tagGay MaleLone Wolf Ch. 01

Lone Wolf Ch. 01


It was the third Sunday of the month, one of my favourite days. It was market day. I walked around the market, a field where dozens of stalls had been set up to sell goods of all kinds. There was a park at one end of the field where children laughed and played. People wandered around lazily with their families, many with dogs, talking and inspecting the wares of offer.

I liked my little seaside town. The people were friendly enough, if not for the creepy conservative old people that seemed ever present. The beaches were perfect in my opinion, with soft sand and small waves. The bat population was poorly controlled and made a mess. Sydney was a couple of hours away, far enough to be separate from the hustle and bustle of city life but close enough that visiting was not too inconvenient with a bit of planning.

It was a warm November morning and I was dressed in loose cargo shorts and a plain blue v-neck t shirt. My feet were bare and I enjoyed the feeling of grass on my skin. I felt the sun on my skin and breathed deeply, enjoying the vast array of smells of food and leather and wood and people and animals. I heard everything if I wanted but I let the sounds wash over me. Letting the noise get to me would be too much. I saw everything but I focused my vision on one detail at a time. Heightened senses were one of the reasons I hated cities.

I stopped by a stall selling fresh bee products. I picked up a tiny sample pot of honey and breathed the scent in deeply. It was one of my favourite smells. It was sweet, rich and complex, full of sugar and flowers and the industrious bees that made it.

I exhaled and smiled at the vendor, an elderly woman with a hunched back and wiry hair. I knew her well enough; I came by her stall every month not always to buy always to enjoy. She was pleasant if thoroughly obsessed with her hives. I listened politely when she chatted away then I bought a few jars of honey and a packet of chocolate covered honeycomb.

My next stop was a stall selling vegetables for a couple of nights' meals then on to fresh fruit. I inspected each item carefully, only picking the freshest and best smelling. I was lucky enough that I had arrived early and the best had not been sold already. I was not always so lucky.

With arms laden with groceries, I headed back to the car to drop off my haul then returned to the markets for a final walk around the field. I strolled to the far end of the field where land fell away sharply in a metre high drop into the ocean. I briefly considered striping off and just diving in then and there. The day was really starting to warm up and the briny water looked and smelled so inviting.

I ultimately deciding against making a fool of myself in public and went and bought a couple of hot dogs for lunch instead. I wolfed down the first on my way to the small, nearby beach. I waded up my calves in the water as I ate the second. The sun was hot, the water was cold and the food, while while far from culinary excellence, was at least filling.

There was a shift in the light breeze and picked up a scent I did not recognise. It was like summer, the ocean and honey all mixed into one. I could tell it came from a man around my age but little else. The wind was light and the scent was weak. I looked around, not seeing anyone nearby that caught my eye. Then the wind changed again and I shrugged it off. Maybe my nose was playing tricks on me, confusing all the other scents around me.

I walked over to my car and cleaned most of the sand off my feet of with a towel I kept in the back for just such an occasion. Cleaned up, I headed home, stopping at my local butcher for a few meals worth of meat.

Home was a modern townhouse ten minutes from the centre of town and a few streets in form the beach. It was one of those little places that pop up amidst older houses for young people to get away from the city for a weekend of partying. At least, that's the impression I got from the house next door. A summer retreat for the young and idle.

It suited me though. I lived alone so I did not need a lot of extra space and I worked to much to worry about it too much. It was a short walk from the beach and a short drive to work. Apart from the neighbours being a bit rowdy in the summer, the area was quiet.

Inside was almost tidy and mostly clean, with a few signs of being lived in. There was a light blanket on the back of the lounge where I had hastily folded and left it after a late night reading. There was sand on the floor where I had left my shoes by the door, my bowl from breakfast still in the sink and an empty beer bottle on the kitchen counter. There were stacks of books all over the place.

I put my groceries away and began cleaning up a little when my phone rang. I saw the name at rolled my eyes.

"Hey, Chaz," I said in answer, "What's up, mate?"

Charlie, as he was known to his parents and no one else, was my best friend. We had grown up together, going to school together, playing on the same sports teams, got drunk together and shared a house when we were in university. We even dated a couple of the same girls, though not at the same time. After I moved away from home, we did not lose touch. He called at least once a week and regularly made the drive from Sydney to crash on my couch.

"Hey Mace," Chaz said, "I just ran into your mum. She asked how you were. I guess you haven't called in a while."

I groaned inwardly. "Haven't had any reason to call. Nothing ever happens to me, you know that, and they don't share anything with me."

"I dunno, mate. They might actually be trying to reach out this time."

"They ignored me for fifteen years, they can put up with me ignoring them a little longer. I had Em here visiting last week and she didn't mention it at all."

"Your sister always plays peacekeeper."

"Actually, she was here taking a break from them. She's got a new boyfriend and they're getting all overprotective on her."

"Speaking of visits, I won't be able to make the trip next week. Boss has asked me to work some overtime on this build. Couple of weeks and I'll be all yours though. I miss your cooking. I've been living off take out and it's starting to show."

"Like my cooking is so slimming.

Chaz laughed. We chatted for over an hour about nothing in particular. After a while, Chaz said his girlfriend was coming over and we said goodbye.

I was normally fine being on my own but after a conversation with Chaz I immediately felt bored. I loved the quiet life I had made for myself but being away from my friend and my sister sometimes had me nostalgic for the trouble I used to get into. I sighed, put on some music and pulled out my laptop. I had some things to get ahead of before work the next day.

As the sun started to set, I put away work things and went about cooking, making enough for several meals so would not have to worry about lunches at work. I had a beer with dinner. I hated the stuff and getting drunk was next to impossible for me but I was expected to drink when around other people so I practised.

After dinner, I watched a bit of TV, flipped through the channels aimlessly, then turned in for the night.

Work on Monday started out routine and dull. I was a young lawyer at the small local branch of a larger firm. I mostly just did paperwork but I occasionally dealt with bitter divorces and when things got exciting, a property dispute. I was glad not to be working in criminal law, however.

I was almost done for the day and the last one in the office, just filing a few things before I locked up for the night, when the door opened and that smell wafted in. I came in stronger this time. He smelled like a perfect afternoon but that did not matter. He also smelled like me.

I looked up to see him. He was a little shorter than me and well muscled. He had eyes like sapphires and his wild mess of hair was white blonde, almost colourless. He was handsome, but that made little difference. The moment I smelled that familiar note from him, I could only think of violence.

"Um, hi," the young man said with an English accent, "Am I too late? Should I come back tomorrow?"

"You should leave and never come back at all," I said, my voice low and threatening.

The man looked confused. "Okay... I was just looking for help with a lease agreement. I think the landlord is a bit dodgy so I just want to make sure it's all above board. Do you even work here? You don't look like a lawyer." He was right. Even in a suit I looked more like a surfer, with long blonde hair tied up in a messy bun.

I practically leapt across the office and into the man's personal space. I cocked my head, listen to make sure we were alone. "This is my territory!" I growled, "That was the deal. I stay out of pack politics and I get this town to myself. The deal was you all leave me alone and I leave you alone."

The man's brow furrowed and he frowned. "I'm not here for the pack," he said, putting his hands up in surrender, "I had no idea you had a claim here, I swear. I'm new and no one thought to tell me. Like, fresh off the boat new."

I relaxed a little. "They should have. Don't get settled. You should leave as soon as you can. I don't want to deal with any of this crap."

"I'm sorry. I'm kind of new here. You know, to the country. I'm still getting used to how things work on this side of the pond. When I told the pack I was moving here, they never said anything about a claim." The man considered me. "I didn't mean to cause trouble. I'll look into finding a new place."

I nodded. "See that you do." I turned my back on the man and I could smell that he was hurt, offended, but I did not care. I listened to the man leave and I finished up before I left for the night myself.

At home, I was agitated. I was almost angry. What right did someone have to come into my territory like it was nothing? Why did the pack not tell him? I considered calling someone in the pack and demanding answers but I did not want to deal with them. I spent most of the night grumbling and growling. Eventually, I tossed myself onto my bed and fell into a fitful sleep.

The next day, he was back. It was around midday when he came into the office and just sat at my desk like it was exactly where he was suppose to be. I glared daggers at him.

"We got off on the wrong foot yesterday," he said, sticking out his hand, "I'm Oliver."

I looked around and saw people staring at the stranger who had so casually strolled in and sat opposite me. "I'm Mason," I said, flashing my teeth but it did not touch the rest of my face, "Not that it matters, because you're supposed to be leaving."

Oliver shrugged. "I decided to stay. I got the job I wanted and the house would be fine if I could get a lawyer to look over the lease for me. I formally ask permission to settle here, of course, but there's not much point in you saying no. The pack will want me somewhere out of the way and this is a nice place. They'll probably back me up on this."

I growled low in my throat, too quiet for anyone else in the office to hear. "Fine," I spat between clenched teeth, "I guess I don't have a choice. Just stay away from me."

"My lease?"

"I held out my hand and Oliver produced a bunch of papers. I took them and put them on my desk without looking at them. "I'll look it over for you and get back to you at the end of the day."

"I'll be working late," Oliver said, handing me a business card for the local art gallery. He smiled. "New cards. They had them ready for me when I arrived. Anyway, stop by when you finish up here." Then he left and I could breath again.

I spent the rest of the day in a sour mood and my coworkers steered clear of me. Part of me was thankful I did not have to see any clients. The idea of sharing my territory rankled me and I did not like having so little say in the matter.

At the end of the day, when all my other work was finished, I looked over Oliver's lease agreement. I even asked my boss to clarify a few points. Sure, I wanted this guy to leave but hell if I was going to let that affect how I did my job.

It was getting late when I finished work, the sun setting and the bats out in force. I drove across town to the only art gallery in the area, a moderate sized building next the tiny library. The lights were on in the gallery but there the parking lot was empty. I parked, walked over to the gallery and let myself in.

The gallery was quiet so I wandered from room to room. The walls were bare of any art but there were canvases propped up, covered by white sheets but ready to be hung. I could smell Oliver. I could smell a few others but his was the strongest scent. I could hear him, shuffling around in another room, hear his heart and his breathing. I knew he had heard me too. I was not trying to be quiet.

When I entered the room Oliver occupied, I saw him folding up a large canvas of a landscape photograph. It was pretty, a sunset over the ocean, but I did not know much about art. Oliver was studying it like it was the most important thing the world.

"We're having a showing of local photographers next week," Oliver said without looking up in my direction, "I wasn't supposed to start until then but the manager had to go have a stroke and leave me with her job and mine. Doubt she did it on purpose and I like diving in feet first anyway."

"Yeah, great," I said, pulling Oliver's paperwork out my jacket pocket and holding it out to him, "You should looking into finding a better landlord. Or a better realtor. They'll kick you out after six months and raise the rent for the next tenant. If you're going to stick around, you should find something that's not going to leave you out on your arse."

"You don't talk much like a lawyer either," Oliver said, putting the canvas down and finally turning around, "I knew not to trust that landlord. He smelled a little too eager. What do you think of this space? The original idea was for the landscapes but I'm thinking it would be better for the portraits. The lighting in the other room would better for landscapes, right?"

"I really don't know," I said, waving the paperwork at him a little, "They're all just pretty pictures to me." I dropped the lease agreement on the floor and turned to leave.

"Have you got something against your own kind or just people in general?"

"Neither," I said, "It's the pack bullshit. I'd rather be on my own than get caught up in all of that."

"Well, I told you, I'm not here on behalf of the pack. I'm an artist; I'm no use to them. I'm lucky they took me in at all. So I'm here, keeping out of trouble, same as you. I'm not here to drag you into anything with the pack or claim your territory for my own. How did you even get your own territory from the pack anyway?"

I shrugged. "I gave them a good reason. Are we done? I should be getting home."

"Can I at least count on you to help with my next attempt at finding a place to live? I do pretty pictures, not contracts."

"Fine," I said with a wave of my hand, "Just don't drop by any more. Call me and I'll meet you here."

"Great. You can come to the opening on monday night. No one's shown any real interest so far and it would be nice to have an unfriendly face here."

"Why the hell would you want that?"

"I've been in the country a week and in town for three days. How am I supposed to make friends? I don't know anyone, let alone another werewolf."

I tensed up at that word. "Best find friends elsewhere," I said, then I left.

The week passed slowly. Work was the same as ever, with some brief excitement on Friday when negotiations between a divorcing couple broke into a full blown fight. Being the strong, young guy, I was the one who had to drag the husband out of the office kicking and screaming, receiving several hard elbows to my face in the process. I normally would not have been so careless but Oliver's scent still lingered in the office, filling my nose and my mind, distracting me.

The weekend was a reprieve. I took some work home, ate some junk food and read a book, all free of that infuriating scent. On Monday I went back to work expecting to smell him there but a week had passed and the scent had faded. I found myself disappointed. I might not like the source of the scent but it was still a good scent all the same. By the end of the day, I was thinking the unthinkable and by the time I got home I was seriously considering it.

I paced restlessly in my living room, I took a shower, I paced in my bedroom, I got dressed in some nice clothes, and I paced some more. It was getting late when I finally got myself together, put on a half decent pair of shoes and drove to the gallery.

The gallery was busier than I thought it would be. The parking lot was full and I had to park on the street. I trudged up up the gallery and the moment I stepped inside I could smell him. There were other smells. I could smell the other people in the building, all human and mostly elderly. I could smell the food and drinks being passed around by catering staff. I could even smell the inks on the canvases and the cleaning products used recently. His was the strongest scent.

I walked around the gallery, looking at each piece on display. I did not really appreciate the photographs and I wondered how everyone else could be so enthralled. Still, I pretended to be interested as I did everything in my power not to go sniffing around chasing after Oliver.

Then he was just there, standing beside me as I stared blankly at a close up shot of a flower. With all the people, the smells and sounds, I did not realise he was there until he spoke.

"Excellent composition, right?" he said.

"I have no idea what that means," I replied, "It's just a picture of a flower to me. You put together a good party though. I didn't know there were this many people in the whole town."

"I promised free food. Besides, a lot of them are the photographers showing their work. I'm hoping to get some water colours together for next month. That should get a few of the older amateurs out. Retirees love their watercolours and photography isn't my area of expertise."

"Uh huh," I said, "So, you were at the markets last Sunday."

"Yeah. I was wondering is it would be worth getting a stall to sell some of my own work for some extra cash. When I start painting again, anyway. Motel rooms aren't really conducive to the creative process and I haven't got much in the way of supplies. I've been trying to sketch a bit but with organising tonight and looking for a house I haven't had the time and there isn't much I've wanted to draw."

"That must suck. My sister's a writer. She get's pretty hard to live with when she's blocked or she can't get hold of her journal."

Oliver smiled, "It's something like that. I'll find some inspiration soon enough, I think. So what about that black eye? You get into a fight?"

I shrugged. "Mediation between a divorcing couple. It got a bit spirited and our client was uncooperative when I took him outside to calm down. Bruises will be gone by tomorrow."

Oliver nodded. "Look, I have to get back to things. If you've got nothing better to do, you can stick around. You're not too bad to talk to when you're not being a grump."

I grunted and Oliver chuckled before rejoining the crowd. I considered leaving. I did not know any of the people there, the snacks were uninspired and I had no interest in the art. It was boring but it smelt like Oliver and I was not ready to give that up yet.

The party came to a close around ten and by ten thirty, the gallery was empty of all but Oliver and me. He did a last minute check of the gallery, making sure the staff had cleaned up properly, then met me by the front door.

"You know somewhere that's open?" Oliver asked as he locked up, "I'm starving."

I smiled. "I know a pizza place that stays open late. They get some great business from the local stoners."

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