Waking up in a clump of bracken next morning, filthy and scratched but with an odd feeling of peace in his soul, Nick found that he had come to a decision regarding Julian Lauder. He would have to talk to the boy. Get things straight between them. Then, perhaps, he could start to put this whole thing behind him.
However, deciding to speak to Julian about their embarrassing encounter was one thing. Actually getting the opportunity to do so was another. In the end, Nick decided he’d just have to go and knock on the boy’s door. Which might sound simple, but really, when did fellows ever go visit students? If the boy had a friend there, it was bound to look odd. Nick decided in the end to go first thing in the morning, hopefully before anyone had thought of making social calls.
Like all first years, Julian had a room in college. It was right at the top in one of the older of the college buildings, and had the twin disadvantages of neither an attractive location nor any of the modern conveniences of the newest blocks. Which, in practical terms, meant six flights of stairs from the nearest bathroom. It was common knowledge that to walk under the windows of Garden Court late at night was to risk an early shower from some drunken student lacking the energy, the inclination, or possibly just the coordination to walk down to the loo.
Nick tried his best not to look furtive as he climbed the winding stairways and was relieved to pass no one on the way. Julian answered the door after three knocks, dressed in T-shirt and jogging bottoms, obviously hastily thrown on. God, he looked good enough to eat—at least until he saw who it was and visibly flinched. A muscle twitched at the side of his jaw, but he didn’t say anything.
“Um. Can I come in?” Nick asked. After all, this was hardly the sort of thing he could talk about in the corridor.
Julian stood aside without a word. His silent acquiescence did nothing to calm Nick’s nerves as he stepped into a small room, made more cramped by the slope of the roof. Nick hadn’t seen a great many student rooms since his own undergraduate days, but this one seemed rather more bare than most, with a distinct lack of posters on the walls or cuddly mascots on the bed or the desk. It could have been a hotel room, just after the maid had cleared away all signs of the last occupant.
“Look, I just wanted to, well, reassure you, really. About the other night.” Nick stopped. God, this was difficult. “I mean, I’m sorry I, er, interrupted you—and I’ve no intention of, well, saying anything to anyone.”
Julian stared at him as if he was speaking a foreign language. He ran a hand through his hair. Nick found himself envying that hand. “I know what you are,” he said finally, and it was so far from what Nick had expected that he couldn’t process it at first.
“I know what you are,” Julian repeated. “You’re—like me. I don’t—” He broke off and slumped onto his bed. Somehow, he managed to make even dejection look alluring. “What do you want?”
Nick stared. “What?” he said again, stupidly. He could think of quite a few things he wanted right now, starting with him on that bed with Julian with a damn sight fewer clothes, but he couldn’t for the life of him think of a single reason why the boy should be offering him anything.
Julian’s hair was messier than he’d ever seen it, and Nick’s fingers itched to smooth it back to silken perfection once more—or, even better, to muss it up completely. He was suddenly acutely aware that they were alone together. Damn it, what was happening to him? It was past the full moon; surely these aberrant impulses should be waning like the moon that controlled them? “I’m not after anything,” he said into the silence.
Julian gave a crooked, bitter smile. “Then why are you here? I’m not stupid. After all, you’re hardly the first—”
Nick was appalled. Just what the hell was Julian implying? “I don’t want anything from you,” he lied angrily. “And if someone has been…taking advantage of you, you need to tell me now.” He almost growled the last and struggled to get himself under control.
Julian was staring at him. Slowly, he rose from the bed and stepped closer. “You’ll look after me?” he asked in quite a different tone.
“Yes,” Nick said, barely aware that he was speaking. Julian was only inches from him now. Nick could feel the heat from his body, and the scent of him was strong in his nostrils. It spoke to him in a way he didn’t quite understand. Unbidden, his hands rose to Julian’s waist. Julian didn’t back away. On the contrary, he moved in, until their bodies were touching lightly.
Nick could hardly breathe. Slowly, that beautiful face came towards him and tilted, until Nick could feel hot breath upon his throat. He felt he must be dreaming as Julian nuzzled into his neck—God, started to kiss him gently. He was rock hard in an instant, pressing Julian’s body into his own. So beautiful. His scent was intoxicating. Nick had never known anything like this—and then Julian dropped gracefully to his knees, and Nick was wrenched back into the alley behind the pub. “What the hell are you doing?” Nick thrust the boy from him and backed away, appalled at what had been about to happen.
Julian flinched as though Nick had slapped him. “What do you want?” he asked angrily, scrambling to his feet, not quite meeting Nick’s eyes. “You said you’d look after me, and now—”
Nick was feeling increasingly out of his depth. “That doesn’t mean you have to…offer yourself to me. I don’t know—look, something like that would be entirely improper.” He winced at his language. God, he sounded like a Victorian maiden aunt, absolutely appalled to discover that sex even existed.
Julian’s eyes flickered. Nick was certain his arousal was all too visible and tried to calm his thoughts. Nadia, naked, he thought a little hysterically. Nadia, naked with the Master. Dr. Earle, Master of the College, was seventy-two, bald and stooped, with a rather annoying manner of speaking that never failed to set Nick’s nerves on edge. As his erection subsided somewhat, Nick reflected he’d never thought he’d be so grateful to the man.
“Why are you here, then?” Julian asked.
Nick wished the boy would look at him. The downcast eyes were having a very confusing effect on his instincts. “As I said, to reassure you that I have no intention of revealing anything you may wish to keep secret,” Nick said firmly.
Julian did look up then. “And I suppose you want me to promise the same?” he asked, this time with a hint of challenge that was even more confusing.
Nick flushed. “Well, it’s no secret that I’m gay, but I must admit I’d rather the student body as a whole wasn’t regaled with stories of me spying on students—or anyone else, for that matter. Honestly, it was entirely a coincidence that I happened to be there. And it was inexcusable for me to have lingered once I saw that you were, ah, engaged in a private activity. I can’t apologise enough for that.”
Julian flashed him an odd look and then gave a sort of lopsided shrug. “He wasn’t anyone. No one I knew, I mean. I doubt I’ll ever see him again.”
Now why the bloody hell did he see fit to volunteer that kind of information? “Don’t you think it’s a little dangerous to be engaging in sexual activities with strangers?” Nick said shortly.
Julian looked directly at him then. “He wasn’t dangerous. I know danger when I see it.”
Nick had the strangest feeling this was directed at him. But Julian couldn’t know. Could he? No, he’d simply been affected by Nick’s mood that night. After all, the man Julian had been with had clearly been afraid of Nick at the time.
Nick swallowed. Half of him was appalled that he’d terrorised the pair. The other half wanted to seize Julian by the shoulders and give him a damn good shake for—for what? He breathed out slowly, trying to calm his suddenly racing heartbeat. He should not be reacting like this to the boy. Not at this time of the month. “Right. Well, I’d, ah, better be going.”
“Goodbye, Dr. Sewell,” Julian said, and there was a mocking tone in his voice that Nick didn’t like one bit.
© J.L. Merrow
Author: J.L. Merrow
Genre:Paranormal, GLBT, Shape-shifters
To save his lover, he must become his own worst nightmare.
Dr. Nick Sewell. Non-conformist. Werewolf. The first puts him at odds with his colleagues’ idea of how an All Saints College lecturer should behave. The second, bestowed upon him by an ex-boyfriend, puts him at odds with himself.
There’s his tendency to change into a wolf on the full moon. And his visceral attraction to Julian Lauder, a troubled young German student. Despite his determination not to act on his desire, Nick’s brutal response to seeing Julian with another man frightens them both. At first.
Then Nick learns that Julian is not only a naturally submissive werewolf, but one who has learned better how to deal with just being a werewolf. That explains the attraction, but it doesn’t make it any easier when the tables are turned, and Julian—once the student—is now teaching Nick…who still isn’t happy about conforming to the “werewolf way”.
Meanwhile, reports of a strange wolf stalking the town barely register on Nick’s radar—until Julian disappears. Accusing eyes—both wolf and human—are turned toward Nick. Even with the help of friends, hope is growing as cold as the kidnapper’s trail. Unless Nick gives free rein to the wolf’s inhuman power…