Chapter 3

Parker felt his body tense in his chair. Instead of the pack’s last hunt, his memory played back on his inner movie screen the night of last December third, an endless rerun of a torturously bad horror film in which the wolfman was the star.

 

“Come on, Park,” his mental soundtrack played. The voice belonged to Garrett Larkin, a witch and the woman he loved. “You have to do this. You haven’t got a choice. So you might as well get it over with.”

 

Walking along an alley, they reached the Last Chance nightclub’s back door. “I don’t see why,” Parker said. “Kurt already knows you. You two have known each other for years.”

 

“Yes, but this is different.” Garrett made a face when Parker sighed. “Look, Park—this introduction’s just protocol. You don’t like Kurt, but you know the rules. You’re alpha of the wolfpack, and the alpha is Kurt’s servant. I’m your new freyja. That doesn’t make me his servant, but I’m in charge of the pack in case something happens to you.”

 

“And if something does happen to me?”

 

He watched Garrett’s jaw set. “I won’t be Kurt’s servant, Parker. Master or not, I’ve better things to do.”

 

The remark had stung, but Parker said nothing. He turned away and searched for the loose brick near the door’s jamb. Finding it, he pulled it out and thrust his hand into the space, ignoring the mortar scratching his skin. His fingers brushed against the hard plastic button they’d been searching for and mashed it. The door’s lock clicked. Pushing it open, the two entered. After descending a flight of stairs, he unlocked and pushed open another door.

 

They walked along a long hallway then reached another staircase and ascended. Now they were at street level again. Leading Garrett through Chance’s kitchens, Parker pushed open the door leading to the nightclub proper.

 

Kurt, alone in the club, was standing on the far side of the hardwood dance floor, waiting for them. Parker and Garrett crossed until they stood about ten feet away. “Master,” Parker said as politely as he could, “I present to you Garrett Larkin, my freyja, and the mother of my pack. She is my equal in all things.”

 

Back home, on his private movie screen, Parker could almost feel how tight his throat had been while choking out the next line of his formal recital. “Ask of her whatever you would ask of me, and it shall be given.”

 

“Thank you, my servant,” Kurt said. “You have chosen well.” Parker cringed. The inflection felt like a knife twisting in his gut.

 

The Master’s amusement at Parker’s discomfort was plain to see. Turning to Garrett, he gave her a beatific smile and held out his hand. “Come with me.” Garrett took it without hesitation. “Let’s go over here, hmm?” He pointed to a table and three chairs abutting the dance floor.

 

Parker saw how Kurt’s gaze traveled up and down Garrett’s small, willowy body, lingering on those parts he apparently found intriguing. Parker tried to keep an iron grip on Garrett’s hand, but his strong fingers loosened like overcooked spaghetti.

 

Sprawled in the overstuffed chair, Parker winced hard, not wanting to face the shame he always felt at his galling weakness before the vampire. He remembered his dismay when Garrett dropped her hand from his and accepted the Master’s. Kurt had known exactly what Parker was trying to do. So Kurt, exploiting his physical control over the werewolf’s body, had freed Garrett’s hand by telekinetically forcing Parker to let go.

 

Walking Garrett to the table, Kurt turned and looked over his shoulder. “Stay there.”

 

“The hell—” Parker said. He took a step forward, but that was as far as he got. The Master had immobilized him, putting him under a stasis so he could neither move nor speak. He watched Kurt remove Garrett’s cloak and begin massaging her shoulders. “You are a beautiful woman,” he purred. “I’m pleased my servant has such good taste.”

 

Garrett smiled, her eyes shiny and vacant. “Thank you, Master.”

 

Parker had known what her look meant. He’d seen it before in other zots. The bastard had hypnotized her. Now she’d do anything he wanted. He remembered how surprised he’d been that Garrett had succumbed so easily. Garrett Larkin wasn’t just a witch—she was a mage. He’d seen her stare down vampires who’d thought she’d be easy prey. Why didn’t you fight him, Garrett? he thought for the thousandth time. Why?

 

“I’ve never had a witch servant before,” Kurt said, glancing at Parker. “Humans, weres, elves, yes. But never a witch.” Then he turned and faced him. “I want her. Frankly, I think she’d be happier with me than with you. Wouldn’t you, Garrett?”

 

“Yes, Master.”

 

Kurt’s smile was an evil grin of triumph. Parker tried to break the stasis by repeatedly throwing his mind against it, but Kurt’s hold over him wouldn’t budge. He was furious enough to force morph, but he just wasn’t able to move.

 

Kurt walked over to him. “I know how much you hate to share, wolfman,” the Master cooed in Parker’s ear. “But you’ll just have to get over it, hmm? Of course, I’ll lend Garrett to you whenever you wish as long as I’m not busy with her. I do respect she is your freyja, Parker. I really do.” He took a few steps backward. “To show my respect, wolf, I will even ask before I make her mine.” He smiled again. “Garrett, would you consent to be my servant?” he said without turning around.

 

To Parker, it sounded like some kind of sick marriage proposal.

 

“Yes,” Garrett said.

 

Kurt then returned to where Garrett stood. Looking over his shoulder, he gave Parker a lascivious smirk, took her into his arms, and sat her on the table. Then he sank his fangs into her neck. When he had his fill, he looked up, his mouth stained with her blood. The Master slowly licked his lips. “Mmm…like nectar. Let’s see if the rest of her is just as sweet, hmm?”

 

Then, to Parker’s horror, Kurt lifted Garrett’s dress and fucked her right there on the table in front of him. He took her from the front, from behind, and every other which way he chose. Parker could only stand rooted to his spot, forced to watch while his woman gave herself to the vampire. He wanted to scream but couldn’t.

 

At home now, he could and he did. “Gawwrooo!” he let loose with a howl of pure misery. Clapping his hands over his mouth to stifle the second howl welling up in his throat, he leapt from his chair and started pacing around his bedroom.

 

When the urge to howl passed, Parker removed his hands from his mouth and gripped his head. The pressure in his chest was almost unbearable. “Stay human, stay human, stay human…” he chanted, striding around in circles.

 

After his breathing returned to something approaching normal, Parker returned to his chair and fell into it a second time. Closing his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Oh, God…why did I have to see that shit again?” He gritted his teeth at the few tears that leaked from under his eyelids. “There was nothing I could do. Nothing.”

 

He slouched in his seat, feeling sorry for himself. Then he noticed his wolf was quiet, too. The memory—and the hurt—of Garrett’s betrayal had taken the wind out of its angry sails.

 

Parker sat up. “Screw this. I gotta do something.” Looking down, he noticed the healed gash in his right thumb. He licked at the dried blood, thinking. He’d planned to spend a quiet evening at home—for a change—but after all he’d been through tonight, that plan was history.

 

He slouched in the chair again. I was a good boy at Shanty’s Bar last night. That dude was being an asshole, but at least I didn’t throw him through the window like I did to that other guy at the Lion last week. He nodded once. Okay. Shanty’s it is.

<<What about the blonde? Remember her? She might be waiting for us to show up again.>>

 

Parker scowled. He’d almost forgotten. Sitting eight stools away from him at the bar counter, the blonde woman kept giving him the eye, obviously wanting him to buy her a drink. Maybe lots of drinks. He hadn’t, though. Parker knew he was built like Hollywood’s version of a hairy Norse god—werewolves like him often were—but he’d have bet his werewolf’s hairy balls the woman was a lorelei. Loreleis were human men and women who specialized in outing exotics. After gaining a zot’s trust, the lorelei would then turn her lover over to the police. When that happened, the exotic in question disappeared, never to be heard from again.

 

So what should he do, then?

 

<<I’m starving,>> his wolf blurted.

 

Parker blinked in surprise. The two of them had been so pissed off at Kurt that their shared stomach’s distress hadn’t registered until now. Whatever else they did tonight, eating had to come first. A werewolf’s metabolism was high, way off the human charts. That extraordinary metabolism was also the reason why it was so hard for a werewolf to get drunk.

 

“Me too. Lunch was a long time ago. And we’ve lost a lot of blood tonight.” He thought for a few moments. “Okay. This is what we’ll do. We go to Tina’s Place on Southwest Thomas for dinner. She always gives us extra big helpings, and we can sit in that booth way in the back in case we see any loreleis. After we eat, we make a score for a new stash, then come home and finish that program before our client fires us. Sound good?”

 

<<Uhrrm. Let’s do it.>>

 

Rising to his feet, Parker’s sensitive nose caught another whiff of Kurt’s cologne. He shoved away the memory of how the scent had gotten onto his skin. “Shower first,” he muttered. “No way I’m going out smelling like him.” He strode from the bedroom and then along a short hallway to the bath. Inside, he stripped off his remaining clothes, turned on the shower, and stepped into the tub.

 

He was out ten minutes later. Humming a paean to his expected meal, he dried himself off and then went to his bedroom. Tina’s was casual, so he dressed in an oxford cloth shirt, jeans, and a pair of loafers that hadn’t yet seen better days.

 

Parker turned out the light and loped downstairs. Pausing at the base of the staircase, he decided against wearing a coat. The night was arctic but he wouldn’t be outside long—just long enough to get in and out of his car.

 

Unlocking the deadbolt on the front door, Parker had just started to turn the doorknob when a mild, familiar trance overtook him. His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened.

 

<<What does he want now?>>

 

The front door vanished. Parker gasped as if he’d been sucker punched. His mind’s eye filled with an intimate view of Kurt sodomizing a young man.

 

For Parker, that wasn’t even the worst part. The young man was Gerald, a minor member of his wolfpack who’d been kept as a sex slave by a human family from God-knew-when until he was fourteen years old. From what Gerald had told him, they’d used the werewolf boy for themselves, their friends, and anyone else who’d been willing to pay.

 

Parker couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Eighteen years old now, Gerald had been so traumatized by his human abusers that he appeared more or less unable to take care of himself, which was why Parker had placed him with the vampires, much as he’d hated having to do so. In Kurt’s colony, someone—human or not—was always around.

 

A wave of protective concern for this junior member of his pack surged through him. Gerald, he was sure, hadn’t consented to Kurt’s attentions.

 

Parker’s hand gripping the doorknob started to shake, and soon the quivering spread through the rest of his body. The door rattled in its frame. He knew that even if he was in the room with them, he could do nothing to stop Kurt from taking as much pleasure as he wanted from the boy, nothing at all. And this—this show—was being put on by the Master for Parker’s benefit, if only to remind him of his impotence.

 

Parker’s wave of concern turned into a tsunami of fury. He bellowed in rage. What was the point of being alpha if he couldn’t protect even the least of his pack from this sort of abuse, the very thing he’d thought the poor cub had been rescued from?

 

Then Kurt’s contemptuous, echoing voice filled his mind, silencing him. You may be king of your wolves, but really, you’re just another of my little pegboys like Gerald.

 

The vision disappeared. For a full five seconds, Parker stood stock still in shocked disbelief at what he’d just heard.

 

Parker couldn’t take anymore. His wolf erupted. A lava flow of were-strength blasted through his arms, then through the rest of him. His human eyes glowed his werewolf’s green. He heard and felt his clothes start to rip. He was morphing.

 

Hardly aware of what he was doing, Parker ripped the knob from the door. Spinning around, he hurled the brass piece across the room. It shattered a large mirror that had, until very recently, reflected his remarkably still-human image.

 

“I. Am. Not!” Parker’s maddened beast roared. He tore the door open, nearly taking it off its hinges. Leaping over the threshold, the alpha werewolf slammed the broken door shut and fled into the freezing night.

 

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