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Romancing the Werewolf: A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger, G.L. Carriger (1)

PROLOGUE

A Timeless Memory

April 1876

Every part of him hurt. It had been a long and vicious fight, the two of them – a Beta and a newly minted werewolf pup, trying to keep an Alpha alive. Trying to keep Lady Kingair from killing them all in her wild lust for revenge. They’d managed it. They’d made it through the night with everyone still relatively intact.

Professor Lyall shuddered over the memory. No clean hits or playfulness in that battle. Biffy had come to his rescue because he could not have taken her on alone. He was a Beta, and Lady Kingair a true Alpha. No contest – he would have died. Except for Biffy. Biffy, so young, barely a werewolf, a baby in their world and innocent of all wrongdoing. He’d come to share the burden of Lady Kingair’s righteous anger. He and Lyall had swapped taking her hits, one after another all night long, so the fight remained fair, so they could all survive.

Lyall was bloodied and bruised. Breathing hurt, which meant a few ribs were broken. But he was a werewolf, and he would heal overnight as he slept. Physically, they would all be fine after a day of rest.

Mentally, though?

Lyall felt the burden of embarrassment as well as pain because Biffy knew now. Biffy knew everything. Every messy, degrading, disgusting detail of what life had been like under Alpha Lord Vulkasin Woolsey.

Servicing Lord Vulkasin as Beta near the end had been humiliating nearly beyond bearing. Professor Lyall was hundreds of years old. He’d survived because he knew suffering was finite. But immortality also made time more mutable – it had been a very long five years indeed. He remembered too much of them. Vulkasin, mad with Alpha’s curse, turned time longer by doling out pain and humiliation. Since Lady Kingair deserved the truth, Lyall spoke of it in flat, informative tones and tried not to notice Biffy crying. No doubt he wished that he did not have to hear it.

Truth had not saved them from fighting. A different kind of clean hurt, an exorcism all on its own, that Lyall might have, oddly, needed. He had learned to live with the guilt – to protect himself and his pack, he’d arranged for his own Alpha to be slaughtered. He’d destroyed the lives of others in that process, not the least being Lady Kingair and her pack. Had one night of battle purged that? A little. They were, after all, werewolves.

Biffy had come to save him, and so, youth got caught up in the past. But they had survived Lady Kingair’s hurt and hurting, and Lyall’s own memories. Together, they had survived.

The carriage pulled up before the pack’s townhouse. Lyall and Biffy stumbled out, leaning on each other, wrapped in blankets and nothing else. The butler, bless him, met them with coin for the driver and a large, frilly parasol. They made it inside with very little sun damage and a driver’s silence purchased outright.

Up the stairs and on to their own separate rooms, Lyall was struck by Biffy’s unselfish support. That Biffy had come for him, to help him, only a Beta. Lyall hadn’t words to express his gratitude, but he desperately wanted to say something. To do something.

Perhaps some of that desperation showed on his face. Or some of the need. Or some of the loneliness.

Because Biffy said, face drawn with exhaustion, blue eyes calm and kind, “Would you like company, Professor?”

Lyall struggled. “I wouldn’t… that is… I couldn’t… that is… I’m not all that... capable.” He gave a weak hand flap indicating his still-wounded state, his fatigue, and his disheveled appearance all in one.

Biffy gave a little puff of a chuckle. “Only company. I should never presume, even if we were both in perfect health.” Self-consciously, he touched his hair, messy from battle and shift. Dandy to the very end.

Lyall barely stopped himself from smiling. My, but I really am tired. He schooled his features, reaching for backbone and untapped strength. I haven’t much of that left.

He couldn’t take advantage. “Pity, pup? Now that you know what Lord Woolsey did to me? It was a long time ago.”

Biffy tilted his head, showing his neck submissively. “No, sir. Never that. Respect, I suppose. To survive such things and still be sane.”

How does he always know exactly the right thing to say?

They were interrupted, at that moment, by the butler checking in on them. It wasn’t odd, in a werewolf house, to find two bloodied men talking politely in the upstairs hallway. But it was odd to find them lingering there after sunrise. The butler was understandably confused. Lyall sent him on his way with polite excuses.

Biffy turned to make his way to his own sleeping chamber. His shoulders were slumped even further, rejection on top of exhaustion.

Lyall could not bear it.

He placed a hand on Biffy’s arm. He tilted his head in silent invitation and opened the door to his own quarters. Biffy hesitated. Lyall wondered if he had misread the signs. His own shoulders curved slightly, and he moved into his room, alone, glancing back only once.

To see Biffy give one of his glorious quiet smiles and follow.

They climbed into Lyall’s small bed, good for nothing more than sleep. But sleeping together was more than Lyall had ever hoped for.

They awoke after sunset, entwined and naked. By mutual assent, they touched each other then, careful kisses and soft caresses. They were both physically recovered from their ordeal, but remembered injuries made them reverent. Lyall could not stop running his fingers through Biffy’s hair. Before, when he was human, those dark curls had been coifed, tamed, and set. Now that he was a werewolf, they were silken and wild. No doubt this distressed Biffy, but Lyall adored it.

Biffy was tender with him and not ashamed. He took charge, building everything between them into insistence and yearning. He was young enough for Lyall to be surprised by his knowledge and his skill with tongue, and fingers, and oil. They took their time with each other, and there was no question that it was Lyall who wanted claiming. Who needed the dark spike and slide of knowing that he was desired. Biffy was intent but never forceful. Perhaps his movements were gentled by the memory of what Lyall had suffered in the past, or perhaps it was simply his way. To be in control but kind with it, to use dominance as a way of focusing on Lyall’s pleasure first.

It was oddly sweet, and oddly glorious, and so very, very necessary.

When Biffy lay, flush against him, Lyall nuzzled into his neck. They fit well together, neither of them very big for werewolves.

Biffy said, tones smooth, “You truly intend to leave and become Kingair’s Beta, even after all you sacrificed for this pack?”

“I must make amends.” Lyall did not stop his nuzzling.

“So far away from London?”

That brought a new pain. Lyall had known some of what was coming. This was his real pack. London was his home. He would be leaving both, and now he would be leaving Biffy, too. But he would make right what he had done to Lady Kingair, and that meant submitting himself to her will and her stewardship. “It won’t be forever.”

They spoke of other things then – pack politics, government position, other kinds of necessity. Lyall could only hope that Biffy understood. He wasn’t really leaving them so much as going to something vital, for a time.

Eventually, Biffy worked up the courage to ask, “Will you come back here after?”

“I will try.” I will arrange everything. I will plan it out, and I will fix it all, and this time around, no one will have to die.

 

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