It had been a good day.
Liam had woken up with Lorelai in his arms. He enjoyed the warmth of her embrace, basked in the comfort of her kisses, and lost himself to the heaven that was her body.
They woke at dawn, making love to the chorus of morning birds. As the sun rose higher, they fucked hard, frantically, and when the rest of the world began their day, they enjoyed a frolic in the forests, rolling around in the dirt as they cherished one another’s bodies.
By midday, they went their separate ways.
Lorelai stayed under the cover of trees, stretching her legs with a run. Liam, however, had business to attend to.
Promising her he’d be in their bed with her by the time she was ready to sleep, he set off for a run towards the nearest big city. He stuck to the countryside, making good use of the abundance of forests and overgrowth. On and on he ran, only pausing to grab a drink from a handy stream or lake.
Once the trees thinned and buildings dominated the horizon, he finally slowed his pace. Finding a good place to shift, he dressed in the clothes he kept in a bag and walked into the city a man.
It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for, and as the bell atop the door jingled, an overwhelming sense of calm engulfed him.
The shop was beautiful, though he expected nothing less. With tall windows and polished marble floors, light bounced off every surface and opened the space. Though there were a few stands littered here and there, it was the glass cabinets that held Liam’s attention.
Ignoring the shop assistant, who looked at him as though he might try to rob them blind, he stepped up to the counter and peered behind the glass. Rings of all shapes and elegance shone back at him. Diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires sparkled under the natural lighting. Gold bands and silver, white and black. Lined up proudly with any combination imaginable, they spoiled him for choice.
But what to get Lorelai?
With the realisation that was not her mate, it occurred to him he spent so much time trying to force their wolves to bond; he had neglected the human side of them. And what was more human than proposing to the woman he loved and asking her to promise herself to him forever?
He could already picture their wedding day. It didn’t have to be anything fancy, just their pack, their home, and a simple ceremony. Hell, if she wanted, they could do it at the registry office with just an officiant and a witness. He didn’t care as long as he could make that commitment to her. That promise of forever.
“Can I help you, Sir?” Liam straightened up at the haughty tone of someone who thought they were better than he was. His eyes bore down on the suited man, whose lip curled as their eyes met.
“I’m proposing to my girlfriend,” Liam said, scratching at the whiskers on his jaw. “And I don’t know where to start with all this shit.” He took great satisfaction at the man’s offence to his use of language.
“Well, let’s start with a simple question,” the man said, cleaning the top of the counter where Liam had been looking. Arsehole. “What is your budget, Sir?”
Liam was sure this man was already prepared to tell him they had nothing for his perceived price range. Well, fuck him. He might not have planned to buy a ring, but he had been saving for his future with Lorelai since the moment they met.
A couple hundred here and there, taking the cheaper option and cutting a few corners. As long as his pack was healthy and felt, he felt no qualms in keeping some money hidden in a safe place.
Lorelai had spent the past seven years with nothing fancy to call her own. She purchased her clothes at thrift stores (which they soon realised made more sense than buying new considering how many clothes got torn); she made her own jewellery and cut her own hair.
She deserved something new and pretty.
Something only hers.
“The price is irrelevant,” Liam said. “As long as it’s the best.”
With the mention of money, the shop assistant’s demeanour changed. No longer haughty and looking down his nose, he now smiled at Liam as though they were lifelong friends.
“Very good, Sir,” he said. “I can assure you all our jewellery is of the highest standards and you won’t find better anywhere else in Scotland.”
Of course not, thought Liam. Though the restraint surprised him. Only in Scotland? He’d have thought with his attitude, these pieces were worth more than the crown jewels.
Pushing aside his negative thoughts, Liam gave the assistant an idea of what he wanted he believed would suit Lorelai’s taste. After rejecting four different rings, he found exactly what he was looking for. Better, even.
It was pretty and delicate, just like Lorelai. A rose gold band, decorated with entwining vines, joined to hold up a sapphire heart that matched her eyes. Accented with diamonds, it was the loveliest ring he had seen all day, and he had to have it.
“I’ll take it,” Liam said. “That’s the one.”
“Very good, sir,” the assistant said. “That will be four hundred and ninety-nine pounds, please.” Liam didn’t miss the subtle smirk on the man’s lips. Clearly, he was expecting Liam to baulk at the price. Instead, he pulled out his wallet and offered a pleasant smile.
“Do you take cash?”
He wrapped up his business, eager to be out of the stuffy store, and headed on to the street. He retraced his steps back to the outskirts of the city, ready to run back to camp. Placing the ring carefully in his bag, hidden among his clothes, he set off at a run.
As his paws pounded at the ground, he thought about how he’d ask Lorelai to be his wife. He could just come out with it, hand her the ring, real simple. But it didn’t feel special enough. Not for someone as wonderful as she.
Something too extravagant didn’t seem right, either.
Barking happily to himself, he realised it didn’t matter. Not really. The how and the when were minor details. All he wanted from her was a ‘yes’. An agreement to become his wife.
The fact they couldn’t have pups didn’t have to be a big deal, either. Wolves who rebelled against their lives started his pack and couples abandoned their pups all the time. Deemed too weak, too small, the wrong sex. Instead of leaving them to die, he and Lorelai could adopt. Give these unwanted babies a home.
Not being mates didn’t have to be the end of the world.
Feeling hopeful for the future, he pushed himself to run faster as the skies darkened above his head. Lorelai would be out for her evening walk, and he wanted to be back before her.
He had no reason to expect the carnage that was waiting at home.
He smelled the blood first, thick and coppery. He slowed to a walk, shifting back into a man as he walked through the boundaries of their land. The usually lush field that surrounded their property lay flat against the ground, splashes of blood drying against the leaves of the grass.
The scent of many unfamiliar wolves in the air and, more shockingly, the foul stench of death. He didn’t recognise the first corpse, at least what they left of it. The large head of a black wolf sat mounted on a pike, while its broken body lay left abandoned. Chills ran across his exposed skin that had nothing to do with the cool Scottish winds.
Instinctively, he knew what had happened.
They’d come for her. His Lorelai. Though grief hit him square in the chest, he pushed himself to move further onto their land, to inspect what remained of his pack. Had they got hurt trying to protect her? Someone had to be okay, of that he was sure. Who else would have strung up the black wolf?
He saw Killian first as he emerged from the house, rubbing his hand over his face wearily. Relief soared through him. He loved every member of his pack, but Killian was his best friend. He would be the one to help Liam get Lorelai home.
Their eyes met, and Liam winced at the agony he saw in his friend’s gaze. Approaching him, he raised his eyebrows in a wordless question.
“Liam, I’m sorry,” Killian said, choking out his words. “I tried, I swear. I tried so fucking hard.” Liam nodded, pulling him in for a tight hug. He didn’t doubt for a second that Killian would have done everything in his power to protect not only Lorelai but the entire pack.
“Who… Are there…” Liam paused, composing himself as he pulled back. “Is everyone else okay?” Killian winced again, and Liam felt his heart drop. He followed his friend’s gaze to the side of the house and the body of Bethany. He wasn’t sure how he missed her. Perhaps he didn’t want to see.
Rachel sat by her side, holding on to her lifeless hand. He took a step towards them, recoiling as he saw the injuries the poor girl received.
“She was trying to save Lor,” Killian said. “And the dickhead we strung up came out of nowhere and just…” Liam closed his eyes, trying to force the image out of his mind.
“What about Sophia? Is my sister safe?” He held on to his breath as he waited for a response.
“She is. Everyone is except Brooke. They got her pretty bad.”
“Is she going to be okay?” He asked. God, it would kill Lorelai to lose her best friend.
“I think she’ll pull through, but Liam, there’s something you should know.”
“Later, Killian,” Liam said. “Let me look after my pack first, and then you can tell me everything.” Killian hesitated and then nodded, looking down at the ground.
“Just tell me what I can do,” he said. “I’ll be here.”
Liam offered him a smile he didn’t mean and finally pulled the clothes from his bag. Shrugging them on, he noticed the ring box fall too late. Already covered in muck, the delicate pink box became a symbol of how badly this day had gone.
Bending down to retrieve it from the ground, he picked it up and held it to his chest. Grief like he never felt washed over him until the weight of it made him fall to his knees. For the first time since he was a pup, Liam wept, bawling like a babe as he grieved his missing love, his broken pack and his lost friend.
It had been a good day.
And then the night came.