Part 2 - Chapter 20
As we returned to the house, I could see a lady waiting outside, rugged up in layers and layers of clothing as she waved to us. Her bright red hair stood out against the bright background of snow and her white jacket.
“That is Gideon’s mate,” Hapeon said as we got closer. “You haven’t met the pack yet have you? Do you want me to organise a pack meeting so you can get to know them?”
Oh that would be goo— wait. I narrowed my eyes looking at Hapeon recognizing his intentions, to get me to know the pack.
“I think I’m fine.” I replied as we got closer to the lady.
“There you are! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting?” Her smile was gentle as her fake anger was focused at Marcus, then she looked at me, her smile widening.
She looked like a perfectly delicate statue and her mate was anything but delicate, more like a monster that could snap you in half.
“Who’s this?” she asked pretending not to know me, if Hapeon knew then there was no way that Gideon’s mate didn’t.
“Enforcers,” Marcus muttered, grabbing the spatula she was holding, sniffing it. “Aw man, I hate fish!”
“Well you’re not even going to get bread if you don’t go have a shower, you lot are a bunch of animals.” She shook her head trying to push Marcus inside the house. Marcus was a small man but next to her he looked like an ogre.
“We are animals Cube,” Marcus rolled his eyes.
“Cube,” I asked, was that her name?
“Cynthia Ursula Brielle-Emersyn, they call me Cube for short,” she nodded.
I blinked, stunned, and I thought my name was annoying.
“Right, Cube it is,” I said as I stuck my hand out to shake hers. “Ilargia, or Hill.”
“Nice to meet you Hill,” she said and I pulled my hand back, this handshake was going on for too long.
Her head turned slightly, but her eyes were still on me and I looked at Hapeon as he stared at her, “Whatever he just mindlinked you, he’s lying,” I said, I recognised the look in their eyes, focused yet distant. Dazed.
Her smile brightened, “Sure thing.”
She turned around her green scarf flapping in the light breeze, “If you all get ready and warmed up, lunch will be served in half an hour.”
* * *
This had to be one of those exceptions where I actually joined everyone else when they ate. I didn’t want to but now that I had met Cube she made it her mission to find me when the food was ready and dragged me downstairs.
Marcus looked up as I entered, smiling brights patting the spot on the table next to him and I took the seat.
“I hate fish.” he said as he signed, passing me a plate.
Cube ran up and down the table passing down dishes and making sure everyone had enough food. Hapeon and Gideon sat on the other end with a few other people that I didn’t recognise laughing about something about their morning run.
Cameron sat in the middle mingling away with some other pack members, I remembered Argus who we ran into earlier, and then it was me and Marcus on this further end with an empty seat that was Cube’s.
“Is Hercules coming?” Cameron asked looking around the table, wondering out loud what I was thinking.
Cube placed a piece of bread on my plate before taking her seat, “He doesn’t eat with us.” she said.
I looked at Cameron, see...I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like eating at the dining table.
“Unless it’s our monthly pack meetings,” Hapeon added.
“Would you like some fish pie Hill?” Cube asked from beside me, holding a ceramic bowl.
“I think I’m happy with bread and vegetables.” I told her as the fish skipped both me and Marcus who gagged next to me as he pushed it away, dramatically.
“Hey Hill,” Marcus said from beside me and I looked at his plate where he wrote “Hi” In his gravy, with a twisted smiley face.
“Stop playing with your food Marcus!” Cube muttered, rolling her eyes and mouthing something to me.
“Yes mother,” Marcus rolled his eyes at Cube before stabbing a potato. People left the table as soon as they finished lunch and I stayed back with Marcus to help her clean up.
Even though Hercules didn’t come down to lunch, I was curious to why. Did he have the same reasons I did? Did he eat in his office like I would? Or in his room, reading something? Is that why he had so many books in his office?
I watched Cube stack everything into the dishwasher, noticing a plate next to the stove with a cover on it.
“Who’s that for?” I asked.
“Oh, thanks for reminding me, can you take this up to Hercules.”
I cursed, me and my big mouth. Why did I care whose plate this is? Always having to stick my nose into everything.
She grabbed the tray with the plate and a glass upside down, “here, he should be in his office.”
“Its fine, I don’t think he wants to be dis—”
“Thanks,” she said, shoving it at me forcing me to grab it. Well done Hill, well fucking done.
I pursed my lips turning around, it’s just delivering the food and getting out without letting the man rile you up again. Just taking him his food, so he doesn’t starve— wait, he should starve.
I rolled my eyes walking down the corridor when I saw another man, not one I recognised. “Hey!” I called out.
He looked like the typical type of man I’ve seen so far; tall, strong, and shirtless with sweat – he looked confused as I walked towards him.
“Cube wants you to take this to Alpha Ryder’s office,” I said pushing the tray onto him as he opened his mouth, “Cool thanks, bye.” I turned around hurrying back out. And this is why I avoided things like a family lunch.
After the weird encounter at lunch I did anything to avoid being called down to dinner. So when I found a weird door at the end of the other side of the third floor, I did what anyone would do, I opened it.
The door was half the height of the others, which was what caught my attention in the first place.
Curiosity killed the cat, thank god I’m a wolf.
I walked down to it, placing my hand on the cold knob and giving it a hard push open. I wasn’t expecting how easy it would open, the force of my push taking me halfway into the other side with the door, and I froze.
It opened onto something like a veranda, except it wasn’t. It was part of the roof. I stepped outside quietly closing the door behind me. The view was spectacular, all the stars, the moon shining in the distance, a grey cloud here and there.
You could see all the hills in the distance, covered in white snow and the pretty colours across the sky again as the sun was setting. I looked down over the edge, the drop was long and there was a fair chance that you would die after that impact against the ground.
That made me slightly comfortable as I sat down, swinging my legs over and leaning back on my elbows.
It was a good view, the whole territory could be seen; the lake that surrounded one half of the territory, the mountains on the other side.
Who would think of running a pack out here?
I took out my phone switching it on, a few messages from some of the other Enforcers, but nothing important. I placed it beside me and dug into my pocket pulling out some strings.
The silence was disturbed by intense swearing and the door rattling making me look up as a silhouette came out kicking the door shut. “Piece of shit,” was all I heard out of his cursing sentence and then he paused when he realised there was someone else up here.
Hercules looked confused before he straightened his face and cleared his throat.
Perhaps I should have gone to dinner.
I went back to what I was doing and he took a step towards me after a few seconds, “Pretty view isn’t it?” he asked.
There wasn’t much space on here, but he lowered himself next to me, hanging his legs off like I was, leaning back on his palms. There were a few centimetres between us, but even though it seemed like a lot, it wasn’t. Not when I could feel heat radiating off him. Why did he always wear jumpers that made him look so warm?
“Yeah,” I replied, not sure what I was meant to say. I was certainly not expecting him to make small talk after our last conversation where he had bolted out.
“What is that?”
I felt his eyes on me and stopped, oh.... “Um,” I said, turning the string in my hand around, “Scoobie strings,” I said trying not to smile, but it was hard because these gave me pure joy.
“Strings,” I said making my square before tucking strands underneath, “kills time,” I shrugged. And travel time, and it also gave slight anger relief – as you could pull on the strings as hard as you wanted.
I gazed at his outstretched hand, invading the “no man’s land” between us before I hesitantly handed my scoobie string over.
I watched as his eyebrows furrowed as he turned it around. “It’s a square stitch,” I said as I saw the lime green and grey scoobie in his hand.
“No the other way,” I said, making a motion as he tried tying the string.
“The ot—” I scooted closer, but not too close, grabbing the edge of the string and pulling it towards me. “Like this,” I said as I showed him.
“It’s really easy, you fold these two like this, and then just use the other two under and pull.” I showed him two more times. “There’s like cobra stitches, zig zag and all these complicated ones, I just know the square,” I added as I handed it back to him.
It was funny to see his long fingers struggle with the strings, especially when he had to delicately thread the strings through.
“Yeah, and pull,” I said. Well he certainly was a fast learner, it took me three hours to teach Cameron – who called it quits and threw the strings back at me. It was almost hypnotising watching someone else do it, fast and quick, but he spoke cutting off the trance.
His eyes were focused on the task he was doing as his lips moved, “you’re wrong you know.”
“What?” I asked confused, looking up at him before looking back at the scoobie threads.
“About the mate theory, it’s not just the “pull,” as you put it,”
I sighed, “Are we really having this discussion? Cause I think I would rather sit through an awkward dinner right now.”
He let out a deep chuckle, a half chuckle maybe. “I’m just saying, you’re wrong.”
He pulled the strings.
“Humour me,” I said, not understanding why I was getting into this discussion with him.
Like my mum always said, there were two sides to a coin, you had to know both before you took a gamble.
I watched as his fingers worked the strings, grey strings under, loop, pull.
“There are a lot of animals that mate for life,”
Green over, under, pull.
“Old faithful, I did a Google search you know– they’re birds – bald eagles, gibbons, swans, angelfish, black vultures ...” he continued to talk as I continued to watch him.
Under, pull, over, pull
“... albatrosses, termites – believe it or not – prairie voles – they’re rodents by the way ...”
“... schistosoma mansoni worms and wolves. I’m not saying every single one would, I’m just saying that ninety nine percent will.”
This time it was the green strings that went under.
“You know how the supernatural version goes, I won’t bore you through that story. Fenrir the werewolf god, the product of Loki and Angrboda, the way they tricked the wolf leading him to be evil. The same old folk tale. We don’t really know which theory was correct about how we roam this land – but the mate theory, It’s true. This so-called pull you said,” his eyes were on the scoobies the whole time.
“It’s because—” he said before I cut him off.
“A soul is broken and put into two people, I get it,” I said sighing.
“No, it’s not just the soul. It’s all of you, the human and the wolf, every fiber in your body recognises the pull. What you said, about how you have no choice but to stay with your mate, is wrong. If that was the case, why do we have mates rejecting each other? If the pull was the only thing keeping them together, they would stay.”
He turned the scoobie around, looking at all sides before his fingers went back to pulling at the strings, making it tighter.
“The attraction lets you know your soulmate, some wolves go their whole lives without finding their mate. It’s a sacred thing to find, then, as the human population grows, as hybrids are formed, the chances get lower and lower. To find your mate, you shouldn’t just cast it aside.” he said shrugging, his eyes focused on the scoobies and my eyes focused on him this time.
“The attraction tells you who your mate is, you need to be willing to know them. Like you said, “love,” it’s not just going to happen because of the pull. And you said I don’t know anything about you, well how can I if you keep avoiding me like that?”
I looked away towards the stars. He didn’t need to be looking at me for me to feel that gaze of his.
“The attraction just causes our wolves to bond instantly, both sides need to work for the humans. The attraction isn’t fake. Some say that when Alphas, and important wolves, die, they are reborn. And to make them find their mate easier, the bond is there, but that’s just another legend.”
I wasn’t sure if the wind picked up, but my arms felt cold, like something was crawling on them.
“The attraction is a guide. It’s up to you whether you follow up on that or not.” his eyes met mine and I was pretty sure he was staring into my soul. I felt cold all over.
Nope, that was just because I didn’t have a jacket.
“Fate, destiny, call it what you want. But over some matters, you have no power,” and his eyes were back on the scoobies.
“So apart from all that nonsense, you say potato, I say potato. Tell me one other reason why you think this whole mate thing, why we, are a bad idea. And don’t say it’s cause I don’t know you. If I have to, I’ll court you like the humans do, I’ll do it.” he said, his eyes staring at me intensely.
“Because I’m just not ready to settle down.” I said shrugging, “I’m not going to be that perfect obedient mate you would want.”
“No one said you had to.”
“I’m a temperamental bitch.”
“You call it that and I call it anger which everyone has. If you think you’re temperamental, you haven’t met me then. And as for a bitch, if saying what you think is called a bitch, you can add me to the list. It’s called having an opinion, we all have it. Some people say it, some people hide it. Naming everyone will only bring you grief than happiness. So, I think we can scratch that off the list. Any other reasons?” he asked, it was like he had a response to everything I wanted to use.
“You’re really persistent,” I said giving him a look, his eyebrows furrowed as he pursed his lips.
“I fight for things I believe in.”
“Maybe you’re believing in the wrong things,” I suggested.
“What made you so bitter about mates? Is it your parents?” He hesitantly asked.
I scoffed, “No, they were perfect, that’s what annoys me.”
“That they were perfect?” Hercules asked.
“My mother was an Alpha’s daughter, child of four and my father was actually a hunter.”
“A hunter,” Hercules asked, like he was trying the words out on his mouth, a word that tasted weird. “That’s...strange.”
“He killed more than six hundred wolves in his lifetime. They mainly hunted because they lived on a farm and the wolves got to their animals, I guess. I don’t know that much of the history, his parents died young so he was brought up by his uncles. They could tell the difference between us and normal wolves, the size is a dead give-away. They killed wolves like one would kill a fly.”
I leaned back on my elbows as I looked up at the setting sun, “but the moment he met my mum things changed. Why did he kill all those wolves but not this one wolf? What made him stop? They normally killed every other wolf that came too close to their farm.”
“Because they were mates,” Hercules supplied.
“Yes, but he gave up hunting, adapted way too easily to my mother’s lifestyle. Turns out my father’s grandmother was a werewolf, so he had the blood in him but it would just skip generations as they had a lot of human and wolf couples in their family. My father can’t shift you know,” I said looking at Hercules.
“He’s just like any other human dad stuck with me and my mother as a wolf. If my mother was just another wolf, he would have killed her and I wouldn’t be here. If my mother didn’t shift when she did, she would have died. If my father didn’t venture into the forest because the pig ran away, they would have never met.”
It was funny how destiny had a way of working. Why did that pig run away? How did the pig run away?
“And if I was just another Enforcer, you wouldn’t have looked at me twice.” I said looking at Hercules, who was staring at me intently.
“But you’re not another Enforcer.”
Just my luck.
“My dad should have killed my mum which meant I would never be born right? So I might not even be here, it might be my premature and not born ghost” I stood up.
Hercules did that addictive chuckle as he stood up, and I looked up realising how tall he was up this close, “You know that last part of your logic is flawed.”
Hercules smiled, looking down at his hand and held out the scoobie string.
“You can keep it, I have a hundred more in my bag.”
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