I’ve been rather lax about my flash pieces here, pouring my time and effort into getting the various projects finished I wanted to publish this year. With Brienne released, Draxton up for preorder, and Izabel ready for the beta readers, I decided to return to a bit of short fiction.
Caught was the working title of Wolves of Sorrow: Shoba, so I thought it’d be a nice title for a slice of life piece featuring the growly wolf and her Rifaniir mate. This piece falls between Shoba and Brienne on the timeline, and is slightly steamy since they’re still in their “honeymoon” phase.
Shoba stopped in the doorway of the sparring room. Malia and Vaistu flowed through a graceful warm-up exercise, their movements slow, deliberate, and beautiful. The razheen’s head of security executed each move like a dancer, her control phenomenal and her discipline absolute. Vaistu’s movements were just as fluid, but his also betrayed a level of withheld power and strength which spoke to her mate’s fierce dominance.
Shaking her head, she walked to a bench tucked against the wall and prepared for another round of humiliation. In Bright Perish, the place of her birth, Shoba had been the strongest wolf in the pack. So strong, she’d scared her aunt and uncle until her wolf viewed them as prey. In Sorrow, her dominance butted heads with Mercer and Keelah as well as other strong wolves of the pack. But here, in Warrior’s Weald on Barif, even her wolf’s strength couldn’t overcome her body’s limitations. Wolves were graceful, lithe predators, but they couldn’t move like the Rifaniir. They couldn’t utilize a natural camouflage which turned them invisible.
Shoba was determined to find a way to overcome such deficiencies.
“Who’s pounding me into dust today?” she asked cheerfully when the pair brought their exercise to a halt.
Vaistu walked over and pulled her into a very deep, very thorough kiss. Shoba stiffened at first, still unused to her mate’s open and tactile affection, but then she surrendered to the sensations which had become an addiction in the short months they’d been together. He broke the kiss to trail stinging bites down her neck.
“You spar with me, little wolf.” He nuzzled the skin near her ear and added in a soft voice, “I’ll pound you into dust afterward.”
Choking on a laugh, she gave him a stern look. “Behave.”
Malia coughed into her hand. “If you two are finished? Some of us have other duties to attend to.”
“Jealous,” Shoba called to her new friend.
“Busy,” came the laughing reply. The next words, however, were said in the strict, business-like tone of a trainer. “I’ve watched the holovid of our last session, and I think I know a way you can compensate for some of our speed. It’ll mean changing some of your core techniques.”
“Not easy but not impossible.” Shoba shook the tension from her shoulders and arms and nodded. “Let’s go.”
They started slow, moving at quarter-speed while falling back into the rhythm of the mock-battle. At Malia’s signal, they moved to half-speed. She stopped them at various points to show Shoba a different way to block or strike that didn’t leave her vulnerable to another hit. They continued at that speed until the new moves became more integrated into her repertoire.
At three-quarter-speed, the new techniques flowed into muscle memory, enabling her to adjust more of her style to suit these new skills. Her wolf growled triumphantly at the first blow she landed beneath her mate’s guard. His sudden, fang-filled grin was her only warning before he disappeared.
Narrowing her eyes, she drew on scent and training to track the faint shimmer which outlined Vaistu’s body. He wouldn’t be able to hold the camouflage during intense combat, so she needed to bring the fight to him. She launched into a whirlwind attack. Some landed, most didn’t, but it put him on the defensive. His camouflage fractured at the edges.
An hour later, she stepped into the large, heated tub with a groan. “Everything hurts.”
Vaistu pulled her onto his lap, his hands massaging sore muscles… and other places. “Want me to kiss it and make it better?” His subvocal language surrounded her with teasing clicks and seductive purrs.
Shoba loved every aspect of her mate—his playfulness, his strength, his fierce protectiveness, his gentle care—but the way he caressed her with a song only she could hear was a treasure beyond price. She turned to straddle his lap, his erection a tantalizing promise of pleasure trapped between them. She leaned down and took a slow, lazy kiss from this man who’d taught her joy, taught her she was exactly who she was meant to be.
One kiss became another. Their hands explored, caressed, relearned each other with lazy pleasure. When they came together, it was a gentle loving no less passionate for its languid pace. Shoba felt cherished, worshiped by her mate, and she cherished him in return.
“I’m never going to be as fast as the Rifaniir,” she grumbled into Vaistu’s neck after the shudders of pleasure calmed into sated contentment.
“No.” He ran soapy hands over her back and shoulders. “But you’re no longer defenseless, either. I have a few more ideas on things you can implement, and Malia is working out some as well. You’ve only been here a few months. You’ll get there.”
Shoba growled again and felt his body shake with laughter. “Not soon enough.”
They kissed and teased and bathed with more laughter than she’d ever experienced before she met her mate. He left a trail of kisses down her back while rubbing her dry. She repaid his teasing with some kisses of her own, licking a path down his chest until he hauled her into his arms, pressed her against the wall, and claimed her with primal thoroughness.
Tucked against her mate, surrounded by his arms and the familiar scent of rich dirt and pines and coiled danger, Shoba felt sleep beckon. Before she surrendered, she pressed a kiss to his shoulder and whispered, “Caught.”