“It should've been illegal for a man to walk around like that without some sort of permit.”
― Julie James, Something About You
Stiles was pragmatic and honest enough with himself to admit to the fact that he had done it for the money.
Scholarships only covered so much, his dad was paid enough that they lived a comfortable life, but the amber-eyed boy was in his third year of university and textbooks did not come cheap. The first semester of his freshman year, Stiles had nearly curled up on the floor in the university bookstore—a broken, sobbing mess—when the total came out to be over a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars. For dead, mutilated trees. Now…? He had grown numb to the exponentially inflated prices, resigned to the fact that the further into his major he traversed, the higher and higher priced his texts would become.
Supply and demand, and the university made out like highway bandits every semester.
So, yeah: Stiles had followed Kira’s blushingly given suggestion after browsing through the texts he’d need for senior year and grad school after that—saw how much each text was going for, resigned to the fact that his student debt would just continue to pile upwards until he was dead and gone, and… it was nice to consider the potential of a little extra cash to buy the supplemental textbooks and to start saving up for future semesters. Prioritizing things to keep his eye on the end goal—it was the reason why Stiles eventually submitted the photos that Kira and Allison had taken of him over the course of a weekend, showcasing his best effort in a variety of outfits that Lydia had personally chosen for him after the strawberry blonde had meticulously picked through his wardrobe, and… well… the experience hadn’t been absolutely horrible.
Even as the whiskey-eyed boy submitted his résumé online, Stiles certainly hadn’t been expecting a response; after Kira had nudged at him to look into modeling for Neckz ‘n Throats, the human had picked up a couple of copies—wrapped carefully in manila paper so that underage eyes couldn’t take a peek at the content—from one of the few gas stations that stocked the magazine in the near vicinity. It only took flipping through a couple of pages to realize that Stiles didn’t have the aesthetic that the magazine seemed to cater to. All of the models, male or female, had an athleticism to their bodies that spoke of both power and strength. Stiles? Stiles was a hundred and forty-seven pounds of pale skin and sarcasm. He was toned enough from lacrosse in high school, but… not like this.
The models that the magazine featured were fit—hunting, focused instincts peeking through gold and blue and red gazes no matter how well the make-up artist and photoshopper attempted to slip a veil over the models’ inner predator. There were wolves peeking out from those eyes, and there was nothing to be done to soften that particular blow.
So, no: Stiles didn’t expect anything to happen, had fully expected to wait a week or two before taking an empty sort of silence as his application’s answer before moving on to another magazine; it’d be lesser pay than what Neckz ‘n Throats would have potentially been able to offer, but… starving college student, right? Stiles wasn’t willing to be picky, not with parts of his education on the line.
Needless to say, the amber-eyed boy hadn’t expected the call that came in at eight a.m. sharp on a Saturday morning, rousing Stiles from a dead slumber spawned from a night of gaming with a best friend who happened to be three states away. Stiles jerked away, flailing with limbs going every which way as he tumbled out of his small bed, gaze bleary as he patted down his shirt and pants for pockets to search for the phone that was still cheerfully wailing away. The phone was eventually found beneath his comforter, nearly at the end of its ringing, and the college student didn’t bother glancing at the caller ID to see who would be calling him so early in the morning—especially since his dad had learned better by the time Stiles was ten.
“…’lo?” Stiles greeted, voice muzzy as he stared blankly at the wall opposite, trying to forcibly reboot his brain.
“Are you drunk?” the voice on the other side of the phone asked, incredulous and tone of voice judging.
“What?” the boy asked, confused by the question as he pulled the phone away from his ear to stare down at it in his own particularly uncomprehending sort of way. “What the fuck…? Why the hell do you think I’m drunk?” he continued, annoyance clearing at least some of the fog from his brain. “It’s—shit, it’s only eight? Dammit, I went to bed… an hour ago? I think? Anyway, who the hell are you?”
The judgement that the voice exuded practically doubled at that question. “My name is Laura Hale, and I’m the hiring director for Neckz ‘n Throats. I’d been reviewing your application and portfolio and decided to give you a call.”
Stomach already sinking at the realization that he had already blown this call—but, seriously, who called at eight a.m. on a fucking Saturday? What happened to normal business hours??—Stiles cleared his throat and straightened his spine because he would, come hell or high water, manage to get through this call without further dying of embarrassment. “Oh, uh—that’s nice to hear,” he stuttered out for a moment or two, trying to find some sort of steady ground to work off of. “I hope you enjoyed looking over everything. But… can I ask the purpose of your call, Ms. Hale…?”
There was a pause from the woman, and Stiles could just picture her weighing her chances with continuing on with the conversation or just cutting things off right here and now—most likely stamping his file in red and promising herself never to call again under promise of self-imposed torture. And yet, knowing how the phone call had already gone, Stiles found himself holding his breath.
Not much hope wasn’t the same as no hope at all, after all.
“Well…” Laura began, trepidation obvious in the tone of her voice. “We had a photoshoot scheduled for today, but the models came down with the ‘wolf flu that’s been going around right now. We found one replacement, even with the short notice we’d had, but… we’re still missing the second model. I was calling to see if you’d be interested in coming down to the studio for the day to act as the needed replacement. Since it’s so last minute, you’d be getting time and a half for your work.”
“Yes!” Stiles blurted, agreement erupting from his mouth before he had the time to consider things: money talked, however, and depending on how much ‘time and a half’ ended up being, maybe the student would be able to pay for most if not all of his texts for the next semester. Even if that ended up being a pipe dream, at least Stiles would have something to put towards his books. “Just. Uh. Just let me grab a pen and paper to get the address from you, Ms. Hale… when did you need me by?”
“Well,” the casting director answered, and Stiles could hear both the caution and the still present unhappiness in her voice; it was obvious that he wasn’t her first pick, but the boy was more than willing to take advantage of Laura’s lack of options at this point in time—no matter how insulting a light it shone on him (money was money, though, and that was all that mattered for right now). “We’re scheduled to start in an hour and a half, so you can understand my concern…”
Still, he wrote down the address she provided to him and saw that Google said it was only fifteen minutes away—plenty of time for a quick shower to wash away the stink of an all-night gaming marathon and to change into new clothes that didn’t feature a Marvel character (or two or three).
Details were quickly settled and, fifty minutes later, Stiles was stepping through the glass and chrome automatic door of a building that just reeked of money. The interior was minimally decorated, obviously going for something modern and stark, but Stiles had spent enough time around Lydia to spot Quality when he saw it. There wasn’t much stuff on display—but what was there was designer.
Most definitely feeling underdressed in a pair of Converses, jeans, and a red flannel shirt with a black tank under it, the amber-eyed boy still met the receptionist’s gaze with a steady one of his own: refusing to quail beneath the obviously judgmental glance she sent his way after a slow, deliberate up-and-down appraisal. Stiles had been dealing with bullies from kindergarten all the way through high school; one person who didn’t think he dressed well enough for the company wasn’t ever going to be enough to make him turn tail and run.
“I’m Stiles Stilinski,” he introduced himself and absently fingered the edge of a pocket. “Ms. Hale said that I was supposed to check in at the front desk and then you’d give me a security badge.”
“Of course,” the receptionist answered immediately after, body language subtly shifting in something that wasn’t easily discernible; it was unsettling, just how quickly the woman seemed to do an about-turn, but… was it really his problem? As long as she gave him the badge, then… did it really matter beyond that?
Stiles fell silent after the introduction and the other’s response, carefully keeping himself still as the woman checked through her computer records before eventually printing him a temporary badge, laminating it with a cheap cover to at least keep it safe for this visit. Handing it over, the receptionist continued: “Upstairs to the fourth floor. Turn right and you’ll hit a door that says ‘Studio.’ Head on in, Mr. Stilinski. They’re expecting you.”
The boy glanced sidelong at her because—well, that didn’t sound ominous at all. “Thanks… I think,” he replied and headed off to the elevator bank, swiping his badge over the reader so that the computer system would know that he was actually authorized to be there. One of the elevators arrived in short time, and Stiles slipped into the mirrored, metal interior—glancing around with a quick, curious eye—before pushing for the fourth floor.
It felt like the teen was strolling down the building’s hallway in no time at all, unsettled at the silence—perhaps the rooms were soundproof?—and wondering why he had actually bothered to come here when it had been such short notice and he already felt… off. How did he know that this one-time job was actually legit?
…what if some blackmarket criminals had somehow hacked into Neckz ‘n Throats’ storage servers and had somehow come across his application as a model? What if they thought that he looked like the perfect candidate to donate both of his kidneys? What if he woke up, hours from now and still woozy from being drugged, with medical incisions all over his body? What if he ended up needing organ transplants to replace the ones that were taken from him??
The spiraling what ifs—each more outrageous than the previous thought—were abruptly cut off at the knees when the door marked ‘Studio’ opened before Stiles could reach for it, and a stunning dark-haired and eyed woman who looked to be in her mid-twenties stepped through the now-open door.
“You must be Stiles,” the woman opened with, smile carefully designed to be non-threatening and welcoming both: the perfect hostess expression—fitting, too, for a woman who powerhoused her way through meetings filled with men who thought that they knew better, smiling and seemingly easy-going until that careful smile dropped and the woman gut the other without a second’s hesitation. It was an expression that a predator who oftentimes wore sheep’s clothing would wear. “Are you all right?” the woman continued, glance flicking down to Stiles’ chest. “Your heartbeat was beginning to race faster and we were starting to get concerned.”
“I’m fine,” Stiles lied smoothly, hardly a blip of his heartbeat to give him away. He smiled at the woman, easygoing and relaxed and his own brand of awkwardly charming. “…Laura, am I right? Laura Hale?”
“That’s correct,” Laura answered, offering Stiles another Mona Lisa smile even as she pulled the door wider open, ushering the younger man into the unexpectedly large expanse of the room beyond; the studio obviously took up nearly three quarters—or more—of the fourth floor, spreading far and wide and filled with camera equipment, costumes, props, makeshift changing areas: anything and everything that you would expect from a photography studio.
Actually seeing it made that tight ball of anxiety within Stiles finally unclench, relaxing at the fact that here was a confirmation that this was true, was legit, and perhaps he really would be coming away from the building with a paycheck that he was in dire need of.
“So what’s going to be expected of me, Ms. Hale?” the whiskey-eyed boy asked as his attention flickered over the various sets that were currently in partial assembly, certain things accepted and others discarded by what looked like the set designer.
“Well, as you may be aware, Stiles, each issue of Neckz ‘n Throats has a focus on a specific theme. It changes from publication to publication and, at times, we bring back the more popular themes so that the readers can get a new, different taste of something that we’ve already done. This issue is ‘Enemy Kingdoms Meeting for Treaty Talks’—something we did… oh, four years ago?—so you’ll be heading over to hair and make-up and then costuming so that you can get ready. After that, you’ll be meeting your shooting partner; once you’re both comfortable with one another, you’ll be at the mercy of the photographer.”
For the first time since they’d met face-to-face, something other than cool professionalism slipped into the quirk of Laura’s smile. “I wish you luck with that. Boyd can be rather… meticulous… in his photoshoots.”
A perfectionist photographer…? Stiles was suddenly getting flashbacks of going on shopping trips with Lydia when she was after the perfect little black dress and/or a specific shade of burgundy, sued booties. If the article of clothing didn’t fit her particular vision, it was immediately cast out and the strawberry blonde moved on to the next conquest, seeking the perfect representation of everything that she wanted.
(It made for some disgustingly long shopping days, Stiles was more than happy to admit—silently and only to himself because the boy knew better otherwise.)
From that point forward, however, Stiles was immediately picked up in a whirlwind of preparation: shuffled from one employee to another, his nose was powdered within an inch of its life—an exaggeration, sure, but it certainly felt like it—his hair was artfully mussed into something that absolutely screamed ‘I just got up to something quick and dirty,’ and it wasn’t long after that the costume director was having Stiles wriggle his way into clothing that seemed more fitting on the set of Game of Thrones than buried in a skin magazine’s wardrobe.
But, then again, Stiles was just the potential eyecandy. What did he know?
(You know nothing, Jon Snow. –and all that jazz.)
It was only after he was covered in layers of leather and fur and rough-spun linen, boots that came up to his knees and a sword that he had to be careful of not tripping over for every step he took, that Stiles finally got the meet the other model he’d be doing the photoshoot with today.
The college student took one look at the older man, decked out in leathers and fur, as well, but somehow managing to carry the medieval-style clothing with a sort of ease that spoke of a type of comfort within his own skin that Stiles had yet managed to achieve, and… well. The amber-eyed boy still didn’t know why Laura Hale had called him; but after seeing this particular model, standing in comparison to the blue-eyed ‘wolf…? Well. That confusion grew exponentially. (And the fact that Stiles couldn’t stop staring at how the other man’s leather pants clung to his thighs didn’t help much, either.)
Stiles had long ago learned to soldier on through the most awkward of situations that he found himself the cause of. The boy tried on one of his better smiles, cheerful and bright, blindingly open and a lie for all of its effusive lightness, and the student stepped forward, offering up a hand to greet the other all the while.
“Hi,” he greeted. “I’m Stiles. I guess… I guess I’ve been picked to be your partner for this photoshoot.”
The greeting gave the other man pause, glacial gaze sharpening on the smile that Stiles offered, and then—finally, eventually—the ‘wolf smiled, gesture slow in coming and raising the hairs along the nape of the boy’s neck at seeing its sly, knowing curve (Oh, Grandmother! What sharp teeth you have!). Stiles’ hackles raised, as well, and whiskey-hued eyes narrowed slightly before a chin lifted in challenge: stubborn to a fault, foolhardy in all of the worst ways, smart enough to realize when someone was beginning a game—and stupid enough to refuse to back away, even when Stiles had always known better. Now, at this particular moment, Stiles knew that he was somehow being mocked, body language delicate enough to be difficult to interpret—but the boy had spent his entire life around ‘wolves and ‘shifters in general.
He stepped closer, crowding into the man’s space, and finally offered up a sharp-toothed grin of his own.
Something sparked in the other man’s eyes at the sign of aggression, of a prey’s prerogative in cringing away, in bowing down—in baring a belly for the predator that had fangs and claws to its own blunt, too-flat teeth. But the other man’s taunting, teasing smile had raised Stiles’ hackles and there was no backing away from the ‘wolf now that the gauntlet had been tossed to the floor:
“It’ll be a pleasure working with you.”
That something flared brighter, hotter, and a suddenly crimson gaze lifted to meet Stiles’ own whiskey-hued eyes, and the ‘wolf reached out to gently wrap his fingers around the college student’s forearm, bringing it upwards so that he could press a kiss to the thin, vulnerable skin of the boy’s wrist. “The pleasure is all mine, sweet boy,” the man murmured in turn, and Stiles was suddenly too hot, burning up and on fire, underneath all of the layers that he had been forced into. “I’m Peter.”
While the theme of the photoshoot was incredibly, typically trite—and would no doubt sell hotly which, Stiles figured, was the point of it all in the end—Boyd had a way of angling, of positioning both himself and Peter in such a way that tension lay thick between them both in the few photos that Stiles actually managed to catch sight of. Gazes caught with one another, hooded eyes, bodies angled to potentially strike—or to lead into other, potentially violent activities. Layers were shed, little by little, slowly and subtly to the point that it would perhaps take half of the issue before the reader saw Stiles and Peter in their linen shirts and leather trousers—half of the issue or less, depending on how many pages this would fill, and… surprisingly enough, Stiles was beginning to suspect that the photoshoot may actually be the main draw of the magazine considering just how many onlookers the session had begun to draw over the hours, how many murmured comments were whispered as people watched the assistant’s computer for new photos as Boyd took them.
Under normal circumstances, it would have all set Stiles on edge. In this specific case, however… Peter was rather talented at being a distraction, all sharp smiles and off-handed comments targeted to get a rise out of the boy. The Alpha spoke sarcasm fluently, and Stiles still wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing as they traded barbs and banter as the hours passed them on by.
Eventually, however, the photoshoot needed to wrap itself up, and Boyd gestured absently towards Stiles while the majority of his attention remained on the camera in his hand, thumb flicking quickly through the photos as he quickly zoomed in on certain ones, deciding on the spur of the moment which ones to continue to keep and which ones to immediately discard to free up memory. “All right, Peter,” the photographer began, gaze still focused on his task. “Time to get Stiles to lose the shirt completely—let’s move on to the ravaging part of the treaty.”
Again: the theme had been trite and stereotypical from the start; Stiles knew that. However, much as it was with other things the boy readily became involved in… he opened his mouth, brows furrowed in an annoyed scowl: “Uh, excuse me, but why is it that Peter’s doing the ravaging? I can just as easily fulfill that role while he ends up being the one swooning in my arms, heaving pectorals on display for the readers to ogle.”
Silence—a pin drop would have been easily heard from even the humans in attendance.
“…are you serious?” Boyd’s assistant, Isaac, asked as he choked back an amused snort at Stiles’ claim; everyone in the room could see the way that the beta ‘wolf eyed the other boy, looking Stiles’ lanky form up and down with an amused but jaded eye. “There’s no way that the readers are going to believe that. One good gust and you’d get knocked over. And you’ll be the one ravaging Peter? An Alpha?”
“I don’t see the harm in letting him try,” Peter interjected before things became heated, perhaps recognizing the fiery, angry glint in Stiles’ gaze at the blond’s taunting words. Still, the interruption was enough to have the amber-eyed boy glancing his way, and the smirk that the other model offered him was challenging, teasing—though, too, something much more… curious, unknowable, lingered in the shadows of the Alpha’s bloody gaze: almost as if Peter wanted to see if Stiles was able to rise to the occasion.
Stiles’ brows furrowed at the words, jawline tensing as the muscles along the sharp edge tightened and released in a quickly subtle tic, but that was still the only offer that the college student needed; he stepped closer, crowding into Peter’s space and shifted until he was actually straddling the older man in Peter’s chair. Silence rippled outwards, and someone gave a shocked, quiet gasp when the human’s fingers buried in the hair along the back of the ‘wolf’s head; Stiles yanked, rough gestured, and tilted Peter’s head back so that his throat was bared in a long, vulnerable line.
There was something brutal, feral-edged to match the time period of their clothing: Peter’s claw-tipped fingers clutched at the linen of Stiles’ shirt, ripping long gashes in the homespun material—surprise and shock and arousal bright in his gaze as the younger boy dipped his head to rub a cheek against the thick line of Peter’s throat, blatantly scentmarking the Alpha.
“Stiles,” Peter rumbled in warning, grip forcing the neckline of the boy’s shirt to dip low, hanging partially off of one creamy-pale shoulder. In reply, Stiles pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the now-thundering point of the elder’s pulse, lips pulled back just enough to show a hint of teeth, and the boy tilted Peter’s head back even farther until only the faintest crimson glow gleamed from beneath the Alpha’s dark lashes.
“Neckz ‘n Throats is all about fetishizing certain interests, right?” Stiles murmured against Peter’s throat, and he could feel the ‘wolf’s slow inhale, chest expanding against his own. “So why not try something new at a different playground? Groundbreaking material here, Peter.”
The last could have been a taunt or a tease or a challenge: any number of things, any and all with how the boy’s mind worked, but the surprise came when Peter didn’t veto the not-so-subtle suggestion.
In fact, Peter’s answer came as Stiles pressed the flat of his tongue against stubbled skin, licking a wet stripe upwards as the ‘wolf’s hands pushed the ripped back of the boy’s shirt upwards, baring taut muscle—a swimmer’s body, lithe but more than capable of packing a punch—for the camera’s lens. It was a different sort of strength than what the magazine typically featured, and perhaps that difference would end up catching the eye of the audience.
“Shall we give them a show, sweet boy?” Peter murmured in turn, lashes lifting just enough to pin Stiles with a Look that would have done the Big Bad Wolf proud.
“To go where no man has gone before,” the boy smirked in answer, mischief bright in his eyes before stealing a hot, wet kiss for the camera, Peter’s head still forcibly tilted back from the grip that Stiles had on his hair—tight and domineering enough that something stirred within the ‘wolves who were watching, interest piqued but no one daring enough to edge closer, not when Stiles held the Alpha’s entire attention.
‘Groundbreaking’ ended up being an understatement.
The magazine had to be reprinted four times, and there was still a demand for more copies—the most popular issue to date, talked about amongst ‘shifters, pages carefully dog-eared and magazine spine broken to the point that favorite portions of the publication were fallen open to at the smallest of nudges:
Firelight liming the edges of both men’s forms, painting the scene in shades of gold and shadow—Peter’s red gaze dangerously eerie as half of his face was cast in twilight, while Stiles’ whiskey-hued eyes practically glowed in the low light and the challenge that the ‘wolf’s smirk presented.
Midnight dark fur a stark contrast against the milky column of the boy’s throat.
The dip of a collarbone revealed by the deep plunge of Peter’s neckline.
Stiles crowding into Peter’s space, aggressive and intently so, knuckles white from where they peeked out from around strands of the ‘wolf’s dirty blond hair—the thick line of Peter’s throat, tendons corded as he fought against the hold… or perhaps pulled taut in how he arched up to press against the wet heat of Stiles’ mouth, teeth pearl-white from beneath the smug curve of his full lips.
Linen laying in tatters around Stiles’ torso, ripped to shreds by Peter’s claws—and Stiles with that smug, too-pleased smirk still on his face, unrelenting in forcing the Alpha to bare his throat even as he glanced down between their bodies to watch his hand dip into the older man’s opened trousers.
Crimson glint from beneath the thick line of Peter’s lashes: watching the reader from over the curve of Stiles’ shoulder even as the boy sealed his mouth over the ‘wolf’s pulse point.
Peter, with his nose pressed into the sharp line of Stiles’ hipbone, obviously drinking in the thick, aroused musk of the boy’s scent as the bulge of his pants rested against the rough-skinned plane of a chiseled cheek.
Both men sprawled upon a fur-covered floor, Peter nude to the reader while the muscled line of Stiles’ thigh and calf hooking over the Alpha’s hip to block the ‘wolf’s groin ended up being the only thing keeping the photo from being completely explicit. Still, there was an edge of burning eroticism to the picture, anyway, if only from the heat within Peter’s gaze as Stiles pressed possessively against his back, arms braced for leverage as the human hovered partially over the older man’s muscled form.
A fanged smile, fully bared and every inch the ultimate predator, as Peter’s hands clenched over the boy’s ass, fingers digging into the meaty curve, while Stiles settled between the elder’s thighs and cupped a hand over the ‘wolf’s Adam’s apple, gently controlling even as the Alpha contentedly submitted to the touch.
Stiles blinked down at the check that Laura handed to him, openly gaping at the numbers that had been made payable to him. “…is this right?” he asked, floundering at the fact that it may have been very, very possible to purchase books every semester until he was completely done with school. “This can’t be right.”
“It is right,” the she-wolf confirmed with a slight smile, dipping her head towards Stiles’ paycheck to reference that the boy was, in fact, being paid the correct amount. “The issue you were in ended up being our highest selling issue—ever. Needless to say, your paycheck reflects that success. And… well. Also think of it as a sort of bribe.”
Suspicion instantly took precedence over the money, and Stiles glanced sharply upwards with dark, furrowed brows as he evenly met Laura’s gaze. “Bribe?” the student asked, caution bringing his words slowly. “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that we’re hoping that you’ll continue to come back. Preferably with me as your modeling partner,” a voice answered from behind, and Stiles jumped nearly a foot in his chair, surprised at the unexpected addition. He jerked around, only to be greeted with an unanticipated sight: Peter leaned idly against Laura’s office’s doorframe, clad in a suit that was all tight, slick lines, sharp-pressed and obviously tailored—reeking of high fashion and wealth: a predator just wearing a different sort of skin.
There were elements in Peter’s reply, however, that caught Stiles’ attention: “…we…?”
Laura sighed quietly at the slow response, rolling her eyes in aggravation even as she gestured towards the older man. “Stiles, you’ve already met Peter during your photoshoot with the magazine. What he apparently must have forgotten to mention at the time is that Uncle Peter is also Peter Hale, the owner of Neckz ‘n Throats.”
“But you were a model,” the human boy commented—perhaps a bit dumbly, perhaps a bit numbly—but his mind was whirling with the implications and just what it had meant, if anything, that Peter had modeled in the photoshoot with the boy, as well as took on an openly submissive role that was antithesis to both his status with the magazine and within ‘wolf hierarchy.
The Alpha shrugged a shoulder absently, gesture Gallic and noncommittal. “We were short a model,” Peter answered readily enough, though there was still something hungry and intent within his gaze as he watched Stiles.
From the corner of his gaze, Stiles was able to catch Laura standing and moving around the desk, slipping out of her office to leave both men alone; seeing that, knowing that, struck a different sort of awareness within the boy, and his eyes narrowed further as he watched Peter continue to prowl closer. “But that doesn’t explain what you allowed to happen during the photoshoot itself.”
Peter’s answering smile was sharp-edged and predatory. “You interested me when I read your application,” the Alpha ‘wolf explained in reply, voice dipping lower in octave to leave his words quietly rumbling, vibrating within the marrow of Stiles’ bones. “I wanted to see if you were able to rise to the occasion.”
Stiles tilted his head up to meet Peter’s burning gaze, and the Alpha reached out to brush a thumb against the boy’s jaw—marveling at the lack of a flinch when instinct took precedence and a human fingertip soon became a razor-tipped claw instead. Challenge once more flickered to life within that amber gaze, lingering in shadow even as the lack of fear made those whiskey eyes practically glow as the boy faced down the ‘wolf yet again.
“Did I?” Stiles asked.
“More than I think you realize, sweet boy,” the ‘wolf murmured, his turn in crowding closer to pin the boy within the chair.