After, Ellie stares at her blank palm and waits for the burn of loss to stop.
Jimmy stays gone most of the night. Ellie should be pissed, should yell at him for breaking curfew and lecture him on the dangers of roaming around Los Angeles after dark, but, well, surviving werewolves kinda trumps all that. And Jimmy’s not stupid. He’s probably at Brooke’s, unless her parents kicked him out. Maybe he’s at Bo’s. No matter where he is, he doesn’t have a werewolf out to kill him, and that’s a hell of an improvement.
Ellie grabs the broom and starts sweeping up broken glass. She doesn’t even remember how it got all the way to the front door, but it doesn’t matter, not really. She’ll start here and work her way inside, and maybe by the time she hits the kitchen, she’ll be so numb from exhaustion she won’t start to cry when she gets the visceral reminder of all that she’s lost.
She loved Jake, she did, she just loved Jimmy more. If only Jake hadn’t been so dead set on being the only werewolf male, it wouldn’t have come to this, Ellie alone, trying to piece together a broken home, and Jake dead, taking the rush of werewolf from their blood.
There is no star on her palm when she fists her hand around the broom handle and sets to work hard so she doesn’t have to think.
Brooke and Bo are a permanent fixture at the house now. When Ellie gets home from work, she finds the three of them sprawled in the yard reading or stretched out together on the couch watching tv or laughing in the kitchen while they throw together weird food combinations. It’s nice, the way they fill the house with noise and energy.
When she’s very tired, when her body aches and her eyes burn with exhaustion, when she slumps into bed because she literally cannot stay upright another second, she can’t help but think about what it might have been like, Jake and Jimmy, Brooke and Bo, and the pulse of pack.
Ellie pushes herself then, into the basement to scrub it clean or out for a run or into the kitchen to cook meal after meal until the fridge is full.
When she lies in bed after, she traces the lines of her palm, life, death, and love, all so strangely twisted.
It’s been five months, three weeks, and two days since Ellie was something more than human.
Not that she’s counting.
Ellie used to mentally compose letters to her parents when she couldn’t sleep, but now words fail her. I was a werewolf for awhile and I beheaded the man I loved and Jimmy has one boyfriend and one girlfriend and I think they’re looking for werewolves because Jimmy misses what we were.
At eight months, one week, and four days, the werewolf finds her instead.
Ellie’s ostensibly comparing boxes of blueberries but really trying not to think about the moon, which will be full in a day, when a pretty redhead drapes herself over the edge of Ellie’s cart, twisting her fingers into the little metal squares, and bares her teeth.
“You poor thing,” she says, her voice harsh against her gentle words. “How do you live with being so much less?”
“Less than what?” Ellie asks, even though she intends to tell her to get the hell out of the way. She has little patience for strangers entering her space. But there is something familiar about the way the stranger moves, the slick slide of her body against the metal, the twist of her hips, the bend of her spine.
Ellie looks into her eyes and sees the monster rising up inside.
Her name is Ginger, and she works her way into Ellie’s life, into her home, with the same sinuous grace with which she slinks through rooms and across parking lots and into Ellie’s bed.
The first time Ellie finds her there, the moon is new, leaving the sky dark, the stars hidden by the lights of Los Angeles. Ellie thinks the house is empty. Jimmy’s at a movie marathon that will run most of the night – all three Lord of the Rings movies – and Ellie is looking forward to the quiet.
She’s shaking her hair loose from its bun when she walks into her bedroom and finds Ginger writhing on the bed, twisting the sheets around her. Ellie freezes where she stands, ponytail holder twisted around one hand, hair tumbling down, half a second from kicking off her heels, and stares.
Ginger plants her feet flat on the bed and scoots higher, knocking Ellie’s pillows to the side, her body undulating as she spreads her scent everywhere.
“What the hell?” Ellie’s voice cracks, her throat is so dry, and her lips ache. She takes a step forward and then another, letting her hands fall to her side, and Ginger rises up on her knees, beckoning her closer. Ginger’s mouth is very red, her teeth sharp and white, and Ellie’s tongue flicks out again. She misses the taste of wolf.
Ginger watches, her hands clawed against her thighs, as Ellie slowly undresses. Each button slipped open reveals another bit of human skin. By the time she’s down to her lace bra and sensible underwear, Ginger is on all fours, her hands at the edge of the bed, her body vibrating as she waits to pounce.
Ellie hesitates, hands behind her back, fingers on the hooks of her bra, and waits, letting herself be seen. And Ginger does watch, wild eyes and hunger, licking her fucking chops. She rises up again, breasts small and tight, and drags her claws through the air, taunting Ellie closer.
Her bra hits the floor, underwear following a second later, but she doesn’t run to the bed. She struts over, putting a sharp swing in her hips, remembering what it felt like to stride down the halls with the full moon rising, the way her blood boiled and everything burned tight and bright.
Ginger grabs her wrists when she’s close, drags her onto the bed with one hard tug, but Ellie twists their legs together, bringing Ginger down too. They clash, mouths slamming together, and Ellie isn’t as strong, she doesn’t have her own beast, but her fingers are sure as she twists Ginger’s nipples, pinching them hard. Ginger guides Ellie’s hands down, down, but Ellie doesn’t need to be shown how to thrust inside, one finger into her pussy, then two, three, a thumb on her clit.
Ginger howls as she comes, bucking against Ellie, fighting even as they fuck, and Ellie’s hands are slick with her, human nose full of her scent, and she can taste wolf all over her tongue.
Ginger’s still breathing hard and shaking when she lunges up, throwing Ellie up and over, pinning her onto the bed. Ellie cries out, a yelp that’s almost inhuman, and it bleeds into a keen when Ginger buries herself between Ellie’s legs, wetting herself with Ellie.
Slick fingers thrust into Ellie, filling her up, three in her pussy, four stretching her. Ginger raises her head and grins, wolf snarl riding behind her lips. Ellie jerks as Ginger wiggles one finger into her ass, but then her mouth is on Ellie again, tongue to her clit, and Ellie starts to come so hard all the sensations bleed together. Fingers thrusting, tongue flicking, the vibrations of Ginger’s growling as she devours Ellie, lapping up every bit of her.
Maybe all of Ginger’s fingers are inside her, filling up front and back, and it hurts a little, it burns and feels like she’s going to blow apart, and still she comes, driven deeper by Ginger’s relentless tongue, circling and sliding and pressing down just so.
When Ellie thinks she might die from it, from how good it feels, and at the same time so horrible, too much, her body overwhelmed, Ginger lifts her head and licks her lips.
“Be the wolf,” she says and dips her head fast to lick a line along Ellie’s stomach. When she looks up again, her teeth glint. “Take it from me.”
Her fingers work inside Ellie still, thrusting and thrusting, matching the beat of Ellie’s heart. Ellie spreads her hands wide, bare palms and smooth nails, no claws or fangs to mar her humanity, but she remembers something more.
“Yes,” she says, voice clear, and Ginger tears into her, teeth into her thigh and Ellie comes again as the wolf rises up inside.
A wolf pack can only have one alpha male, or so Jake said, but two alpha females works just fine.
They clash, sometimes. Ginger wants a pack, wants to bite everyone she meets that she likes – which, Ellie has to admit, aren’t very many people – but Ellie stops her every time. They are a pack of consensual werewolves, and anyone they bite has to agree.
Ellie rips open Jimmy’s wrist two days later, because he knows and because he’s already her pack, but they wait for everyone else. Bo is next, once he turns eighteen, and Brooke shortly after. A pack of five is enough for Ellie, they fill the house with so much noise and heat and happiness, but she listens when Ginger crouches in the darkness, staring at the rising moon, and says she wants more.
Ellie has been a werewolf for four years, two months, and twenty-two days, and she will never go back again.