The Second Circle Book 1

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The Second Circle Book 1

By Paradox

Wolf Springs, Wyoming, Connors Residence

Normally, I was an early riser. This wasn’t always the case, but ever since I manifested as a werewolf just over a month ago my habits had changed just as drastically as my biology. Now, in addition to having changed from being a skinny runt of a boy into what I was now able to admit was a pretty damn hot girl, I’d also taken on the qualities of the wolf itself. Unfortunately, this included waking up at around six every morning regardless of what day it was. At first I had no idea why my biological alarm clock was going off so damn early every morning and said as much to my friends Ashley and Kitty. Since the pair of them were both rather scientifically-inclined, the two of them immediately took to Google and had an answer for me within five minutes. Apparently wolves, as well as many animals, tended to wake up with the sun so they would have the maximum amount of daylight to forage for food and shelter. It didn’t matter that I lived in a house that had tons of food, there was simply no repressing primal instinct.

So, my grumpiness was at an all-time high when I finally managed to sleep in only to be awoken pretty damn rudely by the sound of incredibly loud and insistent knocking on my bedroom door. After I’d gotten over my almost-heart attack from being shocked awake so suddenly, it was on the tip of my tongue to tell either Mom or Dad to go away. That is, until I caught a couple pairs of scents in the air that had slipped beneath the door.

“Oh for God’s sake,” I groaned before flopping back on the bed, “Will you two please fuck off!” I yelled from beneath my covers, “I finally got to sleep in for the first time in weeks.”

“You’ve slept in enough,” I heard a gratingly sensual and wide awake voice call back. Okay, so normally her voice wasn’t grating and I’ll freely admit that if I still was attracted to women I’d be all over the gorgeous Kitty Blake in a heartbeat, but I wanted to sleep dammit.

“Come on Aiden,” a much softer and imminently gentler voice pleaded, “This is really important.”

Being that Ashley typically wasn’t one for being overly dramatic the way our brunette sexpot of a friend was, I took her statement at face value and rolled out of bed. Literally, I ended up face down on the floor for a second before gaining my feet and stumbling to the door.

No sooner had I turned the knob than the thing flew open, whacking my right in the face and making me stumble back with a shouted, “Ow! Goddammit Kitty!” Holding my hands over my damaged nose to keep from bleeding on my silk nightshirt, I glared at her as the injury quickly ceased to bleed and was perfectly fine shortly thereafter.

“Oh you’re fine,” she said haphazardly, waving her hand at my now completely healed nose as I grabbed a tissue to wipe off the blood. “See? Werewolf healing at it’s finest.”

“Kitty,” Ashley said quietly, her eyes narrowing with disapproval.

Blinking, the gorgeous brunette suddenly seemed to come to a realization of what just happened what she’d said causing her eyes to go wide with shock. “Oh crap, I’m sorry Aiden,” she told me earnestly.

Sighing, I shook my head and tossed the bloody tissue in the wastebasket. “Another bimbo moment?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she admitted, blushing with embarrassment, “But they’re coming less and less these days.”

“It’ll be gone soon enough,” I told her confidently, giving her shoulder a reassuring pat. Ever since Ashley had somehow managed to use her power to heal the sex slave effects of Kitty’s mental conditioning, her air-headed sex bimbo demeanor was slowly giving way to a much more normal, albeit quite sexually active, teenage one. She still had her moments, like just now, when she presented herself as an uncaring, self-centered bitch, but those were becoming few and far between and she was able to snap out of it pretty fast with just a little nudge from Ashley or I. Kitty explained that it was, as she put it, her neural pathways re-adjusting to a normalized stability. I had no idea what that meant but thankfully Ashley was able to explain it to me in more simplified terms. Basically, her brain was re-learning how to process information in a more normal way instead of always in its formerly programmed self-centered, air-headed, nympho manner.

“Not soon enough for me,” she muttered while giving me a small, thankful smile.

“If it helps,” I offered, “You don’t constantly smell like a bitch in heat anymore.”

Even as Kitty opened her mouth to protest, Ashley stopped her by grabbing her arm. “Wolf terms Kitty, remember?”

“oh, right,” she replied with a faint blush, “Thanks Aiden.”

“Okay,” I said, folding my arms under my breasts, which was actually starting to feel normal after doing it for months, “Now that the love-in is done, can you guys tell me why you woke me up from a really good dream?”

The way her eyes widened I already knew what Kitty was thinking without her needing to say a word. Still, she looked over at Ashley, almost seeming to ask for permission before the beautiful redhead sighed and begrudgingly nodded her consent. “Was it a sexy dream?” Kitty blurted excitedly.

“Do you consider running through the wilderness in wolf form working with an actual wolf pack to take down a really huge stag for dinner sexy?”

Ashley giggled at Kitty’s dumbfounded expression before she scrunched up her face with minor disgust. “Ummm, no.”

“It must have been nice,” Ashley put in with an understanding smile, “You haven’t been able to do that yet have you.”

“No,” I sighed, “The closest wolf territory is in Yellowstone and they pretty much keep to it. Dad’s promised to take me there one day.”

“To go play with the wolves?” Kitty asked with a tilt of her head.

“Of course,” I said with a toothy grin.

“Okay, we’ve gotten way off track,” Ashley said, waving her hands to get our attention, “Go check your email.”

“What? My email? Why?”

“Just do it!” Kitty commanded with a huge smile.

Looking from the girl practically bouncing out of her shoes with excitement to Ashley, who was nodding rapidly, I sighed and walked over to my laptop and pulled up my email program. “So what the hell am I looking for he-”

The rest of what I was going to say died in my throat as I saw exactly what my friends were talking about. Since I didn’t keep emails, not that I got a whole lot of them other than Kitty sending me those stupid lolz cats links, there was only one new email in the inbox. There was no question as to who it came from since the subject line read: Regarding you application to the Tearmann Institute. With a hand that I couldn’t keep from shaking, I clicked open the link and quickly looked for the phrase that indicated my application had been rejected.

No, I wasn’t being pessimistic. Okay, maybe a little bit, but I was also trying to stay realistic as well. There was little doubt that thousands upon thousands of mutants applied to attend this school every year and simply being a werewolf who was good at making knives didn’t exactly set me apart from the herd, or in my case pack.

That’s why it took reading it three times before my brain was actually able to process the words: We are pleased to inform you that your application for admission to our institution has been approved. Even after my brain had caught up with what my eyes had seen, I still just sat there in disbelieving shock for a while. I was approved? I could go to school there? It almost didn’t seem real.

“We’re in!” Ashley squealed happily, wrapping her arms around my shoulders from behind and hugging me tightly, “All of us!”

“I can’t believe it,” I said quietly, returning Ashley’s embrace by hugging her arms, “We actually got in.”

“Not only that,” Kitty said smugly from the side where she was perched on my bed, “But our little flame-haired beauty got a full-ride scholarship.”

“What?” I cried, spinning around in my chair and grabbing Ashley’s shoulders to hold her at arm’s length and look at her, “You got a scholarship?”

Nodding happily, the smile nearly split her face in two. “They told me in the email they sent. All of my tuition is paid in full for all four years, plus books, lab fees, housing, meals, supplies, and apparently there’s even a very generous allowance stipend for extras.”

“I didn’t know you’d applied for financial assistance,” I said, narrowing my eyes suspiciously. It wasn’t like I was jealous about it or anything. Mom and Dad had already told me they were more than capable of handling the financial requirements for me to attend and Kitty was a damn millionaire, but I didn’t think Ashley’s Mom was hurting for money either.

“I didn’t,” she told me, “Apparently based upon my previous school records and my interview with Ms. Stanhope, I was chosen to be the recipient of what they called The Life-Giving Foundation scholarship program.”

“Lucky you, congratulations,” I told her, giving her a congratulatory hug.

“Make sure you hold onto that email,” Kitty instructed me, “It contains documents we’ll need to get across the border.”

“I thought all we’d need is our MID,” I said as she leaned over to put the email into a save folder for me.

“Which I don’t have,” she pointed out. “Angela got us regular ID’s when we got out of Pennsylvania, but she couldn’t get into the MCO’s database to put together a mutant ID for me. The email has travel documents from the school stating that we’ll be traveling to attend Tearmann that will let us get past their checkpoints when we fly out.”

While I wasn’t exactly a technophobe, the idea of being stuck in a steel tube thousands of feet in the air made me shiver with revulsion. “What’s wrong?” Ashley asked with concern.

“I’m not a fan of flying,” I admitted quietly.

“Scared of heights?” Kitty suggested, though it was done as a question rather than a taunt.

“Not really, I just don’t like the idea of being confined in something so artificial so far away from the ground, that’s all.”

“It’s probably your wolf instincts,” she reasoned, her tone shifting to the one she took on when postulating scientific theory, “Many animals are uncomfortable traveling by air.”

“The cages?” I suggested.

“Not at all,” she said with an I-know-more-than-you kind of smile, “Many animals actually like being in cages in that it is very similar to a burrow or den that they feel comfortable in. No, it’s more that the sudden change in altitude can cause an uncomfortable imbalance in equilibrium. Even though they can’t actually see it happening to them, most animals can sense that their feet, or paws, are no longer on the ground and it typically invokes a sense of wrongness in them that accounts for why so many are uncomfortable flying.”

I was about to make a ‘wiseass’ comment when I saw Ashley looking rather thoughtful. “You’ve got an idea,” I guessed.

Blinking clear of her thoughts, she offered me a slightly embarrassed smile. “Not entirely, but the makings of one. I need to check a few things to see if it would work first.”

“Want to give us a hint?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Not yet,” she hedge, her smile widening slightly, “I don’t want to give any false hopes until I think it’s viable.”

“In the meantime,” Kitty said, giving Ashley a meaningful look, “We have some very important things to take care of now.”

“What things?” I asked suspiciously, suddenly growing a bit uncomfortable.

“Shopping,” she announced grandly. “We all need to pick out our school wardrobes.”

“Kitty,” I sighed with a roll of my eyes, “I have plenty of clothes I can bring with, I don’t need anymore.”

“Nonsense,” I was told with the air of an expert speaking to a plebeian, “Every girl needs at least several outfits specifically chosen for school. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.”

“I am not showing up for the first day of class looking like I just got dunked in a birthday cake,” I asserted, already picturing her trying to get me into some grand, lacy, frothy concoction that you’d only find in a Disney movie.

“No, no.” She waved the notion away, “I know by now there’s no point in trying to make you the belle of the ball, but at least you can be rough and tumble in a fashionable chic way.”

When I looked over to Ashley for support she only shrugged sheepishly. “I’m getting some new outfits too,” she admitted meekly.

The pleading look in my gentle friend’s brilliantly green eyes undid me in moments and I sighed. “All right,” I conceded, admitting defeat and committing myself to a day of playing life-sized dress-up doll, “Let’s get going.”

Ashley’s giggle brought me up short as I started towards the door of my bedroom. “What?” I snapped.

“Darling,” Kitty drawled, “While you are one sexy bitch, and I’d be more than happy for you to stay as you are, there are still decency laws, even in Wolf Springs.”

Her light-hearted verbal jab, accompanied by her rather sound slap to my ass made me realize I was still standing there in just a silk sleep shirt and lacy black panties. “Oh for the love of-. Will you two get out of here so I can get a shower,” I barked, sending my friends laughing out of the room.

Shaking my head but unable to hold back the wide smile on my face, I ducked into my bathroom so I could take a quick shower and get this fashion-fest underway and over with as soon as possible.

Chicago, Illinois, Undisclosed Location

The sudden explosion of sparks that erupted from the arrangement of electronics on the light table resulted in a quick duck and cover followed a sharp expletive that echoed through the room.

“I would prefer you not blow us up Gear,” a droll voice called from the other room.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” the gadgeteer shot back as he slowly stood up and surveyed the damage. Fortunately, other than a few melted wires and a fried circuit board, the carefully constructed arrangement was largely undamaged. “Okay,” he muttered, “Note to self, reduce the power feed before soldering it in the leads.”

“Always a wise precaution,” Ashe said as he approached the work table and looked over the hodgepodge of electrical gear. “What is all of this?”

“What I’m hoping will be the next great tool in your arsenal,” Gear said not without a bit of pride in his voice. “Since you’re so keen on staying out of the limelight…or any light for that matter,” he added, giving his friend and boss a knowing look, “I’m putting together a system that I can blend into your combat suit that will prevent any video surveillance system from knowing you’re even there.”

“Interesting concept,” Ashe said with an approving nod, “How would you accomplish this?”

“I’m wiring together a shit ton of nano transmitters that would broadcast hundreds of different signals all at once that would, in theory, cause the computer software responsible for recording images to their respective hard drives to not realize you’re there and thus not record your digital signal.”

Nodding slowly, the man rubbed his chin as he evaluated the idea. “How do you plan to compensate for the void that would be left behind?”

Gear smiled, having already anticipated his friend’s concerns. It wasn’t getting one up on Ashe. “There’s also going to be an equal amount of nano imaging capture devices position right next to the transmitters that will feed a three-sixty image into the data transmission so the capture feed will simply record unoccupied space wherever you are without a blank void. Basically, you could be doing cartwheels and anyone watching on a camera would just see an empty room without any hint of something being out of the ordinary on the live feed.”

“Impressive,” Ashe allowed, his eyes constantly moving over the arrangement and checking for imperfections, “But you still haven’t gotten the algorithm that would allow you to essentially reprogram the software and allow the replacement of the data.”

“How did you-” Gear snorted as once again Ashe was thinking five steps ahead of things. “No,” he admitted, “That’s where I’m coming up short. The hardware is pretty much ready to go other than assembly and implementation, but every scenario I’ve run for the software is coming up short. I need it to be able to affect any digital capture device regardless of the encryption safeguards and I can’t get it passed cellphone-level security.”

“You also need to account for non-digital capturing devices,” Ashe pointed out. “We may be living in a digital age, but there are still many companies and individuals who still make use of magnetic imaging.”

“Shit,” Gear whispered. He hadn’t thought that far ahead. Once again, his boss had proven why he was so damn good at his job. “I suppose I could introduce an electromagnetic component, but that would be too broad-based and could end up with you turning into a human magnet.”

“I’d prefer to avoid that situation,” he commented dryly.

Taking out a sheet of paper, Gear began scribbling out a mathematical formula that appeared faster and faster as inspiration suddenly struck. “Okay, I think I can work that aspect in if I borrow an idea from a divisor I know.”

“Divisor technology doesn’t translate very well beyond its original creator,” the vigilante observed.

“True,” the weaponsmith allowed, “But that’s only if I try to recreate the exact device. Some of the core concepts don’t fall within the realm of physics only accessible to devisors, so I should be able to Frankenstein them into a functional aspect of the nano transmitters that would allow magnetic imaging to be affect the same as digital.”

With the formula written out in great detail on now two sheets of paper, Gear put the pen he had been using down and sighed dejectedly. “The problem is still getting the proper computer algorithms and security breaching software to work. Without that in place, the only thing this’ll be good for is keeping you off YouTube.”

“It sounds like some collaboration is in order, perhaps with a highly skilled computer programmer.”

“Yeah,” Gear said as he began to pace with frustration, “But I know you want to keep this circle small, and I’d really need that person right here with me so we could pair the software with the hardware and make adjustments on the fly during testing.”

“That is quite a dilemma,” Ashe noted in a deceptively concerned voice before he sighed, “It’s unfortunate that we don’t know any truly skilled computer programs who have made their living hacking into some of the most highly encrypted organizations on the planet. Perhaps one that will soon have quite a bit of time on their hands.” Turning, he began walking back towards the operations center of their facility, pausing once he reached the entry. “Oh, the girls were accepted to Tearmann. They’ll be heading there within about a week.”

“A week?” Gear asked in surprise, looking over, “Why so early? They can just fly there in like a day.”

“Ms. Blake is not in possession of an MID, and since technically speaking she does not exist it would be rather difficult for her to obtain one. The only other option for them is to make the trip via road since the land border crossings don’t require one.”

“But why can’t she just use the ID she has?” Gear asked, perplexed by what should have been an obvious solution, “The identities WiseCrack put together for them are so intricate they’d fool-” He broke off when he suddenly realized what Ashe was saying. Once again, the man was well ahead of everyone. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered.

“Let me know how when you’re ready to begin testing,” Ashe said as he disappeared into the command center.

Gear didn’t even hear him as he was already diving for the secure phone line at his desk and punching in a number. After only two rings a female voice sexily rough from sleep said, “Yeah?”

“It’s ten in the morning by you,” Gear quipped, “What the hell are you still doing in bed?”

“Ugh,” the voice groaned, sounding like its caller just flopped back down, “Kitty was in a mood yesterday, she kept me up half the night.”

“Poor baby,” the gadgeteer said with a heavy dose of fake sympathy, “You got sexed up by a gorgeous teenage girl all night, my heart bleeds for you.”

“Shaddap,” she grumbled, “What the hell do you want?”

“Your help,” Gear said as he brought up a website on his laptop and started adding a large wealth of computer equipment to the shopping cart, “How would you feel about coming to Chicago for a while?”

“Why the hell would I do that? Kitty and I just got together and you want me to just drop her to fly to Chicago?”

“No stupid,” Gear chuckled, “You know she got accepted to Tearmann, right?”

“Of course I do. She damn near gave me a heart attack screaming when she got the email this morning. Wait, how the fuck do you know about that?”

It wasn’t hard for Gear to imagine the lovely blond suddenly sitting up and blinking in shock. “I am all knowing and all seeing my dear WiseCrack,” he intoned mysteriously.

“No, but your boss is,” she grumbled, “So what does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, what would you rather do once she and her friends are gone? Sit around twiddling your thumbs or come help me out with a really good computer problem?”

“What kind of problem?” she asked suspiciously. Quickly, without getting too technical, Gear told her about his current project and the difficulties he was having with it on the computing side of things. “Hmmmm,” the hacker muttered, “I can see why you’d be having a problem. You’d need to basically install a microcomputer into the structure with enough processing power that it could handle some serious encryption-breaking software code.”

Even without seeing her, Gear knew WiseCrack had a look of intense concentration on her now lovely face as she mentally worked on the problem, and it made him smile. “Interested?”

“Maybe,” she said slowly, though there was no hiding the subtle thread of excitement in her voice, “When would you need me to come?” When there were several seconds of silence she sighed heavily. “Go ahead,” she told him in a put upon tone.

“That’s what she said,” the weaponsmith said quickly, “And as soon as the girls leave for school, so in about a week.”

“Jackass,” she muttered, “And what do you mean a week? They don’t need to fly out for at least a couple. Wait,” she said before her friend could respond, “Don’t bother, I’m sure your boss already figured something out.”

“Yeah,” he admitted, “And since he hasn’t already suggested it to them I’m guessing he wants them to figure it out on their own.”

“Is he ever not going to be like ten steps ahead of everyone?”

While the question was clearly posed in jest, Gear actually took it quite seriously. In all the time he’d known the man, Ashe had always been multiple steps ahead of everyone else. It was what made him such a lethal weapon against all of the evil in the world and what allowed these girls to be given the opportunity to receive such a great and specialized education. Had he not chosen a path on the side of the righteous…

Well, that was the kind of thing that nightmares had nightmares of.

Wolf Springs, Wyoming, Downtown Area

“You’re doing this just to torture me, aren’t you,” I accused as I stepped out of the changing room in the flower-patterned, above-the-knee length sundress Ashley had chosen as one of the various outfits I had been commanded to try on.

While Ashley gasped softly with a pleased smile on her face, Kitty just grinned evilly. “Of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that you look great in everything we’ve picked out so far.”

“I look like I should be running through wheat fields in slow motion,” I grumped, turning this way and that to better see myself in the full-length change room door mirror.

“Well you do run through the woods every day,” Ashley pointed out helpfully, which is to say not at all.

“Guys, come on,” I argued, turning to face them and spreading my arms wide, “Does this really look like something I would wear on a regular basis?”

“Not on a regular basis, no,” Kitty conceded, “But every girl should have a variety of dresses and outfits to suit any occasion. Believe it or not, there will be plenty of warm days in Newfoundland where you won’t want to be wearing jeans. Trust me, I checked.”

“You would,” I grumbled, turning to head back into the changing room. I’d just gotten the dress off and draped over the door when a pair of bundled articles flew into the closet-sized room and nailed me right in the face. “What the-?”

“Try those on next,” Ashley called from the other side of the door just before a pair of dark brown leather boots came tumbling underneath it, “With those too.”

“Fine,” I sighed before calling back, “But this is the last one. I promised Dad I wouldn’t let you guys put us in the poor house on clothes alone.”

“Last one,” Ashley confirmed and there was no mistaking the smile in her voice and the moment I shook out the bundles I could understand why.

The bottoms were a pair of ankle-length, matte black lycra leggings while the top ensemble consisted of a black tank top, also made of lycra, and a knitted green blouse with such a wide opening at the neck that it was clearly designed to slouch off one shoulder. Once I’d been forced to admit it wasn’t too girly, I pulled on the clothes and adjusted them so they were sitting right before slipping on the boots and presenting myself for inspection, receiving two very different reactions.

Kitty took one look at me and frowned. Of course, that was no surprise since, regardless of the fact that she was no longer a sex-crazed bimbo slut, she was still the consummate fashionista of our little trio. Clearly, by the look on her face, she considered this set to be far to pedestrian for her tastes.

Ashley, on the other hand, lit up with a bright, approving smile and nod. It didn’t take a PhD to figure out this outfit had been chosen by her instead of Kitty. Despite her own efforts to girl me up more over the last couple of weeks, I could always count on her not to push too hard and to be more than willing to compromise feminine with my own tomboyish tendencies.

“It looks great!” she gushed, running over to adjust the top fractionally. Looking in the mirror, I had to admit she was dead on with this one. The lycra hugged my legs like a second skin, showing off their length and softening my muscle tone before completely highlighting the curve of my hips. I didn’t dare say it out loud, but when I turned to look at my backside I had to admit it made my ass look fantastic. The top looked pretty damn good too. With the darkness of the tank top underneath, the knitted blouse made me look both feminine and a little wild at the same time due to the coloring and the off the shoulder slouch. There was only one issue I could see…

“You’ll have to wear a thong with that,” Ashley pointed out meekly.

Whirling about I pinned her with an only slightly upset glare that had her blushing at her little plan being found out. “You counted on that,” I accused mildly, which was confirmed by her embarrassed shrug. Sighing, I looked back at the mirror. “But yeah, I will.”

“So you’ll get it?” my red-haired friend asked hopefully.

“Yeah, I’ll get it,” I told her with a smile that had her clapping her hands, “I have to admit this outfit does look pretty good on me.”

“Hmph,” Kitty pouted, “You didn’t say that about most of the things I suggested.”

“That’s because most of what you picked out made me look like I was getting ready to go trolling for guys at the nearest dance club,” I pointed out as I once again looked over my image in the mirror and considered other items I could get that would create a similar look.

“I already picked out a bunch more,” Ashley confided to me in a whisper so Kitty wouldn’t hear.

“Thanks,” I whispered back, giving her hand a squeeze before I ducked back into the change room to swap out the outfit with the jeans and short-sleeved flannel I’d arrived in. Shortly after, I was at the register checking in my purchases while my friends stood by with multiple bags containing their own choices they’d selected earlier. I didn’t break the bank, largely due to the fact that the majority of my selections had been replaced by Ashley with various legging and top combos when our fashion-conscious friend had been otherwise occupied, but it was still more money than I was comfortable with spending on just clothes.

By the time we’d loaded all of our purchases into Kitty’s Charger, we’d been at this for hours and quite frankly I was starving. “Food,” was all I growled as I flopped down in the back seat with Ashley agreeing from the passenger seat.

“How about Steakhouse?” Kitty suggested, referring to, well, the steakhouse that never bothered to give itself an actual name since it was the only one in town.

“I could go for meat. Don’t,” I warned Kitty when I saw the evil grin appear on her face that meant she was about to toss out a zinger.

“Damn,” she muttered, her plan foiled.

“Actually let’s go to my place,” Ashley suggested, “I’ve got some left over chicken from last night I want to make sandwiches from before it goes bad and there’s plenty for all of us.” It wasn’t beef, but it was still meat so I readily nodded my approval, which Kitty seconded. “Great, because I wanted to talk with you guys about something.”

“Everything okay?” I asked with concern. Throughout our little shopping trip the redhead had been a bit preoccupied with something she had been looking at on her phone.

“Oh sure,” she said with a reassuring smile, “Just something I was thinking about for when we go to Tearmann.”

“Okay,” Kitty said slowly as she navigated her vehicle towards our friend’s house, “So is it a secret or something?”

“No,” Ashley laughed, “But it’ll be easier to show you once I print a few things out from my computer.”

“Do we at least get a hint?” I needled.


Since there was no forcing her into revealing…well, whatever she had cooking, we just filled the time with pretty inane conversation about nothing. It was funny, back in Indiana the idea of doing that was actually kind of annoying. To me, time was better spent being productive like finishing up homework or working at my forge. Now, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like not being able to engage in mindless chit chat with my friends. Things really had changed beyond my physical appearance.

Once we’d arrived at Ashley’s house and helped her bring her purchases inside, she quickly went about printing off multiple pages from her computer before tucking them into a file so we couldn’t see them. She kept that file right at her side while we waited for her to put together a small mountain of sandwiches in the kitchen. It wasn’t until lunch was well underway that she finally slid it forward and flipped the manila file folder open.

“So,” she said after taking a bite, “I was thinking that instead of flying to the school, we drive instead.” Judging by the excitement in her voice I guessed Ashely thought this would be quite the bombshell, so her disappointment was clear when the two of us just sat there chewing and waiting for something more to be said. “What? You don’t like the idea?”

“It’s not that,” Kitty told her, “It’s just…why? Driving there would take days-”

“Eight,” Ashley confirmed, “With eight hours of actual driving each day and allowing for a little sight seeing along the way.”

“So why not just fly and be there in like a day?” the brunette asked.

“Okay, hear me out,” she said, holding out her hands to stave off any further remarks for the moment. “Kitty, you don’t have an MID so you can’t fly. Yes, I know you can possibly go get one, and we can still look at doing that, but by driving there we don’t have to worry about any issues with the airports. Plus, from everything I’ve read on the Net, it’s a real pain in the ass getting through MCO security and not being hassled. Plus, we don’t have to be worried about our luggage ending up going to Budapest or something.”

The argument was pretty thin and I could tell by Kitty’s expression she thought so too. Still, I didn’t want to just slap Ashley’s idea down out of hand. “Okay, even taking those things into account, an eight-day car trip in Kitty’s Charger doesn’t exactly sound comfortable.”

“The R/V,” Kitty said softly as realization seemed to strike her, “You want to use our R/V for the trip.”

Ashley blushed a little but nodded. “I know it’s presumptuous to just volunteer you to use it, but I think it would be a really fun for the three of us to have a little adventure on our way to school.”

“Can you even drive it?” I asked in all seriousness, “I mean it would be pretty cruel to force Kitty to drive the entire time.”

“I’ve never actually driven one,” she admitted, “But I do have the license classification to be able to drive one, so we can take turns and I should be fine just driving on the highway.”

“All right,” I said, letting her have that one, “What about gas? That thing is a beast and it has to have a huge tank. It’ll cost a fortune to fill it.”

“Approximately one hundred and fifty dollars per every three hundred and fifty to four hundred miles driven at standard highway speeds at current gas prices.”

Simultaneously, Ashley and I looked over at Kitty and just blinked with shock at the way she rattled off those figures without a moment’s hesitation, to which she responded with a roll of her eyes. “Oh come on guys, you don’t think I already looked into this? I’m the one without an MID, remember?”

It made sense, and I was actually starting to kick myself for not thinking about this route for our trip because of it already. Still… “What if Tearmann doesn’t let us bring the R/V?” I asked. “I mean, it is a pretty big fucking vehicle and they might not have space for it, or even allow students to bring cars at all.”

“They do,” Ashley said immediately, “And as long as we give them a head’s up along with all of the vehicle information we’re fine. Oh, and there’s a small storage fee.”

“How small?” I asked suspiciously when she said that last part rather guiltily.

“Three hundred a month?” she said a little sheepishly, making me wonder if she planned on revealing that little tidbit.

“Pfffft,” Kitty dismissed the amount with a careless wave of her hand, “Pocket change.”

“So sayeth the rich bitch,” I snarked.

“I will not apologize for taking the money from the men who kidnapped me and fucked with my mind after they stole it from a multi-million or possibly billion-dollar company who facilitated the mind fucking to begin with,” She defended angrily.

“All right, all right,” I held up my hands in surrender, “That was a cheap shot. I’m sorry.”

“You have no idea how lucky you are that I’m such a forgiving soul,” she informed me before fluttering her lashes in a saucy wink to let me know she was only teasing.

“Still,” I said, getting us back on track, “I’m not sure about how good of an idea it is driving instead of flying. I mean, we’re talking eight days here. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a drive that long and what if we end up getting there late? Will they still let us in?”

While Kitty seemed to contemplate that, Ashley took a deep breath and fixed us with a determined look that was rare to see in the eyes of my normally timid friend. “Look, guys, I want to do this. I understand if you don’t, but I do, and if you’d rather fly I can just rent a car and go by myself.”

“Drive the whole way alone?” Kitty asked in disbelief while I just gawked at the red-haired beauty.

“If I have to, yes.”

Reaching across the table I took Ashley’s hand to get her attention focused on me. “Ashley, that’s stupid, and you know it. Do I even need to go into how dangerous it would be for you to be out on the road alone?”

“No,” she admitted, and I could see her confidence quickly deflating, “It’s just…”

We waited a few moments and when she said nothing else Kitty gently prodded her. “Just what?”

Having been looking down at the time, her eyes shone with tortured emotions when they rose to peer at us. “I need to do this guys,” she told us in a quiet voice thick with emotion. “I need to be able to prove to myself that I can do it.”

“What do you mean princess?” I asked, using the little nickname I’d given her a while back. It wasn’t derogatory like most people would think since I didn’t call her it because she acted all high and mighty or anything. Ashley was the closest thing to a fairy tale princess I’d ever seen outside of a Disney movie and was the virtual personification of sweet, kind-hearted, generous, and so much more. To me, calling her princess was the highest compliment I could offer her short of considering her alpha.

When she didn’t answer right away, almost as though we’d read each other’s minds, Kitty and I moved from our seats to kneel on either side of her and take her hand. While they hadn’t fallen yet, I could see the tears gleaming within her brilliant green eyes. “I need to know I’m not trapped,” she finally said in a choked voice. “You guys remember how bad I was when I first met you, right?”

I nodded, as did Kitty. “It didn’t take much to trigger a panic attack and send you running.”

“Believe it or not,” she confessed, “When I first got my acceptance email from Tearmann, I almost immediately sent a reply to tell them it was a mistake and to give my spot to someone else.”

“What?” Kitty gasped in shock.

“Ashley,” I reminded her quietly, “You were the one that wanted to go so badly. You were so passionate about why it was a better choice than Whateley. Why would you think about doing something like that?”

“I was afraid, okay?” she nearly shouted as the tears finally broke free and streamed down her face. “When I got that email I suddenly realized I would have to leave home, leave Wolf Springs, and go somewhere I didn’t know was safe. I’d have to go out into the world that was full of people that wouldn’t think twice about coming after me just because I’m pretty or a mutant and that terrified me. All I could think about was how out there I trusted people and it ended up being the most horrifying experience of my life.” She dabbed at her eyes with her napkin and sniffled a little before she looked first at Kitty and then at me. “I need to do this to prove to myself that I won’t always run and hide just because something scares me.”

“Ashley,” Kitty told her with a squeeze of her hand, “You don’t just run and hide when you’re scared, don’t you know that? When that moron Jeremy came after me and Angela,” she explained, “And you found out about it, what did you do?”

“I…I ran to your house as fast as I could.”

“Why?” she asked with a tilt of her head.

“Because I was terrified you and Angela would get hurt.”

“So you were scared?” when Ashley nodded, the brunette smiled, “And you knew that Jeremy was probably in the middle of doing some pretty scary stuff right?”

“Yeah,” she admitted, “I thought maybe something would happen to you guys like what happened to me.”

“And yet you still didn’t hesitate to come racing to the rescue,” I said, picking up on where Kitty was going with this. “You even decked Tom because he knew his buddy would try to drug me and he tried to stop you from leaving.”

“He knew my friends would get hurt and didn’t say anything,” she explained in a small voice.

“Ash,” Kitty said with a smile, “You’re so much braver than you realize, and if this little road trip you have planned will help you realize it, then I’m all for it.”

“Ditto,” I agreed without a moment’s hesitation, “But I’m bunking with you,” I added as a codicil, “There isn’t a chance in hell I’m sleeping in the same bed as that sex maniac.”

When I winked at her, Kitty stuck her tongue out at me before quipping, “Scared I’ll convert you wolf girl?”

“No, I just want to be able to actually get some sleep at night instead of worrying about your hand constantly trying to get in my panties.”

“Spoilsport,” she muttered, and I got a little worried that her disappointment seemed kind of genuine.

“Thanks guys,” Ashley said with a watery smile before we all embraced. “And Kitty,” she said, glancing over at the brunette, “Please don’t call me Ash anymore.”

She opened her mouth to ask why, since it was a pretty obvious nickname for her, until a light of understanding came into her eyes about the same time I realized what the problem was as well. “Of course,” she said with a nod.

Looking over at me, she smiled a little brighter. “You can still call me princess though.”

That got a nice laugh out of all of us before we sat back down and started working out details for the trip.

Wolf Springs, Wyoming, Buckman Rental Property

Angela had just completed the finishing touches on her blatantly fraudulent contract negotiations when she heard Kitty pull up to the house. She had just managed to fire off the email when the door swung open and her gorgeous, chestnut-haired lover came dancing into the house. “Hi Angie,” she sang, dumping the shopping bags that threatened to overload her slender arms onto the couch.

“Shopping again huh?” the hacker asked unnecessarily. Regardless of how the girl had changed since her friend had removed the sex slave mental conditioning from her mind, she still never passed up the opportunity to shop. It would have been damn annoying, except they were more than wealthy enough to afford it. More than that, however, was that Kitty made certain to rotate out her wardrobe on a regular basis and donated everything she discarded to charities for homeless or underprivileged families. They’d sent at least ten boxes packed to bursting just last week and that was the third time in two months.

“Well I had to get a new school wardrobe,” she explained unapologetically as she leaned over and kissed her lover passionately, making the blond girl momentarily turn into a puddle of girl goo. “Whatcha working on?” she asked, giggling at the dreamy, slack-jawed look she’d left Angela with.

“Huh? Oh,” she said with a shake of her head to clear it, “I was just sending off our offer on the house.”

“Think they’ll accept it?” Kitty asked as she started sorting through the bags and holding up one item or another for a secondary inspection.

“No reason why they wouldn’t. I put in an offer twenty-five percent above market value.”

Frowning a little, the vivacious brunette turned and gave her lover a look of concern. “Won’t that seem a little suspicious?”

Angela understood Kitty’s concern. Since they were both essentially non-entities as far as the legal system went, the only thing maintaining their identities was the elaborate work Angela had done within a multitude of state, county, and federal databases. It would hold up to a great deal of scrutiny, but there was an unspoken rule between the two of them not to push so no one would have reason to look in the first place. The more history they built up with their identities, the more solid they would become until they reached the point that no one would have any reason to look back further than a couple of years. “No,” the hacker assured her, “I did it with the explanation that we, or our fictitious parents anyway, wanted to ensure that no one outbid us.”

“Then why not simply offer market value?” Kitty countered, “Outbidding would mean going slightly higher in an offer but still trying to stay beneath value.”

“Because,” Angela said with a smile, “I put in a codicil that we would want the deal to go through immediately so we could avoid the whole ninety-day period involving inspections and title searches and the like.”

“All right,” the girl said, sitting down and crossing her legs in a way that had her lover drooling, “But how do we handle the actual deal? I’m pretty sure just about every real estate lawyer would laugh a couple of sixteen-year-old girls out of the room regardless of us being listed as emancipated minors.”

“I hired someone who specializes in situations like ours and gave them power of attorney in this matter. They’ll go in and sign the documents for us but in the end they’ll be in our name. The owners won’t realize that they’re selling to a couple of teenagers since we won’t actually be present.”

“That’s pretty dicey,” Kitty observed, “And leaves a lot of room for discovery.”

“I made sure to cover our tracks,” Angela assured her, rising from her chair and walking over to where her lover sat before leaning over and resting her hands on either side of the brunette’s head until their lips were barely a breath apart. “Don’t you trust me?” she whispered.

“Completely,” Kitty replied in a voice gone breathy with rising desire.

“Then shut up, kiss me, and let me take care of you.”

Needing no further encouragement, the now very aroused girl grabbed her lover and kissed her hard, pulling her down onto the couch with her where they proceeded to tear at one another’s clothes in an effort to get to the succulent treat that lay beneath.

It was some time later when Kitty asked Angela about use of the R/V. It wasn’t hard to convince her to go along with it while drunk on her lover’s ample delights.

* * * *

“So she was good with it?” Aiden asked over the computer video conference screen while Ashley sat with nervous anticipation in a second window.

“Oh sure,” Kitty said as she stretched out cat-like on her living room couch in nothing but a skimpy rose-colored silk nightie. “I was just about to make her cum when I asked so of course she said yes.”

While Ashley blushed furiously Aiden angrily snapped, “T-fucking-M-I Kitty!”

The peal of laughter from the chestnut-haired sexpot was light and teasing, “Oh my God you guys are too easy. I talked to her about it later silly, and she was fine with it as long as both of you were coming with.”

“You know,” Ashley said with an expression that spoke of a sudden inspirational thought, “We could always invite her to come along. I know it’s too late for her to apply, and she doesn’t exactly meet the mutant qualifications, but she could make the trip with us and fly back afterwards.”

Kitty shook her head. “I’d already thought of asking her that, but while we were talking about the trip she told me that she’s got a job she lined up after the acceptance email came. It’ll get her out of the house and working with some intellectual peers so she won’t be sitting around pining away like some old maid waiting for me to come home.”

“Good to know you have such a modest opinion of yourself,” Aiden smirked.

“Hey, her words, not mine,” the gorgeous sexpot defended, “And I’m glad. She’d be bored out of her mind with nothing to do but play on her computer while I’m gone.”

“Ummm, isn’t that what she used to do before she met you?” Ashley asked without a hint of sarcasm.

Shaking her head, Kitty sat up and took a sip from the cup of coffee steaming on the table the laptop rested on. “Worked with her computer yes, but she did a lot of undercover-type work as an IT person to get into dirty companies and royally fuck with their computer systems. She might be a computer geek, but she was a pretty mobile one.”

“So what’s this job she’s got?” Aiden asked.

“I don’t know,” the girl admitted, “She was pretty hush hush about it, but assured me it wasn’t anything that would put her in danger or anything so I didn’t push.”

“A girl needs her secrets after all,” Ashley quipped with a smile, “And we all know she’s one of the good guys. When does she leave?”

“About a week after we do so she can have the house set up for the winter. Don’t want to come home on winter break to a flooded and frozen house after all. Ashley, I think she’s going to be talking with your Mom about dropping in to make sure everything’s okay while she’s gone.”

“She won’t have a problem with that,” Ashley said confidently, “She’s done it before with some other people she knows since they only keep a house here for summer vacation.”

For several moments there was a silence that hung in the air as the girls all looked at one another on their respective computer screens. It was Kitty who finally gave voice to what they were all thinking. “Guys, we’re going to Tearmann in a week.”

“I know,” Ashley breathed, “It still doesn’t feel real.”

“Yeah,” Aiden admitted quietly, “But it’s what we want, right?”

“Absolutely,” Ashley replied with firm authority, “This is the best place for us not only to get a good education, but to learn about our powers. I mean, I’d really like to stop passing out when I heal someone.”

“And I really need better training facilities to practice with my energy blades,” Kitty agreed, “And you need to better understand how and why your rage form works Aiden. I mean, you don’t want to accidentally trigger it and become some kind of monster that can kill people you care about, right?”

“Damn right,” Aiden said determinedly, “I’d rather die than hurt my family or you guys just because I can’t control my shifting.”

“So we’re doing the right thing going to Tearmann,” Kitty proclaimed in a voice that would brook no argument, “And we’re going to be the best and most memorable damn students they’ve ever seen!”

“Kitty,” Aiden said in deadpan while the girl in question sat with a broad smile on her face, “You can’t seduce the teachers.”

Her eyes popped wide as her jaw dropped at the accusation. “What? I would never-goddamitt,” she finished with a mutter and an embarrassed blush while her friends laughed.

Libidine, Iowa

What’s the first thing people do when they think of Iowa? Exactly right, they confuse it with Idaho. However once that bit of confusion passes, most people usually think of corn and the state’s most famous resident, John Wayne. This is why the cornfield state was nearly the perfect place to establish the small town with barely five hundred residents that no one has ever heard of and forgets when they leave. A person just stumbling across it in their travels might actually find it rather incredible, full of modernly constructed buildings full of flashing neon and sultry, pounding music filling the night sky every night. It was almost akin to a mini Las Vegas and would surely be packed to overcapacity had word of it gotten out, except word never did.

To allow for such advertisement would be detrimental to the goals of the town’s chief resident and creator. Until she grew her power base to acceptable levels, any interference in the accumulation of such power could very well result in the destruction of everything she had worked towards for the last fifty years. While the time of completion was drawing near, a degree of caution needed to continue to be exercised to ensure nothing interfered with her long and elaborate planning. As such, the wards surrounding the town’s landscape were the first things to be erected upon its genesis and were continually strengthened so as not to weaken for even a moment and expose the truth behind the lights.

Of course, this did not prevent wandering travelers from “happening” upon the town on a regular basis. Indeed, it was the quintessential bread and butter of its economy to receive visitors on a regular basis, even if those visitors arrived by a subtle nudge of seductive power.

It was just such a nudge that had drawn young Nicholas Seaward to the town that evening, having elected to ask the driver of the bus he rode on to stop in the middle of nowhere to let him off. It was also what had encouraged her to walk the several miles south of Interstate Eighty an hour east of Des Moines until the glow of multi-colored neon began to fill the horizon.

Were it not for this mental urging he was not even aware of, the Arkansas native would have likely begun to question her sanity. Of course, given the last few days of her life, his sanity was already well in question. When you’re a twelve-year-old boy living in the bible belt, suddenly manifesting as a mutant had a tendency to bring out the Jesus in people.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the passages detailing how the great prophet preached to be good to one another that struck a chord with the residents of Pine Bluff. More like they embraced the smiting of disbelievers and stoning disobedient children and held those kinds of passages closer to their hearts rather than be good to thy neighbor. Nicholas once held fast to those beliefs as well, as had his parents and his grandparents. It was what he had been raised upon so for the twelve years of his life he knew no difference.

All of that changed three days ago when he’d manifested as a mutant. While he hadn’t acquired a great deal of knowledge on the subject, since the Catholic school he attended practically forbade discussing it other than to preach that mutants were an abomination and in league with the Devil, the Internet had provided him with at least a basic understanding of the concept. It also had given him a glimmer of hope that he would cease to be the small, scrawny kid that everyone picked on and his parents considered a disappointment because he wasn’t the starting quarterback for their Junior High team.

He should have probably seen it coming, but it was still heartbreaking when his mother had come in to wake him up and screamed in abject horror when she witnessed what his manifestation had wrought in him. Not content with simply granting him powers, his change into a mutant had brought about physical alterations that instantly had his father coming after him with a shotgun while demanding that the Devil leave his home. It had only been by some miracle, and the unconscious use of his new abilities, that he’d managed to dive out the window moments before the space he’d been standing in had been ripped apart by the twin barrels of double ought buckshot.

After that, he ran, and didn’t stop until he was two towns over and was forced to try and scrounge for decent clothes and something to eat. A large clothing donation box had thankfully contained articles that just barely fit him, though they were a touch big and baggy on his slight frame. Once that issue had been taken care of, the kindness of an older woman at a local diner had eased the painful hunger cramps that had been twisting his stomach.

It had only been by sheer luck that he’d discovered the bus ticket abandoned on the counter of the diner and managed to swipe it when no one was looking. At that point, the only thing he had to contend with was keeping a low profile from the police just in case his parents had reported him either missing or as some kind of dangerous freak.

Thankfully, in small towns like these, the State Police had better things to do than look for a disheveled kids when they were busy trying to stop rolling meth labs and biker gangs getting into shootouts with rivals. He was actually feeling rather safe by the time he’d boarded the bus and was heading down the Interstate.

Which is why it was so strange that he suddenly had the urge to stop and get off in the middle of nowhere. He wondered if he was steadily losing himself with every step he took deeper and deeper into open fields. When those lights shone over the horizon, it was almost as if the murmuring in his head turned into a siren’s call and quickened his steps until he was running through the grass as fast as his feet would carry him.

The sight of the small town, with its brilliant colors and gleaming buildings elicited a feeling of rightness, almost as if he was finally coming home. The moment he passed the invisible border of the town, a delicious shiver of belonging filled his very soul and drew his eyes to the largest building towering over all the rest on the far side of town. Its huge LED sign displaying a beautiful, raven-haired goddess seductively swaying her utterly perfect body clad in nothing more than a lacy red bra and G-string. The smile on her glossy red lips couldn’t been any clearer of an invitation to come and find her if she’d simply shouted it. His eyes never left the deep, penetrating ruby color that filled the irises of her eyes as long, dark lashes fluttered enticingly and gazed upon with such wanton desire to grant his every dark, sexual fantasy.

By the time he’d reached the door of the building, every nerve ending was on fire with the desperate, soul crushing need to meet his goddess and promise her anything if she would just allow him be within her presence. His small fist rapped almost frantically against the steel portal until it finally opened to reveal…

Her. The woman, his goddess, his everything, standing before him exactly as she had displayed herself in wondrous HD from the jumbo Tron outside. “Well,” she purred, and it was as though she’d caressed every sexual nerve he possessed without lifting a finger, “You’re a quite a bit younger than my usual, but I think I might have use for you. Would you mind dearly helping me, pretty one?” Nodding his head so furiously he thought it might simply pop off, he didn’t resist in the slightest when she pulled him inside of the building.

As she led him through the bright, mirrored entryway, taking him to God knew where and not caring one iota, he was no longer the least bit concerned that about how haggard he looked or the fact that he could be considered a freak of nature. Instead, his only focus was on the goddess that was his entire universe swaying seductively in front of him as she led him into the warm, pulsing darkness within.

Wolf Springs, Wyoming, Connors Residence

“Aiden, relax, we’ve triple checked and you have everything you need for the trip.”

“I just want to be sure,” I muttered to Mom as I re-packed one of my suitcases for the aforementioned third time. While Ashley and Kitty had been excited yet confident they weren’t forgetting anything, the sudden scare I’d had earlier a few days ago had me paranoid I’d leave something important behind, no matter how small it might have been.

It had been a week since my friends and I had made the decision to drive to school instead of fly, and that week passed in a flurry of activity and preparation. All three of us had to put together our legal documents, identifications, passports, and so on for when we crossed the land border just passed Houlton, Maine. When I asked why not simply cross into Canada at one of the multitude of other border crossings that were much closer, Ashley said she figured it would be better that we spent as much time driving stateside as possible so as to avoid any driving law complications. While traffic laws were very similar in both countries, Canada’s road signs and certain highway features like roundabouts were quite alien to us and Ashley wanted to avoid any issues with improperly navigating them, especially in such a huge vehicle. It made perfect sense and I was once again thankful our calm and thoughtful Ashley had taken charge of planning and preparing for the trip.

So, we put together our paperwork and started the task of packing up everything we could that would fit in the R/V and still leave us comfortable. Thankfully, a good majority of our possessions could be shipped and would likely beat us to the school, so that only left packing up our clothes, shoes, accessories, toiletries, and so on that one would take on what amounted to a vacation road trip.

I did have quite the moment of panic during this, which is what spawned my present triple-check tribulation. During the process of figuring out what to bring with and what to ship, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t accounted for any of my forging equipment. Did the school allow for that kind of thing? Did they have any of the hydraulic presses and power hammers that I was so used to using? What about the forge itself? Did they have anything similar and if they didn’t would I be able to bring my own? Where would I be able to set up my anvil? Was knife forging even allowed at this school?

I was practically screaming my fears to my parents when my father finally managed to calm me down short of slapping and told me he’d already contacted the school about my forge and it was all worked out. All of my hand tool supplies, including my anvil, hammers, and forge, would be shipped along with the rest of my things and I would be provided with an area that I could use to set up and work. There were also hydraulic presses and power hammers or the high-tech equivalent available for gadgeteer and divisor classes and I could talk with the professors about perhaps making use of one if I wanted. Considering I would be walking in there as a fresh-faced student from out of the country, I was already preparing to make due with just my hand tools and just forego any mechanical techniques. Yes, I will freely admit I was, at the moment, feeling way too shy to even think about approaching a teacher to ask permission to move an entire apparatus just so I could forge a knife.

So, once that crisis was averted, I found myself checking what I’d packed in an almost manic manner. Despite my parents’ assurances that they could always ship me something I’d left behind, I wanted to get all of this done in one go. So I was being anal, so sue me.

So the appearance of Ashley and Kitty in the R/V early that Friday morning found me having already awake for hours and driving my parents so crazy with my need for everything to be perfect. I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if Dad just grabbed me the scruff, tossed me into the vehicle, and told my friends to hit the gas until I’d calmed the hell down. Still, bless them both, my parents weathered Hurricane Aiden with proud smiles on their faces and assurances that everything would be fine.

I guess they both knew what was really going on, that I was actually terrified of what I was about to do. All my life I’d had both my parents to love and protect me. I could depend upon them even when I was being a complete dick…or bitch, as the case might be, to support me completely and without any reservation. They’d provided me with a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and there hadn’t been a moment’s hesitation from them when they bought me my first forging supplies when I asked. They were my world and I would do anything for them…and now I was leaving.

Yes, yes, it wasn’t forever, and I’d undoubtedly be back for Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and summer vacation, but there was a lot of time in-between when I wouldn’t have them right there for me to turn to when things got tough. Sure, I’d have Ashley and Kitty, and I was eternally grateful for that, but every kid who leaves home for the first time knows that it’s not even remotely close to the same thing.

So when I hugged my parents goodbye, there was no stopping the tears as I bawled like a baby for a good ten minutes before I was gently ushered into the R/V and Kitty drove us away from Wolf Springs. As I watched the now familiar landscape fade away from the comfort of Ashley’s arms, I couldn’t help but voice my reservations. “Are we doing the right thing?”

“Going away to school or driving there instead of flying?”

“Both,” I said, tearing my gaze from the scenery to look at her.

Instead of answering with an immediate ‘yes’, she took a long breath before nodding slowly. “I think it’s the best thing, going to this school at least. All of us have powers that will forever separate us from the rest of the world and let’s face it, regular schools simply wouldn’t be able to handle us. I’d end up healing someone that needed help and pass out from it, you’d end up getting pissed off at a bully or something and ‘wolfing out’, and Kitty would either end up frying something with her energy blades or getting accused of sexual harassment, probably by a teacher,” she finished with a smile.

“I heard that,” we heard from up in the driver’s seat.

“You were meant to,” Ashley replied, tossing a grin towards the front of the R/V so Kitty could see it in the rear view mirror before looking back at me and continuing, “Aiden, you’re just getting separation anxiety, and I understand that. Kitty went through the same thing when she had to say goodbye to Angela because really, she’s all the family she’s ever known.”

“What about you?” I asked.

She sighed and shook her head. “I love Mom to death, but this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to leaving home. I had to do it when my parents died and again when I came to live with Mom, though I was more than thrilled to leave San Francisco back then. Yes, it was a bit painful saying goodbye, it always will be, but I know it isn’t forever and I know I’ll have you two with me the whole time. That made it a lot easier for me and honestly I doubt I’d be able to do this if it wasn’t for both of you. I’m probably going to be leaning on you guys a lot over the next couple of days.” Shifting a little, she rested her head on my shoulder, allowing me to drape an arm across her shoulders and lightly stroke her hair as I changed from being the cuddlie to the cuddler. It was an arrangement the pair of us found ourselves in somewhat frequently and severed to calm both of us when we were feeling stressed about something. “This will be my first time out away from a place I know is safe, and as much as I don’t want it to, my PTSD is going to start rearing its head very soon. I’m going to want to run, Aiden,” she said, looking up at me with scared eyes, “And every instinct in me is going to be screaming at me to do it as fast and as far as I possibly can no matter how much my mind and my heart doesn’t want to. That’s why I need you guys, to keep me level and to be there to let me know things are okay and that I don’t need to be afraid.”

To hear that Ashley was so dependent on Kitty and I when she seemed to be the calmest about the whole thing was quite the surprise and made me realize just how much we were all depending on each other. It also made me come to realize that my pack had grown beyond just my parents. I’d sort of knew it back when I’d rushed to what I thought was Kitty’s rescue when we thought she was being attacked by that asshole Jeremy, but really the concept had become much more cemented in my mind now. These two girls were more than just my friends, they were my sisters and my packmates, and I knew without a doubt I would die or kill for them without a moment’s hesitation.

Leaning down, I kissed her forehead and offered her a confident smile that I was surprised I actually felt. “Don’t worry princess. We may not be knights in shining armor, but I’m pretty sure we’re a hell of a lot tougher.”

“And a hell of a lot sexier,” Kitty called back from the front, thoroughly ruining the tender moment in the best way possible by having us all laugh.

With that moment of levity dispelling mine and Ashley’s mutual feelings of depression, the two of us went about exploring the interior of the R/V. Interestingly enough, this was our first real time in the vehicle other than poking our heads in the door one time before. I was actually very impressed with how comfortable it was, not to mention how opulent the bedroom area was. Despite being on the small size, I would have been perfectly happy having it as my own bedroom at home. “Hey Kit,” I called towards the front from the bedroom door, “How much did this thing run you anyway?”

Instead of boastfully calling out a number like I fully expected her to, there was a pause before she shouted back, “Not telling.”

Looking at Ashley with mutual confusion, as she clearly had expected and answer along the vein of what I had, we carefully made our way up front where Ashley slid into the passenger seat while I dropped into the jump seat just behind them. “Why not?” I asked.

For several moments she didn’t say anything and just focused on driving. Eventually, she sighed and cast a quick glance at us before returning her gaze forward. “Because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m bragging about how much money Angela and I have.”

Looking at one another, Ashley and I blinked in shock. “You’ve never had a problem with it before,” I pointed out.

“Aiden,” Ashley chided gently before switching her gaze to our friend, “What I think she means is that you’ve never been ashamed of it when we’ve talked about money in the past, so why now?”

“Because it’s different now,” Kitty explained, “I’m different now. The old bimbo-minded me would have just rattled off the numbers and not cared one iota if anyone thought I was just some rich bitch. But that part of me is fading more and more every day and what people think about me is starting to matter. I love you guys,” she said, giving us a brief, wavering smile, “Your opinions matter to me and I don’t want you to think I’m just some stuck up snob with a more than normally active sex drive.”

I went to make a smart-assed comment but a reproving look from Ashley made me hold my tongue and rethink my words. “Kit, we don’t think you’re a stuck up snob and we know that you acted that way because of your programming. You have a lot of money, so what? We both know that money isn’t what defines you. If it did, all you’d ever talk about is buying stuff and doing everything you could to have the latest and greatest.”

“I talk about clothes all the time,” she pointed out.

“We’re girls,” Ashley countered, “Talking about clothes is kind of our thing. Since we get so many more options than the boys we have a lot more to discuss. Well except Aiden, but that’s because you’re much more practical-minded,” she told me, gentling what could have been insulting.

“Fair enough,” I accepted, “And Ashley’s right, talking about clothes is pretty much a staple of girlhood that I’m deeply ashamed to admit you’ve dragged me into.” I put more than a little humorous sarcasm into that last part, drawing a pair of smiles. “Now quit feeling sorry for yourself and spill about the sticker price on this thing,” I demanded with a smile.

Her answering smile was enough to tell me that the direct approach had been the best one to snap her out of her depression, especially when she put a touch of boasting in her voice when she told us, “One hundred and fifty thousand.”

I let out a low whistle while Ashley’s eyes widened, obviously impressed. “That’s quite a bit,” she said.

“Considering we have several million at our disposal at the time,” Kitty said in an off-handed voice, “Our primary concern was to get on the road in a vehicle that would allow us to not leave a paper trail at hotels, so spending a hundred and fifty wasn’t a very big deal then. Of course,” she said with a grin, “We wanted to be comfortable while we were at it. No need to live like heathens after all.”

“Oh of course,” I agreed with a roll of my eyes.

* * * *

We got to just after Kimball, Nebraska when Kitty announced she needed a break and food. Considering she had driven for almost three hours by that point, even declining Ashley’s offer to take over, the two of us were more than willing to acquiesce to whatever she wanted to do.

What she wanted to do ended with her pulling into a sizable truck stop where we all took a bathroom break before getting out meals. Yes, we had two bathrooms on board the R/V, but Kitty explained those things emptied into holding tanks in the belly of the vehicle that needed to be emptied fairly regularly. Since all of us wanted to put that off as long as possible, we all agreed it would be best to use the truck stop’s.

From the moment we stepped into the building, all three of us could feel every set of eyes swing over and lock onto us like laser beams. I pretty much had expected that reaction. While I was dressed rather conservatively in jeans and a tank top, Kitty had chosen a rather short spaghetti-strap summer dress and wedges that put her curvy body on display while Ashley was wearing some very short shorts that showed of miles of her sleek legs and a thin tank top that practically molded to her breasts. Since the place was occupied primarily by burly, overweight truck drivers that I assumed had been on the road awhile, it was no surprise seeing the unadulterated lust in their gazes as well as their scents.

Unfortunately, that meant Ashley was getting at least half of the attention of the leeches that filled the commissary section as well as the restaurant segment. It was exactly what she had been afraid of and she was not handling it well at all. The instant we crossed the threshold into the building, she was pressed tightly against my side and gripping my arm hard enough that I would probably have been bleeding had it not been for my ability to heal.

“It’s okay Ashley,” I whispered to her, “No one’s going to hurt you. We’re right here with you.”

I’m not sure if she even heard me as she haltingly walked towards the bathroom with us. Her eyes were darting around wildly as though trying to look for signs of an attack in every direction and she was shaking like a leaf. The way she was biting her lip I was pretty sure she was trying to hold back the whimper of terror that was trying force its way from her throat.

She stinks of prey.

Shut up! I snarled furiously at my wolf self, She’s pack.

My anger seemed to cause the wolf part of my persona to back down, but her metaphorical hackles were still up and, honestly, I couldn’t blame her. Ashley did indeed have the ripe smell of fear that predators found so intoxicating when it came to hunting prey; and while they didn’t possess my enhanced senses, I was pretty sure some of those leering bastards could probably smell it too.

By the time we made it into the bathroom I was pretty sure Ashley was going to throw up and was a hair’s breadth away from going into a full-on panic attack. “We need to get her out of here,” I whispered to Kitty while Ashley was in one of the stalls, “She’s losing it fast.”

“We can’t,” Kitty replied sadly, “This is exactly what she needs to confront and deal with. It’s why she suggested this trip. I know,” she said sympathetically when I opened my mouth to argue with her, “It kills me seeing her like this too, but if we just let her give in to that fear she won’t be able to overcome it.”

“It’s too much too fast,” I countered.

“Just like it would be the next time, and the next, and the next,” she pointed out, “Ashley needs to realize she’s strong enough to cope with this. We’ll stay right with her the whole time, but if we let her run her fear will win. Just…let your wolf out a little,” she suggested. “Show these guys we aren’t anyone to be fucked with. If they stop staring at us like a five course meal it might help her calm down.”

I wanted to protest, to tell Kitty that it was our responsibility to protect our fragile friend, but her words actually made sense. When Dad and I had discussed Ashely’s PTSD some time ago he told me that in talking with some of his fellow marines that suffered from it, the hardest part was taking those first steps and confronting the very thing they were so afraid of. Doing so didn’t make everything magically go away, but it did make the continuing progress a little easier and the goal of normalcy more attainable. I didn’t like it one bit, but there was no denying that it was something my friend would have to do sooner or later and it was probably best to do it when both of us were there for her.

“All right,” I agreed begrudgingly, “But if one of those bastards out there does something stupid I’m taking a chunk out of them, a big one.”

“Only after I slice their balls off,” Kitty said with a determination I didn’t hear from her very often and it made me smile.

“Guys, it’s okay.”

At the sound of Ashley’s soft voice, both of us turned as the toilet flushed and she exited the stall with a quavering smile. “You guys really need to work on keeping your voices down in a room covered in sound-reflective surfaces.”

“Ashley-” I started to tell her we could just leave but she held up her hand to stop me.

“No Aiden, Kitty’s right. Yes, I’m terrified right now and all I want to do is run back to the R/V as fast as my legs will take me, but this is something I need to do. I’m just glad you’re both here with me otherwise I don’t think I would have even set one foot in this place.”

“We’ll be right with you the whole time,” Kitty assured her.

“Just don’t cause any riots on my account, okay?” the lovely redhead pleaded.

“No promises,” I said honestly, “And if it means keeping you safe I’ll tear everyone in this building apart. But I won’t start anything.” I could at least give her that much and Kitty nodded her agreement.

“I guess that’s the best I can ask for,” Ashley sighed as she moved to wash her hands while Kitty slipped into a stall to take care of her own business. “Are you really going to wolf-out on those people out there?” she asked with concern.

“Just enough so those guys think twice about fucking with us, that’s all,” I assured her.

“So how do you plan to do that?” she asked, sounding genuinely curious, “I didn’t think you could do partial shifts.”

“I can’t,” I admitted, “But if I let my wolf closer to the surface I put out different pheromones that sort of speak to the primal part of human DNA. It basically sends a signal to a person’s subconscious mind that I’m an apex predator and you don’t want to fuck with me.”

“I didn’t know you could do that,” Ashley said in quiet amazement.

“I did a little experimenting with Dad about a week ago with my shifting to see if I can do any partial changes like form claws or fangs or something. It didn’t work, but I was able to sort of announce the presence of my wolf without actually changing. He said it felt like he was standing right in front of a predator. You know, you don’t want to make any sudden moves because you might get eaten if you do?”

Nodding slowly, she looked at me with a new kind of appreciation for my powers. “That’s pretty handy, and probably scary.”

Grinning, I patted her cheek. “Don’t worry my little pup, you’re safe with me.”

“I am older than you, you know,” she pointed out a bit tartly.

“Of course you are dear,” I said, deliberately sounding like a condescending parent before winking at her and sending us both into giggles.

“Well someone’s feeling better,” Kitty observed as the toilet flushed and she stepped out.

“A little,” Ashley admitted as I took my turn in the stall while Kitty offered her the same assurances I had, minus the wolf part of course.

By the time we were ready to leave the bathroom and get something to eat, Ashley had calmed down almost to being her normal self. I knew that would change the moment we walked out of our little temporary safe haven so as we started for the door I took the lead while Kitty picked up the role of being Ashley’s physical support by letting her hold onto her arm. I just hoped she didn’t grip the girl as hard as she’d gripped me, otherwise Ashley might need to do a little healing after lunch.

As I suspected, those damned eyes all swung our way the moment we stepped out of the bathroom. I could smell Ashley’s fear spike and loosened the metaphorical reins on my wolf just a little.

The reaction was instantaneous. While Kitty and Ashley gasped softly in surprise and even a touch of fear, the various men and women in the building all quickly looked away from us and stared pointedly at their own plates of food, newspapers, cells, or whatever it was they were doing before they decided to ogle us. Since I didn’t want to prevent us from being served because the waitress was too scared to approach me, I eased my wolf back into that part of me where no one could sense it anymore. It was a good bet everyone in the building was now properly warned what would happen if they got the bright idea to fuck with us.

Heading for a corner booth in the restaurant, the most I caught out of the corner of my eye was a furtive glance here and there but no outright staring anymore. I doubt I could prevent more without causing a major freak out so it was probably the best we were going to get, and judging how Ashley didn’t seem like she was a split second from bolting it looked like it would be enough.

And it was. From the moment we sat down and were approached by a friendly waitress, Ashley went from barely whispering out her order, to conversing with us quietly, to resuming her normal speaking voice by the time dessert came. It’s hard to describe how relieved I felt to see her smiling and laughing at Kitty’s stupid jokes when perhaps only thirty minutes prior she had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She even managed to smile and nod at a rather rotund truck driver as he wished us a pleasant day and a safe drive as he headed out to his vehicle. I guess it helped that he had rosy cheeks with a jolly smile and looked like Santa Claus, but I’d take it.

“Do you want me to take over driving for a while?” Ashley asked as she spooned a combination of ice cream and hot fudge into her mouth.

“You sure you’re up for it?” Kitty asked around a bite of her apple pie.

“I think so. There’s no sharp turns or anything to get back onto the highway and after that it’s a straight shot until we reach our first stop.”

The gorgeous brunette glanced over at me, clearly seeking my advice on this one. Since I didn’t even possess a driver’s license, I really didn’t know what I could say one way or another. So, I just shrugged, garnering a disappointed frown from Kitty. “All right,” she agreed hesitantly, “But if you start having any problems you pull over right away and I’ll take over, okay?”

“Deal,” Ashley said with a bright smile that I was glad to see had made its return to my beautiful friend.

Libidine, Iowa

“Well,” the purred voice intoned approvingly as she slowly walked a circle around where he stood in an innocent, yet seductive pose, “You turned out much better than I thought you would.”

The praise caused a quick flash of warmth to spread through Nicholas’s entire body as he peeked shyly up at the woman who was his whole world from beneath the fringe of bangs draped across his brow even as things clenched low in his belly. Having seen himself in the mirror just beyond where she stood, he had to agree with the sentiment.

When he’d arrived a week ago, he’d been a ragged mess. His clothing was torn and dirty, his hair matted to his head with sweat and grime, and he’d even managed to lose a shoe somewhere between her doorstep and the highway. Once his goddess had brought him within her abode, the radiant kindness she had bestowed upon him was unlike anything he could have dreamt of having. He’d been provided with a shower to bathe the dirt and grime of his travels away and enough hot food to fill his belly nearly until bursting. After that, she’d put him to bed as gently as a mother with a newborn babe.

He slept for a week straight.

While she certainly didn’t need to explain what had occurred, his goddess had found him worthy enough to inform him of the reason for his unnaturally long sleep. Due to the hardships he’d endured in journeying to find her, she had apparently placed him in a kind of suspended animation that would allow her otherworldly abilities to restore the health and vitality he’d sacrificed. It also allowed her to better prepare herself in the undertaking that would bring her a great deal of pleasure in anointing him as one of her prized possessions. Her reasons for doing these great things for him were immaterial, at least for Nicholas. After all, her pleasure was his, after all.

Once out of bed, the first order of business was for him to strip completely. While he was possessed of an embarrassing, budding sexuality that any young male going through puberty was aware of, there had been no hesitation as he practically tore the plain, almost paper-like pajamas he’d been given previously from his body until he was utterly naked before her. Her delighted laugh at his tiny, almost painful arousal at her beauty didn’t cause even a moment of wilting to his blood-engorged appendage despite the flush that filled his cheeks.

Once he’d obeyed her next directive and sunk into the large, steaming bath that could easily accommodate nine people, it never even occurred to him to protest as she’d collected all of his belongings and removed them from the area. Whether they would be returned to him or not he didn’t know, nor did care. The only thing that mattered was the feeling of steaming bathwater that surrounded his body and soaked into his bones with sweet, feminine-scented warmth. He even dozed off for a brief time until a gentle caress to his shoulder roused him and drew his gaze upward into those deep, red, penetrating eyes that captured his desire and held it in a satin-gloved fist.

“Come now pretty one,” she told him in a voice of liquid warmth wrapped in velvet, “Let’s get you situated properly.”

Needing no further urging, he rose from the tub and followed his goddess like a puppy on a leash (“Oh sweet one, that will come later”) into what seemed to be a closet bigger than any Nicholas had ever dreamed might exist. Rows upon rows of clothing lining the walls before terminating in an elaborate and well lit makeup table at the rear of the room.

“Now,” his goddess mused as she looked him over while toying with a lock of her deep, unnaturally black hair, “First things first. We simply must do something about that.”

The ‘that’ in question was the little nubbin straining from the base of his pelvis. It had been a source of embarrassment both to himself and his family. Since his father had been a big, strong football player, and was thusly well endowed, it had been expected upon his birth that he would inherit those male genes and produce an impressive organ of his own. By the time he’d turned ten, it had become clear to all that his growth had ceased at the age of five and would remain as such. No amount of prayer made any difference and taking him to a physician was simply unthinkable in such a devoutly Christian household. So, he had been shunned by his father, and tormented mercilessly by the boys at school after having seen him in the shower room. His lack of stature in that particular area had become just another of the focal points for his feeling of gross inadequacy that was instilled by his parents.

But he did not feel inadequate now. In fact, every guttural instinct in him was shouting that he should grab this woman, this goddess of femininity, and impale himself within her softness, regardless of whether he was capable of not. She seemed to notice these feelings, perhaps due to the fact that he was vibrating with carnal need.

“Now, now,” she chided with a wag of her finger, and instantly all of that desperate tension fled from him as though it had been yanked from his body, leaving him feeling bereft and almost desperate to reclaim that powerful desire. Whatever solidity he’d possessed between his legs moments ago evaporated and left him once again with a tiny nub that was simply incapable of providing service to a woman. “There we go,” she said with a wicked grin, “Now then, let’s get that taken care of, shall we?”

With a mere flick of her fingers, Nicholas felt several sudden lines of intense heat race across the surface of his genitals. Looking down, he watched in horrified amazement as several thin lines of glowing red energy ran lengthwise along his flesh, up over the pointed tip, and down the opposing side to the base of his pelvis where his testicles had failed to made their appearance. Once the energy had completed its journey, several more threads of red quickly encircled the narrow width of him. Once it was complete, it appeared as though his tiny member was encased within a mesh of the strange and almost uncomfortably hot red lines. Once this mesh was complete, they faded from view, leaving him looking as normal as he had been moments before.

“I usually prefer to use those delicious little cages you humans created,” she told him with no small amount of mirth in her voice, “Unfortunately, they are not designed to accommodate such a…miniscule…occupant. Still, my own energies will serve just as nicely, and you won’t even have to worry about the extra weight and bulk. Isn’t that nice of me?”

“Yes my goddess,” Nicholas whispered in reverence as he looked upon this unspeakably gorgeous creature that was the very personification of carnal beauty in his eyes. When her lashes fluttered seductively, his body tried to respond, but something odd happened. Instead of resuming it formerly hardened state of being, an impotent kind of heat pooled between his legs, smoldering there like an itch he simply couldn’t scratch while the tiny dollop of flesh there remained limp and useless. His feeble attempts to elicit its former state of readiness were met by an intense, electric thrill, yet there was no physical manifestation of the sensations they elicited. He looked down at himself in shock at the revelation that all outward signs of arousal, and thus the means to relieve such, had been effectively eliminated. When his eyes flashed back up, desperately seeking out those of his goddess, she only gave him a cruel, self-satisfied grin before turning away from him.

“Now then, we need to see to outfitting you properly. Where to begin, where to begin?” she asked herself as she walked through the sea of clothing, tapping her lips in consideration as Nicholas watched with growing dread despite his unwavering worship. “Something innocent, of course, but with the capacity to be naughty. Ah,” she exclaimed upon coming across one particular outfit, “You can never go wrong with a classic.” Plucking a hanger from the line, she whirled about and presented the clothing hanging from it for his visual inspection, causing his eyes to widen in shock and horror. “You’ll look simply darling in this.”

Taking his hand, she pulled the unresisting boy through the closet until they reached its far end where the elaborate makeup table sat. “Now,” she told him solicitously, “You need to watch what I’m doing because from this point forth it will be your responsibility to take care of it, understand?”

“Yes my goddess,” the entranced, confused, and now terrified boy agreed.

For the next ten minutes, she picked up different items from the table, explained its usage, and then applied the item to one part of his face or another. Once she had completed her task, she went about brushing and styling his hair until it felt like spun silk draped across his shoulder and back. “It will look even better once it’s grown out more,” she assured him, though Nicholas couldn’t imagine that it was possible for his hair to look and feel even better. Had the color changed as well?

“Now, let’s get you dressed,” she said with almost childish glee as she went about helping him into the feathery light and silky undergarments. When she secured the clasp of one behind his back she took a moment to look him over and lightly trace a finger over the virginal white adorning his chest, causing him to shiver in delight. “Hmmmm, I might have to do something about this, but that will come later.” In short order, the remainder of the clothing was pulled on or wiggled into until he was fully dressed. With the final addition of footwear, his goddess pronounced him ready and turned him towards the full-length looking glass.

At first, Nicholas had no idea it was even a mirror he was staring at. He thought someone else had slipped into the closet without him knowing it. However, when the person’s hand moved to wave in an identical fashion as his, he realized that it was himself that he was staring at. Initially, his brain refused to acknowledge that the vision looking back at him was his own reflection. It had to be some kind of trick, like one of those fun house mirrors at amusement parks. Slowly, however, awareness began to set in and he finally came to understand that the what he was seeing was his new reality.

His formerly dull, mousy-toned hair had taken on a rich, glossy sheen, giving it a golden brown look that tumbled to his shoulders and a few inches down his back in vibrant waves that framed his face in softness. His face…it wasn’t his face anymore. Instead of that having its formerly plain, almost androgynous look, it was now youthful and vibrant. His eyebrows, which hadn’t been very thick to begin with, had been expertly plucked into fine, delicate arches that conveyed just a hint of surprise. His eyes just beneath them were surrounded by carefully applied and blended blacks, grays, and blues, giving them a smoky, seductive look. This was in stark and eye-catching different to the mascara and eyeliner that had been applied, causing his lashes to be full and thick while bringing out his bright blue eyes in stark relief, making them truly pop and draw attention to them. There was a faint rose adorning his cheeks, though whether that was due to applied blush or his own flush of embarrassment he couldn’t be sure, but it served to be fetching and highlight his innocence regardless. His lips…oh his lips…were a brilliant crimson that had somehow become fuller and softer with a fine, moist sheen that practically begged to be taken and kissed…among other activities.

Once he’d managed to get passed his face, Nicholas was able to get a much better picture of the image he now presented. The outfit was the stereotypical blue and white sailor suit school girl uniform utilized by schools in Asian countries and made ever more popular by Manga and Hentai animation. There were some notable differences to it, namely the neckline was drastically lower than the norm, enough to reveal hints of the lacy bra that lay beneath the top, which would certainly be against any school regulation. The skirt was short enough that it barely skimmed the tops of his thighs and any wrong move threatened to expose the little lacy white panties beneath that his goddess had assisted him in donning. As his eyes traveled down the length of his legs, he noticed that while he had possessed very spare hair to begin with, the creamy lengths were now utterly hairless and looked completely smooth to the touch. As a final, finishing touch, his feet were adorned with cute little white nylon ankles with lacy fringe and perched atop a pair of three-inch open-toed strappy high heels in black leather.

There was no purpose in trying to deny that he was staring at anything other than the epitome of the sexy Japanese school girl, except for the fact that he wasn’t Japanese. The innocence of the uniform and his wide-disbelieving eyes was carefully offset by the deep neckline, short skirt, and sexy heels to create any man’s ultimate wet dream. Had he not been impaired by whatever his goddess had done to him, he had no doubt there would have been a small tent in his panties at the moment.

“Delicious,” she purred, lightly running her fingers through his hair as she did a slow walk around his still form. “You’ll do quite nicely I think, and bring me some much-needed resources.”

“Thank you my goddess,” he whispered, only now realizing the naturally soft, higher-pitched quality of his voice that seemed such a departure for his former appearance matched his current one perfectly.

“You’ll need a bit of training first,” she said thoughtfully, more to herself than him, “After all, it’s so much better, and more productive, when both parties are experiencing pleasure rather than merely one. But, I suspect that you’ll be a fast learner, won’t you dear,” she told him with a warm smile.

“Oh yes goddess,” he breathed, tilting slightly towards her with the urge to simply bury himself within her beauty.

Picking up a black-colored object from the makeup table, she slipped it around his neck before securing it snuggly, yet not tightly, around his delicate throat. When she stepped aside, he could see it was a deep, black choker in what appeared to be velvet with a single, silver ring inlaid directly in the center of his throat. “There we are,” she purred, “Now I think you’re ready to begin. Oh, what was your name again precious?” she asked, only now bothering with such trivial matters.

“Nicholas, my goddess.”

Shaking her head and sending waves of dark hair swirling about in a hypnotic dance, she frowned disapprovingly. “No, no, that simply won’t do, not for a cute, fetching creature like you. You are Nicole, or Nikki.”

“I’m Nikki,” she said quietly in an entranced voice as her name, her very identity, was twisted and remolded within her mind into that which her goddess had chosen.

“Come along Nikki,” her goddess directly as she headed for the entrance to the closet, “We have a great deal of work to do.”

As the brilliant, happy smile curved her glossy lips, Nikki, just Nikki now, hurried after that which she worshiped on her spiked heels. She wasn’t even aware of how her movements had subconsciously shifted into the seductive sway of a girl silently begging to be taken or that the low hum within her belly was the beginning of a deep need to be pleasured. All that mattered was this magnificent creature of femininity before her that had chosen her to be remade into the delectable little walking sex advertisement Nikki now embraced.

Neither of them noticed the variety of foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, and other cosmetics left upon the makeup table trembling in an echo of Nikki’s growing desire.

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