“What business?” I asked, folding my arms over my chest.
“I’d rather not say it somewhere… so public,” he replied.
“…Fine, we can talk in the clinic. Come,” I said. Better tell Lucien about this later…
Our walk to the clinic was done in silence. And thankfully, Ignus kept himself out of my damned head. I’m also guessing Lucien and the others were a bit busy… Since no one was speaking or really, linking me, at all today – no one was even bothering to leave any messages via phone. I unlocked the clinic and Ignus walked in as I shut the door.
“I’m gonna go do my work, so go ahead and talk as I go,” I said and Ignus nodded as he followed behind me.
“I’m surprised you trust me so much,” he commented as I lifted a bag of dog food.
“Carry this,” I muttered as I handed the dog food to him, Ignus took it in his arms and I grabbed a cup to measure out the food preparing to serve them to the pups. “You give me the creeps- but something tells me you aren’t here to hurt me and I’m willing, and perhaps stupid enough, to trust that something.” Ignus simply shrugged in response as I began unlocking the first cage, petting the little shih tzu inside before placing half a cup of food in.
“Well, I’m not surprised. After all, why would a psychopath pay your sister money to hurt you when he could do it right here, right now?” He commented. I turned and stared at him, and from the casual look on his face, it seemed obvious that he was joking. It still didn’t sit well with me though. “Too soon?” He asked.
“Definitely,” I said as I continued to feed the rest of the dogs. “…Why did Quietus have a burn mark?” I asked.
“So that they don’t kill him,” Ignus replied in a relaxed tone.
“They?” I asked as I emptied yet another cup into a bowl, patting the head of the dogs as I also checked on their water bottles. “I’m beginning to get very confused.”
“I would be too, if I spent my life growing up with the wrong species,” Ignus said as he put his fingers into a cage and one of the smaller dogs came to lick him.
“At least the dogs don’t hate you. Also, species? What’s wrong with the werewolf-”
“Nothing’s wrong with them, explaining would take quite a bit of time and I don’t think I’d have enough.”
“Okay…” I murmured as I filled the last bowl. “Put the bag back where we got it and grab the cat kibble – oh and two cans,” I said.
“I’m beginning to feel like I work here,” Ignus commented as he turned around and placed the food down.
“Thank you for being cooperative.”
“You’re welcome, although, I bet you have a ton of questions you aren’t asking,” he said as I heard him pick up the bag of kibble. He walked over to me and handed me the cans.
“Thank you,” I said as I took them from his hands.
“The kittens we got aren’t quite used to kibble – and one of the other cats have a hard time digesting the food,” I explained, not really knowing why.
“You’ve got a really good eye for detail, that’s a good sign,” Ignus said and I raised an eyebrow as I began filling bowls again.
“I think that’s normal… for a vet,” I said, shaking my head, “And what does that even mean?”
“Tell me, Auden, do I smell like a werewolf?” He asked and I turned to face him. I sniffed the air and sighed as I turned around and set the cans down on a table.
“No, you don’t,” I said as I opened the cans up and distributed them into the spare bowls we had.
“I think you only smell like one because you’ve lived with them for so long,” Ignus said with a shrug as he watched me work. His brown and green eyes staring at me – I cleared my throat.
“So you’re telling me I’m a different kind of werewolf?” I asked as I took the bowls and placed them in the proper cages.
“Good. You understand, partially. That makes things easier.” I stood up and looked over at him. I stared into his eyes, trying my best to judge his character.
“You know… if you stare any more than that, I might think you actually like me,” he said and I sighed before running a hand through my hair.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked. “And please don’t say anything freaky.” Ignus smiled.
“I’d like you to meet me regularly – tell your Alpha if you’d like, though I doubt he’d respond well. He might just kill me… But I’d very much like to inform you of your abilities, what you are- your friend was right when she asked about how an Alpha could birth a human-“
“Hold on… You heard that? That was after we met you…”
“I tracked you. No worries, I didn’t bother spiraling into your mate’s territory. I wouldn’t like to get jumped by a bunch of werewolves, no matter how confident I am,” he said with a shrug, smiling at me. “Would you agree to my… mentoring?”
“There’s no reason for me to really trust you – and Lucien would never let me go, he suspects you too much of-“
“Of what? What did I possibly do?”
“How about stalking me? Creepily visiting me at my workplace? Leaving a weird note in my contacts? Paying my sister for information? Those things aren’t exactly trustworthy material.”
“Then it’s a good thing I only aim to gain your trust. I care very little for Umbra and its supposedly rare breed of werewolf – we’re not human Auden. But if you’d like to remain an ignorant ‘human’ under the wing of her Alpha… then be my guest,” Ignus said, saying the word human as if it was a disgusting thing.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with my little ignorant human life, Ignus, but if we aren’t human -then what are we?” I asked.
“Tell me, Auden, what creatures do you think exist outside the mundane world of humans?” I raised an eyebrow.
“The usual array, werewolves, witches, vampires… those are the only ones I hear of,” I said. Not that we meet many of them or any outliers for that matter…
“And say I call these creatures, ‘species’… which one would we fit under?”
“Well, if we aren’t werewolves, we’ve only got witches and vampires, and I can tell you that I’m neither of those two,” I said, folding my arms over my chest. Ignus smiled.
“Exactly,” A phone rang and I watched as Ignus reached into his pockets, pulling out his phone. “I will wait for you tomorrow, if you choose not to appear, I will take it as a rejection of my offer and a… decision of yours to be the… ‘human’ mate you believe you are.”
“Wait for me where? What time?” I asked as Ignus turned around and placed the phone to his ear. Ignus raised his right hand and I saw a flash of images race through my mind.
A lake. The sun barely up as mist crept over it. From a distance – I could sense… It was across Lucien’s territory. Far away but close enough to view it partially from the pack house.
By the time I had gotten back to my senses, Ignus had disappeared though I still heard his footsteps. My breath hitched as I went to the reception to catch him and ask him more questions. But he was gone. The door to the clinic opened and Lucien walked in with a bag.
“I figured you’d still be here. Took a while to crack your sister into speaking- by the way I got you some…” I couldn’t hear the rest of Lucien’s words. My vision blurred and hazed as I felt my legs go weak.
My eyes fluttered open just as I smelt Lucien’s familiar scent. He was carrying me into the bedroom and I heard people talking in the background. Lucien’s eyes looked over at me and I saw a hint of relief in them.
You okay? He asked and I nodded as he lay me down on the couch. I was wondering why he hadn’t put me on the bed, but then I saw Xander, Lana, Katherine and Desmond as they came into the room.
“What’s everyone doing here?”
“Zaina just told us what Ignus was- and aside from your sister being a terrible bitch- I’d have to say I believe her about this,” Katherine said.
“What’d she say?” I asked. Xander took Lana’s hand.
“Zaina called Ignus a ‘bloodsucking bastard’ but to us, that term’s better known for those we call ‘bloodhounds’.”
“Unfortunately this isn’t the time for jokes,” Desmond said and I immediately shut my mouth.
“And just so we’re clear, they’re not at all related to those beautiful dogs…” Katherine trailed off.
“Most people know them better as-“
“Cannibalistic blood suckers.” Katherine finished, interrupting Lucien’s sentence.
“What?” I asked, looking at Lana’s fearful face as Xander squeezed her hand.
“We don’t know much about them- just the stories, the rumors that circulate among packs- they’re a particularly secretive kind of pack, I guess, though I’m not sure they really are a ‘pack’, but no one knows much at all about their kind-“
“Species,” I muttered.
“What?” Lucien asked.
“Anyways, whatever his interest in you – you, out of all of us, have to be cautious, you still have werewolf blood in you – and…” Lucien said, but I had practically muted his voice in my head.
“Do they kill werewolves?” I asked.
“…They’re known to do worse, but supposedly yes. Not much else is known about them, so best to assume that these are just rumors right now, we’ll do our own digging for information,” Desmond said and I looked over at Lucien.
“Rumors always have some kind of root to the truth, better to be cautious in case this guy’s more trouble than he’s worth dealing with,” Katherine commented. And if I wasn’t mistaken, Katherine looked like she really believed in all the rumors that they were talking about- Lucien seemed even more so.
“…Would you guys mind leaving us alone for a moment? I- I need a bit of time to process what you all just said.” All of them nodded and I watched as they turned to leave, each saying their goodnight’s while Lana walked over to me and kissed my cheek as she walked away.
“I’m sorry, that was probably a little too much to take in,” Lucien said as the door shut.
“No, I wanted to know.”
“Do you wanna talk about it?” Lucien asked.
It’d be a terrible idea to tell him now, Auden. Ignus’ voice said. His tone ringing in my head.
“What is it?” Lucien asked and I shook my head as I raised my hand. He smiled as he took it with his own hand and I pulled him down to me.
“Let me just… relax,” I said quietly, my voice hushed.
People have always thought the worst of us.
“Any idea why you fainted?” Lucien asked as he sat by me. I shook my head as I rested it against his shoulder. For some reason, I knew that Ignus was somewhere… chuckling at Lucien’s question.
“Are you afraid of him? Ignus, I mean… and his kind?” I asked and Lucien paused, causing me to look at him.
“We know very little about their kind, but we have stories. Legends and myths, old stories that are probably overly exaggerated… So from what I hear, I should definitely be afraid – for my sister, for my pack, for my mate who’s being targeted by one…” Lucien trailed off and I found myself turning and pulling myself onto his lap.
“What do you think he’s up to?” I asked.
“I’m not sure- but he wants you- and according to your dad… it seems he and his kind have really been looking for you,” Lucien said.
“Maybe my dad did something… you know, some kind of trespassing or rivalry or- the usual thing packs fight about,” I said with a shrug and Lucien caressed my cheek. He stared into my eyes before pulling me down gently, placing his forehead against mine. He definitely stopped listening earlier.
“I would never let anyone hurt you,” Lucien whispered and I smiled as I pressed a kiss on his lips.
“I know,” I said with a smile.
After about an hour of cuddling and soft talk – mainly with us avoiding the topic of Ignus or his um, bloodsucking kind… Lucien finally fell asleep. I watched him as I lay in the crook of his arm.
You know- what you said about your dad isn’t necessarily… false.
I refused to link Ignus back. I had no idea how to direct it to him – he wasn’t my pack and I had no connection to him. Not one that I knew of anyways – other than his suggestion that I was… disturbingly one of his kind.
The monsters of this world believe that we are monsters… How ironic. Ignus said and I really wished that I knew how he was ‘linking’ me. I bit my lip as I slowly moved away from Lucien and stepped off the bed. I padded my way over to the fireplace and sat in front of it.
What do you think Auden? Surely you’ve figured out how to talk to me by now. You’ve already spoken to me once today… sure it isn’t that difficult to figure out.
I ran a hand through my hair. If only the bastard would shut the hell up.
And she speaks! Ignus cheered. But I see you haven’t completely figured it out yet… I’ll leave it at that then, good night Auden.
And then there was silence. I sighed as I stood up. I heard something vibrate somewhere in the room and I sighed as I walked around, looking for the source. I eventually found it to be on Lucien’s nightstand. On it, was Zaina’s name. I slid my thumb across the screen and placed the phone to my ear.
“She’s boarding the plane back to New York, right now. She’s a little dizzy but she’ll survive. I’m leaving the phone with her now,” An unknown female’s voice said. “I’ll see what I can find out about the bloodhounds she was talking about. Hate to see trouble stir up. We don’t need wolf hunters of that breed around here,” she said just before she hung up.
Lucien stirred in his sleep as I placed the phone back down.
Ignus? I attempted to call out, trying to… ‘think’ to myself.
I thought we said our good night’s? He responded.
Do you actually hunt werewolves? Again, I knew he was laughing. I closed my eyes and I could almost feel it – he was somewhere warm and smelt of pine… Probably a cabin – a small one…
I’ll see you tomorrow then.
I bit my bottom lip.
Bastard. I said, hoping that he heard it. Though I had a definite feeling he had.