When I arrived back at the pack house after my late night session with Moira, Jayce was waiting for me. I could tell by the look on his face that he had felt my pain and suffering through our bond.
“You ok?” He asked, wrapping his arms around me and kissing the top of my head.
I thought about that question for a minute, ‘are you ok?’. I didn’t know how to answer. I’d failed the partial shift many times now but for some reason this time felt different.
“I don’t know” I answered honestly.
Jayce pulled me back, looking into my eyes, searching. For what? I didn’t know.
“I’ll feel better in the morning, I’m just glad you’re home”
The following morning was a new day, a new start. I pushed my concerns from the night before to the side. Jayce made me breakfast in bed, followed by a shower and more steamy shower sex.
I got dressed into my running shorts and sports crop and headed down to the training grounds. Jayce had some pack business to discuss with Cameron so I thought I’d use the opportunity to catch up with Dominic and break a sweat.
“So what’s on the schedule for today?” I asked, taking a swig from my water bottle and placing in on the bench seat next to the training ground.
Dominic smiled. He looked excited for whatever it was that he had planned.
“We’re going to work on shifting, whilst you’re engaged in combat. We’ll spar, and then when I say, you’ll shift into which ever animal I nominate”
“You’re going to fight me?”
“Try not to sound so surprised” Dom laughed, “I may not be the Alpha anymore but I still have some moves”
Dominic stripped off his shirt and stretched his arms and legs. I smirked at him and averted my eyes bashfully. I found myself wondering if this is what Jayce would look like in the future, a little bit salt and pepper but not having lost even the slightest bit of conditioning. Dominic was solid and it was easy to see he was still extremely fit.
I had seen Dom’s wolf in action before, tearing shreds off the wolves in Clayton’s pack; but I’d never had the pleasure of seeing his human side at work.
“You warmed up?” Dominic asked.
I felt my cheeks redden at the memory of this mornings shower antics.
“Ok. Let’s start”
I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at Dominic’s skill and stamina. I was sweating, a lot. I was also sore. Dom had managed to land a few sneaky punches and kicks. He’d even managed to land a punch to my face, splitting my lip; of course it was already healed now though.
I side stepped as Dominic came at me again and spun around to attack him from behind.
Here we go!
I shifted. My wolf coming forth within a second. I continued my attack but Dominic was no longer standing there.
I growled as I felt a sharp tug on my tail. Dominic had already moved behind me.
“That was a quick shift but you need to keep your senses heightened the whole time. You lost me, even if only for a second. It’s enough time for an attack”
Dominic was right. Even though he was an ally, pulling my tail, he could quite easily have been an enemy, with a dagger.
“Let’s go again, shift back to human”
I shifted back, my nakedness no longer bothered me; it was all part and parcel of being a shifter. We fought again, Dominic still managing to catch me off guard several times. I wasn’t on my game, that was for sure. I grabbed Dom as he ran at me, throwing him through the air. Before he had a chance to regroup I lunged towards him.
“Panther!” He yelled, whilst getting to his feet.
Mid-lunge, I tried to shift but was suddenly hit with an internal wall. The block threw me off, making me lose my footing and fall into the dirt.
I pushed myself up on to my knees and tried again. What the hell was going on? I focused on my panther, I focused on my breathing; everything that Moira and I had been working on. There was nothing.
“You ok?” Dominic asked, jogging over to me and helping me to my feet.
I nodded, closing my eyes and slowing my breathing down.
In. One two three.
Out. One two three
I pictured my panther, my body shifting into her, her energy, her power; but all I could feel was resistance. My head hurt and I put my hand to my temple.
“Quinn? What’s going on?” Dominic asked.
“I don’t know. I can’t find my panther, or she is blocking me”
“Maybe you’re just burnt out”
I shook my head. It was something else, I had felt it last night with Moira. There was a reason I couldn’t shift into my panther, I just didn’t know what it was.
“I want to try something” I said, looking up at Dom.
I closed my eyes and exhaled, shifting into my bear without any resistance at all.
“Well I’ll be damned” Dom breathed, rubbing the stubble on his chin, “what have you done to piss off your panther?”
I let the hot water wash over my body and watched the dirt circle the drain. Dominic’s question kept replaying in my mind.
What have you done to piss off your panther?
Surely that couldn’t be why I was unable to complete the shift. For starters, I had done nothing that would upset my panther; and secondly...if only one of my animals was blocking me, then wouldn’t that mean that Rogue wasn’t my only subconscious? Why would she allow my wolf and bear to surface, but not my panther?
I stepped out of the shower and dried my body. I walked over to the window, opening it slightly to clear the steam from the room. Breathing in the warm air, I closed my eyes as I allowed it to fill my lungs.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and my nostrils flared at a familiar sweet scent in the breeze. something inside me stirred.
There’s that scent again!
I quickly pulled my clothes on and took the stairs two at a time. I ran out the front door and inhaled deeply. Nothing. I faced the opposite direction, inhaling again. Nothing. The scent had gone.
I jumped and turned around to see Cameron standing behind me, hands in his pockets and a quizzical look on his face.
“Yeah. I just thought...never mind. I thought you were with Jayce today”
Cameron nodded and kicked a small rock in the dirt.
“Yeah. I was. He’s just gone out to run some errands”
I raised my brow and snorted.
“Since when does Jayce run errands?”
“Hey. If your lover boy wants to pick up his own dry cleaning then I’m not going to argue with him. He’ll be back soon”
“So if Jayce is...out, what are you doing here?”
“No reason” he answered quickly, “what had you running out here? All wet hair and no shoes”
I scratched my head and looked around.
“I thought I could smell something but I think I’m losing my mind”
Cameron nodded and clapped his hands together.
“Well, I’ll be next door if you need me”
I raised my eyebrow again at Cameron. He was acting super weird.
I watched Cam walk over to his house, giving me a quick look over his shoulder before he went inside. There was no doubting his behaviour was bizarre. Maybe Dominic had told him about my inability to shift into my panther today. I’d be the talk of the pack...the Luna multi species tribrid that pissed off her panther.
Evening rolled around and Jayce wasn’t back yet. I had just returned from Moira’s clinic. I wanted to pay her a visit and discuss what happened today on the training grounds. Dominic had beaten me to it though and Moira was already looking into possible reasons as to why my panther appeared to be dormant. It was always hard for her to research such matters, being one of a kind meant there was virtually no literature to refer to. It was all just a bunch of ideas and theories.
I sat on the sofa in front of the fire. I watched as the flames licked at the logs, the sound of crackling and popping being the only thing to break the silence of the empty pack house.
I found myself wondering if my mother had ever gone through something similar to what I was going through. I felt the painful tug in my heart when I was reminded, once again, that my mother was dead. It was hard to understand how I could miss someone so much, yearn for someone so much, but I couldn’t even remember her touch. I missed her more than I missed the woman that raised me. To me, it said a lot for the bond that we shared; multi species shifter tribrids. Now it was just me, one of a kind.
I closed my eyes as I felt a familiar, pleasant tingle run over my skin and my heart rate quicken. Smiling, I looked to the door, knowing that within seconds Jayce would walk through. I loved the fact that I could feel him before he made himself known, having a true mate was something so very special.
I waited for another few seconds but when no one walked through the front door I was somewhat confused and disappointed.
I got up and went to the door, opening it and stepping out on to the veranda. The cool night air greeted me, as did the sound of crickets and frogs from the nearby creek. Peering around I looked for any sign of my mate, but he was nowhere to be seen. I knew Jayce couldn’t be far away, maybe he had walked past and popped in to see Cameron before coming home.
I headed over the Cameron’s and knocked on the door. The lights were all out. I peered through the front window but there was no sign of anyone being home.
A small gust of wind whirled the leaves around at my feet and I pulled my cardigan tighter around me. The days were hot at the moment but the nights had a chill in the air. Turning, I started to walk back to the pack house but no sooner had I done that, I picked up a scent in the air. My head snapped in the direction it was coming from and I set off towards it.
It was the same scent from yesterday and today, there was no mistaking it. It was faint but not faint enough to not be able to follow. I still couldn’t put my finger on it, it was familiar but at the same time unlike anything I had ever smelt before. Jayce was right, it wasn’t wolf. There was a sweetness to it, strangely reminding me of Sunday morning pancakes back in Atlas as a kid.
I continued walking, letting my nose guide me. I was surprised to find myself at the back perimeter of the compound again. I looked around, nothing stood out, there was no one around. The moonlight shone off the creek, creating beautiful reflections against the bark of the trees surrounding me. I could see Dominic’s cabin in the distance, the light from his fire was evident through his lounge room window.
Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply and let the scent wrap itself around me. It was strong now, filling my nose with a sugary sweetness. Then suddenly, it was gone. I opened my eyes, jumping at the sight of the person in front of me.
“What are you doing out here?”
“Jayce! Where have you been. I was looking for you” I answered, my heart hammering in my chest.
Jayce looked around, then back at me.
“You were looking for me...at the back of the compound?” He asked.
I took in his stance and demeanour. Arms crossed in front of chest, twitch of muscle in his jaw, splayed feet, clipped tone.
“Sorry...have I done something wrong?” I asked.
Jayce looked at me for a moment and then dropped his arms. His eyes softened and he stepped towards me.
“No. It’s just been a long day”
I closed my eyes as Jayce wrapped his arms around me and placed his head on top of mine, breathing in my smell.
“Well now that I’ve found you, are you ready to come home?”
Jayce chuckled and took my hand in his.
“I’m ready if you are. Let’s go to bed”