An Excerpt From: Beast of Awakening

© Copyright Cynthia Williams, 2005.

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave, Inc.


“Let’s get that bastard!”

Erik Johansson turned to his brother, Karl, his wolfan eyes narrowed. “He’s dreaming about Danni, isn’t he?” He was the leaner, shorter of the two but made up the difference by being the first to jump into the fray. His mind was already leaping to all sorts of conclusions.

“Yeah.” Karl let out a slow breath. His protective instincts kicked into full gear. Karl was second oldest sibling in the family, following his oldest brother, Wood, but that didn’t keep him from feeling like it was his job to watch over his pack sister. In fact, Wood and their mother had generally left him in charge of Danni while their mother oversaw the pack’s community stores and Wood worked as the pack’s blacksmith, a position he’d undertaken after the untimely death of their father twenty years ago.

The abrupt transition from dream state to alertness left Karl with a mild headache. He rubbed his palms over the soft fur of his face massaging the headache away. Concern had him pressing his lips together as he leaned forward on the ornately carved arms of the reclining dream chair he and Erik had made for Wood a couple of seasons ago.

They’d seen the looks Sirus Parker had covertly given their pack sister, Danni, all evening at their pack leader’s wedding reception. Like many of the wolfan males, the human was no doubt attracted to her exotic appearance. A tigran, Danni belonged to a human subspecies that derived their heritage from both standard humans and the white Bengal tigers of Earth. As a result of this mixture, their curvaceous young sister was adorned with the beautiful fur and coloring of the Bengal tigers. Delicate black stripes ran along the curves of her back, hips and thighs, in sharp contrast with her snow-white fur.

She wore her hair long, letting the soft, black-threaded white locks fall down her back in loose waves. It had a tendency to swing from side to side as she moved with feline grace. They’d noticed tonight that Parker kept track of her movements, his eyes following her as she visited family and friends, and then narrowing when she brushed up close to a male. For a moment Karl could almost imagine Sirus as a male Bengal tiger in the wild, tracking his potential mate, ready to pounce if competition threatened to take her away before he made his move.

It was frustrating to the brothers to know that Danni hadn’t done much to discourage Parker, either. Perhaps she was impressed with his space captain’s uniform or the fact that the tall, lanky human had a dangerous look about him, something women seemed to like, or maybe it was just the fact his eyes were the same deep blue—what many in the pack called “tigran blue”—as Danni’s. They also had to be careful about offending their pack leader, Karrick Logan. Sirus was the uncle of Amanda Parker, their pack leader’s new bride.

After she’d seen Sirus for the first time at Karrick and Amanda’s bonding ceremony, Karl and Wood had to snag Danni by the arm and drag her away, leaving the occasion a bit early to separate her from the human who’d shown way too much interest in their little pack sister. To think she’d even hissed at them on the way home. It was enough to almost hurt their feelings.

Yanking her arm from Wood once she’d reached their house, the petite tigran had hurried into her room to primp herself up for the reception, brushing her long hair into a high sheen, and even changing her dress to one that molded tightly to her curves. She’d done something to her face, too, but Karl was damned if he could figure out what it was. Somehow her lips were plumper and brighter red, and her eyes looked subtly larger, more mysterious.

Karl thought of sending her back into the house to change but they were already running late.

When they’d arrived at the celebration, Karl and Erik couldn’t help but notice the look of pleasure on Danni’s heart-shaped face when she spied Sirus Parker sitting across from Dr. Logan in the great hall. They pulled Wood off to have a short conversation. All three decided to take turns keeping a close eye on her.

Nonetheless, the clever minx found a way to slip out and, sure enough, after wondering what was taking her thirty minutes in the women’s room, the brothers watched her come in from outside with Parker close behind her. Karl was ready to go over and pummel the human but the fast march Parker made over to Dr. Logan stopped him in his tracks. Parker and Logan were soon embroiled in what looked like a heated discussion, at least from Sirus’s end, so Karl turned to Erik and shrugged.

After the reception was over, having lasted into the wee hours of the morning, the rest of the Johansson family went straight to bed, except for Karl and Erik. Fortifying themselves with Kujah wine, they conspired to find out what Parker was up to. Karl waited several hours to put himself into REM-sleep, so he’d have the greatest chance of intercepting Parker’s dreams.

Most of the Wolfan Psi Pack had the ability to merge into other’s dreams and it was considered very impolite to merge without permission. Bethan Logan, Karrick’s mother, regularly tried to reinforce this by giving lectures to the pack on dream communication etiquette. Neither of the brothers really gave a rip. Manners were for pussies, anyway.

Besides, there was vindication in this case. Parker was clearly dreaming about getting into Danni’s pants.

Standing up, Karl smashed his fist into the palm of his hand, his voice rife with irritation. “He’s dreaming of her sitting on his lap, all cuddled up with her arms around his neck. She’s even telling him how handsome he is.”

“Why, that son of a bitch.” Erik’s eyes hardened. “She’s just a baby.”

Karl coughed, and thought it might not be a good time to remind Erik of the fact that Erik had been seeing Adanna McMullen for nearly a year, and she was, in fact, a few months younger than their pack sister. Erik had recently been plotting to take the voluptuous wolfan on an overnight camping trip. A trip that would relieve her of her virginity. The irony wasn’t completely lost on him. “Well, uh, at least it’s one-sided. He can’t merge into her dreams like we can.”

Cracking his knuckles, Erik said in a silky voice, “Maybe so, but I think we should go have a talk with him.”

Karl paused for a minute, and then nodded his head as his eyes narrowed, and a malevolent grin spread across his lips.

* * * * *

Stretched out on the large bed in the cabin his niece, Amanda, had previously occupied, Sirus smiled as he dreamed. His last thoughts before he’d fallen asleep were of holding Danni in his arms. She’d tripped earlier in the evening when they were both outside in the dark. For a brief moment, he’d had his arms around the warm, fragrant, tigran woman and had almost given in to the impulse to kiss her soft lips. He’d played the gentleman and suppressed his desires, but his unconscious did not play by civilized rules and beckoned him to slake his thirst…

 

The clouds hiding the moon moved on, allowing him enough light to see Danni’s lovely face. He looked down into her luminous blue eyes, the hot breath from her lips fanning his neck.

She smelled lightly of the flowers that surrounded the cabin he was staying in, and of warm feminine musk.

He gave in to temptation and kissed her softly. It was a sweet kiss, a comment on how beautiful he found her, and one that left him hoping it was only the first of many.

They walked for a short while, content to just stroll with their arms about the other’s waist. He found a comfortable bench, sat down, and invited her to share it with him. A secret smile touched her lips before she climbed onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck.

A dimple appeared just to the left of her sweet grin and she ran her fingers through his thick, black locks, enjoying the texture of his hair. “You’re so handsome, Sirus,” she purred.

He chuckled, and then, turning more serious, kissed her lightly on her cheek.

He loved the feel of her weight on his lap and ran his hands over her curved bottom and up the sides of her slender back. He wrapped one arm around her waist, pulling her closer, and slipped the fingers of his free hand under the fabric of her dress, beneath the folds covering her long, lithe thighs. Her white tigran fur was very short and the satin feel of it against her skin intoxicated him. His hand followed the long length of her leg, starting from the tips of her dainty toes, moving along the curves of her calves and thighs, and slowed as he approached the heat of her femininity. His hand stopped when she pressed her thighs firmly together, trapping him within a hairsbreadth. She wore no undergarments and the soft curls at her juncture tickled against the backs of his fingers like the softest silk.

She snuggled against him, the soft curves of her breasts pressing hard against his chest. He felt the blood draining into his arousal, his desire for her making him painfully hard.

He stared down at her, longing in his dark blue eyes.  Not a word passed his lips but the masculine question in his gaze demanded she answer. She smiled at him, and he suspected that the sparkle in her eyes hinted at a seductive sense of humor. He wondered if she would tease him this night.

Just as he was about to ask the question, Danni responded with a low, throaty purr, leaning in to rub her soft cheek against his. He closed his eyes, immersed in the velvety texture of her fur, absorbing the sexy murmur of her answer. Deep within, the primitive male part of him recognized her acquiescence.

He leaned down to brush his lips against hers. They were soft, a little damp. She opened her mouth slightly and he ran the tip of his tongue between her lips. She trembled in his arms and his control snapped. His hand fisted her long hair and he pulled her harder into his embrace. She moaned and opened her lips, letting him devour her as his mouth covered hers hungrily.

Together they went up in flames, and soon kisses were no longer enough to satisfy them.

He slid his fingers into her heat, the slick wetness telling him she was ready. He pulled back from the kiss and used both hands to straddle her across his lap.

He unfastened his trousers, gazing with heated lust into her eyes. His voice was gruff with emotion. “Danni, this might hurt a little bit at first, darling…”

 

An abrupt blinding pain suddenly shot through Sirus’s head, expelling him from the dream. Forced into complete wakening, his senses screamed danger at him. He opened his mind and could feel two menacing presences approaching the cabin. Immediately he climbed out of bed, moving very quietly to the door.

As he realized who sought him out, surprise changed to determination. His eyes narrowed and a thin smile marked his lips.

In a few minutes, they would arrive. Sirus gently opened the door and stepped outside into the crisp night air, his bare feet stepping gingerly onto the cold, hard-packed ground. He was almost naked, his only covering the black silk boxers that he favored. He closed the door behind him and glided with silent stealth to the back of the cabin. The light was poor, but nonetheless, he could make out two large shadowy figures covertly approaching the cabin. The sense of outrage he felt emanating from them clued him in to their identity. No doubt they’d worked each other up into a fine lather.

Sirus looked forward to the coming confrontation. He had a wallop of a headache and he sure wasn’t happy. He had been torn from a very enjoyable dream. Sirus could understand how Danni’s pack brothers would be less than thrilled that he was dreaming about their sister. But dammit, did they have to give him a migraine just because of a little dream tryst?

And if he wanted Danni, whose business was it but his?

The longer he waited for them, the more pissed he got. Spying on his dreams just wasn’t ethical. He didn’t know if there was a special set of rules for humans who had paranormal talents.

Certainly, no one had ever bothered to instruct him on what those rules might be, if they did exist, but he had always operated within the parameters of what he believed was right. He used his talents to help with business dealings or in extreme situations , but over and above that, he drew the line.

More than anything, he valued the right of the individual to live out his life without other people prying into his—or her—innermost thoughts and feelings.

He crouched into a waiting stance, ready to teach the two a lesson.

 

* * * * *

The brothers spied Sirus approaching from the back of the cabin.

Erik was the first to notice. “Parker must have stepped out to take a leak.”

Karl smiled at his brother’s comment. “Nah, I think he had a sense we’re coming. I gave him a little goodbye present when I checked in on his dream a few minutes ago.” He chuckled.

“You must be losing your touch, Karl. He’s moving around.”

Karl elbowed him in the side. “My touch is just fine.” He pointed to where Sirus waited for them. “See, he’s crouched over in pain.”

Erik peered more intently. “Yeah, you’re right. He doesn’t look like he can hold himself up straight.”

Karl nodded, appeased.

Sirus stepped forward and he didn’t look happy. “It’s a fighting stance, nimrod,” he taunted, his voice heavy with sarcasm. “Since both of you showed up, do you want to do this one at a time or together? I don’t give a rat’s ass either way.”

Erik grabbed Karl’s arm, leaned close, and whispered, “You scrambled his brains. You got to be more careful or Mother’s gonna be pissed.”

Karl cuffed him on the side of his head, and roughly whispered back, “His brains aren’t scrambled. He’s just an ignorant human. Chances are he’s never fought a wolfan before in his life.”

Karl turned to Sirus, and cleared his throat. “You crossed the line, Parker. Obviously, you didn’t understand there’s a problem so we’re going to explain it to you.” Karl held out his hand and started counting off on his fingers, “One, it’s not okay to dream about seducing our pack sister. She’s off limits, end of discussion. Two, it’s not okay to even think about seducing our pack sister, and three, if you’re stupid enough after being warned tonight to actually try getting into Danni’s pants, we’ve got no choice except to kill you. Do you understand?” Karl glared at Sirus, his eyes at their most frightening, a look he had perfected. Many times it had loosened the bowels of younger wolfan who’d dared to cross his will.

Sirus lifted his chin, meeting Karl’s icy gaze straight on. His voice was lazy, unconcerned with their threat. “What I understand is that you’re a couple of overzealous brothers who think they can stick their noses where they don’t belong.”

Karl realized the dumb human just didn’t get it. Shaking his head, he turned to Erik. “When I’m done, you be sure to haul him back into the cabin and shut the door so he doesn’t die from hypothermia.” He added, “If you don’t, Mother might get mad. They don’t have fur like us to keep them warm through the night.”

“No problem. I’ll throw a blanket over him, just in case.”

Sirus, despite his headache and anger, had to bite back a desire to laugh. “How thoughtful. Too bad it won’t be needed. One at a time it is then.” Sirus pointed to the clearing off to the left. “Over there, hot shot, where there’s some room to fight. I don’t want to wreck the nice cabin your pack built.”

Karl strutted over to the clearing. An idea suddenly occurred to him. “You want to put on your night vision goggles so you can see clearly? It kind of takes out some of the fun…if you can’t see me hitting you.”

“Think of it as me being kind enough to give you a fair chance.” Sirus’s blue eyes squinted as he adjusted his vision to the semi-darkness. He still couldn’t see all that well, but had learned to rely some time ago on his other senses.

“So be it.”

Within moments it was clear that the wolfan had grossly underestimated Sirus. Karl rushed forward, throwing a left punch that Sirus deftly avoided by stepping to the right. As Karl flew past, Sirus in a lightning move slammed his left arm in an upward block that clothes-lined Karl’s chest, immediately following it with a back fist to Karl’s head, knocking him flat to the hard packed earth. Karl’s face hit the ground in a hard thud and his smashed nose started bleeding profusely. Though dazed, the wolfan managed to stand back up. He no sooner made it to his feet when Sirus immediately slashed out with a front kick, smashing Karl in his solar plexus. Karl doubled over, the air whooshing out of his lungs, bloody spittle spraying out his mouth.

Sirus’s nostrils flared with indignation as he waited for the wolfan to catch his breath. His voice had the bite of vitriol in it. “Not so easy, is it, Johansson?”

Karl growled, and forced himself to stand upright. He lunged forward, attempting a front kick of his own. Sirus adeptly blocked Karl’s left-footed kick by instantly turning diagonally to his left, bringing his knee up to absorb the force of the blow. Sirus then threw the hardest overhand left punch he was capable of into the center of Karl’s jaw. Sirus heard a sound like bone breaking, his or Karl’s, he wasn’t sure. Karl staggered and Sirus delivered a vicious kick to Karl’s midsection, followed by another hard right jab to the head.

Karl crumpled to the ground, moaning.

“One down, one to go.” Though his hand and knee throbbed, Sirus’s lips curled in self-satisfaction. “This isn’t even a challenge, wolfan,” he taunted.

Erik’s eyes slitted with the embarrassment of seeing Karl so easily taken. The human had moved in a blur of motion, his strikes ferocious and hard.

“I’m not as easy as my brother, Parker.” Erik gave Sirus a curt nod of approval. “I’ll concede that you’re not as easy as we thought, either.”

“Bring it on or shut up.”

Erik advanced and shot a sidekick towards Sirus, which Sirus promptly countered by slamming his foot down on the top of Erik’s thigh muscle before the wolfan could get his leg fully up and extended. This threw Erik off balance and vulnerable to Sirus’s counter move of leaning in and striking Erik across the temple and ear with his left elbow. Erik stumbled back, and Sirus immediately spun around, delivering a spinning heel kick to Erik’s ribs. Erik’s eyes rolled up and he fell to his knees, sliding forward into the cold dewy grass.

Karl, recovering from the beating, seized the opportunity to grab Sirus from behind by the wrist and twist Sirus’s arm behind his back. Sirus struck Karl in the throat with his other elbow and Karl let go, coughing and hacking.

In the meantime, Erik, who’d fallen forward to the grass, shook off his dizziness and got back up, kicking Sirus behind the knee. Sirus stumbled to the ground in pain, falling onto his back. Karl scrambled forward, grabbing Sirus’s left foot, twisting it viciously with every intention of snapping a few bones.

While Karl consumed Sirus’s attention at the front, Erik sprung up from behind to wrap his arms around Sirus’s throat in a choke hold, trying to cut off his air.

Sirus kicked at Karl’s hands, trying to loosen them from his foot, while desperately trying to fight off the choke hold. Suddenly, in a blurred movement, Sirus thrust his right hand over Erik’s shoulder, jabbing his fingers into Erik’s eyes, forcing Erik’s head back. Erik screamed and Sirus broke free from the hold, twisting and lashing out with his newly released foot to kick Karl full in the face. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he might have dislocated the wolfan’s jaw.

Sirus panting and gasping for air, dragged himself a couple meters away and stood up. He looked down at the two wolfan, watching them as they lay on their backs wallowing in the pain of their injuries. Despite their grumbling and swearing, they made no move to continue the fight. Relieved, he sucked in the cold night air, as thirsty for it as if it were a glassful of mountain spring water. He’d fared better than the two wolfan, but knew the aches from tonight’s fight wouldn’t truly manifest until later.

God, tomorrow will be a bitch, he thought with bitter acceptance, knowing the pain would hit hard.

However, he counted himself lucky. Karl and Erik obviously had not received any formal fight training. It was the only thing that had given him a true advantage.

He had only a moment’s respite when he saw a third wolfan running his way, and from his massive size, it couldn’t have been other than Danni’s oldest brother, Wood. Concern and anger pulsated from the wolfan in waves.

Oh, shit. Sirus shrugged with resignation and braced himself for the impact.

 

* * * * *

With a growl and much to Sirus’s surprise, Wood ran forward and grabbed each of his brothers by the scruff of their necks, lifting them up off the ground and examining each one for damage. After a few minutes, he made a snort of disgust and tossed them to the ground.

His deep bass voice held a hint of disbelief. “They must be drunk or weak tonight if you inflicted this kind of damage.”

Sirus remained silent, watching the wolfan’s face. He knew the wolfan was impressed but refused to show it.

“You’re lucky it wasn’t me, human,” Wood said, without a hint of boastfulness.

Sirus nodded. Sirus was tall, broad shouldered, but built more like a swimmer. Wood stood a good head taller than Sirus and was nothing but heavy muscle.

“Are you all right?” Wood said, his tone abrupt.

Sirus was taken aback, sensing the wolfan hoped the answer was yes. “Bruised. Winded. They fought well. Tomorrow I’ll be hurting like the devil.” He stood up, favoring his left leg. “They came because they spied on my dreams.” Taking his chances, he added, “They didn’t like that your pack sister was the star of the show.”

Oddly, Sirus sensed that Wood wasn’t surprised by this.

“Why tell me this? You think I won’t hurt you?” Wood shook his head in wonder. “You must be pretty stupid, human.”

“No. I’m telling you this because I value my privacy. None of you have the right to spy on my dreams.”

“Our sister must come first.”

“I commend you for wanting to protect her, but don’t you think there’s a point where you just need to back off? She’s old enough to make her own decisions. And as for me, why do you have to assume that I’ll hurt her?”

“She’s young, naive enough to imagine a romantic involvement with you, human. You might take advantage and seduce her. You’d be long gone, but she’d be left here with your child to raise.”

He could feel Wood’s anger bubbling to the surface as his head no doubt filled with a future image of Danni staring forlornly up at the sky, wondering why Sirus had left her holding a baby in her arms. Spare me from older brothers, Sirus thought. He sought to calm the wolfan down. “Look, I know Danni is still not quite ready to be a woman. Dr. Logan told me she hasn’t yet had her first heat, and I would never have intercourse with a female before she’s sexually mature, both mentally and physically.”

“Yet you dreamed of her tonight.” It was an accusation.

Sirus shrugged. “What the hell do you expect? She’s beautiful, alluring. I can’t help finding her sexually attractive. I may be able to control my conscious behavior, but I sure as hell can’t control myself on a subconscious level.”

“You can choose not to dream of her.” Wood crossed his arms in front of him and looked at Sirus, his face stern.

Choose not to dream? What nonsense was this? Yet, Sirus could feel the confidence behind Wood’s statement. Suddenly, understanding dawned. “The wolfan in your pack…can they always control what they dream?”

Wood looked at him, dumfounded. “That’s a stupid question.”

“Just answer it.”

“To dream is another level of consciousness. From the time we are young we are taught to dream lucidly. We don’t have complete control, but once a dream is started, we can choose our actions. Even Danni was taught to dream lucidly, despite the fact that she couldn’t merge with other’s dreams.” Wood’s face grew troubled. “You can’t control your dreams? Not even a little?”

“No. I’ve never had any of your training. I have very little control. Well, maybe if I’m thinking of something just before I sleep, that might cause me to dream of it, and I did think about walking with Danni earlier tonight before I fell asleep.”

“So, what you dream is totally involuntary? You have no intentions towards her?” Disbelief crept into the wolfan’s voice.

“I can’t help what I dream, but I won’t lie to you, either. Everything about Danni fascinates me, and I want very much to get to know her better. But what you should understand is that I will put her needs above mine. Dr. Logan said she’s a princess of the tigran people. He’s requested I bring her to Cephei IV so that she can follow her destiny.”

Dr. Alexander Logan, the human father of their pack leader, Karrick, was one of the galaxy’s leading bio-geneticists and the original founder of the Wolfan Psi Pack. He’d modified Danni’s zygote per the request of the Rajah of Cephei IV, to guarantee that the Rajah would have a daughter of empathic ability. When the wolfan’s ship had crashed on Eridani, the wolfan were unable to deliver her, and the Rajah had assumed that all aboard had died.

“What if she goes into heat while aboard your ship?”

“There’ll be warnings. I was told she’d manifest her empathic abilities first. I can adjust my navigation and speed if need be, to arrive faster.”

“Alexander warned you, but did he make it clear that there will only be a window of a few weeks after she begins to sense other’s emotions?”

“Yes, and what that tells me is that I’d better take her sooner than later.”

Sirus sensed Wood’s reluctant acceptance of the situation.

Wood nodded his head and grabbed his obstinate brothers by the scruff of their necks, forcing them into a stumbling march away from the cabin.

 

* * * * *

The next morning, an incessant pounding on the cabin door woke Sirus. The sound matched the hammering in his skull. The migraine Karl gave him last night had worsened, enhanced by a hangover from the kujah wine he’d imbibed at the bonding reception, and the stiffness and soreness from his brawl with Danni’s brothers. He slowly climbed out of bed and stood for a moment, wrapping his hands over his face and pressing with gentle fingertips the crown of his head, trying to contain the pain inside with a futile effort. Giving up, he slid his hands down and walked over to the door to slam it open. He’d give whoever was making the racket a piece of his mind.

Wood stood at the entrance with a big grin on his face. “You don’t wake easy, human.”

“What the fuck do you want?” Sirus growled, slapping his hand against the top of the door, leaning out to glare up at his morning’s nemesis.

Danni peeked from behind Wood, her mouth in a small “O”. Wood watched Sirus stare at her, his face turning nearly purple with embarrassment.

Wood bit the insides of his cheek to stifle his laughter.

Sirus hadn’t noticed Danni’s presence, the headache overwhelming his ability to sense others. He reached over and grasped Danni’s hand to pull her gently into the cabin. He escorted her into the cabin and left the door open for Wood to follow. His voice was apologetic as he led her to a corner where there was a table and some chairs. “I’m sorry, Danni. Have a seat and be comfortable.”

Her eyes twinkled up at him and he felt some of his headache easing away, letting him note the glimmer of her feminine amusement as she sat down. “No need to feel sorry. You sound just like my brothers. They wake up crabby, too.”

He raised a brow at that. “Indeed? Hard to imagine.”

Wood cleared his throat. “This isn’t going to be a prolonged visit. Pack your things, human. You’re leaving this cabin.”

Sirus turned around to face the wolfan, letting his irritation show now that he wasn’t facing Danni. His silky voice belied the edge of steel in his eyes. “Pack my things?” Wood had better not be pressuring him to leave Eridani, at least not without Danni.

Danni answered. “You’re invited to stay with us at our home. Mother thought that since you will be taking me with you to Cephei IV, it would be good for you to get to know our family better.”

Sirus looked at her surprised. Nice idea but… “Uh, did she see Karl and Erik this morning?”

Danni, looked at him questioningly. “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen them at all this morning. They’re probably still in bed—”

Wood interrupted. “Don’t concern yourself, Parker. I explained last night’s little misadventure to our mother after I brought them to the infirmary.”

“What!?” Danni reached over and grabbed a handful of fur from Wood’s side. “This is the first I’ve heard of this!”

Sirus laughed at her gesture, sitting down on his haunches so he could speak to Danni eye to eye. “Karl and Erik had a little misunderstanding and wanted to set something straight with me. We had a bit of a scuffle.”

She looked at Sirus and noted a few scratches and some bruising on his neck and right leg.

“Scuffle? It couldn’t have been all that bad. You don’t look too worse for wear. Although,” she said, tracing a finger next to a red line on his leg, “you’d better get some of the pack’s antibacterial ointment on those scratches.”

Sirus smiled at her “you don’t look too worse for wear” comment. His eyes gleamed, irritating the hell out of Wood.

Annoyance dripped from Wood’s voice. “It seems the human knows how to defend himself.”

Sirus nodded, accepting the grudgingly given praise as his due.

“Why was there a misunderstanding? I mean, you’ve been here little more than a couple of days. What was there to misunderstand?” Danni said, her eyes interrogating Sirus.

Sirus patted her on the knee. “I was dreaming about you. They didn’t like that. They came over here, there was a fight, and…I won.” The last was said with an infectious grin.

“Fighting because you were dreaming about me?” A sudden bolt of shyness struck Danni.

Wood jumped in. “Yes, and that’s how they got hurt enough to wind up in the infirmary.”

She turned, confused, to Wood. “Did they accidentally hurt each other?” There were no bigger wolfan in the pack than her brothers. They inflicted damage, not received it.

Some of the smugness in Sirus’s chest deflated.

Wood smiled at her initial disbelief, glad that she thought her brothers tougher than Sirus. Unfortunately, he had to destroy that myth. She needed to hear the truth. “The human fights using martial arts. He kicks and jabs so fast you can barely see the moves.” Wood tried to keep the admiration out of his voice but failed.

“I’ve studied and practiced Aikido for about ten years, but what I used last night to defend myself was a form of karate.”

Danni felt a stirring in her belly, awe and a new feeling she couldn’t describe. She sighed, looking at him contritely. “I’m sorry for my pack brothers’ actions.”

“Not your fault. Besides, they’re sorry about it already.” He gave Wood a warning look. “Aren’t they, wolfan?”

“They’re sorrier about me having to wake up Dr. Logan so he could use the micro-suturer on Erik’s torn cornea and examine Karl’s jaw. He didn’t take kindly to being awakened to fix fight injuries.”

The idea of Logan reaming out the pair of wolfan was just too delicious. Sirus laughed and Wood joined in.

Danni looked horrified.

Sirus’s stomach tightened at Danni’s reaction. “How is Karl’s jaw?” he asked Wood, politely.

“Almost as good as new. The doctor had to spend about a half hour reducing the dislocation, but Karl didn’t mind since he was loaded with painkiller.”

“You dislocated his jaw?” Danni stared at Sirus with astonishment.

“He was trying to break my leg,” Sirus explained solemnly. He could feel her building irritation. It felt like drops of water sizzling on a hot grill.

Danni stood up, her black eyebrows arched over glittering blue eyes. Hands on hips, she declared, “Well, I guess that’s okay, then.”

Sirus heard her mutter, “Men!” under her breath as if it were an expletive, and then watched the sexy sashay of her hips as she strolled out of the cabin so she could contain her temper.

He stood up to go after her, to try and explain.

Wood grabbed his arm and stopped him. “She’ll get over it. She always does.”

“Always? Are you telling me you and your brothers fight like this all the time?” His face was incredulous.

“Of course. Well, not me. Most of the pack is too scared to fight me, but this is business as usual for Karl and Erik. They take pride in the fact that they usually win their battles. There are many males in the pack who will laugh at them, now that they’ve been bested by a human.”

Wood let go of Sirus’s arm and Sirus slumped back in his chair, his arms crossed and his legs stuck out in front of him.

Something told him that this was just the beginning of his troubles with Karl and Erik.