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Oct 31

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Isle of Dogs

Summary: Battered and bruised, the British canidae pack return home in the wake of wolf manoth.

(Contains m/f, m/m, m/m/f, and f/f scenes. Follows Dogs of War and contains spoilers for the novel)

“Come on… you can do it.” Ryan smiled his idiotic cockeyed smile, one eyebrow going up into his floppy brown hair, and Eileen closed her eyes so she wouldn’t see it. That damn smile was the main reason she’d thrown caution to the wind and decided to fuck him in the first place. Risked her career for that smile, forced herself to stay in one form for almost half a year, and where had it gotten her? On the floor of her apartment, legs spread, waiting for the damned canidae midwife to get her ass across London at rush hour.

Fortunately Ryan had been available and nearby. The baby was his, a remnant from before their breakup. He’d been great for the entire pregnancy, absolutely wonderful in fact. It was almost enough to make her rethink the disillusion of their relationship, but no. She couldn’t let hormones get in the way. Sweat dripped off her nose and she slapped her palm against the floor.

“God damn it, where is that fucking nurse?”

Ryan blinked at what was happening to her body. “Uh. I don’t think we’re going to be able to wait.” His face went pale and he rocked back to sit on his heels.

“Currier, if you fucking faint on me right now…”

He blinked rapidly, wiped the sweat out of his eyes with his forearm, and exhaled. “Okay. No fainting. Got it.” His phone chirped and he jabbed at it with his pinkie, turning on the speaker before he bent forward again. “Tell me you’re on your way!”

“We’re better than on our way,” Milo Duncan said. “We’re here. The victorious Bulldog Breed, home from America. Fancy givin’ us a lift from the airport?”

“Uh.” He shook his head with a rueful smile. “I’m… I’m in the process of picking up someone else right now.”

Eileen cried out.

Milo paused. “What the hell was that?”

“Eileen. She’s got a person coming out of her.”

“Shit!” Milo said. “Eileen is having the baby! Look, take care of her. We’ll… uh. Where are you?”

“Don’t come here,” Eileen said.

“Right. Don’t need us mucking everything up. Right. Uh, we’ll be at the Bulldog, right? Call us when everything’s sorted.”

The line went dead and Ryan pushed the phone out of the way with the back of his hand. “Okay, Eileen. This is the big one, okay? I think you’re ready…”

Over the past few months Ryan had studied up on the birthing process in the event he found himself in this very predicament. Canidae rarely risked going to a hospital to give birth. The odds of the baby coming out in wolf form were almost non-existent, but it had happened. The real threat was how often the mother tended to transform not long after labor made it an incredibly risky prospect. She was also extremely aware of how risky her pregnancy was. She was over forty, and the fact she’d made it so far without complications was a minor miracle.

Now there was just one more hurdle…

Ryan’s eyes widened. “Oh. Oh-hoh, here we go…”

Eileen squeezed her eyes shut. Canidae could go up to a month without transforming, but it was incredibly hard. Going longer was unheard of except in extreme circumstances. Pregnant women were able to push it to months in order to protect the child, but it was no easy task. She could feel the wolf pressing at the corners of her mind and itching under her skin. For the past month especially it had been like wearing a skintight spandex suit under a straitjacket. She shook her head and bared her teeth, the bones of her skull starting to split down the center. She forced them back through sheer will.

“Not yet, not yet,” she chanted.

“Almost,” Ryan said, thinking she was talking to him.

Her toes curled and her fingers balled into fists. She threw her head back and then reached up, tearing at her clothes. She was aware of Ryan speaking to her but she was too far gone to focus. She knew the moment it was over, knew that when she looked down she would see her baby in her ex-boyfriend’s arms. When he had cut the umbilical cord she heard him say, “You’re good to go!”

Her wolf didn’t have to be told twice. It burst forth as if she was exploding, tearing her apart and recreating her in lupine form. She rolled onto her stomach, the aches and pains of her transformation blending with everything else. The wolf was in agony and didn’t know why, gnashing its teeth and trembling violently as it got onto its feet.

The midwife threw open the door, and the wolf snarled and leapt at the poor man’s feet. He barely had time to get out of the way before she was in the hall and darting toward the stairs. She could hear Ryan behind her shouting for someone to open the door and then the midwife was running alongside her. He fell against the stairwell door and shoved it open just in time for Eileen to run through without breaking stride.

Eileen remembered running down the stairs, the vague hope that someone would open the door for her. She also hoped that no one would report a wolf running wild in the lobby. After that the fog rolled in. For almost six months the wolf had been caged and forced into silence. Then when she finally did surrender, she’d brought it into a world of anguish it didn’t understand. It bullied her consciousness out of the way, crowded her until she couldn’t see or think.

She couldn’t blame the wolf. If their positions had been reversed, well… well, she liked to think she would have fought her way out before six months passed. She owed the wolf a little freedom, and she’d always trusted it before.

When next she was aware, she was crouched in a wooded area, arms wrapped around her knees, muddy and bloody and shivering. She could almost smell dawn approaching and knew the wolf had run at least all night. Or maybe all night and all through the next day. There was a light rain falling and she hugged herself tighter as she tried to recognize where she was. She was sore all over, uncertain if she could stand or walk, but she also knew she couldn’t stay where she was. Her arms and legs felt as if they had been shattered and then glued back together.

After taking a moment to get her brain back together, she used the nearest tree to get onto her feet. She gasped in pain but bit back a cry; she didn’t know how nearby civilization was. If anyone found a naked woman wandering the woods with evidence she had just given birth… She kept her breathing steady and her eyes locked on the path. She nearly fell several times but there was always a tree to catch her. She stepped through a pair of trees and saw concrete.

As she stepped between two trees her senses came alive. The scents, the sounds, everything familiar. She moved faster, ignoring the sharp pangs in her heels and walking on the balls of her feet. She lurched to the back door of the Bulldog, whispered a quiet prayer, and twisted the knob. Unlocked. She smiled and limped inside.

She hit the floor and stayed there for a moment, planning to just rest until she found the strength to get back on her feet. As it turned out she didn’t have to wait. Two people, Mia and Paige by their scents, appeared on either side of her and gently got her up. She leaned on them both as they took her into the mudroom to wash her off. They sat her against the tile, turned on the water, and carefully scrubbed her down. They softly asked questions about where she was hurt, if she needed a doctor, and she answered them as best she could. It was hard to just stay awake.

Finally she cupped Mia’s face. “Hey. War’s over?”

Mia grinned. “Yeah. War’s over. We won, thanks to Ariadne.”

“Good.” She smiled and tears rolled down her cheeks. “It’s good to have you home. I’ve missed you all… so much.”

“We missed you, too.”

Eileen opened her mouth to say something, then clamped her jaw. She looked at her feet and watched as Paige washed her thigh. “I…”

“It’s a girl,” Mia said. “A beautiful, chubby little girl. She’s doing fine. Ryan got her to the hospital and they’re taking care of her now.”

“A girl,” Eileen said. She smiled and touched Mia’s hand in thanks, then let her head fall back against the cold, wet tile as they bathed her. She had a daughter. She’d spent the entire pregnancy planning to give the baby away, and she still planned to, but for the moment, for a few hours at least, she had a daughter. She was amazed by how amazing that fact made her feel.

#

When Eileen had recovered enough to be moved, Mia helped her into a pair of slacks and a T-shirt. They hooked their arms around hers and they helped her out into the barroom where the rest of the pack were waiting. Anton, their leader, had escorted Ryan to the hospital with the baby but everyone else was present and accounted for. She had been terrified for them ever since they decided to fly to America and help Ariadne Willow fight the war against the hunters. Even after she was given an update online and spoke to everyone on the phone, it didn’t feel real until she had hugged and kissed them all. Hannah especially needed the touch test.

Their hug was gentle due to Hannah’s still-healing wound and Eileen’s fragile state, but they held on as hard as they dared. Eileen cupped the back of her friend’s head and kissed the shell of her ear.

“You sure you’re okay?”

Hannah said, “Right as rain. Getting better every day.”

Owen put his hand on Eileen’s shoulder. “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the hospital?”

“Women have been giving birth since the dawn of time. Hospitals are nice, but… I’m fine.”

Tarun said, “But given your advanced…”

Eileen raised an eyebrow at him. “My advanced what?”

“Uh. Y-your advanced physiology as a canidae, it would be even less necessary to go to a hospital.”

“Nice save.” She grunted as Paige helped her into a booth. “I’ll be fine. So tell me everything. I got the bullet points from your emails, but I want the whole dish. What happened in Seattle?”

Paige and Mia sat next to her, with Milo, Owen, and Tarun across from them. Benji and Hannah pulled up chairs to join the rest of the pack. Milo started, since she was the only one in America for the beginning of the whole mess. Eileen listened intently, wishing again she hadn’t been sidelined by the pregnancy while everyone else got to have fun. When they got to the point of the story where Hannah was shot, Eileen reached across the table and took her hand. Hannah was sweet, rebellious, brilliant, creative, and the thought of her lying in the middle of the street with a bullet in her…

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Hannah smiled. “I’m fine. Dale Frye saved my life.”

“A human saving a wolf,” Eileen said, shaking her head. “I never thought I’d see the day. I mean, humans are fine for the occasional kinky one-night stand. But actually risking her life for us? And being in a relationship with us?”

“You should see Ariadne and Dale together,” Milo said. “Those two are… they’re…” She laughed and pushed her hair out of her face. “I don’t care what they are, they’re meant to be together. They could’ve been Hatfield and McCoy and they’d have found a way to be together.”

Owen said, “All the better for us. We wouldn’t have made it out of there without Ariadne, and she wouldn’t have gotten out of it without Dale. They’re a damn good team.”

Eileen said, “I wish I could’ve met ‘em.”

“I’m sure we’ll meet up again one of these days,” Paige said. “Maybe next time Ariadne will come to England.”

“Hunters are still out there,” Mia said. “Wolf manoth and the immediate threat might be over, and the bigwigs might’ve agreed to get the word out, but there are still plenty of madmen out there willing to kill us just because of what we are. We need to stay on guard.”

Eileen knocked her knuckles on the table. “Right. And with Ant gone, I’m the elder of the group. I say we all go home and get some rest. You all must be bloody exhausted, and I know I could use a lie-down. So we’ll take the day to recuperate and go from there. Yeah?”

“Sounds good to me,” Benji said.

Mia and Hannah were driving Milo home, and she offered to give Eileen a lift as well. Eileen accepted with gratitude, hugged everyone again, and let Milo offer a shoulder as they walked outside. The rest of the pack had only been gone for a few weeks, but it had been enough for her to almost get used to their absence. Now they were back it seemed almost unreal. She sat in the backseat with Hannah, Mia’s logic being that they needed the space to stretch out since they were injured, and found herself holding tightly to Hannah’s hand.

“I would have been extremely angry with you if you’d died overseas,” Eileen said.

Mia looked in the rearview mirror. “I might have had a few choice words, myself.”

Hannah smiled. “I should get shot more often. I love everyone fawning–”

“No.”

The word was stern, almost frigid, from the driver’s seat. Hannah’s voice was soft in response. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I won’t say things like that anymore.”

Mia nodded and looked out the window, bringing one hand up to casually rub at her eye before she faced forward again. Conversation ended after that, but their silence was a comfortable one. Eileen closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of Hannah’s hand in her own. She had once had sex with Mia and Hannah while in wolf form, and she’d fooled around with Milo as well during one of their runs. In fact she would be hard-pressed to think of anyone in the pack she hadn’t engaged with. They were her family, but more than that, they were a pack.

“When can we run again?” Eileen asked, opening her eyes and looking at Milo. “I’m raring to get out there and really stretch my legs. It’s been eons.”

Milo said, “For us, too. I mean, nothing compared to you, of course. But we didn’t get much chance in America. And even when we did go out it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t home. It smelled… off.” Milo looked out the window. She’d been in America longer than any of them, had only been back long enough to gather everyone else and head back to give Ariadne and Dale reinforcements.

“So you’re back for good, eh?”

“Yeah,” Milo said. “Hopefully things can start getting back to normal.”

Eileen nodded. “Good. Good… I love you, Milo.”

Milo looked over her shoulder at that. “I love you, too.”

Eileen smiled. “Don’t look so horrified.”

“I’m not. I’m just… surprised. You’re not usually so touchy-feely.”

“I just made a person,” Eileen said. “I’m allowed touchy-feely.”

Hannah chuckled. “Truth. And for the record, I love you, too. Milo, Eileen, both of you.” She looked at Mia. “And you.”

Mia reached back at the next stop sign and squeezed Hannah’s knee.

They arrived at Eileen’s apartment and Milo insisted on helping her get upstairs. She told Mia and Hannah to go on because she didn’t live very far away, and she didn’t want to make them wait while she took her time getting Eileen up the stairs.

It took some time but they finally made it. Eileen invited Milo in for a drink, and Milo agreed. Eileen was grateful when she saw Ryan or the midwife had gone to great efforts to clean up the living room where she’d given birth. She stared at the spot on the carpet where her child, her daughter, had been born and fought back the tug of emotion in her chest.

“You all right?”

“Yeah. Fine. Water?”

“Sure.”

Eileen went into the kitchen to fetch it. When she came back Milo was looking out the window at the neighboring building.

“Nice to be home?”

Milo took a deep breath and nodded emphatically. “Yeah. Yes. Seattle was fine, but… home. Home.” She gestured with both hands. “I’m home.”

Eileen handed her the glass. “I’m leaving the pack.”

Milo blinked. “Shut it.”

“I’m serious. There are too many reasons and not enough reasons to stay. Ryan… he’s been great, but he’s the father of my child. It would be far too awkward to keep seeing him all the time. And when the pack gets randy…?” She raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “I couldn’t be in that situation with him again. Plus I’m so much older than all of you…”

“Oh, for God’s sake.”

“Sh.” Eileen shook her head. “I’m too young to be Ant’s equal, and I’m too old to be your equal, and that leaves me… stuck. You’ve never made me feel excluded and I’m glad of that. But…”

Milo blinked back tears. “You can’t just… leave.”

“Sure I can. I have to. The rest of you, you’ve been to war. Shed blood together. That’s something I can never share with you. I think the evidence has piled up that I have no business being a member of your pack any longer.”

Milo looked down at her glass. “But we love you.”

“I know.” She cupped Milo’s face and stroked her cheek. “I know you do. And I love you all, too. But I don’t fit. I’ve never fit except as Ryan’s professor or the lady he was fucking. I need to go.”

“Right. I mean, it makes sense on paper. As long as you know it’s not coming from us. None of us, not one, thinks you don’t belong here.”

Eileen smiled. “Me, myself, and I. But thank you for saying so.” She stepped closer and kissed the corners of Milo’s mouth. “But I’m not going to leave tonight or tomorrow, just… soon. I’ll tell the others when I’m ready. I wanted to tell you first because… well. You’re our alpha.”

Milo’s eyes widened. “I am not.”

“Please. You gave me money for my pregnancy. A lifesaver, by the way. You gave money to the others, and then you recruited them into a war. This pack followed you to America without question, Millicent. That’s a leader.”

“I don’t… I’m not.” She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “I’m not.”

Eileen grinned. “You’re on your way. I think Ant was considering me as a default second, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea. Seniority, you know. With me leaving he’ll look at merit. You’ve got it in spades.”

“I’m a delivery girl,” Milo said. “Mia’s a cop, Paige is a firefighter. Owen has his own company. Any one of them is better suited. Any one of them…”

“And yet they all followed you into battle. Why are you fighting this, babe? Just accept it and then work like a dog to make yourself worthy.”

Milo sighed. “I’ll do it for you.”

Eileen laughed. “That will work.”

Milo took Eileen’s hands to kiss the palms. “I’ll let you get some sleep.”

“Are you sure you want to go? I’d not mind cuddling with someone.”

“Thanks. But I’m really eager to sleep in my own bed. Rain check?”

“Yeah. ‘Course.”

Milo nodded. “See you soon. Call if you need anything.”

“Will do. Night, Milo.”

“Goodnight.”

She watched Milo leave, then went into the bedroom and undressed. She was much less sore now, although part of her thought she’d just adjusted to the pain. She took two ibuprofen and crawled naked under the covers. She fell asleep with the morning sun shining through her window to begin her daughter’s first day of life.

#

Mia expected the apartment to smell musty and abandoned, but the overwhelming sense of relief that they were home precluded any disappointment. Hannah passed her and Mia instinctively touched her arm as she went by. She had been doing it a lot lately, finding reasons to lay a finger or a hand on her. On the plane while Hannah slept, Mia reached over and played with her hair. It was her way of ensuring that the woman she loved was really there, really in one piece, and really safe.

Hannah put her arms over her head and stretched gingerly, mindful of her still-healing wound. “Oh, so good to be home. Can’t wait to get to work.”

“Tomorrow,” Mia reminded her.

“Right. Tomorrow. Although. Ugh. You know who’s gonna live this up? Stevie. You know how he feels about America. I go for a few weeks and come back gut-shot. ‘Can’t even visit America for a week without gettin’ yourself shot up.’”

Mia threw her bag at the wall, put her fists against her forehead, and shouted, “Would you fucking stop that?” Her voice was louder than she had intended, and with it came an unexpected surge of tears. She moved her fists to her eyes and collapsed in on herself without falling down. “Just stop it, awright?”

Hannah closed her arms around Mia. “Babe. Sh. What? What am I doing?”

“Joking. You were shot, Hannah. You were lying in the street bleeding, and I had to accept I couldn’t go back to get you. Then you were… unconscious. And cold. And I had your fucking blood all over me. I know you’re making light of it to deal with what happened. I know. But god damn it, please, just stop making jokes. I can’t stand it anymore.”

“Oh, shit, babe.” She cradled Mia’s head against her shoulder. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. When you flew a flag, I tried to hit the brakes but I didn’t know how much it was hurting you. I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“No. No, it’s… you’re coping.”

Hannah said, “And it hurts you. I won’t do it anymore. Or I won’t do it where you can hear. Shit. I should’ve thought about that. Look up.” Mia lifted her head and Hannah kissed her. “You’ve kept quiet out of respect for how I’m coping. So I’m going to keep quiet out of respect for you.” She moved her hands up into Mia’s hair and kissed her between the eyebrows. “I love you, Mia.”

“I love you, too.”

“Let’s go take a bath. Wash the flight and the America off of us.”

Mia grinned. “Sounds good.”

They undressed each other and, once in the bathroom, they decided Hannah would sit on the small stool in the corner of the bath to protect her dressings and Mia would bathe her. Mia sat in the water and trailed a sponge over Hannah’s thighs and arms, up to her breasts and tracing her shoulder. Hannah lifted her foot and rested it on Mia’s hip, then slid lower to press the heel of her foot between Mia’s legs. Mia grunted and her posture improved slightly as she adjusted her position. Hannah rested her hands on the edge of the tub and clenched the muscles of her leg to move her foot ever so slightly.

“Ngh.”

Hannah smiled. “You approve?”

“I might have to bathe you more often.” She leaned in and licked a trickle of water from the curve of Hannah’s breast. She kissed her way down and closed her mouth around the nipple as Hannah pressed harder. Mia dropped her hand to stroke Hannah’s calf, lifting her hips to guide her. Mia looked up into Hannah’s face. It was their first time since the shooting, and she made sure she held eye contact as she pressed her hand between Hannah’s legs.

Their orgasms weren’t wall-shaking events, but simple and quiet moments shared with quickened breaths and closed eyes. Mia rested her head on Hannah’s lap, and Hannah cupped her hand under the water and let it trickle through her fingers onto Mia’s face like a baptism. She brushed her wet fingers through Mia’s hair and stroked the curve of her ear.

Hannah said, “That was spectacular.”

“Wait until you’re fully mobile again. I’ll show you spectacular.”

They toweled each other off and went to bed. They had lingered long enough in the bath that the sun was fully up, so Mia closed the blinds to block out the sun as much as possible so their brains wouldn’t get confused. Hannah dressed in her shorts and tank top while Mia slept naked, cuddling together in the center of the bed. Mia fished her left arm out from under the blankets and held it up. She patted a spot midway between her wrist and elbow.

“I want you to put a tattoo there.”

“Okay,” Hannah said. “What did you have in mind?”

Mia shook her head. “I don’t have a clue. And I don’t care. I want you to design something and put it there.”

Hannah said, “Wow. That’s a big commitment.”

“Is it too big? I know how you feel about marriage. I feel the same way. I thought this might be a nice alternative, but if you think–”

“I nearly died,” Hannah said. “I nearly died, and I realized I haven’t been with you near long enough. I still don’t want to get married, but only because rings and ceremonies don’t mean shite to us. I didn’t want some naff piece of paper shackling us together. After everything that’s happened, I know that I’m never going to leave you. I wanted to see you again, hold you again… I wanted that more than life. Life, I could’ve given up. But you’re worth fighting for.”

Mia smiled. “Thank you.”

Hannah touched Mia’s arm again. “You sure about this, though? Quite permanent.”

“You designing part of me? Oh, yeah. I love that idea. I want it.”

Hannah trailed two fingers over the bare skin. “I love it, too. I have to think about what I want to do, though.”

“Take your time.”

“Ooh, a pig on a unicycle.”

“Take your time,” Mia said again.

“I can give him a funny hat.” Mia smooched her cheek and popped her lips. Hannah chuckled. “I’ll take my time. Will you design one for me?”

Mia ran a finger along the sleeve of tattoos on Hannah’s arm. It was too dark to make out details, but their eyes had adjusted enough that they could see each other. “Where would I put it?” Before Hannah could suggest something, Mia touched her wrist. “Here. So I’d be guiding you.”

“Oh,” Hannah said, exhaling the word as she considered that. “Yes. That. I want that.”

They kissed, and Mia moved her hand to the bandage on Hannah’s abdomen. That was another tattoo she had promised. Once the wound had healed enough, she planned to write the name of her savior around the scar: DALE ELIZABETH FRYE, SEATTLE, 01/02/14. Considering the circumstances their respective partners were fine with Hannah tattooing herself with Dale’s name. Mia was extremely in favor of it. She never wanted to forget who had saved Hannah’s life, and she wanted the reminder of how easily everything could have been taken away from her.

#

Milo knew someone was in her apartment as soon as she slipped the key into the lock, but she also recognized the smell. She kept her eyes down as she entered and focused on where the smell was the strongest before moving in the opposite direction. She had dumped her bags on the way from the airport to the Bulldog but her visit hadn’t been long enough to feel at home. Now she wanted to reclaim her territory and he was tainting it with his presence.

“Welcome home, Millicent.”

She grimaced and went to the kitchen. The chair Benjamin Moss had been waiting in creaked when he stood up and moved to the dining room.

“You won the war. Well done.”

“No thanks to you and your idiotic plan.”

Benjamin had shaved since the last time she saw him, and he wore a dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar. Milo did her best to ignore him as she made herself a sandwich before she went to bed.

“No, thanks to you. You went to America and aligned yourself with someone who could turn the tide.”

“The same woman you and Gwyneth tried to cut out of the plan completely. Kind of tells you how good your plan-making skills are, eh? I don’t want you here, Ben. Shoo. Fly away.”

“But I’m here to pay you what you’re owed.”

Milo shook her head. “Our arrangement was to break up Ari and Dale, get married to Dale, that whole cockamamie thing that was, by the way, going to end up in a slaughter for our people. You don’t owe me anything except maybe an apology.” She held up her hand before he could say anything. “No, you know what? You made Gran happy for the last few years of her life. That gives you some leeway. So I don’t even want an apology. I just want you out of my life.”

He nodded slowly. “Very well. The money will be in your account.”

“I don’t want it.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it now, Millicent.” He shrugged. “Feel free to donate it to a worthy cause like you did with the last payment. The war is over, your grandmother has passed on, so our interactions can come to an end. But if you ever need to get in touch with me–”

“I won’t.”

He sighed. “Wolf manoth is over, but the hunters remain. Ariadne pulled off an amazing feat when she convinced them to lay down arms, but there are still those out there who are ready to eliminate us. If you or your pack is ever in need of me…”

“We won’t be. Ever. You’re not a member of my pack, Mr. Moss. If the hunters come after us again, we’ll be ready for them. We’ll stand together and if we fall together… then at least we won’t owe you anything.”

“You’d rather die than accept my help?”

“You’re an evil man, Mr. Moss. You look at people as pawns, as playthings. You wanted me to break up one of the strongest couples I’ve ever seen because it was an inconvenience.”

Benjamin rolled his eyes. “Suddenly you’re a paragon of morality. Where was this belief in relationships when you were fucking Owen Kiernan’s girlfriend? Are you still fucking her now that they’re married?”

“Go fuck yourself, Benjamin.”

He smiled and touched two fingers to his eyebrow in a mocking salute before he went to the door. Milo watched him go, then took out her phone and checked her bank balance.

“Cor blimey,” she muttered when she saw the number. She decided immediately to send some to Ariadne and Dale. They earned it more than she had. The rest she would split up among the pack, with a little extra to Eileen as a going-away present. And then… then… She chewed her lip and rested her hands on the counter as she contemplated the next possibility. She stared at her phone until it shut off from inactivity, and she brought the screen back to life with a tap and opened her email.

“Roz…”

She stared at the three letters, tried to think of their meaning. She chewed her bottom lip and stood one foot on top of the other. Her finger hovered over the keyboard on the screen.

“Me again. I know you told me to drop dead the last time we spoke, and I know I deserved it. But I wanted to repay what I could. I think repaying the emotional debt would require us to spend too much time together and I doubt that’s something you’d want. So instead I thought I’d pass along some money in the hopes it can do some good, and also perhaps reimburse you for what I did. Let me know how I can get it to you and I’ll cut a check or PayPal or something. I won’t bug you again, I swear it. I just wanted to take my debt down a fraction.”

She read and reread the message, thinking of a thousand edits she wanted to make. She also knew that if she started she would never stop. She hit send, closed the phone, and went to the sink. People in books and movies always splashed water in their faces when they felt stressed out. She used to think it was hokum until she actually tried it once. Holding her hands under the running water was soothing by itself. She spread her fingers, then closed them, watching as they became gloved in a thin layer of water. She bent forward and splashed the water on her cheeks, letting it drip from her nose and lips as she pushed her fingers up into her hair.

“You fucking idiot,” she muttered at herself. After all these years, contacting Roz… offering her a wad of cash in the hopes it would alleviate even a drip of her guilt. She hoped Roz had changed her email address and the note would be lost in the ether. Some debts could never be repaid, and some simply faded in the background and were better left forgotten. Odds were Roz preferred to forget it had ever happened.

Roz, her first shattered relationship. Her first shattered person. When they met, Roz was engaged and sober for eight years. Eight goddamn years. And Milo had turned her into a drunk cheater. Roz’s fiancé found out, of course, left her. They’d gotten sober together and “she couldn’t risk being around me if I was going to relapse.” Roz came to Milo for comfort, and Milo had responded by retreating. She didn’t want a relationship, she didn’t want drama. She walked away and left Roz all by herself in the fucking pit Milo had dug for her. And now she was back, and she was offering money to make amends.

Milo put it out of her mind and went to change clothes for bed. She wasn’t particularly tired, having slept on the plane, but she would at least take a nap so the exhaustion wouldn’t hit her at a weird hour. She truly didn’t care about the money. It was bad money from a bad man, and she would just as soon be parted from it as spend a dime. But after what seemed like decades Benjamin Moss was out of her life, she was no longer being used for some grand scheme, and her part of the war was over. She was extremely eager to get back to her life and her normal job.

For the first time since Benjamin Moss walked into her life, she was just a normal canidae again. She never knew just how precious being ordinary could be until it was taken away from her. Now she would do everything in her power to ensure she was never singled out again.

#

Paige and Owen took Tarun home with them. It had been rough waters setting up their open relationship, but the pack’s liberal policy with fucking on runs had helped them get through the more difficult times. Paige was open about her bisexuality and Owen was slowly coming to terms with his own. Paige drove while they boys sat in the backseat. Now and then she looked back to see Owen stroking Tarun’s thigh, and she wet her lips. She never would have thought the sight of her husband with another man would be a turn-on, but then again she’d never imagined herself having sex with Milo Duncan, either. Life was full of surprises.

She moved her hand to the crotch of her jeans and forced herself to watch the road as she rubbed with the heel of her hand. “Only over the clothes until we get home.”

“Says who?”

“Says me,” she said. “You wanna fight about it, Sparky?”

He chuckled and muttered, “All right. What the lady says goes.”

Paige looked in the rearview and saw Owen’s hand squeezing the bulge between Tarun’s legs. Tarun grunted and stroked Owen’s arm. He leaned in and their lips brushed together before the men settled into an easy kiss. Paige bit her tongue to quiet a grunt, wishing they lived closer to the Bulldog. Owen had come a long way. Before he would never have even entertained the idea of kissing another man. Somehow sucking a cock was more acceptable, somehow less intimate, but she’d watched him make out with both Ryan and Tarun, and the thought never failed to make her wet. Tarun wasn’t attracted to her unless she was wearing a strap-on but, while she didn’t mind using the toy, she usually just let the boys play with each other while she focused on Owen.

Paige drove to their apartment and went ahead to unlock the door while Owen and Tarun trailed behind her. She pushed the door open and watched them walk in, biting her lip at what awaited her. She shut the door and turned on the kitchen light.

“In the living room,” she said. “Sit on the couch. I’ll be there in a minute.”

The boys did as they were told. Paige took a beer from the fridge, stepped out of her shoes, and quickly shucked her jeans. She stepped out of the denim and carried the drink into the living room. Owen and Tarun were kissing in front of the couch, her husband’s shirt off and their friend stroking one of the tattoos on his bicep. Paige thought about scolding them for not sitting down as she had instructed but she decided to let this one slide. She brought her beer to her lips and took a long drink as she sank into the armchair and looked up at the men.

They seemed oblivious to her arrival, though she knew Owen definitely knew she was there. He gently guided Tarun’s hand down, and Tarun took the invitation to unfasten his jeans. Paige ran her eyes up over Owen’s chest, marking each tattoo before moving on to the next one. He was muscular and thick around the chest, a little smaller around the waist, but sturdy. He didn’t have the wasp-waist that was created by steroids. Her man earned his size and it showed.

Her eyes trailed back down as Tarun freed Owen’s cock and began stroking it. Owen cupped the front of Tarun’s pants, then moved up and peeled his shirt up and off. Tarun was smaller in build, less defined, but his cock was longer if more slender. She loved seeing them together, but knowing Owen he would take his sweet time if he wasn’t prompted.

“Take his cock out, baby.”

Owen looked at her with a wry smile. “You directin’ us, sweetheart?”

She grinned and pressed a kiss to the mouth of her beer bottle, then swirled her tongue around the rim. Owen chuckled and did as she said, letting Tarun’s jeans fall as he freed him from the boxer briefs he wore underneath. Their arms crossed and they began stroking each other, moaning before their lips met in a kiss. Paige scooted back in her seat and placed the beer bottle against the crotch of her underwear, sliding two fingers from her other hand under the cotton to tease her clit as she rubbed the bottle against herself. Owen opened his eyes and looked at her, and she grinned at him.

“Well, Miss Director…?”

“Tarun, sit. Baby, on the floor… put his cock in your mouth…”

Tarun sat on the couch and Owen knelt in front of him. He had moved to one side so Paige could see what he was doing. He slid one hand up the inside of Tarun’s thigh to cup his balls as he took the tip into his mouth. His own cock was resting against his thigh, stiff but neglected.

“Don’t get soft, baby. You have two hands.”

Owen gripped himself and stroked. Paige was amazed; the man who had once been staunchly homophobic, who had cringed whenever Tarun even talked about hooking up with a guy, was now jacking off with another man’s dick in his mouth. Paige pressed the bottle hard against her, two fingers closed around her clit. She wet her lips and curled her toes in the carpet, staring with eyes wide so she couldn’t miss a single flicker of tongue against Tarun’s cock.

“C’mere… c’mere, baby, c’mere,” she murmured, sinking a bit lower in her seat and spreading her legs wider to accommodate what she wanted to do. Owen got up and walked toward her. “Hands on the back of the chair, babe,” she said. “Lean over me.”

He did as she said, looming above her with his eyes shadowed as he smiled down at her. Paige let go of the beer bottle, her other hand still in her underwear, and she wrapped her cold fingers around her husband’s cock. She squeezed and he grunted, from the cold and the pressure, and Paige grinned evilly.

“Tarun… get over here and fuck him.”

She heard the rip of a condom wrapper, then Tarun came over to join them. He pressed against Owen from behind, kissed his shoulder, and his arms went around Owen’s waist. His fingers twisted around Paige’s as they both tried to hold him.

“Sorry…”

“No. Help me.”

Their fingers laced together, her eyes locked on her husband’s face, watching for the moment Tarun pushed inside of him.

“Is he fucking you, babe?” Paige murmured.

“He’s… fuckin’ teasin’ me,” Owen growled.

She pushed her lips out in an exaggerated pout. “Tarun… honey?”

“Yeah.”

“I told you to fuck my husband’s ass. Now do it.”

“Yes… ma’am.”

Owen grunted and arched forward, Paige and Tarun’s hands tightening on his cock as they stroked him together. Tarun had his other hand on Owen’s shoulder, and Paige could see him behind Owen as he began to thrust.

Paige moaned. “Mm, yeah, baby. Yeah. You like that…”

“Love it,” Owen grunted. “Can I touch you?”

“Fuck no,” she said. “Later. Keep your hands on the chair, big boy.”

He bared his teeth at her. “I hate you.”

“Mm, I know.” She moved her hand down and cupped his balls as she pushed a finger into herself. “I think you’re about ready to pop. Huh? Ready to come for us already?”

“You know it…”

She leaned forward and craned her neck so their faces were closer together. She breathed deep, taking in the scent of him, the scent of Tarun, the miasma of their scents all mixed together in sex.

“Come for me, Owen. Come for us. Tarun, stroke him ‘til he explodes all over me. Give me that come, Owen, sweetie, baby, I know you’ve wanted it since America. C’mon. Come with that cock deep in your ass…”

Owen grunted and arched his back, and Paige watched as his come spilled onto her lap. It landed across her thighs, on her underwear and, most importantly, across the mouth of her beer bottle. She laughed and let go of him to pick the bottle up.

“You got come in my beer!”

“Still gonna drink it?”

She rolled her wrist, swishing the contents of the bottle around before she brought it to her lips and took a long draught. Her other hand was still rubbing between her legs, and she watched Owen and Tarun as she swallowed. There was a definite taste of something, just enough to be noticeable, but she smacked her lips and touched her tongue to the corner of her mouth with a satisfied grin.

“I think I might have a new favorite flavor…”

Tarun pulled out and Owen straightened, turning away to strip the condom off of him. He slung one arm around Tarun’s shoulders and gripped his cock with the other, finishing him off with strong, sure strokes. “Get that bottle up,” he said. “Let’s see if I can get more in it this time.”

Paige laughed and shook her head, but she held the bottle up. She had two fingers inside now, and Owen had turned to kiss Tarun’s ear or whisper something to him. Tarun rocked his head back and whispered, “Don’t stop,” just as his cock twitched in Owen’s hand. Paige caught a lot of the come on her wrist and fingers, but a good amount of it did go into the bottle. She laughed as she put her thumb over the hole, shook the bottle, and then brought it up for a drink. The taste was stronger this time, and she held the beer in her mouth to savor it as she pressed one finger against her clit.

“We definitely have to find a way to bottle this…”

Owen surprised her by taking the bottle and finishing it off. He smacked his lips as well, and Paige groaned at the sight.

“We could come in trays. Freeze it, make ice cums.”

Paige laughed and closed her eyes. “God…”

“It’ll make dinner parties outstanding,” he said as he got onto his knees. Paige removed her hand from her underwear as he pushed the cotton out of his way and used his tongue on her. She slid forward to that her ass hung off the seat, gripped the back of the chair, and lifted up to meet his tongue. It didn’t take long for her to come. She didn’t know how embracing his sexuality could make him better at oral sex, but God bless him, the man could go down on her like no one ever had. He might even have been better than Milo, although she wasn’t certain. Maybe a head-to-head comparison would…

She cried out at the thought, her hand on top of Owen’s head. She brought her legs up and rested her feet on his back, slumped in the chair, and looked sleepily past him at Tarun.

“Stayin’ the night?”

He shook his head. “Wanna get home… make sure everything is okay there. That cool?”

“Sure.” Paige smiled. “You’re welcome any time.” She playfully swatted Owen on the shoulder. “Our guest is leaving. Kiss him goodbye.”

Owen lifted himself off the floor, wiped his mouth, and gave Tarun a long kiss. Paige put her thighs together and whimpered. Definitely a kink, definitely strange to be so aroused by it, but definitely something she was going to enjoy as much as possible.

Tarun found his pants, put them on, and kissed Paige’s forehead before heading out. Owen came back, his half-mast cock waving comically in front of him before he held out his hand to her. She took it and let him pull her up. She wrapped her arms around him and leaned heavily against his chest.

“Lift me up. Carry me.”

“Carry you?” He chuckled and cupped her buttocks. She hopped up and wrapped her legs around him, and he grunted. “You’re not too, ah… you know… feminist for this?”

She furrowed her brow. “You’re carrying me to bed and I have your dick pressing against me. I have the power in this situation, bucko.”

“I guess you have a point, babe.” He pecked her lips and laughed as she spurred him onward. He walked down the dark hall and paused at the doorway of their bedroom. “I’m here for you. Always. You know that, right?”

Paige was surprised by his sudden change of tone. “I know. Always. You okay?”

He shrugged. “Just being home… everything in America feels like it’s fading away. I wanted to say it before it got too far away. Anything that comes up, you and me… we’ll get through it.”

“You’re damn right we will.” She bounced against him. “Now c’mon. I wanna fuck you in our bed.”

“I’m not a machine, ya know.”

“Are you saying no?”

“Don’t put words in my mouth.”

She laughed and hung onto him as he carried her to bed.

#

Once the pack had cleared out, Anton went through the bar and made sure everything was clean and tidy. The kids liked to track in mud and all sorts of grime. He cleaned up the mudroom where they transformed and went out front to take away their empty beer bottles and mugs. Once the room was clean he took a seat and rested his chin in one hand. Everyone in the pack had come to the Bulldog under different circumstances, and he’d never expected to see them all tromp off to war. Hell, he’d thought hunters were a dying breed when his grandparents were born. He’d never been prouder of the kids, never felt more certain they belonged together.

He was, however, a bit uncertain about how he fit into the pack. He was ostensibly their leader, but he only provided a place for them to meet up. Milo had taken the initiative to recruit everybody. She’d kept them safe and got them home in one piece. One day he was going to have to leave the pack behind, and when that day came he didn’t want to leave them without an alpha. He also didn’t want to thrust it onto Milo’s shoulders unexpectedly.

So he would have to start preparing her. Sooner would be better than later, but they all deserved some downtime after what they’d been through. He would find the right time to bring it up. There was really no rush. They could spend their first day home relaxing and recuperating from the war and he would start working on how to approach Milo about taking over for him.

For now, the war was over and time marched on. He had a bar to run.

Permanent link to this article: http://underdogs.geonncannon.com/isle-dogs/

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