“Guards. Like Rory. To take care of you until I could come for you. I was afraid you’d be hurt. You’re so damned beautiful.”

Nicky blushed, laughing. “Oh, you can cuss, but I can’t, huh?”

“I’m sorry, baby. I know this is hard for you. I wish I could make it easier.”

“So you watched me, did you? Why didn’t you come over and introduce yourself?”

“I couldn’t trust myself. If you’d reacted to me, like I knew you would, I’d have taken you right there.”

“So you watched me.” Nicky flushed. “Even when I went out on dates?”

“Yes. It was torture for me, but I could sense you weren’t serious about them. I thought it would be a good idea for you to sow some wild oats, like my mother said. Get it out of your system if you could in two months, because you’ll never be with anyone else again but me.”

Marco tightened his grip possessively on Nicky, and Nicky sighed contentedly, truth pouring out his mouth. “I’ll never want anyone else but you, ever. It makes no sense, I love you so much.”

“Is there anything else you want to ask me before tonight’s ceremony? Any more questions?”


“Yes, but I do think I understand everything that’s happened now. I still don’t quite believe it yet—I keep waiting to wake up, and it’s hard to take in all at once. Is there anything I should know about the ceremony tonight? Will I have to do anything?”

“Just follow my lead. It’s a great deal like a wedding ceremony. Except for the fact that my wolf might come out. I’ll try to control it, but sometimes during strong emotion…Don’t be frightened by it. My wolf would never hurt you.”

Nicky blushed. “Never thought I’d be getting married to a man, let alone a wolf.”

Marco kissed the tip of his nose. “Now be good and rest this afternoon. I’ll be back around six to pick you up.” He slid from the bed, dressed, and then moved to the door. “Be a good boy and don’t go outside the room without me or Rory,” he cautioned. “We’ve had reports of a rogue pack in the area.”

“What’s that? Not the Hunters?”

"The Hunters? Has Rory been scaring you with that? No, baby, just wolves. Rogues. Rogue packs are undisciplined packs that are wild and rootless. There are a couple in the area we’re concerned about. One group in particular has banded together, and we’re a little worried they might issue a challenge to my authority. They wouldn’t follow our laws. They roam around isolated areas, setting up camp wherever they can. Some of their pets are probably feral, because they’re allowed to run wild. We’re afraid that, with them in our area, these pets may try to hunt humans.”

Nicky gasped in horror, and Marco crossed back over to him, taking his hand. “Most wolf packs aren’t like that, honey. We’re shapeshifters, yes, but we only hunt animals. If we take a human, it’s for a pet, a mate. Never to kill or hurt them. Do you understand?”

Nicky nodded quietly.

“Until the rogue pack is out of the area for sure, I don’t want you anywhere outside. They’d love to get their hands on a pet as beautiful as you, and the leader’s mate, too.”

“What…what would they do to me?”

“Sweetheart, they couldn’t hurt you, really, because you’re changed now. Not exactly human anymore. They might try to hold you for ransom though, and use you to get some leverage over me. If they kept you away from me for too long, there’s danger in that too. You could turn so wild I couldn’t bring you back, not to mention the mental anguish it would inflict on me and thereby the entire pack. I don’t want to frighten you, but I want you to be careful. Do you understand why we keep you so close to us?”

“Tara explained a little to me while she was curling my hair. She said it’s so we don’t become savage.”

“Well, yes, there is a great danger in that. Tara is fairly new here, too, and still learning. Her master must have explained it to her very carefully. I’m glad you listened to her. Now, listen to me. Don’t, under any circumstances, go outside while the rogue pack is in the area.”

“Okay.” Nicky nodded his head dutifully and meant it. He had no qualms about staying inside while monsters roamed the woods.

Chapter Three

Rory came for him carrying a piece of white satin. “This is for you, Nicky. Marco wants you to wear it for the ceremony.”

Nicky took it suspiciously and shook it out. “This is a dress,” he said flatly. “I will not wear a dress.”

He threw the fabric on the floor and stomped back to the bed to sit down. Rory picked it up and went over to him. “This is not a dress.” Rory sounded indignant. “It’s a traditional robe, and you’ll wear whatever your master asks you to wear and like it. Now put it on or I’ll make you put it on.”

Nicky flashed a hot look at him. “You wouldn’t dare touch me. I belong to Marco.”

“Marco sent me to get you. And don’t forget it was me who turned you in the first place. I’ll slap your ass if I have to and explain to Marco later.”

Nicky jumped to his feet with his hands in fists. “Oh no, you won’t. Just try it, you asshole!” He swung at Rory and missed, falling into Rory’s arms, but he jumped away from him and put up his fists again. “Fight me. Come on, Rory, fight me!”

The door swung open, and Marco stood framed in the doorway. He took one look at what was going on and crossed the room in two steps, picking Nicky up and throwing him on the bed. “Rory,” he said over his shoulder, not taking his eyes away from Nicky. “I’m very sorry, and so is Nicky, though he’ll be making his own apology soon. Please leave us for now.”

Nicky sat up in the middle of the bed and watched Marco’s face for any sign of leniency. He knew he’d fucked up and badly. He cleared his throat. “I guess it wouldn’t do any good to say I’m sorry.”

“Yes, of course it would—if you meant it. I think you’re only sorry you got caught.” “I…uh…I didn’t want to wear the dress. It’s for a girl.”

“It’s a robe, not a dress. It’s what I want you to wear, and you’ll wear it.”

“I’m not a damn girl!”

“You’re anything I say you are. You’ve been without a master for far too long, and now you’re giving in entirely too much to your feral nature. I won’t stand for it.”

“Don’t make me wear that, Marco.”

Marco took a deep breath, as if trying to gather himself before speaking again. “Nicky, do you care for me at all?”

Nicky bit his lip. “You know I do.”

“Then try harder for me. You’re allowing the wildness in your nature to take over. It’s traditional for all pets to wear the white robe when they go through the mating ceremony. All the pets, including the males. I wasn’t trying to single you out or humiliate you. It means you’re entering into a new life, becoming part of the werekin.”

“You all keep saying this feral nature is coming out in me, but I don’t feel any different. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Nothing has really changed for me in any way. Well, except for the gay thing.”

Marco shook his head. “No, Nicky, it’s you. You are changing.”

“Look, I get angry sometimes and irritated when Rory tries to boss me. That’s not anything new to me. Maybe I do need to clean up my language, especially if it bothers all of you so much, but I can’t stand this walking around on a leash. It’s not this so-called wildness, either. It’s the way I’ve always been. I don’t like people telling me what to do.”

Looking worried, Marco shook his head. “I know that’s what you believe, but you’re not thinking straight, Nicky. I’ve been feeding you my blood—you haven’t had anything else to eat since you were changed, have you?”

Nicky looked surprised. “Uh…well, no. I guess not.”

“Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Doesn’t the fact that you’re drinking my blood seem odder still?”

Nicky got a stunned expression on his face.

“Right. You’re not human anymore, baby. Not totally. You have to accept the idea and stop saying nothing has changed. Don’t you see? Everything has changed for you! My blood is supposed to have a calming effect. It should be making you docile and sleepy and easily controlled, but you’ve been anything but easy. You’ve been fighting almost everything and everyone when I’m not around. So far, I’m the only one who can handle you. It shouldn’t be like this, and I’m worried.”

Nicky grabbed Marco’s arm and held on, his hands shaking. “What’s going to happen to me, Marco? Tara told me about the ones who let their savage nature get the best of them. Am I going to become a monster?”

“Of course not.” Even though upset with him, Marco put his arms around him comfortingly and kissed his temple.

“Tara said there was this one guy, and you’re thinking you may have to…to p-put him down.”

“Don’t even think such a thing! She’s mistaken. We’d never do that. We’re treating him with female hormones to make him less aggressive. As for you, I’m going to keep working with you and stay with you all the time if I have to. If I’m the only one you respond to, then I’ll have to take some time off and take care of you. Feed you more often. Whatever it takes. We’ll get through this together, baby. I promise. There’s a lot more we can do.”

“Like what?”

“Training. Understanding what it means to be submissive. Or the hormones, maybe. I’ve seen that work before. But that would only be used as a last resort.”

“Hormones? Female hormones? Oh my God!” Nicky put his hands over his face and wept.