Hopping out of the shower the hot vapours of steam are beginning to dissipate from the room. I had been in there longer than I thought, not wanting to leave my sanctuary.
Sighing before dragging my feet to the sink and gripping the sides of the porcelain I think it might break if I apply a bit more pressure. Wiping the condensation from the glass my reflection in the mirror isn’t of happiness or excitement; its anger, frustration.
Wet hair is hanging in my eyes dripping small water droplets into the sink. “I don’t want to go,” telling my reflection what it already knows. It shows me my true feelings.
My chest rumbles loud with the wolf’s approval. We should be out there looking not going to a meet and greet dinner.
Smoothing my hair back with my hand, no point in bothering to style it. I’m not looking to impress.
I’ll have to request some time off from Scott to leave. I can’t stay here idling while she has yet to be found. I’ll go for a month across the water and search as much as I can there before returning to my duties. With Autumn around the corner, the holidays will come and go in the blink of an eye. I want to find her before then.
Sighing again before heading out the bathroom door and into the master bedroom. It’s dark inside this empty space. The cool air has goosebumps forming on my arms and chest, the fire from the wood stove must be nothing but low burning embers by now.
Time to get dressed. Luna said to be there by five and it’s already getting late. I’m sure my phone has been ringing this whole time for me to hurry. Scott is going to be pissed at me for making Chey upset. “Sorry, bro.” Smirking while shrugging on my dull old clothes. It’s clean at least.
It takes all my energy to drag myself out the front door and trudge down the trail from my cabin to theirs. The wolf tugs at my bones to go the opposite way making it a struggle to stay straight on the path forward. The blowing wind stirs the smells around the forest to come alive and I would rather be out there than making my way here.
I can already feel the chill in the air with Septembers fast approach. Winter will be long and cold this year.
There is a small white Malibu sitting in the driveway next to their Caravan. I glance at my watch to gauge my timing; fashionably late.
Looking at my attire and arrival time the Luna will not be happy with me. Already being warned I needed to take this seriously no fuck and chuck with this one. She is Cheyenne’s best friend and I have to be respectful towards her.
‘Give her a chance’.
I can’t; I won’t. I am not going to be this wolf’s hope of a future with a mate when I have one out there waiting for me to find them. Her friend, Kirstin, found her mate young but lost him shortly after. She is looking for someone to fill the time until she enters the moon, maybe give her something she missed out on with him, but I am not the one to do that for her. No point in giving false intentions on what I want. I’ll meet her if I must but I will not court this female.
Looking at the dark espresso door with a decorative wreath welcoming the coming fall on it only makes me want to leave. This is the shit I’d have to put up with if I took this female, I just know it. Urban living. Glancing at the ‘welcome’ mat under my feet that match the decorations I wipe off my muddy sneakers before pushing open the door.
Giggling and voices can be heard from the dining room and I saunter towards the sound. I’m not greeted with happy faces from the females. Scott, however, is grinning from ear to ear and I return the welcome with a lopsided smile.“Look who finally graced us with his presence.” He acknowledges me like the asshole I’m being.
What are best friends for?
Sitting down in the empty seat left for me next to Kirstin I don’t bother to get a plate. I’m not feeling hungry even if I did like her cooking.
My wolf itches to leave.
Cheyenne chirps up, “Aren’t you hungry?” She asks, offering to get me something.
“Nah, not really,” my reply is flat, keep it short with them; In and out quickly.
She gives me her scrutinizing glare before introducing us, “Kirsten this is Scott’s friend and Beta, Cage. Cage, this is my best friend Kirsten.” She makes sure to emphasizes the reminder of who she is. Nodding my head toward Kirsten in greeting out of respect before turning my full attention to Scott and asking what’s been on my mind, “so man I know it has been a while and we have been getting busy with prepping for the winter but I would like to take some time off, head out to Europe.”
Chey gags on her food while the female next to me scrapes her fork on her plate in surprise. “Europe?” She asks, amber eyes blinking. She has a doe caught in headlights look about her, “why are you going to Europe?” Her lip quivers. Spearing her a glance, being direct, put down this notion she has been fed that I am available. “Yes, to Europe. I haven’t gone looking for my mate there yet,” I tell her curtly.
Her face drops before she excuses herself from the table and Cheyenne’s glare intensifies. “I will be speaking to you after I’m done calming her down. Do I make myself clear?” She reprimanded.
Well, at least they are out of the room so I can actually talk to my friend.
Scott is remaining quiet, eyes closed with his hand resting over his mouth. The moment she marches out the hallway and into the guest room he looks over at me. “The fuck is wrong with you?” He is trying hard to hold back his laughter.
“I’m just telling them how it is,” I answer while reaching over to steal a fry off his plate. I feel hungry suddenly without the weight of oppression bloating my stomach. “Who cooks burnt fries and undercooked burgers for a ‘serious meeting’ anyways.” Snagging another from the plate. He looks amused, for now, won’t be once I leave and she’s drilling him. “Look-you know I’m not looking, why did you let this happen? I’m not interested and I won’t be. It’s my Mate or no one at all. If I go the rest of my life with fuck buddies and one night stands that’s fine with me.” No need for bullshit or games.
He hums as he lifts his face upward to the ceiling. He takes a moment before looking back towards me, looks like a serious talk is coming. Mulling it over in his mind, choosing his words carefully before speaking. “Look I get it. This want to search for your true mate but what if she isn’t out there, what if you never find her? You really never going to settle down? Have pups?” He takes a pause, “What will my pup do for a Beta? Yours are already going to be behind a few years if you start now.” His way of trying to lighten the discussions mood. Setting my jaw and pressing my lips tight together I don’t feel like laughing. My mood was foul before I came, it won’t get better until I leave. “I’m not saying you have to take this female, ” Scott continues, “I’m just saying it might be time to start looking elsewhere.” He’s trying to play politics for both sides.
He understands my wants but also has to make his mate and pack happy. I know, but it’s aggravating to me. Where is my say in my future? My life?
My right foot is shaking with my boiling anger and I have to swallow down a growl the wolf is forcing out. Trying to maintain control. “I’m not interested, not now, probably not ever. I just want that respected. I’m not going to play around getting hopes up for nothing. Hell for all we know I could find her tomorrow.” It comes out sharper than I want. I have to breathe deeply, I can feel my loss of control bubbling to the surface. “Sure she isn’t looking for a night in the sheets? I can give her that.” Trying to change the subject, lighten the mood myself, anything to get this topic to end.
A huff comes from the entryway. Looking over to the sound, there stands Cheyenne. Between the topic and my emotions, I never noticed her return. Boy, is she mad. I have never seen her face this shade of red before. Trying to smile nicely but she is not impressed.
Putting her hand on her hip, she starts to shake a long manicured finger at me. “I had my friend drive all the way up here to the middle of nowhere just to meet you, Cage, and you think you can just take her to bed and be done?” She says to me through gritted teeth.
The real question is- if I have already dug the hole this much, should I stop now? Or keep digging?
“Well, I mean, if she came all this way might as well give her some memories, right?” My response to her is like a shovel in my hand. I never claimed to always be intelligent.
Scott is choking, literally choking, back a laugh. His hand covers his mouth as a harsh cough wrenches his body. He’s going to be in just as much trouble as me now and I pat his back for support. “Chew your food man, I don’t know CPR.” I joke.
Cheyenne’s wolf is on the surface. Her nails have elongated and bristled fur protrudes through her fair skin before settling back down. She can barely strangle the words “Get.Out.” from a throat that is shifting with anger.
I don’t take any chances, leaving immediately. I can hear her yelling even with the door closed.
Happy to be out of there I don’t even make it to the end of the driveway before bounding into a shift. Landing on massive paws we rush off down the trail. My wolf doesn’t slow down for anything. Passing the house I doubt I’ll be back there tonight, choosing to head for the treeline just behind instead. The chilling wind feels good against our heated body. This is what we both needed, time out to roam. Be wild. Free.
The wolf picks up the scent of a buck nearby and his hunt begins. Skipping dinner and that run has built up our appetite. Crouching down to slink forward my wolf catches sight of the deer. His tongue comes out to lick his muzzle as drool is pooling in his throat just to slip down his jaw. Positioning himself in the dense bush, ready for the strike. The takedown is quick and easy. Claws plunging into the back while teeth sink deeply into the deer’s neck. Shaking our large head back and forth we are bucked left and right. The hold is too strong for the deer and he goes down hard.
Stomach bloated full I guide him towards Grams home. She normally leaves the back shed open with a bed for us to lay.
I’d stay wild like this for weeks if I could. No cares, no responsibilities, no expectations.
Stepping into the old brown outbuilding the wolf makes himself comfortable on the tattered and worn blanket before drifting off to a dreamless sleep.
The light scent of frying bacon in the air arouses me awake. Shifting quickly back into my skin I find a pair of slacks and a shirt resting on the workbench. It is a tight fit, the button on the pants hardly comes together to fasten, the shirt is a tight squeeze that feels like it might cut-off the circulation to my neck and biceps.
Must be clothing I had left behind before moving.
Making my way inside the back door the aroma of Grams cooking wakes me fully. My mouth is watering and my stomach grumbles. Slumping down into a chair at the small round table, she is standing in the kitchen making breakfast. She turns off the heat to the stove before removing the skillet and fixing two plates. I pour two glasses of orange juice, hers first before my own, while she sets down our food. Digging in without looking her way the events of yesterday still sit in the pit of my stomach. What they all expect of me. I avoid Grams questioning look. I don’t think I’m in the mood to talk about it.
Upsetting the Luna I can deal with, Cheyenne is still young and new in the position. She hasn’t learned all the tricks of the trade yet, but Grams, she isn’t going to put up with my nonsense. She knows just how to handle a mouthy male. Her age and height are just to fool you into a false ego.
Big Bad Wolf, Pops always called her.
She breaks the silence first, “So are you going to tell me or do I have to pry it out of you?” She asks in a demanding tone before putting a small fork full of the scrambled eggs into her mouth.
I saw this coming.
Rubbing my eyes with the heels of my hands before answering her. “Can we talk about it later, please?” She knows I’m not in a good mood, she understands something happened. Giving me a look, she huffs before nodding her head and we finish our breakfast in silence.
I don’t eat much, even leaving a few strips of the bacon on my plate. She gives me the same concerned look but just clears the table, scraping the plates before walking to the sink to wash them. I mutter a thank you excusing myself and head up to my old room.
Opening the door the room is cold with the lack of heat seeping through. Looking around at the space that held my youth; my juvenile years. The bed is made up tidy, my old navy blue comforter looks untouched. A nightstand sits next to it, the alarm clock and lamp have light dust starting to build, she must come in here and clean every now and again.
A worn map still sits on my roll desk with a few ‘x’ and question marks written on it. Picking it up to inspect it, it’s from when Scott and I first started our search. I haven’t seen it in years. Tracing the lines of routes and possibilities of where I might have found her. Always wondering about her, what she looked like, what kind of she-wolf she would be. That was all before Scott met Cheyenne, before the trials and ranking ceremony, before moving in alone.
Sitting down on the full bed, it seems smaller than I remember.
With Pops gone and me living on the other side of the woods to be closer to the packhouse and Scott’s home, it’s just her here. Maybe I should move back in. Goddess knows I’m lonely over there I know she has to be lonely here.
I asked her to move in about two years ago, a few months after Pop’s funeral. I didn’t want her being alone but I have responsibilities that need my attention. She declined. This was their cabin and she wanted to spend the rest of her life here. In the home they built.
Grams has aged a lot since then.
Her scent grows stronger under the shut door and I tell her to come in before she even gets the chance to knock.
Time for that conversation.
She sits on the bed next to me placing her withered hand on my back to smooth down my growing anxiety. It is feather soft and delicate, nothing like I remember. I really do miss this though. I haven’t had this kind of comfort since I was getting my ass kicked as a juvenile.
“They want me to give up looking, say it’s time for me to settle down. Cheyenne is set and determined for it to be her friend.” The words are out before I can even stop. I massage my temples with my fingers, my leg is tapping, shaking the floor; I don’t want to talk; not with anyone else. Not with people who want to tell me to give up, do things their way.
She continues to rub my back with her ear turned up towards me. Not needing to tell me what I already know and feel, just letting me talk.
She stops to pick the map from my hand and look it over. “You know if you aren’t happy here I still have family down south that would be more than happy to have you. If this is what you want, ” motioning to the map, “and others can’t understand that maybe it’s time to move on from here. You don’t have to make a decision on it now sweetheart just know you have options.” She places the map back in my hand giving me a quick peck on my forehead before descending down the stairs, leaving me to my thoughts.
Options. I have options. Pondering over the thought again and again.
I don’t want to leave this pack, it is the only home I have ever known. I have been to enough packs to know how difficult it can be in a new place with strange wolves and I only met a few of my cousins; it has been years. I also don’t want to leave Scott high and dry. He has Sam as a second Beta but it wouldn’t be the same.
But what about my mate? What would I do to find her? Is she even out there? Scott’s points from last night ring in my mind.
My wolf chides me growling out his disdain and snapping at my bones. He refuses to listen to any of it. He wants his mate and nothing and no one is going to stop him from finding her.
This is too much. The weight of my situation pulls me down. Laying on the bed my feet hang off the edge and I drift off to blank sleep