When they got to the truck, the bed was full of groceries and feed. Climbing inside he started the truck for the AC and with a great deal of skill and many years of practice Cody rolled himself a smoke and lit. Becca was watching him and he tried not to let her know he noticed. Turning the truck, he got them going before he even spoke.

“I’ll carry the stuff inside if you’ll put it away while I go unload the feed. Sound like a deal?” Then he’d shower and feed her before locking up for the night.

“Okay,” Becca had been quiet all day. If he’d known her before, he wouldn’t have recognized her. Not just physically, but the fact that she was being so quiet. She had gone through the kitchen once he’d gone back to bed and knew where pretty much everything needed to go. She’d organized everything as well. It’s what she did when she was nervous. For the first time all day, her busy mind wouldn’t allow that to continue.

“May I ask you a question?”

“Sure.” Cody was focusing on getting them home and figured whatever she asked couldn’t be too awful bad. His mood was actually a little better than it had been for most of the last week. She wasn’t sure why there was a change of mood. But she was ready to find out.

“Even if it’s personal? Because I don’t want you to swerve off the road.” Becca raised her left brow and looked at him from the side.

“Just ask it already girl.” Cody huffed as he continued down the empty county road.

“You realize the waitress back there has a big crush on you? I mean, are you ignoring it on purpose?” Becca asked and hoped for the best.

“Yes, I know and yes I ignore it. I’m an animal and animals like myself do not give in to human’s desires. She wouldn’t survive long and I’ve no desire to take more lives unless necessary.” Cody never swerved or lost his focus as he answered Rebecca’s question.

Now her wheels were turning even more.

“What do you mean she wouldn’t survive long?” Now she turned in her seat to face Cody. This was getting interesting. But she was also a bit confused. The way he phrased it could mean several things. She liked being clear.

“I mean I’m were-n and she’s human. Day to day living wouldn’t matter, but when I bed a female my animal takes more control and I’m rough, too rough for a human to last more than one round with me. I don’t want ta see Margie eight feet under because of my baser needs and animalistic nature.” It didn’t bother Cody to speak of such matters because honestly most lycan were the same when it came to such matters.

“I thought lycan turned humans all the time. Or used to.” She thought back on what her brother had told her. “My mother was human. She was turned. And before that, she was mixed race, too. That’s why my hair’s so weird and my brother, well, if you saw him, you’d be able to tell.” She wasn’t sure why she said it. She was in a way, thinking out loud, trying to piece something together that wasn’t necessarily private anymore. It was an open door to her naivety.

She placed her index finger against her full bottom lip and tapped it slowly as she considered this.

“That’s myth. Not all can be turned by a lycan bite. Only those that have a genetic link to a lycan in their line can be turned. And before you ask, yes human females have been bred by lycan males but the pups are human with a lycan tag in their DNA. That means if the child is bitten later in life he will become lycan. Otherwise the gene stays dormant their whole mortal life and they die just like humans.” He slowed to turn down his drive and continued. “If ya mom was turned then she had the dormant gene. That means somewhere down the line one of her ancestors was a lycan.”

“Interesting,” Becca sat back in the seat. That gave her a lot to think on.

Pulling up to the house Cody turned the truck off and climbed out to carry the bags into the house as he had promised he would. If Becca had more questions she could ask him and he’d answer while still working. He was determined to stay busy today. The more he worked the less time his mind had to think on the past.

Becca got out and grabbed up as much as she could carry to take into the house. There, she began unpacking it and putting it away as she was expected to do. He’d given her a lot to think about, to be honest. She hadn’t even noticed until it was too late that Cody had gone out for the feed offloading.

Taking her own bag to her room, she placed it on the bed and put her things away. Stripping out of the hot shirt and tied up sweatpants she had borrowed, Becca grabbed her new jeans and one of the tanks. Soon, she came back out to find the last of the boxes on the table for her to go through and put away. She had actually filled out over the last month with him, an extended, but obviously very useful period of time. Instead of the waif she had been, she was looking more like her mother. There was no need for a belt on those jeans and she filled out the tank top well enough that she was glad there was built in support in them.

Her brothers had told her how much she looked like her mom. And they had lycan in their blood before whoever had changed her mom had… had changed her? Becca wanted to go find out more. Neither of her brothers had ever talked about their father. She assumed it was the same vampire. But she had also assumed anyone could become a lycan. Shaking her head, she went back to put away the rest of the dry foods.

She had to climb up on the counter to get to a couple of the places in the cabinets to put stuff away. She would pause now and again to consider the thoughts in her head. There were no accidental lycan. While up that high, she realized there was a lot of dust. A look of consternation came to her face before she sneezed her head off! Nope. This wouldn’t do. She looked for a cleaning rag and started making her way from top to bottom, cleaning.

She was starting to sweat after a while, so she tied the tanktop up off her tummy and pulled her hair back. Before long, she was humming and singing to herself, lost in thought while cleaning.

It took all of thirty minutes to unload the feed into the barn and another thirty to put out the evening feed to the animals before closing it up for the night. His cubs woulda been full grown if not for this day all those years ago and his Michelle would still be with him. His heart ached and his soul was sore from the memories. With a heavy sigh Cody headed for the back door of the house that led into the kitchen. He stripped his plaid shirt off and tossed it in the basket Becca had left at the door and stepped inside the kitchen to catch sight of the girl up on the counter. Her butt was well defined in the new jeans and as his gaze moved up it was to see that the top she was wearing wasn’t much of a top at all.

There was instant bodily reaction and Cody was reminded of just exactly how long it had been since he’d been with a woman. It also felt wrong for just having memories of his mate to the temptation that now lay before him. With a low growl he moved quickly across the kitchen to reach the doorway to the living room.

“Damn it girl… I said I live out here alone NOT that I’m a damned monk or celibate..I bought ya clothes wear the damned things…” He could already envision grabbing her from that counter and pressing her against the wall.

“Huh?” Becca looked down at herself. “Wait…what?” She hopped down from the counter in her bare feet and watched the big lycan rush on by her. She had just been thinking about the problems not knowing anything about being lycan might cause…and had drifted a bit. But her mind finally wrapped around the words. She was dressed! She marched right after him. “Hey! It was too damned hot in the place for a full t-shirt. These undershirts cover more than a bathing suit! You need ta get hold of yourself.” She scolded before the door was shut in her face. “Rude!” She huffed at the door.

“I didn’t mean ta be!” Cody yelled back as he made his way directly to the bathroom.

“Well ya were! I could be standin’ in here naked and it’s not a damn bit of your business if I say it’s not!” She yelled back at him, her hands on her hips.

“I’m goin’ for my shower. I’ll feed ya when I’m done.” He hadn’t needed a cold shower in years but the hard bulge in his jeans said tonight was definitely a cold shower night. What the hell was it with this girl!

“Fine! I’ll starve! Nothing new!” She turned before she kicked the door in her temper. Instead, she put her frustration into finishing up her cleaning project in the kitchen. And she damn sure didn’t cover herself up anymore. How damn stupid was that? She had to cover up because he couldn’t control himself? He couldn’t date the pretty, perky waitress because he might not control himself and hurt her? What had happened to her mother? Becca sucked in a breath. She felt like she had been kicked in the stomach. Were all lycan men like this? Vampires? Lord Evansworth hadn’t seemed like this. Her brothers… surely they weren’t like this, were they?

Cody had gone straight for the bathroom without his clean clothes and stripped down fast before tossing himself in and turning on the cold water. The erection he was sporting was bouncing against his belly as he shivered from the first burst of cold that hit him. Cody stayed under the cold water for almost an hour before his body gave in and he was able to step out and dry off without embarrassing himself.

With the towel tucked around his waist Cody walked out of the bathroom and down to his bedroom. He only dropped the towel when he had a pair of clean jeans in his hand to quickly tug on. When he walked into the living room ten minutes later it was while pulling on his muscle shirt. Moving to the kitchen he looked at Becca and forced his body to behave. “Ready?”

Becca was drinking a glass of tea, or trying to. She was more or less tasting of it when he asked her. She looked at the tea and looked at him.

“Are you?” she asked in return, that dark brow rising over her brown eye.

“Am now.” He said as he stood there dripping water from his hair onto his clean shirt.

“I’m hot. I’m not used to the temperature. This is comfortable. Sorry if it bothers you, but after being brought here with nothing but a t-shirt on, and having to deal with over sized hand-me-downs, I thought maybe jeans and a tank top wouldn’t be an issue.” She handed him the glass of tea as a peace offering. “I tried to make it like I remember you like it.”

“Not an issue, just wasn’t expectin’ the view I got when walking in here.” He took the tea and sipped it. “Thank you.” Turning back towards the living room Cody sat in his chair and waited for Becca to come to him.

“And?” Becca waited at the doorway.

“And…” Cody thought back over what had happened and what he had said. “Oh. Uh…” he blushed. “I uh, I’m sorry I told ya to change. I was kinda gruff.”

“Kind of.” Becca growled. She turned to the kitchen and pretended to do something at the sink. Were they all like that? Could none of them be trusted? Not even Cody? Was that why he didn’t talk to her or stay around her much?

“Let’s get ya fed good so ya can sleep good tonight.” Cody was flexing his hand to make the veins bulge at his wrist for her.

Her back was to him, because she needed it to be. She didn’t want him to see her cry. She was being a stupid whiney thing to cry! Why? She hated crying. Becca reminded herself that she was lucky to be alive as she walked to the hall closet. She was lucky to be alive and she was lucky to have someone who would feed her. She was just plain lucky. Opening the closet door, she used the shield to wipe her tears away and take deep breaths to get herself together.

Grabbing one of the freshly clean towels from the hall closet, Becca walked back into the living room. She could wash the blood out of towels easier than out of her new duds. So, this would be a good bib. As she stepped back around the corner and watched, she got the cotton mouth feeling again. It must have been the opposite of what the scientist with the dog studied. Instead of drooling she felt parched. Licking her lips, she was suddenly aware of her fangs being ready. She crept toward him and watched, but her eyes went from the wrist to the neck and then slowly back again. His shirt had her showing interest from a whole other standpoint. Had something changed?

She stepped closer and closer, but her eyes kept going back to his neck. The girl remembered what he had said, though. Closing her eyes, she turned herself around and sat in Cody’s lap. When he offered, she took his wrist to her mouth. Her bite was hesitant again. But she withdrew enough and began feeding. That low rumble still there in her chest as she enjoyed.

This time it was very hard for Cody to remember this wasn’t personal or intimate. This was business. She was a payback-paycheck to the vampire that had freed him. That was why she was here, and she wouldn’t be here much longer. It wasn’t out of a desire to be here. It was more necessity on her part. Becca was getting better and he was obviously pissing her off, so she wouldn’t be here much longer. But then again, he’d seen her look at his neck and she’d wanted to strike but had held back. That was good. At least one of them was well-behaved.

What he couldn’t resist was rubbing his nose lightly over her soft hair and breathing in her scent. Damn she smelled good. Cody was rumbling softly in response without even knowing it. It took everything in him just to hold still.

She got up and didn’t even seal his wounds.

“No!” She went running for her room. If he couldn’t control himself, would he be like the ones that had her? Would they all be that way? Even Cody? She closed the door to her room and pushed her back against it. She had the towel at her mouth and then up to her eyes so she could cry. She didn’t want to be hurt anymore. He had rumbled… but…

“Damn..” Cody muttered under his breath as he clamped the towel over his wrist. She had been spooked by his rumbling and bolted. As he stood up he pressed down adding pressure to the open wound. Normally he’d already heal but a vampire bite was different. Their fangs had glands above them that secreted an enzyme that kept the wounds open until the vamp sealed it with their saliva. The only other way was for him to shift and boost his healing factor.

Moving down the hall Cody stopped outside her room. He put his hand on the door and swallowed. Finally, he pushed the words from his mouth.

“I’m gonna step out for some air and give ya some room. Take ya time.” Cody turned and walked through the house to the front door.

Once outside Cody relaxed and let his body shift forms. There was a deep groan and soon the large bear was shaking himself to ease the bristled hair into place. He stretched and looked at his wrist where he licked the trickling wounds.

He ran the fields for a good two hours before he returned to the house. Shifting his form again Cody wiped the sweat from his forehead and stepped back inside to stretch out on the couch. The furniture was built for a man his size so he wasn’t afraid of breaking the thing. He did crack his eye open at the sound of movement though. Something told him the relaxing thing wasn’t going to get to last long…

Becca had finally been able to snap herself out of it. She was now, embarrassed as hell. She just wanted to apologize to him and explain herself if she had to. Having been from the same Coven, she supposed he knew a thing or two about how this went. But she wasn’t sure. The Coven had been one of the subjects Cody had told her was off limits.

Watching him from the doorway of her bedroom, Becca debated what to say. The only thing that would come out was a soft, “I’m sorry, Cody.”

“Sorry for what? I spooked ya and ya reacted. Nothin’ to be sorry for.” He’d crossed his big arms beneath his head and had his legs crossed at the ankles. Now opening his eyes Cody looked over to the door where the petite female stood looking as if he’d gobble her up at any moment.

With a deep chest rumble Cody quickly sat up on the couch and stared at her, “For the Goddess’s sake woman relax I ain’t gonna maul ya..” Picking up his book, he flipped it open to stare at the words on the page.

“”But you said you might hurt that woman. And it made me start thinking about how I was made. And how my mama was turned. And how they treated me. And I guess I maybe got lost in my own head. Yeah, but I didn’t heal you. I didn’t mean to leave you hurt. And I didn’t get my thoughts back on it until you were gone. That’s why I’m apologizing. I… I should be so beyond that crap.” She stepped out and walked to the living room slowly before finally settling on the floor across the room from Cody, pulling her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. She still couldn’t actually look at him.

“Why?” Cody asked point blank. “Why should you be so over that crap?”

“I feel like I’m weak. You were helping me and I know you were helping me and I freaked out, because I’m weak.”

“Weak?” Cody stood up to tower over her and put his hands on his hips. “It was two hundred years ago from today that my family was taken and put into slavery. My mate Michelle fought like the mama bear she was and took out several. But the moment they threatened to kill our cubs, she gave over and seein’ my family in chains made fight harder until they hit me with enough sedative to take me down.”

“Ya aren’t weak Becca, just like Mishelle wasn’t. Yer just not trained. So let’s take care of that.” He trained fighters from young to old for the Coven that had held him. He could train her too. “I’ll teach ya more than I taught my mate and that way yer more prepared.” It would also make the time pass faster.

“Wh…what?” Becca finally looked up at him, of course, she was looking at him like he was crazy.

“Ya say you’re weak and that I can fix. So get up and let’s go outside half pint.” Cody walked to the door and held it open for her. “I’ll teach ya to take care of yourself and then ya past will hold nothing over ya.” He stripped off the muscle shirt to toss on his rocking chair as he pushed the screen door open. “Can’t run from it forever Rebecca.”

At first, Becca was not moving. Then she followed and walked out, but still her arms were crossed and she was hesitant. She watched him and she digested what he was saying.

Picking up a stick Cody drug it across the ground creating a large circle with himself in the center. Tossing it aside he turned to look at her and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Can’t do much from way over there. Step in here and show me how ya gonna defend yourself when they catch up to ya. Show me how you’ll stop ‘em from draggin’ ya cute lil ass right back down into that hole they call home.”

Becca moved slowly to the ring he had made and looked at the big bear. He was in man-form but he was still pretty damn intimidating. The seriousness of his expression also made her second guess herself.

“I would fight and claw and scratch if they caught me. The idea is to never let them catch me.”

“Good plan.” Cody nodded but then quick and fast he went for her with no warning.

When he suddenly lunged at her, she leapt upward to his back and bit and clawed and then leapt away and took off running outside the ring to the truck and locked herself in it.

There was a loud snarl that was far deeper than any wolf sound ever would be. He wiped a hand over his shoulder and felt wetness from her attack.

When he looked at her crossly, she yelled out the window, “What did you expect? You’re huge!”

“Becca, that’s the wrong move!” Cody kept his cool. He shook his head. “See now ya went and got yourself caged in my truck. If I was a hunter I’d yank that door off its hinges and you’d be caught no matter how much ya claw, scratch or bite.” Cody’s gaze stayed on her as he went on. “Ya might think of dartin’ out of that box and makin’ a run for it.” He shrugged his broad shoulder even as he felt that thin trickle of blood from the now healed scratch snake it’s way down his spine. “Ya wouldn’t make it far half pint.”

Slowly, she opened the door and came out. She studied him for a good five minutes before walking to the ring once again. “Teach me. Don’t make me react like that without teaching me. You asked what I’d do, so I did it. And then you got mad at me for it. But that’s all I know. Why would they teach a slave how to fight? I was a tracker when I was let out. I was to find people for them. Either that or I took care of little ones. I didn’t learn much about fighting. So teach me.”

With a grin the gruff old bear crossed his arms over his chest again and spread his feet a little to give himself a good base.

“See now ya lookin’ at me with fear when ya should be lookin’ at me like an equal. Don’t give yet attacker the upper hand by lettin’ ‘em know yer afraid of ‘em.”

“How am I supposed to look?” Becca wasn’t sure.

“If ya big like me this is the stance ya take, straight forward with feet spread for support. Small like you it’d be like this.” Cody turned his body to the side while looking at her and spread his feet in the same fashion. “Gives less target area for the attack see. Ya can crouch just a lil and give yourself more advantage. Makes ya look confident even if ya are scared.”

Becca watched how he did it and mimicked Cody. She found her center of gravity, spread her legs properly from there. Then she turned to the side and crouched. But she wobbled just a bit when she did. A short growl escaped her chest and she tried it again, keeping herself more graceful this time.

Assuming his previous stance Cody once again watched her a moment before going on.

“Pressure points are very useful to one’s yer size half pint. Hit just right and it’ll drop the biggest male to his knees in no time flat.”

“Can you show me where?” she asked, finally moving a little closer to him. She was watching his hands.

“Here.” Uncrossing his arms the big man slapped the junction just beneath his sternum and with a knuckle he pressed into the small dip found there. The knuckle twisted upward making him draw in a breath before he stopped. Cody rumbled low as he drew a small triangle over the skin covering his solar plexus.

“So just the chest right there?” her fingers moved toward his chest and she traced over the area to find the dip. “Are there others? Because going right at you, if I don’t have to? That only makes sense if I were in a position where you were already on me.”

“Try it on me with this one and if ya get it right I’ll teach ya others.” Cody wasn’t worried about getting hurt. He’d been hit by bigger and meaner.

“If you’re sure.” She stepped back and focused on where he had showed her to hit. With an inhale, then the exhale came with a flash of her vampiric/lycan speed to hit him square in the spot he had told her about. She had withdrawn and taken the first stance he had showed her immediately, waiting and ready for what was coming at her next.

If he hadn’t been ready it would have been much worse. As it was Cody bent over and took a deep breath to force the nauseating sensation away. Standing back up Cody grinned for her.

“Good job for ya first time. Now come at me and take a swing.” At the incredulous look she gave him, Cody chuckled. “Not gonna hurt me half pint.”

She was really getting tired of him calling her half-pint, but she didn’t say so. Instead she used the irritation to help her have the nerve to try and take a swing at her teacher.

He knew the pet name would grate on her after a while. It was why he kept using it over and over. The more aggravated she became the less she focused on his size or her fear of him.

When Becca finally did as he asked, Cody quickly slammed the edge of his hand against the inside of her wrist. It would cause her to jerk back as a stinging sensation followed by numbness went shooting up through her palm and fingertips.

“Oommph…” she hopped backward and shook her hand to try and get that sensation out of it.

“Don’t take much, but it catches yer opponent off guard long enough for yer next attack.” Cody felt the change in her temperament and this caused a deeper grin to appear.

“What happens when I run out of these moves? You say it gives me time for my next attack, but, how can I attack you so that you stay down and I can get away?” Becca pushed her fingers apart, stretching them as she got sensation back.

Kneeling in the dirt and gravel, Cody waved her closer. “I’ll show ya the killin’ moves but ya can’t practice ‘em.”

When she was standing right in front of him, Cody lifted one of her hands and curled two of her fingers into knuckles. He lifted them to his neck and pressed them against his bulging carotid artery. “Two knuckles hard here on each side. Then while I’m seein’ spots ya go for the sweet spot by drawin’ ya nail across my neck from one ear lobe to the other.”

She saw the maneuver in her mind and she even made both hands into the curled knuckle post and place them at each side of his neck. She felt his heartbeat beneath her skin and gasped, pulling back. For the first time today, she looked into his eyes. In that moment, a very honest set of words came from her mouth.

“But, I don’t want to kill.”

“Well sometimes it ain’t about what ya want, but what ya need ta do that counts.” Cody hated having to show her such, but there really was no telling what she’d face once she was on her own. Rising to his feet again, Cody brushed the dirt and pebbles from his knees. “Ya can always take em out at the knees to get ‘em down without killin’.” He gave her another option as he looked up towards the sky with its few stars visible through the clouds. There was a low roll of thunder in the distance letting them know what was soon to come.”

“I know how to do that,” she whispered, but followed his gaze up to the few stars she could see. That’s when she realized she could see the stars. Becca took a deep breath and turned round until she stumbled backwards, only catching herself with her hands out. She continued to stare up at them and when the clouds moved from on top of it, she saw the crescent moon. “The night here. It’s so beautiful.” Leaning back until she was lying flat on her back and staring up, she placed a hand on her waist and marveled at a sight she was rarely afforded in the city or in the coven lair. The thunder was a song nature was singing to them. She smiled when she thought of what usually followed thunder. “Do you think there’ll be rain?”

“I miss the rain. I remember dancing in it once, when I was young. I remember it was cool on my skin. I want to feel that again.”

“Yeah there’ll be rain.” Cody was watching her and couldn’t take his eyes away. She was beautiful. She had been beautiful when he had first met her, just… damaged. But then, he’d been damaged, too. With a rough shake of his head to get the thoughts out of it, Cody started for the porch. “Still feelin’ weak or can we wrap this up and call it a night?” He plucked his shirt from the chair and pulled it on.

“Will you teach me the rest of the pressure points you talked about?” She didn’t move, just continued to stare up at the stars. The clouds were beginning to get in that way again. She sighed and turned toward him. “I want to know them. But if you’re tired, I understand. Maybe you can teach me tomorrow before it gets too late for you?” Becca asked, then there was a big clap of thunder, and the sound of rain rolling over the fields toward them. Becca stood up right as the rain came down overhead.

Instead of running for the porch, she laughed and spread her arms out to feel as much of it as she possibly could. She was soaked within a minute flat, the white tank doing little to hide anything at this point. If she’d been alone, she would’ve taken her clothes off just to enjoy!

He was wet as well, but hadn’t stayed out in it like Becca had.

Turning to see that he’d come back out on the porch, Becca laughed and held her hands up.

“Come on Cody Bear! It’s fun!” For the first time since coming here, she didn’t see him as a possible threat. Some of it was the training and some of it was just… looking at him right then in the rain. “Don’t you want to enjoy it?!” she yelled over the sound of the falling rain all around them.

“I’m enjoyin’ it just fine from here thank ya.” Actually worried she’d try something like dragging him out farther, the big man stepped back up on the porch and slicked his hands over his short cropped hair. Cody took a seat in his rocker and watched her play. The bulge in his wet jeans said another cold drenching would be in order before sleep was ever had. It didn’t stop him from watching her even though it should have. The vampire lord would have his heart.

It had been barely anything but rain so far, and the petite young woman was turning on her foot in pirouettes taught by one of the masters. Dance was at least something she liked doing even in her previous life. She honestly didn’t realize she had begun dancing in the rain, and just enjoyed the movement and the feel of the water moving over her skin, the mud squishing between her toes, and the freedom she felt.

Then, there was a clap of thunder so loud that it scared the girl outright! It was immediately followed by a streak of lightning hitting the old windmill not far from the driveway. Becca dove beneath the side of the porch as another clap of thunder hit. She felt the electrical surge all around her and yet she wasn’t injured. It had just startled her. So close!

In the yard there was no sign of her after the flashes of lightning. Only a pair of jeans and a tank top.

“Becca?” Cody called as he rose from his chair and started down from the porch. “Becca!” there was concern tingling his voice as he stepped down into the rain and sniffed the air. The tinge of electric held to the rain, but she was there faintly with it. Cody glanced at the discarded clothes and walked around to the end of the porch. At least the rain was calming down a bit.

Becca heard Cody calling her name. But the sound was very odd. She was in the tall grass beneath the porch and trying to figure out what had just happened. She tried to answer him, with an “I’m okay, just a second,” after all, she was embarrassed that the thunder had scared her so. But what she heard was a growling bark. That’s when she looked down to her hands and saw paws. Oh great…. How had it happened? How did she go back?

Crouching down he looked under the edge and grinned as he caught sight of her. “Well hey there, don’t like the thunder and lightnin’ huh? Well come on out and let’s get ya shifted back.”

She growled at him and barked once, her eyes looking down and her ears low. But she wasn’t threatening. She was pissed. And embarrassed. She crawled out to him and then stood up to her full height, her fur fluffy and white with grey running through it. Her paws were huge and her height told him she was definitely adult, but malnourished compared to most lycan wolves. This was just part of being a half-breed. That and not knowing how to shift. She put her front paws on his thigh where he sat and sniffed his face before licking it. Sure. She’d love to shift back. But how did one do that?

“Alright I get the hint.” Cody rose to his full height and stepped back several steps. “Not much trainin’ in that part either huh?” His hands went to his hips as he studied her lupus form. “Guess yer stuck with me for that lesson too.”

Cody moved back farther as he rolled his shoulder to ease the tension in them. “It’s all in the way ya think of it. If ya think it’s gonna be painful then it will be, but keep yer mind relaxed, close yer eyes and visualize the form ya wantin’.” At the sound she made towards him, Cody couldn’t help the low chuckle that left him. “I know sounds easier than it is, but trust me it isn’t near as painful this way.”

Well, what he said made sense. After all, the thunder and lightning had caused her to shift and she only felt a flash of pain with it. And here she was. She wondered if there was a way to scare the hell out of herself again? She paced a figure eight in front of him and then sat down. Lifting her paw, she tilted her head to look at it. That’s when a lightbulb went on!

Becca-Wolf hopped up to her feet and then jumped and bounced around Cody like she was a newborn lamb. She’d never done this before! She was so excited! She didn’t have anyone making her do anything and she could… oh! She could run like the wind and jump and howl! Oh, she wanted to howl and so she sat back and did just that!

“First time to howl is it?” Cody sighed as he watched her excitement. “Alright then we will go for a run then and let ya stretch these new legs of yours.” Tossing his shirt to the porch, Cody smoothly shifted from human to bear. Much larger in this form, he shook his body and took several steps towards the woods before stopping to rumble back at her. It was obvious Becca had never gotten to truly enjoy this form so he felt it only right that she should at least enjoy a little of it before shifting back.

She watched him with a bit of awe. She wondered if he could tell she was in awe? Oh, who cared? She skipped forward to catch up with him and then took off running forward and stopped a few yards away to look back at him. She barked and lunged and then pulled back and ran a bit more. But she tried to stay with him in her sights at all times. When she got the chance, she moved to the side and looked the big bear over. He was so much bigger than she ever imagined he could be! She’d never seen a bear, little on a werebear.

Unlike Becca, Cody was in no rush to get anywhere fast. While she ran her energy off the bear made his slow way across the open field. It was actually pleasing to watch her enjoy herself on his land.

Becca would sprint ahead and then double back and come up on Cody to sniff him and then off when she saw him notice her. It was a fun game that she could use to learn both her own new body and her bear.

Her bear? Oops, slip of the brain, she thought to herself.

Walking along a steep ridge, Becca stopped to sit down and really look out over the land that Cody owned. She could see the house and stables and barn and silo and the fencing from this spot. Even though it was dark, her eyes could see things now that her human or vampire eyes couldn’t. She could also smell so much more. She stepped off the path a bit, in case Cody came this way and needed the space. Then, she laid down and continued to gaze out over the fields.

How Becca had found this particular place on his large spread he’d never know, but the pretty wolf had. On the nights when his bear was restless Cody would come up here just to still himself and look over his home and enjoy time in his feral form. There weren’t many of his kind left, especially on this side of the portal. He had no clan to go to during full moon or such other celebrations. So this time with Becca in quiet contemplation meant a lot to the loner.

He sat for a long time and just enjoyed the night air with her. After about two hours Cody turned to start back and paused to make sure she was following. He had about four hours till sun up and he needed some sleep before starting his day.

When they reached the front yard, Cody easily shifted forms without losing any clothing in the process. Becca sat down and looked at him before yawning. Turning to look at Becca he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Gotta relax just like on that cliff and see your human self in ya head then ya body will shift to match it.” They’d try this way first.

She huffed and sneezed and then got up to stand and he watched as she closed her eyes. She sat back down and let herself relax until she seemed like she’d wobble over asleep… then she did. But when she hit the ground, there was a solid, “Ooof!” from her now-human mouth. She had shifted back to her human form and it had barely hurt at all for her. Unfortunately, she had left her clothes out in the yard when she had first shifted and in the tall grass near the porch. And now she had on her birthday suit.

Quickly Cody spun around as he realized that she was bare as the day she was born. He hadn’t been fast enough not to see the small pert breasts and narrow dip of her hips. This was sheer hell and his whole body tightened in response.

“I did it! I’m getting better!” she was excited that it had worked. But she was also up and scanning the ground for her clothes. Then she sprinted over to where she saw her tank top and slipped it on quickly. Cody didn’t like her to be even a mile close to naked, so she knew to get dressed quick. She didn’t want him mad at her – especially after the fuss she had put up earlier. Of course, he was being very proper, and that’s how he should be. “Sorry! I’m not as good as you.” She found her panties and pulled them up over her hips and then turned around, trying to find the jeans and bra.

“It’ll come with practice.. Just give yourself time Becca.” Cody had to clear his throat and shove his hands in his pockets as he listened to her slip on the bit of cloth. How many years had it been? How long had he been out here without a woman? Too damned long, that was for sure. Damned Evansworth for all that he was worth.

He was talking, and she was listening while finding her jeans and shirt. She tossed the shirt on at least and shrugged before walking over to him.

When the petite female stopped right in front of him, Cody felt as if he’d been hit right in the gut. His gaze moved from her lips down to her breasts but then right back up to her eyes.

“Thank you.” she giggled, trying to decide if she might grace him with more than the words.

“I gotta get to bed. Got four hours till time to feed and a long day ahead.” Cody rumbled as he stepped past her to head inside knowing exactly what he’d need to do first if sleep was ever going to happen. He needed another cold shower and maybe to relieve this tension before he got a bad case of blue balls. One more day.. One more day and then Evansworth would come for her. Then life could go back to normal. Or so he thought.

“Cody?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he paused , his hands on the door frame, but he didn’t look back at her.

“I’m sorry that I ever thought you were like them. My reaction, it uh… I don’t think of you like that. It was just, instinct. Scared silly… instinct. So, thank you for not being upset with me and for helping me. You weren’t asked to do that part. So… thanks.” She kept her eyes on his back. She felt her urges picking up. He was not exactly a slacker in the looks department and after all they’d done today and the few weeks before, she kind of had a soft spot for him.

Becca backed up a couple of steps, before turning to walk away from the house. He had made clear his limitations when Evansworth had dropped her off. She didn’t want to upset him or cause him trouble.

“Nah I wasn’t asked ta do it, but I ain’t cruel and leavin’ ya scared and in an unfamiliar form would have been wrong. Yer welcome, now don’t roam too far away from the house. I know yer more of a night creature than a day one, but I’m not and I don’t want ya off in trouble while I’m sleepin’ and can’t reach ya.” Instead of waiting for a response Cody made his way inside, grabbed a towel and headed for a really cold shower.

She had no plans to go out too far. They’d already done that, after all. She just needed to be outside and up. Becca had a lot to think about. So, she walked out to the edge of the forested area and picked some of the beautiful flowers and brought them up onto the porch with her to do something she hadn’t done in years… she made herself a little crown. She also enjoyed the smell after the rain and the accompanying cacophony of the little frogs and toads. The clouds cleared for her and as she placed the crown on her head, she looked up at the stars. This place was so much more than she was accustomed to. She’d have to go back to the clinic tomorrow night. So she enjoyed as much of this night as she could.

Four and half hours later Cody was up and tending to his animals as if nothing had gone on. Evansworth would be after the girl probably before the next morning was really on them. The bear knew she’d need to be well fed and ready for whatever was coming after this. He was on edge and the animals could feel it. Instead of going to check and mend fences Cody had decided to stay around the house and feed Becca at least a few times before nightfall.

When she had come back awake from her long night, Becca had it in her head that she was going to give Cody a gift today. He had been an excellent host and he deserved something for that. So, she cleaned up the living room and the kitchen. She set up a nice stew to cook in the big pot she’d found, after all, she had worked in the kitchens as a teenager and knew what she was doing. She even set his place at the dining room table for him, before also moving to begin laundry. When she came back out, she still had some of the flowers and petals in her dark curly hair and she’d been so busy she hadn’t noticed it.

“Mornin’ Becca, did ya get some sleep?” Cody removed his hat and hung it right beside the door. He moved to take a seat at the table and watched her. There was tension between them, but it was nothing that could be helped.

“Oh!” she hopped back just a bit in surprise. “You came back? I thought you had plans for the north west fencing? Did you need help?” she padded barefoot back around to the pot so she could stir the contents. She was doing her best to act like everything was okay and that she didn’t have to leave soon.

At the way she jumped Cody wondered what was going on.

“Thought I’d stick close today.” That only lasted until he drew in the sent of the cooking stew and looked around to realize that she’d been cleaning. Apparently, she’d been cleaning an awful lot! Had he overlooked this? His house wasn’t huge with the small living room and it’s pot bellied stove, couch, small shelf and wall clock, the kitchen and dining room with basic amenities, and the hallway holding the bathroom and two bedrooms. So the cleaning was noticeable. He walked to the living room and ran his fingers over the few family pictures that his lost mate had been able to hide away before they’d been caught. He thought about Michelle and their boys for a moment before sighing a little and turning back to the kitchen.

Everything had been dusted and then cleaned and shined. She’d been over everything. But he’d been trying his best not to notice, hadn’t he?

She watched his every move and memorized every detail.

“Thank ya for all of this, but ya didn’t have to.” Cody pulled his chair from the table and sat down as he rolled up the sleeve on his shirt. “Now come on over here and feed. We’ll do this a few more times before the day is over.” He smiled for her and yet knew when it was time for her to go that he would miss her for sure.

“I made stew. I don’t think the carrots are quite done yet. They’re supposed to be kind of spongey, right?” she asked before walking around to where the table was.

She looked at his arm and sighed. “Why more today? Is it because he’s coming to get me?” Her brown eyes moved up to Cody’s from his arm. “Back to the clinic?” Cody hadn’t asked about the clinic or her past. She wasn’t sure what Sebastian had told him.

“Yeah he’s comin’ and I wanna be sure that yer ready so no relapses.” At mention of a clinic Cody couldn’t help but frown, “Clinic?”

“I woke up there a few months ago. I had to relearn things. They said I could rejoin my pack after I got better. But, I’m not sure what they mean by… better. I don’t know what a pack is like.”

“While ya feed I’ll tell ya.” Cody had already made sure his arms were washed and ready for her.

Becca walked over and sat in his lap, so he could place his wrist in front of her. This time, when she sank her teeth, she did so very gently. Her hands remained around his forearm and as she drank, she closed her eyes.

Cody rumbled low, “A Pack is like one big family. They are good to each other, protect each other and defend one another when it’s needed. They’ll be good to ya. Most could only wish for such a life as one has in a Pack.” His hand ghosted over the top of her hair as if in a caress but not quite touching. He wanted to, Goddess but he did.

As she swallowed and let her mouth fill again, her eyes opened. She liked what he was telling her, but there were some things she wasn’t too sure of. Like, how would they treat her, being what she was? Were her brothers still out there? Would she ever get to see Cody again? One hand remained where it had been and the other moved down along his forearm absently as she closed her eyes again and tried not to think about the questions. She just took comfort in his closeness, even if it possibly meant nothing to him. She could pretend. It was, what it was. She had never been in control of her life and she still wasn’t. After two more swallows, Becca disengaged and licked his wounds to close them. When he moved to let her down, she complied silently, moving back to the kitchen.

It took all he had in him to maintain control. As she finished feeding Cody took his time rolling the cuff back down into place and snapping the two small buttons.

“I cleaned because it needed to be done. And because you’ve been kind to me. So I should like to be kind to you, Cody.” She stirred the stew so it wouldn’t burn.

He rose from the seat and walked towards the door only to pause right behind Becca. His large frame shadowed over her much smaller one and he wanted to reach out and touch, though he knew it would be wrong. So instead with a huff he continued to the door. Grabbing his hat Cody clapped it on his head. “I’ll be out cuttin’ wood so just let me know when it’s ready and yeah the carrots should be a little spongey.” He’d heard her earlier question and wanted her to know that he wasn’t ignoring her.

Hearing the door close only made her sadness worse. She looked at the door and wondered if maybe she could ask him to stay with her and tell her more about packs and such. She needed to know, after all. But it was really just an excuse to be selfish. Shaking her head, she went back to what she’d been doing all day – cooking and cleaning.

The longer he was outside the hotter it got. By noon Cody was shirtless with sweat drenching his upper body as he lifted the heavy ax and swung it down to split another log. He had a good pile started and knew it should last at least half the winter. If he kept up like this the pile would do all the way through winter. Nothing new to himself, Cody didn’t bother to cover his scars and tattoos as he heard the back door open along with the screech of the screen door. Besides the one and only time Becca had seen him shirtless and had dared touch him, Cody had frightened her so he doubted she’d want a repeat from him. Who would right?

“Food ready?” He wiped his face on his forearm and looked Becca’s way.

He looked over her head. She had actually moved out as quickly as she could to the shade of the tree he was standing under. Seeing the tattoos and the scarring had her remembering the way the coven treated slaves, but it didn’t make her scared this time. This time, it made her angry, angry for him and his family. “Yes,” came the quiet response from right next to him. “The carrots are spongy and the meat is ripping apart with a fork.”

She reached up to touch one of the tattoos that wasn’t something she recognized.

“What’s this one? I’ve never seen one like it in the coven.” It was swirled with color. It looked like maybe the coven had tried to cause damage to it, there was a scar over it. But the design was still there.

Realizing how close she was and just what design she was touching, Cody dropped the ax to the side and covered her hand along with the damaged tattoo.

“That’s cause it ain’t Coven. It’s part of my Clan and my family’s names in the old language. Each color is for someone.”

Her breath caught as he covered her hand against his chest. She could feel the magical energy. It was so beautiful and so bittersweet a feeling that moved from him to her. It seemed like she was touching the place longer than she actually had.

He uncovered her hand as his finger traced over the colors in sweet remembrance of those they stood for.

“Idiots thought they could break it when they broke me but the magic of the ink showed them what fools they were. No matter how many times they damaged it, it fixed itself even though they salted it and ran it through with copper.”

“Oh, Cody…” she hated this. How dare they? This was why she wanted to kill them all. This was why she wanted to eat their hearts; for what they had done to good people.

“I need to wash up so we can eat and then I’ll feed ya again.” Cody tried changing the subject not comfortable talking about that time in his life or those he lost to it. It was the past and he wanted to leave it there.

For Becca, the past was still very near. The Eriksson coven was still around. She was proof of that. So, even though Cody had this piece in his past, she knew others were still suffering at their hands. Her eyes handn’t moved from his upper chest. She moved forward again and let the colors dance there. They were singing to her and as she was sucked into the moment, the magical song came from her. She hummed it and moved her palm back over the wounded space. A warmth that went beyond her body heat came from her, a reflected energy from the magic already there. When she continued to hum, the swirls moved and sent energy sparking through his skin and muscle to begin healing.

He could feel the magic as it rushed through her to him and he breathed hard as he turned to look at his little house guest. “Stop Becca.. Don’t take my past from me.”

She sucked in a breath and pulled her hand back, the swirling still there and then still upon his chest. She watched him, quietly letting him speak. She felt horrible for doing something she hadn’t been asked to do. Did he feel the same way about his home? Had she overstepped? Was that why he seemed to want to get away from her earlier?

“Every scar has been earned and I will wear them and every design put upon me because I survived what they did not. I am out and they are ashes beneath some ruins because the damned fangs that held us wouldn’t allow me to give them a proper send off. Instead their murderers burnt them like waste instead of the honored lives they were to me.” Cody hadn’t felt so out of control in years. He felt at a lost for the tiny little bit of a female. She left him confused and wanting more than he’d ever get.

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry that I overstepped. I just…” she took a step toward him, and then wasn’t sure what else to do. What was she going to do? She understood his pain and wanted him to know that. Her hand was left mid-air between them.

“Damn it woman stop lookin’ at me like that.” Cody grumbled without really meaning to sound angry. He was just feeling urges he hadn’t felt since his mate and it was obvious that she didn’t see the signs which was good in some ways.

“How am I supposed to look at you, Cody?” she asked, tilting her head to the side. She took him in and felt the thirst as well as that little sensation in her body that she’d had once before when he was close to her. Swallowing, she turned away from him and began making her way back to the house. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but… I’ll just go to my room so I don’t mess anything else up. You can clean up and get something to eat. Just let me know when you want me to feed.”

Cody had washed up, he had eaten and he had even cleaned up the dishes and placed the rest of the stew in the fridge before just taking some time to himself. The sun was just starting to go down when he stepped back with a calmed mind and heart once more. He moved down the hall to knock on her door, “Alright Becca come on out so I can feed ya.” He would have said more but felt that maybe it should stay as it was and make things easier on them both when she left.

She was sitting in the corner of her room, her feet crossed in a pose reminiscent of someone meditating. In a way, she supposed she had been. She had been fighting that hurt in her chest that had come on earlier. It had taken him a long time to come to the door, and so she had actually wondered if she would see him again, alone… or would Sebastian be here for her? Slowly, she got to her feet and made her way to the door. When she opened it, she looked around. His scent was still on the air. Following it, she made her way to the front room. He was still drying off his upper body from washing himself off.

“Were you going to accept my apology?” she asked from the doorway. Seeing the confusion on his face, she stepped further inside. “The way you’re acting, I just, I don’t know what I did…”

“You don’t owe me an apology. Becca. I owe you one. I reacted because I’m not used to other people, especially not people like you.” He sat on the couch waiting for her. The big bear of a man was still only in his jeans and boots because he’d made sure he was clean enough to actually feed her. “It’s not anything ya really did Becca, it’s just how things stand. This week’s been rough, what with memories I’ve had of losing my family. But you made it go much easier on my heart, by being here. I guess that’s why it makes knowing I have to say goodbye to you worse. You’ve made me feel better than I’ve felt in a long, long time. In my heart, I got this stupid wish. But you gotta family waitin’ to meet ya and I’m probably not what ya family would care to meet along with ya. So best we do this and I let ya go.”

Now, it was time for her dark brow to arch and surprise to come over her face. What had he just said? That was such a surprise for her. He felt like he was letting her go? She moved forward, slowly, so she could watch the way he slumped, the way he held his head down while he waited on her. Her soft padding on the carpet had her to him quite quickly and quietly, not by purpose, but simply by design. She was between his legs, pushing his body to sit up instead of lean over.

Like this, she was actually a couple of inches taller than him, barely, and could more easily look into his eyes. As soon as she could, she spoke to him with all her heart.

Her eyes grew large with emotion. “What if I don’t want you to let me go? What if I don’t want to let go of you?” She threw her arms around his neck and held onto him. “Nobody’s ever asked me what I want. So what if I don’t want to let you go? Does that count? Will they listen to me?”

Cody’s arms closed around her before he could stop them. He’d fought himself for days telling himself it was wrong and that he shouldn’t take advantage of her, but here she was with arms wrapped around him asking such questions. Turning his face into her hair Cody breathed her scent in and rumbled for her, “It counts with me, but I don’t know anything about yer Pack so can’t say what they’ll do.”

Becca kissed upon his neck, when she suddenly felt herself jerked harshly backward by her arm. The sheer force had her shoulder threatening to come out of its socket. She found herself slammed back against the vampire Lord’s chest. He was growling and his fangs were popped. She knew his strength and she knew his rules. What would he do to Cody?

“No! Don’t! Don’t hurt him!” Becca knew what coven royals could do if they so desired. She couldn’t fight that.

Holding Rebecca against his chest Sebastian was every inch the Coven Master as he snarled at the were-bear, “I place her in your care with trust that she is safe and this is what you do with my trust in you? Are you such an animal that you cannot control your baser needs even with someone barely healed and still recovering?!”

When she had been yanked from him, Cody had almost lost control and shifted to protect and defend. When he realized it was the vampire lord he stopped from lunging and sat with his head down. He couldn’t deny what was being said or what he was being accused of because if Evansworth had been just a little later in arriving Becca would surely had been naked and claimed by him.

“He was teaching me!” she lied easily to Sebastian, for he wasn’t like her pack. She had seen vampires like him rip the throats from lycan before they could even shift. She didn’t want this to happen to Cody. “He was going to let me take from his neck, just once. I proved to him I could keep control. He was going to let me feed from the neck, because…” she looked over at the bear and continued, “I’ve never done that. I’m not trusted. Not for that. I’m… I’m not… “ She closed her eyes and gained the sleepy, careless look she had when she had first shown up. “I’m a beast and not to be trusted with such tender areas, lest I kill something worth more than myself.” She was telling the truth, when she spoke this part. This is what she had always been told. This would let Sebastian understand why such was an important step to her. Maybe it would convince him that the lie was the truth and he would leave Cody alone.

“Think me a fool girl? I know exactly what he was about to do. His scent is all over the air just like yours is.” Sebastian would have tried to shake sense into her but was halted by doing so by the slow dangerous sound coming from the bear.

Slowly Cody rose from the bedside and stood face to face with the vampire except Cody was a great deal broader through the shoulders and chest than Sebastian ever would be. “Stop hurting her. Let her go.”

“The bear has balls.” Sebastian glared right at the other male, “Last time you got a lucky hit in and I didn’t hit back because I felt it was due. This time it won’t be like that at all.” The tone used was low and dangerous though he did ease his grip on Becca just a little.

“Please don’t fight about me. You promised you wouldn’t!”

“Let’s go. I won’t make the mistake of bringing her back to you.” Sebastian snarled as he pulled the girls wiggling form closer to him to shadow back to the clinic.

“No.. wait..” Cody started to reach for Becca but they were fading away faster than he could grab hold of her.

“Cody!” She blinked and he was gone.

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