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What This Wolf Wants

By:Jennifer Dellerman

lls were painted a soothing greenish-blue, adorned with soft watercolors depicting serene forest scenes. The tiled floor was a simple off-white pattern, sealed repeatedly to arrest any and all bodily fluids, particularly blood. One heavy-duty hospital bed lay in the center of the room and a large oak dresser dominated one wall. A shorter metal cabinet ran the length of another wall, housing and providing counter space for medical equipment. One comfortable chair was set next to the head of the bed while a rolling stool waited on the other side of the bed.

To say the room was crowded was an understatement, but until she could afford a bigger house, either renting like this one or outright buying which wasn’t in the foreseeable future, she needed to work with what she had. And she was very good at doing just that.

Jackie pulled out white towels from the dresser and set them next to some glass jars on the metal cabinet containing cotton balls, individual packets of alcohol swabs, and a box of latex-free gloves.

Exhausted as she was she moved automatically, setting the room for what her Alpha, Dean Kinigos, had called a serious problem. While she didn’t know the specifics of this “serious problem”, she wanted to be prepared.

As one of the doctors in the community, she saw patients during normal office hours in her clinic, where another doctor and a nurse-practitioner also received patients. However, the majority of her patients were wolf shifters and while most acclimated themselves to a human environment, some had not. So Jackie created this room to provide a measure of safety for the later group of shifters. Not to mention the need for immediate medical supplies when they came to her home unexpectedly in the middle of the night with gashes or broken bones. Wolves were, after all, night creatures. Having a mini-emergency medical facility—mini being the operative word here—was a necessity.

Another quick glance at her watch and she hastened her pace. In her own room she changed clothes, donning dark blue scrubs, and tried not to look longingly at her large, fluffy, warm, and comfortable bed. She loved her bed. It was one of those sleep number beds and she enjoyed the freedom of changing the firmness of the mattress whenever she desired. And right now she didn’t just love her bed, she ached for it. Especially since she hadn’t been in it in over twenty-four hours. Longer actually.

Yesterday, one of her patients had gone into early labor and, desiring a home birth which most shifters preferred since any hospital births might arouse suspicion to their “other” status, Jackie had high-tailed it to the Sorenson home.

It had been a difficult birth, compounded by the horrifying realization that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, creating panic for the parents, friends, and herself. Each pup was precious. Not just a miracle, but an affirmation of the continuation of their kind. It’s a chance at replenishing the wolf shifting population that had nearly been decimated in the Pack War some forty odd years ago. A war that had lasted for over a decade, though the actual time-frame wasn’t well known. In those days, most packs lived far from the human populace, making it difficult for those now alive to know for sure just how many shifters died. But the stories told by the survivors made it sound as if tens of thousands had been reduced to a mere couple thousand.

So through the harrowing birth, Jackie had worked tirelessly and with a professional calm she’d been far from feeling. After what felt like a million years, Jackie finally held a quiet female pup in her arms, and, staring into the tiny blue eyes gazing up at her, she’d fallen in love. Again.

Though only thirty-one, Jackie had a biological clock that was clanging away at her on a daily basis, but until she found her mate, having her own pups was impossible. Biologically she could have kids with any fertile male, but they wouldn’t be shifters. Any male offspring would be human while any female child had a small chance of receiving shifter DNA. Because of the rarity of finding one’s mate, the birth of any shifter child was a blessing.

Once the sweet baby had entered the world and all necessary precautions and tests taken, Jackie had left the glowing family to go home, shower, change clothes, scrape her thick, long chestnut hair into a tight ponytail, and head to the clinic. Though she could have called in, she didn’t think it fair to her patients and at that time, she was still fully functional. But the day had been a long one. Too long. Instead of ending her shift at five, she’d found herself providing medical attention to two young and energetic pups. Both required multiple stitches, one a leg cast and the other an arm cast. While shifters healed quicker than humans, they didn’t heal immediately. A broken bone would take a week to two weeks to heal and still needed to be immobilized. Then she’d sent the boys and their parents home with a stern lecture.

She sighed now, remembering the intense concentration on each boy’s face as she’d tended to them. Shifter children were called pups until puberty hit. That was when the males started to exhibit heightened aggressiveness, their senses becoming superior to humans and the opposite sex suddenly more interesting. Then their beast emerged for the first time at the full moon. After that, they were considered juveniles.

But this only happened for the males. For some reason the females never shifted from human to wolf form at the full moon. It was stated that because the woman carried the pups, a physical transformation would cause a female to lose the baby. But why not at least have the ability to produce claws? Heightened senses and super human strength were great, but sometimes she could really use a good pair of sharp claws.

Thinking of the full moon, which was a mere week away, Jackie headed back to the kitchen hoping for one more piece of pizza before Dean s