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The sound of flesh slapping against flesh echoed through the cavernous room only interrupted by the grunts and moans of the two people writhing on the floor.
"Are you going to give up yet, Van?"
Donovan "Van" Wolfe shifted to the left, throwing his beautiful opponent off balance, giving him ample opportunity to escape from her grasp. He jumped to his feet, landing in a crouch. She quickly spun around, her long black hair twirling in an arc behind her.
They circled each other like animals stalking their prey.
Van's body ached but he'd never let Kalista think she could get the better of him.
"I'll never give up. You should know that about me by now."
She struck out with her left leg, arcing it high in the air towards Van's head. He swung his arm up and deflected her blow. But he was tired. He and Kali had been sparring for a bit over an hour, and his balance wasn't what it had been an hour ago. He stumbled, and instantly Kali was upon him. Before he knew what happened, she had him pinned to the mat.
Van's back was on the floor and Kali's razor sharp teeth were poised at his jugular.
He sucked in a deep breath.
Their attention was yanked towards the door where a lone figure stood in the shadows clapping slowly. Van took the opportunity to flip Kali onto her back, reversing their positions.
"Damn you, Aiden," Kali complained from her position underneath Van.
Both men only laughed. Van stood up and stuck out his hand, helping her to her feet.
"Thanks, little brother," Van said.
"We werewolves have to stick together against those evil vampires, you know."
He threw them each atowel from the bench just inside the room.
"Bite me, Aiden."
"Come on now, Kali, that's your job, not mine."
His brother and his best friend had been sniping at each other for as long as Van could remember. Why they didn't just break down and fuck, he'd never know.
"All right now, children. Play nice."
"Play? What about it, Aiden? You want to take me on next?"
She angled her eyes towards the mat and then back at Aiden. Van had to laugh. He was just barely able to hold his own against Kali. As much as he loved his brother, he knew that Kali would wipe the floor with him. Aiden knew it, too.
"I don't think so."
"Oh, darn." She patted Aiden on the cheek and ran a single blood red fingernail down his cheek. "I guess I'll hit the showers then."
She picked up her bag to head out of the basement gym, but paused at the door.
"Oh, hey, Van," she said digging through her bag. "I picked this up for you. I thought you'd like it."
The book arced through the air before Van caught it. He looked down at it.
"Thanks, but I thought only thirteen year-old girls kept diaries."
"Turn it over, smartass."
As soon he turned it over, he realized why she'd bought it for him. The picture on the front was hand painted. It was a wolf with a coat the color of fine whiskey and honey-touched brown eyes. They were the same eyes he saw every time he looked in the mirror.
"Uncanny," Aiden muttered over his shoulder.
"I thought you'd find it interesting."
With one last toss of her long black hair over her shoulder, Kali left the room and headed into the bathroom. A few moments later the pipes in the old basement rattled as water coursed through them.
But Van's eyes were riveted on the book he held in his hands.
"Where did she say she found it, again?" he asked his brother.
"Dude, she was wearing a sports bra and booty shorts, and you expect me to pay attention to what she says?"
Leave it to Aiden to only be interested in sex.
"What are you doing here? It's not like you to be up before noon."
"Tell me about it." Aiden walked over to the punching bag on the other side of the padded room. He swiped at it a few times before replying. "You weren't responding to Dad's summons, so I was sent to find you."
"Damn it. Didn't you ever stop to think there might be a reason I wasn't answering the summons?"
Mainly because his father had totally flipped off the deep end.
"Well, yeah, Van, I did stop to think about how you would feel." He stopped playing with the gym equipment and stared at his brother. "But when a three hundred pound beast pounced on my bed first thing this morning, scaring away my date from last night, I might add, your feelings weren't really the first thing on my mind."
"He sicced Thor on you?"
Aiden didn't answer, he simply nodded. No words were needed. This was really bad.
"I guess he didn't say what he wanted."
Van knew it was too much to ask for, but well, he was out of options.
"Sure, he might have, if you speak snarling beast."
"Janie, I'm going to lock the door behind me, all right?"
"Sure, Susie. See you tomorrow."
Jane Applebottom didn't pay too much attention to the departure of her assistant. She was too busy looking for her diary. It was an old thing, one she'd made herself many years ago. It had sentimental value more than anything, and she couldn't find it anywhere.
Tearing apart the area behind the counter of her small downtown used bookstore, she struggled to allay her panic.
"Well, where in the heck is it?"
She was hesitant to write the book off as a lost cause quite yet. It was locked with a fairly sturdy lock so she knew she didn't have to worry about anyone reading it, but the diary was where she'd hidden some of her deepest desires and most private fantasies.
How embarrassing would it be if someone read them?
She assured herself the tingle that traveled up her spine was simply out of annoyance, not excitement.
And while the key was safely tucked away on a chain around her throat, she still shuddered at the thought of the diary in anybody's hands but her own.
Van stalked into his Queen Anne, Washington home. He didn't bother looking at the mail piled by the door in the front hallway, he didn't press the button on his blinking answering machine, nor did he respond when Clifford, his trusty butler, greeted him. He stalked directly to the kitchen, pulled an imported beer out of the refrigerator, opened it with his bare hands and chugged half of the malt liquid in one gulp.
"The meeting went that well?"
"Yeah, it was great considering I didn't really give a good Goddamn about the customer's computer security issues."
His brother's voice from the kitchen table didn't surprise him. His senses were a hell of a lot better than that.
"Don't you have a home to go to?"
"You know, just because I haven't had the luxury of turning into an animal yet doesn't mean I'm not on your side."
The venom in his brother's words surprised him.
He reached into the fridge and pulled out two more beers. He carried them over to the table, passing one to his younger brother.
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Is there anything I can do?"
He knew his little brother would give his life for him and that scared the hell out of him.
Van simply shook his head. There was a war brewing in the paranormal community and as much as he wanted to, there was nothing he was going to be able to do to stop it.
He desperately hated feeling helpless.
"Will you let me know when there is something I can do?"
His brother's sincerity hurt Van. There was no way he could ever help. He'd never put Aiden in that kind of danger.
An understanding passed between the two brothers.
"So, you want to hit Pioneer Square with me? I, for one, could use some female companionship, and I'm pretty sure I won't be hearing from last night's date again."
Ah, to be that young and carefree again. Van felt like an old stodgy at a mere thirty-three years old.
"Nah, I think I'm just going to hit the sack."
Aiden drained the last of his beer before he stood up.
A few moments after he left the kitchen, Van heard the front door close.
"Master Wolfe, if there's nothing else you need, I'll be retiring for the evening."
Clifford was his mother's butler before he'd become Van's. He'd known the man practically his whole life. When had he become so old?
"Sure thing, Clifford. And don't ever think you have to stay up to entertain Aiden. He's a big boy. He can find ways to entertain himself."
The ways his brother could find to "entertain" himself in Van's house made him a little bit nervous, but it was becoming clear that Clifford wasn't as spry as he used to be.
"Yes, sir. Good night, sir."
There was an obvious slump in Clifford's posture as he tottered of to his suite in the back of the large house. Maybe Van needed to think about getting the older man some help around here. Of course, the stubborn old fool would probably refuse.
He thought briefly about getting another beer, then decided against it. He wandered aimlessly through his large living room, stopping briefly to look out over Puget Sound from the large picture window in the dining room.
It was dark, but with his enhanced senses he could make out the shapes of the large tankers lined with lights, as well as the smaller boats bobbing on the waves.
He stared out the window for a long while, lost in thought. He had a bad feeling about things, but staring out this window always seemed to relax him.
The world below his Queen Anne home always seemed so peaceful. All the humans tucked in their beds, secure in the knowledge there was no such thing as a werewolf.
That's why he chose to stay inside as much as possible. It was less upsetting to others.
Eventually, he switched off the light and headed upstairs. Before he went up, he grabbed the stuff off the hall table, flipping through his mail as he went up the stairs.
Bill, bill, crap, crap, another bill.
When he got to the bottom of the pile, he was surprised to find the wolf on the cover of the diary staring back at him.
Damn, the resemblance was uncanny.
These days, Van spent the majority of his time as a human, but when he did turn into a wolf, he looked exactly like the one staring back at him.
A shiver coursed its way up his spine causing him to drop the diary.
Damn, he was turning into some scared old woman. To a human, most wolves looked the same. There was no way the painting on the front of the diary could be of him.
He bent to pick up the book, noticing idly when he walked into his bedroom that the lock had broken when it hit the hard wood of the floor.
He tossed it on the bed along with his shirt. Peeling the rest of his clothes off and tossing them to the side, he made his way to the master bathroom.
There was no way in hell he needed a house this big--seven bedrooms was big for a family, let alone a guy who lived alone and probably always would. But he loved the view, he loved the privacy, and even more than that, he loved the master bathroom.
There was a large Jacuzzi tub, big enough for two, or more, outset slightly in a windowed alcove. It was like taking a bath in the Sound--only a hell of a lot warmer.
But the shower was what he loved the most. He reached in and cranked on the hot water, sending a cloud of steam billowing towards the ceiling. When he stepped under the spray, he turned on the three other nozzles so that water pounded him from above and on his front and back.
When he bought the house, he figured the shower, with its long bench seat, would become one of his favorite places.
Of course, that was before his fiancée found out what he was and left in disgust.
Dismayed by his train of thought, he washed quickly and wrenched off the faucet. He dried himself off as he walked back into his bedroom, tying the towel around his waist.
He plopped down on his bed and picked up the remote. There had to be some sports or something on, or maybe he'd just order a movie from an adult movie channel. That was the most action he'd been getting in a long time.
Deciding on the porno flick, he turned to the channel and pressed the code on the remote to unlock the movie. Almost immediately, two buxom blonde girls appeared on the screen.
Immediately, the tallest blonde woman's top disappeared and the other one was on her knees licking and sucking her crotch. Van figured it was time to get himself comfortable.
When he stretched his legs out, his foot bumped the diary that he'd tossed there on his way into the bathroom. He reached towards the bottom of the bed and was surprised to see writing inside.
He looks deep into my eyes as his mouth latches onto my clit.
What in the hell had Kali bought him?
Jane was still fretting about her diary. She didn't have any luck at the store, and she wasn't having any luck at home either.
Where could the darn thing be?
She certainly didn't want anyone else ever reading the stuff in there.
She continued to fret as she changed into her blue flannel cloud pajamas and slipped her aching feet into her pink fluffy slippers. She pushed her blonde hair back with a headband and headed into the kitchen for a snack.
"An apple or a bowl of ice cream?"
Wasn't this the same decision she'd been faced with her entire life? She put her hands on her ample hips. Why bother? She knew what decision she was going to make.
She reached into the freezer and pulled out the remaining half of a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Grabbing a spoon and a romance novel off of her bookshelf, she headed into the bedroom.
Two hours later, she had finished her ice cream, and her book, but she was more depressed than ever.
The heroine had gotten her man--just like always.
She sighed as she got out of bed and went to stand in front of her father's old mirror.
"When am I going to get my man?"
She wasn't repulsive, at least she didn't think so, but she was lonely. No man had ever shown even the slightest interest in her.
She definitely needed to lose a few pounds, okay maybe like thirty to forty pounds, but she'd read on the Internet that some men liked curvy women. Okay, so maybe she was a little bit more than curvy, too.
Her light blonde hair was cut in a bob that ended just below her chin. Her mother had always told her that she had a pretty face--isn't that one of the worst things a fat girl can hear? Her favorite feature had always been her bright blue eyes.
Turning to the side in front of the mirror, she pulled her pajama top tight against her body. She studied the lumps critically before sucking in her stomach, trying to make herself as thin as possible.
Who was she kidding? She'd be lucky if someday someone considered her average.
Time to stop wishing for things that were never going to be and get back to reality.
"I really wish I could find my diary."
As she spoke, the mirror in front of her turned opaque.
Jane rubbed her eyes as the mirror changed colors, blues and pinks started to swirl in front of her eyes.
What had been in that ice cream?
She wanted to step away, go throw some cold water on her face, anything to prove to herself that she wasn't going crazy, but she couldn't seem to move.
Her fuzzy pink slippers felt like they were super glued to the carpet.
Slowly, the room in the mirror came back into focus. It took her a second to realize that it wasn't her room that she was looking at. Her room was white. She had a white comforter with small colored flowers. The room reflected in the mirror was dark. Green, she thought. There was a large dark four-poster bed in the middle of the room, covered with a sable covering.
She was about to look away when she did a double take.
There was a naked man on the bed, his penis in his fist, and he was reading her diary!
She knew she should turn away, she should do something, but she was stuck in one spot.
What in the heck was she looking at?
Well, she knew what she was trying very hard not to look at, but she couldn't tear her gaze away. He was huge.
She couldn't believe it, but she was standing in her bedroom watching some gorgeous man do ... things as he read her diary.
She was mesmerized as his hand slid up and over his large shaft. It was the biggest one she'd ever seen.
Echoes of 'you're a virgin, you've never seen one' played through her mind, but it was easy to ignore as she concentrated on the Adonis in the mirror.
He held himself in one hand and the book in the other. Which one of my fantasies is he reading?
He squeezed tighter, causing the head to turn an even deeper purple and a small bead of moisture to appear, glistening in the low light of the room.
She found herself licking her own lips, wondering what the moisture would taste like.
As if on their own accord, her hands inched up her pajama top, unbuttoning buttons as she moved. She trailed her fingers lightly up over her stomach to her breasts, ever so gently brushing the backs of her fingers over her nipples.
She gasped as the sensation flowed directly between her legs. Oh, how she wanted to lay down on her bed and take care of the ache growing there, but she knew she couldn't. She couldn't bear to lose sight of the man in the mirror.
She was shocked when he looked up and met her gaze in the mirror. His amber eyes connected with her blue ones.
Her eyes widened in shock.
What had she been caught doing?
Could he see her?
Was there a mirror on his side as well?
Oh, no, what should she do?
When one corner of his mouth tipped up in a slight smile, she knew that there was nothing she could do.
Their eyes stayed locked as he continued to palm his shaft. Spurred on by his obvious interest, she slid one hand slowly down her body and under the waistband of her pants. There was no way she was about to pull her pants off. Even in an ice cream induced fantasy, she didn't want her mirror man to see her body.
He slid his thumb up over the head of his shaft, spreading the liquid that had gathered there. He continued the up and down motion, but rather than paying attention to her diary, he stayed riveted on Jane in the mirror.
"Mmmm," she moaned, as she rubbed herself through her panties. She knew her body well enough to know what would send her over the edge, and she was quite close.
She was just waiting for him to go first.
As he pumped his hand faster and faster, it seemed as if it was getting more difficult for him to keep his eyes focused on her.
A few more strokes sent his head flailing back and his seed spurting out, covering his stomach and chest.
Jane fingered herself through her panties, knowing that she'd make herself climax. She shuddered her own release only a few seconds after him.
Jane expected to open her eyes and see herself staring back in the mirror, but he was still there.
He lifted his hips up off the mattress and pulled a towel out from under him. He cleaned himself off, still never taking his eyes off of hers in the mirror. Once he was clean, he tossed the towel on the floor.
He lay back on the bed, crossed his legs at the ankle, and once again picked up her diary.
He looked in the mirror and winked at her one last time before he went back to reading.
The mirror swirled, and before she knew it, she was staring at her own reflection in the mirror again.
She walked over to her bed and plopped down, pulling the covers around her.
What had she just done?
Who was the man in the mirror?
And how did he get her diary?
And why did he have the exact same eyes as the wolf on the cover of her diary?