A she-wolf seeking her happily ever after will have to go through some trials to get there. She needs to decide if she can forgive and forget, otherwise her dreams of true love will never come true.
The ride itself is only about four hours but with all of the noise and exuberance on the bus, it feels like longer. The young ones, first-timers and super eager haven’t stopped talking loudly about the weekend since we left and it’s exhausting. Technically I’m one of the young ones, being only twenty-two but this is my fourth time coming to these gatherings, only to leave alone so I feel more like a veteran than a virgin.
“This is our year! I can feel it!” My seatmate and best friend Samantha remains optimistic about our chances, despite this being her fourth year attending as well. Every year a different pack plays host and all surrounding packs send their eligible single wolves to attend and hopefully find their forever after. It seems so ‘traditional’, even archaic to still be hosting such events like these weekends but in the interest of maintaining our numbers, it remains. It is also a necessary component in a shifter’s life – their soul mate, and it is a never-ending search until a shifter finds completion, one way or another.
Finding one’s true soul mate these days is getting rarer and rarer the more shifters spread throughout the world so events like this that bring different groups together are important for many reasons, mating just being the core of it. It also strengthens bonds between pack members and alliances between packs – all of vital importance in a world that is increasingly being taken over by humans.
“I’m glad you’re so optimistic – you have enough for both of us,” I reply with a side smile while taking in the view beyond the window. This area of the country is beautiful with the mountains in the distance and the prairies now behind us. It is a popular area with humans, especially for winter sports so we make use of the barely traversable back roads to get us to where we need to go and it takes another two hours before we arrive. By now, I’m so turned around I’d never find my way here again, which is the point and how these shifter communities are managing to survive despite mankind’s constant encroachment.
Once we arrive at the host pack’s compound perimeter, we’re stopped by guards. All packs have patrols on their borders and guards at their gates, so none of us are taken aback when they verify our identities before letting us proceed. Once we clear the gate, our van heads to the main packhouse which takes us along a twisty driveway lined with pines. Here and there are breaks in the trees where cabins and small houses have been built to house the families within the pack.
It takes another few minutes to reach the packhouse and when we come upon it, I’m not surprised to find it looks like any other packhouse. Long, narrow, designed to house several individuals it almost resembles more of a motel on one end with a large complex on the other. Without going inside, I know that the Alpha’s office will be in there, the dining room and kitchen and maybe a rec room – that’s what our packhouse has and it’s the norm. This complex appears bigger than ours so it may house a medical center as well, I look forward to exploring and finding out.
We all get out of the van and start unloading our luggage while the leader of our group is welcomed by a member of the host committee. Sam hands me my bag from the growing pile beside the van and I take it from her and move to the side to get out of the way. Our leader gets our bunking assignments which he hands out and then we disperse, with Sam and I heading to the cabin we’re sharing.
By asking directions along the way, we soon find it. Small, built of logs with a stone fireplace on one side and a tiny porch on the front – it’s adorable. With a squeal Sam lets us in and immediately throws her bag on one of the two beds in the room, essentially claiming it. The cabin interior has everything we’ll need for our stay this weekend, minus a kitchen. It is one ‘giant’ room with a small sitting area set up around the stone fireplace and two beds separated by a nightstand and lamp. There is a small bathroom with an even smaller shower but considering we’re only here for the weekend, it’s perfect.
“I love it!” Sam declares, as happy as I am that we’re not in the noisy packhouse. We unpack our limited collection of items before taking turns in the shower. There is no time to waste with the welcoming dance taking place in just a few hours and neither of us waste any time.
Sam dresses in a red cocktail dress that hugs her figure beautifully and I help her pin her blonde mass of curls up on the top of her head. Some final drama with her makeup and in no time, Sam is dressed to impress. I slide into my emerald green dress which brings out the green in my eyes and leave my dark brown hair down in loose mermaid curls. My dress is strapless and leaves my neck and shoulder exposed – the fact that I don’t bear a mark is extremely obvious. When I bought the dress, Sam said it was very sexy and will surely drive my future mate insane with desire.
What can I say – I’ll take all the help I can get.
Once we’re both ready, we leave our cabin and head back to the dining room where the party is taking place. We enter and take a minute to admire the scene before us, the dining room is decorated beautifully, looking nothing like it’s regular self. A DJ is playing music at a deafening volume as a crowd of people on the dance floor hop up and down as one, pumping their fists in the air. Off to the side I can see a long row of tables set up with punch and assorted finger foods set up and to the other side of the room are tables with shifters sitting and socializing.
Sam wastes no time heading to the dance floor and with her fist in the air, gives me a look of pure joy. Making friends as she goes, Sam is soon swallowed up by the crowd as she dances away, leaving me on the side to watch.
Not one to sit and feel sorry for myself, I head to the punch table and pour myself a glass. Walking with it I head to the side to people watch when I get a whiff of cinnamon – faint, light but unmistakable. Unsure of what it could be – a new dessert being brought out perhaps? Someone’s insane cologne? Not sure but dying for more, I follow the scent.
It leads me to the center of the dance floor.