Chapter 51 - Exploring
Important Note: I have never visited Alaska, USA. I did my research online and therefore, if there are any mistakes I apologize. If you know the correct information, please let me know as I would love for this to be as accurate as possible.
Chapter 51 - Exploring
The others have arrived and met up with us down in the dining hall for breakfast that Vulcan and I had prepared since they would be exhausted from travelling last night. Nero had let Natasha sleep in for a while before bringing up a tray of food, as her pregnancy is starting to take a toll on her. Although she is only three weeks along supernatural babies take extra energy and nutrients out of the mother because of how much strength they need and how quickly they develop in the womb.
Because Christmas is tomorrow and based on how late we arrived to the lodge, a tree was already picked for us and sat in storage, which Vulcan and Nikolai are currently moving into the sitting room. My jaw drops at the enormous size of the tree, it almost reaches the ceiling!
One of the helpers brings in two boxes full of ornaments, making Caia and I rush over and begin our search through the various themed decorations for the tree. I can feel the excitement and joy bubbling within me the more I get involved and I know Vulcan can sense it too, judging by how he chuckles quietly to himself every few minutes when I’ll jump up to hang a bauble or wrap some tinsel around the tree with him helping me.
We work on the tree, chattering away in delight about how the most wonderful time of the year is tomorrow and how much we have achieved in the past months up till now. Nero joins us in decorating the tree soon after, ordering Natasha not to strain herself too much and restricting her to the couch with a cozy blanket. The four of us work quickly and soon enough, I’m on Vulcan’s shoulders wrapping the last bit of the lights around the top of the tree and finishing it off with a star on top.
He sets me down on my feet and we step back to admire our work, beaming at each other at how pretty the tree looks. Nikolai crouches and switches on the lights making it all the more festive. I clap my hands in delight, a wide grin on my lips as I stare at our Christmas tree, now all it needs are presents under it which I’m sure everyone, including me, will be sneaking down in the night to place them under the tree.
I feel Vulcan’s lips press firmly against my temple making me hum in content and cuddle into his side as he wraps an arm around my shoulders. We walk back to the couches and decide to watch a movie before the weather settles down so we can go out and explore. And so, I press play on a classic Christmas movie and top my warm mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, sighing blissfully as I snuggle up to my mate.
Caia and Nikolai are currently arguing by the doorway of whether we should go into town first to look around famous sights or visit the places Caia has been begging to go to all morning. On the other hand, Natasha walks around with Nero watching her like a hawk as he chats with Vulcan by the archway leading to one of the gardens.
I lazily observe everyone from the couch. Although the family tries to hide it, I can see that coming back to their parent’s lodge after many years is affecting them greatly. Vulcan had become quiet when we first arrived and I would catch him gazing around with a longing look in his sad, green eyes.
It’s easy to tell that he misses his parents terribly, mate bond or not. Natasha had teared up slightly when she first walked in and is now taking her time to look around the place, running her fingertips over the numerous family photos placed on the mantel piece of the fireplace and on the walls of the house.
Caia tries to hide how she feels but I notice her discreetly looking around the place and know she is trying to mask the pain with excitement as she talks to her little brother about the plans for today. Nikolai was too young to remember the lodge and much of his parents. He did, however, walk around for a bit with Natasha and ask about the pictures in which he was just a chubby baby.
Nero and I are the only ones who don’t know their parents and thus spend our time comforting the family. I try to distract Vulcan the best I can but he remains quieter than how he would be back at the pack. There is an air of sadness yet slight joy of the family finally visiting the lodge again to resume the tradition of spending Christmas in Alaska.
Suddenly, I’m snapped out of my reverie when Vulcan grasps my elbow and tucks me into his side. I wrap my arm around his waist and grin at Nero who is just as excited and hopeful to see the Northern Lights tonight. We will be driving down to Anchorage for it specially, so I really hope with everything in me that my wish comes true.
“Ready to leave?” Nero asks as we all gather by the front door where the Range Rover stands on the long driveway, waiting to take us anywhere we desire.
When we have wrapped up in warm clothing and double-checked that we have our essentials, we close the door and pile into the spacious vehicle that easily fits all of us. I sit in the front whilst Vulcan drives, the rest chattering away in the back. His warm hand grasping mine and intertwining it has me glancing away from the window to smile at him.
First, we are going to be visiting the National Park followed by Tracy Arm Fjord, courtesy of Caia’s incessant pleading all morning. Next, we will be grabbing some lunch and then setting off to wander around the other famous sights of Alaska the family would often visit. Lastly, we will be heading to Anchorage where, hopefully, we might see the Northern Lights!
Soon, we arrive at the Denali National Park and Preserve, spending about three hours on the massive six million acres of wilderness. I take many pictures of terrains, forests, glaciers, and the wildlife we come across such as grizzly bears, wolves and moose, along with pictures of Mount McKinley. I enjoyed snowmobiling the most while skiing was a complete disaster as I had never done it before.
Afterwards, we set off for Tracy Arm Fjord where we are given the opportunity to board a cruise which completed a 360 degree turn so we were able to see it no matter where we stood on the ship. The landscapes and seascapes were absolutely breath-taking and we found ourselves clicking pictures every minute. The fjord walls were more dramatic than I thought they would be and the views of the glacier had us all stunned into silence. Spending about two hours there, we head into town for a late lunch in the evening at a local diner before walking around to look at the famous sights and places the Romanov family visited whenever they used to come to Alaska.
Eventually, we find ourselves arriving in Anchorage. Since it’s night time, we drive straight to where the guide has advised us on where we can view the Northern Lights from. Icy cold wind dances around me as soon as I hop out of the Range Rover, making me hug myself for warmth. The others follow behind as we walk towards the terrain, where I can see faint outlines of the mountains and the snow covering everything in a thick blanket.
Luckily, we only have to wait around for an hour and half before we see them. My jaw drops in amazement and we are speechless as we stare at the beautiful wonder. My gaze remains fixated on the Northern Lights and my surroundings seem to fade away. It really is the most amazing experience; to be out here in the cold with only warm winter clothing to keep me warm as I marvel at the wonders of the world. I almost forget to take some pictures of the scene!
I turn to Vulcan who stands beside me with an arm around my shoulders and grin widely, making him chuckle in sheer humor at my reactions. I’m bouncing on my toes as I hug him and whisper “thank you,” over and over again. Without him making my wish come true and taking me to Alaska for Christmas, I never would have ticked this off my bucket list.
I push up on my tip toes and press my cold lips to his chapped ones, melting into his warm touch and basking in the feel of sparks erupting on my skin. He moans softly whilst wrapping his arms around my waist tightly, pulling me into him impossibly further. Eventually, I reluctantly pull away only to giggle at the visible pout on his lips. Promising him some alone time later, I turn to the spectacle once more, leaning into his chest as his arms encircle my waist.
“It’s so beautiful. Thank you for bringing me to Alaska, Vulcan.” I murmur, sighing in bliss at the colors dancing in the sky.
“Anything to make you happy, mea lux.” He whispers, chin resting on the top of my beanie covered head.
“I never really asked what your nicknames mean.”
“Why, do you think I’m calling you something bad?” He asks, resting his chin on top of my head.
“Never, you speak those words lovingly so I know it’s nothing bad.”
“Роза means rose, Моя дорогая means my darling and Котёночек means little kitten in Russian.” He explains, rubbing my arm to create warmth.
“What about the one you just called me?”
“Mea lux means my light in Latin.”
I frown in confusion, turning my head to look up at him. He pecks my lips in return before I open my mouth to speak. “Why do you call me that?”
“Because...when my first mate betrayed me I was in a dark place. I stopped believing that mates could be a good thing, that love is a weakness for people. I loathed the idea the Moon Goddess had made; that every wolf has a mate to compliment them and turn them into the best versions of themselves.” He sighs heavily, as if he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. “I became angry, ruthless and desensitized to the world around me, not caring about others. But then, you came along; the light at the end of my dark tunnel. I was attracted to you, like a moth to a flame, desperate to know if you were different somehow; that someone could actually love me for who I am and not for my status. You saved me, therefore you are my light in the darkest of days.”
I have teared up slightly while watching him speak, a faraway look in his eyes. When he glances down at me, his eyes widen in concern and I find his gloved hands cupping my face and wiping away the lone tear that slips from the corner of my eye. Smiling, I shake my head and pull away slightly.
“It just wasn’t fair for you to go through what you did. I hate it when I hear what she did to you.” I whisper, sniffling slightly from the cold.
“Maybe it was something I had to go through to get you?” He winks, smirking boyishly when I roll my eyes. He tugs me closer by my elbow, pressing our foreheads together and gazing into my eyes. “I would go through anything for you, Aurora Maxwell. All you have to do is name it.”
I shake my head, smiling softly. “You don’t have to do anything for me Vulcan, you’ve already got me...forever and always.”
We share a slow, sweet kiss for a moment before pulling away and watching the last of the Northern Lights before we must leave. Gradually, the amount of people at the spot decreases with us following, walking back to the car waiting for us in the parking lot. As we pull away and start on our journey back to the lodge, I feel my eyelids drooping considerably and before long, I hear Vulcan’s rich and husky voice telling me to sleep as he pulls a blanket over my form at a stoplight. His lips are the last thing I feel pressing gently against my forehead before I fall into a deep slumber.
Eventually, we reach the familiar lodge around one in the morning. Sleepily, we warm up some food and fill our bellies before agreeing to just head to bed. However, as I turn off the lights and walk out of the kitchen, I pass Caia who is carrying down gifts to place under the Christmas tree. Remembering that I have yet to complete that task, I rush up the stairs and grab the presents I had wrapped before hurrying out the door, ignoring Vulcan’s grumbling about how I’m not in bed with him yet.
I sneak down the stairs with the festively wrapped gifts in my hand, focusing hard on each step to make sure I don’t end up falling. Eventually, I reach the tree and smile when I see that the others have already placed their gifts under it. Positioning mine by the rest, I stand and look at the sight before backing out into the hallway and hurrying up the stairs to my waiting mate.
I simply cannot wait for tomorrow morning!