Walking Slow

"Cripes," Virginia said, raising up on her elbows, the spread of Wolf's coat and a nest of crushed foliage beneath her. "They don't play hide 'n seek like that in New York."

Wolf hovered over her, looking rakish as she felt. His hair at tangled angles where her fingers had been, his long shirt open and untucked, his expression sated, but alert. Aware. Ready for more. "They most certainly don't," he said, his hazel eyes still showing fire in a way that excited Virginia, making her feel whole and loved, and a little bit wild. "This is our game. Yours and mine."

She liked the sound of that. "Mine and yours," she echoed.

His hand touched her face, brushing back twigs and fern leaf, and stray wisps of hair. "You're beautiful," he said. "Dreamy. Creamy. S-s- s-succulent." He kissed her mouth, pressing his weight down on her slowly. "Addictive as magic shoes…."

Virginia met his kiss, her lips opening under his. Their tongues touched, and teased. "More addictive," she vowed, lacing her fingers behind his neck, keeping him down to her.

As if he needed encouragement.

Wolf growled, making a sound deep in his throat that Virginia recognized. Hunger. Arousal. She growled back, a willing response that spurred him on. And on. She opened under him. They growled, whimpered, rolled together. Top, bottom, bottom, top, behind. Wolf language. Mating song. Rhythm old as time.

He lay with his face pressed between her neck and shoulder when it was done, waiting for even breathing to return, and his heartbeat to slow. Without pulling away from her he rolled onto his back, taking her with him in a tangle of bare legs, cleaved torsos and burgundy shirt. She rested on top of him, smiling languidly down. He raised his hand and scratch- scratched her temple. Virginia stared into his eyes, hazel, giving, and could see her life there, her deepest love feeling reflected and returned. Tears filled her eyes, uncharacteristic and overwhelming emotion her chest. She thought she might implode.

She ducked her head, dodging the naked intensity of his gaze, and put her cheek against his chest. She hugged him fiercely to her. "I love you," she muttered against him. "I'm just not-- I'm not very good at this."

He chuckled low, the deep sound comforting under her ear. "Oh my creamy Virginia, I beg to differ."

"No-- Not at that," she said, feeling her cheeks blush pink. "At this-- The saying part. I don't know what to—"

His arms tightened around her. "Doesn't matter what you say," he told her, his low breathing and quiet strength surrounding her. Filling her. "It's what you do. How you do it. And with whom."

She sighed against him, her arms tucked under his, holding him to her and their bodies tight together. "With you, Wolf," she breathed. "Only you."

"I know that, Virginia."

She drew back slightly, chin raised, to meet his gaze. "How?" she asked. "How do you know?"

He laughed again, casting a brief glance down. "You mean, beside the obvious?" he said, and then at her disapproving expression: "I was the first. I'll be the only. And I know that, Virginia, because I know you. Your mind. Your heart." Wolf turned his face into her neck and inhaled deeply. "Your scent." After a moment he paused, drawing slightly back. His eyes flashed, and his frown line deepened. He leaned back into her and inhaled again, this time from a slightly different angle, and then again, as if for clarity.

Virginia giggled, pressing him back. She thought he was being silly, and his silky hair tickled her chin. "Wolf, what are you—"

He stopped in mid-sniff. A look of wonder crossed his face. "Cripes," he said.

She shook her head and pushed off his chest, ready to separate. "What? You smell us both. I should hope so." She shivered a little. "I'm getting cold." She rolled off him and onto her knees, then sat up and started scouting for their clothing. Bits and pieces were everywhere, to the right, the left, hanging from an odd fern. She plucked her tank top from the bush. "Have you seen my sweatshirt?" she asked, leaning forward to dig deeper into the foilage, searching for whatever she'd missed. She found her discarded socks, his boots, her shoes. And her underwear. She dragged what she could on as Wolf rolled to one side, his eyes looking glazed and faraway. He retrieved her bra and sweatshirt from underneath him, then handed the garments to her without comment.

Virginia stared at him. "Wolf?" He didn't answer. She watched him curiously as she dressed. Something wasn't right. He seemed distracted, and she'd only really seen him distracted when he had something major on his mind. Like marriage proposals or the next full moon. "Are you all right?"

He looked at her blankly. "Yes." He got to his feet. "Of course."

Virignia narrowed her eyes. She didn't believe him. "You're acting very strange," she said.

Wolf blinked at her as if to clear the haze from his eyes, but the words he spoke and the expression he wore didn't quite match. "Everything is perfect, Virginia."

She studied him a long moment, pulling her sweatshirt on over her tank top but leaving the thing unzipped. The air had been cool with no clothes on, but now she could feel the afternoon sun work it's sultry magic. She stood apart from him and stretched, beginning to feel various aches in her body from having rolled around on the ground for the past few hours. He watched her carefully, though he pretended not to. Like he pretended not to take furtive sniffs around the bed of greenery she'd just vacated. Maybe that's it, she thought. Maybe Wolf is missing us already. She knew he was romantic. And emotional. Maybe this was all part of something she needed to understand.

"Everything's perfect, but you look as if you've lost something. What is it?" she asked, walking toward him. He straightened, as though he'd been caught with something he hadn't meant to share, like lamb cakes or chocolate. "Wolf? Is it some kind of post-coital psychosis lupine thing, something we should talk about?"

"Now would not be a good time," he insisted, but with enough curve to his mouth she wasn't overtly alarmed. He reached for his trousers and pulled them on. "We really should go," he said. "The sun is warm but there's a chill in the air. That's not good for him—um—you."

Virginia made a face. "Not good for me? Please. I've slept in a gypsy camp, a swamp and a dragon's mouth this past week, Wolf. An afternoon in the bushes isn't going to kill me."

He looked at her as if she'd grown two heads. "What?"

She paused in the act of putting on her shoes and stood there looking at him, one shoe on, one in hand. "What is wrong with you?"

"Nothing. I just— I don't want you…to come down with a cold."

"A cold?" She balanced on one foot, not very well, hopping in a circle as she tried to slip on her other shoe. "We've been naked in the bushes since morning and you're just now---" Hitting an uneven patch of land she stumbled, and with nothing to grab on to started to go down.

"Virginia!" Wolf lunged, catching her around the waist in time to prevent her fall. He set her upright, looking so earnest, so concerned, Virginia laughed. What damage would a little tumble have done, beyond a bruise to her bottom and ego? His expression stopped her from asking. One palm firm against her abdomen, the other at her back to stay her, Wolf said, "Huff-Puff! You must be careful. Walk slow."

Virginia couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Walk slow?" Now that they'd mated, what? He was her protector, her keeper? Clearly he still had a thing or two to learn about her, what she could tolerate and what she wouldn't.

Wolf stepped back, haphazardly buttoning and tucking in his shirt. One of the front tails stuck out. Viriginia noticed but let it go. "Yes, walk slow," Wolf said, taking up his coat from the crush of ferns that had been their comfy bed. There was nothing left of their secret now but indentations in the brush, and even that would be gone with a good wind or a little rain. Virginia sighed, a little sad to see the whole thing come apart. "Walking slow is important," Wolf continued, shaking out his coat. "It's what a wolf's mate does when-- I mean, it's the customary thing to do if she's…." His voice trailed off. He didn't seem to know how to go on with the accounting, or even if he should go on with it at all.

Virginia waited, curious and perplexed. But he didn't continue. She sighed. "Okay…. It's the customary thing to do when…" she prompted.

Wolf stared at her. He opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again, clearly working for the words. "It's the customary thing to do when she—uh—when a maiden mates for the first time. Yes, when she—"


"—receives her mate and her body is still pliant and—"

"You've got to be kidding!"

"—processing the change. Well, you asked!" Wolf cried, following after Virginia as she stumbled out of the ferns and into the open, tugging her loose sweatshirt together in front. "Virginia, my creamy love, I realize this is foreign to you and more than a little odd, but I'd really appreciate it if you—" She glanced at him sideways, catching the easing motion he made with his hands. "—if you'd just humor me. Let your body breathe. And don't be so hasty. Walk slow…."

Virginia stopped. Wolf stopped just behind her, looking solicitous and anxious, as though he were afraid she'd turn on him and burst. "What is wrong with you?" she demanded.

"Nothing. I don't—"

"You're acting so weird."

He ran a hand through his dark hair, head tilted. "Well—I—uh—I must be, it must be—post-coit—coit—coit—what you said."

"Post-coital psychosis?"

He snapped his fingers and pointed at her. "Yes! That's it!"

Hands on hips, Virginia looked at him. "Really?"

"Oh, yes. I'm-- I'm an ardent, devout, extremely passionate wolf, and I've just—we both—" He made a silly face and gestured at Virginia, keen eyes focused in the vicinity of her skirt. "Well—"

Virginia almost laughed, his explanation and behavior too ludicrous and bizarre, even for Wolf. But his sincerity was disarming. She straightened and studied him through narrow, discerning eyes. Maybe there was something to this, like his animal instincts or susceptibility to the full moon. She thought about it a minute, and realized that while she was an independent, modern woman and being coddled wasn't her style, maybe, after sex, Wolf needed something a little more…commital. "Well, okay," she said, in an effort to understand. "Are you always this way after—after—" she gestured lamely as he had, only toward his trousers. "You know."


"Does this sort of thing happen every time we make love?"

"Cripes! No! I mean—no. Maybe—maybe four or five times over our lifetime, if we're lucky."


"Oh, yes. Four would make things even and nice. Maybe two of each. But five-- Oh, Virginia. I've always dreamed of five."

She was confused again. "You have."

He stepped into her, touching her face with gentle fingers, his hazel eyes misting, full of love. Promising everything, forever, that she'd ever want or need. "Huff Puff," he said. "I have."

She smiled dreamily under his caress, entranced by his eyes and the dulcet tone of his voice. He leaned down to her and their lips touched, lingering. After what seemed an eternity, but not long enough, Wolf drew away. Virginia stumbled back a little then righted herself, smiling drunkenly, her small blue sweatshirt dipping off her shoulders. She started off in front of him again.

Wolf watched her go, mesmerized by the pale gleam of her slight but strong shoulders, the gentle sway of her hips, and the sweet aroma of their mingled scents trailing her. There was another scent that clung to his creamy love, a new one, barely detectable, created of a joining and a destiny he'd only dreamed of, until now. Feeling a little drunk himself he followed in her steps, keeping her in his sights but making no effort to catch her.

She was walking slow.