By the time Tommy woke up in morning the sun was already high on the sky, showering the city with its hot rays. First he didn’t know where the hell he was or what’d happened and the slight throbbing of his head didn’t help either. But the satisfied huffing of his wolf and Adam’s scent all over the bed and him tipped him off soon enough. He growled in slight disbelief as he rolled onto his back and felt himself still a bit sore. He was sure if he was human, he’d have difficulties to walk for days. Thinking back Adam gave it to him as rough as he asked for.
After a few lazy minutes basking in the nice and warm smell of Adam on the pillows and the sheets – shamelessly rolling around and nuzzling in it, which he’d have denied if anyone asked – he made his way to the adjoining bathroom to take a shower and clean up. He put on last night’s clothes – not minding Adam’s lingering scent on them – and made his way downstairs to the kitchen from where he smelled the mouthwatering scent of coffee and breakfast.
“Hey,” he said to Adam as he entered, not seeing or feeling anyone around yet.
“Hey,” he replied turning around with a spatula in his hand and watched Tommy’s reactions closely and carefully.
“What?” he asked meeting his eyes and he couldn’t deny that looking at Adam felt nice.
“Are you okay? Any regrets yet?” he asked following Tommy with his eyes as he walk to the coffee machine to fill a big mug with the dark deliciousness.
“None yet,” he shrugged and took a careful sip. “Just a mild headache, but it’ll pass.”
“Good… good,” Adam said as he turned back to the pan with frying bacon and eggs. Tommy could feel him smiling relieved.
He chose to ignore that and sat down to the table. “I was kinda expecting such a breakfast after last night.”
Adam chuckled. “Who would’ve thought? I figured you’d have given me grief if I didn’t prepare something.”
“Oh, trying to avoid me going back to be a pain in your ass?” he raised a brow, cradling his mug like it was a sacred object.
“I guess I’m trying to make a good impression and besides that I’m your Alpha. I take care of my pack,” he winked back over his shoulder, clearly cheerful and relaxed. Tommy haven’t seen him like this yet when he was around Adam. He was sure it was because of the night before and he had to roll his eyes, but his small smile behind the rim of his mug didn’t go unnoticed.
“How nurturing of you…”
Adam just grinned some more and put all the considerable amount of food on a plate for Tommy and sat down opposite him.
“Aren’t you gonna eat?” Tommy raised an eyebrow and pulled his plate closer, digging in hungrily.
“I already did. Not everyone wakes up at noon,” he shrugged with a smile.
“Fucker,” he mumbled through his bacon and bread.
“So…” Adam said, clearly not taking the name-calling to his heart.
“So?” Tommy asked with his mouth still full.
“Where does last night leave us?” he asked looking a bit guarded again while he watched Tommy chew and swallow his bite.
“What do you think?”
“No, no. No asking back. I asked first. Besides you know where I stand. I want us to give a try. After last night even more.”
“So I dare to risk that you liked fucking me,” Tommy teased, making Adam sigh.
“The big secret is revealed… Now, be serious for a moment, please. I want to see clear. I could feel you wanted more and I meant what I said. I can give what you want. I recognize the signs.”
“And what is that I want?” he glimpsed up at Adam before picking up a bacon and bit a piece off it.
“Even as a Beta no matter how hard you tried to make it seem that you’re independent and doesn’t like to be told what to do,” he started and held up a hand when he saw that Tommy wanted to say something, “it’s in your nature to give in and submit to your Alpha in every meaning. I felt and saw it last night when you were falling apart under me that you actually want to be dominated by the right Alpha (or Mate). I believe I’m the right Alpha for you. After all, we are Mates.”
Tommy put the rest of the bacon down to watch Adam closely. “What makes you think that what you said will be enough? That you are the right Alpha for me in bed too?”
“First, I didn’t hear you complaining about last night. Second, I’ve been in the kind of relationship that’d please that hungry need, that gaping hole inside which you, I believe, had little luck feeding so far. Am I right? Isn’t that what you referred to before you passed out?” he asked putting his forearms on the table to entwine his fingers with a serious look.
“You think I’m in need of a Dom/sub kind of relationship?” Tommy raised a brow.
“You tell me, TommyJoe. I’m just saying that in case you decide to accept me as your Mate and if you want that – even if not right away – we can work out the details of such an arrangement. I can only repeat myself: as your Mate and Alpha, I have a strong urge to give you everything you need or desire. Even if it sounds cheesy, the closer we get, the more seeing you happy is becoming my goal.”
“Okay…” he said lost in thoughts and a bit unsure. “Okay, let me think about this too.”
“Sure. Take your time. But I’d like to have an answer as soon as you have your decision. Just remember that this isn’t only about us, but about the happiness of our wolves too.”
“I know,” he sighed looking into himself and finding his wolf still glowing happily inside. “I’ll give you an answer after our audition with the Vampire Queen.”
“Alright,” Adam nodded and watched Tommy eating the rest of his breakfast.
Tommy had the feeling that the whole pack knew. The looks he got not just from Sutan or the Carpenters but from random pack members too were telltale. He didn’t care much though. Apparently Adam’s already been territorial over him behind his back so the change in their relationship didn’t surprise many in the pack. But this change didn’t mean that they started acting all lovey-dovey. No. Tommy just didn’t keep his distance so vehemently. For example, during the meeting where they discussed with the smaller inner-circle whom Adam should take with him to the vampires, Tommy sat right next to him and their thighs touched occasionally. And there were other small touches. Like when Adam put his hand on the small of Tommy’s back while escorting him out to the blonde’s car, or brushing their hands together when they passed each other.
The Beta had to admit that those small touches and Adam’s presence felt good. It left his skin tingling and his body buzzing with anticipation. They haven’t slept together since that night though, but Tommy seemed to spend more time in Adam’s big house and less in his small apartment which he shared with Mike and Dave from the pack. Even some of his clothes and one of his guitars migrated over to his room at Adam’s place. But at least his flatmates didn’t tease him with Adam as much as Sutan or Isaac. They weren’t mean or anything, just annoying after a while. Tommy figured that if he said yes and the Mating Ritual happened, they’d stop. But surprisingly he didn’t feel real pressure from anyone. Adam (and the pack) was patient with him and he really appreciated that, because he had to think a lot about what he wanted. He could sense some kind of waiting or anticipation in the air when he was around the pack so he figured they were curious about his decision too. After all it affected everyone and it was an important step in the pack’s life. An Alpha finding his or her Mate didn’t happen that often…
But now they were sitting in Adam’s sleek car that screamed Alpha from the form and the color to the sound of the engine. Tommy loved the way the seat hugged his small frame. It made him feel safe and comfortable just as much as sitting next to Adam. Sutan and Terrance were in the backseat, staying quiet for a change. They were on their way to the most posh area of LA to see the vampire queen. Adam didn’t ask Tommy about how he managed to rush their audition just told him that he liked his Betas this effective. Tommy stomped down the ambiguous feelings that comment gave him.
Adam turned on a driveway that led to a wrought iron gate. A security guard in a black suit stepped to the driver’s side of the car and asked about their business. When Adam told him, he checked with someone through his radio. Once they got the green light from the vampire, they rolled through the opening gate. It was just after nightfall when the stronger vampires were already up.
From the car Tommy could see a huge garden on both sides of the road. The trimmed bushes, colorful trees and elegant statues were placed strategically. It must be a pain in the ass to be a gardener here, he thought. The road led to a badass castle-like building with a big fountain in front of the main door. Adam steered the wheel to go around the fountain and stopped in front of the stairs that led up to the entrance. There were guards on both sides of it. Tommy could feel it that they were vampires too. His wolf didn’t like it much, the fur on the back of his neck was standing on end, but one brief touch of Adam’s hand on his before they got out of the car was enough for it to calm down and back off. Tommy found this effect nice and he exited the car more focused.
Adam was walking at the front, Sutan and Tommy right behind him while Terrance had their backs. A young-looking male vampire was waiting for them inside. Tommy hated it in vampires that he could never be so sure about their actual age and power. Don’t judge a book by its cover, huh? He stayed in silence though and quickly looked around to size up the place and the possible sources of danger. The building looked elegant and somehow a bit darkish, which – as a horror fan – Tommy liked. But even if they were guests there, they could never be too careful. Taking out the Alpha of the LA pack would be a strategic step in taking control over the city. They all knew this so it wasn’t a surprise that all three Betas were on full alert even if Adam radiated calmness and power.
“Welcome. My name is Julien, the Queen’s assistant. She is ready for you. Please, follow me,” he said on a pleasant voice and headed to the right from the long stairs opposite the entrance. Tommy’s brown eyes – with a hint of golden in them – were jumping from the objects to the shadows in search of danger, but everything seemed to be normal. They passed closed doors as they were walking down a corridor that seemed endless for the blonde wolf. When he wanted to make a comment on that he heard the distant sounds of an acoustic guitar. Soon after that they turned to the right again – the melancholic music getting louder – and entered some painted glass doors that led to a spacious winter garden. It was warmer there, but not overwhelmingly. There were all kinds of plants and flowers filling the round room. The windows all around gave an amazing view to a part of the garden they saw previously and let the light of the moon and the stars in. There were some hidden light sources among the plants, which gave enough intimate light to make the winter garden inviting.
The wolves saw four more guards standing close to the windows while in the middle of the winter garden a slim but curvy woman was sitting on a black sofa with golden legs. Her wavy hair was combed to the side and it had two colors – black on the top and blonde around her head. The right side of her head was shaved a lot like Tommy’s. The big brown eyes were enhanced by a smoky make up and black eyeliner drawn out to the side to give a cat-like look. Her lips were a pale pink and pressed together in concentration as her long and slender fingers were moving on the strings of the guitar. She kept playing as she glimpsed up at her guests and stopped only when Julien spoke up.
“Queen Ashley, your werewolf guests, Adam Lambert, the Alpha of the LA pack and his Betas: Sutan Amrull, Tommy Joe Ratliff and Terrance Spencer, have arrived,” the guy announced pointing at each of them while uttering their names.
“Oh joy!” she said on a cheerful voice as she put her guitar down and stood up. She wasn’t tall and her frame was hugged by a black corset that pushed up her nice pale boobs, she had some thin golden necklaces around her long neck and was wearing shiny leather pants with high heels most women’d kill for. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting the Alpha of the LA pack in person,” she said as she stepped closer and offered her hand to Adam. “The messages and phone conversations aren’t my thing.”
The Alpha took her hand, ignoring the way his Betas seemed to tense up a bit from that, and pressed a soft kiss on the back of her hand. “Thank you for seeing us in such short notice.”
“Oh you can thank that to Tommy,” she said offering her hand to the blonde Beta this time and Adam didn’t miss the way Tommy tried to avoid making eye-contact with him. Adam watched him kiss her hand and squeeze it lightly.
“Thank you for having us this quickly,” Tommy murmured and let her hand go.
“That’s fine. I just got back from a trip, but when there’s a threat against the supernatural people of the city which involves my vampires too, it’s my duty to try and solve the problem. Please, sit down,” she waved with a graceful hand towards the sofa opposite her and she let Sutan and Terrance kiss her hands too while Adam and Sutan sat down and Tommy and Terrance stepped behind them.
“You know each other with Tommy?” Adam asked bluntly.
Ashley glimpsed behind him to meet Tommy’s eyes for a second, her smile returning to her pale face. “Yes. Our paths have crossed a few times in the past,” she said and crossed her nice legs. Adam could feel the slight embarrassment from behind where Tommy was standing. He could feel that the blonde Beta wanted to fidget badly, but he stayed motionless.
“I see,” Adam said on a tone that told the others that he had some ideas about the nature of those encounters. But he ignored it for now and just focused on being grateful for being able to sit here faster than without Tommy’s help. “But back to business…”
“Oh right. So I hear there was an attack against your pack. That’s the reason why you’re here, but I don’t know yet why,” she said and thanked Julien, who gave her a long crystal glass clearly filled with blood and offered some normal wine for the wolves, but they politely refused.
“It was a serious attack indeed. The reason why we asked to meet you regarding the matter is because the suicide bomber that blew himself up in Howl and severely injured Tommy among others, was compelled by a vampire to do so,” Adam said on a calm voice, but the sudden chill in the air was palpable for each of them.
“What are you suggesting?” Queen Ashley looked from Adam to Tommy and back. “That I gave the order to one of my vampires to do something like that?”
“I didn’t say that, Queen Ashley,” Adam shook his head, feeling the need from Tommy to speak, but as a good Beta he stayed silent while his Alpha was speaking. “I merely tried to point out the strangeness of the situation. As the vampires of LA who pledged their loyalty to you are under your control, and I’m sure you want to clear any suspicion regarding this matter, I’d like your help to figure this out. I know our kinds have never been close or friendly, but I believe we can co-exist with the guidance and help of the peach treaty our ancestors had signed.”
“You are right about that. I don’t wish to violate that treaty. Our worlds like the city are divided. We don’t get involved in wolf business and you don’t get involved in our problems,” she nodded and lightly frowned. “But I’d like to know what makes you think that the bomber was compelled. Do you have proof?”
“I have the word of my second Beta…” Adam started when Tommy cut in.
“I saw and sensed it right before he blew himself up. I was standing right next to him and one of the wolves of my new pack. I managed to throw him across the room before I’ve got injured pretty seriously.”
Queen Ashley watched Tommy for a long moment then sighed. “I’m sorry you’ve got injured, Tommy, and I’m glad you are okay now. But I can assure your new Alpha that I had nothing to do with the attack. I respect the treaty. But I’ll start an investigation among my vampires and if the one responsible for the bombing is a vampire under my command, I’ll make sure to let the Vampire Council and the LA pack know about it. I don’t tolerate disobedience and straying off from the rules I set for my vampires,” she said and suddenly she looked and felt much older and stronger than before.
“So I can count on you informing us if you find anything we could use in our investigation?” Adam asked playing with one of his rings.
“Yes. You know that during the few years I’ve been queen, we could always work things out between our species, Adam,” she said and watched the Alpha nod in agreement since it was the truth. Whenever there was some problem between wolves and vampires, they could always sit down and come up with a solution to the problem. “And since this attack hurt my dear friend Tommy too, I’ll make sure to look into the matter personally,” she said and winked at the second Beta, making Adam growl low and warningly before he could stop himself.
Ashley raised an eyebrow surprised and let her eyes wander between Adam and Tommy, who looked apologetic as he put a hand on Adam’s shoulder, ready to calm or hold him back. The guards and Julien tensed from the growl and were on high alert. You just don’t growl at the Vampire Queen like that.
“I apologize on behalf of my wolf,” Adam said.
“Apology accepted,” she said and pursed her lips. “Are you two together?” she suddenly asked.
“No,” Tommy shook his head.
“Kinda,” Adam said at the same time.
“Interesting,” Ashley smiled.
Adam couldn’t stop himself from feeling slightly hurt because of the way Tommy denied it so hastily in front of the vampire queen, but he didn’t say a word about it, just pressed his lips together. No matter how correct the queen has been with Adam during the years, she was still a vampire with power and as a werewolf he was reluctant to share information with her about him and his pack. It seemed that Tommy got to the same conclusion.
“It’s complicated,” Tommy said shortly and cleared his throat. “About the other matter. We have some more information that can help your investigation.”
Adam felt his Beta’s questioning look and he nodded, giving permission for him to talk as Tommy pulled his hand back from his shoulder. Queen Ashley just looked questioningly at the blonde wolf and waved with her hand for him to continue.
“While I was healing, the pack managed to investigate the scene of the explosion and traced back the human’s scent to a nearby alley. It seems that he was dropped off there from a van already compelled. Our wolves lost the scent of the van in traffic.”
“Thank you. I’ll make sure to look into the matter as soon as you leave. If there’s someone among my vampires who tries to stir up the centuries long conflict between our races, I wish to stop them immediately.”
“We appreciate,” Adam said calmly again as he stood along with Sutan. “In case we get some new information about the case, we’ll let you know. Please, do the same the other way round,” he nodded to the queen. “Thank you again for seeing us. We won’t keep you any longer.”
“Of course and you’re welcome. Oh and Tommy, let’s find some time to catch up later,” she smiled at the blonde man, who just nodded, noticing how Adam pressed his lips together and didn’t miss the way the bodyguards tensed again, hands slightly moving towards their guns when Adam stood. He suspected they had silver bullets in them, but both Adam and Ashley ignored them as she stood too and offered her hand. All four of them repeated the same ritual with the hand-kisses as a sign of respect then Tommy found himself on the way out of the mansion.
Once back in the car and further away from the mansion, but still on vampire territory Adam cleared his throat and glimpsed at Sutan in the rear view mirror. “So?”
“She seemed to be honest. I couldn’t sense any ill-will in her.”
“Was she keeping back information?” Adam asked.
“If you ask me, I think she had no knowledge about the attack. But you can never know with vampires.”
“Wait… you were monitoring Ashley?”
“Yes. I asked him. In our pack he’s the best in reading people thanks to his gifts,” Adam answered instead of Sutan, who chose to keep his mouth shut now that the car got filled with their Alpha’s tension. Neither of them missed the fact that Tommy didn’t use Ashley’s title like they normally would, or that the blonde appeared to be a bit bothered by Sutan’s task.
“What’s your connection with her, Tommy?” Sutan finally asked when the tension got on his nerves.
“None of your business,” he grunted then cursed loudly when Adam hit the breaks and the blonde Beta had to slap his hand down on the dashboard not to hit it with his head too. “What the fuck, man?!” he asked quickly looking behind then at Adam. Luckily there was no-one coming behind them as they weren’t on a main road. The dark trees on both sides seemed to lightly move in the wind.
“Since you are part of this pack and this affects the pack itself, it is our fucking business, Tommy. You acted all mysterious about being able to get us to Queen Ashley quicker and tonight you were acting all strange and tense. So spill it! You fucked her too, haven’t you?” he snorted, his eyes dark with his suppressed anger.
“Jesus fuck, Adam!” Tommy snorted “You really had to ask about her like this? Couldn’t you wait until we got back to your house?”
“Just answer my question,” he growled low, his Alpha power starting to leak and fill the car.
“What’s your problem, dude?” Tommy shook his head. “I won’t tell you shit if you act like this. So you’ll have to make me, if you’re so fucking curious!”
“Don’t tempt me!” Adam grunted, his knuckles turning white on the wheel from the force of his grip on it.
“You know what? Fuck you and your jealousy! I’m not your property and if you’re going to act like this with me, if this is the kind of Mate you will be then I’m out!” he shouted back and undid his seatbelt to get out of the car.
“What? Wait, Tommy!” Adam asked, but that didn’t stop the blonde from banging the door shut and head towards the trees. “Shit,” Adam cursed and climbed out of the car too, leaving a very quiet Terrance and a rather interested Sutan behind. “Tommy, stop,” he grabbed his Beta’s forearm and didn’t let him shake his grip off.
“Let me go, Adam!” Tommy growled and his eyes flashed in gold as he looked up at him.
“No. I’m sorry. I’ve lost it for a second,” he looked down at him and ignored the way Tommy was still trying to free his arm.
“You lost it big time. What the hell, man? Get off me!”
“Fuck…” Adam sighed and dragged Tommy closer by his arm. He caught him off guard as he pressed his lips against the smaller man’s, who struggled for a few moments before giving in to the kiss that was possessive and apologetic at the same time. Tommy had no idea how Adam managed to pull it off like that, but he totally did, making his traitor knees buckle as the scent of the summer forest invaded his senses.
“You fucker…” Tommy breathed after breaking the kiss that left him breathless.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to fuck up my chances, but you have no idea how much even the assumption of you fucking women bothers me. You can hate me for that as much as you want, but my wolf already considers you his,” he sighed pressing his forehead against Tommy’s while his free hand caressed his slightly flushed cheek. “And you don’t have to answer. You know I wouldn’t make you, right?”
Tommy inhaled deeply and without realizing it his body relaxed on its own from Adam’s attention and caresses. He could feel the slight desperation and fear from each move he made. “Just shut up and kiss me again you moron,” he hissed and Adam did, pressing their bodies together with an arm around Tommy’s waist.
They got so lost in the kiss that first they didn’t even notice the change in the air or heard it coming. By the time they did, Adam was already laying on top of him, crying out in pain. Tommy had no idea what happened just when he rolled Adam off him in the tall grass and saw the quickly growing dark stain on his right shoulder where he was shot from behind.
“Fucking silver…” Adam gritted through his teeth, trying to tear off his shirt to check his shoulder, the sizzling of his meat sounding awfully loud in Tommy’s ears. The next moment Sutan and Terrance were by their side and Tommy tried to hear through the veiling of his wolf what they were telling him.
“Shit, fuck… shit,” he mumbled.
“Quickly… take it out,” Adam groaned in pain while Terrance shifted and threw himself into the forest to chase the attacker.
Tommy didn’t protest, he knew Adam’d heal eventually but he had to take the bullet out. The longer it was inside, the slower their Alpha would heal. While Sutan shifted too and guarded them, Tommy found himself stripping off Adam’s shoulder and let his own claws grow so he could get the bullet, not caring about getting burned by it. His Mate needed him.