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by Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes, Amy Lane
Category: Gay Fiction/Romance
Description: For time immemorial, the goddesses of fate have decided which human threads will shine and which will be cut short. But even the fates have off days.
Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey: Finding love shouldn't be that difficult for a diplomat's son, except Cheyenne is part of a grand tradition of werewolves, and a werewolf with a skin condition needs more help than most mortals. When Chay meets the prince of his dreams, it takes Clotho's intervention to keep him from letting go.
Jump by Mary Calmes: When two lovers die, their threads of life are collected instead of scattered, as one of them was the brother of a god. Can the fates reunite two lovers whose threads should have twined together for eternity? Or will Cassidy allow Raza's interest to pass his pale, mortal self by?
Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane: The gods' meddling isn't always welcome. It's given Leif good luck but poor fortune, and Hacon a family curse he's lived in fear of all his life. But when Leif's good luck saves Hake's life, Hake has to reevaluate everything he's ever believed about luck, life, and love.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: September 2012
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [442 KB]
Reading time: 293-411 min.
Fates Delivers a Prince
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They were as old as time, three ageless sisters of neither beauty nor ugliness; they just were. Created by the gods at the beginning of the world, they existed at the center of the Earth, far away from the life-forms they controlled. These three women, these sisters, were the Fates. They existed in their own portion of the world, controlling it and yet completely separate from it. In their cave, for lack of a better way to describe it, for they knew neither day nor night, these sisters did their work, never tiring and always vigilant.
It was one sister's job to call the names, one watched the wheels and called the reading, and the final recorded the fate in the book of time.
"Sisters," the oldest one said. She was older only because she had been created a millisecond before the others. "It's time to switch." The others nodded, and without missing a beat, they shifted position with grace and speed, as they'd done once a century ever since the first thinking being appeared on the planet.
They called each other "sister," their actual names long unused. To say them they would subject themselves to the randomness of the wheels they alone controlled. Those very wheels lined the walls of their cave, floor to ceiling, spinning constantly unless a name was called.
"Urnst Hunblotter!" the middle sister called in a level voice.
Then, and only then, would the wheels stop just long enough to be read before whirling again. Each wheel had thousands of possibilities, and not every wheel stopped for every name. Some were lucky and the wheel of disease continued spinning; others weren't. Sometimes the wheel of wisdom hit the jackpot, and other times it never slowed. There were times when the longevity wheel read days, and sometimes decades. And it was the sisters' job to keep the wheels running, the fortunes spinning, and record the fate of each for the gods, because once a fate was recorded, it was written for all time.
"Mario Vitelli." The name sounded in the cave, and the wheels stopped for a split second before starting again. "Do you ever tire of this, sister?" she asked before calling another name.
"No, sister," the eldest answered before reading and calling what the wheels had said so the youngest could write it down. "This is our fate, and you know what happens when you rail against us."
The others nodded, and another name was called. They very rarely spoke of anything other than the wheels. Some might say they were cursed, others that they were blessed, but to them, they just were.
"Cheyenne Dobson." The name sounded through the cave, and all three sisters stared at the wheels, unmoving. Every once in a while the wheels spun something the sisters had never seen before, and they would stop and stare before recording the fate, which would start the wheels spinning once again. This happened rarely, but every so often something or someone captured their attention. That attention could be for good or bad, the life long or short, but it always guaranteed one thing: a very interesting ride.
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Cheyenne sat in his room with the door closed and tried his best to ignore the persistent itch on his arm. Over the years he'd gotten quite used to it, and if he concentrated and kept busy, he could wait it out, usually. He hadn't wanted to come along with his parents on this trip, but when his father, who also happened to be his alpha, asked him to do something, it might be phrased as a question, but in actuality it was an order. So here he was, staying with his family in a baroque nightmare of a house outside Munich, in Bavaria. After wandering over to the window, Cheyenne gazed at Danube River Valley and the mountains beyond. The country was beautiful, but the mountains weren't those of home. He hadn't been gone all that long, but he already missed his Rocky Mountains and the pack lands where he and his wolf could run.
Cheyenne sighed as he moved away from the window and settled on the side of his bed, looking around the huge bedroom. Everything in this place was massive, from the entrance hall and living room to his bedroom. He swore his parents' room was large enough to play basketball in.
He heard a soft knock on the door and realized that he'd been rubbing his arm. He stopped his hands and forced his arms back to his sides. "Come in," he said, his eyes nearly watering with the need to scratch everywhere. Sometimes the urge was so overpowering he could hardly stand it. The door opened, and Cheyenne saw his father enter.
"Your mother and I are attending a diplomatic reception this evening, and I'd like you and your brothers to attend as well," his father said as he strode over to where Cheyenne was sitting. He was a huge man, nearly six and a half feet tall, and strong both physically and in personality--every inch the alpha, and he wore it well. Cheyenne's brothers took after their father in almost every way, which had always made Cheyenne feel like a bit of an outcast.
"What is it, Chay?" his father asked as his expression softened.
"Nothing," he lied as tears threatened to come to his eyes. Then, when he couldn't take it any longer, he lightly rubbed his side. The relief was almost palpable as the itching finally subsided. "I'd really prefer not to go." He knew he'd do something to embarrass his family; that was the one thing he seemed to be good at. "I'll stay here and read."
His father's expression softened further, and he sat on the bed next to him. "I'd really like you to come. You spend way too much time alone, and you need to meet people and make contacts and friends. You can't do that if you stay here and never go out." His father placed a hand on his shoulder. "I know you feel self-conscious, but you have no need to be. I have never been ashamed of you in my life."
Chay lifted his gaze from his shoes and looked his father in the eye. "Please, Dad. Remember that reception we were at with the British ambassador last year? The itching got so bad, half the people on the room saw me scratching my back on the potted palm."
To Chay's surprise, his father smiled. "No one would have noticed if you hadn't knocked the dang thing over and into the ambassador's wife." His father began to laugh, and Chay looked at the floor once again until he felt his father's amazingly soft fingers under his chin. "For the record, that was the highlight of the most boring party I've attended in a decade. So, no, I'm not now nor have I ever been embarrassed by you. I know you have a skin condition that itches terribly all the time, and if there was something I could do to make it go away, I would. I've heard there's a doctor over here who can possibly help you, and I've got people trying to contact him."
Cheyenne shook his head. "No more witch doctors, Dad, please. The last one damned near turned me green."
"He did not," his father protested and then shook his head. "Look, if we can get in touch with him, will you at least consider it?"
Chay sighed. "Okay." His father tried his best to do whatever he could for him. "I'll consider it."
His father patted his knee a couple of times and then stood up. "You don't have to go to the party tonight. Your mother and I will understand, but I wish you'd reconsider."
His father left the room, and Chay lay back on his bed, looking up at the elaborate plasterwork in the ceiling. His father had made a career in the foreign service and seemed to have a gift for mastering diplomacy. Chay always figured he was so good at it because of his quick mind backed by the power that lay just below the surface. His father's wolf was the most powerful Chay or anyone in their family had ever encountered, and he exuded an authority that even humans seemed to feel. That sense of power helped back up his reasoning skills and extreme sense of honor.
Chay knew his father would be disappointed if he didn't go, but he simply wasn't sure how he could face all those people. He hated feeling that way, but it was better than hurting his father. Besides, something truly embarrassing or stupid always happened when he was around. This time he was determined to spare himself and his family the humiliation.
With that settled firmly in his mind, Chay settled back on the bed after grabbing the book he'd been reading. He sat on the thick bedding and began to read. The warm afternoon breeze wafted in through the open windows, and more than once Chay inhaled the scent of the river, the old trees, and the clean, fresh air.
When his father had purchased the estate, he had made sure they were well away from the scent of the city. Chay knew his father had done that largely for him, because the one thing that they'd found out over the years was that the fresher the air, the easier it was on Chay. That was one of the few things that made any difference. Breathing the sweetness of flowers from the garden on the air had a calming effect on Chay, and he soon closed his eyes, the book falling open on his chest.
Chay reached for his book again, figuring he must have dozed off for a few seconds, but he couldn't seem to find it. When he opened his eyes, he saw a woman standing at the foot of the bed. He tried to move, but he seemed frozen in place. "Who are you?" he asked, but the form didn't speak. It simply turned toward the far wall, or where the wall had once been. In its place was a view into a ballroom with people milling about, some dancing. The figure pointed toward the scene, and Chay watched for a few seconds. Then both she and the scene vanished.
He woke with a start, gasping for air. The book that had rested on his chest thumped to the floor. Chay gasped and looked all around him, but the room looked the same as it always had. "Weird dream," he said to himself as he got out of bed. He bent down to pick up his book and then placed it on the table next to his lamp and alarm clock. It looked as though he'd been asleep for an hour. Walking toward the door, he stopped when he saw a tuxedo hanging on a portable valet next to it. Wondering where that had come from, he once again looked around the room. No one seemed to have come in, yet here was everything he'd need for the evening.
"You're not at all pushy, are you, Dad?" he said out loud. He reached out and felt the fabric. It was soft, almost buttery in the way it felt on his skin. Figuring it wouldn't hurt to try the things on since his dad had gone to all that trouble, Chay lifted the hanger and carried the clothes to the bathroom, where he hung them on the back of the door. Peeling off his clothes, Chay avoided looking at himself in the mirror. He knew what he'd see, anyway: light-red blotches in all the places that itched. The human doctors he'd seen had said it was some sort of eczema, but they couldn't place it, and neither could anyone else. At least his face and hands were clear for the time being, but that wasn't always the case.
Chay washed up and then rummaged in his kit, finding a small tube of lotion that sometimes helped keep the itching at bay for a while. He put some on the worst spots and then began to remove the clothes from the hanger. Beneath the jacket and shirt, he found a pair of boxers that seemed to be made of the same material. "Dad sure thought of everything this time," he murmured to the white tiles lining the walls. After pushing off his underwear, Chay pulled on the new pair. The fabric was like nothing he'd ever felt before. He reached for the white shirt and pulled it on. He couldn't help flexing his arms and back, it felt so good. The pants came next, and then Chay tied his bow tie. He'd expected a black one--that was his father's style--but the one on the hanger was a deep red, and Chay wondered if this was his mother's doing. He straightened the jacket and then shrugged into it. Every part of the tuxedo felt as though it had been made especially for him, and when he walked back into his bedroom, he spied socks and a pair of highly polished shoes waiting for him on the valet. He put them on before finally allowing himself a look in the full-length cheval mirror.
He immediately hurried back to the bathroom to retrieve a comb, and then stood in front of the mirror again. For the first time Chay could ever remember, his hair actually did what he wanted it to, and he had to admit, he looked as good as he figured was possible. Maybe he could go to the reception for his father after all. After stepping back from the mirror, Chay walked to his bedroom door and pulled it open before leaving his room and heading down the hallway to the main staircase. He could hear the voices of his parents and brothers in the hallway, talking as they got ready to leave. Feeling a bit like Cinderella, or in this case Cinderfella, he took his first steps down the stairs.
"Chay," his father said as he approached the bottom of the stairs, "I didn't think you...." His father stopped as Chay saw his mother, in her emerald floor-length gown, nudge his father in the ribs. "I didn't think you were going to join us."
"So, Scratchy, you decided to come," his youngest brother, Alex, chided with a smile, and Chay's oldest brother, Reese, smacked him on the back of the head. "Hey," Alex groused, rubbing the spot. Chay stepped back in case the growling began. It wasn't likely, since Reese was most like their father when it came to his wolf, but Alex's compact body held a wolf few would mess with.
"Both of you," his mother said in her melodic voice that could stop a runaway train with barely a whisper. Turning back to Chay, she said, "I'm glad you decided to come," with a beatific smile that could light up any room. "You look very handsome," she continued before taking Chay's father's hand and letting him lead her out of the house. The three sons followed dutifully, with Chay bring up the rear.
There was a definite pecking order in the family, just like there was in any pack, and Chay had known for a very long time that he was at the bottom of theirs. Not that it really mattered to him--he'd long ago accepted his place and he was content in it--but as they stepped into the limousine, Chay was surprised to see that the single space next to his father had been left free. That was usually Reese's place, and he guarded it almost jealously. Chay looked at both his brothers and saw Reese nod to him before Chay sat down next to his father.
"What's going on?" Chay asked, but his father ignored the question as the driver closed the door, and then his father signaled the driver.
"This evening will most likely be the usual diplomatic reception. There will be a receiving line, of course, and your mother and I will lead you through and make introductions. You all know the proper way to behave."
"Unless Scratchy decides to get it on with one of the plants again," Alex teased, and thankfully his father ignored it and continued.
"There will then be cocktails with appetizers, and then dinner followed by dancing," his father explained. "I want all of you to keep your wolves under control." He looked pointedly at Alex. "There will be no going after the host's daughter--I don't care how good she smells." He glared at Alex, who straightened right up. "While this isn't an official state function, there will be a lot of informal business conducted, and I don't want to have to worry about any of you. This evening is important, and if you pay attention and act graciously, there will be many important people worth meeting." All three of them nodded, and their father smiled as the limousine bumped slightly and then pulled onto a long, smooth drive. When the car stopped, they waited until the door opened, and then Chay's father got out of the car before extending his hand to help his wife. Reese and Alex exited next, and Chay brought up the rear, as usual.
They all walked as a small group along a covered portico toward the front door, where they were greeted and Chay's father showed his invitation. From there, they simply followed the others. Everyone was announced, just like in the movies: "Sir Jackson and Lady Dobson, Misters Reese, Alexander, and Cheyenne Dobson." Chay usually forgot that his father had been knighted at some point years ago.
They then made their way down the receiving line, where they were introduced to the host and hostess. Chay always hated this part because often his hands weren't presentable, and he'd had people seem afraid to touch him as they passed through. With that over, they found themselves in a grand reception room with waiters carrying trays of drinks and canapes. Chay took a glass and a bite from a passing tray, watching as his brothers took a drink each and proceeded to snag something to eat from every tray that passed their way. Their metabolisms were so fast they ate great amounts, and Chay usually did the same, but he was a bit too nervous to eat, so he ate the tidbit and sipped from his glass, observing and listening as more people were announced.
"Cheyenne, dear," his mother said as she approached him, probably on her way to "powder her nose," and lightly touched his shoulder. "Mingle and talk to people. They won't bite, I promise," she said with a wink before gliding away.
"His Royal Highness Prince Arthur Keuerningen of Paragonia and Lady Lizette Stanton."
The announcement made Chay turn his head to see what an actual prince looked like. He'd met more titled people than he could count or remember, but not a prince. A man in an elegant tuxedo with actual ribbons and medals pinned to his chest entered the room, and people around bowed slightly. Chay did the same, but not for the reason everyone else did. All the air had suddenly flown out of his lungs, and his heart rate had skyrocketed. Chay felt his wolf try to leap forward, and he pushed him back down as everyone in the room straightened up once again.
As the prince and the woman with him passed Chay, he couldn't help taking a small step closer and slowly inhaling. The richest, most intoxicatingly heady scent he'd ever come across went up through his nose and right to his brain before plummeting south. Chay had to turn slightly and shift things so they wouldn't be noticeable to everyone in the room. His wolf, in the meantime, was sitting up and ready to charge full force. He'd heard his mating call, and it took all Chay's strength to keep him under control.
The prince began to move away, and Chay chanced one more inhale, but the scent he longed for was gone, and instead he got a noseful of the most cloying perfume on Earth. Chay's eyes watered and he began to cough. Belatedly, he realized he didn't have a tissue or a handkerchief, so he tried to make his way through the milling crowd toward the restrooms. But he could barely see, and just when he thought he'd made it out of the room, he bumped into someone and began to tumble to the floor.
"Ich habe Sie," a rich voice said, and once Chay managed to breathe again, the scent he recognized and wished he could smell until the day he died filled his nose. The urge to cough abated quickly, and Chay got back to his feet, blinking away the tears from his eyes.
"Please excuse me," he gasped as the prince moved away from him. His wolf bounced inside him, trying to propel Chay closer. He wanted that touch back, at the very least. Hell, his wolf wanted the prince laid out for him to take on the floor right damned now. "I didn't mean to bump you," Chay stammered with the last of his breath as he stared into the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. The blue was nearly impossible for Chay to describe, as if the western sky had met the bluest ocean and somehow they'd mixed to form this man's eyes.
"It was my fault for not watching where I was going. I'm Arthur," he said, holding out his hand.
"Cheyenne, but my friends call me Chay," he said a bit breathlessly as he took the offered hand. His wolf wanted him to lick it to see if the prince tasted as good as he smelled, but Chay had to keep his head and remember where he was. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he added, letting go of Arthur's hand, already missing the softness and warmth of his skin.
"It's nice to meet you too," Arthur replied, and now that the pleasantries were out of the way, Chay simply stared at him, wondering what in hell he was supposed to say. "Are you here alone?"
Thank God he asked a question. "No. I'm here with my father, Jackson Dobson... Your Highness." He almost forgot to add the last part and realized he had forgotten it earlier.
"Yes, you're one of his sons. Please skip the 'Your Highness' bit, though. Everybody calls me that day and night, and it gets annoying after a while."
Chay smiled and nodded, and was wondering what he should say next when the cloying scent from before began to surround him, and Chay tried to stop himself from breathing it in.
"Arthur, I'm ready," the woman said, and then she seemed to notice Chay. "Hello," she greeted him pleasantly but with no warmth.
"Lizette, this is Chay Dobson," the prince said, and Chay shook her hand, trying not to breathe in her perfume as the way Arthur said his name made his chest quake. "We sort of bumped into each other."
"What do you do, Mr. Dobson?" she asked properly.
"I'm studying to be a veterinarian," he answered. The animal-healing part came quite naturally to him. "I have just a few years to go and then I'll take care of large animals like horses and cattle."
"How interesting," she said, turning to Arthur. Chay thought she was about to say something, but Arthur interrupted her.
"I'll be along in a minute," Arthur told her, and she reluctantly released her hold on his arm before heading back toward the reception. "Thank goodness," Arthur said as soon as she was out of earshot. "I keep telling her that ridiculously expensive perfume she wears gives me a headache." Arthur took a deep breath of fresh air and smiled.
"It's pretty awful stuff," Chay agreed, and thankfully both she and her scent were gone.
"I've known Lizette since we were children, and she's been my date to things like this for the last few years," Arthur said as he slowly walked toward one of the side rooms. Chay followed because he wasn't about to let Arthur get away from him, at least not if he could help it. "She'd love nothing more than to be a princess." Arthur rolled his eyes as they entered what looked like a lavishly appointed library with books in cases that ran from the floor all the way to the fourteen-foot ceilings. Chay was in awe, and he openly gaped at all the books. "It's quite impressive, isn't it?" Arthur asked, and Chay nodded slowly before pulling out of his daydream.
"It is," Chay said as he shifted his attention back to Arthur, leaning a little closer.
"Did you just smell me?" Arthur asked, and Chay lowered his gaze to his shoes.
"Sorry," Chay said, expecting to hear Arthur walk away from him at any moment. Instead, the scent that captivated him became stronger.
"Why would you do that?" Arthur asked in a whisper.
"Because you smell so very good," Chay said, lifting his gaze to meet Arthur's eyes. He'd be damned if he was going to lie, and if this was as close as he ever got to Arthur again, he was going to have as many sensory memories to treasure as he possibly could. Chay closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, nearly losing control of his wolf as he inadvertently let his guard down. A soft growl formed in his throat, but he managed to swallow most of it.
"Jesus, I must smell really good for you to make a sound like that," Arthur said with a bit of a chuckle. "Are you always this forward with everyone you meet?"
Chay stepped back, a bit mortified. "I'm sorry," he answered, shaking his head. "I'm never forward at all with anyone. I don't know what...." Chay swallowed hard. "Shouldn't we return for dinner? They'll start without you."
Arthur smiled a wide, beautifully perfect smile that made Chay want to run his tongue over Arthur's lips and teeth to see what they tasted like. "That's the one nice thing about being a prince--dinner will never start without me." Arthur began to chuckle deeply. "Come on, let's give them a break."
"Are you always this free with the people you meet?" Chay asked as they reached the door.
"Heavens, no," Arthur answered, and his expression changed as he seemed to realize all the things he'd said. "I haven't felt as comfortable with anyone as I have with you in a very long time."
"I suppose people see you as the prince first, just like they see me as my father's youngest son before they see me. I know it isn't the same thing, but I can sort of understand how you feel. I mean...." God, he needed to shut up, because he was rambling, and Arthur was going to think he was some sort of idiot.
"Yes," Arthur said as they left the room and walked back toward the gathering. "So I spend most of my time with people who understand," Arthur explained before leaning close, giving Chay another whiff of heaven. "But the thing is, they're all about as exciting as dirt."
Chay began to giggle, and after a few seconds Arthur did the same.
By the time they reached the reception room, they had both gotten themselves under control, and Arthur's date attached herself to his arm as soon as he entered the room. Chay backed away as soon as Arthur's sweet muskiness was replaced by her cloying, almost alcoholic, floral scent. Arthur and his date made their way across the room as people moved out of the way. They joined their host and hostess as the dining room doors were opened.
Chay smelled his parents and brothers as they approached from behind him. As usual, he followed behind the others and took his place at the massive table. Once everyone was seated, Chay looked down the table and watched as Arthur and Lizette were served, followed by the host and hostess. Then the dinner service began for all the other guests, and the room burst into conversation as glasses were filled and people began to eat.
"Was that the prince you were talking with?" Alex asked from next to him, and Chay nodded, trying to keep a smile off his face as he peeked down the table. Then his good humor faded, and Chay concentrated on his plate. "What did he say to you?"
"We just talked. He was really nice," Chay said, peeking down the table once more as a realization slammed into him. Setting down his fork, Chay looked at his mother and father, wondering just how he could get out of here as the walls seemed to close in on him. But there was nowhere for him to go without making a fool of himself and his family, so he closed his eyes and took deep breaths, willing the rising panic away.
Opening his eyes slowly, Chay then carefully ate a few more bites of his course and then waited as the plate and utensils were taken and the next course brought.
Dinner finally drew to a close, and everyone moved to a grand ballroom, where a small orchestra was set up. The orchestra began to play and couples began to dance. Of course, Arthur and Lizette shared the first dance as Chay stood off in one of the corners. He hadn't felt a single itch all evening, and right then it was like all the scratches he hadn't been feeling caught up to him all at once. As the dance ended, Chay found his parents and told them he was leaving.
"Are you sure?" his mother asked, and Chay peered out onto the dance floor as Arthur and Lizette moved beautifully together. His wolf was set to howl and pounce, and his arms felt like they were going to fall off, he wanted to scratch them so badly.
"Yes," he answered, already turning away. He couldn't bear to watch Arthur with her any longer or he'd do something his family could never explain away. He saw his father talking softly into his phone, and then he gestured toward the door, and Chay walked out quickly.
Outside, the fresh air smelled wonderful, and his mind began to clear as the limousine pulled up. Chay got inside and the car moved away from the estate and out onto the road. He moved from seat to seat, unable to sit still as he rubbed both arms with his hands. As soon as the car pulled to a stop and the door opened, Chay jumped out and rushed into the house and up to his bedroom. He stripped out of the fine clothes and left them on his bed, then pulled on an old pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. He then hurried through the house and out into the back gardens.
Chay began to run. As he approached the edge of the gardens, he stopped, intending to pull off his clothes, but he was already shifting before he could stop himself. He'd already done this so many times he didn't think about or even feel it anymore, even as his bones reconfigured and hair sprouted everywhere. In a matter of seconds, he was snared in the clothes he'd been wearing. He slithered out of them, leaving them at the edge of the grass before lifting his head, howling the forlorn cry he'd been holding in ever since dinner. One howl led to another, but there was no answer, and none was expected. Then Chay began to run again.
He'd explored these woods a few times before, but this time there was no plan, no curiosity, only the need to move. Chay took off, sprinting faster first down one path and then another, over and under fallen trees. He didn't care where he ran as long as he kept moving. He crossed a small stream and stopped to lap at the water before continuing his run, then eventually stopped when he could run no more, his hindquarters collapsing onto the ground. Lifting his head to the sky, he cried out again before dragging himself off the path and into a small indentation near a fallen log. There he closed his eyes and simply breathed through his exhaustion. He tried to go to sleep, but his body felt as though he were covered in a million fleas all biting him at the same time.
"At least something is normal," his human half thought. Many of his kind totally became their wolf, but Chay had always retained much of his consciousness when he was in wolf form. That was a family trait he had inherited. The longer he remained as a wolf, though, the less prominent that consciousness became. Chay's human consciousness forced his wolf not to go after the itching, or he would scratch himself bald trying to make it stop. Chay could already feel the urge beginning to grow. After forcing himself to stand, he followed the scents of his family and loped back toward the house.
Approaching the lawn, Chay scented and approached, smelling his father in wolf form sitting right next to his clothes. Chay walked right up to him and rolled onto his back, expecting to be chastised. But his father bumped him playfully with his head, and Chay rolled back onto his feet before shifting to human form. He immediately collapsed onto the grass from total exhaustion.
"Get dressed, Chay, and tell me what's wrong," his father told him, and he looked up and saw his father standing over him, holding out his clothes.
Chay pulled on the sweats and T-shirt, barely able to move.
"What happened, Chay? I thought you were having a good time. Reese and Alex told me you spoke with the prince."
"I did," Chay said, sitting up on the grass and pulling his knees to his chest. "That's the problem. He's a prince and I'm... I'm... Scratchy." Chay clamped his eyes closed. "He's human and he's my mate, Dad." Chay heard his father gasp and then nothing more.