An Ocean Breeze
Once I had readied myself, the three of us wandered downstairs. My parents were sitting in the kitchen that had been designated for the Beta’s family long ago. My father sat at the round, wooden table sipping on some coffee while he looked over paperwork, a frown etched on his face. My mother worked away behind him, likely baking something sweet for my birthday dinner that night. She hummed to herself while she worked, as she often did.
“Good morning.” I chirped as we entered the kitchen.
“Happy birthday, Marvel!” My mother cheered as she wiped her hands free of flour before embracing me in a tight hug.
“Happy birthday, baby girl!” My father offered, glancing up, momentarily, from his work.
“Thank you.” I said as I leaned down and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
“You girls off for a run?” My mother queried as she returned to her baking.
“Yeah, thought we would get a quick one in before Aida and I have to head to the Wolf’s Den to get everything ready for the party.” Kiara explained.
“Sounds like fun! Marvel make sure that you keep that nose of yours to the wind. You never know when you may catch the scent of your mate!” My mother instructed.
My father grumbled something under his breath, clearly not happy about my mother’s statement. He was not ready for his little girl to move on and be mated. He often chastised me for growing up too quickly. I just always responded with a laugh and informed him that there was nothing that I could really do to stop it. He always responded with, “try harder.”
“Don’t worry, mom, I will keep a look out for my mate. I promise.”
This time a small growl escaped from my father’s lips.
“Oh, you hush now, Jonas. Every wolf must find their mate sometime. The sooner the better.” My mother lectured.
My friends and I merely giggled at my parents’ exchange before heading out towards the back of the pack house. It was just a short walk through the garden that led to the tree line. Once we were safely tucked into the trees, we shed our clothing and shifted into our wolf forms.
I shook out my shaggy, midnight black coat and stretched my limbs. It felt so good to be in my wolf-form again. It was not as though it had been long, a mere twenty-four hours, but I still managed to appreciate it every time. I looked towards Aida and Kiara to see that they had completed their shifts as well, Aida in her copper-colored wolf and Kiara with her dark, chocolate brown coat.
Moments later, we took off through the trees, running as fast as our legs could carry us. Yipping for joy as we went weaving in and out of the trees. We ran for what seemed like miles without a care in the world. This was how life was meant to be; enjoying time with your friends, immersed in nature. Simply free. I tried not to think about the whole mate situation while we were out there. I wanted to be completely in the moment, feeling the wind rush through my fur.
That was until, I caught a strange scent on the wind. The aroma caused me to stop in my tracks and sniff at the air. It smelt of a cool breeze blowing over the sea just a hint of salt in the air. It had been years since I had smelt something similar. We had taken a family trip to the beach and rented a large boat to spend a few days on the ocean. I loved that smell of the freeze air and had not caught wind of that scent since…until now.
I just did not understand how I could possibly be smelling such a thing. We were miles and miles away from any sea or any kind of salted body of water, for that matter. The river ran nearby and there were the waterfalls, of course. Though none of these had ever smelt of salt before. I was certain, beyond that shadow of a doubt, that I was clearly smelling an ocean breeze. I began to follow the aroma, seeking out its source, before I knew what I was doing.
“Marvel, where are you going?” Kiara questioned through the mindlink.
“I have to find where that scent is coming from.” I informed them and they began to follow behind me.
“Marvel, I don’t smell anything. Maybe something is wrong with your nose.” Kiara commented, but I ignored her.
“Maybe it is her mate.” Aida reasoned.
I did not respond. We were only in the early hours of my birthday. I would be surprised if I found him so soon. Especially, out here, in the middle of the woods. I know that we were wolves, but that seemed a little ridiculous, maybe, almost cliché.
I continued to track the scent in silence. After several minutes, I realized that we were coming back around towards the pack house. We were not there yet, but we had been drifting closer. Then, without warning, the aroma was gone. Having disappeared as quickly as it came.
“It’s gone.” I whimpered.
“What?! What do you mean that its gone?” Aida questioned, clearly as confused as I was.
“I don’t know. It was there a minute ago. Clear as day. But now it is gone, vanished.”
I turned and began walking back towards the pack house. I did not say another word about what happened. My mind was reeling. We found where we had stashed our clothes and quickly shifted back into our human-forms.
“Maybe it was a rogue.” Kiara suddenly commented, out of nowhere.
“What?” I asked, arching an eyebrow.
“What if it was a rogue, passing through our territory that you smelled?” Kiara explained.
“Maybe.” I shrugged. “I am not going to worry about it too much.”
That is what I said out loud, but the truth is that I was worried, very worried. If that scent had belonged to a rogue, then that could mean that my mate is a rogue. This could be a big problem. Our pack did not take kindly to rogues and it would be difficult to gain their acceptance. That is, if the rogue wanted to be found and if he wanted to join a pack at all. If he did not, then I would be forced to choose between my pack and my mate. That is something that I did not want to have to do. I had always prayed to the Moon Goddess that my mate would be a member of the Crescent Moon Pack. I did not want to have move away from my home and I certainly did NOT want to become a rogue.