“So let me get this straight, you were almost their queen?”
I nod my head, the conversation has drawn attention from everyone around us. Balan wanted to know more about me, which is fine, but I’m very cautious that everything I say is being overheard. Although this boat is massive, their superhuman bodies take up most of it.
We’re days into the journey and although Nadia has assured Thorn that she can still navigate the ocean, he’s spent half of the time up there overseeing her directions. None of us know how the English government is going to react to a boat this size entering their jurisdiction, I’m hoping that Marvin and his friends took the boat out enough times for us to be accepted without question. If not, then we’re prepared for it.
In the day, interactions are often spent like this. Sitting around and drinking leftover alcohol from the camps, guessing where we are and how long it will be until we see land again. Nadia often plays music through the speakers and some of them hate it while others drag each other into dances. Everyone is taking the cure daily. Thorn has banned all of them from transitioning—even if they want to—because of the children. There are only ten beds available on the boat and the children get first priority while the rest of us sleep on the deck. They’re tucked away from the rest of us which has raised some arguments, but he’s still paranoid of them leaving the cabin in the night and stumbling upon a transitioning werewolf which would activate their gene.
I don’t see Thorn often in the day. He’s alpha focused, making it his mission to get us all across the ocean safely. If he’s not overshadowing Nadia then he’s reading instruction manuals and experimenting with controls to check that they’re functioning. But at night, he comes back to me. He always finds me, wherever I may be, and we’ve spent the last five nights curled up under the stars at the front of the boat. We have our own designated sleeping area which the others are terrified of violating. It gives us some privacy for at least a few minutes until we’re forced to sleep because the others start moaning that they can hear each other.
Sky has made friends with a boy called Jed and they’ve been inseparable for the last few days. Having her with me has made this so much easier because every time someone looks at me, I know what they really want to ask. Shadow has informed them that the first-borns have a mystery power and they all saw Crasuel use it. None of them have been brave enough to bring it up. . . yet.
“That’s insane,” Balan says, holding a hand to her eye as the sun shines into them. “Why would you give up being a queen for a voyage with us boring bunch?”
I shrug. “It was overrated.”
“Pal, are you listening?” Balan clicks her fingers at the serious-faced man next to her who is glaring at the spot next to me.
“It’s staring at me again,” Pal says, shuffling back in discomfort.
I glance down to the male spaniel sitting beside me, that we named Beta, to find him giving Pal a very suspicious and funny glare. We also named the female dog Luna. Thorn thought it was hilarious. They adapted to their new names quickly, it made me question if they even had one. Pal shows the dog his teeth and Beta growls, charging forwards to bark. I manage to distract him and he jumps into my lap, turning to growl again at Pal.
“What the hell did I do?” Pal says. “Do I smell differently from every other werewolf or something?” He starts sniffing himself, making the rest of us laugh.
“He just doesn’t like you,” Kiara says as she sits sharpening a blade against the railing of the boat. “You have that aura.”
“I want a different aura.”
“Beta!” a child screams. “Beta, come play.”
The dog leaps from my lap and runs across the boat, making Pal flinch. I watch as Balan laughs and rubs Pal’s hand tenderly.
“So what’s the deal with you two?” I say. “Are you a couple?”
“No, we’re just friends,” Balan says. “Close friends.”
“With benefits,” Kira says. They turn and glare at her but she just shrugs. “Don’t act like you haven’t been shagging every chance you got for the last century. Enjoy it while it lasts because once you find your mates, it’s over.”
Balan removes her hand from Pal’s shyly. “Thanks for that, Kira.”
“Listen up!” Thorn walks down the steps behind us, his voice makes many people flinch. “By our calculations we should be arriving in England by noon tomorrow. We only have a few rations left and I understand that many of you are hungry so I’m allowing Nadia to slow down the boat for ten minutes to enable a fishing expedite.”
Slow down the boat? Not stop? I don’t even know why I’m shocked by that, they can probably keep up with it.
Almost everyone volunteers. Their hands push into the air excitedly, Kira is almost punching it. The boat begins to slow down and Thorn laughs to himself.
“Have fun but be respectful. Remember to kill before you throw.”
Pal jumps to his feet and dives over the side of the boat, followed by Kira who narrows her eyes as though it’s a competition. There are splashes all around us, half of the boat is now empty.
Not even twenty seconds later, a fish is thrown over the railing and hits my leg. It isn’t moving, it’s already dead. Dozens more of them follow from all angles.
I feel kind of bad but I can’t deny that it looks delicious. Balan casually just grabs one and holds its head as she bites into its tail. Raw. There’s no such thing as gutting or cooking with werewolves, they take what they can get.
I would have been disgusted before, but now the gene is activated my wolf side is having all kinds of bizarre instincts that are telling me it’s natural. I pick up the large fish from beside my leg and I cover its eyes before taking a bite into it. The juices leak down my chin. It’s so slimy that the meat just slides down my throat. It’s gross but it’s appetizing. I devour it in seconds, carefully biting around the bones. Thorn watches me for a moment before walking over.
“Who are you and what you have done with the girl that couldn’t even watch me gut a rabbit without puking?”
I smile as I throw the head and skeleton back into the ocean. “She changed. I hope one of those changes is immunity to salmonella.”
“Yes,” he laughs. “I would have cooked it for you. We still have to cook the meat for the children, they won’t receive our immunities until their gene activates.”
I wipe my chin with the end of my shirt. “Too late now. It wasn’t that bad actually, it felt. . . natural.”
He smiles and leans his lips close to my ear. “Just one more night and then I get you all to myself.”
Our cheeks brush against each other. I feel the butterflies sting my stomach and I almost give in to the intimate moment, until I clock eyes with Balan who is watching us with an amused expression. I turn my head away shyly. Eventually, she leaves.
“You scared her away,” I say.
“She’ll get over it.” His hand slowly moves down my leg, getting closer and closer to the one place that I really want him to touch. I check that no one’s watching before I turn my head back, allowing him to press his lips into the side of my throat. “Am I making you nervous?”
I close my eyes as his fingers brush down the side of my face, lingering on my jawline. He’s teasing me but I don’t mind. These pants are thick but they can’t disguise the scent of my arousal. I feel Thorn’s lips smile against my throat as his hand claims that one place.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this right now,” I mutter.
“No one’s looking. They’re all distracted with catching the fish and the rest have their heads submerged underwater. How much do you want this right now? For me to just slip right in those jeans?” He pulls on the front of them, creating a gap that’s big enough to let air through.
I take a deep breath, scanning my eyes over the oblivious boat full of people that are starting to climb their way back over. Dead fish are everywhere, there’s even a few crabs that Kira holds up proudly. Thorn retracts his hand and turns to lean back on his elbows.
“How are we ever going to escape them?” I whisper. “Creatures with supernatural hearing isn’t exactly the biggest turn on.”
He starts grinning. “Did I forget to mention that the bedrooms are soundproof?”
I smile so wide that it’s almost a squeal of excitement. “Mating activities are quite the priority.”
“I thought you hated that word?”
“I’m warming to it.”
I turn to look at the magnificent ocean, stretched out for miles for as far as I can see. The others have crossed the ocean before, they arrived here by boat before the war began. I'm still adjusting to it. It didn't even phase Sky, but I'm not sure if she's just acting brave to try and prove a point to everyone else. I hear her voice from across the deck, she is showing Pal something that she caught, she sounds proud of herself.
The scent of the saltwater is strange and displeasing but the view makes up for it. When the sun sets, everyone is silent. It's the only time of day when there is peace.
“One more night,” Thorn says, reaching out for my hand. “I know they’re my pack but I can’t wait to just spend some time alone with you.”
Our fingers entwine in between our bodies, I smile as the dogs see us and start running over, Luna has a fish in her mouth. “One more night,” I repeat.