Paradise by Brannan Black

Paradise by Brannan Black

Paradise
Island Wolfman, Book 1
by Brannan Black

Changeling Press

eBook ISBN: 978-1-60521-772-7

Marooned. Alone with only the voices in my head — and an island full of sex crazed wolfmen… They call this Paradise? Really?

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Chapter One

I fled through the trees, ducking and squeezing between trunks and bushes. I could have run faster out in the open but I had no chance of outrunning the monsters chasing me in a straight race. I slammed through the brush, squeezing through thickets too dense for their larger bodies to pass. They’d have to tear through the vegetation or go around, hopefully slowing them down enough to allow me to escape. Or convince them I wasn’t worth the trouble.
A slim hope, but all I had. Never before had they come to this side of the island. Not in all the years we’d been marooned here by an insidious pandemic that provoked a worldwide panic. A panic way too late to stop the spread, I might add. That virus turned men into monsters. Werewolves, the talking heads crowed. These man-beasts don’t shift back and forth. They’re wolf/human hybrids all the time. But that wasn’t sensational enough for the media. Stupid media; I hate when they mislabeled things just for the thrill factor.
“Focus, Ari! Run!”
Why the hell don’t they give up? My lungs burned with the exertion. Fleeing for my life fueled my legs, but that energy was burning out fast. I enjoy the outdoors, but this? This was way beyond any extreme sport I’d ever heard of. Certainly not the kind of thing a tenured professor like myself indulged. Not to mention I’d just celebrated my fortieth birthday, I think. I dodged a tree and jumped the roots. And slipped in the constant mud.
Ahhhh!”
I shot down the slick game trail, headed straight for the cliff. I scrambled for purchase, snatching at vegetation only to have it tear loose. A second hasty handful sliced open my palm. I slipped over the lip and, by some miracle, grabbed a vine that held. Mulch sprayed off the cliff side, rocks jarred loose and rattled against the sides.
I flew out just a bit before my grip slammed me against the side of the cliff. A jutting rock kicked my chest hard enough to knock a grunt loose. Only instinct kept me holding on. I struggled to breathe, dimly aware of the hundred-foot drop to the small stream in its rocky bed below.
My, my, that was impressive. Planning a career as a stuntman next?”
I squeezed my eyes shut. “Not now, Cecily, hanging on for dear life here.” I knew she wasn’t really here. She was on the cruise ship with the rest of the women, staying safe from us virus-twisted men.
The real irony? She was the one who insisted we come on this cruise — to “save our marriage and reignite our passion.” Every time I thought about it I wanted to laugh. Except right now, while swinging from a vine, hanging on for dear life.
My hands cramped, the sliced right one screamed for me to let go. My arms burned and my whole being narrowed to my hold on those vines. I twisted slightly, coming face to face with the cliff. My feet scrambled for purchase, sending cascades of rocks and dirt pinging down the rocky wall.
Blood slicked my cut hand, which kept sliding on the vine. My left hand, arm, and shoulder, had most of my weight. They ached. I was going to fall! Panic raced through me, shooting adrenaline through my veins. My heart pounded so hard I thought a heart attack was imminent.
“Breathe, Ari, just breathe.” Years of solitude, and I talked to myself as well as my long gone wife.
Sure, blame it on the solitude, Ari.”
I really wished she’d shut up.
From above, a strong grip circled my wrist. Saved! I didn’t pause to think. I twisted my hand to grab that muscled arm… At the same moment as a strong yank pulled me up, nearly ripping my arm from the socket. I might add, I noted the claws on those fingers.
Damn it all! Wolfmen. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Guess they preferred their meat alive and kicking rather than splattered all over the rocks.
He yanked me over the edge and face down in the muddy trail. Would I have been better off falling? At least the cliff wouldn’t rape me and eat my alive. A little luck and I’d have been unconscious before it hurt too much. Uh huh, wishful thinking, Ari.
He let go and I scrambled for the brush. A clawed foot dug into my back, pressing me down and tearing into skin and flesh. I screamed like a bimbo in a slasher movie, surprised I still had the breath, but a kick knocked the scream right out of me. I gasped, got a knee under me and heaved, twisting as I did. Unbalanced him enough he stumbled off, leaving a trail of gouges behind.
Big mistake. The rest pounced on me like starving dogs on road kill. Claws bit into tender flesh as a fight broke out over possession of my bleeding soon-to-be corpse. Instinct kept me fighting, blocking blows and curling to protect vulnerable soft spots. Fangs raked across my throat, but the owner of those fangs was tossed aside before they could close around my windpipe.
Snarling, a trio of beasts ringed me, fighting off the others. Most backed off, heads down, shoulders slumped in submission. One of the trio, a buff blond, pulled me out of the way and shoved me down, keeping a vice-like grip on my shoulder.
Blood flew, with snarls and mud churned from the ground as the other two fought off four attackers. Clawed toes bit into to the mud for traction right in front of me. The two defenders looked like the fight wasn’t going their way, being outnumbered two to one. The one holding me leaped in to save his buddy from getting his throat torn out.
One of the attackers darted around, reaching for me. They move inhumanly fast, but he must have expected me to run or it wouldn’t have worked. I came up inside his reach, twisted, and used his momentum to toss his very heavy ass to the ground, followed by a kick that sent him sliding through the mud to knock others down. They pounced on him.
I dove for the brush but didn’t make it. The yank on my hip twisted me into a tree, slamming my head against a low branch. Stunned, I crumpled to the ground, easy prey for the winners. Claws pricked at the skin on my neck as a hand closed over the back of it and shoved me hard into the ground.
I gasped out a breath, more sob than anything. I didn’t have the strength to keep fighting. I was done.
Claws sliced through the bloody tatters of my last shirt. I closed my eyes, tried to focus on happy memories, determined to spend my last moments at peace. Prayed my kids were safe somewhere.
But instead of claws or teeth digging into me, soft dabs wiped mud from the furrows in my back. I sucked in a breath at the sudden pain. A hand gently stroked uninjured skin. I shivered, more than a bit freaked out by the contact. It’d been years since anyone had touched me at all, much less so sensually. Hell, my wife barely even touched me like that during sex. Touched me like I was precious. I was caught between being freaked out and enjoying it.
Held down while he examined me, I got my first close up look at them. Their eyes glowed from under boney ridges, some yellow or gold, others dark as amber. Elongated jaws sported rows of sharp teeth that looked amazingly like a wolf’s. Larger, but human-shaped, noses, cheeks and foreheads balanced the wolf look. The virus made them taller and heavily muscled, with clawed hands and feet. Maybe a bit more body hair? They really did look part wolf, part man. Wolfmen. God, would that have been so hard for talking heads to come up with?
I tensed when those exploring hands trailed over my ass. I twisted my hips to avoid his touch. He growled a warning. His firm grasp held me without inflicting more damage but made it clear I was to stay still. His growl softened as he explored my ass through my muddy pants.
Laughter floated around me along with a few crude suggestions.
“Mmm, hot ass.” Or something like that — hard to tell with so much growl in his words.
“Want fuck that!”
And others even less nice: “Pathetic, weak,” and most chilling, “How long you think he last?”
More vicious laughter. “Not long, weak human not take good fucking!”
“Then we eat him.”
That had my captor snarling over his shoulder. Those who’d started crowding close backed up. Some whined and dropped their shoulders and heads submissively, moving well away.
He shifted to crouch over me, hips rocking into my ass. Was that his cock? Damned thing felt like a fat tree branch. I shuddered. Oh God, he was going to rape me now. I had to get out from under him. Getting a knee under me, I shoved and twisted. All it did was grind my ass into that massive erection.
My captor growled and rocked against me. His fangs grazed the back of my neck. Shit! Shock froze me. Exhausted, I collapsed back to the ground, a sob choking my throat.
He nuzzled my neck, stroking me gently. These guys changed moods faster than my teenage daughter. That struck me as funny.
A whimpered growly rumble that sounded oddly like a purr vibrated through me right down to my groin. Damned sexy in a crazy way, and soothing. Wolfmen who purr! Now that really set me off. Hysterical laughter bubbled up.
He paused, backed off me. I turned my head to find them all staring at me like I was a freak. One cocked his head just like a dog. That set me off even worse. I curled up, shaking with laughter. My back burned and my ribs ached, but in the aftermath of all that adrenaline, I couldn’t stop.
A really big, dark haired one jerked me up. “What funny?”
I sniggered out, “Are all of you bipolar or something? First you save me, then nearly kill me, then you go all touchy-feely — then purring?” More giggles burst forth.
The big guy’s face twisted up with even more confusion and he shook my shoulder.
I coughed and sucked in much-needed air. “Make up your minds. Are you going to kill me or not? Cause the suspense is driving me crazy. No wait, I’m already crazy. I think.”
“Aristotle, stop babbling!” Cecily’s snide voice sounded clearly in my mind. I just caught myself before I answered her. Being alone, I’d gotten used to talking to her. Well, to myself, really.
“Yep, crazy as a loon.”
The blond shot a questioning look at the big guy, who shrugged.
“Up.” The blond pulled me to my feet, steadied me there when I swayed a bit. The gouges on my back burned, every step pulling tender flesh.
I noted that three of those they’d fought with stood a good distance from us. The forth one lay unmoving in the dirt. The big one who seemed to be the leader barked out a command –”Bring him!”
Two dirty, hairy man-beasts hustled back to grab the injured one under the arms and drug as much as carried him. My captor shoved me back the way I’d come.
I stumbled along in a haze of pain and fatigue. The trek turned into a nightmare hike, every step jarring and pulling torn skin. Was that blood or sweat running down my back? I stumbled over a root, and only his grip on my shoulder kept me from a face plant in the muck.
Snickers and snorts showed the pack’s amusement at my clumsiness. I shook with fatigue. The humid heat I hated smothered me, drenching me in sweat and turning each breath into a chore. Finally, I couldn’t take one more step. My shaking legs gave out, leaving me in a heap in the middle of the trail.
“Up!” my blond captor commanded gruffly.
“Kiss off,” I retorted in barely a whisper.
The catcalls and insults started again.
He nudged me with a bare toe and tugged at my shoulder. Shaking muscles couldn’t have held me up even if my life depended on it. Maybe it did. I didn’t care at the moment.
“Up, not far now.”
Didn’t matter. I had nothing left. I shook my head and huddled in the muck, trying to catch my breath. My heart pounded and my head spun. How much blood had I lost? Could be shock setting in? Or heat stroke. Wouldn’t that just be perfect.
This time the nudge was almost a kick. I curled away from him, toppling over into the brush. He must have thought I was trying to escape because he growled and jerked me to my feet. Fangs grazed my throat and claws pricked the trembling flesh of my arms.
A shiver of fear roused my flagging strength. I managed to stand.
“Good!” He licked a line from shoulder to just below my ear. A shiver ran down my spine to settle in my groin. A damned odd reaction with my life on the line! Although, it had been a really, really long time since I’d had sex.
That is just pathetic! How could you possibly find anything attractive about these creatures?”
If she was going to mock me, couldn’t she at least do it in person? Then I’d have a chance of getting some sex. Maybe. I snickered and then coughed. That took too much breath.
Tired and aching, I stumbled on. My captor now walked beside me, one hand supporting me when I needed it. After I tripped again, going down to my knees, he picked me up like rag doll. I shoved back as he tried to toss me over his shoulder. “I can walk, damn it!”
Ooh, look at you getting all macho!”
I ignored her insult.
He snickered and dropped me back to my feet. I fell on my ass. He cocked a brow, daring me to prove it. Took me two shaky tries but I gained my feet and stubbornly trudged on. Was that grudging respect on his face? A warm flush added energy to my step.
Felt like we hiked for days, even though it couldn’t have been more than an hour or two — or three. My back burned and ached with every step I took. My captor hovered over me, nixing any chance at escape even if I’d had the energy. And somewhere to go.
I stumbled into an opening in the dense foliage; sunlight glittered off a good sized waterfall that ended in a rock-edged pool big enough to swim in.
“Wash!” My captor, the master of single syllable sentences, gave me a little push toward the water.
Most of the group jumped in the water fully clothed. Well, as fully clothed as they went, which varied from pants or shorts to barely covering the family jewels with strips of cloth. Not one wore a shirt or shoes. No service for them. I snickered again.
Lame! Even for you that was lame, Ari.”
Yeah, well. Who cares?
I hesitated at the edge of the pool. Soft growls and whines with sharp teasing in that guttural English punctuated splashing, dunking, and general horsing around. Last thing I wanted was to be in the middle of a rowdy wolfman pool party.
My captor didn’t give me any choice. With inhuman speed and strength, he tossed me right in the middle, muddy pants, shoes and all. I sputtered and coughed, treading water. The rest of them seemed to find that very funny. So much so, they nearly drowned me dunking me under and tossing me around like a beach ball. A loud roar stopped them in their tracks.
The big guy snarled. “Not a toy!”
The pair currently holding me looked confused, and maybe contrite. Like it hadn’t occurred to them I couldn’t stand the same roughhousing. They dropped their hold, leaving me floundering and coughing water. My captor snarled at them, shoving them out of the way, and towed me to shore. Didn’t even give me a chance to get the water and shaggy hair out of my eyes before tossing me up on a sunbaked rock.
I sprawled face down like a beached fish. He crawled over me, trapping me there. I jerked when a rough tongue licked along one of the gouges. At first it hurt, but then it got better. He moved on to the next one.
Reminded me of how dogs lick each other’s wounds. That struck me as more than funny. I fought off another bout of giggles.
I swear only you would find getting licked by those things funny!” Cecily’s biting voice whispered from the dark recesses of my mind.
The sun beat down on me, leaching away what little energy I had left. I drifted, small details jumping out at me like the pink tinge of the water as it drained downstream. Pink with the blood they’d spilled from each other. But now rather than fighting, they touched, rubbed and played together. Pack bonding, a small voice suggested. Exhaustion weighed my eyelids. The gentle rhythmic licks lulled me into a light doze.
A firm stroke down my arm roused me. I cracked an eye open to see a pair of young wolfmen watching me. Night and day different, one all dark skin and hair, the other blond. Neither one looked more than twelve or thirteen. There hadn’t been any boys left with the men. Had someone dumped these two boys as soon as they started to change? Did puberty set it off? I thought I remembered something about that. But who left them here?
The dark one stroked my arm again, then pulled my hand up to compare his clawed fingers to my useless fingernails. The other leaned in to lick at my neck. I jerked away. He snarled and I bared my pathetic human teeth right back.
He laughed, and his friend joined in. OK, it was funny. My stubby human teeth versus his hefty predator fangs. Laughter bubbled up from inside me to match theirs. They flashed their fangs in mock growls and I growled back. We cracked up even harder. The hysterical edge just made it all the funnier.
I rose on my elbows to wipe tears from my eyes, gasping. My back burned and ached with every breath. Choked breath turned to sobs as the energy laughing had given me drained away. My whole body ached from the numerous claw marks and overtaxed muscles.
My new friends hovered over me, whining in distress, hands stroking my head, bodies pressing close. Were they trying to comfort me?
A sharp growl and they darted away. My captor rose up out of the pool. Water trickled down his golden tanned chest, following the trail of sun bleached hair to the top of his low-slung shorts. I had the sudden urge to lick that water off. My gaze drifted down to the bulge under the worn fabric. Oh my God! He was hard, impressively hard. My own cock answered by lengthening, hardening. Well, damn! Wasn’t the first time a hot guy had caught my eye, but he wasn’t even human, for crying out loud.
My much-neglected libido didn’t care. Proof of how insane I’d become.
An identical blond god rose from the water right next to him. And that’s when I realized I knew them. The virus had changed their faces enough I hadn’t recognized them at first, but there couldn’t be two sets of blond identical twins here.
Zeke and Zach, brothers who’d been part of the activities team on the cruise ship. A couple of blond haired, blue eyed surfer dudes from Southern California. A dragon wound around Zeke’s bulging biceps. That made my captor Zach.
Which meant the really huge, dark haired guy in charge had to be the ship’s first mate, Grigori. Now that he’d washed off the blood and mud, I could see the very distinctive tribal design wrapping around from his back. I’d seen them together enough to assume they were friends.
Being able to put names to who they’d been changed things. I knew these men, sort of. Weird, really weird when I realized they wouldn’t remember me.
Zach raked his hands through his tangled blond hair. It hung well past his shoulders now where before it had barely brushed them. I’d guessed him to be late twenties. And forgive me, God, but he’d had a face and body to make even a straight man look twice. The body was still impressive and the wolfish changes had given him a ruggedness he’d lacked before. My cock woke up with sudden intensity.
Lusting after men? Ari, that’s just disgusting.”
My cock deflated faster than a punctured balloon. How many times had I listened to those kinds of comments from her? Or my family? I didn’t see what the big deal was, but I hated to disappoint those closest to me. So I’d always kept that to myself.
I turned away from my captor, ignoring the sound of him climbing up beside me again. He stroked my arm much as the kids had done. Deep sexy whines rose from him. He lay down beside me, wrapping his body along mine.
“Sad, why sad?”
I rolled my head just a bit to stare. Confusion knotted his brow and he actually sounded concerned.
“Why do you care?” That really had me wondering.
Emotions flitted across his face as he seemed to struggle with the answer. “You smell good. But now smell sad, not good.”
What the hell did that mean? I smell good? And I now smell sad? That sounded nuttier than me.
“Sad to be here?” He propped his head up on one hand, lying on his side facing me.
I snorted. “No, scared to be here with you. Sad because I miss my wife, my old life, my kids.” God, what had happened to my kids? A black hole opened in my heart.
“Wife? Young? Where? Not see her. Not good leave young alone.”
I sighed. “They’re not here. She’s with the other women on the ship. The kids stayed with my parents while we took this cursed vacation. Hopefully they’re safe.”
He cocked his head a lot like a dog might. Confusion knotted his brow. “Why leave them?”
I drew a breath. “Cecily, my wife, wanted to take a trip, just the two of us. We weren’t getting along so well and she thought it would help us reconnect. We left our kids with my folks. Then the virus panic hit and all the men got dumped here. To protect the women who don’t turn into…” Monsters almost slipped out. “Um, wolfmen. I’m guessing I’m immune or something since I’m still human.”
Under other circumstances, that would have been considered a good thing, but right now I was at the mercy of creatures much stronger than me. God, I wanted to go home!
Zach shifted closer. Gently, he brushed the wild black curls from my forehead in a gesture so tender it had tears welling in my eyes. Could this inhuman guy really feel empathy?
Tenderness from someone they said couldn’t feel anything but rage and lust, mostly blood lust at that. It was too much, on top of everything else.
I turned my head away, shivering with a strong mix of emotions I didn’t dare explore. Gentle caresses soothed frayed nerves but left even more confusion behind. It’d been so long since I’d been touched. Way too long, and my body responded in ways I refused to acknowledge. I wanted to push him away, but at the same time I craved his touch. God, that touch, so gentle and yes, sexy.
He growled softly as he pushed and tugged until I was face down in a soft bed of ferns. I had nothing left to resist with. Eyes pressed closed against the tears threatening once more. Just the swing of emotions in the aftermath of being chased and attacked, that was all. I was not reacting to this thing’s concern. No more than my cock was responding to his magnificent body.
You make me sick! Getting aroused by an inhuman thing. A male thing at that!”
Cecily’s derision sent chills down my back.
Zach curled beside me. Sweet caresses swept over my body. Gentle licks of my many hurts soothed away the pain. I was so tired I couldn’t think. I just lay there soaking up his attention. My eyes closed on the jungle and pool, and I drifted under.

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