He still hadn’t spoken. Magda sighed. She thought back to what Stephan had said. He’d been right about the collar. Maybe he was right about other things. She stood. “Ash, come.”
Ash followed her into the bedroom, then climbed up on the bed. He curled up at the foot of it, as he did every night. She switched off the overhead light, leaving the one on her nightstand glowing. Then she laid down. “Ash, come here.” She patted the bed next to her.
A smile came to his face as he crawled up to lay next to her. She put an arm around him, pulling him in close to her. She took a couple deep breaths, then gently ran a hand down his body. He was a beautiful boy. When she leaned toward him, he met her lips, kissing her eagerly. She caressed him, dipping her hand into the sweatpants he wore and fondling him gently. He arched his body toward her, and she let out a gasp when he ducked his head to kiss her breasts. She caressed him, making sure he was fully hard.
Then she pushed him away. He gave her a confused look, then started to lean in to kiss her. She pushed him away again. He whimpered. “Do you want this, Ash?” He nodded and started to move his mouth back to her breast. She pushed him away again. “Then ask.”
He made a whining sound. “No. Ask.” When he whimpered again, she pointed at the foot of the bed. “Go to sleep.”
Magda felt a little sick when he crawled back to the end of the bed, looking dejected. He curled himself into a ball again, laying his head on his arms.
Ash felt tears trickle down his cheeks. He didn’t know what he had done. His Alpha had been pleased with him, and then she’d pushed him away. He’d been a good boy, hadn’t he? He’d followed all the rules. His throat felt tight as he fought the urge to cry. What had he done wrong?
The next morning saw a regression of Ash’s behavior. The happy creature he’d been since Stephan’s visit vanished, and he was again the frightened and wary being he’d been when she’d first brought him. Magda kept up a cheerful facade of her own, treating him the way she had the previous day. She even threw the toy for him, and eventually it seemed to work. He was in a better mood by lunch.
They walked down to the river again, as was becoming their afternoon habit. Ash had been disappointed when the water proved to be too cold for swimming, but he was clearly coming to enjoy going fishing. Or maybe it was just the cooking the fish over the fire after. He certainly ate like a man still in his early twenties. By the time the trout they’d caught was ready to eat, his usual cheer returned. She managed to get about a quarter of the fish.
She took him back to her bed that night. Once he was eager and ready again, she looked him in the eyes. “Ash, ask.” He gave her a confused whine. “Like a person, Ash. I am not going to go further until I hear you say you want me too.” When he just whimpered again, she sent him back to the foot of the bed.
He tried avoiding her the next day. She didn’t let him. When she threw the rubber bone, he glared at it before laying sullenly down next to the couch. Magda shrugged, then picked up a book and settled down to read. She lay back on the couch, reached a hand down, and gently began rubbing his hair.
At first he moved away, but after a few minutes he began leaning into her caresses again.
He stared at the Alpha when she patted the bed next to her. Ash frowned, wondering if she was going to tease him again. But it was against the rules to disobey the Alpha. He crawled up next to her.
It felt good, when she touched him. And she tasted of the smores they’d made by the fire. Chocolate and smoke. It smelled good on her. He was panting when she pushed him away again. “Do you want this, Ash?”
Of course, he did. She was his Alpha and she made him feel good. He wanted to please her and be pleased with her and he whined again, staring at her. “Tell me you want this, Ash.”
Another whine. He was telling her. He nodded and whined and… He stared into her eyes. His Alpha. He didn’t know she wanted. It seemed like she was asking him to break the rules but if he broke the rules… What if she called Stephan, his pack brother, and…
A voice whispered in the back of his mind. It was Magda. She’d never hurt Stephan. He swallowed. It was hard, remembering how to make the sounds. “I…”
She smiled. “Yes?”
Words and rules. Ash fought the urge to tremble with fear. “Please.”
Her lips came down on his as she pulled him back to her.
Magda woke, feeling more rested than she had in a long time. Ash lay next to her, snuggled into her arms. Next to her, but not curled up into a ball. His legs were still tangled with hers. She was probably going to hell, but she’d heard his voice again. Gently, she ran her fingers through his hair.
His blue eyes opened, and he looked up at her. He started to make the whining sound he usually greeted her with, then stopped. Several expressions crossed his face. He frowned, then looked up at her again. “Good morning.” His voice sounded distorted, harsh from lack of use.
She hadn’t heard anything quite as beautiful in some time. A smile came to her face as she pulled him toward her for a kiss.
“He said ‘good morning’.” Magda smiled into the phone.
“That’s great.” Stephan’s voice came back. “How’d you manage it?”
“Well, I tried getting him to ask me for food, but I didn’t have the heart to make him go hungry. I think they must have done something bad to him when he talked, because when I said hello and he said hello back he cringed on the floor and started whimpering like I’d beaten him. He’s hiding under the bed right now.”
“He’s hiding under the bed?”
“I put a plate of cookies down and I’m hoping he’ll come back out soon.”
“Your triple chocolate chip?”
“He’ll come out soon.” Stephan chuckled. “I miss those.”
“I’ll bake you some next time you come to visit. How are you doing?”
“All the stitches are out. Physical therapy sucks. I’m still on medical leave.” Stephan sighed. “Your funeral was last week. A moving affair. I gave quite the stirring eulogy, if I do say so myself.”
“You’ll have to send me the video.” She hesitated, then sighed. “I’m going to hell.”
“No…” Stephan’s voice came back. “Remember the part where you’re not actually dead?”
“Not that.” She took a deep breath. “You asked how I got him to say something.”
“You said you made cookies.”
“No, I…” She winced. “Okay, promise you won’t hate me?”
“I took him to bed, teased him, then told him if he wanted sex he had to ask in people-talk.” On the other end of the line there was only silence. “Stephan?”
“Still processing, give me a minute.”
She waited two full minutes. “Stephan?”
“You slept with him.”
“Yeah, that’s not okay.” Stephan made a frustrated sound. “Mags, he’s not exactly in his right mind.”
“I know. I’m trying to get him there. It was your suggestion.”
“My suggestion?” Stephan sounded aghast. “I never suggested anything of the sort.”
“Yes, you did. You said they used sex as a reward.”
“I didn’t mean for you to emulate them. Jesus fuck, Mags.”
“I told him I wasn’t going to have sex with him unless he asked me to. And he did. He said please.”
“There is a wall in front of me. I’m going to bang my head against it now.” There was a dull thudding noise on the line. “That didn’t help.”
“Is he out from under the bed yet?”
“I…” She peeked into the room. “Yes.”
“Hand him the phone.”
“Put the phone in his hand, tell him to put it to his ear. Then stick your fingers in your ears, Ms. Enhanced Senses.”
“Alright.” She entered. Ash flinched and started to crawl away. “Ash, come.” He made a whimpering noise. She held out the phone. “Stephan wants to talk to you.” His face immediately brightened. She had to grab his hand to put the phone in it, but once she did he put it to his ear.
She heard Stephan ask Ash if her fingers were in her ears. Ash made a whining noise. He told Ash to tell her to put her fingers in her ears. Ash looked up at her and barked. She sighed, then put her fingers in her ears. Ash barked again into the phone. Several minutes passed of Ash making various noises in response to whatever Stephan was saying. Then Ash said, “yes, Stephan.” A few seconds passed, and he repeated the words. Then he offered the phone back to her.
Magda took her fingers out of her ears and took it from him. “Stephan?”
“I am still making a seriously disapproving face in your direction.”
“I know the one.”
“He wants to stay with you.” Stephan sighed. “Mags…” He took a deep breath. “Be careful.”
The Alpha sat down next to him in front of the fire. Ash smiled up at her before curling to put his head in her lap. She rubbed his hair gently. “Ash?” He snuggled into her. “Ash. Will you talk to me?”
He hesitated, then reached up and touched the collar she’d given him. The red one. Not the biting one. He cringed a little. “It’s alright Ash. You…” She petted him, and then nodded. Her voice became firm. “Ash, I want you to talk to me.”
Talking was against the rules, but the first rule was to obey the Alpha. “Yes, mistress.” He looked up at her.
“I’m not…” She petted him gently. “I’m Magda, not mistress. Magda.”
“Magda.” He nodded, then smiled when she kissed his forehead.
She took a deep breath. “Ash…” She touched his hand. “Do you know what happened to your father?”
The edges of his vision blurred, and he started shaking his head. When she reached up to touch his shoulder he cringed away. He whimpered, then turned and ran.
“Ash.” She reached the door just in time to see him dive under the bed. Magda sighed, and smashed her fist into the door frame. Stephan must have been right, for Ash to react that strongly. He’d seen his father die.
She entered the room, and sat down cross legged on the floor. “Ash, come.” There was a whimpering sound from beneath the bed. “Ash, come.” She raised her voice a little.
He crawled out, fear clearly visible on his tear-stained face. Her heart broke just a little. “Come here.” She opened her arms, and pulled him into her arms when he got close enough. She didn’t say anything, just held him tightly. It took a while before his body started to relax. Magda stood, picking him up as she did, and laid him on the bed.
Ash stared up at her, his eyes huge and wet. She sat down, then laid, stretching out next to him and holding him close.
It took almost a week before he spoke again. She’s asked him what he wanted at the store, then nearly jumped when he’d replied with “ice cream.”
Now he was staring at the five containers of ice cream she’d brought back with her, his eyes huge. He smiled up at her, and she smiled back. “So, what do you want for dinner?” She held up one container. “Fudge ripple?” She held up another. “Or raspberry swirl?”
“Chocolate.” His voice was slightly rough.
“Alright.” She picked up a spoon, and held it out along with the pint. “But only if you sit at the table, and use this.”
Ash stared at her for a moment, and then he stood up so he could take both items from her. Magda smiled as she started putting the rest of the groceries away. Then she picked up the other items she’d purchased, and walked over to the table where Ash had already demolished half the container of ice cream. She set them down in front of him, and saw his eyes widen. He set down the ice cream and reached for the one on top. “What do we say, Ash?” She raised an eyebrow.
He hesitated a moment, then nodded. “Thank you.” She smiled as he picked up the first of the Star Wars movies. He looked at it for a moment then looked back up at her. “Can we watch it now?”
Ash collapsed into a heap next to her, panting. The Alpha smiled at him. She didn’t hold him down, didn’t hold his wrists tight enough to hurt. For the last few nights, she’d patted the bed beside her and held him, but she hadn’t touched him. He’d been confused at first, wondering if he’d angered her again. But if he’d angered her, why was she letting him sleep next to her?
It had taken him the better part of an hour to work up the nerve to caress her. She’d responded to his touch, encouraging but not directing. Now she was smiling at him. He swallowed. “Was that right?”
“Was it what you wanted, Ash?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
“I want…” Ash hesitated. “To be a good boy. Your good boy.”
She pulled him into a hug, holding him tightly. “I want you to be Ash. I liked Ash. With his Legos and his rocks and his Star Wars.”
“I don’t know your rules.” He shook his head.
“My…” She withdrew from him just enough to look into his eyes. “My rules?”
“The rules.” He nodded.
The Alpha frowned slightly. “What are the rules, Ash?” Fear filled him. He’d broken some of the rules, and now… He started to whimper. “Ash, Ash it’s alright. I am asking you to tell me the rules. I am not mad at you.”
“Obey the Alpha.” He swallowed. “I belong to the Alpha, and the Alpha must be obeyed. Animals don’t talk…”
She listened to his wooden recital, wishing she’d had the opportunity to kill all three of those bitches slowly. “Obey the Alpha.” She repeated the words. “The Alpha says those are not the rules of this house.” She gently petted his hair. “The Alpha says that you are to call her Magda. You are to speak if you wish. If you do not like something, I want you to tell me. I want you to tell me what you want. Those are the rules, Ash. My rules.”
He was quiet in her arms. “If I break the rules…”
“I will never hurt you, Ash.” She kissed his forehead. “And I will hurt anyone who does try to hurt you. That’s what an Alpha does, Ash. The Alpha protects the pack.”
Again, he went quiet. Then he looked up at her. “Will you watch more Star Wars with me tomorrow, Magda?”
“I’ll even make popcorn.” She kissed him again.