The knife came across the palm of my hand, enough for a millimeter of flesh to be revealed. Blood pooled from the cut and I tipped it into the inkwell held by the elder witch. I squeezed my fist to drain the blood and stop the bleeding. When there was enough for the purpose, I opened it and accepted the bandage from the assistant to my left. Jesus, that hurt more than I had thought it would.
Signaling to the witch elder on my right and the head of the table that I was ready, she proceeded. The table, full of some 150 witches and Weres sitting along the length of the long barn, looked up to her expectantly. Bright candle lamps of all sizes and shapes had been hung from the roof.
How they were lit and how they had stayed good for the two hours since we entered, I had no fucking clue. However they had been crafted, they cast a soft but powerful rose-shade glow, something similar to a sunset. It was enchanting enough to seem almost romantic, like the two parties were trying to woo each other into this relationship. Trying to assert how desirable we both were to each other. How much we needed each other.
The irony of it was that the witches didn’t need us at all from what I could tell. With all they could accomplish with using their ‘influence’, their disguise as a hippy commune meant they never drew the wrong type of attention, only the slight chuckle from outsiders of the facade. Sure, they considered ‘muscle’ invaluable, but these days, it was hardly needed.
But I got it, they liked the insurance. Everyone likes insurance, feeling safe. And it made them feel safe having a guard dog in case someone got over the fence. Something vicious enough to take teeth to bone if needed. That was certainly the Blue Moon Weres.
I didn’t mind at all being their insurance plan, because truth be told, the treaty was more valuable to us than them. I could already foresee what and when Blue Moon would need to call upon the treaty. We had our own wolves at our door. The wolves of change who saw our land and what it was worth and went as far as to change laws, ignoring the Native American claims to it. Yes, the Hunter Valley witches would be fulfilling their part of the treaty long before they would need ours.
I eyed the short piece of parchment in front of us that was waiting for signatures. For an official treaty, it was alarmingly short and vague. A paragraph for delineating the land, one for showing that each will not harm the other in any manner subtle or aggressive, and the last was the one I was most interested in, where either may call upon aid that is within the power of the other when in need.
So ambiguous, it was perfect.
Dinner plates had been cleared and wolves and witches on both sides had their glasses refilled for toasting. The old witch, maybe around 70, cleared her throat to garner attention. With silver hair styled into a small bun, her face held years of wrinkles and time, yet she didn’t look 'elderly'. She looked worn, wise to the world, her face held the gravitas of someone who had seen some shit and knew enough of when and when not to speak. Seeing that all were now silent, she began.
“Since the ten families fleeing from Salem found the land here along the Colombia river vacant, the Blue Moon pack from the Wenatchi nation has always been our neighbor to the North. Only after ten years did we have dealings with each other and only another thirty until coven and pack devised the treaty. Meant to clearly show the division of land, it, more importantly, shows what we mean to each other and how, though we may be two different races, are one community. Divided by water, but together in battle.
Tonight we celebrate and honor another ten years of this agreement as well as celebrate the Solstice, special to us in the coven, and tomorrow, the last moon of the Roman year, for the wolves. We of the Valley, welcome new Alpha William Achran to his role, and hope that he follows his forefathers in honoring our treaty and bringing pride to his wolves.”
I listened to her speech, short but subtle. Not enough pointed language to make anyone think she was referring to anything specific, but for the right ears, it was clear she was telling me that we would be together a lot more and I better get on board. She had no idea how right her words were.
She turned to me if I would like to say something. Never to shy from crowds and public speaking, but not exactly welcoming it, the unspoken message in her speech needed a response. Two could play this game. I stood up and moved next to her.
“We thank the Coven for welcoming us onto their lands for the next two days and helping us celebrate our own occasion. I will echo the elder’s words and sentiments. The last three hundred or so years have shown that witch and Were can be more than just neighbors. They can be friends. And when friends are in need, both must answer the call to arms for the safety of all. But tonight is for celebration and for Were and Witch to bind those friendships for the next ten years.”
I glanced aside at the elder who was looking thoughtfully at my words and gave myself an internal grin for playing tit for tat with the mind fucks. With that, I picked up the old calligraphy style pen, dipped it into the ink of my blood, and signed the bottom of the treaty parchment. The elder then copied my actions and when she had lain her pen down, I howled up to the ceiling in mockery of my wolf. My pack took up the call and a choir of howls echoed inside the barn.
The Witches in the council at the head of the table stood, talking among themselves to arrange something. Echos of the howls eventually died down and I returned to my seat, whispering to my friend seated next to me, Justin.
“Can I get the fuck out of here now?”
“Not yet... Alpha,” he also whispered, conspiratorially. I gave him a death stare, he knew full well I hate those titles and shit.
He continued, “There is still the bonfire lighting, and I think it’s a good idea if you stay for an hour afterward. To ‘bind those friendships."
I rolled my eyes at him but knew he was right. It would look hypocritical for the leader spouting words of friendship and camaraderie if I didn’t even stay for the after party. But for some reason, I found myself in a foul mood, and it did not seem to appease my inner wolf to try and hang out with a bunch of commune, hippy clothed, witches. He seemed anxious to get out of here, or do something, the full moon was rubbing him the wrong way this month.
“An hour,” I retorted to my Beta.
The elder Witch who signed now stood at the head of the table with a large torch. Her body language now looked much more relaxed and she was wearing a large smile. She motioned for me to join her.
Closing the gap between us she gestured for me to grasp the torch with her. She spoke aloud to the barn once more.
“Now we can begin to really celebrate with the lighting of the Solstice fire. Each of the ten founding families has set up booths of entertainment for our guests to enjoy. Please follow us for the lighting.”
In front of us, she waved her hand and the two bowls of our blood suddenly burst into flame and the elder and I held the torch over them until it caught. Moving carefully and together, the Witch and I walked out of the barn and towards the large unlit pyre, some fifty feet away. Weres and Witches had already surrounded it and were waiting for the fire.
I looked to the elder for guidance for where to place the torch. She nodded up to a large hole in between branches of the pyre that was big enough for the torch. Placing it inside, it lit the surrounding wood unnaturally fast, sorcery I guessed on her part. Within moments, long flames had reached the top of the pyre with her assistance. The full moon peeled out from behind the clouds overhead and she gently called out to all wolves present with her hum. It was serendipitous and seemed almost divine by itself, it was then that I let out a deafening howl, my pack quickly taking up the call.
The small fire in my hand was quickly extinguished as the Witch passed her hand over it. I examined my palm closely, squeezing it open and shut to make sure it hadn’t burned. All I felt was a little warmth, but no damage.
“Cool trick,” I muttered to the middle-aged woman behind the stall.
“Anytime, Alpha,” she smiled and then turned to the young boy standing in line behind me, ready to give him a few moments of wonder. I walked around the large circle of the bonfire area, slowly sipping my beer. For all the resentment I sometimes felt to the Witches, for being able to achieve so much by uttering some words and burning some sage, being in a treaty with them definitely had some perks. There was often a severe lack of entertainment for young ones and teens on the Indian Reservation. Having something magical to look at for a few hours was a welcome diversion.
Walking past small circles of the two groups mingling, it was evident that our two tribes had a lot in common, despite the obvious. Even though the Witches stuck to their land and their hippy image, and the pack stuck to the Res, living behind our facade of native American legends, we still lived in the same county and had the same problems. Hearing laughter from a group of teenage girls made me smirk and I slyly listened in on their innuendo gossip of how you can tell which is the bigger wolf.
About half way around my walk of the circle, a low humming filled my ears. It was way too quiet for humans or even the Witches to hear, and I doubted any of the other Weres would hear it if they were talking. I rubbed my ears and tried to clear my nose to make sure it wasn’t just in my own head. No, it was still there, but so low I doubted it bothered anyone.
Someone called my name in greeting and my attention was turned to them, giving a nod in acknowledgment. Facing towards the bonfire, a few people moved apart and a woman, silhouetted black against the raging inferno behind her, appeared in front of my gaze.
Her short blonde hair was highlighted against the fire and made her look like she had a low hanging halo. The sight was mesmerizing. She was mesmerizing. With a figure closer to athletic than hourglass, she was swathed in tight fitting clothes that immediately struck me stupid as my eyes wandered from her thighs up to her breast. I continued walking around the fire so I could clearly see her face. As soon as it was no longer in shadow and she ruffled her hand through her hair, I recognized her.
The girl from the Jeep. That fucking gorgeous woman asleep in Jess’ Jeep. I had been pissed when I thought Jess had a hookup waiting in his car when we were all working for the party, but then realized that she didn’t smell like him. She smelt like some unknown man but for some reason it still rubbed me wrong. I could only partially see her face in between the hood and her spot in the cab, but every time I glanced up from the engine to look at the sleeping face the harder it was to look away.
A smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks had highlighted her button nose and full mouth that had been almost cutely drooling, and I was relieved that I couldn’t see any more of her in that Jeep. I didn’t dare ask Jess who she was in case he took it as something more than immediate lust, or worse he told me who she was, or the gut wrenching scenario that they were together. I fixed his Jeep’s cable that had a habit of becoming loose and stormed back to the commune, armed with the knowledge that for the first time I wanted someone on sight. Hell, partial sight, and I probably couldn’t do anything immediate about it.
I looked around the space she inhabited to see if anyone else had tried a claim on her for the night. She wasn’t wearing any ring, and there was no body language to show she was attached. I looked her up and down, getting slightly harder at the sight of shapely legs and her full breasts. The first time I had smelled her when Jess opened up his car door, she had smelled like liquor and bad decisions. God, I hope she was ready to make some more tonight.