After arriving home and closing the door behind me, I considered asking George to bring me to the hospital. My wrist was pulsating in pain, making me wonder if the injury might be more concerning than I want it to be. But I didn’t want to ruin his plan to drive to his parents, worry him unnecessarily, and I still had this bonfire tonight. I couldn’t tell him where I would go. It would drive him up the wall, and I wouldn’t be able to explain why I would go, either. A bonfire with wolves? Impossible to explain to him. Who knows what happens there, too? Maybe they will all run together to howl at the moon. Taking him with me was out of the question.
My stomach dropped at the thought of keeping it a secret from him. It was quite hilarious that this made me feel bad, when my entire past had been a secret for all these years. Keeping a little bonfire a secret should not weigh me down so much, yet it did.
George and I always had a strong bond, and our honesty and trust in each other had been the ground-stone of our relationship, even if it was built on a lie. At least, that was what I wanted to believe. Other than my hard-to-believe past, I had no secrets from him. But there was no way my religious fiancé would believe me if I told him about ancient wolves roaming the planet, who turn into humans, and I was one of them.
My heart clenched painfully, taking my breath away for a moment. For years, I had been more or less fine with my missing wolf, my pack, and my family. It had been so hard to get rid of the gaping hole in my heart. Everything I had lost, and I wanted to get back so desperately for so many years before I met George, was right in front of my eyes. But it was so far for me to reach. Did I even want to have a different life now? I was with George now, and I should be content with what I had.
When the throbbing in my wrist took over all my thoughts, I considered asking James to bring me to the hospital instead of George. But since we parted after an awkward conversation, I didn’t want to go back. I still couldn’t believe George was speaking about something so private to our colleagues. Perhaps I’m a bit too secretive about our private life, but I doubt such topics should be discussed in such a manner.
I felt sick to my stomach when I imagined everyone at this company knew about our struggle. That they knew about how much of a failure I was. I could only hope it would stay in the small circles they were hanging around with, and they wouldn’t spread it to everyone. But with the urge to gossip, I very much doubted it.
I finally dragged myself off the sofa and searched for an ice pack in my tiny freezer. When I finally found it- smacked at the back of the compartment- I squealed. I ripped it out, hoping it wouldn’t break in the process, and placed it on my wrist. The pain got better immediately, and I sighed in relief. My last resort would have been to take public transportation to the hospital, but I wasn’t in the mood for a crowded bus at all right now, and the ice pack might fix the issue.
My thoughts whirled around, thinking about the upcoming bonfire with the wolves. Should I really go? How will they react when they see me?
My father would have been all in for that sort of thing. He was a huge supporter of united wolf packs. He always wanted peace with everyone, even if it meant he would need to do things that would kill his entire pack.
I laughed bitterly, and it echoed through the empty bungalow. It had been a while since I allowed myself to think back to that time. I stored it in the back of my mind, and I never dared to touch those memories.
I knew my father was an honorable man. He loved his pack and was a good, fair alpha. But what he had decided on eight years ago was hard to forgive.
When the memory was still fresh in my mind, it filled my heart with so much hatred for what he had dragged us into. I was so lonely and hurt. I lost everyone in the blink of an eye. There were many days when I wished I would have died with them and I wouldn’t have been the only one surviving. To this day, I don’t know what kept me going. Only when I met George, life made sense again. He gave me a new outlook and was the first light in the dark days I had been living in.
I ran a hand through my hair, letting out a puff of air. George would hate it if I went to the bonfire, and going there would be wrong. But I also knew wolves. They wouldn’t give up, especially not alphas like Gunnar.
I removed the ice pack and stared at my bandaged wrist. I hadn’t removed the bandage because I didn’t want to see the total extent of my fall. In situations like these, I missed my wolf more so than usual. The healing was a little faster, and the pain tolerance was a lot higher. When you were one of the lucky ones to have a natural strength in healing, you laughed about injuries like these. I never had that luck, but I was an agile wolf. No one could catch up to me. I soared through the woods so fast it was like flying. The wind brushed through my fur with ease, making it feel so gentle and calming. Whenever I ran, I felt truly free.
My wolf loved to run, and so did I. It’s probably why I still do it. But the speed I reached now is ridiculous to what I used to reach. After I had healed from my wounds, I picked up driving my motorcycle again. It gave me a similar feeling of speed and freedom. It also felt nostalgic. My father and I used to drive together back then. Sometimes I regretted selling my motorcycle, but I didn’t want to risk another accident. And after getting together with George, I decided it was time to stop. The panic on his face whenever I soared away made me uncomfortable, too. I didn’t want to worry my significant other doing something I could avoid.
I sat up and stretched. It might be wrong toward George, but I missed a bit of a thrill in my life, and the bonfire might be a perfect opportunity for that. If I was lucky, I would also realize I didn’t miss the wolf community as much as I thought I did. Besides, I’m sure a bonfire with a small pack wouldn’t end in a total disaster. It didn’t stop my nervousness in the slightest, though.
Seeing the time, I realized I should get ready, and in a hurry, I picked out a white maxi dress with brown sandals and opened my hair, making it fall over my back in soft waves. I put on a bit of makeup, trying to look decent. If they killed me, at least I would die pretty.
When I was finished, I put the ice pack back on my wrist, which by now was more warm than cold, but I had no other one. I wondered when the bonfire was going to start. No one had told me. Am I supposed to go to their bungalow or directly to the ominous field they were talking about? If only I knew where that was.
The questions got answered around fifteen minutes later when I heard a knock on my front door. I threw the ice pack in the sink and hurried towards the door, grabbing my little purse on the way.
I opened the door and came face to face with a grinning Gunnar wearing a black polo shirt. He also had his hair combed back slightly, but his black mane seemed to refuse to stay in the shape he wanted it to. I suppressed a chuckle and put on a straight face instead.
“You look nice," he said.
I closed the door behind me and locked it. “Thanks. Let’s get this over with.”
“Are you nervous?” Gunnar asked, following me down the small path to the road.
I shrugged. “I mean, I don’t know any of you. But you aren’t allowed to kill humans, so I hope you follow the rules.”
Gunnar chuckled. “But you are a lone wolf, not a human.”
“How much longer to do you want to keep thinking that?”
But if everyone else thought the same as him, I hoped that as long as he was with me, I at least had his protection. Who knows how long it will be the case, though?
“For as long as it takes for you to realize you haven’t lost your wolf,” he said, a broad smile plastered on his face.
“Are you excited?”
He laughed. “Is it that obvious? It is one of our most important celebrations of the year. I’m sure you will like it!”
I raised a brow at him. It was almost as if he knew I would be utterly overwhelmed by whatever would happen. But I didn’t dare to ask any more questions, worried I would change my mind and back down.
We had to leave the compound to go to their festival grounds. I knew the company owned a large plot of land they rent to groups or companies, but I never visited it.
“Do the authorities know of your little bonfire, by the way? Or the company?”
He raised a brow at me, smirking. “You sure are a rule follower. Guess that comes with being around humans for so long. But don’t worry, it’s all taken care of.”
I pressed my lips together, not answering. Maybe it was very human of me to think about such a thing, and maybe it was beneficial he thought that, too. The more human I appeared, the better.
We walked in silence for a while before I could hear music playing in the distance. I never heard anything similar to what I was hearing, but it caused a rush of excitement to run through my body, making my fingertips tingle.
“They are already into it,” Gunnar said, his eyes sparkling.
“Is that live music?”
He quickened his steps. “I suppose you could say so.”
I wouldn’t have known how he could have prepared me for what I would witness, but I doubt any words would have done it justice.