Sorry for the delay - I forgot Deadlocked was out and I couldn't finish this while I had that waiting to be read!
Quick Update: Alcide and Maria-Star are spending the weekend of the full moon together.
I was amazed how long we slept. It was well past noon when we woke, all blurry eyed. Alcide pulled me towards him, but in a rough voice admitted. "I'm sorry, I have to eat."
"I'm glad you said that. I need breakfast or lunch. Anything!"
Soon after, Alcide was looking into his huge fridge as if he wasn't quite sure what he might find. He had someone in to clean the house, I guessed that she had filled his fridge too. Mrs Thornberry was Were, she knew we needed to eat more than usual over these three days of the moon and she'd stocked up accordingly. I found bread and pastries, so handed Alcide a chocolate croissant for starters. This was going to be a serious breakfast.
Preparation was a joint effort and it wasn't long before we were sitting at the kitchen table with a massive meal between us. We both had bare feet and, under the table, had them tangled together, but the food was more important right now.
Ham, from the pack, called Alcide to arrange the car pool for the run tonight. The night before the full moon was almost as important to us, especially when it fell on a Saturday night. I topped up our coffee, while Alcide told Ham he'd call him back. We only had muffins left to eat now, I had my eye on the big blueberry one. I would have probably fought Alcide for it, but he didn't begin eating straight away.
"Do you wanna run with the pack tonight?"
"Sure." I shrugged, this muffin was amazing.
"How about we stay here?" He asked.
"And don't run?"
"We could run here." Alcide nodded towards his window and the huge garden outside. Maybe I looked uncertain, but he began talking about how much space he had here. There wasn't much space at the front of the house, but out the back was a large enclosed garden. I knew about the large patio space, there was a fountain and fancy wrought iron furniture, then a formal lawn surrounded by tall trees. Beyond that I'd never explored, Alcide explained that there was a big area behind the lawn, with trees, bushes and enough foliage for a Were to feel hidden.
I was warming to the idea, but not entirely convinced. "Is it really safe?" I had to make sure.
Alcide seemed confident. "The neighbours on that side are away, and on this side they like a drink on a Saturday night, and I offered them a reduced rate in triple-glazed windows."
I couldn't help laughing at his pre-planning.
"Come on!" He was grinning. "Run with me, just me."
I was happy to agree.
It was a strange day, we were alternately lazy and hyperactive, Alcide mowed the lawn and I lazed in the sun. Luckily, I remembered to take off my nail varnish, because even clear varnish isn't right for a wolf.
Only a couple of hours after breakfast, I stood eating a bowl of ice-cream, studying the fridge contents again and planning ahead for dinner. Alcide hadn't wanted ice-cream but grabbed a spoon and stole some of mine. "I never eat desserts, this has been in the freezer months." He commented with a wink. "Maybe I do have a sweet tooth after all. I blame you."
I got a little hyper later and found myself changing bedding and cleaning the bathroom, while telling myself it was practically spotless and he paid a housekeeper to do this.
We lounged on a sofa in front of the TV, one minute I was watching, the next I was sleeping. When I woke with a jump, I think I woke Alcide too.
"We should eat." He said quite abruptly, but I knew how he felt. I was hungry again. We snacked while preparing the steak, potatoes and a huge salad that I had planned earlier. Once we were eating I felt myself feel calmer, Alcide seemed more content too.
"I hate the daytime, just waiting for it to get dark." Alcide admitted, once he'd finished his meal. "I used to be worse when I was younger, before I had ever even changed. I got ridiculously moody. I've no idea how my parents coped."
"I never know if I'm excited or nervous."
"You get nervous about the change?"
"A little." I confessed. "And tonight, because I'm somewhere new. And it's just the two of us..."
He leaned across the table and took my hand. "Please don't worry about being here with me. I promise you'll be safe, but we can go out with the rest of the pack if you'd feel better."
"No, I want to be here with you. I do. I just feel even weirder than normal today." I shrugged and looked out to the garden. We would be out there later.
After eating we returned to the den, to let our food settle and wait for the moon. There was only one topic of conversation. "Do you remember the first time you changed?" I asked him. "My dad said he was there."
"Really? I just remember loads of the pack being there, but my grandfather in particular, he didn't leave my side. I was really excited but trying to pretend I was calm, like that kinda thing happened every day." He grinned at the memory. "And you? I don't remember you being all that young when you first ran with us."
"The first few years I ran with mom and dad, it was really intimidating when I first ran with the pack. Really different."
"It might have been easier if you'd ran with us from the beginning?"
I didn't like to disagree outright, but explained. "We were pretty new here then. My dad didn't like the idea of his fifteen-year-old daughter, naked and amongst a pack of wolves that he didn't know too well."
Alcide's eyebrows rose up a little. He understood, but I doubted that he'd needed to think about this before. "Do you feel safe with the pack now?"
"Ahh, most of the time. It was better with Colonel Flood."
"It was." He certainly agreed with me.
We were quiet again, waiting again. I was still having trouble settling and got up from the sofa to peer through the window into the garden.
"Come back here." Alcide said in a soft voice, he was laid on the sofa and certainly looked inviting. "Not long now." He murmured as I joined him. We tangled our legs together, both of us just in shorts, his skin was as hot as mine but it felt comfortable. He was playing with my hair, it was like being groomed. I pressed myself into him, my hands slipping under his t-shirt, wanting contact.
I was calm again and this time when he told me he loved me, I was able to say it right back. No hesitation. He was everything to me, as important as my family. More important than the pack that I had happily ditched to be alone with him tonight.
I knew he didn't want children, not even a Were child. His ex, Debbie Pelt, had made sure every female in the pack knew that about Alcide. I had a choice of no children with Alcide, or children with another man, another Were. I'd never given much thought to children, how would I feel in a couple of years?
"Let's get ready." Alcide interrupted my thoughts. It seemed a little early as the moon wasn't totally up, but that was fine.
I was on the edge of the sofa, so jumped up and pulled him to his feet. We went through to the formal lounge, the place with all the leather chairs where last nights adventure had begun.
Already Alcide had placed a couple of large dark towels on the thick rug by the patio doors, so we didn't trail mud into his newly decorated house later that night. He opened one of the patio doors a little, not wanting a couple of wolves stuck in his house. Door latches were pretty difficult without opposable thumbs.
To be ready, we only needed less clothing, so I stood on my tip-toes to pull his t-shirt over his head.
When I was sixteen I learnt not to wear a bra when I was due to change. I had shredded a brand new one once, because I had changed quicker than expected. A whole month's babysitting money, quickly reduced to scraps of muddy white lace and elastic. These days, whenever I might change, I tried not to wear anything that I would miss, which was why I was only wearing a vest top now. Alcide pulled it over my head, his warm hands making my warm skin tingle, my nipples harden.
Our shorts hit the floor soon after. To my amusement, Alcide had gone commando and he was clearly enjoying helping me undress. I was only wearing a simple pair of white cotton panties, he knelt before me and lowered them down my legs, oh-so slowly. His green eyes surveyed every inch of my body, I was thrilled at his study.
"Come down here." He tugged at my fingers and I sank to the floor with him.
Now the wait was almost over, we could relax. We lay on the rug in front of the doors, kissing and stroking and touching each other, while a warm breeze wafted in from outside.
He let me push him onto his back and I moved astride him, easing myself onto his cock, with a groan of pleasure. I was over eager, beginning to ride him hard, but he murmured "There's no hurry," and holding my hips, he slowed my momentum.
We made love, slowly and luxuriously, I felt the jitters of the day melt away. We should have been doing this all day, time would have passed much more pleasurably.
Finally, we rested. He was above me and I was happy to be caged between his arms. After being a little nervous, my excitement was rising now, I ready for the rest of the night, but then everything happened a little too quickly.
Abruptly, Alcide moved away from me. The moon was almost full, bright and high enough in the sky to shine into the room. The shock of our close call showed on his face for a moment. He was still in touching distance when I saw his eyes change, there was a rumbling growl from his chest, then he stretched and I heard the bone-crunching noise that I knew well.
So quickly, there was a wolf in the room with me. Normally I didn't watch others change, I was generally busy changing myself. I wasn't often so close to another wolf either, it was quite unnerving.
I knew it could be very bewildering when you had first changed. You needed a moment to recall where you were, why you were there and assess any dangers. I wasn't sure about Alcide, but I had never changed indoors, would he find that strange?
How would it feel to become a wolf, indoors, with a woman beside you, who was naked and covered with your scent? How long would it take him to remember where he was, who I was and what had been happening?
Relaxed and happy five minutes ago, I was now getting scared. As a wolf, Alcide was huge. I stayed low, not wanting to stand or move quickly and be seen as a threat.
The moon was shining down on me too, why wasn't I changing? I normally never had to try to change. It usually just took me over. This situation was too new for me. I had to stop panicking.
The wolf was calm and seemed to be waiting patiently. I imagined he was pretty confused, trying to work out why I was still human. He took a step forward and gently nudged my shoulder with his nose, then gave me a lick with his rough tongue and whined. He looked out at the moon and the garden. He knew where we should be.
Was I too freaked out to change?
For fuck's sake, Maria-Star! You are being ridiculous, more wuss than Were! Do not spoil this night!
That was all it took, a short spike of anger and I felt a hum in my body. My vision blurred, then became clearer. I was warm, so warm, it was wonderful. I stood and let myself become accustomed to my other body.
I was in a building but it wasn't a problem, there was a way out, I could see grass and trees ahead.
My Alpha was with me. He seemed to be checking I was fine, or was he checking me out? He circled me, sniffing a little, then pressed the side of his body alongside mine. We were still for a moment, then he led the way through the gap in the building, so we could get outside.
We knew that, as humans, we had checked over this place, but we could never entirely trust humans, even our humans. My Alpha took the lead around the side of the building, I followed checking behind us too. The main scents were ourselves as human, a vehicle and fresh cut grass, nothing to cause concern.
The front of the building was the most open, the place where we were most likely to be seen. We moved quickly to relative safety at the far side of the building, once there, we reached a high fence with tall trees evenly spaced along it.
I couldn't resist. I went round one tree, then around the other side of the next, weaving in and out.
I froze when My Alpha turned and snarled at me, then I hit the ground and whined my apologies. I was ashamed, we had not checked this place out yet and I was playing like an excited pup. He stood over me for a moment, huge and angry. I was silent and still as a little fear ran though me. After a moment of quiet, he nudged me with his nose and I slowly got to my feet, carefully keeping my head low. My Alpha turned back to his inspection and I followed close behind.
We had almost circled the building, and rather than go back to to our starting point, we continued to where the grass ended and the space filled with trees and bushes began. My Alpha wriggled between the thick greenery and I followed quickly, but when I looked up he was gone. His scent went one way, but I heard a movement in the other direction. I wanted to be with him, but I stayed still. Could I really have angered him earlier? Did he not want to be with me now?
I took a couple of paces forward, unsure if I should track him or not, until I heard a small yip ahead of me, along with rustling trees. He would have not made a noise if he had not wanted me to know where he was. I bounded off in that direction. Running was wonderful!
I was knocked sideways to the floor, as My Alpha cannoned into me. I rolled and sprang back to my feet, but carefully stayed low. Had I offended him again? It seemed not, he moved to my side and pressed his body against mine. I staggered a little, but kept my feet and returned the pressure. Lowering my head, I pressed it into his chest, while My Alpha rubbed the underside of his jaw above my head. A low growl, grumbled from him.
I was thrilled at his attention. I desperately wanted him, it seemed he wanted me too. He moved behind me and I braced myself. As he mounted me I held his weight, both of us whined and yelped, we had only done this once before and it took a little getting used to. His jaws held on the back of my neck as he pounded into me. I was his. My Alpha had chosen me.
Eventually we crumpled on the ground together, both of us breathing heavily, if we had been human, we'd have been grinning. Instead out tongues lolled out as we panted. Side by side we pressed together again, but we couldn't stay still for long, not when the moon was shining above us.
He was about to run again, but I got to my feet first. I made a jump for his back, sending us both rolling in the dirt. We snapped and snarled at each other, until I scampered away and he chased me, under bushes and around trees.
The night continued for us as it had begun, chasing and playing and fighting and mating. No night of the moon could have been better.
Eventually My Alpha lay down and I lay next to him. The sky was getting lighter. After a little time to relax, the wolves were gone and I was laid in Alcide's arms. The change back hadn't taken us long.
"Maria? My Maria, are you awake?"
"You wanna sleep here?"
"Or we could share a bath and a bed? More comfortable?"
"Yeah." I was still a little woolly-headed from dozing off for a few minutes, and from all that exercise. I sat up and stifled a yawn.
Alcide's lips twitched into a grin. "You could use a bath. You're a little more cave-woman than Were at the minute." He ruffled my hair and I realised he did have a point. The ground was dry but dusty and lots of it was in my tangled mane of hair.
"You're not exactly clean and tidy right now either." I stood and ruffled his dirty hair. "I think we need a shower first or it's gonna be a mud bath."
"That could be fun!" He grinned.
There was always a satisfying ache after changing, our muscles and bones got back to fully human as we soaked in his huge tub together. My back was against his chest, and as my hair no longer belonged to a cave-woman, he was running his fingers through it. Grooming again. His strong fingers moved to massage my neck and shoulders, then he stopped. "Damn! I really bit you. You're marked all over." As he ran his hand across my shoulders I could feel the little cuts and bruises. "Maria-Star, we shouldn't do this again. I can't leave you hurt like this!"
I twisted to look up at him. He was actually serious! "If we don't have a night like this one again, I'll be devastated." I said in a strained, high pitched voice.
"I'll be healed by tonight, Alcide!" I insisted. "You got bit too!" I'd seen the mark earlier, so reached around to his back and pressed on the bite.
"Oww!" He laughed, and I might have looked a little smug.
"So tonight? Run with me again tonight." I reached up to loop my arm around his neck and pull him down to kiss me. "Tonight?" I asked again.
"I'd love to, but I'm sorry, I think I should run with the pack. It's not that I don't want to be here with you, but I need to keep in touch with them. I don't want to start up gossip, if I'm not around for the moon. Would you come with me?"
I knew Alcide's relationship with the Long-Tooth Pack was incredibly strained, so I said lightly. "Sure. Tonight with the pack... And how about we spend the next night here?"
That suggestion he readily agreed to and we melted back into the bubbles again.
"I thought of you as My Alpha." The words just, kinda, slipped out. Maybe I was saying too much, but I wanted him to know how much he meant to me. "When we ran, you were my very own pack-master. I would have followed you up to the moon and back."
I was blushing like crazy, but Alcide tightened his hold on me and whispered in my ear. "A private pack. Just for two. I like that." He kissed my ear and I leaned against him. He continued, "What are we gonna call our little pack?"
It took a moment's thought. "The Sweet Tooth Pack!" I proclaimed.
When he'd stopped laughing, he said, "If anyone finds out I'm Leader of the Sweet Tooth Pack, then my reputation is shot!"
"I'll keep your sweet secret." I promised, claiming a kiss.
We decided we should get out of the bath, when were in grave danger of turning into prunes. That would have been one transformation too many. For a little while we stood towelling each other, our movements slow and sleepy now.
Alcide rarely talked about pack politics, I was surprised when he returned to an earlier topic. "I do intend to be pack-master one day... of the Long Tooth Pack."
I was stunned for a moment, thrilled and scared that he was sharing this with me. "Will you challenge Furnan?"
He shrugged. "I may not need to. I doubt that Furnan will last too long, something will go wrong for him, I'm sure. Challenging him could tear our pack apart, it would be better for all of us if I could take over peacefully. Though I will challenge him if I need to." He was certainly determined. "Would you support me?"
It was a difficult position he was putting me in, potentially dangerous too. Even so I didn't hesitate. "I'll support the best Were for the job. That's you, obviously."
"Thank you. I appreciate that."
As we hugged amongst the towels, I had a fleeting moment of panic for his well-being. Alcide would be up against a murderous cheat, who had already proven he would do anything for the pack-masters position. My Alpha could take care of himself, I knew that, but for a moment I didn't want to let him go.
Once in the bedroom, I dried my hair as quickly as I could, while he set the security alarms from the key pad by the bedroom door, then drew the curtains to keep the sunshine out.
"You've certainly got the house for the job." I commented.
Alcide was watching me through the reflection in the mirror. "You don't like this place too much, do you?"
Difficult question! "Ahm... Some parts are a little too formal, like the main lounge. It's not very homey." I explained, pretty embarrassed to be criticising his lovely house, particularly when I lived in a small, rented flat.
I wasn't sure what he felt about my answer, but we got into bed together, and he held me close. "I want it to be a home, a family home."
That surprised me so much, I blurted out, "But you don't want a family!"
"What?" He pulled away from me a little so he could see my face. "Why do you say that?"
Uncomfortable now, I mumbled, "Well, Debbie Pelt said." Immediately I wondered if I was I allowed to say her name. Alcide had abjured his ex, I'd been in hospital at the time, but I had heard all about it. It was the biggest piece of Pack gossip after the Witch War, but should I be saying her name to him?
Alcide's face remained impassive. "I suppose that was true, at the time." He said, very carefully.
"Now, it's different. I've lost my family, and now I'm not with... her... well, now I can imagine having a family of my own."
I should have said something, all I managed was a surprised sound, as my mind went wandering. I hadn't thought about kids too much, I was pretty young for that. Although the difficulty of having a Were child was always at the back of my mind. Right now, I had the clearest image of three kids, they looked like my little brothers in line for a photograph, but they had Alcide's green eyes.
"We could make this house a home, Maria. Our family home... Maria-Star?"
"Sorry... I was... just thinking." The three kids in my head giggled at me. I realised I should probably concentrate on their prospective father, in bed with me. Poor Alcide was looking pretty wide eyed and worried. I managed to say, "Yes, we could. Make a proper home, I mean. Have a family."
"I'm going too fast, I'm sorry. I don't mean tomorrow, but sometime." Alcide still sounded a little unsure of my response.
I nodded vigorously. "When we're ready. That's what I want too. Three kids." I confirmed.
Finally Alcide broke into a smile. "Three! You have this planned!"
I was grinning like a fool now. Maybe lack of sleep was getting to me, I hoped I wasn't dreaming this. "It's a recent plan, but it seems right."
"With Deb..." He paused, stopping himself from saying her name. "My last relationship was always wrong, but I made it worse. We didn't want the same things, so we were bound to fail, but I still wasted so much time trying to make it work out." He admitted. "I need to know if you want the same as I do, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
I took a breath and with as much composure as I could muster, said, "That's what I want too."
I saw his smile clearly in the darkened room. He pulled me to him and we hugged as if we'd never let each other go. We kissed, too sleepy for anything else, we whispered private promises, then after a long day and night, fell quiet.
I actually thought he'd fallen asleep, but then he mumbled, "Do you want a big wedding?"
Now it was time for me to look at him wide eyed and amazed.
He gave me a sleepy smile. "I just want advanced warning. I promise, I'll propose properly, some day, when I'm awake."
I had to chuckle as he stifled a yawn, but I continued our sleepy conversation. "Not a big wedding, but a long honeymoon. Somewhere cold and wintry, where we have to stay in bed all day and all night." I whispered. "One of those ice hotels!" I said decidedly, not sure where that bit of inspiration came from.
"We can practice making those kids. Three. Right?"
"Three. I'll tell you why when you're awake."
"Hmm. We could practice now..."
"I think we need to be awake for that."
"Yeah." Alcide mumbled. His beautiful body gave in and sank into sleep.
I watched him, needing to sleep myself but my head was wide awake. I was so excited about our future, our life together...
Huge hugs to everyone who's read and reviewed, I really hope you enjoyed this.
I do hope Alcide gets a proper happy ending in the books!
Have a wonderful weekend!