Story Excerpt
Papa Bear's Pup

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“Are you sure you can’t stay?”

Bartholomew Matthews smiled sadly as he pressed his brother’s hand to his cheek. “Are you sure you can’t come?”

Aisely’s smile was just as sad and tear filled as his own. “My life is here, Bug,” Aisely murmured. “I have to stay. But I’ll miss you.”

Bug nodded. He knew that was going to be his brother’s answer before he even asked the question, but he had to ask. “I’m going to miss you, too.”

“Do you know where you’re going to go?” Aisely asked.

“It’s better that you don’t know.” The truth couldn’t be beaten out of him then.

“Call me when you get settled?”

“I’ll try.” But they both knew he wouldn’t. Any type of contact between them could be detrimental to their health, and maybe their lives. With one last squeeze of his brother’s hand, Bug grabbed his backpack and then stood. “Remember to keep yourself safe.”

Aisely stood as well, his fingers brushing Bug’s cheek, moving to the edge of the bruises on the side of his swollen face. “Remember to keep an eye on these. Get some ice on them as soon as you can. It will help with the swelling.” 

Bug pulled his long chestnut curls down over his cheek, hoping to hide the bruises. It was bad enough that he had had his ass handed to him. He didn’t need his brother bringing his shame into the light.

With a pang, Bug realized that this might be the last time he ever saw his brother. He wasn’t going to suddenly start liking girls and his father wasn’t going to suddenly accept him. Randal Matthews would rather see him dead than admit one of his sons was gay.

“Be happy and stay safe.”

Bug turned and walked away before he could talk himself out of leaving. Going out into the world alone was almost as scary as staying behind with his psychotic father. Both were dangerous. Bug just wasn’t sure which one was riskier. Being turned over to the enforcers was as close to death as Bug ever wanted to get. Being deemed a rogue wolf was nearly as bad. If another wolf pack got wind of his scent, his life wouldn’t be worth a plug nickel.

The moment he stepped into the woods, Bug took off running. The faster he got out of his father’s territory, the better. The moment he set foot outside his father’s territory without his permission, he was rogue, and that meant he was free game for anyone with a grudge or a little anger to burn off. No one could protest because he would be a rogue wolf. Any pack anywhere could do whatever they wanted to him.

He wouldn’t put it past his father to contact other packs and warn them that his son had gone rogue, to kill him on sight. Randal Matthews would do just about anything to prevent people from learning he had given life to a son that liked to take it up the butt.

Bug had quite a few miles to cover before he was out of his father’s territory. He knew if he didn’t hurry, he would never make it. It was a good bet that someone would check his room at some point and discover that he had escaped. If it wasn’t for his ability to heal quickly, he would still be in bed moaning in pain.

Bug breathed in shallow quick gasps as he ran. There was nothing he could do about his footsteps but he could control his breathing as best as possible.

He wished he could shift. He would get so much farther on four legs than two. But his scent was stronger in his wolf form. He’d be pinpointed in a manner of moments. In his human form, he had a chance, as slim as it was.

A cold knot formed in Bug’s stomach when he very distinguishable howl ripped through the night air. They had discovered that he was gone. Fear made him reckless. He tore off through the woods as fast as his feet would carry him.

It wasn’t long before he heard people—or wolves—crashing through the woods behind him. They were gaining on him but they weren’t catching him. It was almost as if they were playing with him, enjoying his fear.

They probably were.

Bug ran faster, his short legs making his flight for freedom almost a joke. He knew he was merely avoiding the inevitable. He knew he would be caught. It was just a matter of time. But he still couldn’t give up. What waited for him if he got caught was worse than the beating that had sent him running in the first place.

Bug ran until his legs ached and then he ran some more. The darkness slowly turned to light. It allowed Bug to see better but it also allowed those chasing him to see him better. And then the trees thinned, giving way to open fields and flatland for as far as the eye could see.

Bug glanced over his shoulder at one point and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the men chasing him were playing a game. There were three of them, enforcers for Randal Matthews. They were the meanest of all the enforcers, malicious and cruel, deriving pleasure from listening to others scream.

They fanned out behind Bug, watching him, following him. They never got to close but didn’t fall behind either. This went on for hours, miles, until Bug realized they were close to the border of Randal Matthews’s territory, and then he knew. They were waiting until he stepped over the boundary between his father’s territory and the pack next to them. He would be free game the moment that happened.

Bug wasn’t sure why his father wanted them to wait. He knew they weren’t just following him to make sure he left his father’s territory. They were going to wait until he entered the territory belonging to his father’s rival and then attack, blame it on them.

Bug almost laughed as he acknowledged he had probably played right into his father’s hands when he decided to run. Not only was Randal Matthews getting rid of his gay son before anyone discovered his perversity, but he was giving his father ammunition to bring sanctions against the neighboring pack, and possibly gain some of their land.

Yay him.