Gwenas POV

The night started out slow for me, working the graveyard shift at the town grocery store. Martys is your all-around average store, which includes the very boring and silent graveyard shift. I ended up stuck with this shift after losing a game of rock-paper-scissors. My co-workers wished me good-luck as they clocked out for the day and I pulled out a used book I borrowed from my school library.

Ringing pulled me from the story. My phone vibrated and rang from where it sat beside me. I glanced up, not seeing any body in the store, before answering.

”Hello? ” I answered.

”Hey, Gwena, ” Clay, my adopted dad, greeted. ”I wanted to know what you wanted for your twenty-first birthday party. Lucy thinks we should go all out, but Dylan said youd prefer something small. ”

Clay had adopted me when I was twelve from the orphanage Id lived since I was abandoned at four months old by my birth parents. Him and his wife, Lucille, had welcomed me with open arms. And so had their two kids, Dylan and Lucy. He was thirteen and she was nine when I entered their family.

I chuckled. ”I don care. Ill be happy as long as everyone I love is there. ” The list of which wasn long. It included Clay, Dylan, Lucy, and few others. ”Also, why are you up so late discussing this? Its 3 a.m. for Petes sake. ” Clay didn answer. ”Hello? ”

”Oh, whats that, Dylan? ” Clay said, voice far away. ”Yeah, hold on, Im coming. Listen, Gwena, I have to go. Dylan needs me. ” The end-tone rang as I mused what he was up to. It was obvious he was planning something he didn want me to know about. Whatever it was, he had three days to get it done.

Shrugging, I turned back to my book. The bell above the door jingled indicating someone had entered the store. ”Hello, welcome to Martys, ” I greeted reflexively without looking up. Thirty minutes later, a man approached, setting his things on the conveyor belt. He was absolutely gorgeous with coffee brown hair and electric blue eyes, which burned into me. I shifted uncomfortably. It had been awhile since I had a release and my eyes gravitated to those sculpted muscles under his tight shirt. My wolf, who usually stayed quiet, stirred.

”$41.32 is your total, ” He handed me his card and I completed the transaction. After bagging everything, I said, ”Have a nice night, sir, ” and watched the god of a man walk away. Too bad I was working. I had strict rules about work and social affairs. They were kept separate. If I saw him again, I won pass the opportunity up again. My wolf agreed. I shouldn pass him up again.

An hour before the sun came up, I was relieved of my shift and drove home to take a two hour nap then go on border patrols. I worked more than five patrols a week along with four shifts at Martys. While Lucille had disliked my double jobs, Clay always encouraged me to push myself and grow stronger. But when Lucille passed away two years ago, Clay didn encourage me as much before. Sometimes he ask that I do less. I couldn do that. I had to on par with the rest of the pack. I wasn unwelcomed, but people always whispered about me when I was adopted. I couldn show any weakness.

There was also another, secret reason, that I never shared with anyone. Not even with my closest friend, Maybelle. I had to stay strong so that I didn lose anyone else. Lucille had been a bystander in a rogue wolf attack and fell victim to their violence. That day, I promised myself that if I stayed strong, I wouldn lose anyone and no one would leave me. Patrols were quiet and boring, except when Maybelle joined me.

”It feels like its been forever since I last saw you, ” whined Maybelle as she pulled me into a hug.

”I know, ” I replied, giving her a good squeeze. She was my closest and only friend. We had met when I first arrived here. All the other kids had stayed away from me, probably because of their parents, but Maybelle didn . She found me on the school playground and asked if I wanted to be her friend. Very straightforward and confident, the total opposite of me.

”We should go out for your birthday! ” she exclaimed.

”Clay is having a party. ” As we talked, I kept my other senses tuned to the environment around me.

”I meant the two of us should do something. ” She paused, biting her lower lip. ”I know! We should go clubbing! ”

I laughed. ”I don think Clay would approve. ”

She smirked. ”How about Thursday night? ” she suggested. ”Thats the only day Im off this week. ”

Maybelle worked at her mothers hair saloon. Her boss was strict, even though it was her own mother. Thursday was the night before my actual birthday, the day Clay planned the party. I mulled it over. I should have enough time to sober myself up and make it back home in time.

I smiled. ”Lets do it! ”

⇐O⇒

When Thursday rolled around, I was in dire need of a release. It had been a whole nine days since my last hook-up, the longest Id ever gone. That night, Maybelle stayed over under the guise of a sleepover. When the light went off in Clays room, Maybelle and I got to work. She did the makeup while I worked on clothes. For Maybelle, I chose a body-fitting, all-black dress that stopped mid-thigh. The back dipped low, almost low enough to show booty. The front was a portrait neckline, which, with the right push-up bra, showed off her large breasts. Her outfit was completed with her smoky eye, bright red lipstick, and black slingback heels.

For myself, I chose a two piece crop-top and mini-skirt in a dark sangria. Maybelle had bought it for me years ago, claiming purple made my eyes pop. The crop-top had a halter neckline, with an elongated oval cleavage window, and corset ties in the back. Maybelle colored my eyes in black eyeshadow with purple glitter and nude lipstick. Matching platforms and a black clutch completed the look.

”Wow, we look hot! ”

Maybelle and I were gazing at our reflections in the mirror. She was right, we did look hot. Almost unrecognizable. I smiled, giddy and excited, my wolf matched my emotions. This would be my first time clubbing. Maybelle had turned twenty-one three months prior and had already been more times than she can count.

”Alright, so we have to be back by five, ” I said. ”Clay wakes up at six to start my birthday breakfast. I want to be early in case he has something planned, or comes in to check on me.

Maybelle took out her phone and set an alarm. ”This will ring at four. An hour should be enough time, don you think? ”

I nodded. Cracking open the door, I made sure all lights were off before tip-toeing down the hall, Maybelle behind me. There was a lamp at the end of the stairs that gave off just enough light to see where the stairs started. A door creaked.

”Gwena? ”

Shit. Dylan was awake. ”Yeah? ” I saw him blink, trying to make us out in the dark.

”Where are you going? ” he asked.

”Promise you won tell Clay? ”

”Yeah. ”

”We
e going clubbing. ” I held my breath, waiting for his disapproval. He had always been protective of me since I met him. I wasn sure if hed let me do this or not.

He sighed. ”Promise me you won drink too much, okay? I don want your hangover to get in the way of the party tomorrow. ”

I smiled, though he couldn see. ”Thank you so much, Dylan. ”

”I remember when I first turned twenty-one. I don want to keep you from experiencing the same awesome things I did. ” He paused. ”Also, don do any drugs. I did my first time clubbing, and well…lets say that night is a blur. ”

I laughed. ”Well be back by five. ”

Maybelle and I continued down the stairs and out the front door. She got in the drivers seat, put the car in reverse, and sped down the road. My wolf was excited, which was weird. She never got this excited about anything.

”So, where are we going? ” I asked.

”My favorite club: D3. It stands for dance, drink, and dragon heart, the signature drink. Its rum, mezcal, and blood-oranges. Its really good. ”

Music could be heard as Maybelle parked beside the building. When we got closer, I could feel the vibrations of the music. The bouncer only glanced at Maybelles ID, but studied mine. He winked at me.

”Happy Birthday. ”

”Thank you. ” It was only two hours away from my actual birthday anyway.

All I could hear was the music blaring from the speakers when we walked in. Maybelle had to yell and even then I couldn hear her until she was right by my ear.

”Lets go to the bar. ”

She led the way through the crowd to the people-filled stools that blocked the bar. She squeezed past two people and ordered something I couldn hear. Then she dragged me to an empty table.

”I ordered us some food and light drinks to get us started, ” she yelled above the din of the club. ”When it turns midnight, we can get you a free birthday drink. ”

I nodded, looking around, studying the place. Id never been to a place like this before. It was loud, dirty-ish, and…wild. I loved it. The chaotic atmosphere thrummed in my veins. Anything could happen.

After food and drinks arrived, which we both downed, I dragged Maybelle to the dance floor. Sweaty bodies crowded and rubbed against each other as they lost themselves in the music. It wasn long until I joined them. I noticed several heads turn my way and some of them subtly or not subtly maneuvering through the crowd toward me. I danced with each of the men who approached me, but cut it off when they started going to far. Right now, I wanted to dance. Not get physical.

A gorgeous woman caught my eye. She rubbed her back against a man, whos hands were on her back, but was kissing a woman. She pushed both off then dance recklessly and carefree. I was in awe of her confidence. While I was feeling unrestrained at the moment, I was still watchful of what I did. The way the woman acted was…without a care for anybody else in the room. Like she was the only one there. She caught me staring, mouth pulling into a smirk. She sauntered her way toward me.

”Care to dance? ” she purred.

I gulped. ”Yeah, but Im into guys, so… ” I wanted to get to know her, to learn how shes so carefree.

”Don worry, darling, I won go too far. ” She back off slightly, shaking her hips, trailing her hands down her body. I tried to find my rhythm but, stumbled. The woman smiled, grabbing my hand.

”Im Sterling, by the way. ”

”Gwena. ”

”You need to loosen up, Gwena, ” she said. ”Relax. ”

”Im trying. ”

She spun me out, then pulled me back in. ”Stop trying. Just follow the music. ” Sterling led while I followed. Eventually, I did relax and I found myself smiling. Two hours passed by in a blur. Sterling bid farewell with an air kiss and I was left breathless.

”I see you met Sterling, ” Maybelle commented when I made it back to our table.

I nodded, catching my breath. ”Yeah…shes awesome. ”

My friend laughed. ”I thought so too when I first saw her. Still do. Anyways, lets get that drink. ”

I had to show my ID to the bartender before he could make the drink. A man arrived at our table with a dragon heart and a cupcake with an ignited sparkler candle. I thanked him as he left. Maybelle and I toasted, clinking our glasses together. The rum burned on the way down and warmed my insides.

”This has a high alcohol content, so I think you should drink water for the rest of the night, ” said Maybelle.

I agreed, remembering what Dylan asked of me. We split the cupcake. As I took a bite, goosebumps spread across my arms. Turning, I spotted a man gazing intently at me. Even as I stared at him, his electric blue gaze never faltered.

”Oh, he is hot! Go get him! ” encouraged Maybelle.

”But I don want to leave you alone. ”

She pushed me playfully. ”Tonight is about you. Go on. ”

I didn need any more encouraging. I downed the rest of my drink, relishing in the buzz it created. Our eyes never left as we met on the dance floor. It was only then that I realized it was the man from the grocery store. He grabbed my waist, eyes darkening, pulling me against him. I thought I felt electricity where he touched, but I think it was the alcohol making me imagine things. We grinded against each other, nipping and kissing and sucking. He smelled so good too, like mint and something musky. And a hint of smoke. It was barely thirty minutes later when the man whispered in my ear.

”Want to get out of here? ”

I nodded, not scared of letting my eagerness show. I texted Maybelle what was happening and she responded with thumbs up. I smiled. Probably busy with her own guy. I followed the man to his ride, a sleek black Harley. Clay was a huge motorcycle fan. All the knowledge of motorcycles I have is because of him. Harleys were first created in 1903 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson. The company was one of the few to survive the Great Depression.

He handed me a helmet and I climbed on behind him. The wind nipped at my bare skin as he sped to a hotel. When we entered our room, the immediately yanked off his shirt. I sent Maybelle my location before I returned my attention to the half-naked man on the bed. I climbed onto the bed, slipping off my heels. Impatient, he dragged me the rest of the way up the bed. He pulled me into a kiss before breaking away to trail kisses down my neck. He kept going lower, brushing a hand over my breasts, making me shiver. Something like a growl ripped from his throat as he flipped us over so that I was on my back with him hovering over me.

I used this time to feel the tight muscles of his chest. He ripped off my shirt, licking and kissing my stomach, toned from patrol and exercise. We were both panting when we pulled away, hands gripping, squeezing, and groping. One of mine found his belt, while one of his found the bra hooks. He paused, making me pause. Looking up, I saw him staring at me. Unhesitant, I nodded.

All clothes were abandoned until there was no barrier between us. The man teased me gently, but sped up when I urged him to go faster. When he finally entered, it was complete bliss. No sex had ever felt like this before. It was fast, but gentle. He cradled me against his chest as we moved together. I came with a moan and he followed soon after. His arm found its way across my middle, pulling me against him once more. Cuddling after sex was rare with my hookups. I snuggled into his embrace. It was nice. Both my wolf and I were content.

⇐O⇒

Dinging tore me away from dreamland. Reaching out blindly, I felt around for my phone. I had one unread message:

Get up. Im outside.

It was Maybelle. Why was she early? I checked the time. It was only…4:36! Clays house was at least forty minutes from here. Not a big deal, but I didn want to risk it. I found my clothes and quietly slid them on. I had my top in hand when the man rolled over, away from me. My body tingled, my wolf was overly happy, and now that I was shit-face drunk I knew why.

He was my mate.

The sparks that had I felt, his scent, my wolf being so happy, it all made sense now. My expression morphed into one of horror. I didn want a mate. I was never the type of girl who dreamed of meeting her mate and living happily ever after. I detested and hated mates. I shot up off the bed. My wolf whined in protest.

Quiet, I hushed her.

I needed to leave. But not before I grabbed one of the hotel keys. It was a thing I started when I had my first one-night stand. I had found the motel key in my back pocket and put it in a book to keep it safe. A couple more times this happened before I decided to start a collection. Now, there was a shoebox full of room keys to various hotels around the area.

The man stirred, groaning. I yanked on my shirt, stuffed the key into my pocket and ran for the door.

”Hey, wait— ”

No, thank you. My steps echoed as I hurried down the hall, down the stairs, and into Maybelles car. Glancing back, I saw the man standing outside, hands on the railing. The door was cracked behind him, held open by something I couldn see.

Smart man.

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