Summary Part 1

So…I haven’t really done much with this story of late. So I’m officially ending it. But…for those of you interested, I will provide a summery of what is supposed to happen.

Part 1 (finishes Gen 15 and explains Gen 16)

So…Dariel escapes from the werewolf pack with half a dozen or so other wolves. They meet up with Victor, who up to this point assumed that Dariel had broken up with him to run off with James (the werewolf who was brought in when Dariel went into heat). Victor and Dariel make up. The two of them help the other werewolves adjust to living in the human world. The werewolves go off to set up their own little pack that Dariel visits frequently. Victor and Dariel marry in the Mer way.

Thorn decides when Dariel reappears to investigate Dariel’s father’s background. This involves genetic testing, where Thorn discovers that Dariel is in fact his nephew. This leads to Dariel being introduced to his grandfather and brother Tristan. Tristan is thrilled. He had long been drawn to the sea. They learn that Tristan is every inch a Mer male. Dariel’s aunt, queen of the Mer, is convinced that Tristan is indeed her nephew Ariel’s son and Tristan moves to live with the Mer people and carry the next generation.

In due time, Dariel becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, Robert. The birth taxes him and Dariel dies shortly thereafter. Victor had been working on artificial intelligence in the basement and secretly transfers Dariel’s consciousness (what there was of it) into an artificial body. The transfer is only partially successful. Dare 2.0 leaves his creator to find himself. Robert is initially raised by Dare 2.0, but Victor’s increasingly unstable mind drives the robot away. Robert learns quickly not to trust or love anybody as his father is verbally and emotionally abusive towards him.

Gen 18 (The Snow Queen)

At 18, Robert moves out and goes to Egypt where he spends years wandering around the desert. A fierce sandstorm drives him to take shelter in a seemingly abandoned ruin. The ruin is haunted by a mummy who is cursed to protect the ruin until “the desert of his heart is watered”. The sand buries the ruin again, but there is a well and a sheltered garden for Robert to tend. The mummy, Faris Enitan, is initially hostile to Robert, but as time passes, hostility fades to indifference to friendship and finally to love. The curse is broken. Robert and Faris move to France (Robert is not interested in returning to his native land) where Robert bears a couple of children.

 

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Generation 15: Chapter 35

Author’s Note: So very sorry about the long hiatus. I just haven’t been feeling it. There aren’t any pictures, sorry. Some sort of explicit sex…it’s not PG, but it’s not R and I’m not sure if it qualifies as PG-13…

Chapter 35

  “Are you going to give me the silent treatment the entire trip?” The ‘Wolf asked as he drove into the mountains.

I grunted. I wished he would pay more attention to his driving than me. Just because I could fly did not mean I enjoyed the hairpin turns with steep drop-offs.

“My name is James.” He tried again. “Look, l know you’re not thrilled to be here, but I wouldn’t be insisting on it if I didn’t think it was important. You might as well make the best of it.”

“Of being kidnapped? I think not.”

“I’m not kidnapping you.”

“Can I go home?”

“Of course not.”

“Then how is it not kidnapping?”

He sighed. “This is for your own good.”

“So you say.”

“Dariel…”

I ignored him. I had no real assurance that I would ever be allowed to leave. I was a herm. Valuable for my womb if nothing else.  The Healer had assured me that I wasn’t pregnant. I was grateful for that. I yawned as the motion of the car lulled me to sleep.

“Are we there yet?”

“No.”

“How much longer?”

“A while. Do you need to use the restroom?”

“Sure.” Anything that would let me out and stretch my wings.

“Well, you’re going to have to hold it.”

“But I re-e-ally have to go.” I squirmed in my seat as if I really was ready to burst.

He snorted. “One, there isn’t any place to stop until our destination. Two, how gullible do you think I am?”

“Um…” No good answer to that. I slumped back. “I am feeling claustrophobic.”

“Sorry. I don’t trust you not to try to make a break for it given the chance.” He glanced apologetically at me.

“Wouldn’t you if you were in my shoes?”

“Yes. I would. I did.”

“What?”

“I was not born a werewolf. I had to leave my life, my human life,  to go live with the Pack. I have experience making that adjustment. I know how you feel.”

“No. You don’t. You can’t. You were human. I’m not. I’ve never been human. You seek to diminish me by forcing me to join the Pack. They would insist I be ‘Wolf when I’m not. When I’m more.”

“You are young.” He reached out to touch my knee. I jerked it away.

“I’m an adult.”

He smiled. “You judge them too harshly.”

“Don’t patronize me. I’m not a child or an idiot.”

“You don’t know them.”

“And you do?” I countered.

“They’re my Pack.”

I snorted. Maybe he was right and I was being too cynical, but I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly surprised. What I knew of werewolves suggested that they were usually intolerant of those who were different. Besides, werewolves were creatures of Earth while fairies were definitely of Air. Not to mention fairies had created werewolves during the War specifically to be cannon fodder. Needless to say the ‘Wolves had been instrumental in hunting down and exiling the fairies afterwards. Not exactly the sort of history to inspire warm fuzzy feelings between the races. Clearly James was ignorant of this or a better actor than I thought.

I sighed. I was so not looking forward to meeting the Pack. I had a very bad feeling about it similar to the one I’d had before I’d gone to the military base. Too bad I couldn’t pin it down, but Mers weren’t exactly known for their abilities at predicting the future. Even if I actually had the gift of Sight, there was no one to train me.

“Wake up.” James nudged me.

“Huh?” I rubbed sleep out of my eyes.

“We’re here.”

Here turned out to be a wide spot at the end of a dirt track. I was rather glad I’d slept though it. As far as I could tell, it was barely wide enough for the truck to pass. I was a bit surprised that we still had both side mirrors and a pristine coat of paint. “Now what?” I pulled my cloak tighter about my body.

“Now we walk.”

“Seriously?” I eyed the snow surrounding the parking area.

“Yes. We value our privacy. This makes it harder for any hunters to find our den.”

“Please tell me you don’t mean an actual den.”

He laughed. “No. Our winter camp is in a cave system which we’ve enlarged to include human-style houses. In the warmer months we use tents since we’re nomadic then.”

“Joy,” I muttered. “Any chance of indoor plumbing?”

“No. Nor electricity.”

“How lovely.”

“Surely you are used to such primitive conditions?”

“Yes, doesn’t mean I like them. I may have a higher tolerance for cold, but nothing beats a hot shower on a cold morning.”

He shrugged. “Unless you heat the water over the fire, you’ll have to do without.”

“No hot springs?”

“No.”

I winced. “You do remember I have to bathe everyday, right?”

He stared blankly at me.

“Mer. Creature of water?”

“Oh. Right. We’ll do this bit as wolves.” He gestured to the surrounding forest. I wrinkled my nose. Wet wolf did not smell any better than wet dog. “Do you need help shifting?”

I shook my head. I could feel my wolf pacing eagerly under my skin, anxious to be free. Anxious to run. “How long will the trip take?”

He squinted up at the fading sunlight. “Depends. I could make it there by midnight. However, given your inexperience, I was thinking about stopping in about three hours to rest and finishing the trip in the morning.”

“You don’t need to baby me.”

“Dariel, there’s a regular campsite there. I frequently stop there on the way back. It just isn’t necessary. Besides, you are inexperienced both as a werewolf and in the back country. It’s better sometimes to go slow than to hurry and end up being delayed due to an accident. I know these mountains. They can be treacherous even in the middle of summer. In the winter…” he trailed off.

I nodded soberly. I might be here under protest, but it would be foolish to ignore the advice of my native guide out of pique. “Okay.”

“You will let me know if you need a rest?”

I nodded. I looked away as he shifted. It wasn’t really painful, it just looked that way. I took a deep breath and reached exchanging two feet for four. As wolves we raced over the snow. I had to admit it was kind of fun. Winter had never been my favorite season. James suddenly barreled into me, tumbling me tail over nose into a snow bank. I yelped and retaliated.

By the time we reached the rest stop, I was exhausted. I collapsed on a pile of furs and shifted back. James built up a fire before coming over to me. I didn’t protest as he undressed me and tucked me into the furs. They were amazingly soft against my bare skin.

“Hungry?”

“Not really.”

“Mmph. I’ve put on a stew that will be edible even in the morning. In the meantime…” he hesitated. “You’ll feel better in the morning if I massage your muscles now.”

“I’m naked.”

He smiled. “I noticed. It does make the process easier. May I?” He reached out and laid a hand on my bare shoulder.

I rolled on to my stomach. “Mind the wings.”

“I will. They are beautiful.”

I blushed at the unexpected compliment. Then I blushed for another reason entirely. He was very thorough in his massage though it never became sexual. I was very confused by my body’s enthusiastic response to his touch. I loved Mr. Frank, I shouldn’t desire someone else. James slid under the furs. I started at the feel of his bare skin next to mine.

“James…” I began uncertainly.

“Two sleep warmer than one and it is easier to share body heat if we’re both naked.” He explained as he pulled me into his arms.

“That’s not all you want to share,” I responded as he slid between my thighs now slick with my arousal.

“No. It’s not.” He agreed as he pressed against me. “But the choice is yours.”

“Not much of a choice,” I gasped as he slid inside me a bit.

“Say ‘no’ and I’ll pull out.” He ran his hand down the back of my thigh and thrust forward some more.

“Oh, Watcher!” I groaned as my erection became trapped between our bodies.

“No. Just James,” he murmured as he pulled me closer. “Was that a ‘no’?”

“Definitely not!” I slid my leg over his permitting him greater access to my private parts. A little bit of wiggling and he was completely sheathed in my body. He didn’t ask again as we moved toward release.

—-

“Am I slut?” I asked drowsily much later.

“I don’t think so, but then I’m admittedly biased. Why do you ask?”

I rested my head on his shoulder. “I had sex with you and Mr. Frank after a very short acquaintance. I didn’t even pretend to refuse him!”

“Oh? Is that what you were doing? Pretending to refuse me?” He lightly slapped my hyper upper thigh. I moaned and moved against him. “Dariel?”

“Do that again?” I urged him.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Slap me again. Harder.”

He sat up abruptly. “You want me to slap you?” He asked me incredulously.

I nodded, blushing. “Yes. Please. I like it,” I mumbled shyly.

“You like being hit?”

I sighed. Clearly James was having difficulty with the concept that I might find pleasure in pain. “Yes. I do. Is that a problem?”

He ran a hand through his hair. “Promise me something.”

“What?”

“Promise you won’t tell anyone else in the Pack that.”

“Okay. Why?”

Promise me, Dariel,” he insisted.

“I promise. Why does it matter?”

He stared into the fire, refusing to meet my eyes. “Because there are those who would wish to test it. To test your limits.”

“But…we’re mates aren’t we? Surely they wouldn’t try to interfere?”

He sighed. “It’s complicated. The Pack Leader has to recognize us as mates.”

“But…we…,” I swallowed. “I gave myself to you…”

“I know.” He reached out to cup my cheek. “Perhaps that will be enough.”

“But you don’t think so.” I pulled away.

“I do want you,” he averred. He spooned me. We fit together pretty well. I just wished I knew if my feelings for him were genuine or the lingering remnants of my heat. Then there was Mr. Frank…I still didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I felt guilty about leading James on when I was already in a relationship. A relationship that my aunt had already approved. She couldn’t possibly accept a werewolf as kin-by-marriage no matter the circumstances. Was this why arranged marriages had become the norm among the Mer? I was being torn in two.  Once I became fully Joined to one of them I’d be fine. As it was…

—-

 

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Generation 15: Chapter 34

Chapter 34

  The witch led me to a room with a folding table and chairs. Lunch was burgers from a fast-food place. Cold, but still delicious (at least compared to MRE’s). An older gentleman in an army uniform entered as I was gobbling the last burger.

“Hello,” he greeted me.

“Mmph.” I hastily swallowed. “Sir.” I half-rose but he waved me back down.

“What am I to do with you, fairy? Major Kaputt wants to lock you up and throw away the key.”

“Who?” I frowned.

“The man you attacked. He can’t speak, but there’s nothing wrong with his hands. He’s written pages about you and your punishment for your ‘unprovoked’ attack on him,” Oz volunteered.

“It wasn’t unprovoked,” I said softly.

He shrugged. “I think it was self-defense, but I’m not a lawyer.”

“Unfortunately the security cameras were fried. Dr. Foster was killed and Dr. Frank is still unconscious. We have only your testimony and Major Kaputt’s.”

“He’s lying.”

“Mmm…what physical evidence there is, is inconclusive. The only thing we know is that the major’s gunshot Dr. Foster and Dr. Frank. And you tore out the major’s throat.”

“I didn’t…”

“Intent is irrelevant where magically assisted violence is concerned. I should put a silver bullet through your heart.”

“Oh.” I looked down at my hands. I hadn’t realized just how much trouble I was in until that moment.

“I said I should. However, being acquainted with your victim, I’m inclined to believe there was provocation. Besides, it would be premature to execute you without all relevant evidence and testimony.”

Oz snorted. “The major is a xenophobic, homophobic, and racist bastard. Lots of people would consider what you did to be a public service.”

The general gave him a mock glare. “Be that as it may, I am willing to accept your parole until the hearing.”

“What would it entail?”

“Don’t leave the area, show up for the hearing, don’t break any more laws before the hearing and…”

“And?”

“…and I bind your magic,” Oz finished.

I tilted my head in thought. “Define ‘area’.”

“Why?”

“Well…I may need to go to the beach.”

He blinked. “In January?”

“Um…yeah. Family stuff.”

“What sort of family stuff?”

“Well…” I squirmed. “I’m kinda attending college on probation. My aunt may want to check up on me.”

“Academic probation?”

“No-o-o…more ‘living among humans’ probation,” I muttered.

He narrowed his eyes. “Would there be possible political consequences if you were executed?”

“Um, yeah. Probably.”

He swore softly. “Do you have diplomatic immunity?”

I shrugged. “No idea. We’ve been pretty isolated for awhile.”

“How long is awhile?”

I shrugged again. “Millennia? There’s not a whole lot that you have that we want.”

“Just what are you?” He demanded.

“One of the Mer folk,” Oz answered quietly.

“I thought they were extinct.”

“So did I. Apparently we were misinformed.”

“Yeah, well, given how humans treat those who are different, can you really blame us for hiding?”

“No. I suppose not. How would a Mer become a werewolf anyway?”

I shrugged.

“There are three ways to become a werewolf:  genetic, infection, or curse. Only humans are susceptible to the disease. The infected then give rise to the born ‘Wolves. Witches curse people. So…our young guest most likely has a werewolf ancestor.”

“How?”

“The usual way, I suspect,” Oz said sardonically.

The General sighed. “Oz, you are not helping. I need to know if he’s a threat.”

The witch studied me for a long time. “No more than anybody is. Threaten those he cares about and he will defend them. He does need to learn to control his ‘Wolf, but I’m sure the local Pack would be willing to help.”

I snorted. Sure they would. Not. I seriously doubted that they’d open their arms to one of mixed blood. If anything they’d probably tear my throat out. I wouldn’t even have my aunt to protect me. I wasn’t a fighter. I didn’t even know how they viewed herms. Besides, I didn’t want to leave until I knew how Mr. Frank was doing. What if he died while I was gone?

“Stop being a child. It’s for your own good.”

“Stop treating me like a child then,” I snapped back. “Then maybe I’ll stop acting like one. I don’t recall anyone asking what I want. Given the prejudice against occults in general and specifically against those of mixed-blood, what makes you think the local werewolf pack will welcome my presence?”

“What do you mean?” The general frowned. “I was told that you needed to spend time with the Pack to learn to control your shifting. There was no indication that your presence would be unwelcome. Oz?”

The witch shrugged from where he leaned nonchalantly against the wall. “It’s possible.” He smiled thinly. “They don’t necessarily disclose the inner workings of the Pack to me or any outsider. Still…if you don’t learn control you are a danger. Rogue werewolves tend to be shot on sight.”

I scowled. “I’m not a rogue.”

“You attacked a man and seriously injured him,” Oz gently reminded me. “Some forms of lycanthropy are highly contagious. It is a life-altering condition. Since you aren’t a member of a Pack, we could kill you right now without any repercussions.”

“My aunt…!”

Oz waved away my protest. “I meant from the human law or Pack law. However…I suspect the fairies would also protest your death.”

The General snorted. “They could protest all they want. The boy would still be dead.” He leaned back in his chair. “I’m inclined to rule your attack as justifiable self-defense. I do know the major. He could provoke a saint…and you’re no saint. However, you do need to prove yourself willing and able to learn control. Consider spending time with the Pack as part of your punishment.”

Part of my punishment?” I narrowed my eyes. “What’s the rest?”

“Training with Oz to master your Water magic.”

“What?” The witch exclaimed. “How did I get dragged into this?”

“You are the premier witch in the area. Training new witches falls within your purview.”

“He’s not a witch!”

“Consider it a challenge…unless you feel incapable? I could find someone else…”

“Fine,” he huffed. “Manipulative bastard.”

So it was arranged: I would spend two months with the werewolf Pack and then come back to train with Oz in Water magic. I had no idea how to explain the situation to my aunt, not that I was given the opportunity. The very next day I was packed off to Wolf Camp to spend two months in the Great Outdoors. Goody, goody gumdrops.

—-

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Generation 15: Chapter 33

Chapter 33

  “I must say you surprise me, fairy.”

“How so?” I’d lost track of the days. My legs itched in spite of the water he’d poured over of them.

“Your self-control is impressive. Most new ‘Wolves would have mated with me at least once.”

“We mated.” I shifted restlessly as desire surged through me.

“As wolves not as humans.”

“I have a lover.” Maybe. If he was still alive. If he still wanted me after I’d cheated on him.

“What does that matter? You’re in heat. There should be only one thing on your mind. I’m male, I’m willing and I’m here.”

“You aren’t him.”

He sniffed deeply. “You aren’t mates. You shouldn’t have been able to resist for so long.”

“I’m trying for the Guinness record.”

He gave a short bark. “You definitely shouldn’t be capable of humor. Even lame humor.”

I made a rude gesture. Humor was helping me keep sane. His scent was overwhelming in the enclosed space. The lack of cleanliness didn’t help. Watcher, I’d do almost anything for a shower.

“How are feeling?”

“Like I’ve been mauled by a bunch of flying monkeys.”

Oz laughed. “Sorry about leaving you alone, but until it passed…”

“I didn’t get the broom.”

“Huh? Oh. Right. Would you like a shower and real food?”

“Do you really need to ask?”

“I suppose not. C’mon let’s get you pretty for the General.”

The shower was heavenly. Okay, not really. There was mildew and the temperature never got above ‘cool’ and low, I mean, low water pressure. Still it was wet even if the soap was rock hard and no shampoo. I think the towel he handed me was older than me. Clean but old. At least he didn’t give me an orange jumpsuit. Not that army green was much of an improvement.

“Huh. You clean up good.”

I decided to take the comment at face value. “Thank you. I feel human again.”

“But you aren’t.”

“Are you?” I countered.

“Touché.”

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Generation 15: Chapter 32

Chapter 32

  I tossed restlessly on the floor. I curled into a ball to hide what I was doing from the ‘Wolf.

“That won’t help,” he commented from where he sprawled.

“What won’t?”

“Masturbating. Won’t help.”

“What makes you such an expert?”

He peered at me from under the arm he’d draped over his eyes. “I’m a werewolf. Grant me a little expertise in the area. Would you want me to advise you on ocean currents?”

“Point taken.” I ground out as release came. I still felt nearly as horny. Only the physical pressure had eased. I grimaced as I wiped my sticky hand against my thigh. The only water available was in the toilet. I wasn’t quite that desperate yet.

“Dinner time!”

My stomach clenched. I didn’t think I could keep it down. Even water didn’t really appeal to me. The ‘Wolf handed me a package. Of course the fact that dinner was another MRE didn’t exactly tempt my flagging appetite. I pushed it away untasted.

“Eat.”

“Not hungry.”

“You need your strength.”

“You’re not my mother!”

“True, but I am your mate.”

“No.” My body throbbed with need. I refused to give in. Resolutely I shoved a mouthful of something in. I gagged. The mouthful promptly came right back up.

“Fairy, let me help.”

“I refuse to let you lick up my vomit.”

“If I could shift, I might do so. Actually, you might be able to keep your food down if I held you.”

“That’s helping?”

“I doubt this stuff tastes better going up instead of down.”

“It could hardly taste worst.”

Gingerly he put his arms around me. My cramps subsided as I breathed his scent. He offered me the food. I  nibbled cautiously. The food stayed down.

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Generation 15: Chapter 31

Chapter 31

  I woke shivering. Why was I sleeping outside in the middle of winter in the buff? Next to an equally nude stranger? <Mate.> Something in me whispered. “Ow.” My body was sore as if I’d been screwed. Repeatedly. His eyes popped open.

“Morning.” He reached for me.

“Don’t.” I backed away. My legs itched fiercely.

He halted his advance. “You’re shivering. I was just going to share my body heat since our hosts neglected to provide fresh linens.”

I glanced around and frowned. My heart sped up. “Are we in a cage?”

“A regrettable necessity, I’m afraid.” He pushed aqua hair out of his eyes.

“Why?”

“What do you remember?” He asked softly.

“I…” My stomach clenched and I retched at memory. I killed someone. I ripped out his throat. With my teeth.” I buried my face in my hands. “Oh, Watcher. How? What sort of monster have I become?”

“Ah, cub…” he wrapped his arms around me. I tried to ignore my rather involuntary response to his touch…and his. “As far as I know, the man you attacked still lives. That was several hours ago though.”

“How long…?”

“Mmm…a day, more or less.”

“Did we…?”

“Mate? Yes, several times before you were sated enough to sleep.”

“Watcher.” My face burned.

“Cub, you were in heat. Your actions were perfectly normal.”

“Heat? Mers don’t go into heat.” I scratched my leg. A day. No wonder I itched. “I need a swim.”

“Mer?” His turn to be confused. “I thought you were a fairy. Were you bitten?”

“Bitten by what?” I rubbed my leg.

“A werewolf. Stop that.” He claimed my hands. “You’ll scratch yourself raw.”

I tugged futilely to free my hands. “My legs itch because my skin is dry. I need to bathe or shower at least once a day, sometimes more. I wasn’t bitten. I am not a werewolf!  I am a Mer-fairy.”

He snorted, “There are several people on this base who would beg to differ. You shifted. I was called in to control your wolf.”

“No,” I shook my head in denial.

“Yes. Forgive me.” Somehow he reached in me and grabbed hold of something and dragged it forward. I felt my bones and muscles rearrange themselves into a different configuration. I crouched on the cement and shook my fur. The two-legger in front of me also changed. I backed unsteadily away from the strange male. I kept stepping in my tail. My back legs still itched. I whined and rubbed my nose unhappily against my foreleg. The scents were overwhelming. The male approached and licked my face. I sniffed his fur. His scent was familiar-ish. <Mate.>

He yipped. <Mate.>

<My mate.>

<Yes.>

<Have a mate.>

<Injured.>

I growled and nipped the male.

<Not I! Other. Bad male. Sick male. Not Pack!>

<Pack?>

<Pack.> The male confirmed.

I stretched lazily enjoying the feel of my new body I yipped and looked inquiringly at the male before taking off. There really wasn’t enough room for a proper run, but I did get better at coordinating my limbs. I ducked into the building. The male followed. I approved. He was a powerful male. He’d make a good father for my cubs. I presented myself shamelessly to him. Afterward, we curled up together. I licked him. It had been a good mating.

“Are you awake?” A strange male asked.

I growled softly.

“We are now,” the ‘Wolf answered.

“I have robes. You need a shower.”

“Yes,” I agreed fervently. “Preferably a bath. A long bath.”

“Your legs are flaking. Is that normal?” He peered curiously at me.

“No. It means I’ve been out of the water too long. I’m a Mer.”

“Really? I thought they were extinct.”

“Obviously we’re not. Bath? Now?”

“Right. Give me a few. See what I can arrange.” He shook himself before walking off.

“Do you trust him?”

“Oz? He’s the one who called the Pack about you. He acts as a mediator and liason between the human military and the various occult groups.”

“His name is Oz?”

“More a title than a name. Witches are picky about giving out their True Names.” He idly caressed me. Since his hand wasn’t near anything important, I let him.

The witch walked briskly back. “The General wishes to speak to you.”

“The bath?”

He shrugged. “In due time. Talk to the General and he may permit it.”

I glared at him. “This isn’t a personal request! It’s a medical need! Surely even a murderous occult is permitted medical care!”

“Fairy…”

“I want a lawyer! Or am I not permitted right to counsel too?”

He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You aren’t a murderer. Personally…I think the major probably got what he deserved. Xenophobic bastard.”

I bit my lip. “Perhaps just a bowl of water and a washcloth?” I suggested.

He nodded slowly. “You can’t be denied drinking water…” He hurried off only to return shortly carrying a pitcher of water and a couple of packages. “Here. Breakfast in bed.”

“MREs? Isn’t that ‘cruel and unusual punishment’?” The ‘Wolf asked as he picked up the packages.

“No. Maybe. Those are the least popular ones.”  The witch grinned.

I poured two glasses of water before dipping a corner of the ‘Wolf’s shirt in the remaining water. It felt incredibly good. The itching immediately eased. I still needed a long soak, but now I could wait a bit.

“What are you doing?”

“Feeding them, General.”

The General scowled. “I don’t recall authorizing that.”

“You didn’t,” Oz replied blandly. “However, basic human decency…” He shrugged. “It’s just water and MREs.”

“So, fairy, why did you savage the major?”

“I…”

The witch interrupted. “I suggest you have a lawyer present to represent him before you question him.”

“Oz…”

“If it comes to it, it would be better to have dotted all your i’s and crossed your all your t’s.”

“Fine. Take them to the holding cell.”

A bunch of burly MP’s escorted us back downstairs to a holding cell lined with silver wire. I could feel its presence pressing uncomfortably against my senses. We did stop briefly so I could have a quick shower. I huddled miserably on the floor of the cell. I could still smell the werewolf on my skin. What would happen now? I rubbed my nose. The werewolf’s scent bothered me. Aroused me. Joy.

“How long does this ‘heat’ thing last?”

“A few days. A week at the most.”

Double joy. Could I last a week without having sex with him? I doubted that he’d be moved to different quarters. Watcher, I wanted him. I tried but the wolf in me refused to come. I don’t know why I thought it didn’t count if we mated as wolves. The ‘Wolf lay down nearby.

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Generation 15: Chapter 30

Chapter 30

  The general glared at the man sitting across the desk from him. “Care to explain what the just happened?”

The witch shrugged. “No idea, General.”

“I have one corpse, two injured and a werewolf in custody! I want answers!”

The witch spread his hands. “The first we knew of it was when the plumbing burst. We came as fast as we could.”

“Really.”

“Yes.”

“Then how is it no seers were on the base today?”

He shrugged. “Just lucky? Seers don’t always reveal what they’ve Seen.”

“So what am I supposed to do about that?” The general pointed to the security camera aimed at the sedated werewolf.

“Wait until he wakes up and shifts back.”

“Can’t you…?” The general waggled his fingers suggestively.

“No.” The witch sighed. “I could contact the local pack leader. See if he has an ideas. Maybe bring him here…”

The general scowled. “I already have one unregistered werewolf on base. You want me to add another?”

The witch studied his fingernails. “We may have to. The ‘wolf was furious when he shifted. It may have been his first shift. Only a more dominant werewolf will be able to control him. And…”

“And what? Please expand on your good news.”

The witch ignored the other man’s sarcasm with practiced ease. “The werewolf is Dr. Frank’s latest toy, correct? The one who’s a fairy?”

“Yes. What of it?”

“Fairies tend to be claustrophobic. We have a magical being of unknown power who does not like small, confined spaces locked and chained in a small, confined space.”

“Oh.”

“Oh indeed.”

“Call your werewolf.”

“Yes. Keep him sedated until the alpha arrives.” The witch rose and bowed slightly to the general before departing.

“I hate magic.” The general reached for a pack of cigarettes. “Today was not a good day to give up smoking.”

Oz (not his real name) dialed the number he’d memorized. Now if only someone would answer…

“What do you want, witch?”

“Hello to you too, Alpha. I have a ‘wolf problem.”

Not one of mine.”

“Instant denial. Interesting. Anything I need to deal with?”

“No.”

“Mm-hmm. A possible rogue.”

“Possible?”

“Yeah. A fairy turned into a werewolf and attacked an Army major.”

A long silence on the other end. “Did you say a fairy turned into a werewolf?”

“Yes.”

“Gender? Sexual orientation?”

“Male, possibly herm. Gay or bi. The fairy’s lover was shot. Probably by the major.”

The Alpha cursed. “Mated pair?”

“Not a clue. Never got a chance to talk to it. He was scheduled to have a physical this morning. The headshrinking was to take place in the afternoon. Can you send someone who can deal with a new ‘wolf?”

“You think it’s his first Shift?”

“I think it would have been mentioned otherwise,” Oz replied dryly.

More silence. “All right. I have someone. He’ll be there in the morning. Keep him sedated. Move him outside if you can. Somewhere he can run.”  The werewolf hung up.

“Joy. How can I explain that to the general?”

The werewolf climbed out of the car to greet the waiting witch. “Oz.”

“Wolf. Do you have a name?”

“One I care to share with you? No. The rogue?”

“Get in.” Oz gestured to the jeep.

“Very trusting.”

“You are here. SOP is to shoot werewolves on sight. Especially killer wolves.”

“He’s killed?” The wolf sucked in his breath.

“That’s bad? No. Not yet. His victim still lives. For now. They’re running tests for lycanthropy.”

“Mmph.” He took a deep breath. “Frell.”

“What’s wrong?”

“The rogue is in heat.”

“Oh. Um.” Oz blushed. “Is that a problem?”

The ‘Wolf shrugged. “Depends on if he sees me as rival or mate. He has a lover?”

“Yes. A human. He was shot. We think that’s what triggered the shift.”

“Witnesses?”

Oz shook his head and yawned. “Sorry. I’ve been monitoring the wolf all night. Four people in the room: the werewolf, his lover, his victim and the doctor who was supposed to be giving him a physical. The doctor was also shot. Deceased. Looks like it went through the lover first.”

“And?”

“Both injured are in critical condition. Not to mention, someone had his throat ripped out.”

“Ouch. Not good. What do you want me to do?”

“Get the werewolf able to answer questions. The general wants answers.”

“No surveillance tapes?”

Oz shook his head again. “They weren’t on. We put the werewolf in an old dog kennel, but it won’t hold him for long if he really wants out.”

“Age?”

“College freshman.”

The ‘Wolf nodded. The rogue was a bit old for a first shift if he was born a werewolf, but the fairy blood might have delayed it. Bitten wolves almost never shifted for the first time before their first full moon. When they did…he shuddered at the thought.

The werewolf stood outside the enclosure. This close he not only smelled the familiar scent of werewolf in heat but others. Strongest: fish and salt water. Growing things. Feathers and wind. Death and blood (vampire). Fire. Other scents for which he had no name nor approximation. Curiouser and curiouser. At his gesture the guards let him into the kennel. A door led into a building. The rogue lay on his side breathing regularly. Unself-consciously the ‘Wolf stripped and shifted. Moving upwind of the rogue he sat and waited. How would he react to a stranger? A male stranger?

The rogue stirred. He sat up and shook his head. Standing, he tripped when he attempted to walk. Clearly he was unaccustomed to walking on four feet. The rogue stiffened and growled. He’d scented the ‘Wolf. The rogue took off. He automatically swerved as he neared the fence. Definitely a newbie. The fence was made of steel. Too flimsy to contain a werewolf against his will. The ‘Wolf took off after the rogue. This prompted the rogue lo attack. The ‘Wolf easily avoided the clumsy attempt. Such a puppy. Or not. The rogue made another sound. Different. The look he gave the ‘Wolf was not one of a rival. He crouched and his tail moved out of the way. The ‘Wolf approached eagerly. The rogue sidled out of position when the ‘Wolf attempted to mount. It took several more false starts before the rogue permitted the ‘Wolf to mate.

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Generation 15: Chapter 29

Chapter 29

  “Wha-?” I fell awkwardly to the floor tangled in the blankets as an annoying buzzing sounded in my ear. “Ouch!”

“Dariel? What are you doing on the floor?” Mr. Frank poked his head out of the bathroom. Shaving cream covered his face.

“Clearly not sleeping.” I grumbled as I disentangled my legs. “What is that?”

“My alarm.” He shut it off.

“Great.” I flopped back on the bed. I pulled the covers over my head. They were promptly yanked off of me. “Hey!

“Sorry, but it’s Monday.”

“So? I’m still on break.” I lunged for the blankets.

“Yes, but we have an appointment today, remember?”

“What time?”

“Seven.”

“Great. Plenty of time.” I tugged on the sheets.

“Seven a.m., Dariel. You have just enough time for a shower if you hurry.”

Seven a.m.? Who schedules something that early? I glanced at the clock. Frell. I’d had barely an hour of sleep. “Masochist.”

“Technically you’re the masochist. Get moving.”

“Sadist. You are wa-a-ay too perky for only an hour’s sleep.”

“I slept earlier before you joined me. I didn’t go back to sleep after we had sex. I’ve been working.” He pointed to his laptop perched precariously on the nightstand. I made a rude gesture. “We’re leaving in twenty minutes whether or not you’ve showered or dressed.”

“Fine. Whatever. Scrub my back?”

“Twenty minutes, Dariel.”

Guess that was a ‘no’. I made it. Barely. Luckily he let me sleep in the car.

“Wake up. We’re here.” Mr. Frank nudged me. Forcefully. Here turned out to be outside a chainlink fence in the middle of nowhere. An alert guard in Army uniform stood patiently by the car.

“You didn’t tell me you worked for the military,” I complained.

He rolled his eyes. “Which part of ‘classified, need-to-know’ was difficult to understand? He needs to see your ID.”

“Um…” I panicked. My ID was based on forged documentation. If the military started poking around in my past…

“Relax. They’ve already done the background check. If that hadn’t cleared, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Right.” My wings betrayed my agitation as I fumbled for my wallet.

The guard looked over it carefully before going into his little shack. He came back and handed me a badge with my ID. “Here you are, Mr. Prince. Please wear the badge at all times on the base. Dr. Frank, park in the visitor’s lot and wait in the car until your escort arrives.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“Is that normal?”

“Yes. They really don’t like guests wandering about. Too much sensitive stuff.” He parked.

“Can I at least roll down the window?”

“It’s freezing out there!” I must have looked pretty pitiful because he soon relented. “Just a crack.”

I fidgeted as we waited. Even the car felt too confining to me. I wondered why he hadn’t rescheduled after last night. He reached over and patted my knee. Too bad I wasn’t wearing my kilt. Sex would certainly distract me. His hand moved up my thigh. Great minds think alike. I turned towards him. “Kiss me.”

“Aren’t you the bold one?”

I smiled a little uncertainly at him. “It would distract me.”

“There’s no reason to be nervous.”

“I’m a Mer about to be given a physical by a military doctor. There’s plenty of reason to be nervous.”

“Point.” He conceded as he moved in to kiss me. The front seat of a car was not the most ideal location to makeout. It did keep us from being caught in mid coitus. Not that I was thrilled to be interrupted as Mr. Frank was enthusiastically working his way down my chest.  He jerked back with a curse as someone rapped on the window.

“Get out of the car.”

“Major? What are you doing here?” Mr. Frank sounded surprised at his presence.

I flinched at the hatred and disgust emanating from the man in uniform.

“I’m your escort.”

“Really?”

I studiously ignored him as I readjusted my clothing. I thought it odd that a major would be assigned to escort us. Surely Mr. Frank wasn’t that important?

“Really. Get in the van.”

I balked at climbing into the windowless back. My wings fluttered.

“Dariel?”

“I can’t. Not today,” I whispered.

“Get a move on! Dr. Frank can ride in the front. That can ride in the back.”

“That’s very kind of you, Major, but I prefer to ride in the back. Riding shotgun makes me nauseous.”

The major’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. “Since when, Dr. Frank?”

“Oh, since forever.” Mr. Frank brushed off his suspicion.

“Funny, you’ve never mentioned it before.”

“Really?” Mr. Frank blinked in innocent confusion. “I’m positive I have. Must’ve slipped my mind.”

“Must have.” The major replied dryly.

Mr. Frank got in and offered me his hand. Reluctantly l took it and sat beside him in the back. The major joined us in the back and firmly closed the door. My breath sped up. Only the barest sliver of light illuminated the area. Someone had tacked up a blanket behind the front seats. I pressed against Mr. Frank. He wrapped his hand around mine. It helped. A little. I tried to ignore the emotions beating relentlessly against my mental shields. What had I ever done to the major to make him hate me so?

After an intermitable journey, the van slowed and stopped. I practically dove out the door as soon as it opened. We were in a featureless parking garage. Didn’t really help with my panic.

“This way.” We followed the major to…an elevator. My feet grew roots when the door opened. “What’s the matter? Is the wittle fairy afwaid of an itty bitty elevator?”

“Dariel, it’s alright. I’m here. Just put one foot in front of the other. That’s it. Now the other foot…” Step by fearful step, Mr. Frank coaxed me into the elevator, ignoring the major’s visible contempt.

It took everything I had not to lose it completely as the doors closed.

Mr. Frank squeezed my hand reassuringly as we began to descend.

I jumped when he grabbed my backside. Without further warning he pushed me against the side of the elevator to give me a tonsilectomy. The major’s hatred pulsed in my mind. Then Mr. Frank stuck his hand up my shirt. I shoved him away. “Stop that!”

He just grinned unrepentantly at me. I turned away fuming at his casual disregard for my personal space. I stormed out as soon as the doors opened.

“Dariel, wait!” He grabbed my hand.

I yanked it out of his grasp. “Don’t touch me! How could you manhandle me like that?”

“Aw, a lover’s spat? Too bad.” The major oozed false sympathy.

Mr. Frank merely shrugged. “It worked didn’t it?”

I narrowed my eyes. “What worked?” I growled.

He stepped closer and softly, almost inaudibly, replied, “You’re no longer ready to bolt, are you?”

I slapped him on general principle. Frell him, he was right. Manipulative bastard. I refrained from slapping the smug, condescending smirk off of the major’s face. That bastard was enjoying my discomfort way too much.  Mr. Frank simply rubbed his cheek as he led the way down the hall. I suspected he was thinking of ways to “punish” me for my slap. Tried not to speculate because, well, that was causing an entirely different (but equally distracting) emotion.

“About time! You’re late!” The doctor exclaimed as we walked in.

“That insisted on having a quickie in the elevator,” the major explained.

I curled my lip up and growled softly. “Easy,” Mr. Frank soothed. “I am sorry, Doctor. I realize how valuable your time is.”

“Fine. Put this on.” She tossed me a gown.

“Um…”

“Now! I’m a doctor. I’ve seen it all before and he certainly has. Or will.”

I glanced at the major uneasily. I really didn’t feel comfortable stripping in front of him.

“Perhaps a little privacy? Not everyone is an exhibitionist.”

She rolled her eyes but pulled out a divider. Mr. Frank hustled me behind it. I think he was afraid I’d bolt. Truth was, I wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t. I took a deep breath to steady me as he began undressing me. In other circumstances it would probably be arousing. Now, I just wanted the examination over with.

“Are those tattoos?”

The major snorted. “I doubt it is that brave.”

Great. My markings increased his revulsion. How would he react to knowing I was mixed occult? Badly probably. “No, Doctor.”

“Birthmark?”

“Of a sort. The ones on my legs are scales.”

“Scales? Like a fish? How far up do they go?”

“Yes. I’m a Mer.” I drew the edge of the gown up far enough to reveal the boundary.

“Wow. May I touch?”

I hesitantly nodded. She was being polite in spite of her curiosity. I flinched a bit at her touch.

“Did that hurt?”

“Not exactly hurt, but…,” I licked my lips. “I’m a telepath.” Oh. That wasn’t good. I doubled over clutching my head in pain as the major’s hatred assaulted my mind.

“Dariel?”

“Get away from him, Dr. Frank!”

“Major! What do you think you’re doing? Put that away!”

“Eliminating a security breach.” The major sounded cold. Rational. His emotions were anything but. Something exploded. Water began to fill the room. Water. In the room. The very small underground room. Oh, Watcher, I couldn’t breathe. Voices sounded very far away.

A loud noise! Pain! I looked up to see Mr. Frank put his hand to his chest. A pink shirt that was rapidly turning red. The major held a gun in his hand. I growled. The world wavered. The coppery taste of blood filled my mouth. Something pricked me. Then nothing….

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Generation 15: Chapter 28

Author’s Note: sorry it’s late, I’ve been lazy. Also, some sex (hopefully not too descriptive but…)

Chapter 28

  I sat up engulfed in darkness. My heart thudded in my chest. Where…? My frantically searching hand encountered nothing but blankets. Cold blankets. Empty blankets. I fell out of bed, banging my knee painfully on the floor. I wrenched the door open. The hall was an abyss just waiting to swallow me. I whimpered. The wood of the door frame dug painfully into my palms. I knew that it was only a few feet from my door to Mr. Frank’s. It might as well been a few miles. I couldn’t cross it. Warm liquid trickled down my thigh and the sharp smell of ammonia filled my nostrils. I felt my face heat. Great. I’d just wet myself. Very mature. My fear ebbed under my embarrassment. Hesitantly I put one hand forward. The other I kept on wall as I crawled inch by inch Mr. Frank’s bedroom. I sobbed with relief when I hit the wood of his door.

“Mr. Frank?”

“Wha-?” He blinked sleepily at me.

“C-can I stay here? I don’t want to be alone.”

“Are you okay?”

I shook my head as I trembled in the doorway. “N-no.” My stomach lurched unpleasantly. I dashed to the bathroom barely making it in time. I squinted as harsh light filled the room. I closed my eyes and rested my forehead on the cool porcelain.

Mr. Frank knelt behind me and began rubbing my shoulders. “Watcher, you’re tight.”

I gasped as his fingers dug forcefully into the knotted muscles. “I’m sorry.”

“For?”

“I, um,” My stomach heaved as I thought about the nightmare journey down the hall. He made soothing noises. “I made a mess. On the floor.”

“So?”

“A puddle of, um, urine.”

“Okay. Why?”

I shivered. “You left. I was alone.”

“I sleep better alone. You’d fallen asleep. I didn’t know you are afraid of the dark.”

“Not the dark exactly.” I struggled to breathe.

“Shh…easy. Just take it one breath at a time. I’m here. You’re not alone. The light is in. You’re safe.”

“Water,” I whispered baring my most shameful secret to him.

“Seriously?” He asked in a strangled voice. I could Feel him suppressing laughter.

“Yes.”

“Excuse me.” He bolted into the bedroom. Did nothing to muffle his laughter. He returned a few minutes later, mirth successfully contained,  for now anyway. “Sorry. It’s just…” He rubbed my back.

“I understand. I’m a Mer. I shouldn’t be…”

“Fear is rarely rational.” He lapsed into a thoughtful silence. I twitched my wing out of the way when he pressed a little too hard on it. “How long have you had this fear?”

“As long as I can remember.”

“Mmm…does that hurt?” He pressed purposely on my wing.

“No…yes!” I yelped. “What did you do that for?”

“Testing a theory. Where do Mer live?”

“Um…”

“I don’t need exact coordinates just a general idea of the environment.”

“It’s an ocean.”

“Dariel…,” I heard the fond exasperation in his voice. “I  meant do they prefer the shallow water or the depths? Do they need to surface periodically Iike other aquatic mammals? Stuff like that.”

“Oh. Um, the depths. And no.”

“No?”

“There are gills in Mer form.” I indicated the proper spot.

“Fascinating.” He ran a hand over it. “There is absolutely no evidence of them in this form.”

“Mmm…that feels good.”

“Are your gill slits an erogenous zone?”

I shrugged. “No idea. Mers don’t have magazines underwater.”

“Not a topic for polite company?”

“Or impolite company.”

“Then how do you learn about sex?”

I laughed softly. “Via a great many euphemisms. I thought the Siren would melt into the floor during ‘The Talk’.”

He snorted. “My dad demonstrated just why he always loses at Pictionary. I swear it looked like a crude diagram of a hydrogen atom. Or the Statue of Liberty play.”

I chuckled. “That bad? Thorn’s version was better. Didn’t stutter once. Answered questions.”

“And how has theory and expectation held up to actual experience?”

“Well…” I mused. “I don’t have enough data to form a conclusion.”

“More data is always useful. I have a theory or the beginnings of a theory regarding your panic attack. Interested?”

“Yes…as long as you keep rubbing my back.”

“Hellcat.”

“Yes.” I purred and arched my back under his hand.

“If I must…” he sighed theatrically. “Anyway…you’re part fairy as well as Mer. Fairies are of Air while Mers are of Water. Elementally they are not totally incompatible. Environmentally, however, they are very incompatible. You don’t really like going downstairs, do you?”

“No, not really.” I rested my head on the side of the tub.

“So, fairies tend to be claustrophobic. Some claustrophobes can’t even handle putting their face in the water.”

“So?”

“In addition your wings are sensitive to pressure. Probably the better to detect subtle changes in air currents. Mers live in the depths of the ocean. Water is heavy. Enough of it will crush the strongest steel. I’m guessing, but all that weight on your wings has got to stress your muscles.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is this: you have to be in real physical pain every time you dive deep. You probably don’t even notice it, but you do notice the absense.”

I turned to stare at him in shock. He was right. Even thinking about diving deep made my muscles tighten. A very familiar ache started in my head.

Mr. Frank tsked as he pulled me around to continue massaging my shoulders. “Watcher, you’re tense. Moving on…we’ve discussed why your fairy side hates being submerged. Now let’s explore your Mer’s objections.”

“What objections? Mers like water.”

“True. But do Mers-with-wings like water? I doubt it.”

“Huh?”

“It doesn’t matter if you can outrun a bear. You just have to outrun your buddy.”

“Okay. You lost me.”

He tugged gently on a wing. “These. They don’t vanish in Mer form. They probably add significant drag when swimming. Enough to handicap you against a predator. You’re probably slower and less agile than the average Mer. Am l right?”

“Yes. I always lost swimming races, but…”

“But?”

“But I was banned from participating in school sports, especially track, because of my wings.”

“Really? Why?”

“Unfair advantage. I fly faster than I can run and I can fly higher than most humans can jump.”

“Unfair advantage indeed.” He lightly kissed my nape. “Relaxed enough to sleep?”

“Relaxed? Sure. Sleep? Not really.”

“Time to implement Plan B then.”

“Plan B? What was Plan A?”

“A soothing massage.”

I snorted. “You’ve been rubbing your bare hands all over my naked back. I’d hardly call that ‘soothing’.”

“All part of the Master Plan, my Dare.”

“Oh?” I twisted to look at him.

His eyes flicked downward. “Yes. Plan B involves exhausting you via exercise.”

“And just what sort of exercise did you have in mind?” Like I couldn’t guess. His underwear was suspiciously taut.

“Greco-Roman wrestling,” he replied blandly.

“Wrestling?” I repeated. I thought he meant sex. I wanted sex.

“Yup.” He abruptly stood up and yanked me to my feet. My hand firmly in his, he led me into the bedroom. He shoved me backwards onto the bed. While I was reorienting myself, he removed his underwear and pinned me to the bed. My automatic struggle resulted in him penetrating me slightly. I stilled instantly as I felt my body stretch around his penis. “Wrestling.” He nibbled my jaw.

“Oh. Okay.” His teeth nipped as he went deeper. “Harder.” I tilted my head to give him better access.

“Harder what?” He raised his head to look puzzledly at me.

I licked my lips as I made a decision. “My neck. Bite it harder.”

“Like this?”

“Harder,” I urged as his mouth moved into the proper position. I concentrated on breathing and not moving an inch as he began to thrust. Only when he pulled away did I match his rhythm. Warm liquid trickled down my neck and the coppery scent of blood filled my nostrils.

“Dariel…”

“Hmm?” I peeled open one eye reluctantly to Mr. Frank’s insistent prodding.

“Sorry to disturb your beauty sleep, but your neck needs tending. I bit a little too hard.”

“It’s fine.” I batted his hand away.

“You’re bleeding.”

“I know.”

“Dariel, human mouths are germ factories. You might scar.”

I shrugged lazily. “Don’t care.” I felt a cool sting as he cleaned my bite mark then nothing.

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Generation 15: Chapter 27

Chapter 27

  I blinked as the sun streamed into my window. I was pinned beneath a heavy weight and something jabbed me uncomfortably in my hip. Not to mention every part of my body ached. Memory stirred. Right. Mr. Frank and I had had sex. Multiple times. No wonder I was sore. I shifted to relieve pressure on one of my wings. I hated lying on my back!

Mr. Frank stirred. “Where…? Dariel!” He stared at me shock. “Where am I?”

“In my room. Could you move? You’re lying on one of my wings,” I explained at his outraged look.

“Oh. Sorry.” He obligingly got off the wing. He sat on the edge of bed with his head in his hands. I frowned. I Felt he was upset, but I wasn’t sure why

“Mr. Frank?” Hesitantly I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Did I do something wrong?”

He gave me an unreadable look. “No. I’m going to take a shower.” He rose and left me alone.

Sighing, I headed for my own shower. The soap stung in the numerous bites on my body. I didn’t remember getting half of them. Especially the ones in very intimate spots. The pleasure and pain blurred together after awhile.

I saw no sign of Mr. Frank when I left the room. On the other hand, the living room bore mute witness to our epic pillow fight. I sneezed as a stray bit of fluff tickled my nose. With a repressed sigh, I got out the vacuum.

I flopped on the couch after I finished cleaning. Mr. Frank hadn’t shown his face. Either he was sulking in his room (unlikely) or he’d slipped downstairs earlier before I’d left my room. I dug out one of my textbooks to read. Sure, classes didn’t start for a couple more weeks, but there was no reason not to get a jump on the material. Besides, it would distract me from my love life.

“Dariel?”

I jumped a little at the sound of Mr. Frank’s voice. My book thudded to the floor. “Sorry, sir. Did you want something?”

“Dinner.” He bent and handed my book to me. “Hardly light reading. Classes haven’t started yet, have they?”

“No.” I marked my place with the empty chip bag from my lunch. “I’m just getting a jump on the material. I haven’t started dinner.”

“Obviously.” He raised his eyebrow in gentle rebuke. “It needn’t be elaborate.”

I pointed to the kitchen. “You know where the peanut butter is.”

He snagged my finger. “Really? I was thinking of fish.”

I tugged my finger free. “Think away. I’m not cooking it.”

“Fish,” he repeated grabbing my wrist and pulling me into his arms. He nipped my earlobe. “Fish. With Mer for an appetizer.”

“Oh!” I twined my fingers in his hair. “That might be doable. But Mer aren’t fish.”

“Details,” he murmured against my neck.

:Dariel Prince!:

  I cried out in pain as the Siren’s mental voice sliced through my mind. I pushed Mr. Frank away and collapsed into the fetal position.

“Dariel?” He tentatively reached for me.

“Don’t touch me!” I ground out. :What?:

   :The Queen commands your presence now.:

   :I’m  nearly two hours away from the beach by car.:  I protested.

:Now.  I suggest you get going. Tardiness will not make her inclined to be merciful. Twice you have avoided her. If you disobey her now…: The Siren trailed off.

My head pounded from the force of his Sending. I groaned and massaged my temples.

“Dariel?” Mr. Frank knelt before me with a concerned look on his face. “Are you alright? Should I call an ambulance?”

“Yes. No.”

“Are you sure? You looked like you were having a seizure.”

“Yes. I need to go to the beach.”

“Now? I think you should see a doctor.”

I sighed. “Yes, now. That was a very powerful telepath expressing his displeasure.”

“Displeasure? Can’t he pick up a phone like the rest of us?”

I shook my head. “I don’t have to discuss this. I need to leave.” I stood up and swayed.

He caught me before I fell. “You’re in no shape to go swimming.”

“I have to go,” I insisted as black spots danced in my eyes.

“Fine. But I’m driving.” He put his arm around me and guided me to his car. I leaned gratefully against him. “I still think you should get your head examined,” he muttered as he fastened my seatbelt.

“By a neurologist…or a psychiatrist?”

“Both.” He turned on the radio to an oldies station. I didn’t mind as it gave me an excuse not to talk to him. “Do you want something?”

“Hmm?” I looked up. We were idling in the drive-thru lane of a fast food joint. “Maybe split some fries?”

He snorted. “Get your own fries. I’ll have a medium number one combo with a cola and another order of medium fries. Drink?”

“Juice?”

“And an orange juice.”

He handed me a fragrant paper bag. The enticing odor of freshly made fries had me digging eagerly in the bag. I unwrapped his burger and handed it to him. “How much farther?”

“About twenty minutes according to the GPS. I got hungry. Someone made me miss dinner.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled around a mouthful of fries.

He waved my apology away. “It’s fine. Have a good nap?”

“Yes. I feel better. The food helped too.”

“So…why the sudden urge for a midnight swim?”

I squirmed a little in my seat. “I can’t tell you. It’s Mer business.”

“I see,” he replied neutrally.

“I’m sorry.”

He grunted in response. We passed the rest of the drive in silence. The car glided to a smooth stop in the parking lot.

“You’re really going to swim in that?” He nodded toward the inky waters.

“Yes. The cold won’t affect me.” I peeled my fingers from the handle. The sand crunched under my feet. Was it really only a week ago that I’d stood on a different beach watching my sister strip? A week since she’d tried to seduce me?  I removed my clothes and carefully folded them and set them above the high water mark.

:Sometime today would be nice, nephew.:

   :Sorry, aunt.: I took a deep breath and waded out into the chill ocean waters. I dug my nails into my palms as the waves lapped at my shins. I could do this. Far too soon for my comfort, the water rose high enough to force my transformation. I dove reluctantly underneath the waves to where my aunt, my queen, waited. All too familiar panic clawed at my throat as I descended.

:I see you took your sweet time.: A male commented.

:My apologies for my tardiness, Majesty, Patriarch. I did express concern regarding the distance when summoned.:

  :Enough! Healer, you will examine Dariel. Then you may speak with him, Patriarch.:

  :Majesty. Highness. If you will follow me?:

  I nodded and swam after him to a secluded nook. No one had mentioned my bite marks so far, but I was certain my aunt had noticed. The Healer examined me in silence. I had no idea what he was looking for. Could he tell I was no longer a virgin? When it was over, the Patriarch swam over.

He smiled nastily. :Now, Highness, you will tell me everything you’ve done since you arrived among the two-leggers…:

  :They’re called humans.: I flinched at the wave of disgust he sent to me. I tried to push him away but he was too strong and he dug ruthlessly through my mind. Every single interaction I had was brutally laid bare and pawed over. I wanted to curl into a ball and weep after his violation.

:Filthy, perverted mongrel.: He sneered. :It would be better if the queen took a mate. Started a new dynasty. You disgrace your family.:

   I swam slowly after him. My aunt didn’t appear to notice how he’d treated me. She dismissed me to wait on the beach while they consulted. I huddled miserably on the sand.

“Dariel?” Mr. Frank draped my coat over my bare shoulders. “Everything okay?”

“No.”

“Can we leave now?”

I shook my head. “She needs to give her permission.”

“And if she refuses?”

I swallowed. “Then l have to go back with her.” My breathing sped up and I trembled at the thought of living in the Mer community permanently. I flinched away when he reached for me. “Don’t.”

“I was just going to…”

“Not now. Don’t give her a reason to refuse.”

“Dariel?”

“My attending school was contingent on my being celibate and chaste.”

“Ah. She knows?”

I shrugged. “The Patriarch does. The Healer might. Whether or not they told her…” I dug my hands into the sand as panic threatened to overwhelm me.

He regarded me silently for a long moment. “I don’t want you to go away.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“Mmm…nice night. Clear. You can see the stars.”

“I guess.”

“Do you know what constellation that is?”

I followed his pointing finger. “No,” I answered unenthusiastically. It looked like any other bunch of stars to me.

“I’m trying to distract you.”

I gave him a wan smile. “Sorry. It’s just…”

He nodded and smiled at me before taking up his astronomy lecture. I made noises occasionally in response. I think he knew I wasn’t really paying attention to his monologue. I did appreciate the effort.

My aunt strode out of the water. Mr. Frank blushed and looked away. Humans and their nudity taboos.

:So, nephew, the Patriarch believes the humans have irrecoverably contaminated you with their perversions. He believes you should be returned to Pacifica and Joined immediately. He believes a child or two would sufficiently distract you from your abnormal lusts:

  :Aunt, I…:

  :Silence! I am not finished speaking! I lost your father because I was not willing to accept him as he was. The people will not accept a non-Mer for your mate. Nor will they accept your mating with Athena.: Her mental voice softened. :You may finish your year of school.:

  :Yes, Majesty.: I replied meekly.

“As for you, human…harm my nephew and you will not live to regret it. Are we clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Mr. Frank nodded. “I have no intention of hurting him.”

She snorted. “What do call what you’ve done with him already?”

He shot me a glare before replaying. “A game played by consenting adults. And quite frankly, none of your business.”

“My nephew’s virtue is most certainly my business, human! No decent female will Join with a male of loose morals.”

Mr. Frank laughed. “In case you haven’t noticed, Madame, your nephew has little interest with Joining with any female, decent or not.”

“His wants matter little. He will Join as I command.”

“Who the frell are you to dictate Dariel’s love life?” He snarled.

“I am his queen. Be grateful that I do not slay you out of hand for daring to touch him.” Even nude she looked the very image of an outraged monarch.

He glared at l her in disgust. “No wonder he doesn’t want to go home if this to how he’s treated.”

“And your treatment is better?”

“He has every right to refuse.”

“And you obey?”

He sighed. “It’s about trust. I trust him to know his limits and speak up if necessary. He trusts that I will respect those limits. And I do.”

I coughed. “I’m right here.”

“Sorry, Dariel. That was rude of me.”

Typically, my aunt ignored me. “You know nothing of our culture.”

“Yeah, well, I’m glad of that, lady, ’cause I don’t like what I do know. C’mon, Dariel, let’s go home.”

I scrambled to my feet to follow him. :You would choose this human over your own kind, Dariel?: My aunt’s mental voice smothered me. I struggled to push it aside as I began to hyperventilate. I fell into the car and slammed the door behind me.

“Go!” I urged Mr. Frank. The pressure eased as he peeled out of the parking lot. Luckily it was late enough that there were few cars on the road. Even better, there weren’t any cop cars. “Pull over.”

“Dariel?”

I clamped a hand over my mouth. “Now!” I demanded between my fingers. Gravel crunched as the car’s tires hit the shoulder. I opened the door and retched. My stomach heaved again.

“You okay?”

I nodded and wiped my mouth. “Can we go home now?”

“Sure.” He smoothly accelerated. “Let me know if you need to pull over again.”

I nodded. I still felt queasy and over-heated. I swallowed as bile filled my mouth. He turned off the heat and rolled down my window. The air helped a bit. Wisely, Mr. Frank opted to delay our conversation until we were home.

—-

I shivered as he pulled into the drive. “Cold?”

“Only a little.”

“Right. How about a hot shower?” He guided me into the house and down the hall to the bathroom. I hadn’t bothered to dress after my swim (another reason to be grateful for a lack of cops) so it was easy enough to get in the shower. The heat helped with the physical chill, but not the icy ball of fear in my stomach. Mr. Frank tucked me into bed.

“Don’t go,” I begged as he turned to leave.

“Dariel…”

“Please? Just for a little while?”

He sighed but sat beside me. Gently he stroked my hair. The terror eased a bit. My eyelids began to droop.

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