Saoi was a lone wolf.Humans seemed to think that was sexy. It implied independence and daring and all kinds of alluring things to them.That wasn’t the way the wolves saw it. His elders had taught him that a lone wolf was barely still a wolf. Without a mate, his pack, and the clan, a wolf would soon forget what it meant to be a wolf.To be a wolf was to be a creature of not just field and forest, but of kin and family. Each wolf was devoted to the others of his pack. Hunting together was a combination of different strengths and efforts, with some wolves tracking, some faster and hounding, and other, stronger wolves breaking bones and making the kill. A lone wolf could kill only the smallest and weakest of prey. A lone wolf usually went hungry. A pack could feed and then return to rest in warm groups of fur and body heat in dens that had been used for generations. A lone wolf huddled under brambles, subject to the whims of weather. A pack was full of play and games–affectionate nips, games of tag, wrestling and rolling around. It was a family with pups who squealed and climbed over everyone in the pack, making life feel lighter and warmer. In the pack, every scent had an origin and a name–the smell and taste and sight of every member was intimately known, immediately recognized.If tragedy struck and a wolf lost his pack–these days that usually meant to the guns of humans–then he sought out a new one. Either he joined an existing one, even if it meant a loss in status, or he found a mate and started a new one. Only when there was no other choice did a wolf remain alone. It was said that if a wolf was alone too long, he stopped being a wolf; that he lost his way, dying in spirit if not in the flesh.Saoi had done the unthinkable. He had left his pack. Not to find a mate, but to find an answer. The clans were dying. Each year packs grew smaller; the litters produced less pups and there was more strife among them. He’d left his own pack to save this race–to find a solution to the slow death of the Faewolves.
There were often times, though, when Saoi believed his elders were right. He ran all night in the dark woods that were bright with scents and sound, large paws digging into the earth at the thrill of chasing deer. He reveled in the pungent smell of blood, the feel of fur and flesh ripping under his teeth and the taste of fresh wild meat as he gulped it down. He sniffed and marked his boundaries with his own pungent scent. Saoi did everything he could to remember the things that made him a wolf. Yet, it wasn’t enough. Loneliness was eating him up inside, starving him as surely and slowly as a lack of meat. Sometimes when he woke alone and cold, he lay whimpering in his den like a wounded pup, wishing for the comfort of another–aching for the touch of a muzzle against his own, for the languid feeling of sleeping between other warm bodies, limbs all tangled up and nose nestled in the scruff of a pack-mate. Saoi was desperate for the sounds and smells and feelings of belonging.
He’d learned to blend in, to act like the humans, but he wasn’t one of them. He had to keep his distance to keep his secret. He knew what he’d been taught. How the humans would hunt them down and slaughter them all if they knew. And, in the time he’d spent among them, he had seen no reason to doubt that. It didn’t stop the longing he felt, however, when he saw groups of them together, touching in ways that reminded him of the comfort of a pack. It ate away at part of him every time he had to force himself to hold back, to not touch or get too close.
* * * *
Kiya White Cloud sighed tiredly and tossed his waist-length, dark brown hair back over his shoulder, before beginning the climb up the concrete stairs to the third floor of the five story building. His dorm room was in the last apartment building, at the top of the hill of the college, bordering the redwood forest. His suitcase dragging behind him, Kiya listened absently to the smacking sounds it made as it clunked up each stair.
The plane trip back from South Dakota to California had gone a little easier than the first time, since he now knew what to expect. He was getting used to the transition between Deadwood and the university. For that, Kiya was grateful. After getting off of the plane, he picked up his things from the baggage claim area and took an airport shuttle over the mountain to Santa Cruz. It dropped him in the downtown area, on the Pacific Garden Mall, and from there he’d had to take a bus up to campus and to College Ten where his room was. It was a long trip and by the time he was among the redwood trees on campus, he was worn out.
Kiya reached his floor and the wheels of his suitcase clicked as he made his way along the corridor toward his dorm room.
“Don’t you look edible?” a male voice purred.
Kiya froze and looked up to find Ted, Kiya’s recently ex-boyfriend, leaning against a nearby doorway, smiling over at him. Ted was tall, blond and muscular with the kind of dominant attitude that Kiya found hot. Unfortunately, Ted was an asshole. “Fuck, Ted, what are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you, baby,” Ted drawled, pushing off of the door jam and reaching a hand for Kiya. He flashed him his winning smile.
Kiya took a step back, shaking his hair out of his face. “Why?” Kiya asked. He had broken up with Ted just before leaving for Spring Break. Seeing the man again was one of the things that Kiya had been dreading.
Ted stepped closer. “Don’t be that way,” he chided, reaching to stroke Kiya’s hair.
“Why are you here?” Kiya demanded, leaning away from his hand, heart speeding up in confusion and anger. “You know what I told you before.”
Ted didn’t flinch but leaned in, cupping Kiya’s cheek with his hand. “I’ve missed you, and I know you miss me too,” he insisted.
Kiya flinched. Did Ted actually think that he could change his mind like that? Well, apparently he did, and really, it wasn’t all that surprising. Ted always thought he could persuade him to do anything, and Kiya didn’t even realize what he was doing until after they had broken up. None of that mattered now, Kiya didn’t want to hear anything Ted had to say. He wouldn’t go back to him. Not this time. “I don’t miss you, actually,” Kiya insisted, backing up again and finding himself up against the metal railing. “We’re not together anymore, Ted.”
“Aww, I know you weren’t serious about that,” Ted chided. “Everyone knows we belong together.” He gave Kiya a playful grin that had usually worked to get Kiya to relent when they had argued.
“If we belonged together, you would’ve stopped when I said to, and you would have listened to me about using a condom,” Kiya argued, flushing with embarrassment and anger at the memory.
“You’re still sore about that?” Ted asked with a tone that was incredulous. He moved after Kiya again, taking the Kiya’s hand. “And we both know that you enjoyed it.”
“That’s not the point!” Kiya exclaimed, yanking his hand away. “I told you to stop, and you didn’t. Doesn’t matter whether or not you think I liked it.”
“Now how was I supposed to know you were serious with your cock all hard and that beautiful ass wriggling,” Ted protested. “You can’t blame me for not being able to keep my hands off you. It’s not my fault that you make me lose control, Kiya.”
“Just go away,” Kiya demanded, crossing his arms over his chest. Ted just didn’t seem to get it. It had nothing to do with the way his body reacted. It was the way Ted treated him. “Now.”
Ted clucked his tongue. “I suppose I should give you a few more days to calm down,” he said, shaking his head and then fixing his eyes on Kiya’s. “You belong to me, baby; I’m not giving up on us.”
“Too bad. I already have,” Kiya said quietly, refusing to give in. He wanted to be brave, to stand up for himself this time. “Now go.”
Ted shook his head again, moving toward the stairs. “See you soon, my pretty boy,” he insisted, and then he was gone.
Kiya leaned against the rail for another moment, trying to calm down, but then hurried to the apartment, deciding not to risk Ted coming back. Kiya wondered why he seemed to be a magnet for bad guys, and his plan this year was to stop that once and for all. He was going to start looking for guys that had a decent personality as well and not just base everything on how good they were in bed or how gorgeous they were. No more men who just wanted Kiya for his looks. Kiya sighed again. Ted was officially the worst mistake he had made here so far.
No one was in the front room, but since there was already a pizza box on the coffee table, Kiya figured someone else was home. At least he hoped the pizza box was recent. There were four other people who lived in his two-bedroom apartment with him, including his roommate, James Miller, which was just fine with Kiya, because that meant it wasn’t as crowded as a regular dorm but he still had people to hang out with. And there were seldom long lines for the bathroom. Actually, he had to admit that he was probably the only guy in the apartment that took more than ten minutes in there, it seemed.
Kiya made his way to his bedroom, noticing that the door was closed, which might have meant that James was in. He wasn’t even sure if his roommate had gone home over the break or not. But if he had, it was still early on Sunday and not all the students had gotten back just yet. As he thought of this, he walked up to the door and began pushing it open, only to gasp and freeze in the doorway.
James was lying in bed–naked. Even worse, sitting atop him was a red-headed girl–also naked. The two of them were making particularly obscene sounds as she bounced, obviously having the time of her life. Now, Kiya had seen James naked more than once and, yes, he was good looking with his almost always styled brown hair and light blue eyes. If it had not been for his attitude and, well, obvious heterosexuality, Kiya would have flirted with him every chance he got. But now, no, now wasn’t a good time, and he did not want to see the naked girl on top of him. Not that he hadn’t seen women naked before, it just wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed looking at.
“Fuck, James!” Kiya yelled, turning away quickly, but the image was already burned into his mind. Unfortunately.
“Key, what are you doing back?” James asked, as if he was in the middle of a television show instead of sex. The girl squeaked and grabbed the blanket.
“It’s, uh, the end of vacation, you jerk,” Kiya replied, his back to them. He couldn’t stand that James was taking this so lightly, like it was nothing! He also hated it when he called him Key. Kiya was a short enough name, it didn’t need a nickname.
“Can you come back later, Key?” James asked, still cheerful.
“I seem to have no fucking choice. And don’t call me Key!” Kiya hissed, stepping back out and slamming the door closed behind him. He huffed and set his suitcase down next to the door. “What a great start to the new quarter,” he muttered.
From the sounds that came drifting out, James and the girl had gone back to whatever it was they had been doing before the interruption.
The door to the other room opened and Joe came out. “Hey, Kiya. What’s up?”
Kiya looked up and, despite being annoyed at James, smiled a little. “Hey, Joey,” he said. “How was your spring break?”
Joseph Swartz, more affectionately known as Joey, was one of Kiya’s first friends when he moved to the campus. He was nice, very easy to talk to, good looking, and he didn’t piss Kiya off. That made him good enough in Kiya’s mind. He had kind of hoped that they would have been roommates, but Joey shared the triple room with Derrick and Miguel. “I stayed here and got to spend every day surfing,” Joe said, grinning and flopping onto the sofa beside Kiya.
“Sounds like fun. Weren’t you going to teach me?” Kiya asked, raising an eyebrow as he made a point of shifting closer. Technically he had heard that Joey was straight, as were most of the guys he knew, but he couldn’t help flirting just a little. It came naturally.
“Sure, any time,” Joey said “How was your trip home?”
And of course, just like always, Joey seemed to not notice Kiya’s advances. Either he really didn’t notice, or he just ignored them. “It was great,” Kiya told him, smiling. “Missed my parents more than I thought I would. And it was wonderful getting to see my brother and sister and my grandparents.”
Joe gave him one of those looks that implied Kiya spoke a different language. “Visiting my parents wouldn’t be my idea of a fun spring break.”
“Not the only difference between you and me,” Kiya laughed, glad to have this distraction while he waited for James to finish. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know when that girl came here?”
“Thursday,” Joey huffed and rolled his eyes.
“And they’ve been in the room ever since?” Kiya sighed, glancing down at his watch.
“I wish. They come out for food and television,” Joe answered.
“Well, now that I’m back, things will obviously change. I’ll give them another five minutes, tops.” Yes, he had been kicked out of the room once before so that James could ‘take care’ of himself. He timed it, of course. Kiya was not going to put up with this shit. No, he was going to give James hell for the rest of the quarter, and he’d do it with a smile on his face.
Joe gave him a look. “Do that and you are my hero,” he answered.
Kiya waved it off. “I’ll let him have his fun for now,” he said. “For now.”
Joe huffed with a nod, picked up the TV remote and turned it on.
* * * *
Kiya had to rush the next morning to get to his biology class in time to grab a seat in the front row. The mammoth building was like a huge concrete set of building blocks–set in the middle of the woods. But at least it wasn’t far from his dorms. Kiya trudged up the stairs to the lecture hall entrance, which was at the back of the large slanted room. He made his way down another set of stairs to the front of the hall. Dropping his backpack onto the chair next to him, he started to pull his books out just as the professor began speaking. Kiya tried not to show how grumpy he was about being up so early for a nine o’clock class, but he was failing, slouching in his chair with a frown as he took notes. He glanced up from his notebook when the professor began to introduce the graduate students who would be working with the class.
“Your teaching assistants this term will be Rachael Burrows, Darren Turner and Brian Fenwick,” Professor Steinhart was explaining and then going through the instructions of how to sign up for specific sections.
When Kiya looked at the TAs, he felt a frisson of unexpected pleasure. His attention was riveted on Brian Fenwick. Brian looked to be in his mid-twenties, and was probably six feet tall. He had short red-brown hair, a slightly tanned complexion and looked lean and muscular, filling out the button-down work blue shirt and 501 jeans in a way that made them look oddly more fashionable than the designer jeans and t-shirts most students wore. He wasn’t just attractive, he had an intensity that captured Kiya’s attention. The man shifted under the attention of the students, head turned a bit to the side. He had a physical presence that made Kiya want to reach out and touch him.
The teaching assistants, including Fenwick, went to take their seats at the other end of the front row and the professor began his lecture. Kiya couldn’t take his eyes off of Brian, willing the man to look at him now. Kiya knew about the rule prohibiting teachers from dating students, but that didn’t stop him from looking. And he was frustrated that the man didn’t seem to notice him at all. Fenwick glanced his direction several times but didn’t look directly at Kiya.
The professor talked about the syllabus and what they should expect in the class. It actually didn’t sound as difficult as Kiya had thought it would be. He’d just have to keep up with his notes and read the book. But he had to admit that he wasn’t giving the instructor up front his complete attention as he angled his body in his attempts to see more of one particular T.A.
With more than a hundred students all trying to sign up for sections, Kiya had to struggle just to get to the wall with the sign-up sheets on them. Once he finally reached the wall, two of Brian’s sections were filled out, completely full. The last one was close to being filled up, and Kiya quickly went about writing his name down, restraining himself from writing more–like his phone number. It was only when he stepped back that he realized the time of the section, making him curse under his breath. Friday, at nine in the morning again! Friday was to be Kiya’s day off; a day he was looking forward to just sleeping in. He glanced back at Fenwick thinking that he had better be worth it.
Fenwick was sitting at a table at the front of the room surrounded by half a dozen other students, apparently answering questions. Kiya couldn’t help notice the way some of the girls were looking at the gorgeous man. Which only annoyed him further. That was it–he wasn’t going to wait until Friday to meet Brian. He pulled his book bag up onto his shoulder and went back to the table, carefully pushing his way through the other students so that he was directly in front of the TA. He ignored the sounds of discontent, holding his hand out for Brian to shake.
“Professor Fenwick, I’m Kiya White Cloud, and I’m looking forward to taking your section,” he said, making sure to give him a brilliant smile…
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Faewolves, like werewolves, can walk among men. What happens when Kiya White Cloud, a young gay college student in Santa Cruz, wants one of these men enough to risk his heart--and his life? An m/m erotic romance from Circlet Press, Inc. [Warning: explicit sex, dubious consent, and rough scenes.]
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