Way of the Wolf: Liberty (The Wulvers Series Bk4)

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Chapter 3 ~Paris

The roofs of Paris sprawled out as far as the eye could see. The sky was a brilliant blue with no clouds do be seen and the bright sun beaming down. It was picturesque. A sense of giddy delight rushed through me, my grin growing as I looked out over the old slate roofs of buildings that had stood here for centuries. I'd never been in a city so big before. The sounds of engines, car horns, music and laughter all mingling in a cacophony that was deafening.

It had taken a while of holding my hands over my ears and trying to focus on breathing before I'd been able to acclimatise. Perhaps throwing myself straight away into a major capitol city alone wasn't the best idea. My wolf felt ever more present now, on edge and wary. But hadn't this been what instincts had been urging me to do for years?

I sipped at my coffee, leaning against the wall as I mulled over the restlessness that still hadn't been sated. What if nothing would curb it? But I wouldn't turn back now, I'd push myself. I'd already proven that when I arrived last night.

Stepping off the plane had been like being hit by a brick wall of heat, sounds and smells. I'd frozen. Hel, I'd almost turned back and got on the first flight home. The city was too much for my fur. This was nothing like home at all, yet a part of me was enjoying how overwhelming it all was. It had adrenaline pulsing through my veins and fur always just under the surface of skin.

I let that feeling wash over me, feeling invigorated.

Trying to fight my instincts had been the problem. I had to let them rule now. That's what this was about. A chance to let go, to live wild. I still wanted to do what all the humans were doing; go visit the sights and restaurants, historical monuments, and I would. Then I'd travel south to The Landes Forest to spend time with France's only pack.

Drumming my fingers on the railing of the balcony, I nodded to myself. It was time to dive in. I put the glass of water down and shut the window gently. Spinning around, I grabbed my phone, a light jacket and the little money I'd brought.

"Eiffel Tower, here I come," I sang happily to myself.

Just as I was about to leave the hotel room, my phone began to buzz. I rolled my eyes as my uncle's name flashed onto the screen. I'd text him and my mother the moment I'd landed, and they'd then called once I reached the hotel.

The text lit up my phone and I decided I'd be better answering and wasting a few seconds than ignoring it and having Quillan flying over to hunt me down.

Remember to call when you leave for the pack at Landes. Their Alpha will let me know when you arrive. Be safe. Be vigilant.

Sighing, I quickly replied that I would, resisting the urge to tell him to leave me alone. Shoving my phone into my jacket pocket alongside the room key, I ignored it this time when I felt my phone buzz again. At least when I decided to go cross country, there'd be no way for them to keep tabs on me.

The fresh air was welcome when I finally got out of the busy hotel. The small street was bustling with tourists. Different languages mixed amongst smiling faces, all enjoying what Paris had to offer. I could feel the tingle of magic in the air, which didn't surprise me too much. It was a big city, there was bound to be other beings walking and living amongst the humans.

I made note of the cute cafe across the street that had the sweet smell of cakes and coffee wafting from its open doors. It had to be better than the slightly burnt food being served inside the hotel.

Stiffening slightly, I was suddenly aware of eyes on me. My wolf was alert, catching the feral, woodsy scent of Wulvers amongst the mass of humans. Male wolves, I could tell that much from the hormones filling the air now. I felt suddenly nervous, even as I repeated to myself that of course there would be other Wulvers here and it was nothing to be worried about.

Shaking the feeling off, I forced myself to start walking, stepping into the road. I needed to get used to this if I was going to enjoy myself. The raking screech of breaks made me jump, and I noticed too late the car veering towards me. A hand grabbed my arm, yanking me back and out of the way of a speeding car. The driver yelled something at me, shaking his fist angrily but I was too shocked to get upset about it. I was panting, my heart thundering and I turned to thank whoever had just saved me.

My thanks got stuck in my throat as I looked up at the owner of the scent that had distracted me in the first place. The male chuckled at my startled expression, his eyes glowing slightly. He was making sure I knew what he was, not that I needed him to, I could smell his wolf's interest in me on his skin.

"Merci," I finally managed to stutter, pulling my arm from his grip.

He smiled, bowing his head slightly. "De rien."

I fumbled for more words, my cheek flaring red as brown eyes continued to watch me expectantly. He frowned a little in concern. "Ça va?"

"Im afraid please and thank you are the extent of my French," I admitted sheepishly, hoping he understood.

My gaze flicked past him to the two other males that hovered nearby, trying to figure out if they were a danger to me. He'd saved me from the car, and he was still smiling easily, brown eyes almost sparkling as if he found something funny. I relaxed a little, despite feeling as if it was me he was silently laughing at.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his French accent heavy.

I nodded, creating a little more distance between us. "I am. I caught your scent in the air and wasn't paying attention. It won't happen again."

His lips twitched but he nodded, trying to school his delicate features. My gaze flicked back to the two other males standing behind him, their curious gazes on me. I shifted uncomfortably, wanting to be on my way.

"You should be more careful, drivers here don't care much for pedestrians," he warned, holding out his hand to shake in a very human-like gesture. "I'm Lucas."

Shaking his hand, keeping an eye on all three wolves, I angled myself so my back was away from them. "Fenna. I'll keep that in mind, thank you. I'd like to make it to see your Alpha in one piece as he expects me."

It was important to make sure they knew I wasn't a threat either. Mentioning that I was a guest of the pack didn't seem to surprise any of them though. I was wary again, instincts urging me to leave. I couldn't take on three wolves at once.

Lucas frowned. "You weren't expecting us?"

I shook my head in confusion. One of the males behind him whispered something in French, making Lucas chuckle. I bristled, a low growl rumbling from my chest. Widening my stance, I studied the way they moved. They didn't look like they were here for a fight but why else would I have expected a confrontation?

Lucas noticed my change in demeanor and bowed his head ever so slightly. He meant no harm. "We received a call from your pack's Beta asking us to check in on you, show you around and accompany you to our pack when you were ready."

"Of course you did," I muttered, running a hand through my hair.

I should have known my uncle would have pulled something like this. Annoyance flared and I growled again. How he could he do this to me and not tell me? I must have looked like a fool to these males, or a pup who needed a hand to hold.

"The Beta is my uncle but I'm no longer bound to a pack," I explained, lifting my chin, standing at my full height. "I don't need babysitting and as far as I'm aware, Paris isn't on any packland so I don't need to be watched."

The males behind Lucas moved closer to him, sensing my growing irritation. He lifted a hand and gave me a friendly smile.

"I'm sorry. Meddling family is something I understand all too well. Of course this is neutral territory, we're not here to stand guard. We will leave you to get on with your day, but please do let us know when you want to travel south. We'd be more than happy to travel with you, it can be dangerous in fur. There's a bar in the city, a safe place for those like us if you'd like to meet us there tonight?" he suggested happily. "Just for some drinks, a chat."

My gaze flicked over the three wolves. I got no sense of ill will from them, and if Quillan trusted them then so would I. Spending some time with wolves who knew the country wouldn't be so bad after all. It was what I wanted, to be immersed in the culture. Relaxing, I dropped my defensive posture.

"That would be nice, thank you," I replied lightly, smiling back. "I assure you, however, that I'm capable of looking after myself and finding my way to your pack alone."

"I don't doubt it, Wanderer," Lucas said with a grin. "I'll text you the address later. Enjoy Paris, watch out for more cars."

I laughed, exhilaration filling me. It was the first time I'd been recognised as a Wanderer. Watching them then to leave, I debated calling my uncle to give him an earfull then called out, "Lucas wait! You'll need my phone number!"

From the grin he sent me over his shoulder, I knew he already had it.

My uncle was lucky there was an entire sea between he and I.

Spinning on my heel, I gathered my bearings and started on my way again. It was difficult to sooth the anger that had built up. My uncle had crossed a line and fur shifted beneath my skin, muscles rippling. I couldn't risk morphing in front of all these people so I forced myself to focus on my surroundings. That was the last time my uncle would interfere, I promised myself. The more I walked, the more my anger dissipated as I got caught up in the beauty of the city.

Breathing in the array of scents, I started down the bigger streets and towards the river Seine. There was people selling everything you could imagine along the waters edge; paintings, old books, food, postcards and the usual tourist nicknacks. It was enthralling to me. I'd never seen anything like it before, except on TV and in movies.

Canal boats lined the bank in some parts of the river. Quirky houseboats with flowerpots and overly patterned curtains bobbing gently.

As I crossed one of the many bridges, I brushed my fingers over the cold padlocks on the railings. I paused to read a few of the notes that had been tied there. Some locks were inscribed with initials or images. How many of the couples that had left them here were still together?

Looking around, all I could see were couples now. Some posing for photos, sharing kisses and holding hands. My nose scrunched but it was the city of love after all. A small spark of jealousy twisted at my gut. Finding a mate was part of Wulver instinct but I'd never found any male I really liked.

Pushing myself away from the railing, a chuckled. I was too busy enjoying my freedom anyway. Having a mate would mean settling down and it would take more than a few months to explore every inch of the world. With that in mind, I felt much lighter. I breezed past the lustfilled couples and sighed happily when I saw the first real stop on my Parisian tour.

My gaze locked on the Eiffel Tower that reached high up into the clouds. I took in the sight in awe. The bustle of people disappeared as I grinned wide, taking in the grandeur of it. Seeing it made everything a little more real. I was actually here, standing in Paris, the world at my feet, free choose my path.

I looked up, debating whether to take the stairs or wait for the lift. The tower would be higher up than I'd ever been before and I didn't know how I'd cope with vertigo.

A human girl stepped up next to me and she seemed to be having the same debate I was. Her neck craned as she looked up, her eyes widening a little as she let out a slow whistle. I laughed catching her attention and she gave me a sheepish grin.

"It's a long way up isn't it?" she said, eyeing the crowd of people beginning their climb.

I nodded too, smiling. "It is, but it'll be worth it."

***

The rest of my day was spent seeing as much of the city as I could, cramming in every touristy site. Notre Dame had been breathtaking with its stained-glass windows, vaults and artifact's. The Louvre had more art, history and statues than I could take the time to see in a day but had been so full of people, I'd had to leave early. I'd visited little cafes and bookshops, written and sent a postcard for my mother, and stared in awe at the Arc de Triomphe.

The day had thoroughly worn me out. Licking the crumbs from my croissant off my fingers, I flopped back on the bed.

Pride warmed my chest, deep seeded satisfaction filling me at my accomplishments. I'd made it a whole day amongst humans, nodded and smiled at beings that knew what I was and I them.

It was a whole other world where creatures of the shadows mingled more freely with mortals. Pack wolves may go to school, work alongside and even have human friends, but they tended to avoid big towns and cities most of the time. It was tiring to be constantly focussed on concealing our nature.

Even though it had only been a day, I found myself exhausted having to act human. I'd definitely take a break now. Controlling my instincts so carefully had left my skin crawling. Yet darkness had fallen now, and when in a city, night was when the shadow-world came to life. Lucas had text me the address of the bar and it wasn't too far to walk. Pushing myself to my feet, I stretched, readying myself for going back out.

It was freeing in the dark. Few humans were walking about and those that did were hurried, keeping their heads down. It peeked the interest my fur. They were walking very much like prey.

Spotting the bar was easy. A woman guarded the door and she practically hummed with magic. Eyes even darker than mine looked me over and I wouldn't deny I was intimidated. I did my best to show no fear, walking as my uncle had taught me to. Confident strides, head up, shoulders back.

The woman sniffed as I stepped onto the pavement. "There's a few of your kind in tonight."

I gulped, not quite sure what to say. I was aware of the existence of witches, vampires, Ailill, laoch and an array of other creatures, but I'd been limited to the pack my whole life. The being in front of me gave of an energy like I'd never felt before. I must have looked silly, staring blankly with my mouth hanging open.

She chuckled, her features softening slightly and I felt a little less frightened.

"This your first time away from home, little pup?" she asked gently.

There was no teasing in her tone, nor any sign of her taking a dig at me, she looked genuinely concerned. I bobbed my head, losing my facade of confidence. "I left my pack to travel."

She smiled and nodded understandingly, brown hair falling into her eyes. Looking up, I took in the little pub, amazed that it wasn't more concealed from mortal eyes. I hated that the windows to the bar were blacked out so I couldn't see inside. I couldn't get a feel of how many were inside, nor what exactly to expect.

"They don't bite. Any fights are quickly broken up. This is a place of gathering, there's nothing to be scared of. We had a rogue like you in not too long ago starting trouble though, so I trust you will be well behaved?" she inquired, this time with a joking tone.

I laughed. "You'll get no trouble from me, I swear."

With a wink, she opened the door and I took my first step into yet another new part of the world.

The bar was a little gloomy, lit by candles and a big, open roaring fire. It was a little busy and a few conversations stopped when I entered. If the last lone wolf that came here had started fights, I could understand their wariness.

I tried to tell what creatures were here as I inhaled, eyes flicking around to every dark corner. Wulvers were indeed making up most of the patrons. Hair stood up on the back of my neck, my skin tingling with the presence of magic. Witches. Looking around some more, I could make out one heartbeat thumping far slower than those around it. Before I could pinpoint my first every vampire, someone called my name.

Lucas waved me over from where he sat at a table by the bar and I made my way around chairs and stools to get to him. He was sat with the two males from earlier who looked a lot more relaxed now, and a small, blonde female who was sipping her drink through a bright pink straw.

"I've made a decision," I said when I reached him and sat on the creaky chair.

An eyebrow quirked and he shared a look with his packmates. "Oh?"

I should have said hello first, I realised. Becoming packless must have thrown my manners out the window. Clasping my hands together on the table, I lowered my voice a little. Others here were still looking my way and I didn't want to be overheard.

"I want to travel south and see the countryside on my way to your pack. I want to live as my ancestors did," I explained. "If you're willing to travel with me, I could use a hunter on my right."

Without even asking his packmates, he nodded, grinning wide. "I've never travelled from here to home in fur before. It'll be a new experience. I'm sure Paula will be happy to join us too."

The one female in the group whom I guessed must have been Paula sent me a tentative smile, bobbing her head once. Her voice was high and squeaky as she chirped, "Of course."

I smiled back, glad there would be another female with me. She seemed a little shy, and definitely wasn't high ranked. Her head stayed slightly bowed, her body almost curling in in itself whenever eyes were on her.

"What about. . ." I paused, trying to remember if I'd even been introduced to the two other males when we met.

"I'm Anthony. Marc and I live here in Paris, we won't be travelling with you. I can buy a round of drinks though," he offered with a smile, pushing his glasses up his nose.

"Drinks would be great."

Excitement buzzed through me at the prospect of living wild for a few days. I hoped Lucas and Paula would be able to keep up. Perhaps I should have been a little more cautious about travelling with two wolves I didn't know, but I could tell Paula was no fighter, and Lucas had technically been sent by my uncle so I was sure I had nothing to worry about.

A fruity smelling cider was placed in front of me, the same kind as Paula was drinking. Before I could take a sip, a shot of tequila was placed beside the bottle. My stomach rolled and I swore I could hear Kailum's mocking voice in my head. Four sets of eyes watched me, waiting for me to pick it up which I begrudgingly did.

"Las Lanas de Gasconha?" Lucas asked, still grinning so much I wondered if he ever stopped.

"Landes Forest," I agreed, pausing and raking my brains before clanking my shot glass against everyone elses. "Santé!"

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