With his face turned to the wall, the boy at first remained exactly where he was. His knees were pulled up, his head tucked against them with his arms wrapped tightly around his shaking body. Mick could smell the fear rolling off him and was just about certain he was going to have to physically pull the kid out from his hiding place until a slight movement proved him wrong. Slowly, the young man’s defensive posture eased. His chin came up and he turned his head.
Mick quickly stifled his indrawn breath of surprise. The boy’s countenance was, quite simply, angelic. Though overly thin, his oval face was the perfect frame for a pair of tender, lush, and faintly rose-tinged lips and the slim, straight nose that rose over them. His pale, fine and creamy skin nearly begged to be touched, but it was his eyes that truly mesmerized. Liquid silver-gray with a hint of midnight blue around the rim of the iris, they were large and luminous. Thick lashes and slightly winged brows emphasized their hypnotic beauty. Though tousled and dirty, his platinum hair still somehow managed to attract the light as though it couldn’t bear the thought of leaving untouched that which so richly deserved to shine.
A renewed surge of pure lust assaulted Mick, but he fought it down. If his time with Sutter resembled Daniel Taylor’s experiences, this boy had been through hell. He wasn’t about to add to the kid’s nightmares. Putting a lid on his physical response to the pup, Mick backed off a bit.
“Come on out now,” he encouraged, frowning at the soft, husky rasp of his own voice. Apparently there were parts of himself that weren’t going to be amenable to his will where it concerned his attraction to this young stranger. Casting off his annoyance, Mick waited.
The boy considered him for a moment then slowly wiggled from beneath the table. On legs that were a little unsteady he stood then reached up to the collar that encircled his throat. Trembling fingers unbuckled the thick leather strap attached to the dangling chain leash. Mick frowned at the sores beneath the collar but noted that the flesh began to heal almost immediately. Leather and metal dropped to the floor with a ringing thump. The kid’s gaze traversed the floor and came to rest on the man who had tormented him for so long. His bare feet moved and with a few wobbly steps, he stood next to the body.
A harsh, anguished wail broke from the boy and before anyone could react he began kicking Sutter’s supine body. “You bastard! You lousy, low-life, sadistic son of a bitch! I hate you! I hate you!” His screamed obscenities echoed off the walls and ceiling, his terror and loathing a living entity. Mick flinched and noticed a similar reaction from nearly every person present.
Mick was the first to break from the jarring shock caused by the boy’s actions. He grabbed the kid from behind and wrapping his arms around that wiry torso, pulled him away from Sutter’s body. “Whoa, now. Ease up, kid. He’s dead. He can’t hurt you anymore. You hear me? He can’t hurt you anymore.”
Seemingly caught up in a storm of out of control emotions, the boy struggled and fought like a wild thing caught in a trap. He snarled and screamed, his fingers curling into claws, his nails raking across Mick’s arms. When he tried to bite as well, Mick had enough. He carefully tightened his grip, making it more and more difficult for the boy to breathe.
“Stop it. Stop it right now,” Mick curtly ordered. His words and actions left no room for disobedience.
With his air supply dwindling, the distraught youngster began to whimper, his senses returning. Mick loosened his grip and the boy took a few deep breaths then collapsed against him. His rough, broken sobs accompanied shakes so deep Mick had reason to wonder why the kid’s teeth weren’t rattling. Any remaining lust he’d felt dissolved in a wave of baffled concern. At a total loss as to what to do, his wolf’s instincts took command. Mick hoisted the young one up into his arms, found an upright chair among the tangled mess of furniture and sat down. Settling the distressed pup in his lap, he offered a throaty, crooning growl and rubbed the boy’s back in an unpracticed but gentle manner. That slim body curled itself around Mick and he bent his head, nuzzling his cheek against the boy’s hair.
“There now. Let it go. Just let it go, kid,” Mick gruffly whispered.
Hot tears trickled down his chest from where the boy had laid his cheek against Mick and his warm, hiccupping breaths caressed Mick’s bare skin. Though sorry for what caused the kid’s tears, oddly enough he found himself liking the sensations they created. It felt intimate and satisfying to offer protection and comfort to the young one. It was too bad it had to be under such horrific circumstances.
Taking a deep breath, he let the boy’s scent fill his nostrils. Beneath the myriad scents of dirt, sweat, fear, blood and tears, Mick noted something more. The underlying aroma was musky, with a mildly sweet tang that rose with the warmth of his body. It intrigued him and urged Mick to take stronger note of the young werewolf in his arms. He felt a stirring deep inside, an awareness that slowly bloomed beneath his puzzled consciousness. His mind teetered on the brink of acknowledging some snippet of information, some small fact of large import. The realization and understanding of what tickled his brain and senses was just within reach when it was suddenly dashed away by the sudden thrashing movements of the pup he held so close.
Hands planted themselves on his chest and an angry voice began demanding, “Let me go. Let go. Get your fucking hands off me!”
Irritated to have his thoughts interrupted, Mick’s protective instincts evaporated and he promptly complied. The struggling boy tumbled out of his lap and hit the floor with a dull thump. He looked up at Mick with wide, accusing eyes.
Mick shrugged. “You said to let go, so I did.”
“Bastard,” the boy said, angrily spitting the word.
“Afraid not. My parents are actually married. The name’s Mick Matranga, and who might you be?”
“None of your fucking business.”
“I could go for the obvious joke and say that’s a really odd name, but I think I’ll pass and just say you’re wrong about that. You’re under my protection until the CFSBE figures out what to do with you. It would be convenient to have a name for you unless you’re ready to settle for being called ‘hey you.’”