The chill in the air tonight was a high indication of the fast approaching winter season. I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my military coat. Even with the hoodie over my head, I can still hear every little footstep of each creature that is still awake. My feet trudged through the earthy ground. The sound of fallen leaves crunching underneath my boots.
I looked up to see the cabin I’ve been staying in for the past couple of months and felt a sense of nostalgia. I remember when Katya and I were on our own. She has protected me for so long. It was only right to leave her with her mate. She is finally happy. If I stayed behind with her, it would only cause her to worry about me.
It doesn’t mean I haven’t kept in contact with her. I call her every now and then through a prepaid phone that is untraceable. I update her on how I am doing and she tells me everything that is happening back at the pack.
I lived back in Katya’s and Hunter’s pack until I turned eighteen. I made the decision then to leave because it was safer for everyone. My skin tingled as I listened to my heart beat rapidly in my chest. I am not normal like them. There is something inside of me and it is strong. Stronger than anything I know.
That was seven years ago.
Katya told me that it doesn’t matter. She still loves me either way but it’s hard to control my urges and blood lust. I am afraid to lose control.
I step onto the small wooden porch. It creaked underneath my weight as I made my way to the front door. I took my keys out and slipped them into the keyhole before opening it and entering. This was home for me, but it’s cold and empty. Stuffing my keys back into the pocket of my coat, I turn to my right and flip the switch.
The light illuminated the small living space. This place only has one old, torn sofa and an early nineties TV that doesn’t work. I walked over to the small enclosed space of the kitchen and turned on the kettle to heat up some warm water.
While the kettle was running, I turned to the fridge and pulled out an old brown bag of leftover food that I ate a day ago at some local diner thirty miles from here. I took out the boxed casserole and put it in the microwave before setting the timer.
My phone rang a second later, I took it out of my pocket to look. It wasn’t one of those fancy phones. It’s a phone that can dial and receive calls. That was it. That was all I needed. In this world, I am a ghost.
Katya’s number flashes across the small screen on my phone. I hit the call button before placing it to my ear.
“What?” I rumbled.
“Where are you?” If she heard the annoyance in my voice, she didn’t give two shits.
“Home,” I lied through my teeth.
“Shut up. Where are you?” She snapped in irritation.
I grounded my teeth and worked my jaw while considering answering her. She is asking for my location. Does that mean she is traveling and wants to see if I am close?
“Why do you want to know?” I responded just as the kettle switched off. I began making myself a cup of black tea. At the same time, the timer on the microwave beeped.
There’s a long silence on the other end and I stop midway in what I’m doing to listen to my sister’s breathing. It was off. She sounded nervous.
“What’s wrong?” I asked immediately.
She scoffed and I can imagine her eyebrows furrowing deeply. She’s upset.
“I’m pregnant,” she spat out so quickly I almost didn’t catch it.
“What?” I replied.
“I’m pregnant, Liam.” Katya is freaking out.
Katya is afraid of childbirth. When she was barely sixteen, she watched and helped our mother deliver our stillborn baby sister. After our mother delivered, she hemorrhaged badly and because Katya was young, she didn’t know how to stop our mother from bleeding out. At that time, we were still in the Rogue Alpha’s camp being experimented on. Our stillborn baby sister was also a test subject. She died in our mother’s stomach due to the injections.
“You’ll be fine. Hunter has a lot of doctors there. Plus, there is Gamma Female Rosemary. She’s an excellent surgeon and pack doctor.” I don’t know if I am trying to reassure her or me.
“Liam, I need you to come home. I don’t know if I can go through with this. I need you here with me.”
“Liam, you are my only family. The only person I know would understand my fears. Please,” she pleaded on the other end. I can hear how frightened she is.
“When did you find out?” I asked.
“This morning,” she replied.
“Did you let Hunter know?” I questioned further.
There is a long silence. The only thing that tells me she is still on the other side is her breathing.
“Yes, he found out before I did, but waited for me to find out first,” She replied.
“Please,” She begs desperately on the other end.
“I’ll think about it.”
My skin tingled and the tiny hair on my body stood like a magnetic field. I can hear my heart racing and my blood rushing like a dam through my veins.
“Give me a few days,” I grumbled before hanging up.
The phone cracks under my grip. I look down at the broken pieces and release them onto the kitchen counter. The muscles on my neck are tight and I roll my shoulders to relieve the tension. I tossed back the hood on my jacket and shoved my hands through the thick length of my jet-black hair. A growl developed deep in my chest and rolled up my throat, past my lips.
“Damn it,” I snarled.
I know why I’m tense. Katya needs me home. Although we are fourteen years apart, we are very close. I wish I’m not needed at home but I know Katya well. She’s very stubborn.
I have a few days to get rid of this tension before returning home. Suddenly, my appetite for human food isn’t here anymore. I needed something else. Growling, I shrugged out of my jacket, grabbing the hem of my thick black Henley and pulled it over my head.
There is a reason why I live in seclusion.
There is a reason why there isn’t a single soul living nearby.
I headed for the front door again. Ripping it open, I stepped out and the cold wind whipped my skin, cooling the heat and sweat that has already developed. The beast inside is taking advantage of my uneasiness. It’s pushing forth and my vision begins to blur with dark spots. Before I knew it, I lost complete consciousness just as I heard a vicious, cold growl.
Three days later, I’m standing next to my bike and staring at the familiar packhouse in front of me. Only good memories flooded through my mind. I remember waking up to my very first Christmas here. Everyone was handing out presents and I received my very first toy. I didn’t want to admit it but I was excited to receive something.
Another memory of Hunter asking if I was ready to start going to school. I was nervous. Fuck, I still remember entering grade school for the first time and being two years older than everybody else in my class, but I couldn’t even spell the letter ‘A’.
The front door to the packhouse whipped open. Katya stands before me with a huge smile on her face. She looks so much better now. When we were on our own out in the woods, she and I barely got by with the wild food.
She ran towards me and threw her arms over my shoulders.
“Oh my god, Liam! You’re back,” she said happily before pulling back to look at me up and down. “Dear Lord, you have grown in the past seven years. What did you eat?”
I shrugged, “Stuff.”
“I’m sorry, but you grew like ten inches and gained like twenty pounds of muscle. What the hell?” She’s looking at me with a surprised look.
Hunter appeared behind my sister. He grinned when he saw me. Walking over, he slapped me behind on the back in a brotherly manner before pulling me into a hug too.
“Dude, seriously, what the fuck happened?” Hunter looks equally as surprised as my sister.
I shrugged and stuffed my hands into my black denim jean pockets. It makes me feel more in control. Hunter and Katya ushered me inside the packhouse. They told me that they would be doing a small dinner party to welcome me back.
“That’s not necessary,” I murmured, not feeling the need to have visitors welcoming me back. I don’t know how long I will be staying.
“Just one dinner. We don’t even have to invite everybody, just a few people that you know,” Katya negotiated.
I fought back the smile that was threatening to reveal itself on my face.
“Fine,” I replied.
“Great,” Hunter chimed in with a smile.
“Do you want to rest up in your room? I don’t know how far you had to travel.” I can see my sister trying to indirectly pinpoint how far out I was.
“Not far,” I lied.
We walk up to my old room but something isn’t sitting right. I’m feeling anxious and my skin began to tingle. Instantly, I knew I didn’t like being in the packhouse. I needed seclusion. Katya sensed something was wrong because she touched my arm to get my attention.
“Hey, there is an old cabin at the edge of the territory. Not a lot of people hang around that area but it is secured. Do you want to stay there instead?” she asked.
I looked down at her with clenched teeth. My fingernails digging into the palms of my hands. I gave her a curt nod. She nodded her head in understanding before telling me where to find it. Once I knew the location, she told me to return at six that evening for dinner.
The second I stepped outside of the packhouse, I felt a sense of relief wash over me. Walking briskly to my bike, I swung my legs over it and placed my key in the ignition. I rarely ride a bike or any kind of vehicle but in this case, I am trying to look civil in front of my sister instead of a fuck up.
I drove off the curved, black asphalt driveway and onto the small country road. The rumble of my bike echoed through the woods. It took some time to get there, as the place she told me I can live in is far away from everyone, but eventually, I made it. It’s about a twenty-five-minute drive by bike.
She wasn’t joking when she said the place needed fixing. The windows to the small cabin needed replacement. The lawn also needed some mowing, and the shingles needed replacement as well. Sighing, I slinged my old green duffle bag over my shoulder and walked to the front door. I pushed the key inside and turned it.
The stench of old, unwashed clothes and dust hits my nostrils, but still, this place was better than staying at the packhouse. This smell, I can handle, but a building filled with werewolves will not end well.
I saw a dusty lamp sitting on top of an end table in the living room. Walking over, I twisted the switch. Luckily, the damn thing worked. It turned on and dimly lit the living room. I tossed my bag on the ground and worked on removing the white clothes sitting over one of the sofas before tossing it outside. Afterwards, I fell back on the sofa and stared at the ceiling.
I don’t know what the fuck I am doing back here, but I’m back. I just need to keep my shit in check. Control. That’s all I needed to do.