“Auden…” Someone called and I shook my head. I heard a slight laugh close to my left ear before I felt someone literally blow into it. I opened my eyes immediately and lifted my right hand to smack the shit out of someone when I saw a pair of hazel eyes stare into mine.
“You could’ve just woken me up like a normal person,” I said, stretching out my arms and hit the ceiling. What- that can’t be right because I’m on a plane-
“We’re almost on Umbra territory,” Lucien said and I looked around, there was nothing but trees everywhere - and a nice solid road. It took me a few moments to make my brain finally recognize that Lucien and I were seated in the back of a fairly spacious car. In front of us was Xander who was driving and right beside Lucien, leaning against the window and drawing on it was Lana.
“Where exactly are we?” I asked.
“Near a mountain trail, but we gotta get off in about two minutes,” he said and I looked out at the snow-covered roads. “Need a jacket?”
“Do you have one?” I asked and he nodded in response, pulling something from underneath the chair. I took it from him and shrugged it on, it was a little too big but it was a good enough winter jacket - I guess.
“What about you guys?” I asked and Lucien smiled before Lana giggled.
“Can I take her? Please?” Lana asked and Lucien pet her head.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“You just want her to ride your back, it’s not fair if you’re mates you guys can do it whenever you want-“
“Okay, taken completely out of context, this conversation can really fu- screw with my head,” I said before taking a breath, “can someone just please tell me what the plan is and why?”
“Our main territory is found in the forest and we don’t have any real roads there so we have to run,” Lucien said simply and I stared at him.
“We’re gonna have you ride on my back until we get to the packhouse,” he said plainly as Xander stopped the car. I looked behind us and saw other cars stop as well, their drivers remaining inside.
“Who’s gonna get rid of the cars?” I asked and Lucien smiled.
“There are a few others that are willing to drive it back. We run a few businesses in the main city too,” he explained and I paused for a moment.
“Huh,” I commented, not knowing what else to say just as Lana opened the door.
“Lana!” Xander yelled as he unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the car door. The cold had come in and despite having werewolf blood in me - I couldn’t help but shiver. It was really fucking cold out there.
“Let her be, she won’t leave until Auden here gets out,” Lucien said calmly as he stepped out of the car. I shook my head as I took my phone and Lana’s and opened the door to my side. Having just got out of the car, I stretched out my arms and felt the cold just straight up hit my legs.
I love winter, but goddamn sometimes too much cold can really bite you in the ass.
I closed the door behind me and shoved my hands into the pockets of the jacket. I bit into my bottom lip as I walked around the car, a bunch of other people had left their cars a few remained on the steering wheel and someone came up to our car.
“It’s nice to meet you Luna,” the person greeted, it was a girl with short cropped hair- she looked sixteen and had deep red hair that stood out against her pale skin and rosy cheeks from the cold.
“Nice to meet you too, you are?” I asked, ignoring the whole Luna honorific, and she grinned.
“My name’s Freya, I live in the city but I’m part of the pack,” she said and I nodded.
“Taking the car?” I asked and she nodded.
“Somebody’s got to, right?” I smiled before I felt someone grab my arm.
“Let’s go!” Lana said as she tugged me back to the edge of the road.
“Lana I think I should-“ I froze as I saw Lucien tug off his shirt. He then proceeded to unbuckle his belt and I shook my head. You’re a fucking doctor, grow a pair - okay - not exactly a doctor but you’re a vet so-
I tore my eyes away and tugged my jacket on, zipping it all the way up. Multiple sounds of cracking bones, half-synchronized groans, and yelps later, I turned around found myself surrounded by wolves- except one of them - Lucien, was just about a foot below my neck when he was on all fours. I folded my arms over my chest.
“Well, I can’t mind-link you so you better start barking boy,” I said and he wagged his tail.
Aside from being insanely huge, Lucien’s wolf was gorgeous and a totally different color from his sister who had brown and golden bundles of fur that faded to black… Lucien had brown and golden fur - sure, but the tips were black and his fur was mostly light. He looked like a husky and as his pack disappeared - save for Lana who refused to leave and Xander who stood by her - he hopped along like one. I bit my bottom lip.
“Can you lie down at least?” I asked and Lucien barked as he did lay his body down, waiting for me to - well… ride his back. I shook my head. Let’s just pretend we’re riding a horse… A large furry horse that gives you the tinglies… Okay, not helping.
I stepped forward and just as I was about to grab hold of him and hoist myself over, he was tackled by Lana’s dark wolf. Who barked at me and bowed down to have me sit.
“Lana, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said with a smile and she whined at me. Lucien barked as he nudged Lana’s stomach away with his nose and she only whined louder. I looked over at Xander and watched as he scratched the back of his head. The cars around us had already pulled away, leaving just us four - and from afar, I looked like a lunatic with three giant wolves around me.
“Lana, if I apply pressure on the wrong spot, you’ll start bleeding internally,” I threatened - and lied - she winced before bowing her head, her ears flopping downward as she backed away and pouted at me. Lucien barked and moved in her place, wagging his tail as he bowed down again. I glared at him.
“No funny business, otherwise I’m gonna pull your fur out and watch you bleed to death,” I threatened, only earning a pant and a bark from my mate. I rolled my eyes as I touched his fur, sending shivers down the length of my arms before I grabbed hold of him and straddled his back. I lay against him and grabbed hold, making sure that I could hold onto his fur or his skin - or something.
Although by the time he stood up, I had wrapped my arms as far as I could around his neck. My nose had begun to freeze up and I appreciated the warmth that was reaching my hands and radiating off of his body. Lana whimpered as Xander barked at her. Lucien barked as well before he reared back.
“Oh God,” I murmured just as Lucien broke into a sprint. My breath hitched as he began running through the forest.
I did my best to look up, but it really wasn’t all that possible. It was like I was trying to open my eyes with a wind running through - and that wind happened to be frigid and cold and just harsh towards my nose and my face in general. I buried my face deep into Lucien’s fur, getting close enough to bask in the smell of his wolf which smelled quite sweet - I don’t know what this guy was wearing but damn was it unexpectedly good - and I don’t mean musky like male perfume it was just… nice? I tried to put my finger on it… He smelled a little bit like cinnamon - and apples? Like the weird fruity kind-
Lucien barked and I looked up noticing that he had slowed down. He had climbed up a hill and we were now alone as he turned and I looked at the view he was showing me. It was a view of the mountains topped with quite a bit of snow, trees were topped in frost and layer after layer of forest covered the lower half of the mountain. My breath had now started coming out in large white tufts of mist. I took a breath before staring out at the view and just as I was about to appreciate the view, Lucien barked and turned, rearing back again and making me grip his wolf tighter as he continued to run.
He eventually began sprinting uphill and I could feel the strength that ran through his body as he leapt forward. I mean… he was also probably showing off his abilities but hey, a woman can appreciate the effort - actually considering he can leap more than three meters uphill - anyone can appreciate the shit out of that. But I wasn’t gonna say that out loud. Alphas had bigger egos that I’d rather not feed.
I caught my breath as he leapt one more time, stones shifting beneath his feet as he finally seemed to make it to the pack house - a small house on what looked like the the edge of a hill. I paused for a moment, it looked like a very modern home with wooden panels all around it. It looked fairly small and really consisted of one floor but it extended over the edge of the hill. The plants around it made it difficult to see what views the house had - but I’m willing to bet that there was more to this house than it seemed. I mean, our pack house in Carmine wasn’t something to boast anything of so it’s not like I could really compare. I just expected pack houses to be very… cabin-like, the way my home looked.
Lucien eventually lay down. He began panting as I released him, sighing in relief as I finally got my feet on stable ground. There was a fine dirt path heading up to the home that seemed to have formed over years of people - or rather, werewolves - treading over it regularly. Lucien barked to gain my attention as he trotted, quite adorably, towards the front of the house which had a small wide wooden bridge made of smooth wooden panels.
“Nice house,” I commented as we walked across and Lucien barked and it was only when I stepped onto the ‘bridge’ that I realized what this pack house really looked like.
The plants in the front hid it really well. The bridge wasn’t much, it had a stable support of ground but… I walked over to the edge and felt my breath catch in my throat. There was whole set of three floors heading down, all beautifully made of rugged stone and wood. I gawked at the staircase that led down, concealed just out of my sight below the bridge. I went over to the other side and I saw a stream trickle down the edge of the hill. I heard a bark and immediately stepped away, following Lucien as he pawed the door, which swung open. I took a deep breath before I opened the door, mentally trying to prepare myself for the view.
Sure enough, the first floor consisted of half a real house and the other half just glass. A simple balcony revealed a beautiful view of the mountainside. A lake could be viewed but it was at a significant distance. Though I was relieved by the warmth of the pack house, I couldn’t help but head out onto the balcony. I slid the thick glass door aside and caught my breath as I looked out. It looked like I was just in the forest, nothing but greenery and snow and a distant lake. It was like the ultimate getaway from my life in the city.
“Enjoying the view?” Lucien’s voice asked from behind me and I turned to find him dressed in a black shirt and some jeans.
“Are you kidding? I literally thought you had dragged me into the middle of nowhere and then there’s this…” I trailed off and he chuckled as he made his way towards me.
“A lot of our pack members live in the town nearby and I took the long way to show you the other side but, if you look closely, you’ll find a few cabins hidden along the slope - a lot of my pack live around here and the others are spread throughout the place,” he said as we walked over to the edge of the balcony. He pointed over to a patch of greenery just barely out of place and I squinted my eyes.
“That’s a hidden cabin it’s where Xander lives,” he said and I realized that the patch was what made up the roof - so I turned around and looked up. I found that there was bits of green, vines creeping up throughout the sides of the house, and leaves stuck out from the rood.
“You guys sure know how to hide,” I muttered and he laughed.
“We’re called the Umbra pack for a reason,” he commented and I raised an eyebrow.
“What does Umbra even mean?” I asked, actually unsure.
“It’s the shadow on the moon- if I wanted to sound cool, it’s the dark side of the moon-“
“Please don’t go all Mulan on me,” I said with a smirk and Lucien merely smiled.
“Well, that’s what an umbra is, we’re hidden from most packs for good reason. Few packs know our location,” he said and I decided to just nod. “Anyways… your room is ready, you can head out if you’d like or you can go ahead and sleep.” I stretched my arms out.
“Lead the way,” I said. I had zero complaints right now, especially since I’d basically be on a vacation - although I do want to continue working… I’d have to discuss that later - I guess.
I followed Lucien as he led me down a flight of stairs and I simply kept staring at the house. Every step I took made me love the place. It was very simple but modern. There were apparently five floors and some extended further back into the mountain - indeed concealing most of its parts. I was just wondering who the hell built this place - because there isn’t a single bit of road here - unless there is and I’m being ignorant. Lucien eventually brought me into a small hallway and opened a door to the right, which opened to a large and spacious room. It was half concealed into the hillside, but also held quite a view with large glass windows that showed off the forest. I finally peeled off the thick jacket I was wearing - I was beginning to sweat from the heat that radiated off the house. The floor was finely polished wood with a mix of plush carpets. Sleek black bookshelves were filled with books and glass frames of photographs. The room smelled of vanilla and a small modernist fireplace was lit by the door.
A large glass panel separated one half of the room from the other. The first half had bookshelves, some kind of leather couch covered in fluffy blankets and what looked to be a fur cover - though it had that glint that said it was fake - not that I would judge. Wolves were known to hunt after all. There was a black coffee table with a large glass surface and a single vase with a white and violet orchid decorating it. A TV was installed against the walls just above the fireplace and that was basically all that the first half was made of…
I walked over to the other side and almost had my jaw drop. All the other half contained was a king-sized bed with nothing but green and white sheets, large pillows, and a black leather bed frame. It sat a top a furry looking grey carpet and was pushed against the glass panel so that it faced the windows. Two large and simple lamps stood by each side, there were no nightstands but I spotted what looked to be a movable tray that was made of black and silver - it honestly looked like it belonged to a hotel. The walls were wooden with a nice mix of white and a hole-in-the-wall kind of arch led into a spacious hall that led into a well-concealed bathroom that had its own closet built in. There was nothing much in the closet- or rather closets- so I thought for sure that the room was mine - until I slid a drawer open.
I walked out and spotted Lucien with his arms folded over his chest.
“Lucien. Be honest with me,” I said, hoping to the goddess that I would growl - but of course that would never happen.
“What?” He asked a bemused grin immediately gracing his damned god-like face.
“Okay… Is this my room or yours?”
He smirked. He fucking smirked.