Coming of Age

Orithain and Rina

January 2004

"Anybody home?" Mike Lorimer called as he came through the front door of his parentsí home and the family bed and breakfast. He was just back into town from studying a proposed site for a new plant, and knowing that there wouldnít be anything to eat in his apartment, heíd come over in hopes of a meal.

"In the living room," Jen yelled back when she heard her brotherís voice, and the sixteen-year-old blonde grinned at her friend, knowing that Kelly had a huge crush on the younger of her two brothers.

"If you say a word, Iíll strangle you!" Kelly exclaimed, ignoring her best friendís laughter as she fluffed her hair and straightened her shirt. "Hi, Mike," she said brightly, giving him a smile as he walked in the living room and trying not to drool over the handsome redhead.

"Oh, hi, Kelly," Mike said, giving the teenager an absent smile as he leaned down to hug his sister. "Have a good day in school day today, you two?"

He dropped into a chair, legs extended and ankles crossed as he relaxed in comfort.

Jen rolled her eyes as Mike treated them like kids, but she left it to her friend to reply.

A devilish glint entering her eyes, Kelly glanced at Jen, then answered. "Yeah, we did, at least gossip wise. Did you know Stacy Pembrooke is pregnant? She wonít say who the father is eitherósupposedly itís some guy in his twenties."

"Pregnant?!?" Mike sat bolt upright, staring at the two girls. Heíd met Stacy, and he knew that she was the same age as his sister and Kelly. "But sheís just a kid!"

"A kid?" Kelly bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Címon, Mike, get real! Sixteen isnít Ďa kidí any more."

"But..." He slumped back into his seat, frowning. He knew that when heíd been sixteen, heíd been far from a kid. Hell, heíd graduated from high school the next year and gone to college. But they were just juniors. And Jen was his sister, and Kelly, well, Kelly had always been around too, just like another sister.

"But what?" Kelly demanded, getting up on her knees and looking at Mike across the coffee table. "Jen, is your brother telling us weíre kids?"

"Certainly sounds that way to me," Jen replied, amused. She had a feeling Mike wasnít going to know what hit him by the time Kelly was done with him.

"I used to babysit you, for crying out loud," Mike grumbled.

"And Jesse used to babysit you," Kelly shot back, resting her hands on her hips. "Does that mean youíre a kid too?"

"Jesse isnít nearly ten years older than I am!" Mike was starting to feel hunted.

The brunette gave a sharp laugh. "Ten years? I think you need to take some more math courses, Mike! Jesseís twenty-seven and youíre twenty-one, thatís six years. Youíre twenty-one, and weíre sixteen, thatís five years. Five, not ten, got it?"

"I think Iíll go get us all something to drink," Jen murmured, making her escape.

"Well?" Kelly demanded, staring at Mike mutinously and ignoring the way her stomach was doing flip-flops the same way it did whenever she was around him.

"Fine, fine, whatever. Youíre not kids... except when it comes to guys!" He growled at the idea of some of those teenage boys taking advantage of the girls.

"What?!" her voice shot up an octave. "What do you mean by that?"

"It means youíre still too young for... stuff," he finished awkwardly, totally unable to talk about sex with his baby sisterís friend.

Settling back down to the floor, Kelly crossed her arms on the coffee table and leaned forward, knowing the move emphasized her breasts. "Stuff? What kind of stuff?"

Casting a hunted look toward the door, Mike mumbled something incomprehensible.

"Sorry? What was that? Remember, my hearingís not as good as yours, so youíll have to speak a little louder." Kelly smiled sweetly.

"I wonder whatís taking Jen so long. Maybe I should go give her a hand," Mike said desperately, getting to his feet.

Tossing her hair back over her shoulder, Kelly settled back to the floor and picked up a magazine. "Chicken," she muttered under her breath.

Within inches of making his escape, Mike stopped in his tracks and swung around to glare at her. "What did you just call me?"

Kelly met his glare squarely. "I called you a chicken," she stated clearly. "You canít tell me you think I donít know about sex, so whatís your problem?"

"My problem is that youíre my sisterís best friend! And jail bait," he muttered, taking a long look at her for the first time in years and finally seeing her clearly.

Smiling broadly over the fact that maybe, just maybe Mike was seeing her as something other than a little girl, Kelly shook her head. "Nope, over sixteen and past the statutory part of things. As for being Jenís best friend, that doesnít make us related."

"Fine, if youíre so adult, how are you going to handle a guy, bigger and stronger than you, putting the moves on you?" he growled, deciding to call her bluff. Letting his gaze heat, not a difficult thing to do now that he was really looking at her, he stalked toward her, suddenly smoldering with sensuality.

Swallowing hard, Kelly stood, eyeing Mike challengingly. "Well, if heís a guy Iím interested in, I do this," she said, grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him in for a kiss before her nerves got the better of her.

A startled sound escaped Mike, and he started to pull away when he noticed how perfectly she fit in his arms and how very good she tasted. Instead, his arms curved around her, a hand curling over her derriere to pull her closer, letting her feel his burgeoning arousal as he took control of the kiss.

Realizing that kissing Mike was nothing like kissing any of the guys sheíd gone out with so far, Kelly trembled and relaxed against him, letting her lips fall open under his and giving a small moan as his fingers dug into her back and ass, pulling her closer against his very male body.

Mike drank in the tiny sound of passion, one hand rising to tangle in the long, dark hair and pull her head back so he could close his mouth on her throat, biting and sucking the fragile skin.

"Hey, guys, Mom and Dad are just pulling up outside and... oops!" Wide-eyed, Jen backed out of the room even more rapidly than sheíd entered, not sure if theyíd even noticed her presence.

Blushing furiously, Kelly squared her shoulders as she backed out of Mikeís arms, determined not to run away from thisówhatever this wasóand prove to him that she was the kid heíd called her. "Good thing it was you walking in here and not them, Jen," she laughed, shooting her friend a glance through the doorway that said theyíd talk about it later.

Cautiously coming back into the room, Jen had to smile at her brotherís stunned expression. "Not really, considering that Mom and Dad were already a thing when she was our age. Mom told me one time that she discovered puberty, shifting and Dad all at the same time," the blonde teenager giggled.

"And why is that relevant?" Rachel Lorimer herself asked, entering the room. "Hello, darling." She kissed the cheek of the son she hadnít seen in a couple of weeks.

"I need a good argument to get my dad to drop the Ďno being triggered until youíre eighteení rule," Kelly said quickly. "And hi, Mrs. Lorimer, Mr. Lorimer."

"And that would be why Mike looks like you hit him in the back of the head with a two by four?" Paul asked dryly, eyeing his younger son. "Give it up, son," he advised as he headed toward the kitchen with the groceries. "When a woman decides she wants you, just go with it. Itís a lot less painful."

"Paul!" Rolling her eyes, Rachel chased after her husband, trying not to laugh, and Jen followed, leaving Mike alone with Kelly again.

The redhead stared at the young woman silently at first, then sighed. "Okay, I guess I have to concede that youíre not a kid anymore."

Grinning triumphantly, Kelly looked up at him expectantly. "And?" she asked.

"And would you like to go out Friday night?" he sighed.

"Yes!" She launched herself at him and kissed him soundly again. "I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to strip down and parade around naked in front of you to get you to notice that I wasnít five years old any more!"

Arms loosely enfolding her, Mike smiled down. "Iíve noticed... but feel free to try that if you think I need any further lessons."

"Maybe after the third date," she laughed, snuggling closer and sighing happily. "I donít want you to think Iím easy."

"I donít think thereíll ever be any danger of that." He rested his cheek on the top of her head, then chuckled when Jen peered around the corner again.

"Hurray!" the blonde yelled, shooting her friend a thumbs up before disappearing again.

Kelly dissolved into giggles again at that, leaning into Mikeís chest and letting him support her, loving the feeling. "She says hurray now, but she owes me ten bucks."

"What? No, never mind, something tells me Iím better off not knowing." Mike shook his head and moved toward the door, keeping an arm around her waist. "We should join the others before someone else shows up in here."

"Like Jesse and his harem?" she laughed, slipping her arm around his waist as well.

"Well, at least now heíll stop snarling at me every time I so much as walk past Eva," Mike sighed. "Now I can hide behind you."

"And Iíll snarl at you if you walk past her and stare at her butt!"

"Geez, what is with everybody? Iím not some kind of sex maniac, you know. I donít have the slightest interest in Eva!"

Kelly arched her eyebrows and looked up at Mike incredulously while his parents and sister broke into laughter at his comment.

"What?" he demanded defensively, eyeing them warily. "Iím not!"

"Good." Kelly rose up on her toes and kissed his cheek. "That way I donít need to worry about Daddy getting out the shotgun when you come by to pick me up."

Mike winced. "He is so not going to be happy about this," he moaned, sinking into one of the kitchen chairs. How had he gone from blissful bachelor to claimed by a teenager with a protective daddy in the space of one afternoon?

Settling herself in Mikeís lap as if sheíd been sitting there for years, Kelly sighed. "No, but heíll deal with it. He likes you, you know."

"He liked me. Before I was dating his baby girl." He groaned, arms going around her loosely. "Iím much too young to die."

"Daddy wonít kill you, Mike," she promised. "Right, Mr. Lorimer? Youíll stop him."

"I think it would be best if you went over to talk to Rick before Friday night, Mike," Paul said dryly. "I really donít have time to attend a funeral."

ę Paul, Ľ Rachel sighed. "It wonít be that bad, Mike, youíll see. Aside from him telling you that heíll kill you if you touch Kelly before sheís forty." She grinned wickedly.

"Please donít joke about that, Mrs. L!" Kelly exclaimed. "He just might say it!"

"Having two daughters of my own, I can pretty much guarantee it," Paul said.

Mike sighed and eyed the girl in his lap. "You couldnít have left me blissfully thinking of you as a kid? It was much safer."

"But not as much fun, right?" she said hopefully, a bit of doubt beginning to creep into her expression.

"No, not as much fun." Indifferent to his watching family, he kissed her lightly. "Not nearly as much fun."

Relaxing once again, she smiled happily and snuggled closer in his lap. "Good. Now we just need to find Jen a boyfriend, and we can all double-date!"

Jen burst into laughter at the expression of sheer horror on her brotherís face. "Donít worry, bro. Iím even less eager to have you around on my dates," she chuckled, bringing a frown to his face.

"On second thought..." he started.

"Never mind, never mind!" Kelly laughed "I think Iíll be able to keep you busy on my own."

Forgetting about his sister for the moment, Mike smiled down at her. "I look forward to it. At least Iíll die happy when your father gets his hands on me."

Scowling, Kelly hit Mike on the shoulder. "You arenít going to die! Donít say that!"

"Donít tell me, tell your dad. Youíll have to protect me," he chuckled.

"Hmm, maybe heíll compromise if I agree to stop bugging him about getting triggered before Iím eighteen," she murmured, idly toying with the hair at the nape of Mikeís head as she spoke.

"Oh great, we have to wait two years before we can run together," Mike grumbled, having forgotten that quirk of Rickís. He didnít understand it since most full shifters changed for the first time around puberty, give or take a year or two.

"Itís only a year," she said defensively, pulling her hand from around his neck and crossing her arms defensively over her chest.

"Hey," he said gently, taking her hand back and holding it. "I wasnít sniping at you, sweetheart. I just want to be able to share everything with you now that Iíve finally noticed what was right under my nose."

Somewhat mollified, she twined her fingers with his, "I want to too, but if itís a choice between waiting another year to get to shift and not being able to see you, Iíll wait."

"Well, when you put it that way, I agree. But thatís something else Iíll have to talk to your father about. Might as well get it all over with at once. That way he only has to yell once." Mike groaned, resting his forehead against hers.

"This is so unfair!" she pouted. "Itís not like weíve even done anything!"

"And weíre not going to!" Mike rolled his eyes at the round of laughter that brought on from his family. "Not before I talk to Rick, at any rate. The last thing I need is for him to have a reason to attack me."

Keeping hold of Mikeís hand, Kelly hopped off his lap and tried to drag him to his feet. "Letís go talk to him and Mom, then!"

"Now?" Mike practically yelped before sighing. "I suppose thereís no sense waiting and letting myself blow it up in my mind." He got up and followed her to the door, reminding himself that Richard Meadows wasnít actually a homicidal maniac.

"Mom will help," Kelly promised, trying to reassure both of them. Mike was right, sneaking around wasnít an answer, but what if sheíd finally gotten his attention just to have her dad blow a gasket? "I walked over earlier; want to do that or drive?"

"My jeepís outside. We might as well take that. I might need to make a fast getaway," Mike tried to joke.

"Donít worry, itíll be fine," Rachel called after them, standing in the doorway with her husbandís arm around her waist.

"Iíll call you later, Jen," Kelly called back over her shoulder, feeling a little guilty over ditching her friend like that but too happy for it to upset her for long. "As for fast getaways, shifting might be faster. You can make a break for the woods if you need to."

"Yeah, but your dad can shift too. But a wolf canít outrun a jeep!" Mike smiled wryly as he walked her to the vehicle before going around and sliding into the driver seat.

"And Dad really doesnít want to be seen running down the streets of Superior that way."

"Whereas I donít give a shit if itíll save some body parts Iím rather fond of!"

"Especially before Iíve even gotten acquainted with them!"

Laughing, Mike leaned over to kiss her. "Okay, anyone who has the same sense of humor I do is meant for me. Even your father will have to see that."

Kelly flushed and half turned in the seat so that she could watch Mike as he drove. "Well, Iíve known you all my life, I guess it wore off on me is all. Itíll help that Dad likes you; he still talks about what a whiz you were in his class."

"I imagine his liking will decrease sharply when he realizes I want his daughter." Sighing, Mike pulled up in front of the Meadows home. "I wonder if I should leave the motor running?" he muttered before leaning over and kissing her hard. "That was for luck. Ready to face the music?"

She leaned over and took the keys out of the ignition, sticking them in the back pocket of her jeans, "Now Iím ready." Licking her lips and swearing she could taste Mikeís flavor on them, she took a deep breath and opened the jeepís door to get out. Once Mike came around to her side, she caught his hand and squeezed it tightly as they headed up to the door.

"Mom, Dad, Iím home."

Celia Meadows leaned out of the kitchen and smiled. "Hi, honey. Oh, hello, Mike. I didnít realize you were here."

"Hi, Celia," Mike replied with a strained smile, wondering how long it would take her to notice that they were holding hands. "Is Rick home?"

"Yes, heís in the study grading some papers; did you want to talk to him..." Her voice trailed off as she took in the fact that they were standing hand in hand. "Or do you want to talk to both of us?"

He met her eyes, a wry expression twisting his lips. "Both of you. But I think you already knew that." His hand tightened on Kellyís.

"Mom, we just wanted to make sure that you and Dad were okay with it, but I really - "

"You really like him, I know, Kelly. I think everyone in Superior knew that, well, except Mike himself."

"Knew what?" Richard Meadows asked, walking in from the study.

Mike closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. "That I was an idiot. But Iím not anymore, and I wanted you to know that Kelly and I are dating," he said in a rush.

"Dating? Just when did this start?"

"It hasnít yet, Daddy," Kelly said quickly. "Or, we want to, but we thought we should talk to you and Mom first because of, well..."

"The fact that heís not only out of high school, but out of college as well?"

"Rick, I seem to remember we were near the same ages when we met," Celia interjected quietly.

"And weíve known each other forever, Dad!"

"Or do you really think Iím less trustworthy than a teenage boy?" Mike put in wryly.

"Itís not about trust," Rick snapped.

"Then what is it about, Daddy?" Kelly asked, tightening her fingers around Mikeís.

Celia stepped up and rested a hand on her husbandís back. "You know your curfew, Kelly. We trust you, and we trust Mike. I hope you donít do anything to make us regret that."

Mike looked from one to the other. "Since weíre doing the hard stuff, thereís one more thing." He felt Kellyís fingers tighten on his so much they threatened to cut off his circulation. "Shifting."

"What about it?" Rick asked tightly.

"Kelly already knows she wants to be triggered. Sheís dating a shifteróand before you start on how young we are, Iíd remind you how young both you and my own parents found their mates and that like the wolves we are, we usually mate for life. We want to share that part of ourselves as well."

"I know you said eighteen, Daddy, but Iíll be seventeen in a month; does a year really make that much difference?"

He rested his head on his hand, and Celia stroked his back. "Give your father time to get used to this, honey," she said. "Heís trying."

Mike opened his mouth to say something, then changed his mind, not wanting to push the other man. Instead, he slid an arm around Kellyís waist, drawing her close as they waited for Rick to speak.

"After your birthday," Rick said heavily. "Iíll talk to the shaman and arrange things. You..." he lifted his head to look at them both. "Donít think Iíve forgotten how it is to be young and in love." He looked back at Celia and gave a tender smile. "Just donít rush things and be careful."

"Oh, Daddy!" Kelly let go of Mike and ran forward to hug first her father, then her mother. "Thank you!"

"Thank you, Rick," Mike repeated quietly. "If it helps, I really do love her. I just needed a kick in the pants to notice."

"Something the two of you have in common," Celia murmured before laughing as she was pulled into her husbandís lap.

Coming back to Mike, Kelly hugged him tight as well. "You do? Oh, wow! I mean, Iíve felt that way for a long time, but... I should have kissed you a long time ago!"

"No!" Mike looked horrified by the idea. "Sixteen going on seventeen is about as young as I really want to think about, thanks."

"God! I didnít mean at, like, twelve or anything!" she laughed, seeing his expression.

"Thank God!" Mike shuddered. "Your dad wouldnít have had to kill me; Iíd have done it myself!"

Deciding that sticking her tongue out at her new boyfriend would be a little childish, Kelly sighed and shook her head. "Curfewís at eleven on a school night, right, Dad?" she asked. At his nod, she continued, "Well, we have three hours, want to do something?"

Mike winced at the look Rick gave him when he heard the way Kelly phrased that. "Well, I missed dinner, so how Ďbout we go get something?"

"That sounds great! Oh, is it okay, Mom? Dad?"

Rick sighed, knowing this battle was well and truly lost. "Go ahead, but we want you home at eleven, and that isnít 11:01."

Mike made a show of checking his watch and comparing it to the clock, grinning. Seeing the look he was getting, he chuckled. "Just making sure. See ya in a couple hours." He drew Kelly toward the door, leaving his arm around her.

"Night!" she called, waiting until the door was shut between them and her parents to leap into Mikeís arms, kissing him happily. "They said yes!"

"I noticed," Mike murmured, drawing her into a deeper kiss. "But we really ought to get going before they come out here." He reached into her back pocket to retrieve his keys, taking his time.

"True." She couldnít help but squirm as he fished around in her pocket and grinned when she heard his quickly indrawn breath. "So, where are we going to eat?" she asked innocently, sliding back down to the ground. "Your place?"

"Thatís probably not a very good idea. I donít think weíd manage to pay much attention to eating." He swatted her lightly and urged her toward the jeep.

Spoil sport," she sighed, climbing back into the jeep and fastening her seat belt. "What about getting subs and going to eat in the gazebo in the park? Itís still cold enough there wonít be a lot of people out."

"Sounds good to me. And that way we wonít be tempted to take off too many clothes." He grinned at her, reaching over to cup her cheek.

Turning her head to kiss his palm, Kelly grinned. "Well, you could always shift and curl up around me to keep me warm. Iíve walked in on Mom and Dad a few times like that - talk about embarrassing!"

"Okay, I really did not need that mental image!" He shook his head, then started the jeep, deciding that if he didnít get something to eat soon, he was going to start chewing on the steering wheel.

Kelly giggled and leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?"

"Iíll tell you when Iím not driving and it wouldnít get us killed." Mike grinned at her quickly, heading for the drive-through. "But feel free to use your imagination."

She rolled her eyes upward. "Using my imagination is what Iíve been doing for four years!"

"Well, now you get to put some of it into practice." Mike reached over with one hand, stroking a finger along her breast.

The feel of her body tightening in response to Mikeís touch drew a small whimper from Kellyís throat, and all she could so was stare at him hungrily.

"See, imagination is a good thing. Now what do you want? To eat," he clarified when she continued to stare at him, gesturing at the speaker outside his window.

"Eat. Yeah, right." Shaking her head to clear it, she leaned over to read the menu board, purposely resting her hand high on Mikeís thigh. "A roast beef sub with oil, hot peppers, lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese," she finally answered.

Mike tensed, and it took him a moment before he could place their orders and pull up to wait their turn. "Tease," he rasped, his hand covering hers and, after looking at her searchingly, raising it to cover the bulge under his fly.

Kelly blinked and her eyes widened, but she didnít pull her hand back. Meeting Mikeís gaze challengingly, she swallowed hard. "Am not."

"Weíll see," he murmured, raising her hand to his mouth to kiss the palm. "But weíll discuss that later too." He pulled up to the window, paid, and took their subs, handing them over to Kelly. "Now to head for our chosen picnic spot."

Glad her hands were full of the bags because she wasnít sure what she would have done otherwise, Kelly nodded. "I hope you have a blanket or something in that mess back there."

"Considering that I just got back from a site evaluation, I have blankets, a sleeping bag, and a tent back there, among other things. Think thatíll keep you cozy, your highness?"

Now she did stick her tongue out at him. "I think youíll keep me warmer, but thoseíll be good to sit on.

"Brat. Better behave or I wonít let you sit in my lap," he teased, parking the jeep. Before she could get out, he leaned over, knowing her hands were occupied with the bags, and licked at her lips. "Mmm, my favorite appetizer."

"Your favorite dessert too, I hope," she answered, choosing to ignore the brat comment because she seriously doubted he wouldnít let her on his lap if she wanted to sit there.

Juggling the bags and the tray with their drinks, Kelly managed to get the jeep door open without spilling anything. "Iím fine here, donít bother to help," she laughed, knowing that Mike would have his hands full with the sleeping bag and blankets.

"Hey, equal rights, sweetheart," Mike chuckled. "You get to carry stuff too." He spread the sleeping bag flat to insulate them from the cold flooring of the gazebo, glad that the half walls and wind had kept it clear of snow, then sat down with a blanket over his shoulders and extended an arm in invitation to curl up beneath it with him.

"Was I complaining?" Kelly asked sweetly, huddling in her coat and getting under the blanket with Mike, sighing as she leaned up against his warm body. "When I get triggered, Iíll be warmer too, right?" she asked, reaching into the bag and pulling out their food.

"Yeah, not to mention having a built-in fur coat when you need it." He made sure the blanket was around her, knowing that she was more susceptible to cold than he was, at least for now. "Iíll just have to keep you warm. Damn." He grinned at her as he took his sub, glad heíd chosen a hot meatball sandwich. It was much too cold out for a cold meal.

"Hmmm, what excuse will I use after I get triggered?" Kelly asked, sliding an arm around Mikeís waist and hugging him tightly. "I canít believe it! I got you and Daddy to agree to let me do it all in one night!"

"I donít think any excuse will be necessary," he chuckled, holding her close and smiling into her excited face. "I like having you here." He brushed a kiss over her lips. "And next month, Iíll be able to take you out and we can run together," he promised.

She beamed a smile up at him. "I canít wait, but I meant what I said about being willing to wait if it was a choice. Iíve waited for you to notice me for too long to give this up."

"But we get both. Weíll just have to be careful when you decide youíre ready for more. Your fatheróand my own!--really would kill me if I got you pregnant when youíre this young. We wonít discuss how old my mom was," he added with a chuckle.

"Pregnant?" Kellyís eyes widened, and she looked horrified. "No way! I donít want a baby for a long time!" But even as she spoke, she couldnít help but wonder what a baby the two of them made would look like.

"Exactly my point. Someday I want kids, but only when weíre both ready. So we need to make sure we take precautions. Shifting does some weird things to hormones and all, but thatís why female shifters made sure they had something reliable." He hugged her, wishing they didnít need to talk about this, but it was important.

She nodded. "Yeah, I guess I need to go to the doctor." Needing something to do, she unwrapped their sandwiches and offered Mike his. "I guess I never thought about the specifics of things like that."

"Thanks." He looked away, then back at her. "I hope you didnít think I was trying to pressure you into anything there. I just want us to be prepared when you decide youíre ready." He reached for her hand, hoping he hadnít made a mess of things.

Laughing suddenly, Kelly tightened her fingers around his and kissed his cheek. "If that was the case, weíd be prepared right now!"

Mike blinked in surprise. "Um. Yes, well. I guess itís safe to say you didnít think I was pushing too hard then," he finally laughed. "But I think for your first time, a nice warm bed would be better, donít you?" Then he realized he was making quite an assumption there. "Uh, I mean for our first time together," he tried to cover.

"Well, I certainly didnít think it was your first time," she chuckled before ducking her head and taking a bite of her sandwich. "And it is mine," came out in a mumbled undertone.

"I didnít want to make any assumptions... since you so emphatically told me you were an adult earlier," he teased, trying to ignore the primal sense of pleasure at knowing that no one else had ever touched her the way he would.

"Since when does being a virgin have anything to do with being an adult?"

"It doesnít! I just meant... Never mind, there is absolutely nothing I can say thatís not going to get me into trouble," Mike sighed, then resolutely took a bite of his sub.

Kelly giggled at that. "Youíre smart; I like that in a man."

"I have a mom and an older sister as well as a younger one. I learned that there are just times you canít win with a woman and shouldnít even try. But at least with you, I have one advantage I didnít with them."

Knowing she probably shouldnít, Kelly asked anyway. "Whatís that?"

"This." Mike laid his sandwich down, cupped her chin in his palm to turn her head toward him, and kissed her.

This time taking the initiative and slipping her tongue into Mikeís mouth, Kelly sighed as she tasted the spicy sauce overlaying his own flavor. "Damn right youíd better not be kissing anyone else!"

Laughing, Mike straightened up. "You canít be jealous of my mother and sisters!"

"What about your brotherís cat?"

"My brother would rip my throat out if he thought I was so much as looking at Eva," Mike laughed. "I only pretend to to bug him."

"Good." Looking quite content, Kelly leaned against Mikeís side and ate her sub.

"Nut." Finished eating before she was doneóhe hadnít eaten since breakfast, after allóhe tidied away his trash and simply watched her, marveling at how he could have been so blind.

Looking at him over her sandwich, Kelly frowned. "What?" she finally asked, wondering if she had lettuce on her nose or something else just as horrible to consider.

"Youíre beautiful." He reached up and pushed her hair back, smiling gently.

"Glad you finally noticed," she said, smiling but blushing a bit. "Iíve only been waiting four years to hear you say that."

"FouróI donít want to think about it!" He shook his head emphatically. "Precocious, werenít you?"

"What?" she laughed. "I was almost thirteen; what girl isnít crazy about her friendsí brothers at that age? I just stayed that way." She took a final bite of her sandwich and set it aside. "Want the rest?"

"Thatís not what I want right now," Mike replied, shifting so that he was kneeling facing her, his legs straddling hers, the blanket cocooning them in warmth and giving them a semblance of privacy.

Resting her hands on Mikeís thighs, Kelly looked up at him and licked her lips without thinking. "Time for dessert?" she asked quietly.

"Oh yeah." He slid his arms around her, drawing her close, knowing she would be able to feel his burgeoning arousal as their groins pressed together. "So sweet," he whispered an instant before his mouth covered hers, his tongue licking along her lips, seeking entrance.

Shivering from his touch and not the cold, Kelly nodded as much as their position allowed and opened her mouth as her hands crept around Mikeís back, kneading his flesh through his shirt and jacket.

Mikeís hands slid up beneath her sweater, fingertips tracing the path of her spine ever upward, and when he was stopped by her bra, he unfastened it, pulling back from the kiss to watch her eyes. Seeing nervousness but so far no fear, he let his hands glide forward over her ribs and come to rest with his thumbs just nudging the underside of her breasts.

Copying his motions, she moved her hands under his shirt, grazing her fingertips over the warm skin of his back before tracing them around to his flat stomach and the ridges of his ribs before moving even higher and ghosting her fingers over the soft skin of his nipples.

Mikeís eyes grew dark with rising passion, but he reminded himself of her inexperience and took a deep breath before following her lead. His hands slid around to her front, now cupping her breasts fully after nudging the loosened bra out of the way, and he rubbed his thumbs just below her nipples, occasionally grazing the hardening buds.

"Mike..." she breathed, getting her knees under her and rising up to meet the pressure of his hands as well as to get closer to his mouth. "You donít think that Iíve never been felt up before, do you?"

"How should I know?" Mike laughed, kissing her lightly and ignoring her sound of frustration as he pulled away again. A moment later she was making a very different sound when he pushed her sweater up and his mouth latched on to one hardened nipple, suckling hard.

Biting her lower lip to keep from whimpering in pleasure, Kelly arched her back and collapsed back onto the sleeping bag, bringing Mike down with her. "Love you. So good, always thought it would be," she whispered, threading her hands through his hair and pulling him closer, not caring that they were out in a public place.

Switching to the other breast, Mike kept her warm while one hand moved downward and unfastened her jeans, then slid inside to cup her through her panties. Again, he moved slowly, not wanting to scare her.

"Mike... want to feel you, too," she gasped, trying to work one hand between them to tug at the buttons to his jeans.

Mike shifted up onto his knees, putting some space between them so she could unfasten his jeans, then lay down again, rubbing his erection against her though the thin barrier of her underwear.

"How do you feel about oral sex?" he whispered, nipping at her breasts.

"Umm... good?" she answered, trying to grin though thinking was getting harder and harder because all she wanted to do was to tear at the remaining layers of cloth between them and get rid of them.

Not bothering with any more words, Mike yanked his jeans and briefs down to his knees and twisted around so that his groin was above her. Pausing to give her a moment to adjust, he pushed her jeans and panties down as well, then bit gently at her inner thigh. "You smell so good," he rasped.

Taking a shaky breath, she reached out and stroked a hand over his erection, feeling the contrast of hot, smooth skin with the hard flesh beneath it. "I canít wait to smell you the way you can smell me," she whispered, drawing her fingers lower, to cup and weigh his balls, feeling the crinkle of coarse red hair against her palm.

"To feel you, to taste you everywhere." Leaning in, she wet her lips and flicked her tongue over the head of his shaft, gasping in delight at the flavor that exploded over her tongue.

Mike gasped as well, back arching and hips thrusting abortively as he fought his urge to bury his cock in her wet heat. "Oh Kelly," he moaned, head lowering between her thighs as he took a long lick from the top of her mound all the way to her anus, tasting her eagerly and groaning with pleasure at the slick wetness.

"Not fair," she gasped, her hips twisting up, trying to follow Mikeís tongue as tremors ran through her body. "Donít want to wait. Iím tired of waiting." This said, she licked at Mikeís cock again, then, emboldened by his groan, closed her lips around the head, sucking at him experimentally.

Mikeís fingerís tightened on her thighs before he made himself loosen his grip, not wanting to hurt her. He licked again, then lightly bit her clit, making her jump. When her words finally registered through the haze of lust, he raised his head. "If you mean what I think you do... well, Iím a twenty-one-year-old male. I have condoms in my wallet."

"Oh." Her voice faded away, and she felt some of the drug-like pleasure that had been coursing through her fade away. Yes, she wanted to make love with Mike, but out here? In the gazebo?

"Just offering. Iím very happy with what weíre doing now, although Iím trying to remember why we didnít go to my nice, warm apartment," he sighed, remembering that heíd been trying to be a gentleman. Being a lover was much more fun for both of them.

"Because you didnít trust us to," Kelly said, relaxing enough to give a small grin. "And considering what weíre doing right now, it was probably a good idea." She closed her eyes for a second, then looked at Mike again. "Itís not that I donít want to; I just want to be somewhere we donít have to worry about someone walking by want seeing us, you know."

"And we could still go to my place, but I donít want our first time to be rushed with us checking the clock to make sure we donít miss your curfew. So..." He lowered his head again and trailed his tongue along her slick folds, tasting her and slowly pressing inside.

"Uh huh," Kelly whispered, the word dissolving into a moan as she felt his tongue slide over her cleft and into her. Her hands were trembling as she stroked Mikeís erection again, and this time she licked her way lower along his length, taking a breath and smelling his scent in this most private of places.

Mike shivered, beyond being surprised by her but still a little startled that she was so daring sexually... and pleased. He slowly fucked her with his tongue, deciding not to chance using his fingers that night, not when they had so little time. He wanted to make her first time good for her. What she was doing gave him an idea, however, and he drew a finger though the wetness dripping from her, then rubbed the slicked digit over her anus.

She froze at the light pressure, trying to cover it by stroking his balls and nuzzling her way back up his cock to take him in her mouth once more.

Feeling her tension, Mike let his finger slide away. He groaned as she sucked on him, his hands falling to the sleeping bag beneath them and flexing as he fought to hold still, not to thrust into her mouth. Regaining some measure of control, he thrust his tongue in and out of her, one hand returning to her body so he could rub her clit.

Tension spiraled tighter within her, and Kelly recognized it for what it was. Whimpering lightly against Mikeís erection, she arched her hips closer to his mouth, searching for that final touch that would send her over the edge.

Feeling how close she was, Mike plunged his tongue deeper inside her and gently pinched her clit, knowing the added sensation should be enough to make her come.

Unable to concentrate on what she was trying to do for Mike because of the way he was making her feel, Kelly collapsed back onto the sleeping bag mewling and shaking as pleasure coursed through her, leaving her weak.

Once the final spasm had receded, Mike twisted around to kiss her hungrily, his hand curling around his cock and starting to jerk himself off, desperate to come.

"No, let me!" she demanded, covering his hand with hers and stroking his hot flesh, trying to gauge what felt best to him by the noises that he was making against her mouth and neck.

"Oh God!" Mike cried sharply, hips thrusting uncontrollably and spurts of hot fluid suddenly covering her hand.

Feeling a strange mix of wonder and pride, Kelly held Mike to her, listening to his breathing slow and even out. "I love you," she whispered, still stroking his slowly softening cock before bringing her fingers to her lips to find out what he tasted like.

"Love you too," he murmured, watching her, totally spent but feeling a surge of heat deep within his belly at the site of her licking his come from her hand.

She sighed happily and curled closer. "You taste good too."

"Glad you like it," Mike chuckled, holding her and drawing the blankets more tightly around them now that they were still. "How could I not have noticed you?" he murmured, stroking her hair.

"Because you were hung up on girls your age?" she offered, making it sound like it was the biggest sin in the world.

"Iím sure I was just waiting for you to grow up," he replied, not dumb enough to comment on that remark.

"Uh huh. And just when would you have considered me grown up?"

"As soon as you told me you were?"

Kelly hid her face against Mikeís shoulder as a fit of giggles overtook her. "So youíre saying itís my fault you waited so long to notice me?"

"Absolutely," Mike replied serenely, drawing her closer and suddenly tickling her ribs.

"Ahh! Mike! Donít!" she shrieked in laughter, trying to cover her mouth with her hands when she realized that anyone walking in the park could hear her as well. "Iím going to get you for that!"

"You already had me," Mike pointed out, grinning. "Feel like getting dressed and taking a walk? We still have some time."

"Promise to keep me warm?" she asked, unable to resist running her hands under his shirt and over his back a final time.

"Itíll be my pleasure. But I have to admit I wish it was summer so youíd be wearing fewer clothes. Iím looking forward to bikini season," he teased.

"If you ogle anyone else, Iím going to kick your butt!" Kelly threatened. "And speaking of clothes, I think weíve got some untangling to do with ours."

"I wonít even see anyone else," he vowed fervently, hand over his heart, grinning. "And you may need to untangle, but all I have to do is push my shirt down, pull my pants up, tuck, zip, and voila." He grinned again. "Arenít bras a bitch?"

Pushing him off her with a laugh, Kelly sat up and reached behind her and under her sweater to settle hers back into place. "Maybe, but Iíd rather deal with hooking a bra than catching my tender parts in my zipper!"

"Which is why man, in his infinite genius, invented underwear!" Mike laughed. "And it just takes a little caution when going commando."

Shaking her head, Kelly giggled and poked Mike in the chest. "Well, get your currently commando clad manhood off me so that we can finish getting dressed."

"No respect for a manís ego," he sighed, shaking his head as he righted his clothes and started gathering the debris of their meal to throw away.

"Oh, I respect your ego plenty," she laughed, setting her own clothing to rights and beginning to fold the blankets up, shivering a bit as the wind whipped into the gazebo. "After all, Iím looking forward to watching it in action."

"Why do I think you have designs on my virtue?" he gasped in mock horror, then grinned at her, pulling her close for a moment to warm her up.

"What virtue?" she murmured, snuggling close, her arms wrapped tightly around him.

"Good point." He felt her shiver and frowned, concerned. "Never mind the walk. Why donít we go back to my place where we can be warm for the next hour. I donít want you to catch pneumonia."

Kelly nodded, then chuckled softly and looked up at him. "Are you sure we should trust ourselves alone in your place for an hour?"

"Since we know we only have an hour, I think we can chance it," Mike chuckled. "And I really prefer you unfrozen, so weíd better get going. Youíre starting to turn blue."

"Okay, I wonít argue with you then." Pulling her coat tighter around her, Kelly reached for the blankets as Mike grabbed the sleeping bag, and they carried the gear back to his jeep. "Besides, itíll give me a chance to snoop around your place."

"Gee, what a shock. A nosy woman." Mike ducked the swat she aimed at him, laughing as he tossed the sleeping bag into the back of the jeep and heading for the driverís side, keeping the vehicle between them for the moment.

Climbing into the passenger seat, she tossed her hair back over her shoulder and laughed. "When we get there, do you want five minutes to go in and clean the place up? You know, hide the dirty magazines and the womenís lingerie that might be lying around?"

"Smart ass," Mike sighed. "Iíll have you know that Iím the very model of virtuousness. Pure as the driven snow."

Kelly couldnít help but giggle. "In New York City, maybe!"

"God, not there! I wouldnít want to let it get to me like it did to Traci," Mike muttered, not liking the cool mask his older sister had developed in the seven years since sheíd moved to New York to start a modeling career. "But the fact remains that you wonít find any of that stuff in my apartment. Unless youíd like to start leaving some?" he teased.

"Iíll bring some extras next time I come over. If I go home tonight without things, Dad might never let me out of the house again!"

Mike started to laugh. "And Iím sure his parental radar would figure it out some way. Better not bring the fatherly wrath down on our heads."

"Exactly," Kelly laughed, reaching out to rest her hand on his leg as he drove through the quiet streets, feeling a bone-deep need to touch him in some way. "And since heís being good about this, I donít want to do anything to set him off."

Mike nodded. "Yeah, Iíd prefer to maintain friendly relations... especially since Iím fairly sure he could tear me apart if he were so inclined." He smiled wryly. "Good thing youíre worth all this trouble."

"Iím glad you think so." She smiled and stretched up and over to kiss his cheek. "Iím sorry that I come with complications, I really am."

Mike pulled into the underground parking lot at his apartment and turned to face her once heíd parked. "Like I said, Kel, youíre worth it." He kissed her hungrily, tasting her, hands gliding up her sides.

Shivering at his touch again, Kelly nipped at the side of Mikeís neck and pulled back to look at him. "How long do we have?" she asked, grinning mischievously.

"Not as long as Iíd like but long enough to go up, relax for a while, and cuddle and talk."

"Thatís always nice too," she sighed, quickly getting out of the jeep before she wasnít going to be able to. "Am I going to get the twenty-five cent tour too?"

"If you want. Itís nothing special though," he warned, wondering if sheíd be disappointed.

Kelly frowned slightly at that. "Itís yours; that makes it pretty special to me."

Mike kissed her lightly as they waited for the elevator. "Thanks, love. Jen and Traci usually complain that it needs some decorative stuff, but I like it." He shrugged. "Itís comfortable."

"Comfortable is good." Kelly laughed quietly and nestled closer to Mikeís side. "Unless in this case comfortable means messy."

"Naw, my momís training took too well for that. Dusty probably since Iíve been away about a week, but thatís it. You donít have to worry about what you might find growing in the fridge or under the furniture," he teased, arm curled around her.

"Oh good." She hugged him close and followed him out of the elevator when the doors opened. "Less I have to do to get you fit to live with - eventually."

Mike glanced back at her but didnít deny that they would be living together. So far as he was concerned, heíd found his mate. Heíd wait as long as he had to... and be thankful that sheíd made him realize they were made for each other. "Does that mean I can expect to find little porcelain ballerinas showing up on my shelves?" he finally teased, fairly certain that their tastes would mesh and she would like the same spare decor he did, with lots of earth tones and native art.

"Porcelain baller - ugh, thatís sick!" Kelly laughed, smacking his rear for effect. "Maybe my cheerleading poms poms though..."

"Ooooo, kinky. Those go in the bedroom. You have a Catholic schoolgirl outfit too?" he asked, grinning at her expression and moving out of reach before she killed him.

"For you to wear, you jerk!" she giggled, waiting until he unlocked the door, then darting around him to check out his apartment. "Youíd look cute in a skirt."

"I think not!" Mike watched her with amusement as she peered around, occasionally picking something up to look at it more closely. "Want something hot to drink? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider?" he offered, coming up behind her to slide her coat off and hang it up.

"Cider sounds great," she answered, smiling back at him over her shoulder and continuing on her explorations. "I like your place; itís... you."

"Iím glad. I love native art, as you can see." He headed into the kitchen to make the drinks, leaving her to explore on her own. "Did you want any dessert?" he called. "Iím sure I have something here."

"I thought we had that already," she laughed, picking up and examining a carving of a wolf. "This is great! Is it local?"

"Great, a smart ass," he sighed, rejoining her while the cider heated. He slid his arms around her, leaning his chin on her shoulder while he looked over to see what had caught her attention. "Yeah, the guy who did that lives about an hour outside of town. He makes all kinds of carvings like that, each one unique, and heíll only sell a piece to you if he thinks youíre right for it."

"Itís beautiful," she murmured, stroking a finger over the finely detailed carving while leaning back into Mikeís hold. "Do you think I can go out there with you some time?"

"I was going to suggest it." He watched her caressing the figure, unconsciously sensual. "I canít wait to see what he chooses for you." He tightened his arms a bit, then let her go to go check on the cider.

Stroking the wolf one more time before setting it back on the shelf, Kelly turned to follow Mike back into the kitchen. "I hope he doesnít decide a duck or a rabbit would be good for me." She made a face.

Mike chuckled as he poured their drinks. "Iím pretty sure heíll give you a wolf, one as pretty as youíre going to be. Unless weíre all in for a big surprise when youíre triggered," he teased.

"What? You wouldnít want to be mated to a ferret or a fox?" Kelly laughed, walking into the kitchen and wrapping her arms around Mikeís waist, hugging him, but being careful of the hot drinks.

"I think youíd be very pretty as either," he chuckled, "but your family does seem to run to the wolves, like mine. Those just arenít something Iíd want to eat for anything but dinner," he teased. "Though you would look cute with big ears and a fluffy tail."

"Oh, very funny," she said, shaking her head and stepping around him to take one of the mugs. "Next thing I know, youíre going to be trying to dress me in one of those horrible Playboy bunny outfits."

"Hmmm." Mike eyed her musingly, then caught her hand when she tried to swat him, laughing. "Naw, I donít plan to share the sight of you with anyone, and I like you just the way you are."

She couldnít help but blush at his tone when he said that. "I like that idea, and donít be expecting me to share you with anyone either!"

"Wouldnít dream of it. Youíre all I want, Kel; it just took a good whack in the head to make me realize it." He looped his arms around her waist, drawing her close again so he could kiss the tip of her nose before releasing her and picking up his own mug.

"Hey," she laughed, "I didnít hit you; I just kissed you silly." Saying this, she walked backwards toward the sofa, curling up beside Mike when they were both seated on it.

"Well, it had about the same effect," Mike muttered, one arm automatically going around her shoulders. "Not that Iím complaining, you understand. You do realize that I want to marry you whenever youíre ready, donít you?"

"Of course," she answered, like it was a foregone conclusion, which, in a way, it was. "You do realize that will be once I graduate here, right? I want to go to college and everything, but I want to be with you more."

Mike chuckled. "Youíll be the only girl at the frat parties introducing her husband. But think of it this way, at least you wonít have to worry about what kind of roommate youíll end up with."

"Frat parties?" She made a face and drank some more of her cider. "Why would I want to go to frat parties when I have you to come home to!"

"Because theyíre fun and we still get to go home together afterward." He smiled down at her, a finger smoothing the wrinkles from her nose, and he realized that he was totally besotted with her and wouldnít change it if he could. "And I can watch all the guysí faces fall when they realize youíre taken."

"And Iíll have to beat the girls off you with a stick," she sighed, "then take you in a back room and remind you who you came with."

"Oh, I like the sound of that." Mike grinned at her. "So if I dance with another woman, youíre going to get all growly and possessive on me?"

Kelly frowned as she drank more of her cider. "If I wasnít so sure you were teasing me, Iíd get all growly and possessive on you right now!"

"I said dance, Kel, not anything else. Youíre the only one I want to make love to." He drank some of his own cider, smiling down at her. "My mate," he murmured, deep satisfaction in his voice.

Appeased, she rested her head against his shoulder and relaxed. "Damn right, and if you forget it, Iím going to buy you an identification bracelet with my name on it."

"We can get a matched pair... when we go to pick out your engagement ring." He raised her hand to his lips, kissing the finger that would soon be wearing his ring. "I want everyone to know youíre mine."

Turning her hand to stroke his lips, Kelly smiled. "Like everyone wonít know anyway, but I like that ideaóand I really am going to have to get you that bracelet for when you go on your site evaluations so those executives donít think youíre one of their perks!"

Mike started to laugh. "Not everyone thinks Iím as irresistible as you do, sweetheart, but I have no problem with being branded. I think I like this possessive side of you, my pretty wolf."

Kelly winced. "Branded? Ow! And dang right Iím going to be possessive; it took me long enough to get you." She paused, and looked up at him from under her eyelashes. "I canít wait to get triggered so I can run with you.

"Weíll do that, and Iíll teach you all about being a wolf, remind you of the other side of yourself. Weíll run and play and love, and Iíll be right there beside you."

She kissed him. "Sounds perfect." Glancing at her watch, she rested her head on his shoulder and sighed. "And I hate to say it, but Iíve got to get home. Itís 10:30, and I donít want to push 11:00."

Sighing, Mike agreed. "Yeah, though I have to say that Iím really looking forward to the weekend. A couple of hours is just a tease."

Sitting up, Kelly pulled him in for a kiss that left her breathless and smiling. "And weíll have to start Friday night right after school so we have plenty of time togetheróunless you have work?"

"Nope, once I write up the report on the site that I just finished checking, I have a few days off. Nothing scheduled till next Wednesday when I have a meeting with a potential client. So Iím all yours, sweetheart." He stood up, drawing her to her feet as well, wishing that he didnít have to take her home. "And Iím really looking forward to being able to spend the night together and wake up with you in my bed."

"Mmm, that sounds perfect," she murmured, giving him a hug. "I hope Daddy doesnít make us wait until I graduate for that."

"God, I never even thought about that. I was thinking of this weekend," Mike groaned. "I think I wish your parents were a little less concerned about you," he sighed, leading the way toward the door, then stopping to rummage in the drawer of the table in the entryway. Finding what he was looking for, he held out his hand, a key sitting in the center of his palm. "For you."

Kelly beamed a smile at him as she pulled out her keys and slipped the new one on the ring. "Maybe it wonít be that long," she said hopefully, losing some of her happy expression as she pulled on her jacket and followed Mike out into the hall. "We can always hope, right?"

"If necessary, Iíll get Mom and Dad to talk to your dad and see if they can convince him. Iíd rather not do that, but I will if I have to. I donít want to waste any of our time, sweetheart. Iíve already wasted enough not seeing what was right under my nose."

"Damn right," Kelly smiled, leaning up to kiss Mike for emphasis. "No more wasting time."

"God, Iím so nervous, Jen," Kelly whispered as she paced back and forth in the small room outside the open air shelter the mystics used for triggering. "What if it doesnít work? What if I just stay like this?"

Catching her arm on her next pass, Jen drew her to a halt. "Breathe, Kelly. Youíre not going to have any trouble. Your dadís a shifter, and you already proved that you have wolf in you by mating with Mike. You donít have anything to worry about."

The other teen gave a strained smile at that. "I know in my head; itís just my guts that are feeling a little queasy over it all."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, Mikeís been pacing around like a caged wolf all day and snapping at anyone who talks to him," Jen giggled. "I think heís more nervous today than the first time he shifted."

Kelly giggled at that. "So distract me until theyíre ready. How are things going with you and Jeremy?"

Jen blushed even as a huge smile blossomed on her face. "Amazing. Even if he refuses to get married till after I graduate, stubborn man!"

"Tell him no nookie until youíre married; that should make him cave."

"Hell no! That would torture me as much as him," Jen burst out then flushed even redder. "Uh, I mean... argh! Why is there never a hole in the ground to swallow you up when you need one?"

Kelly burst into laughter before clamping both her hands over her mouth to try to keep quiet. "Well? How is it?" she asked, momentarily forgetting the upcoming ceremony.

Jen grinned widely. "Even better than all the stories make it sound," she admitted. "Iím glad I waited for him. I love him so much, Kel."

The brunette gave her friend a tight hug. "Iím so happy for you, Jen, and I know how you feel. About the waiting, I mean, well, since Iím still sort of waiting. For today." Now it was her turn to blush.

Hugging her back, Jen smiled. "Itís going to be perfect, Kelly. Youíll be amazed how natural and easy it is. And then Iím sure Mike will hover over you like the overly protective mate he is and teach you everything you need to know."

Kelly snickered. "Well, itís not like we havenít done anything..." She trailed off, grinning. "And you mean he doesnít do that already?"

"Good point," Jen chuckled. "But heíll be even worse till you get your legs under you. It takes a little while to get used to having four legs instead of two, but at least youíll be a full grown wolf rather than a klutzy cub."

"Hey, there were times I would have given my left eye to be a klutzy cub with you, Micky and Mandy," Kelly sighed, before brightening again. "If I fall on my face, promise not to laugh at me?"

"Donít sweat it, Kel, we all did it. Mike couldnít get the hang of having a tail at first and kept banging it into things," Jen snickered. "And I managed to have all four paws go in opposite directions and did a belly flop. I think youíll be in good company."

"Iím just nervous that my dad will decide it means that I shouldnít have been triggered and get all freaky on me."

"Heís just being overprotective too. Besides, once youíre triggered, itís done, not like he can take it back or anything," Jen shrugged. "Itís going to be fine, really."

"Iím being really stupid about this, arenít I?" Kelly sighed, giving her friend a sheepish look that turned to one of almost sheer terror when the shaman knocked on the door to let them know they were ready.

"Itís perfectly normal," Jen said, walking to the door with her and hugging her hard before stepping back. "Youíre going to love it, Kelly, donít worry!"

Looking back over her shoulder and giving the blonde a wave, Kelly followed the pack shaman into another room and took a deep breath, knowing that when she left, sheíd be another person.

When Kelly followed the shaman, Jen stripped off her clothes and shifted, going out to join her family and Kellyís father, already in wolf form, as they all awaited their new pack mate. She nuzzled Mike, trying to comfort the nervously pacing ruddy timber wolf, then moved to join her own mate.

The shamanís words were a lulling backdrop in Kellyís mind, and she closed her eyes, drawing them in as she disrobed, strangely, not feeling self-conscious about stripping in front of the woman.

"Itís time, child. Find yourself."

Meeting the shamanís dark eyes for a moment, Kelly squared her shoulders, closed her eyes and reached inward, finding the wolf inside of her and setting it free. When she looked around again, she was closer to the ground, and trying to straighten up almost sent her face first into the dirt.

"Go meet your pack," the shaman smiled, pushing open the door to the shelter.

Gathering her feet under her, Kelly walked carefully outside, going first to her father, waiting somewhat tensely until he rubbed muzzles with her and yipped his approval. That done, she turned, seeking out Mikeís reddish form in the midst of the others.

Practically vibrating with eagerness, Mike was barely able to restrain himself until Kelly had greeted her father before dashing over to her, rubbing his muzzle along hers, then his entire body down one side of her and up the other so they ended up standing side by side. He threw his head back and howled his pleasure, delighted with the beautiful wolf who was his mate.

The others watched, yipping and howling their approval and welcome, then slowly parted, opening a path to the forest for the mated pair.

Darting a quick glance to where Jen was standing next to Jeremy, Kelly grinned as much as possible in her new form before butting her head against Mikeís, nipping behind his ear to get him moving. Praying her feet didnít get tangled together, she trotted at his side as they entered the woods, their strides lengthening until they were running through the trees.

Mike ran easily at Kellyís side, knowing that the others would be in the forest as well and would be easily found if they decided to join them a little later. But this first run was theirs, not to be shared with anyone else. Playing with their pack mates could come later. He could see how comfortably the she-wolf was loping along, and he wanted her now more than ever, tiny yips telling her so.

Slowing until they were walking once again, Kelly turned to look at her mate, finding Mike as handsome in this form as he was as a man. Wanting to show her appreciation, she nuzzled his face, rubbing his jowls and under his chin before leaning into his side.

Breathing a sigh of pure contentment, Mike easily absorbed her weight, his tongue coming out to flick over her whiskers in a kiss unique to shifters, laughter and happiness sparkling in his eyes.

Shivering at the slightly tickling sensation, Kelly wrinkled her nose and sneezed, shaking her head.

Mike came as close to laughter as was possible for a wolf, then backed up a step and turned so he could flick her with his tail before dancing away, clearly challenging her to get him.

Eyeing her mate closely, Kelly gathered herself and leapt at him, only to end up muzzle down in the leaves because sheíd lost her footing.

Mike took an anxious step toward her until he could see that she was fine, just still getting used to four feet, and he yipped at her, encouraging her to try again.

Growling at herself, Kelly stood and shook herself off, tested her footing, and leapt at Mike before she could think better of it.

Mike tumbled to the ground when she hit him, the pair of them rolling over and over across the grass and wildflowers. Finally scrambling to his feet, he nipped at her flank and bolted behind a tree, peeking around it at her.

Barking out a laugh, Kelly darted after him, finding that running was easier than jumping. They chased each other around the tree, then across the meadow, racing back and forth, first one chasing, then the other.

Mike finally led her to a stream where they quenched their thirst, then he shifted back to human form and sprawled on the soft grass of the bank, admiring her. "Having fun, love?"

Kelly changed as well, collapsing against Mikeís chest and curling up against his warm body. "Itís amazing, and the best part is that I can share it with you," she sighed, turning over to kiss him.

"The best part is that we can share everything now," Mike corrected gently, before hastily adding, "Within reason, that is. I know you still have your own friends and all. Iím not trying to do a Svangali on you. But that was amazing, Kelly. I love you so much."

"I love you too," she whispered, smiling down at him. "And I know; I donít think you want to be around when we all get into giggle fits or go on shopping runs, do you? And I know you need your own time tooówithin reason."

"I assume within reason does not include trips to the local strip club?" Mike teased, grinning up at her.

"Nope, you can only go to those if I come too."

"At which point your dad would kill me," Mike chuckled. "Good thing the only nude body I want to see is yours." He drew her closer, kissing her lightly.

"Is that all you want to do with my nude body? I can think of more fun things to do with yours." Kelly moved on top of Mike, kissing him deeply as she did so.

"Oh really?" Mike murmured. "That sounds interesting. How Ďbout you show me all these fun things?" he purred, hands stroking along her back as he arched his hips slightly beneath her.

"All of them? Iíll try." Laughing quietly, Kelly leaned in to kiss Mike again, her bare breasts brushing across his chest, the slight friction making her shiver.

"Sweetheart, if you keep that up, shifting isnít the only thing youíre going to be doing for the first time today," Mike warned breathlessly, his hands tightening on her hips.

"Then itís a day for a lot of firsts, isnít it?" she murmured, purposefully rubbing against his groin.

"You, my sweet little wolf bitch, are a tease," Mike murmured, moving so that his now heavy cock rubbed against her folds, his hands caressing her body.

Stilling, Kelly looked into Mikeís eyes seriously. "I told you, I donít tease," she husked.

"Sweetheart, you have no idea how much I want you, but I donít have any protection with me. No pockets in a wolf hide." Mike smiled painfully, wanting nothing more than to bury himself inside her and claim his mate fully.

She smirked. "Silly. I went to the doctor after we found out we were mated. Iím safe, Mike. No babies until we decide we want them."

"In that case..." Mike flipped them over suddenly, settling between her legs, most of his weight supported on his forearms. "Youíre mine, Kelly, all mine," he rasped an instant before his mouth claimed hers, his body moving against her to let her get accustomed to the feel of him.

"I always have been," she whispered against his mouth, tightening her arms around his back and sliding her legs up and around his hips, aligning their bodies better and moaning at the feel of him pressed against her.

"Yes," he rasped, rubbing against her once more before he raised his head to stare into her eyes as he positioned himself and pressed forward, the head of his cock just slipping inside her. "Forever, Kel," he whispered, gradually inching forward as her body stretched to accept him.

Biting her lower lip in anticipation of pain as Mike finally took her, Kelly then frowned up at him. "Drawing it out isnít going to make it any easier, you know."

Mike lowered his head to kiss her and at the same moment thrust forward, tearing through the fragile barrier and claiming her utterly. He groaned into her mouth as her tight heat closed around him, and he forced himself to still to allow her time for the pain to fade and to get used to him inside her.

A few tears gathered in the corners of Kellyís eyes, but she beamed a smile up at Mike, still holding him close to heróin her. "Youíre actually in me," she whispered. "Finally!"

Rather than replying verbally, Mike kissed her, trying to let it express everything he was feeling just then, and he slowly pulled back and then pushed inside her again, needing to move.

Moaning with pleasure as she arched up underneath her mate, Kelly dug her fingers into Mikeís back, pulling him as close as possible, each move they made sending shivers of pleasure through her.

"Love you, mine, love you," Mike whispered, slowly increasing his rhythm, groaning as she moved with him.

"Mike..." Kelly gasped, her eyes widening as her body tightened down on him and she came, the feeling somehow different than the sensations heíd brought about before with his tongue or fingers.

Feeling Kelly quiver around him sent a pulse of pure male lust straight to Mikeís groin, and he began to pound into her hard and fast, seeking his own pleasure now that sheíd come. "So good, love you, Kelly, all mine," he mumbled into her throat, biting and sucking at the fragile skin there, needing to mark her as his.

"Yes, always," she whispered, clinging tightly to him, wanting to feel him come as well.

Mike suddenly threw his head back and cried out, the sound an almost wolf-like howl even from his human throat, and he pressed deep inside her as he came. His hands reached for hers, fingers lacing together as they lay joined, both panting.

Finally recovering her ability to speak, Kelly nuzzled Mikeís cheek and smiled. "That was almost as fun as shifting," she teased.

"Just wait till we combine the two," Mike chuckled, raising his head to kiss her tenderly. "My mate," he said again, tone full of satisfaction.

"In all ways," She sighed, stroking his back with her free hand as they kissed again. "Finally."

"Your dad is still okay with us living together starting this summer, right?" he asked anxiously. He never wanted to let her go, and waiting longer than that to have the right to claim her fully and publicly might drive him to something drastic.

She winced. "I really hadnít brought it up to him... I didnít want him to freak and tell me I couldnít get triggered because of it or something. Iím sorry."

"Oh. Well, itís probably just as well. Itís something we should talk to him about together. And if he says no, Iíll just have to kidnap you and move to some Pacific island."

Kelly giggled at that before kissing Mike again. "And youíll feed me grapes and tropical drinks all day?"

"When Iím not feeding you me or vice versa," Mike grinned. "Weíll make love in a hammock and watch the sunset over the ocean every night."

"Mmm, sounds wonderful. Might get a little hot if we shifted though, and sand in all that fur - ugh!"

"Yuck! On second thought, a nice northern location might be better. Playing in the snow is fun, and we can keep our home warm for human form."

"That sounds even better. I canít wait to run some more with you," Kelly sighed. "Might just limp a little now."

Mike couldnít hold back a prideful smirk, try though he might. "Sorry," he offered, running a possessive hand along her side. "But now we can do that whenever we want."

"Did I ask you to apologize?" she asked archly, squirming, then sighing as she felt him slip out of her. "Iím not complaining one bit about this!"

"Glad to hear it since I have every intention of doing it as often as youíre willing!"

"That might be more than youíre able."

Mike laughed. "I think Iíve created a monster!"

Kelly smacked him on the shoulder. "Are you complaining, Michael Lorimer?"

"Only about my stupidity in not noticing you earlier."

She grinned at that. "Well, youíre allowed one stupid moment in your lifetime, but thatís it!"

"Going to keep me in line, are you? I can live with that since it means I get to keep you." Mike smiled back and pressed a kiss to the tip of her nose.

"Most definitely." The breeze kicked up, and Kelly shivered even though she was still mostly blanketed by Mikeís body. "Think weíd better head back or at least shift? Itís getting colder."

"Yeah, much as Iíd love to stay like this longer, Iíd prefer that we not turn into icicles." Mike reluctantly sat up, immediately drawing Kelly into his lap to keep her warm. "Do you want to run some more or head back home to a nice warm bath?"

She rested her head on his shoulder and nuzzled his throat. "How about a little running, then go home?"

"Sounds good. And then we can tell your parents that youíre coming home with me tonight and maybe talk about moving in together this summer. We belong to each other now, Kelly."

Kissing him again, Kelly stood and stretched, feeling a burst of feminine pride when Mikeís eyes darkened as he watched her. "Forever," she whispered, before reaching inside herself and shifting, darting up and licking Mike on the nose before dashing off into the woods.

END

  since 02-03-07

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