Being Red: Chapter Twenty

Kellan turns to grab something from his truck, his naked ass at almost exactly the same level as my lupine snout. Perhaps it is the animalistic instincts of my newfound form, the heightened excitement of letting my wolf run, or the simple fact that we now know one another in a new and intimate sort of way, but I am not bothered that Kellan is once again unclothed in my presence. This time, I resolve not to needlessly deprive myself. If he does not care to cover his nakedness, then I should not be embarrassed to look, so I stare my fill. I take my time admiring his strong thighs and taut glutes before my eyes skim up his toned back to his shoulders, the well-defined muscles rippling as he braces himself and reaches behind the passenger seat.

I don’t hide my gaze as he faces me, a thick wool blanket in his hands. I’m disappointed that the blanket covers what I’d really like to see, annoyed at myself for not taking advantage of the numerous opportunities he’s afforded me in the past to catch a glimpse of what he has to offer. Even though the aftermath of a near-death experience might not have been the best time to ogle my rescuer given my emotional state. So I try to convince myself to dull the regret. On the other hand, I argue with myself, I should have pulled my shit together enough for at least that. I owed it to myself after almost dying, which really is the perfect time for such things as a quick tussle in the sheets with a handsome savior. Life is short, and I truly was grateful. What better way would there have been to satisfy the implications and demands of each?

Kellan must sense my mind running a mile a minute, for he chuckles. My sensitive ears flick at the sound as if to capture even more of it, as if I can’t get enough of him, and I am suddenly very aware of how much I want him. It’s just my luck to finally admit as much now that I’m trapped in another body. After vehemently denying my feelings for far too long, all I want is my human form so that I might act on all the things I haven’t allowed myself to imagine let alone hope for until now.

My paws shuffle beneath me as my energy and emotions fight for a constructive outlet. I don’t have hands to grab him or I’d be on him already. I am frustrated that I finally know what I want and it remains just out of reach. A whine escapes me, and I prance, restless.

“Breathe, Dearg,” Kellan instructs. I wonder if for the first time he is misreading me and thinks my actions arise out of fear. “Clear your mind, or you’ll be unable to change back.” His voice is deep and calm, his lilting accent soothing.

Kellan keeps his movements slow and steady as he crouches in front of me. He reaches out and runs a firm hand over my ear, tracing a path down my neck and the muscular curve of my chest. His fingers feel so good against my body, buried in my thick fur. Although I cannot touch him in return, he is able to fulfill my need for contact. I lean into his touch, closing my eyes. Perhaps he does see me, even now.

“That’s it,” he urges. “Be at peace with your duality and find the balance. You are one and the same, whatever your form may be.”

I should not have doubted him. He may not know exactly why I want to be human again so badly, but he understands that I am at odds with my wolf and wish to shed this skin. I can’t bring myself to feel embarrassed about this either. Not with Kellan. His understanding of me makes me feel safe and protected, and for the first time, I don’t have to pretend. And I don’t want to hold back anymore.

“Feel the beast inside you and will your humanity to take over,” says Kellan, stroking my fur in a soothing rhythm.

His touch grounds me, connecting me to my current form and helping me accept my wolf again. The fact that I want more than anything to be in the same form as Kellan, this powerful alpha who sees my soul, gives me a conduit to the other half of myself. With intense yearning, as much for him as for my former body, I latch on to my humanity once more. My shift is driven by my will to touch him with my own hands, and I gasp against the pain as my lupine form begins to rend so that my human form may emerge.

Before I am fully coherent, I feel the tickly scratch of wool against my back and shoulders. In some recess of my foggy mind, I register that Kellan has covered my body with the blanket he retrieved from his truck. My fingers wrap almost automatically in the thick fabric, clasping it tightly to my chest as I breathe through the last of the pain from my transition.

I don’t realize I am doubled over until I look up to find Kellan staring at me, not as if I am some hideous thing, an unnatural being only just moments past being part way between forms, but as if I am the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. And perhaps even with a mixture of pride and awe. My mind was already made up long before I drop the blanket and throw myself into his arms.

In mere seconds, my lips find his, and my fingers finally get to discover what his long hair feels like. I am enjoying how soft his dark locks are when Kellan grabs my waist, melding our bodies together to deepen our kiss. My breath leaves me even as I borrow some of his. My hands move to his shoulders, feeling the strong muscles I only gazed at until now, and then skim down to his hips. His hands travel the reverse path of mine, cupping the swell of my ass before finding the back of my neck and delving into my thick curls in a delicious tangle that tugs at my skull.

Kellan’s tongue traces my lips, and I part for him, let him taste me. He groans and I feel his length throb between us. I pull away slightly.

“Do you want this?” I ask, not because I am worried that he does not desire the same thing as me in this precise moment, but out of respect for him and what I have done in my past and have yet to fully atone for.

Kellan’s laugh is raspy. “Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to be asking you that, Dearg?” he says, pulling away further to look into my eyes. His thumb strokes my cheek, and I note how large his hands are that he can keep them in my hair and still caress my face. I want those hands all over my body.

“What can I say? I’m a modern girl,” I quip with a nonchalant shrug, bending my knees and grabbing his deliciously rounded backside to pull him down with me.

He stops me before my knees hit the ground, almost sets me aside. I simultaneously marvel at his strength and stiffen slightly, wondering if I had it all wrong. Inside I feel as if a cold bucket of water doused all the delicious flames that warmed me from the inside out only moments before. Then Kellan bends and kisses me deeply, assuaging some of my fear and rekindling the fire within me. His fingers finally leave my hair, and he cups my jaw with one hand and caresses my breast reverently with the other. When he has kissed me thoroughly, he presses his forehead to mine and looks into my eyes as if he can see the world in them.

“And I’m a gentleman,” he says.

I don’t admit that I’ve entirely forgotten whatever I might have said or that we were talking about something in the first place. My mind is full of him alone, and I grab his face and kiss him fiercely. I reach for his body, but he kisses me back and steps away.

“I promise, you will thank me later,” he insists to stay the protest that springs to my lips as if he already knows it’s there. Then he picks up the blanket I abandoned in my haste to feel his touch on my skin and tosses it out to cover the ground between us. He closes the distance by pulling me into his arms. “Now, where were we?”

Now it’s my turn to silence him with a kiss. This time, when I lead, he follows me to the ground. I am grateful for the blanket against my knees as I climb into his lap and lean into him until he reclines beneath me. I straddle him, my palms on his impressive pecs, calves pressed to his hips as I slowly grind myself against him, my core slick with want that has been building since I regained my human form. Kellan grabs my hips and adds more pressure, intensifying my rhythm.

I dip forward and press a kiss to his lips, stealing his breath and the groan that slips from him. I press up on my knees slightly and reach between us. I wrap my fingers around his shaft and stroke his length, running my thumb over the tip to feel his arousal before lining him up with my entrance and sheathing him in one smooth motion.

My eyes almost roll back in my head, the sensation is so intoxicating. A perfect cocktail of arousing, pleasurable, and just plain right. Like this is where I am meant to be, wrapped up in him and around him with nothing between us.

I move above him, riding him in long strokes until I am sure he will cum for me. But at the last second he grabs my waist and flips me onto my back, skillfully maneuvering so that he is poised above me.

“I’m not done with you yet, Dearg,” he growls, his nose in my hair, taking in my scent.

I am too impressed to be upset, and he feels so good thrusting into me without faltering for even a moment. It’s as if this switch was just a minor adjustment for him and not a complete one-eighty.  I have no hope of firing off the sassy retort on my lips before it is almost instantly swept from my mind. I am completely lost to him and the sensations he rouses in me.

His hands are in my hair again, firmly pulling fistfulls of my curls so that I must tilt my head back, granting him full access to my mouth. His wrists support the base of my skull as he devours me and fills me at once. I breathe him in, savoring the earthy and somehow spicy scent of his skin and the sweet scent of his breath mingling with mine. In this moment, he is everything.

I feel the tension build inside me to a pleasurable ache.

“I’m going to cum,” I sigh in Kellan’s ear, and as if urged by my words, one of his hands leaves my hair to grab my hip so that he can pull me to meet him and thrust even harder.

His other hand cups my neck, still tangled in my hair, and his lips press into mine so perfectly I wish we could stay like that forever.

Moments later, my back arches of its own accord and warmth floods my body before all my muscles relax in the most sensuous way. I see stars, and Kellan cries out. I hope he sees them too, and I wrap my arms around his neck, pulling him close as pleasure rolls through me in waves.

As we come down from our high, Kellan eases onto his side before rolling onto his back and drawing me to his chest. I lie there, head cradled on his shoulder with his arm around me, and watch the stars wink into existence as the sky deepens above us. I don’t want the moment to end, but like all things good or bad I know it must.

I trace the strong planes of Kellan’s chest with my fingers, memorizing the feel of him, willing time to stretch so that this bond between us might last as long as possible. Because after this, we will return to the outside world and all the bullshit that awaits us. I don’t want to think about what that really means, but a thought I am powerless to completely ignore for its certainty cuts through my bliss. Everything that has happened, even this, will culminate in a final battle that will define the future. My future. Our future.

I see a star shoot across the sky, and I make a wish before I can convince myself that such nonsense isn’t real. At this point, I’ll take any shot at luck or providence that I can get. I have nothing to lose. Everything I care about is already on the line in this burgeoning battle that is only just beginning.

I twist my neck to confirm whether Kellan saw it too. He is already looking at me, and I know he saw the falling star, for in his eyes I see the same wish as mine.

It’s not that we have another night like this one, or a hundred. It’s not even that we kill Gregor or win this war.

Our wish is simply that the other might live.

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