STAWP | Chapter 17

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I lean against the wall and wait for Saffron to change. I know I upset her by criticizing her clothes and I feel awful about it. If any guy had said what I did, it would have hurt her feelings, but because I'm her mate, it's so much worse.

I didn't do it because Father told me to act disinterested. Well, in a way, I guess I did. Her tight clothes were making it nearly impossible for me to keep my hands off her. When I looked at Saffron, all I could think about was touching her. Her tank top was perfect—cut low enough for me to see some cleavage and short enough to show off a hint of skin below her navel. Plus, she was wearing the sexiest jeans I've ever seen on a girl. They stuck to her like a second skin, outlining the shape of her legs and the curve of her hips.

I try taking deep breaths and think about unsexy things like spiders and barf, but I'm still semi hard when Saffron exits her bedroom. She's back to wearing sweats and a baggy shirt, and I realize that I've made a huge mistake. Her tight clothes outlined her sexy body, but the baggy ones hide it, leaving everything up to my imagination. Dressed like this, Saffron is irresistible.

I want to slip my hand under her shirt and slide it up her belly. In my fantasy, she's not wearing a bra, and I palm one of her breasts while I kiss her.

Shit! I grimace, realizing I just pitched a tent. I glance at Saffron to see if she's noticed, then think, double shit. My mate is standing there, looking absolutely dejected. She's staring at the floor, biting her lower lip, and for a second I think she might start crying. My wolf, unable to stand seeing my mate in pain, whimpers.

"Saffron?" I ask softly. She looks up but refuses to make eye contact. "I'm sorry." This is entirely my fault. I hurt my mate's feelings by saying something so stupid and pointless. What was I thinking?

Saffron stares past my left shoulder and doesn't respond.

You weren't thinking! My wolf growls. Now fix this!

"You looked really, um, nice... you know... before," I tell Saffron with a tentative smile, but the smile my mate returns is wobbly. "Maybe you could change back again?" I ask. All I want is to undo what I said. Hit the back button and get a do-over of the last five minutes.

"I..." Saffron starts to say something, then changes her minds and looks down at the floor instead.

I can't stand to see my mate unhappy and have no control over what I do next. Even though I know I'm supposed to act distant, I step toward my mate and put my arms around her, pulling her close. She emits a soft gasp, then another when I kiss the top of her head and cradle her against my body. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," I tell her.

"It's okay," Saffron whispers against my chest. Slowly, I feel her tension drain away and she relaxes into me.

We stand like that for a few minutes, until I feel myself growing hard again. She's driving me crazy, with her body pressed against mine, her soft lips blowing hot air against my neck, and her arms wrapped around my waist. I wonder how quickly I can take her clothes off so we can do this naked. Baggy sweats definitely have their advantages.

I realize my hands have started to slide under her shirt and quickly take a step back. I'm supposed to stay away from Saffron but at the rate we're going, we'll be fully mated before the sun sets. Fuck!

I turn away and quickly walk down the hall. I throw a glance over my shoulder to make sure Saffron is following, but I find her rooted in place where I left her.

"Let's go!" I order and then practically run downstairs and out of the house. I would never try to hook up with a girl when I'm in wolf form, so the sooner I shift, the better!

I wait long enough to make sure Saffron's exited the house before I start jogging into the trees. The minute I'm out of sight, I throw off my clothes and transform into a wolf.

Shifting doesn't happen the way you read about in books or see in movies: we can become wolves any time, not just during a full moon; we don't scream in excruciating pain as our human bodies break apart and we become wolves; we definitely don't become wild animals that go on some killing rampage; and our clothes don't magically disappear and then reappear when we shift back.

We can shift whenever we want, as often as we want. When the transformation starts, heat spreads through our bodies and for a split second, we feel so close to our wolves that two become one. Then, we separate again, and we become the wolf, not the human... at least on the outside. On the inside, we're still the same person with a few added wolf instincts that we can override any time we like. Shifting isn't magic either—which is why our clothes don't shift when we do—but there's also no scientific explanation for why we exist. We just do.

Saffron runs up to me and stares down at my wolf. She hesitates for a second and starts looking around for a place where she can shift. She takes a step towards at tree on my left, then changes her mind and goes behind some bushes on my right. I hear shuffling and then a small, dark-gray wolf with a white belly scrambles out. My own wolf is much lighter in color than Saffron's and also much bigger. The significant difference in size makes me feel protective. My wolf approves and I wag my tail happily.

I approach my mate cautiously, sniffing her, and Saffron returns the greeting. When our wolves are done getting to know each other, I turn towards the forest and begin to run. Saffron follows. She runs behind me, never trying to out-pace me. I slow down and she does too. I speed up and she does the same.

I'm so focused on my mate that it takes a while for me to realize that someone's following us. 

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