The light breeze of the early summer wind made the leaves of the trees dance and a few birds flew away. She followed them with her eyes until none of the animals were visible anymore. It had always been nice to listen to them while she was working.
Standing in front of the window, Helena sighed and moved back to her chair.
“What’s up with you today?” Shawn asked, munching on his food. He, unlike her, was in a great mood.
“I don’t know. I feel kind of stressed.” Helena shook her head, trying to clear her mind. She had so much work to do. She had never thought deciding if there should be a new hypermarket in town would be so hard and tedious. There were so many papers and people to talk to. And the worst part was it was going to be run by humans. More humans in the wolves’ den.
Helena looked at her loyal Beta and scolded, “I told you not to bring food in my office!”
The blond male just shrugged. How he never felt fazed by his Alpha’s remarks... nobody ever knew.
“I brought you a hamburger and decided to keep you company for lunch. But if you don’t want me here... Then I should just go,” he said and grabbed his packaged food, at the same time picking up her burger.
“Shawn...” She gave him a pointed look.
“What?” he barked a bit too quickly and turned around, a small smirk playing on his lips. She couldn’t just let him disappear with all the food, could she?
“Get back here,” Helena commanded and rolled her eyes. “If my parents were here...” she ventured, hoping to scare her best friend at least a bit.
“But they’re not, right?” Shawn cheered and plopped back on the sofa.
“Wow, you’re fearless!” She huffed a laugh. “Or should I say shameless? Only if you were that brave when dad was here, too.”
“Oh, don’t make me shudder! I’m eating!”
“Maybe I should call him?” Helena teased, the presence of her best friend by her side relaxing her.
Unsurprisingly for her, he shook his head.
“Don’t bother your parents while they are on their vacation! If you’re that bored, why don’t we go and check the land the hypermarket is going to be built on. Just to make sure it’s not one of our hunting grounds.”
“You were supposed to do this alone.” The Alpha female smirked but still stood up from her chair. She eyed the burger on the table and swallowed. Maybe having some of it was going to improve her mood?
Besides, she loved spending time with Shawn. He was like a brother to her. He was good at replacing the loneliness too. Ever since Helena’s parents had left her to take care of the pack by herself, she had often felt alone. She knew this was her trial period to see if she could handle the pack alone, but there were so many things to be done. There were so many problems she had never thought she’d have to face. So many werewolves to help. And they all had their needs. Some of them wanted their ranks to be raised, others wanted support with their family businesses. And some needed help to remain hidden from the human world. It was not easy being a teenager and going through your first shift. It was much more painful and scary than it sounded.
And for the last two weeks, she had been even more tense than usual. She knew something was coming. She just didn’t know when. This was unusual for her, as Helena never believed that second sense existed. A werewolf like her couldn’t predict the future. She wasn’t a witch. But then why had this feeling put its claws over her head and heart? No matter what she did, it didn’t want to go away.
When Helena parked the car in front of her house, she exited it and took a breath of fresh air. That’s the moment she knew she had to do something. She couldn’t just stay home and be still. She needed to move.
“I’m going for a run,” she said, not even glancing at Shawn.
“Okay.” He raised his eyebrows. “Just be careful. You know we have human tourists in the summer. And usually, it’s not allowed to shift and run around in the middle of the day.”
“Well, I’m the Alpha. I won’t get caught.” Helena cracked her neck and strolled towards the green forest behind their house.
The sun had set behind the horizon far too soon. To Helena, it seemed like only a few minutes had passed, since she had shifted into her brown wolf. Running usually helped her concentrate and remove all the unnecessary thoughts from her head, but now it had almost hindered her. She had tripped over roots, bushes and all the rabbits she had chased had escaped her clutches.
She slammed the door of her house and angrily trudged up the stairs. Her usually calm attitude was gone and replaced by a rarely seen grumpy side of her. She quickly entered the shower and hoped the hot water would make her calm down. What was causing her sourness? Meeting one of her former high school friends during the day? The realization more humans would settle into her town, as it was becoming more and more popular each day?
Helena sighed and closed her eyes. The hot drops of water hit her skin and made it flush. She put a hand over her chest and felt the way it madly pounded against her ribcage. Her thoughts started drifting off again. How had her parents managed to do all that? They had grown the pack from around fifty people to almost one hundred and fifty. They had let new wolves join and had established rules. And here Helena was, only two years after her family had left town for their so-called vacation, the human population had tremendously started increasing. How was she going to explain that to them? Helena knew living with humans was not a bad thing, not at all, but it just added more rules to the already full werewolf rule book. One more thing to abide by.
She took a deep breath and sighed. She couldn’t and didn’t want to do all this alone. Werewolves were pack creatures and they needed their other halves. Their mates. And here Helena was, still as alone as ever. Even Shawn’s company wasn’t enough, no matter how much he tried to take care of her and support her. It was kind of sad because the werewolves with Alpha blood needed their mates more than the lower-ranked ones. With great powers, comes... well, a great need for your mate.
After a minute of just letting the water hit her skin, Helena weaved her hands through her golden-brown hair and pulled it to the side. It was still not enough. She couldn’t understand why, but her tension had almost reached a boiling point and she felt like screaming.
A big thud somewhere in the house pulled her out of her thoughts and she narrowed her hazel eyes. Was it an intruder? Or was Shawn doing something stupid again? Maybe this was going to be an opportunity to vent out and kick some ass.
Helena hurriedly left the shower, taking her towel and wrapped it around her frame. Following the slight shuffling sounds, she held her breath and tried to remain as quiet as possible. This wasn’t the first time someone had broken into their home and she had to protect herself, but she still wondered why. Her pack’s relations to the neighboring packs were pretty friendly and positive. Was the intruder a human? But if that was true, then why hadn’t the security informed her?
Trudging slowly in the hall, Helena’s eyes widened when she saw a familiar figure carefully approaching her.
“Shawn...” she mouthed to him.
The male stared at her, recognizing her slender figure. When he saw her attire, he motioned with his hands in incredulity. She was a werewolf, she could’ve quickly put something better on.
Helena glared at him and pointed at the door between them. It was the source of the unfamiliar shuffles. They stood on the two sides of the laundry room and noticed its door was slightly opened.
Helena’s eyes glided to it, hinting at the male that there really was something inside. Shawn nodded, ready to pounce on anybody that tried to hurt his future Alpha. Protecting her was in his blood, but it was also triggered by his desire to keep his friend safe. If something happened to her, life was going to become much more boring. He was still that tiny five-year-old boy that adored the baby in his hands and knew he was going to support her till the day he died. Just as she was going to do for him.
Helena’s heart was beating wildly. It felt like it was going to burst through her ribcage. It was impossible to calm it down and she didn’t know why. Now she was ready to scream. Her whole being desired it. Her palms were sweating and her stomach was churning. She was restless. What was going on with her?
Suddenly, something in the room shuffled again and they heard a quiet growl. It was low pitched and different from other werewolves. It sounded like it was slowly uttering words.
Hearing that, an unfamiliar chill ran up Helena’s spine and its attack on her senses made her quickly burst through the door. She had no time to lose and hoped a surprise attack would give her some advantage. The faster she dealt with the intruder, the better. She wanted this night to be over.
When Helena’s eyes shifted and managed to finally clearly see the room, she noticed a huge furry figure, standing between the laundry machine and the dryer. The fair light from the open window behind the creature was illuminating its shape. It was huge, it was intimidating, it was... beautiful. The monster was standing on its enormous hind legs and its human-like arms were hanging from its wide shoulders and torso. By the look of it, she could immediately tell it was a male.
A male lycan.
His head tilted in her direction and his huge mouth generously showed his long teeth. Helena sucked in a breath and the creature almost mumbled something under his breath. She strained to hear it, his husky, creepy voice making her tremble and blush. It had a mixed effect on her emotions. Fear and excitement mingled into one and fought for dominance. Behind her, Shawn tried to enter the room and attack the beast, but Helena stopped him with her arm. Her gaze just couldn’t leave the creature in front of her.
The lycan’s mouth opened again and his growly, non-human voice almost desperately uttered, “Mate...”
Helena’s eyes widened in a thunderous wave of shock and she whispered, “Who are you...?”
This was not an ordinary break-in. This monster had a reason and he had come with a purpose.
While things were starting to fall into place, Helena’s confusion was dimming her train of thought. She felt like she was out of her own body. Detached, yet still there. Nothing else, except this creature in front of her, mattered anymore. This was a once in a lifetime experience and Helena was sure she’d never feel it again. Giddiness filled her body and she felt like she could climb Mount Everest. Unfamiliar quivers shot all over her body, reaching the tips of her fingers and made her release a breath. Her knees were going to buckle. Barely containing her scream and these conflicting emotions, she finally swallowed. Her hold over herself was quickly slipping away. Helena desperately had to find out who he was.
The huge beast moved to the left, hiding behind a high shelf, where Helena and Shawn stored cleaning supplies, sometimes washed towels or clothes they had to take to their rooms. After less than two minutes filled with a big load of cracks and strange sounds, a man showed up and stood between the laundry machine and the dryer. Right at the place of the lycan. He was wearing a pair of Shawn’s jeans, but they were too wide on him and hung low on his waist. He was much smaller than the heavy beast, but his body was still muscular. His hair was black, disheveled, wavy and covered more than half of his ears and his piercing green eyes were staring at Helena. It was as if they were shining in the dark and when he smiled, two charming dimples showed on his cheeks.
Helena suddenly sprinted and ran towards him, realizing the cause of her madness. Her excitement was pushing her limbs, not even acknowledging her brain or rational mind. She hugged the young stranger, wondering if she’d cause them to fall back on the ground by the force she had used. But the male didn’t even budge. His arms immediately flew around her and returned the same strength by embracing her.
“I finally found you!” Helena whimpered in his arms, her happiness overtaking her mind. Touching him and getting so close to him, she realized that her mate was only a few centimeters taller than her. But he was real. So real!
Helena pulled back and looked at his face, noticing how youthful he was. He was so handsome, his full lips curved into a smile and generously displaying his dimpled cheeks again.
Surprisingly for her, these wonderful lips were over hers in a matter of seconds. Helena immediately jumped back, startled by the unexpected touch and the feel of his lips on hers. She grabbed her towel, making sure it would not fall.
This was moving way too quickly.
“Actually, I found you.” He smirked, not even slightly embarrassed by his actions.
Seeing the blush that was creeping its way on Helena’s face, the lycan continued, “What? My eighteenth birthday is fifteen days away. But that doesn’t mean I can’t at least kiss you, right?”
That explained his youthful face. He was two years younger than her. Helena knew that lycans started searching for their mates when they turned eighteen. It was not only because they matured faster than werewolves and humans, but they were also very impatient. What surprised her was she hadn’t even known lycans could find their mates earlier than that.
Helena smiled at him, still flustered by his sudden appearance and brazen kiss. She decided to let it slide just this once, as she was sure it was just triggered by his impetuous nature and excitement to see her. He was a lycan, after all. And a teenager. Besides, she had also sprinted to him, initiating contact. Maybe it was half her fault for giving him green light.
She grabbed a few washed sets of her clothes and pushed the two males out of the room, getting dressed. Her clothed – or barely – clothed state made her even more flustered and she knew she had to do something about it. And fast.
When she got out of the room, she took her mate’s hand and said, “Come. Let’s go to the kitchen.”
The fact a lycan had entered the premises of Helena’s pack had explained why nobody had caught him sneaking in. The lycan kind excelled in everything - they were faster, stealthier and stronger. Still, it didn’t excuse the security officers and Helena knew she’d have to lecture them about it.
They entered the kitchen and Helena made her still grinning mate sit on one of the stools next to the counter.
“Do you want anything? Food, tea, milk?” she asked, reaching for one of the cabinets. Her guts were telling her to be as friendly and gentle as possible to him. They had so much to talk about and get to know each other.
Her mate’s gaze never left her. He just shook his head nonchalantly.
She went next to him, studying him, and asked, “What’s your name?”
Helena still couldn’t believe she had found her destined person and he was a lycan. While they were similar in many fashions, they were still... incompatible in her eyes. That’s why she had never considered that option. In the rare times a lycan and a werewolf were mated, they both had to put a lot of effort into their relationship and make it happen. And mates were all about synch, good teamwork, and understanding of each other. All of these privileges dimmed and turned into something the couple had to fight for when they turned out to be two different kinds. The werewolf had to be strong enough to keep up with the pace of the lycan.
“Keiran,” he said. His voice was gentle and soothing, but it was still deep and manly. “And yours?”
Helena couldn’t stop gazing at his eyes. They were captivating; capturing and engulfing her, just like a prisoner, staring at the only small ray of light that was blazing her face. And she loved it.
“I’m Helena, future Alpha of Cloudbridge. I’m still in the final stages of training.” She smiled.
“An Alpha, huh?” Keiran’s brow shot up and his dimples appeared in full force again.
Suddenly his attention shifted to Shawn who was just entering the room.
“Oh, and this is my Beta and best friend – Shawn,” Helena introduced, putting a hand on Shawn’s shoulder.
“Hi, Shawn.” Keiran smiled and confidently looked at him.
“Hello, I’m so happy to finally meet you!” Shawn extended his arm for a shake and Keiran took it. “If you need anything and Helena can’t help you, just turn to me! I believe we’d be able to become good friends!”
“Me too!” Keiran grinned again.
“Shawn’s currently living here with me. His room is on the first floor. I wanted him to be close to me, especially during my training, after I was left alone by my parents,” Helena explained and her mate nodded at the new information.
Shawn nodded, still looking excited, and then said, “So, after I introduced myself, I intend to give you some privacy. I’ll see you tomorrow!” He winked and turned around, leaving the room.
Helena quickly prepared herself a cup of hot milk and looked at her mate. “Let me show you the rest of the house!”