Salad On The Side
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by Karenna Colcroft
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: Since moving to Boston, Kyle Slidell has met only a few of his neighbors, including Tobias Rogan. Kyle is very interested in Tobias, and is ecstatic to learn that Tobias wants him too. But his neighbors have a secret: They're werewolves, and Tobias is the pack Alpha. When one of the wolves attacks Kyle in the neighborhood garden one night, Kyle learns the truth in a hurry. Now he's a werewolf too-and since he's vegan, he refuses to eat meat. With Tobias's help and love, Kyle must adjust to his new life and protect himself and his friends from a neighboring pack.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
21 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [314 KB]
Reading time: 213-298 min.
Rustling outside my bedroom window attracted my attention. The clock on my nightstand glowed the blue numbers 1:45. That would be in the morning. Who the hell would be in the garden at this time of night?
I slid off my bed and knelt in front of the window. Outside was the apartment complex's community garden. It could only be reached through one of the buildings or by climbing the short stretch of seven-foot high wooden fence between my building and the next one over. I'd asked the landlord when I'd moved in why the fence was so high. He'd just shrugged and said the tenants liked their privacy.
Which meant whoever was out there would probably turn out to be a tenant. You'd better hope it isn't a burglar, Kyle, I told myself. If it is, you're screwed.
Curiosity won out over common sense and I twitched my curtain aside to peek out the window.
My neighbor Tobias stood in the middle of the plants, staring up at the sky. Illuminated by the light of the full moon, his bare, hairless chest gleamed in the silver light.
In my boxers, my cock twitched. Tobias's usual outfit of jeans and a T-shirt had that effect on me. Tonight, wearing only denim cut-offs with his wavy, shoulder-length brown hair free of its usual ponytail, he sparked my fantasies so completely my fingers itched to touch him.
At the thought of my palms against his chest, my fingers winding through his hair, I grew hard. In the three months since I'd moved into this apartment and met Tobias, he'd played a starring role in most of my daydreams. Something drew me to him so strongly I had to bite my tongue whenever I saw him to keep from blurting out how attractive I found him.
Attractive was a weak word for the man.
I'd been interested in other guys, of course. I'd even thought I'd been in love once; my body had responded eagerly enough every time I'd been near my lover. That response hadn't been enough to persuade him to go with me when my job relocated me to Boston.
With him, I hadn't had nearly as intense a reaction as I did to Tobias. I wanted to ask Tobias out, but I didn't quite have the guts, partly because I didn't know if he was gay. I got mixed vibes from him and I would have looked pretty stupid if I'd tried asking out a straight guy. I didn't want to make any dumb moves with Tobias, and whenever I was around him I could barely speak a coherent thought anyway, so I just kept my mouth shut.
While staring out the window at Tobias's body outlined in the glow of the moon, an almost irresistible urge to run outside and throw my arms around him hit me.
The man made me think like a sappy romance novel.
Fortunately, I managed to restrain my impulse. I was content--well, mostly--to kneel on the hardwood floor of my room, watching Tobias through the window and wondering what the hell he was doing in the garden at almost two in the morning. He certainly wasn't weeding or planting.
Tobias suddenly unfastened his shorts and let them fall to the ground. Seeing him completely nude, my thoughts went from curious and slightly sappy to one hundred percent desperately aroused. His hard, long cock curved against his abdomen, listing slightly to one side. His abs looked like the proverbial washboard. He turned slightly away from me and his firm ass gave me quivers. The moonlight bathed him, accentuating every inch of skin, almost as if he'd called it to him to show him off.
The front of my boxers formed a serious tent. My cock had become so hard it hurt and it was all I could do to keep from taking it in hand. I didn't want to jerk off while I watched Tobias. That would be way too pervy. Like spying on him through the window wasn't.
Shivers ran through me. The man of my, well, fantasies, stood right outside my window, naked in the moonlight. Not normal behavior by any stretch. Even though only the buildings around the garden had a view into the garden, anyone might look out their windows and see him.
On the other hand, Tobias's current appearance definitely improved the view.
He glanced toward the window and narrowed his eyes. Shit! He'd seen me!
Quickly, I ducked back, hoping the expression I'd seen on his face had just been a trick of the light. The garden wasn't huge, but he stood far enough away that maybe he hadn't really seen me, or maybe I hadn't really seen fury in his gaze. If he had seen me, of course he'd be angry. Not many people would be happy about being spied on. Then again, if he hadn't wanted to be seen, he probably should have stripped somewhere more private.
Like my bedroom.
That sent my brain off on yet another tangent, one involving my mouth on his dick, his hands on my ass, and a few other anatomical permutations that made me even harder than I'd been. A little bit of fluid stained the front of my boxers and I sighed in disappointment. Fantasizing and stroking myself was as close as I'd be likely to get to Tobias.
No one yelled or pounded on my window, so I decided Tobias hadn't actually seen me. I cautiously peeked through the curtain again.
Tobias had disappeared. Now the only occupant of the garden was a large--well, it had to be a dog. A husky, probably. The damn thing looked like a wolf, but I'd never heard of a wolf in East Boston.
How the hell had it gotten into the garden? None of the tenants in any of the buildings owned dogs, as far as I knew. Certainly not one this size. I craned my neck to check out the fence. The gate remained firmly closed, I blinked. The dog remained, its silvery-white fur reflecting the moon's light. Then it turned toward my window.
Its eyes glowed orange.
Heart pounding, I slumped to the floor below the windowsill. Whatever that thing was, it wasn't a normal dog.
Outside, a howl rose into the night.
The howl sounded an awful lot like my name.
Adrenaline rushed through me. I breathed deeply to bring myself back to a place of rational thought. Not much luck there. Point one: Tobias had seen me peeking at him while he stood naked in the garden. Point two: Tobias had disappeared and a dog of some kind had shown up.
Point three: The dog had seen me peeking and had howled my name.
Clearly I was going insane. Either that or I'd dreamed the entire event, including the sweat slicking my back and the hard-on that hadn't completely wilted even when I was threatened by what had to be a rabid dog. Had to be, because normal, healthy dogs didn't have glowing orange eyes.
The dog had looked pissed off, for sure. Apparently it didn't like being spied on any more than Tobias had.
That thought finished the job of deflating my cock. At least I'd be able to sleep. I heard another sharp howl before silence fell outside. After a moment, I chanced another peek under the curtain. The garden sat completely empty except for the moonlight and a few stray hairs floating through the air. Almost like I'd imagined the whole thing.
Maybe I had. That would certainly be an easier explanation.
I took one last deep breath to settle the last remnants of my adrenaline rush before I climbed back into bed. Despite the weirdness, it didn't take me long to go back to sleep. My dreams were filled with glowing orange eyes and images of a naked Tobias in my bed beside me.
When I woke in the morning, things seemed much clearer. I'd obviously dreamed the whole event the night before. No way had Tobias stripped naked in the garden. And I certainly hadn't seen a dog with orange eyes that howled my name. Too many fantasies about Tobias and too many viewings of the Twilight movies had gotten the better of my imagination. That was all.
I made a pot of coffee instead of my usual single cup, because the dream had left me feeling more tired than usual. I would need plenty of caffeine to make it through the day at work; a job that was so boring even on the best days I had trouble staying awake. Not that I wasn't good at what I did. And they paid me well for the computer troubleshooting that comprised the largest portion of my job description. Well enough for me to afford an apartment in East Boston without a roommate, which meant a lot to me. The last roommate I'd had had been Jerry, the lover who'd refused to move to Boston with me, and after that I hadn't really wanted another one.
I muddled through my usual morning routine and headed out the door only a few minutes late. Late according to what the company wanted, that was. As far as I was concerned, the timing was perfect, because it let me walk out my door at the same time Tobias walked out his. This time, I almost collided with him as I stepped onto the sidewalk in front of my building. It wasn't intentional on my part, though I certainly didn't mind a little physical contact with him.
"Sorry." I smiled as we spoke at the same time.
He chuckled. The sound sent tingles up and down my spine. For about half a second I toyed with the idea of asking him what he'd been doing in the garden during the night. Fortunately, I caught myself before I blurted out such a stupid question.
"Sorry," he said again. "I didn't have a lot of sleep last night and my brain hasn't quite caught up with the rest of me. I should pay more attention to where I'm going."
"No problem," I assured him. "You were on the sidewalk first."
"Ah, so you should pay more attention." He raised an eyebrow then winked. "I guess I won't take the blame, then."
I smiled. "Yeah, yeah, blame it all on me. I didn't sleep well either so we're in the same state I expect."
"You going to Maverick?"
The nearest subway stop, or T station as they were known in Boston. "Yep. The wonderful train into the city. You don't usually take the T, do you?" In the time I'd lived there I'd never seen him ride the subway. He usually walked down the street to the nearest cross street where he kept his blue Ford Mustang parked in a neighbor's driveway. The first time he showed me the car, Tobias told me that since the neighbor didn't own a car, he rented the driveway to a couple people who didn't want to leave their cars on the street. Our buildings didn't have off-street parking. I couldn't blame him for not wanting to leave such a sweet car on the side of the road.
"Not usually, but I'm going someplace today where parking's at a premium and there have been a few vehicle break-ins, so I'm leaving Sally home." He grinned at my look of confusion. "My car. Mustang Sally."
I would have hoped for something a bit more original from someone who seemed as intelligent as he was. However, I was willing to overlook the cliche because of his well-accentuated arm muscles and the memory of what lay beneath his blue plaid short-sleeved dress shirt. Of what my dream had led me to believe lay beneath, anyway.
"Ah, that makes sense," I said lamely. "So you're taking the T?"
"Yes, and I'd be happy to buy you a coffee at the Dunkin Donuts there. One insomniac to another." His dimples flashed as he grinned again and I melted. Fortunately, I managed to keep the melting inside. Outwardly, to the best of my knowledge, I gave no sign of how hot I thought he was or how much heat rose through me because of it.
I'd known since I was about twelve that I was gay. Even as a hormonally-driven teenager, though, I hadn't been this sex-focused with any of the guys I found attractive. I really needed to rein in my libido and work on being friends with Tobias. If I had any chance with him at all, relationships that started as friendships tended to work out better.
So ignore his body and answer him about the coffee already! Oh, yeah. Coffee. "I definitely won't turn down additional caffeine," I said.
For the first couple blocks of our walk to Maverick Station I couldn't think of anything to say. Apparently neither could Tobias since he didn't speak. The silence wasn't all that comfortable.
"So how long have you lived here?" I asked finally, desperate for something to say.
"A long time," he replied. "Why did you move here?"
"For work." I was pretty sure I'd told him that before somewhere along the line, but at least it was something to talk about. "My company offered me a transfer at ten grand a year more than I was making and it sounded like a good deal to me. What do you do for work?"
I waited a moment, but apparently he didn't plan to add anything to that. "Sounds interesting," I said. This wasn't going as well as I'd hoped. I should have been witty and erudite, and he should have been fascinated by me and been just as witty as I was. Instead, I was getting two or three words at a time out of him and I didn't know what to say to him to move the conversation along.
"I work with computers too," I said after a few seconds. "Troubleshooting, mostly, but some software design."
"Cool," he said.
Great. We'd gone from multiple-word answers to single syllables.
"I do software too," he said. "So we have something in common."
"Yeah, I guess we do." I smiled. "Are you from around here originally?"
"No, but I've lived here so long it seems like I should be. Where are you from?"
"Most recently, Philadelphia. I was born in Amish country, though."
He nodded and didn't say anything else until we reached the Dunkin Donuts across the street from Maverick Station. Fortunately that was only a minute or two. He opened the door of the shop and stood there. It took me a second to catch on that he was holding the door for me. "Thanks," I said, walking in.
"You're welcome." He walked in behind me and we stood against the wall, studying the menu. "What do you take in your coffee?"
"Cream and a sweetener," I replied. "Caramel flavoring."
He grinned. "My favorite. Another thing we have in common."
"Yeah." I was starting to like having things in common with him. I also liked his reaction to finding out we had things in common. Maybe I had some hope with him after all.
"Do you want a sandwich or anything?" he asked. "I'm buying, remember."
I shook my head. "All their stuff has eggs and dairy at the very least. I'm vegan, so I try to avoid those things."
He raised an eyebrow. "And yet you just said you like cream in your coffee."
I shrugged. "I'm vegan. I'm not always good at it."
We got our coffees then descended into the depths of the Boston T system. The Blue Line, to be precise. Not the only way to go from East Boston into the heart of the city, but certainly the easiest, especially since it didn't involve wending one's way through rush hour Boston traffic. I'd thought rush hour in Philadelphia was bad, but it'd been nothing compared to this city.
"So what do you do on your off time?" Tobias asked as we stood on the platform surrounded by throngs of other morning commuters.
I chuckled. "You're assuming I have off time. The companies that pay for our computer expertise don't seem to keep anything resembling a regular schedule."
"Somehow I think they let you quit working once in a while." He started rocking from toe to heel. "You've been living around here for a few months now, but I don't think I've ever noticed you having any friends over or anything. Haven't you started forming social connections or however they phrase it nowadays?"
My heart swelled at hearing that he noticed anything about me. I half-smiled at his wording. "I don't really have time for that. And most of the people I work with have families or live too far away to partake of the Boston nightlife. Assuming there is any. I pretty much hibernate from the time I get home from work to the time I leave the next morning."
"That's kind of sad really." He winked to signal he was kidding. "So you don't go out anywhere or have anyone over? Don't date?"
"I'd have to find the right person to date." I kicked at a stray piece of paper that tried to attach itself to my foot and wondered where his line of questioning was headed. Most of the time when people asked if you dated they were interested in dating you. It looked like my instincts might have been off. "Things ended kind of sour with my last relationship. I was transferred here and he refused to move with me. Got kind of angry when I told him I was taking the job with him or without him. It meant a pretty big pay increase and I couldn't pass that up."
He raised an eyebrow. "He? You're gay?"
"Yep." I hadn't kept it much of a secret since I'd graduated high school, so admitting it to Tobias didn't faze me. His potential reaction concerned me a bit, though. "Does that bother you?"
"Not a bit. I'm not one of those men who thinks any gay guy's going to come on to me. I mean, straight guys don't usually hit on every woman they meet, right? So why would a gay guy hit on every man he meets?"
"Yeah, we're usually pretty careful." If I'd been in the mood to make a bet, that vague comment sounded more like a straight man than a gay one, unless he was still seriously deep in the closet. So why did I keep feeling like he was giving me the eye?
"Yeah." He sipped his iced mocha. "So since you hibernate from sundown to sunup, I assume you wouldn't be interested in a get-together some friends and I are having at my place tonight? They're all people who live in the neighborhood. A few of them have been a little curious about you since you seem to have only met me, Suzannah, and the Frelichs." The Frelichs were a nice couple a few years older than me who lived in the apartment on the third floor of my building. Suzannah lived in Tobias's building.
"Like I said, I don't have a lot of free time," I replied. "So I haven't really had a chance to meet my neighbors. I'd be happy to show up at your party, though, if you don't think anyone would mind."
"I think they'd mind more if you didn't show up. You're an object of curiosity. The neighborhood doesn't change very often. Some of those buildings have belonged to the same families since the turn of the last century." His smile popped out his dimples again and I bit the inside of my cheek to remind myself not to notice them. "We need new faces around there, so I think everyone wants to meet the newest. Especially since it's pretty much all people who live around the garden; your immediate neighbors, as it were."
"I've seen most of them, in that case." Out the window, while they worked in the garden and I tried to work up the nerve to join them. I hadn't wanted to intrude on people I didn't know and ask if I could join their gardening parties.
"You do have a good view of the garden from your place."
"Attention passengers, the next Blue Line train to Bowdoin is now approaching," the automated loudspeaker system informed us.
"So you'll come tonight?" Tobias asked.
I resisted the urge to make a bad pun based on his phrasing and nodded. "I'll be there."
"Attention passengers, the next Blue Line train to Bowdoin is now arriving."
Tobias gritted his teeth. "That damn thing is the main reason I don't take the T more often. It's just plain too loud."
"Yeah," I agreed, even though it hadn't sounded loud at all to me. Certainly not as loud as the train that pulled to a stop in front of the platform. Or as loud as the MP3 player held by the kid with the backwards baseball cap that I was forced to stand next to on the crowded train car, so close his cologne made me gag.
Tobias, on my other side, held his nose for the time it took to travel from Maverick to Aquarium Station, the next stop. Then he clapped me on the shoulder. "I'm walking from here. I really don't deal well with crowds like this. See you tonight. Around seven? You'll be home by then?"
"I should be." I wasn't always. Some nights I didn't arrive home until nine or later. But for Tobias I'd make an effort to be early.
"Good. See you then." He forced his way through the crush of people out the door onto the platform and vanished into the crowd.
Even though I couldn't see him, I stared out the window as the train continued on its way. Tobias had asked me over to his place. Hadn't had an issue with my being gay. If anything, he'd seemed intrigued by finding out about me. There would be other people at his place, of course. Plenty of them, from what he'd said. It didn't matter. Tobias had invited me to his place and I might have a chance with him after all.