What kind of werewolf doesn't eat meat?
According to Kyle Slidell, the hero of my M/M romance series Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat, it’s a real one. Kyle is a vegan werewolf, the mate of his pack alpha, and he’s one stubborn guy.
In the universe I’ve created for the series, werewolves eat meat because it’s what wolves eat in the wild, but also because of the excess protein they need to recover from their shifting. Kyle is stubborn enough to overcome the natural urge to eat meat, though he and his inner wolf don’t really agree on the subject. For the protein he needs, Kyle, like most vegans, relies on alternate sources like soy, quinoa, and nuts.
Readers are introduced to Kyle in my novel Salad on the Side, released last June from MLR Press. It was my first M/M novel; previously, I’d written a short story that showed the love interests’ first meeting, but I hadn’t thought I could write a full-length novel in the genre. Then a couple things happened. An editor commented that she liked my writing style. A male M/M author gave me some tips about how to make my heroes both sound like men. And a writing friend asked about another book, “How can a werewolf be vegan?”
In answer to that last question, I wrote a thousand word scene showing a man—er, wolf—named Kyle awakening from his first shift after being bitten by a werewolf, and being absolutely horrified by the plate of meat brought to him by the human-form members of the pack he’d unknowingly been living in the middle of for months. When I added the pack Alpha, Tobias, telling his pack members to bring Kyle the veggie burgers instead of raw meat, I knew there was something between Tobias and Kyle. And I had my story.
Since moving to Boston, Kyle Slidell has met only a few of his neighbors, including Tobias Rogan. Kyle is very interested in Tobias, and is ecstatic to learn that Tobias wants him too. But his neighbors have a secret: They’re werewolves, and Tobias is the pack Alpha. When one of the wolves attacks Kyle in the neighborhood garden one night, Kyle learns the truth in a hurry. Now he’s a werewolf too—and since he’s vegan, he refuses to eat meat. With Tobias’s help and love, Kyle must adjust to his new life and protect himself and his friends from a neighboring pack.
While Tobias showered, I watched TV. I wanted to go home and go about my normal routine, including possibly trying to reach my boss to find out whether I still had a job. I stayed, though, because I sensed Tobias would need me. When he returned to the living room with damp, loose hair and wearing only a pair of gym shorts, I moved to the side of the couch to make room for him. He sat beside me and stared at the movie I’d put on, some old thing from the 1980s with those two same-named kids who starred together in a bunch of teen flicks.
“Harriet doesn’t have a problem with you,” he said.
“Nope, just with me corrupting her Alpha,” I muttered. I’d thought I knew the Frelichs pretty well, but apparently they’d kept a few things hidden from me. Things I kind of wished I hadn’t found out.
“Not even that.” He took my hand. “Power base, Kyle. She’s known me a long time and she knows how deeply I feel for the people I love. She’s afraid the depth will interfere with my judgment and power as Alpha. She thinks it takes energy to love someone, because for her, it is an effort. She and Frank have reached a place of comfort with each other, but they’re not truly in love. They’re one of the mated pairs that makes no sense whatsoever.”
“Mates don’t have a choice.”
He shook his head. “When you see your mate, you know. Instantly. I don’t know if it’s some past life thing or some machination of the Universe we mere mortals don’t know about.”
“We’re shifters,” I pointed out. “Does that mean we’re mere mortals?”
“We’re mortal. We can die and be killed. Dying just takes longer than for regular humans.” He lay down, feet over the arm of the couch, head in my lap. “Mates are connected from the moment they’re both in this world. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason to who ends up mated with whom. I don’t pretend to understand it. I only know I thought I was in love with Harok, but when I saw you for the first time, I didn’t even remember what he looked like. Love is human, and since shifters are part human, we feel that emotion. Mating is something deeper and stronger.”
“People talk about love at first sight,” I said. “Not the whole, oh, he’s cute, I want to fuck him kind of so-called love, but genuine, romantic, I want to spend my life with this person love.”
“Kind of the same thing.” He shrugged. “Maybe humans experience the mating bond too. They just don’t think of it that way, since mating is more of an animal behavior than a human one. Anyway, to Harriet your gender has little to do with her concern. She’s afraid loving anyone as deeply as she knows I can will weaken me. As peacekeeper, she may be worried about the reaction within our pack and in the other packs to the announcement that our Alpha has a male mate, but it isn’t her primary concern.”
“I’m still getting used to the whole mate thing anyway.” I stroked his hair. The soft strands slipped through my fingers like silk and I resisted the urge to plunge both hands into it and just revel in the softness. Tobias might not have minded, but somehow I had the feeling the sensuality of playing with his hair would lead to wanting to touch other things. Right then, we didn’t need sex, we just needed to be quiet together.
“Me too.” He sighed and closed his eyes. “Stay with me tonight, Kyle.” He nodded toward the window and I realized, to my surprise, that somewhere between our fucking and the phone call to Chal, the sun had nearly set. “I don’t want to fuck you or make love to you or whatever you want to call it. I just want you beside me when I fall asleep and when I wake in the morning.”
I’d lived with my last partner. Every night we’d gone to bed together and every morning we’d woken up beside each other. Sometimes we’d fucked, sometimes we’d just cuddled, sometimes we’d ignored one another completely. And for the entire time I’d lived with him, I’d never been fully comfortable being so close to him for so much time. There had been nights when I hadn’t even stayed in bed with him, but had slept on the couch and then returned to bed before he woke so he’d think I’d been there all along.
I’d thought I would be like that the rest of my life, not wanting to completely let anyone in, not wanting the utter closeness that came with being in love. Tobias had screwed that up pretty well and I didn’t mind it a bit. I liked the thought of falling asleep beside him. Waking in the morning with the sun touching his gorgeous hair. Being there in the middle of the night if either of us needed comfort or—well, or anything else.
Tonight, Tobias needed me. Needed someone else to be the strong one for a while. His pack had never taken a hit like this and he blamed himself even though he hadn’t caused Suzannah’s kidnapping. He was Alpha and that meant anything happening within his pack or to any of its members was his responsibility. And the fact he let me into his head enough to hear those thoughts showed just how much he trusted me. I refused to let him down.
“I’ll stay,” I said softly.
Find out more about Karenna and her books on her website
Find Salad on the Side and the other books in the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series at MLR Press