The wolf races in where the human heart trembles to follow.
Wolf Town, Book 3
Iain's head has called Wolf Town home for six years. His heart, hurt by a childhood spent suppressing his wolf, won't let him believe he isn't one misstep away from exile.
During the first moon run of the year, the electrifying connection his wolf makes with Teo, the pack's beta and resident doctor, has potential mate written all over it. Yet the only emotion that rises above the tangled scars of his past is excitement over ensuring a permanent place in Wolf Town.
Teo can't believe Iain so easily crashed through his rock-solid resolve never to date within the pack. The young wolf's artless, fumbling explanation for his attraction only serves to remind Teo why he set those rules--his own past in a dysfunctional pack. Guilt that he let Iain so far under his skin forces Teo to do the one thing his heart rails against. Keep it clinical.
Teo's apparent rejection not only breaks Iain's heart, it triggers a deep-seated desperation that pushes him to take a terrible chance for the sake of the pack. And to show Teo their connection is no illusion.
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October 17, 2011
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Excerpt from Moon Run by Joely Skye
The year's first full moon shone bright, lighting the snow beneath his paws. This run in January brought with it hope and a reason to try, instead of simply to yearn. Under the moon, everything seemed cleaner, shinier, new. Of course, Iain's wolf needed no such rationalization for its desire; it wanted what it wanted. And like always, that set Iain's nerves on edge.
The brown wolf that was Teo raced ahead. He usually did, leading the pack until late in the night when he veered off to disappear on his own, his job as beta done. The pack then scattered, and Iain was left to make his way home, perhaps alone, perhaps with someone who chose to follow him and f**k him.
But it was the new year, even if a couple of weeks had passed since January had rolled around, and Iain wanted to do things differently. F**king was great, f**king was wonderful, hands on him, his hands on another's skin. He refused to do without it. But he was wolf enough, despite himself, to miss sleeping with someone night after night, and he didn't quite know how to find that type of relationship again.
So what did his wolf choose to do? Be drawn to the pack's beta. Iain knew why, there was security there, if Iain could only create it. But the odds, frankly, weren't great. He was aiming too high, and Teo was out of his league.
Didn't matter. Tonight his focus became Teo.
Iain ignored everyone else, especially his ex, Rory. They used to run, f**k, sleep together and then they...didn't. For months they'd been a couple, and Iain had come to depend upon it. Now Rory had a wariness about him, as if he feared Iain would follow him home.
Like hell. Not when that nice new boyfriend Scott lay waiting for Rory in their shared house, keeping the bed warm in the deep of night.
No, Iain was finished with Rory. A bit late to that game, given Rory had been finished with Iain two years ago, but character flaws, Iain had them. He was fully aware of his unattractive tendency to hold on too long, his difficulty in letting go.
But Teo knew nothing about Iain's character flaw, not his true one. The moon run made Iain brave as he kept pace, waiting for Teo to make his signature move and withdraw from the pack.
As the moon traveled slowly across the sky, the brown wolf finally fell into the middle of the pack and let others take the lead, let himself get lost in the crowd until there were only he and Iain straggling, bringing up the rear.
Iain glanced over to see if Teo showed any awareness of his existence, and saw little evidence of it. Teo's body subtly, or not so subtly, shifted away from Iain. Iain faltered then, knowing he had to make his play now or the moment would disappear as surely as Teo would.
That thought made it difficult for Iain to catch his breath. He pushed through the panic and stepped forward, a low whine in his throat.
Teo looked at him sharply, brown eyes flat, rejection in that gaze, and Iain froze, his ears going back.
He watched then as Teo trotted away, watched and breathed in the cold winter air before he, too, turned aside and made his long way back to Wolf Town alone.
The first night of a moon run was usually Teo's favorite. Something let loose in him as he moved under the moonlight, almost euphoric with his sense of rightness, of belonging, of being alive.
Yet tonight had ended oddly, with a hesitant overture Teo couldn't help but reject. Puzzling, but not something to be encouraged. So Teo waited until Iain was well out of sight before he circled around and followed silently. A more aware wolf would have known he was being trailed, but Iain's wolf senses had been blunted by his childhood.
And that knowledge only made Teo feel protective--he ensured the dark wolf made it home safely before he left Iain's apartment building and aimed for his own small house.
An hour later he rubbed his head with a towel and stared at the fogged-up mirror. Thirty-two, not unattractive, though unlike a lot of wolves he wouldn't strike people speechless with his beauty as he strolled down the street.
He loved living here, but the idea of getting embroiled in a relationship with someone in town did not appeal to him, especially one as troubled as Iain.
Besides, he liked the idea of keeping his focus elsewhere, on medicine, on being the town's beta and helping Angus run things. The town was young, and werewolves only recently, if imperfectly, accepted by mainstream society.
Focus, yeah. As in a euphemism for jacking off in the shower. He snorted and retreated to bed, not unhappy despite a slight feeling of loss. His limbs were sated, from the shift, from the run. And he had more of that to look forward to.
As was usual, the next three nights of running under moonlight brought diminishing returns if you looked for euphoria. Enjoyable but not quite the high point of the week. By the fifth run, Teo was ready for it to wind down. The last two nights tended to be short and perfunctory.
It allowed him time to ponder Iain's recent behavior, the sense he had of the younger wolf continuing to watch him from a distance. Though not on the seventh night, because Teo couldn't find him and that absence gave him pause. Sure, last-night runs didn't have the same draw as the first night. But it was still more comfortable to run than to stay inside, trying to ignore the call of the moon. Or, it was more comfortable for most wolves.
Teo did run, hard and fast, and returned home early, fully awake, despite the physical exhaustion that pulled at him. Even waning, the full moon was a stimulant to a wolf.
Once showered, fed and dressed, he pulled on his jacket and walked over to Iain's building. It was two in the morning. Maybe he'd been wrong and Iain was out running somewhere else with someone else, but Teo decided he'd find out. He walked inside, up the first flight of stairs and raised his fist to rap at the door of Iain's apartment.
For a moment there was no response, but then he heard movement from inside. The door opened, and Iain stared at him in surprise, even jerked back a little. Teo could smell a jitteriness to him, and he didn't know why Iain hadn't run to rid himself of the moon's energy.
Iain's expression bordered on shock, making Teo think he must have got him wrong, that he had no desire to see him. Yet something spurred Teo to ask, "Can I come in?"
Dark eyes getting darker, Iain backed up. "Sure."
"You didn't run tonight." Teo shut the door.
Iain's gaze shuttered. "I usually don't on the last night."
Teo wracked his brain, trying to remember previous months, but he'd not noticed that before.
"Don't worry, Angus has already talked to me about my absences," Iain said dryly. "I've got a special dispensation. In writing."
It was a joke, not a lie, though delivered seriously.
Iain gestured towards his living room. "Come in. I'll get you a drink."
"No, that's all right. I just wanted to make sure..." Somehow it was harder to state when Iain seemed fine, and Teo was barging in at odd hours of the night.
"Make sure...?" Iain repeated.
It was very attentive, Iain's gaze. A little too intense. Welcoming though. Teo breathed in and smelled Iain's arousal.
Teo was trying to remember why this couldn't have waited until morning, though his wolf didn't give a s**t about the awkwardness here. His wolf had been paying very close attention to Iain ever since the moon run had begun seven nights ago, and he liked what he saw.
Iain's mouth quirked, a kind of ruefulness there, and Teo decided this staring thing had gone on too long, given what shouldn't happen between them. For although Iain had never been in Teo's clinic as a patient, it would happen one day. Teo was the town's only doctor.
"You ignored me all week long." Iain's accusation was flung lightly.
"And then you come to my apartment. Why?"
"You weren't there tonight to ignore," Teo drawled.
"Take off your boots." Iain tilted his head at the couch. "Come in."
"Iain. I just wanted to see that you were fine."
"I am perfectly fine." There was an edge to his words now. "Give me a call next time you want to check up on me, Doctor."
Crap, a thread of hurt ran through Iain's voice. One that Teo didn't fully understand. He pulled off his boots, to Iain's evident surprise, and walked into the living room.
"A beer?" Iain asked.
"All right." Teo dropped onto the couch, beside Iain's laptop. He'd probably been working here earlier. When he re-emerged from the kitchen, two beers in hand, Teo said, "I couldn't stay inside on a night like this."
Iain stiffened before he handed Teo a bottle and muttered, "I've had some practice."
"But there's no need to continue that."
Iain sighed, put away his laptop and fell into the opposite corner of the couch. "I know. I do run the last night sometimes, but I was tired enough that it felt..." He shrugged, his face reddening a little.
"Felt...?" Teo prompted. "I'm curious, not judging you."
"Oh, far be it for you to judge me."
"I was tired," Iain repeated, leaving it at that. Teo obviously wanted more of an explanation, but Iain was not going to say he was weary of his increasingly low expectations going unmet. This stupid idea of a new year and new hopes had got him too wound up and then let him down.
And here was Teo sitting in his living room on a doctor's call. The irony was rich. Iain wouldn't mind playing doctor, but he didn't want the real thing.
Teo's lashes rose and fell a couple of times. Dark, short lashes that framed clear brown eyes, not like Iain's muddy ones. That gaze on Iain made his face heat up.
Didn't matter. Teo would have already smelled Iain's arousal, and it wasn't exactly going away, even if it was only at half-mast given Teo's lack of interest.
In truth, Iain was lonely enough to appreciate company such as this. Next he'd be in counseling or something, just to get someone to talk to him. Of course if he went to Teo for counseling, he couldn't daydream in any realistic way about their f**king or sleeping together. Because Teo was well known to be very stuck on principles when it came to his medical practice.
Iain gave a shake of his head. Usually he wasn't so spacey. The moon was no friend of his in the end. It turned him inside out when he ran and when he stayed inside. "Sorry?"
"I've felt like you wanted to talk to me this past week."
"That's not what I wanted. Not really." Time to tell a stupid lie and make Teo angry. At least it would be better than this concern. Who found concern sexy? Iain pulled in a long breath and stopped on the intake, shocked by the scent. He met Teo's gaze full on.
The beta stared back, his lips slightly curved in acknowledgement even when his body language said no.
So Teo was attracted to Iain, but he wasn't going to f**k.
"My father called tonight," Iain said blithely. "Wants me to come visit the city and put on a show for the nieces and nephews." He shrugged. "You know, shapeshifting can be quite the party trick."
"Uh-huh." Teo looked unimpressed. "You don't know who your father is."
So Angus and Teo had talked about his past. God, it just got better and better. "We were reunited a few months ago," he muttered.
Teo shook his head at Iain. "Why lie when we can smell the lie?"
Iain shrugged. "Why come over here for small talk in the middle of the night? Most guys would have me naked by now, and I wouldn't be complaining."
It was the tone of voice that got him. A kind of knowingness when Teo knew f**k-all about him and his stupid lies.
"I tell lies because other wolves recognize them. It's refreshing." It reassured him at some basic level. He was not a freak among people. He lived among wolves.
Teo frowned. "That doesn't make sense."
"No," he said softly, setting down his bottle. The anger carried him forward, and he placed hands on the couch to crawl across to Teo. So he liked to court rejection, so what? Teo didn't consider Iain good enough for him. He certainly wouldn't be the first to think so, but that he was aroused and that Iain had been making stupid plans in his head all week despite or because of that first night's rejection... Well, it pissed him off.
After plonking his beer on the side table, Teo turned back just as Iain reached him. He grabbed Iain by the arms--not what he'd been expecting. He thought Teo would stand, get out of the way. He thought he was chasing Teo out of his apartment so he could stop feeling this s**tty emotion of regret and hurt. Too easily hurt, that was him. But he'd forgotten--because his wolf instincts were worth s**t--that Teo was beta and didn't stand down from challenges, even stupid ones from the pack idiot.
They glared at each other, Teo's what the f**k expression sapping Iain of some of his anger. He pulled his legs under him, even as Teo continued to hold him, not allowing him closer, not pushing him away either. Iain's knees now leaned against Teo's strong thigh, and he reacted. Of course he did.
Not how it f**king went, this dance. No. But still, the press against that thigh, the pressure of those large hands on his arms--Iain shuddered in reaction. And when Teo didn't throw him aside, Iain leaned in and placed his face in the crook between neck and shoulder, while his chest rested against Teo's side.
Needy. Never enough. It put people off. He should know. He'd done it before. He was always like this, unless they got down to the f**king right away.
Goddammit. But still he breathed in Teo, soaking up the physical contact...waiting for Teo to gingerly extract himself from this embarrassing display, or for his body to become tense with displeasure at the unexpected embrace.
Just a little longer...