The time for another full moon was drawing near. And with every sunset, he felt the excitement of the change grow. His body itched with the urge to join the night...to frolic in the tall grass and inhale the mingled scents of pine and air and musk. He had never been so free and the time for the run had never felt as right as it had during his months at the inn.
Anticipation was sexual. Was primeval. It was like losing his lupine virginity every time the moon hung low in the sky and spun like a perfect pearl. He craved it. He loved it. He accepted it. There was peace between skin and fur. Unity inside him where once there had only been chaos.
Oz was loup garou. He was a child of the Goddess Moon.
He was no longer alone.
And that was, perhaps, the most wondrous thing of all.
He sighed, leaning back on the narrow bed, enjoying the crisp, clean, smell of freshly laundered sheets. He could also smell the pies baking in the ovens downstairs. Apple...nutmeg...cloves...butter. It all wafted up to his open window along with the laughter of the Wisconsin family who had checked in the day before. They were playing horseshoes on the lawn with Gabriel's little sisters. The ten-year-old triplets were dark-haired sirens and he knew that the Gundersons' 11-year-old boy was going to be crushed when he had to go home.
Infatuation was in the air.
Esme and Tomas had seemed more hands-on than usual as this moon began it's approach. Older couples like both sets of Wagners, too, had gotten into necking whenever they had a spare moment. Vivian had confided to him that she was a little grossed out...but then Gabriel had snuck up and dragged her into the bushes. Her wild laughter after a few minutes had proven that her mate was being thoroughly, wickedly, gross.
Even now, if he closed his eyes and concentrated, Oz was certain he could pick their heartbeats out of all the others moving in time around him. One floor above...four doors down. Her heart was beating like a taut snare drum. And Gabriel's was slower...more assured. They made love every night. Sometimes it was so wild and violent, he could smell their combined scents as strongly as if they were right next to him. And other times....other times their essence was so light and intangible that it made him ache for what he no longer had.
And he understood. He understood why they joined so fiercely and so frequently...why they needed to reaffirm their bond and revel in the perfection of it.
They were mates. Soul mates. Flesh mates. Skin mates. Fur mates. It was all-encompassing and all-consuming. Their combined blood, their combined passion, would fuel the future. Their children would lead the pack into a new era. And their love was the catalyst for it all.
Love and lust and swift, sweet, sex.
He rolled to his side, drawing his knees up to his chest and trying to suppress the hollow ache in his gut. A series of sighs tore from his throat as he tried to forget. It had been so long, but nothing could erase the gentleness of Willow's hands. Her questing smile as she learned what he liked and what she liked and what they both liked together. Nothing could erase the way she had felt her very first time. So scared...but so sure. Making love to her had almost been as beautiful as the change.
He'd long since concluded that nothing was as beautiful as the change.
At least for him.
Any other beauty hurt too much.
So the moon was his only love.
His only desire.
And oh...what a desire it was.
It zinged in his veins. Hair rippled up and down his arms and legs. He sheathed and unsheathed long claws...tasted the elongated teeth in his mouth, nipping his own tongue and drawing drops of blood. And the blood was tangy copper. Was moss and stone and wind. Moonlight and stars. His spine bent. His legs popped. And then he danced back. As his body arched and returned to human flesh and bone, he shuddered with release.
One floor above and four doors down, Gabriel and Vivian did the same.
Their heartbeats spiraled to a slow rhythm.
The heavy air that drifted from the window was full with apples and cut grass and lazy satisfaction. And the nearly solid moon seemed to wink from it's voyeuristic home.
Oz winked back.
"I love you, you know," he whispered with a wry smile.
In just a few days' time, the Goddess Moon would show him how much she loved him in return. How much she valued his sleek pelt and his proud howl and the way he leapt for her and only her. She would bathe him in her light and stroke him until he rolled over and presented his belly. Until he bowed to her dominance and her bright spell.
The longing was killing him.
And death would be so swift.
He couldn't wait.
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