Chapter 2: Instinct
The closer we got to the edge of Alpha Roarke’s border, the more jittery I became. My feet were resting on the dashboard, bouncing off the plastic nervously. My father gripped the steering wheel tight, knuckles white. He didn’t want to tell me off, he understood how I was feeling, but I knew it was annoying him. At first blasting music through my earphones had helped, I was able to get lost in the tribal beat and vocals of Faun but the butterflies soon made it impossible to enjoy.
My mother lay asleep in the back, soft snores leaving her and making me smile, my father looking back every now and again to appease his wolf. A human would be wary to travel so far into pregnancy but my mother was not one to be left behind and my father was no match for her ferocity right now. He was easy for her to mold while with child, his eagerness to please her overwhelming.
Resting my head against the window, I couldn’t help but admire the scenery that flickered past like a movie reel. The land was indeed very beautiful with its gentle sloping hills, lakes amongst an expanse of silver birch with soft fallings of leaves, dripping from branches like beads. If it wasn’t for my wariness of being in unknown territory, I would have loved to run and explore every inch of it. If I was more confident, maybe if I was born male, I would want to make a claim for it but as it stood, females never really felt the need to fight for land.
I ignored my father’s smirk, his eyes focused on the road but he was still aware of my admiration of our surroundings.
I huffed, pointedly looking at my shoes. It would take far more than pretty trees to make me even consider his proposal. I had my plan, my future lay before me clearly, this was not in it.
The road turned from tar into single track mud that rattled the caravan with each pothole. The sound of the vehicles behind us was almost deafening. I gripped onto the door handle to stop from sliding around on my seat but it did little to stop my body from jerking. Did this pack not care about the damage this must cause their cars? It seemed not.
I rolled the window down, sticking my arm out so my hand could catch the breeze like a birds wing, letting it rise and fall with the currant. A flash of fur through the trees made me gasp, my wolf growling in my head. I quickly snatched my hand back in and put the window back up.
My father chuckled but his words held the meaning of his worry for me, “If you keep acting like a skittish omega instead of the daughter of an Alpha and the strong female I know you are, this pack will eat you alive. They allow their feral side more control than we do, they stick close to the ancient ways from a time before skin was equal to the wolf. Show them your fangs when you have too, my pup.”
I nodded, my chin lifting. I knew who I was and I would show them exactly who that was.
A large house came into view as we rounded the next bend. It was nestled in a large clearing, surrounded by thick oak trees, built of native brick with wooden window frames. It was beautiful and looked warm, homey.
A small gathering of wolves stood to greet us. These were the Alpha’s closest and most trusted. My father looked at me, his gaze stern and I bowed my head in understanding.
I was to not to step out of line, nor was I to let these wolves walk over me. Showing weakness would in turn make my father look weak.
My mother woke, looking around dazed with sleep that still clung to her.
“Are we here?” She asked softly, struggling to sit up with her belly in the way.
“We are, my mate. Don’t move, I will help you out.” My father replied.
I stayed in my seat, studying the wolves. Males and females, mated pairs standing close together, the occasional pup peeping a head around their parents legs to get a peek at the new arrivals. Power dripped from these high ranked members but none so much as to stand out as the Alpha.
I waited till my parents were out of the caravan before I followed. The rest of the vehicles parked around us as I stepped out and felt comforted by the presence of my pack mates.
A man that only looked a few years younger than my parents, greeted my father just as I wandered to my parents side. Avoiding the gazes of those around, feeling uneasy, I kept close. My mother placed a hand on my shoulder after tipping my chin up and my wolf helped me keep it that way.
The large male bowed his golden head then smiled at me without a show of fang, an action I returned while meeting his eye. His gaze was harder to hold than my father’s Beta.
“Beta Zale. It is nice to see you again.” My father said, shaking the man’s hand and giving him a half hug in a rare show of affection towards a male.
“It is good to see you too, Alpha Everett. Kerra.” The Beta answered, nodding in my mothers direction before his eyes found me again, “It is a pity it is under such circumstances. Is this your female?”
I stood taller, as tall as my small height would allow, meeting his eyes again.
My father looked proud as he nodded, “It is. This is Cathwulf, she decided to accompany us. She needs to get a better understanding of how things work.”
The comment irritated me; making me out to be still a cub when I was a grown female. I kept quiet, inhaling Beta Zale’s scent, imprinting it to my memory. He smelled like the sea after a storm, wild and powerful. I could only imagine how strong his Alpha was.
“She is small.” Beta Zale noted, turning up his nose, grinning at the small glimpse of fang I had let show, “But fierce. She will thrive well here.”
There it was again, the insinuation that I would be joining this pack. I kept my expression neutral which only made the Beta’s smile widen more. He looked back at my parents, giving them an agreeing nod that had me frowning.
“The Alpha extends his apologies for not welcoming you himself. He had some business to take care of but promises to join you for dinner in the evening.” Beta Zale explained, his head bowing again, in apology this time.
To any other Alpha, this slight may have been taken as in insult but my father simply nodded his understanding.
Eyes were on me, watching and studying my every move as we walked past those gathered and into the house. The inside was as the outside portrayed, built in the Victorian style but obviously still a rather new build. Thick, heavy, wooden doors with brass door knobs, dark mahogany tables that had lamps placed on top, it held a very antique feel. Pictures on the walls depicted various painted wolves and scenery next to newer photos, taken by camera, of the pack. I took my time to admire them while my parents followed the Beta further into the house.
The mess of new scents was overwhelming my senses, my wolf pacing in the bounds of my mind. There was a reason wolves tended to stay in their birth packs unless forced to move after finding a mate or other unforseen reasons.
A photo of a young male caught my attention on one of the tables. The frame looked old but the picture had to have been taken in the past decade. He stood tall between what I assumed were his parents, looking no more than sixteen years of age. His light brown hair hung over a strong face that was the spitting image of the older male behind him. I picked it up, studying it more closely with curiosity. The boy looked unhappy, the mother had an amused smile, while the father had a harsh look betrayed by sparkling eyes.
“Our late Alpha Pair.” A female voice answered my unasked question.
I jumped and quickly dropped the photo back on the table, baring fangs as instinct took over.
The woman gave me a friendly smile, not even blinking at my show of instinct.
“I didn’t mean to startle you. My name is Saba, Beta Zale is my mate. You are Cathwulf, yes? We have heard much about you. Your parents always talked highly of you to Alpha Dolf when they came here last. It is nice to finally put a face to the name.” She chirped, dark brown eyes looking me over.
Her dark hair and skin with Indian features contrasted with the white dress she wore. She was a beautiful female. Her looks were the opposite of her mate’s blonde hair and softly tanned skin. They were well suited in their differences, like day and night.
I greeted her with my cheek pressed against hers as we took in each others scents, “It is nice to meet you too. I’m sorry about the photo, I didn’t mean to-”
“Nonsense! If they weren’t meant to be looked at, they wouldn’t be out.” She interrupted with a laugh.
I nodded, unsure. Her aura was very light and friendly. I got the sense she was more easy going than her mate who brushed my fur the wrong way. I didn’t feel the need to prove myself to her, holding her eye easily without either of us challenging the other.
“Have you been shown your room yet?” Saba inquired, linking her arm with mine.
Touch between females was far more common than between males. I felt comforted with her beside me in this unknown place. She didn’t wait for my answer before she was leading me up the flight of stairs that creaked with each step.
“I keep telling Roarke that he needs to have this place fixed up but he doesn’t listen. I’m afraid one day I’ll fall right through the stairs! But he’s too afraid too touch anything. His grandfather built this house you know, after the old one burnt down. He feels like this place isn’t his to change. It’s a female he needs, I said that to Zale. He agrees but he’d never admit it.” Saba rambled aimlessly while I listened with interest.
I wondered why the Alpha didn’t feel at home here enough to make it to his liking, supposing it was perhaps because his parents were not long gone. Maybe his mother had decorated and he felt that he needed to leave everything as she had placed it. Saba didn’t seem to notice my lack of attention to her words as she continued to talk about how walls needed repainting and rooms redecorated like I would have advice or input. This wasn’t my pack house, it wasn’t my business what was done to the place.
We passed a few doors before we reached one that was a chipped white. It’s brass handle looked more than a little worn with specks of black and scratches that dimmed it’s shine.
She pushed it open, revealing a spacious room with a bay window that I adored on sight. A bed was in the centre of the wall to the right with a crochet blanket thrown over the duvet and a small, rickety old table had a lamp sat next to it. A small dresser pushed against the far wall, the same white as the door, was opposite with a small TV perched on top.
I smiled, stepping in.
“This is cute. I love it.” I declared softly, walking to the window to get a peek of the vast expanse of green.
“I’m glad you think so! Roarke was going to put you in one of the rooms across from the pups but I argued you’d be much happier here, even if it means using a shared bathroom.” She replied, “Which is just next door by the way, the one with the lock”
She winked at me and I laughed.
Dropping the bag that had a few changes of clothes in it to the floor, I take in the scent of the room, smiling at the realisation I had been the frst to use it in a while. At least that meant I wouldn’t have to spend too much time walking around to get my scent to overpower the one from before. That pleased my wolf. Dark brown eyes watched me move around, sizing me up for an unknown reason. I gave Saba a slight glimpse of my inner wolf, feeling uncomfortable and then surprised when she looke away.
Was I more dominamt than this female?
Saba looked suddenly unsettled at the realisation that she had just submitted to me without a fight, coughing awkwardly as she continued to watch me pace the room.
“Dinner will be served in an hour. Feel free to wonder around, get to know the place, the pack. We are all very welcoming, I promise.” She comforted, noting my pacing.
Saba walked out the room, her hand on the door, pausing just before she closed it, “The pack is glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re here too.”
Confusion came before annoyance. The pack thought I would ensnare their Alpha. Bring him out of the pain it had been told he was in and provide him with a strong alliance with a well respected pack that would give wealth and noteriety. I narrowed my eyes at the door. The wolf in me reared her head and growled, unhappy that such assumptions had been made about me.
Unpacking clothes with jerky movements, pulling out drawers and pushing them back in with more force than necessary, I only ended up cringing at the screech they make. My anger made itself known with the shaking of my hands.
Once unpacked, I began to mark the room as mine by walking the perimeter, making sure to brush fingers against walls, leaving my scent.
The room smelled like me now and left me with little more to do. I was too uncertain of the wolves here to be confident enough to wander around. Deciding waiting until I had acquainted myself to be the best idea, I settled on the bed and picked up the remote for the TV.
A knock on the door had me sitting up, inhaling then smiling.
“Come in, Oria!” I called, sitting cross legged on the bed so there was room for her too.
Oria walked in with her head bowed, white blonde hair hiding her face like a curtain. Instinct had me sitting straighter as I patted the bed for her. She practically jumped before mirroring my crossed legs.
“Isn’t it just breathtaking here!” She gushed, taking in my room.
“You’ve looked around?” I asked in surprise.
Her low status did make it easier to explore as not many wolves saw her as a threat. She could move through the pack here and not any of the high ranked members would give her a glance in challenge. She was beneath them. However, Oria was a very timid wolf and tended to stay away from the unfamiliar.
“I went for a quick run. The forest is amazing, like something out of Lord of the Rings! I wouldn’t have been surprised if an elf had stepped out from behind a tree while I was there.” She exclaimed with a childish giggle.
I shook my head at her amused, “Don’t let Legolas sweep you away just yet.”
Blue eyes peered at me, meeting and holding my gaze before she quickly looked away again. That peeked my interest, making me my quiet until she told what it was I knew she wanted to say.
“I wouldn’t mind living here...” She prompted gently.
I growled. Eyes glowed, my chin lifted, letting my dominamce flow. I did not concede until Oria ducked her head and then extended her neck, whimpering beneath the force of the power I let loose.
“The next time my father asks you to convince me of something, you better be more subtle.” I threatened, my voice tight.
She nodded her head quickly and spoke in a small whisper, “I’m sorry, Cathwulf.”
Her submission appeased me, allowing me to draw myself back in, letting Oria relax.
If we were in our fur, Oria would have been belly up and whining with my teeth at her throat.
The air was tense between us. Conversation wouldn’t flow. I was angry, unable to understand why my dream to fight for Beta Female of my pack was not enough to make my Alpha, my father, proud. My wolf was pensive and unhappy at having to have put Oria in her place after trusting the she-wolf to know not to overstep the tenuous friendship we had.
My rank sometimes made it hard for her to speak her mind, scared of my retribution.
“We should go down for dinner.” I finally grumbled, Oria waiting for me to get to my feet before she did.
Her head stayed ducked, her shoulders hunched in on themselves, making her look smaller than she really was. I placed my hand on her shoulder, feeling guilty for how I had spoken to her. I leant down to press my cheek to hers and that action spoke louder than words, it said, I’m sorry, all is forgiven.