Bitten Under Fire(90)By: Heather Long
“I’m here to serve,” Kat told her, then glanced at her watch. “Tell you what, why don’t you shower and change, and I’ll make something for us to eat if you don’t mind me nuking some stuff in your kitchen. Then we can talk while we eat.”
Tucking her chin toward herself, Bianca tried to check her own scent surreptitiously. Did she smell?
“Sorry, if I was overstepping. I subscribe to the 2-percent rule. I always feel 2 percent better after a shower. Is that popcorn in your hair?”
Grimacing, Bianca fled. Fifteen minutes later, showered, refreshed, and in clean clothes, she returned downstairs to find Kat waiting for her in a spotless kitchen with a bowl of soup waiting on the bar.
“I may not have owned that many places, but I think it goes above and beyond for a guest to clean up my depression-populated kitchen.”
“I like order and I had a few minutes,” Kat said by way of an apology. “The soup is hot, and you look like you feel better after the shower.”
“I do,” she admitted. “It’s been a strange few days.”
“I bet. So, let’s see what blanks I can fill in for you while you eat.” Kat held up her fingers and began to tick off items on her fingertips. “Turning is a matter that begins with transforming your DNA. They have a lot of terms for it, but their bite transmits a virus, and that virus works its way through your system. One bite isn’t always enough, but they are far more potent in their wolf form.”
Bianca started spooning the soup into her mouth, glued to Kat’s information.
“The reason you’re sore and feverish is the human body’s natural reaction to what it is perceiving as a foreign invader. It does get better; you just have to keep eating. Eating is apparently the secret to all things wolf. They eat a lot. Which is great, because they have amazing physiques. The more you eat, the easier and sometimes the swifter the transformation.”
Freezing with the spoon halfway to her mouth, Bianca hesitated.
“It’s going to happen anyway, so you might want to go ahead and just eat.” Sympathy reflected in Kat’s eyes. “Jax has an entire plan in place for when I tell him I’m ready.”
“You’re not yet?” What would it be like to have such a choice? Would Bianca have said yes?
“No, but more because I would have to spend about six months training in Jax’s pack after I successfully turn.” Only six months? “Long enough to master shifting at will and controlling the urges.”
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to leave for years possibly.”
“Well, six months might be ambitious, but I’m an overachiever. I like goals.” The rapid-fire manner of the other woman took some getting used to, but Bianca liked her. “Just set the goal and go for it. So, what else? Shifting hurts every time, but it also apparently feels amazing. Jax told me he used to think it was better than sex, then he met me.” Her snicker was contagious.
Soup finished, Bianca shook her head as she locked gazes with the other woman. “Men.” In that moment they were in perfect synergy.
“Exactly. There’s a lot of fine motor and body language things you’ll learn. You might have learned some already. They respond to social cues but also to scent markers and body language. The woman I spoke to said turns are about fifty-fifty; some pick up on it like they were born that way, while others need to learn. Either way, it happens for everyone.”
“You’ve done your research.” Impressed, Bianca wished she’d had that kind of lead time. Then again, if someone had asked her if she wanted this she might have said no.
“It’s what I do.” Kat tapped the counter. “Feeling better?”
“I am—but do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
“Mate?” Like alpha, wolf, and pack—mate seemed a provocative term.
“Oh, that’s a fun one. It’s like husband, lover, best friend, and soul mate rolled into one large, aggressive male wolf package.” Kat spread her hands. “They’re very possessive, but they’re intensely loyal. They play as hard as they fight. I’ve never trusted eight men at my back the way I trust these guys, and I wouldn’t trade what I have with Jax for anything else. It’s…unique.”
Biting her lip, Bianca nodded slowly. “I have one other question.”
“How long does it take to actually—turn?” Did she want to rush it or was she hoping for some type of reprieve, however brief?
“Well, that one is the bitch of the matter. My understanding is that it’s completely individual. They haven’t kept specific records on how long it took, only as short as a few days and as long as a month.”