Blood or Chocolate

Chapter 1: Reassured

I awoke in a bed of leaves, once more in my human form. Gabriel was on his side beside me with his strong arm wrapped leisurely around my waist. He was staring down at me his expression indecipherable.

I met his gaze uncertainly. I did not know what to do. Last night mating as wolves and as humans, everything was so simple: instinct and desire overriding thought or conscience. But here now in the morning he was Gabriel and I was Vivian and I had no idea what our relationship was.

With Aiden everything had been so easy after the initial worry over how to act human. I was the pursuer, the one that drove our relationship to each new level. With Gabriel, I didn't know my role, of course I was queen bitch, I was his mate -now quite officially in both skins- but what else? He had chosen me, winning the bitches fight had not automatically made me his; he could have chosen someone else. But he hadn't. He had given me reasons when I asked last night. They had mostly to do my strength and devotion to the pack, and him wanting me physically, of course, but did that mean he didn't feel any emotional affection? No, he had protected me. He had kept Aiden alive out of his feelings for me. But what were they exactly? I didn't know what to expect from Gabriel.

"Hey," he said finally with a deep throated husky purr after a few minutes of staring into my face.

"Hey," I made my voice sound as casual as possible, like I did this all the time. Which I didn't. My brief relationship with Rafe at 15 had been just that, brief. I liked to tease him, fool around a little and leave him wanting for more, but with my part obsession with Axel I had never been willing to give him more at the time. With Aiden I had wanted so badly to give him all of me, but that had not happened. If I had let him go on believing I was just as human as he was he would have gladly taken all I had to offer in that form. I never should have started anything with him in the first place. He never would have been able to accept me for what I was. I knew that now.

Gabriel didn't seem to notice my silence. I must have succeeded in sounding nonchalant about whatever our situation was, but regardless he was the first to speak next, "It was a pleasant surprise to wake up next to you princess. Or should I say my queen? I was almost convinced you would have run away again."

"I'm not running away." I said calming keeping all vulnerability out of my voice.

"Good." He kissed me lightly on a deep scratch he'd made with his sharp teeth last night on my collarbone and trailed his fingers up and down my bare arm. I gave myself over to the feeling of his fingers on my skin and his warm body next to me for a few moments.

"You know this doesn't mean you can control me wolf man? Just because I agreed to be your mate." I pulled back to tell him. I was still going to be in control over my own life, queen bitch thing aside, nothing would change that.

"Never dreamed of it, Viv." He placed his mouth over mine and tugged on my lower lip with his own lips. I obligingly opened my mouth to omit his familiar tongue, pressing back with my lips. We carried on a bit, but our bodies were too spent from the night of exhaustive mating in both forms to really work up enough to propel a third mating so soon after such a short rest.

"Let's go to bed," he mumbled into my mouth before pulling me up with him off the forest floor. We rinsed off in the stream I had weeks before used to wash kerosene off from an unsuccessful and unnecessary suicide attempt.

Gabriel must have been following my train of thought because he said, "To bad we don't have Gregory's shirt to dry off with this time." He pulled me out of the water with him and into his arms, carrying me through the high grass to my home. "Of course this gives me unlimited opportunity to stare at my prize." He shot me a wickedly smug smile trailing his gaze over my body he held in his arms.

I wasn't going to allow that smug smile to stay for too long, "Catch me if you can!" I called jumping down and reveling in the effortlessness in which I changed into my true form, loving the sweet ache of tendons as I changed into a beautiful light golden brown wolf and ran.

Luckily no one rose this early on a Sunday morning, so he was free to thunder after me in wolf-pursuit to my backyard where I paused long enough for the both of us to change back and for him to steal a kiss and tug on his boxers and jeans he'd left lying in the yard. Then I quickly and gracefully made my way up to my open window.

I stretched out on my bed not bothering to cover up and waited just a few seconds before Gabriel's wide shoulders came into view outside the window and he stepped into my room grinning at the welcoming sight before him. My mouth went dry at that smile and the wide bare chest and sinewy arms that went with it. This was the pack leader and he was mine, all mine.

He laid down on me, his mouth at mine. His weight crushed me into the mattress and played with my sanity. It was impossible with him pressed against me like that that I not be deliciously affected. I pulled my arms around him to rest my hands on his strong back and hold him to me as close as he could get. It was amazing, this strong attraction we had towards each other that had not been apparent to me or had not taken over before now.

But sadly we were both still exhausted from our exuberant night together and inevitably we calmed ending up lying side by side, shoulder to shoulder slowing our breathing and gazing at the ceiling. His shaggy hair was receding back to its normal only slightly longish length and his teeth and claws were retracting. I assumed I similarly was cooling off.

He painted circles of fire with his fingers on the hand he held, doodling aimless invisible designs as he thought. Finally, he said, "I want you to come home with me."

My brow furrowed and I turned on my side to face him, "What? Why can't we rest here?"

"Well first off princess, your bed isn't really big enough for me to lay with you and I really don't want your mother waking us in a few hours. Also, I want to start our future together alone at my place, not with Esme and Tomas in the other room."

I thought for a moment. I knew what he meant, but was I ready to move out with Gabriel? I was only 16. Did I want to leave Esme? She was annoying and more often than not more of an embarrassment than a mother, but I loved her, loved the mother she was when dad was alive. Could I leave her so soon? I remembered fantasizing about running away with Aiden only weeks ago but I never would have done it. I would not be able to leave my pack, my family- disagreeable and estranged though they may be at the moment-moving in with Gabriel would make me closer to them, but was I ready for that? Was I ready?

As if reading my mind Gabriel reassured, "I'm not taking you away from Esme yet. You can stay here as long as you want. I just want you to stay with me sometimes. Spend the night. Share my bed." His voice was a husky whisper of promises for nights to come.

I shivered and clung to him. "Ulf will be there." Ulf had been staying with Gabriel since Gabriel had killed his red-bitch of a mother, Astrid, for endangering the pack and plotting against me.

Gabriel pulled an arm around me, "Ulf spends the night with the rest of the…remaining five after they run together. He won't be back until late this afternoon," he said reassuringly.

It really wasn't Ulf and it really wasn't about leaving my mom. I still wasn't sure how he felt about me. If he really cared. That's what was bothering me, the fact that I didn't know where we stood emotionally. I knew for him to do all the things he did for me in the last hellish months that he had to care for me. I knew I cared for him, a lot. I wouldn't have let him catch me. Never would I have given him everything. With Aiden I had subconsciously stopped myself by turning into a wolf, showing my true self which sickened him and stopped the course of our relationship, no such interruption had happened with Gabriel, he knew my true self, knew every side of me and still here he was…

"What are you thinking baby." Gabriel asked softly kissing the tip of my nose, "You look like you did earlier, when you woke up."

"Just about…things, stuff, nothing important."

But he could read me better than that. "It's not nothing. You look…sad." Gabriel shook his head and had a tender look on his face as he said, "I'm your mate Vivian. It's not just my job to protect you and provide for you, but also to make sure you're happy. Now tell me what's wrong."

His voice was low and commanding, that coupled with the fact that I could feel his muscled chest pressed up against me made me glad, not for the first time, that he was not my enemy.

"It's just that…" I wanted to be my normal tough self and say something teasing, strong and sarcastic and talk myself out of this embarrassing conversation.

"Yes?" Gabriel practically growled persuasively.

"I don't know what we are. I don't know what you… feel. I hardly know what I feel and you want…me to stay with you sometimes. And that's …a type of commitment." It all came out in a fast blur paused only by moments of unsure wording, I cursed myself for being so easily cracked. I felt hot all over. I felt more exposed by the truth in my words than lying in from of him bare like I was. At least I knew I was beautiful, desirable to him. I did not know how he felt and as much as I hated to admit it even to myself, it scared me shitless.

Finally, after staring at me in surprise for a few more moments he said, "Of course it's a commitment. But not nearly as large as the one we already made to ourselves and to the pack. We mated, Vivian. I do not take all you've given me lightly."

He knew I had been a virgin. That was more embarrassing than anything. I had wanted him to believe I had been with someone before: Rafe, Aiden, anyone. My pride took a hit along with the fact that he had not addressed the subject of his feelings, just the level of commitment we had.

"Vivian." He pulled me up so we were sitting facing one another on my bed. I pulled my large pillow in front of my body to cover me from my chin to my knees. I could not look at him.

"Viv, look at me." He said in his strong voice, pulling my face up when I refused.

"You know, you must know, what I feel about you by now." His eyes were soft and somewhere between condescension, disbelief, and unmistakable affection.

I didn't, couldn't answer him. Should I know? Had I missed some obvious sign?

"Vivian, I love you." That was all he said. Quietly, while he looked in my eyes, he told me just what I wanted to hear. But that wasn't the reason why he did it. He meant it. It was like his only reason for not saying it sooner was either not to frighten me off or he thought it was so obvious that it was unnecessary.

I let a wide grin stretch across my face, and leaned forward, kissing him full on the mouth, crushing the pillow between us. I finally pulled back, my eyes shining in the reflection of his. "I'll get my things." My voice came out in a seductive whisper.

I didn't feel self-conscious climbing out of bed naked and crossing the room to grab my yellow duffel bag on top of my dresser and looking around inside to pull out a few pairs of under things, shorts, shirts and tank tops. I went into the bathroom down the hall and grabbed my toothbrush, hairbrush, shampoo and body soap, but just the overnight (or over-day in this case) essentials and stuffed them into the duffel bag. I stopped to examine the outfit I had chosen for today as I quickly shimmied into it.

I had slipped on a sexy pair of black lace panties and bra, courtesy of the five on my 16th birthday. I was wearing a short jean skirt over them and a tight yellow tank top that set off my golden skin and hair. I stepped into my black flip flops and I was set. I opened the door of the bathroom, walked down the hall quietly, careful not to wake Rudy, Esme and Tomas, and finally entered my room.

I had expected to see him waiting anxiously on the bed looking towards my bedroom door. He was on the bed. He was facing the door. He was also laying down, spread out, sleeping.

"Ahem," I cleared my throat to wake him. I had to do so several times before he finally awoke.

"Sorry baby, dozed off…" He trailed off when he saw me.

A low growl emitted from his throat. Then he was grinning smugly again. He knew it was all for him.

I wanted to wipe that smug smile from his face. "I'm hoping we run into Bucky on the way." Bucky lived in the apartment below Gabriel.

"Sure," he said confidently, and came over to wrap his arms around my waist to hold me there while he kissed me.

"Do you think it's alright to sneak past Esme's room on the way out? It's getting light out and I don't want anyone looking up that pretty little skirt if we climb down the window." Gabriel said while pulling on the T-shirt he had abandoned in my room the night before.

I shook my head at his protective possessiveness. "It should be fine." It was easy sneaking past Esme: she was entertaining Tomas. I blushed as a low moan and a giggle could be heard from behind the door.

"Looks like we're not the only one's enjoying ourselves this morning," Gabriel smirked leading me down the hall quietly.

By the time we climbed onto Gabriel's bike, which had been parked on our front lawn, the sun had come up. I wrapped my arms around his waist and rested my face against his back in exhaustion.

"We'll be home soon baby. We'll be home soon." He assured me speeding across town towards the sun.