Chapter 2: Secrets
It was just before dawn and Wolfgang was awake. Jed lay asleep, turned away on his side, and Wolfgang stared at his short, thick mane of very black hair.
Their sex last night had been incredible and satisfying, and Wolfgang wet his lips as he thought about how the sensations from Jed had felt. Everything had seemed amplified as if Jed experienced and processed both emotion and physical stimulus twice. It made him a fantastic echo chamber to Wolfgang, almost impossible to resist.
Wolfgang didn't see a reason to resist at all. He moved the sheet aside, exposing Jed's broad, muscular back, and he scooted closer. Then he pulled himself to Jed, his bare chest against Jed's back.
Jed moved slightly, but Wolfgang could feel exactly what he did. So his body followed Jed's motion in perfect synchronicity, and the large man remained asleep.
Even at rest, a lot was going on in the black-haired man. Wolfgang frowned as he studied the way an emotional… presence cycled close to the surface of Jed's psyche, and then dove back, down deep until it was nearly unfelt. But it never disappeared - not entirely.
'What is that?' Wolfgang thought. He closed his eyes and waited until that swirling maelstrom of emotion and thought again rose to the fore. Wolfgang stretched his awareness, tried to wrap his gift around it before the natural cycle of Jed's sleeping mind again pushed it down into the depths.
That mental presence hesitated. Wolfgang grinned. ‘Gotcha. Let's see exactly what you…’
A riot of primal need, instinct, and base desires slammed into Wolfgang. His mouth and eyes opened wide.
"Unngh!" It twisted through his mind. Wolfgang struggled. His very sense of self was under assault. He pushed violently away from Jed and the man woke with a start.
"Hey!" Jed sat up and glared at him. "What are you…" His gray eyes widened.
Wolfgang laid on his back, teeth gritted, and shook in a seizure. The powerful presence exerted pressure, and it squeezed against his Ego. His eyes watered. It was trying to snuff out the core of who he was, trying to take over. He made an inarticulate noise, one filled with desperation.
"Wolfgang!" Jed sat up and pulled him into his lap. "What's wrong?"
The presence recoiled from Jed. Wolfgang felt its hatred of Jed's rules, silver, and control. But, ultimately, that was where it belonged.
Wolfgang stared up into Jed's alarmed face. Suddenly the presence was gone, pulled back into the big man through their physical contact. The only visible effect in Jed's countenance was a slight narrowing of his eyes.
Since their bodies touched, Wolfgang still felt the presence, but now it was filtered through Jed's years of self-conditioning and control. Wolfgang was speechless and lay gaping at Jed. That Jed could handle such a force was beyond Wolfgang's understanding.
Jed cocked his head. "First, you owe me breakfast." He glowered at Wolfgang. "Second, you're going to tell me how you got the beast to go on a field trip in your head."
Jed watched Wolfgang as he moved around the kitchen. Wolfgang wore only a pair of comfortable-looking, soft gray shorts that showed off his sinewy legs. They also did little to hide his endowment, and despite the concerning way they woke, Jed was distracted as Wolfgang's dick slid around under the material.
Wolfgang was in profile at the stove, and the smell of spicy breakfast sausage frying made Jed's belly grumble. Jed put an arm on the table and leaned back in the kitchen chair. "So, talk." He forced his eyes to stay up on Wolfgang's face. "Who are you, really? How'd you get in my head?"
Wolfgang glanced at Jed. He seemed to consider what he should say. He refocused on the pan and sighed. "I really am who I said I am. I'm a P.I., on a job investigating the killings in the forest here." He flinched. "The other question is harder to answer." He flipped the patties with his spatula and smiled slightly. "Though, I'd imagine your clarification of 'the beast' would be a bit difficult to explain as well."
Jed frowned. "We're talking about you." He folded his arms over his chest. "So, talk." He threw every bit of power he could muster into that single syllable.
An audible grunt from Wolfgang told Jed that the command had an effect. Wolfgang swallowed, then his shoulders sagged. "Fine." He sighed. He wasn't exactly cowed, which in itself was a surprise to Jed, but he began to speak. "I have a talent. I call it, 'tactile empathy.' I can, ah, feel what others do. Physical sensations, emotions. I have to touch them for it to happen." He removed the sausage patties from the pan to drain on a paper towel. He put his hands on the counter and leaned against it. He looked exhausted to Jed. "And sometimes, if a person's defenses are down I can… dive deeper." He made a face. "That ended up with your 'beast' visiting and trying to devour me."
"Ah." Jed made a sound of realization. "I get it now. It's how you knew exactly what buttons to push last night." Jed knew there were other sorts of powers and people out there in the world. He had even met a few who qualified as what regular folks would describe as 'supernatural.' It seemed as if Wolfgang was one of those, blessed with a strange talent - one which made him into a gifted lover. It also enabled Wolfgang to slip into Jed's mind while he slept. Though the man didn't much like what he found there.
Wolfgang smirked. "Yes." He raised his eyebrows. "I sense, and can take on the emotion of those I touch. So the more aggressive you wanted to be, the more it made me want the same." Wolfgang swayed, blinked and shook his head.
Jed stood up. "Here, sit before you fall." He gently steered Wolfgang by his shoulders to the chair he had just vacated. Jed eyed the pale, shaky man. "You've just gone a round with something that has taken years for me to control. You will probably need to rest a bit."
It was a terribly powerful urge. Wolfgang's current state was like the bleat of an injured lamb to the ear of a wolf. Jed turned and closed his eyes. He strove to take one sense away from the monster in his mind.
Wolfgang was talking to him, saying something. Jed gritted his teeth. 'Get back, get back you be...'
The beast pushed through in a sensation of eagerness. Jed looked over his shoulder at the recovering Wolfgang, his eyes focused. He put the spatula on the kitchen counter.
Wolfgang stared up at him as Jed stepped close. "Jed?" Those blue eyes searched Jed's.
The big man reached down to put one hand under Wolfgang's jaw. As soon as their skin contacted, Wolfgang inhaled.
Jed knew Wolfgang felt his desire and the power of the beast as it boiled with lust. Wolfgang's tongue wet his lips. "Jed, just calm…"
Jed tried, but Wolfgang was strong, a worthy conquest. He fought against the way the wolf lunged for the prize, yet he couldn't stop it. His lips curled into a smile, and a single word fell from his tongue. "Submit."
The word carried with it a command, a promise, and a compulsion all at once. Wolfgang reeled under its power. He slid from the chair and fell to his knees, his face at Jed's crotch. Jed's hand continued to grip the side of Wolfgang's head, and now Wolfgang salivated as he stared at the apparent tent caused by Jed's cock in his boxers.
Under it all, Wolfgang felt Jed struggling to regain control - but he too was at the mercy of this ravenous puppetmaster. Jed pushed his boxers down, and his cock sprang free, bouncing, then swinging back and forth.
Jed pulled Wolfgang's face into his crotch. Wolfgang experienced three sets of senses at once - his own as he smelled the musky scent of Jed's furry groin and the feel of Jed's hot erection as it pressed against his cheek. Then there was Jed, struggling, but enjoying the sensations. Finally, the monster itself, reveling in the power, the rush, and the need to dominate.
"No." Jed pushed hard, and Wolfgang felt him begin to rise to the surface. He was going to stop it.
"Jed." Wolfgang stared up at him as Jed looked down. The struggle was still plain on Jed's face as the beast fought to take its conquest. Wolfgang grinned, connected to all of their desires. "Let it play. I can take it."
A moment of surprise flashed on Jed's face, then it was gone. Jed gripped Wolfgang's head with both hands, pulled his hips back, and shoved his cock down Wolfgang's throat.
They all groaned. Wolfgang leaked in his shorts and a growing spot of precome showed on the gray material. Wolfgang deep-throated his grunting, thrusting lover, tied into exactly what Jed experienced. One of his hands cupped Jed's hairy scrotum and the other slid up Jed's chest to tweak an erect nipple.
Wolfgang's eyes rolled back in his skull. His ministrations drove all of them toward orgasm. He didn't have to touch himself at all - he rode on Jed's experience, echoed by the beast.
The moment arrived. "Take it," Jed spoke in a deep, growling voice, then he held Wolfgang on his cock. Wolfgang felt Jed unload down his throat, and he emptied into his shorts at the same time. The beast howled in their minds and Wolfgang shared in its satisfaction.
Jed shivered, then released his head, and Wolfgang pulled back, finally able to breathe again. He stayed on his knees, gasping for air and swallowing the last of Jed's semen.
Jed's hand turned over in an offer, and Wolfgang gripped it. Jed pulled him to his feet. He looked into Wolfgang's eyes, searching for something. "You okay?"
Wolfgang didn't have to reply. His grin said it all.
They finally finished breakfast. As the men cleaned up and dressed, Jed observed Wolfgang carefully. He seemed largely recovered after he got some food in his belly, and Jed was relieved.
Jed had the day off from work at the coffee shop, and so he planned to spend it guiding Wolfgang around the BLM forest land. Diamond lumber company had a limited contract to harvest a certain number of marked trees there. Jed remembered some controversy over that contract and a local group of environmentalists was publically unhappy with the agreement.
Jed used that forest a great deal for excursions, hikes, walks, and his father had property which bordered it to the east. A sturdy, isolated cabin built by Jed and his dad sat on that land. It was a perfect place to go to escape - to be away from everyone and everything. Which was precisely the idea.
Wolfgang and Jed got into the Charger. They started on their way, headed east through town.
"So," Wolfgang began and glanced at Jed. "You going to tell me about that thing in your head?"
Jed drummed his fingers on the dash, considering. "Look, just because you're different too doesn't mean we're in the same boat." Jed sighed. "We're not. If people find out about you, they just want to take you home for some fun. They find out about me…" He grew quiet, and the silence drew out.
After a minute Wolfgang spoke, "I was taken to various churches and mental health professionals after I entered puberty in an attempt to 'fix' me." His voice was level, but Jed still heard the pain buried under the stoic, quiet exterior. "I can't compel anyone to do anything they don't want to do. But I was blamed for the weakness of the men in the neighborhood where we lived. By the time I was sixteen, I'd had sex with almost every guy in a half-mile radius, and any who visited too." His jaw clenched as he thought. "I was called a tempter, a home-wrecker. All because these god-fearing, married men, embarrassed by their own decisions to lay with me, needed an excuse."
Jed mulled it over. Sex with Wolfgang was terrific, but at no point did he ever feel compelled to do anything. A kernel of guilt rooted in his mind. Jed knew that he could push people with his voice, get them to look at him a different way. It wasn't exactly mind control, but it made anything he said appear in the most favorable light possible. The beast often tried to exercise their gift, and Jed constantly warred against it.
"Anyway, I was essentially put on lockdown, considered a danger to all the poor defenseless men of the neighborhood." Wolfgang's eyes narrowed. “I spent the last two years at home closely monitored, mistrusted, and scrutinized.” He shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe your secret is worse. But don't think that mine didn't cost me. It did, and it does."
Jed felt for Wolfgang. He knew what it was like to be different. He finally sighed. "If you tell anyone else about this, it will likely mean either they'll laugh in your face, or if they believe you, that we'll both be hauled in." He swallowed. "You still want to know?"
Wolfgang nodded. "So long as you keep my secret, I'll keep yours."
Jed had only told a single person about his heritage and curse, years ago when he was a teenager. Shawn was his best friend, and still his confidant about many things. Jed took a deep breath.
"I'm a werewolf."
He sat there, waiting for Wolfgang's reaction. The man continued to drive. His face cycled through disbelief, then consideration. He released the wheel with his right hand and lay it on the console between them. "Hold my hand, and say it again."
Jed clasped Wolfgang's hand. "I'm a werewolf."
Wolfgang blinked, and his eyes shifted as he processed. "You're not lying. You really believe that."
Jed laughed. "Yeah, I believe it because it's true."
Wolfgang's fingers moved slightly as he held Jed's powerful hand. "I… I have more questions."
"Do you?" Jed smirked.
"Yes." Jed noticed that Wolfgang continued to grip his hand. The beast stirred at the contact, and the desire to lick and bite the smaller man sparked.
Wolfgang wet his lips and shifted his hips. "Damn it. Your beast is insatiable."
"That's why I keep very close tabs on it." Jed felt a smug sort of satisfaction at Wolfgang's obvious physical response to the urges of his constant companion. He loosened the reins a bit, and his mind filled with desire and aggression.
Wolfgang's face dropped into an awed, lustful, slack-jawed expression. He turned the wheel, and they parked on the side of the road. He gripped Jed's hand tight, lay back in the seat and breathed heavily. His erection was readily apparent, lying up along the crease of his left leg under his jeans.
"Sorry. Too much to drive." He swallowed, eyes closed.
"I'm on your schedule, it's fine. What else do you want to know?" Jed pushed on the emotional tornado, to wrest back most control. "I'm putting it away so we can talk."
Wolfgang exhaled. Jed watched as he managed to get his thoughts in order. "Werewolf. What does that mean, exactly? There are too many legends to know the truth of it." He glanced at Jed's silver rings. "And I thought silver was considered bad?"
"It means I'm stronger, faster, and sturdier than the average guy. It also means I can change into a wolf, though only on the full moon thanks to all the silver." Jed held his right hand up, so the thick, silver ring glittered. "Silver mutes the beast. Makes it easier for me to command. It also makes me weaker than I would be without it." He shrugged. "Most wolves can't tolerate it at all. But my father began using silver to help me control myself when I was barely walking, so I adapted. I got the curse from him." Jed's face darkened, and Wolfgang leaned back slightly from him. Jed knew the thin man felt his discomfort through their physical contact. Jed shook his head. "Anyway. Yeah, silver. When I was a teenager, the beast was too strong to control with jewelry, and I very nearly killed my best friend." He opened his mouth and pulled on his cheek so Wolfgang could see. Silver fillings in every molar added to the amount of the metal he needed to control himself.
Wolfgang stared. "Wait," he looked incredulous, "you're telling me what I feel rolling around in you is 'under control'? That without the silver it'd be worse?"
Jed smiled grimly. "Yes. My dad has a cabin in the woods - actually, not too far from where we're going. The day before the full moon he goes out there and chains himself up. His beast is so strong that it drives him mad with blood lust. Mine would be just as bad. I try to channel its aggression through, ah," he rubbed his head, "through sex." He shrugged. "It helps. Aggression and a need to dominate can be expressed that way," his face was stony, "or through blood. I've slowly trained mine to seek sex instead of death."
Wolfgang checked his mirrors and pulled back onto the road. Jed raised an eyebrow at Wolfgang's hand, still tightly gripping his own, but he let it be. "Okay." Wolfgang's lips pressed into a thin line. "You can really turn into a wolf?"
"Yes. My dad tells me others can turn at any time, other than on the new moon. I know my dad can, though he tries to avoid the change - it allows greater freedom for the beast." Jed sighed. "The silver and the weakening of my wolf is the price I pay for control. It keeps those around me safe." Jed glanced at Wolfgang as the wiry man began to speak. "And before you ask, no, I don't know of any others. My dad and I are the only wolves I know of. The pack my father used to be a part of rejected him when I was a toddler. Once dad started treating me with silver, he was considered a deviant, and me along with him."
Wolfgang frowned. "Wow." He shook his head. "I've run into others who are different. My gift allows me to experience the world filtered through their senses and emotions. Most don't stand out much. One had a slight precognitive skill. He caught glimpses of the future, but it was never at his command, they happened randomly. Another little girl could move things from across a room. She was far and away the most… different." He blew out a breath. "Well, until you."
"I've met a few who qualify as different too." Jed cocked his head. "It's weird. That coffee shop must sit on… I don't know, something that draws strangeness to it." He chuckled. "Let's just say you're not the first to walk in there who wasn't exactly all he appeared to be."
Wolfgang only smiled. Jed settled back in the seat. Wolfgang didn't seem to want to give his hand back, and the big man was fine with that. It made the beast a bit growly and interested, but it was pleasant. Jed knew that so long as Wolfgang touched him his empathic skills let the smaller man share in his experiences. It was intimate in a way Jed had never known.
Jed directed Wolfgang to the back access road which led deeper into the forested land just outside of Eureka. There was a metal gate across the dirt and gravel road, so Wolfgang parked and the two men got out of the car.
The trees towered over them and created a shady, quiet place covered in evergreen needles and little twigs. They were in redwood country, and Wolfgang looked straight up at the tops of the enormous trees. "Amazing." He stepped over and put his hand on the bark of the nearest one. His face slowly relaxed, and he lowered his head.
After almost a full minute Wolfgang pulled away. Jed watched him as he blinked. Wolfgang looked as if he were waking up from sleep. "Can you… feel them?" Jed motioned at the redwood. "The trees?"
Wolfgang nodded. "In a way. It's a lot calmer, a lot less going on. There's no brain, but there's still… stuff happening. Mostly it just feels serene."
Jed felt a stab of envy. He continually fought with the wolf, even at rest, even asleep. "That must be nice - serenity." He headed toward the gate.
Wolfgang heard the tone in Jed's voice. "Yeah, it is." He followed Jed as the big man climbed over the metal obstacle. Wolfgang gripped the gate, easily vaulted over it and gracefully landed on the other side. As Jed began to walk away, he put a hand on the big man's back. "Hey. Thanks for your help."
Jed smiled. "Sure. You're paying me." He put a companionable arm around Wolfgang's shoulders and grinned. "Though if you're up to it, you can really thank me tonight."
They walked up the gently sloping road. Jed motioned with his chin at the top of the low hill. "It's not far. A little less than a mile."
Wolfgang nodded. He was in no rush. It was Monday, April 8th, three days past the new moon and the last grisly killing. Now that he had met Jed he had no hurry to wrap up his case and leave the little town of Eureka. He was well and truly a gypsy. He traveled the entire west coast, going wherever the work took him. He had a small office and an apartment in Seattle, but he didn't spend much time in the city. Instead, he was on the road and moved from job to job.
Wolfgang was often where he should be for luck to strike. He didn't know how it happened, but throughout his life, serendipity saw him at the right place at the right time. It was how he got most of his work. He talked to the right people and was drawn to certain locations. What others attributed to chance, he began to suspect was another subtle manifestation of his gift.
They continued to walk up the hill. At the top, a logging road, rutted and overgrown with weeds, ran off to the left while a graded and graveled fork went right. Jed pointed down the more traveled path. "That way. They've got a camp out there. Some of these men and women just roam around with the logging outfit and live rough out in the woods. It's cheaper for them. A logger can earn a lot of money if they limit their expenses."
Wolfgang trusted Jed's experience and followed his broad-shouldered companion. After a couple of minutes on the road, they saw the shiny metal skins of mobile trailers nestled among the trees, stumps, and shrubs. The whole area smelled of loam, earth, moisture, and the punky odor of decaying wood.
Wolfgang looked around. "Where are the logging trucks?" They walked between the trailers toward the area where Diamond logging was allowed to cut timber.
Jed shook his head once. "They show up once there's a load of timber. Someone goes, opens the gate, lets them in, and then they load up the trucks and haul it all out." He pointed his chin west, toward the coast. "There's a big processing yard near the water. Some of it goes out there, the rest is trucked out of the area."
Wolfgang could now hear voices, and they caught sight of a few people moving around ahead. Half a dozen trees were marked with a spray-painted "X," and Wolfgang saw more of the marked trees deeper in the forest as they neared the group.
Four men and two women stood in a loose semi-circle around another fellow. All of them were dressed in rough clothes covered in sawdust, dirt, and evergreen needles. Tools, long-bladed chainsaws, rope, and other things Wolfgang didn't recognize lay scattered around. The man at the head of the circle, a beanpole of a guy with a hatchet nose and wild black hair, puffed up in his flannel shirt. "Look! The faster we finish, the faster we get out of here. I know you don't want to be here after what happened, but we got a job to do! I'm paying you to do it, not bullshit and carry on!"
"We're not bullshitting!" One of the women, a sturdy older lady with blonde hair and challenging blue eyes, leaned forward. "We're fearing for our damn lives! We find Brandon torn to hell, and the police report comes back 'inconclusive'?" She clenched her jaw. "I'm friends with Brandon's momma, watched that boy grow up. And I heard it happen, Larry. I heard it." She shivered. "If they haven't caught whoever, or whatever is doing this by the next new moon, I'm gone."
Murmurs of agreement rippled through the group. Larry, the beanpole in charge, exhaled a defeated breath. "Okay, Terri let's just…" His eyes widened as he saw Jed and Wolfgang. "Hey!" He pointed, and the rest of the group turned to them as well. "What are you guys doing here? You're not supposed to be here!"
Wolfgang smiled and stepped forward. "Hi. I'm Wolfgang. You all probably remember Eric Caldwell?"
Faces went pale, and there were a few nods from the assembled group. Wolfgang continued, "I'm a private investigator, and I was hired by his wife to figure out what happened to him. That's my goal." He took one more step, his eyes on Larry. "If I can get to the bottom of things, then whatever is doing this can hopefully be stopped. Nobody will have any reason to quit then."
Larry eyed him. Wolfgang could see his suspicion. 'Shit, he's not going to go for it.' Wolfgang was already considering alternative methods of getting the information he needed when Jed spoke.
"Wolfgang will do good work. You can trust him to get it done."
Wolfgang shivered when the words came from Jed. There was something in them. Even he believed more in himself.
Larry blinked at Jed - all of the lumberjacks did. The big man stared back, his arms crossed. Quiet confidence in what he had said was on his face.
Terri nodded and looked at Larry. "You let this one do his job," she jerked her thumb at Wolfgang, “then I'll stay." There were nods of agreement from the rest of those gathered.
Larry bit his lip, then he sighed. "All right. Fine." He pointed at his crew. "But get to work! We've got deadlines." He cast a critical eye at Wolfgang. "Don't keep them from their work. If you need to talk to anybody, do it on their meal breaks or after dark when they're done."
Jed stepped up, and Wolfgang looked over at him. Jed's presence itself was reassuring, and Wolfgang smiled at Larry. "You got it, Larry." He stuck out his hand. "I'm just here to help."
Larry looked at the offered hand and shrugged. "Yeah, fine."
They shook, and slowly, the blood drained from Wolfgang's face.
Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link. Wayne Gray
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