Paranormal Shifter Romance
Mating Behavior by Mandy M. Roth
Wolf shifter Alan has a problem—he wants his best friend Katie in the worst sort of way, but Katie’s human and for a shifter male to choose a human for a mate is a death sentence—for both of them.
Katie is so in love with her best bud, Alan, that she can’t see straight. Problem is, Alan doesn’t seem to see her that way. All she wants is for him to tear her clothes off and have at her but, sweet, reserved Alan would never… or would he?
Alan Becker stared over the orange glow of the campfire at the angel before him. She was tired, as he expected she might be when he’d called for a break. With his supernatural strength, Alan’s endurance was off the charts in comparison to that of a human. Katie had no idea he wasn’t like her. Hiding the fact he’d not broken a sweat or gotten the least bit winded on the hike thus far had been hard enough. The angel, who now looked to be on the verge of nodding off, was pushed beyond her limits. It damn near tore his heart out to see it. Katie hadn’t complained once so far on the trip and that made it all the worse. It was his place to take care of her.
They’d stopped long enough to eat and for her to warm up. As much as he disliked the idea of starting even the smallest of fires, which they would sit by for an hour or two at best, Katie needed a break from the hike.
Her unruly, dark brown hair naturally went to blonde surrounding her face, falling from her knit cap. Katie didn’t seem to notice or care as she tucked her knees to her chest and rested her chin upon them. If Alan didn’t know first-hand how cold Katie got, he would have thought the thick mittens and sweater she wore were overkill considering just how mild the March weather was. He’d been shedding layers most of the day and even now, as the sun hid on the other side of the mountain causing the temperature to drop, he was hot. Hot because of what he truly was—more than human but not quite a complete animal—and hot because of who he was with, Katie.
He grit his teeth as his cock dug painfully at the confines of his jeans. It seemed to be in a permanent state of arousal around Katie. The girl needed only to exist to make his heart flutter and his pulse speed. The urge to leap forth, do a partial shift and claim her as his own reached levels Alan wasn’t sure he could sustain without a meltdown. He swallowed back a lump in his throat, positive his tongue was swelling at almost the same rate his cock was.
Damn her for looking so tempting.
In truth Katie was layered up to the point her sexy, petite frame was unrecognizable, but he could see those big brown eyes reflecting pools of firelight back at him. The very thought of those eyes staring up at him as Katie took his cock in her mouth had Alan biting back a moan. She was passionate about everything in her life and he had little doubt she’d be a pistol in the bedroom as well. He could almost feel her nails digging into his back as he rode her into oblivion.
He clenched his fist, trying to wash the erotic images from his head before he lost control of himself. “Hungry?”
I know I am and it’s not for food.
She nodded. “A little. How much further do we have to go?”
The weary tone of her voice sobered him instantly. “Depending on how long we rest here for,” he ran a hand over his scratchy chin, “I’d say we should be to our campsite a little before nightfall. Unless you want to go straight to the cabin?”
Katie rubbed her mitten-covered hands over her legs. “You mentioned the old wolf dens near the spot your dad used to take you camping.” The slight pull of her mouth told him just how exhausted she was. Katie had been elated at the idea of seeing dens, even ones that were no longer in use. Seeing her weak smile was all the heads-up Alan needed to know she required rest. “I’d love to camp near them.”
“Anything you want,” he said, doing his best to ignore the way she bit at her lower lip.
Anything you want? What? How can I be whipped when I haven’t even sampled the goods?
He groaned and then coughed in a quick attempt to hide it. Alan wasn’t the type of man who followed a woman around aimlessly, bending to her every whim. Well, at least he never thought he was the type to do that. Katie had a way of leaving him tongue twisted and his chest tied in knots at the idea of her being unhappy. Only Katie possessed that certain something that left him longing to touch her, or to even be in the same room with her.
Alan poked the fire with a long stick for a while, unsure how much time had passed, and pretended to be more worried about keeping the fire going than the fact Katie was now watching him closely through tired eyes. She watched him often when she assumed he wasn’t looking. He used to wonder what she was thinking, but anymore he had to fight to keep from tackling her to the ground and sinking his cock into her. She had no idea his feelings ran so deep. Hell, up until he’d caught the scent of another man on her some six months ago, he didn’t even realize what he felt for her was so intense.
Jealousy is funny like that.
Alan had thought she was a fling. Minus the actual sex part, of course. A temporary obsession because she represented everything he couldn’t have—a beautiful, intelligent, human female for his own, to take as his mate, his wife and the mother of his children.
Temporary my ass. I’ve been hot for her for years.
The pack had a strict no-mating-with-humans policy and anyone who didn’t adhere to it found themselves on the receiving end of what they could only hope was a quick death. Not to mention the human involved was sentenced to death as well. Humans were to have no knowledge of their kind.
End of story.
No exceptions to the rule.
The council members had laid the laws of the pack down long ago and each generation followed it to the letter. Any who didn’t paid the ultimate price. He’d seen a werewolf punished for crimes against the pack when he was just a boy and the memory stuck with him. Seeing a man hung naked by his feet from a tree and ripped to shreds by shifted wolves wasn’t something he was ever likely to forget.
While Alan was more than willing to forfeit his own life for a night of passion with Katie, he wasn’t ready to sacrifice her life as well. Granted, he wasn’t heavily active in any pack, not even the one he lived closest to now, but still, going against the grain was deadly. Shifters of any kind were more common than humans would want to believe. In the city he bumped into at least one shifter a week. Hell, he’d even had a house party once and one showed up. The chick had been some sort of cat shifter and looked as if she wanted to gouge his eyes out. Being part wolf left the feeling totally mutual, so Alan didn’t take it to heart. Though, he did have his carpets and furniture steam cleaned to get the smell of cat out of them once she was gone. There was really nothing worse than cat hair stuck to his suit, then his sofa, then his bedding. Sleeping with her would have at least given a good reason for it. As it stood, the bitch just seemed to shed a lot as she’d wandered around his place snarling.
If he did give in and claim Katie as his own, the risk of another shifter discovering what he’d done was too great. If they caught the scent of his mark, it would only be a matter of time before news of his deed reached the head of the local pack. Within an hour, someone would be sent to eliminate Katie.
I won’t risk her.
Katie’s eyelids drifted downwards and she rocked slightly. Afraid she might fall face first into the fire, Alan drew upon his supernatural speed and moved next to her. Had she been awake, he would have never risked moving even a tenth as fast as he could. There would be no explaining away something like that. It wasn’t like he could slap a pair of glasses on and assume a new identity, or rush through a telephone booth to shift forms.
Real life wasn’t like the movies. And secret identities required more than capes. They required never revealing one’s self.
Alan pulled Katie into his arms, inhaling her sweet scent and groaning inwardly as his cock twitched. It had been a long hike up the mountain. He could hear her tiny breaths as she’d hiked behind him, smell the light sheen of sweat upon her skin and vividly picture himself licking it off her.
She hadn’t slept well the night before, tossing and turning before waking with a scream lodged in her throat. She then went on to obsess about his safety, doing a complete head-to-toe check over him prior to leaving for their camping trip. It was cute in a “fuck I’m hard again” kind of way.
Alan had tried to talk Katie into letting him drive his SUV, but she’d insisted on roughing it. That was almost laughable. Katie was a city girl, having only experienced nature while visiting a strip of grass labeled a park. Dragging her into the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains in search of red wolves was ludicrous. These mountains, the ones his father often brought him to, were downright dangerous, regardless of the fact they were no longer frequented by weres—just regular wolves. And even those had been reintroduced to the area because of hunting and other environmental factors.
Alan hadn’t really turned his back on his father’s pack so much as he shunned the idea of being part beast, part man. Sure, by all outward appearances he was human and he wasn’t a slave to the cycles of the moon like some werewolves, but that didn’t make being what he was any easier. The memory of looking at himself in the mirror, after a night of feeding off deer while in wolf form, still disgusted him. It had been over fifteen years since he’d last set foot in the mountains, and as much as he hated to admit it, he missed it. He missed the fresh air. The freedom to shift at will and run wild. Having others around who understood what his body was going through. But mostly, he missed the bond he’d once shared with his father. The minute Alan refused to accept what he truly was—a werewolf destined to one day be on one of the ruling councils—his father took it personally, turning his back on Alan and the “human” life he wanted so desperately to lead.
Alan graduated, went off to college and never looked back. His mother called often enough, doing her best to make small talk—all the while the unspoken hints that she wanted him to find a nice she-wolf and settle down hung in the air between them. At times it was so thick he screened his calls, unable to hear the disappointment in his mother’s voice when she asked if he’d claimed Katie yet and he said no. Confessing Katie was human wasn’t something Alan wanted to do. It would crush his mother.
So far, Alan had become quite the accomplished liar in regards to Katie and his mother. He managed to sneak in affirmations of his mother’s suspicions of Katie being a shifter as much as possible, while leading Katie to believe his mother had little to no interest in his life so she would stop asking to meet her.
If news spread back to the pack that he was practically living with a human female, and had been for the last several years, they’d naturally assume he was fucking her. They’d also assume she knew his secret. Katie would be in danger and that wasn’t something Alan would ever permit.
Katie blinked up at him as he rocked her gently before the fire. “Mmm, why aren’t you tired?” She stretched. “You know, you’re in incredible shape and I have yet to see you workout. Is this how you do it? Do you sneak away and hike when I’m not looking? Your backpack weighs a ton. I tipped over trying it on, remember?”
I’m not tired because I have you in my arms and I’ll be damned if I sleep the moment away.
He shrugged and let a lazy smile dance over his face as he remembered the stunned expression on Katie’s face as she fell over, hitting the ground under the weight of his pack. Her shoulders had been pinned to the ground by the straps, reminding him of a turtle on its back. It also left her in prime position to receive him, so as funny as it was, Alan had no choice but to get her off the ground quickly or chance mounting her.
“I don’t know. I guess it’s all this fresh air. And I wouldn’t suggest trying to slip my pack on up here. If you tumble, you may never stop.” He chuckled even though for one brief second the threat of her doing just that hit him hard. Overreacting seemed to be reserved for anything to do with Katie. With anyone else in life, Alan could really give a shit. He had to take a calming breath and remind himself that Katie was safe.
Katie purred as she stretched against him. The very sound drove spikes of need through his system, leaving his skin prickling with the urge to shift into wolf form and forever claim her as his own. He tipped his head back, trying, and failing, to block the scent of honeysuckle and roses—the scent of Katie. She fit in the crook of his arm, her body molded to his, reaffirming what the man in him believed, she was made for him.
If only that were true.
Alan steeled himself against her allure and eased her to the ground, careful to pull her backpack close to act as a pillow. “Rest for a bit while I finish checking the map and repacking the gear.”
“No, I want to help,” she said, her voice slurred with sleep.
The tiniest of laughs escaped him. “As fun as watching you try to figure out what package of dried goods goes where is, I’m going to pass. Take a quick nap. There’s nothing else you can do to help, Katie, so rest.”
“Okay, I’ll just rest for a minute.”