Wolf's Lullaby

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Under a skirt on a Broomstick

IVAN


I skidded on the ground, rocks digging into my back. The impact squeezed air from my lungs, fireflies swimming in my vision.

“Too slow, ballerina! Your reaction time sucks and your stance needs more work! Get your ass up!” ordered the annoying voice of my older brother.

I got suspended and grounded for my stunt yesterday. My punishment? Doing drills and sparring. Father didn’t even wait an hour when we got home before he sent me to the training grounds and grilled me till midnight. I was pretty sure I would die, positive I saw Moraga flying over my head a few times.

The torture continued in the wee hours of the morning with the rudest awakening ever. Andrey, the asshole, thought it would be a good idea to pour ice-cold water on me. Fucking bully has been up my ass for over three hours. I was about to expire. I knew it, felt it. My muscles knew it, my lungs knew it, my whole gods-damn body knew it, but Andrey seemed unconvinced hence, more training.

I laid where I landed, not moving a muscle. Closing my eyes, I lowered my breathing, playing possum so the thug would let me get some rest. No such luck. A shadow blotted out the sun, then something heavy pressed on my abdomen abruptly, pushing all the air out of me. Dull pain snapped my eyes open to find Andrey lounging on me like I was a freaking chair. His brawny arms crossed over his bare chest, two red vertical lines proudly etched into his skin, flowing from the side of his neck down to his wrists. The lines they expected me to don when I turn 18. A symbol, an oath to The Huntress, The Pale Lady. The patron goddess of warriors and death, the goddess venerated for many generations by my family.

“Tired already, baby brother? Still wanna play dead?” Andrey smirked. I tried to push him off, but my arms wobbled like noodles. I had no fucking strength left.

“Get off!” I wheezed out. The evil gargoyle chuckled, bouncing on my stomach once more, making me wheeze-groan as he lifted his heavy ass.

“You need to get in shape. Your stamina is lacking and twirling around the dance studio with your witch will get you nowhere.” The ass was doing it again.

“The witch has a name.” I grumbled, pulling my aching body up from the ground.

Andrey shrugged, waving a hand dismissively. “Irrelevant. However, what is relevant is how you acted like an idiot, embarrassing your family. And why? Because a girl you are crushing on had a fight with her boyfriend. I can’t for the life of me understand why didn’t you nailed that already, got her out of your system so you can focus on more important things.”

His words coaxed a growl out of me. “Shut up.”

Andrey narrowed his green eyes at me. “Or what, pup?” he goaded.

In the next moment, despite my muscles’ protest, I strained and lunged at him, claws extended. He met my attack with no amount of effort, side stepping me, grabbing my outstretched arm, twisting it behind my back, using the momentum of my lunge to swipe his leg in front of me, sending me head first to the ground, eating dirt. Still holding my hand in a vice grip, his claws puncturing my skin, he stepped on my back with his foot, pressing me further into the dirt, making me groan. Crouching low, he whispered in my ear, “You get rattled easily. That’s your weakness.”

“You are an asshole, Andrey,” I gritted out.

“And you are naïve. Get over your little crush. The witch is a distraction you don’t need. The pledging for the Orders is next year. You need to concentrate on your training, not trying to look under the skirt on a broomstick. She won’t be end game, we both know that. We don’t get to choose who we bond. The family does. Though you can still sate your kinks and get a taste when you pass the pledge. Nothing wrong with that.” The reminder and his tone pissed me off. Oh, fuck the bloodline! And fuck him!

I snarled, squirming like a rabid worm, trying to throw him off, but my tank was empty. The rage was there. But no energy to half shift, let alone do a full shift.

“Fuck right off, Andrey!” I barked, my eyes flashing in annoyance, and the asshole chuckled as he pulled his weight off me, releasing me. I scrambled up from the ground, getting into a stance, readying myself for another lunge, panting. Andrey lifted two fingers in the air, beckoning me closer with the flick of them, daring me to attack again, a smug smirk on his face.

I pushed myself over my limit and tried again to land a hit on him. I feinted a slash to his face with my right and went for the jab in the ribs with my left. He read me like a book. Slapping my hand like I was a naughty child trying to eat the cookies just out of the oven, he danced past me, going low to swipe underneath my feet, throwing me on the ground once more with a vicious thud.

“Pathetic, baby bro, pathetic. No wonder she prefers the fox.” Andrey taunted, circling me like a vulture. I gnashed my teeth with irritation, swallowing a growl. I didn’t want to fall victim to his provocation again, so I remained down. I had enough.

The bastard loved to push my buttons. Though his words weren’t meant to hurt me, but to cause a reaction, they still stung. He wanted me angry; he wanted me to fight, to rid me of blind rage. Because no matter how shitty he acted, he pushed me harder than his recruits in his misguided attempt to mold me into a warrior; he believed I could become. Another supreme fighter of the Belinski family serving the Alpha and the pack. An honored member of Null’s order of warriors, a future high-ranking officer, just like our father, and his father before him… Hoping that one day maybe a Belinski family member would be the next to claim the Alpha title, since in the last hundreds of years nobody rose to the challenge to knock the Constantinov’s of their throne.

And nobody fucking asked what I wanted.

“Ooh, nice control, pup. I’m slightly impressed.” Andrey lifted a blond brow in approval. “You should always keep your cool. Rage is good. It fuels the shift, but it should never eclipse your focus in a fight...” he continued to lecture, but I blocked him out.

Fuck that shit.

Fuck all of it!

Fuck my life!

“Andrey!” came the booming voice of our father, making Andrey stop mid-sentence and both our heads snapped in his direction as he crossed our yard, his posture rigid. A deep frown on his face, well an even deeper one than his usual, his strides unusually brisk, almost urgent.

“Go, get ready. We need to leave in less than an hour.” Father ordered, his gray eyes boring into Andrey’s green and I pulled myself in a sitting position.

“Where to?” Andrey asked. Father’s gaze fell on me briefly, scanning me from head to toe. A flash of disappointment crossed his features before he turned back to Andrey.

“Ravengrove.” he answered.

“Ravengrove?!” both Andrey and I blurted out in unison.

“Is it time?!” Andrey asked at the same time I said, “Is Sonya ok?!”

We looked at each other, alarmed, then back at our father. “She’s fine. It’s not time yet.” Our sister bonded a Beta from Ravengrove two years ago, an allied pack to the east. They were expecting triplets any day now. It was a source of stress around the house too, the anticipation.

Both of us breathed the sigh of relief.

“Then why are you heading to Ravengrove?” I inquired. The visits to other packs were reserved for the annual diplomatic wine and dine meetings, festivals, or if they were the ones hosting The Coming of Age Ceremony. They held the annual meeting two months ago. This was… unusual.

“Pack business. Now get a move on.” Father offered no other explanation and his tone shut down any further questioning. He side eyed me. “We’ll be away a maximum of two days. You are not to leave the property. Your punishment is still in effect. Oscar,” father motioned to the old man standing in the shade of the trees at the edge of the yard, who has been with our family since who knows when, the man was a fossil, “will make sure you follow through with the training and report everything to me. Ah… and no visitors allowed.” Well, why don’t you keep me in a cage then, give Oscar a feather to tickle me with?! He didn’t give me a chance to protest or anything as he strode away with Andrey in tow.

I groaned my annoyance and fell back down on the ground, closing my eyes against the blazing sunlight.

F.M.L.

An hour later, showered and exhausted, I sprawled on my bed. I was so fucking tired, but unable to get a wink of sleep, so I just stared at my ceiling. The wounds from yesterday healed in about an instant, but the red purple huge-ass bruise on Mina’s arm will stay for days. Hot rage stirred again in the pit of my stomach, my already shitty mood plummeting to the depths of the hell.

That fucking fox… Conniving, manipulative son of a bitch. Poking and prodding his venomous claws, chipping away at the carefully constructed shield of confidence she made for herself, protecting what’s underneath. A heart as beautiful as it was fragile. Vulnerable. Insecure. And that asshole is slowly but surely going straight for her jugular. Her Achilles heel. I don’t regret rearranging his face… not one bit. And I would gladly do so again… and again. I would endure a thousand of these ridiculous, torturous training sessions if it would change anything. If it would make her see… he’s poison for her.

My phone pinged, bringing me out of my darkening thoughts. The moment I glanced at the screen, a smile split my face.

Baby Sloth: Yo, Tree, you alive? You didn’t return my call, so I’m worried.

Me: Still breathing Baby Sloth. Can’t get rid of me that easily ;P.

Baby Sloth: Phew. That’s good to hear. I worried Colonel Squidward stuck you in a pineapple under the sea, and threw away the key.

Me: Oh my! Are you clairvoyant?

Baby Sloth: No way! I should join a circus.

Me: Pfft. Yeah, get a crystal ball and tarot cards ready, Madam Spills All T.

Baby Sloth: Ooh, yeah, that should definitely be my stage name. And as one artist to another, I love the Picasso you pulled on Danny boy.

Me: You do?

Baby Sloth: Absolutely. Marvelous job, darling, marvelous. Might need a punch up. Or two and it’ll be bellissimo. Chef’s kiss.

I laughed. A loud, hearty laugh that echoed through my room. T always did that… The adorable human could make you laugh in an instant. Even if your house was on fire, or the world was about to end, she’d make you smile. She just had that power…

I was glad to have her in my corner; she was a precious friend. Though I didn’t deserve her after the thing I pulled with that date. The guilt lingered, even after she said I was being silly and that she was over it. It still reared its ugly head from time to time.

Baby Sloth: Now seriously. Are you ok?

The question sobered me up, erasing the easy-going smile on my face. Was I ok? No. I wasn’t ok at all.

Me: Yeah. I’m ok. No worries :)

I looked at my screen, tapping my finger on the side of my phone, and just as I was about to ask what’s been burning under my thumbs about Mina, my phone started ringing. The ID tugged the corners of my lips up as I answered.

A pair of gray eyes, framed by dark lashes, stared at me from the screen, an amusing glint in them as a smirk played on my sister’s lips. Ah, crap, she knows. She tilted her head, the smirk turning into a shit-eating grin, “Why, if it isn’t my baby Bean?!” she cooed, blinking exaggeratedly as she used a nickname she had for me since the first time she saw me on an ultrasound. She was seven and dubbed me her Bean, and stuck me with it. The only occasion she called me by my name was when I fucked up royally. “A little bird told me my Bean became a delinquent. How’s that going for ya?” she winked. The little bird must have been Andrey.

I snort, shaking my head. “Not so great, no. Not really what’s cracked up to be. How’s beach whaling going?”

Sonya rolled her eyes, groaning, throwing her head back in exasperation, “Dear God’s! I think I’ll pop any minute now. These brats have been doing river dancing on my insides for months! I haven’t seen my feet in millennia! I can’t seem to get up without help and I pee all the gods-damn time, because apparently squishing mommy’s bladder every five minutes is a fun thing to do. Don’t get me started on gasses! I might fart Gabriel to oblivion if they don’t come out soon! But guess what?! It’s really his fault. I agreed we should have kids, but who told him to stuff me like a gods- damn dinner turkey!” she huffed out of breath.

I winced at the last sentence. “I didn’t need that image in my head. Thanks Nya, I’ll send you the therapy bill.”

Sonya blew a raspberry, never one to mince her words as she said, “Oh, don’t play a prude with me, lover boy! They thought you this in sex ed! Did you think I swallowed a watermelon?! And don’t pretend like you never porked before!”

The two of us were pretty damn close, but not as close for me to share stuff like that. She knew I had a few... okay, more than a few girlfriends. But she also knew that those relationships were my feeble attempt to get over my feelings for my best friend, who made it clear we were to stay that way.

“I’m using my right to remain silent on that matter. Thank you.”

Completely ignoring me, she continued, “Oooh, I remember when I was a teenager, there was this guy, very cute. I think he was a cat shifter. Nice ass, broad shoulders... We used to go at it…” I put a finger in my ear, closing my eyes as if to ward off the salacious picture my dear sister tried to paint me, yelling over her, “La la la la la la la I can’t hear you!!!! For the love of God’s stop!” Her signature snort-laughter spilled out of the speaker. She hasn’t changed one bit…

“Crap, the laughing makes me wanna pee now!” she shuffled on the bad, the video on her phone went blurry as she made herself more comfortable. Righting her phone, she looked at me, not talking for a few heartbeats. Her eyes shimmered, and she sniffled. “Ahhh... I miss messing with you on the daily basis…. I miss you Bean.” Her voice caught at the end, hooking into my heart, pulling tight. My ally and exclusive ball buster. I missed her so much.

Sonya was never one to cry easily. She was always boisterous, a life of a party, if the party was arm-wrestling, belching the alphabet and putting sailors to shame with her cuss repertoire. Considered one of the boys, she always made raucous with her five guy friends. A captain in the Null’s order, a bond-mate to a Beta and soon to be a mother of three. But never a crybaby.

“Hey, why are you crying?” I straighten from my position, my hand reaching over to the screen as if to comfort her.

She sniffled some more, wiping her face with the back of her hand, “It’s the damn hormones! I cried yesterday because a fly fell into my cereal and I couldn’t stop her from drowning! Can you believe this crap! It’s a good thing you can’t get pregnant. It sucks ass!” I chuckled.

She came closer to the camera, moving around. Her red-rimmed eyes, wet lashes clumping together, filled out the screen. “Ah crap, Gabriel is going to freak when he sees me. He’s already on edge.” To this day, I thank Ishaba that Sonya bonded that man. He wasn’t the one she chose for herself, but it turned out he was a good one. He treated her like a queen and they came to care for each other deeply. Sonya loved him, and he adored her.

“Oh, that reminds me, did Andrey tell you him and dad are coming to Ravengrove? Did something happen?” Her expression shuttered the moment I asked, her warrior training kicking in.

“It’s pack business Bean, I can’t tell you that stuff.”

“At least tell me if it’s something serious or not. Should I be worried? Are you safe?” Sonya regarded me for a few moments, taking in my worried expression, then sighed, “There is nothing to worry about. They are taking care of it. And I’m safe, Bean. The four of us are safe, I promise.” I nodded, though the uneasiness knotted my insides. Was there a trespassing? It happened sometimes. Or worse. An attack. Was it one of the rooted packs, the big five? Was it the nomadic packs? We all had an agreement, a truce. Shaky as it was, we managed to maintain peace for over fifty years now. Rogues maybe? The list of possibilities whirled in my mind, but asking wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere. The code prevented Sonya from divulging any further information. Even to her family.

Noticing the cogs turning in my head, spinning, Sonya spoke to break the spell. “Hey Bean, let’s get back to your delinquency, hmm? Pregnancy got me sidetracked. Except for you beating the stuffing out of the fox, I heard it was for a noble cause. A witch in distress…”

The uneasiness turned into a churning fire in my gut. I didn’t answer. The event in question played out in my mind again. Mina and Daniel arguing, the asshole grabbing her abruptly, spinning her around to face him, holding her forearm in a crushing grip... And I snapped. I saw red. The culmination of my frustration mixed in with a serious dose of dislike for the guy and his behavior towards her.

Sonya grimaced. “Ugh, is chivalry dead, and we didn’t get the memo? That bad, huh?”

My expression spelled out my answer to her and she sighed, “Well, Bean, it’s your own damn fault.” She proclaimed.

“How the heck is it my fault that she’s dating a fucking conniving bastard!” I raised my voice, my quickened pulse drowning out all reason, making Sonya narrow her eyes to slits, raising a brow.

“Oh, let’s see! If only someone had the gall and willed his balls to descend to his scrotum and be a man so he’d unabashedly proclaim his undying love for the girl. Would he be here now if he carpe diemed it when he had a chance?” she said theatrically, giving me a pointed look.

I scowled, “Sonya, it’s not that simple.”

“An excuse.”

My brows drew closer. “She shut it all down. The timing was always off. And our friendship...”

“Excuse and another excuse.” Sonya interrupted me. “Your friendship is important. But the question is… can it really stay a genuine friendship when one is pining for the other?” I didn’t have the answer.

“My Bean, I get it,” she continued, “but like this, nothing will change. You can either suck it up, tell her how you really feel and bear the consequences or stay miserable in a friend-zone limbo. Your choice.”

She was right; I knew she was right. But those consequences... they paralyzed me each time. I got it so bad that I allowed myself to turn into a masochist. Fucking hell, I was a dumbass.

“Though that rat bastard needs to go ASAP.” Sonya added, a murderous look crossing her features.

“I agree.” Because even if my feelings don’t get requited, I would never stand aside and let that bastard hurt her.

*****************************************

Hyeloo dear Inkies, thanks for reading! Hope you'll enjoy the chapter as much as I loved writing it. It was interesting going inside Ivan's head XD We'll see Mina's POV tomorrow (need to edit it).

As always if you like the story so far please share comment, review and click on the like button. Every type of engagement is most welcome and it means a lot to me :)

What do you think of the chapter? How do you like the dynamic's in Ivan's family? What's brewing behind the scenes? XD

Again THANK YOU for reading, love ya😊🧡🧡🧡

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