For Teaser Tuesday today, I thought I would share an excerpt from my current WIP tentatively called Wolves on the Glen. It’s a new adult m/m with werewolves set just south of Ottawa, ON (my hometown). Hope you enjoy!
The lane leading to the bonfire pit was surprisingly well maintained. I had worried that my poor Mazda would bottom out when we started driving down the narrow road, but the Beatties apparently used it often enough to invest in some grading. There were a few big dips that made me hold my breath as I eased my car through them, but nothing jarring enough to necessitate a trip back to Gray’s shop.
After a curve in the road, a field opened up before them—one already teeming with cars, people, and a massive bonfire just taking hold.
“I thought you said we were still early.” I glared at Gray. The last rays of the sun still colored the night sky and my new friend had assured me we’d have a chance to watch the crowd grow instead of being thrust into it head first. Anxiety started clawing at my chest and I focused on breathing, keeping it slow and even.
“Guess Dustin figured it was dark enough.” Gray squeezed my fingers. “I’m here with you, okay? Everything’ll be all right.”
Like hell. Look at all those people.
I couldn’t resist the confident command in Gray’s voice. As I pressed down on the brake, the car rolled to a gentle stop, and I looked over at him.
“It’ll be all right,” he repeated. There was a strength to his tone that made me believe it.
“You my therapist now?”
“No. Just your friend.”
I drove the car off the narrow road, into the field, away from the rest of the vehicles. Just in case. I was playing with metaphorical fire here—anxiety bubbled just beneath the surface of my skin, held back only by sheer force of will and Gray’s presence. Questions poked at my brain, demands of what the hell I’d been thinking, agreeing to this, but the dark, repetitive thoughts couldn’t withstand the memory of Gray’s quiet command.
I could do deep breaths. That’s all I needed to do, wasn’t it? Just breathe slowly. Evenly. That was my only job and Gray trusted me to do it.
Why that meant so much after only meeting the guy a few hours ago, I had no fucking idea.
I followed Gray out of the car, sticking close enough to my new friend’s side to feel heat radiating from him in the chill of the early summer night, but I didn’t give into the urge to touch Gray again. Something, some instinct, told me that wouldn’t be a good idea here. I held back no more than a step, and barely looked at the crowd awaiting us. If I didn’t acknowledge the group’s existence, I could pretend the anxiety was just paranoia.
Footsteps separated from the larger crowd, moving forward to stop in front of Gray. I chanced a look up and resisted the immediate urge to cower behind Gray’s back.
At first glance, the man who’d stepped forward didn’t have a threatening countenance. A smile stretched his lips, revealing straight white teeth, and his brown eyes held a hint of laughter. He was tall, maybe slightly taller than my full height, and had a much broader set of shoulders and a chest that was almost barrel-like. Short brown hair in purposely messy style teased his brow and his chin and cheeks had just the first hint of dark stubble.
He looked like a hundred other university students or recent graduates. And if I ever met him in a dark alley, I’d run screaming in the other direction.
I couldn’t pinpoint why. The guy looked nice enough—his smile was warm and genuine and he didn’t seem dangerous. Yet everything in my gut and chest was hollering at me to get away.
Get away now.
“Dustin.” Gray folded his arms and met the guy’s gaze without flinching, his stance firm. Confidence radiated from him, which encouraged me to look up again. I was safe. With Gray, I would always be safe.
How do you know that? How can you trust that?
“Gray.” Dustin’s lips twitched, as though the greeting amused him. An inside joke? If so, Gray didn’t share it. “This is the friend you mentioned?”
He’d mentioned me? When?
“Yeah. Mike Tanaka.”
“M-Michael.” The correction tripped from my lips automatically, hitching as Gray moved to the side. Suddenly there was nothing between me and Dustin and I felt like I’d been put at post before a firing squad.
Vulnerable. Completely, utterly vulnerable.
Even the logical reminder that Gray stood right beside me, not two paces away, could silence that thought. My anxiety spiked. Heart thundering, I concentrated on keeping myself still. The same thing that had warned me not to touch Gray said that if I turned tail and ran now, it would all be over.
Why? What would be over?
“Michael Tanaka.” Dustin chewed the name like he was tasting it. His eyes drooped as he inhaled deeply.
“You know him?” Gray’s voice was casual, but there was something in the air that was not.
I shifted from foot to foot. “I’ve never met—”
Dustin spoke over me like I hadn’t uttered a word. “No, I don’t.”
“How the hell can you not?” Gray demanded, his voice cracking like a whip.
Behind him, around the fire, more than one partygoer growled.
“I could ask the same of you.”
“You know I’ve never—”
“Ah, that’s right. You won’t stoop that low.” Dustin smiled. “Well, I’ll be happy to take him off your hands.”
In a heartbeat, Gray was back in front of me. I was about half a foot taller than Gray, but in that moment, it felt like I was behind a wall.
“No,” Gray growled.
Dustin’s smile dropped away. “No?”
“You want me to say it in French?”
I swallowed as Dustin held Gray’s gaze. The threatening vibe jacked upward. “You know, McConnell, I’ve put up with a lot of shit from you. I put up with you not falling into line. I’ve tolerated your need to be separate and alone. I haven’t run you out of my territory when I have every fucking right to.” The people gathered behind Dustin voiced their agreement with his words—though how they could hear Dustin’s low, growling tone over the distance that separated them and the rising roar of the bonfire, I had no idea. “All of this I’ve let you get away with. Because we were friends. But this…” Dustin shook his head. “No, Gray.”
This time, the growl that emerged from Gray’s throat had little relation to a human sound. Dustin’s eyes flashed—glowed gold—
What the fuck?
Before Dustin could do anything, Gray had a hand wrapped around his throat. A hand that had claws instead of blunt fingernails. Claws that bit into Dustin’s skin, eliciting beads of blood to trickle freely toward the collar of his t-shirt.