The silence was deafening. If Kai cracked the window, he’d hear a symphony of tree frogs and mosquitos and the snapping of an errant tree branch here and there, but the inside of the suburban was where sound came to die, buried in a tomb of tension. He watched Rhys surreptitiously, noting the stiffness in his posture, the way his hands gripped the wheel. Kai would have chalked it up to concentrating on the road, but they were parked in the middle of the woods, so that wasn’t it.

They’d been alone together for two hours…two hours of awkward tension and this strange sense of unmet expectation. This was the first time they’d been alone since the Grove. Kai had thought things would be different. Rhys had been so affectionate and easy going, touching him, kissing him, not passionately or anything, but he’d chalked that up to not wanting to make out in front of the pack.

Only now, Kai thought he’d misread everything.

Would it have killed one supernatural creature to come crashing through Belle Haven for the night? A vampire, a wendigo, anything to take their minds off whatever was happening between them right now. But no, nothing. Belle Haven was practically a ghost town. He winced, trying to stave off the train of thought that would inevitably follow. Ghosts meant death and death made him think of Quinn…and Quinn was…Quinn was…dead.

It hadn’t felt real at first. None of it. He’d stuffed it down and pretended it wasn’t happening, that Quinn was upstairs or at school or visiting his dad, but it was getting harder to pretend with each passing day. Reality had become a monster in the shadows, threatening to devour him if he just looked at it too long.

“Stop,” Rhys grunted, giving the steering wheel a shake as if it were Kai.

Rhys’s irritation just made it worse. Tears welled in Kai’s eyes, threatening to spill over. “I can’t help it. I’m not like you. I can’t just turn it off like you do. You know I’m trying, but how do I not think about him? He was my best friend. He was my brother. He was your brother too.”

Kai hadn’t meant the words to sound like an accusation, but they were nonetheless. Rhys frowned, his jaw ticking as he clenched his teeth.

They sat there staring at each other for a long moment, breathing each other’s air until Rhys made a growling noise and then jerked open the driver’s side door and stepped out, letting it slam behind him. Kai’s disappointment tasted bitter. What had he expected? Affection? Understanding? Rhys didn’t do feelings. A few days of lingering glances and forehead kisses didn’t mean he’d suddenly become a different person.

Kai stared straight ahead, letting a few tears spill over, before wiping them away roughly. His gaze followed the glow of the headlights beyond the tree line, almost hoping to catch sight of something skulking around in the forest. He jumped as the back doors of the suburban creaked open, but he didn’t question it. In fact, he steadfastly ignored the rustling sounds and the weird fluttering noises coming from behind him. Maybe Rhys had decided to clean out the truck for something to do? He could hear the wolf dropping things onto the ground with heavy thuds and faint metal clicks. Maybe he was dismantling the damn thing. Kai had no doubt Rhys would take the Suburban down to the bolts if it meant it would keep him too busy to deal with Kai’s feelings.

He pressed his forehead to the cool glass of the window and prayed he could find something…anything to keep his mind off of the events of the week prior. It was all too much. The Grove. Quinn. Tristin’s mood swings. Ember’s powers. Mace. None of this should be happening. They hadn’t signed on for any of this.

The passenger side door opened abruptly, and Kai braced himself against the metal frame to keep from tumbling out. He glared at Rhys, but it was lost on the wolf who was already tugging him free of his seat and pulling him towards the back of the truck. When they were standing at the open doors, Rhys nodded towards the back. “Get in.”

“What?” Kai asked dully, looking at the ratty blanket spread across the interior, not fully understanding the request.

“Get. In.” Rhys nudged Kai closer to the door as if he thought Kai didn’t comprehend the words.

Kai got what he was asking; he just didn’t quite get why he was asking. Giving Rhys one last confused look, he did as asked, scooting towards the back until he was up against the second row of seats. It was only then Kai realized Rhys had reclined the third row, leaving a large space—Kai swallowed hard—a space large enough to lay down.

Rhys wanted to lay down in the back of the suburban…he wanted Kai to lay down too. Kai felt dizzy as the blood in his brain rushed south, making his jeans and his chest feel impossibly tight. Rhys climbed in behind him but didn’t shut the doors. It wasn’t like they needed more privacy. There was nobody around for miles.

“What are we-” was as far as Kai got before Rhys’s mouth was on his. Kai’s lips parted instinctively, letting Rhys’s tongue slip inside. Kai’s stomach swooped at the sensation. Kissing Rhys was like freefalling from an airplane, exhilarating and terrifying and possibly life-threatening if anybody found them out there. Rhys tasted like coffee and chocolate, and he smelled like rain, and all the best things and Kai never wanted to stop touching him. He fisted his hands in Rhys’s shirt, holding him against him awkwardly from their side-by-side position, half afraid Rhys would change his mind and half afraid he wouldn’t.

The first few minutes were clumsy and stilted, bumping noses and teeth clacking together, but Kai wouldn’t have traded it for anything. When Kai’s tooth cut Rhys’s lip, he grunted his frustration and Kai suddenly found himself on his back, Rhys’s weight settling on top of him, aligning their bodies until heat sparked along Kai’s spine. Rhys rolled his hips, and Kai suddenly lost his ability to reason. He found himself trying to think about dead bodies, and the sound roaches made when they got squished. Anything to stop his body from reacting to Rhys’s. It wasn’t working. He was rock hard, and there was no way Rhys didn’t notice. It didn’t slow the wolf down.

He gripped Kai’s hair tight, tilting his head exactly how he liked it, before settling back in. Compared to the first kisses, this one was almost lazy, slow and soft. Rhys kissed him like he was savoring Kai, warm lips practically caressing his, his tongue exploring languidly. It was overwhelming. It was more than a kiss. It felt like a promise, like a connection, like they were communicating everything they couldn’t put into words. It made Kai ache in a completely different way than moments ago. This was Rhys comforting Kai in the only way he knew how, through touch, and it jumbled things in Kai’s brain until his love for Rhys and his hunger for him physically were impossibly tangled and Kai needed more. He shifted beneath Rhys, sucking in a startled breath as he found that Rhys’s body was also very much interested in the proceedings.

His first instinct was to move away, not because he wanted to, but because Isa would murder them if things went too far. There were rules. She’d warned them. Just because they were dating didn’t mean that they could start having sex under her roof. Rhys’s pelvis shifted, creating delicious friction that had Kai whining, hips rolling up to meet the wolf’s. Kai wondered absently if the suburban counted as her roof since the car was technically in Wren’s name. He was probably splitting hairs, but as Rhys’s tongue dipped between Kai’s lips once more, he decided getting gutted by an angry alpha was worth it.

His hands slipped under Rhys’s t-shirt, marveling at the feel of his muscles flexing under his fingers. He wanted to touch every inch of him. His palms roamed warm flesh as Rhys’s stubble scratched against Kai’s jaw, his throat. “I want you so bad,” he rasped against Kai’s ear. His words alone were almost enough to have Kai embarrassing himself.

“Prove it,” Kai murmured, tipping his head back, giving Rhys’s wolf the submission it coveted.

Rhys snarled, licking and sucking marks into Kai’s throat and Kai arched to rub himself against Rhys brazenly, but Rhys kept moving away, leaving Kai making frustrated noises until he couldn’t take it anymore. He slipped his hands into Rhys’s underwear, gripping his ass and pulling him closer, eyes rolling at the sensation of Rhys’s length against his. Fuck. How could that feel so fucking good? Why didn’t they do this all the time? 

“If you don’t stop that, this is going to be over in five seconds,” Rhys growled.

Kai gave a breathy laugh, shamelessly working his hips beneath the wolf. “We’re virgins; this is going to be over in five seconds either way.”

Rhys rumbled deep in his chest. “I mean it. You have no idea what you’re doing to me right now.”

Kai tried to sound sexy as he said, “Oh, I can feel exactly what I’m doing to you.” Instead, he sounded wrecked and desperate.

He felt Rhys shake his head more than saw it. “It’s not just me. It’s my wolf. He’s hard to control when we’re…like this.”

Kai swallowed a sudden lump in his throat as understanding dawned. Rhys was afraid for Kai, afraid to lose control and hurt him…but it was Rhys who didn’t understand. His wolf had spent years manhandling Kai. Shoving him into walls, crowding him up against any available surface, marking him as a warning to others. Kai knew Rhys’s wolf almost better than he knew Rhys. Rhys carried his feelings in a carefully guarded vault, but Rhys’s wolf had no problems telling Kai exactly what Rhys wanted. Rhys wanted Kai and only Kai. Rhys wanted the world to know that Kai belonged to him, was protected by him, maybe even loved by him.

Rhys might be afraid of his wolf, but not Kai. He’d had years to come to terms with the fact that Rhys’s love would always be feral, he’d always default back to his baser needs and his innate instincts. Rhys’s love would always be as animal as the wolf living inside him, and that didn’t scare Kai…it just turned him on. His body craved it, craved Rhys, needed his wolf as much as he needed the man.

When Kai heard the snick of Rhys’s claws, something shivered inside him, but Rhys shoved himself away, sitting up, his back against the leather seats. “I just…need a minute,” he panted, holding his clawed hands up like a warning.

Kai didn’t hesitate, gripping Rhys’s wrists and moving them out of the way so he could slide one leg over, straddling Rhys’s hips, before sinking his weight back down.

Rhys’s breath hitched. “What are you doing?”

“Finishing what you started,” Kai murmured against his lips. “Unless you don’t want to. I don’t want-”

Rhys’s arms came around Kai, grabbing handfuls of his ass until claws pricked at his skin and their bodies were rubbing against each other. Kai moaned like a porn star. He couldn’t help it. “Do that again…please.”

Rhys did. Again and again, creating a rhythm that left Kai breathless, sweat beading along his skin, chasing his pleasure as heat pooled in his spine, holding Rhys tight, afraid if he let go Rhys might stop. Kai didn’t want to stop. He wanted it all, and he wanted it with Rhys. Here. Now.

It would be so much better with their clothes off, but the idea of stopping was too agonizing to bear. He was much too close. There was no more kissing, they just clung to each other, their movements becoming more frantic, driving each other to the edge. When Rhys’s hips faltered, Kai’s stomach dropped. “Don’t you dare don’t stop now,” Kai whispered.

“Are you sure? You have to be sure.”

He’d never been so sure of anything in his life, but he just couldn’t find the words to say it. Instead, he pressed his forehead to Rhys’s, nodding, kissing him once before burying his face against his neck. Then the words were just rushing out of him. “Please don’t stop. I need this…you. I just want to forget everything but you, but us. Please.” He knew he sounded desperate, but that’s only because he was. He didn’t want this to end. He needed this connection.

“Fuck,” Rhys muttered before he started to move again. Kai wasn’t going to last much longer. He couldn’t form a coherent sentence now if his life depended on it. Everything was just yes and more and please and mine. “Tell me your close,” Rhys begged, voice shredded. That was all it took for Kai’s vision to go white, shudders wracking his body as he found his release. Rhys snarled, claws tearing through the fabric as his hips stuttered and then ground against Kai’s one final time.

Kai clung to Rhys, head on his shoulder, unable to think or speak, feeling sated and sleepy and like, for just a few minutes, everything was as it should be. The world outside didn’t exist. As his heartbeat slowed, reality crept closer, making him aware of the ache in his thighs and the stickiness of his skin and the general disarray of his clothing. He was also still straddling Rhys. He winced as he climbed off the wolf, sitting next to him, staring out the open doors at the empty field outside. They’d never be able to hide what they’d done. Isa was going to kill them.

 “I’m sorry,” Rhys whispered.

“Are you? Why?” Kai asked, not angry, but genuinely curious.

“That wasn’t what I meant to happen. I just wanted to help you forget…”

Kai huffed out a sad laugh. “It worked.”

“I wasn’t trying to force you into anything you weren’t-”

“Don’t be a martyr. I didn’t just lie there and think of England. I was a fully aware active participant in our first foray into sexual experimentation.” Kai grimaced towards his crotch. “Though I’d like to write a strongly worded letter to whoever coined the term dry-humping.”

Rhys’s voice was gravel. “You regret it…and you’re worried. I can smell it on you. I can smell everything.”

“Okay, I know you don’t mean that to sound creepy, but it’s creepy.” Kai risked a glance at Rhys, who frowned, staring at his hands folded in his lap. Kai sighed. “I don’t regret it. I don’t. I wanted it. I wanted you. I still want you. What I don’t want is to wake up tomorrow and have you pretend none of this ever happened, like this thing between us is all in my head. I can’t play this game with you anymore. I can’t lose you too.”

Rhys looked startled at Kai’s confession. He scooted closer, almost timidly slipping an arm around his shoulders. “You really don’t get it, do you?” Rhys whispered, baffled.

Kai looked up at Rhys, waiting for him to explain his cryptic statement. The wolf’s expression was so raw and open it almost hurt to look at him, but he didn’t say anything more. Sometimes, Kai wondered what went on in Rhys’s head. “I need you to stop breaking my heart. It hurts too much.”

“Okay,” Rhys mumbled. Kai rested his head on Rhys’s chest, lulled by the sound of his thundering heartbeat, letting his eyes drift closed when Rhys’s chin rested on top of his head.

“Thanks for making me forget for a while,” Kai whispered.

“You too.”




©2016 Martina McAtee


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