Ted Canedo knew it was a dream. In fact, it was the same dream he’d had for the last four months. He was driving down a smooth two-lane blacktop in the country, a place he’d never been before except in this dream. He passed a now familiar huge oak tree, Spanish moss hanging from its thick, undulating branches.
Very picturesque, very south Louisiana.
Beyond the tree, a gravel road. He turned off, bumping and jarring his way down it. Passing a metal sign nailed to a wire and post fence, he strained to read it. Just like the times before, it went by in a blur.
Ted sighed and drove on. He came to a wooden bridge, slowed, and took it carefully. The boards shuddered under the weight of his SUV, but he knew it would hold. Knew he would be home soon.
That’s not right.
Home was a small second-floor apartment in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
He pulled in front of the raised wooden house and parked. Like most homes along the bayous and waterways, it stood on stilt legs, high enough to stay out of the occasional floodwater. A set of stairs zigzagged up the front, leading to a screened porch.
He climbed the stairs and opened the screen door, its musical creak sounding both familiar and new. He pushed through the front door and entered the house as if he’d always lived there. The surroundings blurred, and his vision focused on a door across the room, pulling him toward whatever lay behind it.
Without him touching it, the door opened, and he passed through into a bedroom, gliding as if he floated. Covered in one of those white cotton chenille spreads from his childhood, a large bed with a high headboard stood against the far wall.
He stopped in front of a dresser, its top covered with an old lace antimacassar; silver stars danced over the lace as if they’d fallen from the night sky to land there. Ted glanced up into the mirror.
Naked, as always. Did he ever have a dream where he had clothes on?
His pale body glowed in the odd light that filled the room, a sharp contrast to his blue-black hair. Other than the hair on his head and the dark curls at the base of his cock, his skin was smooth.
He turned to the window and looked out. Time must have passed, because the reflection of the full moon played on the still waters of the bayou.
Someone moved behind him, but Ted didn’t flinch or whirl around. Didn’t jerk away when the man put his long arms around Ted. Instead, Ted leaned back into the embrace, feeling safe, protected, loved. Feelings Ted hadn’t felt in so long, they washed over him like cool water in the desert.
As Ted looked down at the man’s tanned arms, Ted’s skin gleamed pale against them. Soft blond hair sprouted everywhere, even across the knuckles of the strong hands holding him. Did his lover have an equally hairy chest? Yes, a lover. Another thing he hadn’t had in a long time. Ted didn’t count the guys he picked up in bars for a quick handjob or blowjob.
Those large hands caressed his belly, ran over his abs, and descended to wind fingers in the hair surrounding Ted’s stirring cock. Turning in his arms, Ted tried to glimpse his face.
Frustrated, he let out his breath. “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, I never
get to see his face.”
He rolled over, punched his pillow into a new shape, and glanced at the clock. A little after midnight.
Weird. Same time as the other dreams. If he wasn’t so fascinated by it, he’d be creeped out.
He just knew this dream meant something. Maybe he should go see the old woman at the voodoo shop, have his palm read, or toss the bones and see what his future held.
Not that he believed in any of that crap. Ted called himself a practical man, with his head squarely on his shoulders, his feet planted firmly on the ground, and his 9mm SIG held tight in his hand.
But this recurring dream was driving him nuts, and in New Orleans, well, just about anything could happen.
Each time, he’d lain in bed afterward deciding what it was trying to tell him, or if it was just the spicy food he loved to eat.
It could mean he would get lost on his upcoming trip and find the man of his dreams. No way. First, that was too simple, there had to be more. Second, he didn’t really have a “man of his dreams.” His men were more “man of the moment.” He’d given up dreams about three years ago.
Maybe the tree stood for something else. Family? Or maybe the bridge meant something. Transitions? He groaned and buried his fingers in his hair and pulled. This stupid dream had to stop. If he kept thinking about it, he’d go batshit crazy.
He rolled over onto his back and tried to relax using the trick his therapist had taught him for getting his panic attacks under control. Deep breaths in through his nose, then long exhalations through his mouth.
He refused to do the stupid chant. That was just silly, but this usually worked, calmed him down. After a few minutes, the thrumming in his dick replaced the noise in his head.
He groaned and rolled over, the thick weight of his growing cock pressing against his thigh.
His sexual urges had ramped up over the last few months, oddly around the time the dream had started. Normally, he didn’t have sex dreams. If he wanted sex, he’d just go find a fuck at a bar or phone a friend with benefits.
No friends. He’d have to play nice, talk, maybe even, God forbid, share his feelings.
What he needed was a good, nameless, mindless, no-strings-attached fuck, to be exact. He threw back the tangled covers and stood, his erection pointing straight ahead.
Early still. He’d hit Lafitte’s and pick up the first pretty twink he found. Get a blowjob and get back home in time to catch a few more hours of sleep.
* * *
, let’s not get into that again.” Scott Dupree shook his head as he pulled out a chair and sat at the table with his coffee. Breakfast with his mother once a week was a tradition. Painful, at times, but a tradition, nonetheless.
Plopping his sheriff’s hat down on the table, he leaned back in the chair and stretched long khaki-covered legs under the table. Her black cat wound its way around him, shedding hair all over his pants. He nudged it away with his foot, and it strolled over to lie on the floor behind his mother standing at the stove.
“Don’t give me any back talk, son.” She waved her spatula at him as she talked around a cigarette dangling from her lips. “You’re getting old. You’re the alpha. Time to take a mate, settle down, and give me a grandchild.”
Same song, same verse, same spatula.
Scott groaned. This wasn’t going to end if he didn’t say something, humor the old woman. Merde, he didn’t want kids, didn’t even want a mate. How many times had he told her that? She never listened to him, just kept on blathering away about how his life should be, according to her and the laws of their small wolf pack.
He hated to admit it, but she was right, and he’d felt the pull of his need to mate strengthen every year since he’d turned thirty, and every year he fought against it.
Tooth and nail, so to speak.
“Maman, thirty-five isn’t old. As soon as the right woman comes along, I’m there. Promise.” He took a sip of her thick, scalding black coffee laced with chicory.
“Right woman?” She snorted. “If she’s alive and breathing, she’s right. If she’d put up with your big hulking body, she’s right. If she’s tough as nails, can throw you to the ground and make you cry ‘uncle’, she’d really be right,” she muttered at the frying pan as she cooked.
“Sure, that’ll work. This hellcat you got picked out for me, can she be pretty too?” He grinned at her as she placed a platter of sausages on the table.
She turned without looking down and stumbled over the cat. It hissed at her, black hair standing on end.
“Merde, that cat will be the death of me.” She kicked at it, but missed as it trotted out of the room, tail held high. She pulled out a chair from the table and sat, dropping her cigarette in an ashtray.
Scott waved the smoke away, picked up the tray, and moved it to the counter. “Forget the cat. The smokes will get you long before it does.”
She scowled, but ignored him. “Oh, yeah, she’d have to want to be married to a cop and a werewolf.”
“That’s sheriff, Maman, not cop. Just because I’m of mating age doesn’t mean I’m going to find my mate any time soon.” Scott speared a link of sausage with his fork, careful not to stain his sheriff’s uniform. The cat hair was bad enough, but sausage grease on his shirt wouldn’t help inspire confidence in his ability to serve and protect, and besides, he’d smell it all day.
“You have to look for something in order to find it,” she snapped.
“I’m busy. I just got elected sheriff two years ago after Sheriff Cotteau retired, and I’m trying to focus on my career.”
She snorted. “Same old excuse. Never mind, I been working on getting her here for you,” she said with a sly smile.
“Not that voodoo crap again?” Scott shook his head and inwardly cringed. “What would Father Francis say if he knew?”
“It’s not voodoo.” She shrugged and looked insulted. “I just say a little prayer to Mary, that’s all.”
Scott leaned his elbow on the table and stared at her, the sausage halfway to his lips. “Was there a dead cat?”
She looked down at her eggs as if searching for something interesting in them, like the image of Mary. He hoped this time they were just regular eggs, because he didn’t have the manpower for another
sighting of the Virgin Mother.
She didn’t answer.
“There was a full moon last night.” He chewed and took a swallow of the coffee to wash it down. “Perfect night for a love spell.” He raised his eyebrow.
“It’s not a spell, I tell you. I’m a practicing Catholic, and you know it.” She jerked her chin up.
“Yeah, you’re practicing, all right. But I’m not sure it’s kosher.” He grinned. Despite her craziness, he loved her.
“Kosher?” She grimaced. “I don’t know about kosher, but it wasn’t voodoo.” She picked up her plate and moved to the sink.
“I just hope she’s pretty, is all,” Scott said as she rattled and banged the pots and pans in the sink.
He finished his breakfast, got up, pecked her on the cheek, and slipped out the back door. He’d laugh about the spell if he didn’t have a sneaking suspicion it might work.
His mother came from a long line of women with powers--women who could see the future in dreams, or know a person’s fate just by looking at them.
Scott shook off a chill that skittered down his spine as he got behind the wheel of his patrol car. He drove along the uneven road back to the main highway, refusing to think about a mate.
He just wasn’t ready to settle down, that’s all.
The radio crackled, and the dispatcher announced a wreck at the nearby interstate exit involving one of his deputies. He leaned forward, hit his lights and siren, and headed to the scene, forgetting all about the urges that had been wracking his body over the last few months, especially during the full moons.
Mating moons, the others in the pack called it.
He called it a big pain in the ass.
Some of his pack worked for him as deputies, and the three days of the full moon each month were spent wrangling them into some semblance of order. Most of the time, it was like nailing Jell-O to a tree. All they wanted was to fuck, run in the swamp, and howl. Damn fool Cajuns.
But lately, it was like they’d become hormone-driven teenagers again, and it was his job to keep them focused on their work, showing up on time, and not scaring the hell out of the tourists.
Sure, the legend of the Rugarou
, a half man, half wolf bloodthirsty beast that prowled the local swamps, bolstered their parish’s tourist trade, filled the area’s hotels, B and Bs, and restaurants, but it was a big headache nonetheless, especially for law enforcement.
Extra traffic and strangers made for a troublesome combination, especially for their small police force, most of which kept the legend alive by prowling the woods and swamps.
He pulled in behind a cruiser with its lights flashing, and parked.
One of his younger deputies, Billy Trosclair, trotted over to him, his face pale and his upper lip sweat-soaked.
“What’s up, Billy?” Scott asked as he got out.
“Frank Commeaux lost control of his cruiser and rear-ended a truck.” Frank was another of his deputies and a pack member.
“Is he hurt? The other driver okay?”
“No, Frank’s just shaken up. The other guy is fine too.”
“What the fuck happened?” Scott looked over the head of the younger man toward the accident scene. Frank stood to the side with two other officers as they took notes. The nose of the cruiser sat crumpled under the tail end of a large delivery van. The van’s driver leaned against the side of the van, shaking his head.
Billy glanced at Frank, exhaled, and hooked his thumbs in his utility belt. “He had his eyes on Marissa Waters. She was walking on the side of the road. Hitchhiking over to Beau Bridge.” He shrugged. “She’s awful cute, you know.”
As if that was a good enough excuse.
Scott slapped his hand over his face and slid it down, biting back the words bubbling up from his throat in a low growl.
Billy stepped back. “Sorry, sir.” He leaned in. “It’s that time of month.”
Scott stared at him. “Time of month? What are we, a pack of women?” He pushed Billy to the side and headed straight for Frank, determined to make an example of the deputy.
The other men saw him coming and faded into the background, leaving Frank alone as their boss and alpha descended.
“Frank, you’re suspended from duty for a week without pay, and on desk duty for two more weeks.” He pointed to the man, who nodded, accepting his punishment. If Frank had been in wolf form, he’d have his head down and his tail between his legs.
Scott spun to face the others, all young men of his pack. “Y’all? I don’t care what the damn moon is doing, get a grip on yourselves. This is not the way law officers behave. I want a full report written up and on my desk in two hours, get it?”
“And get this mess cleared up, ASAP! The Pasqual funeral is scheduled for this afternoon, and they’ll be passing this way.”
Scott spun and headed back to his car, fists clenched and fighting more than just his anger.
The moon’s pull had hit him hard too, dammit, but he’d been man enough not to succumb to it. Couldn’t the others get some control of their bodies, like he did?
Despite his urges over the last two nights, he’d kept it in check, jerked off alone in his bedroom each morning and night, and concentrated on his work, not his needs.
As alpha, he had to set an example, and hell, he’d managed to control himself for the last five years, why couldn’t they?
Damn horny wolves.
He slammed the door shut, threw the car in gear, and turned it around. Frustration surged, and for a moment, his wolf whined to get out, the soft noise filling the cabin of the cruiser. As he drove to the station, he rolled down the window, gulping air in an effort to quell his anger and subdue his wolf before he lost it.
He pulled through a fast-food place, got a cup of coffee, and headed in to his office. After the first few sips of the hot black java, he felt almost human again.