HIS CURVY REJECTED MATE
coming SPRING 2023
Alec catches my eye from across the clearing and jerks his chin toward the woods. It’s so quick and subtle that no one but me would notice. My heart takes off. My gaze drops to my sneakers, and my cheeks burst into flame.
I shrink into my sweatshirt, glad the hood is up. Not like anyone’s paying any attention to me.
The unmated males are clustered on the river’s edge further upstream, drinking beers and arguing about the game they just finished. They play a mashup of human sports with the ball from soccer, the scrum from rugby, the tackling from football, and no firmly agreed upon rules. Then they spend the next couple of hours before the pack run fighting over how the plays should have been called.
The dams are packing up the leftovers while their males smoke pipes around the bonfire. Pups are everywhere—splashing in the shallows, climbing on the huge tires that serve as a playground, crawling under the picnic tables over in the pavilion, annoying the elders as they gossip.
The unmated females are posing on blankets on a grassy bank, sunning themselves in bikini tops despite the chill in the air as the afternoon fades.
I’m alone on the smooth rocks jutting into the river. When the males are messing around in the water, the females sit here to watch, but it’s all mine now.
I should stay right here. Pretend I didn’t see him. Or turn my back and face away so he knows I’m turning him down.
That’s what a female with pride would do, right?
But I’m already climbing to my feet, picking my way down the rocks to the sandy bank, licking my dry lips and wiping my palms on my faded jeans. I wish I’d washed my hair this morning. I threw it back in my usual low ponytail, and—oh, no. What bra am I wearing?
I can’t remember. I wriggle in my oversized top as if I can somehow tell by feel. Please be the black one.
Alec doesn’t always ask me to take my shirt off, but my luck, he will today, and I’ll be wearing the industrial strength nude contraption with four clasps that makes my boobs look like cones.
I’m careful to keep my pace unhurried as I skirt around the clusters of laughing males wrestling on the pebbled beach and the shark-eyed females propped on their elbows, surveilling the scene.
I think I’m going to make it, but when I pass the tables where the food was laid out, Brenda Shaw, our alpha female, calls me over.
“Here, girl.” She snaps her fingers, her long acrylic nails clicking. “Take this back with you to Nola.”
I dutifully take the aluminum wrapped plate she’s thrust in my direction, bending my neck and averting my eyes.
“Don’t you go and eat that yourself now, hear?” she tacks on. “That’s for Nola.”
My shoulders shoot to my ears as I duck my head lower and erase my face. A ball of shame catches in my throat. I’d never eat Miss Nola’s food, but that doesn’t matter. The alpha female has spoken, and the shame is a reflex.
After waiting a few seconds to makes sure she’s done with me, I go to leave, but before I can take two steps, an age-spotted claw grips my forearm. “Hold up, Fluffa. Finish these eggs, won’t you? There aren’t enough left to waste the wrap.”
A nearby female gasps. Another snickers.
Agnes Campbell squints up at me, oblivious to the reaction, holding a tray of devilled eggs in a shaky grip. There are three halves left.
The other dams fussing around the table stop what they’re doing to gawp, their ears pricking.
Brenda sighs as if she’s been inconvenienced. “Her name’s Flora,” she calls to Agnes.
I freeze in place, staring at the trampled ground, praying that Agnes has the grace to just drop it and let me go, but I know better.
“What?” Agnes barks like she couldn’t hear.
“That’s Flora. Donal Ritchie’s get,” someone supplies from the far end of the table at top volume.
Agnes thin lips screws into a scowl. I can’t fault her confusion. My father hasn’t acknowledged me since my dam died when I was six. He bailed when my dam caught the wasting sickness, and then he just stayed gone.
“No, I’m sure her name is Fluffa.” Agnes isn’t giving up.
“The others just call her that. Her name’s Flora Ritchie.” Brenda goes back to ladling macaroni salad into an empty whipped cream tub, the issue settled.
With that dismissal, the instinctive weight keeping me here eases, but Agnes still has my arm. She peers into my face. “But why do they call her Fluffa?”
To keep me in my place. Because they think it’s funny. To amuse each other and score points. Because being me is their worst nightmare so they have to joke about it. Because if they shove me as far down the rank as possible, they will never be lowest.
I keep my head bent, but Agnes has shrunk so much with age, she’s still glaring up into my burning face.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. It’s because of her—” On the other side of the table, the beta’s mate puts down the bowl she was holding to free her hands. She puffs her cheeks and gestures with her hands, making huge mounds in the air around her boobs and belly and butt. “You know. ’Cause she’s fluffy.”
Agnes’ rheumy eyes round. She gets it now. A slash of red appears across her weathered cheeks. “Well, I think Flora is a perfectly good name,” she mutters, and I’m about to forgive her when she looks back at the eggs, and her brow furrows. “There’s only three left,” she says.
My stomach turns. Her eyes narrow at me in speculation.
She raises the eggs higher under my nose. They slide around in their juices.
“Come on.” She prods my chest with the dish. “It’s not worth wrapping.”
I open my mouth to say no thank you, to make some excuse, but before I can, Brenda raps, “Just eat them, girl.” Alpha command underscores the words.
Complying is instinct. I reach for a slimy disk with a shaking hand, but it slips from my fingers. Agnes sighs, irritated, whatever discomfort she felt at messing up my name gone. I try again, trap one, and pop it into my mouth whole. My throat convulses, but I force it down.
I hate devilled eggs. Mayonnaise is disgusting.
I gulp down the second and the third, and before anything else can happen, I bob my head in Brenda’s direction, excusing myself, and escape toward the bonfire. The eggs skate in my stomach.
I pass Rhona Blackburn and Greer Munroe, the highest-ranking unmated females, on their way back from the bathrooms. They snicker under their breath as they strut by, casting me glances that somehow come from both the sides of their eyes and down their noses at the same time.
When I was younger, the snickers freaked me out. I’d check my zipper, surreptitiously wipe my nose, suck in my gut. I’m twenty-one now. I’ve long since figured out that they do it to mess with me.
I ignore them, give the older males at the bonfire wide berth, and take the trodden path that leads up to the concrete outbuilding that houses the toilets and a storage room. I duck around back and clamber up a sharp incline into the tall trees. The further I get from the pack, the higher my spirits rise.
I scrub the last few minutes from my mind, and anticipation fizzes in my belly, replacing the sick egg feeling. My pulse picks up, and my lungs tighten. By the time I get close to the place where we rendezvous, I’m panting. I stop for a minute to catch my breath. The dense woods are alive with critters rousing as the sun lowers behind the peak of Salt Mountain.
I run my tongue over my teeth, take my hood down, and smooth my hair, tucking loose strands behind my ears. I bite my lips to give them color.
For the first time today, for the first time in weeks, my blood rushes through my veins. I’m wide awake. The air smells fresh and clean, like summer is about to break, and green branches steeple above my head, delicate and lovely.
This is why I do it. This feeling.
My life is on repeat, the same thing, week after week, year after year. I collect the washing, run it through the machine, hang it on the line, take it down, fold it, deliver it to the high-ranking packmates in their compounds. I sweep powdered soap from the concrete floor, pinch my fingers in clothes pins, fix the errant wheel on the old metal cart for the hundredth time.
I eat breakfast and dinner with my head down in the back of the hall and lunch from a sack in between loads. I bring Miss Nola her meals, tidy our small bungalow, feed my bunny Harriet, clean her cage, stroke her soft fur. Good, bad, and indifferent, always the same.
But sometimes, every so often, Alec Cameron catches my eye and jerks his chin toward the woods. Or back in the day, when we were still in school, he’d nod in the direction of the bleachers at the stadium or the broom closet by the library.
I used to weave all kinds of dreams around it. He’s my mate, and one day, I’ll come into heat, and we’ll be together forever. Or he’s falling in love with me, but as a contender for future alpha, he doesn’t dare risk his rank to declare himself, but he can’t stop himself from seeking me out. One day, though, he’ll be so swept away, he’ll mark me and build me a cottage of my own high on South Peak, and we’ll have a dozen pups, and I’ll find Harriet a mate and she’ll have a dozen kits, and I’ll never be lonely again.
I’m not a teenager anymore. I know what this is. I should be ashamed, but I’m not.
I force my breath even and hurry the last few yards until I catch sight of him, leaning against a thick oak, bent leg propped against the trunk. The familiar chain reactions bursts into life inside me, shivers skittering up my spine, racing across my skin, puckering my nipples, tingling between my legs.
He’s so gorgeous. He’s playing on his phone, his pitch-black hair falling in his face. He’s wearing his usual white compression shorts under black soccer shorts and a long-sleeved shirt with a human’s name and the number seven on the chest. His black shoes have a white check mark on the sides, his crisp white socks just visible. How are his socks so clean after running up and down beside the river all afternoon, kicking a ball?
He glances up, although with how hard I’m panting, he must have heard me coming. I realize I’m still carrying the foil-wrapped plate. I blush.
The corner of his lip quirks for a split second. He never really smiles, never shows his teeth. His brown eyes darken to black, though, and a bulge appears in his shorts. His gaze drops to the plate, and he raises an eyebrow.
“It’s for Miss Nola,” I say. He tosses a shoulder and slips his phone in his pocket.
“Put it there,” he says, nodding to a mossy patch beside the tree.
This is always the most awkward part. He likes me to go to him. He keeps it cool, lounging against the tree like he couldn’t care less while I set the plate down. I approach him with slow, small steps. His arms hang at his sides, but the fabric still clings, molding to his ripped biceps and his broad chest. The white of the fabric sets off his olive skin.
He’s so handsome, so different than the other males who swagger and bray around the village, always jockeying for rank, loud and aggressive. He moves with a casual arrogance, saying little, his face giving nothing away. At least not to anyone else.
I know his tells. At least some of them. I come to a standstill a foot from him, gazing up into that cool, indifferent expression, and I can see the tic on his left temple pulse and his jaw firm. If I glanced down, I’d see that his shorts are fully tented.
Folks in this pack go out of their way not to look at me. Their eyes skip over me like I’ve been scribbled out, like I’m an embarrassing mistake. The fat shifter. Our kind aren’t supposed to carry extra weight. That’s a human thing. We don’t have overflowing breasts and pudgy bellies and thick thighs. I’m made wrong.
But Alec looks at me. Not around the others, but when we sneak off—his dark eyes eat me up.
“Take this off,” he says, plucking at my hoodie as he finally lowers his leg to stand on two feet. I pull it over my head, trying not to mess up my ponytail. I glance down. My white breasts spill over my pale blue bra with a lace edging. I exhale. Thank goodness it’s not the nude.
He swallows a deep growl, and someone else might miss the split-second rumble, but I don’t. My pussy throbs, and I soak my panties.
What is he going to do next? Is he going to be quick or draw it out? I never know.
Sometimes he tells me to touch myself. I love those times.
I whimper when he drags the cups of my bra down and fills his hands. He lifts and molds me, kneading my soft flesh, his breath growing ragged. He’s not gentle or smooth. He never has been. I don’t think he cares whether I like it or not, but I do. My breasts grow full and achy as I watch his tanned hands leave pink fingerprints on my white skin.
We’re both breathing heavy now. He’s been drinking lager. I keep my lips pressed together, praying he can’t smell egg.
His eyes rise to my face. He skims my cheek with a demanding hand, mashing my lower lip with his thumb, gripping my chin like I’m a doll, a plaything. I shouldn’t like this either, but it feels like a dream, to be seen, but not by someone looking to find fault, by a strong, beautiful male looking to please himself.
“Take this out.” He tugs the plastic band holding my hair back. He likes it down.
I yank the tie free and shove it in my pocket as he lifts my breasts and lowers his face, taking a brownish nipple in his hot, hungry mouth. I watch, my hair falling over my bare shoulders, whimpering as he suckles hard, lapping and lashing me with his rough tongue. His five o’clock shadow scrapes my skin. It hurts, and it makes me feel so good.
I moan, and I don’t try to stifle it. He’d hold a hand over my mouth back when we were in school, but out here, with no one around, he likes to hear me.
When the slight pressure on my shoulder comes, I’m expecting it. Sometimes I pretend I don’t know what he wants. I make him say, “Get on your knees, Flora,” his voice gravelly with his wolf, but I don’t mess with him today.
I sink down. The moss is soft and springy. A lot better than asphalt or tile.
Alec frees himself from his shorts, tucking the waistband under his balls. His cock is thick and ruddy, the vein running down the underside so plump that I squirm looking at it. I used to think he must be average sized, but then I was dumb enough to let Bram Blackburn get in my pants, so now I know Alec’s packing, not that it’s a plus when it comes to oral.
I lick around the mushroom head a few times, dropping kisses along the shaft, watching his abs tense with frustration. This isn’t what he wants.
I love his stomach. When he’s relaxed, he has ridges, but when he’s flexing—like when I tease him and he’s losing patience—he has bricks. I’m not sure how I feel about the way he tucks his shirt up under his chin so he doesn’t get cum on it by accident, but I do like the show.
I lap the glistening slit a few times, reacclimating myself to his salty taste. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not the worst, either. I actually like his smell. It reminds me of bread fresh from the oven.
“Flora,” he groans. I lap some more.
He tangles his fingers in my hair, gripping the back of my head. Once, early on, he shoved my head down and thrust forward at the same time, and I puked on his brand-new cleats. He’s more careful now.
He nudges my lips with his cock and applies slight pressure, urging me to take him in my mouth. I turn my face and nuzzle his shaft with my cheek.
“Quit fucking around, Flora,” he growls.
I almost smile. If I were to get up and walk away at this exact moment, he’d be devastated. I’m sure he’d be over it in no time, but still, for a few seconds at least, I’d have broken his heart.
I reach up and grip his base at the same time I part my lips, let him push into my mouth. Wrapping my hand around the base of his dick was another hard-learned lesson. It took a lot of choking and dry heaving before I figured it out.
He works himself in and out, holding me to him with his hand on the back of my head, and I relax my jaw, mentally disconnecting my gag reflex. My eyes tear up. He grunts, his breath coming quicker, his hips snapping. His wolf rumbles in his chest.
I love the sound. My wolf does, too. She lumbers forward, panting, to snuffle along the boundary between us. Obviously, I haven’t met her yet, but I know she’s a big girl, and she’s got a heart of gold. She reminds me of a pup—she’s into playing, squirrels, food, cool smells, and that’s pretty much it.
She also likes Alec’s wolf. Whenever she hears him, she’s off like someone shot a starter pistol, racing back and forth, sliding like she’s in socks on a hardwood floor.
I used to think her reaction was evidence that he’s our mate, but we’ve been messing around since junior year of high school, and there’s been no sign of my heat. He’s not, and ultimately, it’s for the best. He’s not nice, and despite what we do, he’s no different than the others.
Alec grunts and shoves my head closer, smushing my nose against his pubic bone. Oh. I kind of got distracted and stopped sucking. Not like you can suck much with a dick this far down your throat. I wiggle my tongue as much as I can, and that seems to do the trick. He moans and lets up a little. I can take a full breath again.
He used to come in two or three minutes flat. I guess because he has more experience at this point, it takes a lot longer now.
My stomach hurts at the thought, but there’s nothing I can do. At least he’s not dating Isla Sinclair anymore. That was the worst three months of my life. I’m sure Alec didn’t tell her about what we do, but she must have sensed something because she ganged up with Rhona and Greer to make my life miserable. It wasn’t like Alec and I fooled around when they were together. He pretended I didn’t exist like everyone else.
Alec’s muscular ass is clenching, and he’s loosened his grip on the back of my head to stroke my hair. He’s close. I relax my throat. He likes me to swallow, and I don’t want to spit in front of him, so I do.
“That’s so good, Flor. So good.” He grunts, his hips jerk, and a blast of hot cum shoots onto my tongue. My throat convulses, but I get it all down, desperately swallowing spit to keep it down. His dick slips out of my mouth. A string of cum and saliva droops from my lips to the shiny, reddish head of his cock.
“Show me,” he says.
I open my mouth wide like he taught me and stick my tongue out flat. The string snaps and sticks to my chin. He smiles, teeth and everything. My heart tumbles around in my chest like a dryer ball.
He tucks his softening dick, still wet with my spit, into his shorts. I come back to myself.
My cheeks are damp from my watering eyes. My knees ache. My butt’s sore from perching on the heels of my sneakers. Devilled eggs and cum slosh in my belly.
Alec bends over, and like I weigh nothing, he grabs me by the waist and hauls me onto my feet.
“Nice one, Flor,” he says, taking his phone out of his pocket, scanning for missed messages. “Give me ten before you come down."
And then, without a backwards glance or another word, he lopes off through the tree towards the pack’s gathering place at the river.