Terra (The Vulgri Hybrids Book One)

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Chapter 24

| Nathalia |

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Irkutsk International Airport. Local time is one in the afternoon, and the temperature is 33.8 Fahrenheit. On behalf of S7 Airlines and the entire crew, I’d like to thank you for flying with us, and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again. Have a nice day.”

Still in my seat, I stretched my arms and back while recalling how Ethan dragged our asses from his jeep to the plane the minute we entered the airport and didn’t even give me a chance to charge my phone and make a call. Next thing I knew, we’re now on Russian soil.

“Take out your coats. You heard the pilot. It’s freezing,” Ethan told us after casually dumping our bags into our laps. I placed my hand inside my bag and grabbed the first piece of clothing I touched, changing it to a black winter coat that I’ve seen in a fashion magazine somewhere. This trick had served me for years and it never grew old. It was the same magic the Ilwani incorporated in the silver bands Lupus folks wear.

Smiling satisfactorily at my creation, I wore the coat before standing from my seat knowing that it was only for show.

Following Ethan and Cassy to Immigration, I gave my phone one last glance of dismay before shoving it into my backpack. I had charged it on the plane but I couldn’t make and receive international calls now that we’re in another country so it was no use. It sucked to be a poor girl.

“Hey, don’t you think we should tell Lana?” I said, stepping in beside Cassy. The line was quite long so the three of us waited behind a mass of humans. Ethan said that Jorge and Koji would be following after three days. He told us that they stayed behind to watch out for more assassins who would want to trace us.

Cassy smirked and gave me a meaningful look. “I know who you really want to call.”

“Who? Ghostbusters?” Pouting, I glanced at Ethan whose back was on us. “Do you think he will let me borrow his phone?” I whispered though I knew he could hear it.

Ethan gave me one look before grunting, “No calls.”

I rolled my eyes at his spiky attitude. I still couldn’t figure out what’s his deal. It didn’t hurt to be a little friendly. It’s not like I owed him my life or something. Oh wait, I did owe him my life. “Cheapskate,” I muttered, a sneer forming at the corning of my lips.

Cassy chuckled beside me. “Don’t worry too much, sis. Aunty Haze left a voice message with Ethan that she would be there. We can ask her for her phone. And besides, I thought you and him were just a fling?”

Sighing, I pressed my mouth into a thin line. “Yeah, you’re right,” I said weakly. “We’re just...a fling.” I looked down and mulled it over. That’s right, I shouldn’t think too much about it. I knew firsthand that it wouldn’t work out, that finding my mate wasn’t really supposed to happen. It was too good to be true and life was finally knocking on my head, telling me to wake up.

But I should have said goodbye, at least.

I caught Ethan regarding me when I glanced up, a frown formed on his forehead. When our eyes locked, he averted his gaze and went back to looking at the giant fish tank that seemed to fascinate him a lot.

At last, the line moved and once our passports were stamped, we shuffled our way to baggage claim. While waiting, I asked the question that had been bugging me the whole flight. “So, how do you know about the assassins?”

“All questions will be answered at the pack house,” said Ethan.

To say I was frustrated with him was an understatement. I seriously wanted to grab his hair and yank his head back and forth till all the lobes of his brain turn into a badly cooked oatmeal.

Not bothering to hide the snarl on my face, I moved past him and pulled our bags from the carousel. He was quick to join me and our hands touched when he tried to take Cassy’s luggage from me. I scowled at him and he looked at me with equal disdain before yanking the bag from my hold. Glancing back at Cassy, I noticed that she was still on the same spot with an amused grin on her face.

Stop. Don’t say anything. I said through our link.

She shrugged and stepped in between me and Ethan, smiling to herself. Groaning inwardly, I traipsed my way out of the airport with my companions, my mood turning sour with every step.

It turned out that our twelve-hour flight wasn’t enough to reach our destination. Ethan led us to a bus that would take us to Olkhon Island, and it would be another seven hours of sitting before we get there. I realized somewhere in this journey that Papa and Mama also traveled this way when they tried to run from the Council and ending up in Hempstead where we spent most of our childhood. To stop my depressive thoughts, I nudged Cassy’s shoulder and asked if I could borrow one of her books. She rummaged her bag and took out four books: Everly’s Element, Helix Immortal Origins, Ares, and Witch and Wolf, all of which I’ve read already but wouldn’t mind reading again. It’s amazing how she could leave everything behind but still carry all these books with her all the time. I took one in random and started reading until I fell asleep.

The prickly scent of mint and pine woke me up from my dream of Theo and me making out in the middle of a sunlit forest. When the bus doors swung open, the cold gust of wind prickled the skin on my face, sending an almost metallic taste in my mouth. Humans around me tugged their coats closer to their bodies. I took a quick peek at the window to see where we were. Directly in front of us was a poorly maintained bus stop. The ground was blanketed in a thin layer of snow and there was a whistle in the wind as it carried small pieces of debris with it. Ethan stood first and Cassy and I followed.

“Nobody stops here,” a female elderly from the back row seat whispered to the one sitting beside her.

We began our hike through snow-capped conifers, the silence filled only by the sound of critters running around and the crunching of snow under our weights. My stomach was already complaining like a bitch and my back aching for a proper rest. I just wanted to get to wherever we were going. Finally, I could see smoke from a distance and along with it the aroma of delicious meat and whatever way it was being cooked, it sure smelled like perfection.

“Cabins! Yes!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t contain my excitement at the prospect of ending our journey. My whole being was already on the brink of exhaustion.

“Oh finally,” Cassy sighed beside me, her face showing obvious signs of fatigue.

Aunt Hazel’s familiar auburn hair peeked out from one of the cabins and I had never been so glad to see her in my life.

“Cassandra! Nathalia! You stupid ass girls!” Well, not until she opened her mouth.

“One month and sixteen days! I knew you shouldn’t have attended the academy,” Aunt Hazel said, her brows knitted in a tight frown, her lips pursed disapprovingly.

Groaning, I dropped my luggage and my backpack, went to the crazy woman and pulled her into my arms. Cassy joined me and the three of us hugged like we’ve never seen each other for years.

“Oh you poor girls.” Aunt Hazel sighed and kissed the top of our heads. “Come, I know you’re hungry.” She released us and went over to Ethan who was already carrying our bags. She patted his back lovingly and the latter smiled at her genuinely before entering the cabin.

Huh. He can smile after all.

I gasped at the array of food displayed at the center of the mahogany table. The whole place was cozy and had an over-all homey feel but when I saw Aunt Hazel’s famous mini-pies, a mouth-watering beet and cabbage red soup, dumplings, and beef stroganoff, I forgot all my manners and surrounding and went straight to the table.

“Aunt Haze! I love you!” I exclaimed before digging in. I tried the soup first, and a delightful moan escaped my lips as the taste exploded in my mouth like dynamite. “Try this Cassy, it’s so fucking good!”

Cassy shook her head and sat beside me. “You’re a glutton,” she remarked.

I made a face. “As if! You’re hungry too, admit it!”

Aunt Hazel chuckled and turned to Ethan. “Come eat with us before you go to the pack house.”

“Sure Hazel. Thank You,” Ethan said with the same strange smile on his face. “I told dad that we’re here so he may be coming any minute from now.” That was the most number of words he had said since we met.

“Alright, that’s better.” Aunt Hazel sat down with Ethan and regarded us. “So, tell me everything.”

I chewed my food first before answering. “Well, the headmaster sends his condolences for your death.”

Cassy choked on her food. “Lia!”

I grinned and made a motion with my finger so the pitcher would fill Cassy’s glass with water by itself. “Water, sis.”

“Nathalia Hague, one more smart ass answer and I’ll make all these food go away,” threatened Aunt Hazel while helping Ethan to his plate as if the guy has no hands.

“Fine fine! Not the food. Jeez,” I said, snarling. “We found out about the coven. I think you know about that. Thank you for not telling us by the way.”

Aunt Hazel flicked her finger and a sharp stabbing pain hit my forehead as if she flicked it directly. “Aww!” I complained, covering my forehead with my hand and glared at my bitchy godmother. I saw Ethan smirking so I glared at him too.

“So you know who the other girls are?” Aunt Hazel asked.

“Yes but the water girl is kind of bitchy. Oh sorry, I think all of us are bitchy.” I took a bite of the dumpling and chewed with gusto.

“Oh, Ilwa bless us. It’s not going to be easy then,” Aunt Hazel muttered. Sighing, she eyed me again. “Anything else?”

“So did the pack give you this cabin? I love it! We can definitely live here,” I commented, making a show of looking around.

“Anything else, Nathalia?”

“I broke Jade Lynx leg. She’s no one, just a silly guild master of Taurus. Then I lost in the Certare. And hey!─why am I the only one being questioned here? Why not ask Cassy?”

Aunt Hazel sighed. “Because your sister is responsible and you are not. Now tell me. Is it true you met your mate?”

I froze.

“I’d like to hear the answer to that too.” We all turned to the man at the door.

“Uncle Elias!” Cassy stood up and greeted the man with a hug. I eagerly followed behind. It was so long since we last saw him. I took my time hugging him because he smelled like Papa and it was almost like being in Papa’s embrace.

After the warm reunion, Uncle Elias sat beside Ethan and slightly ruffled his hair before looking back at me. “So let’s hear it, Lia.”

I gulped. “Yes. I met him.”

You didn’t tell them who? I asked Cassy through our link.

No. Only that you met your mate. I think she knows, she just wants you to admit it.

“We need to fix that mind-link. It’s time you two join the pack,” interrupted Uncle Elias. “Is your mate the Prince?”

I seriously didn’t get why they were asking me if they knew it already. “Yes,” I replied.

Uncle Elias and Aunt Hazel looked at each other, a silent communication passing between them. Even Ethan’s expression turned grim.

Uncle Elias leveled his gaze at me and smiled sadly. “You need to break it off with him, love. We’re killing his father.”

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