“How many times has this happened?” Ignus asked me after he had finished pacing for the nth time around the room. We were in the living room now and Ignus had come down as quickly as I sent the message.
“Once,” I said with a shrug.
“That’s not possible. It takes a while for anyone to contact remotely,” Ignus said, running a hand through his hair. “Do you remember any kind of similar experience?”
“No…” I trailed off.
“She’s been mumbling in her sleep a lot. Though I haven’t been able to make out exactly what she’s been trying to say,” Lucien pointed out, Ignus shook his head.
“Just the past two days or so,” Lucien said and Ignus groaned.
“What?” I asked. Ignus seemed to be lost in thought, his body had tensed up, a crease had formed between his eyebrows and his jaw was clenched.
“I’ll be right back – I need to speak to Hera and Dalton.”
“Okay-“ I said just as Ignus walked off.
It didn’t take long before Hera, Dalton, and Ignus appeared in our room. Ignus also seemed to have called Desmond and Katherine – and now we were all basically having a meeting in the mini-living area of our bedroom. Katherine stretched her arms up and yawned – she was dressed in some leggings and a large shirt – she had probably just woken up. Desmond was already dressed in a buttoned down shirt and some jeans – he looked like he was ready to go to work at the clinic. Hera and Dalton were wearing their clothes from yesterday – and now that I thought about it, so was Ignus.
“We didn’t know whether or not to tell you or have your dad tell you himself – but since we’re slowly running out of time…” Ignus said – but for some reason his voice seemed to be fading away.
I could feel a frigid cold hit my body, climbing up my arms and legs – paralyzing me. I could hear someone breathe slowly – saw flashes of a landscape of snow and forest. North.
Ignus can’t hide you for long. A distinct deep male voice said. I shivered but felt something even stranger, a warmth spread out from my chest and the smell of something familiar – almost nostalgic – hit my nose.
Find me. You know you have to.
“Auden,” Lucien boomed beside me. I jumped at the sound of his voice and turned to him. Despite the harshness in the call of his voice, his eyes revealed worry and concern. Ignus cursed under his breath. Lucien nodded in Ignus’ direction – as if to give him permission for something. I watched as Ignus walked over to me.
“We’re gonna need to buy a little time,” Ignus said and I raised my eyebrows and looked to Lucien. “Keep an eye on her for now. Dalton, Hera, and I will try to create a temporary barrier – we should be able to do it to hide her. Don’t leave Auden alone.”
“Got it,” Lucien said understandingly, I raised an eyebrow as Ignus bowed his head respectfully and walked away.
“What the heck did you two talk about?” I asked.
“It’s nothing too important, I’ll tell you about it later,” he said and I pressed my lips into a thin line. Lucien caressed my cheek and pressed a kiss against my forehead. “I promise.”
“…Okay,” I muttered just as his phone rang. Lucien looked at the screen briefly before picking it up.
“Alpha Frasier,” Lucien greeted stiffly. Deciding that it wouldn’t be good for me to eavesdrop, I walked away to shower.
As I let the water fall over me I felt a feeling of calm wash over me. Who the heck am I hiding from? No one’s ever said it so far- but I’m definitely ‘hiding’ or at least being hidden. That’s been made pretty clear by how Ignus acted this morning and Lucien’s own ‘hidey-hole’ pack basically reinforces the whole idea. I sighed and leaned my head against the wall. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
I walked out of the bathroom now fully clothed in some loose pants and a white shirt and watched as Lucien typed away frantically on his laptop. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. He turned his face and placed a quick kiss on my cheek before he resumed working.
“What are you working on?”
“Another Alpha just informed me of a killing on their territory. They’re further up north – but apparently our case isn’t the only one. Seems like someone’s trying to get the northern packs rattled.”
“And are they? Rattled, I mean?”
“Pretty much. I’m just writing up some e-mails and reports as to recent events. I’m not telling them about Ignus and the rest for now – I’m avoiding the subject of bloodhounds in the first place. Some of these packs aren’t exactly as open to cooperating with, you know…”
“Yeah, I know,” I said before pressing a kiss on his cheek as well. “Who’s Alpha Frasier?”
“Welll… his territory is the closest to ours – and… well, he’s Sheila’s dad,” Lucien said – and I don’t know if it was just me – but he sounded a little shaky? Nervous even.
“Who’s Sheila?” Lucien paused before looking at me.
“The girl. The one that was in this room-“
“Oh,” I interrupted before I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. “That Sheila.”
“Mmhmm…” Lucien murmured as I saw him hit send on his laptop. As soon as he did so, I pulled the thing away from him and set it down behind me before I climbed into his lap and straddled him.
“Well… it’s not like she’d make her way over here again, right?” I asked, staring into Lucien’s eyes as I placed my hands on his chest.
“I don’t think she would,” he said as he placed his hands on mine, lifting my right hand to his mouth and kissing my palm and running his teeth along my skin. My belly warmed up and I could sense the hair on my arms stand at attention as I bit my bottom lip. “This’ll never get old, will it?” He asked as his other hand fell on my neck and his thumb caressed my jaw.
“Probably not…” I trailed off as I turned my head and ran my own teeth along his thumb. I moved the hand he had held to his mouth and caressed his face. “Are you worried?” I asked.
“A little,” he admitted before I leaned closer to him, resting myself on his right shoulder as he wrapped his arm around me.
“So am I,” I commented as I snuggled into him.
What did you see? Hera’s voice rang in my head.
What do you mean? I asked.
Ignus said your mate had to use a command to snap you out of it. You couldn’t hear us, Auden. His voice was only loud enough because he was both your mate and your Alpha.
Nevermind the details – what did you see?
I didn’t see anything relevant – just another forest – colder. He said he’d find me.
…Okay. I’ll talk to you more later. Hera said before her voice faded from my head. Lucien had now begun to play with my hair before I smelt something – the same exact thing that I had smelt before. But I wasn’t having any voices through my head.
Guys- what is that? I asked, trying to make sure that it was one of Ignus’ group and not whoever-the-fuck-it-was. Lucien sighed before squeezing my hand.
“Your dad’s here.”
“What? How do you-“ I began but I heard a loud thud come from the stairs.
I looked up and found Lana and Xander leading someone together. The person was limping, quite badly, behind them. Lana held his hand, Xander pulled him up, and as they made a turn – I caught a glimpse of my dad’s face. He gripped a piece of white cloth in his hands. I immediately stood up to help him and he chuckled, his voice hoarse as I helped Xander bring him to the couch.
“What- why are you- how-“ my dad cleared his throat, stopping me. He gave me a soft smile.
“Your mate here sent for me – ran into a bit of trouble with… well, you’ll find out soon enough.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “When did you fly out here?”
“As soon as he could,” Lucien said. He took my hand and gripped it.
Ignus said it’d be best if you two spent some time alone together. Lucien said before he then got up and kissed my forehead. I’ll see you later. He then nodded his head in a way of respectfuly bowing towards my dad, who did the same and smiled. My dad settled onto the couch and groaned as I lifted the leg that he was limping with onto the footstool in front of him. Lana then walked over to me and squeezed my hand before taking Xander’s hand and walking off. The two of them disappeared into the hallway leading to Lana’s bedroom – and if I wasn’t mistaken, Lucien had gone into his office.
I then turned to my dad and sat down beside him. He sighed before handing me the white cloth.
“What is it?” I asked, as I realized that it was a delicate white handkerchief that was embroidered with small daisies.
“It’s your mother’s,” he said plainly.
“Mom sent this? Well-“ I caught a scent – and I looked to my dad.
“Do you smell that-“
It was sweet – like gardenias… I took the handkerchief and pressed it to my nose. A wave of nostalgia came over me but I had no idea where that sense came from.
“Your mother said that it’d be unavoidable – but that it was worth a try…”
“What are you talking about-“
My dad sighed before he brought out a small journal – it was basically falling apart. Its faux leather cover had begun to peel, a few loose papers peeked out of its form, and even the cover had large creases. I opened it and my dad watched as I leafed through the pages. There wasn’t a single word written in it, only bits and pieces of newspaper clippings, magazines, a few leaves – collectibles that were hardly sticking to their pages anymore.
“Whose were these?” I asked.
“They belonged to this woman named Aurelia…”
Aurelia… I repeated in my head. I flipped one of the pages and this time – it contained a frail envelope that had slightly yellowed over time. It was still sealed with bit of wax – not red or anything – just like plain candle wax. There was a fingerprint over it instead of a seal and I placed my thumb against it.
Keep safe, Auden… and stay away. A woman’s voice said in the back of my head and I found myself opening the envelope without another moment’s hesitation.