim nestled in the center of his property. Simple evergreen bushes and trees bordered the property, defining the manicured lawn and keeping an orderly appearance. Nothing about his home could cause the neighbors to complain. Nothing was out of place or could be construed as offensive. Just the way he preferred it.

The house was never exciting and daring, like his wife, Jada often wanted. That just wasn’t who Sawyer was. Not anymore. Not in a very long time. Order and predictability were necessities. There had been enough disruptive chaos in the past. He wasn’t interested in that any more—ever.

He let himself in through the back door, as was his routine, to find Jada having breakfast at the table in the kitchen. Straight blonde hair tied back, with a smart suit gracing her slender body, she poured milk into a bowl of cereal. Her tablet in the other hand, she scanned the screen, open to one of any number of news pages. They each had their habits.

As he passed, she leaned her head out without taking her eyes off the page so Sawyer could drop a dry kiss to her cheek. “Your mother left me a voice mail to tell you to call her. Maddie wants you to visit soon.”

Sawyer picked up his phone off the counter. The preview showed no activity since last night. “Why didn’t she just call me?”

“I assume she wanted to guilt trip me again about how she’s not getting any younger to greet her first grandchild. Which is pretty much how she ended the message.”

“You didn’t answer her?”

Lowering her tablet, Jada gave him a vicious side-eye. “I find a little forewarning before talking to your mother is always a good plan.”

“She’s not that bad.”

Jada raised a single hand the way she always did when weilding her intellect like a double-sided sword. “Look, I love Maddie. She’s been there for you and us since the beginning. I mean, seriously, we might not have gotten married if she hadn’t gotten involved. But you need to convince her we’re not having kids. I told you from day one, that’s not what I wanted. I wouldn’t have let you put a ring on my finger if you didn’t agree with that.”

Sawyer raised both hands. Arguing would be futile. “I know, I know. And I’m not trying to change your mind.”

“Good. I’m not going to spend our lives being judged for not spewing out children. I’m not that maternal, and I take pride knowing it.”

“Don’t make it sound like you wouldn’t be a good mother.”

“If I wanted to be, yes I would. But I don’t, so I’m not testing the theory. Besides, to have a kid, you actually have to—” Interrupting her self, she closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose. “Sorry. That’s not fair.”

“Jada…”

Seven years had passed since they married and his personal needs had simplified, where hers had become more complex. Romance had often been set aside, and Jada said she understood his reduced drive, but found herself apologizing more and more. Sawyer knew their needs were out of balance, but didn’t know what to say or what to do to correct it. Or if it could be corrected at all. 

Sawyer loved her dearly and always would, but he couldn’t manufacture some of the grand gestures she wanted. It would be a lie to pretend, and he respected her too much. Like always, the conversation made him uncomfortable and rarely resolved anything. It typically ended when she gave up.

“You stink and you’re running out of time. Go shower.”

Picking up her tablet, she went back to her news. Giving up in their house was often a silent conceding, not a excess of volume. Unless, of course, Sawyer wouldn’t leave a topic alone and succeeded in pissing her off.

Which is why he turned and left the kitchen.

chapter 2 continues on Thursday…


 

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow 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 2 – Chapter 1 — 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!

This week, Jimmy continues his dangerous hunt…

So sit back and let’s see where we go from here.


 

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Part 2 – Chapter 1

The dread welling in his chest tried to claw its way into his throat. The faint whisper of hope he’d clung to had disintegrated into rotting bits of discarded cloth.

Not far ahead, a small clearing bathed in moonlight was visible through a break in the trees. It had to be close. It had to be here. The seductive lunar glow should draw it right to this place, a midnight siren song impossible to resist. First night of the full moon.

Jimmy crept towards the clearing and paused when he heard a faint growl mixed with something else unnatural. An insidious chuckle, no human being should be capable of making.

The sound echoed around him through the layers of trees, coming from all directions at once. Fringes of panic sparked from the hackles on his neck to the base of his spine, which he promptly stomped out. This wasn’t his first hunt and wouldn’t be the last. Gripping the rifle in both hands, Jimmy widened his eyes and strained his hearing outwards. 

Where the hell was the target?

A soft breeze wafted through the forest, blowing a few strands of hair away from his face. Shit. He was downwind. Stupid.

Jimmy spun, too late to stop the weight slamming into him. It shouldered him off his feet and into a nearby log. He flailed his hand out for his rifle, the strap across his chest the only reason it didn’t go flying. Jimmy bolted up onto one knee and aimed his weapon. Ignoring the new ache down his side and back, he twisted in a complete circle, seeing nothing but hearing the demonic laughter bounce around him once again.

It was toying with him.

The rustle of the underbrush barely gave him warning. He whirled, and it grabbed the muzzle forcing Jimmy to fire into the sky. Staring into its uneven eyes, he smashed the gun’s stock between them with all his strength. The satisfying crunch made it jump back with a snarl, slashing Jimmy’s arm in its wake. Its retreat scattered the leaves and moss, before racing to one side, drawing a circle around him.

The target was quick, far faster than he’d been prepared for, making Jimmy’s pulse race. He tried to keep the rifle barrel in front of the sprinting shadow, but the pain flashing down his arm shook his hand, slowing his aim.

Jimmy lost sight of his prey as it rounded behind a group of bushes, but he could hear the patter of its feet on the soft dirt and the subtle brushing of limbs and foliage as it stalked him through the growth. It wasn’t trying to completely hide its movements anymore. The rushed cadence of his breathing made it more and more difficult to track. 

Who was the predator now? 

A searing fire raged through his arm. It unsteadied his aim, meaning he was probably bleeding like a stuck pig, and the damage was bad. With his back stiffening from the first strike, he was at an unfamiliar disadvantage. It was all he could do to focus on the unnatural growls and footfalls trying to herd him. He’d underestimated his quarry, and if he couldn’t rally himself and bring an end to this quickly, he wouldn’t be the only casualty of the night.

The urge to run and create some breathing space splashed into his thoughts, but he quashed it. Turning his back on it was the stupidest idea possible. It would chase him down and rip him in half. Running would get him killed. Running was how prey got caught. Running was how prey got killed.

But it might be the only option he had.

Jimmy measured his breathing and waited, playing the game and letting it continue to  until it was right where he needed it to be. 

“Come and get it, bitch.”

He sprinted towards the clearing. The thundering steps came to life behind him, and he whirled and pulled the trigger. Fire and thunder erupted as one into the night. The target let loose an agonizing yelp and Jimmy leaped to one side as it crashed into the ground with a painful roar, spitting a cloud of dried leaves and dirt into the air.

Struggling to keep his rifle trained due to his injured arm, Jimmy edged closer as the dust settled. Its growls were diminishing into wet, gurgling, gasps for air. 

Fortunately, Jimmy had always been a good—or perhaps lucky shot.

What lay sprawled in the dirt in front of him was male but wasn’t a man. Not exactly. Covered in mangy fur, its face was contorted with a short muzzle filled with sharp, uneven teeth. The powerful wolfen hind legs were exaggerated in size compared to the distorted torso. Its arms were two different lengths of corded muscle, one more canine than the other. Scraps of threadbare fabric matching the clothing he’d found earlier still sat tangled around its limbs. It wasn’t human and wasn’t a wolf. It was a sad mangled creature stuck somewhere in between. A personification of rage and agony that never should have existed.

Blood, dark and glossy in the pale light, continued to seep into its fur. The weakened beast clawed at the ground as it tried to steady itself. Foamy saliva drooled from the twisted mouth, as its eyes, one human and one canine, focused on Jimmy. Its pained whines were caused by more than the bullet wound in its chest.

“I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have to be like this.”

Lowering the rifle to the ground, Jimmy pulled his pistol, closed in on the creature, and put one more bullet in its head.

The creature slumped to the ground, its chest deflating. When all of features sagged, he checked for a heartbeat. Nothing. The forest was once more silent except for Jimmy’s harsh gasps as he waited for what came next. Caught within the moon’s mystical pull, the lifeless body began to twitch and shift.

…to be continued


 

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow 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 1 – Chapter 1 — 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!

This week, we’re starting off fresh. No expectations…

So sit back and let’s see where we go from here.


 

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Part 1

Acrid with a touch of carbon and sulfur, burnt rubber carried its oily scent into the air. Fresh skid marks marred the asphalt, highlighted by the harsh glow of the full moon, drawing an unmistakeable path to the red taillights shining in the night. An abandoned metal beast along the side of the quiet country road. 

Climbing out of his piano black Ford F-150, Jimmy Coutreau crept closer, keeping a firm grip on his loaded sidearm. Peering inside the driver’s side wide open door, the overhead light dimly showcased the empty interior. Local radio banter overlapped the car’s annoying seatbelt chime. The tire streaks on the road were roughly straight from a hard breaking, and the car had no visible impact marks, having stopped well short of the tree line. Unmanned in the dark, it sat just off the shoulder in the dirt. 

The license plate matched. It was the car he’d been searching for.

Without making any additional noise, he took a wary scan of the area as he thumbed the safety off his weapon. The welcome moonlight may have been shining bright, but black shadows littered the area. No traffic in the distance. No rustling in the trees. No crickets. No active wildlife to be heard. Footprints in the surrounding sand were scattered and frenzied, leading off into the looming forest. The engine was still warm and running, so they likely hadn’t gotten far.

And he knew he was being watched.

He pulled the key from the ignition, bringing a newfound silence to the area. No hint of sound, the whole forest was on edge and alert. The car was less visible shut down, but Jimmy knew time and luck could be fickle. He pocketed the keys in case he needed to move the vehicle and strode back to his own truck.

After a decent drive from the site, he pulled off the road and backed his truck up into the shadowed tree line. He didn’t need locals hassling him with questions he couldn’t answer right now. It wasn’t safe for anyone. 

Under the cloak of an outcropping of trees, he keyed open the reinforced lock box in the cab. He strapped his hunting knife to his thigh, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and stowed his pistol in the holster under his left arm. Loaded and ready, he locked up and double-timed it back to the site on foot before he lost the trail and something horrible happened.

Nothing about these jobs ever sat well with him.

Dirt crunched under his boots as gently as possible despite the urgency. No need to announce himself more than necessary. Scant minutes passed before he came to a stop at the abandoned car once again.

Jimmy took one last longing look at the full moon, its silver caress an unfair tease this evening. Low and dominant in the sky, a man could see in all directions from the ethereal shine, giving an unnatural life to the shadows. He should be reveling—celebrating—the sultry magic of the moon’s cycle with prayers of abundance instead of charging ahead into this seedy mission. But there was no one else to do the job, so here he stood waiting to be swallowed by the forest.

Moonlight glinting off the gunmetal in his hands, Jimmy plunged between the trees, following the haphazard trail of footprints into the deep dark.

Other men of his size would have made more sound stalking into the forest, but growing up, Jimmy had learned how to be one with the wild Louisiana outdoors. He knew how to treat the land. Step quick and lively, yet leave no trace, no trail for outsiders to find. A cautionary motto ingrained into him since he was a child.

These, however, were not the forests of his youth, and the danger hidden within would become far worse if not contained.

Stiffening with sweat, the tips of his wavy dark hair itched the skin along the collar of his snug, black t-shirt. Although the summer months here were nothing like the sweltering heat of his old home, Jimmy had been surprised the northern Michigan nights could carry this kind of humidity. Was it the weather slicking his skin or his growing sense of alarm with each passing step? 

Jimmy cast his hearing outward to find nothing. No insect chirping, no scurrying nocturnal life to be heard. Only the rustle of leaves brought on by a soft, muggy breeze sieved through the trees. The forest’s life sat still as death, the way nature does in the presence of a vicious predator. Instinct told him, for once, the predator wasn’t him. He may not have been able to see or hear it, but the target was still in here with him.

Even with his excellent night vision, the scant moonlight filtering through the treetops made tracking easier. Foot-wide scatterings of leaves and reckless broken branches carved a sloppy path into the dark. He caught sight of something that didn’t belong at the base of a nearby tree. A piece of tattered cloth. The fabric was too clean to have been there long. Jimmy picked up the sad remnants of a short-sleeved linen shirt, catching the subtle hint of men’s cologne.

Dropping it, he made a wide circle, looking and listening for more evidence. Nothing made itself known, but he could feel it out there. 

Waiting.

So he continued.

No effort had been made to hide the trail. It could have followed it in pitch black by an amateur. Nothing had been obscured. A pair of casual shoes unsuitable for hiking laid just outside the trenched moss, the brown leather exploded out in ragged shards, the sole barely hanging on. Moments later, he came across a pair of shredded jeans. Like all the rest, the denim appeared to have been stretched to its limits and lost the fight. The seams bound the remaining scraps together by a mass of threads.

…to be continued


 

Stay tuned … more story to come next Wednesday!

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

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