Maggie's Wolves, Part One: A BBW Shifter Romance (Red Mountain Pack Book 1)

BOOK: Maggie's Wolves, Part One: A BBW Shifter Romance (Red Mountain Pack Book 1)
7.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

 

MAGGIE’S WOLVES

 

RED MOUNTAIN PACK: PART ONE

 

 

Cara Morgan

 

 

 

 

Copyright
2015 Cara Morgan

 

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the author, except for the use of quotations in a book review.

 

This is a work of fiction. All names, people, places and incidents are either used fictitiously or are products of the author’s imagination.

 

Chapter One

 

She was going to die. That’s what it felt like, with her skin flushed despite the cold weather and a strange throbbing sensation in her belly. When she first started hiking toward the cabin, she’d thought it was just a cramp. But it had only gotten worse as she trudged on, and now there was no denying that something was terribly wrong. She wanted to stop and rest, but she needed to make it to shelter before the storm hit. The clouds were an ominous gray, and the air was sharp and still. She’d probably be snowed in for a few days. If the sickness didn’t pass…

Maggie shook her head and forced herself to keep moving.

Of course it would pass. Shifters were immune to practically every disease that afflicted normal humans. She’d never been sick a day in her life. She’d always secretly believed other people were wimps, moaning about mucus and upset stomachs. Now she felt like she should go personally apologize to every person she’d so harshly judged. Being sick sucked. It made your body achy and feverish. Left every nerve ending feeling raw and exposed. It made you restless and hungry and unbelievably horny.

No. That couldn’t be right.

Did humans want sex when they were sick? Maybe that was a complication peculiar to shifter anatomy. Not for the first time, she wished that her parents were still alive to ask about that kind of thing. It would be embarrassing to go to them with that question, but an awkward conversation or two would be a lot better than ignorance. She hated that there wasn’t anyone left that she could turn to when she needed help. She couldn’t even tell people
what
she was without worrying she’d be locked up for the rest of her life, or killed outright. This sickness was just one more thing she had to figure this out on her own. And she would.
After
she got to the cabin.

The moment the moon touched the horizon, Maggie felt it in her bones and stopped walking. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t see it rising behind the thick layer of clouds. She’d always know when the moon was in the sky. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, drawing strength from its presence. Her wolf stirred inside her, rising to the surface. Maggie reached for the wolf, willing the change to take her, wanting to shift even if it meant losing her gear. She’d make it to the cabin far faster if she could run on four paws.

Nothing happened.

Beating back a rising sense of panic, she started walking again. It had to be a side effect of the sickness. Once she was feeling better, she’d be able to shift. She probably just needed some food and a little rest.

This side of the mountain was all rock and pine with a few hardy trees already stripped of leaves. Once she made it to the top of the ridge, she should be able to see the cabin. The tiny log structure was tucked on the opposite side of a deep, wooded gully. The ground ahead was treacherous, with lots of loose rock that could twist and turn beneath even the surest feet. Her sense of balance wasn’t particularly reliable at the moment which made breaking an ankle—or her neck—a very real possibility. 

But she really didn’t have much of a choice. At this point, the cabin was much closer than her piece of crap, busted down car. She’d make it so long as kept her head. One foot in front of the other. She could do this. Inside the cabin, there was a stash of dry clothes and blankets she’d hauled up last year. Plenty of firewood and enough canned food to last until spring.

Her stomach cramped with such a vicious twist that she stumbled and dropped to her knees. Rock bit into skin even through the double layers of long underwear and denim. She gritted her teeth, drawing air in shallow sips, until the pain receded enough for her to climb to her feet again.

It felt like what she imagined the beginnings of labor might feel like, but that was impossible. Completely impossible, considering the fact that she’d never had sex. It was hard to get close to people when you were hiding the deep dark secret that you were actually a monster. Even Aunt Tildy, who’d taken on the chore of raising her after her parents died, had never been able to get past that. Oh, Tildy had done a decent enough job, providing a roof over her head and enough food to satisfy even Maggie’s monstrous appetite. And Tildy wasn’t even truly Maggie’s aunt, the relation was more distant that, second cousin or third. No one in Tildy’s family had shifted for generations. For the Aldrichs, their true natures were nothing more than an old family legend. Tildy had wanted Maggie to deny that part of herself too. And Maggie had done her best to suppress the wolf while Tildy was still living. Not anymore.

She used her hands to steady herself as she climbed the steep slope, grabbing hold of a sapling when she felt the loose rock beneath her feet begin to slide. When she finally made it to the top of the ridge, she breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the old stone chimney peaking above tree line. Home. The cabin was a hodgepodge kind of place where old doors had been turned into cabinets and tin scrap metal formed the roof of the porch. It looked as if it might have stood in that same place forever, but it was sturdy, and there was no place in the world she felt more at peace.

Some of her happiest memories had been spent up here when her parents were still alive. She remembered her father lifting her onto his broad shoulders as they hiked through these woods. Her mother’s shape shivering about her as she shifted from woman to wolf between one running step and the next. Her father had been a shifter too, but her parents were the only shifters Maggie had ever known. If there were more of her kind out there, her parents had never gotten the chance to tell her about them and Tildy hadn’t known of any.

Maggie hefted her backpack higher on her shoulders and started down the hill. She had to stop several more times before she made it to the trail leading up to the cabin. It was overgrown with weeds even though it had only been a few months since she’d been this way last. The cabin was sound though. The doors and windows shut tight. She unlocked the front door with the old fashioned key she wore around her neck and stepped inside. The cabin was stuffy and dark, but it felt wonderfully familiar. Like being wrapped in a big hug by an old friend.

She found the lantern hanging exactly as she’d left it. She lit it quickly, and then closed the door behind her. Letting her bag drop to the floor, she stood still for a moment to catch her breath. The walls were bare wood, stained a deep dark brown by age and smoke. Most of one wall was taken up by a great stone fireplace and another by the bed beneath an antique arched glass window. There was another window above the old porcelain sink. A small, but sturdy square kitchen table and a pair of chairs was to her right in the center of the kitchen area. The pantry was an open set of shelves that her father had built when she was a little girl. He’d let her hammer in a few of the nails herself. A metal rack hung from the ceiling holding an assortment of pots and pans. She’d tied a bit of mint there to dry this spring and had forgotten to grab it when she left. She wondered if it was still good enough to make tea.

She sighed. Tea would have to wait. There was work to do first.  

The cabin was dry, with no electricity or running water. The outhouse was out back and the well in the yard had a hand pump. The pump shouldn’t be frozen quite yet, and even if it was, she’d have snow soon enough that she could melt for water on the old pot-belly stove.

Maggie hauled wood from the pile outside and within an hour she was settled. She had a fire burning in the fireplace and the stove was warming. She’d carried fresh water inside and taken care of her personal needs. Her damp clothes were laid out on the stone hearth. She finished off a can of soup and then cleaned up, setting the bowl and spoon out to dry on a worn towel beside the porcelain sink. When she stepped off the rag rug onto the wood floor, the cold curled her toes. She turned down the lantern and then curled up on the bed.

The cramps she’d felt earlier had faded to a dull ache, a sensation that felt not quite so much like pain as it did like hunger. Her wolf had quieted too, though Maggie could still feel her there, watchful and waiting. She still couldn’t shift, but she was trying not to worry too much about that right now.

The fire ticked and hissed as the damp wood caught and burned. Outside, the wind howled and shook the window panes. Through the old glass window above the bed, she watched as the first fat flakes of snow began to drift down from the sky.

Maggie closed her eyes to try and get some sleep. When she woke up, her sickness would probably be over, and she’d be able to shift again. There’d be enough of a break in the storm for her to get out. Her car would start up when she turned the key and wouldn’t cost her a fortune to tow out. She’d get back to her apartment in time to be at work Monday morning so she wouldn’t lose her job. It would all work out somehow. It had to. And then she’d forget this awful day had ever happened. Wrapping her arms around her stomach, she burrowed deeper into the blankets.  

She’d just started to drift off when someone knocked at the door.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Maggie sat frozen, trying to decide what to do. She’d never once seen anyone else in the woods surrounding the cabin in all of her years. Last fall, she’d heard the distant sound of a gunshot, but that was as close as anyone had ever come to this place that she knew of. She’d begun to think the land had some kind of magic that kept it separate from the rest of the world. Her own little bubble of safety. She didn’t like the idea of anyone invading her private sanctuary.

The noise might have just been her imagination, she thought. The wind or maybe a falling branch. She’d almost convinced herself of that when the sound came again, clear and sharp. Two solid raps and then waiting silence.

She exhaled in a rush. The wolf rose inside of her and inexplicably the ache in her belly began to throb. Cautiously, silently, she crawled out from beneath the blankets and crossed the room. She touched the lock, reassuring herself that it was bolted, and then placed her hand against the door.

She couldn’t hear anything on the other side of the thick slab of wood except for the howling of the wind, but she knew that someone was there. She could feel a presence. A hand pressed to the wood opposite hers. She leaned closer and inhaled deeply, searching for a scent. When it came to her, her knees went weak and she had to brace herself against the door. Her body trembled. Moisture gathered between her legs, and she groaned softly. A man. There was a man out there, but no one she’d ever met before. A stranger and she wanted him as she’d never wanted anyone in all of her life.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said softly, the wind catching his words and tearing them away. A human woman might not have heard them at all. “I know you’re in there. I saw the smoke.”

His voice was a deep rumble of sound that her entire body responded to like a tuning fork. Her fingers curled into a fist against the cold wood. She wanted to back away from the door, but his voice and his scent kept her standing right where she was.

“What do you want?”

“To meet you, and talk.” A soft laugh passed through the door and down her arm. “Maybe get out of the storm for a moment.”

“I don’t know you.”

“Not yet,” he said. “But you know
what
I am.”

She stilled as understanding sunk in. He was a shifter. That scent—dark and wild, strangely familiar, and oh, so very tempting. It had been such a long time since she’d smelled it, she hadn’t even recognized it for what it was. With numb fingers, she fumbled for the bolt and wrenched it aside. She hesitated, but then twisted the old iron knob and swung the door wide.

For a second, all she could do was stare at the great hulking shape of the man filling her doorway. He was well over six feet tall with broad shoulders, trim hips and long, muscular legs. Even his hands, braced to either side of the jamb, were large and uncompromising. His hair was covered by a knit cap but his brows were thick and dark, as was the stubble lining his jaw. All of the planes of his face were strong. The bold nose and wide cheekbones. He looked like he’d been cut from the same rock as the mountain behind him.

If this man meant her any harm, she was so fucked.

Glittering blue eyes fixed on her, studying her from the top of her mussed hair to her toes, covered in her favorite old rag socks. His gaze lingered on her too-wide hips and then on her breasts. She belatedly realized she wasn’t wearing a bra. Her breasts were immodest even strapped down. When there was nothing holding them back, they were…well, it was no wonder that he stared at her like that. She liked her body, but she was aware that a lot of people preferred something a little bit tamer.

Not him. When the man lifted his gaze to her face, she didn’t see anything in his expression but pure masculine appreciation. Her breath caught in her throat. The warmth in her belly swelled and spread down her limbs. The instinct to go to him was so powerfully strong she actually took a step forward before gaining control of herself.

No.
She couldn’t just jump on strangers, no matter how badly she wanted to. She could almost hear Aunt Tildy’s voice in the back of her mind.
“You’re not an animal, Maggie. Control yourself.”
She did. She’d gotten very good at controlling her baser instincts over the years.
 

“Come in,” she said, hearing the tremor in her voice and hoping he mistook it for uncertainty. “Please.”

She held open the door and closed it behind him when he stepped inside.

“I’m sorry,” he said, taking off his knit hat and running a hand through his dark hair. “I caught your scent when I was heading to my truck and had to follow it. I should have realized what it meant—with the storm coming in and my instincts overriding all common sense—but it’s been such a long time, you understand.”

He smiled, an easy, friendly smile that invited trust. But she was too confused by his words to smile back at him. 

“Your truck?” The nearest service road was the one she’d parked on, which meant he’d used one even further away. “You don’t live around here.”

“Not far. Near Ashfall. The town’s growing and my pack is looking to relocate. I wanted to check this place out before the snow fell.” A gust of wind buffeted the house and the corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. “I almost made it.”

“Your pack?” She reached out to grab the back of the chair to steady herself. “There are more of you?”

His eyes widened and he studied her a moment before answering. “There are five of us in the Red Mountain pack. What pack are you with?”

She was a pack of one. She’d never even considered picking out a fancy name for herself. She’d have to get on that. “I’m not…” She shook her head. “You said you were looking for property up here? This place isn’t for sale.”

“The adjoining property is.” He hesitated. “The owner’s name is Wilkins. I understand his father bought the property years ago intending to build a lodge, but it never panned out. The son is looking to sell. It’s a nice area.”

She nodded, her head spinning. A whole pack of shifters moving right next door. She could hardly wrap her head around it. “Are you going to buy it?”

“The others will want to see it too, and then we’ll put it to a vote. I imagine yes. Will you mind?”

Mind? “Not at all. I’d like to meet your pack.”

He fell silent for a moment, looking at her like a puzzle he couldn’t quite piece together. She thought about offering something to drink, or shelter for the night, but she didn’t trust herself not to attack him as soon as he let down his guard. She wanted to be his friend and get to know his pack. She wanted to finally meet other people like her. Maybe… Maybe when his pack moved here, they’d let her run with them sometimes. She needed to stop thinking about licking the strong column of his neck and biting his chin. She needed to stop wondering about how many layers of clothes he had on underneath his coat and how long it would take to get him out of them.

Finally, he cleared his throat. “You’re not with a pack now, are you?”

She hesitated a moment and then shook her head.

“If you had trouble with your last pack and that’s why you decided to do this, I can help you.”

“Help me?”

He flashed that disarming smile again. “Yeah, well, maybe help’s not the best word, but you should know you have options. My pack would welcome you if you don’t have anywhere else to go.”

She wrapped her arms around her stomach as another wave of hunger broke over her, not as sharp as it had been earlier, but deeper and more insistent. It made it difficult to try to sort out what he was saying, but he was looking at her like he was waiting for an answer. “I thought I would have time to get up here and back before the storm rolled in,” she said. “But my car wouldn’t start and then I started to feel sick.”

“Sick?”

She touched her face which seemed to be way too hot, especially with the blast of cold air he’d let into the cabin. “A fever. I’ve never been sick before. Maybe you could… Do you know of any doctors who treat people like us?”

He took a step toward her, raising his hand like he meant to touch her, but then he let it drop to his side. “What pack were you born to?”

“I don’t have a pack,” she admitted. “My parents died when I was twelve. Their truck hit a patch of ice driving down this mountain and went right through the guardrail. My aunt raised me but she wasn’t…she was different from us.”

“Gone human.”

She nodded. That was as good a description as any. “She died last year. There’s no one else.”

“You’re not sick.” He looked away from her, at the rumpled blankets on the bed and at the window above it, already beginning to frost over. When his gaze returned to her, he studied her face intently. “Do you truly not understand what’s happening?”

“I’m sick.”

He shook his head, his expression softening. “Not sick. You’re in heat.”

She stared at him in horror for a long moment, her cheeks blazing with humiliation.

“Heat,” she said. “Like a dog.”

He frowned fiercely. “Like a fertile female shifter.”

Fertile.
God.
“You’re saying that this is just—what? Hormones gone awry? That this feeling will pass?”

“It will pass.”

She swallowed against the tightness in her throat. She’d never been with a man, and she wasn’t exactly sure how to even begin seducing one. She didn’t even know if she
wanted
to seduce this stranger. Okay, that was a lie. She wanted to rip his clothes off and use them to tie him to the bed. But that didn’t mean it was the right thing to do. It didn’t mean that he would want the same thing. And as much as she wanted to ride him into tomorrow, she wanted to talk to him too. To ask him about other shifters and all the things her parents would have told her if they’d survived. She didn’t want to scare him off.

“Will you tell me more? The weather is bad and you’re welcome here. I would be glad if you stayed. Glad of anything you can tell me about our kind. I’ve never talked to anyone who understood what it’s like. You don’t have to…”
God, this was embarrassing.
She crossed her arms over her chest, but that only made things worse, dragging the fabric against her nipples and making them ache. She forced herself to continue. “You don’t have to have sex with me.”

“I don’t know if you understand what you’re asking.” He inhaled, scenting the air. “If I’m not mistaken, this just started.”

She blushed. “Today.”

“Heat lasts about a week, sometimes longer. Your instinct to mate will only grow stronger and, frankly, walking through a raging blizzard sounds more appealing than having a quiet conversation with a shifter in heat.”

Her heart sank. “I understand if you’re not interested.”

“Interested?” A flicker of amusement crossed his hard face. “I’ll stay long enough to tell you what you need to know about the heat, and then… Well, then you can make a decision on whether you really want me to stay.”

He unzipped his coat and set it on the hearth. His gear was good quality, but well-used like he spent a lot of time outside. She watched him move about the small space, taking up every inch of it. His flannel shirt clung to his broad back and he had the nicest ass she thought she’d ever had the opportunity to ogle. She wanted to touch him. To peel off the rest of his clothes and press her mouth to his skin. She wanted to know the weight of his body as he held her down and— She jerked her thoughts away from that fantasy when he sat down to take off his boots and their gazes briefly locked. The corners of his mouth curled up at the edges and his eyes crinkled. There was a shadow of wolflight in their depths, but that might have been an effect of the firelight. He couldn’t possibly know what she’d been thinking.

Turning away, she sat down in her nest of blankets on the bed, curling her legs under her. The movement made her hyper-aware of how aroused she was. Having him here seemed to make everything worse. Her clothes felt too tight. Her nipples ached and her clit throbbed every time she looked at him. She fidgeted, trying to get comfortable, but it was a lost cause.

Her guest didn’t seem to have the same problem. He sat very still, watching her get settled, his body tense as a coiled spring but completely under his control.

She cleared her throat. “Do you want coffee? I can make you something to eat.”

“It’s probably best if I don’t linger.”

“Right. With the storm, I imagine you want to get home.”

“Right,” he agreed, the corner of his mouth turning up again. “Because of the storm. You can shift?”

“Normally I can,” she said. “But not right now. Is that a side effect of the heat?”

“You could say that. There aren’t many women who can shift. There always were more men than women born among our kind. This is your first heat.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because you’re not mated, and you still smell like a shifter. A female only comes into heat when she’s ready to mate. When her body is ready to bear a shifter child. She has a choice then, like you have a choice now. Your heat will pass whether you have sex or not.”

Her initial reaction was relief, but something in his expression told her there was more to it. “But…”

“But there are consequences to whatever decision you make. In the past, when a woman reached her first heat, she would mate with as many men as she wanted to claim and then leave with them to form her own pack. If she wished to remain in the pack of her birth, she would let her heat pass and become sterile. She could still have sex. She could even bear a human child if she wished, but she would never carry a shifter baby. And she would never again be able to shift into her wolf form. Sometimes, when the older alpha female dies, it triggers the sterile females of the pack to go into heat again, but that won’t happen with you.”

BOOK: Maggie's Wolves, Part One: A BBW Shifter Romance (Red Mountain Pack Book 1)
7.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Ruth's First Christmas Tree by Elly Griffiths
Necessary Lies by Eva Stachniak
Backstab by Elaine Viets
MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester
Caroline by Cynthia Wright
The Perfect Audition by Kate Forster