“Oh my God, we killed him!” Dare shrieked, knocking Bowen out of his post-orgasmic stupor. “Argh!” Dare tried to scramble up and away.
Bowen managed to catch Chiz as his limp body toppled backwards. He couldn’t grab Dare in time to keep him from slipping and falling into the tub.
“Ow!” Dare was all legs and arms as Bowen tried to get him to calm down.
“Dare, stop! Chiz isn’t dead. He just has this reaction to really intense sex,” Bowen explained. At least, he hoped that was the case since it had happened twice. “Dare!”
Dare went still as a dead man himself when Bowen shouted. “He’s not dead? Yes he is!” But Dare got to his feet.
Just then, Chiz’s chest heaved and he whimpered as his lashes fluttered.
Bowen saw the blood just as Dare let out another shriek.
“Augh! He’s bleeding!” Dare went white as a ghost and wobbled.
“Dare,” Bowen snapped, trying to reach him before he passed out, too. “Keep it together, man!”
“Whazzit?” Chiz mumbled, blinking slowly, then wincing. “Ow. Fuck.”
Dare’s mouth was hanging open, and he looked from Chiz to Bowen, then back and forth again. “You fucking bit him!”
And it was Bowen’s turn to wince. “I— “
“I begged him to,” Chiz cut in. “Mmm. Made me come so hard.”
“Oh my god,” Dare rasped, still pale, still looking like he was close to collapsing. “But there’s blood, and it—“ He covered his mouth with one hand, eyes bulging.
Bowen leapt toward Dare, grabbed him by the elbow, and twirled him close to the toilet, at which point, Dare dropped to his knees and was ill.
Shit! Shit! Bowen wanted to deck himself. Hadn’t he said he knew Dare wouldn’t like pain? And yet Bowen had lost control again, had bitten Chiz in a way that certainly didn’t look like a human bite. And he suspected Dare had seen the deep punctures, the holes that no human canines would have made.
Chiz’s wound looked raw and nasty.
And it wouldn’t look that way for long.
There was no way to explain a quick-healing injury to Dare without telling him the truth.
Bowen noticed how Dare trembled and seemed to pull away from his touch when Bowen tried to comfort him by touching his back. It hurt, and it shouldn’t have. Bowen felt the sting in his chest, the burn of rejection, but he forced himself to back up, to give Dare space.
“What’s wrong?” Chiz asked, rubbing at his eyes. Then his mouth rounded, lips forming an ‘O’ as he glanced down at the blood streaking from his shoulder to his chest. “Oh fuck,” he whispered, returning his gaze to Bowen’s.
Bowen didn’t know what to do. He felt unwanted, and ashamed, and stupid, and weak. Nothing helpful at all.
“Bowen—“ Chiz began, but Bowen shook his head. He gestured at Chiz’s wound then tossed him a towel. “Take care of him.”
Bowen left the room, guilt a tight band around his lungs, making it difficult to breathe. He’d really fucked up, and he wasn’t sure he could forgive himself for it.
After cleaning himself up in the kitchen, Bowen put on a pot of coffee, set out some bread and peanut butter, added honey and jelly to the little offering, then he left the house.
Everything that had happened in the past couple of hours seemed surreal, to put it mildly. He wasn’t even certain he was actually awake and functioning at some points while he did his chores. He felt disconnected from himself, off, and he didn’t like himself much at all.
When the moon shone in the sky before the sun even set, his wolf tugged at him. And Bowen got part of his problem then. He’d never hated being a shifter. He’d been lonely, and yeah, confused, but he’d actually been proud of what he was.
Now he wasn’t. If he hadn’t been a shifter, he wouldn’t have turned Chiz. He wouldn’t have scared the puke out of Dare. He wouldn’t be so… so…
You wouldn’t have them, his wolf snarled, and Bowen snarled right back. “Shut the fuck up!”
Bowen spun around, heart pounding. He hadn’t heard Chiz enter the barn at all.
Chiz stood just inside the doorway, gnawing on his bottom lip. He was freshly showered and dressed, and looking so uncertain, it just made Bowen angrier at himself.
He ignored his wolf. That damned thing wasn’t any help at all. Look what I did to Chiz.
“I convinced Dare he didn’t see as bad a bite as he thought he did,” Chiz said, taking a few steps closer. “With the way the bite is healing, by the time he calmed down and got cleaned up, it didn’t look like—“
“Like a wild animal got you,” Bowen said gruffly. “Like I couldn’t control myself again.”
“I begged you,” Chiz argued, rushing forward. He grabbed Bowen’s shirt sleeve. “Don’t you turn away from me, goddamn it!”
Bowen had been doing just that. He stopped and canted his head so he could give Chiz a sideways glare. “So if you begged me to put a bullet through your brain, that’d make it okay if I did it?”
Chiz gasped and let go of him. “That’s not—“
“If you begged me, like you begged me to bite you,” Bowen pressed, not sure why he was doing this, why he was trying to scare Chiz, to make him leave. “What’s the difference, Chiz? What if I bite too deep next time, huh? Puncture an artery? What then?”
Chiz shook his head, but he didn’t speak. His eyes were huge, and the fear Bowen saw there made him feel ill. He turned away, went back to mucking the last stall. “You should go. Take Dare and go. I don’t want either of you here.”
“You don’t mean that,” Chiz said in a shaky voice. “You’re just angry and scared.”
Bowen turned again, roaring as that anger and fear consumed him. “Go!”
Chiz’s features morphed into an angry expression that matched Bowen’s own. “Dare left half an hour ago. Guess you didn’t hear me taking your truck to drop him at his car. You were too busy brooding and feeling sorry for yourself. Well guess what? You need to stop being an asshole. Call me when that happens.”
Chiz pivoted and walked out, never once looking back.