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Excerpt for Unwilling - a Shifter Romance by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Unwilling

A Shifter Romance







Copyright © year 2018 Hannah L. Corrie

Published by Hannah L. Corrie at Smashwords





License notes

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book only. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of ideas, dreams and hard work.



Cover design by Designs EE

This book is a work of fiction. References to existing events or locations, names, characters and events, and resemblances to real persons, businesses, events, or locales are coincidental. All trademarked names are the property of their respective owners and no ownership claims are intended by the author.







Warning:

This book contains sexually explicit scenes between two men and graphic language that may be offensive to some readers. It is intended for adults as defined by the laws in your country. Please take care to keep it out of reach of under-age readers.



Content Keywords:

M/M, werewolves, torture, a little angst and drama, explicit sexual intercourse, “happy for now”



Table of Contents

Thank you!

Black Haired Devil

Envy And Hatred

By A Thread

Hunt And Hunted

Capture

Prey

Exodus

Pack Means Unity

Home Is With You

A Rope Of Sand

All Good Things

Explosion

Family Issues

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Connect



Thank you!

You got this book for free. You are probably wondering why.

At the beginning of my writing career, Jared and Darwin were nothing but an idea born out of annoyance with all the shifter stories that were so popular on Literotica.com in 2010, before [mpreg] became a thing. I wrote those first chapters to rebel against archetypes and because someone told me that the clichés I complained about were only there because they sold well. I, being a snot-nosed, new author with no published works, decided to prove them wrong and Unwilling grew and grew, gathered fans and became a monster of its own.

What I learned through publishing the chapters of this story on Literotica and GayAuthors.org would have taken me years to learn on my own. Far too few people acknowledge this, far too few authors think back to their roots. I could have never gotten this far without the people who helped me with reviews, e-mails, critique and professions of love for my story and the people in it. I will never forget what you have done for me, so this book is for you.



Enjoy it for free or find it on Smashwords and use the “pay what you like” option to pay whatever you deem appropriate, but know that I will always be grateful.











Black Haired Devil

Jared

Jared’s eyelids drooped and he blinked and rolled his eyeballs to re-wet them and stay awake. The west wing of Statsby Hall lay before him, promising a bed, a bath, and most important of all: peace of mind. For the small price of twenty-two hours in a tiny lemon, granted, but done was done. Maybe he should have stopped somewhere along the way, but he hadn't wanted to waste another second in his quest to run as far away from his family as possible. Now Jared, finally, was free. He was so relieved, he nearly fell asleep with his hands on the steering wheel and the motor of his little Volkswagen Beetle still running.

The act of unfolding his six-foot-two-inch frame out of the tiny driver's seat made him grunt and grumble and when his feet found their way to the concrete ground he stumbled about a bit and leaned against the side of his car to get his bearings.

Jared looked up to the baby blue sky above and sighed. Only a few more minutes, then he could collapse on his new bed and sleep. He patted the left back pocket of his shaggy jeans where he kept the folded documents for his application, shoved his dead-tired carcass away from the car, and scuffled toward the main entrance of Statsby Hall.

That was when it hit him. Literally. The boomerang came out of nowhere, but that didn't ease the force of its collision with Jared's head. The shocked scream of the girl that had thrown it resonated with the sudden, painful crack of wood against bone and he went down like a log.

He woke to someone shaking his shoulders and blinked away dozens of shiny stars. The daylight hurt his eyes, but his head hurt worse. "Ow! Damn," he mumbled, own voice hollow and far away. Then the world snapped back into place, crashing into his senses.

"Oh gosh, are you okay? Hey, can you hear me?" a female voice asked. Jared opened his eyes again and looked up into the blanched face of a pretty, brown-haired girl. She looked ready to faint, but kept shaking him bravely. "Come on, pal! Say something!"

"What was that— are you Australian?" Jared mumbled, touching the side of his face. He felt a welt and some crusts and when he looked at his fingertips, he saw blood. Ah, gorgeous! Not even inside his new home yet and already he had gotten attacked. The only thing missing was another Alpha living on-campus and another round of fights for dominance over a piece of land he had no interest in whatsoever, and this place would be just like home.

"Pretty cliché, huh? Don't move, you have a concussion," she said, pushing his hand away from the wound. "You are lucky you're not dead. I'm lucky you're not dead," she added and pulled a handkerchief from her pocket to press it on the head wound.

Jared's wolf rose to the unintended challenge on his dominance. Biting down a snarl, he took the handkerchief off her to hold it in place by himself. Luck had nothing to do with him not being dead, although he could hardly tell her that. The girl was human and obviously meant well, but a hurt werewolf was dangerous and unpredictable. Killing a werewolf with a boomerang would have been an impressive feat; killing a human teen would just be sad.

"I'm alive, I guess," he groaned and slowly sat up. A small flock of students was gathering around to watch them and it made Jared more nervous. He got up although his stomach tried to crawl up his gullet. The world tilted a bit and lost some of its color.

"Whoa, you are so not alright!" she scoffed and grabbed his arm.

He swallowed a growl in her direction but tensed under her fingers, thinking calm thoughts at his wolf-instincts. "It's just a bit of blood," he assured her, threw a hard glance at the crowd and barked, "Move on people, nothing to see here!"

"I'm Darla. My middle name is take-you-to-the-sick-room. Come on, big boy," the girl said, resolutely pulled his arm and dragged him towards the entrance of the student residence.

It was either rip her apart or submit to her insistence. Jared contemplated version one for a few seconds, then hung his head and shuffled after her. He was simply too tired to stay angry.

The sick room was on ground level, right next to the students' admissions bureau. Jared threw a longing gaze to the sign when they passed it, wishing he could shake off that boomerang-throwing hell strumpet and go in there to get assigned a room. Darla unfortunately was unshakable in her quest to see him patched up and tugged at his arm demandingly when he slowed down.

"Come on mate, just a few steps more," she insisted.

Jared could have easily broken free. Hell, he could easily punch a hole into the wall, and without a scratch to show for it, but humans didn't do things like that. And heterosexual humans were into beautiful, exotic women like Darla. Jared was neither human, nor heterosexual, but this was supposed to be a new start, a new, better life. He didn't want to throw it all out on the first day.

But then he scented something strangely familiar. Suddenly Darla didn't have to pull him along because Jared sped up, his nose filtering the air for that scent wafting through the corridor.

Werewolf.

Jared curled his lips and bared his teeth to the sudden hint of danger. He wanted to growl, but a wry look from Darla made him close his lips and lick them to rid himself of the strange, numb sensation. Was there another werewolf on campus? Was this pack territory?

Another cloud of musky fragrance hit his senses and made his fingers all tingly with excitement. A male, young and close by.

"Here we are," Darla said, sounding very relieved when she pushed open the door and pulled Jared inside.

And there he was, standing right next to a sizable shelf full of strange flasks. Jared dug his heels into the linoleum floor when a piercing gaze from the other werewolf struck him. Even the need to play charade with humans couldn't make him set foot into the home of another werewolf uninvited.

He was a little shorter than Jared, slim and lanky, with hair black as raven's feathers and stunning blue eyes, like those of a Siberian Husky. His skin was pale, like carved ivory, but dark circles underneath his eyes hinted towards a strain and exhaustion his gaze didn't let on.

Meanwhile, his eyes fell first on Jared's bloodied face and the handkerchief still sticking to his head wound, then wandered lower and inspected his and Darla's entwined hands. His upper lip curled to a half snarl, but he seemed to grasp Jared's dilemma.

"Come in; sit down," he said.

His voice crawled right into Jared's groin. Jared hesitated, but another harsh tug from Darla made him move forward again. Realizing he was staring, Jared averted his eyes and took a look around in the room. He didn't lower his gaze even though he was in the territory of another were, because it would have meant that he surrendered to his presence - something he couldn't, wouldn't do. It was stupid and he knew it, but what was he to do? He was tired of arguing with his instincts, even if the same problem had gotten him kicked out of his last pack and nearly ruined his family. Dominance.

This wolf didn't mind, though. He simply flicked his tongue disapprovingly and motioned Jared over to one of the examination tables. "Sit, please," the dark stranger emphasized with twitching lips while his eyes followed Darla and her heroic attempts to shove Jared around like an unruly kid. Her actions seemed to amuse him, but then Jared was pretty sure that the sight was amusing and unusual. It didn't happen often that a full-grown werewolf was bossed around by a human.

When Jared sat on the table, she turned around and blushed. "I hit him with a boomerang in the head. It was an accident," she said and rummaged through her pockets to produce a small business card. "Here's my contact information, please contact my insurance for this. It was entirely my fault."

Jared watched them in silence. Okay, so he ogled the face of that other werewolf like a lovestruck teen, but at least he listened to both of them. Darla sounded sincere in her description, and since he didn't have his new contact information yet, her offer was a big help.

"Darla McIntire," the pale wolf read and smiled cynically. "I'll make sure everything is handled properly. Now please excuse me, I've got a hunting injury to tend to." With those words he pointed at Jared's head and shooed her towards the exit.

Darla trotted towards it, but looked over her shoulder when she reached the door. "I'll come visit you later to apologize properly, okay?" Her eyes flickered with a certain starry quality Jared knew too well. Another girl falling for the golden bronze hulk; he should have seen it coming.

"Okay. Thanks, Darla," he said and waved glibly, just to get her out of there.

The door clicked shut behind her. Jared turned his head far enough to look at the other were out of his eyes’ corner. Silence unfurled and crawled into every corner of the room, away from the two werewolves eying each other.

Finally, the strange one broke the spell. "I'm a paramedic," he said, "and I know you are not seriously hurt, because if you were, that chick would be corned beef." He stood still, but started to lift one hand. Jared growled and he stopped instantly, froze, and rolled his eyes. Dislike rolled off his posture in thick, numbing waves. "Growling, really? I have to patch you up at least a little. Too many people have seen your bloody kisser already."

This time he didn't move until Jared sighed and nodded, but the he kept his unhappy, exasperated expression when he finished the gesture and tugged the piece of cloth from Jared's wound.

It hurt like a bitch, but Jared didn't let his pain show. "What's your name?" he asked instead, mainly to take his mind off the burning wound. He was more than curious now.

"Darwin." The answer was short, clipped and unhappy. "I'll clean that. It'll burn. Please hold still," he said and pulled a brown glass bottle out of the shelf next to the table.

Jared's eyes followed the new object in Darwin's hands curiously because his wolf demanded it. The horny teen inside him wanted to stare at Darwin's crotch. "Is this your territory?" Jared asked as Darwin drenched a wound dressing in clear liquid. The stench of disinfectant crept into his nose and tainted the wonderful aroma of werewolf.

"No." Again the answer was short and clipped, impatient, unfriendly. Darwin concentrated on Jared's forehead and started cleaning the half healed cut, brows drawn together and wrinkled. "This university is on the outskirts of the Banes pack territory, but it is off limits to hunts and... diplomatic interactions." He sounded strained with the necessity to talk.

Of course, Jared knew what ‘diplomatic interactions’ meant: brawls, fights, and kills. It did sound logical; like at every other university or college, there were surely dozens of other weres passing through every year, staying for a while, studying and leaving again. No reason to risk their camouflage. A necessary evil for every bigger city pack.

When Darwin was finished with cleaning Jared's forehead, he turned around and went over to the sink, where he produced a lighter out of his pocket and set the used wound dressing on fire. Although the gesture seemed so natural, it told Jared something very unexpected: Darwin was not a dominant werewolf. No dominant would ever turn their back on a strange and injured were. Only submissives wouldn't think that far. They had no reason to.

Jared wouldn't have pegged Darwin for a submissive, but now his libido went on overdrive. He scented the air again, but it was of no use - the disinfectant still killed every scent in the room, making him practically nose-blind.

Darwin's voice cut through the rutty thoughts Jared delved into, clear as glass. "If you think you can come in here, get all worked up over my ass, and take what you want, you are so very wrong." His pale face held an icy glare, his lips were curled in a warning snarl. He tore a slip of paper off his clipboard, held it out for Jared to take and growled, "Here's your sick leave certificate. Now get out of my sight."

Jared didn't have a choice. If he didn't want to anger the local pack on his first day, he had to obey, but damn, it was hard! He wanted to punch Darwin, throw him against a wall, throttle him, anything to show him what dominance meant— But he couldn't. Instead he hissed, "Like I would tap that ugly mug of yours," and stomped out, nearly cracking the door as he slammed it behind him. The bang it produced echoed through the building. Damn, that little bastard got him going!

An hour later Jared was finally able to collapse onto his new bed and close his eyes. He was too tired to snarl when the last picture his mind produced before fainting was Darwin's face.





Darwin

It had been a long day. Darwin flipped the light switch of the university's sick room and locked the door behind him. A damn long day with nine hours of constant visits. The first day of a semester always went like this, or so he had been told. With so many people moving into the building, carrying heavy loads, moving furniture, and getting drunk afterward, it was bound to happen. And the vicious circle repeated itself every year: broken bones, sprained ankles, hurt backs, cut fingers, the whole hoopla.

No wonder the regular doctor had taken sick leave.

Not that Darwin minded the extra hours; he needed every penny to afford living on campus. With his father's house almost in walking distance, he didn't need to live in the student residence, but not having to go home every day was worth the work, the tears, and the missed sleep. Because of him. Not his father, he loved his father, but the other male person that mattered in his life— his Alpha.

Shuddering violently, he turned away from the door and marched down the corridor. Must not think of that man. Think about something else!

That new werewolf for example.

His dick twitched and thickened again. He had a hard time calming the damn thing down ever since meeting Jared. It had been in a state of constant, vague arousal ever since that guy had left the sick room. His libido was persistent and not easily intimidated. That hunk had looked like a sleepy force of nature, his gaze piercing, muscles rippling even on the verge of total exhaustion. The simple act of watching him had given him an instant boner.

Darwin still hated himself for his stupid performance that morning. He worked so hard on keeping a dominant facade, and he had stuck to it so consistently, too— only to be thrown off his game by a blond, stupid, arrogant, single-minded, hunky, gorgeous werewolf. That guy hadn't done anything, he had just sat there and stared at Darwin with bleary, reddened eyes like a coked up junkie on a trip. And his smell! Mary, mother of Christ, he smelled like sunshine and heated granite, with a spicy, musky note of wilderness.

It had driven Darwin mad with lust, until... well, until he had remembered his own predicament. No, it was easier to settle for hating him, pushing him away as far as possible. Keep his distance. Be a dick and scare him off, if need be, just stay away from the temptation. After all, what did he have to gain otherwise? Love? Love didn't keep him breathing. Love didn't keep his father safe. Love didn't matter.





The next morning was dedicated to gymnastics training and a glance at his bedside clock showed he was late. He hated being late. Gymnastics club was one of the few things Darwin did just because he loved it. He would have had more time to work if he dropped that club, but it would also have killed something inside him.

The gym was located next to Statsby Hall. His gymnastics team was warming up in the left part of the giant, airy building and his friend Harry waved at him as soon as he saw Darwin. "Where have you been? Coach Ronson asked for you," he whispered when Darwin reached the group.

"Long night," Darwin muttered and sank to the floor to join their stretching. Harry just grinned at him and went back to his own moves.

On the right side of the hall, another group of athletes were waiting for football tryouts. Darwin didn't spare them a glance. The sight of jocks always made his stomach flutter and he despised that helpless, giddy feeling. He didn't need some jock catching him salivating over their behind and beating him up later.

As a result, it took him almost thirty minutes to realize Jared was over there. He still had his band-aid stuck on his forehead, but otherwise looked no worse for wear. He actually looked mouthwatering in his simple sports clothes, which made the knowledge of his presence all the more torturous.

Darwin tried to steer clear of the football team, but his eyes wandered ever so often and he caught one glimpse of Jared in the same moment Jared looked over to him. Their eyes locked, then a pile of bodies buried Jared and he was out of sight. Those two seconds still felt like an eternity of agonizing and slowly building arousal so intense it shook Darwin to the core. It took all his willpower to concentrate on the formation his team was training and even then, he fucked up and the carefully arranged pyramid crumbled, with people falling to the ground everywhere.

The last hour of training was excruciating. His trainer yelled at him, the new team members giggled like a flock of geese every time they caught him looking over at the football players, and his mind drifted off more often than not, making him clumsy and nervous. When training was over, he scuffled to the locker rooms like a man on his way to the gallows. He was so ashamed of his bad performance, he didn't realize that the football team had also ended their training and started to pile into the showers.

From one second to the next, the tiled room was filled with friendly banter, laughs, and dozens of athletic, muscular, naked bodies. The aroma of their sweat flooded the hot, misty air and made Darwin feel lightheaded from the hormones and testosterone. Worse, the stench of so many males, so much prey, made his wolf rear its head.

Darwin started to pant as well-known panic clawed at his throat. Had he been any other werewolf, he would have had full control over his animal side by this age. It was almost laughable how long it had taken him to overcome even the simplest of triggers, like being startled or getting angry, or hungry, or any other strong emotion or physical need. He had worked so hard on this, hammered precautions into his mind, stayed away from every possible situation where he might lose control over himself, done everything humanly— ha!— possible to be safe.

But here he was, gritting his teeth against the battering of his wolf's will against his mental walls and trying his best not to cause a catastrophe in a shower. He couldn't move for fear of getting too agitated and provoking a change. His tailbone tingled, the skin on his back crawled with the need to shift, so he bit his tongue until he tasted blood. That helped a bit.

Breathing shallowly, he leaned his forehead against the cold, wet tiles of his shower stall and waited for the room to clear out, clenching his hands into fists as he silently counted to a hundred. Everything would be alright as soon as the others left, he'd just have to hang in there until—

All of a sudden, one scent masked all the others, wafting over him like a thunderstorm. With that scent came a sudden and intense sense of peace and security. The scent of another werewolf.

"Problems?"

Jared's quiet, amused voice sounded right next to Darwin's left ear and made him jerk. With that movement came the awareness of a very warm body inches from his back.

"Go away, I've got this," Darwin snarled, simultaneously trying to keep his body from relaxing. 'Liar,' his mind offered, but he silenced that voice resolutely. Feeling safe is a lie, too. This is nothing but a chemical reaction, nothing but hormones. He can't help us. Don't trust it. Nothing was worse than being fooled into thinking this feeling of helpless, happy bliss may become reality. Being fooled into wanting it, getting it. He wanted it to stop, because it made him remember. Darwin absolutely didn't want to remember.

"Grouchy. I like it," Jared whispered and moved closer so Darwin had to jerk forward to break contact to the muscular, wet body behind him. It didn't help. Jared followed his movement until Darwin was pressed against the tiles with Jared's body at his back, melding against him from breast to crotch.

A pulsing, hot column of erect flesh pressed against his ass and slid smoothly through his crack. A moan broke free from Darwin's throat and he beat his fist against the tiles in frustration. How the hell was he supposed to keep his distance like this? He could have dealt with courting or being asked out on a date, then he could have simply said no and been adequately rude about it, but this had no need for words and his body was already betraying him.

He had to stop this, right now, before he forgot the consequences, before he fell for the lies his body told him. Before his needs overrode his mind.

He bit down a gasp, turned around and gave Jared the stink eye. "If you lay your hands on me, I will scream like a girl," he threatened, abandoning pride for a small victory.

Jared's grin widened. "Okay, no hands," he agreed and put his palms against the wall behind Darwin, not so much caging him in but rather balancing himself against the wet tiles. He leaned against the slightly smaller man, lowered his head and started grinding himself against Darwin's crotch. Their cocks moved against each other, slicking themselves with pre-cum and hot water, and the electric charges sizzling through his crotch snuffed out what little reservations had been left in Darwin's mind.

Another moan escaped him. The wanton sound of his own voice made him want to shrink away ashamedly, but there was simply not enough will left in him to defy that almost painful, lonely pull in his abdomen. He put his hands on Jared's broad shoulders and tried to push him backwards, holding on to him at the same time. "We need to go before someone sees us!" he gasped, though his cock seemed to be perfectly happy where he was.

The answer came promptly. "Don't worry, the others left already. How about I make you come instead? Wouldn't that be much, much more fun?" Jared almost purred. Muscles on his arms and shoulders bulged when he leaned forward even more, bending at the hips to increase the pressure of his cock against Darwin's length. The meaty, swollen head rubbed against his ball sac, then moved further up, leaving a hot, wet trail on his wet skin. He shivered violently under the onslaught of lust. It was frightening, enticing, and arousing like nothing he had ever felt before.

Why didn't he want this? He couldn't remember. Absent-mindedly, he started humping back, savoring the sweet jolts it sent through his body, moaning softly against Jared's shoulder. Darwin hadn't realized that his head had fallen forward to rest there. Now that he gave it a thought, he also hadn't meant to wrap his arms around the hunk's broad chest. The trail of golden hair tickled against his hard, pointed nipples and he wanted to let go, to shove Jared away, but he couldn't bring himself to break the glorious moment.

Still, there was the matter of that nagging worry at the back of his mind. "We shouldn't do this," he rasped, his voice shaky with need and the self-control it took to say the words, much less mean them.

This time Jared didn't flinch, he just kept moving. "I'm not holding you prisoner. No hands, remember?" he said, sounding way too pleased with himself. A small groan of delight followed his mocking words and he sped up, rubbing, pressing, sighing, bringing Darwin closer and closer to climax.

"I'm going now," Darwin mumbled, even though he still had his arms around Jared and hugged him like life itself depended on his grip. "I hate you. I wish you'd never—"

Suddenly the room was filled with Darwin's drawn-out, strained, incredibly happy moan. He came hard, shooting hot, sticky cum against Jared's belly, shaking with the intensity of his own orgasm. It felt as if he was burning up from the inside, and it made him see stars as he buckled, his knees giving out on him.

Strong hands gripped his sides, pulled him up and slipped under his shoulder blades and his knees to carry him out of the shower stall and right to the towel hangers. His heart was pounding, his blood racing through his veins at a dizzying speed. A fluffy yellow towel was pulled from its hanger and placed on the tiled floor and he was put onto it. Jared's tanned, sharp and unusually cheery features appeared in Darwin's line of vision, grinning like a maniac.

"Oh gee, are you alright?" Jared asked happily.

He's so beautiful, if I could just--

Then his memory came back. Darwin's heart skipped a beat and flooded his body with gut-wrenching panic. He reacted thoughtlessly, striking out against that face.

The sound of the slap reverberated throughout the shower.

"Never ever do that again, you bastard." Darwin balled his hands into fists when Jared opened his mouth to answer. "No, don't even try. Get out!" Darwin spat before Jared got in a word. He probably had just ended his existence with defying a dominant were, but he really didn't care.

Much to his shock, Jared put a hand to his stinging cheek, smiled again, and got up to leave the shower room. He didn't even stop to dry himself off.

Ah, right, Darwin was still sitting on Jared's towel. Oh, well.

Darwin stayed where he was until he heard the door of the locker room fall shut. Then he scrambled to his knees and looked down at his cock with renewed dismay. Rigid like a flag pole. Great. Now I have to jerk off just because of that last smile. Every time he remembered Jared's face, his whole body throbbed with need. I'm in trouble, Darwin thought, filling the shower room once again with the sound of needy, hushed moans while his hand moved with intense, quick, jerking gestures over his cock. In so much trouble.



Jared

The first week flew by with lightning speed. There was so much to see, so much to do and so much to remember that Jared didn't get a chance to sit down and orientate himself. The classes were awesome but intense, there were student clubs, and of course football practice. He nearly had failed the tryouts because that Darwin guy had been right down the gym hall, dancing around in snugly fitting cycling shorts that left absolutely nothing to imagination. Jared's brain had short-circuited when their gazes had met, causing a major pile-up in the middle of their warm up training. Luckily the coach had taken a liking in Jared, mainly because he had proved to be an unbreakable wall when it came to tackling.

Of course, nothing came more natural to a werewolf than stopping a fleeing target. Dolphins could swim, birds could fly, werewolves could tackle.

Still, Jared couldn't banish the memory of Darwin in those damn shorts out of his head. It proved increasingly difficult to keep himself in check. For example, when he had seen the dark haired, lean, athletic boy alone in the showers, he had snapped. Well, snapped in a very sating, erotic manner, but it had also made things between him and Darwin more awkward. Jared's cheek still stung with phantom pain from the slap. On the other hand, how was he supposed to know his attentions had been unwelcome with him all but humping his leg?

Now the weekend was coming and Jared tried to decide what he would do with two whole days of not having to run around like a headless chicken.

He moved to sit down at the right side of the entrance steps of Statsby Hall when someone bumped into his side and sent his bag flying. Instead of scrambling after his things, he snatched the culprit's collar, ready to pummel the sweet bejesus out of them and vent some of his pent-up tension.

"Oh, geez, I'm sorry, are you— Hey Jared! It's you!" a female voice chattered away.

Darla. He couldn't hit her, humans didn't hit their women. Well, humans didn't normally hit anyone just because of a small body collision.

"Hey, Darla. Are you alright?" he sighed and let her go.

"I'm good! Sorry for the bump-in; I'm such a klutz!" she chirped, hugging her books with a happy smile. Her curly brown hair brushed her shoulders with every move of her head and her honey brown eyes sparkled. "Where are you headed to on this beautiful day?"

Jared registered her looks with detachment. He didn't care for women. His tastes went more into the direction of men. Darwin-shaped men. Darwin, especially. He was pretty sure she was used to men swooning at her face and he suspected that his lack of swooning made her stalk him so much. "I'm fine, thanks for asking. I'm just waiting for—"

He stopped himself from finishing the sentence. Mustn't tell his stalker whom he fancied. Stalkers didn't cope well with stuff like that.

"Waiting?" she replied, still cheery as hell. "Who are you waiting for? Someone special?" She gestured to the side of the steps, inviting him to sit with her where he had intended to settle down anyway.

Jared fished for his bag and slumped down onto the step grudgingly, trying not to let his impatience show. He wrung out a smile, nodded and mumbled, "I'm waiting for a pal. Gonna hit some bars tonight." It was a white and smooth lie. In reality Jared just wanted to intercept Darwin at the entrance to their residence hall and maybe, probably, possibly, do a bit of stalking himself.

His words didn't discourage her at all. "That's good! I was worried. You seem to be such a loner. You'd be really popular if you just tried," she said, giving him the starry eyes. Damn. "I know at least three boys who would give their right arm for a date with you."

In the following short silence, Jared eyed her like the devil incarnate. How had she found out? He tried to remember if he had told her, but drew a blank. Finally he managed to open his mouth, but all that came out was a croaked "Wha-what?"

Darla drew her eyebrows together. "You are gay, right?" she asked, examining his face.

Jared dropped his face into a palm, inhaling deeply. He hadn't meant to be this obvious and it riddled him how Darla had found out— they spent minutes at most together every day and he didn't ogle anyone who wasn't Darwin. It didn't matter. At least now he knew the expression on Darla's face had nothing to do with fandom. "Yes I am," he answered hesitantly, lifting his head to smile at her apologetically. "I'm not looking for a relationship right now, so please don't try to set me up on a blind date." Half-truth. Why look if you had already decided on a partner?

Darla giggled, patted his shoulder and grinned. "You're safe, don't fret. But if you're interested in a good place for not looking for relationships, try the Triumph. It's a gay bar about seven blocks from here. Loads of studs there, or so I've been told, and promise to take me there some day. I need a good drooling from time to time." She stood up, hugged her books tighter and shrugged loftily. "Have a nice weekend, you hear me?"

Jared nodded, dumbfounded. That girl's brain moved way too fast for his own thoughts. Before he got in a word, she was gone, jogging to catch up to a group of girls further away.

He stared at her retreating back, brows drawn together in thought, when something yellow and soft hit his chest and dropped into his lap. It was his towel, and right next to him stood Darwin and his friend Harry, both clutching the shoulder straps of their respective bags.

Jared already knew Harry, another werewolf studying at BCU, and although they had gone through considerable lengths trying not to bump into each other, Jared also knew Harry was another submissive and no danger to him in any way. He was on the same gymnastics team as Darwin and they tended to stick together whenever they could. That was something he understood, werewolves abhorred loneliness and therefore tended to flock together.

"You forgot your towel in the showers," Darwin snapped in his typical snarky voice, but he couldn't meet Jared's eyes, obviously fighting a blush.

Jared got up, careful to not stare at them so they wouldn't think he meant to threaten them. He could have stayed seated, but he wanted to be ready to follow Darwin if he tried to flee. "Why, thank you, Darwin. I was wondering where I'd left it," he drawled with a broad smile, watching Darwin's face first redden, then cloud over with anger. He loved to rattle Darwin's cage. It was easy and fun to watch.

"Next time I'll throw it away," Darwin huffed and whirled around to stomp off, a snickering Harry following behind. And of course Jared had to follow too.

"Leaving already? Don't you want me to thank you properly?" he asked, easily keeping up with them.

Darwin tensed his shoulders and sped up. He was so angry that Jared expected to see smoke come from his ears any minute. "I don't want your thanks, Jared. Go away," he said, not looking back.

"But I'm pretty good at thanking," Jared purred, catching up to Harry. He didn't try to keep his voice down, though, and soon all eyes were following them. Darwin finally had to stop. It was too obvious Jared didn't intend to quit following them.

"Look, Jared, I need to go to work, and I need you to stop stalking me. Go fuck some chick. I don't care, just leave me be!"

Jared nearly staggered backwards at the bubbling anger in Darwin's voice. He too hadn't tried to keep his voice down this time, and their audience was growing in numbers.

"What, no snide remarks this time?"

Jared just looked at him with a peaceful, neutral expression.

Darwin whirled around again and stormed off.

When Harry moved to follow him, Jared grabbed his shoulder and whispered, "Where does he work?" Okay, so Jared wasn't planning on listening to Darwin, so what?

"Baneswood National Park. He's a tour guide there," Harry answered with a knowing smile. "But only for three more weekends, then the season's over." With that, he deftly shrugged off Jared's hand and jogged after Darwin.

Jared watched them disappear. Three more weeks to prepare himself. Then Darwin would be his, for good.



Darwin

The group of hikers stopped at one of the park's designated resting places. As a tour guide, Darwin handled lots of obnoxious people, but he had gotten lucky this time: the four grown-ups, three children and four teenagers he guided through the national park around Baneswood forest were quiet, respectful towards nature and very interested in the local wildlife. They kept their voices down and picked up their trash without Harry or Darwin having to remind them.

Darwin was happy to have Harry with him. He was another out-of-town werewolf and had quickly become his best friend and the only person aware of Darwin's secret.

The air was crisp and cool already, but it would get even colder once the sun set fully.

Harry was helping the tourists build a stable campfire in the regular pit while Darwin managed the five tents they needed. A perfect, calm, pleasant evening. But wouldn't it be great to share this with Jared? The handsome, tanned, grinning face appeared before Darwin's daydreaming eyes and made him tense instantly. How he hated the haunting that man had put upon him!

Snarling, he put up the last poles and tugged the canvas over the naked framing, his face contorted with tension.

"Darwin, you're growling."

Harry's hushed voice was strained with effort to not laugh. Darwin grunted and fastened the canvas, then rose from his crouch and stared at the finished tent grudgingly. "No, I'm not. See? I'm good. No, I'm perfectly fine," he huffed and waved his hand dismissively at his friend. "Go cook dinner. I'll be there in a minute."

He didn't need to look back at Harry. The smug grin was audible in his voice when Harry murmured, "Alrighty, try to chill a bit. We'll be home tomorrow evening; you'll just have to get by with little ol' me until then."

Darwin whirled around, ready to smack Harry, but the bastard was already jogging back to the campfire, giggling madly. Darwin heard him tell their customers a story about a difficult relationship and bit down another growl. He didn't miss Jared, goddamn it! He hated that guy! He really did, didn't he?

Another five minutes of calming down later, he felt ready to join them at last.

By that time, the pre-prepared bean stew was already simmering and the conversations flowed easily. Darwin sat by quietly, occasionally poking the coals with a stick while he listened to the story of how two of the adults had first met. The lulling voices lured his mind to drift off and back to Jared.

He remembered the sensation of his body rubbing against Jared's vividly. Moans echoed through his brain, the ghost of the spray of hot water tickled his chest, his muscles tightened the moment he had—

A hand clapped his thigh in a friendly manner. His jaws clicked together in shock over the sudden touch ripping him out of his daydream. He realized he hadn't heard a damn word the woman next to him had said. When he saw Harry mouth a 'Thank you' out of the corner of his eyes, he smiled belatedly and said, "Thank you," even though he had no idea what he was thanking her for.

The woman didn't seem to notice his clueless expression and nodded, smiling. Harry on the other hand fought a hard battle against a laughing fit trying to break free from his mouth.

Dinner was hearty and filling, but the hike always took it out of the tourists. It was about nine pm when they all retired to their tents, leaving Harry and Darwin to deal with dirty dishes and their hushed conversation about the best route for the next day's hike.

When they were done, both boys leaned back and groaned softly.

"So, what was I thanking that lady for?" Darwin asked, scratching his belly lazily.

Harry grinned. "She told you how much she hated her husband when she first met him and that you shouldn't worry so much that your friend gets you riled up so easily. It means you have a big heart, ready to develop great amounts of feelings."

Darwin slapped his shoulder and sighed. "Good thing I didn't hear that earlier. I'd have said something crass," he grumbled and flashed a grin. "Big heart, huh?" he echoed.

Harry threw another log into the blaze and watched Darwin carefully. "So, enlighten me. What is it with you and Jared? You look like arch enemies stalking each other, but you stink like heavy porn every time you meet."

Darwin made a face and shook his head. "I don't know, to be honest. I hate him. I mean, I really hate him. I want to scratch his eyes out of his gorgeous face every time he looks at me." Wincing at his own words, he let his head fall forward, slumped down and tugged his hair. Harry was his best friend and he was pretty perceptive. He probably had already noticed how infatuated Darwin was with Jared, waiting for him to discover it for himself. Damn sneaky bastard. "Shit. I can't fall in love. Shit," Darwin muttered.

"Because of your Alpha?"

Harry knew some of the stories about Darwin's life that no-one else had ever heard, not even his adoptive dad. But even Harry didn't know the whole extent of it all, only censored bits and pieces. He had seen the bruises, though. The broken bones. The cuts and the dark rings below his eyes, the way he dressed when he wanted to keep his pain a secret from Harry.

Sheer stubbornness on Harry’s part was the only reason he had told Harry anything. That, and threatening to tell Darwin's father about the injuries. That threat had been enough to send Darwin into a panic. He had broken down and told Harry between sobs about his Alpha being the source of Darwin's regular injuries, 'testing his dominance' as Darwin had put it. That Darwin would die if the pack leader ever found out he was submissive. He had made Harry promise to never tell a soul of this, and Harry had been shaken enough to agree, if reluctantly.

Harry had kept his promise all this time. But now there was Jared, who seemed infatuated with Darwin.

"You don't understand." Darwin kept tugging his hair. "It's not the love that is the problem, it's Jared. He's not submissive like you. I can't play the dominant part if we end up in a relationship. And if I can't play the dominant part, someone will find out, and that means He will find out."

Harry poked the embers around a bit with his stick and said, "Have you ever considered that Jared might be an Alpha himself? Wouldn't a relationship kind of solve all your problems at once if he were?"

Darwin flinched and straightened his back at the thought. Yeah, what if Jared was an Alpha?

Every werewolf knew the distinct difference between a dominant and an Alpha. Dominant werewolves were powerful, intent on climbing the ranks in their pack, and thoroughly obsessed with control over their environment. They had strong protective instincts towards their pack and tended to become unbalanced if they had nobody to care for. They needed submissives like they needed air to breathe, and they needed a pack to stay calm and content.

Alphas were a whole different creature. They were born with the power to rule, highly independent and unwilling to bow their heads to another werewolf. Alphas could survive on their own, they didn't need a pack or submissives to stay balanced, and they were adaptive enough to live all alone near humans without ever becoming feral or dangerous to anyone.

That didn't mean an Alpha would be happy living without a pack or all alone. Every werewolf needed a pack to be able to relax fully. The biggest problem for an Alpha was their inability to get along with others of their rank. They were generally adept at controlling themselves and their need to rise to the top of their pack, able to blend in and play a role. But the mere existence of another Alpha in their home ground raked their nerves on a daily basis, often leading to fights to the death. And since only an Alpha could identify another Alpha, hiding was not an option, no matter how well they played a role.

Being an Alpha didn't automatically mean you got a big, strong body and high charisma, though.

They came in all forms and shapes, from soft, small women to obese men, and most often the birth right didn't run in families. They were nature's roulette game. If a pack's reigning Alpha didn't force them to leave at the age of 18, they also had a right to believe they were supposed to take over the pack.

It was entirely possible that Jared was an Alpha. It was a more probable scenario that he was just a dominant werewolf trying to make Darwin his interim pack.

Sighing, Darwin let go of his hair. "I don't like this. I should go and find out what he is, but I honestly don't think he could help me. I'd just get him killed." The thought of endangering Jared made his chest tight and his insides queasy.

Harry shook his head in disbelief. "Okay, fine. I'll try to find out." Darwin shot him a hard glance and he lifted his hands and grinned. "I won't tell him anything, I promise. Just let me work my magic, okay?"



Envy and Hatred



Darwin

Darwin lived on campus, but he always had dinner with his father on Sunday evenings. It was the only evening he could somehow fit into his rigid schedule and the risk of chancing upon one of the pack meetings was lowest. The one story house sat on a hill at the outskirts of Banes, right next to a small forest with a lovely little pond in the middle, near enough to the city to get help quickly if something happened, but far enough from the busy main roads to avoid additional stress, nosy neighbors and traffic.

His adoptive father, George, opened the door before Darwin got the keys out of his pocket and smiled a lopsided smile at him.

"Hey there, boy. You're late!" George said happily and moved his wheelchair out of the way.

"Sorry. There was a hold-up at base camp. Someone lost his Rolex and we had to look for it," Darwin said, came in and hugged his father. "What's for dinner?"

"Pot roast." George steered his electric wheelchair out of the anteroom and Darwin put his jacket away and took off his shoes. "Mary, Darwin's here!" George called into the house and disappeared around a corner. Seconds later, Mary, the young nurse/housekeeper, stuck her head into the anteroom and pressed a quick, dry kiss on Darwin's cheek.

"Hey, munchkin! Dinner's ready, hurry up!" she said and withdrew again.

Darwin walked after her, shaking his head. His father's apoplectic stroke hadn't been able to slow down his family so far. George had been his Alpha's enforcer for twenty-five years. Now he was chained to his electric wheelchair, his face distorted due to the paralysis of most of the right side of his body, and he had to keep Mary around 24/7.

Darwin walked through the rustic living room, only stopping for a moment to kiss the picture of his dead grandmother. The kitchen was filled with the scent of pot roast and steamed vegetables, underlined with a faint note of fresh paint. It had just been renovated and the new maple covered kitchen units gave it a light, homey feeling. It vaguely reminded Darwin of Jared. Sunny, cheery Jared, who tried so hard to appear snarky all the time. Smiling, Darwin sat down vis-a-vis his father, who gave him a curious once-over.

"How's life?" George asked, grabbing a bottle of apple juice to fill their glasses. With the new, low-set dining table it was easy for the older man to reach everything on it, but the height difference still felt funny and disconcerting to Darwin.

Let's see: I had a quickie in the gym showers, there's a new dominant in town who's ready to ruin my life and Harry's trying to set me up with him. How's your week been? Nope, it didn't sound like an answer George would appreciate. But what else could Darwin say? That he hated being forced to study something he didn't like, that he thought about running away, that his father's oldest friend threatened his life? Would that he could be honest, but his father's health made it impossible. No stress, the doctors had said.

He grabbed his glass and took a big gulp to buy time, set it down with an unintentionally loud thud and cursed softly before answering, "It's okay. I still haven't found time to enter the botany course I told you about, but that's fine. I can try next semester." Darwin had wanted to study botany since childhood, but when he had turned eighteen, the Alpha had ordered him to major in business economics.

George shook his head, fiddled around a bit with his drinking straw until he found it to his liking, and took a sip himself. "I've never understood why Carl insisted on that. It's stupid. Are you sure you don't want me to talk with him?"

Carl Jefferson was their Alpha, and though Darwin trusted and loved his adoptive father, he still feared it would kill George to know the truth about his 'meetings' with Carl. The doctors had explained in no uncertain terms what stress could do to a stroke victim. Stressing out George might cause another stroke and that second one would be his last. So what would happen if Darwin told his father about the things his best friend was doing to his adoptive son? About the late nights in Carl's soundproof cellar, about the marks, the bruises, the fear and the pain... Don't think about it, his inner voice demanded as soon as his mind started to drift towards that dark, ugly place.

Darwin wouldn't risk his father's life, not even to save his own. He smiled broadly and shook his head. "Nah, that's alright. It's not bad, you know. I'm learning a lot of pretty useful stuff."

... not.

Again his father shot him a curious, thoughtful look and shrugged. Only his left shoulder moved; the sight of it hurt Darwin's heart. George had been a strong, well-built, outdoorsy guy before the stroke, but the death of his mother, Darwin's grandmother, and the accident in which his second wife had been killed shortly after had not only short-circuited his brain, but also broken his heart and body.

"Okay, whatever floats your boat. If you change your mind, give me a holler." He winked and Mary chose that moment to interrupt their talk by walking in with a casserole full of steaming, glorious pot roast.

Time flew by over dinner. Afterward, they sat in the living room, sharing hot cocoa-- without the obligatory squirt of rum, since George couldn't drink alcohol anymore— and somehow, the topic switched to their pack. It always did and it made Darwin antsy and unsettled every time.

They talked about gas prices, movies, and about an incident where a police officer shot a Miniature Pinscher in a home raid, then settled in a comfortable silence. George decided to get more cocoa and drove off into the kitchen. Darwin sighed into his half empty mug when Mary turned to him, pulled one knee against her chest, and examined him with a slightly worried expression.

"Did you hear about Giselle?" Mary asked, hands clutching her own mug tighter, never taking her eyes off him.

Darwin wrinkled his brows. Giselle was another submissive pack member, but neither was she someone special in the pack, nor was she in any way related to his family, or Mary's. Just a soccer mom with three little kids, a poodle, and a balding, happy husband.

"Giselle? No. What happened?" he asked, trying to decipher the strange flurry of emotions on Mary's face.

Mary licked her lips and threw a glance over her shoulder to where George had rolled off to. When her eyes met Darwin's again, her gaze begged him to keep quiet about what she was going to tell him. "Well, seems like someone broke into her house. We don't know what exactly happened, but the police found her tied up and scared to death." She threw another glance over her shoulder, than she added hesitantly, "She got beaten up badly, just like your grandmother. But she survived."

Darwin blanched. Break-ins happened all the time, but his grandmother had died when somebody had broken into their house. George had found her tied up, beaten into a bloody pulp, dead. She would still be alive if she hadn't been lying on her back, drowning in her own blood.

"They never caught the guy," Darwin whispered and rubbed his hands over his face. "Does my father know about this?"

Mary sighed, chewing her lower lip for a moment. She was young, only twenty-eight, but in that moment she looked old and worried. "He knows about the break-in, yes, but I didn't have the heart to tell him the details. You know what the doctors said."

Darwin knew all too well. Everyone had reasons to keep secrets from George and the amount of those secrets grew slowly but steadily over the years.

He was about to answer when George wheeled back into the living room and took a big gulp from his newly refilled cup. "Wow, people, why so silent?" he asked cheerily and parked next to the couch. His eyes found Mary. "Did you tell him about the pack meeting?"

Darwin's gaze snapped to Mary, who suddenly looked guilty. "What pack meeting?" he asked, alarmed. This couldn't be good. Darwin avoided pack get-togethers as often as possible. It was an effective way to distance himself from Carl, the Alpha. A distance he dearly wanted to keep.

George explained, "Well, obviously someone is targeting werewolves, what with the break-in at Giselle's and so forth. So Carl has called for an emergency pack meeting and he explicitly asked for you to come."

"A pack meeting, just because someone robbed Giselle's home?" The explanation made Darwin twitchy, but not in a good way. Had Carl finally found a way to get his hands on Darwin again, after nearly four months without an incident?

Nothing in George's face hinted he doubted the reasoning. He nodded, then shook his head and sighed. "Well, they also tried to break into the pack headquarters and someone blew up one of Carl's Jeeps, out in the woods. They didn't succeed with the second break-in. Good for us, because there are files on those laptops we wouldn't want anyone to see."


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