“So, what’s it going to be?”
Evie stared out into the deep dark horizon of the Ocean Reef Pier, past the frozen bridge that welcomed voyagers to this distant, bottomless place. The wind whispered around them, and against the deep resonating hiss of the slithering September chill and echo of her defiance was the promise of an adventure. The pier was empty, save the ships and boats docked for the night.
“Isn’t that the million-dollar question?” Evie replied Samara with a smile that reached her twinkling silver eyes, which was almost completely concealed underneath the hood of her black cloak. With a deep refreshing breath, she cast yet another look around the harbour.
It was hard to believe she really went through with this. The unfamiliar terrain of the riverine city south of Lethuoca made her stomach crawl with dread. Broxbridge was a long way from home, and it took Ethan leaving Uweka for the Broxbridge ceremony at first light to sneak out of the Crowe manor after countless failed attempts.
“Lady Crowe, I think it’s best to join your brother at the Hayes manor.” Samara’s suggestion appalled her. It was a measly attempt to avoid getting on the Crowe brothers’ bad side. Without Sam, her oldest and only friend, her plan would crumble.
Evie moved, flipping the long cloak that concealed her perfectly along as she circled round Samara. “Please, call me Evie.”
The icy Atlantic wind flapped and the sails on the boats beside them fretted, stirring a foreboding omen about their midnight summit. Samara looked around the pier with caution. “We should retire to my annex, Evie.” Then she turned away from the call of the sea and waved Evie along.
Off the wooden pier, Samara led her towards a black SUV parked off the road. The chill of the night crawled up her legs and Evie adjusted the black cloak Kaitlyn, her handmaiden, had spent many a moon sewing. It was a heavy Melton fabric, softer than a feather and warmer than the usual unfelted wool. ’twas good she grabbed this when she took flight, Broxbridge was colder than she’d thought it to be.
She climbed into the car after Samara, passing the Broxbridge witch a curious look on account of her choice of a small form fitting orange dress and obvious imperviousness to the cold.
“What’s the big deal about the ceremony anyway?” Samara pushed the ignition button and the car hummed to life. “I mean, it’s hardly worth this insubordination, Evie.” She pulled out onto the road, making sure to keep the headlights off.
The christening ceremony was insignificant. It gave her the opening she needed to slip away from the suffocating clutch of her brothers, an over protectiveness that passed from their father to them.
“It is just a ceremony.” Evie agreed, failing to disclose her desire to experience one of the wolf tribe’s most celebrated ceremony without feeling like an outcast.
She pushed the hood back from her head and long raven black locks, glossy with lustre fell over her shoulders. As they drove in silence, she watched the trees on the hill run past them. Evie huffed quietly and turned to watch the dark road ahead as the surrounding calm pulled her into the deep dark parts of her mind she dreaded.
“Pull over up there.” Evie pointed to a clearing at the top of the cliff tipping off the road.
“We cannot afford a detour, Evie. We’re in wolf territory, and we need to get to the mainland’s quick.” Samara argued, although she knew there was no arguing with Lady Crowe.
“Pull over up there, Sam. I need a moment. It won’t take long,” Evie’s tone scalded, as it did with all black furs.
“Ugh!” Samara sighed as she got off the road and did as Evie instructed. Evie climbed out before she could pedal down the brakes.
She scanned their surrounding, then strolled to the edge of the cliff and drew in a lung full of air. It was a soothing scene, the overlay of the moon on the ocean below the hill was a portrait even the gods would pause to savour.
“Evie, this is very risky.” Samara went to her side. “The wolves patrol these woods, what if they pick our scent?” She gestured to the forest behind them and Evie peeked a look over her shoulder.
“You worry too much.”
“I worry because one of us should. The black fur’s nest isn’t far off from here. What if your brother picks up your scent?” Samara argued quietly.
“He won’t find out you had a hand in this, Sam.” Evie reassured her, but she knew it was hopeless. Fear oozed out of Samara’s hazel eyes and it worried her.
The moon was half asleep with only a smidgen of it peeking through the darkness in the sky. Still, Evie watched the nothingness as she listened to the trees in their twirling face off against the wind. Samara’s unrest would be the undoing of both of them.
“We should head back.” Samara hugged herself, and Evie noticed as goosebumps engulfed her fine alabaster skin.
For a moment, she remained at that spot, watching the ocean below the hill while her mind thrashed like unstable waves beneath it. When they realized she was gone, the Crowes’ would turn Lethuoca upside down to find her, she couldn’t put Samara and her coven through that. Perhaps coming down here was a mistake.
Evie turned back to the car and heard it- a low laboured whimper within the woods. She tucked her hair away from her face and listened as she peered deeper into the woods. It sounded again and she moved quickly towards it.
“Come along, Sam.”
Off the trail she tracked the sound, against Samara’s frustrated bellow behind her. Once within the cover of the tall trees, she picked up the scent of blood, and she continued until she reached the wide clearing in the middle of nowhere. She didn’t need to see him to know, from the smell of his blood she knew it was a wolf.
There in a pool of blood was a black wolf, bigger than she’d ever seen. He stirred and managed a groan when he sensed her, and Evie looked about her surrounding with caution. Her instincts, if she were the least bit normal, would be to flee. Wolves and their packs were unpredictable, but he was hurt, and she was the farthest thing from normal—lucky for him.
Samara screeched to a stop beside Evie and sucked in a gasp. “That’s a black fur, we need to leave,” she whispered. As expected, Evie shot her a dismissive glare and turned back to the wolf.
He winced and tried to move but slouched back down with a stifled groan. Evie approached, with catlike tread. Above her, she noticed the almost non-existent moon had come out to watch—full and bright, and goading her closer to the wolf.
“Easy, black fur,” she murmured lowering to him. Then she reached out gently and stroked his fur, he shuddered beneath her touch, his chill passed to her, and she quivered as well.
Gently, she felt around the wound on his sternum. “Who did this to you?” The bullet was still lodged inside, which explained why he was still inhibited and bleeding out. If he shifted back, he could make it worse. On a whim, she cast a quick glance at him and froze—strong unfaltering silver eyes were watching her. Her bright silver eyes twirled in response, and she shut them against the burning sensation of his gaze.
“We don’t know, they may still be around, Evie. We need to get out of here.” Samara was beside her now.
“Maybe if you helped, this will be over quickly. Use your spells.” Evie shot at her.
Samara glanced at the wolf; his eyes were fixed on Evie with a Stoic gentleness. “I am not a healer, there’s nothing I can do here.”
Evie turned back to tend the black furred wolf, he was just as large as her brother Liam. Who would hunt a black fur? They were the most dangerous of the blessed wolves.
“Black fur, this will hurt. I need to get the bullet out.” He motioned with his head, prodding Evie to proceed, and she paused for a moment. Dread gnawed at her insides as her eyes held his against the zing and fluttering in her stomach, she knew this phenomenon, with the wolves, could it be?
With a slight shake of her head, she turned back to his wound and dug her delicate slender fingers into it, fishing around gently for the slug. He whimpered and she stroked his head to console him. As soon as her fingers caught on the bullet, she pulled it out and tossed it aside. She undid her cloak at full tilt and taking great care, pressed it against his wound.
“You’ll be alright, black fur,” She said more to herself. “Sam, we need to clean his wound and—”
The howls sounded from the woods behind them and her eyes fell on Samara—his wolves were here.
“We need to go, come on!” Samara shot to her feet and tugged on Evie’s arm.
Evie tore away from him and rose. “That’s my queue,” she whispered to him as he continued to watch her. “You’ll be alright.” She stroked his face with a smile and scurried off with Samara.
“Ex hac nostra odorem subvertet.” Samara’s chant travelled through the woods with a reverberating wind.
“Samara?” Evie climbed into the Lexus after her and fastened her seat belt, then she noticed black fur’s blood on her hands.
“I know, drive like crazy.” Sam stepped on the gas and sped off into the night as the howls drew closer.
Ex hac nostra odorem subvertet - a chant to mask their scents.