Zena shifted uncomfortably. The brutally hard and cold ground made sleep nearly impossible.
She smirked at the thought that crossed her mind. It’s almost as hostile as Lukas.
She opened her eyes and pushed herself into a sitting position, immediately regretting the action. Her wrist was aching from all the strain she had pushed it through the previous night as she dealt with the firewood.
Her hair and clothes were dusty, her body was bruised and cold, and the only thing in her stomach was acid. She felt and looked terrible.
She pulled pushed Lukas’ jacket off and focused on tying the broken strap of her dress as best as she could. When she was sure that it wouldn’t slip off her shoulder, she pulled the jacket back on.
She knew she probably reeked of Lukas but that was something she was willing to live with if it prevented her from freezing to death. She peeked at the entrance. The sun was just barely rising, warming the dull sky with a flicker of light. She guessed it was around 6AM.
Lukas was pulled to consciousness the second he heard movement coming from the opposite side of the cave. He remained still and lazily opened his eyes, looking for the source of the noise. He easily spotted Zena rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Her pitch black hair was rowdy and nearly every inch of her was sprinkled with dirt.
He watched her turn around and slide his large jacket off her shoulders, revealing smooth, unmarred skin. He wasn’t a fan of the dress she was wearing. It exposed far too much of her- dipping down the back and offering a teasing glimpse of her deep back dimples.
He rolled to his side and grunted from how stiff his body felt. He slid his shoes back on, noticing how they were no longer polished but coated in mud.
When he rose to his full height, Zena’s attention diverted to him. They locked gazes for a second before going about their own business, neither interested in greeting the other.
Zena shoved her few belongings into her pockets- the two remaining bags of chips and her knife. For breakfast, the only thing her stomach would receive was water.
She drained the bottle and then moved to the puddle with clear water that sat by the entrance. She dropped to her knees and scooped water into the container, making sure to fill it to the brim since she didn’t know when she would run into food or water again after they left this cave.
She turned around and spotted Lukas roughing his hair to shake the dirt and grime out of it.
“Are you ready?” Her tone was bland.
Lukas nodded and scratched his jaw subconsciously, knowing that it would be covered with stubble by tomorrow. He shoved his hands into his pockets and let his lean legs carry him to his mate’s side.
They then speechlessly marched back into the blanket of snow, not looking forward to what the day’s journey entailed.
They had been following the river for about thirty minutes. The sun was high in the sky, providing Zena with some warmth.
It wasn’t enough though. She had gotten so cold that she had to fall back a few feet to hide her shivering from Lukas.
He strolled through the snow cluelessly, not aware that Zena was just a few minutes away from frostbite or hypothermia.
She carried on stubbornly, not interested in slowing him down or asking for help. She would rather freeze to death than become indebted.
“We should shift and run for some miles, we’ll cover more ground that way.” Lukas spoke and kept walking. The suggestion made Zena snap her head in his direction and look at the back of his wrinkled shirt as it fluttered violently from the wind.
“We cant... I have too much stuff to carry,” she immediately replied.
Lukas seemed to have bought the excuse because he didn’t argue.
She knew her clock was ticking. She needed to find shelter and give her body time to recover. Her temperature was abnormally low.
Her toes would soon turn multiple shades of purple if she didn’t seek warmth.
She bit her split lip nervously, feeling troubled.
A soft yet cold snowflake ventured out of the skies and landed on her forehead. She threw her head back and then found the answer to her dilemma.
“Lukas, a storm is coming. We need to find shelter.” She informed him, doing her best to hide both her happiness and coldness.
Lukas looked up and cursed when he realized she was right. Angry grey clouds dotted the sky, ready to mercilessly unleash a load of snow.
Both of them looked for an area to ride out the storm but found none. With a frustrated growl, Lukas began to unbutton his top. “I’m going to see if I can find something ahead. Wait here,” he explained and Zena sighed with relief. Soon, she would be safe from the bitterly cold wind.
Once he was undressed, Lukas shifted into his brown wolf and ran as fast as his legs allowed. When the storm arrived, their visibility would drop to zero. They wouldn’t be able to travel blind. He needed to find shelter fast.
Zena watched him take off and hoped that he would return soon with good news. She pulled the jacket closer and ducked her nose into the collar when the wind picked up.
Only two minutes had passed since Lukas departed when Zena realized she had company. A lone wolf finally made its presence known when it spotted the male alpha take off and leave behind the female human.
Regular wolves- the animals, steered clear of werewolves; especially alphas because they easily dominated. Since Zena had lost her ability to shift, her healing slowed, senses dulled, and her scent changed. If Lukas got close enough he would’ve been able to smell her change in scent.
This wolf though she was a human. In other words, Zena was lunch.
“Fuck!” she cursed out and began to dig through her pockets. Her numbed digits wrapped around the blade and pulled it out.
The wolf was toppling its way toward her in a mess of snarls and barks. When it reached Zena, it launched itself into the air, immediately going for the kill.
Zena dropped and rolled. She knew that she would’ve collapsed under the beast’s weight if it fell on her, giving it the opportunity to rip her throat out.
After she evaded its lunge, the hungry animal changed directory and ran toward her again. The deep snow made it incredibly hard for her to move. She wasn’t able to jump out of the way in time and the wolf knocked her on her *ss with a swipe of its paw, catching her thigh.
Zena didn’t register the pain and used the angle to lodge the knife into the wolf’s shoulder. It whimpered and moved its mouth toward her wrist in an attempt to bite it. She kicked her uninjured leg out with as much strength as possible, catching the animal between its legs and crushing its genitals.
The wolf whimpered again. Zena used it’s distracted state to pull the knife out of its shoulder and drill it into its neck. Blood immediately started gushing out and the wolf went limp.
She pushed herself away, grimacing when she spotted both the wolf’s and her own blood coating her skirt.
She shoved her knife back into her pocket and then began to inspect her thigh. She pulled her dress up and shivered when the wind caressed her exposed skin. Three long gashes ran horizontally across the leg. The injury stung angrily but she knew the cold was numbing it somewhat. The pain was only going to worsen later on.
She shifted the jacket to cover the cut, thankful that Lukas was a tall son of a bitch. The jacket draped over her thighs, successfully covering the blood and ripped cloth that sat below.
She would need to stay away from him and seal it as fast as possible. She feared that Lukas would smell the blood and question why it wasn’t healing quickly.
Zena distracted herself by scanning the edge of the wilderness for any more predators lurking and ready to pounce.
She spotted another figure approaching her but recognized that it was Lukas. The wolf was too sinewy and tall to be anything short of an alpha.
Once he reached her, she spun around to give him privacy and leaned her weight on her uninjured leg.
“What the fuck happened here?” Lukas asked curiously as he pulled his pants on.
“It attacked me,” was Zena’s curt reply.
“Wolves don’t attack werewolves, especially alphas.” Lukas challenged with a raised eyebrow as he tugged his white dress shirt on.
“This was obviously not a regular wolf, it was alone. I’m not surprised by this abnormal behavior.” Zena retorted, keeping her eyes on the dead animal.
Lukas could smell the heavy coppery scent of blood. The smell was so overpowering that he couldn’t make out the difference between Zena’s blood and the wolf’s.
“I found another cave. It’s smaller but it will do,” he assured and bent down to slip his shoes on.
“Let’s go” Zena replied, wanting to end the conversation. The more time they spent out there, the closer death got. Her knees were visibly shaking from the iciness of the environment. She wouldn’t be able to hide the symptoms forever.
Lukas then started to lead the way. He didn’t turn to face her, much to her relief.
Zena stood multiple feet behind to hide the smell of her blood and the clattering of her teeth.
She blinked repeatedly, not believing the sight. A frozen lake sat in front of them, disconnecting the path. It was multiple feet wide and even longer in length. They couldn’t go around it, that would take too long and time currently wasn’t on their side.
Lukas warily stepped a foot on the ice, testing if it would hold his weight. He took several steps forward before Zena joined him. She was excruciatingly nervous. She knew that underneath the surface sat a cold abyss. She would be in a hell of a lot of trouble if the ice gave out and sent her swimming.
She made sure to stay away from Lukas to distribute their weight in a safer manner. Lukas was 6 foot something and over 200 pounds of muscle. His sole presence put enough strain on the ice.
Her thigh was bleeding heavily but she paid it no mind. She would tend to it when she took care of the most pressing matter- her temperature.
By the time Lukas reached the snow, she was halfway across the lake.
Lukas spun around when he heard a crack but Zena missed the sound due to her poor hearing. “Run!” he boomed, alarming her.
Zena took off, distressing her thigh even further. The sound of cracking had intensified and a thick slice was rapidly making its way toward her. She was only two feet from Lukas when the ground gave out, sending her under.
Lukas watched in shock as Zena disappeared. He sighed, she would be soaked to the bone but she would be fine. The cold wasn’t really a danger for werewolves. He looked at the sky to check the condition of the clouds as he waited for Zena to swim back to the surface.
A few feet under, Zena was shell-shocked. The cold nearly immobilized her. She threw her limbs frantically, trying to swim to the surface. A block of ice scrapped her injury, prompting a whimper.
Swimming with an injured leg and wrist was not an easy feat. She pushed past her pain and kicked harder when she noticed that her lungs were burning from the lack of air. Her clothing was weighing her down, worsening the situation.
Lukas raised an eyebrow multiple seconds later when Zena was still missing. He was about to peek into the water when the female alpha broke the surface with a loud gasp. He turned away when she finally appeared, figuring that she was fine.
Zena whimpered when the cold wind slammed into her soaked figure. She shoved her body out of the water and onto the snow. Her movements were fidgety and violent from the shaking that was raking her.
When she finally managed to stand up, Lukas was multiple feet away.
He stopped and turned around when a loud thud cut through the wind’s howling.
He spotted Zena’s body crumbled on the ground, shaking terribly. He ran toward her, utterly confused.
“Zena?” he called out and sunk to his knees. He pushed her wet locks from her face and found that her eyes were closed and her bottom lip was trembling.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her, expecting her to reply. She was fine minutes ago!
Lukas cupped her cheek and his eyes widened. It felt like he had grabbed an icicle.
It was then that his nose picked up the smell of blood. He moved his jacket aside, searching for the injury. He found a red patch on the dress and reached down to grab the hem. He pulled the cloth up to her creamy thighs and felt his body tense at the sight. Pushing past the lust, he reached the injury and narrowed his eyes when he spotted the gash.
The three bloody stripes were clearly placed there by a paw. He put two-and-two together and realized that the wolf got a hit before she took it out. Lukas didn’t understand how the injury was still bleeding. Why wasn’t she healing?
With an itching suspicion, he bent down and buried his nose in her neck. He inhaled deeply and growled at what he found.
She smelled no different than a human. The blasted woman lost her wolf and didn’t say a damned thing about it!
With a sneer, he pulled her dainty body into his arms and began running to the cave.
Lukas was angry. Her reaction to the predicament was unnatural. He would have expected any woman in Zena’s shoes to complain and depend on him. Instead of telling him, the iron-willed brat walked through freezing temperatures with nothing but a thin jacket, an empty stomach, an injured wrist and jagged thigh.
The bitch was bat shit crazy. She had to be.
He wasn’t sure why she didn’t tell him that she couldn’t shift but he didn’t like it. The bold act was strange. Instead of confiding in him, she chose to fend for herself.
He ran into the cramped cave and placed her on the ground.
He couldn’t go out and get wood for a fire, that would take far too long. He needed to act fast.
With a frown, he began to undress. He kicked his shoes off before unbuttoning his shirt and trousers. He now stood completely naked.
He bent down and peeled his jacket off her shoulders followed by her shoes. He sighed and stared at her tattered dress, it had to go.
He kept his gaze on her pale face as he skimmed his fingers across her waist, looking for a zipper. Zena didn’t react to his touch, too deep into her unconscious state. When Lukas finally latched onto the zipper, he tugged it down and made sure to not glance at her chest. He wasn’t that kind of man.
Once the dress was out of the way, he ripped a thick piece off the second layer. He moved his eyes to her bleeding thigh, thankful that she was wearing panties. He wrapped the cloth around the wound and hoped it wouldn’t get infected.
Once he was done tying it, he placed his hands under her armpits and moved her to his lap before positioning her head in the crook of his neck. He grabbed his shirt and draped it over her shoulders to shield her skin from the cold.
With a growl, he laid on his back and placed her naked body on top of his. He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes, focusing on making his body produce more heat.
The task was painfully difficult due to his raging urges. Her heavy breasts were pressed against his naked chest, her wet locks spawled across his neck and chin, her cold lips were ghostly pressing into his shoulder, her pelvis dangerously close to his. He was too distracted.
He had never gotten this close to Zena before. He didn’t like the proximity. Her curves, her smell, and the barely-there tingles made him feel lust he hadn’t felt with so much intensity before.
Lust was all there was. He felt nothing for her romantically.
She was so damned tiny compared to him. His large hands easily covered her back. It made him wonder how she managed to store so much rebellion in her.
Lukas growled frustratedly when he failed to increase his body heat.
Zena made his blood boil in more ways than one. She was utterly absurd and complex. She didn’t look or act like the women he was accustomed to.
She was loud-mouthed, potentially deranged, tempting.
And he hated it.