Author's Notes: Okay, so it's been a while. Thanks to everyone who jabbed me with the sharp pointy sticks to get me going again, especially fehrplay, who tracked me down at my LJ, and Running-Wild22. The sticks hurt, but they work!

---Chapter 9---

Luke whistled to himself cheerfully as he drove over to Sophia's house after school. His hair was still a little damp after his second shower of the day. That afternoon, as soon as they reached a reasonable distance from Presley and the gawkers, Sophia had pushed him away. Her lip curled in a sneer as she hissed at him, "You reek of her."

Luke had barely noticed the pain of his shoulder hitting the wall as he anxiously asked, "Sophia, you know that was all her, right? I was there waiting for you and she just grabbed me!" Sniffing his shirt, he continued piteously, "I feel so violated."

Her lips had twitched, but she remained adamant. Sophia didn't let him touch her until he had showered in the locker room and changed into his gym shirt. Luke was allowed to eat lunch with Laura and Sophia, and he got as close as he could, ignoring the human's wide eyed stares. He'd known everything was okay, though, when Sophia walked to him to bio, kissing him before she left. She'd timed it so that most of the class witnessed their goodbyes, including a fuming Presley. All in all, Luke thought it'd been a pretty good day. He had planned on claiming Sophia today, but she had claimed him. He couldn't wait to see what the night would hold.

The Donner house was dark when Luke pulled up. The Sheriff's car was gone and the front shades were drawn. He was supposed to pick Sophia up here and according the dashboard clock, he was right on time. He frowned as the fine hairs on the back of his neck prickled. This day wasn't going as planned at all. Getting out of the car, he scented the air, trying to get a read on the situation. Not sensing anything unusual, he slammed the door and strode up to the front door. Luke knocked, only to have the door swing slightly open under his hand.

A bit alarmed now, Luke slipped in, shutting the door behind him. It only took a few seconds for his vision to adjust to the darkness. He went still in the living room, assessing his surroundings. The house looked okay. Nothing to indicate a struggle or anything. Instantly alert at a slight movement in the kitchen, he moved forward, calling softly, "Sophia?"

He head a low feminine giggle as he drew closer and suddenly, Sophia's scent wrapped around him. Rich and musky and absolutely devoid of all fear. Realizing Sophia was playing with him, Luke's tension melted away and he smirked. He taunted her, "Careful, little girl. Don't bite off more than you can chew."

Still hidden away in the kitchen, Sophia mockingly replied, "Who are you calling little?" The only warning Luke of her next action was the whisper that crept into his mind, Well, come on then, big bad wolf. Catch me if you can.

It was the first time she'd spoken to him mentally. That little scene with Presley had caused Sophia to unleash her Wolf and Luke got the feeling that the Wolf would never submit to being chained again

He heard the back door swing open. Luke moved quickly, in time to see Sophia running for the woods, her long hair flying out behind her. Luke smiled, a grin full of teeth, and, his eyes flashing amber, chased his mate into the heart of the woods.

Sophia knew exactly where she wanted to go. She didn't think as she ran. Operating on instinct, letting the Wolf guide her, she slipped through impossibly narrow spaces, intensely conscious of Luke's pursuit. A thrill shot through her and she exulted in the feeling of speed, of the lithe, smooth motions her body made. The moonbeams, soaring down from the shimmering sky above, danced on the air currents, lighting her way. Sophia could see textures, details, she'd never seen, not even in the brightest day. They were nearing their clearing and Luke was only a few inches away. She slowed down just a fraction, letting him close the distance between them.

Her back slammed against a tree trunk, but Sophia was impervious to any pain tonight. His hands were fisted in her hair and his mouth was so hot, ravenous, on hers. She wriggled closer, and she brushed against his groin. Sophia could feel how much he wanted her, wanted this. She deliberately rubbed against him again. Luke ripped his mouth away, uttering a growl, as he shuddered from the feel of her body. Untangling his hands from her hair, he braced his hands against the tree, trying to exert some control. Sophia took advantage of his distraction. She ducked underneath his arms, stepping around him, so that she was in the middle of the clearing. Sophia had never felt like this before, so impossibly alive, so comfortably female. She wanted more.

Luke craned his neck around to glance back at her. He found her staring at his ass, her tongue darting out to moisten suddenly dry lips. The innocent action sent fire flooding through him and he twisted to launch at her. She saw him coming and purposely shifted off balance so that the impact would cause her to fall. In an instinctive move, Luke cushioned her from the ground with his body. Exactly what Sophia intended.

He found himself on the forest floor with Sophia straddling him. He reached up for her at the same time she leaned down and their mouths met in another mind-blowing kiss. Luke was drowning in her taste. His hands were clamped firmly on her ass, all those pent up hormones bursting free. Sophia's hands slipped underneath his shirt and he growled at the feel of her skin on his. He let her pull his shirt off, reveling at the look in her eyes. Luke couldn't resist and grabbed her neck, pulling her down again for another kiss. This was his mate, she was on top of him, and he was lost in her kiss.

It was much later when Luke came back to his senses. Sophia was now minus her shirt and was reaching back to undo her bra. The reality of the situation finally hit him and he bucked upward. Sophia, jostled by the unexpected movement, tilted sideways, her hands flying up. With her balance off-kilter, it was easy for him to flip them over so that he was on top. He pinned her wrists above her head, keeping his weight on his knees. The little witch slid one leg up around his waist, saying seductively, "Oh, I think I like this."

Another shudder ran through Luke and he dropped his head to her shoulder, only to jerk back again when she began to nibble on his neck. "Soph, baby, we need to stop."

He voice was hoarse and he swallowed hard as he looked down at her. Sophia wasn't wearing her glasses and her eyes were amber. She was panting a little, a light flush trailing from her cheeks to her cleavage, and he tried desperately to rip his gaze away from her breasts. Slowly, Sophia shook her head. Her tone serious, she replied, "No. I'm ready. I want this. I want you."

God, she was going to kill him. He didn't need to worry about hunters or traps. Sophia was going to kill him. Luke attempted to remain firm. He had to do what was best for his mate, regardless of what she wanted. Sophia's safety and well being was paramount. "If you're ready now, then you'll be ready later."

Sophia's body stiffened. "What, are you not ready? Don't you want me?"

Luke looked at her like she was crazy and rested more of his weight on her, letting her feel all of him pressing into her. "Feel that?" She nodded mutely. "Then don't doubt I want you. But this isn't just a first for you, y'know. It's never been like this for me before. This isn't some casual thing, you're my mate. There's so much more to it."

Sophia wiggled her wrists a bit and Luke released her. She pushed herself up onto her elbows, forgetting her shirtless condition, and Luke shifted to lay on his side besides her. Sophia looked over at him with an earnest expression and asked, "So what is holding you back?"

Propping his head up with his elbow, he couldn't resist laying a hand on her bare stomach. He petted her, just a little, as he answered. "We're not human. I mean, yeah, there's your mom and everything, but your body wants go through the Change. It's ready. But I don't know if you're really ready. If you understand what it's going to mean."

She rolled to face him, twining her fingers with his. "Luke, I do understand. My life, all that I am, it's all going to change. Nothing's going to be the same and it's scary. Still, my Wolf…I felt her today, she came alive within me. She's ready, I'm ready. No matter what happens, I want to move forward."

He had to kiss her again, his impossibly brave and stubborn mate. "Baby, it's not that simple. No one knows where we are. I left my cell in my car and I doubt you have yours. If something happened, if something went wrong…"

Luke trailed off, his eyes staring at a point over her shoulder. Sophia snuggled closer, her hands curling around his shoulders. He met her gaze again, wrapping an arm around her waist, pulling her close, as he went on. "If you're in trouble, I'm not going to be able to leave you to get help. I might be able to contact Mom through our link, but it'd be hard for me to concentrate, plus the distance would seriously drain me. I won't take that kind of risk with you. Not after what nearly happened to Sarah. What did happen to my sister."

He fell silent. He could feel Sophia's warmth against him, her breath against his chest, but it wasn't sexual now. It was comforting. It didn't need to be said that she understood. They laid together, in each other's arms, until the night grew cooler and Sophia shivered. He kissed her and then pushed into a sitting position. Hunting around, Luke found their shirts. He pulled his on and then reluctantly handed over hers. If he had his way, Sophia would always be half naked when they were alone. He thought about making it a rule after she went through the Change. Partial nudity at all times. Luke grinned wolfishly at her and Sophia rolled her eyes. He slung an arm around her shoulders as they started walking.

At her house, they found that Matt was still gone. Too late now to make the movie, they decided to head over to Luke's house for a change. Sophia left her father a note and they made the drive to the Alpha mansion in silence. Luke sprawled out on the couch and Sophia settled next to him. They watched horrible B movies and made fun of the actors. Sophia fell asleep first, her body practically on top of him, as if he was her mattress. Luke knew he should wake her up, take her home, but after his incredible restraint tonight, he felt he deserved a reward. Settling more comfortably into the sofa, he adjusted Sophia so that she was caught between his body and the back of the couch. His mate secure in his arms, Luke finally fell asleep.