Sections: Free Home | Members' Entrance | Contact

Prologue


 

 

“I am not a superhero.  I am not a superhero.  I am not a superhero.”  He was hugging her so tightly she could barely breathe as he chanted the phrase breathlessly into her ear.
“Say it with me now.”

It wasn’t a request; it was an order, as he had a definite tendency to issue.  But Serena did as she was told, giving him a pass this time. 

She figured he’d more than earned it.  The poor man’s face was still white as a sheet; he looked positively ill, and he was always healthy as a horse.  His big body trembled as he held her; their foreheads pressed together, and she could feel how truly shaken he was, to his very core as he continued, his hands roaming over her as if checking for breaks for the thousandth time since the incident, but desperately needing to reassure himself one more time that she was really all right..  “I want you to say that with me now, but I want you to say it to yourself all the time.  I want it to be in the front and the back of your mind for the rest of your life.”  His tone changed, fear and anger overwhelming the love in his voice.  “If I have to, I’ll have it tattooed on your butt to help you remember.” 

As if he immediately regretted what he’d said – not that he’d ever retract it, of course -he held her face in his hands and smothered it with infinitely tender kisses.  “What’s more, I want you to live it.  I need you to live it, honey, because despite the wonderful things you can do, you’re not Superman, and you’re not bulletproof.  What you did today could have gotten you killed.”

Serena could hear his usually husky tone become even raspier, and she knew he was about as close to tears as he probably ever got as he put her resolutely back into position over his lap and place the big, solid mahogany hairbrush – the one he’d found at the huge antique mall they’d wandered through several months ago but hadn’t used on her yet – on her already well tended bottom.

Right now, the coolness of the wood actually felt quite good against the already searing heat of her flesh, which she knew must have been literally sizzling beneath it from the distinctly less than tender ministrations of the flat of his hand, although she knew it would be sizzling even worse in just a few minutes.  She wouldn’t be surprised if she could actually hear it crackling herself by the time he was through with her.

He was angrier than she’d ever seen anyone in her life, and it was all directed straight at her, although she knew that the underlying emotion behind that anger was fear, and Serena also recognized that the largest part of that fear was that he wouldn’t be able to save her from herself if she continued to take matters into her own hands, as she had done this afternoon.  She’d known the entire time that he’d never considered – as she had – that his own safety might be in doubt; Mr. Army Ranger thinks he’s invincible spy guy thought he was at least as bullet proof as he was saying she thought she was.  The only person whose safety he’d been concerned with was her.

But out of an acute sense of self preservation, especially considering her present position, she didn’t mention any of her that to him.  She certainly didn’t say that she never worried much about getting herself killed - that the person she’d been most keen on protecting by her actions in Portland this afternoon had been him, not herself, however stupid that might seem considering his background.  She figured that would be fuel to the fire, so to speak.

For once in her life she managed to keep her big mouth shut.

It had been a wonderful trip from their tiny little hamlet down to the big city of Portland, Maine and a few tourist destinations beyond, checking on how sales were going in the small boutiques where her handmade creations were sold.

They’d made a day of it, starting out early with a big breakfast at the local hangout, then drove the three hours to the shop that was the furthest south, working their way up north from there, stopping as needed along the way to pick up and drop off whatever inventory the shopkeepers needed or wanted, and taking back  whatever hadn’t sold.  Luckily, there was little of the latter.  Wolf appointed himself her pack mule, and loaded and carried everything she needed, and everything the shop owners – who were also mostly female, or as he would have put it, light in their loafers – needed also.

They lunched on the water at Joe’s Boathouse in Cape Elizabeth, right out on the patio, watching the tiny tug boats nudge a mammoth tanker into position at the dock next door, then stopped at a branch of her bank to deposit some of the checks she’d accumulated, with Wolf tsking the entire time about dragging those people into the twenty first century and making them pay her online, so that she didn’t have to do this.

As appalled as he was that she had to handle checks, at least they weren’t handing her cash.

Serena was in line, digging in the abyss of her pocketbook for her wallet, as oblivious to her surrounding as she could be, as Wolf stood behind her in the exact opposite state, always on alert, looking for escape routes, assessing the people in line, the tellers, even the bank security guard for potential threats.

It wasn’t until he saw Serena’s head snap up as a nondescript person in a gray hoodie slouched by them and up to the clerk, barging past the next person in line and throwing a little old lady away from the window to brandish a sleek  black handgun at the apoplectic employee.

“Gimme all your money!  NOW!”  The youth turned quickly and held up his hand, as if playing show and tell with the gun, deliberately letting everyone behind him know that he had one as he said, “GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR!  HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, MOTHERFUCKERS, and MAYBE, just MAYBE, you’ll all LIVE, if you DON’T PISS ME OFF!”

Then he turned back to the poor clerk, who was no older than the robber himself, probably not much more than early twenties, if that, even, who began emptying her cash drawer up onto the shelf in front of her.

Everyone in the lobby had done exactly as they were told – even the security guard - except for Serena and Wolf, who stood out like sore thumbs after everyone else had hit the deck.  Wolf was three seconds from picking her up and throwing her to the ground himself.  He could handle this guy.  He could take him out single handedly with very little fuss – or a lot of fuss, if need be.  Either way, the outcome was assured.

But he knew he’d only be clear headed enough to do that if he knew that Serena was safe, and that meant on the floor, with her hands on her head, if that’s what this guy wanted.

 She’d completely ignored the robber’s instructions, as if they hadn’t been meant for the likes of her, and seemed to be off in a world of her own.  She wasn’t looking at him, she wasn’t responding to him.  Instead, she was staring at the back of that hoodie as if it contained the secrets to life itself.

And before he could grab her and put her on the ground – carefully, yes, but forcefully enough to let her know that he was going to make her regret her silly life threatening reverie when they were alone later, she stepped out of reach and began walking the few short feet between them and where the man stood with the gun trained on the sobbing teller.

The poor girl automatically looked up at Serena, which had the robber instantly whirling to train the gun on her.  Wolf had already begun to lunge after her, but from that moment on, things began happening in slow motion.  He heard screams from the people lying around him as they saw the gun, ignoring them in favor of expending all of his energy trying to get to Serena, but he felt as if he was slogging through oatmeal, or six or seven good sized men were holding him back, and he began to growl very much like his namesake, well back in his throat as he watched the events of the next few seconds unfold before him.

He couldn’t quite get his head around what he was seeing, the worst of which was watching as that young punk took a shot at his woman. 

As he fired the gun, the hood who had been holding it let out a blood curdling scream, jerking his hand to the side and flinging the gun away at the same time, skewing the trajectory of the bullet well away from Serena.  The gun fell to the floor and skidded up against the bottom of the teller windows in a molten red lump, well out of everyone’s reach, as the robber gripped the wrist of his now blistered and burned appendage with the fingers of his other hand, staring at it as if he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

All of a sudden, Wolf was let loose with a feral roar, and all of that latent effort sent him hurtling towards the gunman, landing him in a direct hit right on top of him, crushing the much smaller man and easily overpowering him.

“Serena!  Serena!  Serena!  Look at me!”  Wolf had to call out her name several times before she answered as he wrenched the younger man’s arms well up his back with no thought whatsoever to his comfort.  She seemed to be in a trance like state, staring off into space, her eyes and face blank, even when she finally met his eyes.  “Find the guard and see if he has a pair of handcuffs.”

She did as she was told, but he could tell she still wasn’t quite all there.  She moved automatically, with no emotion whatsoever on her face, not even the slightest remnants of fear,  picking her way around the still prone bodies of the other customers with delicate, eerily detached precision on her way to the guard.

It took hours to settle everything, and, of course, it still wasn’t really all taken care of.  They would still have to jump through multiple hoops in regards to this incident, and it was all Wolf could do to hope that he could protect Serena through it all.  He knew how the powers that be were going to feel about the unusual circumstances, but he would do everything he could to make sure she remained as untouched as possible.

At least by them.

Their trip home was very nearly silent, and would have been almost coldly so if it hadn’t been for Wolf’s death grip on her hand, and the fact that he insisted that she sit as close to him as possible on the old Jeep’s bench seat.

When they’d finally arrived at his house, He hadn’t said a thing to her still, but had grabbed her hand in that death grip of his, careful not to break anything but tight enough to make her worry about it, and dragged her upstairs to his bedroom, tugging her ahead of him into it as he loosed her and turned to close the door, then stalking towards her, mayhem in those dark eyes. 

Serena had backed away from him until the backs of her legs had hit up against the bed, nearly falling back onto it until his hand shot out and clamped around her upper arm, tugging at just the right speed and sitting down in perfect synchronization so that she landed over his lap at just the right time.  Despite her silent, wiggling attempts at stalling him, he had her bereft of her clothes in a matter of seconds, his big palm completely covering the area he had laid claim to early in their relationship as a recourse for disciplining her when she displeased him.

And Serena certainly knew that she had displeased him today, and mightily so.  The hand spanking he delivered was horrible, the worst one she’d ever received from him, bar none, and he’d never been hesitant about delivering any, from that very first one in her tiny apartment for a slip of the mind he’d warned her against just a few days before to now.  No amount of kicking, leaning, twisting or trying to roll off his lap got her anything but further, harder, more achingly devastating swats that had her reduced to tears in a matter of just a few crisp slaps.

Now, here she lay in a not entirely unfamiliar position, unfortunately, completely nude across those unforgivingly hard thighs of his, encased, as they were, in butter soft jeans , with the specter of that big hairbrush lying across the rounded, already well scorched crest of her butt like an unspoken promise of the inevitability of things to come.

And it was, of course.  She knew he wasn’t anywhere near finished with her.  She could feel the waves of anger emanating from him and washing over her as if he was broadcasting it for the world to see.  But she seemed to be the only one who could pick up on that particular frequency, and she wasn’t at all sure – especially in her current position – whether that was a good thing or not.

“I love you, you know,” was all he said as she felt the somehow comforting presence – at least then she knew where it was, and it wasn’t wreaking havoc on her bottom -  of the wood lifted from her nates. 

And what had her in tears again even before the first stroke fell was not the ferocity of it, although it was all she could do not to throw back her head an howl like the she wolf she sometimes thought of herself as, but rather the fact that the big man’s rough voice cracked in the middle of the sentence, and the last two words were barely spoken above a whisper, just before that horrible other cracking sound signaled a very different kind of pain.

Wolf made her dance.  Not in the way he most preferred – held tight against him while they moved long and slow to the rhythm he created within them - but in the way he knew he needed to – for herself as much as his own peace of mind.  She needed to learn that someone was watching out for her now, and that someone wasn’t about to allow her to put her life on the line like that, regardless of what she thought she could get away with because of her unusual . . . abilities.

The hairbrush took on a new patina that night, as his arm rose and fell in a rhythm that was at least as relentless as the one that he had used countless times to bring her to the pinnacle of pleasure.  He wore some of the polish off on her poor abused butt, alternating cheeks and not neglecting the backs of her thighs, either, but concentrating mostly on all areas of those lovely, rounded cheeks of hers, till they glowed like twin globes of fire, and he could feel her surrender.

He knew she didn’t necessarily agree with him.  She was wrong, and he wasn’t going to argue the point with her.  She needed to accept the fact that she was not bulletproof. 

She wasn’t invincible.

She was not a superhero.

And he’d be damned if he’d risk losing someone who had become so precious to him when there was a surefire method like this with which he could convince her to change her behavior.

 

 

 

 

Chapter One


 

 

 

Borborygmus

How could she have possibly remembered that word?  From what, eleventh grade biology?  Old Mr. Swett up there in front of the class with his eyebrow dandruff and tufts of ear hair long enough to wrap around his neck like a scarf? 

She remembered that it sounded just like what it was – the sounds the stomach made as it digests food.

In her case, it wasn’t so much digesting, really, as worrying.

What was she doing sitting here, anyway, getting more and more nervous, to the point that she was becoming sick to her stomach, for crying out loud?

Serena checked her watch for the thousandth time, but it was still another twenty minutes or so before he got there, at least.  With a little luck, she’d be dead by then.

Why did she always have to be early for everything?

She bit her lip.  Why was she fighting getting sick, anyway?  He couldn’t spank her if she was sick, could he?

Her mind dwelt on that thought.  Could he?

Would he?

Nah.  He was much too solicitous by nature.

Wasn’t he?

Yes, he was.  Macho and dominant, yes, but with a surprisingly gentlemanly, attentive side, too, that offset his sometimes more annoying tendencies.

She hadn’t known Wolf very long, but, considering her first impressions of him, she had a feeling he’d figure something out.  He didn’t seem at all like the type of man who would allow a girl’s nerves to deter him from his nefarious intent, however chivalrous he might be usually.  And she knew she didn’t have the guts – or the acting ability – to try to pull off the idea that it might be anything more than that.  She’d never been able to get away with the smallest of lies; they were always written all over her face.  She couldn’t even manage a successful bluff in poker.

And she could just imagine what he’d come up with for a penalty if he thought she’d lied to him.  The mere thought had her shifting positions on the comfortable end of her bed even more so than she had before, as if he’d already blistered her bottom as he’d promised to when he’d given her the instructions that had brought her here.

Serena would never forget the look on his face.  It was firm and unwavering, just what she’d imagined as she’d glanced quickly up at him while trying not to as he lectured her about disobeying him.

He did have a point, she guessed.  She had broken a very cardinal rule.  It was even one of her own rules for herself.  She hadn’t meant to, but she’d slipped.  It was pretty much the only one he’d set for her, so far, and he’d only created the rule a couple of days ago, and they hadn’t even been together since then.  She sighed.  Trust her to royally screw things up in record time.

Unfortunately, they’d been interrupted mid-lecture, and due to a scheduling conflict in the remodeling of his house, he’d had to send her right to where she’d expressly chosen not to have the punishment delivered.

Now her bedroom, which had always been her sanctuary, in all its girly glory, was beginning to more closely resemble a prison.  The walls were starting to close in on her, she was sure of it.  Her bottom was tingling, her tummy was doing the mambo, and Serena was certain that, any minute now, the beautiful, antique wooden hairbrush she’d used for years was going to go into business for itself and come gunning for her.

At least she’d be sitting on the target if that happened, she thought with a self satisfied grin.

But of course nervous energy had her popping up a second later.  So much for being safe from rogue improvised implements.  She turned on her iPod and cranked the volume to a reasonable degree, and the dulcet strains of Buckcherry’s lead singer, Josh Todd stumbling through “Too Drunk to Fuck” began to pound through a set of speakers on which she’d spent a reasonable amount of money.  Serena didn’t go out and drink or party much.  Okay, at all.  She didn’t smoke, or buy tons of clothes or shoes or purses.  Hell, she bribed her mechanic with a large plate of brownies every year so that her car always passed inspection. 

But she’d shelled out for a real iPod and a good system on which to play it, because she liked to sing into that wooden hairbrush, which was exactly what she did now, knowing it would solve two problems:  it would calm her nerves, and she would know exactly where that hair brush was at all times.

She knew every obscene, drug and alcohol related word to this song, just like she did to every other in her several thousand song library, and drew every breath in time with old Josh.  It was her incredible misfortune that Wolf stalked into the room just as she was singing, “I’m too drunk to fuck.”  She saw him out of the corner of her eye and turned around, ending up singing the line at him as if she was explaining to him why she wasn’t going to have sex with him at that particular moment.

Serena didn’t need any special ability to see what he was thinking.  He already wasn’t happy with her for reading him when he’d expressly told her he didn’t want her to do that, but he apparently wasn’t any too big a fan of foul language, either.  Come to think of it, Sean had mentioned he was a bit of a throwback.

Wolf was incensed.  Much more than he knew he had a right to be, and that had him surprised, and a bit worried.  Some of it was the hassle of the day, the ruined plans, and the fact that he knew that things weren’t working out exactly as either of them had really wanted them to. 

But there was also the small matter of the fact that he’d never reacted to any woman the way he was reacting to Serena Rose White, and he didn’t much like it, truth be told, not that he seemed to have any ability to control those strong emotions, which just made him that much more pissed off at having them.

Originally, he’d been able to tell himself that he’d only allowed Sean to prod him into a date with his sister just to get him to shut up about it, or at least, instead of the truth of the matter, which was that he was incredibly intrigued by her, tormented nightly by lascivious dreams of her, and that he was halfway to in love with her.  He could deal with the first two, but the last item – no matter its veracity – was the last thing he wanted to own up to. 

And the bare truth was that Sean was annoyingly relentless about wanting him to get together with his sister, and it was either that or beat the crap out of him, and truth be told, he liked him too much to do that . . . usually.  What was it about the Whites that incited such over the top responses in him, when he’d always prided himself on his calm, careful, unemotional level headed approach to everything?  Hell, sometimes his ability to remain detached had damned near saved his life, but when confronted with Sean or his distinctly unsettling sister, he seemed to be completely at sea, which was a situation in which he rarely found himself.

Maybe he was just getting too damned old, and his somewhat less than recreational activities were finally getting to him.  Good thing he’d decided to retire anyway.  That’s how he’d ended up in Hidden Cove, Maine.  He’d told his boss he’d had enough of getting shot at, turned in his badge and his gun – well, one of them anyway, the one they’d given him when they’d first recruited him – and walked away.  McCallum – who was just as composed and dead calm as he’d’ve sworn he was himself at that point – immediately began calmly listing the reasons he shouldn’t leave in that deadpan voice of his, even as Wolf closed the door behind him with a decisive thud.

He’d bought a house in Maine, sight unseen, right on the water, with a ton of land around it, well north of any kind of real civilization, in a know nothing, do nothing, see nothing town called Hidden Cove, because he hated cities and wanted to live where no one would bother him, and New Englanders were famous for leaving their neighbors be. 

Apparently, though, no one had told Sean about that trait.

The house was perfect for him, except that the realtor had failed to mention that, although it was structurally sound, there were a million small things around the place that wanted fixing, and, although Wolf was fully capable of tackling all of them in his own time, he preferred the idea of getting them all done as soon as possible, and with as little fuss and disruption to his life as could be managed.  He could have hired a whole crew of help – hell, he had enough money that he could have flown the best of the best up from Boston, if he wanted to - and had the place fairly crawling with them, but that would have only served to have made him nervous about having that many people wandering around his land. 

In general, he didn’t much like people, and hordes of them just made him nervous.  Nervous was definitely not his best state.

So instead, he settled for hiring a local handyman, and that turned out to be Sean, whom he liked on sight, despite the fact that the man never shut up.  He was pleasant and certainly did know what he was about.  He didn’t dawdle or pad his bill, which some people, upon seeing someone from away and automatically calculating the size of their bank account to be astronomical, would do without batting and eyelash. 

Wolf tagged along after him for the first day or so, just to make sure he was getting his money’s worth, even though it was damned near torture – the questions, the comments, the incessant patter.

And the prying.

He could take Sean talking about himself.  Apparently he’d lived her all his life, his parents were dead, and he had a younger sister he kept a weather eye out for.  She was special.

Wolf nodded as he watched Sean work on the eaves.  He got it.  His sister road the short bus.

“Yeah, she’s really pretty.  She looks just like Mom and Gram did in their pictures from when they were young.  I mean almost exactly – it’s eerie!  You should meet her!  You’d like her.”

Wolf did his best not to look appalled that this guy was trying to set up his retarded sister, especially with a guy like himself – not that Sean had had much of a chance to get to know him yet.  Maybe she was really high functioning.  In any case, he was not up here looking for love, and had less than no interest in being setup, so he begged off as politely as he could.

Eventually, though, the conversation always managed to get around to him, and he wasn’t much of a fan of talking about himself, either.  Wolf’s former occupation would quickly cure most people – most people who wanted to remain alive, that is – of doing that.  “What did you do before you came up here?”

“I worked.”

Sean chuckled.  ‘Yeah, but at what?”

“My job.”

That got him a one eyed look.  “What?  Were you a spy or something?”

Wolf snorted.  “Nothing that glamorous,” he replied, and he meant it.  There was absolutely nothing enticing about dragging yourself – half starved, soaked through with sweat - through the sand or desert heat with I.E.Ds everywhere to the left of you and pissed off natives shooting at you from the right.  “Just an aide to a diplomat.”

The Diplomat was what he’d called his favorite gun.

Sean frowned down at him.  This man didn’t look like the type to be anyone’s aide.  In fact, he’d been surprised when he’d first met him at the door.  He seemed more than knowledgeable and capable enough to do the jobs himself that was giving to him, and Sean had to wonder why he was spending the money to hire him to do it, not that his business couldn’t use the money, especially considering everyone else seemed to have magically become handymen in today’s economy.  Sometimes you couldn’t tell what people from away were going to do.  Lots of the time, he corrected himself.

It didn’t surprise him, then, when, the next day, Wolf had his own ladder and set of tools, and began to work beside Sean, rather than just stare up at him, which had given him the willies by the end of the day.  That man’s stare seemed to bore right through you.

It was almost as bad as his sister’s, but not quite.  His didn’t carry quite the knowledge behind it that he knew his sister’s did, although he supposed it carried its own kind of knowledge, since he bet there wasn’t much that got by Wolf Santos.  Perhaps that was the difference, although he did get the sense that Wolf backed his own up in a different, more physical way.

At least, he didn’t think that the big man’s stare had the connotation that Serena’s did.  He doubted it anyway.  No one was quite like Serena, at least not since Mom died.  He doubted there was another person on Earth like Serena.

They worked together, side by side, putting the house to rights.  It was a reasonably big New Englander, with some nice Victorian touches, that had been unoccupied just long enough that it had started to get run down, and Sean had been glad to realize that Wolf was willing to expend enough time, money and effort to restore it to its former glory instead of buying it and turning it into apartments, which was unfortunately what tended to happen to a lot of older, bigger houses because few people could afford to head them as single family homes.  When they were through with it, it was going to look damned fine.

Usually, he stopped by Serena’s on his way out to whatever job in the morning and grabbed whatever she’d made for him for lunch.  She liked taking care of him like that, just like Mom would have if she was still around.  Serena loved to cook, and since she was self employed – she made jewelry and sold paintings at several galleries down south in the more touristy areas and made a reasonable living at it – she had the time to do it.  Like a lot of tourist based businesses, she made enough in the summer to support herself year round, as long as she was frugal, although her sales were building nicely every year.

He’d forgot his lunch one day, and she brought it by where she knew he was working, arriving on Wolf’s door in paint spattered overalls that were two sizes too big and a t shirt that was three sizes too small, her hair covered by an equally abstractly decorated kerchief, her face smudged in several places with various shades of iris blue and pink dahlia.

Serena didn’t know what it was, but she had begun feeling more and more uneasy – nervous, edgy and, to her complete mortification, sexually charged – ever since she’d taken the turn off the road that lead to this house.  The closer she got to it, the more her skin tingled, and what was weirdest was that it was the skin on her bottom, as well as the area between her legs that seemed to be vibrating the most.

But it wasn’t just that.  Her head was abuzz, too.  Not that she wasn’t used to that, to a certain extent.  One of her particular talents lent itself to a certain amount of inherent background noise, but she’d long since learned to filter it out, or she would have become even crazier than she already was.

But this was different from anything she’d ever felt before.  Alarming, but not really scary, if that was really possible.

As if Gram herself had sent it to ease her confusion, a conversation they had had when she was fifteen or so, about how she’d know the man for her, drifted into her head.  Gram, who had roughly the same ability that Serena had in that area, had said, matter of factly, “Why, you’ll feel it in your head, of course,” as if that was all that would ever need to be said on the subject.

The closer she got to the house, the harder it got to block out the powerful feelings that were literally being blasted into her head, the first and foremost of which was extremely sexual..  What was much worse, though, was that she literally felt as if someone – and she didn’t know who yet – was actually cupping her at her most private point, as if she was literally sitting on a big, broad male hand that wasn’t politely keeping its fingers to itself, either!

She reached the house by sheer determination, and sat in the car for a long moment, legs clenched together against an invisible marauder, until she called on all of her not inconsiderable mental capabilities to drive whatever it was back and got out of the car.

But she couldn’t control the way her heart began to slam against her ribcage more and more violently with each step she took, as if she was the expendable girl in a slasher film walking up the rickety steps to a long abandoned mansion.  Serena felt weak, as if her legs were going to collapse out from under her at the same time her heart was going to explode in her chest from excitement and nerves.

She didn’t even get a chance to knock.  Her arm was raised, hand poised, but he opened the door precipitously and stared down at her from his considerable and imposing height.

Her eyes collided with his, and Serena felt as if he’d drawn back that impressively muscular arm not to open the door but to drive his huge fist into her face.  She had to fight not to stagger back down the steps, but she knew that would make her look like she’d been drinking at ten thirty in the morning.  Despite the seething waves of sexuality, tinged with outright hostility, she could feel emanating from him; she knew she was in the right place.  She could see her brother’s truck in the driveway.  His slogan was painted on the side in big red letters:   “Make sure you call the White handyman every time” along with his phone number.

Sean loved atrocious puns.

“May I help you?”  His tone – as well as the look on his face - let her know in no uncertain terms that helping her was the last thing he wanted to do.  His voice was thick and low and had a gravelly content that made him sound like an angry bear.

 

This man might as well have been screaming at her that he wanted her to go away.  Now.  Yesterday.  He wanted never to have laid eyes on her, and yet here she was.  Disturbing him, against his will.  It had been a long time since she’d felt so much animosity emanating so baldly from anyone.  She thought she’d gotten better at blocking it.

Not with him, apparently.

And yet everything within her recognized him as the source of the disturbances within her.  Now that she was within his presence, her entire body was literally vibrating, so much so that she really didn’t even trust her own voice.  It was all she could do to simply stand there and hold out Sean’s lunch in front of her like some sort of mute idiot.  She knew she was only making herself more of a spectacle in doing so, but it was the best she could manage.  She was just barely holding herself together, and all she could hope for was that he would take it from her and she could run back to her car.

But Serena did manage to gather what strength she could around her and stand her ground, refusing to give in to him and whatever mysterious power it was that he had over her.  After all, he didn’t even know her.  But she did allow herself a bit of a reprieve and kept her eyes well away from his, concentrating instead on the fake iron scrollwork on the bottom of obviously brand new screen door, practically tucking her head into her own armpit to shield herself from him.

Dork central, in other words.

Reluctance in his every movement, Wolf unlatched then opened the door, stepping aside so that she could pass by him and into the house, plastering himself against the inside door so nothing about them would touch, as if she had cooties or something.

Serena was beginning to feel a bit lightheaded, and that was not a good thing.  She had to get out of here.  She hadn’t had this much of a problem with control in a very long time, but this man – he was blowing her right out of the water.

“What are you doin’ here, Brat?” Sean asked, coming from somewhere in the bowels of the house to give her a big hug.  He could tell by the stiffness of her posture, though, that things were not all right.  And Serena was doing everything she could not too look at Wolf.  She had pulled in on herself, was standing there in the middle of the kitchen, hugging herself and nearly rocking, as if she was going to become catatonic any moment.

Sean had seen her become that way one other time, when they’d lost Mom, and it was not good.

Whereas Wolf seemed to be having the exact opposite reaction to Serena - he couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off her.  No matter how hard he tried to look elsewhere, his eyes came back to her small, hunched figure as if he had no control over them whatsoever.

What’s more, he felt some sort of odd tingling in the back of his head, as if he’d had too much something – just too much.  Or there was someone or something buzzing around in his head, like a big TV constantly tuned into a channel that just played static.

And that did not make him happy.

Serena pushed the bag containing Sean’s lunch into his hands and bolted for the door, not stopping until she was in the relative safety of her truck, then, quickly, out onto the road, not feeling truly safe even days later, just knowing that there was a man in existence who could so unsettle her.

“What the hell was that?” Wolf asked, rubbing the back of his head absently and noticing that the annoying buzzing was finally gone.  Then he remembered what Sean had said about his sister, wishing he could retract his question.  She was special.  He frowned.  Apparently she was high functioning enough to drive a car though.  That was good.  .  . wasn’t it?

There was no way to explain it that wouldn’t make him – and Serena – sound absolutely crazy.  “She’s – sometimes she –“

“No need to explain,” he said gruffly, wishing he hadn’t brought it up.

Sean sighed thankfully, glad that Wolf seemed to understand, even if he couldn’t possibly.  “Well, now we have two lunches.  Serena cooks like a dream.”  He opened the big bag his sister had brought, practically diving into it to see what goodies it contained.

Wolf nodded.  “Sometimes they have special abilities like that.”

His head snapped up.  Special abilities?  What could he know about that?

He calmed considerably, though, when Wolf asked, “What’d she bring?  We’ll add it to the sandwiches and chips we already have.”

After an exceptional lunch that consisted mostly of the food his sister had brought, since homemade chicken salad with celery, fresh cukes just out of the garden, garlic, and toasted almonds all on homemade oatmeal bread beat the socks off Oscar Meyer lunch meat sandwiches any day, they went back to work, but Wolf found his mind wandering annoyingly back to his encounter with Serena.  And he couldn’t seem to keep it from returning there multiple times, even when he’d dragged it back to the scraping of paint that was at hand.

It wasn’t so much just the thinking about her that bothered him.  If he’d been thinking of ways to help Sean and or Serena, that would have been fine.  But, instead, he’d not been thinking correctly about her at all, especially considering her impediments.  He’d been picturing her in his mind without the overgrown overalls and the lopsided kerchief.  He’d seen that waterfall of golden hair it covered, spilling out of the back of it as she’d practically sprinted out of his house and pictured it instead fanned out beneath her on his bed as he drove into her.

He’d seen her bottom, too, as she’d run away from him as fast as she could, like Thumper fleeing Shere Kahn.

Smart rabbit.

Would you like to read more? This is currently a "serialized" story on Bethany's Woodshed, updated every 6-8 weeks until completed.  Click HERE to Join and you'll be reading more within minutes.