Soulbound ‡ pact

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 6

Connor was more nervous than he'd ever been before in his life. Even when he'd been readying himself to fight the rogue vampires with Donny and Hota, he hadn't had to master such terror rising up from his balls and sinking into his stomach. Fortunately, this night he had the support of his male werewolf companions. Donny and Ethan stood on each side of him, knowing how difficult this was for him, and showing by their silent presence that they would support him to the brink of death if need be.

"I'm ready," Connor whispered, though he knew in his heart he wasn't. Still, he had learned to control his fear and take on the most daunting of foes. He would need that determination tonight.

Donny nodded solemnly, then stepped forward to adjust the tie Connor wore, centering it slightly. "You look good, Connor. You can do this."

Ethan gripped Connor's arm and smiled. "He's right, Connor. It's gonna be alright. Trust us."

Connor swallowed nervously and turned to walk out of his bedroom.

Donny stopped him. "You forgot this." He held out a bouquet of wolf's bane, the traditional flower for the event.

"Oh. Right," Connor mumbled as he took the bright purple flowers in his shaking, sweaty hands. He took a deep breath, turned, and walked out of the bedroom, down the hall, and into the main room of the Lodge.

Standing next to the fireplace was Deborah Murphy, dressed in an elegant gown. Standing next to her and slightly behind were her parents and little brother Caleb. Deborah appeared calm, though slightly excited. Caleb was grinning with anticipation. Their parents were solemn, though proud.

Gabi and Andreas were off to one side, talking to some of the other Pack members. When Connor entered the room, everyone turned to stare at him. Or, to Connor's eyes anyway, it felt like they were studying him, evaluating him, measuring him for the serious task ahead.

He gulped and moved resolutely forward, knowing that Donny and Ethan were right behind him. Connor was pleased that he was able to move across the room without stumbling, though his heart pounded in his chest and his legs felt wobbly. He approached Deborah, who looked up at him with a shy smile. Connor held out the wolf's bane, which Deborah took from his hand.

Turning toward her mother, Deborah handed over the wolf's bane and waited patiently while her mother pinned the bouquet to the breast of Deborah's dress.

Connor recalled talking with Andreas earlier that day about the flowers. "It's tradition," Andreas had mentioned with a grin. "The werebitch wears wolf's bane at her throat to keep the young wolf suitor at bay while on their first date. Legend has it the bloom keeps you from losin' control and attackin' her during the first half of the courtship."

Connor wasn't worried about losing control. Not in the least. He was more worried about Deborah attacking him, for she had made it clear on many occasions that she found him a suitable mate and was merely waiting for her parents to grant permission before pursuing the handsome Connor Finnigan.

With her flowery protection pinned in place, Deborah turned back to Connor and took his hand in her own. Her palms were soft and dry, not wet and clammy like his own. Crap! Now she would know how nervous he was.

But she didn't seem to mind. She smiled up at Connor and tugged gently, urging him to walk beside her to the special table waiting for them on the outside balcony. Hand in hand, they walked out and stood next to the table, waiting.

Gabi Finnigan brought out a covered platter and placed it in the center of the table. Shauna McCoy and a few other females from the Pack carried more food, arranging it on the table before stepping back. This too was tradition, Connor had been told, even down to the food they would be eating that night. Blood pudding. Heart of the deer. Asparagus spears, for the arousal it was believed to cause in the male. Almond slivers for the receptiveness it was said to induce in the female. And chocolate cake for dessert.

Connor stepped around Deborah and pulled out her chair, waiting as she gracefully sat down. He pushed the chair in and walked around the table to his own chair, wishing the rest of the Pack wasn't standing all around them on the balcony, watching them eagerly. This was difficult enough without having everyone analyzing their every move.

Connor removed the covers from the platters and offered Deborah first choice. She grinned and daintily selected an almond, lifting it to her lips and biting down.

Connor, realizing he'd been holding his breath, released it and gulped. It was his turn to choose. Ethan had recommended an asparagus spear, to hint at what was to come. Donny had slugged his brother's arm and had told him to stop being vulgar, then had suggested Connor take a bite of the heart, thereby proclaiming his intent to love his future mate forever. Connor knew he had to make a choice soon, but every option seemed doomed. With a sigh, he took a spoon and scooped out a bite of blood pudding. He ate half, leaving some on the spoon which he offered to Deborah. She ate the rest, smiling joyfully at his choice.

The adults growled their support. By choosing the blood pudding first, Connor had placed priority on Deborah's future role as his partner and co-leader of the Pack. Sex and pups had a role in their mating, but leadership of the Pack was the ultimate purpose of this pairing. It was a fine choice for the young wolf to make, and they approved.

The two continued eating in silence while the Pack watched and waited.

Walking side by side, Deborah and Connor strolled across the grass behind the Lodge toward the edge of the forest nearby. Slowly, they picked up speed, trotting, then running, then falling to all fours as they transformed into wolves, shredding their clothes as they shifted into wolf form. This too was tradition. The torn clothing symbolized leaving all worldly possessions behind to form their new partnership. The purple blossom of wolf's bane would also be left behind, releasing Connor to ravish his new mate, if he could catch her.

In wolf form, they stopped at the edge of the forest, in full view of the rest of the Pack, and Connor leapt up and seized Deborah's neck ruff in a light grip. She froze and fell to the ground, not moving. Connor chewed gently on her neck, not to penetrate but to dominate. She growled and pulled away, snapping at his face to show she wouldn't be an easy conquest. He danced back and circled her. She ducked her head to show she wasn't entirely serious about rejecting his advances and curled her tail to one side. Connor leapt forward, biting at her flank, her shoulder, teasing her and jumping away whenever she snapped at him. All tradition. All part of the mating ritual.

Though his heart wasn't in it, Connor completed every move in the dance as he'd been taught, knowing the Pack was watching and judging him.

At the proper moment, he mounted Deborah and seized her neck tightly in his teeth. She waited as he thrust behind her, not trying to enter but simply to control her fully. Fortunately, this part of the ritual didn't require that he penetrate her, for his cock was hiding deep inside his body at the moment, refusing to participate in the ceremony he had been forced to endure.

Deborah submitted to his advances, crouching down in the wet grass and whining, secretly wishing that Connor had entered her instead of simply mounting her.

That step completed, Connor released her and they both ran into the forest together, away from the intense scrutiny of their Pack at last.

"Are you okay, Connor," Deborah asked, sitting naked on a fallen log in the forest.

Connor sat beside her, also naked. He wasn't ashamed to be naked before her. There had been many times before when he and the other wereboys swam in the river while the girls watched from the shore. Nudity wasn't an issue among the wolves, so that didn't bother him at all, but having Deborah naked next to him was unusual. Never before had he seen her without clothing in her human form. No doubt, such a situation would have caused Donny and Ethan to pop instant boners, but Connor didn't feel at all aroused by the curvaceous female next to him.

He nodded his head slightly and replied, "I'm fine. Just glad to get that over with."

Deborah giggled. "I know what you mean. I don't know why the oldies insist on all that ceremony, but I suppose it brings the Pack closer together."

"Yeah. Good for the Pack," Connor agreed. Always got to do what the Pack expects and needs.

Deborah placed one hand on Connor's forearm. "I appreciated your choice of the blood pudding. I didn't know you felt that way about me."

Connor turned to look Deborah in the eye. Frowning, he said, "We haven't had much chance to talk before now, because of the way they kept us apart. You always seemed thoughtful and smart to me. And you know how the Pack operates, much better than I do."

"I should. My Mum and Pop have been training me since I was a pup."

They both chuckled. "I guess we all have expectations to live up to," Connor said with a grimace.

Deborah nodded. "Yes, we do."

Connor studied Deborah carefully. Her eyes were gentle and kind. He wasn't attracted to her, not like everyone expected him to be, but she looked like someone who could be a good friend, almost as good as Donny and Ethan. He would need that. He leaned forward and found Deborah moving to meet him. Their lips touched. A chaste and tender kiss. Nothing more.

Connor's eyes pleaded with Deborah for understanding.

Deborah, pulling away, smiled sadly. She had hoped for Connor's love and passion.

Connor, shuddering slightly, stood up and walked slowly away.

The crowd in the stands stood and cheered as the football team ran out onto the field, shaking their helmets above their heads, receiving the adoration of the home crowd for the first game of the season. Connor ran toward the back, with Caleb and Donny on each side of him. Strangely enough, it was no different than the mating ceremony with Deborah. They were still evaluating him, still judging him, but Connor was ready for this ritual. His heart pounded just as hard, but his legs were solid underneath him, and his cock was actually slightly hard as it snaked down the leg of his game pants. This was one ceremony he was eager to perform.

The band stood in the stands, blasting out the school fight song while cheerleaders cavorted in the stands and town folk cheered. There was eager anticipation for this game, for rumors had spread quickly about the tough new defensive line-up for the Agony Cougars.

Across the field, the Lareby Stallions jumped and shook their fists in the air, eager to show that they were just as good this year, with several players returning from last year's returning state champion team. Their quarterback was now a senior, confident and quick and ready to show college scouts how well he could dodge pass rushers and launch accurate passes downfield.

The referees walked to mid-field, gesturing for both teams to send their captains forward. Connor had been selected to represent the defense, along with Casey Sanger, their quarterback. Striding toward them from the other side of the field, the Stallions sent five of their biggest players, a bit of gamesmanship designed to dominate the Cougars from the start. But seeing the taller, bigger lads didn't bother Connor in the least. If anything, it brought out a rumbling growl from deep inside his chest that Casey noticed as they walked forward.

"I guess you're ready," Casey said, turning to smile at Connor. "They look big, don't they?"

"Lambs to the slaughter," Connor said, smiling back.

"I'm glad you're on my team," Casey replied, laughing.

The Stallions won the coin toss and elected to receive.

The punt sailed high but short, to the 15-yard-line, and the Stallion returner was able to add another 10 yards before the Cougars brought him down.

The Stallion offense ran onto the field, led by their quarterback. He was big and strong, accustomed to straight-arming pass rushers to the ground as he danced around the backfield, waiting for a receiver to come open. He'd heard the rumors too, that the Agony Cougars had a new linebacker who would be hard to block. They'd been practicing double and triple-team blocking patterns all week, so they were ready for whatever the Cougars wanted to try.

Kneeling down in the huddle, the quarterback called out the play, a crossing pattern that would eventually send three receivers deep. The Stallions planned a knock-out blow for the first play of the game. It would show the Cougars that the Stallions were still the premier team in the league, whether at home or away.

"Watch your blocking assignments," the quarterback reminded his offensive lineman. "We need a few seconds for the receivers to break free."

They all clapped and trotted to line up over the ball. The quarterback scanned the defensive positions. Nothing unusual there. He saw the new kid. Big, sure, but obviously still a freshman or a sophomore. Nothing to worry about.

The quarterback snapped out the cadence and took the snap from the center, dropping back into the pocket and watching as his receivers began their patterns. From the corner of one eye, he saw his right guard tossed through the air to land in a heap. Rushing toward him in a blur of speed that defied understanding was one of the Agony linebackers. The quarterback felt an instant spurt of adrenalin as he realized the Agony player would reach him well before his receivers were headed downfield. Twisting sideways, the quarterback tried to evade the Agony rusher, unsuccessfully attempting to shove the opposing player away with a straight arm to the chest. The Agony player crashed into the Stallion's quarterback, smashing him to the ground and knocking the air out of his lungs. Somehow, the quarterback managed to hold onto the ball. He'd never been hit so hard, and he'd been sacked many times in his career. He blinked away tears and stared up into the stadium lights. Fuck! That kid hit like a damned freight train.

The Agony player jumped up and offered a hand to the Stallion quarterback. The quarterback took the offered hand and allowed the Agony player to pull him to his feet.

"Good tackle, meat," the quarterback mumbled, gasping for breath. "But you won't do that again," he promised.

The Agony player laughed. "The name's Connor. Connor Finnigan. We'll be meeting a lot more tonight."

The quarterback watched as Connor Finnigan turned and ran back to the defensive side of the field. 'Cocky little fucker,' he thought to himself. Turning to his offensive linesmen, he growled, "Change up the blocking assignments. Keep that little shit out of the backfield."

And though they tried, they failed. Connor terrorized them all night, sending the returning champs into the locker room at halftime with their tails tucked between their legs, having suffered a disastrous 17-0 first half deficit at the hands of the Agony Cougars.

Xavier was very impressed. Though Connor might need help with history research papers, he had single-handedly dismantled the Lareby offense, ranked first in the state by every sports writer around. And they probably were the best offense, but they hadn't shown it against the Agony defense.

Seeing Connor dominate the field inspired Xavier and the rest of the marching band, and the performance at halftime stirred the hometown crowd into a frenzy. From inside the field house, the team heard the band playing Eye of the Tiger, and they grinned at each other as Coach Sean talked about the adjustments he wanted to make for the second half.

"Defense … keep doing what you're doing. Connor, they're going to double and triple block you. Ethan and Randy, that means you should have an easier shot at the quarterback. They'll also run more draws and end-around runs. Be ready, boys."

The defensive players nodded their heads to show they understood. Sitting on a bench next to Connor, Ethan bumped shoulders with his hero and future Pack leader. The Stallions could try anything they wanted. Wouldn't do any fucking good. Connor was going to destroy them, and they all knew that, even the Stallion players.

Connor stared at the floor, listening the band. Eye of the tiger. No, that wasn't it. Eye of the wolf. Yes, far more deadly than a tiger, faster and stronger and unstoppable.

Above them on the field, Xavier blasted out the song refrain, his heart pouring itself into the notes. 'This is for you, Connor,' he thought as he played, glad that no one else could read his mind or notice how his cock was beginning to plump up inside his black uniform pants.

The scoreboard flashed the final score. Agony Cougars, 31. Visitors, 3.

The sports writers frantically jotted down notes. Fluke? Shocking upset? How did you describe the unexpected catastrophe that befell the state champs? David destroying Goliath? At least four editors would scream at their columnists in the week ahead about finding a more original description for the calamity that each opponent of the Agony Cougars would endure.

That night, the fans refused to leave the stands. Their Cougars had demolished the best team in the state. Well. No longer the best team. With delirious excitement, the Agony supporters shouted their expectations for the year as they danced and clapped in the stands, cheering on their players who stood in the field, waving back.

Coach Sean stood proudly to one side, dripping from the soaking he'd received when his players dumped a full cooler of ice water over his head after the game. It hadn't been a championship, but his boys had played like champions. It had only been the first game, but they had given him 100 percent, and he was proud of them. Especially Connor. The boy had humbly accepted the praise of his teammates, but what especially impressed Sean Allen had been the way Connor acted towards the opposing team. Every time Connor had blasted through the offensive line and sacked the quarterback, he had reached down to offer the other player a hand back up to his feet.

Connor was hugged over and over by his teammates, slapped on the back, and grabbed by the shoulders to shouted acclaim. He accepted it all, shouting back, "Good game," to each of them. His legs were no longer holding firm beneath him. The adrenaline let-down was getting to him, and he suddenly felt weary.

From up in the stands, Connor noticed Xavier looking at him. Xavier smiled and gave Connor two thumbs up. Connor nodded, then trotted over to the stands. Looking up at Xavier, Connor shouted to be heard over the tumult coming from the field and stands. "Did you enjoy the game, Xavier?"

Xavier nodded and shouted back, "It was great! You were incredible out there!"

Connor felt his heart pound and his cock twitch. "Thanks!"

"You're a beast, Connor! A beast!"

Connor grinned, then remembered something he wanted to tell Xavier. "We heard you guys playing at halftime. Awesome song!"

Xavier grinned. "Glad you liked it, Connor."

"Maybe you can play for me some time. After school?"

"Sure. I'd like that."

"Great!" Connor grinned and reached up. Xavier leaned over the rail and took Connor's hand, shaking it. They both noticed a tingle as their hands touched. Dropping the hand shake, Connor waved and said, "See you at school Monday."

"Right. See you then," Xavier replied, watching as the muscular lad turned and trotted away. Xavier sighed. He couldn't fall for this guy, but he sure enjoyed watching him move away in his tight uniform.

"Who were you talking to after the game?" Andreas asked Connor on the ride back home.

Connor frowned as he leaned forward to look at his father, who was driving the old pickup. "When?"

"Right after the game. He was wearing a band uniform. Holding a trumpet."

"Oh. That was Xavier. We're working together on a project in History. He told me I played great tonight."

"Hmmm," Andreas rumbled, glancing quickly at his mate Gabi, who sat between the two of them. "You know what Xavier is, don't you?"

"Yeah. He's a year younger than me, but he's very smart, so they put him in my history class."

"No. What I mean is … you know whose son he is, right?"

Connor nodded. "Yes, Pa. Minerva Smyth and Edward Finton."

"And you know what he is?" Andreas persisted.

"Yes, sir," Connor replied ducking his head. "He's a vampire."

Gabi turned in the seat and took Connor's hand. "Connor, dear, all we ask is that you be careful in your dealings with the Blooded. It's unavoidable that you'll encounter them in classes, but it's probably best to avoid them at all other times. Just to be safe."

Connor nodded. He didn't see anything wrong with a friendly conversation. Hell, it might actually help if vampires and werewolves tried to get along for a change. Wasn't that what Hota had suggested earlier that summer? They had been talking about werewolves killing all vampires, but Hota didn't agree.

Connor still remembered the old werebear's words. "The hunter kills only as necessary, to feed or protect his family. And when he brings down his prey, he is thankful for the sacrifice made that he and his family might live. What you now describe is a different hunt altogether. It is a hunt of vengeance and malice and destruction. It is a hunt I will not help you with."

Connor glanced carefully at his adopted parents. They led the Silvermane Pack. They set the tone for the rest of the werewolves. And from what he could see, they weren't interested in peace with the Blooded. He was afraid they might even disagree with Hota's wise words, desiring a hunt of vengeance as far as the Blooded were concerned.

"Maybe we should try to get along with them," Connor suggested, watching Andreas carefully.

Andreas snorted. "With the Blooded? How can you say that, lad? After what they did to your own mother and father?"

"Those were rogues, Pa. The vampires here in Agony didn't have anything to do with it."

"A coyote is still always a coyote, Connor, whether he's running on his own or in a mob. Stay away from them, lad. My final word on it." Andreas stared at the road ahead, clenching and unclenching his jaw.

Connor turned to look out the side window at the nighttime prairie. He didn't like the open prairie. The moon lit up the barren landscape, revealing the total lack of cover. He would be happy when the road finally climbed back into hills and the forest surrounded them again.

"Connor. Come with me." Andreas stood in the bedroom door, motioning for Connor to get up and follow him.

"Where are we going, Pa?" Connor asked.

"Patrick Murphy sent word. The Blooded are enjoying themselves tonight, and I want you to see for yourself their unnatural ways."

"I don't understand, Pa."

"You will, Connor. And when you see with your own eyes, you'll understand why they are our enemies and will always remain so."

An hour later, Andreas parked the pickup on the side of a street in Agony. He turned to Connor and explained, "We're shifting into wolf form. Moving a silently as you've ever moved before. Follow my lead and don't make a noise. We can't be discovered, lad. You understand?"

Connor nodded, nervous at the serious tone in Andreas' voice. He'd never heard his adopted father speak this way.

Andreas opened the door and stepped out into the cold night air. Quickly, he stripped off his clothes and shifted into his wolf form, an enormous animal with dark black fur. Connor followed his lead, tossing his clothes onto the seat of the truck and shifting into wolf form too. Connor was just slightly smaller than Andreas, with dark red fur.

Andreas trotted along the sidewalk, quickly disappearing into the bushes around the closest home. Connor followed him. Dogs barked nervously from a back yard nearby. The two wolves ignored them and continued on their way, slipping from shadow to shadow as they moved closer to the largest house in Agony, the home of Minerva Smyth.

Around the side and behind trees, Andreas and Connor silently ran, stopping when they were blocked by the ten-foot-tall stone wall that surrounded the property. Andreas shifted again, this time into werewolf form, growing taller and broader and now standing on his hind feet. He motioned for Connor to do the same, then turned toward the wall and crouched down slightly, springing up, grabbing the top of the wall, and easily pulling himself up and over. Connor followed him.

On the other side of the wall, they found shadows beneath pine trees where they could remain hidden and observe the party going on around the swimming pool. Naked people splashed in the water, kissing and groping each other, while others stood on the edge of the pool, grinding their bodies together in a frenzied orgy. Moving around between the gyrating bodies, naked vampires stroked their human victims, enducing teeth-shattering orgasms. The vampires leaned in and breathed deeply as their prey quivered and shook.

"What are they doing?" he growled in a whisper to his father.

"Eating. They dine on emotions," Andreas explained. "It's vile and unnatural, and they're all that way. Even your school mate."

Connor looked around, but Xavier was nowhere to be found. He recognized a few of the other students. Regina and Gregor were there. And so was Sebastian. But not Xavier. Surely he wouldn't participate in this disgusting behavior.

Then he saw Xavier. Naked like the rest. His thin body sported a raging erection, and he was kneeling next to another boy from school, licking cum from the boy's dripping boner. Xavier didn't look happy. He finished licking the boy and stood up, his face twisted into a grimace, and ran into the house.

Connor was stunned, unable to fully comprehend what he'd just seen. And strangely, he felt incredibly horny seeing Xavier kneeling before the other boy, servicing him. Connor shuddered and forced his attention back to the other vampires, sucking up the passion all around them and laughing as they enjoyed their orgiastic feast.

Connor wanted to weep, but he couldn't, not in front of his Alpha. He felt utterly betrayed by Xavier's unspoken lies. It was now painfully clear why he could never befriend Xavier.

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