No! Oh, God, anything but this!
That was the first conscious thought I’d had since the wolf had bitten down. I didn’t know what it meant at first.
Then I opened my eyes. Nothing looked right. Everything around me appeared flat and muted. I definitely wasn’t in the garden anymore, but since I couldn’t see things properly, I couldn’t tell where I was. Inside, somewhere. Not my apartment. I was lying on a floor; that much I could tell.
When I tried to stand, my legs didn’t want to cooperate. Then I caught a glimpse of my foot.
It was covered in fur.
Shit. Wolf bite. Wolves didn’t live in Boston.
Maybe werewolves did. Even though as far as I knew those didn’t exist.
I tried to see my body. Fur, check. Pretty off-white color, or at least I would have thought it was pretty if it didn’t cover me. Snout protruding out far enough to see, check. Four paws with claws sticking out from the end of each… finger? Toe? Didn’t know what to call them. Check, anyway.
At least my head moved the way I wanted it to. I glanced around, trying to gain some sense of place. This time, I spotted two humans crouching nearby. One of them was Tobias. Even as a wolf, I recognized the regret and sadness in his expression.
Tobias was there, and that meant he knew what had happened to me. My brain refused to go any farther than that.
The other human… After a second, I recognized her too. The hair color gave it away, perfectly matching the color of the fur on the wolf that bit me.
Fucking Melia. She eyed me with a contemptuous smirk which vanished quickly when Tobias glanced at her over his shoulder. He turned back to me, and Melia glowered. “He should be dead.”
“Fortunately for you, he isn’t,” Tobias snapped. “I thought you’d learned better control than this, Melia. Clearly I overestimated you.”
Melia bowed her head. “I’ll do better in the future. He could have died.”
As a wolf, tone of voice wasn’t quite as obvious to me as it was when I was human. But something in the way Melia spoke caught my attention. She meant what she’d said. I should have been dead, because that had been her intention. Maybe I was wrong, but the fury and contempt in her eyes confirmed it.
I snarled and tried to stand, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to get those four legs under me. Tobias raised his hands and took a couple steps toward me. “Kyle, easy,” he said softly. “We aren’t going to hurt you.”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Melia said. “Tobias, I didn’t mean—”
“Shut up, Melia,” Tobias ordered without taking his eyes off me. “You’re here to see the results of your poor control, not to make apologies. I don’t think Kyle will accept your apology easily.”
I managed to move my head in something resembling a nod. Fuck if I’d ever forgive the bitch! It hadn’t been my fault I’d wandered into the path of a frigging werewolf. Like I’d even known there would be a wolf in the garden. It wasn’t the sort of thing people usually considered when going out to pick strawberries. “Oh, I’d better be careful; there might be a werewolf out there.” Right. Not outside horror movies.
Hopefully they’d figure out soon how to change me back so I could get things ready for my dinner with Tobias the next night. I’d be sorely pissed if that had to be put on hold.
The next night. Except I didn’t think it was “next” anymore. I had no clue how long I’d been unconscious. The sunlight streaming through the window beside me pretty clearly told me that it wasn’t night any longer. But if it wasn’t night, why was I still a wolf? Didn’t werewolves only shift when it was dark?
I blinked at Tobias and he caught the question. “It’s your first shift, Kyle. You changed while you were out cold and it’s going to take your body and mind a little while to coordinate so you’ll go back to human. That’s how it works for all of us our first time. And we can shift whenever we want.”
All of us. Now I couldn’t prevent myself from grasping the truth. The truth Tobias and Mrs. Frelich had been so damned determined to keep from me. Tobias was one of the wolves. And he’d probably made sure none of the other neighbors would ever see anything he didn’t want them to. Tobias, the man I lusted after, was a fucking werewolf. I didn’t even know what to think about that.
“You have to eat something, Kyle,” Tobias said. He crouched low to look me in the eye. “You’ve been unconscious for three days, since Melia attacked you. You don’t know how sorry I am about this. I wanted to protect you from it.”
Even in my current form, my heart and a couple other things responded to his words. He did care about me. Maybe at our dinner he would have admitted all this to me. Though I certainly understood why he’d been reluctant. Without seeing it for myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed him.
He might have told me the truth, though, and if I’d believed him, if I hadn’t thrown him out, who knew where things might have ended up? I knew where I would have wanted them to end, whether Tobias was a werewolf or not.