Fury and fear battled for dominance in Chiz. He wasn’t a man, he was all wild, cornered wolf. He could hear a human voice in his head, knew it was a part of him, but the wolf had control, and it knew he was angry, that some harm had been done to its human half.
The desire to roll over and show his belly to Bowen was strong but not as strong as the emotions driving Chiz. He lunged at Bowen, snapping, snarling, trying to decide whether to bite or not as Bowen dodged out of the way then promptly fell off the bed.
The solid thud of Bowen hitting the floor was a victory for Chiz. He leapt, and would have landed on Bowen if it weren’t for the fact that Bowen was quick. He kicked, and Chiz grunted as the breath was knocked from him.
Chiz landed on the bed, his paws and claws tearing at the blankets as he struggled not to go over the other side. Before he could get much purchase, Bowen was there, shifted into that massive gray wolf form, and Chiz didn’t have time to so much as squeak in alarm before he was being pinned to the bed.
Everything about Bowen was bigger than Chiz, except Chiz’s fury. Bowen couldn’t match that.
Bowen didn’t have to. He dropped all of his weight on Chiz and bit his nape, a warning growl rumbling from Bowen to Chiz.
Chiz trembled, his fear and anger fighting against the instinctive need to submit to the stronger wolf. His human side was raging, but his wolf was in control.
And it was his wolf that went limp, acceded to his alpha.
Bowen snarled and released Chiz’s nape, then a moment later, Bowen was human. He grabbed Chiz’s nape. “Shift, damn it!”
As if Chiz knew how! And yet, he did, the man in him surging forward and the wolf regressing.
The man was still furious. “You fucking asshole!” Chiz shouted, his hear slamming in his chest so hard that he thought he might be dying. “What did you do to me?”
Bowen released his hold on Chiz and moved off of him. Chiz bolted up onto his hands and knees, and scrambled away from Bowen.
At least Chiz managed not to fall, though how he got upright and on the floor was unknown to him. He was filled with fear-fueled rage, and there was a buzzing in his brain like a hive of pissed-off bees had gotten trapped in his skull.
It was entirely possible he wasn’t rational. At all.
“Chiz, please,” Bowen said.
Chiz had been a wolf less than a minute ago. He’d been turned into something without his consent, turned into something he still had trouble believing existed.
“I didn’t know—“ Bowen grunted. “Goddamn it, I didn’t know it was possible! I’ve never—you can’t think that I go around turning people into shifters! You—“
“Don’t you fucking blame this on me!” Chiz shouted, and his temper got the better of him. He jumped on the bed and tackled Bowen, took him back down to the floor. “You motherfucking asshole! What did you do to me?”
Chiz knew. He knew, but that wasn’t the point.
Bowen winced and didn’t fight him. Chiz grew angrier, and he slammed his fist against Bowen’s jaw. He wanted Bowen just as furious as he was, wanted a fight, not whatever the hell was happening between them.
But Bowen merely grunted again and moved his jaw, testing the joint or working out the pain that he had to feel.
“I trusted you,” Chiz snarled. “You… you… “ He didn’t know what to say, because the stricken look on Bowen’s face was like a punch to Chiz’s gut. It hurt him worse than Bowen’s fist would have. “Jesus,” Chiz rasped, “I can’t…” Then to his utter horror, he burst into tears.
Seeking to save a little of his dignity, Chiz started to bolt, but Bowen’s arms came around him, one big hand cupping the back of Chiz’s head. Bowen held him, Chiz’s head to Bowen’s chest, held him and murmured his apologies over and over.
“I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know I could. I’ve never let anyone close to me because of…of what I am. Chiz, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I’ll do anything to make it up to you. Please, just listen to me. I didn’t mean to hurt you. No one—I’ve never lost control like that. Please, forgive me.”
Chiz felt hot, wet drops landing on his head, and knew that he wasn’t the only one crying.
That didn’t make him feel any better. For someone as strong as Bowen to break down—well, Bowen had to be sincere.
Sincere or not, however, Chiz couldn’t just say okay to this. He needed time to think, because holy shitballs! He’d been turned into something… something possible incredible.
Chiz sniffled and pulled away from Bowen enough to swipe at his tear-streaked cheeks.
Bowen loosened his hold, but seemed reluctant to let go of Chiz entirely.
Chiz couldn’t look Bowen in the eyes yet. He needed to come to terms with what had happened, and he needed to be alone to do that.
But he wondered if, instead of thinking of himself as being wronged somehow, he should be grateful for the gift he’d been given.
Or is that Bowen’s influence? “I need to go home,” Chiz scraped out. “Need to think.”
“Chiz, please, I—“
“This isn’t about you,” Chiz muttered. “Let me go.”
Bowen did, and Chiz immediately regretted the loss of Bowen’s arms around him.
“There are things you must be told about… about what you’ve become. What I did,” Bowen added. “I’ll leave you alone, I swear it. I’ll sleep in one of the guest rooms and I won’t cross the threshold to this one without your invitation. I won’t speak to you, won’t do anything at all except work and fix meals. You don’t have to eat with me. I’ll be out of the house from dawn til dusk, and in the kitchen for an hour after that. Then I’ll stay in the other room, and you won’t have to worry about running into me. Just, I don’t know if you’ll shift unexpectedly. I did, when I first reached my wolf. If that happened to you when you’re out in public, it could be very bad.”
Chiz nodded. He still didn’t look at Bowen. As much as Chiz wanted to go home, Bowen’s argument against it was enough to get him to agree to remain at Bowen’s place.
“Okay. I promise… “ Bowen stood. “You have my word, Chiz. I won’t hurt you again, and I won’t approach you. If you want me, to talk or…or more, you can tell me. If not, I hope you’ll at least let me help you learn to control your shifting.”
The only sensible thing Chiz could do was agree. He nodded again, and listened to Bowen’s footsteps as he left the room.