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If I threw money at fights—and unless I’m in them, I don’t—I’d bet a lioness would beat an ogre. Don’t misunderstand, Chief Uzegar is no lightweight, but against a full-grown lioness with her claws out…
The lioness showed up a few minutes ago outside my office building, yowling for half the shifters of Matawon to hear. Of course, the police station is just across the street and the chief is a hands-on fella. So five stories below my window, there’s an ogre brandishing a cudgel, two humans holding a blanket like a shield, and a lioness coated in blood. Her back is shredded, but Uzegar didn’t do that kind of damage. If she doesn’t back down or attack, she’s going to bleed to death.
I raise my window to get her attention. When she looks, the humans get the blanket over her and force her transformation. Uzegar body-slams her changed form, though on two legs she’s still big enough to cause trouble. He gets his big green arm around her throat and she goes down.
“I need help, you bastard!” the lioness shouts.
Shit, she’s only a teenager. Can’t be more than fifteen.
What does a shifter lioness need protection from? I guess her witch, but a witch isn’t going to leave blood like that. Not even on a run-away familiar.
“Why the hell—” Uzegar stops himself from yelling at a kid. “We were understandably afraid, miss. We’ll get you medical attention. Who attacked you?”
The ogre looks up at my window. “How many?”
“There’s a pack of them … eight or nine. They’ve got all the shifters in Down-City afraid for their lives. The smaller ones they beat. The strong ones … they kill. They make us run their drugs… Sell our time.”
What kind of sicko is buyin’ a teenager’s time? I guess the kind that wants to whip her back until she’s a bloody mess. Hope he got what he paid for and she gutted him.
Uzegar helps the kid to her feet. “Come on. Let’s get you inside. Have a witch heal—”
“No witches!” The lioness jerks away from Uzegar’s hand. She staggers, turns her face upward. “Hey, you’re Truman Wolf, ain’t ya?”
I straighten a little in the window. “Yeah.”
“You’re only half with them.” She sneers and thumbs at Uzegar. The blanket slips. She’s about to turn lion again, except Uzegar takes her shoulders and steadies her. “You gotta fix Down-City.”
She glares at the police. “That’s what you people are supposed to do, ain’t it? Fix the rotten places?”
“Let’s fix you up first, okay?” Uzegar turns her toward the station doors with all the daintiness an ogre with a cudgel can muster.
She flings him off like he’s a feather, and then turns to me. “The wolves mauled a swan and the police didn’t do nothing. The wolves put a lynx in the hospital and the police didn’t do nothing.”
I’ve never seen so much anger mixed with so much frailty as in this kid.
“A couple months ago, the ravens asked me to get outside help. They said, oh that Truman Wolf tracked down at a missing bear cub. Maybe he can help.”
The lioness pauses—blood loss or shame. “But I told the ravens I didn’t have a problem. I didn’t need nothing to change, did I?”
She laughs, a dark disturbed sound. Chills my bones. “A lioness can protect herself, right?”
Uzegar catches her as she falls and he sinks with her to the pavement. He orders his men, “Get in there and bring Miss Denise out here. Make sure she brings her books.”
The lioness points up at me. “You fix Down-City, wolf. I got the scents you need. Left ’em by the dumpster.”
There’s a plastic bag flapping in the wind. “I’ll see ’em.”
She uses the last bit of her strength to roar at me. “You fix it, wolf.”
I nod and that calms her down. She passes out, and I guess that’s fine, ’cause that’s the only way the charity witch is going to get near her.
“These two and the alpha are the ones who attacked her.” Uzegar compares the contents of the plastic bags with the report Joyce-Lynn—that’s the lioness—gave. “The sleeve belongs to a dog named Staid.”
It’s a green and white scrap of flannel drenched in blood, but a wolf doesn’t go in for my line of work if he can’t stomach the scent of gore. Staid was terrified when Joyce got his sleeve. And though the best of dogs has a right to cower when a half-grown lioness bats at his head, the acrid salt scent of fear soaks through his clothes. Not a brave man, this Staid.
“Got him.” I put the cloth aside.
“Gus.” Uzegar chucks a black tank-top my way. “Joyce got the whole shirt because he launched at her as a wolf.”
“Bold fella.” I sniff then recoil from the noxious tang. “Stupid fella. This stinks of sky-seed. Must’ve been high as a god-damned moonbeam.”
The chief’s gray-green face breaks into a smirk. “I’ll check his record.”
“I’ll probably find him first.” Gus must’ve broken his nose to tolerate his own stink. “I got him. Not likely to forget him either. Do we have the alpha?”
“Lioness says he’s all over Down-City.” Uzegar reaches into his coat to bring out an evidence bag. “Had to wrestle this from her.”
“What is it?” Something sky-blue and blood-brown is inside the plastic.
“Scarf. She got help on her way out. Won’t tell us about it, but…” Uzegar scans his report. “Figure it’s a place to start.”
Joyce’s blood soaks one end of the scarf. Otherwise it’s soft and clean as I bring it to my nose and sniff. That may be the last sane thought I’ll ever have.
The scent strangles me with longing.
Fox. Cedar-rose cologne. Touch of magic. Notes of wine. Clean, deeply arousing fragrance. Not that I have a thing for foxes. Not that I would think twice about cedar-rose cologne—applied sparingly, just enough to mask the animal musk for humans—if I passed a shifter wearing it in the street. Except, if I passed this fox in the street, I’d have to haul him into the nearest dark place and fuck the shit out of him.
Uzegar doesn’t notice. “You done?”
“No.” I breathe deep at the scarf. I’m not giving this back. I need this smell. Need to hold it in my lungs until I can hold that fox. “It’s, uh, faint and … important. I need to keep the scarf.”
Uzegar shrugs. “There’s a history of wolf attacks below Tenth Street.”
I don’t care about wolf attacks. The lioness, her blood, and desperation, are a distant memory. My world has turned into the scent of a fox. He wore this scarf often. Days of his life are imprinted in the slippery silk.
Uzegar is still talking. What about?
“…sniff around Down-City. See if there’s anything to her story.”
My fox is effeminate, the type of man who wears women’s scarves. He needs my protection. Maybe he’s scared … alone. He’ll catch my scent. He’ll want me. He’ll trust me.
“Tru, you listening?”
“Uh…” My head swims and my eyes hurt from too much light. My cock throbs and I’m in awe Uzegar can’t hear my heart banging.
His eyes narrow. “You mad or something?”
Mad? Sure. Stark-raving mad. Wild-animal-who-shouldn’t-live-in-a-city mad. “No, I hear ya. I just need…”
To find and fuck this fox. Right now.
“Sniff around Down-City. Look for a protection racket. Got it?”
I jet across the street, slam the door to my room behind me, and pop open my trousers. My cock shoots out like it’s been suffocating. The open air makes the throbbing more painful so I wrap my fingers around the shaft to deal with my unreasonable lust.
I drape the scarf over my face, sip that remarkable scent. Cedar-rose, wine, fox. My own personal love poison.
My fox would be lithe, move like smoke. Hair red as sunrise. Pretty face. Small build. His scarf—this scarf before the blood—would trail after him, float as he darts.
I imagine him running across the street in the police station, the scarf a silken tail. He looks over his shoulder and smiles. We’re playing. Lean hips swerve, strong legs leap. He navigates over the desks, waste bins, and scrying pools. I barrel after him. There’s a trace of lust on the wind, stronger when he turns down the dead-end past evidence. He lets me catch him. His face angles down, red hair wild. His eyes—got to be green—lift with innocent longing. Unknowingly sensual, his hands caress the dusty brick behind him as I close in.
His fragile body flutters and melts under my strength. When he moans, his voice is a song. Lust overwhelms the cedar-rose cologne. He wants me with the same maddening desire. I’ll break his little body with sex, make him mine through raw force, spray all over his back and ass and claim him.
He’ll cling to me when I finish. I’ll take him across the street to my apartment where he’d live now because he belongs to me. I’ll fuck him until my lust is sated.
Then I’ll ask his name.
That’s all for now, folks. Hope you enjoyed Chapter One of “The Scarf”. Be sure to follow me so I can send you details about where to find Owned by the Alpha Manlove anthology (which is full of similar goodies by fantastic authors).