Lukas was fucked.
His system wasn’t fending too well. The berries he ate were now returning the favor and eating his brain cells.
He felt tipsy, and that was catastrophically bad. Unlike Zena- the silly drunk, Lukas was a violent one. When impaired, he struggled with controlling his strength. He could go in for a hug and accidentally end up plowing someone through a wall.
Zena was as delicate as paper mache without her wolf. He could unintentionally kill her. As much as the woman tempted him to gag and hog tie her, the thought of putting her six feet under never crossed his mind.
Lack of control wasn’t his only dilemma. Whenever he wasn’t in his right mind, he said and did stupid things like a college freshman. He had many secrets he couldn’t’ afford to rattle out to Zena.
He stopped drinking soon after becoming an alpha. He just had too much in his brain that needed to stay in there. Passwords, military strategies and weaknesses of Mountain Hill, personal information, encryption codes, non-disclosure bound contracts... all of that needed to stay on lockdown, safe in his skull.
Worry coiled around his body like a vine. It felt like a sack of bricks was ruthlessly deposited on his chest. He knew the weight wasn’t the woman who laid on top of him. The weight was psychological; and that made it all more frustrating because he couldn’t grab it and launch it fifty feet in the air.
As an alpha, Zena had her own set of secrets as well. Luckily for her, the only thing she was capable of sharing when drunk was childish jokes and stupid observations- such as how stubbled Lukas’ face was. She made sure to remind him to shave at least forty times that night.
Thankfully, she seemed to have fallen asleep. If he was forced to hear another one of her jokes then he would’ve probably entered the woods, gotten more of those berries, and eaten them until he was sure he would die from an overdose.
She was so hyperactive that all he fussing he did to keep her still completely drained him. Her energy and childishness reminded him of his younger brother.
Wanting to make sure that she was asleep, Lukas leaned down.
The angle gave him an aerial view of her face. The first thing he noticed was that she had incredibly long and bold lashes. Her nose was straight and there was a barely-visible horizontal cut near the left nostril that he hadn’t noticed before.
He wondered what other secrets her body hid.
Her skin- although cold, looked velvety. A zap made Lukas’ delayed brain realize that his hand had reached out and touched her cheek, testing if she was as soft as she looked.
His hand wasn’t disappointed.
The independent limb traveled from her cheek to her jaw. He mindlessly rubbed a streak of mud off her skin, annoyed at how it interrupted the clear canvas of her face.
Lukas’ brain was hazy. Things seemed to process much slower. He executed his actions before his brain gave the green light.
And this is how his thumb ended up trailing her bottom lip.
It was the softest part of her yet. He had gotten a taste of her earlier that day when he smashed his face into hers. That kiss had been awfully unpleasing for both parties. It was too angry, vengeful, careless.
Dangerous tingles sizzled their point of connection. She could wake any moment and find the disoriented alpha caressing her face.
The impaired wolf couldn’t help but give into the curiosity. The female was peculiar.
So much has happened to her and she has yet to shed a tear. A plane crash, a betrayal, a broken wrist, a wolf attack, a sliced thigh, a dip in a frozen river, a rejection... just what did it take for this woman to break down?
Zena was pulled awake when her breathing got constricted.
She opened her eyes and dug through the darkness, not understanding why her spine was inching toward her stomach.
Sparks. Her flesh buzzing with sparks. She was in Lukas’ arms and he was crushing her!
“Lukas...” she squeezed out while trying to wiggle out of his grasp.
“Hmm...” he slurred in his sleep, not releasing her.
“Let me go,” she forced out, now breathing heavily. His iron grip didn’t weaken, making her continue her struggle.
“...two,” his husky voice muttered.
“Lukas!” she continued, desperate to be freed again.
“million,” he groaned with a scrunched brow.
“Release me!” she hissed. Her lungs were painfully demanding oxygen.
He turned to his side. Zena used the opportunity to crawl away before he decided to turn her into the human version of mashed potatoes.
With a throbbing head and shaky legs, she dragged her battered body to the nearest wall and gave into sleep.
The next morning, Zena woke up with more pains and tenseness to add to the growing collection.
She was having a hard time recalling happened toward the beginning of her high. She could remember Lukas waking her up with a deadly bear bug but she couldn’t remember anything prior to that.
She struggled to stand. Her stomach was burning and her injuries seemed more sensitive. Zena had gotten injured so many times that she developed the ability to tune the pain out to a small degree. Whatever the hell was in those berries seemed to have turned that skill off.
Those berries were strong shit. Some college students would kill for a shot of them.
Maybe I should harvest them and start a business she thought with a chuckle. Her stomach didn’t find the joke to be funny and sent a bolt of pain that made her cease her laughter.
She slowly limped to Lukas’ side. He was out cold, a thick arm was carelessly thrown over his face.
Zena dropped to her knees and rested her palm on his warm forearm.
“Wake up,” she ordered with a shake.
His bright blue eyes flickered open and stared into her own.
When he sat up, Zena pulled her hand away.
“What the fuck was in those things? Radiation?” he asked with a shake of his head. He looked down at his bare stomach, wondering why his guts were burning.
“I can’t remember much. What happened last night?” she questioned worriedly.
“Well, you became obsessed with my chest. You kept rubbing yourself all over me and at one point tried to unzip my pants,” Lukas replied with a shrug of his shoulder.
“What?!” a mortified Zena demanded. She knew she got a little happy-go-lucky when she wasn’t in her right mind, but she didn’t know that meant becoming horny!
Lukas rolled his eyes. “I’m kidding. You kept making these annoying jokes and kept scratching yourself. Why did you memorize so many jokes?” he found himself asking.
A smile wormed it’s way to Zena’s lips. “There was this human guy I liked in high school. I wanted to seem cool so I memorized a good 200 punch lines. I ended up scaring him off,” her eyes sparkled with happiness at the memory.
Lukas stared back unsurprised. Leave it to Zena to do something so ridiculous.
“Right. Did I share anything of... importance?” he asked and got off the floor.
Zena stared as he dusted his black slacks.
Yes. During the small window of time that she spent conscious, she heard him leak one of his many dark secrets. She didn’t think it was the best time to bring it up.
“Can you shift?” Lukas asked and sighed irritatedly once she shook her head.
“We need to go. Don’t even think of telling me to stay and wait for my wolf to return. I’m leaving with or without you,” she asserted as she bent down to tie her shoelaces.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you couldn’t shift in the first place? We could’ve avoided all of these damn injuries and would’ve been back in America by now. I’ve lost so much damn time keeping you alive!” he yelled vehemently.
Zena sneered. “Because if you haven’t noticed, you’re a sexist bigot. I get enough shit from you as it is. The last thing I needed was hearing you gloat about how I lost my wolf because my gender makes me significantly weaker than you. I never asked you to do anything for me and I’m not asking you now. If you want to leave then there’s the exit!” she pointed toward the entrance to support her argument.
Lukas gave her a deadpan look and turned around. She stared at his clear, muscled back for a second then moved her gaze downward when he shifted the waistband of his pants to reveal his right hip. There, on the warm flesh, sat a marred burn mark.
Lukas had lost his wolf at one point too.
Wordlessly, he moved his attention to his shoes and grabbed them.
Zena didn’t comment. Her brain generated dozens of questions that would remain unanswered. How did he get that burn? Why did he show her?
“I was a stupid teen with stupid teen friends. We wanted to see how long I could spend in the half-shift. I got locked out of my wolf for a week. No werewolf can control what happens in that phase. You should’ve looked past your pride and told me.” He answered the first question as he made his way to the mouth of the cave.
That didn’t explain why he showed her though. Was he telling her that she was overestimating how much of a jerk he is? That he wasn’t judging her for losing her wolf?
With a sigh, she pulled his jacket closer to her body to prepare herself for the cold.
They walked for miles, pausing every fifteen minutes to allow Zena to warm her body and rest her leg.
Lukas was getting impatient. She was drastically slowing them down. The system they had was not effective.
He stopped walking and turned to face her.
“You should get on my back. We’ll cover ground faster this way,” he suggested and moved his eyes to the sky, checking if another storm was underway.
Zena’s brow furrowed. She didn’t like the idea of being carried like a damsel in distress by the most sexist man she knew. She didn’t like depending on anyone, especially Lukas.
Just as she was about to decline, a particular blonde popped into her head. Bella.
The crazy werewolf assured that she was going to go after Eva. She was in danger. Zena needed to warn Adrian as soon as possible. She already spent multiple days away from Red River. She had to get home to inspect the damage.
“Okay,” she breathed.
Lukas glanced down at her. “No argument this time, how come?” he asked.
“We’ve spent enough time playing with snow. I have shit to do,” she barked out and walked closer to him.
Lukas turned and fell to his knees, giving her access to his back.
He inhaled sharply when she wrapped her cold arms around his neck. He hadn’t gotten used to the sparks her touch birthed.
He gripped her thighs, being mindful of her injury, and stood up. He was cutting through the wind within seconds. Zena hugged him tighter and laid her head on her shoulder to minimize her bouncing. The movements were irritating her injuries.
Lukas growled irritatedly when he felt her breasts press into his back, rubbing against him with every step he took.
This was going to be the most stressful run he ever had.
He ran without stopping for three hours. Zena’s leg was in immense pain by the time he came to a halt. Thankfully, she didn’t have to deal with the cold since the giant bastard produced more than enough heat to keep her warm.
She noticed that they were traveling down a never-ending slope, meaning that they were climbing down the mountain. The lower they got, the less crispy the air became.
The river they had been following for days made a complete U-turn, much to their irritation. Lukas decided to break apart from it and keep traveling south.
They were now in an area less rocky and much more forested. Broad pine trees draped over them, casting a large shadow that was occasionally interrupted by beams of sunlight. The sun shone proudly and the sky was clear. Not a single cloud touched the endless blue.
Lukas lowed himself to allow Zena to safely climb down. She cautiously stepped back, not sure if her leg was stable enough to hold her weight.
“I’m going to look for food,” Lukas spoke.
Zena nodded and sat on a fallen log.
She dug into her pocket and pulled out the water bottle. She took a sip and watched Lukas tread into the woods. It had to be 4 or 5 PM. The night would fall at around 6 so they had to start settling down. They would have to sleep out in the open since the only thing around was trees and snow.
Lukas returned thirty minutes later with a dead fox in his hands. He dropped it off and then walked back into the trees in search of wood. Zena skinned the animal, eager to fill the empty pit in her stomach. When he returned, she started the fire and roasted the meat hungrily.
They ate in silence, misleadingly staring at the snow as they focused on their personal thoughts.
Zena melted snow and poured hot water over her wound to cleanse it. She was sure she would be fine. Her wolf would return before the bacteria got a chance to strike her with a fever.
“I’m gonna go for a walk,” Zena declared.
Lukas shrugged a shoulder dismissively and continued poking the fire with a stick.
The female alpha got off the log and walked until she reached a cliff.
She couldn’t see much. The moon that hung above her poorly lit her surroundings.
“Come on, moon goddess. Give me my wolf back. Hook a girl up,” she chuckled.
She threw her head back, wishing her thoughts could pause for just one second. She had so much going on in that head of hers she contemplated eating more of those berries to shut herself down for another few hours.
With a deep breath, she opened her mouth and let out the angriest “Fuck” she had ever screamed in her life.
Lukas was on his feet and zipping through the trees before she finished the word.
He followed her scent, which was incredibly easy due to her bleeding injury. He slowed down once he spotted her standing with her arms stretched out and her head thrown back.
“Damn you, Zena. I thought you were getting murdered out here!” he scolded.
Zena turned with a sly grin. “Oops, did you hear that?” she winked.
“What are you even doing?” he asked as he walked to her side.
“Releasing stress. You should try it, it’s fun,” she advised.
“No thanks,” he replied seriously and shifted his gaze to the rock that sat in the sky.
“You’re so boring. Try it, trust me,” she pushed and nudged him with her elbow for effect.
Lukas raised an eyebrow, not amused. “I said no.”
“No!” he burst stubbornly. The loud clap of his deep voice disturbed the night.
Zena gleamed with joy. “There you go!” she congratulated mockingly and then laughed.
The light of the idol all werewolves respected highlighted her pitch black hair. Her face was wrinkled with glee. He could even see a tear forming in the crease of her eye. He had never seen her laugh so soulfully and carry such an innocent aura while being sober.
Lukas rolled his eyes, not realizing that his own lips had curved into a shy smile.
She was so stupid.