When the call reached Artemis, she turned immediately. She was stunned to find a handsome, well-dressed man displaced among the trees.
Her stiff body was not encouraging approach, but this did not deter Sol. He kept a hand up, waving slowly, and his natural smile helped maintain his harmless facade. Inside, he was snickering like a child at the golden picture of Wrath combusting into flames once he saw Sol’s paws all over his territory.
“I need some help. I got caught in the storm and my car broke down,” he lied. Artemis did not abandon her unresponsive position. She stood still while examining both the stranger and her surroundings. Her wolf surfaced, ready to aid if any danger presented itself.
Sol changed his expression to a concerned one. “Are you alright?”
The question made her step back. She hadn’t heard English coming from anyone other than herself in goodness knows how long. “Yes... This is just... How about you? Are you injured?”
He shook his head. “I’m fine. I’ve been wandering for a few hours looking for reception. You wouldn’t happen to have a satellite phone, would you?” he chuckles.
His attempt to lighten up the conversation by diminishing her distrust seemed to work. Artemis cracked a shy smile. “No. I’m afraid not.”
“Can I know why you’re here? Did the storm get you too?” Sol came to a stop in front of her. She used the position to inhale subtly. His scent didn’t give away a position, so she concluded that he was human.
“I also got in a car accident a few miles back. I’ve been staying with a... camper but have some communication issues with him,” Artemis answered cautiously.
Pretending you don’t speak English? Good one, Raiden, Sol mentally chuckles. You’re such a cold bastard.
He whistled. “This place must be haunted.”Or manipulated by a meddling Goddess, he mentally adds. “Well darling, it looks like I’m your guardian angel,” he winks.
Artemis raised an eyebrow at the statement. Her expression triggered his memory and he saw a flash of Zena’s face. He only met her once twenty years ago, but she’s not a woman you’d easily forget. The female alpha was outspoken and sassy. If Artemis took after her fireball of a mother, then Raiden was going be ripped apart once Sol completed the charitable task of exposing his lies.
Part of him was doing it for the greater good. The other part of him was simply interested in seeing Raiden get his ass handed to him by his mate. It was going to be a glorious show.
“What do you mean?” Artemis questioned his previous statement.
He gave her a suave smile. “I just so happen to be a people person by hobby and a translator by profession. I’m fluent in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, German, and well, English,” he chuckled. “Maybe this camper speaks one of these languages as well.” Lies, lies, and more lies. If anything, languages was Raiden’s area of expertise. Well, for Sol’s credibility, he did speak Spanish and English. This made 2/5 of the sentence true. In reality, his true profession was bullshitting. If the urge struck him, he could sell bottled air to Bill Gates by convincing him that it cured cancer.
No wonder the Goddess chose him for the job.
Artemis’ eyes widened with glee, announcing that she believed him. “Really? This is great!”
Sol did what he was good at: smiling. “It sure is. Lead the way. Hopefully, we can figure out how to get back home.”
Artemis couldn’t believe her luck. She reflected his smile and started retracing her steps. If the two men shared a language, she could find a way to ask her mate some questions.
Sol followed her, noticing how she was eagerly rushing back to the cabin. He couldn’t help but admit that she was beautiful. A top tier alpha too. She had it in her to tame Raiden and his absurd insecurities. Sol hoped she did, anyway.
Raiden always went out of his way to earn people’s dislike. But as unapproachable as he was, Sol didn’t wish him any ill-will. They were equally mentally fucked up. Sol just had a different way of coping with it.
Yes, wanted the grouchy man to finally get a happily ever after. But no, he’d never admit that.
“What is your name, by the way?” Artemis broke the silence.
“I’m Sol, and you?”
Artemis forgot all about their conversation when she spotted the cabin. She ran to the entrance, eyes restlessly searching for her mate.
Wrath snapped his book close and rose to his feet when he smelled Artemis and Sol approaching. He was not pleased by this. He was hoping that the two of them had already left. When he walked outside, Artemis made a sudden presence in his arms and nearly knocked him back.
Their intimate embrace was short lived. Artemis, too excited to process his warmth, stepped back and beckoned Sol over. “Come on!” she urged.
Wrath’s eyes narrowed on the other lycan. His shit-eating smile was wider than usual and his hands in his pockets. They made eye contact and Wrath did not like what he found. Sol looked... smugger than usual. And that’s saying something. Wrath immediately knew that the weasel was up to something.
Since Artemis was still looking at Sol, Wrath took the opportunity to flash his canines. Sol saw the warning but didn’t back off.
“Hola. ¿Cómo estás?” Sol directs the perfectly tailored question at Raiden.
Wrath understood, but his lips remained in a tight line. He felt his anger flare when he connected the dots: Sol was entirely going against his request. Instead of taking Artemis away, he was bringing her closer. He should’ve known better than to involve Sol’s idiotic self in his business.
“Okay, nothing. Try uh... try Chinese,” Artemis encourages Sol as she walks closer.
Sol shrugged. “Nǐ hǎo.” Again, the greeting aroused no response from Wrath.
“Shit,” Artemis groans, running a stressed hand through her hair.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. We’ll figure it out.” Sol comes closer and places a reassuring hand on her waist. Neither the endearment nor his initiation of contact flew over Wrath’s head. Those two insignificant sights were enough to have him vibrating with rage.
Sol noticed the vein protruding out of his temple and could barely hold back his laugh. Anger— Raiden’s signature emotion, was at its full potential. Sol found it amazing how merely touching Artemis had the man in overdrive.
He was close to snapping... not quite there though. But boy was Sol determined to help him reach that base. “By the way,” he started. “Can I have a bite of that?”
Artemis looked down at the apple she snatched from a tree. She found his request a bit inappropriate with respect to the situation but shrugged it off. “Yeah, I guess,” she held out the fruit.
“Oh, baby. I didn’t mean the apple,” he chuckled huskily. When his lips began descending to hers, the dam broke.
“SOL! YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!”
He stopped his lips inches from Artemis’ and winked down at her shocked face. “Well, looks like English did the trick.”
Artemis was glad that Sol’s arm was still around her, otherwise, her buckling knees would’ve dropped her to the floor. Ever so slowly, she turned her head away from the smirking man whose eyes swam with laughter. And soon, she was facing the direction that the perfect English sentence came from: Wrath.
“You- you speak English?! This whole time... you” she shrieked.
Sol couldn’t help but slip in some more bait. “He probably couldn’t answer you because you rendered him speechless, honey. You’re absolutely gorgeous and little Raiden got intimidated. But me? I’m all man—” his session of flirting with her and humiliating Raiden was cut short.
The other lycan charged toward him, letting out a growl that ravaged the woods. Sol released Artemis and took off, booming with laughter on his way. His ridiculous speed revealed yet another shocking fact: he was a werewolf.