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Excerpt for Tame by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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You never lose when the full moon’s comin, not even against Oers.

Oers isn’t even Oers. She’s Oers in a Medium’s body. You’ve seen the Medium; how she fits all Oers’s six-five, three hundred pounds of beefsteak muscles and big fuck-off forehead horns into her when she’s five-two and tips the scale at 110, maybe, is a mystery to you. It doesn’t seem quite like… cheating, per se, but you figure if you showed up as a wolf, it’d be enough to disqualify you.

But that’s what’s fun about The Fights. There’s always someone bigger than you.

She uses that reach, tries to nail you one, and you get your arm up just moments before that right meathook of hers puts a crater in the left side of your skull. The bones of your forearm rattle like a loose muffler, but at least there isn’t a crater in the left side of your skull.

You miss Eun already.

Oers follows up wide left hook, a cudgel of a swipe, easy for you to weave under. You pay her back with a couple light jabs to the tummy. Almost playful. Not too hard, because trying to get in on her abs is like trying to pummel a brick wall stacked three deep. To her, you’re sure it barely tickles. That’s fine. We’re all here to have a little fun, blow off a little steam.

You were planning on breaking it off with Eun. You had already, kind of, in that way you do—by not saying anything and assuming they’ll get the idea.

Oers snuffles through her cauliflower nose and swipes both arms out for a bear hug. Her lips move, but her shout is nothing, not above the roar of the crowd. Stop wriggling, you little worm! Or something like that, you’re sure.

You’re clever about it. You start fights, make sure they know it’s your fault that it’s ending. The two of you are fundamentally incompatible.

Oer’s fun when she gets feisty. You wish there were a way to tell her that in the moment, because you know it’d piss her off twice as hard. Dancing out of her reach, almost all the way back to your corner of the cage, you use the space to drag in as quick and deep a breath as you can manage. Oxygen floods your system like fire and your brain gets light, bouncing gently around the parameters of your skull like a helium balloon. The blood-risen mark is pulsing on your back, you feel it pebbling all over your skin, testing the resistance of your flesh. One the eve of a full moon, there’s no way you could suppress it; in the fights, there’s no way you’d want to.

You’re fundamentally incompatible, with everyone.

Oers has a lopsided stance. She pokes her left shoulder too far in front of her right. You don’t tell anyone else about this because it makes you feel superior to have noticed it, because you like having an angle that no one else has. When she swings one of those meathooks at you, it’s easy for you to duck under it, get her in a clinch. Then, her height means nothing.

You also like the way your knuckles scream, when you nail her in the side.

Your forehead meets her nose and she stumbles back from the shock. Oers, impact-blind, swipes defensively with one of her great big paws, holding the other against her nose to staunch the bleeding. The blood-risen mark swells with the scent of fresh blood in the air. A tumorous lump feasting on your white-hot energy, swelling your skin, generating ichor and ready to burst. You step boldly into Oers’s reach, leaning back on her next swipe just far enough that on her nails graze your neck, to let her know how close she got. You cock back your arm, real showy, and decide it’s time to earn that prize purse.

Then you see her in the crowd. Well, to be specific, you see her dorky-ass Christmas sweater first. That’s how you know it’s her, because there’s person on the whole planet who’d wear a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sweater to The Fights, bright red LED of the nose like a beacon amid the gritty greys of yowling, howling fans.

What the hell? Eun? Here?

The When and Why and How that ought to follow those thoughts are forcibly preempted. First by the impact of Oer’s fist into your ribs, then by the impact of your face into the cage mesh.


***


The bar music was soft, that night. And you had stuck to the same drink for long enough that the ice melted, for once, and the whiskey grew sweet. You felt like you were in an old movie. Even though you hated those sorts of movies—so boring—it was fun to imagine, for some reason.

She sat down next to you, all of five foot with a bloom of glossy black hair and a beauty mark beneath her left eye.

“Seat taken?”

No wait for your answer, flopping down gracelessly in the stool next to yours and pulling her hair back into a ponytail with a tie from off her wrist as she gave you the once-over. “I’m Eun-Ji.”

“Leona,” you say.

“I know your name.” Her canny reply came with a complimentary smile. She thought she had something on you. “You’ve got a reputation.”

She knew your name, but what she didn’t know was that half the girls on campus had used some variation on that line, that smile, when introducing themselves to you.

“Okay.”

“I’m going to tame you, Leona.”

You looked down at your drink, fidgeting the tumbler so the dwindling ice cubes clinked against one another. “A lot of girls say that.”

“A lot of girls aren’t me.”


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